Wednesday, February 27, 2013

a tale of two (snow day) brothers

On Tuesday I said I was keeping the blinds shut as long as possible. I knew what would happen if I opened any of them.  Bubby would see the snow.

I hate snow.

He loves the snow. We really don't get that much snow around here most of the time.  Last week Bubby was very disappointed when it was ice instead of real snow.

So at the end of breakfast I decided to not be a bah-hum-bug mom. I opened the blinds, which led to great joy and excitement for one third of the group. I put snow gear and boots over the boys' pajamas, and I threw on a heavy coat, and tennis shoes over my flannel penguin jammies. We headed outside.  Can you guess which child had to stand with me at the backdoor for half an hour while brother continued playing?

Maybe snow isn't quite so horrible afterall. I mean, look at that face?

(Oh, and don't worry. We have a privacy fence, so I could be outside in my jammies. Even if we didn't, I don't think anyone around here would have thought anything of it.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

recognizing truth

Forty-five minutes.

That is how long I cried after reading an email yesterday.

I was so confused. Bewildered. Sad. Frustrated.  The note was eerily similar to messages I have received for years. There were even similar words used. I thought about it all afternoon and evening.  Then I tried not to think about it, but the words would not stop echoing in my head.

About 11:00 I sprawled out on the couch with a blanket over my head.

You are not enough. And also you are too much.

I realized the two phrases that have haunted me for years were the underlying theme of the email.

And then I recognized that those phrases were a lie.  On my own I may not be enough or I may be too much, but in Christ I am a beloved child of God.  I will live in that truth.

Therefore I will keep speaking the truth, even if it hurts.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

a letter to my boys about our church decision

Dear Boys,

We switched churches recently.  You have been such troopers visiting various nurseries and Sunday schools. C - I can't believe how well you have done. Where is that boy who cried every Wednesday night last summer when I tried to leave you in your class?  Preschool and time have been good for you, sweet boy.

C, you ask when we are going back to our old church and why we left. It is hard to explain to a three year old. I simply try to just tell you our new church is better for our family.  Even that sounds shallow and selfish, but our move has more to do about your best interests than ours.  Daddy and I could have toughed some things out, but it is not just about us.

We are a multi-denominational family, boys. Daddy grew up a mix of Baptist and Church of Christ. Mommy went to an A/G church, a Wesleyan church, an E.Free church, then an AG college and church, a Southern Baptist church, and then the last sevenish years back at an AG church.  There is a story behind all of this boys. I could write paragraphs explaining my memories, my disappointments, and my love of those churches listed. But not tonight.  What I want to tell you is that as you grow to know Jesus in the years ahead, I want you to know it is always about Jesus and not a building, a worship-style, or what makes you feel good.

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. We can teach you that some people raise their hands or speak in tongues or let women preach at their churches, even if our current church doesn't.   It doesn't make one church love Jesus more or less. I hope you will always know it is about Jesus and what He wants to do more than what any individual or group of people wants.

I wanted to sit and write to you tonight so that I will remember what I really wanted to tell you about why we decided on our new church - this Southern Baptist church with Reformed theology. (Perhaps one of the few SBC churches in our city that uses the ESV - a big deal for mommy.)  We picked it because we understand their theology and agree with it. Anything we don't agree with seems to be issues that we don't find major/find the Bible clearly in favor or against.  We picked it because the preaching/teaching is solid.  We picked it because of such a wonderful balance in its teachings on grace and accountability. We picked it because the people have been welcoming and helpful, and every time we have been, adults have remembered YOUR names.  This was huge to me, sweet boys, because the church we were coming from was a church where so many people loved you and prayed for you.

I hope as a family we grow to love this church even more. I pray we cultivate friendships, find a way to serve, that we think of it as a second-family.  But mostly I pray that no matter where we worship, how we worship, that you know it is all about Jesus and how much we love Him because He first loved us.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

getting Jack Bauer-like before the snowstorm

All of the buzz around here is the storm we are supposed to get this evening into tomorrow. Somewhere in my mind I had told myself this is no big deal until I heard everyone on Facebook  discussing ice.  Six years ago we had a horrible ice storm in which we were left without power for days.  Back then we just had dogs. Nice, warm, furry dogs.  Now we have babies.  So this morning, an hour or so before preschool, I freaked out.

