Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hello Kitty Rain Boots

My 20 month old daughter, Ellie loves shoes. She lives and breathes shoes. She wakes up in the morning saying "Shoes, shoes, shoes," over and over. "Shoes!" And over.  One day last week, just out of pure curiosity, I counted how many times she said the word shoes. 100 times. So I do not exaggerate when I say that she perseverates on shoes. 

My precious shoeaholic wants to put them on immediately when she awakes. Tonight she actually went to bed with her light metallic pink Mary Janes on her feet, sans socks, per her request. This tiny demand was even after her bath, mind you, and so we have that out of the way for tomorrow.  Oh, wait. She will want to change into another pair that she comes across in the morning. So, disregard! For those wondering, I tried to sneak them off of her, when she was almost asleep. In her dimly lit room, she grabbed my wrist, and grunted her displeasure. And so I stopped. You win, Ellie, you win. 

All shoes are up for grabs with this little fashionista. She will walk into my closet and try on some colorful high heels, shiny flats, or even old flip flops. She then attempts to parade through the house in her shoes of choice, readjusting the fit and alignment every few steps. Men's and boys' shoes are not off limits to her. She happily tries on her brother's crocs, which makes Henry lose his mind. Being three, he doesn't quite understand the concept of sharing yet. Much to my chagrin. After the ensuing fight has been broken up, over a measly pair of stinky (literally) shoes, she moves on to the next pair.

Often she will find a pair that she has grown out of, that I have been too lazy, I mean too focused on other things, to put them out of her reach. She then says, "Shoes, shoes!" while shoving them in my face, earnestly trying to have me put them on for her. Chubby feet and shoes that are too small, are not a match made in heaven. With her cries and my determination, her piggies finally nestle into their beds... For about 5 seconds, before they are kicked off, and the routine starts over again. Ugh. 

Today a pair of pink Hello Kitty Rain boots made their debut at pre-school, about two sizes too big for her. Pick your battles, right?! Thrift shops are my achilles heel, thus she often has shoes that are a tee tiny bit too big. Or a lot, in this case. Hey, who can pass up on $6 rain boots in show room condition? Like the organized and prepared mother that I am (stop laughing!), I put an extra pair of fitting shoes in her bag. She had those on by the time I went to pick her up at noon. 

Most kids these days are fascinated with something, whether it is trains, jewelry accessories, their lovie, Buzz Lightyear, or American Girl dolls. These age appropriate obsessions, we may find adorable, and infuriating at the same time. Just keep the dang shoes on already!!! I would be lying if I had not said that to some degree. Children and their keen interests may be driving us to our graves, but it also cultivates our patience, in a way we could have never imagined before having children. 

Growing up in the church, I often heard the Bible verses in Romans about how suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope. 


I am not trying to say that parenting is all suffering. It is a pure joy many times a day, but it can also be a challenging time that grows and matures your character. God is transforming you into the person that He wants for you to be, even as you try not to lose your patience when your child is talking about something, over and over again! It's hard to see these moments as a moment of growth, I have no doubt. But it can be encouraging to look back at your day, and think that as you persevered, it produced character, and the character produced hope, that is in Christ. 

The Message version of the passage helped me to see these verses in a new light. See if it doesn't open up your eyes a bit, to the patience that has been developed in you as a mother. For you have a lot more of it, than you realize! 

Romans 5:3-5

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

...The next time you may lose your patience, for if it is a day ending in "y," I will be right there with you, be encouraged. All the other times that you DIDN'T lose your patience, God is developing your character. And God has heaps of grace to cover the time that you do lose it, and throw a small sparkly shoe across the room. 


Ellie with one of her red dress up shoes. The left shoe will show up around here some time or another. ;)


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Booby traps

"Egad! Our house has been ransacked!!" 

This is what I want to exclaim, just about every time I walk in the door to our house. As a kid, I watched the movie, Home Alone, more times than I would like to admit. Boys especially seemed to love the painful booby traps that Kevin had cleverly devised for the robbers, Harry and Marv. They are classic slapstick moves, that I'm sure my sons will love to watch one day soon. If I can only find an old VHS tape player... Mother-in-law to the rescue!! :)

Similar booby traps have been set in my very own home, though rather unintentionally. As you may have gathered, we now live on an Army post. Marine Corps friends around the world are now throwing up in their mouths- I have been trained to say "post" now, not "base," NOOOOO!!!!! ;) Anyway, while living on a military ... property, I often let my guard down a little more than I probably should. Thankfully, my confidence is reestablished, when I think about the pitfalls that surely would come to someone attempting to purposefully ransack my home.

