Monday, May 30, 2011

Deployment


Please pray for our troops and their families.


Deployment day January 2004:
The alarm went off at 5:20am, and I was filled with dread.  He said he felt an ulcer coming on.  Neither of us wanted to say goodbye in an hour! 

He read Psalm 90 and 91, both of which have taken on special meaning for us lately.  Then we prayed together.  I knew I had to go first, because if he did I would be crying too hard to talk.  So I prayed, thanking God for our life together so far, for our family, for His great love, and for His promises.  I prayed for strength, for peace, for courage.  I prayed that we would be able to comfort others with the comfort we’ve received, but also that God would send people to comfort us, as we need it too.  Then I prayed for his safety.  That part always makes me cry, because part of me feels it is so selfish, yet I cannot help but beg my heavenly daddy to bring my husband home.  I need him so much. 

Josh picked up after that.  He too thanked God for his abundant blessings on us and our family. He talked about our fears, and prayed for strength and peace.  He prayed that we would daily grow closer to God as we learn to trust Him in dangerous times.  And he prayed he could come home.  He prayed that we would grow old together, and that he may even be able to see our children’s children.  After that we just laid on the bed in each other’s arms.  I got tears on his uniform, and he jokingly scolded me for that.  We lingered there for our last ten minutes, making them stretch as long as we could. 

Finally, it was time to press on.  We made the short drive to the base.  We said our goodbyes there in the dark, behind the car.  We both cried, and kissed, and cried some more.  Josh said, “I just don’t want to let go,” but finally we had to.  He walked away, his huge green duffle bag over his shoulder, and I sat in the car and cried.  I looked up, and next to me was another wife, doing the same thing in her car.  

I did it. I made it through that moment without falling at his feet and begging him not to go.  

Maybe I shouldn't have.  What if he doesn't come back?

Some wandered in desert wastes,
 finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty, 
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he delivered them from their distress.
Psalm 107:4-6


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sermon squirm

Was it just me?

Today during the children's sermon, pastor was talking to our squirmy little ones about cleaning their rooms.  He said, "It's not always something you want to do, is it kids?"  They all shook their heads. 

Then he said, "When your mom tells you to clean your room, but you don't do it, what does she do?"

That sentence was my cue for squirming.  And breath-holding.  Who's going to speak, and what are they going to say?

Kudos to the little girl who spoke (not mine!) and mentioned being sent to the corner! 
And thanks to God for His mercy, for sparing me (and other mothers?) the experience of a public airing of my sins!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Adorable Blobs and God's love


I look down at the newest baby in church and wonder, what is it about newborns that makes people a little crazy? Is it the sweet smell of their skin, the soft cheeks, or the strange little noises?  How can it be that every time I see tiny little fingers and toes, I turn immediately  into a gushy, lovey baby person? Even grown men make faces at the little ones, use high voices, and say things the would not otherwise say, like "sweet pea," and "love muffin."  The affection people pile on these new babies is unbelievable.

And what do the babies do with all this attention? When they hear "Oooohhh, what a precious little nose!" do they grimace and say, "Actually I think it is a little too big." When they hear "Oh wow, he rolled over! He’s going to be a genius!" do they explain that they are doing no more than every other baby before them has done, that they are really not nearly as special as their loved ones think they are? Even a crazy statement like, "That was such a good burp honey!" is enough to draw a smile of pride on a baby’s face. They eat up this attention. They delight in being loved, not for anything they have done, but for simply existing. It is wonderful to have passive little babies around that we love just for being there. They eat, they sleep, they lay around all day; spitting, messing, adorable little blobs. They observe, they learn, and they soak up our love.

It is amazing how the Lord pours out His love on our littlest ones. He asks nothing from them. He does not call them to the baptismal font because He knows in the future they will be great saints for His kingdom. He does not require bold statements of commitment on their part. He does not require that they prove themselves first. They are completely passive. They cannot even bring themselves to the font. Yet the Lord has made a way. He has placed in the hearts of parents a tiny taste of that gracious love. Parents so love their children that they eagerly bring them to Him. And He welcomes them with open arms.

