Thursday, March 31, 2011

Something they don't teach you in mom school

 Drink 8 glasses a day, and more when you are nursing, but beware, mommy, this too can be dangerous!

When life gets busy and your arms fly around to the kitchen tending to everyone's needs and you suddenly remember to tend to your own needs....

Look before you drink!

Shrinky- dink water.  Flavorless, but a little gritty.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Alpha kitchen buddy

Behold, wise big brother, I spy another strange thing.  See, this youngest of all the brothers, this tiny one who cannot scheme nor plot nor bend mother's ear with an argument, this runt has procured for himself a treat most delectable.  Tell me, older brother, how is it that he feasts on the sugary sweet gifts of angels, while mother attempts to pacify us with mere twigs of the earth?

Indeed, young apprentice, the injustices of this life are difficult to bear.  Mother gives us an offering called "granola," while in front of our very eyes bestowing the richest blessings of the cupboards upon the small one. Take heart, brother, for God will repay the wicked, and will make her answer for her deeds.  Let us now humble ourselves, and inquire of the small one, for perhaps he has not yet learned to guard his precious secrets.  Perhaps he will reveal to us the secret key to the bounty of the pantry.

Brothers, are you so foolish?  Do you imagine that the power I have over our mother can be stolen like a rattle from my hand?   God has again used what is of no account in this world to shame those who think themselves wise.    In my fat thighs and round belly I store the power to charm the mother.  My soft skin and baby smell uplift her mood like wine!  A smile, a giddy inhale, or a mere flash of my dimple can cause her to forsake even the IPOD for me.  I may be small, but what I have can never be taken from me. 

Bow down brothers.
I am the baby.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kicking it in

When I ran track in high-school, middle-distance was my "specialty."  This was not my choice, but it was my lot, because I was not built to sprint, and I was too wimpy to train harder for long distance. So by default, the half mile became my race.

I was in terribly good shape at that time, and I remember running at nearly full speed for that entire half mile. I remember the muscle fatigue, the absolute exhaustion and burning lungs that seemed to persist through the whole race. I remember getting a little dizzy and feeling the temptation to slow down. I remember the rock that marked the spot where I was told to "kick it in," the last 150 yards of the race where I was supposed to draw on strength from who knows where and go even faster when what I really wanted to do was lay down on the soft grass.

The rock meant it's almost over!!!! and so was a welcomed sight. Yet it also meant one last burst of energy, muscle pain everywhere, and becoming so tired my eyes no longer wanted to focus. The final efforts squeezed the absolute last drops of energy out of me, until finally, the finish line, the collapse, and the eventual catching of breath.

What made me think of this experience this week?  My evenings.  That last bit, between about 7pm and 830.  The end of dinner has become my new "rock," the moment of time that shouts "your're almost there!" and encourages me to pour out the last drops of energy for the last 100.  Minutes, that is.  Until I can collapse.

My list after dinner: kitchen cleaned, coffee ready for tomorrow, baths perhaps, 6 children in PJs, three in diapers, teeth brushed, clothes out for tomorrow, lunches packed, checking homework, buddies located, music on, closet doors closed, night lights on, "hug kiss and tucks," breaking up the last few fights, and then finally, quiet.

By the close of dinner, I am out of words, or at least I would like to be. I have kept pace with the kid chatter all day long and I just feel like there are no words left inside me at all. Yet as we go through our list, their words continue to bombard me.

"Mommy we forgot to do my word cards! Can you do them with me?"
"Marcus dumped water on the floor mommy!"
"Mommy where is my Curious George?"
"Mommy daddy's reading to Eldon, can you read to me?"
"Can we wrestle?"
"Mommy! He's watching me put my PJs on MAKE HIM STOP!"
"Can we go to the park?" No, it's dark out. "Can we go tomorrow?"
"Someone didn't flush the potty!"
"Can we watch a movie?" No. "OK then can we tomorrow?
"I can't open the toothpaste!"
"Can we paint?" No. "OK then can we tomorrow?  When?"
"Eldon bit me again Mommy!"
"Mommy when can we go to Michigan again?"
"Mommy look at this beautiful picture! Can we send it to grammy pammy right now?"
"Mommy can we listen to the story about the flower girl?"
"Mommy can you brush my hair? Button my PJs? Find my blanket? Kiss me, tuck me, tickle me?"

Inside I say to myself, "You can do it, just a little bit more, you're almost there, just a couple more things, the house will be quiet soon... kick it in kick it in kick it in!"

But it's not like track.  Yes, I am exhausted.  Yes, it would be more efficient and I would get to collapse sooner if I rushed through the last part of the night as quickly as possible.  But it is no longer just about getting a good time.

