Friday, November 9, 2012

Depression... Confession... JOY!

Tired. Frustrated. Totally at the end of my rope. Pulled in every direction and stretched beyond belief. Exhausted. Explosive. Depleted. Coveting the life of others. Despising my own. Lost in a world of "If only..." Drowning in the reality that is mine. I finally have to admit that this Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, Bible-quoting, Bible-singing mother is depressed.

Depressed??!! YOU??!! But you always seem so happy! So bubbly! I couldn't imagine you being affected by anything! Do you think it's the hormones?  Do you need a "Mommy's Day Out"? Well, you do have 5 kids, so I can imagine it being overwhelming at times.. but certainly not depressing!

Yes. Me. And yes I am legitimately happy, even bubbly... as I thrive on the presence of others. Things do affect me, and at times I am hormonal. Yes, I do need a Mommy's Day Out. And yes, life with 5 kids is overwhelming... and at times, depressing.

P. Bunny Wilson once said, "Depression, anxiety, and frustration are all a result of an uncontrolled thought-life." I know that people will argue against that point all day long, but at the end of the day... she's right. An uncontrolled thought-life can reek havoc in the life a believer. Certainly is true for me.

The depression that I speak of is not circumstantial, or clinical, but rather a longing in my soul. A depression that results from not spending time at the Master's feet, like Mary... but rather choosing my to-do list, like Martha. A depression that starts so deep within, but naturally overflows into a sea of uncertainty, doubt, and frustration. A depression that is heightened by circumstances, which then turns into self-pity. A depression that is often confusing, because I find myself doing all the right things... so there's really nothing that I should be depressed about. But I am! And it hurts.

I immediately start crying out to the Lord in my pain... God, if these kids would act right! I get so tired of saying the same things to them every single day. When will they learn? They are stressing me out, and I'm ready to be done with this particular season of life! And if my husband would appreciate me, then I would be better equipped to handle these frustrating 5!! With our house being so small, how in the world am I supposed to begin to operate??! And Lord, if I were closer to home, at least I would have a support system! Sigh... If I could just have more "me" time... If my hair would do right... And my goodness, I just need to get my eyebrows done... THEN I would feel better! Oh, and I need some friends too!! In Jesus name... Amen.

I take aim at every soul, except my own. I increase the busyness of my schedule. I distract myself with things that don't matter. I search for joy in other areas, such as the finding complete fulfillment in this closet that I just perfectly rearranged!! All so that I would not have to deal with myself. Depressed.

At the end of the day, I still have to lay down with my own thoughts. Everyone is sleep. All work is done. That longing still exists. Lord, I know I haven't been so diligent in my quiet time. But surely, that alone  cannot be the cause of alllllllllll this mental anguish.

"Try me"... I hear the Lord say.

Confessing sin... Pouring my heart out... Laying out my requests... Giving God my dreams and desires... I had to start with prayer. Hearing from God... convicted of sin... reminded of who God is... lost in His power... comforted by His love... I had to end with the Word of God.

*Light bulb*

When I'm at the feet of Jesus, then my thoughts are in order. When my thoughts are in order, it sets the pathway for everything else.  My circumstances have not changed, but I see the difference now. And it is oh so clear. I begin to reevaluate. Is it that my kids won't act right, or that God is revealing the ugliness of my own character, as I'm dealing with them in anger? Does my husband really take me for granted? Or am I serving with impure motives, looking for applause? Am I really without a support system? Or has God taken away my comfort zone, to force me to cling to Him alone?

The pathway of uncontrolled thoughts will indeed lead me to depression., but the truth of the Word will ignite joy. I say it all the time... There is no substitute for quality time with the Lord. No song will do. No motivational speech. No "5-minute daily read". Nothing... nothing... nothing can replace the pure, inherent, awesome Word of God... and the application thereof.

If I say it, then I must live it. So today I choose the Word. I choose life. I choose JOY.

My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word... My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word.
Psalm 119:25, 28

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Wait.

