Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Horrible Mom

What is a horrible mom? Does she really exist? Is she inside of all of us moms, waiting for that moment of fatigue and irritability to reach an all time high so she can jump out and "shine"?

Aren't we all guilty of doing horrible things sometimes? Like, not letting the driver in the left lane with the furious blinking light come over into our lane because we're in such a rush to reach our destination or simply (and more horrible), we just don't feel like it. When we do that, we don't consider ourselves bad drivers, do we? We justify why we did it and move on (hopefully).

Somehow, mothering is the same yet so different. Shouldn't we be able to be more than what we do in moments? Yet sometimes those ever-important, miniscule moments can define our relationships with our offspring as well as shape the people we are or will be.

Is the mother who shakes her crying baby a horrible mother because she lost her temper in an instant? The world thinks so. However, as a mother of a previously colicky baby (and now whining preschooler), I know what it feels like to get lost in the insanity of it all. Sure, I didn't shake my baby, but admittedly, I thought about it. I don't condone child abuse. I do condone mother sensitivity. Sometimes these two overlap uncomfortably, but that's a story for another day.

In class, we learn that all humans are complex systems. Essentially this means that something that seems simple (the mom shaking the baby) really has more components than generally accepted or explored (the mom who shook the baby was dealing with post partum depression, the recent death of her spouse, threats of eviction and overall hopelessness). While complexity doesn't excuse behaviors, it certainly sheds new light on an otherwise dull situation.

I started this post because I have been battling emotions of feeling like a horrible mom. My 3-year old has started to request shows by name and often cries when I turn the televison off. This is new to me as he has just started really watching TV and now seems to be addicted to it. It's definitely my fault, right? I've started using the television as a babysitter more and more. I've got papers to do, job quotas to fill, dinners to make. But, my child couldn't care less about that stuff. He only knows that mom isn't jumping around with him and Dora any more because she's doing "ho-work" (as he calls it). He surely thinks I'm a horrible mother, right?

Does the fact that my children have 3 (mostly) homecooked meals and 2 snacks a day erase my intermittent neglect? Or does the fact that I snuggle and kiss and cuddle them for 30 minutes before bedtime while lavishing them with words of affirmation negate the fact that I sometimes ignore their "fights" and temper tantrums? Where is the line of horrible-ness drawn? And more importantly, have I crossed it?

**Deep Breath**

It's easy to compare ourselves to other moms and feel (wrongly) superior. It's also easy to look at our imagined motherly selves and compare it to the actual mother we have become and feel incredibly melancholy.

The truth is, I'm not better than the (real-life situation) mom who has 5 children with 4 different men, works part-time and receives a substantial amount of government assistance. I'm the same as her in that we're both doing the best that we can for our children in this given moment of time. And above all, we both love our children to the core of our being.

Today, I vow not to let motherhood guilt cause me to abandon my school work or hobbies. I vow to show my children that real mothers are human and flawed. I want them to know I have dreams and goals for myself, as well as for them. It's important that they know that while they are one of my greatest reasons for living, they are not the center of my world because God is. I vow today to present myself as a perfect imperfection--horrible only in small doses and best if taken with milk :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Forward Thinking

Fresh off of the heels of my oldest son's first ever organized sports "Draft Day", I am pumped! As I watched my little boy running, with all his might, across the gymnasium, I swelled with motherly pride. Not because he was terrific (even though he totally was), but because... he was mine.

He lined up obediently amongst the other rowdy 3 and 4 year olds, listened attentively to the coach, and performed the requested "drills". But, aside from that... he was mine. You see, sometimes, we don't appreciate our children for who they are as an independent entity, only for who they are at the moment. And let's be honest, there are moments when we just don't appreciate them at all, like the middle of the cereal aisle when they scream for the "one with the man on it!" and then increasingly louder when you reply "no".

Sadly, I sometimes forget that my kids were gifts from God. Packaged in adorable, occasionally snotty-nosed, loud, squirmy, whiny wrapping, but gifts nonetheless. He gave them to me to protect and provide for, but also to love and mainly to see Him through them.

The day-to-day struggles of non-naptimes and veggie bargaining and juice wars often consume my existence of what it's like to be a mom. But, today was different (well those few hours of soccer were anyway) and beautiful.

I watched my child be himself. I noticed how he talked to other preschoolers, high-fived random adults, and pumped his little arms to run as fast as he could. He was awesome in just being who God crafted him to be. I'd be dishonest if I said I wasn't a little proud of the fact that he could follow directions while being sociable and still manage to be one of the best behaved kids out there today because I definitely was. But, bigger than that, I was just proud to be his mom in the stands, watching him exist in his own skin.

I caught a glimpse of not only who he is now, but what kind of person he would be in a few years and I loved the sight of it. So even though I should be working right now (my deadline is in a few hours) or finishing up 2 assignments for school (due Monday), I chose to document how wonderful life is as a parent. Most days.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Never Enough

I just read a blog post that inspired me to do some critical thinking (yes, I'm a fancy grad student now, and that's all we do). It was a wonderfully insightful post, written by an incredible mother, Christian and philanthropist who I have the pleasure of knowing :-) Read "How to Measure Success of a Mother".

As I sit up in the wee hours of the morning (3:17am to be exact), hammering away at the keyboard and probing the deeps of my mind to come up with something particularly genius for my classmates and teacher to read, I also think about how much energy I will NOT have for my children when they wake up. Then I feel guilty. Then the self-motivating pep talk begins. I tell myself that I can do this because "nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37). I think back to when my boys were infants (seemingly not too long ago), screaming at all hours, with no regard for the time. In those days, sleep was stolen in haphazard patches in front of the television with one hand patting a back or holding a bottle and always cradling a baby. Yet, somehow I made it to work (granted that was my computer in the next room) on time and always met my quotas.

Despite the obvious triumphs of the past, I still struggle with feeling like I'm enough. I question my dedication to my family as I heat up a Stouffer's lasagna for dinner, rather than slaving over a stove to prepare them a home-cooked meal. I debate my commitment to school as I do homework to the sounds of crying/laughing (because sometimes it's difficult to know the difference) and the NFL game playing in the background. I examine my devotion to my marriage as I choose to let the idiocy of reality television wash over me, rather than share intimate conversation with my husband. Looking around at the hurricane that is my life, I have the impression that I can be swept away at any unpredictable moment. I am clearly not enough.

But, thankfully I know who is.

I know a God who is made strong in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) therefore, I'm really not that weak, am I?

We humans (especially moms) like to think that we can do it all. We undertake so many responsibilities, we strive for perfection. We fail. We can't do it all on our own. God wants us to rest in our imperfections, so that He gets the glory for our success. Unfortunately, sometimes that means we have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death first.

Like my precious, fragile toddler having a seizure, blue lips and eyes rolled back, unresponsive, unconscious and me with no immediate transportation... BUT GOD steps in. He proved that no amount of CPR and parenting classes could save me in that moment. Only He could. I was not enough.

As my oldest son lashes out in frustration at his younger brother with a shove and exclaiming "I said, don't do that! You are so disobedient!" or giggles when he burps, rather than excusing himself, I sadly realize I am not enough to raise my rowdy boys into kind, mannerable men. I have to rely on God to mold them into His image, in His time (but seriously, any day now God).

The pressures of this life are difficult enough, without feeling like you're doing it all on your own. We have spouses and friends and community groups, but in those wee hours of the morning when our eyelids threaten to close and the to-do list stares menacingly at you, it is then that we truly feel alone. It is also then that we are most in-sync with God, despite that sinking feeling that rests in the pit of our stomach. In those solitary moments, those times we most want to quit and wonder why we even started, that's where God resides. He lives in those junctures of time when our failures illuminate his prowess. It is when we are truly isolated from the distractions of the world that we can see and hear Him clearly.

