Sunday, March 5, 2017

Parenting is hard.

I love being a mother. As a young child people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would often say without hesitation, "I want to be a mommy when I grow up!" I meant that truly. It did not mean I didn't have aspirations for any other things, but to me that was my highest calling. Motherhood. Fast forward 30 years later and I am a mother of four beautiful children, ages spanning from 9 years to 4 months old. The Lord has blessed our family immensely. They are so precious and healthy and well, in fact, that I often feel like I don't have the right to even confess or utter some of my own struggles of motherhood.

Lately I've run into fellow frazzled mothers that are trying so hard and wearing  themselves out in their parenting years. It is all consuming. Nursing around the clock and feeling like a human pacifier,  separating fights among siblings like a WWE referee, making nutritious meals like Rachael Ray, doing laundry at midnight so your child can wear their favorite shirt the next day, doing homework with your child that melts down at the very thought of a double digit addition problem, and putting the human boomerangs back to bed for the bazillionth time that night. "Just one last hug!" (Insert sigh here). I see common threads of reward and exhilaration for being a loving and diligent mother, and yet also exhaustion, overwhelming frustration, and downright discouragement too. We wouldn't trade our roles as mothers to our children for anything in the world. It is a priceless honor. And yet, we often feel guilty for even muttering the words, "This is hard." Parenting is hard. I will admit it. It's not that any one task is difficult, but the accumulation of daily tasks day after day that seem to pile up and often lead to a potential mental breakdown when we're not proactive about taking care of ourown needs. You know the old adage of putting on your own oxygen mask before you can help others to put their own mask oxygen on in order to not pass out. But who has time for that, right?? I know I am guilty of not putting mine on first. Too busy to care for my own needs when there is a baby crying and lunches to be made. Who's with me?!

The other night, I was parenting my 4 young kiddos without my husband who was in a night class, and all was going fairly well until a routine brotherly squabble was the straw that broke the camels back. And I was the camel. I hadn't realized that my own tension was mounting as high as it had been. It's hard to explain until you go through it. The littlest infraction that your child does seems to send you into a tailspin. Looking back, I can think with a level head that it wasn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but in the moment it's huge. Huuuge. In the heat of the moment, you feel the physiological effects of anger or frustration with your heart racing, your body temperature increasing and your patience leaving. Fast. Often times you mentally feel like you could snap or crumble. Your rational side has gone by the wayside. And I know for you, mom, in those moments it's huge for you too. It's easy for an outsider looking in and think that you're overreacting with your feelings of frustration. But just like a small dripping faucet, at first it doesn't bother you, but eventually the constant sound makes you feel like you're going insane. Bonkers. To the nut house! (Even when in reality, it's just a moment of frustration and not worthy of a medical diagnosis!) Parenting is hard. After my "breaking point" the other day, I had to walk outside (with baby still safely attached in my sling) to take a deep breath (or 2 or 12) cry out to the Lord for help and clarity of thought, and I walked back in to what seemed like the lions den...when in fact the children were repentant and eager to make things right. Thank. You. Jesus. (And the thoughtful husband even came home with flowers and a sweet and funny card after I texted him what a mentally tough night it had been.)

Sometimes we need that time to pause and step away from a tense parenting situation, and I'm here to say: You're not the only one. A lot of times as mothers (or fathers!) we think that everyone else has it all together. They have all their ducks in a row. Except you. That is a lie from Satan. No one has the corner on the market of perfect parenting. We are all doing our best and some just appear to be doing it better than others. Or maybe they just have a larger range of parental perspective to realize that this too shall pass. But I will tell you that you, dear friend, have a unique gift that the other mother across the street may not have. God made us all with different talents and abilities and ways to nurture our children. He gave us the children he gave us for a reason. You're the exact mother that they need. They don't need Susie homemaker to be their mother. They need you. Even if that means they get Happy Meals more often than you'd like to admit. And that's ok. They will survive! You have their best interest at heart. You, dear one, are chosen by God to be His adopted daughter, redeemed and loved for eternity. He sees you as you nurture your babies as they're sick throughout the night. He sees you as you're picking up toys under the couch once again with knees crackling, and He sees you as you kiss them on the head when they are finally resting peacefully. And He created you to be the loving mother that you are, by His grace and mercy. The Lord sings over you even in the moments where you feel like you are at your weakest. When you feel like you have nothing left to give, He is still there and He has not left you. Motherhood can be a lonely place when we don't make a point to find community and discover that listening ear when we are physically present with another person that gets it. God created us with the need for relationships with those who can lift one another up, and even when it means getting out of your comfort zones, we need to do it. We have to step out and be vulnerable because I've learned from experience that it's not a good place to stay in the mode of self-pity, even when it seems justified. It's vital for our mental health and well-being to have relationships with other mothers especially in this difficult season. After nurturing your relationship with the Lord, and a healthy marriage with your spouse, your oxygen mask may be a coffee break to share your heart with a neighbor, running a 5K with a motivated friend, or a splurging for a much needed pedicure with your bestie. You know what you need to refuel.

