Perfect isn’t real. I’m a Parent

Parenting sometimes is, working your tail off for a week through illness and recovery, disinfecting, cleaning, decluttering, super major effort, and ending a Monday with a house in shambles..

And waiting for the next 18 minutes on the washing machine that holds the kids uniforms hostage before you can put them in the dryer and go to sleep, in preparation for the 5:15 am alarm that’s looming. It’s life among the living I think when nothing works like you want but everything is still okay.

They won’t die from clutter and couch sleeping and I will survive on little to no sleep but we kill ourselves in process and the pursuit of perfection. Maybe perfect doesn’t have to mean what I think it means (catch the princess bride reference because all things good in life involve a good princess bride reference).

Maybe it’s okay to just be okay. Lunches packed, clothes laid out for tomorrow minus the ones waiting for the dryer, just life…just okay…

So I’m breathing in the evening and I probably won’t clean the living room tonight because 5am alarm and I don’t wanna’ but that may be okay. Just sayin’

Time…in a bottle…or not…

Time is a funny thing.

It flies

It pauses

It groans for tomorrow

It longs for yesterday

It moves

In waves

While the world continues, as it seemingly stops for some

But it is.

Time is

And we grovel at it’s feet

And we wonder where the break pedal is

And we clasp onto what we can hold

And we long for bricks to put on top our children’s heads to stop the growth

All the while praying they will grow, healthy and strong, and prepared for tomorrow

I watch you grow and I beg for it to stop and continue while I sit like an Alanis Morissette lyric, contracting truths against each other.

And we grow and move

And live and have our being in the moment

Sweaters on backward and inside out and all

Until we feel the most of a new day

And breathe

Deep

Because today is wrapped in tomorrow and yesterday at once

And I am you and you are me together, bracing for the impact

Life is more than we see

Life is wrapped in the endless toil of a day well lived, and a tomorrow, begging for something

Whatever that may be

My tomorrow is different from yours

But it’s the same

The hand of God, making meaning, while we go

And that’s enough

At the end of the day, it’s enough

Forward motion makes for meaning

So RUN!

Then look at yesterday and today and smile

Knowing tomorrow is breath

And we’re all running

In the Morning …Running with what you’ve got

So, my mornings are always morning before morning should be allowed

I’m not a morning person…working on this…

But in anticipation of tomorrow, I plan.

I pack lunchboxes and clean and lie clean clothes on racks and hooks, and find shoes lost by minions (small people I’m charged to raise)

But, unfortunately, sometimes I dread the day ahead.

I’m not proud of it.

And I think if His mercies new every morning and the blessing of parenthood and employment and a life well lived.

But in reality, I go to bed knowing my alarm will sound the horror bell of having to wake up when I want to sleep.

Still, there’s a blessing when the coffee and the day kick in.

When sunlight brings possibilities that I haven’t imagined.

So I ride before the sun and do it again and again.

This life doesn’t have to be brilliant or awesome in the light of day but it has to continue to bring meaning.

So today leads to tomorrow and every moment, even the mundane, leads to greatness.

Will I be remembered for the lunches I pack and the jokes I wrote in sharpie on ziplock? Probably not. But will I be remembered for my perseverance and strength? I hope so.

Wake up tomorrow and do it again.

Just go!

One foot in front of the next, in excellence. It’s all anyone can ask and it’s more than enough.

Two cents from the routine.

Two cents to manufacture a million. Just RUN!

One foot…keep walking

The wind spins circles around my head

I see the life before me and I wonder if I’m supposed to be who I am

What is life but the continuing of one foot before another?

Every breath, a choice

Every moment, an opportunity for a voice

Yet, I am so often silent.

This is humanity…

A million moments of the mundane, followed by a hundred moments of impact.

But the mundane…the cleaning, the dishes, the listening to my kids talk about their day…the laundry…

In these moments, I become me. The woman I’m called to be.

So I’ll write and create and care for children, and sing, and process invoices, and update databases and go on..one foot in front of the other.

And in that, I will be more than I ever imagined.

Somehow, in the grind, God created destiny and legacy and that is enough for me.

Hello, tomorrow. I’m ready to do my best. We will see what God has in store. It may be great. It may be monotonous, but if it’s for Your glory, it’s entirely worth it.

One foot in front of the other…this is life.

The Secret to Peace

walk on

I hear his sweet voice from behind the door. A squeaky, tired, “mom”, queuing me to come near quick. He stands in the middle of the bed looking at me with those tired eyes; bed-head pointing in each direction. I smile as he runs towards me. Wobbly feet carry him along, one resolve motivates his movement. He must get to mommy!

