Monday, December 30, 2013

some blogging highlights of 2013

At the end of the year some bloggers feature their most popular blog posts or most commented blog posts of the year.  These are some of the highlights from Wandering on Purpose - not based on data, but rather an overall reflection of 2013. (Click on the titles to read the posts.)These are just some of the posts that meant the most to me:

When You Don't Want To Go, But You Don't Think You Can Stay

           " my life when I have shared about my heartbreaks, about us taking a stand, about rejection I have been made to feel that it was all my fault, that there was something wrong with me.  But my friends yesterday cried with me, prayed with me, loved on me."

Of Award Shows and Mommying

        "Motherhood. No one invites us to a fabulous banquet, gives us jewels and a gorgeous dress to wear.  There probably should be something for us, but there's not. ... So tonight, here's to us mommies..."

Writing a Letter to my Young Sons About Purity

         "You are valuable. Not because of what you do or don't do but because you are dear to the heart of God."

Getting Jack Bauer-like Before a Snow Storm

       "At the last minute my preschooler had decided it was necessary to buckle himself into the seat.  As I yanked him out he lost his shoe.  'Just grab your shoe! Carry it! Don't put it on, carry it!'"

A Letter to My Boys About Our Church Decision

       "I don't fit in a denomination, and that makes it hard when finding a church for a family. But it also makes it wonderful because even though we will put down roots at one place, we can hopefully teach you about the big-wide-family of God."

Of Sleepless Nights at Two Years Old

         "...the sun is up and you are asleep
          and I am exhausted, but I still hold you"

        "Enjoy your friends.  Enjoy sliding down Alison's basement stairs in sleeping bags. Enjoy singing New Kids on the Block at slumber parties. Enjoy trying to knock each other off the teeter-totters at recess."

        "I stressed out today that you weren't strong enough or coordinated enough to pedal. I worried that somehow I have failed you. I shouldn't."

        "I have many horrible PE memories. One involves a vault in the gymnastics unit. There was also the swimming unit every year where I feared drowning - and therefore skipped out on as much as possible. And last but not least were the mandatory Presidential Fitness testing - which involved running and V-sits."

      "You are not a label. You are not mild cerebral palsy."

       "I sang it in between moments of screaming at God and questioning why. I sang it lying in bed with tears that would not stop. I sang it in the dark to give me a glimpse of light."

       "My heart fills and feels like it cannot contain all the love that is inside of it."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

when I think I understand love (during advent)

There is so much I still don't understand about God. I don't understand all the rules or The Law or how it all works today. I don't understand The Trinity or a Virgin Birth or all of those omni-words. And I certainly don't understand mercy and grace.

But love.

Love to me is tangible and evident and the reason I think I understand just a little bit about God.

I have two little boys sitting on the sofa right now. They are completely engrossed in a Veggie Tales DVD. I look at them in their matching red and gray striped shirts, and I know without a doubt that nothing on earth would make me stop loving them. I remember how desperately I wanted to be a mommy, to have them here in existence with me.

Each night I watch them sleeping in their big boy beds, and I wonder how time has gone by so quickly. I hear them singing and praying and playing and laughing. My heart fills and feels like it cannot contain all the love that is inside of it.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son..."

The words are as familiar to me as my own name. But just as soon as I think I understand love, especially at Christmas, I remember what He gave, and I realize I really do not understand true love at all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

best reads of 2013

Everyone's talking politics, religion and boycotts, and I'm just writing about books. (Shocking, I know! I usually have an opinion about everything related to politics and religion. But today I don't.)

My favorite books that I read in 2013:

Thin Places  - Mary E. DeMuth - This whole book resonated with me. I want to reread it and highlight it because it was painfully beautiful.
Pastrix - Nadia Bolz-Weber - Nadia couldn't be much more different than me. Our theology is extremely different, and yet I still came away with some truths from this book. I liked Nadia. I wanted to go to her church and sit and chat with her, even though we are so different. She made me ponder, she frustrated me, she made me laugh, she made me cry. Don't read this book if you can't handle people who are theologically different than you.
Out of my Mind - Sharon Draper - A children's novel about a girl with cerebral palsy. It gave me some insight into what Bugaboo may think currently or in the future. I cried throughout this book.
What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty - Easy read that made me think how would life be different if I ended up forgetting the last ten years?
Cold Tangerines - Shauna Niequist - Another author I just want to sit and visit with over coffee. This book read like a great conversation.
The Core - Leigh Bortins - A great "how to" resource for me as I seriously consider a classical education for Bubby next year.
Give Them Grace - Elyse Fitzpatrick - I wanted to throw this book across the room for the first few chapters. A friend had warned me that I would want to do that. But this wasn't as much of a parenting book as it was a theology book that will shape my parenting.  I need to own this and re-read it.
Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child - Cheryl Swope - This book was encouraging because of the author's real life experience giving her two children with special needs a classical home education.
Kids Beyond Limits: Anat Baniel - Lots of things to think about and apply in terms of how to approach some things with Bugaboo.

