Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Isn't This A Lovely Day

The sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday are on a continuous flow through the thin walls of my home tonight. I have poured myself a glass of white and there are no harsh overhead lights glaring on me, instead soft light twinkles from strings and lamps. The rain has ended. It's almost bedtime and it's the first time today that I've allowed the t.v. to be turned on so the boys are huddled around it. In other words, I finally have a chance to sit. It has been a full five minutes since anyone has asked me for anything and I've done nothing with that time except stare at this screen, begging for a place for my creativity and emotion to end up. It's a beautiful night here. I have mostly silence, a place to write, old enchanting music, and my husband is on his way home from his business trip. A girl can't want for much more.

Earlier today, I didn't feel as optimistic. Do you ever wonder what your children will remember? About their childhoods, I mean. When I think back on my own, I see that I have nothing but good thoughts and it scares me. It makes me wonder why I can't just get it together. The best I do every day is show my kids my own need for a savior. They see how selfish I am- daily, hourly. I'm exhausted by endless demands and even though I know I'm called to a life of service to them and others, it's often the very last thing I want to do.
Yet...
There's nothing else I want to do in the world. I get to be here to wash four curly heads at night and watch strong sibling bonds develop over belly laughs and wrestling matches. I don't have to miss them because I'm always right there by their sides. When I feel the walls of this small house closing in on me the more the children grow, I remember that one day our house will feel hopelessly quiet and empty. Soon enough, Merit won't grab my hand and kiss it, telling me "I like you so much, Mom." No, they'll all leave this little nest I've worked so hard to create and I'm afraid I'll be empty, too.
I'll mentally try to capture this fleeting moment with Merit dancing to early jazz with a mouth full of peanut butter he helped himself to. Abel is also enthralled with the music as he curls his cold toes underneath the quilt with me. He is spelling out his name with the letters on this keyboard and bobbing his head softly to the music. My deaf child! Saylor is sleeping sweetly in her pink polka dot pjs and Kinley wouldn't dare look away from some coveted screen time. It's business as usual here, but it's nice. I want for nothing.
It's just another simple night on the chestnut farm. Not much to write home about.
"Let the rain pitter patter
But it really doesn't matter
If the skies are gray
Long as I can be with you it's a lovely day"

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My Arrows

"We don't become capable of developing the necessary strength in ourselves. The problem is with the placement of our eyes. When we believe we are enough-even when we feel Jesus's enough makes us enough-we're placing our eyes on ourselves, as if our abilities are top priority. On the other hand, when we acknowledge our constant need for and dependence on Him, our eyes are placed on Him, and His priorities take over." --Brooke McGlothlin (Gospel Centered Mom)

If any one picture could describe "Back to School" it's this one. We are tired. We decided to send the older boys to a school quite a bit farther away and the new routine has us a bit delirious. Motherhood is tiring any which way you spin it, though. For me, this week brought more time with my two babies. We've been to parks, read more books, cooked together, snuggled, and actually had a designated (double) nap time work out a time or two. I really like it. I just wish we were a bit closer to the school, but that's okay. We are getting into a new groove.

I'm proud of my school aged boys, too. I have a Kindergartner and a Pre-K student. Our goals for mainstreaming Abel have been set into place and we are hoping he flourishes in this environment with his typically developing peers. There have been some struggles with dragging boys out of beds in the morning, but other than that the challenges have been minimal.

I'm truly trying to remember as I cart my kiddos here and there that it's okay that I'm not a perfect mom. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you've read the inner anxiety I have about feeling as if I'm enough for these kids. We've heard people tell us and even encourage us to repeat it mantra style, "You are enough"/"I am enough". The book I'm reading now says to look at it in a different light. I'll never be enough. I need Jesus for that. And boy, do I! The summer started out strong and I was mommin' like crazy. We went to pools, we hiked, and we played sun up to sun down. But as summers do, ungratefulness and hatefulness bred within us as we took the ability to get out for granted and brotherly rivalry turned into all out brawls over the silliest things. The summer drew to an epic close when on the very last day of summer break, I decided with the help of another questionably sane friend to load up seven of our kids (under 7) and take them to the aquarium two hours away. The day made for a cute picture or ten, but it was also another reality check-
I need Jesus. THEY need Jesus, too. In every moment. With every breath.

It's ten o'clock at night and do you know how many times I've put my three and four year old back to bed? Me either. Lost count. It's helping to write this so I can truly focus on not absolutely losing it. 

