The Story Behind My Stories

A Day in the Life

Put Him Down.

Put him down. I’m told this on a regular basis. In fact, I’ve been told this on a regular basis since my first baby was born. Yet I didn’t. Put her down. Ever. Then with baby #2 I was cautioned again. Put her down. I couldn’t. I would miss something for sure.

I was wracked with guilt and plagued with fear about something terrible happening to me…to us, because I held my babies too much. I wasn’t sure if we would implode, explode or spontaneously combust, but I couldn’t stop. I was addicted. And they were too.

Then I noticed something strange. All of those well meaning voices cautioning, urging me to put her down, would allow a moment or two to elapse, then they would pick her up.

Baby #3. Put him down. He’s too big. He needs to crawl, walk, whatever. Put him down.

Then they would pick him up. I won’t say it was intentional, I can’t. Yet I would say its cultural.
And now I know.

I hold them. Each of them still. Maybe only for a moment here and there. If they are hurt, disappointed, sleepy, happy, nearby, accomplished. You name it, I will drop what I am doing and hold them. Now completely guilt free. They are well adjusted, socially balanced, independent, creative, confident, intelligent, silly, loving, occasionally cranky, stubborn, intense and periodically engage in meltdowns of epic and sometimes comical proportions. They are…wait for it…normal kids.
Catastrophe averted.

And I still hold them. I don’t carry them all…no way. Besides, I plank to strengthen my core, and I pray that God have mercy on my back. But I figure if we are going to do life together, the six of us, we might as well do it in close proximity to each other, while we still can.

As I type this I sit, holding my.last.baby.ever. And he is sound asleep.

I have grown completely accustomed to the pressure applied from the weight of his head against my chest. Him inhaling while I exhale and exhaling while I inhale. The soft melodic sound of breath passing through his tiny nose and the sucking sounds he still makes although he doesn’t breast feed anymore. I have grown accustomed to his scent and tiny body radiating so much heat that the both of us don’t need a blanket and our skin gets a little bit tacky from the sweat. I used to sit and try to figure out ways to get him off me and lay him down without waking him. But not anymore. I feel as though I’m on borrowed time. As long as he wants me to rock him to sleep, I will suck it up and do it…sans complaints.
I will breath deeply and memorize the sound of his breathing. I will dream of what kind of man he’ll become. I’ll think of how much more pressure the weight of his head against my chest now applies, and how it may be suppressing my lung capacity ever so slightly making my breathing a tad more shallow. I’ll think about everything. Everything, that is, except putting him down.

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A Day in the Life

I Just Love You…

Today by some unexplainably wonderful turn of events, my two year old began calling me ‘Mama Bear’ which sounds more like mama beew. And my four year old will be turning five soon, and has been flexing his proverbial muscles trying to show us who’s boss. My six year old freshly turned seven is budding socially and affirming her position in the family as the resident “sweetheart”. Then there’s my nine year old, who I will be holding for the last time tonight. Tomorrow, she will be ten. If I am being honest, and I am. I feel a sense of grief. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blessed, I’ve got a good life, but what I don’t have anymore is a nine year old. I blinked, quite by accident, and she’s gone. Six year old, seven year old, eight year old M. Gone. Nine year old M…gone. And what I have here before me is a lanky, articulate, intense 10 year old, who just wants to sit on my lap tonight.
If I have learned anything it’s this. Life is short. As the Bible reads “All men are like grass. All their glory like the fields, the grass withers and the flowers fall.”
I may not have those sweet fat legged babies anymore, but I have now. Right now. I have another moment, another glimpse, another fit of laughter, another walk in the sunset.
Because I have now, I must make the most of it. I must breath deeply and take it all in. That means there are days that I do not turn on a single screen. Hours of my day when social media is a distant memory. Moments however intense, I grab a member of my tribe and say “I just love you.” Sometimes I do it at the height of the intensity, the meltdown, the whining, etc. After all, if I only show love when they are behaving perfectly, and not when they are not. It sends the wrong message, that my love and perhaps even God’s love is conditional. And it is not.
His love never fails.

