Friday, June 28, 2013

Five Minute Friday - In Between

In between.


My world sometimes seems consumed by the in between.  In between jobs.  In between houses.  In between churches.

In between unpacking and packing, which means living out of boxes.  In between point A and point B, except you really don't know where point B is.

That makes living in the in between seem like it lasts forever.

I hate in between.  I hate not knowing where I'll be living in 3 months.  It drives me crazy.  It irks me.  It grinds on me like sandpaper.

But, are we ever not "in between" something?  In between yesterday and tomorrow, is today.  And that's where we all are.  Just in today.  None of us is guaranteed exactly where we'll be in 3 months.  None of us is guaranteed the same job.  The same circumstances.  The same house and possessions.  We're honestly not even guaranteed the same people.

What we do have, is the in between.  The right now.  This moment.

So what do I do with my in between moments?  Do I spend them worrying about what next week, next month holds?  Do I spend them regretting what was done and said yesterday?  Or do I enjoy each moment as it is given to me?

The in-between is all any of us really has.  Sometimes, we need to be surrounded by moving boxes for 4 straight months to realize how much life really happens in the "in between."  

STOP

This post is part of a community of bloggers who gather each Friday at Lisa Jo's blog to spend just five minutes writing whatever flows out of our hearts and mind about a given phrase or word.  It's a lot of fun, and a great blog full of encouragement!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Expectations

Have you wondered why it seems the number of ADHD/ADD/Autism/SPD diagnoses seem to be skyrocketing?  If you're like me, you've decided they are all simply over diagnosed.  And then... you bite your tongue because you realize all those things you used to make fun of, criticize over-protective parents, say they need to chill... suddenly, you are that parent requesting that peanuts not be eaten around your child.
How did I get here?

Anyway, one thing I have thought of recently is how much we expect out of our kids.  And how this has played, I believe, a huge part in the increase in diagnoses of learning disabilities.

How did we used to live?  What kind of jobs did we used to train our kids to do?

Well, in this area of the country, kids grew up on the farm.  Dairy farm, tobacco farm, vegetable/wheat/pig farm.  Agrarian. The kids went to school, maybe graduated high school although many stopped at 8th grade.  And then they took over the farm.  Or worked at the neighboring farm.  Say they hated farming.  Well, they became mechanics and worked on machinery for the farms.  Or they put shoes on horses.  Or they butchered the pigs.

Manual labor.  That's what they did.  That's what they all did.

So if they didn't learn to read until age 10?  They didn't really need to read to take care of the cows.  It made things easier, but they could still function and make a decent living for their family even if they remained illiterate.

The child couldn't sit still and listen to the teacher for 6 hours a day?  Well, he didn't have to go to school for months on end because he was needed home on the farm anyway.  If he couldn't learn algebra, there were still plenty of things for him to do to make a living.

Your three educated people in the town were the doctor, the teacher, and the preacher.  The store-keeper was literate and pretty good at math.  Everyone else could get by with very little.

Contrast that to now.  If your child doesn't learn to read, what kind of job can he/she get?

If they can't pass Algebra 2, what can they do with their life?

Think about what all we expect a fifth grader to know.  Think about the kind of jobs we're preparing our kids to do.  Think about how we view those people who work in jobs that don't require a lot of education.  I've heard it, first-hand. "This is why you're going to go to college, so you don't end up working a dead-beat job like these stupid idiots."  (Don't talk about the fast food worker while sitting next to the speaker after placing your order in the drive-through.  They can hear every word you're saying.)

I'm very much a "nothing new under the sun" kind of person, but we're expecting a lot from our kids.  And because of this, if they get behind early, we fear they'll never catch up.  That they won't get that good college degree, and the good paying job.

We have this view that if they don't know the alphabet by age 4 they are doomed for life.  Destined to land on "Dirty Jobs" slapping oil on a big machine or cleaning manure out of pig pens.

So here's my question.  What's wrong with that?  I have a feeling some of the disciples could have landed on "Dirty Jobs."  Why do we have a problem with this?

Maybe we need to step back and give our kids a little more time.  Let off the pressure, just a bit.  Remember that in 40 years, is anyone really going to care that they couldn't identify 3 body parts by age 21 months?