Here's what I imagine: 

Our family has left town for the weekend. Only the ol' Jeep Wagoneer is in the driveway. The disguised villain in black, quietly creeps along the side of the house. A hole, just the size of an adult man's foot, is camouflaged with grass (that maintenance has not seemed to fill, despite my polite request). As you can only imagine, the dastardly creeper sprains his ankle. 

While hobbling to the front door, cursing under his breath, he suddenly slips on small pool of motor oil in the driveway, leaked from the aforementioned vehicle. He then lands on his back, onto the scooter that was hidden, under the cover of darkness, on the sidewalk. In disbelief, he rolls onto his stomach, and he feels an object being rammed up his nose. The man reaches over to dislodge the Nerf  bullet that has been painfully and unexpectedly shoved up his nose, for they are scattered around the grass. Nerf bullets, not noses, that is. 

When he goes to stand up, his hand is planted into homemade play dough, that has been oddly smushed into the grass. After picking himself up once more, he swats away flies, swarming as he approaches the door, for they have been feasting on the leftover ice-cream puddles from a few days earlier, that a little curly hair child dropped onto the patio furniture. He sees smudges on the glass door, making it difficult to scope out the loot. 

Taking a step into the house, he trips over the wooden train set, that a small child has left out, in the worst possible spot ever, which has miraculously become an ingenious place to foil a robber's evil plans. And yet, he is not stopped. He proceeds through the hallway, while stepping on corn chips, that have been scattered about on the wooden floors. 

The kitchen seems to be the perfect room to hide, for he has heard an odd noise. Without looking, he leaps backwards, onto uncooked rice and beans, leftover from a play session that didn't quite get 100% cleaned up, after several attempts with the broom. Once again, he falls flat on his back, for the rice and beans concoction is slipperier than one would imagine. The dishes are overflowing in the sink, but he seems not to care. He leans over to peer around the corner, while bracing himself with his hand, onto a hot griddle. The screams are stifled once more. With eery shadows about him, he creeps on all fours, and his knees suddenly feel sharp pains as they bear down on crayons, artfully covering the floor.

He presses on, determined to get to the bounty. He is thankful for the air mattress that is conveniently waiting for him, in the den. "A movie night," he speculates, for a few traces of popcorn kernels remain. While laying on crushed goldfish, he appreciates the short snooze before pressing on to the treasures that await him. 

He scopes out the flat screen TV, but realizes that there are too many smudges and scratches for a reasonable resale value. He decides it's not worth the effort. Approaching the stairs, he steps on numerous miniature air craft figurines, with unforgivable strength, penetrating into his feet. Up the stairs he goes, and decides to return to his childhood, reading a children's library book on the small carpeted platform area of the stairs. He ignores his reservations, which arose after observing that the carpets appear to have not been vacuumed in a few weeks. He picks up the book, Flat Stanley at Bat. Just the motivation he needs. A single rubber rain boot, he sees on the stairs, and this time he's not fooled. He avoids it, only to find a tiny toothbrush underfoot. His feet are throbbing by this point in his journey. 

At the top of the stairs, he decides to go left, taking a few steps into the vacant boys' room. He-Man figures are strewn about, making this, once more, an obstacle. He hears a noise. A squeak, and then a dash across the carpet. "A rat," he shrieks, only to find an innocent Teddy Bear Hamster, named Harry. After chasing the fur ball, he reaches out to pick up the adorable hamster, only to be bitten on his finger. He faints at the sight of his own blood.

When he comes to, he sees the image of a man in the corner of the room. And the bad man freezes in fear. Upon closer look, the face looks a lot like Ronald Reagan. He runs out of the room in fright, not knowing that a Reagan mask was simply on a star shaped wall hook near the kids' costumes. 

The babies room is next, with the noxious smell of dirty diapers wafting from under the door. He decides to skip this room. Wise choice. 