And it's OK to admit that parenting is hard. But God is there giving you strength along the way and the Lord sees YOU and all you're doing to raise your children to love God and keep his commandments. I encourage you today to reach out to a friend or neighbor just like you wish someone had done for you on your most difficult times. We all have those days and most likely a friend is having that moment right now where they might need you. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He often lays friends on our hearts for a reason. And after that connection, they will be more likely to be there for you when you need it too, as great friendships rooted in Christ blossom and grow. I believe that's a win-win situation.

Ecclesiastes 4:12
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Just Do It

Forgive me Blog Followers, for it has been 5 months since my last confession aka blog post. In the hustle and bustle of life as a mother, it's amazingly difficult to carve out turkey, no, time for the things you personally enjoy. Let me use my most convenient example, with whom I should not get into too much trouble with, myself.

I really do enjoy writing. I was terrible at it as a young person, I do believe, but the longer I've been married to a particularly hilarious man (sorry Love, anyone that has met you knows it's true), the more I pick up on his humor, and the cadence and timing of what makes something ironically funny. I guess this may have translated into an interesting writing approach that may or may not resonate with you. Either way, it appears that God could have given me a little gift. Or my friends and family are playing along with this charade that they are actually reading what I am writing. "Sure, Rachel, that was...good! Keep it up. Onward ever. Do your thing, girlfriend." (Oh, no one calls me girlfriend, who am I kidding?) Wow, as Christian women we can't even call out our gifts and talents without shrieking back! I...can...write...well...ish? Dang it.

Anyway, my point being that there are often things we as busy moms enjoy and are quite talented in, that we let slip away, in the name of ... fill in the blank. For me in this hectic chapter of life with a young family, I have been allowing this lapse judgment to occur, however I do have some (though minimal, I must say) input into what I choose to do with my time.

Here are some excuses / reasons as of late, to not do what would bring me and possibly others a little joy: Adorable yet needy children at my ankles who are discovering a whole new octave in their screaming range, piles of paperwork that weekly loom over my head like a ferocious beast that I need to tame (whoa, boy), ever rotating dishes that need to be unloaded again, gargantuan heaps of laundry that require folding and distribution, and unintentional time zapped on Facebook (gasp, I know).

Well, there comes a time in a mother's life, I am painstakingly learning, that it's ok to whole heartedly pursue what God has given you a little bent towards. You think that time is somewhere way down the road, in the next stage of life, but is it? Have you arrived at the next mini-stage, a chapter 2, but you haven't even noticed it? The timeline of life is hard to mentally categorize for me. My daughter has been potty trained for 4 months... so I guess I can put away her changing table, right??? Yes, the answer is yes.

Whether it's five minutes here or there making a few funky Christmas ornaments that you used to love to make in college with your roommates, finding peace in baking a pie for pleasure again, and not just for Pinterest worthy cupcakes for pre-school, making your own Christmas cards to exchange with your 5 closest friends, stepping up to the mike to become a praise and worship singer at church, finally biting the bullet and signing up for a photography class, or giving out free and stylish haircuts to your friends, there's something you know you are good at that you have stuffed in the closet. I must say, some of you are rocking it, and inspiring me tremendously in this area. Playing piano again, teaching at a homeschool co-op, coaching soccer...You know who you are. ;) If not, have your people talk to my people.

It's my seemingly random challenge for you today, that God would reveal in your heart what that "something," is, big or small, and that you would make a commitment to carve out time for yourself, to bless the Lord through the gifts He's given you!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, as we remember and give thanks for all that He has done for us! To God be the glory!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

So many hats, and only one Mommy.

The longer I have held the honorable title of, "Mommy/ Mama/ Lady who feeds me," the deeper my understanding of the sacrifices that my own mother made for me and my siblings. It's pretty easy to play the armchair quarterback role regarding motherhood, before you are one yourself. You often think, "Well, you are doing a pretty good job, but you may have fumbled the ball here and there." And once you become a mother yourself, you may very well say, "Oh, NOW I see why she did that!" After this realization you may proceed to mutter to yourself, I mean Siri/ smartphone, "Please make a reminder for tomorrow at 3:30 pm to write Mom a long, long apology/ thank you/ How am I still alive?, letter. Thanks." And Siri replies, "Your wish is my command." 

In our grand country, many young Americans have fairly ideal childhoods. (Of course there are exceptions, but we are celebrating the victories here today folks! ) These small and curious creatures are free to frolic and play with their besties, soak in as much knowledge as much as their spongelike brains can contain, and are more than well nourished for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And are probably served a healthy portion of whole wheat Goldfish crackers at snack time, or in the car, or when they are whining that they require their next meal or an eminent meltdown will begin. 

