Monday, April 30, 2012

the marriage letters - outside influences

Joining with Amber and others for The Marriage Letters series. 

Dear M,
These days in the influences inside our home seem stronger than outside ones.  They influence our sleep (or lack thereof), our meals (what/where we eat and if we eat our food luke-warm or cold), our date nights (I vaguely remember what those are), and which songs get stuck in our head (Wheels on the Bus or Old McDonald).  Everything we do is influence one way or another by the boys.

The outside influences still seem somehow connect to our roles as mommy and daddy. Money (or lack thereof), career decisions (and my constant worry of if this is what we are supposed to be doing), and friendships (which sometimes seem few and far between). The stress of these things make me feel like I will buckle under the weight of them all sometimes.  Of course we know how well I handle these things. I cry and mope. And you work hard and deal with it, and bring me along (sometimes drag me along kicking and screaming). Somehow we overcome the stress of the moment.

"God will not waste your time." 

Over a week later, that phrase still echoes in my head. Perhaps it is because I wrote it on our kitchen chalkboard as a reminder.  I'm stressing less these days about the things I cannot control, all of the unknowns in our life right now and all of the knowns, too. I certainly haven't arrived, but you aren't letting things get to you, so why should I? . We are learning together which outside influences should be allowed to shape us, to help us, to encourage us, and which ones to ignore. As we block out much of the world, we can focus on the ones who influence our short- and long-term decision making. We can focus on those two little ones we want to influence the most in this life together. 


Friday, April 27, 2012

five minute friday - community

joining with The Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday.  Today's topic is community.

My toddler flushed his underwear down the toilet today while I was doing the laundry.  The Hubs works until 7:00, and my one year old has been fussy, fussy, fussy.  It's days like this that make me feel the isolation of motherhood, that make me long for more community.

I want to drink coffee (or something fruitier and stronger, perhaps) with half a dozen women roughly my age.  I want to laugh and cry and lose track of the time because the conversation is so good.
This doesn't happen enough. Life is busy. Lack of transportation and childcare. My own motivation sometimes wanes.

But there are pockets of moments in which I experience community. Some small talk on a Wednesday night. A friend bringing coffee to me. Another showing up to help give me a sanity break with my babies.
And I find community online. Reading mommy blogs is sometimes my online "lifeline" during a long day at home. Old friends give me advice or share a laugh on facebook, and I am renewed a little bit somehow.
Community beats coffee any day of the week. But in an ideal world, I could have both.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

covered in the hard waiting

"Jesus will be glorified with your struggling relationship..."  

 Then the speaker followed this statement with a specific struggling relationship of mine.

Almost three days later and the words still play over and over in my head. I know this, I believe this, I cling to this, but I want to know how. How can He be glorified? I want that, but I would love some more specifics. A checklist. A how-to. Something. Instead, I take my next step, and I wait. I wait without any guarantees of a happy ending.

"i think waiting is believing. i can say i believe, but many times, it's not what i say but what i do after i say it. " ~emily wierenga 

My heart is heavy because of broken trust. I want to make things work with people, but boundaries, grace, accountability and second, third, seventy-seventh chances all blur together like a finger-painting done by my toddler.

I wait some more. I do not make rash decisions, but my guard is up. It has to be for it is not only my heart that needs protecting, but also the hearts of two little boys.

"God's purpose will always determine His timing. ... God will not waste your time. " ~Pastor Jordan

God will not waste this experience, just as He has not wasted any other heartbreak in previous seasons. Will I trust Him with this pain? With these questions? With His purposes?

 I remember I am covered. Even more than I want to cover and protect my children, the Father wants to cover me. And He will. That fact is enough in this moment. I am covered.

*This is not about The Hubs and I, lest anyone worry about our marriage.  This reflection was prompted by some current life situations and a sermon series "Covered" at the 20twenty community.