In December 2006, I embarked upon a journey of motherhood that was (in hindsight) relatively simple. Sure my newborn arrived 6 weeks premature, and had a 2-week stay in the NICU... but he was the only one who demanded my attention. When he cried, I could tend to him. When he was wet, I could change him. When he was hungry, I could feed him. And when he slept... oh how I joined him! The adults out-numbered the children 2-1, and life was glorious! Well, about as glorious as 10 weeks of sleepless nights could get.

By February 2008, I now had a 14-month old who was not yet walking, who had just been diagnosed with asthma, who had severe food allergies (including milk, soy, wheat, eggs, corn, and peanut) ...and I was 41 weeks pregnant with our 2nd child.  Unlike most women in those final few weeks and beyond, I was in no hurry to deliver. Quite frankly, with the medical needs of our oldest, I didn't think I could handle another child. So to me, the best thing for our 2nd child was to remain safe and sound in the nice, comfy womb, while I tended to our oldest. Baby #2 was just going to have to... wait.

But it didn't work that way. The doctor scheduled an induction date for me. I guess everyone seemed to believe this child needed to be out in the hustle and bustle of it all. So there I was... thrust into the life of managing 2 children, 14 months apart, both demanding my attention, and usually simultaneously.

Where were all the visitors now? The meals?? The people checking in on me?? The offers to help? I knew I wasn't a "new" mom, but when it comes to dividing my attention, I was new indeed! I needed more help than ever before, but I didn't want to impose on anyone - including my own husband and father of our children. After all, he was putting in 14 hours of work, while I was "just at home". (Believe me, I have since learned differently!) And silently, I chose to work it out on my own. Baptism by fire, some say. But somehow I managed to juggle this new life. But I had to learn the art of making them... wait.

When there are 2 children crying, one is going to wait. When there are 2 children hungry, one will wait. And when there are multiple diapers to be changed? Yes, in the midst of the sour smell, one is still going to wait. Because as much as I would like to do everything at the same time, I just couldn't. Thus, I would have to accept the fact that there would be a child (or perhaps 2 children) crying, or rather screaming. I would have to repeatedly tell myself that these children are in fact okay. Then I would have to release the guilt that I felt every time this happened.

Making these babies wait... was the best thing I could do for me. In the frustration of, "Ahhh!!! I can't do it all!!"... I can actually hear myself say, "I can't do it all."  Which then reminds me that, "I can't do it all." And ultimately causes me to turn to the One who can do it all. God, Almighty God.


What was I trying to gain in this ridiculous quest of "got it all togetherness"? Ultimate Mother of the Year!!  She meets all demands, and never has a child in tears! Nice, not reality.  This gift of motherhood is not about me. It's about building character in the lives that God has entrusted to me.  Whether it is one child or 10, this "on demand" mothering mentality must change. There's a character building opportunity here. So I must capitalize. Now.


And now... almost 6 years in to this journey, I still make them wait. Admittedly, I am usually motivated to make them to wait simply to allow myself the chance to get to everything. (Still trying to do it all!) But then I realized that I am doing them a great disservice by not teaching them to wait. I'm actually hindering them by always being available to meet their needs at the snap of a finger. I would even go so far as to say that I am unintentionally encouraging a sense of entitlement, or a "spoiled brat", even without buying one extravagant gift.

So now they are being taught to look at my hands, before making a request. They are being taught that I cannot do everything at once. They are being taught to consider others, even above their own request. They are being taught that real life is NOT "on demand." They are being taught to wait... and dare I say it... patiently.

Have they mastered it? Absolutely not. Is it a struggle? Every day. All day. (Remember we are talking about a nearly 6, 5, 3, 2... along with a 6 month old!) Do I want to give up and just let everybody wallow in their own selfish demands?? ALL. THE. TIME.

Wait. It's the 4-letter word that causes most children to cringe. It's that awful feeling of not getting what I want when I want it. And if I'm honest, it does its devastating work in my own impatient heart as well.  So I'm trusting that such an exercise as this will produce an amazing result - not only in them, but in me.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3-4


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Today...