This same pattern repeats throughout the day. I work on my laptop on the couch as he plays with blocks. I print to the wireless printer across the room. The noise startles him as foreign sounds fill the room. He jumps to his feet suddenly and runs to my arms. Later, the thunder claps as the afternoon storm rolls in (if you’ve ever been to Florida in the summer time you will understand the severity of a little afternoon thunderstorm). The house shakes and rattles as he leaps into arms, safe and sound, secure knowing I’m near.

He, at 15 months, knows the secret to peace. Somehow it falls out of our awareness as we grow, older, wiser, more independent but the principle remains. True peace is found in the knowledge that we are loved and secure in the arms of one bigger and stronger than us. True peace is found in trust and surrender. It’s harder for us. The art of growing allows us to learn to believe in and rest in the arms of one unseen. Through faith, we know we are held. We often settle for comfort from other sources because it’s easier to lean on something with skin on. But skin fails, hearts grow weak and weary, wisdom falls victim to selfish ambition. People may fail us, but we are safe! We can be perfectly secure in the knowledge that there is one who never fails and He loves us more than we can fathom.

So today when your fears rise up and the thunderstorms rage and the rooms grow dark and you feel alone, call out. Run to the arms of The Lord. He is always near! He will never fail! He is completely trustworthy! Just as I smile and comfort my little one, He longs to comfort you. You are not alone!

Mountaintops, Loaves and Fishes

Loaves-and-fishes

I’ve heard it said that it’s the moments that define us. Like Abraham marking the spot on Mount Moriah where he was willing to sacrifice all and found favor in the sight of The Living God, we all have our moments.

I was 19 and running. I was pregnant and alone. My boyfriend had made it abundantly clear that I was on my own. He not only wanted nothing to do with the baby, but was threatening me, so I ran. I didn’t tell my family about the pregnancy. Oddly at around 6 1/2 months in, my father in Ohio heard from his neighbor (who I’d met once) that I was expecting. Dad called Mom in Florida and Mom called me in Georgia. I finally confessed then because I knew at some point, it would have to come out (in more ways than one).

Less than a year before, I was a good Christian girl planning Bible college and touting the benefits of abstinence to my friends as if I knew anything. Then I broke. A few months passed and I was there on my living room floor sinking in reality. How on earth was I going to support this baby? The job I’d secured before moving to Georgia had fallen through leaving me working at Wendy’s for $4.75 an hour. That particular day, they’d cut my hours.

That night, in my Wendy’s uniform, I finally reached the end of me. I remember the taste of the tears as I cried out to the Lord. I remember the longing of my broken heart, the desire to raise my child in the ways of the Lord, the desire to offer my child so much more than I had ever had. I remember the moment. I remember the prayer. In my heart, I see that altar, my Mount Moriah, standing as a testament in my memory of the moment I gave in. The moment I was willing to give it all to my King and the moment he freed me and began to rebuild me.

That wasn’t my only Moriah. The thing about offering ourselves as living sacrifices Romans 8 style is that living sacrifices can crawl off the altar from time to time. I know I’ve taken my life back into my hands more times than I can count. It’s then that we have to look back and remember those Moriah moments. I know my way isn’t the best choice. He always knows what he’s doing.

The truth is, that baby he blessed me with was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. She grounded me, pulled me back to the cross, realizing that I couldn’t do it alone. She propelled me to stop wasting time and start working toward an education and a future so I could make a better life for her. She was exactly what I needed. She was the greatest gift my longing heart could have ever received.

I watch her now, almost grown, and I’m so thankful for the young lady she’s become. She amazes me daily. You see, God doesn’t just give us beauty for ashes. He redeems and recreates. He produces life out of nothing. I was reading in John when Jesus fed the multitude with just a few loaves and fishes. What amazes me is not that he multiplied the small, but that he made sure nothing was lost. John 6:12 “So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”  God doesn’t waste our moments, he multiplies them and gathers up the fragments. He makes sure nothing is lost. Nothing is left behind. He will take every fragment of our broken lives and redeem it into something useful and lovely. It may look like smelly fish and simple bread now, but just wait. Soon, he may use you to feed a multitude. You could become the miracle.

He took my fragments and gave me a miracle and he’s still building. I can’t wait to see what he does next. But it’s all dependent on our willingness to allow him to take our loaves and fishes. Give him your stuff, all of it, and watch him do something incredible.

You Know You’re a Mother When…

1. You check your clothes before you leave the house to see how much goo you happen to be covered in and whether it’s worth the effort to change.