Monday, April 23, 2012

today's adventures in toddlerland

Bubby kept me on my toes today.  Here were some of the festivities my oldest decided to take part in:
  •  Figuring out the childproof locks on the kitchen drawers. He did this to get out the mixing bowls so that he could "cook."  This also resulted in an attempt to get more spoons/spatulas off of their place on the counter.
  • Figuring out the childproof lid on The Hubs' medicine. Yep. As I was cleaning off Bugaboo, I heard a rattling just inches behind me. I turned around just in time to see my two year old taking the lid off a container of pills which had been out of reach. Child-proof lid, my eye.
  • A half-way successful attempt at unlocking both locks on the front door. My toddler wanted to go get the mail and did not want to wait for me.  That was an automatic naughty-rug date. We don't mess with the locks, and he knows better.
  • Mastering the word "macchiato."  Yes, while using my lovely Starbucks giftcard this morning (God bless the woman who sends me them), Bubby decided he also would shout out my order to the drive-thru. He may have articulation issues, but I think my kid was born to speak Italian. (Or at least to speak coffee.)

  • Hiding the church directory picture.  It arrived already in the mail today, our free 8x10. It wasn't as hideous as expected, so I put it on the piano for The Hubs to see when he got home tonight. Within twenty minutes of being on display, it was gone.  Bubby had relocated it to the "shred pile" in the office. Apparently he was not as pleased with the portrait.
  • Looking for Mrs. Green. Who is Mrs. Green? That is what Bubby is calling the book, The Teacher From the Black Lagoon. He loves it, even though I'm not sure how much he understands of it.  He loves it so much he spent his entire naptime looking for it and then "reading" it.  I may be regretting my decision not to send him to preschool next year.
  • And just in case all that bookworm stuff may make you think he is not all-boy, he started the day by pushing a diaper box next to a chair so that he could jump on the couch head first.
All of this was of course in between the regular stuff. Running to the library while we had the car this morning, meal preps/meal times/meal clean-ups, physical therapy, playing, reading, coloring, and making sure Bubs used the bathroom about every hour.

And sweet Bugaboo?  He had an incredible day with a little more independent belly creeping. a tiny bit of crawling backwards, and an awesome physical therapy session.

May this blog post serve as a reminder to me, myself, and I of why the laundry is still in the basket, the house hasn't quite recovered from my week of illness, and the baby swing that has been sitting in my living room since it being returned to us on Saturday.  Some things just gotta give.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

enduring loss together

joining with Amber and Joy for The Marriage Letters

Dear M,
I don't want to write about loss. I don't want to describe losing our first pregnancy, losing my grandfather, losing dreams and hopes, losing friendships and relationships, losing hope and trust.  Each of these things remind me how much of a battle life is. When I think about these times, I just want to cry. Crying is my coping mechanism. You are often solid and steady. Me? Most of the time I tell you I want to put the blankets over my head and wake up in a month or two.

I still have too many questions - questions that you listen to me hash out with you in the wee hours of the night. I still have too many frustrations - prayers that you hear me pour out to God, even in anger. I know you have questions and frustrations too during these times. But you handle them so differently.  You are steady and even.  I look at you and sometimes I get frustrated with your lack of ... well, with your lack of being like me.

But I am also thankful that you are not like me in these times. I am thankful for your steadiness. I am thankful for the way you let me cry on your shoulder but also for the way you don't want me to just wallow. I am a wallow-er by nature, and you are not.

There is more loss ahead of us in this lifetime. This overwhelms me to really consider.  And there is no great way to end this letter. Just hold my hand, babe. Help me remember during those times what we have already endured so that I am able to hang on and carry on despite the heartache.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a little spark

Pudgy little feet dug into the bedroom carpet. Awkward rocking a bit to the side to try to coordinate his legs, his toes, his arms. I held my breath, exhaled, and began to encourage. He saw something he wanted. A book. Of course my sweet little boy wants a book.

After months of working on the same skills in therapy, Bugaboo finally did some belly creeping. On. His. Own!

Three little digs and pushes. Hoorays rush out of this mama's mouth. Then I moved him and made him try it again. Two more little digs and pushes.  He was done after that. The boy just wanted his book. So I let him have it.