Yet when we adults get a taste of that kind of love for ourselves, what do we do? If we come to church and are told, "It’s good to see you," we often hear, "I hope you sign up to volunteer," or "I hope you remember to tithe this week!" We go into church and are told "Your sins are forgiven!" Does a smile ever cross your lips at that moment, as you are loved simply for being there? We are told  by our Lord, "Take, eat, this is my body!" When we come to the table, do we take a moment to bask in His love like newborns?

Adult believers would do well to remember this love of our Lord. Even we who were baptized as adorable blobs sometimes forget the unbelievable, undeserved affection by which we were made part of God’s family. The next time you see one of our newest little lambs, rejoice in the radical love of Jesus. Rejoice that He welcomes the littlest ones with open arms. And never forget that this is the same grace that welcomes you.





"It is by grace you have been saved..." Ephesians 2:5
 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Come my soul with mommy cares

Come my soul with mommy cares
Jesus loves to answer prayers
He Himself bids moms to pray
He will help you through this day

With my baby I begin,
What, O what, is wrong with him?
Always such a happy guy
Why does he just want to cry?

Lord I come to thee with boys
Fights and mess and dirt and toys
Hold my tongue and guide my ways
Make kindness, love fill up our days

Lord I come to thee for joys
Even in the midst of noise
Wild and messy is my home
Still there’s peace in You alone

Trials and sadness, Lord, You see,
You have mercy constantly
Sins you take and grace you give
Death you conquered so we live

Fill our hearts with love and faith
In your hands, Lord, hold us safe
Keep us in your grace and love
Guard us ‘till we’re safe above



Build our house, Lord.


An extra verse just for today:

Open up my bleary eyes,
I'm so tired I could cry
Hold me up or I'll collapse
Help us make it until naps!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hard Means

If someone told me they had cancer or gall bladder problems and asked for my prayers, I would certainly pray.  Then, I would ask them what the doctor told them about their condition. 
“Oh, I haven’t talked to the doctor about it.  I’m waiting for God to heal me.”

To that kind of comment, I would give a nice long lecture about how God certainly does heal, and is perfectly capable of doing miracles, but more often than not, He uses means.  Doctors, medicines, these things are means that God uses to bless and help us.   Why, I would ask, have you not availed yourself of those means?  Why do you insist God help you on your narrow terms only?

God so often answers prayer through means.  I saw Him do this with my dear daughter when He cured her of her seizures, finally, after a long year of grief and medicine and trial.  He used the wonderful folks at Cleveland Clinic--- those dear people that He made, that He blessed with smarts and desire to help and various abilities--- He used them to restore her to health.  It was a miracle, done by God through human hands.

I know God uses means.
Why, then, did I find myself on the receiving end of this lecture from my husband regarding my depression?
Why is it so hard to accept medical help for emotional/mental problems?

The easy answer:  I don’t want to deal with the cruel stigma associated with this kind of illness.  It’s much safer to hide it. I’m dealing with enough as it is.
Plus, it’s not that bad.  Other people have it worse, I’m sure.  I’m not so crazy I actually need medical help!  See, I’m functioning… kind of.

The more complicated, honest answer:
I am depressed, sad, overwhelmed, and having a hard time just getting through my days.  I am humbled enough already.  I do not want to have to admit my struggles out loud to my husband, a doctor, the pharmacist.  I do not want to carry pills around with that kind of label.  I hate the cruel stigma, and I partly believe the cruel stigma.  I do not want to be one of those weak people.  I can conquer this.  I can find the right mental gymnastics, and I can find the effort to do them.  Somehow.  I’m pretty sure all of this is my fault, so I am the one who needs to fix it, and I will fix it.  I just need to find the energy.