But sometimes I lose it. Sometimes I have the facade of having it all together, but underneath it's just ugly and sinful--in need of a cleansing Savior.

People give you funny looks when you take that many children that close in age to a place like that. In the kids' defense, they were pretty stinkin' good that day, really. Anyway, I had four or five of the boys at an interactive part of an exhibit and they were taking turns among one another pretty pleasantly when another child walked up with three (yes, THREE) adults with her. They stood there as the boys each got a chance to play with the submarine viewer. When the last boy was looking (in a timely matter I might add), the woman said "All she wants to do is have a turn looking at this thing, but this lady has too many kids!" 

There are moments in life where you chew on what you should have said or would have said, but all you can do is think about it because the moment has passed. With just a hint of snark in my voice, I will tell you that I said exactly what I wanted to say in that moment-"Okay boys, let's move on. This little girl's mommy wants a turn at the submarine."

I've giggled at the look on her face a time or two since then.

But when I think about that moment, my thoughts are drawn to sin and how it so easily entangles us. My reaction to her was not love, but an immediate desire to make her feel small while I held my tongue to what I really wanted to say. I mean, why would anyone want to make a child feel unwanted? Don't you dare let my kids or any kids in my care hear you say anything about how you wish there were less of them. These kids are arrows (Psalm 127:3-5). They are His handiwork. They will be His messengers, His disciples. The God of the Universe gave them to me. He doesn't make mistakes. Back off, lady.

So, it's okay. To the world, I'm definitely definitely not enough. Far from perfect. My lot is one long crazy train most days. But I get to raise these kids. Me. This selfish, prideful, tired mom was chosen for them. They are prayed over and diligently loved and corrected. And I will continue to seek God's help in doing so. What a magnificent role I have here and I thank God for it.

But if I'm truly introspective, I can see that so many times it's not the behaviors, attitudes or personality characteristics of my kids' that need attention. Instead, it's my own. These boys (and girl) were given their attributes specifically and He is making them to work for good. I can't stomp on their independence now and expect them to feel confident in themselves in other ways down the road. My job is to make them into the individuals God made them to be, not who I want them to be.

People tell me often, "I don't know how you do it."

I don't either, but I know it's by the grace of God that we get through each new week. It's an exhausting, beautifully chaotic, messy life but it's an incredible one, too. I'm thankful for a Savior who doesn't leave us, ever.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Space in Between


It's endearing, right? The way I'm confident I'll blog weekly and how I always say to check back regularly and then months go by. The summer has been wild, y'all. We've squeezed a whole lot of living into the hours of the day and on into the night. Catching you up would be a laundry list of trails we've hiked, afternoons we've struggled through, swimming pools we've frequented, and much more.
Tonight, though, I've settled into our newly constructed office with a glass of wine and a large piece of chocolate cake (because my husband is amazing and thought of me at his business dinner tonight) to write something else.
I had an epiphany tonight.
I have honestly been in a sour mood today. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I was annoyed. I decided that we should have a little fun this evening since Daddy would be working late and we had been home all afternoon with a sleeping, sick baby. I got everyone dressed which is a feat in itself and started loading up the car, buckling in the loves of my life. One of them, whose name shall not be mentioned, grabbed the handle and hung on it like a primate and in doing so broke the handle completely off it's hinges. There it was, dangling there. Standing between me and an evening of ice cream with my kids in hopes of pacifying them just a little bit longer. In hopes of snapping that picture perfect shot of my lot in front of my hometown ice cream shop. In hopes of pretending for just a little bit longer that I am supermom. Dream shattered, y'all. Obliterated.
It's silly how incredibly often I have to take a humility pill and a reality pill. I'm reminded over and over in raising my four young children that I'm called to truth. Nothing more, nothing less. At the church we attend, we heard a lot about humility on Sunday. Bear with one another in love, stop measuring, count others as more significant than you, have self sacrificing love. Still, I need these reminders every day. 