He never leaves us, but often we leave Him, thinking we can handle things by ourselves. We can't.

When I cry, confused and afraid, praying over my husband's heart condition, He hears me.

When me children disobey me and I harshly reprimand them, then question if I did the right thing, He comforts me.

When dishes pile up in the sink, laundry overflows from every basket in the house, homework sits undone, emails unanswered, family unfed, He breathes through me and somehow it all gets done.

I am not enough and contrary to what I think at times, I never will be. But He always is and I relax and rejoice in that.

*** This song has been on heavy rotation in my head for the past few days and it seems so appropriate to this topic, so I thought I'd share. "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North***

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back at It

I have been an awesome blogger lately! I've told you all about the joys of potty training my almost 2 year old, which involves lots of bodily excrement on the carpets and floors. Then there's my impending move to South Georgia (bleh, who'd wanna go further south, right?) in a few months. I've also mentioned starting school for my MSW (masters of social work) degree and how much I feel inferior to my classmates because I'm "only" a stay-at-home mom, who doesn't exactly use that first degree I have. That last one requires a post all on it's own and I promise it's coming, though I can neither confirm nor deny if that will come sooner rather than later. I've surely also mentioned my hubby's health scares...

Wait, I haven't? I haven't blogged about ANY of that? The words are so vivid in my head. I remember coming up with cute, catchy phrases and everything... But then again, I also remember staring at a blank computer screen and saying "tomorrow" before going to bed or becoming engrossed in a reality show or 3 (don't judge me).

So, what you're saying is, I've been an awful blogger? My apologies. To my few loyal readers, but mainly to myself. I enjoy writing, but I've discovered I'm a pen and paper type of girl. The computer holds so many distractions and lately I've noticed I'm an easy target for distractions of any kind.

Anyway, all of the above notwithstanding (especially that potty training stuff, yuck), life's been good this past month. With the help of God, my family has made some major decisions. And as a result, in my personal devotion/meditation time I'm currently studying FAITH. We all know what it is, but walking in it is so totally different.

One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King Jr. "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." S-C-A-R-Y! I cannot even imagine walking down an actual flight of stairs when I can't see the whole staircase; I trip down the stairs plenty as it is now! However, I know that in life, I've done that very thing. I don't recall ever making as big a life decision as moving 200 miles away from my extremely supportive family and friends. Some might say marriage, but for me it was a very simple decision. Even having children, once faced with the option, was an easy choice. Moving, however exciting it may be, is proving to require a huge leap of faith. Sorry to be cliche, but they are tried and true phrases for a reason.

In dealing with my faith, I think about Peter walking on water with Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33). As soon as he started to question himself and his faith and his God, he began to sink. It's when we take our eyes off of Jesus, that we begin to use worldly knowledge to try to explain things. And most times, that worldly knowledge means nothing and leaves us doubting our sure thing, which is God's love and perfect timing.

I could go on and on about faith, but I'll leave you with these verses in the hopes that it will comfort those going through faith struggles with me. Press on, people!

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

2 Corinthians 5:7

We live by faith, not by sight.

1 Peter 1:7

These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Corinthians 2:5

so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

Luke 17:6

He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I'm Loving!

  Here's the latest edition of the "I'm Loving" positive thinking exercise. Writing this usually helps me to be more grateful for all of the awesomeness that fills my life.

  I'm Loving that I have plans for the next 3 weekends! Some people might see that as an annoyance, my husband included, but as a stay-at-home mom, there are rare opportunities for adult interaction and getting away from the little angels to let my non-mommy flag fly. I'm super excited about my school orientation, family birthday party and wine tasting event. Let the fun begin!

  I'm Loving that my oldest son thinks it's his responsibility to potty-train his brother. He's so cute when he encourages him to "pee-pee on the potty" and claps at his minor accomplishments. He takes such pride in helping his brother become a big boy. And even when it leads to spilled urine on the bathroom floor, I still remember the cute face and potty dance that came before it and can't help but to smile (most times).

  I'm Loving hearing the voice of my youngest son. He is a 2 and 3 word sentence talker now. Everyday he says new things that surprise me. The first thing was "more cookie" then later that day it was "high five". He's now moved on to "where daddy" and "No! Mine!" which is definitely not my favorite. His voice is so different from his brother's and I love the fact that I can tell what's happening in another room just by their evolving tones, cadences and words.

  I'm Loving that my oldest son's favorite songs to request these days are Christian songs! This is a huge milestone for him. I wrote previously about his love for secular music and stubbornness towards new music. Now, he's a totally different kid in that regard. I hear him in the bathroom singing "how great is our God" and I can't contain my joy. He often asks "what's so funny, mom?" when I start smiling at his sweet singing. While we still dabble in a few mommy-approved secular songs, we primarily listen to Christian music and he loves it. I love that he loves it!

  I'm Loving summer. I never thought I'd say that. I hate bugs, dirt, getting sweaty, and generally everything associated with summer. But as mentioned on previous posts, kids can change ya! So far this summer we have enjoyed gardening, going to water parks, playing in water in the back yard, having a picnic, watching fireworks, sidewalk chalking and painting outside. The heat wave was unbearable because we were forced to stay inside for a few miserable days. While I'm still not fond of all things outdoors, I definitely love it more than ever before in my life (girl scout camping days included) and I don't dread it at all.

  I'm Loving having inspiration to write. I love to write. I compose poems and songs all the time in my head and even aloud with my kids sometimes, but I hardly ever have time or real motivation to get them on paper-- until recently. Last week I had a dream that I was captured by. When I woke up, I was still entranced by the characters and their story. I was inspired to write it down. I formulated a plan and I feel so exhilerated by the thought of what it could be! Writing a novel isn't easy work (I've started one before) but I'm excited about the new path that I think my writing is taking. It's always been my desire to publish a book and I think getting this vivid dream out of me and onto paper will get me to that goal. Keep me in your prayers, as trying to write a grocery list is hard enough to find time to do around my house!

 I'm Loving lots of things, but most pressing right now is my love of sleep! So at nearly 2am, I bid you all goodnight/morning as I go lay down. I hope to dream and gain more insight into novel!


So It Was Just Me?!

    Today was my kiddies first trip to the dentist. After getting over the fact that my 3 year old was long overdo for the visit (yes, I know I'm a horrible mother), I also had to tackle one of my other issues. Ranking right after my irrational fear of fish (living or dead) is my fear of the dentist/dentist offices.    As a mother there are some phobias and general unpleasantness that you just have to face for the betterment of your children. For me, it began as early as birth with the decision to hold or not hold my bloody, mucus-stained infant fresh from the womb. Then it progressed to catching snot with my bare hands (I still shudder at the memories), cleaning up vomit and the dreaded complete grossness that is potty training.
    I had a month to prepare the family for the dentist trip. I explained everything that I could remember about the dentist to my preschooler and simultaneously tried to hide my humongous fear.
   When we got there, the place was pleasant enough but smelled sterile. You know the smell. Clean machinery, disinfectants, needles and drills. Okay, so maybe needles and drills don't have an exact smell in reality, but in my head they certainly do.
   As I filled out paperwork, I tried not to gag at the smell. I smiled at my children and reassured them that everything was going to be fine and that they would love the dentist. And though I didn't disbelieve it, I didn't wholeheartedly believe it either. But maybe I should have.
  When I was told that my oldest child had to get x-rays done, I prepared for a screaming fit. After all, he is the drama prince that throws himself on the kitchen floor if I give him the blue cup instead of the green one. Well, let me tell you, he shocked the heck out of me.
   Though skeptical of the "superman cape" x-ray shield, he didn't show fear. He even smiled at little at the wonderful technician as she asked him about his favorite toys. As I watched him make it through his first cleaning like a champ, I swear I almost cried. Happy tears. Tears of pride. It was such a weird feeling. It wasn't like he'd won the Nobel Peace Prize or anything, but I was beaming like he had. I couldn't stop myself from grinning. Every staff member that walked by asked "it's their first time?" Apparently there's a "it's my kid's first trip to the dentist" face and I was wearing it.
   My youngest son bit the dentist (well really just nipped her a bit), but that's nothing compared to the wrestling match I thought it would be.
   Overall, it was a wonderful trip. I'd begged my husband to come along for moral support and to be an extra wrangler, if needed. It turned out that I was the only one that needed wrangling. I was the one that needed to be talked to in low, soothing sounds and reminded that it was "okay". It was just me that was afraid of the dentist and all that entailed. My kids were brave. They inspired me.
 Now, I'm not exactly rushing to the phone to make my appointment, but I'm seriously contemplating it thanks to my little warriors. It's amazing what kids can make you think and rethink.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crying Over Spilled Lemonade