Next the villain must squeeze around a very tall box that is blocking much of the hallway. "Moving day?," he ponders. He sees a room that must be the guest room. Piles of sheets and blankets haphazardly cover the floor. Nothing of value here. 

With one last attempt at a financial gain, he tries to go through the jewels in the master bedroom. He cannot, however, find the items of value, amidst all of the costume jewelry, feathers, and bows. Discouraged, he decides to flee.   

Rushing back down the stairs, he runs out through the garage, catapulting himself into the air after running into a small tricycle that was at the foot of the door. He conveniently lands on a giant inflatable ball, much like a human hamster ball. He thanks God, though he had no belief in Him prior to this safe landing. 

In total shock, he tries to run out the side door, only to be blocked once again by a Rubbermaid tote. With an ultimate escape within his grasp, he passes the green trash bin, and he finally smells fresh air. He gazes upon the moon and stars. Freedom!!!

The robber then realizes, what he should have realized all along: that this house had already been looted! Why else would this house be such a mess?

I wish I could tell you that all of these details were fabricated. However, if you come to my house right now, you will see that NONE of it is made up. Oh, except the evil villain. I pray that one is not lurking. This week, all of the above has existed, in some degree. Well, without all of the ensuing accidents, but the traps are there, nonetheless! 

Most likely your house isn't this bad today. I always like to make up statistics, and my husband laughs. So, in the case, I would say, "I am sure that 95% of you don't have houses that resemble my messy house, to this extent."
But for the 5% that need a word of encouragement, I am your gal. 

Remember that, no matter how overwhelmed you are with household duties, and keeping up with a tidy house, we all get overly behind at times! Or, for some of us, most of the time!! I think we are harder on ourselves for such matters, than anyone else is, on expecting perfection in our homes. My goal is that my friends and neighbors can come over, without me having to apologize for my mess. We all have a different standard of excellence!

My prayer is that the Lord will give us all peace, in knowing that we are loved, even if there are dishes in the sink or piles of laundry that need to be folded. 

Zephaniah 3:17
"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." 

Isn't it amazing that the Lord delights in us, and rejoices over us, with singing! Even in the midst of our chaos. I love that imagery, of God singing over me. How humbling, that the Creator of heaven and earth takes delight in me. And, I am very grateful that he doesn't really care about all of my booby traps. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Procrastination Station

Living on an Army post, there are a few perks. One being, that you are within walking distance of quite a few choice locations. When I am feeling naively optimistic, I pretend I'm a sherpa and load up two kids in my double jogger and one on my back, and we head to the Burger King for ice-cream cones for a mere 50 cents per cone. Sounds ridiculous, you say. Well, I am just that motivated to save that extra 50 cents per cone. Darn it. Ok, most of the time we just drive, but it paints a much better word picture. ;)

Another place where I can practice the gift of being bipedal is the commissary. For those civilians that are not sure what a commissary is, I will inform you. It is a military  grocery store where you don't have to pay a sales tax and you can get some pretty sweet deals. However you do have to  avoid pay day like the plague, and have cash on hand to give the bagger a tip, because you are informed on a very intimidating sign that, "Baggers work for tips." And you don't mess around with the baggers. They will remember you and hunt you down. Just kidding, but I always feel like a terrible person unless I have some cash on hand. The sequestration may take our Tuesday commissary hours, but they will not take our freedom!!! (I picture myself with Braveheart paint, leading us into battle.) 

Who has two thumbs and can walk to the library? This girl. Who has two thumbs and waited until the summer had totally passed to perform the aforementioned task? Again- this girl. All summer I thought, "Self, it would be a good idea for you to investigate, explore, and discover the library on post. For it shall be a treasure trove of books, with the potential to travel the world. In your mind." Well, I wish I would have been telling myself that, because maybe I would have actually carpe diem-ed my way over there. Instead, while the bright and disciplined children were getting their read on, my wild men were smashing water balloons over their heads, and making their water balloons pee, as the kids on the street like to say. These are equally important skills, are they not? This is not an exaggeration, for you will see the evidence of a summer of water balloons in our front porch mulch, despite my constant instructions for all the cul de sac kids to pick them up after they pop them. Or make them pee.  But alas, we finally made our way to the library, this past Friday. Jack has a reading check off list, and I thought we should get ahead of the curve. As soon as I walked in and saw the majestic children's reading area, I was kicking myself. How could I have waited nearly four months to enlighten my children into the world of reading? (Don't judge, we read Good Night Moon, and The Jesus Story Book Bible on a nightly basis.) 