I read a few other novels and some interesting memoirs but nothing else really stands out as a must-read. I also got about halfway through For Calvinism by Michael Horton before I had to return it to the library.  I am currently reading Temple Grandin's The Autistic Brain, which is fascinating to me, but heavier on the science than I usually read in my free time.

Books I'd like to read in 2014 - Finish Horton's book on Calvinism and read Against Calvinism by Roger Olsen, Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey, When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman, and A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
The Boys' Favorite Books This Year

  • Oh No George! - Chris Haughton - If you are a dog owner, read this book. We've loved it both times we've checked it out from the library.
  • Up the Creek - Nicholas Oldland - A canoe trip featuring a moose, a bear, and a beaver.  
  • Give Up Gecko - retold by Margaret Read MacDonald - A story of perseverance and not judging someone by apperances
  • Z is for Moose - Kelly Bingham - One of the most hilarious alphabet books out there. Both of the boys laugh at it.
  • And our favorites from our Five in a Row selections - Blueberries for Sal, Caps for Sale, and Katy No-Pocket.

What books were your favorites this year? What should I read in the months ahead?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

the unconventional gift of joy (at advent and throughout the year)

I pride myself in being a relatively easy to please person living a relatively simple life.  But deep down this year, more than some previous years, I struggle. I want to be like everyone else in this materialistic and consumer-driven culture. I think a bigger house or a better lens, some talent or some matching decor or even just a pair of jeans that don't gap in the back (do these exist??) would make me happy.  I worry that I am missing out. I think that I am not getting what I deserve. Then I start to wonder why I can't have what everybody else has.

I was doing pretty well with keeping Christmas in proper perspective until I crashed the van last week. It wasn't a really great time to do that. Then so easily I slipped into the old habits of, "Why me?" I hate that habit. I thought I'd broken myself of it, but I can't break myself of any bad habit. And it doesn't matter if you bring me everything on my wish list, it still won't be enough. Someone will always have something that I don't, and I will still feel empty. The cycle of wanting to fill myself with meaningless things will continue.

What I need is joy, and that doesn't come in a box. It comes in the Spirit. It is not an emotional high. It is not a prize to be won or a paycheck to be earned. Joy is a gift, but it is an unconventional one.  It is almost always birthed out of something painful or hard or exhausting.

Joy is knowing someone who was always kind and sincere to you is now in heaven, no longer in pain. Joy is hearing that your child with developmental delays and communication difficulties gave answers - the right answers nonetheless - in Sunday school this morning.  Joy is being able to give because every need has been provided, because your own kids have not lacked food or clothing or love. Joy is tears that cannot stop and hands that must be raised on the final verse of O Holy Night. Joy is resting in the fact that coordinating bedding and a room full of toys does not equal a happy childhood - or a happy adulthood - and the lack of those things does not mean an unhappy one.

Joy is a choice,some say, but I can't fake it till I make it. Joy is mysterious. Like an unexpected downpour, joy washes over me when I most need it.  On my own initiative, I can't be joyful. I have tried, and I have failed. But I need joy. Plain and simple, I need joy. And it is here for receiving. God with us.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:9-11

Sunday, December 8, 2013

a poem: of peace during advent and after car accidents

A patch of ice. Sliding starts.
The brakes and tires not catching anything.
Somehow we start to turn into the median
instead of going straight into the intersection.
Bump. Thud. Crash. Shatter.
We are on the opposite side
facing the opposite way.

I look into the backseat.
Both of my boys are completely fine.
Crying, I am able to drive home.
I just want to get home
is all that I can think.
And Thank You Jesus that they are unharmed.

Why me? pops into my head a bit.
(It usually does in unpleasant circumstances.)
Phone calls made, questions answered, cereal poured.
I grip the counter and ask, "What do You want me to learn 
from this?"
I sit on my kitchen floor, finally,
head almost touching the ground, and I cry for a minute.
I ask my question again,
"What do You want me to learn?"

Providence, luck, or something in-between
I don't know - I'm not good with labels.
I know I am a bit frustrated, fighting back sarcasm at times,
but mostly I am thankful for how it happened
if it had to happen.

Peace is promised to me at all times
which I take to mean even in the moments I am the most restless,
the most stressed, the most annoyed.
I do not have to wrangle it or manipulate it
or conjure it up.
I only have to receive it.

The peace that is not of this world.
The peace that passes all understanding.
The peace that passes my understanding.
The peace that overcomes the world.

Friday, December 6, 2013

as my baby turns three

I blinked, and then you were three.