It's about finishing the race with kindness.  With grace.  Tucking them in and sharing their giggles, and saying "I love you" in a way that actually communicates "I love you" and not "Oh please, just stop talking now."  To me, this is about as natural as running with grace, or even worse, cheerleading.

God, give me strength for that last hour of the day!  Give strength to my muscles and to my heart, and teach me to finish the race of the day with grace!  I need to borrow all of it from You!

Tell me parents- is that last hour before bed a difficult time of day for you?
How do you cope?

Friday, March 18, 2011

chop chop

I can't do it all!  I think I am starting to believe this!  Once again I have found myself with too many things on my list, and something must be done.

Loose ends!  Loose ends, everywhere!  It is time for spring cleaning!   Some loose ends will be tied up, but others will be hunted down, and mercilessly chopped off.

Apparently a multi-stage craft is one of those things all of which I simply cannot do. The children and I started to make penguins in December.  Now it is March.  The unfinished penguin bellies on the back porch, and the uncut would-be feet and wings in the kitchen, and the half painted penguin heads in the craft area, whisper their guilt-inducing taunts at me still.

"Don't you think I would be a nice gift for grandma?"

"Can't you make just a little time to do a craft with the big kids and finish us already?"

"You let the kids paint us, so now you can't even recycle us!"

"Is it really that hard to glue on some eyes? I'm dying here!"

"Did you make the kids fill us up with sand so we could sit around headless all winter?"

It hit 70 degrees yesterday. Penguin season has passed us by.

It is time to silence them. Unfinished, ungiven, unloved.

Penguins were never meant to be part of this family. Goodbye penguins. We are moving on to spring.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

kid worries

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, 
what you will eat or drink; 
or about your body, what you will wear. 
Is not life more than food, 
and the body more than clothes? 
Matthew 6:25

Do you kids ever worry about what you are going to eat or what you are going to wear?

A daughter immediately chimes in:
(Read the following very quickly for the full effect.)

"YES!  Sometimes I worry about what I'm going to drink, but that's not a good thing to do.  Because if you say 'Mommy what are we going to drink? and she says 'chocolate milk,'  and then you say, 'Mommy what are we doing to drink?' and she says, 'chocolate milk,' and you say, 'Mommy, what are we going to drink?' and she says, 'chocolate milk' ....  then mommy won't really like that."

Ok... anything else that you worry about children?

"Sometimes, I worry about what I am going to wear..."
said one of the more thoughtful children seriously.

Finally,  I thought, we will have some worthwhile contribution to this discussion!

"...I worry about what I am going to wear because one time I didn't have enough underwear in my drawer so I had to borrow some.  I didn't like to do that. So I worry."

Friday, March 11, 2011


How fragile is this life.  How vulnerable those we love to death, destruction, and so many things out of our control.  How can you not be reminded of this on a day like today, witnessing the devastation in Japan?

I wish I could forget.  I wish it were not so.

Is that the way I will meet my end?  If not, how will it go for me?  I remember all too much that I am dust.

Aggie is in bed early tonight, with the bug that Eldon has had all week.  I snuggled her to sleep for the first time in a long time, and could not help but remember her days of epilepsy as I laid there with her.  My dear, fragile Aggie, how will it go with you?  I remember that you are dust.

It is easy to feel secure in this life when things are normal.  And then suddenly, one quick moment comes, and normal vanishes.  What, then, is left?

There is only one hope for we who are walking dust.  If we have a God, and if He is a forgiving God and a loving God, then all can never be lost.

In Christ, even sinners sleep secure, even dust breathes in life.

As a father has compassion on his children, 

   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 

for he knows how we are formed, 

Psalm 103:13-14

   he remembers that we are dust. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ash wednesday

Ash wednesday is here again, and it is still just as hard on this mother's heart as it has ever been.

It is an odd thing for Christians to take time out to observe this kind of holiday. I do not believe I have seen a secular adaptation of Ash Wednesday at Walmart.   The world may be able to make its own version of Fat Tuesday, Easter and Christmas by subtracting substance and adding bright colors and materialism, but it is hard, even for the best marketing experts, to make a holy day that focuses on our mortality something that will sell.

Today my little girls will come home from school with ashes on their heads.  They will have heard those words,  "From dust you are, to dust you shall return." They will have heard them from the lips of their own father, and have received a reminder of this awful truth from the same hand that feeds them.  They will sport the black reminder of it on their foreheads all day long, but it will likely be forgotten to them, as they rush home to show me their special papers and cheerfully devour whatever it is I set out for an after-school snack.