And most importantly, is Jesus going to have that on His list of standards?  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pitiful


This, folks, is the face of eczema. 

Before the last two years, I thought, how bad can a skin condition like this be?  It's just a rash.  It can't make your life miserable. 

Then I had a child with it.  As a baby, her eyelids bled because of it.  Then it got better.  Now, it's worse again.  And it's worse this time around. 

Not every day is like this.  I presume the really bad days have triggers.  Today, she ate salsa and a pasta salad.  I know one of those made her face and wrists really red, so I'm guessing one of them aggravated the eczema.  Unfortunately, she really liked both of them.  So I either have to figure out what in which one caused it to get so much worse, or I can just not give her either.  Or I can just let her be this miserable every day.

If you have no children, or if your children are tough with no health problems, you can't understand what this is like.  There isn't much worse than knowing your child is hurting and being able to do absolutely nothing about it. 

This was one of those days that I wanted to quit.  She is out of my league.  She's over my pay scale.  She is more than I bargained for when I got pregnant.  I've called on others to help with ideas for treating her eczema and so far have come up short. 

This is motherhood.  It's the getting out of bed the next day knowing you are going to do the same thing you did the day before.  It's having hope, that someday you will be able to help your child.  Or if you can't, someone else will.  It's the hope that your child won't hurt forever, won't struggle forever. 

It's coming to the end of yourself and realizing that you have no idea what you're doing, yet you have no choice but to get up tomorrow and do whatever it is you do again.  It's realizing you can't fix it.  You can kiss the hurt, but it won't always go away.  You can tell them they're doing a great job, even when you know the rest of the world would say it's lousy.  You can tell them they're beautiful even when you know the rest of the world will disagree.  You tell them they are wonderful and special when the rest of the world will tell them to blend in and just be one of the crowd. 

But in the end, only three things remain.  Faith, that there is eternal meaning in the laundry and lotions and bedtime stories.  Hope, that God will care for your child even when you can't.  And love. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Surprises...

My surprise visits never turn out well.  The Mechanic is never where he's supposed to be when I attempt to surprise him.  I guess you could say I'm very successful at surprising him, a little too successful.

A little preface to this story.  While the Mechanic was a student in Chattanooga and we were engaged, I did not go visit him.  It was a big city and my parents didn't want me driving down there.  (A little note about my parents.  5 hours was a big trip to them.  And my mom almost never drove long distances.  It was a big deal for her to drive to Knoxville from Kingston.  On trips, my dad did 99.9% of the driving; when my mom drove, my dad was really sick and probably needed to be in the hospital.  No, I'm not kidding.  She did not travel alone; I think she took me on a bus alone once as a toddler.  Maybe the experience of traveling with a toddler scarred her for life.)

Not visiting him was a bad thing.  A really bad thing.  So I made the decision that this time, I was going to visit my husband.  In the big city.  I decided to surprise him at church, because he was consistently attending the same church and because the area he lived was a bad area.  I did not care to witness any drug deals or get in the middle of a gang territory fight.  I figured Father's Day would be a good time, since that was the weekend he wouldn't be up here. 

Well, he thought he might get an interview on Monday, which he did, so he came up.  There went my idea of surprising him with the girls on Father's Day.  And I told him this. 

So yesterday rolls around.  While I was cleaning the car because the girls took an exceptionally long nap, I decided to surprise him this weekend instead.  I figured he wouldn't see it coming since I had planned on coming last weekend; it would be like me to just say "oh well" and not bother. 

I look up the church website (I'd conveniently held onto the bulletin he showed me last week while telling me why I'd really like this church so I'd have the exact name) to get the service time, double check that they have a nursery, and get the address.  I write down my directions to the church and back, pack the toy bag, food bag, diaper bag, clothes bag, purse, CD's, camera, etc.  I label all sippie cups and bottles since I figured this nursery was a little bigger than any we've been in before. I put the kids to bed and tell Ladybug that we're going to go surprise DaDa at church tomorrow in Georgia. 

This morning, at the crack of dawn, I load up the kids in their pj's and cruise down the highway.  It was a country highway most of the way, not bad driving at all.  Then I got on the interstate; still not too bad.  Until the lanes start multiplying.  Exponentially.  I'm okay with three lanes.  Maybe four.  Any more than that I start to get nervous.  Seven.  That is way past my comfort zone.  Add to this I'm flying without a GPS and without another adult to help spot my exit, and you had me white-knuckled and doing some deep breathing because I could feel my throat constricting. 