  So, we know we shouldn't cry over spilled milk, but what about expensive and delicious lemonade? People who live in the South understand how we cherish our Chick-fil-a; they didn't invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich. And it is the simplest, yummiest fast food chicken sandwich EVER. But, aside from that, they're also know for their "fresh squeezed" lemonade. I use quotes because, although there are fresh bits of lemon in the cup and each lemonade trip yields a different sour/sweet ratio, like homemade lemonade would, it's fast food, so it can't truly be trusted. Anyway, their lemonade, like their peanut oil fried chicken is awesome. I've often gone there just to get the delicious drink. If you live in the south and have never been... really, are you insane?! And if you live in a state that the franchise has yet to migrate to... I'm sorry and keep hope alive.

  Since I was out today, enjoying (or rather not enjoying at all) the Atlanta heatwave, I decided to indulge myself in the scrumptuous though empty caloric beverage. I took a few satisfying sips in the car, but told myself to wait until I was home to fully enjoy it. Once home, my oldest son was instructed to take his shoes off, as I took off the shoes of my younger child. What happens next is still blurry. I vaguely remember hearing him say he had to potty. Then I remember hearing my drink crash to the floor and feeling the cold sticky liquid splash on my legs. It was as if the room stood still for a few seconds as my brain processed the enormity of the situation. My sons looked at me, waiting for what they knew was coming. Somebody was getting in trouble and they both knew it.

  I took a deep breath in, to try to calm myself, but when I exhaled "Oh MY GoSH! LOOK WHAT YOU DID! YOU HAVE TO BE MORE CAREFUL! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST SPILLED MY DRINK!" is what came out instead of the serenity we'd all been hoping for. Partly due to exhaustion (it was mid afternoon and he hadn't had his rest time yet) and the heat of the day and partly due to his full bladder that had been put on hold, my 3 year old started to cry. Instead of being the empathetic mother I'm sure I thought I would be before I had children, I became angry. I thought "how dare he cry, when he hasn't lost anything?! It's MY drink on the ground! MY money wasted!"

  After changing wet clothes and wiping up a huge mess, I got to thinking about the situation. I had been so wrong. I felt so bad for the way I'd treated my child over something so insignificant. After all, he is a child. They make mistakes, they spill things, they mess up. He hadn't spilled my drink on purpose; it had been an accident. Then I thought about God and what He must think of the way I handled the situation. Now, I felt really awful. Not only was I not the kind of parent that He wanted to be in that instant, I wasn't the kind of parent that he modeled all the time for me.

  When I mess up (and it's obvious that that's quite often), He doesn't yell at me or reprimand me. Sure there are natural consequences to some of my actions, but He doesn't just let his wrath reign. He is patient and kind and loving and peaceful. He understands mistakes and only asks that we acknowledge them, ask for forgiveness and repent. He would never freak out over spilled lemonade. Truth be told, I've spilled my share of God's amazing drinks and yet here I sit, typing, still as blessed as ever.

  I suddenly feel the need to pray.

  "Father, forgive me. Help me to display the love and forgiveness that you represent and bestow on me everyday. Help me to remember who You are and what You would have me to do in every one of life's sticky situations. Please help my son to forgive me for my anger. Thank you for blessing me beyond what I ask for and for not giving me what I deserve. Thank you in advance for molding me into the woman and mother You want me to be. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Friday, June 22, 2012


Sometimes it's hard to believe that I don't have babies any more. In my mind, they're still so fragile and needy, but in reality, they have been on this planet long enough to have learned some things. They can even say "been there, done that" for a number of things. And today we added to that list.

While it's nostalgic to look at their baby pics, it's exciting to look to the future and all the things we'll be able to do.

We went to a water park! Yes, my little boys are old enough to venture to a water park. I'm still shocked at the realization. It wasn't a full blown amusement park or anything; more like a recreation center with small wading pools and fountains and water slides. And it was awesome.

My 19 month old gave me a glimpse into his future as a teenager and boy was it scary! He was absolutely fearless. Once he adjusted to the cold water and the bigger kids splashing him by accident, he played for hours. Most times he didn't even know where I was in relation to him. He was lost in the atmosphere and loving it. He climbed up the stairs, where he was pelted with shower-like water sprays and even attempted to go down a slide, which was entirely out of the question as far as I was concerned. I had to wrestle him down from the slide area several times, which was met by much kicking and screaming. When he would fall down into the 1 inch of water, he would emerge shaken, but ecstatic--- a true thrill seeker. He made many acquaintances with elementary school aged kids who were amazed by his bravery (foolishness) and wanted to talk to "the baby". He walked around the park like he owned the place, complete with his hands on his hips and pointing at random people and things. He gawked and frowned at the rowdy teenagers on the huge water slides, all the while seeming to try to figure out how he could get into the 5 foot deep pool with them. I  immediately made a mental note to get him into swim lessons ASAP.

Among conquering all things water, he also enjoyed/devoured his first corndog (I figured I could let them indulge in a new junk food to go with a new experience) and cried when it was done; a slight sign that he may still be a baby after all.

My 3 year old was more timid and immensely unappreciative of the aforementioned splashers. He screamed and promptly ran out of the water. I quickly had flashbacks to his trip to Centennial Olympic Park last summer, where he refused (in the form of shrieking and crying) to go near the sprinkling water even though he had been talking about and looking forward to it it for weeks. I was disappointed and wondered how I would be able to keep an eye on the newly discovered fish out of water and the cat refusing to get into the water. Soon my fears were eased as the courage of the 19 month old prompted the 3 year old to find his own inner strength. They began to play together, running and splashing and warming my heart. At home, I am always in the role of the referee because they are rarely ever playing nicely together, as both are in the stages of "mine". At the aquatic center, it was the complete opposite. I basked in the love and care they displayed for each other, holding hands and sharing giggles, not knowing when I would see this side of them again. I was grateful for the blessing of their brotherhood, both for them and myself.

I clearly enjoyed the cold water in the 90+ degree weather, getting more wet then I had intended (a trip to the hair salon is now desperately needed), but it was all worth it. Not only did I get a rare look at the intricate pieces of the personalities of my little ones, I also got a bite of junk food :-) I am already planning my next trip there and praying for God to show me the same grace, so that it can be another memorable outing. Oh, and I hope I actually get non-blurry, smiling simultaneously photos too... too much to ask? Maybe, but   So, here's to hoping God sees the value in helping me fill my scrapbook!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Mustard Seed

Many Christians are familiar with the verse that says "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." -Luke 17:6. We understand the general sentiment of having just enough belief to be able to make a connection with God, who can make things happen for us. We get and appreciate the concept of giving a little to get a lot. Who wouldn't?