As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, I am quite the procrastinator. To be fair, I either do something immediately, or I wait. A very, very long time. Maybe I feel like I have lost my momentum to do whatever task that I need to complete, and then I dread getting the ball rolling again. Whenever I do this, I always create this huge, impossible hill that I have to climb. Figuratively, of course. It looks quite daunting and scary. Walking to the library, scary? You do have to cross the road, and that happens to be a childhood fear of mine that I have since gotten over. Without therapy, mind you. Look both ways before crossing the street. I had to say it... As soon as I do whatever thing it is, I usually find that it was way easier than I thought it would be. Then I ALWAYS think, "Why in the world did I wait so long to do that?" 

Here's another example in my procrastination station. Not sure what that means, but I like it. About two years ago, I started a wreath, gluing some felt flowers all around it. I didn't love my color choices, and so I just let it go for a while. I finally decided to give it a face lift for Independence Day that was coming up in a few months. As you can guess,I waited til the day AFTER the fourth of July to complete my totally awesome red, white and blue, with fancy gold buttons wreath for our front door. Again, we live on base. Score: I'm now patriotic 365 days a year. 

A very wise man once said, "No matter what you are doing, you are procrastinating something else." I happened to be married to that scholar who created that principle. Something struck a chord with me when thinking about his out of the box theory. There are two types of procrastinators. There is the "good kind," and the "bad kind." If you have boys, you know that there are good guys and bad guys. Very similar. We all know what bad procrastinators looks like. There of those of us who wait to make a dentist appointment until 15 months since our last visit. At least I flossed, does that count? Then we often don't change the oil until we are 1000 miles overdue, or we even realize that we haven't sent our best friend a birthday card, and it was her birthday. Yesterday. Ugh. 

So, what in the world does a good procrastinator look like? You have most likely heard the story about the professor and the jar of rocks. In short, he fills a jar with fairly large rocks, and asks if the jar is full. The students say, "Yes." He then fills the same "full"  jar with pebbles, then sand, then water, asking each time if the jar is full. It is finally "full" when all of the empty space is gone. The moral of the story, is that you have to put the "big rocks" in first in order to get them in at all. The big rocks represent what you value, like God, your spouse, your children, your family and close friends. Then come the pebbles that matter to you, but not as much, such as your job, your house, your possessions. Then the sand, and the water, each with diminishing value. That's a fairly common concept, but I believe the analogy of the rocks can apply to procrastination as well. We often procrastinate putting in the big rocks, while often frantically putting in the pebbles. And we often don't recognize it is even happening. The pebbles are important, such as maintaining household duties, rushing kids around to practices, or doing an extra hour on the elliptical. But when we do these things time and time again, we often fill up the jar, without first putting in the big rocks. 

When's the last time you had a date night? Trusting a babysitter with your precious children is huge, but I'm sure there is a trustworthy someone in your inner circle that is willing to watch them, even for a few hours, so you can reconnect with your spouse. Can't afford to pay someone? Maybe you can create a babysitting co-op.  You may have to gird up your loins once a month with some crazy kiddos, but then you have three date nights in a month. Bam. 

Have you made time to fellowship with other believers? I know I am guilty of this, where I thought it was just too much work to get plugged into a small group at our church. I paid for this dearly, as my very small circle of friends who were graciously there in my time of greatest need, became tapped out while trying to help me, even if they would never, ever admit it. Sometimes you just need a deeper bench in the hardest of times. This is not only for yourself, but it is for you to be a blessing to others! I can still name the people who made meals for our family, with my three babies. I bet you can too. Such a simple thing, but such an enormous blessing. 

Have you listened to God's calling for your life lately? He may be speaking to you in a still small voice, but are you too distracted to hear it? I know I am often on Facebook and I don't realize how the time has just been sucked away. Never to return again. I know, this is like the TV commercials for kids where they say, "Get outside and play! Stop watching this stinky ol' TV and get some fresh air." It's true: electronic media can be a source of good, or evil. We just have to be careful how we spend our time, and how it is affecting our family. I know that my kids will often request for me to play with them, or read them a story (see?! ;)) and I get so distracted with my phone, that I don't even hear their plea until the third time. Yikes. 

