Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Will Never Be Done Having Babies

We're all guilty of it.  The dreaded inappropriate question or comment about family.  Whether it be about the growth of someone's family, pregnancy, the advice about a newborn, we've all said something we can't take back.  "Are you finished having babies now?"  "You are sooo pregnant!"  "You think this is tough, just wait until you get to the point when..."  A dear friend of mine taught her sons about the words they use by this example.  She and her husband bought a brand new tube of toothpaste.  They gathered their four boys, sat them down and let them take their turns squeezing the full tube onto their table.  They LOVED it.  Fun, right?  Then, after the whole tube was empty mom said "Okay boys, I"ll get a spoon.  You put the paste back in the tube."  Well, it just can't be done.  What an awesome illustration of words.  Once their out there, you can't take them back.  You can't put the toothpaste back into the tube once it's out, try as you may.

Being a mom of four, people ask me all of the time if I'm done having babies.  It's amazing what random people will say to you in the grocery store.  It usually happens when my baby fills his diaper with toxicity.  I'm pushing the impossible car shaped cart, that fits about seven items in it, and always has a wonky wheel.  I'm pulling another cart full of the rest of my items.  My ' super-power-ninja-turtle-ranger-man' four year old son is jumping from shelf to shelf down the cereal aisle demanding 'fruity choco puffy bites with marshmallows'.  You know the scene.  Mom's probably already threatened him for fighting with his sister who's sticking her tongue out at him the whole time.  We put on the mom voice, "Sweetie, please stop or you'll have a consequence".  WHY do the kids not understand that this voice is a little bit psychotic, as it is not a voice we ever use another time?  If we're at home and they act like that we will raise our voice or put them in time out.  When I see another mom use this voice, I look at the kid and think, "oh man.  You better shut it quick.  She's about to loose it!"  But, they don't.  The four year old doesn't stop until he lands on his nose on a display of Nesquick.  The baby is not going to change himself.  If big sister rolls her eyes any farther back in her head, she may loose one.  Mom is embarrassed.

"Are you going to have any more?"  asks the lady carefully choosing her granola bars for her tiny grocery basket.
"Well, I don't know I'm thinking of starting a circus.  What do you think?  I'd love to have your input!"  I think.

But I've been guilty of putting my foot in my mouth from time to time myself.  Having four children gives me mad street cred.  I have been through a lot of trials, and many more still to come.  I have a lot of advice, and have trouble not giving it.  When a new mother is exhausted and confused, I want to pour out my information on her and say "listen to me, I've done it.".  But, that's not any different.  New moms do not want to think about how you are doing it well, what you did to figure it out, or how it could be worse.  They want to be in the moment, enjoy their baby and survive the night.  They want to get rest.  They want you to bring them a hot meal, or hold their baby while they take a shower.  New moms don't get to take showers, did you know that?  So, I'm trying very hard to be conscious of my words.  I can't take them back.  So, I'm trying not to start sentences with "Just wait til..." or "It'll be better when..." or "What I always did was...".  NO one wants to hear that mess.  It's so much more of a blessing to just listen and stop talking.  I'm trying.

So when I ask "are you going to have any more babies" I"m always thinking, "you should".  Which is really none of my business except for in my own home.  When I have found myself asking that question, I always mean it as a compliment.  When someone asks me I always hear it as an insult.  Isn't that the way our minds mess with us?

I love my children, the monkeys that they are.  They are individual and unique, even if sometimes that means being weird and down right odd.  They are funny and smart.  The funny and smart part they use to their advantage all too often and nearly cross the line of being sarcastic and sassy.  We're grading on a curve here folks.  I want to be graded on a curve, it's the least I can do in handling my little three ringers.

So, when will I be done procreating?  I won't.  Ever.  I will never be satisfied and have enough babies.  I love being a mom.  I love being pregnant.  I know how strange that is.  I love delivery.  I love the period of time right after you have a baby, when everyone you know will do anything you ask them to do.  I love cooking for them, picking out their little clothes, teaching them how to be independent.  I do love my sleep.  I love the idea of my body having a shape again.  (Interestingly enough, losing the baby weight often leads to my husband noticing, then we start all over.)  I guess the point is, I'm really grateful for the wonderful family I have.  I know how awesome it is that I have four children.  It's amazing that God's given me this blessing FOUR TIMES.  I don't think I'll ever say, "I don't want any more babies."  But, I am fairly certain that there are no more openings in this traveling, three ring circus I am leadig.  So, while I will never fully feel done.  At some point you have to quit.  And I will be doing well to remember how complicated that answer is before I ask it of someone else.  It's like toothpaste, messy.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How To Be The Perfect Christian

How To Be The Perfect Christian.