There are some times as I go by the hospital when I can't help but think of my drive in the middle of the night to St. John's. I remember wondering if the doctor would be able to stop the labor again or if this was the real deal.  In my gut I knew this was it - six weeks early.  They had me drink lots of water and walk the floor. They gave me more meds to stop you from coming so soon, but it didn't work.  More water, more walking. I walked but stopped every couple of minutes down the hallway to wait out a contraction. I was texting your daddy; I was texting Babu. When the sun started coming up, the doctors also knew it  was going to be your day. So Daddy drove to the hospital, Babu drove like a crazy-grandma, and Uncle Chow and Auntie Missa came over to watch Bubby. And later that day you came into this world.

From day one you had your signature wild hair, though it was darker then than it is now.  You loved to sleep, and you have always been our snuggler.  Your bed in the NICU was right by the main desk, so we had a front row to gossip and action.  You weren't very interested in learning to eat, but eventually you learned and were able to come home.

Sometimes in the day-to-day business of life, I don't always see all that you are accomplishing. (I'm sorry for that.) Today I looked through old pictures and milestone markers, and I was grateful for the reminders. I saw each milestone, each victory.  I saw chubby cheeks, happy eyes, and half-smiles.  I found myself simultaneously thinking, "That was so long ago!" and "Didn't that just happen?"

I can see exactly how far you've come, and I am so proud of you.  I miss the little baby who smelled like baby shampoo, but I love watching your personality and preferences emerge. When you get the giggles, it is one of my favorite sounds. I love watching you learn to stack Duplos and pour over books, pointing out your letters. You work so hard every day. You are a loyal friend to your brother and your puppy.  You teach me about Jesus in ways you may never completely understand. And for that and so many other things, I am beyond thankful.

Happy third birthday, Bugaboo! I am so glad I get to be your mommy!

Monday, December 2, 2013

some thoughts from a mommy on the advent theme of hope

Nothing has made me feel as powerless as being a mother has. Miscarriage, NICU weeks, medical testing, probable diagnosis that still leaves questions, a child with special needs - all things in the last five years that I have had no control over. Oh, how I love some control.

Today in the middle of the shoe department of Kohl's I felt a bit hopeless. Shopping to find toddler boy shoes is difficult enough. (Statistical fact: For every thirty pair of girls shoes there is one pair for boys.) It is even more difficult when a very specific style of shoe is needed to go over braces. It is possible that such a shoe does not exist.

In the midst of this realization, I realized I lacked control. Both boys were having a hard time being in the store. So I left with Bug wearing his falling apart shoes and with Bubby yelling in the parking lot (again), "I don't like you, Mommy!!"  After a very long ride home, the rest of the day went better. Somehow most of it was actually enjoyable.

Now I sit here looking at my Christmas tree knowing each day I have a choice. I can worry about shoes and drooling and IEPs. I can worry about how much my oldest is like me and how will he make it through childhood undamaged. I can worry about the big things like lost relationships and the little things like which way to go for schooling next year. But I know that when I worry, I lose hope. And when I lose hope, I lose rest and perspective and the ability to function.

Then tonight I read a very familiar verse, but the timing of it was perfect.

Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

I read this over and over. I nod my head, and somehow in these words on rest and how to obtain it, I glimpse hope.

I've been studying Jesus the last few months in Matthew, and I am coming to the conclusion that I can relate to Him, even in my mothering. Especially in my mothering. He was training twelve imperfect men to be like Him. He dealt with their pride, anger, impulsiveness, and lack of understanding among other things. It must have been exhausting in many of the same ways I am exhausted.

 Therefore, when He promises to give me rest, He gives it as someone who must have been pretty drained during some of His time on earth. He gives me rest as someone who understands, as someone who heals, as someone who intercedes. His rest is that of depth and sustainability. Knowing these things, I will choose to come to Him with my worries. I will choose to trade them in for this gift of hope.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

the days I am weak

Life as a "special needs mom" can be lonely. Every child's journey is different, but some of us have extra obstacles to overcome. Even those vary from child to child and family to family.  Yet when I read Nish's words yesterday, I found myself saying, "Yes, she understands." Even though my needs/fears/complaints might not be the exact replica of hers, much of what she said were the things I have experienced and thought. For awhile I didn't feel so alone.

The last couple of weeks have been long as we met with the IEP team. I won't write out the details other than to say I didn't feel that some of the people cared about the best interest of my son as much as their program or their dollars. Plus I knew my child's rights and my parental rights better than they expected. On top of that we were given another packet of paper with another evaluation of Bugaboo's strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses were emphasized. Those conversations are hard and lonely. And the internal conversations I have with myself on what really is best for my son add to the stress.
(sidenote: This photo was not from today.
Today I would have welcomed a simple tantrum.)

Then today Bug's routine got changed because a schedule change for a Wednesday activity moved it to Tuesday. Therefore he thought all Wednesday activities should be happening this afternoon. This was followed up by being told, "Not right now" at home. Then he was given a lunch he did not want (though it is normally one of his favorites).