I wish I could say I calmly told my son that it was okay and accidents happen. Instead, I angrily said we couldn't go anywhere now. I nagged him by saying, "This is why I tell you not to do that!Why don't you listen to me?" I'm reminded of me, too. Doesn't my Heavenly Father not treat me as my sins deserve? He lets natural consequences arise (my own conviction for being wrong) instead of yelling at me about how I disappointed Him (again). So many times my perspective needs to be adjusted and today was one of those times. Here comes the epiphany...
Why am I assigning blame to Satan when I'm presented with difficult obstacles? For example, when I deliberately wake up early so that I can have a steaming cup of coffee in silence and study God's Word and my kids decide they'll get up early as well- Why do I say or think that Satan is trying to get me down? What if I instead looked at that situation as an opportunity for ministry? What if I looked at it as a test from God? How much would my day-to-day change?
The truth is that I am human. I try diligently to brush everyones teeth, have them memorize scripture, and not raise my voice but folks, that doesn't always happen. But what I can do in those moments-like the moment of the car handle incident- is show them grace. I can say that this isn't Satan trying to get me down, but God trying to build me up to be a better mom and person. I could let them join in on my bible study. I could lovingly correct their behavior. And, like I had to do earlier, I can get down on their level and admit I was wrong in my reaction and ask them to forgive me. And they do. God love them.
Difficult days come and they go. The older I get, the more I'm convinced that I'm to share that truth. Some days are the terrible, awful we learned about in The Help....and some days are perfect gifts from above...and some days are just that awkward space in between. Life happens in those days, though. The kids get a bit older, your hair grows a little longer, and you find yourself having to buy toilet paper again. In those mundane days, we still have a beautiful chance to minister. During breakfast, during diaper changes, during orange juice all over the floor--that's when we can show them Jesus.

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed and overflowing with gratitude." Colossians 2:6-7

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ready For Summer!


Another school year come and gone. Kinley finished up his second year at a private pre-school. I think he came into his own a little more this year, gaining some confidence and learning a lot. It's hard to believe that the little boy who made me mama five years ago will soon be walking into a new school as a kindergartner. I remember being pregnant with him and thinking that he would learn Spanish as we taught him English because naturally. Oh, that mom was cute. That mom went on to have three more kids in the next four years and now barely knows English herself. Still, I'm very proud of my oldest. He loves to be outside. He will squeeze all the daylight he can out of each day this summer.
Abel also finished up his second year at preschool. His Pre-K class has been good for him. I think he enjoys the structure and routine that school brings. Familiar faces greeted him while he attended and I think that has helped to make him feel more comfortable. His progress has jumped in the past few months and he surprises me weekly with the things he says and does. One of the goals I have had for him was to mainstream him as soon as possible. We are going to try that in the fall when he will hopefully start a mainstream pre-k with his typically developing four year old peers. I'm excited for him. I know he can do it!
I also got another year at home with my Merit. He's two now- two going on five. He wants to do everything Kinley does and certainly holds his own in brother conversations, quarrels, and joy. He thrives at being the only big boy at home when he can. We often had a few mornings each week together, just the baby, Merit, and me. I'll cherish those. He is great with chores, eager to learn, and independent. His laugh will fill up a room, but he sure does have some strong, ever-changing opinions, too. Watch out for this one. At heart, he's a good boy.

And now that the school year is over, that means my baby is almost one. I have no idea how that happened. I never knew a baby could be so sweet. Saylor's smile is contagious. I can't stop kissing her. She loves to fuss when she sees me and I'm not holding her. She loves her mama, but she won't say it. She just says "Dada" all the time. Her latest party tricks include pointing, waving and saying "hi" and "hey". I look forward to more one on one time next fall when some of the brothers filter out into their school system.

Until then, we're going to have a great summer. We kicked it off yesterday with a pool party and a few of our closest friends! I plan to document our summer here on the blog so I hope you'll come back frequently. I'm determined to not plant these kids in front of the t.v., but instead to get out and live in the sunshine!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Are You Haley?


