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! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Great (Christmas) Expectations

It's the most wonderful time…of the year. The day after Thanksgiving, I am always alarmingly surprised when I hear the starting pistol go off at 7am. Ok, maybe it's only in my head, but I definitely hear it. And it is then accompanied by the rushing around song from Home Alone, when Kevin's parents frantically sit up in bed after realizing that they had overslept. 

Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing 'round my head, I have visions of to-do lists hanging o'er my head. Before you falsely accuse me of being quite the Scrooge McDuck, and ignoring the struggles of Tiny Tim, I do cherish this season.

Our family unit has some of the usual traditions such as driving around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights while sipping hot cocoa. Our mischievous elf, Bing (White Christmas anyone?), delights us each morning with naughty tricks like making ginormous piles of pillows and blankets at the bottom of the stairs for the kids to jump onto. If only that tiny, tricky elf was more helpful in the clean up process.  A more unusual family tradition is attending a hotdog and bottled Coca Cola Christmas Eve supper, adopted from my brother-in-law's side of the family. What was once unusual, has become a tradition that we do not want to miss! 

During this season of cheer, it's so easy for me to feel defeated, discouraged, and pretty much like a failure. I guess it's a pretty bad sign when I have yet to actually put pen to paper to transfer my mental to-do list, onto a tangible piece of paper. Or onto a tablet. Or onto a napkin with a crayon, while eating at a restaurant with kids who would honestly rather play a game on my smart phone than be entertained with crayons. Sad, I know. 

I get quite a few things accomplished, but it's so easy to focus on what I did NOT accomplish, as Christmas day is quickly approaching. I told myself in July, to start working on a Christmas craft, for I discovered last year, that if you wait until December 1st to attempt a Christmas craft, it's pretty much too late. Or at least for me, because it takes a while for me to determine what I should make, then to go to Hobby Lobby, then to navigate the store, while a toddler is trying to knock off ribbons from  shelves. And then I forget some key supplies, since I was a wee bit distracted by a screeching sound in my ear, while carrying a child on my hip since my sweet, but sassy treasures are not keen on siting properly in the front of a cart. And fellow shopping patrons do not seem to enjoy the scene that plays out when I whip out the mommy card, and enforce such rules. 

As December the 25th approaches, I often begin to feel like a pretty crummy mom. Here are some mental samples:

"Wow. The other moms from the preschool had time to make adorable little angel ornaments, made with real bits of angel hair for their kids to hand out to their classmates. I barely know how many kids are in my child's class, let alone knowing all their classmates names, ages, birth weight, and allergies. Ugh. I better run to the dollar store pronto, for I surely don't want to be 'that mom,' again." 

"How does the credit card bill get so racked up this time of the year? And it doesn't even look like we really have that much to show for it, either. I really hope our kids don't feel like they are not as loved, since they will be getting a whole lot less than their buddies. Maybe we should just keep buying to catch up?!"

"Our snowman cookie jar has had a hungry belly this year, with not a treat in sight. And our imaginary gingerbread men are homeless, living under the overpass outside, since they are still waiting on their gingerbread house to be made.  And, to think, I just threw away our Halloween candy. The rock candy would have made a good kitchen backsplash. Dang it!" 

"Christmas cards. It would be so nice to have a precious family picture with our cheeks all aglow, that my closest friends and family could touch with their own two hands. But it takes an act of Congress to have all five of us dressed halfway decently, for this Christmas miracle to occur. And why do I always realize, five minutes after we change out of our church clothes, that I just missed the window of capturing our almost put- togetherness? But no one is around, and I can't seem to get the self timer to work. And, oh yes, the camera battery seems to be dead again. And the memory stick is full. And, I can't dump the old pics. Some error keeps popping up that is above my pay grade to figure out. I give up." 

The feelings of utter failure during the Christmas season go on, and on but I will spare you any more ugly details. (And no, I was not even invited to an ugly Christmas sweater party! Having enough friends to rate attending an ugly Christmas sweater party, FAIL. Sob, sob, sob… Well, not really, but almost.)

I think our expectations about the holidays get sky rocketed higher and higher every year. And I aim for the stars, and get disappointed when I land around the upper 3/4th of our Christmas tree, where the lights have mysteriously gone out. No joke. 