The meltdown occurred for quite some time. He sat in his crib crying. I stood at the counter, crying, although much more quietly than my son. On his own initiative, my four year old brought his younger brother a tissue and lovingly wiped his face through the bars of the crib. I was humbled and thankful.

It was during this chaos that I put out a call for help on Facebook: Please pray. Bug is having a rough day.  I try not to do that. I hate asking for help. I hate admitting I am tired, weak and worn some days.I try to stay positive about his progress. I worry about what people will think about my son and about me.

But I am learning (slowly) that sometimes I just need to ask for help. It will be better for everyone if I can just admit my weakness and struggles and say, "Please pray. Help please." Right away a friend from church told me we could come to her house if we needed. I knew she meant it. A friend from college told me she just prayed for me, and I knew that she did. Just those two simple things made me not feel so alone any more. It reminded me that help was here and help was on His way.

"For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish." Jer. 31:25

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Cor. 12:9

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Be God

"Be God! Be God! Be God!"

Bugaboo's request came from the backseat today. Thankfully, in recent months I have been given the gift of interpretation, so I put in the Chris Tomlin cd. My not-quite-three year old's new favorite song is, How Great is our God also known as "Be God."  The rain was pouring down as we drove to pick up Bubby from preschool. "Turn up! Turn up!" he added, and so I did.

I sang along, as I often do, but today I ended up singing loudly. Somewhere in the midst of it the Holy Spirit took over. I prayed for things I did not understand. It was not dynamic or earth shattering, but it was beautiful and powerful and  perhaps profound. I prayed for requests I remembered from the day before. I prayed for babies just born and a baby on his way. I prayed for Bugaboo and the journey we are on. 

The Lord dealt with me on a few things on my heart. He asked me, "If your son isn't healed the way you want him to be, will you still trust and glorify Me?"  In that moment all I could picture in my mind was the scene of Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac, and yet I said in my heart, "I will. Help me."

Most days my prayer life mostly involves meals and bedtime devotionals, saying thank you for a list of things and tacking on a few requests at the end. I sit at the piano to try to sing and worship, but is distracting when four little hands are pounding away at different keys. I show up for church each week in a place where I am comfortable but also a bit uncomfortable as I wonder if I raise my hands too much if I will make others uncomfortable. And there are songs and styles and prayer meetings I miss from other seasons in my life.

But today my ride to preschool became a sanctuary. While my little boy enthusiastically yelled, "Be God!" from the backseat, God was exactly that. He was God. Right there with me in my ordinary moment. God with us. God with me. The Holy Spirit pouring out on Thursday morning, not limited by where I go to church, my lack of "quiet time," or my exhaustion. He met me in my minivan today. And He is beautiful.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

how I've proved Him o'er and o'er

We rushed into BSF this morning with a minute to spare. On my way to drop the boys off to their classes I learned that the preschoolers were joining us for opening worship. Bubby walked with me into the sanctuary, to a pew near the front. The piano started.We opened up our hymnals to sing all the verses for both songs.

Bubby is in service with us each Sunday at our church, so it is nothing new to have him next to me in worship. But today I was filled with emotion having him next to me. The second hymn has been with me throughout motherhood. It is what I would sing through so many rough nights with Bugaboo not able to put himself to sleep. I sang this song to Bubby when he was just over three pounds hooked up to wires and monitors in the NICU.  

But I sang this song more than a year before Bubby was born. I sang it as my body miscarried baby number one. I sang it in between moments of screaming at God and questioning why. I sang it lying in bed with tears that would not stop. I sang it in the dark to give me a glimpse of light. I sang it to hold on to my faith when so much of me just wanted to let it go.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Today when I was  in the giant sanctuary, Bubby said, "We sing this at our church!"  I looked down at my precious four year old. I couldn't keep the tears from escaping. The tears for what was lost. The tears for what I have been given.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

They are definitely my children

Sometimes I don't want to write. Sometimes I just want to share some pictures of my boys. But don't let their sweet faces fool you.

The youngest had me climbing all around the big-kids' playground this weekend. He was eager, but he is very limited on what he can do. I was less eager and almost as limited in what I could help him do. Therefore, though I know it is good for his gross motor skills, it is worse for my fear of both of us falling. We moved over to the smaller kids' playground. (Okay, he still is pretty sweet these days.)

The oldest got mad at me during some semi-fun errands today. As I escorted him out without making our purchase he told me, "I want a new mom!" Part of this I realized later was the affliction I often suffer from. He was hangry. (That's anger caused by hunger for some of my older readers not familiar with the term.) Part of it was he is four years old and likes to test the boundaries.

The preschooler came home and drew a picture of his mad face. (His idea - apparently he writes out his emotions just like his mama), All was worked through and forgiven during lunch. (So he's still pretty sweet, too.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

a little rant before I kick myself off the Internet today

Sometimes I want to retract my I think I am a Jesus Feminist statement.(Even though I believe in all that I wrote in that post.)