Well, haven't we just got it all figured out!  If we greet the visitors, smile at the cashier, label people correctly, and categorize our friendships, are we behaving perfectly? If we judge family members for their lifestyle choices, claim what Jesus would do, elevate our own standards, and then beat ourselves up when we make mistakes, are we good?  We talk about scripture.  We praise Him with our hands raised just right.  We pray for the ambulance that drives by.  We overeat.  We go to church.  We are lazy.  We praise God.  We gossip and compete.  We compartmentalize our Christianity so that it is socially convenient, or worse, we just avoid being social because of our beliefs.  We roll our eyes.  We curse.  We have addictions.  We fail to love.  We yell at our kids.  We fight with our spouse.
Who me?
No.  Not you.
Me. You.  Him.  Her.  Them.  Us.

We all have our little skeletons. Odds are if you are real honest with yourself, the Holy Spirit will convict you through something you've read, or that thing that's unmentioned that you're already aware of about yourself.  Truth be told, Jesus is the standard.  We will never be truly close to Him until we realize how far we are from being Him.  But the beauty is that we have His grace to get through the other junk. He knows what we do when we're all by ourselves.  He knows our judgments.  He knows our gossip, our hate, our gluttony and our lies.  He knows every word we speak, thought we think, and every action we take.  So, why are we lying?

Do we really care THAT much about the opinions of our peers?  Are we even close enough to any peers to hold us accountable for what we're doing, saying, thinking, pretending? How many good friends do you have?  How many of them will tell you when you're acting like a jerk?  How many of those friends would you drop everything for?  How many times a day, a week, a month, do you do something selfless.  THAT is what being a Christian is about.  We don't do it (whatever "it" is) for the glory of the church, or our work, or our friends, or our family.  We're to do it because God calls us to do it.  We're to build up the people around us and do it with a happy heart, because it's what God wants us to do.  What "they" think is none of our business.  It only matters what He thinks.  So, if we find ourselves in a situation that calls for us to act, even if it's not received, or it's just plain ignored... God saw it.  If an apology falls on deaf ears, God heard it.  If a gentle word, or an act of service goes unnoticed, I would argue that it's better than if everyone knew you'd done it.  It only matters if you're pleasing God.

To be perfect, really, really perfect... you have to embrace that you're just not.  You're not perfect.  I'm not perfect.  We are so broken and wrong.  All day long every day, I make a myriad of little mistakes (on a good day).  On a bad day, I make a ton of big mistakes.  We all do.  The sooner that we recognize that and embrace it, the sooner we can ask God to forgive it.  We can listen to his prompts to ask others to forgive us.  We can forgive others.  Forgive others.  That's a hard one.  If we want to be perfectly imperfect, the key is forgiveness.  Isn't it?  Forgive each other.  More often than not, you have to do this over and over again.  Sometimes we forgive the same act seven hundred and seventy times.  We just do.  Because it is the only way to make it better.  We do it because it's what God does for us.

The challenge for me today is to be less perfect, and more perfectly imperfect.  We are called to be LIKE Jesus, not to be Jesus.  He is perfect.  We are so far from it.  We can't convict people around us.  We can't make them serve or attend or grow. We can show them what it looks like, and do it with a joyful spirit.  We can be the beacons of His light by serving, attending and growing.  He wants me to try really hard to be as close as I can be to Jesus.  The Holy Spirit will convict me of things, and if I listen, I'll correct them.  If He asks me to do something, I'll try and do it.  If someone hurts me, I will try and forgive them.  If I am hurtful, I will ask for forgiveness.  I will have people in my life who will hold me to a standard of goodness.  My peers are not my responsibility or "project", but they are watching the way I act and react.  If I do it in a way that glorifies God, then I can do nothing more.

The only unwaivering things of which I am certain are these:  We must read His word.  We must find answers in the only book that has them all.  We must learn about His life on Earth.  We cannot grow unless we do that.; Stretch.  Get uncomfortable for Christ.  Do what you would not normally do.  Get outside your box.  Listen to His prompts and act accordingly.  The key to growing is stretching.;  Serve His people.  We have to be willing to give selflessly of our time, assets and energy.  We have to go above and beyond the tithe on Sunday, which is crucial.  Making time for someone who needs a shoulder, feeding people who are hungry or tired, and keeping the world clean with our love and devotion, these are just a few ways to serve God.  Giving is the best way I've found to feel God.  Bless the people around you, and you will be blessed.;  We also must pray.  Pray in The Spirit.  Pray on our knees.  Pray on our faces, flat, laid out on the ground before the alter of our Lord.  Ask Him to direct us.  And then we listen for Him to speak to our hearts.