This is the kind of day where I wake up at 5:53am, only to discover that my 5am alarm did not go off.

This is the kind of day where my quick-moving son is now operating as slow as molasses.

This is the kind of day where I pull the van out front to make load-up a little easier.
This is the kind of day where my 5 year old misunderstands my efforts and comes running out of the house screaming and crying, "Don't leave me!"
This is the kind of day where it takes him 10 minutes to calm down.
The kind of day where I have to repeatedly reassure him that I will not leave him unattended.
The kind of day where I don't have time for any of this because I woke up at 5:53am and discovered that my 5am alarm did not go off.

This is the kind of day where the potty-training princess pees on herself twice within a 45 minute period.
The kind of day where I want to flush the entire idea of potty-training right down the toilet, along with the highly intelligent 2 1/2 year old, who manages to say everything except when she has to use the bathroom.
The kind of day where the said toddler then manages to remain totally dry throughout her entire nap.
The kind of day where this pee-body brings me to tears, since I woke up at 5:53am and discovered that my 5am alarm did not go off.

This is the kind of day where the 18 month old has a bad fall and gets a bloody mouth.
The kind of day where I realize I have 3 diapers left for the newborn.
The kind of day where I completely forget about homeschool.
The kind of day where I tell that 4 year old to stop crying and move on with his life.
The kind of day where most of this happens before 10am.

This is the kind of day that sounds hypothetical, made up, or exaggerated.
This is the kind of day that seems so unreal.
This is the kind of day where I want to simply start over.
This is the kind of day that I call... Monday.

Then...
I realize it's Tuesday.

This is the kind of day where I conclude that the day doesn't have to be "good" to be Godly.

This is... TODAY!

This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
~Psalm 118:24

Friday, August 31, 2012

Created Chaos...

Disorder. Confusion. A complete mess. Introducing........ CHAOS!!!

*SHOCK FACE*

Oddly enough, the chaotic situation pictured here was not caused by my 3 sons - to whom the room belongs. Rather, it was created by me. That's right, I did this. (And I was in my right mind!) Believe it or not, I had a purpose in this created chaos. Reorganization.

Our children have a mother who is completely obsessed with order and structure. Therefore their belongings are categorized as follows- toy box, ball bag, and music bin. But over the course of time, as the 4 and 5 year old are responsible for cleaning their own room, items were gradually misplaced. An instrument here, a ball there... and their room eventually had no order to it at all!  But if you were to ask them, they would say their room is clean because "everything is off of the floor".  Arrgggg!!! That's not clean!! Where is the box? The bag? The bin??!! Sigh... Another teachable moment, I suppose. But really, let's just clean this junk out!

My kids were sooooo eager to help. There's something about a mess that completely excites them! But again I knew, even with all of their best efforts, they will actually be in the way, and will likely try to prevent me from throwing things away. Therefore, I needed them out of the way. Operation MOVIE.

So they chilled out on the couch as I set out to reorganize their room, and to do a little purging while at it.  Then it hit me... If I am going to truly clean out their room, then I need to take EVERYTHING out.  And it's gonna be a mess! Basically I am going to have to seemingly create disorder, in order to re-order. (That's when I stopped to take a pic... because I truly could not believe that my obsession has caused me to embark upon such a ridiculous challenge!) 

As I was going through each item, I actually found myself getting more and more excited. Working through this project gave me great joy! I was singing and having a good time. Then as I would see progress, I became even more excited to continue this journey!!  My greatest motivation was knowing what the end result would be.

After a little while, though, I began to grow tired. What in the world possessed me to start this??!! Oh well, I can't stop now...  Deep breath... Continuing on... That's when the Lord was so gracious to remind me that He too takes great pleasure in re-ordering my life. See, in all my feeble attempts to keep my "ministry as a mother" all neat and organized, there simply will be times when God has to reveal the true condition of "my room".  Though my "mom-life" is sometimes impressive to others, God knows the junk that lies under my bed, the instruments that are misplaced, and the clothes that have landed behind the hamper - that I may not always see.  And just when I begin to swell with mothering pride, "My room is CLEAN!", God has to seemingly create "disorder", by pulling everything out, to show me otherwise. 