I have been pondering why I get so wrapped up with keeping these high expectations. I really don't "care" about keeping up with the seemingly perfect families. But, in my own efforts to blend in, I often lose sight of my own identity, in what MY Christmas season should look like. 

God created us all, with different talents and abilities. I will never be as good as my sister is, at decorating a home for Christmas. I must admit, that she can humbly make her home Southern Living magazine worthy. And after all of these years, thinking I am pretty useless, I have realized something. It's ok! She has a gift, that I simply do not. I take joy that she shares the final product of her amazing vision and skills to make things so beautiful, with so many of us. 

Maybe I didn't bake 3 dozen cookies for the Christmas bake sale, with the ingredients neatly labeled in festive red and green ink. But, I did read a library-on-wheels amount of Christmas books to my kids each night! That counts for something, right?! And baby Jesus made quite a few star appearances, trumping the Santa books, of course. 

Ok, so that's a whole lot of words spewed out, and what's the point again? (I ask myself…) Give yourself a break, already! You are pretty freggin' awesome. Can I say, freggin'? Your kids will (or should) be happy to have you there to celebrate with them on Christmas morning, no matter how many presents are under the tree. I know from experience, that even if you do buy out the Toys R Us, they very well, may ask, "Is that it?" So, why even worry about having "enough"?! 

Memories are being made, even if you are not realizing it or planning it. A detour to look at the lights around the neighborhood, counts in the Christmas spirit jar, even if you didn't have to pay $15 per car to drive through. 

No, this isn't really that deep. But it is something a lot of us struggle with, this time of the year. I encourage you, fellow mommy with tattered twist band in your hair, to just take a deep breath. You are doing fine. Christmas is not ruined. Just enjoy these moments, for they are only young once! I am learning this, day by day! And so, I shall sing, Mariah Carey songs, amongst the dirty dishes, and know that God created me exactly who He wanted me to be. And my kids will be just fine on Christmas morning, sitting under a tree with broken lights. 

Psalm 16:8-11
English Standard Version (ESV)
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[a] rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.[b]
You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

God's Got This

Have you noticed lately how most major search engine websites will highlight what is "trending" that day? It often seems so random and off the wall. Ok, right now the topic that's trending is... SeaWorld killer whale. What??!! And tomorrow Winona Ryder will be trending, because that seems about right. 

Whenever I come up for air, in between birthing babies, I attempt to be "on trend" in fashion. Of course, I always have my own spin on what's the latest, but it's fun to at least pretend like you don't have five pairs of mom jeans in your closet. However, I can tell you now that I will never own a pair of over-the-thigh boots. A little too Pretty Woman for my taste. I'll leave those boots up to Beyonce to pull off, as a sexy mama. 

Well, lately it is hard not to notice a certain trend with many of my friends, who have been in my boat. These friends seem to be jumping ship, and swimming ever to gracefully, with their brood, to... a bigger boat. A yacht. Or a pontoon, or anything that will contain more family members. In case you haven't guessed, these peers have gone from a party of five to a party of six, or from six to seven, and so forth. Don't get excited folks, this is not an announcement of any sort, so keep your gasps to a minimum. 

I often Facebook stalk, I mean, appropriately observe, how seamlessly other moms seem to handle the increase in their flock. I click through the sweet pictures of the beautiful mother with not a hair out of place, and a soft dewy glow after popping out a baby sans an epidural. I gaze at the seemingly perfect picture of the mom who is holding her minutes old wee one, and the well behaved children are sitting around with "big brother" and "big sister" ever so creatively placed on their shirts, thanks to Pinterest and a late night crafting session, I'm sure. (In my case, I zoomed over to the Carter's outlet mall for clearance sibling shirts, two days before I gave birth to my third, but who's counting?) Oh, and did I mention, my imaginary friend: her hubby is deployed, but it's no sweat for her, since she is an island unto herself. Or so I think, as I pick up my jaw off the kitchen counter, while finishing up the last of my kids' Halloween candy. Boo. 

Then, I walk away feeling quite defeated, as I barely survive, with far less children and challenges, that this other picture perfect mom has on her plate. 