Each day when I work with my sixteen month old, I wonder if it is working. I wonder what I am doing wrong. I wonder what I am not doing that I should be doing. I wonder why most other mamas and babies don't have to work so hard for milestones. I wonder why this child of mine seems so content, even though he is not anywhere near what the experts call, "on track." And I wonder some more what I am doing wrong.

The discouragement often lingers, like the smell of burned popcorn, a constant reminder that something didn't go according to plan. But tonight I take small break from my questions and worries.

The creeping was clumsy and slow. My second born did not get very far tonight, a few inches at best. But it was beautiful. The spark that is hope is such a beautiful thing.

linking up with Imperfect Prose to share my wonderings and this celebration

Monday, April 16, 2012

the marriage letters - I trust you because...

joining Amber and others this month for The Marriage Letters

Dear M,

Trust is such a hard word for me.  Over the last seven years, you have taken on every piece of baggage labeled "trust issues" that I brought with me into our relationship.  You have taken some gently. Other pieces you have had to pry from my death grip.  I hang on so tightly to my trust issues so that at least if my worst fears come true I can shout from the rooftops - "See! I knew this would happen!" To trust is to release control or rather the illusion of control. The idea of complete release terrifies me.

It is not fair to you. You have never abandoned me. You have never broken promises. You have never set out to deceive me. Yet I still hold off trusting you completely because of what other men have done to my heart before my heart even had a chance to know you. I hate that I do this.

So I remind myself of why and how and when I trust you.  I trust you because you have never abandoned me. Even in my ugliest moments, even in our hardest times, you do not leave. I trust you because you are kind. I trust you because you stand your ground and you do not take crap from people, even when that means not taking it from me.  I trust you because I know you would give your life to protect the boys and me. I trust you because you tell me that I am pretty, but you also tell me when I should get some color on my legs before wearing a dress. :) I trust you because you are doing everything within your means to help me fulfill my desire to stay at home, even though you could go either way on the issue. I trust you because you apologize when you screw up AND you accept my apologies when it's my fault. I trust you because at the end of the day I have never felt more secure than I do when I put my head next to yours, crowding you on your pillow. I trust you because you did not smash cake in my face at our wedding.
I have come a long way with my trust issues, but a long way isn't far enough. Yet you are gracious and patient, even amidst what I am sure are frustrating moments  with me. Saying, "I trust you as much as I am able to," seems so shallow in print. It breaks my heart to type it out, but I would not be honest if I acted like I have this trust-thing all together. I do trust you. Not as much as I could without years of heartbreak in my past, but the wounds from others are healing and my trust in you is growing every day.  Thank you for enduring with me. Thank you for being the man that I can trust.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's my (ultimate blog) party, and I'll cry if I want to

"Every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you. Party pooper. Party pooper."

Ultimate Blog Party 2012

I am sick. I am pretty sure that it is the nastiest sinus infection I have ever had. It may be strep, but I don't think so because if I have run a temp, it has been mild. And my doctor, WebMD, has suggested viral infection.

This illness has wreaked havoc on my weekend, the one where I actually had plans. Church directory pictures (ugh - I think I still have to get those done. It will be reminiscent of jr. high yearbook photos, I am sure.) Late breakfast with a friend -postponed.  Girls Night Out/going away party for a friend - should not attend.

But here I am - deciding to at least attend the Ultimate Blog Party. Here I can party at 6:30 AM with my penguin flannel pajamas and my citrus-green tea. I know how to live it up.

So a little about me, UBP-ers. I am thirty-one. I am sometimes sweet and reflective, and sometimes I tell it like it is with a dose of sarcasm.  No matter what, I am always authentic. That bothers some people, but I figure, reading my blog is a choice. At least until I become President in 2016. Then it will be mandated.

I have been married for seven years. The Hubs is a counselor, but he is starting a nursing program this fall.  This will enable me to continue being a stay-at-home mom (which I love and which IS work) in this double-income society of ours. I have two sweet boys - Bubby will be three in May and Bugaboo is sixteen months.  They were both preemies.  Bugaboo is having some delays - cognitively, verbally, and with his motor skills, so we are trying to figure that out.