I don't like big cities.  Those of you who live in Atlanta, you can keep it.  Given a choice between a place like Atlanta and a podunk town like this where the electric company doesn't even accept plastic, I'll take the podunk town. 

Thankfully, my directions were accurate and easy to follow; I only missed one turn and that simply landed me in the parking lot of the apartment complex down the street from the church.   I backed into the back side of the parking lot so that when the Mechanic pulled in, he wouldn't immediately see TN license plates with our little two baby/two dog stick family and know we were there.  Dressed the girls in the back of Patty the Pilot (gosh I love that vehicle!) and walked into church with plenty of time to spare for a potty stop.

Then we registered for the nursery.  Hehehe.  I felt like country mouse at a city church.  I loved it, don't get me wrong, but I felt a bit like a fish out of water.  Thankfully there were many helping hands to hold babies and walk me through scanning my drivers license and typing in my kids' info, then slapping stickers on their backs so they could be identified.  Ladybug was to be in room 7, and yes, there were kids in the previous six rooms, and a few rooms after that.  Small church, but TONS of kids.  That's the most pregnant women I think I've ever seen in one place, outside of an OB/GYN office or BabiesRUs.

Ladybug and I sat down in one of the back rows; the Mechanic can't get over his back-row Baptist ways, and with a squirmy child sometimes that's best.  We are greeted by a few people, and then the worship team assembles.  And the Mechanic isn't here yet.  Not a big deal, he's running late probably.  Gives me a chance to give him grief over my being able to get two children 140 miles on time and him not able to get himself 10 miles on time.  Then the lights flicker.  And he's not here.  Then we pray and begin singing.  And he's not here.

At this point, I do the unthinkable.  I text, in church. 

Me to him: Please tell me you're going to be in your normal church today.
Him to me: No, I'm with the D's @ Perimeter.  Why?
Me to him: You have GOT to be _ me.  I'm at Christ Church.  I hate you right now.

His response?  "Oops."

I did manage to focus on the worship service, which was really good, and then the Mechanic drove to the church parking lot so we could go eat together.  Not quite what I'd planned, but at least we got to see him.

And I have earned several weeks of no complaining about anything. =) 


  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Rhythm

There is nothing sweeter than the rhythm of a sleeping baby's breathing.  I remember sitting in the hospital bed with both of my girls, just watching their little tummies rise and fall as they rested after the rude entry into the world they both experienced. 

Now, I long for rhythm.  I long for routine.  For the rhythm of seeing my husband out the door, structured playing and reading and napping and eating, welcoming husband home, bedtime rituals, and then watching the rhythmic breathing of a toddler as I put a sleeping baby down in their shared room.

There's not much rhythm in my life these days.  Today, my life is filled with chaos.  There is no schedule.  There is no routine.  Every day is helter-skelter, tripping over toys, running to the doctor, trying to find a clean sippie cup and come up with something for the kids to eat. 

I hate chaos. This is not the white picket fence life I dreamed of.

But, this is my life.  And I need to enjoy the rhythm in it. 

The little moments.  My baby is still young enough to fall asleep in my arms so I can watch her breathe.  The rhythm of my toddler pulling books off the shelf, pausing every 4th one to turn the pages.  The rhythm of the baby bouncing to music.  The rhythm of chaos.

(This was written as part of the Five Minute Friday community found at Lisa Jo Baker's Blog.  There are some great posts on this blog, many that have had me laughing and crying at the same time.  The idea is she gives a word, and then you take 5 minutes, only, to write whatever comes into your head.  No re-reading, no mulling over just the right way to phrase it, just letting creativity and honesty flow for 5 minutes.  And as I just discovered, 5 minutes is not long to write.  Any blogging women who reads this should check her site out; it has been a tremendous blessing to me!)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stop, life!


Have you ever noticed that life doesn’t stop?  

Have you ever noticed that we expect it to?

I’ve encountered funeral processions a few times since my move.   And, because this is a very Southern town, everyone stops.  Now, having lived 3+ years in Northeast TN, either the funeral processions stayed off the main road or no one stopped.  I’m not sure; I just know that it has been a really long time since I’ve been stuck because of one. 