I tell you, when God has to clean out my room, it ain't pretty! And once it's all revealed to me, (my attitude, my motives, my laziness, my lack of diligence, my priorities that are out of whack... to name a few!), I'm often overwhelmed at the daunting task of getting myself together... putting everything back... reorganizing the mess. That's when, in His mercy, God sits me down on the couch, as He does all the cleaning. For much like my children, I will be in the way if I try to help.  And I would certainly try to prevent Him from throwing anything away!!

But then after a little while... though the process feels like forever...

Restoration. Order. Purpose revealed...


...being confident in this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ...
~Philippians 1:6

Monday, August 13, 2012

422 Miles Away...

There's absolutely no place like it... It's where the heart is... It's sweet. It's comfortable. It's family. It's friends. There's something so perfect about it, which, in my opinion, exists within all its imperfections. It's... home.

For the past 8 months, there have been 422 miles, (3 states and 2 rivers) that separate me from the place I call home.  And in this time, I have only been back once... 5 months ago. But who's counting?? Me! That's who!! I am homesick like crazy, and at a complete loss for words to describe it.

It's tough enough dealing with my own emotions... questions... and at times, lack of faith. But what has made this journey incredibly difficult is that I have to shoulder the pain of my children's longing for home as they know it.  While they understand the conceptual idea of us relocating, they really don't get it.

I get asked the tough questions on a daily basis. Even on my "best emotional days", I am often challenged to keep my composure, and tackle the difficult questions of these little ones, whom I love so dearly. And this is tough. Naturally, there are many in my newest circle that encourage me with, "Oh they'll adjust..." or "Give it time" or "Once they make some friends..." And while I appreciate the words of comfort, I have come to realize that I am the one facing this emotional challenge. And quite frankly, there's nothing that anyone else can do or say to comfort the longing of my heart, or that of my children. At the end of the day, I have to deal with this. But how????

Recently we had an opportunity to travel those 422 miles. The kids were excited. I was elated!! But then our plans were quickly thwarted... and the said trip was immediately canceled.  And it was me, the homesick mom, that had to deliver the news to my children.  I believe I suffered the biggest heart-ache of my life that day...

See, up until then, I was the "super-mom". I presented this front of strength and poise, whenever they would express their desire to close this 422 mile gap. I was always there to reassure and comfort them, despite my own emotions. I always held it together. But not this time. In fact, I had no strength. No poise. Nothing even remotely reassuring came from me. And boy did they see my cry that day!! I WAS BROKEN!!

My goal was to get myself together and give them the devastating news. But I couldn't. I simply couldn't!! I began to talk, but tears immediately came streaming down, my voice cracked, and I lost it. That's when I learned... It's okay for my children to see me cry

Naturally, they cried as well. But something happened as they observed my brokenness. They suddenly became more concerned about my welfare than their own. I became their priority. And by the end of that very long day, as I sat on the couch in a complete daze, Kam came up to me and reassured me, "Mom, we're gonna go another time." I was amazed at his maturity. I was moved by his compassion. I was comforted by his display of love.

So I guess being a mom sometimes means dealing with real life... and bringing your children along for the ride. And while I would love to bask in the glow of the wonderful zoo visits and the picnics at our favorite park, there are those tougher moments that I too must embrace. Sometimes they have to see me cry. Sometimes they have to know that I have feelings too. Sometimes they need to put those spiritual concepts into practical action, so that it becomes more than a Bible story. Sometimes the best way to teach is through demonstration. And sometimes, yes there are times, where the teacher becomes the student... and I am comforted through the life of my children.