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.I love the ideas on there. I hate that I never have the ingredients (or motivation) to make the recipes and that I lack the skills (and patience) to craft. Sill, I pin away. I love to read when I have the time, and check out multiple library books.  My fine-paying has decreased since the advent of the online notification system.  I love movies, too. There hasn't been much on tv lately that has caught my eye (or that I've even had the time to watch), but I did enjoy watching the first two seasons of Downton Abbey with my mom over Spring Break.

I'm off now to make a new cup of tea (though what I really like to drink are iced caramel macchiatos) and open a new box of Kleenex. Hope to see you again once I am back to normal!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

some thoughts on staying at home

Staying-at-home is a topic of conversation this week thanks to some idiotic statements about Ann Romney not working a day in her life.

Let me first of all say this. I am not a Romney fan.  

Let me also say this - most of my friends are work-outside-of-the-home moms.  Very few of my friends are stay-at-home moms.

There are work-outside-of-the-home-moms who do a fabulous job. There are those who don't.  There are stay-at-home moms who do a fabulous job. There are those who don't.

But whatever is said, do not say that stay-at-home-moms do not work.  I work just as hard (if not harder) with being at home than I did while I was teaching.

Also, I have several friends who have said to me, "I could not do what you do." They say this for a variety of reasons. Temperment/personality.  They like their job. They like (or in some cases need) their double income. They would go crazy being stuck at home all day without adult interaction (I get this. Believe me - I get this.)  So I am not offended by this statement. And I hope they would not be offended if I said the same, "I could not do what you do," to them. Because I couldn't.  I really love my current job. Sure, they pay stinks. No vacation time, no medical insurance benefits. But I'm good at it. And it fits my personality. And somehow (well thanks to the grace of God, The Hubs working his butt off AND going back to school,  and some help from family) we are surviving on one income.

So please don't say that stay-at-home moms don't work. And I won't say that work-outside-of-the-home-moms don't care about their kids. Because neither is true. So let's be okay with each others' choices.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

some thoughts on my exercise habits (or lack thereof)

I am the type of gal who owns yoga pants, but wears them exclusively for lounging and Wal-mart runs. They have never been to a yoga class because I have never been to a yoga class.

Two weeks ago I tried running again. And by again, I mean every other year I decide I will try running, and it lasts a week or two. Then I stop for several hundred days. This time, I think I was inspired by The Hunger Games. I want to be the type of chick who can survive if the world is coming to an end.

 I ran two days. Well, I walked and jogged and walked and jogged.  I have every intention of going back to the park but life with two little guys and one car and The Hubs' crazy schedule gives me a great excuse to avoid running.  Meanwhile, I am praying the world doesn't start coming to an end until I can at least run the mile in under fifteen minutes.

I did try the exercise ball last week. Technically it is Bugaboo's therapy ball.  Because I am also not the type of gal who owns an exercise ball,it is on loan from our physical therapist.I saw something on Pinterest about exercises to get rid of the post-baby-pouch. So I got on the ball to try an exercise one afternoon. Bubby thought it was hilarious, Mommy up on the ball looking ridiculous.  As he laughed, he would get in my way, and I would run into him. He would laugh more. Bugaboo also found this entertaining Obviously I am not doing something right. 

I got a much better ab work out from laughing than from the exercise ball.

Monday, April 9, 2012

dandelions and caterpillars

The boys were each snoring in their little boy ways. At ten-thirty, The Hubs and I stood in their doorway, watched and listened.

"Can we keep them little like this?" I whisper.
"You know it's going to go by so fast, we will wake up one day and they'll be teenagers." he replies. 
"I just want them to stay little. They are so precious."

Monday morning, however, had me wishing they were old enough to at least make their own instant oatmeal and eat it without making as big of a mess as they currently do.