Oh yeah, and God will help me do all of this. Right God?  So where are you then?  Would you just zap me with healing already?  Or tell me the secret password I need to get out of this pit?

God’s gift of medicine came with strings attached, it seemed: I’d have to go to a doctor and say it out loud.  I’d have to go to the pharmacy.  I’d have to be honest with my husband.  None of those things have been easy, but He has given strength for each of them, and I did survive taking that first pill. 

God’s blessings sometimes come in prescription bottles. 

Blessed means.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

bad attitude test

Sometimes I just have a bad attitude.  I get caught in the trap of thinking too much about myself and my wants and frustrated because they are always thwarted.  So I am grumpy, and I act like a jerk to those around me.  I need to straighten up, to get some perspective.  I need to repent, to pray, and to open my eyes to what is around me.  I need to remember how blessed I am, and to be grateful.

Depression is not just a bad attitude.  But it may look exactly like that from the outside.


(I think this is one of the reasons it is so hard to be the one who loves the depressed person.  I understand the healthy person who looks at the sick one and grumbles, Why can’t they just snap out of it already! I don’t see what there is to feel so bad about all the time!)

Pain makes everyone grumpy. 
A bad attitude is like a self-inflicted injury, a nagging cut.  It needs a bandage and maybe some ointment, and the person with the cut really needs to toughen up a bit. 

But depression is more like a gaping, oozing hole in the stomach after an attack from a giant, evil lion.  (Is that too much? No, maybe not enough.  But there are kids in the room.)

Offers of bandages and prods to “cheer up” are completely unhelpful.

Bad attitude or depression?
Try my unofficial, unverified experiment:

First, ask yourself this question:  What do I have to be depressed about?

Sit down, get a pen, and make a list.
Think of all the things you should be grateful for (but you’re not.)
And think of the things you should be happy about (but you’re not.)
And remember all the things that once made you joyful (but now they don’t.)
And recall God’s promises that brought you comfort in the past, and feel… nothing. Or maybe anger.

Go ahead, make that list.  If you are doing it right, it will be a long, long list.

While you are at it, also make a list of those people you know whose life is so much worse than yours but they seem to be handling it so much better.  Then hold up your other list and ask yourself, If they can handle THAT, why can’t I handle this?

Then pray, Lord, I’m a jerk.  Forgive my sin and help me see the blessings that surround me.

If this little exercise has helped you gain a new perspective on life, opened your eyes to the blessings He gives you every day, and caused your heart to overflow with love where once there was self-pity, then you probably just had a bad attitude.  Thank God for his grace and move on with your day.

If that little exercise helped you see the blessings, but seeing them only made you more aware of how terrible it is that you have such awful feelings despite all of that, and now you feel even worse than when you started… that’s depression. And sorry, I don’t feel too bad about making you do this, because if you are depressed, my guess is that you were doing this all day long anyways, weren’t you?

Yep, depression is a giant gaping painful hole in the stomach.  Of course, a sinner will also find plenty of bad attitude mixed in with the depression too.  I can’t sort all of that out.  I don't think we have to.  I can assure you that God sees what is sin and what is sickness, and He has mercy on both.

So wait with me, pray with me with David:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
How I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God
With glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul
And why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
My salvation and my God.

Psalm 42:1-5

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

comic relief

Alright, I know that breaking up fights is part of my job, but seriously...
When the fight is between a boy and an laundry basket- what do you do?!

I rule in favor of the basket.  The boy most definitely "started it."


You wanna fight?

Depression part 2

Getting the business out of the way…

If I am to judge by the sudden surge in blog hits, this depression topic is an important one to some of you.  Alright then, let’s talk about it some more.  But first, the disclaimer:

My thoughts on depression ought not to be a substitute for medical advice or pastoral advice.  Please take what is helpful and leave what is not!
Depression is a broad, messy word. 
I find the whole thing to be exceedingly messy.  The mix of medical issues and sin and spiritual attack and emotional whatnot and behavioral this and that… I cannot sort it out in myself, so I will not even try to sort it out in you.  But that’s the good news:  we don’t necessarily have to sort all of it out! (more on that later.)