A Day in the Life

Simple not Super

If anyone could sneak a peak and see my home, as it is, at the moment, no one would accuse me of being Supermom. I’ve got the dishwasher whirring, and dishes in the sink. The washer and drying whooshing, and a big heap of clothes on the couch. Random toys strewn about littering a carpet that I may or may not have forgotten the color of. Cleaning yet never achieving clean. And somehow I feel so accomplished.
My kids didn’t spell ever word right, find the value of x, discover a cure for cancer.
Today there were meltdowns, screams, shrieks, squawks, soliloquies marked by intensity, and that’s not even the two year old. There were ominous battles that ensued over territories, and kingdoms. There were even lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Not actually bears, but there were caymans, giant owls, two snakes, a prairie dog and a fox. Oh…three snakes. I almost forgot about the black headed python.
And somehow by the grace of God, I had peace. All. Day. Long.
They made up games, they rode their bikes in circles, they colored without lines, they asked questions and discovered answers. The second most important thing I could give my kids is the freedom to be kids. Just kids.

You see, my goal in life isn’t super. Though it seems like it might be cool. My goal is simple, not super. To live a life of simplicity marked by simple trust in God. Like a little child.

He loves me. I love Him.

Simple.

Not trying to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Although it would be nice to have a completely-all-at-the-same-time clean house. It would also be nice to do all of the projects I see on Pintrest, talk on the phone all day, hang out with friends, and finish my schoolwork (I am completing a degree), and be a good wife, and homeschool and…and…and. But it isn’t worth the cost of my peace. So I prioritize.

It’s not a perfect system running smoothly like a finely tuned engine. It’s more like a boat making its way down the river.

So here I sit. Writing. Rocking. Drinking in the quiet moments with my rapidly growing two year old. Listening to him breathe, feeling his still baby soft skin and yes, smelling him. And knowing full well that this moment will not last forever. And choosing to let the laundry wait. Because he will not.

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Random Musings

I am a man.

Raising children is complex and challenging. While it is rewarding, it takes everything you’ve got. All day. Every day. And this crazy, mixed up world doesn’t make it any easier.

My kids, like all kids, ask questions. a lot of questions. When I became a mother, I made a commitment to myself to answer those questions as honestly as possible in the most age appropriate way. How else would they learn about life and the world around them?
Well, my kids are a bit older now and the questions span the spectrum.

Yesterday, my daughter ran in front of me to open a door for me. Usually my little guy does it, but this time she was faster. It was just me with the kids, stroller, diaper bag, etc. Suddenly, not one, not two, not even three but four adult men proceeded to walk between me, my kiddos, and the LITTLE GIRL holding the door and go right inside without as much as a thank you or excuse me. There was very little room, so it required effort for them to make the squeeze. I was very upset needless to say. But I said nothing. I thanked my daughter for holding the door and said let’s go. Then came the question.

“Mommy? Why did those men think it’s ok to do that?”

I couldn’t tell him that. Not now. Not at four. Why make our history his burden? Or was it already?

I got low so that I could look him in his eyes. I said “I wish I could answer that for you. I wish I could offer you a reasonable explanation but there may not be one. What I can tell you is this: One day you. will. be. a. good. man. One that is worthy of respect. One that honors the women in his life and those around him. A man that is worthy of respect because he shows that other people have value and restores dignity to those he encounters just like Jesus did.
One day son, you will be a good man.” I assumed that most of my soliloquy slash rant went over his head. And was somewhat satisfied that at least it served cathartic purposes for me.

Then something happened that changed me and changed the way I see him.
He looked back at me and said “Yes ma’am, I already am.” and drank his juice box.

It reminded me of a photo we took on Mother Son date night at a museum. It read “I am a man.” That statement is so meaningful, and powerful. It is as relevant today as it was then. Yes it refers to the struggle for equality for both Native and African Americans, but today for me, it refers to the kind of man America needs to see more of. One who defies the pressure of culture instead of going with the flow. The kind of man who will be a leader in his home, his workplace and his community. The kind of man who lives his life knowing that what he represents is far greater than any one individual and that if the world is going to be a better place, it has to begin with him.