2. You forget to check for you goo until three hours later when you realize you have smashed up graham cracker on your shirt and boogers smeared on your shoulder.

3. You close or open more doors with your feet then you do your hands.

4. You bring a thermos of coffee with you to pick up the kids from school so you don’t fall asleep in car rider line.

5. You have no idea what Pharrell Williams looks like but you know what color every Disney princess wears.

6. You’ve only heard of Pharrell Williams because your teenager was talking about him yesterday.

7. You know all the words to every silly song Larry the Cucumber ever sang.

8. Your family looks like a picture in a magazine other than you…. you haven’t brushed your hair in three days.

9. You based your outfit on how easily you could discreetly nurse a baby.  Consequently you haven’t worn a non-button up dress in months. (Who am I kidding? If it wasn’t for work, you’d live in yoga pants or sweatpants or jammies.)

10. You have hot wheels and Cheerios in your purse or maybe even an extra pair of itty bitty toddler underpants.

11. You have super-human abilities to carry multiple items at once without dropping anything including the wiggly baby on your hip.

12. You realized sleep wasn’t really necessary after all. You haven’t had any in years.

13. A trip to the gym counts as alone time.

 14. You forgot to eat on more than one occasion this week, but it’s okay because the baby shared his graham cracker with you (See #1)

15.  You don’t shy away from challenges. You after all, can do the laundry, play ball, cook dinner, pay the bills and talk on the phone all at once. Most of all, you can untangle one of those plastic slinkys and THAT my friend is a thing of magic.

16. You know all about love and pour it out daily.

17. You know what it is to look on baby faces and little toes and feel completely overwhelmed with gratitude that you were chosen for this awesome adventure that is parenting.

18. You know what it is to feel like you can’t possibly do it all while realizing that what you do daily has lasting meaning. You do your best and hope and pray that God can make something beautiful out of it. And He does!

19. You are blessed!  Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward!” Proverbs 31:28 “Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her”

Smile Mom! You’re doing great!

Cranky baby

I love my cranky baby in the morning even though he pulls my hair and wails, fussy, fidgety.
I love his smile that sneaks past his facade and lights the morning.
I love his voice, expressing his frustration in a symphony of “da-da’s,” ba-ba-na’s and mum-num’s”
I love that I love him the same when he’s happy and that nothing will change the way I feel about him.
No amount of sickness, runny noses, goofy coughs, sore ears or crying will cause my love to waiver. In fact, they raise my compassion towards him.
He needs me and all I want to do is be there, to comfort him, to show him how loved he is
Even in the sadness and frustration. Even when he whines and screams and bites and kicks.
Love isn’t effected by such things, love endures all, forgives all, love never fails.
I love when he settles on my breast, leans close and lets go, drifting off to sleep reminding me of the dream that it is to be his mother.
And I realize that I am the child of a king and His love surpasses mine.
I’m so thankful that he too loves a cranky baby in the morning.

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Runny Noses and Wise Words

I’ve had a rough and wonderful week. The two are mutually exclusive I assure you. The beginning of the week brought good times with good friends followed by sick babies and endless to do lists. Mid-week brought a fabulous evening celebrating my anniversary with my love (and no babies…thank goodness for Nanas and babysitting). 

Then the babies shared, as thoughtful children so often do, and I caught the bug. Hooray! So I’ve spent the latter part of the week, attempting to maintain sanity and restore health to myself, my older kiddos and now the baby man, who incidentally has taken “runny nose” to be code for “bite mama hard every time she nurses you.” 

This morning, I’m up early, drinking coffee between coughs and bites and thinking. There is a certain amount of wisdom that soaks in to the porous mind of a woman in time. None of the wise things I’m thinking have much to do with illness and anniversaries but who can explain how the mind works?

  I’ve decided to share some things I’ve learned over the years with you. most of them, I’m sure you already know. Sometimes a reminder is all we need. 

 1. Feeling bad isn’t always a bad thing.

We have convinced ourselves that we should always feel great and that is a lie. Bad feelings about ones actions can serve to motivate change. The delusion that everything should always be rosy, we should always be happy and free and feel great about us, has caused many addicts and narcissists to remain stuck in a cycle of trying to feel better all the time. What if instead of seeking to feel better, we used the bad feelings to learn and grow and accepted our failings for what they are…part of life, things we will more than likely struggle with again and things that in time we will master if we give ourselves a break and stop trying to be perfect and feel great perpetually? It’s okay to feel bad, brush it off and move on. 