With two sick kids, I've had a lot of time on the couch and on the Internet.  So today somehow I came across this gem - "The Mark Driscoll Scholarship for Women in Ministry."

As a person who believes in women in ministry (gasp!) AND as one who actually thinks Mark Driscoll has some good things to say sometimes (gasp!) I find the antics behind "the Mark Driscoll Scholarship Fund for Women in Ministry" disturbing. I do not find it "absolutely hilarious" or "priceless," I find it to lack class and the love of Christ.

I guess what frustrates me so much is many of these people spout off how open minded and compassionate they are, and then they go and do something like this.

I am all for having differences in opinion. (I mean, Hello! I go to a Reformed SBC church even though I believe in women in ministry and in the charismatic gifts of the spirit.) I am all for holding people accountable because I think Mark Driscoll has said some pretty ridiculous things, and I don't always agree with his approach or style.  I also get annoyed by feminists like Rachel Held Evans a lot of the time, and for the record I don't think I agree with much of anything of Shane Claiborne's theology. But I don't think we mock someone in our disagreements, especially if we call ourselves Christians. And even if we claim, "Well Mark Driscolll does such-and-such," I don't think that gives us the right to respond in an unChristlike way.

I guess I better just stay off the Internet today.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

sick days and the beauty of Christ

The cough came. Then the fevers. On Tuesday night Bubby awoke a little after midnight. We spent the night on the couch as I tried to have him sleep propped up to help with the cough.  Both boys were drenched in sweat.

The boys and I spent Wednesday on the couch watching DVDs featuring PBS characters and Mike Wazowski.  Bugaboo dozed a couple of times, and we went through a carton of orange juice, which of course I watered down. By bedtime the fevers were worse, and my nurse-in-training-husband was home and checking their temps regularly for me. 104. 104.5. Bubby was covered in blankets and wearing a hat and said, "My head is shaking." He was still cold.

I spent the night on the floor in their room, sitting up with Bubby when he had a coughing fit and covering him back up with a blanket. When I gave Bugaboo another round of meds for his fever, he couldn't get back to sleep. So he ended up on the floor with me.  I lie there listening to my babies breathe. Listening to them sleep little bits at a time and trying to help them when they were awake. I was not sick, but I felt like I was almost experiencing it. I just wanted to take it away from them and give it to me.

And isn't that the beauty of Christ?

That He came and He experience the pains of the earth, of humanity, of sin because He loves me and wants to be with me? Because He wants to make me whole.

Immanuel. God with us.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween still makes me smile

I love Halloween.

I do not love to be scared. (Please never jump out at me unless you want me to pee my pants and possibly utter a few choice words.) So I don't love the really scary or gory costumes. My boys will never wear a Freddy or a Scream mask.

But I love pumpkins and costumes and trick-or-treating. I love the planning of what to be and the anticipation of collecting the candy. I love how excited Bubby was about it this year all. month. long.

Some of my best childhood memories were Halloween. Almost every year my mom made my costumes, my favorite being the two years I dressed up as Snow White. Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty screwed up for divorced kids, but I do not think I have ever cried on Halloween. Even with things how they stand right now with my father, I still think fondly of all of the years he traipsed around half of the Quad Cities with my brother and I and our pillowcases for every minute available for trick-or-treating.

This year my boys were Captain Hook and Peter Pan. We did the zoo last week and the library this morning.  We trick-or-treated at the mall tonight. Then we hit up our local mega church for their big party (However we didn't stay there long because I am not a fan of my kids on inflatables when they are still at an age where I may have to climb on there with them.) On top of that, I think we have instituted a new tradition - pizza after trick-or-treating.

I know many people disagree with me on this holiday, and that is fine. To each their own. I struggle with Santa ,and other people do not. I will never do Elf on the Shelf, but I may figure out how to add The Great Pumpkin somehow next year. The four of us had a lot of fun this week, and I also have a bag full of candy on my kitchen counter. Win-win. Halloween remains one of my favorite days.

Oh, and I'm already taking suggestions for next year's costumes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

"Joey wasn't my friend today. He only wanted to be friends with Hunter. And they were friends with Ryan but not with me."*

This tumbled out of Bubby's mouth on the ride home from preschool, and my heart broke.  Somehow I thought being a mom of boys I was going to get a pass on this kind of thing. I also thought this didn't start until at least kindergarten. Apparently I was wrong.

He didn't dwell on it, though he did mention I had him wear the wrong shoes today. Therefore he wasn't fast in the gym for indoor recess. (For the record I sent him, as always, in tennis shoes.) I don't know if the gym and the friend thing are related or not. Bubby's four. It's hard to tell. Thankfully he moved on pretty quickly to tell me all of the things he learned about bugs and spiders today. ("Spiders are arachnids. Bugs have fuzzy things." ... not sure what that means.)

