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.