I know there are risks in sharing this information.  I have felt the stigma and the judging.  I know how unfathomable this struggle is to those who have not experienced it themselves.  I was that person once, and I know how ridiculous all of this looks from the outside.  I hope my words will help those who do not suffer have more compassion and wisdom in their difficult job of loving those who do.

For those of you who know exactly what I am talking about, I’m sorry.  It will not always be this way. 

My story, in brief:
I have PCOS and have had wild hormone issues forever.  I am more stable pregnant than not, though my husband insists, not completely stable even then!  I have never been in “the pit” during pregnancy, but in between babies, it always comes. 

I have it easier than many.  Most of the time, like today, I have basically no symptoms.  Every month or two or three, I have a few days of feeling “on the verge” that tend to spiral into 1-2 days of completely nonfunctional, horrible depression. 

On the plus side, this pattern has made it easier for me to recognize my problem as a (at least partly) medical problem.  When the pit sucked me in on vacation, and I could not even blame it on the chaos of my life or the kids or anything at all, I finally could see that there was something medical going on.  Medicine has helped me greatly.

There, the business is out of the way.  Onward we will go, wherever the winds and the shadows take me! (I had to add that- this post was sounding way too business-like.)

 As I blog, I will share thoughts from “the pit,” and from outside “the pit.”  I also intend to share some insights gained from conversation with my dear husband who has loved me through the pit and back again. 

This will not be the only thing this blog is about anymore, and I don’t think I can even talk about this topic for too long with a straight face.  Lord willing, these posts will be full of comfort and hope, and not a means for spreading more depression around!

One last thought for today:
If you are one of those who suffer in silence, please say it out loud to someone who loves you. 
Just say it.


Heal me O Lord, and I will be healed.
Save me, and I will be saved.
For you are the one I praise.
Jeremiah 17:14

Monday, May 23, 2011

Depression

Depression.

A nasty word, a nasty thing.  It’s ugly and dark and life-sucking and terrifying.  And it has no place in this wonderful, blessed life of mine.

And yet, there it is.

Depression, what in the world are you doing here?  It makes NO sense that you should be in this house, in this life.  I am a child of God!  I am loved, I am blessed, forgiven, redeemed!  How dare you take my joy away from me?

 I wrestle.  I wrestle with depression.  I have on and off for a few years.  I am ready to write about it now, even though the battle is not over.  I wrestled, I wrestle.  And God wrestles too.  For me, against me, with me.  I don’t always know which.

But I have to write about it, because writing is what I do. 

Because I know there are others like me who wrestle, but are ashamed or afraid to say it out loud,  I will say things out loud for us.  I am safe in His grace, so I can say it out loud.  I struggle with depression.

I take medicine, I exercise, I sin, I fall, I wait.  He delivers me, somewhat, usually.
Yet I can trust Him, even if I can’t feel Him.
Of this ONE thing I am confident:   Not even depression can steal me out of His hand.


** weak and loved  **

Saturday, May 21, 2011

the scarfing strategy

Scarfing.  It's a habit, a necessity on a normal day: somebody is going to need something in the next 30 seconds, so if I am going to eat, I'd better eat fast.

Now, this is not ideal, I admit.
Sometimes I scarf and then I really don't remember if I ate or not.  (Seriously, did I eat breakfast today?)  I rarely savor.  I hardly enjoy.  But the body must be fed.  And I insist, it is better to scarf than to fast.

It is hard to turn this impulse off when I am, say, on a "date" with my husband.  I usually notice I am scarfing about halfway through the meal.  Then I pause to breathe, to laugh at myself, and tell myself to slow down and try to enjoy the food.