Many times, a mother is behind the scenes, making things happen. We all know that moms are known to, "Wear many hats." As you are probably learning with each passing day, it is quite the understatement of the year. Or millennium. I'm pretty sure it goes way back. 

The hats in a mother's closet can be large and floppy or small and dainty; breathtaking and elegant or sturdy and functional. And yet each has a vital role in the survival of the family unit. These hats are worn by the true love of a dear man, the matriarch of adorable and sometimes demanding children, an always professional banker or lawyer or doctor or thirty-one consultant, a referee (no ball required, but an authoritative voice vital), a personal chauffeur/ DJ, a short order cook, an at home unpaid tutor, a Pinterest worthy party hostess extraordinaire, a keeper of the home/ interior decorator, a budget guru, a mysterious laundry stain expert, an untrained nurse/ boo boo kisser, a source of hot milk, a baked goods in the shape of bunny heads maker, a bag lunch creator, and the list goes on. Did I mention the dish washing hat? I am not a fan of that head covering, but it makes its way to the top of my rotation daily, x 3.

Well, mommies of the blogosphere, you already know the amazing things you are doing. You may lose sleep wishing that you had the time and energy to do more, but you must remember that your closet is full of some pretty fabulous hats. As your spouse, children, and family remind you today of the graceful way you wear each hat, remember that you can accept these thanks, with your beautifully covered head held high. For you, my dear, are doing a pretty darn good job. Accept the praise and gratitude. Forget the things that you wish you could have done better. This is the day the Lord has made, and it has been chosen to celebrate YOU and all you do for the ones you love. 

And don't forget to thank your own mother, if you can. Or say a prayer thanking God for the time you had to learn from her. Because now you have more than a glimpse of all the love she poured out for you. Often without thanks, or a second thought. It was and is more than going through the motions to complete the chores and the tasks of the day. It is a daily portrayal of unconditional love, just as the Father has for us. 

Happy Mother's Day, to the past, present and future mothers of the world. You are loved by your family, and most importantly, by our amazing Maker and Lord. 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I get it. ;) 

Proverbs 31:28-31


28Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mama Said There'll Be Days Like This


You know when you just have one of "those days"? I feel like I say that almost daily, but then when you actually do have one of "those days," you realize that the other ones really weren't that bad. 

Well, as you can probably guess, today was one of "those days." My day actually started, impressively well. By boys were at school on time, and I was feeling quite proud. I attended a ladies' Bible study on the military base where I live, and it was a fabulous time of singing, food, and fellowship. I even told a fellow Bible study friend, "That was such a great lesson today!" I guess those were my famous last words, or the beginning of the end for my practically perfect in every way, day. 

I am always procrastinating on my kids' doctors appointments. I honestly had not remembered that my son had his 4 year old check-up due, until last week when his teacher asked if that is why he missed a day of school. (No, it was because I was so late to get him to school, that I just sent him along with his sister to the childcare for my Bible study!) 

Today, after pre-school, I thought, "Today will be a great day to go get that dreaded round of shots done." As I pulled up to the hospital, my little one asked me if he was going to see the doctor today. My daughter, 2, insisted we were there for her, since she apparently likes the doctor's office. I am a terrible liar, so I had to fess up, that we were going for my son. 

It was quite freezing out today, so of course my son didn't want to wear his coat. I lost that battle. I felt like a superwoman swinging my heavy double stroller out of the car and clicking it into place. After wrangling the two kiddos into the stroller, and getting them settled, I ran (literally) up to the winding path leading to the hospital. I nearly knocked over soldiers in training with their BC goggles and crutches, but I think they could see I was a mom on a mission. I spotted a few more targets trying to figure out what elevator to take. I am usually quite helpful in these scenarios, however, I knew I had to scurry past them, in order to get my bulky stroller onto the elevator first. The gaggle of barely wounded almost soldiers, joined me. We chatted about being in the field in the freezing cold. It did not sound like fun. 

Exiting to the 6th floor, I was proud to have a keen sense of direction, that this way was the immunization clinic. (I have a poor sense of direction, and sometimes I am totally backwards in where I think something should be.)  

As I approached the place where I would normally check in, I was halted by a sign saying, "Immunization/Allergy Clinic closed for lunch, 1200-1300." Of course it is! If I would have stopped to think about this, I probably would have known this simple, but vital fact. Seeing that I still had 40 minutes to wait until it was open, I decided to just retreat back to the car for a plan bravo. The kids were already getting squirmy. And hungry.

Being the irrationally brave woman that I am, I pulled up to the commissary, knowing that I at least needed to buy some apples to have a healthy snack at the ready for later in the afternoon. "No, fruit snacks do not count as having eaten real fruit!" I often instruct them as they beg for food. 

Upon hoisting up my little ones into the car shaped grocery cart, the battle had already begun, as they insisted to not wear their little safety straps. And then trying to maneuver those beasts, is like trying to drive a semi-truck in a corn maze. It was quite embarrassing as the tires screeched around every corner, and my arms burned as I pushed hard on one side of the cart. Sure, I could have been going slow enough where this wouldn't be such a big deal, but when you have a ticking time bomb of good behavior, you try to beat the buzzer, frantically zipping through the aisles before total meltdown begins. And, it was eminent, I could feel it. 