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Random Musings

My Biggest Fear

My greatest fear is for the church to become overrun by the cares of this world and that complacency will spiral out of control. That creature comforts will crowd out passion and the love of God will grow cold. That neither His call will beckon nor His command rouse to action and the single most powerful force on the planet will lay asleep nestled cozy amidst her manicured lawns, PTA meetings, and 9-5 priorities. And not until the cessation of life will reality set in and she realize that her life was spent building what cannot last, consumed with impressing other parts of her body and competing with those she was called to rescue, in constant pursuit of anti-aging efforts and what she did not have but always wanted.

May God have mercy on His church.

May we rouse from slumber at last and put our hands to the helm, and chart a course head on into uncertainty where only faith can keep and anchor our vessels, where man’s opinion matters not and we cannot experience absolute ecstasy apart from the pursuit of His presence.

O that our hearts would long for Him!! O that only the sound of His voice, movement of His hand, and certainty of His Word would satiate our appetites!

The days are coming and are here in which the hot will burn hotter and the cold will slip into a frigid darkness. But each will choose (or has already chosen). Either light or darkness.
And one or the other will consume them.

A Day in the Life

Bye Bye Baby

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It’s official. And unofficial. My childbearing years are over. I may still be childbearing age, but my childbearing years are gone forever. And this time next year…I will be fresh out of babies.
I will have a three year old preschooler, a kindergartner, a second grader and a fifth grader. Yikes!
The truth is, I am very blessed. God has not held back His goodness from my life.
But tiny feet are becoming less tiny. Baby talk is becoming big boy words. And unbridled independence is rearing its ugly head.
You see, I have a conundrum of sorts. For the last decade I have been pregnant, having babies, or chasing babies. I’ve been nursing, rocking, patting, cuddling, swaddling, changing, bathing, soothing…babies for nearly a decade.
While I realize that new exciting adventures loom on the horizon, part of me…a big part of me, will miss those babies. I will miss those poopy, crying, melting down babies with snot running down their nose tantrums, fever in the middle of the night, vomit down the back of my neck, pee on me, little babies. But as I pen this cathartic post, I realize, that I will miss them because it defined who I was. I will also miss them because they were sweet, snuggly, and adorable. I will also miss having babies because I loved it. I drank it in, I soaked it up! It was hard, it was fulfilling, and it was incredible!!
It was what I was created to do. I know that I have purpose beyond that, but they are a huge part of my purpose.
But now I must raise my proverbial glass to sky, and propose a toast to babies. My sweet, fat legged babies, Momma will miss you. But you will still be enjoyed, celebrated, loved and taught. We have many more years by the grace of God, and together, your father and I will prepare you to fulfill your purpose. We will seek out adventures to share with you, distant lands to see. And I will never cease to pray for you. That always be found in the will of God. That your lives be marked with the love of God. And that it will be said of you as it was of Enoch, that you walked with God all of your days.
I look forward to meeting the children and people that you will become. And I will sit down with you and tell you all about four of the most beautiful, cuddly, amazing babies I’ve ever known.

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A Day in the Life

10 Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom of Girls

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1. Do the words ‘mini me’ mean anything to you? I realize it’s a bit maniacal and self absorbed but I love having tiny versions of myself. And I don’t apologize for it. They reflect the good in me, yes, but also the things that I must change. Often I don’t realize it’s in me until I see it in them. I love that I learn so much from them. I also love the camaraderie of having little people who share similar interests to you.

2. Because “Pink is my signature color.” That quote of course, is from Shelby (played by Julia Roberts) in Steel Magnolias. Yet it rings true for all the ladies in our house. My girls subscribe to the philosophy that pink goes with absolutely everything! I love the softness and inherent nurturing, gentleness of girls. Polka dots, doing hair, mini cupcakes, fashion and mani-pedis! Need I say more?!

3. They are imaginative. Obviously boys can be also, but I love that my girls are so creative and use their imaginations in everything!

4. I love their intensity. There are few words to describe when emotions are running high in our home. It’s not always bad. My girls are passionate and when they discover something that they are passionate about…it can get pretty intense. I love it!