Like a broken record, I repeatedly know many pearls of wisdom in my head, but I so often have difficulty allowing them to sink into my heart. I know that God has made me wonderful and He equips me with the tools I need to be the mother and wife that He intends for me to be. I know that God can use my weaknesses for His glory. I know that God, has a unique calling and future for my life. And these gifts are not the exact same reflection as any other person on this earth. But, it's so hard to not feel like I must be doing something wrong. This is a lot harder than it should be. I often mutter to myself, "I make having three kids look like I have four or more kids!" 

It's a message I seem to hear, over and over, but it must be my achilles heel of comparing myself to others when they seem to be parenting with such ease, from my bird's eye view. 

I have been mulling around a message of hope for weeks, and it's one I have to remind myself on a regular basis. This word of encouragement is for you, the one that sees from afar, how it looks so easy for others, but not for you. This letter is for you, as if God gave me a message to tell you. 

Dear Sister in Christ and Child of the King,

God's got this. What you are going through is hard. It's beyond hard. Pardon my French, but it sucks. It just does. And it's ok to say this, and God wants to comfort you in your pain as you cry out to him. 

It's ok to be mad at this situation. He understands. God is not surprised by what's going on. He knew it was coming, and He has been walking with you through this mess, and He will not leave you. Even if you feel like He has. He's there. 

Though you have been caught off guard by the difficulty of your life, He's not. Things are happening in your life that don't seem fair. Life is not fair, and it is hard. Life can be so, so hard. 

It's ok to say, "This is hard." It may look easy to that gal, but it's not. You are not alone in what you are facing and feeling. Others have gone before you, and believers can come alongside of you, if you let them. And let others' know your needs. 

Remember that the situation may have changed for you, but God didn't. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) We can lean on the principles we have learned in His word, during the good times. That God is good. He's good. Let it sink in. Despite your circumstances, and pain, and frustration, He's good. (Psalms 136:1 as one of many examples). And His love endures. Even today, He has not changed. Again, circumstances change, but He hasn't. 

Friend, I stand with you, and verbalize to you that this is hard. Having this diagnosis is hard. This tragedy in your family is hard. This deployment is hard. So hard. This loss of your spouse's job is hard. This divorce is hard. Being a single mom is hard. What you are going through, that no one else knows about, is hard. 

For me, when I was going through a dry and challenging time of not being allowed to drive for health reasons, for 6 months, a close family member acknowledged that this circumstance is hard. I don't think anyone else had acknowledged it. They just saw the silver lining, and sometimes you don't want to see the silver lining yet. You don't always want the snazzy Bible verse that matches right up to your life or Romans 8:28, that is blasted back in your face whenever you share your struggle.  You just want to be validated that you are not crazy in thinking this is hard. You know to trust in God, but you need some time to get there.

You are not inhuman or broken. You are not just a weak person who needs to suck it up. It's ok to admit that it's not easy. We often try to put on a brave face, but eventually reality sets in and your world seems to be crumbling around you. 

This life can be hard, but God's got this. He sees your tears, your frustration, and pain that is deep into your soul. You want to scream at God, and He wants to hold you and dry your tears. He knows too, this is hard. But God is good. He can be trusted. 

Love your sister in Christ,

Psalm 34:4-8

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 63[a]

A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
    they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
    and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
    all who swear by God will glory in him,
    while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

My heart is hurting for so many sisters, and I don't even know who you are, but I cry with you. I am praying for you, truly, and I am praying that God surrounds you with His peace and just holds you in His arms. Much love, friend! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Get on the Boat, yeah.

As I hurriedly dropped off my three year old at preschool the other day, I noticed that I must have missed a virtual memo. (Hey, what's new?) Living in South Carolina, there is naturally a high concentration of USC fans. I'm referring to the University of South Carolina, not the University of Southern California, for any west coast gals who may have been a bit confused. 

Ok, so, as I passed the precious children making their way to their classrooms, I saw their adorable smocked dresses, rompers, and cheerleading outfits adorned with the gamecocks logo, USC, or anything with maroon, black, and white.  Hey, I didn't even know it was game day. And honestly, I didn't mind not knowing. 