Kids in carts, of course, try to toss into the buggy any child marketed item they spy with their little eyes.  Whether it's a Fruity Tooty cereal with Toots McGee the clown (fear not, for he is only a fictional character) or Zippy's Rainbow Flavored Lollipops, dipped in candy clouds, kids zone in on these products. Right at their level, they spotted those, oh so tempting juice boxes with the character heads on them. Proudly, I had not bought one of these in about 4 years. So, it was time for a splurge, why not? At $2 a pop, and 3 kids, that's $6 on three drinks! Way too much. Yes, at the time, it was worth them being distracted, even for a moment.

I see that you have noticed that I had only two kids with me. Well, funny you should mention it. I initially had only two uniquely  headed juices, but upon introspection, I turned that fat cart around. It wasn't worth my oldest son to 1) Feel left out of the special juice box character head that only happens every 4 years treat, and 2) I knew it wouldn't be worth hearing the moans later when he would be lamenting the fact that he did not get one too.

Don't worry, I don't always make life fair. Just come to my house at any gift giving holiday, and you will see that they have a few random thrift store treasures that could not be equalized, so just one of them gets it. Ie, a huge stuffed, soft and cuddly lion for Valentines Day was all Hank the Tank.

Where was I? Oh yes, juice boxes. Eventually, while roaming through the isles, my time of sanity was fading away like the sands of time in an hour glass. And these are the days of our lives.

I had to cut short the produce section meandering. Of course, that's the area where I was actually supposed to shop. After snatching a couple bags of apples, I headed towards the check out. At commissaries around this grand nation, you wind in and out of a maze filled with temptations like cookies, holiday candy, and all the empty calories that your little heart could desire. And your mid- section wants to scream and run away from the candy rooted in pure evil. 

Like cattle headed towards the slaughter, I made my way to the front of the line. In my huge buggy and squeaky wheel, I looked as ridiculous as I felt, I have no doubt. Not a kind glance received, at this point, sorry to say! 

The check out lady was not too thrilled to see us arrive either. I quickly shoved the rubber ducky and mesh bag filled with baby sized shampoo and lotion, where my kids had nearly destroyed the tag, off to the side. This was only a distraction item. If it can still scan, it's good to go, right?! 

I handed over my 3 measly coupons, and paid $150 for 2 bags of apples... and a few items that I never knew I always wanted. Then, we headed to the car. I soon realized I had only a quarter to tip the bagger. Sorry bagger number 6! I will always remember you, and find you and pay you one day. One day, when I don't have two precious distractions with me. 

Fast forward to later in the afternoon, when I went to pick up my son and his friend from school. My 4 year old was freed from the bonds of his carseat, and instructed to stay by me as I got his sister out. He zipped across the cul de sac street and back, and thankfully the driver of an incoming mini van noticed his shenanigans enough to slow down for him to cross back safely.

I was now even more determined to have both kiddos in my double stroller, with the little one's crazy behaviors. He was having none of it. Kicking and screaming all the way, with biting attempts and everything, (him not me), I had to steer my stroller with one hand and hold my son like a football in the other arm, as his legs were pedaling in the air like he was racing in the Tour de France. And screaming. Did I mention the screaming? It wasn't a pretty sight, I tell you. I'm sure the moms who witnessed this mobile tantrum would agree. Hello to you, passersby mommies. Yes, that was embarrassing!!! 

I would go on, but I think you get the picture. Being on a military instillation, my neighbor and friend rescued me from my brink of insanity moment, since she heard from her son that the car ride back home was quite an ear ringing experience for all. 

Thank you friend! I could then do my dishes in peace. :) I may or may not have watched the Bachelor on my computer while doing this. It's like junk food.  It feels good going down, then you totally regret it in a few minutes when you feel sick! 

So, that, dear blog reader, and hopefully fellow empathizer, was my story of having one of "those days." I am sure, if you have children and a heartbeat, you can relate. My saying lately is, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." Parenting highs are sky high, and the lows, are so low that you sometimes can't even pick yourself off the ground. 

I share this to say, you are not alone. We all have our own epic battles we have to fight from time to time, even if many of us are good at putting our game face on with some lipstick, mascara and a forced smile. It's ok to let our guards down, and to be honest with each other.

This doesn't mean that we should sit around and complain that parenting is the pits. But it's nice to share honestly what you are struggling with, whether it's the frustrating 45 minute baby nap, the bed wetting dilemma, or the ever texting teenager. Sure there are the times where you want to just scream and run away, but it's sandwiched in between some pretty precious moments that you will never forget.