I stumbled across this piece of art at a coffee shop I grew up in. What I mean is that for four years of my early adulthood, I met people at this place to talk about love lost, to medicate with sugary, caffeine- plenty drinks after staying up too late in the computer lab, and to study some more in this small sanctuary called Poet's in the town in which I completed my Bachelor's degree. The picture was titled "Haley had a dream", but I looked at it and thought, 'Isn't this the picture of motherhood?'
I see myself in this girl. Her hair is beautifully curled. She put something nice on to wear. For the most part, her house is clean and tidy. While those things rarely describe my life, it's something I'm encouraged to believe is an easy task to accomplish. Yet, it's harder than it may seem. I see myself in Haley because she seems to have made such an effort, but still, there's uncooked food sitting beside her. It's messy, dripping, and the clock is ticking for her to salvage it into something more desirable. I imagine there are many children under this table, pulling on her leg. They're probably needing a diaper change, their nose wiped, their shoes tied, and more hugs than she's offered up today. The demand she feels in every direction has closed in on her in this moment and she just has to lay her head down and breathe for sixty seconds. I see me.
I like this picture a lot, actually. It reminds me that not everyone exists in tiny picture perfect Instagram squares. It helps to remind me that the incredible strength of a woman comes from God and that it's Him who keeps me going despite the growing demands a society places on me. I like it because it's peculiar--like it almost wouldn't make sense to you unless you were a little strange yourself. I feel this way because I know many of you who are reading this right now don't understand me. You likely wonder why raising young children is emotionally and physically exhausting. I know. I remember thinking those thoughts long ago, too. I even remember when I had two children under two and managed to keep my house in order, my body fit, and whatever else you may think is good and proper for a young mother to do. Their little bottoms were covered with cloth diapers. We ate fresh, clean foods. I was figuring this motherhood gig out! Then, two became three and shortly after that there were four. One by one, I've begun to let some things go. The perfect mom facade was never for me. Here I am. Like Haley. I'm tired, but I'm strong. When I finish writing these words, I'll lift myself up off the table again and handle whatever may be thrown my way today. And grace. I'll give myself plenty of that.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My Girl

Yes, you're lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft
There is nothing for me but to love you
And the way you look tonight


This girl is changing me. Where I previously wished the hours away until bedtime, I now find myself ignoring the clock just a little bit more so I can take in the darling fat rolls forming on her beautiful legs and breathe in the freshness of her new baby smell. I sat with her on this blanket, legs stretched out in front of us and had the weighty feeling that I wouldn't have enough time with her. I'm not sure if the feeling was meant to foreshadow something dark or if it simply was there for me to recognize that she looks slightly more like a little girl today and a little less like my squishy newborn I brought home in July. It doesn't matter, though because either way, it's true. I don't have enough time to cherish this sweet girl. I began whispering suggestions for her. You can't be boy crazy because God is preparing someone for you. You have to focus on God and He will find the one you should pour your time and energy into. You will be his helper. Start praying for him now. I know you must be thinking- that's silly! But even if my brown eyed girl doesn't understand a word I'm saying, I know I'm communicating love to her in those moments. I touched her olive skin and I quietly sang to her as she looked at me with her adoring eyes and it hit me. I'm different because of her. She's my girl. She has changed me. I prayed for her, for the mother she would become. And now as she's laying on her back in her crib with her little hands curled up in those cute baby fists and sucking on her lower lip, I can only hope that she won't grow up too fast, that I'll be able to SEE her, to smell her, to have her wispy hair tickle my face as we dance together in the backyard, that I won't let the busyness of life take me away from my truly important mission right in front of me.

Saylor Eden.

My girl.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When God Calls You

Have you heard of flow psychology? It's the idea that your body is functioning completely in tune with an activity at hand and you're able to naturally accomplish what you're challenged to do. People experience flow when they're playing a musical instrument, running a race, or any other time they're doing something they love to do. Every breath and movement that escapes their frame is working toward their goal. One is more likely to experience flow when goals are defined and require specific responses. So, yesterday when I glanced my eyes back from Abel in his car seat to the interstate in front of me and I saw a glimmer of brake exhaust, to my surprise, I felt a strange calm as I began to try to stop my car from slamming into the one that was flipping right in front of us.

The driver tried to brake quickly, lost control and slammed into the right hand side wall, then seemingly tried to over correct the problem when she drifted a few lanes over, hit the wall again and began flipping her car. Eye witness accounts are notoriously inaccurate, but I thought the car flipped 2-3 times while others behind me counted 4. Anyway, I thought I wouldn't be able to stop and if I did, the cars behind me would surely hit us. I came to a stop and just looked back at my sweet Merit, eyes wide with fear. Still, this calmness settled in my heart. I'm supposed to be here right now.

Miraculously, the cars behind me did not hit me or the car in front of me. When it stopped rolling, I moved around because I could see gas dripping and I thought it looked like a good way to get blown up. As I parked my car on the other side of the interstate and checked on the three kids I had in the car, I got out and went to help. It was interesting to see how people came together using their gifts. One lady started accomplishing all the practical obstacles- let's call the police, let's organize this traffic so the glass doesn't cut their tires, let's find who saw what. Another focused her attention solely on helping the woman get out of the car and yes she walked out of it. I couldn't believe it. As I got out of my car, I knew what I was supposed to do and that was pray.