2. Achieving someone else’s standard of beauty will never make you feel beautiful. 

I’ve been there, the crazy eating habits, the excessive exercise. The constant worry that your rear section is too large while your top section is too small. The truth is, a woman’s body changes over the course of her life. Babies, marriage, job changes which bring schedule changes, stress, all of these things will cause body changes. Quit beating yourself up for every imperfection. The only beauty standard that matters is God’s standard. He asks us to take care of our bodies, but that doesn’t mean starve them or make them look like cookie cutter portrayals of what a woman “should” be. That standard will always change with the whim of cultural perception. If you’re seeking affirmation from a man, you won’t ever find beauty. 

3. Relax! 

The bills will get paid, the dishes will get done, the floor will get vacuumed, the kids will grow. You will manage to accomplish everything on that list eventually. In the meantime, chill out and enjoy the ride. 

Odds are, you won’t look back and think about the dishes you left in the sink till morning, but you will look back and think about whether or not you played Barbies with your daughters long enough or the times you could have danced around the living room or thrown a ball for ten minutes with your son. When you blink, they are 16, the Barbie dolls are long gone and you’ve missed the chance. Savor the moments now!

4. Anyone who demands perfection from you, isn’t worth your attention, even if it’s you. 

The bible say we press on toward the mark, the high calling. We are supposed to keep trying…to get back up when we fall down. Maybe we should try to do what Jesus did, and give grace to ourselves and others when we or they don’t get it right every time. 

5. The only way to fail is to quit trying.

 When we keep going, we get better. Practice makes perfect” or more realistically, “practice helps us improve exponentially based on the amount of effort we apply and our innate gifting a and abilities.” You can’t phone in a practice. You have to want it, and go for it. If you do, you will probably encounter a few epic speed bumps along the way. They may make you question yourself and whether you are capable. Get up! Keep trying. It will get better. Trust me. 

I’ve been singing for years. I’ve fallen off the stage. I’ve hit myself in the mouth with the microphone and bloodied my lip while performing. I’ve forgotten lyrics. I’ve forgotten the melody. I’ve started the band out at completely the wrong tempo and had to stop the song and restart it again. I once, accidentally, led an entire choir in a stirring rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” to the tune of “Deck the Halls”. Everybody went with it until we hit the “fa-la-la-la-la’s”. Does that make me a failure as an artist? No! I’m still up there going for it. And I’m not too shabby at it and I’m not playing the false humility game that would encourage me to denounce that realization. 

Keep trying at whatever it is. You are the best you there is. Give yourself a break and enjoy the journey. 

 

Growing, We do it Everyday

Big Boy

Baby Man’s first tooth emerged to surface last night. It was another rite of passage into “big boyhood”. The signs keep coming that he is growing so quickly. He is zooming through infancy with lightning speed while we crawl around with him on the living room floor hoping to savor the moments. He still sweeps me off my feet with each giggle and that smile that lights his eyes and melts my heart.

I am just a mom. There are days when I leave for the office without realizing that I haven’t brushed my hair. There are nights when I forego cleaning dishes for cuddles and cluster nursing. I’ve traded makeup and high heels for slobber and bare feet (baby slobber…not mine, in case you were worried). My concerns in the morning are now, did everyone brush their teeth? Lunchboxes? Backpacks? Is everyone in the car? Wait, I’m missing one. There she is….let’s go.

And I love it!

God is a Father and I’m convinced He loves it too. Think about what He has to deal with on a day to day basis. Yet, He’s there cheering us on when we grow a little and we cut a spiritual tooth. He’s holding our hands and helping us learn to walk along. He smiles when we look up at Him with toothless grin. He scoops us up in His arms when we fall down and cry out for help. He forgives us when we get into something we shouldn’t. He’s never frazzled and overwhelmed like me.

Maybe it’s like they used to say when I was young, “Babies having babies”. I didn’t appreciate hearing that when I was in my 20’s, but now I can laugh and look upward at my Father who is so patient with me and appreciate the wonder of it all. I’m just a baby trying to figure it all out with my babies in tow…and I’m growing everyday.

I can toddle along the best way I know how. I can follow my Father and never let Him out of my sight. I can fall and learn and get back up. I can be secure knowing that even in my baby steps, He’s celebrating with me. He doesn’t demand perfection. He knows I’m learning. He will never leave me or forsake me.

So, today I’m celebrating a first tooth and the realization that I am right where I should be, in the hand of a loving God who gave Himself to bring me life. A savior who sacrificed everything for me. I’ll let Him lead me as I lead these precious one’s He’s trusted me with. It’s a good life when He’s in charge!