My goal, is to really relish in the moments when I can totally savor my kids, and their little quirks, belly laughs, and funny habits. To breathe them in, and love on them, without the distractions of cell phones, and schedules

Sure, the time when you want to pull your hair out, seems like it's just around the corner, but we have access to the One who is so much greater than any of our daily stresses. And, there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if it means that we need to just get away for some "me" time! Or maybe it's getting into His Word, for those ten minutes before everyone is awake. 

With the strength of the Lord, caring friends, helpful family, and lots of coffee, we can get through this. Your village is there, sometimes you just have to ask for someone to join you in your Crazytown village! 

Proverbs 31:10 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 

Psalm 30:8-10
To you, Lord, I called;
    to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
    Lord, be my help.
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rose Colored Glasses

Welcome to "Military Monday!" Credits go to my friend Stephanie, a fellow military wife for this scathingly brilliant idea... 

I'd like to think that my identity goes beyond my military family lifestyle. But, who am I fooling? It's pretty much a game changer, in how I view the world and the circumstances in it. If, "Holding down the homefront," is on your list of skills on your resume', then you can probably relate to this blog post. 

During the refinement process of becoming a seasoned Marine wife, I have unknowingly had a paradigm shift in how I look at life as a whole. A paradigm shift, as you may know, is an often gradual transformation in the way you think, or view the world in which you live. 

Before becoming a military wife, I saw life through my pre-military wife lenses. (Naturally.)Now that I have been, "Married to the military," for nearly 10 years, I have slowly but surely changed the way in which I look at life. 

Here are just a handful, or ten, of the things that I now think differently about, that you just might relate to:

1. You no longer watch a football game mindlessly, watching teams that you have never thought much about. You often see who's playing and immediately think of the Super Fan Family, from 3 duty stations ago, that we were privileged to cross paths with. Nebraska fans, check. Green Bay Packers fans, check. Saints fans, check, check. You pretty much know a family, fairly well even, that will be watching that game. Therefore, you kind of have an idea how their day may be going, according to the score board.

The amazing thing is, you are pretty sure that if you had an emergency, and needed help, your crazy football watching military friends would fly cross country to be with you in your time of need. Even if you hadn't seen each other in years. And you would do the same for them in a heartbeat. If you have childcare. ;)

2. If you happen to be in a situation in which you need to write a check to a church, to a school, to an anything "local," your brain freezes for a minute. You have to stop and think, a) What city do I now live in? b) What is the name of this establishment again, that I attend every Sunday? Grace? Nope. LCC? Nope. ABC? Nope.  Oh yes... it's: fill in the blank. Pause, pause, pause. And then you're back in real time. 

3. Zip codes. Same dilemma. When trying to pay a bill over the phone, a kind lady will ask you, "Ok, ma'm, I have your address, except the zip code. Zip code please?" Crickets, crickets, crickets (while racking your foggy, and possibly jet-lagged brain.) Then you squeal in delight, as if you were the next contestant on, The Price is Right.  You then proudly spout off your new and improved zip code, perfectly. You happen to have a lot of "saved" zip code drawers in your brain. This one just happened to be a new drawer that was still a little sticky and needed to be broken in. 

4. If you ever wished that you could go back in time, where, "Everybody knows your name. And they're always glad you came," get married to a member of the U.S. military. And then move onto military base housing. You probably know all the names of the kids on your block, as well as their allergies, and their favorite color of popsicle. 

Every few months you have bittersweet emotions, hearing the roaring sound of an 18- wheeler, blocking your car from exiting your driveway. You know that sound means an "old" neighbor (whom you have known for a whopping 5 months) is saying adios, and yet another nomadic family is putting their curtains up again, who will eventually become your closest friends. You just don't know that part yet. 

5. When you meet another military spouse, you can just look at her, and "get it." You don't know her story, or how many deployments she's endured and conquered, but you can make eye contact, and see a window to her soul of the joys, the hardships, and the friendships that she has experienced. Once you meet that lady and connect on a deeper level, especially a sister in Christ, you never, ever forget her face and her unbreakable spirit. You may have only been in the same duty station for a few months together, but that bond cannot be broken. 

6. Speaking of friendships, whenever you go to a "coffee" and meet ladies whose husbands just checked in, you will often ask them,  1) Where they are coming from, 2) Who your mutual friends are. And, 9 times out of 10, (no, I can't back that up), you have mutual friends. And bam, an instant connection has been established. And then you hurriedly "add" your new friend, and confirm that you indeed have a "mutual friend," on Facebook. What else would you do?! ;) 

7. Whenever you are in a less than ideal situation, you rarely, as a military wife, let yourself have an all out pity party. Sure, you get more than a few tears, and get pretty dang frustrated at the hardships of being a military spouse. 

However, there is one thing that usually holds you back from that all out tantrum on the floor. And that is... your fellow military wife friend. Sounds crazy, but those who are in the boat know it's true! You often think, "What in the world? I can't believe my love is gone for our anniversary again! This is beyond depressing. I am so ready for him to be done with this military lifestyle!!!" Then, you stop, and you think that it's bad, but it could be worse. You have something to be thankful for, that your friend down the road may not have right now. 