I must admit, I’m the jerk that tends to keep driving.  If I’m on a four lane divided highway, I generally keep going.  I was nearly in a wreck a few weeks ago because someone came to a dead stop and didn’t pull off to the side; I was expecting him to pull over or turn, not just sit in the lane for some unbeknownst reason to me, till I spotted the line of cars with white flags. 

Why do people stop?  I understand it for military processions, but if the person isn’t military, if there’s not a flag draped over the casket, why are we stopping?  And why is it considered rude not to stop?  I once criticized my husband for not stopping.  But I don’t have a good reason.  It’s respect for the dead, I’ve heard.  The dead have no idea what I’m doing so what difference does it make?  I should respect them while they’re alive.  I also understand allowing the procession to stay together, especially through red lights and turns.  But when they’re not turning… I’ve lost my reason to stop, and gained two screaming reasons to keep going.

This is leading to an actual thought, I promise.

I get frustrated that life doesn’t stop.  I want life to stop and let me catch up.  Stop sending me bills till I get the old ones paid off.  Stop making messes till I clean up last week’s mess.  Stop coming up with new ways of getting in trouble and let me take care of the old problems before making me tackle additional ones. 

Life doesn’t stop. 

It doesn’t stop because a loved one dies.  It doesn’t stop because you die, frankly.  It doesn’t stop because you can’t handle it.  It doesn’t stop for ear infections or UTI’s.  It doesn’t stop for moves.  It doesn’t stop because you throw up your hands and say “That’s it, I can’t take this, I need a chance to get caught up!” 

The dishes don’t stop accumulating because you’re trying to get caught up on laundry.  The laundry doesn’t stop piling up because you’re trying to de-allergen your child’s room.  The dust doesn’t stop collecting because you’re trying to teach your child to stack blocks. 

Especially once children become mobile, they develop this amazing ability.  They can make messes faster than you can clean them up.  It takes seconds to reach the coffee cup you left on the table and 45 minutes to clean the floor and toys that are now covered in cold coffee.  And while you clean the floor and toys, the dog has discovered the dirty diaper in the trash and shredded it on his bed.  And while you clean that up, the baby is given a book which she proceeds to chew and then puke up.  And while you clean that, the toddler has pulled every book off her shelf.  And on and on it goes. 

And some women are capable of catching up at night.  I’m not.  I can’t sleep, often, but my knees and feet feel like they’re going to explode so I take the late evening to prop them up and finally eat some dinner.  (My trip to urgent care this morning did give me some good news; I’ve lost 10 pounds without really trying!)

It’s all about balance.  It’s about keeping your house in a livable state, not perfect, but not such a wreck that your children can readily create chaos.  It’s about making priorities, but being willing to admit that occasionally, you’re going to have to put your children in the pack and play so you can clean their room so they can breathe when you do take the time to play with them.   It’s about having a good work flow, so that things run smoothly. 

Work in progress… I might have this motherhood thing down by the time my children are in their 30s.

Monday, June 17, 2013

City life

There's a cow in my yard.

That's not something I expected to say while living in my current house.  My in-laws live on a dairy farm, and it's not uncommon to pull in and see a few cows in the side yard.  It's not a big deal, they just call their landlord and he comes down to herd them back inside the fence before they get hit by a car.

But I live very much in town.  I live 5 blocks from the fire department, 6 blocks from the main street in town. I can walk to the library.  The school is within spitting distance.  I do not live in the country.

But when someone drove by and asked "who'd have a cow in the city?" my immediate answer was "this isn't a city!"

I was sitting on my couch, watching Hulu and eating my grilled cheese and Cheetos, minding my own business, when I noticed flashing blue lights out the living room window.  My neighbors have had visits from the police, the Mechanic and I have given first aid to passed out drunks in the street, so I make it a point to keep my eyes open to what's going on around my front porch.  The police SUV was sitting right next to my mailbox so I stuck my head out to see if he needed to speak to me.  And what do I see, in the yard where my dogs normally are, but a cow.  Not a full grown cow, but not a baby either.  Definitely big enough that I wouldn't want to get in his way.