I don't exactly know what a mustard seed looks like, but as an experienced gardener (for all of 3 months now), I do know what a typical seed looks like and let me tell you, it's tiny. As I was planting my veggie garden, I actually mixed seeds by accident (yes, that's how experienced I am) because they were so small I couldn't hold onto them and they just fell into the soil. Imagine a fleck of dandruff on your shirt (not that you have any, but I'm sure you've seen people who do), it's just that small. Sometimes, I just can't fathom why God doesn't demand more of us. He only asks us to have the faith of a mustard seed! Then says that that infinitesimal amount of faith can give us the power to move metaphorical trees. That's some crazy, loving grace right there.

But, most aren't so familiar with a related verse I came across yesterday (and when I say "most" I'm totally just talking about myself). Matthew 13:32 reads, "Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." He's referring to the mustard seed again in this verse. However, now we learn something new about it. Since the connection has already been made between our faith and a mustard seed, I can't help but apply the new knowledge to the old scenario. If mustard seed faith can move trees, what can mustard tree faith do?!

Maybe Jesus wasn't so crazy in accepting mustard seed faith from his believers. He, being the omniscient God that He is, knew that even something as seemingly insignificant as a seed could flower into something useful, incredible, meaningful. The mustard seed becomes shelter for birds, whereas the other seeds don't. While we don't know what those other seeds became, we know they weren't as great as what became of the mustard seed. That could be paralleled in a couple of ways.

     1. The most obvious way is our faith. Our faith can grow just like that seed. Even if at first we falter in our belief, question God and his will and maybe even turn away from Him, if we hold on to a small amount of faith and persevere, we can come out on top. Our faith in God can grow from our experiences with Him. Just like an actual seed, the RAIN of financial difficulties, relational problems and emotional well being mixed with the SUNSHINE of love, contentment and laughter can grow us into awesome trees too. Maybe our tree provides encouragement for our children, hope for our friends and family or love for people who we don't even know. Every tree provides something unique, yet needed. Whatever the case, our minute amount of faith in a God that is greater than all circumstances can develop into a faith that can harness some of that greatness for ourselves.
     2. A less obvious way is as a person. Sometimes we see other people's seeds and assume what their plant will look like or vice versa. For instance, we assume a beautiful woman (seed) will have no problem finding a suitable spouse and bearing equally beautiful children (tree). Sometimes, we see people in church, maybe singing on the choir or teaching Sunday school (tree) and we assume they've got it all together. We may get down on ourselves, believing they had a better seed than we did or wondering why our plant isn't flowering like theirs. But truthfully, we have no clue. Sure they sing in the choir, but maybe God wants you to lead the choir. Maybe they teach Sunday school, but the tree God has planned for you will be running the whole Sunday school department.
     I say all of that to say that we should all be concerned with taking care of our own seed. Making sure that we're utilizing our God-given abilities (seed) the best way we can. We don't know if we're made to be a flowering bush, a fruitful plant, or a sheltering tree, but we'll never find out if we don't tend to our seed. Even if we don't seem as fast or as smart or as talented as others around us, that doesn't mean that we won't be something spectacularly necessary to someone.

God has a plan for all of us. His will for us isn't always easy to understand (okay, let's be honest, it hardly ever is) but it's always for our best. He asks that we trust Him, in the measurement of a mustard seed, and see what happens next. Are you up for the task?

I'm off to go water my garden :-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


It feels like it's been forever since I last posted. It's only actually been 10ish days. When I began this blog, it was as a challenge to myself to write every day... I am so failing that challenge. But, it's been for a good and not so good reason.

I've been out LIVING! I've traveled the world (okay, so not the world exactly, but another city besides my own), eaten great food and laughed a lot. I visited my undergrad university town with my cousin and one of my best friends and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The kids were with grandparents and godparents, so I really enjoyed that too :-) I took several trips down memory lane and also discovered that some of those lanes were somehow empty! I realized that while I remembered and held on to lots of things from college, I'd also forgotten a ton of things about those days. Who could forget the best sandwich shop in the city? Definitely not me. Who could forget the graduation plaque with graduates names listed on it? Definitely me, especially since I apparently did not contribute to it, therefore my name was not even on it. Anyway, it was an awesome trip, filled with lots of cute GA Bulldog gear that was calling my wallet's name but regardless of that, I can't wait to go back. I'm super excited that I'll be going back very often since my cousin is moving there!

And on the not so good side, my phone was lost and then stolen. I felt so incomplete without having technology at my fingertips (so sad). I felt disconnected from the world and in turn I disconnected myself from my family (momentarily) as I mourned my phone. Crazy, I know. I got over it quickly (well more adequately, the phone was replaced quickly) and was able to see the value in not having technology be so accessible. My kids had more of my attention and I read things that were not printed online, like an actual magazine!

Now life is back to normal; our normal. So I should be able to uphold my promise to myself. We'll see...

Friday, June 1, 2012

I'm Loving

OK, so I borrowed the concept of this post from another blog and I'm so embarrassed to say I don't even remember the name of it, so I can't link it to here :-( If you're reading, please forgive me and comment so that I can link your page!

Anyway, it's all about what I LOVE right now. It's an exercise in thinking positive. If we focus on all the positives that are in our lives, we can overlook (or at least be more optimistic about) the negative things. So, here goes!

I'm loving that my 3 year old is actually napping right now... well at least I don't hear any breaking glass or thudding footsteps coming from upstairs, so I just like to assume he's asleep.

I'm loving my new Fruit Ninja blender/food processor! I got it on Monday and have already blended up 5 healthy drinks (none of which that stubborn 3 year old drank) and I'm working on a puree to add to spaghetti sauce for dinner. It is awesome!

I'm loving that my 18 month old is now saying "Bless you" when someone sneezes or coughs (even if it's a fake cough/sneeze by the aforementioned 3 year old). He is also saying "excuse you" when someone burps, which is hilarious. I am also loving the fact that he hasn't started saying "NO" yet, only "uh un" which is so much easier to handle.

I'm loving my new Gevalia coffee maker that I got for only $9.99, including 2 boxes of coffee and tea! I'm convinced that there's nothing better to wake up to than the scent of coffee brewing. The special may still be running so click here to get yours! And, please don't mention the fact that I'm in total housewife mode right now due to my love of two appliances! Life happens...

I'm loving the website It's for book lovers everywhere to unite! You can rate books & connect with authors, as well as find new and interesting books to read. Don't ask me how, but I've already finished 1.5 books this week and currently reading two more.

Which reminds me, I'm loving my Kindle Touch! I've had it since January (it has turned out to be the BEST birthday present in the whole history of my life LOL) and have already read over 50 books. Honestly, that's more books than I read in all of last year (baby manuals and cook books included).

I'm loving the white chocolate almonds my parents brought me back from their anniversary vacation to Savannah, GA. Soooo rich and smooth... I'm heading to get some just as soon as I finished typing. They are so good that I've hidden them from the hubby and the boys (no joking).

I'm loving how positive I'm feeling about life and love after being baptized on Sunday with my husband. God is good!

I'm loving that I will be going to visit my alma mater UGA on Monday to give my cousin a tour of Athens, Ga and also to take a walk down memory lane. I'm super excited!

I'm sure I'm loving so much more things right now, but I'm feeling great after just going through those, so I'll stop here.

I hope you'll take time out to recognize your love for both the big and small things today :-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Get Thee Behind!

Doesn't the devil ever take a break?!

I think he doesn't. I mean his "kingdom" depends on how much unrest and strife he can bring to the world.