Though I am still 422 miles from home.. though my heart is heavy with the pain thereof... though things are not the way I would have scripted... I have full confidence in the God I serve. I trust that He will cause ALL THINGS to work together for my good. I trust that He is using this life experience to shape me into the image of Christ. And even now, with tears streaming down my face, I trust that His mercy shall  follow me... even for another 422 miles.

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
~1 Peter 5:10-11

Monday, August 6, 2012

Learning Motherhood...

There are some aspects of motherhood that are completely natural, innate, intuitive if you will. Knowing your infant's cry in a sea of other babies... Knowing how to discern what a child needs, simply by the way he says, "Mom."... Waking up in the middle of the night because "somehow" you heard your child choking. While the "mother's intuition" list is endless, we cannot neglect the element of motherhood that is not intuitive, not natural, not innate... but rather taught.

Who knew?! I mean, shouldn't it come naturally to love your children? Absolutely. For most people, there is an automatic (or natural) affection toward one's offspring. But you don't have to be a mom for more than 5 minutes, before you may find yourself discouraged, overwhelmed, mentally and emotionally (or even physically) exhausted, and wrestling with the thought, "Am I a good mother?" And if you're like me, then chances are that you did not come to that tough question because you lack emotional love, but rather you may struggle with the day to day operation of motherhood. The routine... the act of love.

This act of love will look differently for every mother. You may be raising little ones... you may have a house full of teenagers... perhaps you're experiencing the challenges of a blended family... you may have a child with special needs... or this could possibly be your first baby and you're totally overwhelmed by the lack of sleep. Whatever the challenge, whatever the situation, we must always go beyond the natural love that we possess as mothers, and consider the act of love (the routine), and how we may be taught to better function in this role.

Personally, I need to be more disciplined with time. It's amazing how a little planning and daily structure has totally revitalized my home. Once a self-proclaimed "organized procrastinator", I have now come to learn that if I want our home to function well, then I cannot afford to be irresponsible with the time. Honestly, I thought I was fine in this area, since somehow I had coordinated all 5 children to nap simultaneously. But it goes beyond that!!! I cannot operate with a mindset of, "Just make it from breakfast to nap time... woooo, made it!!... Now, from nap time to bed time!" Instead, I must be committed to honoring God through the way I spend the day in which He has made.

Then equally important, if not more so important, I am learning that I must take care of me. Hair, nails, make-up, jewelry... are all a notable bonus (and oh, how I love to indulge!) But that's not what I am most concerned about. Rather, strengthening the inner man, or the spirit man, by constantly cultivating my relationship with Christ, so that I may effectively carry out this act of love. For me, this means waking up at 5:30 each morning, just to have that quiet time with Him. This means constantly "checking in" with the Lord, and living moment by moment with a full awareness of God's presence. This means constant trial and error, sin and confession, and sincerely relying on God's grace to carry me through these sometimes difficult and overwhelming daily tasks. Ultimately, I am learning that to be able to properly care for these 5 precious souls, that I must first nourish my own. Only then am I able to let the service to my family be a natural overflow of how much God has ministered to me.

I am learning. I'm learning discipline. I am learning. I'm learning dedication. I am learning. Motherhood.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
~Titus 2: 3-5

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Princess and the PEE

Meet Kenedi. Age 2. The Princess...
Truly royalty in her own right, she always endeavors to do things in her time, and certainly her way. 

Potty-training. Kenedi began showing signs of readiness right before she turned 2. And admittedly, I did not take full advantage of the opportunity. Girl, are you crazy?!! If she wants to potty, let her!!! Oh I know, I know!! If only it were that simple. You see, her interest in the potty totally conflicted with my 1st trimester of pregnancy with Khloe... and Khloe definitely won! Totally engulfed in the newest pregnancy, I did not feel like doing anything!!! For 12 solid weeks, my daily goal was merely survival. Each day I just mustered up enough energy to provide food and some sort of entertainment for 4 kiddos... a book, a movie... something!... until my husband would come home from work. So to throw potty-training in the midst of all that would mean repeatedly getting up and down... taking her to and from the bathroom... cleaning up accidents???? I think not. But Kenedi was ready. Unfortunately, I was not.