I didn't want to deal with the store any later than I had to because I hate shopping with crazy people.  I don't do Black Friday. And I don't do ice storm shopping with crazy Ozark hillbillies. (I use that term lovingly. I come from a long line of hillbillies.)

First I dashed into Walgreens because of its location for diapers and candles.  Dash is a relative term since I was hauling my not-easily-mobile two year old and my three and a half year old in a winter coat. Then we hit the grocery store because I needed sandwich supplies, a lifetime supply of milk, and juiceboxes incase our fridge/power goes out. Of course the most convenient store on the way to preschool is the most expensive - even though it's name implies otherwise. 

It was the boys' lucky day because although I had said, "No car-cart today, boys" as we pulled into the lot, there in the cart corral inside was the beloved car-cart. This one is nicer than our usual grocery stores - one which does not have car-carts and one which has some really wonky car-carts.  I threw the boys in to their delight and ran through the aisles, with which I was not very familiar.  I am sure I said aloud many times, "This is a rip off!" as I threw a few items in.  But perhaps my complaints were drown out by the ker-plunk ker-plunk of my massive shopping cart.  All my years watching SuperMarket Sweep were paying off.

After checking out, we made our way to the van, which unfortunately was two spots from the corral.  I had already checked the time. Not good.  "We're running out of time!" I yelled in my best Jack Bauer voice.  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!" I yelled while carrying my two year old, two gallons of milk, a case of juice boxes, bread, bananas, and a big container of apple juice.  I thought to myself how all my years walking across the southside parking lot at Evangel with Wal-mart bags in had were now serving me well. 

Success! I made it to the van, my children made it to the van, and I made it to preschool with a few minutes to spare to make use of the drop-off line since I was wearing sweatpants and my hair hadn't been washed in a couple of days.

So after all of that - we better get some snow! (But hold the ice, please.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

I don't even own a sleeping bag these days

I wish I could host a slumber party.

Remember back in the day you and a dozen of your closest friends would spread out sleeping bags and pillows and stuffed animals on a basement or family room floor? After pizza and ice cream there would be singing competitions that included hairbrush microphones New Kids or Paula Abdul cassettes. A few years later it would be an Ace of Base or Boys II Men cd.  Underwear might be frozen, and there would be too much Truth and not enough Dare before the night turned to telling stories about bad guys hiding upstairs while you are baby-sitting.

There might be drama. There might be tears.  But mostly it was just a lot of fun.

I need a slumber party.

I want to gather my friends from all the seasons of my life. I want to stay up late telling stories - the hard stories, the heroic stories, the laugh-until-you-pee-your-pants stories.

My last night of college a few of us put our mattresses in the hallway of W2S. I don't remember what was said that night, but I still remember how I felt. Life was good, and I had been given yet another set of amazing friends.

Oh, how I wish I could have all my different friends together, perhaps for a weekend. Or better yet, a week.We would laugh and cry. We would sing and pray. We would reminisce. We would dream.

I have talked to so many friends in the last few weeks. Some dealing with big stuff, some dealing with not-as-big-stuff, and some who have just come through stuff.  We need each other.  We need pizza and chick-flicks and sleeping bags. It won't solve everything, but it's a start.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

running to something

I posted a picture of Bubby on Facebook tonight wearing his new Awana Cubbies vest.  I was proud to post it, but I was also a little sad.  Posting it made me realize we are officially no longer going to the church we have attended almost our entire time in Missouri.

About a month ago I wrote about a decision to leave. It still makes me cry thinking about that meeting. 

The people who need to know the details of why we are leaving know them. We aren't leaving out of anger or sneaking off because we have done something.  I really wanted to be able to stay. My babies were dedicated here. The nursery workers know about G's issues. C LOVES his Sunday school teacher. I have some amazing, beautiful friends here. Our young adult community and its leadership is wonderful. The children's pastor is someone I call friend.  And on and on I could write about why I did not want to leave.

But for several months we have lacked peace about a couple of things. So we prayed. We consulted people further along in life than us for insight. The best advice I was given was, "Don't run away from something. Run to something."

We waited. We talked to our dear pastors. We started looking.

And in the process we believe we have found what we had in mind and yet what we didn't quite have in mind - but we have peace.