So, he's gone for your anniversary. But he's just TDY a few states away, and he'll be back next month. Your friend just had her second baby with her husband deployed half way around the world, while working a full time job. And one of her kids has special needs. You say to yourself, "Yeah, maybe I can just suck it up a little, because if she can do that, I can surely do this." You say this not in spite of her strength, but because her strength has inspired you to dig deeper than you ever knew was possible. 

8. When your first child was born, your family was most likely a "military family" for a few years already. And so, naturally, your kids have never known anything outside of the military lifestyle. You know that kids have the capability of being resilient. But,one would think that most parents would not want to put their kids in heartachingly difficult situations. (Not to say that civilian families don't go through such trials, for they surely do!) 

You have observed that military kids have the bravery of fearless lions, and the tenderness of a newborn lamb. You hate the phrase, "military brat." It conjures up in your mind, a picture of a kid with a smirk on his face, who is spoiled and gets whatever he asks for. And, as military parents, you know that it's the farthest thing from the truth. 

Just yesterday I witnessed the sweetest and saddest moment between military kids on our block. Four sweet boys on my porch, all around age 7, were playing Legos and laughing together. Not a Lego game on a tablet, but tangible Legos. They shared Goldfish and water, as they played and pretended to be heroes in Legoland. The dad of one of the boys drove up to our house and motioned for his son to come along. Another mom and I encouraged the boys to say good-bye. This wasn't just a, "Good-bye, I'll see ya tomorrow." This was the long good-bye. Their keys have been handed in to housing, and they are hitting the road for their next duty station. I waited to see what reaction these boys would have. They didn't scream and cry that their friend was leaving or say how unfair life is. (Or at least not today.) They looked at each other, and each boy hugged the one who had to go, and they said good-bye, and, "Thanks for playing with me." Not a tear was shed, but they knew what it meant to say their farewells, for they have done it before, and they will do it again. 

I was astounded to see the strength and composure from 7 year old kids, who had genuine love and respect for each other. Maybe they would cross paths again, but maybe they wouldn't. But that was ok for them, because they have been raised from day #1 to be the brave, yet tender warriors that they are being transformed into daily, as military "brats."  

Even for an adult, it is difficult to really wrap your brain around the permanence of some moves. When it comes to your own children, it breaks you heart to know that they have to go through these painful yet stoic good-byes, just as you have done. But you also know that your child gains strength and an appreciation for old friends, with each family they encounter in our ever changing lives.

9. Military friends, are the family that not only you choose, but the family that God chooses for you. It's easy to think that your life is so half hazard and that the military is just tossing you around here and there, without a thought or a care. You know that there is a plan, but it often doesn't seem like it in the present. Not until you look back at the road that you have taken, do you see the beauty amidst the ashes. 

There are assignments where you flourish with a great community, scenic views, and help with childcare. Then, you go to other locations where you are isolated, you never even get outside the house enough to explore, and you feel like you are raising your kids alone. During the first part of the journey it is easy to see God's design for your family. Not until you step away from the challenging times, do you see why God led you through the desert wasteland during the next phase of life as a military spouse. You learned in the valley the importance of getting involved in a group of like minded women in order to grow and even survive. You learned that you have to step outside of your comfort zone to explore the opportunities in your area, even if you are only there a few months. And, through the times of feeling abandoned with kids to raise, you cherish the friends that step up, and become the family that you need, when you can't take another moment with a tiny tot screaming your name. God has a plan, through each leg of the journey, and He will get you through each path, even though it's not always lovely! 

10. Every time you leave a duty station after having lived there for some time, you leave a little part of your heart there. Again, sounds silly to say, but true. You can think back to one city, and hear the laughter of the locals, and how they loved catching as many beaded necklaces as they could at the much anticipated Mardi Gras parade. Or, the apartment where you felt your baby kick for the first time, and there was nothing more magical that you had ever experienced. Part of your life was lived there, babies brought into the world, friendships were formed, and every day messes were cleaned up from the floor. And that lat-long always sticks with you. 

That's my random list of paradigm shifting phenomenons, that allows me to see through my own rose colored military wife glasses. I'm sure you could add ten more that I have never thought of, but can relate to as well. That's the unique thing about military life. No one story of life is the same, but we all have a common thread that is unbreakable!

Share the way you think differently as a military wife in the comments, and I'm sure that one, or many of us, can relate. Love you sisters and I thank God for you DAILY!!! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Love Bank

Ok, ladies, I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Well, I will try. I am known to be a little (or a lot) long winded while blogging! A lot of stifled communication over the last 34 years, I suppose! ;)

This is a blog post, that you can <hopefully> share with your husband, if you so happen to jive with any or all of my suggestions. And my husband has approved this message so this is not a passive aggressive way to give him a message. (However, that may be a good idea...nah). 