My point isn't to guilt trip you about how you or I spend our time, but to motivate us to remember the big rocks first, and procrastinate on the small ones. Enriching the most important relationships in your life, whether that is God, your spouse, or your children, is definitely a good thing. Or a new thing. 

18 Isaiah 43: 18-19 says,
“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.


My prayer is that we would put all fears aside, to do that new thing. We have procrastinated long enough, and we will realize that once we finally do what we have been called to do, it wasn't so bad after all. 

I know because you are reading this! :) 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Semper Gumby: Always flexible

As August is coming to a close, it is a bittersweet time. I love the adventures of the summer, with no agenda, except to make sure my toddler has a nap sometime after lunch. Being the, "Type B" mother that I am, I can easily flex around another mom's schedule. When I get a last minute text to join a friend and her kiddos at the children's museum, I am usually game. As long as we have a double stroller, a few snacks, some wipes and a clean diaper, we are good to go. I can always use my field expediency for other child related "emergencies" such as going to lunch with no bib. Just grab a dirty kid's shirt from the car, that was shoved under the seat, and slap it over the babies head, and I am golden. As a Marine wife, I have learned to overcome and adapt! 

My semper gumby ways end tomorrow, when I have to wake up to the sound of my iPhone blurting out some kind of emergency signal that the plant, aka, my bed, is about to self destruct. I recently heard a psychologist who believes that people are not truly morning people, or night people. He says we just shift our waking hours towards the morning, or the evening, and this is adaptable for each person. If that's the case, I am stuck on repeat, in the position of a more alert evening time. (It is now 1:44 in the a.m. for those wondering.) After nearly 34 years, one would think my brain would be more adaptable. Ka sera sera.

I wish that I could say that I meticulously plan my early mornings, and follow through accordingly. I have aspirations of joyfully pressing that magical button on the Keurig  machine that effortlessly dispenses an aromatic cuppa joe, before 7 am. Then I would start my quiet time, without the pitter patter of little feet down the stairs, or the sweet, yet demanding requests for chocolate milk. Oh yes, I would read my devotions with a fervent prayer time, followed by a brilliant performance of holding a child's pose and downward dog, only to catapult myself onto the treadmill to run a 5K. While wearing a tiara. Well, I have a very active REM state while I sleep soundly in my Sleep Number bed, set at a cozy number of 35, and so I am sure I can accomplish the very same tasks, only in my mind. 

My reality check comes tomorrow morning, bright and early, with the birds chirping, and a song in my heart. Looking towards the days that lie ahead, I can see how this is a good thing. I often get complacent in my meandering ways, and then I do not act unless something is planned. Ahead of time. Guess what... there are now things planned and time tables to keep, every Monday through Friday, at the very least. This seems quite selfish of me, and how this will all affect me, and my precious slumber. And so, I will move on. (Down with selfishness, boo, hiss!)

Opportunities for learning, friendship, and character building await my kindergartener. I am supposed to be weepy that my oldest is officially starting school for the very first time in his 5 years on this earth. However, my crying bone is often broken, until it's not, then you have to watch out. Give me about two weeks, and we can talk, and cry (I think).

I am excited to see how the Lord will begin to secure my son's foundations, that we have begun at home. Despite my best efforts, I can not teach my child to read, and so I look forward to watching him bloom under the tutelage of another more learned (pronounced learn...ed ;)) and wise scholar, such as his new teacher. No more scenarios of, "How do you spell rock, my dear?" "R-O-K. I'm outta here!", skipping off to ride his scooter.

My son is brilliant in many areas, but stubborn when it comes to learning certain subjects. And he doesn't happen to especially enjoy learning from his matriarch or patriarch in the areas of reading, writing, and arithmetic. (Home schooling moms' gasps, heard 'round the world.) Just kidding, I love all of you super talented women, wearing so many hats. I just wish I could be you. Or temporarily become a tee tiny wood nymph to observe how the skilled transfer of knowledge really occurs, so that I too, one day, maybe, should I ever become very, very brave or very, very foolish, may learn the tricks of the trade, with the trade being home schooling... On a side note, the book about the 100 top picks for home schooling curriculums- need I say more? 100? Really? That's narrowing it down?! Really? "Oh, silly Rachel," you kindly say. Well, I suppose thou shalt counsel me later, me thinks. (Insert Irish accent, for my mother will not accept incorrect grammar. And my high school English teacher is my Facebook friend. Hi, Mrs. Williams.)