My husband and I were baptized together on Sunday. This was a big deal for us and our family. It meant a lot to us as believers in God. We were dipped in a pool of average, non-magical water, but came up as new creations of the Lord. It's probably a strange ritual to unbelievers, because although it has been blessed by a man of God, our awesome partor, it's still just regular water. The feeling can't be put into words to accurately describe the transformation, but it's real.

The devil must know it's real too and he doesn't like it. His desire is that "your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ." -2 Corinthians 11:3. And what could be more of an outward testament to that devotion to God than baptism? Right now, the devil is really mad at my household and he's coming after us.

Several small arguments have erupted in my house since Sunday (and yes today is only Tuesday), as well as a few trips down memory lane in the form of ex's crossing our paths. The devil is working overtime, with the hope of his paycheck being in the form of our downfall.

Despite these things, I feel strong, because I know that ultimately he will be defeated by my God. My God doesn't like when the devil messes with his children (like any awesome parent) and He will always have the last word.

So, in the meantime, I have to remember that victory is mine and "no weapon formed against me shall prosper" -Isaiah 54:7. The daily walk of striving to be Christ-like is filled with little traps of the world trying to seduce me to "have fun" and let loose; take a walk on the wild side. Then the wild side becomes the dark side, the devil's house. It's like a scary movie where the windows and doors are unable to be unlocked from inside; you're trapped (insert horror movie music and shuddering here).

Being kind to people and serving in church ministries and spending time with my family are my idea of fun. Being a Christian doesn't mean I'm boring or uptight, it means I have my priorities in order. It also doesn't mean that I don't make mistakes, argue with my husband, resist to forgive others, become jealous or angry, but it does mean that I'm human.

"...despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us" ~Romans 8:37.

So , I leave you with this last verse and hope that you too will fight against those things that threaten to separate you from God.

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints." ~Ephesians 6:11-18

Friday, May 18, 2012

For My Baby

So today marks a milestone for my youngest son. Many people don't think of 18 months as anything special or important and in the grand scheme of a life counted in years, it's not, but to a mom it's everything. It's that very narrow window between infancy and preschool. It should be recognized... or at least blogged about.

When I discovered I was pregnant for the second time I was filled with the normal human emotions, very similar to getting offered a new job, buying a house etc. I knew my life was about to change and I was oscillating between freaking out and rejoicing. And to be honest, I was mostly stuck on freaking out.

Thing 1 had just turned a year old, I had just started a new job and life was finally starting to settle down. I was just getting use to being a mom of one, only to discover I'd be adding another to that.

Foolishly, my biggest fear was that I couldn't love another little human being the way I loved my first born. I didn't feel I had anything left to give to a baby. I didn't fear tandem feedings, double diaper duty, the financial strain or even 2 car seats (okay actually I did have many tearful meltdowns over the thought of no longer having a backseat because of the car seats that would be occupying the space) as much as I was afraid of disappointing my unborn child. What I feared most was that my new baby wouldn't feel loved by his mother. Such an irrational fear, I realize now, but at the time it was debilitating.

Anyway, I prayed and prayed that God would expand my capacity to love. I believe He heard me, but more likely I already had it in me and just didn't know. I hadn't needed to know until "such a time as this"; God's timing is truly amazing.

But, as usual, I digress.

This post is supposed to be dedicated to my little angel. Like literally, he is a total gift from God.

His smile makes me smile, even when he's breaking the rules.

He loves to sleep and I am totally cool with that!

His appetite for healthy food (though that is quickly changing) and cuddles from mommy is never-ending.

The way he "runs" is just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. I say it reminds me of 62 year old male wedding planner. Random, but hilarious and so true.

He is content playing with his brother, but also, more importantly by himself.

I am the most important person to him (unless brother is in the room).

And when he cries, I know something serious has happened.

He brought a spark to our family and completed us (yes, husband if you're reading this, I did say COMPLETE). I love him for not only the person that he already is, but for the person he has made me. 

At 18 months he: grins as he sits on the potty (and does nothing else), is thankfully still too short to reach the doorknobs, understands and responds with raucous laughter to all of his brother's jokes, points and calls random things "car" or "pio" (which nobody in the family can define), loves reclining his car seat, just got his first haircut, eats unidentifiable objects off of the floor, hates barking/growling dogs, thinks kisses should always be by accompanied with a "bye bye" hand wave, has a mouth full of teeth that he's not afraid to use and (saving the best for last) he squeezes his eyes shut and throws his head back to laugh when something is particularly amusing.

He has recently started throwing full-out, on the floor screaming tantrums, complete with rolling around. In 6 months he will be completely unrecognizable, as he will be a member of that toddler army that I want nothing to do with.
But, in the meantime, I couldn't love this kid more if I tried and I pray that one day he will know that firsthand (and reward me accordingly). He is my small breath of fresh air in a very polluted world. There is currently a tie for my favorite child, but since it's his half birthday, I'll let him have the title today :-)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scary Thought

What if God treated us the way we treat other people? I mean, we all know the "golden rule" of do unto others as we would have them do unto us, but what if instead of them doing unto us, God did?

So, for me that would be like Him ignoring my biggest, most incredible prayer requests the way I ignore my kids constant requests for snacks before dinner or juice before bed. I don't think I could deal with that. Scratch that, I KNOW I couldn't deal with that.

I need the hope of a prayer being heard and answered. I need to be able to lean on the promise of "seek and you shall find" (Matthew 7:7). I need to be able to rest on the truth of "peace that surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).

But what if, because of the way I treat my kids on those really rough days (or okay, just because I'm tired), He decided to do the same to me? What if my actions towards other people directly influenced His actions towards me? What if those promises and proclamations made in the Bible were stripped from me because of my lackluster and sometimes downright mean behavior?

Can you imagine if He gave us what we deserved whenever we did something less than nice? So, instead of the 3 minute time-outs that are commonplace at my house, there could be sudden 27 (insert your age here) minute thunderstorm during which you're locked outside of your house with fresh salon hair and no spare key. And that would be for a "minor" offense, like not tipping your waitress and instead leaving her a note with all of the reasons why she didn't get a tip (I know someone who really does that). We are talking about the God of the universe here, so the possibilities are endless.

This is where I thank God for his grace, mercy and love. This is where I ask Him for forgiveness for my selfishness, impatience and intolerance. This is where I kiss my kids and promise myself to treat them better, even when they don't "deserve" it.

This is also where I make a mental note to always keep an umbrella with me :-)

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you..." ~Matthew 7:12

"Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people." ~Colossians 2:23

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Broken Record

Between telling my 3 year old not to climb on the sofa, yank on the blinds, jump on his brother, kick the ball in the house, use his outside voice while inside, throw food on the floor, take toys from his brother, push his brother, open the refrigerator and eat things without permission, bang on mommy's computer, call 9-1-1 from mommy's phone, unlock and open the front door, ride his bike over the toes of people around him, pour his beverage on the floor, climb on the table, play with soap and water in the bathroom sink, tear up his flashcards into itty bitty pieces and scatter them across the house, use his books to slide himself across the carpet, jump on his bed.... wait what was I saying?

Oh yea, I was saying I feel like a broken record (and a nag). Between the aforementioned list of don'ts for my older child and protecting my younger child from the inevitable disobedience of his brother, I feel like I'm always "on". There's truly never a dull moment in my house. Sometimes, this is a good thing and I laugh very often while I'm with my kids, but sometimes I wonder "what's the point?" Should I just let them run free since it seems my words have little impact on their actions anyway?

We all know how annoying it sounds when a cd skips. I can only imagine that I sound exponentially worse than that to my kids, with all of my constant safety and morality reminders. 

What's a mom to do?!