There's often a tug-of-war on my heart.  One side wants to not to have the constant obligations that a mommy of a not-quite-three-year-old and a one-year-old-who-doesn't-crawl-yet has.  The other side knows these little boys will all too soon outgrow their footie pajamas and their desire to snuggle their mommy at the end of the day. With an exhausted, and sometimes exasperated, sigh, it's this sensitive side of the rope that usually wins.

Another end of a day, and they're sleeping again.  Bugaboo's tossing and turning has ceased, and Bubby's Darth Vader breathing has started. Today was filled with Wal-mart runs and peanut butter, with dirt flying around the flower bed and giggles in the bathtub. Today had me taking the dandelion out of the baby's tight grip on its way to his mouth, and it had me discussing with my toddler why we do not kiss caterpillars.

At the end of the day I know I really am not in that big of a hurry to have them making their own oatmeal.

the marriage letters - the names I call you

Joining with Amber and others this April for The Marriage Letters.  Today's prompt is "The names I call you."

Dear M,

Hey, Babe. That looks so weird to write.  For it is the name we call each other aloud, but it doesn't look right in print to me. I know we call each other that a lot because from time to time I hear Bubby say things like "Hey, Babe." or "Come here, Babe." It cracks me up.

You would think after seven years of marriage we would have all sorts of nicknames for each other. But we don't.  I mean, I always suggest that you refer to me as "The Smartest Woman Alive," but so far that hasn't stuck.

We may not have a plethora of names, but we do have inside jokes. I love our inside jokes. I love the way you make fun of my Snake/Gerardo/any-impression-I-try-to-do voice.  I love how we say to each other, "Eh, litttle comment."  I love quoting movies with you at the perfect moments, though I am still nowhere near as good at it as you.  I love that we get each other's sarcasm. I can even mind-read your sarcasm across the room just by your body language or a look you give me.  Our humor gets us through - good times and bad times.

So we may not have names.  A few years ago, that would have bothered me, but now I realize that just isn't our style. We have our humor instead.  But feel free to start referring to me as The Smartest Woman Alive anytime you want, Babe.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Are we really the Sunday morning people?

I was at church this weekend for a couple of different Easter events.  Saturday morning was the egg hunt. The Hubs was helping "work" the hunt, so I was pretty much in charge of the boys by myself, although he was able to give me a hand with Bubby during the actual hunt.  Saturday morning revealed to me why people think poorly of Christians/the Church. In a room filled with a ton of people, all people of my "parents of young children" demographic, I felt completely alone.

Without going into detail, I felt snubbed, ignored, and even talked about by some people. Two people, other than my friend (who also happens to be the children's pastor), spoke to me. I have been attending this church for about a decade (both in college and for the last seven years since we have come back), and I honestly almost left the sanctuary in tears before the hunt began. I stayed for the hunt for Bubby's benefit, but we left before the remainder of the festivities. Why would I want to sit by myself amidst a group of people who are called to be unified?

We can sing about the death and resurrection power and love of Christ, but is it affecting our lives?  Are we really the Sunday morning people?

This morning we went back for service.  It had been awhile since I'd attended service in the main sanctuary since we have switched to the service across the campus.  But this morning was intergenerational, so I returned to the sanctuary. And I felt love from people of many generations.  A lady at the phase of mommy-ing just ahead of me chatted with me for quite some time before service. An older lady that I have just recently met waved and intentionally took a moment to come say hello to me. We had lunch with our young adult friends, chatted with people, passed our baby around. These are the Sunday morning people. These are the people moving outside of their cliques and demonstrating the love of Christ.

Same church. Twenty-four hour difference. A different set of people. Entirely different experience.

The love of the cross, the power of the resurrection, is not to enable us to do what we want in our nice Christian club. Easter enables us to live holy lives, to move beyond ourselves and truly care about other people, and that is not comfortable for some.  Are we really the Sunday morning people or are we just people who show up for Sunday mornings?

decided to link up with Emily's imperfect prose community - perhaps others can relate to this brokenness/redemptiveness

Thursday, April 5, 2012

coffee on a late Thursday morning

She showed up today with coffee and chocolate, a basket containing cups and saucers, and flowers in an olive oil bottle. 