My lack of team spirit for our local college, made me start thinking. (Of course, what else would I do?) I am not from around these parts, nor am I ever. Or so it seems... 

Here are a couple instant replays from my formative years for you: 

In sixth grade, I was not in the popular girls inner circle of BFF's. I wasn't in the dorky click, or whatever word that would be politically correct now, either. I just straddled the two, known, but never verbalized groups. Without a secret coded invite, the girls that were too cool for school would only allow me to nosh on the tiny morsels of juicy gossip they learned the night before, while putting on their mud masks. Sad, I know. 

In college, I was more of a socially wounded butterfly. I would investigate what fun activities the different stereotypical groups of friends were doing, and join in the laughs with those whom I thought had the brightest idea. This activity may have included viewing the "moon over Nashville," playing broom hockey with an impending trip to the ER to see if you broke your dang coxic bone (not me), or  a 70's disco party at the skating rink, complete with bell bottoms, followed by a sketchy trip to Waffle House. This method is not highly recommended. I ended up having friendships inches deep and miles long. I later learned to dive in with a more core group, but I wish I would have put my stake in the ground sooner. No Bahamas cruise with uni friends for me. (No offense to those reading...just sharing life experiences!) 

Being a part of a sports team involving white leather balls that you spike, was also a mixed bag of feelings for me in my college days. I knew I played an integral role as the unofficial head cheerleader, as I sat on the bench for four years, simultaneously documenting statistics.  Although, it was rather unfortunate, because I had quite a lot of untapped energy that was wasted, until I cashed it in while running around a dimly lit track, at hours of the night when I should have been studying. Or sleeping.  

Thankfully, such "trials," if you could say that, prepared me to become a military wife. Having your spouse in the military means many things. One of them being, that if you want to live outside of the four walls of your home, you have no choice, but to dive into the waters of uncharted territory, with little assistance. I know, it's not always the case, but it happens more times than we would like to admit. 

In my own story, there have been numerous occasions where, during family gatherings, I am fighting back tears as I frantically chase my toddler who is trying to unwittingly fall down the basement stairs to his demise. At least, this is what I fear the most. 

There are memories of stamping parties, when the husband is away defending our country, and so I must have the screaming baby who would really like to nurse, along for a "girls night out." Now that's what I call fun times! 

I know I'm not alone in experiences of Wednesday night church gatherings, hauling a surprisingly weighty stroller in and out of a car, like She ra, princess of power, in order to make it happ'n cap'n. 

My point is not to say, "Whoa is me," but to get us thinking. And there are scads of other wives who have lived through much braver feats than me, like birthing their babies alone, buying houses without their mate, going through major health crises, and the list goes on. 

Through the years, I have realized that we are not made to have to fit in to every group that we come across. We can settle in to where God wants us to be and who He wants us to share our lives with, in each chapter of our lives.  

As women who often have to keep the home fires burning without burning down the house, we can remember that God has placed us exactly where He wants us. He has gone before us, and has made a way for us to have the fellowship we require for our sanity as women. Often, we have access to other families who are in our boat, we just have to give them a life preserver! 
Even in desolate times, when we are feeling lonely and isolated, we can cry out to God to meet our needs. 

Joshua 1:9
"9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

And, ultimately, though it's not always fun to hear, this world is not our home! This life is short, and in the end most of the things we worry about and obsess over, do not matter. We are told to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, not cling to this earth. 

Hebrews 13:14-15

"14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God."

Whether we are military wives, single moms, moms whose husbands are away on business, or a mom who feels overwhelmed juggling it all, we have our own hurdles to jump and mountains to climb, with the strength of the Lord. The reality is that we often feel alone in the journey, and not an official VIP member of any one group. When we set our pride aside and reach out to others for help, (which military wives are TERRIBLE at, myself included) we may just find someone that can join us in our boat, before we go under. Often, we need others just as much as they need us to stay afloat!  

While we stand shoulder to shoulder with the "family" that we choose, remember, that this life is but a vapor, this world is not our eternal home, and that the Lord is with us, even if it feels like we are the only ones who didn't get the memo. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hank and Beans

I have always been on the more naive, or rather gullible side of life. When boys would tell me that the word gullible was written on the ceiling, I would say, "Really?" and look up, about every time. Maybe I was too trusting, and thought the best of people. Or, so I like to tell myself. And no, I am not a blonde. Does that stereotype still exist? That must be haircolorism or some politically correct term...