If we do all of this, will we have it together?  Will we enjoy our coffee more before service on Sunday?  That's not likely.  We'll still be late.  We'll still want everyone to see our new shoes.  We'll still miss the mark with the new guy on the back row.  We'll still think a smug thought about someone's decision in skirt length or lipstick.  BUT, we'll be forgiven.  And maybe, just maybe we'll be more forgiving.

Thank God He's perfect so that we don't have to be.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

All We Need Is Just A Little Patience

Patience. Well, that's the song of the hour isn't it. If you're not familiar, it's a favorite in our house. Google search it and give 'er a listen. It's a "goodie" from Guns N Roses. I use it as a motivator in so much. You see, I am the world's least patient person. My lack of patience has guided so many decisions in my life. And that word, "patience" has been looming in the air for days it seems, more than usual.

With age I've learned to appreciate patience. Good thing, because my husband is the single most patient man in the universe. Tis true. It's paid off in a big way for him too. Once he makes a decision, you know it's a well thought out, planned, strategic, wise decision. You know he's really been patient with his plan and executes it brilliantly (most times). I have had to learn to fight the urge to give into temptation. I have always just been disgusted with the idea of waiting for anything. Which, if we're being honest, is a pretty accurate description of our society today. It's the old Veruca Salt-way-of-thinking "I want it NOW". It applies to everything if you let it. I have to consciously decide NOT to let it. As it turns out, that's not so easy.

For example, food. I won't spend too much time on this little "instant gratification treasure" that fills so many voids. I'll just say that it's easy to WANT a "fix" involving chocolate and peanut butter, and go grab one. DEVOUR it, and get a little high. But, then it's gone and the tummy ache comes (or not, depending on your will power to eat just one treat) and the guilt arrives. It's more satisfying however, to wait and dedicate a special time for the treat. Like for instance, choosing a day of the week as an "off day" or a "lazy day" or however you chose to title it. THAT'S the day for endless peanut butter concoctions and chocolate deliciousness. Or maybe just occasionally indulging in your treat of choice as a reward, or a special occasion. I find it hard to wait it out. But, like anything I suppose you have to do it 21 times to call it a habit. It's getting past like the 7th? time that is tough for me.

Buying things is another big one. I find it hard not to satisfy that urge immediately. The challenge of a budget has been one of the greatest adventures with which I've been blessed to be presented. I am frugal. I know this. BUT, teaching myself to research something, shop around, save for it, sometimes go into a store and PICK IT UP and LOOK AT IT and PUT IT BACK DOWN, to think some more has been amazingly refreshing. This tactic is something that I'm trying to teach my children early. Don't go buy it because you want it. Find a good deal. Find a coupon. Heck, find an opinion. If you still want it badly enough, you'll find a way to make it work. Thank you, dear sweet husband for having such a hand in my learning that lesson as well! And, I am happy to say that at my last visit to the grocery store I saved over $44 with coupons and my kids and I danced right there at the checkout, in front of everyone. It felt AMAZING. I had to plan it out. I had to be patient and find deals online, print coupons, and spend over an hour and a half searching the isles for the best deals that combined with some coupons I already had. But, it paid off, literally. Like everything else, I do not know how to do it small. I have to do it big. I can't just save on diapers. I have to save in EVERY department to feel like I'm accomplishing anything. Now, I won't leave the house to shop unless I've checked to see if I can find a coupon for the store in which I will be shopping. If I don't give it my all, what's the point. (It may be an honorable way to live, but it can be exhausting.)

Which brings me to working out. I love working out. I love taking the time for myself. I love the high as much as I love the one that I get from the peanut butter chocolate combo, and the saving with coupons. I become obsessed with wanting to go for another run. I want to go further, push harder, go faster, run longer, or lift more. I want big strong manly arms. That grosses most people out. But for some reason I have always wanted men to be afraid of me punching them in the eye. NOT that I would ever do that. I just want them to take note that I could, and it would hurt. Like everything else, to achieve these goals, you have to have...? Patience. That's right. There's that sneaky little word again, creepin up into my desires. It's challenging the ways in which I am so stuck.