I had been looking forward to this visit for a couple of weeks now, ever since she prayed with me impromptu on a Sunday morning and said that she would love to visit with me sometime.  Her kids are grown up, so she has already been on the path I am just starting off on.

We sipped and munched. She told stories and snippets of her life. The boys played in the kitchen and in their room and back in the kitchen, their faces covered in chocolate chip cookie joy.  I listened. I asked. I shared portions of my story, too.

She gave no advice, she just shared life.  Yet, when she said good-bye, I felt like I had some answers to questions I didn't even voice.  She gave me the gift of her time, of her presence, and in doing so reminded me that I have that same ability to give of that to others.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

not alone

Somewhere around 10:30 this morning I found myself falling into one of those days. The boys have been fantastic today. So it's not them. It's me.

 I held it together till The Hubs got home around lunchtime.  Then I cried at the sink, chopping onions and green peppers, when all I really wanted for lunch was a cheeseburger and a soda and a new car and a vacation and....

The Hubs put his hand on my shoulder and let me cry. And we had a giftcard for a burger place, so we piled in the car and went.  I still cried as we waited for our food.

This discontentment is so easy. It doesn't feel good, but it is comfortable in a weird sort of way.

Once home again, I felt bad about feeling bad. When that cycle starts all I want to do is sit on the couch and eat brownies.  But alas! There are no brownies at my house today.

Instead I ended up reading Emily and Amber's posts, which both made me cry. They both made me feel not alone, too.  I think that is what I really want -  to not feel alone. To not feel alone in my world of sharing a car with a husband who has a crazy schedule because he works hard to put food on the table and let me stay home. To not feel alone in the "I love staying at home with the kids, but I hate housework." To not feel alone in the "I wonder if I am doing this mom thing right?"

I forced myself to do some work on the closet/dresser organizing I've been working on for ... well, awhile.  Surprisingly it felt better. And right now I can see Bubby climbing on his bed in a t-shirt and underwear, not napping. Somehow that makes me smile and feel better, too.  So I will close this computer and get out the Windex because it's small group night around here. And I know that will make me feel better, too. We are not alone in this - not alone in trying to grasp at the good gifts, small as they sometimes are. We are not alone.

Monday, April 2, 2012

marriage letters - on serving together

Dear M,
We live in a city with two Bible colleges, a Christian liberal arts university, and a seminary.  Constantly surrounded by people who are in formal ministry or ministry-training, it is easy to forget that we, the non-theologians, are in ministry.

I see how for years you have handed out bulletins with me. We have passed the plate, broken the bread, held the cup.  We have made muffins on Saturday nights and brewed coffee on Sunday mornings.You faithfully helped to set up tables and chairs every week for a Sunday school class, and you help keep our church campus safe so we can worship worry-free.

You know that in my single days I did more than nursery work. I led a girls' small group, and I taught a jr. high class. I assisted preschoolers at Awana, too. I love teaching. Knowing about my past ministries, and my heart for serving in the present and the future, you have come alongside me.

You know that the way I best serve is in relationship with people, and you help make that possible. Each week you team up with me to get our house ready for small group.  I know you are an introvert. Therefore, it means a great deal that you are okay with opening up our home each week. Your role in our hospitality doesn't end there - you enable me to invite people for dinner or have friends drop by for coffee.

As I prayerfully consider what God has next for me - for service, for ministry - you always encourage me. When I say, "I should write about that," you respond, "Yes, go for it."  When I say for the millionth time, "I really think I should go to seminary," you say, "Yes. We can make it work." (And someday soon I will get over my fears and take you up on that offer!)

You understand that how we serve, both as a couple and as individuals, evolves and deepens as we age and as we grow in our relationship with Jesus. You are always open to the Holy Spirit's leading. That is why I am so thankful to be serving with you.

joining with Amber and others for The Marriage Letters during the month of April