But I will not forget.  The ashes on those pretty young heads shout to me, and tell me things I would rather not hear.  Especially those ashes smudged on the forehead of Aggie, whose life we will never take for granted.  Will her tumor return this year?  Will she return to dust even before I do?

This holiday cannot be sold without Jesus.  This reality, death itself, cannot be conquered without Him.  But He has conquered it for us, and with the church we look forward to the day when fear and dread will be no more. 

And so, even on this holiday of death, even in this world covered in death, we can sleep in peace.  Whether we are speaking of sleep in our beds or sleep in the grave, we take refuge in the one place that is safe:  in the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, poured out for our sins.

I shall lie down and sleep in peace, 
for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

Thursday, March 3, 2011


"Wise, esteemed older brother, what say you of this curious phenomenon? Do mine eyes deceive, or is it indeed a gift to us from the highest heaven?"
"Ah, yes, my young apprentice, that is something exceedingly precious. Our mother calls it "No No," and decries its messiness, but alas, she blasphemes! But behold, we must be wise in our approach, as her eyes are in every place."

"I see, Teacher, but what then shall we do? The entity pulls me towards it with mysterious gravity, and I find myself unable to resist its overtures."
"Indeed, she beckons me as well. We needent wait long, young one. Let us begin with innocent rock throwing, and await the moment when our immersion can be conceived as accidental. "

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mama weak, mama loved.

My children have a distorted view of me. For one thing, they don't mind when I sing. This is because they don't really know how bad I am, though I am pretty sure one son already has suspicions.

For the little ones at home with me every day, I am the biggest and best thing in their world. I am the Fixer of All Things Broken, the Filler of All Stomachs Empty, the Cleaner of All Things Dirty, the Finder of All Things Lost. I can extinguish conflicts with one hand, tickle away tears, and revive favorite toys with a mere battery, all while making yummy cupcakes. I am mom, and so, I am the Meeter of All Needs.

To be honest, I like thinking of myself this way too. I like to pretend I am strong, that I am one who is always giving and never has to receive anything from anyone. I might say that's not true, but I still try to live like it is.

For example, how often do I actually ask for help? I mean really ask, not hint, not attempt to project loud thoughts, not angrily imagine my husband can read my mind but chooses to ignore me, but ask with real words and humility? Can I admit, out loud, that I am not the Meeter of All Needs, but am myself poor and needy? Do I have to be at the end of my rope before I can say out loud what everyone else around me already knows-- that I cannot do it all?

If my kids (and I) were right about my superpowers, I would never find myself floored by a stomach bug or depression. I would never be out of patience or simply burned out. And yet, when these things happen, I am always surprised. I fight against weakness, and try to deny it, as if I really am supposed to be the Superhero that my kids think I am.

I remember her weakness, and mine:

Five to seven times each day my heart sank as I watched her suffer a seizure. Yet, so many other times, she would seem absolutely fine, life and health bursting out of her as if shed never been sick at all. See, she’s fine. No, she’s not. She’s really sick. Oh, come on, she’s really not that bad. Yes, she is. No, she isn’t. Back and forth I went in my head, my heart desperate and hopeful and grieving all at once.
            I tried to be strong, to put a wall around those thoughts and feelings, at least during the day when I was surrounded by my family. Yet the mere frequency of her seizures made that impossible. Somehow I had to find a way to function even with all these thoughts and feelings going on inside me. I had no idea how to do that.
            That weekend I got an email from my Aunt Julie. Like many other friends and family, she wrote to encourage us and promise prayers for the family. She gave me some heartfelt advice she had gained while raising her daughter with Down’s Syndrome. After sharing words of sympathy and encouragement, she ended her email saying, “People tell you to be strong—I say be weak and be loved.”
            I sat at my computer and cried, finally giving myself permission to feel those awful feelings I had been trying to keep at bay. My heart poured out complaints and prayers to God, as I admitted I most certainly was not strong, as I wanted to be. Lord, I am weak, much too weak for this trial. If there is going to be any strength, it is going to have to come from You.
            Part of me wishes I could describe how I became superwoman from that point on, valiantly facing every obstacle and soldiering on with courage and strength until I found help for my dear daughter. No, I was still weak. My head and my heart still hurt. My problems did not disappear. But I was weak and loved. My aunts words reminded me of that important truth, and I sat at my computer, drenched in tears, and just rested in that word. Loved.

I am not, as my children imagine, all-sufficient, all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. There is One who is, and I need Him just as badly as they do. How good it is to be loved by a God who cares for needy children.

But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.
Psalm 40:17

Do you find yourself surprised by weakness, too?
How does God's love help you through?


New series coming soon:

If you've got it, flaunt it!
Our weakness, His strength.

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