So this cow wanders across my yard, sniffs the grass (probably sniffing dog poo), and meanders towards the back.  Now there's heavy brush on the back side of the yard, so I figured he was going to cut through on my driveway.  That's what the police thought too.  So they turned around and went down the street to try to catch him.  Only he changed his mind, and came back up the yard and wandered into the street.  There I was, on my front porch, downtown in small-town USA, looking at a cow standing smack dab in the middle of the road.

Someone pulled up to the stop sign with their window rolled down and said something to the effect of "that's a huge dog!"  I informed them that wasn't a dog, that was a cow.  And said cow was still being pursued by the police SUV.  So it took off down the alley across the street.  And once the police got close enough we pointed the him in the right direction.  Apparently, the police SUV decided he couldn't handle this nasty criminal on his own, so he called for back-up.

To make a long, mosquito ridden story shorter, I was provided 15 minutes of entertainment by watching the police SUV, a police car, a white pick-up, a red pick-up, and a brown Suburban chase this cow around in circles and up and down the road.  Well worth the 26 mosquito bites I received as the price for such a show.  You know, some people pay $50 a seat to watch something like that...

I'm just glad I wasn't the first one to spot the cow.  "911, what is your emergency?"  "Well, this isn't precisely an emergency, but there's a cow in my yard.  Can someone please come get him?"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Give them Jesus

While working with Ladybug on stacking blocks, I had my Indelible Grace station playing on Pandora.  Fernando Ortega's version of "Give Me Jesus" started playing and while it may seem a leap, my thought process made sense in my own head.  I never hear this song anymore without thinking of a sweet baby girl whom I never had the opportunity to meet, who blessed my children by giving their mama an eternal perspective. 

Give my child Jesus.  You can have all this world.  You can have all the developmental milestones.  You can have the 4.0 GPAs.  You can have the honor roll.  You can have the high school letter jackets.  But give my child Jesus.  Give my Ladybug Jesus.  Give my little Turkey Jesus.

In her morning, give her Jesus.  As she toddles, splashes, and babbles, give her Jesus.  As I kiss her goodnight and tell her that Jesus loves her most of all, give her His love.  

When she's alone, give her Jesus.  When she goes through those years of feeling like no one understands her, give her Jesus.  When she doesn't understand herself, give her Jesus.  

When she comes to die, give her Jesus.  

As I gazed at my little Turkey as she fell asleep on the couch, the same thoughts came to mind.  She hates being alone.  She wants to feel me.  When I put her in the crib, she held my hand with both of hers.  

When she's alone, give her Jesus.  When it's dark and she can't feel anyone near her, give her Jesus. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Busy Day!

 Score one for mommy.  Many moms are familiar with Sophie the Giraffe.  The crazy over-priced but supposedly awesome teether.  I have rarely seen it less than $20.  I took a couple hours alone this weekend to do some shopping, and found this little gem for, brand new, $2.  Yes, $2.  No zeros.  Sundry Store is awesome!! 
 Look what we did today!  Ladybug can stack blocks!  We have been working on this skill off and on for several months, ever since the "charts" said she should be able to stack.  After finding some mismatched bowls stacked in the middle of the kitchen, I decided it was time to pull the blocks out again.  Sure enough, a couple demonstrations and she took off!
 Going for three!
 And she did it!  Three blocks!  Until you are a mom, especially of a child who has to work a little harder than some, you have no idea how incredible this is.




I don't know what it is about me and this house and dogs, but they seem to be attracted to me.  This little fellow dashed through my yard and about got run over on one of the many trips he made across the street.  So the neighbors and I chatted for the first time, about what to do with the little fellow, and I ended up taking him inside.  Then I plopped him in the basket of my double stroller and the kids and I walked in ever widening circles till he jumped out and acted like he knew where he was going.  When I heard a bunch of yappy dogs going nuts, I'm guessing he found his brothers and sisters.






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Of What Are We Capable?

I've read a few articles on the Sovereign Grace fiasco recently.  It seems like ever since the Catholic sex scandals came out, there have been accusations flying left and right, and no denomination is safe.

One thing I've noticed, both in articles and in my own personal experience, is this: those who stand up for the accused say one thing, consistently.  He/she's a Christian, there's no way he/she would do a thing like this.  He/she has integrity.