As we begin to the smell the bouquet of newly sharpened pencils (I love Meg Ryan), this week, may we continue to find the precious moments we had in the summer to share the treasure of biblical principles with our kids. So mama, even if you didn't get to do that in the last three months, now is the time to start! I have found that while driving in the car, during the rare, yet precious moments where everyone is quiet (thank you, God!) I have an attentive audience. They are stuck in their seats, and ready to listen. Well, at least Jack, who's my eldest child. (I would now like to ask you to turn off all electronic devices. Thank you.) You can observe together, as you navigate, the beauty in the trees above and around you, and how God made each one for our enjoyment. There are so many love letters to us in nature, that it's impossible not to notice them, when we lift our eyes to the heavens, and off of our smart phones. Ouch, I know, me too. 

Kids love it when we are honest with them, sharing our faults from the day, and how we need to be more patient with them, and how we can try as a family to treat one another with love and grace. The time may only last a minute, but it will last for eternity, if we don't let the time slip away without a word of wisdom that God can supernaturally share with you, at exactly the time you need it.  

You most likely know this verse, from the KJV Bible, but this is a different angle: Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)- Point your kids in the right direction- when they're old they won't be lost. 

Almost all of us have a GPS in our pockets, that we use daily. As we are pointed in the right direction with this tool, we too can point our kids in the direction of Christ, so that their faith may stick, and they will know where they are in their walk with Christ. Despite our best efforts, there is no "guarantee" that our children will adopt this Christian faith as their own, but it is our calling to usher our children to His feet. We can live our faith, speak of our faith, and pray for their faith for today, and the future. 

Matthew 19:13-14

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

In the 2013 school year, let us remember to make every moment with our children count, whether they are educated at home, or in the traditional classroom. God allows us to borrow these children from Him for a season, and it is our honor to share our faith with them. Even if we can't sleep in til 8 am anymore. :)



Monday, August 19, 2013

Grace Bending


Pour yourself a spot of tea with a spoonful of sugar, and find a cozy chair. Ok, let's be honest- you are reading this on your phone, as the kids cry in the background. And you can't remember the last time that you could sit with your girlfriends, uninterrupted, with a hot drink. Coffee is most likely on a survival only basis. And if you are like me, it's often cold, after serving the children their breakfast, and you finally remember that you are a human too, an hour later. 

I usually have a running dialogue in my head, of the funny things that have been going on with my messy, unorganized home and my delightfully busy children. Every day, I am amazed at the way that God somehow teaches me something through it all, after the tears have dried (mine that is), and they are snuggled in their beds. Or in my bed. Or the guest bed. Or whatever bed agreed upon that caused the least amount of crying (this time, said child). I have thought, "Oh, you should be writing this down, and sharing your mess with the other moms who are in the same boat, so they can feel that their bit of crazy is somehow, 'normal,' too." This is now six procrastinating years later. I have had every intention to start on this verbal journey, however life has a funny way of moving on, day after day, when you don't take initiative. I guess I should have been reading my Nike shoe box, so I would have known to, "Just do it," years ago! 

Someone, at some time, has said you should write about what you know. I know that because I read it. In a book. Just kidding, I'll have to google it, but I know I have heard that at one time or another. (Wait for it, wait for it...Googled it.) Apparently, that saying refers to writing about the emotions you have experienced, not just about the events. Perfect. I shall try to cover both in my humble, yet honest, (maybe too honest) writings with this blog. I shall start randomly, for, if you know me, that is what I do best.