HUSBANDS: START HERE :) 

Glad you could join us this fine day. I see that your wife has handed over her phone to you, amidst the chaos of life. If you happen to be driving during this blind handoff, please pull over immediately. 

Thank you. 

Now that we are all safe and accounted for, I just wanted to share with you what your wife may be thinking, but she has never really verbalized to you. Because we expect you to just know things without being informed. I know, women, right?  

5 things you wish you would have known, yesterday: 

1. As moms, we often have little to show, at least physically, for the blood, sweat, and tears shed during  our days, especially if we stay at home with our kids. When you come home from work, and after you take a few minutes to decompress, please find at least one thing, and genuinely praise her for accomplishing that task. It may be that your wife gave your son an at home bowl cut, and she managed to not chop the tops of your son's ears off in the process. No, you weren't there, but it wasn't a pretty sight, or sound. And bribery may or may not have been involved in getting said child to sit still. So, what do you say? Something to the effects of, "I'm sure it was a tough job, but I really appreciate that you saved us $12. I am so thankful for you!" Ha ha ha! Oh wait, I'm serious. If it's not genuine, it doesn't count. :) 

2. Surprises are always nice. I know, I know, that costs $$. Well, not always... or not always a lot! Just walking in the door with your wife's favorite magazine, that she feels too guilty to buy for herself at the grocery store, would totally make her day. Or pick a wild flower in the grass and give it to her with a short love note! Ie, "You are pretty. I love you."

3. Be thoughtful. As a mother of a newborn, I had one need and one need only. Water. And more water.  Well, some food thrown in my direction every now and again, but my thirst could not be quenched. Yes, I could have gotten a glass of water for myself, with a baby on my hip, but it spoke volumes when water was offered to me. What does the Bible say about giving a cup of cold water?? See, it's true. (Matthew 10:42) Most moms have their "thing" they need, you just have to listen to know what that is. And follow through. 

4. Sometimes we need a little shove out the door. Let me explain. Household duties, childrearing, and the like, are a constant need and a "job" that is never truly completed. Even though we desperately would like to get out of the house, to gain our own sanity, and have even a few minutes of child-free time to ourselves, we often will not ask for it. When it gets to a breaking point, we will, but let's try to get some relief before it gets that bad! A stir crazy wife, is not a happy wife. An unhappy wife, makes an unhappy husband. This is a no brainer, right?! 

5. You most likely help with the bath time routine, and much more, but your wife probably has one ongoing duty that she can't stand. It may be folding laundry, dusting, changing diapers, or pick your poison. She most likely does this chore with minimal complaining. On a good day, of course. But, it would serve you well, to do that one thing, without being asked every so often. She would be floored, and ... you can thank me later. 

I would go on, but I'm pretty sure you are done reading right about... NOW. That is all. Go and do likewise! Deposits into the love bank are always a wise investment. 

P.S.- You are doing a good job. We, as the body of Christ, can always make strong marriages even stronger. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What's left to ponder?!

Throughout the year, I have intermittent thoughts concerning Christmas and how it will be here... eventually. And so, that's about 12 months of pondering opportunities. On the other hand, there is the seemingly sneaky New Year's Day, that is just around the corner. I usually embark this journey of self examination and deep introspection beginning around... December 26th. And so, as you can probably calculate if you have your iCalendar handy, that doesn't give me very many days to think about my New Year's Resolutions, now, does it? 

It's that time of year, once again, and I find myself in quite the same predicament. I have been known to wait until an hour before the ball drop to begin throwing out crazy ideas that I shall cling to for about the next 3 weeks, when I realize that this idea was really for the birds... Or rather, good in theory, but not yet in practice. 

Does anyone want to guess how many times I have started and quit my, "Reading the Bible in One Year, plan?" Maybe this will be THEE year. In the past, I have psyched myself up, that I am going to be disciplined and make this happen in a year. I am usually smooth sailing in my reading plan for Genesis, then Exodus, and start getting a little behind with Leviticus, and then snowballing to Numbers. By the time I reach Deuteronomy, I am a few weeks behind my timeline, and not very eager to pick back up where I left off. Then, I hang my head in shame, and I throw in the towel, feeling defeated. 

In this day in age, I really have no excuse. As you know, there is now the audible version of the Bible on most intelligent electronic devices, and so I may go that route with success. Victory will be mine! In the Lord, of course. ;) I will report to you, in approximately 365 days how the grand plan is coming along... 

As you may have noticed, I am a couple days ahead this year, of my usual track record. Thank you, thank you. And so, I thought I would share with you a few little golden battered resolution nuggets (gluten free) that I have discovered this evening. 

Ms. Mommy Poppins' High and Lofty New Year's Resolutions for 2014 are as follows: 

1.) Work out like a mad woman. Crossfit, Pilates, Post Baby Boot Camp for your Post Baby Body, Yoga, Hot Yoga, Karaoke Spinning, and don't' forget the handy Shake Weight. It's the perfect exercise tool to use while waiting for the light to turn green while driving your car. And run. A lot. 