But I insist, there is a season for scarfing.  There is a time when enjoyment is not the point: nourishment is, and that goal must be met efficiently.  If eating is to happen, it must happen on the fly, while I am packing lunches and doing dishes and looking for someone's other shoe.

This is also the way I feel about "quiet time."
It would be nice to have some consecutive minutes of quiet for reading the Bible and praying.  It's not that I don't want those minutes.  It's just that they are so very hard to find at this time of my life.  And the trouble is, when the kids are sleeping and I sit down and the house is quiet and my heart is quiet... then my brain gets quiet, and my body gets quiet, and I simply pass out.

So I scarf.  I feed my soul as I do other things.  While doing dishes and folding laundry,while walking to the park, while cooking lunch.  It is easier to listen than to read while hands are busy, so I listen more than I once did, back in the days when the words "quite time" didn't just make me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

I listen, and I scarf.  As I scarf, I sometimes get frustrated when I am interrupted, and I don't always get to savor or enjoy, and I sometimes forget what it is I listened to an hour ago.   But it gets in, and my soul gets fed, here and there and along the way.

And there are still special occasions, when life is quiet and my brain is not, and I get to turn off the scarfing.  I slow down and savor, and I taste and see that the Lord is good.  (When the kids are grown, maybe this will even happen during the Divine Service again someday!)

It's not ideal, but it is better to scarf than to fast.



If you are curious, my favorite things for audio scarfing: various hymns,  Issues, etc, and the Daily Office.  





Wednesday, May 18, 2011

bossmom never rests

Bossmom is at it again.  She even works in her sleep.

I woke my husband up last week snapping my fingers.  I woke myself up too, with that embarrassed realization that I had been acting out my dream.  I had hoped he hadn’t heard, but he had.  “What in the world was that?” 

I laughed, and explained in my dream our son was climbing on the dining room table and I was snapping to get his attention and make him get off.  I was also on the phone.

This is not the first time I have done such a thing.
I once woke up as I was saying loudly, “NOT in your MOUTH!”  I am pretty sure I had a new crawler then.

I have also awoken my husband to my stern command, “Look at me… I said LOOK at me, in my eyes,” spoken firmly to the dark walls.

It’s exhausting to be the boss 24 hours a day!

Monday, May 16, 2011

You're doing it ALL WRONG!

With my first child, that is exactly what I heard every time she cried.  Surely, if I were a better mother, I could figure out the problem and fix it. But my little angel is crying!  I must be doing something wrong!

FIX it MOTHER!

Eventually I got over that.  I learned that babies just cry.  They cry to express their needs, they cry because they want to be changed or they DON’T want to be changed, they cry because they hate getting dressed, or because they can’t tell you why they’re crying. But that does not mean I am doing it wrong.

Now in this wild house of six young children, there are many other things that shout this accusation at me daily:

The children are fighting, again.  I must be doing it wrong.
I am frustrated to the point of tears.  I must be doing it wrong.
Someone STILL has a rebellious attitude.  I must be doing it wrong.
I am feeling overwhelmed.  I must be doing it wrong.
At the end of the day, I am WORN OUT.  I must be doing it wrong.

Trouble comes into my vocation, strife without and within, and I cry out NO!  This is not how life should be!  I must be doing something wrong!  Tell me, isn’t there a way to eliminate all this conflict, stress, and plain old hard work from the vocation of motherhood?

Maybe someone should ask that family.  You know, THAT family, the one with the kids who never fight and the mom who never yells and at the end of the day they hug goodnight cheerfully and mom sits down to mend socks while she discusses current events with her husband?

I don’t actually know that family.  I just know that we are certainly not that family.

Surely, empowered by Christ, we ought to have that perfect life here and now, right?  Shouldn’t we be able to handle all things with calm, loving, selfless objectivity?  Shouldn’t we be immune to the effects of sin in ourselves and other people?