In the same regard as my gullibility, as a young girl, I was always a simple optimist. 
Inquisitive adults would often ask me, "What would you like to be when you grow up, Rachel?" I would quickly and cheerfully reply that I would like to be a mother. It's true. I think I even have some documents written in crayon to prove it. 

I know, it wasn't a very creative answer, but it was my answer. I loved playing with other kids. Who doesn't at that age? It appeared to me like a pretty fun job, getting to rock babies to sleep, kiss boo boos, and drink Diet Coke. 

Over the years, I mentally made a checklist of the milestones of motherhood that I had to look forward to when I donned the title of Mommy. Here are some of these moments I knew, or I thought I knew that I would do as a mother: 1) Scream at my husband and say that I hated him while giving birth. That's how they always presented child birth in the movies, so I figured that it must be true. 2) Be sprayed with pee pee, by my son, as I changed his diaper. 3) Have poop on my nose, and I would not be able to figure out where the horrid smell is coming from. 4) Rush to the emergency room because my child has shoved a bean up his nose. 

Well, so far, I didn't exactly scream at my husband during the three births that we have endured together. I just squeezed the life out of his hand, and so I am pretty sure he thinks that we had about the same amount of pain. I did have an epidural, so that makes it all a piece of cake. Right? 

I have, without a doubt, been sprayed with urine during the changing of the diaper. And, I have unknowingly wiped poop on my nose. But, I think I figured it out pretty quickly as to the source of the odor. 

Poop smell on your hands is the worst. Just throwing that out there. And you can wash and wash your hands, and often it is still there. Then you keep smelling your hands in disbelief, like you can't believe that your hands still have an unbearable smell on them. Or maybe that's just me too. 

Ok, so now we are down to number four on my list. Rushing my child to the ER because he or she has shoved a bean up their nose. Ding ding ding, we have a winner! I can now check that one off my list. 

I'll go into a little more detail for your own amusement. Rice and beans. What do you think of when you hear, "rice and beans?" I think of a few things. I can hear Dave Ramsey saying that phrase, when referring to what you should be eating when you are getting out of debt. Secondly, I think of the huge pain in the buns that rice and beans creates when you use this in its dry form in order to enlighten the minds and imaginations of children. 

In times of desperation, I give my kids rice and beans to play with, as a distraction for when I have to cook. They absolutely love it, and it gives them a chance to scoop and feel different textures. At first, it's so cute, and they are just being little angels smiling and transferring rice and beans, and beans and rice. 

Then, quickly, rice and beans start to be thrown high into the air, with much laughter ensuing. After verbal correction, the throwing does not cease. While raw chicken is on your hands, it's quite difficult to manually discipline children, in order for them to obey. So, as to not scream, I often feel my blood pressure rising as the food particles get more and more dispersed around the floors. I am by no means a neat freak, or a good housekeeper at all, and so it must be pretty bad if I am losing my cool over a messy and creative activity. 

My daughter eventually gets bored of playing with the rice and beans near the kitchen and so she travels, unbeknownst to me, to the living room, where she then dumps a large container of the edible toy onto the coffee table. Of course, the mess is all over the floor as well. I decide to not stress out about it, and I'll just deal with it later. 

My kids get bored, once again, of the rice and beans, and I allow them to watch a show as they await dinner time. My husband works late hours in the Marine Corps, and so he was not home yet. While sitting in their personalized chairs, enjoying their show, my middle son, Henry, who is 3, declares, "I stuck a bean up my nose!" 

I ask him if he's joking. He replies he is not. I tell him, almost in jest, that we are heading straight to the emergency room if he really did. I was hoping it would just scare him enough to say that it was really a joke. Unfortunately, it was not a joke. With my handie smart phone light, I looked up his tiny nostril, to see a pinto bean, barely visible. Ugh. This is really happening. 