2.) Stop inadvertently poisoning your children with food that is not beneficial to them. Strike out all fast food joints. Be sure to avoid the dyes Blue 1 and 2, Citrus Red 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6. And eat only organic. ONLY OR-GAN-IC. (Head nod). 

3.) Make Pinterest your new best friend. Incorporate a creative, yet healthy, and also desirable after school snack, and/or super cool craft that your children will love. Tattoo DIY onto your forearm, so you will remember that you too, can, "Do It Yourself," whether that is learning how to play the ukelele, go yarn bombing, or how to make your own wedding veil. In case you and your hubby decide to renew your wedding vows. In like 20 years. 

4.) Awaken the child prodigy that you know must be sleeping in their bunk beds. Violin, Mandarin, and Calculus should soon become part of your child's vocabulary. As well as computer programming. AKA programming. 

5.) Time management. You should have read this five minutes ago, and there is room for improvement. Tardiness is unacceptable in all scenarios. And procrastination is so last year. 

6.) Read the Bible in a Year. Because that is on my list, every year. See above. 

7.) Organize: Learn to organize. And demonstrate newly acquired organizational skills.  Junk drawers, bedroom closets, laundry room, craft bins, and even your make up bag with the cheek stain streaks in it. There is a lot of work to be done, and be done it shall. 

8.) Financial Freedom. Get your ... stuff... together. Credit card debt, mortgage, college savings, rainy day fund, sunny day fund, smoggy day fund. Shoot for the stars. Remember this old scenario? If someone you love asked you to help them to earn a million dollars so that they could get a new kidney and live, you could certainly earn that money by getting a little creative. You would somehow and someway make a million dollars. Or, at least you would have in 1989.  And so, my friend, use that sort of drive. Just think, "Kidney money." And say that over and over, and financial freedom will be within your grasp. 

9.) Two words: Date night. 

10.) Play more with your kids, and never say, "No," to a playing request. Get ready for Chutes and Ladders, Banana Grams, Ants in Your Pants, puzzles, more puzzles, and tea parties. Put your jersey on, because you must be the game master for your kids to truly love you. 

Ahh!!! It's a little stressful just to write these resolutions, let alone to follow through with them. 

Every one of these has morsels of truth that I would like to incorporate into 2014, but obviously not to the extreme listed above. 

Here's a more "doable" New Year's Resolution list for me:

1.) I will take up running again, and figure out how to fit it into my schedule with three kids. I'll run a 5K race once every other month. If I'm feeling brave, I'll train for a half marathon. Oh yes, baby steps. Maybe I'll just stick with a 5K... for now!  

2.) I will feed my kids more healthily, and encourage them to make better choices, by putting good choices in front of them. I know it won't always be organic, but my motto always has been, "Everything in moderation!" And so that means, we can still have ice cream! 

3.) I will take up a few new hobbies or crafts this year, such as sewing. I don't know why I am so intimidated by a sewing machine, and I love most crafting things. So, I must conquer my fear of threading a bobbin! 

4.) I will strive to plug my kids into something they love. Even if it's just learning to play Kenny G. songs on the recorder.  My number two child is obsessed with puzzles right now, so that is my version of a child prodigy, and I love it! And him. :) 

5.) I will manage my time better in order to be on time to places and events. Three kids is a good excuse to be late, but it's not an excuse every time! I will learn to incorporate such tricks of the trade like setting clothes out the night before. Duh. 

6.) I will pursue a deeper relationship with the Lord through more consistent devotions, audio Bible readings, and application of the Bible studies I participate in throughout the year. I may not read all 66 books of the Bible in a year, but I know I can read past Deuteronomy! 

7.) I will be motivated to get organized in my household and schedule, and will ask for help when necessary. Be warned: I may have your number on speed dial, super organized friends!You know who you are. 

8.) I'll continue to pursue job leads for getting back to work as a professional outside the home. A few hours a week can be good for my sanity and our check book, without a doubt. 

9.) Two words: Date Night. Seriously, it's so easy to allow the hurdles you have to get through to make a date night actually occur, when you have young kids in the home. Reserving the babysitter, the funds for the aforementioned baby-sitter, all the stars aligning... it can get quite complicated. We have been bad about this one lately after PCSing away from our reliable sitters!  But, we can do better. Even if we just go get a Starbucks coffee while a neighbor watches the kids for an hour, that counts! 

10.) I will make a conscious effort to have a play session, one on one, with each child, even if it's just for a few minutes, each day. Whether it's checking out a fort that my boys found, or having a tea party, stopping to play at their level is important, and often the day gets away from me, and I have been hopelessly cleaning all day. It should result in more laughing, and less crying! From me, I mean, my kids. 

Join me in making your "doable" New Year's Resolutions, and maybe, just maybe, we can read past Deuteronomy together, this year!