And now, not surprisingly, the roles are completely reversed. Baby Khloe is here, settled and sleeping through the night. I am well rested and ready to hit the ground running... and Kenedi couldn't care less about being wet and nasty!! I have tried every method. (She's the 3rd kid, and I've been through this before!) Pull-ups... underwear... rewards... schedules... stickers... cheers... but with Kenedi, it's just not clicking! My thoughts immediately went full speed ahead.  How did our forefathers (or rather fore-mothers) get us potty-trained and on our way at 18 months old?? Why can't I succeed with this venture? Why do alllllllll the other moms around me seem to excel at potty-training, while I'm lost in the abyss of pee and poop??!! I am tempted to invest in a lifetime supply of adult diapers, because when it comes to potty-training... I. Quit.

Unfortunately, there is no happy ending to this fairytale. Only a moment in time to pause and regroup. And that is exactly what I have to do. PAUSE. In pausing, I realize that we have only officially been at the potty-training for a few days... feels like years, but it has only been days!!! (And by "officially", I mean underwear all day.) REGROUP. In regrouping, I have to look at what works, what doesn't. And try it again! After all, whether I want to believe it or not, she IS going to get it. She WILL be potty-trained. In her time, as any Princess would.

Sooooo... deep breath... Here goes another day at it!!!!!!!!

To be continued...

Do everything without murmuring or complaining.
~Philippians 2:14

Monday, July 30, 2012

Money Matters!

Dear Dollar Tree Cashier,

Thank you so much for patiently ringing up my oldest 3 children. This trip to the store was the conclusion of a rather involved lesson in math, financial affairs, and life. For you see, it all began when Maw-Maw sent them mail...

"Hey guys, there is mail in the mailbox for you!"
Children run hurriedly to the door...
"Who is it from?!" "What does it say?!" "Can you help me open it?!!!"
Each child began to rip open the beautifully decorated envelope, sealed with tape for double safety. As shreds of paper filled the floor, they each handed me their card, anxious to know the identify of the secret mail pal.


I began to read each child their own individually wrapped card, with a hand-written note for all, signed by their beloved grandmother. Appreciative. Excited. Truly thrilled by the fact that Maw-Maw thought enough of them to send mail. That alone had these 3 souls jumping up and down and yelling, "Maw-Maw sent us mail! Maw-Maw sent us mail!!" The excitement was evident. Soon the discovery of the money that was included.  And like most children would do, they immediately concluded, "We can go to the store and spend our money!"


My children, ages 2, 4, and 5, are old enough to understand that money spends... but I desired to teach them how to spend money. So I quickly agreed to their plan, but on these terms - let's. talk. math.

"If you have $5, and everything at the Dollar Store costs $1, how many things can you buy?"
The older 2 thought for a second, then almost simultaneously shouted, "5!" I was so proud of them. Therefore, we are going to go to the Dollar Store, as they desired, but not right now. Not today. Self-control.

5 days later, we ventured to the Dollar Store. Sitting in the van I asked, "If you buy 5 things, how many dollars will you have left?" They looked somewhat puzzled and then sadly concluded that they won't have any money left. I continued, "If you buy 4 things, how many dollars will you have left?" ... "If you buy 3 things, how many dollars will you have left?" ... Still new to the concept, I counted with them, and watched as they began to understand this concept of spending and saving.  Then I asked each child, "So, how many things will you buy at the Dollar Store?" Each one wanted to spend, but also wanted to have money left. They concluded 4 items to purchase- a decision that was made on their own, prior to entering the store. Budgeting.

Then the fun began!! As we walked in the store, I knew I needed to guide them away from housewares and cleaning products, and steer them toward that which would excite them most - toys! Naturally they wanted everything they saw.  However, they became more thoughtful in their selection, as they watched their self-imposed $4 budget begin to shrink. Shopping.

Calculators, hats, bouncy balls, princess action figures, hair extensions... yes blue hair for my girl! Decisions were made. Time to check out.