There are more tears to shed, I am sure.  There is more to share (and not share) about this whole journey, but for now I am just so thankful that God is with us. I am thankful that there are people I love where we used to attend, and I am thankful that I will be given new people to share life with at the new-to-us church.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

shooing the sickness away

There are many reasons I moved across the country, single and alone and just out of college, to Arizona. One was the promise of a city that was sunny almost year round.  God knows I need sunshine almost as much as I need sleep. Back in the Midwest for several winters now, four in the role of mommy, I think of both sun and sleep as long lost friends.

But yesterday the sun was out, and there have been a few nights in a row of sleep. Cough-free sleep. I could feel the sun and the sleep helping me shoo out the last bits of sickness, as I tackled the to-do list.  There is nothing quite like a week spent on the couch that makes you want to do something productive.

So we ran to Aldi and Target. Laundry continued, dishes were put away, floors were vacuumed.  I have yet to scrub the toilets because I am thankful for energy, but not quite that deliriously happy.  The world's best pot roast (according to The Hubs) was on our table last night. I found myself comforted by the meat and potatoes in the cast iron dutch oven that links me in its own way to my mom, my grandmother, my great-grandmother. We don't have fine china to pass down. We have sturdy, simple meals - and perhaps there is a metaphor in there somewhere about who we really are.

I had energy last night to dance with my babies.  Bubby requested "not Veggie music," which meant he wanted music not geared to kids last night. Since Mumford and Sons was in the car to be returned to the library, we played plastic guitars and dollar store maracas to Chris Tomlin. I think there have been few times I have worshipped as purely as I did last night - just enjoying my kids making music and being thankful for getting through last week's rough patch.

I wanted to box up my living room last night. Wrap it up in the prettiest paper and open it over and over again. But that is impossible.  So instead I write it down to get me through the rough patches that are yet to come.

1011. huge decrease of drooling with G
1012. friends who text, bring soup, offer to bring coffee, call
1013. breathing treatments
1014. invite to a moms' group & boldness to go where I didn't know anyone
1015. library books returned on time
1016. mommy-son date with C
1017. preschool Valentine from C, "I love my mommy because she loves me."
1018. long hug in the hallway at the start of another week
1019. potatoes to fry tonight
1020. naps for both boys

Thursday, February 7, 2013

why I will always (try hard to) be real

I glanced at my last two posts so very different from each other, just days apart.  How is that possible? How did I have such comfort and insight from God the other day, and then why did I write like I did a few hours ago?

Because it is life, and life is messy. And I want to be real about it.

It doesn't mean I lack faith. Or that I think everything about my life is terrible. Or that I am not grateful. It means some days are hard, and some days are wonderful, and most days fall somewhere in between.

So I won't just write about the good. I will try not to let the bad days get me down. But there are some days you just need to have a good cry and surrender. Sometimes surrender comes in the form of falling on my face before God.  Sometimes it is having the courage to write a blog requesting something strong to drink. And sometimes it means confessing on Facebook, "One thing after another this week. Can't catch a break. So tired and overwhelmed I started crying during a VeggieTales song. This too shall pass."

Motherhood, or just life in general, isn't something to go at alone. It isn't something to fake through and say everything is fine.  Sometimes you have to say I am tired and sad and overwhelmed today, and I know I will be okay tomorrow, but can you just help carry the load for a minute? My arms are tired.

And they do.  Your friends pray and ask what they can do. They invite you to dinner. They offer to punch someone for you if they could do it without being arrested.  They offer to bring you coffee or a mixed drink if only they lived within driving distance. These are the moments I remember why I am a person of faith.  Jesus, of course, but also because of the love of the community that I find following Jesus.

For now I won't stop writing about the bad days I have.  Writing it all  reminds me I'm not alone in this. It shows me how much I have to be thankful for on good days and on bad ones.

when my positive attitude flies out the window

It has been a week.  I have slept a grand total of 2.75 hours in my own bed.  The rest has been pseudo-sleep on the floor, and then last night I upgraded to the couch with my three year old.  The propping up helped his cough enough to justify my discomfort. 

I have added the sound of non-stop coughing to the list of sounds that make me want to vomit/rip out my ears/poke my eyes.   Other things on that list include scraping of silverware on plates, slurping off a spoon, and fingernails on the chalkboard. (I have no idea where my kids get their sensory issues!) My son's cough is #1 on the "please stop making that sound" list right now.  Of course, I don't say that to him. I only think it. Mother of the year.