5. They are helpful. My sons are helpful also, but my girls flow in a beautifully rhythmic way. They anticipate the needs of those around them and then jump in to meet them.

6. They are thoughtful. They are always using their allowance or lemonade stand stand money to buy gifts for others or give to someone who needs it. They plan surprises for the people in their lives even pesky little brothers!

7. They are delicate but not fragile. They may be soft and feminine, but not by any means easily broken. They don’t scare easily, they don’t often get grossed out and they seldom fall to pieces. They stay steady during transition.

8. Never a dull moment. They know how to have fun. While I disagree with Cindy Lauper that “girls just wanna have fun” I do agree that they know how to have fun. They can be downright silly! After we say goodnight, my husband and I hear at least another 15 minutes of whispers and giggles. And I love it! I hope my girls always whisper and giggle with each other.

9. They are strong and powerful. In the same way that a boys gentleness provides a contrast to his strength, a girl’s strength provides a contrast to her gentleness. Yet neither gender is bereft of either. I love that my daughters are sweet and gentle, yet strong and powerful.

10. They see the hero in their dad. And they see the tiny heroes in their brothers. They don’t play the damsel in distress, but they do want to be rescued, and they allow their father (and brothers) to do it. They let men be men and don’t mind it a bit. Although they are strong and capable they follow the ebbs and flows of sharing life with three men in the house. (Most of the time)

Bonus Reason:
I love their versatility. My little ladies like to camp and collect worms yet dress up like princesses and paint each others nails. Some may call it contradictions or complexities, but girls realize that we don’t have to choose. We can have and do it all. And to have less than the best of both worlds is boring and unsatisfactory.

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A Day in the Life

10 Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom of Boys

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1. When I look at them, I don’t just see the son I have, I see the man they will one day be. I see someone’s husband, father, or leader. I see forerunners of the next generation who will be influential in their areas where God has called them to. I see the societal impact that they will one day have.

2. They tend to be more physical. I hug my sons and daughters. But when my sons hug me, it’s like a cross between a sleeper hold and a head lock. And sometimes I think they want to snuggle but they really want to wrestle, and be tossed into the air and roll around on the ground.

3. They use fewer words. And more sound effects. My oldest son is still young, but loves to talk to me. And I love to listen. He tells me stories, he describes his day to me, he shares his grand plans for the future. He tells me the good, the gross and the super cool. But then there are times that we don’t have to say a word. Sometimes we just sit, or sometimes we just run….jump…climb. And other times we just growl, roar, zap, ping, fling, kazow and so on. We use words when we want to and don’t when we don’t.

4. They often appreciate the grosser things in life. If it gurgles, belches, or in other ways release gas, it will usually evoke laughter. They appreciate slime and goop and puddles and any combination of the aforementioned. Which is not to say that some girls don’t (we do) but without the appreciation of pink, frilly, flowery things, a boys appreciation for its opposite provides more of a contrast.

5. I love their brut strength. Muscle, brawn, whatever you care to call it, it gets the job done. My boys observe nature outdoors, but when nature comes indoors-they kill it with their bare hands. Usually it’s just ants or spiders, but they take care of it. They race to open doors for us ladies, they love lifting “heavy” things, moving furniture, and fixing things.

6. I love their lack of complexity. I would hardly call men simple, and I do not agree with the way that most men are portrayed as Neanderthals in the media. Yet, compared to a woman, there is a certain ease. There’s an uncomplicated approach to doing most things and a system of needs that is not a tangled, jumbled matrix of emotions. If my boys need something, I know that I can usually use one of a few plays in my mother-of-boys play book and they are good.

7. I love their hero complex. They want to come to the rescue all day every day. From fixing things to defending the “weak”. Usually it’s their sisters, me or a nearby baby. My sons want to protect everything. A robin built a nest outside of our bedroom window, my son became defender of the nest. I don’t know if this diminishes with age or not, but I hope my sons keep in touch with their inner hero forever.

8. It means a little more when they’re gentle. The fact that my boys are “all boy” or “rough and tumble” boys makes it exponentially sweeter when they control their strength and display gentle affection.