I have known since before my boys were born that I would be unable to protect them from everything. But as they keep growing, I am learning I didn't realize how much it would hurt to not be able to do that.

I would chop off my legs if it would enable them to run faster or better. I would go through the rest of my life friendless if it would mean my children wouldn't have to be rejected or left out. 

*Names have been changed.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

But I don't want to be a pirate!

These are my sweet boys barely sitting still on the couch for a picture.  We were headed to an early night of trick-or-treat at the zoo.

What this picture doesn't really show:

  • The pain-in-the-butt it can  be to put young children into costumes
  • Me trying not to get frustrated with the lack of cooperation/skill my children had at putting on costumes
  • The layers of pajamas and sweatpants underneath the costumes to keep them warm (Why can't we move trick-or-treat to September when the weather is not so cold?)
  • Us in the backyard a little bit earlier with two little boys who just wanted to play with their hats and swords and me frustrated with my semi-broken camera
  • Bugaboo saying, "Take it off!" when we put on the puffy shirt (and later the hat) of his costume
I'm not saying these things to complain but rather to keep in perspective that behind every adorable picture there is sometimes a family that was a little frazzled trying to get that picture.  Sometimes I get so fixated on making a memory with my family that I almost miss actually making a memory with my family. The lack of pictures could have ruined my night.  

But by the grace of God I was eventually able to suck it up and enjoy walking around a zoo in 40 degree weather. The Hubs pushed Peter Pan and Captain Hook around in a sit-n-stand stroller. We collected about twenty pieces of candy. We discovered the boys like Smarties which means more chocolate for mommy (win-win). At the end of the night Bubby declared, "Everybody LOVED my costume!" because when you're four the world is a magical place that sometimes feels like it is all about you.  And sometimes that is exactly how it needs to be. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday, Monday

I want to remember this Monday, not because it was outstanding and not because it was horrible. I want to remember today because it was ordinary in the most delightful way.

The boys slept in - Bubby slept in so long and hard that he didn't even hear Bugaboo playing with toys in their shared room.  He shuffled out of their room in his footie jammies after nine o'clock and asked, "What's going on?" We hurried to Aldi to do grocery shopping before a promised donut to the boys if they were good. Two out of three of us wore SuperHero hoodies complete with capes. I have to say there is nothing quite like buckling Batman into his carseat, with his eye-holes down past his nose.

At store number two I forgot the toilet paper I needed to buy, and there were no driving carts for the boys.  The meltdown was avoided until we got home, after which Bubby ended up on the rug for general sassy-ness and his new habit of spitting. It is always odd to have to discipline my child who acts exactly like me, even down to the way I could see him wanting to throw his shoe off while he was on the rug. I was a big shoe thrower back in my childhood. I can actually remember the way it would sail across my bedroom to hit the door.  Bubby was slowed down by his four year old coordination, and I stifled a laugh as I saw his plan of shoe-throwing thwarted. (For the record he inherited much of his personality - good and bad - from me. Sassy-ness? That's me. But the spitting? No idea.)

At one point today the dog came to the backdoor with a feather in her mouth. However, I did not find a bird anywhere in the yard.  For that I am thankful (I think). The rest of the day carried on as usual: Laundry folding. Lunch making. A half-done easy art project. General mess cleaning up. An after lunch movie and lots of Duplo and train playing.

I made an apple crisp while the boys were occupied. We may have chosen to have that for dinner before soccer practice, and saved the pasta I made until right before bedtime. I pushed the sit-and-stand stroller loaded down with two boys, a lawn chair, a blanket, a soccer ball, and my purse across a school playground and field and then back to the car again after practice and called that today's workout.

Not every day is like this one, I know. But maybe there are more days like this one every week. I just need to take the time to notice them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

theology of a four year old (and a little bit from the two year old)

  • Bubby was telling us that after David killed Goliath he licked him. We were very confused about what in the world he was talking about, but Bubby was adamant. He said to The Hubs, "Daddy, let me show you in the Bible," and turned to the page in his Beginner's Bible. There is an (age-appropriate) illustration of a  dead Goliath with his tongue sticking out -- therefore Bubby interpreted that as licking.

  • In the car Bubby loves when the radio plays 10,000 Reasons. He will sing at top of his lungs and then ask, "What's a soul?" almost every time.
  • Any conversation where the word death comes up, Bubby informs us that "Jesus died on the cross." 
  • Last month in Bubby's Sunday school class he learned about Adam and Eve. Lately when I overhear him playing with Legos or trains I hear him saying, "You will surely die," to the characters in his play. I never realized how much death there was in the Bible/Christianity until I had a preschooler.  
  • After a discussion about a friend's birthday party, Bubby prayed, "Help it to be my birthday so I can get presents."
  • After hearing the story about Jesus washing the disciples feet, Bubby remarked, "I wouldn't want to wash my feet in a basin. I like taking a bath."
  • Tonight's prayer, "Thank You for Buzz Lightyear. Thank You for Woody. Help me to be more like You."
Not to be outdone, here is Bugaboo "reading" from the Bible. Or as he calls it "The B-L-B-L-B."