My husband says I've become a hippie mom, or at least what he would imagine one would be like. As opposed to the stickler for rules I once use to be, he says I seem to ignore the children's antics and spills, as if they're not even happening. I laughed. Then I realized how true his statement was.

It's just so much easier to let the laissez-fare parenting style takeover. The same one I vowed I'd never be, back when I was a judgemental non-parent. The more organized, rule oriented one (and of course I can't remember the name of that one right now because my kid is climbing on my chair and trying to ride me or the chair like a "horsey") was definitely my choice, as if you really have one when the time actually comes.

Sometimes we can predict and plan for the ways in which we'll grow or change, but this I never imagined!

The little angels are currently pulling the sofa pillows onto the floor and jumping on them. If my husband was here, he'd be having a fit, something he never use to do before. He's not here, so I'm breathing for a change, watching them through the sides of my eyes (careful not to let them see me watching them break the rules), enjoying their adorable giggles, and waiting for someone to get accidentally kicked in the head so I can give the 2 minute clean-up warning and begin playing my scratchy record all over again.

Monday, May 14, 2012


I haven't written because my mind has been so clouded lately, but why? When I stop to think of all the other things that are sure to be going on in other people's lives (my cousin is moving from Chicago to Athens, Ga for school, my bff is graduating from law school in 2 weeks, my cousin is having a sweet 16 party...) I wonder what makes my vision so cloudy. I'm just a stay at home mom. Sure, I'm preparing to start my MSW program in August, but that's only online. Sure I'm fervently praying for my sister to... come out of the darkness (putting it lightly). Sure I'm working on my resume, potty training, synchronizing doctor's appointments, clipping coupons, reorganizing my home for my step-child's potential summer visit, but that just doesn't seem important enough.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. The day when we are to celebrate the person who gave us life or brought life to a person we love. I spent most of the day with my 2 blessings, enjoying them, enjoying me. What could be more important than that? Being a mom is the most important job I'll ever have and frankly, I'm nervous that I'll screw it up. Yes, 3 years in and I'm still nervous. Of course I recognize my proficiency in diaper changing and balanced meal-making, but the bigger stuff (like morality, kindness and love for Jesus) scare me!

My mind is constantly working. Planning meals, playdates, art activities... maybe so I don't have time to wonder if I am in fact making a mess of my kids. My mind is cloudy because I am a mother. A praying, worrying, disciplining, praying, playing, dancing, cooking, laughing, singing, praying mother. So, it seems my mind is cloudy for good reason. And maybe that good reason is because I'm a good (enough) mother. Maybe.

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Fruit

During my devotional time for the past week, I've been reading Matthew (don't ask about what happened with Thessalonians, that is a whole other blog post) and really enjoying it. Of course I've read Matthew before, as it is a very popular book of the Bible. It's straightforward, easy to read and even funny at times (or is that just me?). It's full of literary metaphors and similes, which I love, but also has some regular dialogue too. Every time I reread it (or any other Bible verse/chapter) I get something different out of it.

"Therefore, by their fruits, you shall know them." -Matthew 7:20; New King James Version.

"Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, you can identify a person by their actions."Matt 7:20; New Living Translation.

This verse really spoke to me today. Like most things recently (as in the past 3 years that I've been a mom), it made me think of my kids. Afterall, they are my literal fruit.

When we're out at the mall and my oldest says "bless you" when someone sneezes, that's a reflection of what I've taught him. Unfortunately, it's also a reflection of me when he says "shake that booty" and dances around the room. (Hey, don't judge me, it's super cute to hear/see him do it!)

Our fruit is whatever we put out; our actions, words, deeds. And our little carbon copies pick up on all of it. They learn to lie from us (telling someone on the phone that you're making dinner, but you're really watching TV), they learn acceptable behavior from us (not wanting to be in time-out all the time can do that) and everything in between. The biggest things they get from us are the things we don't want them to pick up on. The inadvertent (and of course very rare) curse that escapes our lips when we stub our toe on the coffee table for the third time, the anger that erupts when we find a new Popsicle stain on the carpet, the eye rolling and sarcasm that emerge during a conversation with the spouse... yes, parent are to blame for it all!

But, on a positive note, they can also glean some good stuff too. Like, seeing what love is from the kiss and hug your spouse receives as he leaves or enters the house, learning what it means to be kind by saying nice things to neighbors or friends or making special gifts for other's birthdays.

Actual fruits start as seeds, grow from tree limbs, are plucked and eaten, then used by the body for energy. The same could loosely be said for our own fruit.

When we first begin trying to bear good fruit rather than bad fruit (doing/saying positive things rather than negative things), it's just a seed; just a small thought or action that nobody notices but you. Once it finally blossoms into full-grown acts of kindness and words of encouragement to others, it's ready for picking. Helping the elderly neighbor with her groceries or volunteering to babysit for a tired, stressed friend are how our fruits can manifest. When we choose to bear good fruit, we have an opportunity to lift someones spirits, give them a little boost of energy that they may have been in need of to get them through.

So, while Jesus was probably referring to the bigger picture of a lifetime of good fruits, I think the smaller picture of conscious good fruits on a daily basis can help us reach that goal. And knowing we have little eyes watching us (or at least I do), waiting to reenact our every private moment... well that's even more motivation to be a tree that bears good fruit, so that they too can bear good fruit in their own time.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Standing Up To Pee (and other things I'm not ready for)

Andrew is officially a big guy now. Ever since his 4 year old cousin, Cam, spent the weekend with us, he has been refusing to sit down to potty. Cam must've opened Andrew's eyes to the bright side (and by bright side, I refer to the splotches of yellow that reside on my toilet seat when he's done. Gross but true.) He has been very proudly lifting the toilet seat and standing to do his business. At first it was cute and funny to watch his pelvic thrusts. Now that I realize it's permanent, it saddens me. I mean, he's one step closer to the prom... Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration of sorts, but that's how I feel.

As a mom, you're prepared for the emotional things like the first haircut or day of school, but nobody warned me about my son standing to pee. What happened to my little guy who could barely climb onto the adult toilet, let alone stand to do so? He doesn't need or want help with so many day-to-day tasks, which is generally very helpful, but now I'm feeling a bit nostalgic for those times. I'm insane, I know.

Yes, I still have a little one that I do everything for, but this reminds me that there will come a day when he too will yell "Privacy Please!" as he goes into the bathroom and shuts the door. I don't want the reminder. I want them to grow up eventually, but not so blatantly. Like, why can't there just be subtle inches of growth, like the cucumbers in my garden? It seems my oldest son just bloomed all at once. And yes, all of this from something as natural as using the bathroom.

I'm not ready.

Today, I looked at my younger child as he closed the bathroom door in my face and pretended to use the potty. "Et tu Brutus?" was all I could muster before we burst out into laughter at the ridiculousness of the situation. But in a few years ridiculous will be my reality and laughter will be the furthest thing from my mind.

I'm not ready.

I like tying his shoes, picking out his clothes, brushing his hair and teeth, tickling him until he turns red with laughter. I love having toddlers. With as much frustration and work they bring into my life, they also make me smile like I never have before.

With each mini-milestone they pass, I say a prayer of thanks for making it through the rough times and also a prayer for peace as we approach the new ones.

I'm not ready for math homework that I won't be able to help with, sleepovers at friend's homes, sporting events, PTA, parent-teacher conferences, closed bedroom doors as they exert their independence, extra cell phones/bills, girlfriends--- okay I REALLY just scared myself with that last one, so I'm stopping the list now.