Growing up, if you were going to ask me to pray in front of people it felt like the most massive task. My voice would shake. My heart literally hurt to be exposed in that way. I didn't feel like I was talking to God; I felt as if I had to perform. Eloquence under pressure. A shy, quiet introvert speaking to God for everyone to hear (and judge) is a good recipe for a nervous breakdown, in my case anyway. Honestly, I still feel a little on edge when I'm called to pray but it has gotten better over the years. Yesterday, the message I heard was clear: DO NOT LEAVE THIS SCENE UNTIL YOU PRAY OVER HER. 


Just like in the case of flow, the goal was defined and required a specific reaction. My body knew what to do despite the shock of what was happening around us. I was able to walk over and ask the young woman if I could pray over her. I hugged her as I thanked God for protecting her and her family (she told me she had just dropped off her baby). I don't write this to highlight me, I write this because God orchestrates it all. He needed someone there who would pray. He needed someone there who would jump into action to take care of the practical side of this situation. He needed someone who would have the words of comfort and companionship as she sat on the side of the road bleeding and pulling glass out of her face and hands. He called each of us to something that day. 

1 Corinthians 12:6 "There are different ways of working, but the same God works all things in all men."

Hebrews 13:21 "{He will} equip you  in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight..."

I was so glad to be used by Him. This sinner. Apart from Him, I am nothing. Yet He loves me. He gives me purpose. He will use ME to glorify His name. He calls us even when we feel unworthy to do His work. You've heard it said that He uses the most unlikely of people and it's true in my case, too. I'm no good, but when He orders my steps I can fulfill a greater purpose than any of my own. I'm not sure what praying did for that girl or any of the folks that witnessed the scene from their cars on the road that day, but it doesn't matter because God has a detailed, intricate plan for all of us. The Savior of the world loves me so much that He would reach down to this stay-at-home mom who often feels aimless and give me specific directions to accomplish His will. That's big. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Growth

"The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it's not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives." -Carol S. Dweck

A couple of months ago, I posted on IG and Facebook that I was reading a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Several of you chimed in that you would like to know my thoughts on it when I finished. Well, I don't think a book review would do it justice and most of you wouldn't read it anyway. Instead, I wanted to weave it into some more personal stories in hopes that you might gain a more complete view of how important I think the ideas in this book are and why it will be one that I'll revisit over and over again. 



The book talks about the differences in people who orient toward a fixed mindset and those who are more inclined to have a mindset of growth. The latter is one who approaches everything as a process. It's the thought that you can develop yourself in any capacity. Intellectual ability, talent in music, art, or sports, and approaching personality and relationships--all of these are subject to change in those of us with the growth mindset. On the other hand, folks with a fixed mindset have thoughts that more closely resemble these:

"This is just the way I am."
"I've never been good at math. I don't see that changing."
"Some people just have a natural talent for music, but I didn't get that gene."

The work of Carol Dweck shows that the above comments simply don't have to be true. Now, don't leave me if you're drowning in laundry, the kids have chocolate smeared on their faces already at 9am, and you're barely keeping everyone's head above water. I'm there, too so hear me out. Lately, I've read and come into contact with so many people who kept preaching, sharing articles on Facebook, and holding meetings about not merely surviving but thriving and honestly I wanted to punch them all in the face. After all, they have no idea what I'm going through. Their kids aren't as close together as mine. They don't have as many as I do. Their kids are older. They aren't dealing with special needs. They don't know. While all those are probably true, they also don't matter. I'm not competing with anyone, but myself. And who says I can't get better at being Mama? Or being a wife, friend, daughter, writer, or an underwater basket weaver, if I so choose?

"In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail-or if you're not the best- it's all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they're doing regardless of the outcome"(Dweck). Much of our climate and culture is focused on a fixed mindset. What's the line from that movie I don't think I've ever actually watched in its entirety? "If you're not first, you're last." While I don't think participation trophies are helpful, I also don't believe that we should demonstrate to our children that because they weren't first in a foot race that the experience was wasted. Instead, we should encourage their effort and praise their ability to work hard and grow in that specific area. I know that I have good days and bad, but I also know that I can make small decisions every day that will push me toward becoming a better, well-rounded individual.