So, if my life is not perfect, if I find it has trouble, I need to work really hard to figure out exactly what it is I am doing wrong, so that I can fix it! Right?

The perfect life is a hard illusion to let go of.  And I will not let it go as long as I think the imperfections are caused by something I can actually fix.  I will chase after that dream, I will look under every rock for that magical solution that will rid my life of trouble and stress forever. I will find that magic potion that will make little boys BEHAVE!

But the imperfect life is not a problem I can fix.  Sin is at its root.  Mine.  Theirs. And the side-effects of it in this fallen world.  Christ has won the victory, so in us, it is dying, but it is not yet dead. And we must still live in this place, for a little while longer, anyway.

So I have this vocation, just like you, and in it I can expect trouble.  Trouble when I AM doing it wrong, and trouble when I am not. But just for a little bit longer, as He has promised to finish the work He has started.  So even as I whine along with the kids, I can take comfort in His unfailing grace.

Soon, very soon, the babies and the big people will be comforted together. 

And the mommas will lie down with the little boys, and there will be peace.

Easter triumph, Easter joy!
This alone can sin destroy;
From sin's pow'r, Lord, set us free
Newborn souls in You to be.
Alleluia!
(At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing LSB 633 Public Domain)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

big plans


Behold, young brothers, the land we shall conquer together.
Take up your sticks, and set your jaw for the mountain top.
Let not the snake or the coyote make you tremble; together we will prevail against our foes.

Remember the days of old, in our mother's basement. 
She patronized us, calling our work "noisy downstairs time." 
Her eyes saw but did not see the warriors in training;
her ears heard screams, but could not hear them as the battle cries of those who would one day conquer the wilderness.

Recall the hours practicing with sword and with sheild, and bring to mind the techniques and maneuvers we perfected on each other.
Of the injuries sustained, was there one that did not heal? 
No, each one made us stronger and wiser,
and prepared us for a moment of glory.
Today, we shall reap the reward of those days of pain and hardship.

Onward, little brothers, into the wild!
I'll be right behind you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Good advice for making oneself crazy

From the fictional piece by CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters, chapter 6 p.34-35

A demon explains how to bother a Christian in times of trial and anxiety:

Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy's will.  What the Enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him---the present anxiety and suspense.  It is about this that he is to say "Thy will be done," and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided.  It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross, but only of the things he is afraid of.  Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practice fortitude and patience to them all in advance.  For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates, is almost impossible, and the Enemy does not greatly assist those who are trying to attain it: resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier, and is usually helped by this direct action.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

more data

In the van, on mother's day, I had the opportunity to collect more data regarding the temperaments of each of my dear children simply by listening to their conversation.

The instigator
"Girls rule and boys drool!"

The instigated
"No boys rule and YOU drool!!!"

The hungry literalist
"Food rules and babies drool!"

The peacemaker
"Boys and girls rule and nobody drools!"

The budding theologian
"God rules and everybody drools!"

The daddy bear
"Alright! That's enough drooling and ruling!"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How are you doing?

What a question to ask a grieving person. Bad, of course. Terrible, really. Did you expect something else?
 Of course not, but we just don't know how to ask what we really want to ask, and if we did ask, could the grieving ones bear it?

How are you doing?
How are you surviving?
How are you making it through the days? I am on the outside of your pain but I can only imagine how unbearable it is to be in your shoes and, please just give me a hint... HOW are you doing it? Are you still getting out of bed? Are you able to eat or to sleep? Do you know how often I think of you, pray for you? How do you stand after such a great grief, because I am on the outside and my knees are weak and I question and cry for you... so just how are you doing it?

Is God hearing me when I talk to him about you? Is He helping you bear that wound? I have asked him to a thousand times, more. Is He listening?
How are you doing it? Living alive, still, yet with such a wound?
I can only gape and stammer in front of it. Unable to fix, unable to relieve, unable to answer any questions.
Yet you STAND. Is that God's hand, holding you up?