Tomorrow, I will be back to being an overworked mom in search of a (tall) glass of wine and quiet time. But today, I'm wiping pizza sauce off of the face of my oldest little man (as he says "You don't wipe my face! I can do it.") and enjoying the few moments of pure innocence and bliss we have left together.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Doritos for Dessert

Mealtimes have become increasingly more difficult around my house. Andrew, my 3 year old, is on a food strike from not only the usual toddler dislikes like veggies, but also meat, potatoes and rice. What does that leave you may wonder. I'm wondering the same thing. All he wants to eat are chips, cookies, juice and the occasional apple or handful of blueberries. Aaron, my still malleable 17 month old, has begun to discover the sweet goodness of cookies and become disillusioned with ALL veggies, preferring instead to throw them onto the already stained carpet.

Needless to say, there is usually some type of bribe involved in mealtimes. Shame on me, I know. All the books say you should NEVER do that because that teaches the child to value snacks over the actual substance of a meal. However, I learned a while ago never to say never in parenting. Before I became a mom, I would have never wiped snot with my hands or used my own shirt as a tissue or examine poop/vomit for a lost button or coin. Never. Say. Never.

So back to the heart of the post, my kids are currently eating Doritos. This is after 30 painful minutes spent sitting at the dinner table trying to reach a compromise about the dinner placed in front of them. It's highly frustrating to spend hours cooking only to have 2/3 of my household push it away or yell "I said I don't like it!" Tonight, they managed to eat 2 tablespoons of rice, 2 tablespoons of mixed veggies, a square of cornbread and 1 chicken leg between the both of them. Andrew was promised chips by his aunt earlier in the day, who happened to show up right on cue. The chips sat in front of him on the table, the proverbial carrot hanging from the string.

And it worked. Thank God! Yes, I thank God for small victories such as these. Even if he has cheese flavored tortilla chips in his belly, he also has some protein and vegetables in there to keep them company. And I can sleep soundly tonight on that fact.


Ever since planting a few cucumber, basil, sunflower, and dill seeds in my new "garden" I've become more interested in plant life in general. While my husband drives on the highway, I usually point out the things we're passsing by to my boys. My 3 year old pointed to the "yellow fow-ers" mixed in with the weeds and asked what they were. I differed to my husband, as I definitely do not proclaim to have anywhere near a green thumb. He told us they were dandelions. I asked how they managed to grow intermingled with the weeds and in otherwise desolate areas. He said they were weeds. Weeds?!

Okay, so most people probably already knew that a dandelion was a weed, but I (the person who can't sustain an indoor potted plant) was shocked. How could something so beautiful be considered as undesirable as weed? Then I got to thinking, that's a metaphor for us humans. All of us have been thought of as less than or not good enough by someone at some point in time. None of us are perfect, but most of us do a good job at keeping up appearances otherwise. Our families are perfectly coiffed at church on Sunday, we go to work smelling like designer perfumes and soaps and we cook delicious (or at the very least edible) meals. But, what lurks under that?

Underneath all of our "doings" that we're consumed with daily, we're just a bunch of weeds. A mass of mistakes and missteps and hiccups. God is the only one that can see all of the imperfections, mean-spirited thoughts and fears that we struggle to hide. He hears our pleas for forgiveness, strength and wisdom and He's not afraid to wade through our tangled weeds to get to us. He is awesome. I can't even begin to understand why He loves us in spite of our mess. 

Wikipedia calls dandelions "beneficial weeds". That's probably how God sees us too. We're beneficial to His kingdom in a multitude of ways regardless of our pasts. He's given some of us the gift of song, others dance, others writing or acting or drawing. The ways in which He has blessed us are limitless, but the point is that we are beautiful and special to Him, despite our unkempt roots (inside and out on top of our heads). Just like a gifted dandelion can bring a smile to this mom's face from her dirty toddler (filthy is more like it), our outward expressions of our talents can bring others joy too. 

On the outside we blossom as beautiful flowers, despite all odds. Dandelions are God's grace manifested. On this Sunday, I thank God for all of his grace and mercy and of course for dandelions, who afterall are just like me.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Got A Feeling

For Lent, my family gave up secular music. It was really difficult for my husband, who has never been a fan of Christian music, contemporary or otherwise. For me, it was easier because I've always liked several different genres of music. The hardest part was my son requesting some of his favorites like "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 or Adele's "Someone Like You". He protested the music fast so passionately, I thought I would cave in just to have him stop whining for his favorites. It actually hurt my heart to hear him say "no, not that one" or "I don't like it" about the contemporary Christian songs I was starting to like. I felt like I'd done him a disjustice by not exposing him to enough Godly music (besides the songs we sang at home). Because of his extreme low tolerance for our new music of choice, I was actually even more determined to make it through the 40 days, hoping to change his mind and heart.

Through the fast, I grew to love new artists I'd never heard of, like Brandon Heath (my favorite is "Your Love") and rekindled my love for those I already knew, like rockstar TobyMac. Even with my newfound appreciation for positive, uplifting music, it was difficult to get my favorite secular tunes out of my head and even those that weren't my favorite, but I found myself singing anyway. It was around week 4 when I would hear myself humming a song from 104.7 The Fish (the station which suggested the music challenge) and actually turn it on to listen for specific songs I'd begun to really enjoy. My 3 year old was still not a happy camper about the challenge, but he was more receptive to the songs.

By the end of the music challenge, I no longer had a craving for the newest Beyonce song, although I did hum it when I heard it. When my husband came home from work, the usual profane and sex laden lyrics he use to spew were replaced by Kirk Franklin and holy hip hop artist Canton Jones. He even went so far as to change his ringtone and download Christian songs onto both of our phones for anytime listening! I am truly amazed and awed by this small, yet massive transformation in him. I feel the positive music has seeped into our thirsty souls and stirred up something in us. Now, weeks past the end of Lent, we're still listening primarily to Christian music and loving it.

And my opinionated little one? He recognizes the music change and even knows which songs are "mommy's song". He is much more open-minded towards the music and has even been spotted bobbing his head and humming along to the spiritual music.

Surrounding ourselves with lyrics that uplifted God, reminded us of his grace, love and hope, and encouraged us to press on has really made a difference in our home. It feels so good to have positive words floating through my head, rather than those of heartbroken or angry lovers. Of course, I'm still a fan of lots of neo soul musicians, like Maxwell (my wedding song is courtesy of him) and some pop artists too (hence the Black Eyed Peas post title), but my enjoyment of Christian music has been increased tremendously. Variety is the spice of life, right? Secular music isn't extinct for our family, but if we can serve God in as small a way as listening to different music and delight in it, we are willing to try.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Peace and Gratitude

In my quest to read through and understand the New Testament, I've finished the book of Colossians. Though not a long book at all (4 chapters), it took me quite some time to work my way through it. Compared to a novel of over 400 pages that I started and completed this past weekend, this chapter took forever! With much reading and study guide reading and highlighting and rereading, I can honestly say that while it's not my favorite chapter (that would be Romans, James or one of the "love letters") it definitely had some bright spots.

Verse 3:15 emerged as my favorite in the whole book. "Let the peace of God rule your hearts, since as members of a body, you were called to peace. And be thankful." Of course, there is lots of historical context as to why Paul would be telling the Colossian people this, but it spoke directly to me. And that's what's so awesome about the Bible! I have been struggling with feeling peaceful, with 2 toddlers and a husband that works 60-70 hours a week. This verse made it clear that regardless of my current station in life, God's peace should reign over me. It should rule me, not vice versa. There should be no struggle. Just think of how different life would be if we were the calm beings God intended us to be. I shudder as I imagine how different I am from that design He had for me.