And here is just a cute pumpkin picture. It has nothing to do with this post. I just like it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

a reflection on King Saul (a.k.a. in which I feel moved to exhort and pray)

For the past several months our church has gone through 1 Samuel. What I really appreciate about our pastor is he takes a book and goes through it chapter by chapter - not skipping over verses that are hard or confusing or that make us uncomfortable. It is hard to take notes when you have a four year old sitting next to you in service, but thankfully I am auditory learner. So I retain enough if I've had a coffee on the way to church.

I don't think I really knew much about King Saul until recently. Sunday school lessons on flannel graphs focused on Samuel being called as a child, on David killing Goliath, and on David fleeing King Saul.  I knew King Saul was not a great guy, but that was about it.  I got to know him over the summer and early fall every Sunday morning.  And honestly his story is depressing, but it shows you what unrepentance will do.

King Saul didn't do some things God wanted him to do and did some things God didn't want him to do. And then he lied about it.  I read and reread the whole account in 1 Samuel 15 and I just cringe. My stomach churns because he lies to a prophet saying, "I have obeyed the voice of the Lord."

When he gets called on it King Saul is sorry that he has gotten caught, he is sorry that he is losing God's favor, but he is not sorry about his sin. He doesn't change his ways. He just wants to make things right enough to some how get something from God again without having to truly repent and obey.

There is a really sad verse at the end of chapter fifteen. "And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death,  And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel, but Samuel grieved over Saul."

Samuel grieved over Saul. Samuel was not out to get Saul. Samuel did not take joy in calling him out. Samuel was grieved by the lack of change in Saul.

I read this and I want to tell Saul, "Just repent. God has grace. There may still be consequences for your sin, but seriously dude - just be truly sorry and change - God will give you grace." But Saul's pride gets in his way. His fear of people was greater than his fear of God.

I don't do a lot of praying on my blog, but sometimes that is the only way to have the words for all of the thoughts swirling around in my head.

Dear Jesus, 

You know my heart is broken for the situations where there is fear of people instead of You. For those who want comfort, an easy fix, a way out- break hearts because I think on some level they do feel bad, but not bad enough to ask You to help them change. Bring them to their knees and empower them to do the tough things that You require of Your followers.

And bring me to my knees. Keep me grieved so that I will continue to pray and not grow apathetic. Keep my heart fixed on you. Break my heart with the things that break yours. Keep me dependent on your grace, and by your Spirit give me the strength to not live in remorse but more than that to live a life of repentance.

May we never forget that You are not fooled by our works, our outward appearance, our church attendance or what others may say about us. Our sacrifice means nothing to You if we are not obeying, but we cannot obey on our own efforts. Thank You that You will change us if we give up the things we hold dear for the things You purchased for us by Your blood.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

There's My girl!

From a section in my BSF lecture notes from today:

By grace Jesus can look at me and say, "There's My girl! There's My glory!" because God will give me His supernatural strength to do what does not come naturally

"There's My girl! There's My glory!" It about brought me to tears right there in the pew.

I could see and almost feel God put His arm around me in that statement.   

"Oh what love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are." 1 John 3:1

The love I have for my children gives me just a glimpse of the type of love God has for me. I have realized this for a few years now, but sometimes it strikes me in new and unexpected ways. The other day I took the boys to the park to let them run around and play and to take their pictures because I love my time with them. I love just watching them enjoy life. I post pictures of them, blog about them, share the things they do and say because I love them. Because they are mine. They are my boys.

I don't know if I am making sense, but I wanted to write it down because it makes sense to me. And it is important to me. "There's  My girl!" keeps ringing in my ears. Another piece of my heart is healing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

what the pumpkin pictures tell me

The days are long, but the years are short. That is what they told me.

And the days ARE long. But how is it possible that this is Bubby's FIFTH year to get pumpkins? So clearly they were right. The years are short.

(Side note- It is easy to see which years which boys were cooperative for group and individual photos.)

Each year I say, "These are my favorite ages." Then the next year comes, and I love those ages just as much. And as much as I love that my children sleep through the night and one of them is potty-trained and semi-independent, there is a part of me that misses the sweetness that comes with babyhood.

I love these two so incredibly much. Words will never describe my love for them.

Excuse me while I go cry a little bit .Tomorrow I'll post some fall pictures I took of the boys with my semi-broken camera.