I haven't been where you are, but I may be someday, and tell me, how is it done?
I do not see within myself the capability to survive such a thing. You must be getting help. Please tell me you are; tell me that help comes to those who need it.

I am on the outside and my questions are in whispers. Are yours screamed? Has He explained Himself to you?
Because He has not explained himself to me but I can't stop asking and wondering. Do you ask too?
And is there any way I can use my hands or prayers or pies or anything at all to help even just a little bit?

You are my elder, in the way of suffering, and your presence reminds me that my future will contain trials too... How will I be doing when I am not doing well?
What word of hope do you have for me, you who have been in that dark land where I will have to go some day?
But I cannot ask you to answer those questions for me.
You are too busy surviving, too busy eating your daily bread with tears and learning to walk all over again.

I mix tears with my bread too, when I think of you, when I see the sadness in this valley of death.

Jesus, hold us close. We wait for you. Here in this valley, we groan and we wait. Come quickly Lord, with healing, with promises fufilled, with resurrection.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

my foot hurts

This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you...
Seriously, it is. 

Banning TV for four days.  It hurts us all. 
All week I have hunted, I have searched, I have stretched my creative muscles, trying to find that one consequence that would get their attention.  Something, anything, that would make their little faces turn serious, open their ears, and remove the smirking for even just a few minutes.

But smirk they did, as they unleashed their wild little-boy energy on my house and each other all week long. 

There is some debate in the Cook house about whether or not this is worse than the time daddy banned the boys from all cars, every single toy with wheels, for a weekend.  That punishment required much work on mommy's part, gathering up the cars from every corner of the house and so forth.

But, it is argued by some, cars do not also babysit your children. 
TV... oh TV... you will be missed this weekend.

May this weekend of suffering yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 
Or at least one tiny little grape...  Lord have mercy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

go big or go home.

After a long day of wailing and gnashing of teeth, a little boy sighed as he put on his pyjamas,
"Daddy... It's hard to be a kid."

"Yes son, I know.  It's hard to be a daddy too."  Though little boys scoff, adults know that really is not fun to be the boss of uncivilized children.  When raising little sinners, it is hard to be a daddy, and it is hard to be a mommy.

Heavy silence hung as the boy considered his hard life as child that was inevitably growing into a hard life as a daddy.

Suddenly- a solution.
He looked daddy in the eye and declared, "Then I'm just going to be God."



For more like this see ChildFaith

Thursday, May 5, 2011

natural law

It is odd, to find myself bossing my children to do something that ought to be pleasing to them.

Go play outside! It's a beautiful day!
Sit still and watch your movie!
Eat your ice cream!

It's not like it does me any good if they eat ice cream.  I bought it for them, and I would just like for them to enjoy it.  Do they really think they are doing me a favor by giving me an extra bit of freezer space?

It is also odd, receive that kind of bossing.  From God's Word, no less.  Here I am treated like the child that I am, and I too find myself commanded to do things that are good for me.

Rest!
Receive!
Rejoice!
Give thanks!

As human beings, we are good at turning gifts into duties.

What a crazy thing to do.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

bossmom

"Here can you hold this blanket for a second?"
"Can you go get his other shoe?"
"Would you run this to the kitchen for me?"

It's a habit, deeply ingrained into me after these years of herding children around. I am constantly directing. In my mind there is a goal, be it getting outside the door with all the children or getting a meal on the table, and all things around me must be directed to this end.

If an able-bodied child comes near me, I immediately acknowledge his presence by incorporating him into the greater plan. I give him a job. This not only keeps his hands out of trouble for a moment but (theoretically) moves us that one tiny step closer to the ultimate goal.

I'm worried that this is becoming an addiction of sorts. I find myself doing this to my husband, and even to children that are not mine, should they come near me in a moment when I am oriented toward a specific goal.

"Could you hand me my phone?"
"Here, put this sock in the laundry."
"Can you please zip that for him?"

