Friday, August 31, 2012

Created Chaos...

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


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