Sometimes, your body says "stop". I ran 5k two days ago. It felt amazing. I have been working hard to make it happen. And I did it. I was with a few of my favorite life long girlfriends, and we giggled, and ran and it just felt like I shouldn't ever stop. Unfortunately, my body would disagree. My body is now making me be patient. I injured my foot somehow and now I am limping. Isn't it funny how God sends these little lessons to us? Now, I am motivated to spend the time I would've spent (preparing to, and) running, researching my goals and the strategy to best get me to reach them. Instant gratification will absolutely NOT work, no matter how frustrated I am. NO matter how much I want to get up and go do it again, I cannot physically do it. So, I am forced to use the "p" word. I am learning patience in yet another facet of my life.

Wikipedia says: Patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.

I suppose I would rather be steadfast than instantly gratifying. I think. ;) The chocolate covered peanut butter deliciousness definitely tastes better after craving it for a while.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Exercise and Jesus

Exercise and Jesus are so alike. I love the way that both make me feel. I need them everyday. I enjoy talking about them and encouraging others to engage. I preach the importance of both to my children. I need them both to be a well-balanced, happy, energized and focused individual. However, Jesus is good to me even when I'm fat.

I have decided to make some changes in my life over the last few years. It happens to everyone as they grow. Well, I suppose it doesn't happen to EVERYONE. We all know those few people who are stuck in a decade that they are continually chasing their tail, or bangs, or whatever vice they had during said era. But, for the most of us as we age, we evolve and pick up new knowledge and interests, and aches and pains as well as new needs. In turning the ripe old age of thirty this year I have decided, along with several close friends, to stop living as if I am twenty-one, in the way I eat and diet and exercise. I will not be rebounding after a night of staying up late pigging out. These days, too much chocolate means a hangover all of the following day. As much as I hate to admit it, some days I feel like the Tin Man. My joints are squeaky and I can't find the oil can!

My body won't forgive me for not getting the exercise it deserves like it did a decade ago. This epiphany occurred one morning when I woke up and realized I had convinced myself I was "bloated" (you ladies know what I mean) for a six month stretch. I am no doctor, but that doesn't seem possible. I am not twenty-one. I have to be careful what I put in, and I have to be sure and work it out. Exercise, like it or not has to be a key element in my day to day. If I don't get it, I don't feel well. Lord help me, I am tired and grumpy and no one likes me but Jesus.

Because He loves me, (this I know) I need Him every day, just like exercise. Otherwise, I am cloudy, and lazy and wandering. I don't have the drive, focus or intention. I am a better me with God. At twenty-one, I am not sure that I whole-heartedly understood faith, let alone did any sort of worship. But, things change. Life happens and you begin to realize, much like with the effects of food on your body, God can change your heart and your mind. There's a reason it feels good to run. There's a reason it feels good to pray.

Anytime you change your lifestyle, you change your surroundings, your habits and your relationships. If you're not going to eat bad food anymore, you're probably not going to dinner with someone who wants to eat at a buffet. That's not to say I don't enjoy a buffet sometimes. I AM human. The deeper realization is that you have to sort of "clean up" your habits. "Clean up" your friendships, in order to grow. Some people decide to only eat salad bar at the buffet before they eliminate it from their lives altogether.

There is a certain peace of mind you obtain when you do something that is good. When you help a little old lady reach the top shelf at the grocery store, or when you walk a mile after dinner, you feel better. If you forgive someone for something that was beyond hurtful, if you take a stand for something that you believe in, despite what people think or say, you feel better.

Making the conscious decision to change my every day life (my breakfast, lunch, dinner - be the best wife I can - try and be SuperMom - daily exercise regime - prayer time - church on Sundays - stop cursing so much - pray for people I dislike - see the good in others - read my Bible- LIFE) takes guts, gusto and great strength. People don't like change. Some relationships have to taper off. There are a handful of people who will love me no matter what I'm doing. THOSE are the ones who encourage growth. Everyone should be so lucky as I am to have them.

While my friends and Jesus love me even if I'm fat, my rusty joints hurt and the fact of the matter is some people will never understand. I have to cut my losses and trudge forward. The people who pull me back are the ones who have to eat my dust. I am not stopping or slowing down. I am joggling (hobble+ jog = joggle) toward a better tomorrow for myself. Do not remind me of the self-deprecating, buffet-devouring, faithless days of my past. This motivated Mamma is unapologetically moving forward, and not slowing down! I've got my joggling kicks on and I know how to use em! Paaa-raiszze Jesus!