9. They are fun, and they are hilarious. Or as my oldest son would say-fuhlarious. That’s a cross between fun and hilarious. They have a way of bringing fun and levity into nearly any situation…even situations I’d rather not have it in. I need the balance having boys brings.

10. I love the glimpses of their dad that I see in them. This is not to say that I am thrilled to see them leave tiny underwear on the floor of their bathroom, but I love the nuances of his personality that I see in them. I love to see my husband’s smile on my son’s face. Or look at his feet and see a tiny version of his father’s feet. I love to see his dad’s patience and contentment in him, and sense of adventure in our other son. Seeing my husband as a father adds a priceless dimension to our relationship.

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Bonus Reason: They are surprising! Just when you think you want to put a boy in a box…don’t! My boys never cease to wow me. They thoughtfully surprise me with flowers, cards, books, snacks and unexpected hugs and kisses. I have learned to speak their language and they have surprised me by learning mine.

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Random Musings

Happy Mother’s Day…to me

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I mentioned the other day that for this Mother’s Day I would be giving myself the Best. Gift. Ever. and it’s true.

I ran down the list of all the things a woman might enjoy…chocolate, pearls, diamonds, a spa day, etc. Yes, I might enjoy all of those things, but nothing more than this: permission to do absolutely nothing and enjoy it. It’s a gift that only I can give myself. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Today I cancelled plans, and I did not plan. We took an impromptu trip to the beach and didn’t even prepare ahead of time. I didn’t pack towels, or lunch. That is work, and I was going to do nothing…and enjoy it.

Enjoying it implies that there is the absence of guilt. I didn’t beat myself up for not packing swimsuits or freak out that the weather may have been a little to cool for a perfect day at the beach. Except, it was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

It was also perfect, because although my mom is far, far away, today I felt close to her.

The one thing I know that she would want to do is go to the beach on Mother’s Day. So I did with my kids what I wished I could do with her. As my toes became engrossed in its sandy composition the shore of a beach thousands of miles away brought me close to my mom on Mother’s Day.

There were many gifts those therapeutic waves washed ashore, among them was also stress relief. The sun kissed my skin, the wind blew my hair, and my heart filled with joy watching the kiddos play, and simultaneously my heart emptied of cares.

Everyday is a gift from God, but this one was special. It was also a gift from me to me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Random Musings

Once Upon an Altar

Tonight I am finding my place on the altar.

We’ve heard that each man or woman must take up their cross and follow Him, and somehow we allow movies or well meaning Sunday School teachers to determine how that is depicted. We hear WWJD and we somehow romanticize self sacrifice and think “I got this.” But in reality we don’t have anything. Emulating the Master? Following the One who says that He (although Diety) did not come to be served, but to serve…Imitating the One who bowed low and washed His dysfunctional disciples’ feet. And even that’s ok, but then He invites us to go and do the same.

The Christian life is marked by sacrifice. His sacrifice for us and our sacrifice for Him.

Tonight I find my place on the altar.

Sacrifices are bloody, flesh is mutilated, carcasses laid bare. Birds of prey circle overhead, the smell of blood filling the air. They salivate as the anticipation of feasting on the flesh mounts. Suddenly you come to the realization that you are the sacrifice. You lay there on the altar looking up or looking down, but you blink incessantly hoping to wake up from this horrible nightmare. It’s your flesh that must be offered…you’re the helpless animal. The news gets even better…
We are supposed to do this daily.

“I therefore urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship.” Romans 12:1

God calls it reasonable.

According to Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary “This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day the fruits of his mercy. Let us render ourselves; all we are, all we have, all we can do: and after all, what return is it for such very rich receivings?”

Every single day, we are to crucify our flesh. We make it sounds so churchy and awesome. We go get new dresses and wear our best suit for Easter. What is Easter? The day we celebrate the death, burial and in particular, the resurrection of our Savior. Once a year we love sacrifice. But it’s gut wrenching, painful…and well, beautiful.

Once we crucify ourselves…mortifying our sinful flesh…then the life of Christ can truly be lived through us. That is when we transform from being mere mortals to supernatural sons and daughters of God.

Tonight, find your place on the altar.

“Lord, not my will, but thy will be done.”