This talk makes me think of former President George W. Bush and his currently developing artistic abilities. He woke up one day and decided he wanted to paint our nation's heroes as a tribute to them and so he took classes and worked hard and became a painter, an artist. He had no prior experience. That's incredible.

The growth mindset can be applied to anything even relationships and friendships. People in the fixed mindset need validation so sometimes they will put you down in the process. They'll point out where they think you're lacking and sugar coat it with a smile all because on the flip side, they do have that part of their life in order and need to be validated on it because so much of the rest of them feels inferior. Shortly after learning that Abel was deaf, someone said I must have formula fed him (I didn't) and that caused him to get many ear infections and lose his hearing. She is an "all natural everything" type mom (which is great!) and so I suppose that helped her validate herself. Another situation that comes to mind is the time an older, well-dressed man asked me for money for gas. While I was filling up his tank, he took the time to insult me by laughing that I had wasted my education by staying home with my children. He must have been embarrassed that he forgot his debit card and needed to remind himself and me that he was an important man with plenty of money, experience, and worth. If I was in a fixed mindset, I would let these situations bother me greatly. The old Kacy certainly would have dwelled on instances such as these, but growing in my mindset allows me to see them more objectively. Just last week, a friend told me that her husband didn't care for me much. I do not have a problem with him and would've considered him a friend, too so that wasn't something I was thrilled to hear, but it's fine. A couple of years ago that would have killed me. I would have thought about what in the world I did wrong, how I could try to change it, etc until the cows came home. It would have hurt. This growth mindset allows me to just take it for what it's worth. I'm no less because of it and neither is he. I still have an opportunity to grow myself as a friend and can focus on relationships that are worthy of that growth. There's nothing to prove. 

There are nuggets of wisdom throughout the work of Carol Dweck that can be applied in so many situations. Depression, marriage, parenthood--she hits on all of these. The resounding message is one of determination. And that's one I want to reiterate over and over for my children. When I started out reading this, my main focus was Kinley. He seems to be very fixed in his mindset. He needs validation constantly. As I continued to read, my thoughts shifted to Abel, who has an incredible opportunity to approach life with a growth mindset and show the world how much he can learn and adapt to a hearing world. Mostly, though, I think the book has changed me. I set out to teach my kids this type of thinking and I had no idea that my thinking was what needed tweaked. 

I think you should check this book out. It is certainly redundant, but it's also chocked full of information, research studies, personal stories, and quotes that will help you change your mind, too.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Like a Handful of Berries


At times, the every day tasks we choose to do run together like an endless Groundhog Day. Laundry, Dishes, clean toilets, change diapers, wipe noses, repeat. It's never done yet we keep on working at it. So as my mind was on autopilot today, I walked my slipper clad feet down to the laundry room after nursing the baby for over an hour. I sleepily stretched, yawning as I opened the washer and dryer to start yet another load of laundry. When I swung open the door, something was off. What was it? Upon closer examination, I could see several very small berry-like brown balls falling out of clothes, scattered around the inside of the washing machine. I thought about how my boys adore pockets because that means they can store such treasures in them and not tell Mama about them- rocks, sticks, candy, nuts, you name it and I've probably found it stuffed into the tiny recesses of pre-school sized pockets. Part of me loves it. To see from the eyes of a child what they treasure in that moment can be special. As I began collecting each formerly red berry, now a dull brown, I began to see how sparing they actually were. There were about twenty or so and as I gathered them in my hands I thought about how many more days I would actually have with them being this small in this tiny set of pants, in those little socks, in our little house here with them right now. Soon another milestone will be reached and they'll be a little different than they were the day before. Soon I won't be finding little dead foliage from their pockets in my washer and dryer. Then what?
It's funny how a handful of berries can cause much reflection in the early morning hours of a Monday, no less. I thought back to our time in Alaska when we left the borders of our town and headed on a backpacking trip to Denali National Park to sleep at the foot of Mt. McKinley, the towering mountain my oldest is named after. We gathered bags and bags full of fresh wild blueberries on that trip that we would later make into pies, pancakes, and fresh-fruit breakfasts. Those handfuls of the best blueberries you'll ever taste slipped through our fingers pretty quickly. We spent so much time, just Jordan and me, picking those under the clouded expansive sky beside the most impressive backdrop you can imagine, and in just a little while, they were gone. We thought we had so many at our fingertips and we did, but then they were gone. Just like those few years we had together before kids. Just like those fifteen months when we had one child. Just like those few years we hopefully will get while our family is complete. Just like those old berries I pulled out of the washer this morning. How many more days will I get to do that? How many more days can I have to show my children love through service recognized or not? If I could gather them up in my hands, what would that look like?