    

It's amazing how as soon as you take the time to unload the dishwasher, there is a load that is waiting to be loaded right after it? Then it looks like you have done nothing in the dishwashing department that day, but you and Dawn know the truth, that you have stood at the sink half the day (or so it seems). No, you really have. I have not quite figured out why I am so disabled in the area of housekeeping.  I struggle accomplishing these daily tasks in a timely fashion. I am not simply sitting around all day doing my latest Pinterest inspired project, as my children play peacefully with wooden trains, while sitting at my feet. Unfortunately, it's more like one child is attempting to hold onto one of my legs, while screaming, "Hold you!", as I struggle to drain the boiling water with the spaghetti noodles, without scalding a tiny human.  And the other two are quietly drawing... on the walls with their favorite crayon colors. 

Over the years as a mother, I have gone through many stages of mommy comparisons. Social media has become an avenue for women, including myself, to see the highlight reels of another mother, for them only to be compared to the bloopers of her own life. We then believe lies that have been created in our own minds that we are not good enough, and do not measure up. Can I get a witness?! ;) I always wanted to say that... It was easy for me to think, "How in the world am I the only mom in my peer group, that doesn't have her act together?!" I knew I was much more sane than the moms out there that allow their young children to go on the subway alone in New York City, without a cell phone.  Hello, that was a no brainer. And if you are that mom, God loves you too, now go get your kids.  But, it was difficult for me to not beat myself up mentally, for being, "That mom." Oh, you know, the one who looks like she is having a yard sale every day, since there are so many colorful ride on toys, strewn about the grass. And on Saturdays, passersby, stop and get out of their cars, to investigate this wonderful garage sale, that is actually, just my husband attempting to organize the bagillion toys we have. <I do not know how many a bagillion is, but I am assuming it is a lot.> The mom who has those cute sippy cup labels for their kids, only she had to use a Sharpie marker to  draw a line through the eldest child's name, to make room for the younger child who needs a labeled cup, stat, because it's time for church. The mom who has ketchup, straws, and a rotting apple in her diaper bag, and she discovers this after she gets home from an event requiring child care. (Hope they didn't find that apple, whoops.) "That mom," who doesn't bring a teddy to their child's pre school, teddy bear picnic, because, she often forgets to read her email, and she secretly thinks that if she doesn't check it, then no important emails will be sent to her. You get the picture. 

Since they say that, "Honesty is the best policy," I will admit that I have done all of the aforementioned things. Yep, all of those, don't laugh. I can hear you laughing. ;)  And so I have often labeled myself, "That mom." Those that are not, "That mom," have most likely noticed my, "That momness." Of course, I can not say that I know what other moms have done with that little observation. Whether it's a nice pat on their own back for not being a hot mess, or maybe a verbal, "Bless her little heart," to the closest mama around. I used to care. But, the longer I have been a mother, I do not as much. I have learned to love and embrace my quirks. Well, most of them. 

With time, I have learned to appreciate the fact that I am not the mom who orders their children's Fourth of July outfits with their names monogrammed on them the day after Valentines' Day. I am not the mom who has documented every tooth that has popped through my child's mouth, with a picture to prove it. Nor am I the organized mom, who has every minute of every day ending in, "y" planned on her calendar. And that's ok. For the moms who do those things, that's ok too. God made us all unique. It's easy for both camps to point fingers that the other one is doing it all "wrong," but honestly, we are all doing our personal bests, whatever that may look like. 

James 4:6-12
 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[d] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

--My challenge is for us, as moms, to do some grace bending. As Christ has shown us the utmost example of grace, we too, can give other mothers grace. Instead of judgement, we can offer encouragement. When you see a fellow mom in the grocery store, who is wrangling her wild brood, and you happen to be without kids for once in 3 months, than it's the perfect opportunity to share a quick word to lift her spirits, and let her know that she is not alone in the "battle!" It's easy for us to sit back, and judge the moms who are less involved, but there may be more going on than we know, whether it's miscarriage, postpartum depression, or marital challenges. Think of the times that you have been in desperate need of a friend. Do you have a time where you were once shown grace, and what an encouragement it was? Remember this blessing, and may it motivate you to bend grace her way. 

Opportunities for grace bending happen multiple times a day, if we would only stop just long enough to look for them, and act.I challenge you to pray that God will change your heart and open your eyes to the needs of others, so that you might see the ways you can minister to other moms, even in the midst of your own chaos. All moms are in need of a friend, and you may just meet, your fellow, "That mom," if you step out in faith, and bend grace her way!