Every morning when I wake up to an empty side of the bed, the cries of my young toddler and the demands of my older one, I should be thankul. Thankful that my husband desires to provide for his family and gets up to do so even before the sun does. Thankful that my children are alive, healthy and in need and want of me. Peaceful because God is in control, now and always. My noisy home may not always be the picture of serenity (ok, honestly it NEVER is) but my heart can be. It's a daily journey, but it's a decision I commit to making. This memory verse is starting out as my mantra for the week, but I hope it can become the story of my life.

Colossians behind me (good riddens and I hope to only ever see you again in church with an educated leader telling me what it all means), 1 Thessalonians here I come!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Is It Possible?

So, I leave for a few days and my kids are these little people I’ve never met before! Is this possible? Yes, of course it is! My 17-month-old is now saying 2 new words- cat and car. And by saying I mean screaming them about and at everything. It’s quite cute and only slightly annoying. I’m sure by next week it will be overly annoying because of the amount of times I will have said “No, it’s not a cat, it’s your shoe” or something to that effect. He knows lots of words but is only choosing to say a select few and use them for several items. Again, cute, even if only temporarily.

My newly 3-year-old was overheard telling his younger brother that he was “E-dic-ur-lus” in complete exasperation over him climbing on the table. Ridiculous is a word I use to describe him very often, so he knows exactly how to use it, but never has before. My hysterical laughter only prompted him to continue using the word throughout the day, much to my amusement. His enthusiasm towards making me laugh was proof of him missing me.

Their faces even look older! Like they learned so much about life by being away from me. A crazy thought, but perhaps it holds some truth. They learned what it was like to have daddy be in charge. If walls could talk, I would pay good money to hear what the ones in my house would say about their weekend. Though I was pleasantly surprised by the clean children that greeted me at the airport and the even cleaner house when I got home, I’m sure there were some moments that mommy wouldn’t condone. I actually found a plate underneath the sofa cushions last night!

Overall, I’m glad I took my mommy vacation. I enjoyed adult conversation, bought a few new goodies for myself and didn’t have to play referee in any toddler fights. I would definitely do it again, but next time I think I would actually like to have my 3 guys with me J

My camera-shy baby, Aaron

Always the comedian for mommy, Andrew

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Few Things About Vacations...Flying

April 17, 2012
As a mom, I was always told that we need breaks away from our children from time to time. What I wasn’t told was how much I’d miss them. When I saw those little faces greet me from the back seat of the car at the airport, I was so fulfilled. All of the drinks and sleep and unedited adult conversation I’d had couldn’t even compare to the feelings my little guys gave me. Pathetic, right? I’d been itching to get away from them, but seeing them was actually the bright spot of my trip.

Anyway, I learned lots of things on this trip; some good, some bad and all unforgettable. First things, I am not a calm passenger on a plane. I mean, I’m not afraid to fly, like some I know, but as soon as the plane takes off, so do my senses. Immediately, I felt like I needed a ginger ale, Prozac, and my pillow all very different items, but for the same reasons—comfort. My stomach was doing cartwheels (and not in a good way) and my head was suddenly pounding. I felt nauseous and scared, the same feeling I get when I’m forced to ride roller coasters. I fiddled with the window shade, pulling it down as if the sun was causing my distress. However, upon doing so, the darkness lead to a whole other set of emotions, compelling me to push it back up again. The passenger beside me stared politely (whatever that means) causing me to try to get myself together. I took deep breaths, prayed, and tried not to look at the omnipresent fluffy white clouds we were sailing by.

Then it dawned on me that the notion of thousands of pounds of machinery, luggage and people “flying” so near to the imagined location of Heaven, without dropping quickly and painfully to the now distant water and green Earth below was quite ridiculous to me—surreal. I’ve flown several times, but had never felt this way. Closing my eyes made the nausea worse, so I stared wide eyed at the seat in front of me and prayed and judging by my seatmate’s reaction, some segments were probably aloud. I tried not to picture the jovial pilot (he’d made many jokes before takeoff) as a multi-tasking alcoholic or absent minded, avid social networker who had his phone right beside him, but nothing helped. Every routine bump of turbulence, had me scanning the aisle for the emergency exit and wishing I’d been listening to the flight attendant’s safety instructions and also convinced me that the pilot was losing control of the plane and that I was going to a watery grave (dramatic but true). I was relieved when the –DING- signaled that I could pick up my Kindle and bury myself into "Baby Brother's Blues" by Pearl Cleage (a very good urban/educated read by the way).

I dreaded the flight back without some kind of sedative. But, God always knows what we need, even if we don’t ask. When I arrived to my gate, I was surprised by a complimentary upgrade to “business class”, which seated me in the second row of the airplane. The seats were bigger and cozier. I started to feel relaxed and even a little giddy about my blessing. As I was settling in, the flight attendant asked me if I wanted something to drink. So, let’s just say, I found my sedative. And though I wasn’t sure if I should thank God for the complimentary alcohol, I did because He is the provider of all things. I had a wonderful flight back home, with Milano cookies, kettle chips and chilled Chardonnay. There was still some uneasiness at takeoff, but by landing, I was engrossed in “Gathering Waters” by Bernice McFadden (awesome, slightly historical novel that I can’t wait to finish) and eager to see my family, with no thoughts of the pilot or crashing to my death.  

It IS a Good Friday

**April 9th post that I'm just getting around to uploading**

Good Friday is a big deal in my faith. It marks the day when Jesus, in human form, willingly let himself be crucified as an eternal sacrifice for all sinners. It was a day He always knew was coming; a day he could have gotten out of, if He wanted to. Instead, he chose to be lead up that hill at Calvary, spit on, beaten, ridiculed, mocked and generally debased on every level.

Why would He do such a thing? Why would anyone? I don’t believe “anyone” else would have, even if they could. Self-sacrifice is difficult enough as a parent or spouse, yet required. Jesus’s sacrifice for people He hadn’t even met yet, for people He knew would continually let him down can only be seen as insane. But, I’m sure we can all attest to a point in time, when momentarily we were “crazy in love” and willing to (or actually did do) something utterly ridiculous for a particular person. That person is me. I mean, literally, I was that person that caused Jesus to give His life. You are that person too. If you choose to accept the love, its power is limitless.

For some, accepting love is harder than giving love away. It’s like “why do I deserve this?” The truthful answer is “you don’t and you never will.” We like to think that we’re worth so much as individuals. But, honestly, could anything we’ve done be worthy of a sacrifice on a cross? If your answer is yes, then on the other hand is there anything t0hat you’ve done that could have warranted that gift being taken away? I’m sure that answer was a little different. The fantastic thing is that we never have to worry about the latter. Our salvation will never be taken away. Once God gives it, He lets us have it forever (whether we do right by Him or not). How is that possible?

 I think that’s where the beauty of grace comes in. Grace is God’s favor on us, “just because”. It’s like buying your kid an ice cream cone even when they haven’t been on their best behavior (or have in fact been quite awful) just because he/she is yours and you love him. Because He loves us, He allows us certain liberties that we could never earn and He doesn’t want us to. All He asks is that we love him back. Do things with Him in mind.

Getting ready to curse somebody out? Wait, what would Jesus think about that? “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, only what is good, necessary for edification that it may impart grace to the hearer”-Ephesians 5:29.

Getting ready to lie to your boss about your timesheet? What would Jesus think? “Therefore, put away lying, let each on speak the truth…” -Ephesians 4:25

It’s not always easy, but it’s so worth it. Ok, but wait, what is this salvation and how do I get it? Once we accept that we are all sinners, no matter how good we try to be and profess with our mouths that God is Lord in our lives, we are saved. It’s known as the sinner’s prayer and it’s as simple as saying (and really meaning) a few simple words. That’s it! Then, we have the gift of salvation forever. God is truly awesome and the display on the cross on that “good Friday” is that awesomeness personified.

An example of a sinner’s prayer: “Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”