"So I concluded that there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God." Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

Monday, March 13, 2017

5 Things I've Learned About Having a "Big" Family

Imagine my eight month old strapped to my chest in a baby carrier, her three older stair-step brothers holding hands walking into the grocery store. They choose a special car cart to use and have a brief, passionate discussion about which two boys will get to drive and who will be left to stare at my face and the back of they baby's head. Sure, we're taking up some time and space but for the most part it is managed chaos and we aren't truly inconveniencing anyone. YET..

I see the looks.


Five Things I've Learned About Having a "Big" Family

1. People assume they're paying for you in some way. Don't get behind them in the grocery store--she's probably going to use food stamps. In fact, cut in front of them. Why do they have so many kids? No lie--someone has asked me before if I needed the number to Planned Parenthood.

2. If you have a big family, you are already in someones way. Just this trip I'm walking down an aisle with my crew and someone else was, too so I moved to go around. No biggie. THEN a third woman comes out of nowhere, pretending to not see us and comes barging right through despite the fact that there's no room and I can't pick up my cart (because there are groceries and three children weighing it down) to inch it over a few. It mattered not that I was easily there first. I was in her way. I was slowing her down and she was going to passive aggressively show me. If you're going to have a big family, go ahead and prepare yourself for some folks to act like they have a say in your life in some way. Literally, my big family doesn't have an impact on you at all. Why do you care? Are you watching them for me? DEFINITELY NOT. Are you buying their diapers? Nope. Food? No. You're doing nothing for them so keep walkin'.

3.When you all go out together, someone will always ask "Are they all yours?" or they'll say "You've got your hands full." I don't mind either of these statements for the record. Sometimes I'm amazed they're all mine, too and I DEFINITELY have my hands full with them.

4. Some people will grant you a knowing nod, a twinkle in their eye, or a smile that reminds you of the great responsibility you have in raising these little people. Usually it's a sweet older lady who has been there, done that and sometimes it's a woman who doesn't have any children yet and desperately wants to mother a child. Either way, these people refresh my heart. Be these people who grant grace instead of judgment.

5.You will grow every day. It may not be in number. It probably won't be your bank account that shows growth. No, you'll be stretched thin there...but your confidence in yourself as a mother will grow. Your love for your family and the amazing way you seem to balance EVERYTHING will grow. Your appreciation for others walking this path with many kids, with various special needs, with whatever will grow. You'll be different. You'll be those people I mentioned at number four. You'll give grace.

Y'all, my kids were actually pretty great in the store today yet I felt a lot of shade thrown our way. We've got to be better about this. If you've opened your Bible at least just a little bit, you know that children are special to God. Stop holding them to impossible standards. They're learning how to act and we, as parents, are learning to parent them. And while they embarrass me daily, they make me incredibly proud, too with all the moments you don't get to see.

Thank you, Lord, for a big family full of chaos! Thank you for growth and grace. Amen.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Best of the Internet Today

Literally every child I own (I can say that, right?) is crying, WAILING right now and I just can't even. It has been one of those days, for no particular reason. I am just to my limit with tantrums and fighting and downright psychotic behavior from a few of them (I'm lookin' at you Abe and Mer Bear). SO, like any stellar parent who knows her own limits, I'm ignoring them with a big dose of the world wide web. On this Monday, I bring you The Best of the Internet Today.

Y'all have been obsessed with this stinkin' giraffe trying to give birth. Admittedly, I tuned in to see what the fuss is about for all of 22 seconds, but who has time for this? Are you all sitting at work with this window ready to close out if someone important walks in? Do you have it streaming to your iPhone as you workout at the gym? Use the bathroom? I'm so confused. Millions are watching at any given time. Hey, I'm not judging. Whatever floats your boat. But THIS video--I found it hilarious. Here's a still photo...


Anyway, there's also this one--a parody of the bachelor for moms. It's spot on--ok, except I have exactly zero people lining up asking to watch my kids. Everything else is right on target.