That's where you greeted us with a very patient smile. You waited on each child, one by one, as unbeknown to you, this was the final step in a mathematical journey for them.  So again, I thank you.

Oh, and by the way... thank you for the friendly service you extended 5 minutes before the store was scheduled to close.  I'll be more aware of that next time!


Signed,
Precious MOMents...

P.S. Each child put $1 in the their piggy bank.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let's Celebrate.... OHHHH!!!!!

Drumming... rapping... chanting... laughing... This is how we celebrate! Listen closely, and you'll hear me forget my child's name - (what else is new?!).  Look carefully, and you'll see the mess that was made. Clearly we are not a perfect family.  But guess what?? We still celebrate!!


video

Creating a celebratory environment in my home is not always easy. Often times, I have to choose to the find the good, amidst all the screaming, the fighting, the tattling, and the constant nagging. I have to release the vision for my "perfect children", embrace who they really are, guide them with discipline and love... and celebrate!

Every day. A choice. An intentional, deliberate effort. It's never forced. It's never made up. We simply celebrate something.  We celebrate when a child clears the table. We celebrate when one sibling helps another with the seat belt. We celebrate when we find that lost toy. Sometimes we just celebrate who each child is. Period. And my favorite? Oh, my favorite is when the kids are playing independently, and I overhear them celebrating each other!

Celebrate... Just a little something I do to survive in these mean streets of homemaking!

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
~1 Thessalonians 5:18

Friday, July 20, 2012

How did we get HERE?!!

Like many newlyweds, my husband and I desired to one day be parents. In fact, we came into the marriage having already decided that we would wait the customary year before beginning our family.  Our plans were dreamy.  We would have a few children, perhaps 3... or 4 at the most.  They would be 2 years apart, and I would be done by the age of 35 - for sure!  Would I continue teaching? Perhaps. Or I may decide to stay at home for a few years. That part was never etched in stone. All we knew is that we wanted to have a family... some day.

"Some day" became sooner than later, stronger than ever, and seemingly all at once.  We managed to squeeze 5 kids in 5 years, and we were immediately thrust into this category called "family".  This was not our plan!! How did we get here??

Finding myself in a whirlwind of children, I would often sit back and evaluate my life. I'm an educator to children, a mentor to teens, but I DON'T DO BABIES. They pee, they poop, they project huge unsightly things from their wee little bodies.  They wiggle, they jiggle, they don't sit up straight.  They are so delicate, so fragile.... so needy!! There is no way I could handle 1, 2,... 5 of them??!!  Sigh... I continued to wrestle with my own thoughts... What have we done??!! This was not our plan... How did we get here?? 

"Haven't you heard of birth control?"... "Don't you guys have a TV?"... "Man, y'all are like rabbits!"... We've heard it all!! And time and time again, I have found myself explaining, rationalizing, justifying our children to close friends and strangers alike.  I wanted to be sure that people knew that this was not our plan, that we really are "responsible", that I don't want to be barefoot and pregnant for the rest of my life! But even in constant explanation, I still found myself overwhelmed by it all and left with this question... How did we get here??

Then the light bulb... the epiphany... the ah-ha moment, where something you "know", suddenly becomes so clear! Psalm 127:3 reads: Behold, children are a heritage (blessing) from the LORD.  The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Blessing. Reward. Wow.  We live in a day and age where children are considered to be a burden... where we plan them according to how they best fit into our life goals, careers, and finances... where people operate with this unspoken expectation of a "socially acceptable" amount of offspring... We live in a time where people often forget that children are a blessing and a reward.

I finally had to stop explaining, stop rationalizing, stop justifying our life situation long enough to simply embrace the TRUTH. For God has blessed my husband and I... and rewarded us with 5 of His prized possessions. He has loaned 5 souls to us. He has entrusted 5 hearts to us. God has given us 5 beautiful children... to give back to Him.

Now when I think, "How did we get here?"... it is from a place of humility and appreciation. For I now know, we are blessed and rewarded.