My two year old (who does not talk in case you did not know that fact) has started communicating to me all the things he doesn't want (by body language or grunts), but then it is a guessing game for me to try to figure out what he is asking for.  We are really sucky charades partners.  Luckily he is adorable, so I keep trying to decipher his sounds.

The Hubs got screwed over -but I can't really write about it on here.  Thank you bureaucracy.  Thank you dishonest shady people of the world.  There is so much I would like to vent about this, but I can't.  (If you are not in the counseling world, this will not make a whole lot of sense. It's all about licesning/paperwork/etc. He did his part. Someone else did not.)  He has made all of the phone calls to the powers that be. So we wait.

We also have the joy of getting a new water heater in the days ahead.  Positive - we will have hot water. And we will not have to worry about our water heater deciding to leak out all over our house.  Negative - I would rather spend the money on something else.  But I do enjoy warm water. I am an American.

I am going a little stir-crazy. Trips to Walgreens and drive-thrus have not been enough to keep me sane.  I really did keep a pretty good perspective this week, but today I just feel like being done with positivity.  Positive Amanda will be back next week.  Realistic Amanda just says, "This sucks."
Please send coffee. Or margaritas.

Monday, February 4, 2013

(what God showed me) with my face on the floor

Bronchitis is the newest thing to hit our house.  Seriously this has been the longest. winter. ever.

There was a point last night, around midnight, when I was settling in for another night on the floor in my boys' room, and all I could do was cry out to God. Bubby had finally fallen asleep,and for thre first time in a long time I found myself face down in prayer. The words and the tears became a jumbled mess.

God, I just want to be comfortable.

The word comfortable encompassed so much. The immediate comfort of having a healthy family. The long-term comfort of having friends, a nice place to live, job security, a few pats on the back now and then. The good life.

In that moment I felt the presence of God cover me like a blanket, and I was reminded of His promises.  He does not promise to make me comfortable.  He does promise to always be with me.

What if God's best for me is this house in north Springfield? Will I doubt His plans? His purposes? His goodness? His love? My faith cannot be determined by my circumstances. I will press on. I will listen for His still small voice. I will stop looking at others.

God is for me. No good thing will He withhold. However, this is not a promise for prosperity but a point for perspective.

I had been praying for so long for comfort.. But He never promises that.
"In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

And He promises to be with us. He promises us to show us what to pray.
So in this season, I am praying something new. I am praying for friends who are comfortable living uncomfortably, too.

joining up with 1,000 Gifts all over again
1001. medicine
1002. C's laughter (finally) in the wee hours of the morning
1003. G "talking" to his stuffed animals
1004. G drinking from a straw
1005. potty training goals being met
1006. the Feb.2 hard reminder - my baby is in a much better place than I am
1007. a kiss before he heads out the door for class
1008. the smoothness of chubby toddler feet
1009. the aroma of coffee on the days I need it most
1010. a possible new church w/ Awana

Friday, February 1, 2013

five mjnute friday - afraid

On Fridays Lisa-Jo says, "Let’s just write and not worry if it’s just right or not. Here’s how to play along."

This week is afraid.

I sit in this small house.  It's on the wrong side of town and lacks closet space.  I'm afraid that we will be stuck here forever in all that this house represents.  And it isn't really about the house.  It is about broken dreams and unmet expectations.  I can tell myself to look at how far I've come in letting go of the comparison trap, in the progress I've made in doubting and blaming God, but if I am truly honest with myself, in the rare quiet moments when I am alone, I am afraid.

Just like Eve I am afraid of missing out. I am afraid that God can't be trusted.

I second-guess the majority of decisions I have made.I say that paint on the walls, money in the bank, and a closet full of new shoes won't make me happier, but there are days when I wonder. There are days when I want to test out that theory with the swipe of a Discover card. But my fear of debt overrides my fear of not having all of the right things.

And so we stay the course which for us means me staying home with the kiddos while The Hubs works and studies.  When the morning comes I choose to shut off my fears and remember.

Remember provision.
Remember surprises.
Remember joy.
Remember truth.

Five Minute Friday