Also, Cat and Nat are always pretty spot on, too. This week they hit the nail on the head with- Why am I so tired?

The #momlife is so glamorous, y'all! I went out in town twice today- once with polka dot pants on and the other time with plaid pajamas on. The only reason I changed has everything to do with a very spitty baby and not the fact that I ran two miles and was sweaty. No, that doesn't quite warrant a shower around here. Just livin' the dream...and look at all this time I just found to blog. I've really got my life in order. Anyway, I just heard an outside door open and close so they might be escaping. I should probably go check that out. Let's chat again soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Turning Coffee Into Words

If I had a cup of joe for every hour that I'm awake, it still wouldn't be enough. Now I understand why my best friend's mom always drank an entire pot of coffee every day--it was because once upon a time, she also had kids very close together in age who didn't yet take care of themselves and maybe she was just as tired as I often am. I'm not sure if my mental exhaustion fuels my physical exhaustion or vice versa, but here I sit turning coffee into words yet again, just so I can stay awake until their bedtime. 
It's funny because a little over a month ago I thought, I'm going to be a blogger again--a legit one. I'll write multiple times a week and start creating content again that doesn't entirely revolve around wiping noses and butts. Psych. You knew better, didn't you? Alas, I'm back but I don't know how often you can count on me. 
Life is good. I've learned some things already this year and it's only January. For example, ear buds will save your motherhood. Just plug those suckers in and listen to your music, a book, or watch a t.v. show as you're washing dishes and you can't hear all the blood curdling screams that come from the little people you created as they fight over who gets the one purple shark car out of the, literally, hundreds of other matchbox cars in the container to choose from. In fact, just go ahead and throw that one car out if they fight over it. It's not worth it and you know it. Along with everyone else and their sister, I've been on a mission to de-clutter and attempt a short embrace with minimalism. I can only have a short one because if I'm honest, I'd buy all the discounted yoga pants and athletic shoes I find if I could. You only live once right? Can't take the money with ya, right? It's a problem I'm working on. Still, I've been donating our clothes, toys, kitchen items, books, movies, and home decor like a crazy person and I'll let you in on a secret. You can't even freakin' tell. It's bad. Just this weekend I knew I was going to feel an enormous weight lifted when I packed my car down, packed to the vents, with stuff and sent it off to the local thrift store. Much to my surprise, though--I can't even tell. We acquire so much STUFF and if Jordan and I don't move every year then we start to become loaded down by it if we're not careful. Civilian life has been weird in that aspect. I didn't think I would miss moving often, but I sort of do. It's as if you get a clean slate at each new place. It's a new opportunity to start fresh in schedules, routines, and more. But that's what January is for, too. 2017 is here and I've got faith it will be our best year yet!
Denali National Park circa July 2010

The renewing of my attitude is something that I want to make a conscious effort in changing this year. This morning I woke up feeling the familiar tug from Satan telling me that I'm just not good enough. Jordan has been out of town on business this week so I've not had extra help with getting the kids to and fro. I cancelled some of Abe's therapy appointments today because of time conflicts with school and babysitting options. It shouldn't be a big deal. It shouldn't be the end of the world, but in my mind I'm sad because he has all this extra stuff to deal with. I don't want him to think of himself as different in a bad way. Rather, I'd like him to wake up and feel great about himself knowing that he overcomes obstacles in listening and hearing hourly that most will never have to endure and he does it with such a tenacious spirit that other people envy his positivity and want it to rub off on them. I want him to be everything that I am not. Because when I wake up and see all the hungry tummies, the hour on the clock, and the busy schedule in front of us- it might as well be Mt. Everest. I've never been this way. I used to wake up feeling like I could do anything I set my mind to do and deep down, I know that I still can if it's in God's will, but it's as if I can't find the right settings in my brain. Listen, I know I'm a great mom. I do crappy things, but at the end of the day I've poured every last little bit of me into them and that's all I can do. We're afloat and that's good. I've got to let these little things go. It's not the end of the world if he misses therapy.
When I spend time with my Creator--when I slow down this busy schedule of ours and hold my babies and read His Word, I'm reminded that each morning He prepares me for my work. In Philippians, it says He "strengthens" me. Just like the spirit of newness that comes with a move or a new calendar year, God gives us the opportunity to start fresh each morning.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)
The inspired Word of God tells me that I have hope in this life and so I will. Thank you, Lord for another day spent with my kids. GREAT is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.
 
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