It's not that I am lazy. I am already using my entire mind and body to get the job done, but my mind and body do not ever seem to get caught up. If the children can help, then they shall help. If I could command the very angels and the cosmos to help orchestrate the staggering march towads the van for an outing, I would command them.

But I can't.

So I warn you, friends, if you come near me, I will probably give you a job. I just can't help it. There is work to be done.


For more like this see Imperfect Homemaking or How to Keep a Sense of Humor

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

needy people


"God teaches us to pray by sending needy people to make demands on us."
 (Grace upon Grace by John Kleinig p164)

The needy people in my own home are the ones I often forget to pray for.  Why is that?  Probably because I think I can meet their needs without God's help, so I try until I am exhausted.  And then I remember to pray.
After a rough night with a sick baby, I begin this day exhausted, and so I start the day with prayer.  Perhaps I will be stronger for it, and God's strength will again be displayed when I am weak.

Heavenly Father,
I am surrounded by needy little people today.  I do not have enough to give them to keep them all happy.    Please watch over each of them today; give them protection, health, and daily bread according to Your will.  As You have called me to pass on some of Your care to them, equip me.  My heart is to small and my body too tired.

Give me the patience to sit under the ones that need extra snuggles.  Give me the energy to play and laugh with the ones that need playfulness.  Give me the wisdom to balance their conflicting needs.  Strengthen my hands and my back and my patience, that I may care for both the sick and the healthy with Your love and compassion.


Open my eyes to see Your constant care for me, and fill me with the blessings of Christ that I may have something to share with the needy little people in my home.
Amen.

Monday, May 2, 2011

paranoia

"Our own suspicious minds all too easily succumb to delusions of persecution, the sense that those around us are out to get us." Grace Upon Grace by John Kleinig p.221

I have come to understand that yes, sometimes my perception is a bit off.  My husband really doesn't leave his bowl in the living room because he has no respect for me or anything I do around here.  And he may actually forget to take out the trash, not deliberately refuse to take out the trash so that my day will be filled with a stinky reminder that he does not care at all about how this house looks.   Just maybe, he does not live to utterly ruin my days.

Alright, so I can give him the benefit of the doubt.  When I look for it, I find abundant evidence that he does love me and our family, that he cares about who I am and what I do for us all, and that he does not wake up in the morning with the sole intention of making my life harder.

But what of the kids?

Do the kids intentionally make my life harder just for the fun of it?  Or am I just falling prey to the paranoia that sees every dirty dish as an insult?

So I submit to you, the jury, the evidence.  You must act as the objective voice of reason for me.  Are these kids out to get me or not?

For the purposes of this investigation, I am willing to set aside those things that may be understood as simply "children being children."  Like the constant toys on the floor  (booby traps- conveniently injuring adults and impeding their ability to run quickly after children), and the "innocent" messes (strategic diversions made to allow children to run free while mom cleans).


Exhibit A
The ever-buckled belts

 Belts already buckled are not ready for hungry babies.  Nor are they easy to unclasp with one hand while the other wields said fussy baby.  And yet, buckled my buckles are, at all times and in all places.

The Stealth Buckler of Belts, caught in the act.

Exhibit B
The exploded travel pillow


Let the jury note that this alleged accident occurred conveniently when the suspect was getting in bed for his nap.  Sources say he was hostile to the enforcer of the nap just moments before the alleged accident.
The nap-enforcer requests the jury to note the pain and suffering caused by the horrendous task of cleaning up all of those little styrofoam balls.  She is considering suing for damages to her back. 

Exhibit C
Misplaced diaper

Squishy pieces of diaper discovered in laundry load #4 of the day.
Nobody claims responsibility.

Exhibit D
Hidden Coffee



What kind of monster hides the essence of a mother's energy and stamina?

I request that the jury take these items into consideration.
More evidence forthcoming. 
Unless this plan, like so many others, is sabotaged.
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