I called my husband to dramatically announce that we have to go to the ER and that he should come home immediately if he can. Friends who would normally watch my other two in an emergency, but one set had kids throwing up, and I didn't want to share in that love,and others were busy doing extracurricular activities. And I kind of just wanted my husband to come home, because if a bean up the nose is not an emergency, then what is?! Take that USMC. ;) 

I called my dad who is a family doctor and he  gave me some home remedies to try to dislodge the bean. It could not be blown out by Henry, or by my own air pressure. Off to the ER it was. 

My husband finally arrived and so I scarfed down the soup that I had painstakingly been working on all day. I did not want to be starving at the ER. Nothing is worse than being hungry at a hospital, with a sick kid. I had Henry eat something kid friendly because this was not the time to make him eat his veggies. 

Henry and I had some quality time together, jumping through the usual hoops, once at the hospital. Eventually, in our own room, a nurse be-bops in to to see us, chuckling about the situation at hand. I guess it is pretty funny when a kid has shoved something up his nose, but it's not very funny at the time, to the parent. 

The resident seemed stumped as to the best course of action, and the attending physician was called into the room for back up. Several techniques were attempted, including the blowing again through his mouth to pop that sucker out. No luck. Again. Suction, no luck. Syringe, no luck. Tweezers, not happening. During this time, as you can imagine, Henry is screaming and thrashing about like a tiny man in a straight jacket, as I am holding him down, and attempt to calm him down in between techniques. Can we say, "Fun times?!" Who's laughing now? Ha ha.

After about six people on the medical staff are in the room, giving moral or physical support, and one long and narrow hook later, the bean finally descends past the nostril, for an exit stage left. Thank you Lord! 

Henry's frown turned upside down once I gave him a ring pop (yes, I thought ahead!) and a few more hugs and kisses. He agreed to never shove anything else up his nose, ever again. I am really hoping and praying that he keeps his word on this one. 

So, there has to be a moral to this story, right??!!! For days prior to the legume creating drama, I was at the end of my patience rope with Henry. He had been acting even more irrational than his usual three year old self is on an average day. He purposefully broke his brother's piggy bank, spat upon Jack's friends and bit them, and even flashed his family jewels to his brother. At least he kept them in the family. Yes. It was bad. Or at least mortifying to me, as a mother. I couldn't figure out what was into him. 

After giving such special attention to Henry, with the ER trip, his attitude changed today. He was more obedient, eager to help and show affection towards our family, and he kept his teeth and other body parts where they belonged. Success! 

His behavior has made me wonder whether his lashing out was partly due to the lack of personalized attention lately, from me. Kids shouldn't' have adults answering their every demand, but at times, it's good to make a special connection with your child. It's unfortunate that it took a trip to the ER to figure this out, but I am praying that this will be part of the solution to future misbehaviors, which will undoubtedly rise up again. Probably tomorrow. 

In the same way, as believers, we often start to rebel when we choose to not spend quality time with God, one on one. It's easy for me to enjoy corporate worship, and Bible studies. But it's more of a hurdle to make time, with just God and myself. I find myself multi-tasking, doing many spiritual things, like sermons on my phone, praise and worship music, and Christian podcasts. But it's so difficult for me to listen to what God is teaching me, in silence, or without distractions. We are told to be still and know that he is God. (Psalm 46:10). 

With so many sounds, from kids chatting about, cartoons playing in the background, the trumpet calling outside in our military neighborhood, and a phone chiming away with new texts, I forget to talk to God about what is personally concerning me, and on my heart. I constantly am trying to improve myself, but it has been harder to be silent. Or to just read or listen to God's word, without all the frills. 

Hebrews 4:12-13 "12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

God is jealous for us, and created us to be in a personal relationship with Him. The closer we are to him, the more we walk in His ways. Not because we have to, but because our love for Him grows. We then desire to obey. We trust that God is good, and He wants what is best for us. 

I encourage you to join me in my decision to make a conscious effort to not only make one on one time with my child a priority, to strengthen that relationship, but to seek a quiet moment to listen to what God has for me, in my own personal relationship with Him. 

The next time you are faced with the mommy moment that you have always looked forward to/dreaded, you can remember that God can use even the most random of events to draw you closer to your children, and to Himself. Even if your child has to grow a bean stalk up his nose first. :)