If we like the person, if we admire their work, if we think they are good Christians, we have a blind spot.  We think, they're a Christian, they couldn't do such a thing.  Especially about one particular type of sin.  Sexual sin.  And particularly sexual sin that does not fall under the category of adultury.

So often, we can accept that a "Christian" cheats on his wife.  But when it comes to any other sexual sin, and I do mean any, no matter how "small" a matter, a "Christian" is incapable of it.

Have you seen it?  Adultery and porn are acceptable sins for Christians.  But throw a child in there, and suddenly, there's no way he/she has done it, cause they're a "Christian."  What about sexual molestation of a coworker?  "They must be making it up, because there's no way that could happen.  He/she's a Christian."

Have you heard this?  Or have you closed your eyes and ears and agreed, "I must have misunderstood, or they must have interpreted it wrong or made it up."

Sermon today was from Ps. 52.  Go read it.  Bloodguilt.  Guilty of murder.  The man "after God's own heart,"  the man chosen by the prophet because God told him to choose David, was guilty of murder.

I have news for many people.  There is nothing, NOTHING, that a "Christian" is not capable of doing.  We are tempted to do the exact same thing Joe Smith down the street is tempted to do.  And just because you trust Christ does not mean you never do anything wrong again.  It doesn't even mean you never do anything big that's wrong again.  It doesn't mean you're not a Christian.  It means you have not reached the full glory that only comes at death and the resurrection.

Christians sin.  Yes, that means Christians sexually abuse children.  Did the particular scenarios that have been brought to court happen?  I have no idea.  But I urge you, don't be quick to judge.  Don't just assume that because they write/sing/teach awesome, true doctrine, they are incapable of horrific sin.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Coveting


We don't tend to think of this as a major sin.  Oh, we know it's in the ten commandments, but it's not really that bad, right? 

I had a first-hand chance to evaluate this yesterday.  I coveted.  I caught myself thinking "why can't I have nice things like that?" Thank you Facebook pictures.  Oh, I commented on them that it was a nice place, congrats, but inside, I was jealous.  As I walked through my own home, wiped my children's snotty noses because of the allergens, fought with the window that will no longer latch, and tripped over junk in the floor, I found myself getting more and more upset. 

Why can't I enjoy a nice beach vacation every year?  Why can't I go on a cruise?  Why can't I have a beautiful mantel?  Why can't I have nice porch furniture?  On and on...

Then I realized exactly what I was doing.  I was telling God, "You aren't giving me what's good.  You aren't being nice to me.  I deserve better than this.  I know how to run my life better than You do, and I don't like the way You're doing it."

Suddenly, coveting seems like a much bigger deal.  I've got the nerve to say those things to the God who was in control of those tornadoes last night.  He brings our secret sins to light, so by thinking it, I might as well be yelling at Him "You're a lousy life planner." 

Three things to get my thoughts back to where they should be.  In order from least effective to most.

One: Things could be worse.  My house wasn't hit by a tornado or flooding last night.  What I owned and could use last night, I still own and can use this morning.  I'm in a far better situation than thousands of other people today in the USA alone, let alone all the starving people in Africa. 

Two: I have been blessed with a lot of things these folks I'm jealous of don't have.  I have been married for five years.  I have two beautiful children conceived with no heartache at all.  I live near family who can lend cars and freezers when ours go ka-put.  I have two loving dogs.  I have the privilege of full-time motherhood.

Three:  God gave me everything I have.  He decided this is what I should have at this moment in time.  He decided what I shouldn't have.  He's the one who said "no week long vacations for the first five years of marriage."  He's the one who said we are to live in older houses that may or may not be considered nice.  He's the one who allowed my beat-up Camry to be replaced by a less beat-up but incredibly nice Pilot. (The windows are tinted, they all roll down, and the AC works.  Doesn't take much to be incredibly nice in my opinion!)

What right have I to complain in light of that third thing?  None.  When my mind came to that last reason, it was like a slap in the face. A "sit down and shut up" moment.  I'm currently studying Genesis and am focusing on chapter one this week.  God has incredible power, and yet He takes an interest in me.  It's beyond the amazing parental love I have for my children; it's like I took a special interest in a microscopic mite in my drinking water.   And then that mite shook its fist and complained that its cup I have it in isn't nice enough?  It's laughable...