(Side note: There were also parts of babyhood that made me think I was going to lose. my. mind. But I don't see the lose my mind moments in these pictures. I just see sweetness. Luckily, I blogged some of my lose my mind moments so that I won't forget.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

I am (pretty sure I am) a Jesus Feminist

In the last year I have become a reformed Southern Baptist.  I love my local church. I agree with most of it's doctrines and teachings.  But the tension in my own life has not gone away as I still wrestle with questions on marriage and ministry and roles and submission.  Sarah Bessey is one of my favorite bloggers. I don't agree with everything she says, but I love the way I see her heart in her words. And I am looking forward to reading her book this November to see if it eases any of the tension I feel on the topic of feminism and the Church.

Jesus Feminist definition

I struggle with the idea of labeling myself, but when I read her definition I found myself thinking, that is me.

  • I am a Reformed Southern Baptist with Pentecostal tendencies.
  • I am a stay-at-home mom who knows without a doubt that this is my calling for this season.
  • I am the one who heard too many times the phrase "femi-nazi" on my dad's radio.
  • I am the girl who vowed in the '90s to vote for Hillary Clinton someday, but who as an adult realized my political beliefs are pretty much polar opposite to Hillary's.
  • I am tired of hearing I read too much into Galatians 3:28.
  • I am weary of loud people - men or women -  demanding things under the name of Christ - when Christ came as a humble servant never demanding anything.
  • I respect my church's beliefs on women in ministry even if I do not personally agree with them. I choose to be a part of my local church because of so many other things I do agree with there and because of their heart for the Gospel.
  • I believe in my friends who are called into ministry - who are gifted to preach and teach and serve - and who happen to be female.
  • I am raising two boys to not believe men or women are better than each other - to believe that we are equal and that when we follow Christ it is not about us any more. 
  • I struggle with the belief some have that women can't lead in the church but they can lead in other places.
  • I am scared to use the word feminist because of all of the negative things it conjurs up in my mind.
  • I'm still learning after eight years what Christ wants for my marriage - and how that really doesn't have to be given a label one way or another.
  • I am encouraged by my complementarian friends who are showing me it is not the stereotype I thought it was.
  • I will always believe in the importance of having a parent stay-at-home with the kids, even if that opinion is unpopular and some of my closest friends disagree with it.
  • I am learning that being a Jesus feminist doesn't have to be about politics or bad theology - it is feminism that is "shaped and informed by one's faith in Jesus Christ."
  • I honestly admit that my views on this could (and probably will) continue to change in one way or another as I grow older and grow in my faith.
  • I am Amanda, and I am (pretty sure) that I am a Jesus Feminist.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mondays with Bubby

(in the morning in the car)

"You stress me out!" Bubby hollered from the backseat a few minutes before we needed to be home for Bugaboo's therapy appointment.

"How do I stress you out?" I asked trying to figure out where he picked up that phrase. Ah yes, when the dog ran away this morning, I yelled that to her when I finally dragged her back in the house.

"Because you say bad words to me." he replied.

"What bad words did I say to you?" I kept driving trying to think of what could be perceived as a bad word to my four year old.

"You told me I don't watch movies today. That's bad words."

(in the afternoon in the car)

Amid his non-stop talking about everything under the sun came his little voice asking, "How big is God? As big as a semi-truck?"

"God is much bigger than a semi-truck. He is bigger than everything."

"Urghh! I am NEVER going to get baptized." This was said with a tone of disappointment rather than a declaration.

"Why do you want to get baptized?"

"Because I am following Jesus." he said decidedly.

"What does that mean to you?" I asked.


"Can you turn up the song?"

(this afternoon)

While at the park today the boys were playing on some of the smaller equipment. There were just a handful of toddlers and preschoolers. All of the other moms that were there were not actually on the playground area with their children. They were on benches.

 Playing on equipment is something his therapists recommend. Easier said than done. Bubby went up and down slides while I helped Bug navigate the stairs.In order to catch him at the bottom, I would rush around once he was situated at the top.  This can be somewhat tricky depending on the piece of equipment.  It was a little bit frustrating because the other  children at the park had no regard for Bug.  While I was down at the bottom of the slide, I heard Bubby call out to an aggressive preschooler, "Don't push my brother down the slide!" The child ignored Bubby and proceeded to try to knock Bug down the slide so he could have his turn. (I was there so Bug was not hurt.)  We kept trying to move to different parts of the playground, but each time this handful of preschoolers and their mothers would show up a minute later. Then their kids would take over again.

I was a bit frustrated because it was very obvious that our trip to the playground was not as easy as theirs. I have never once been able to just sit at a playground and be oblivious to what my kids are doing. Part of me was slightly jealous at the sight of the bench-dwelling moms, but then I remembered the gifts I was given even in that trying moment.

I get to help my son use the slide.  Bug going down it independently will be a milestone, a celebration instead of something common place that most take for granted.. I get to see Bubby stand up for his brother - not because I told him to do it, but because somewhere in his four-year old mind he already knows it is the right thing to do. There are gifts even in the frustrating moments.  All is grace.