Judgement will come soon enough without my two cents. I am saying that it feels good to feel better. It feels good to BE better. I encourage it for everyone to find a healthy center. I elect to love myself enough to actively participate in my life. Be better. If it were easy, everyone would do it and all of the buffets would close.

Exercise and Jesus, are so much alike.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So, EVERYONE'S an author...

Ok, heregoes. Momma says, "If 'everyone' jumped off a bridge..." you know the rest. Well, the answer is obvious. "How high is the bridge?" "Where is the bridge located?" "Are there emergency crews nearby 'just in case'?" In my reality, there are so many questions to answer before you can give the definitive "yes" or "no". My children (specifically my 7 year old) have taught me that. Truth be told, I have jumped from a bridge before. In fact, everyone was doing it. It was not high. It was just dangerous enough. I am glad I did it. Am I fit to write? Eh. I am doing it like I do everything else, the only way to do things that count, WITH GUSTO. I am capable of several thoughts at once. Some of them I get out of my head, the majority stay within the confines of my GIANT cranium. So, again, heregoes.

Welcome to a few of the thousands of thoughts that flood my mind daily. I will try and type them as quickly as I think them so as not to confuse, or lose anything in translation. Who knows where we'll go with this, or how we'll get there. God help me, it's like Bob Dylan. Did I really just do that? I do not like Bob Dylan, his writing or his whining. I spend so much of my effort trying to keep little people from doing what he's famous, and no doubt wealthy, for doing. Ugh, whining.

Even with the crazy noises, my children are my world. Now, I say "crazy" noises... I mean to say "gross, disgusting, amazing, entrancing, LOUD, smelly, hilarious, kind, sweet, loving, and sometimes even scary" noises. The smelly little buggers absolutely enthrall me. They are asleep right now. So, so beautiful. Not in the romantic way that people talk about watching their beautiful angels sleep (though, mine are the sweetest). No, it's beautiful in the way that no one is fighting, crying, fussing, Bob Dylan-ing, pooping, snotting, or spitting. And that's just since my husband laid down. ONLY KIDDING. Not funny Mommy. (DISCLAIMER: My husband is an amazing person. He's my soul mate, my best friend. He puts up with my craziness on a daily basis and I am truly blessed that he comes home to me every day!-- I love you Sweetie.)

When they are awake, I find my favorite parts of the day are spent trying to figure them out. Which of course, is not possible. Since I've become a "grown up", I no longer enjoy the world in the same euphoric way as children do. Do you remember staring at your hand for what seemed like hours on end and just flexing those fingers to see what they could do? Remember playing make believe and not having any rules in doing so? How about dancing? Ever just break it down? Or singing. I still sing songs that aren't. I make up lyrics and melodies all day long. I get onto my kids for making these "noises" because it's annoying after the same chorus is sung over and over and over... but who are they modeling? If I am in the middle of a melt down over dinner being messed up, I re-heated the wrong casserole as they weren't marked clearly (my mistake- THE WORST) in the freezer (where I planned to keep my convenient concoctions so as to eliminate chaos in my evenings with pre-prepared food) I've just broken another dinner plate, and I stepped on the glass while the baby was crying and making his way over to try and sort through shards... (OBVIOUSLY I intercept and precisely why I now have broken glass lodged into my bare feet) I am about to lose it and just start really crying. One of my girls will sashay in, wearing bright red lipstick and daddy's flip flops and sing something like "Hear this: SISTER SUFFRAGETTE, So cast off the shackles of yesterday..." THIS is what I live for. It sounds like a country song. It may BE a country song. I am making up the words and melody as I type.

This is why I drag my "sleepy-headed-Mommadon'twannawakeup" body out of bed every day. This is why I am getting up tomorrow to run. These little people, and the man with whom I am raising them are my reason. For everything. I want what's best for them. Which means what's best for me. Because I have to stay alive to keep them alive. Not just with a pulse. But like, REALLY alive. So, I'm going to pray. I am going to drink the "Green Monsters" my girlfriend suggests. I am going to run (or at very least WALK BRISKLY) as often as I can. I am going to laugh. I am going to sing. I am going to dance. I am going to live each day like every second counts, Jack Bauer-style. Because it's over too quickly, children model your behavior and I don't want to teach my children to be grumpy old people. I want to learn from my children how to be spirited and young at heart.

So, this tell-all has become my therapy. Everyone's an author.