Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken


Wow... I'll admit I had to walk away from this one when I first saw it at 1am.

Broken and beautiful... that's how we're supposed to be, right?  Broken by the weight of sin, but beautiful in the grace of God.

Not everything that's broken is beautiful.  Sometimes it's ugly.  Really ugly.  Ugly to the point that you don't think it can ever be repaired.  Broken so badly that you just want to throw it out, toss it in the garbage heap, turn your back on it and walk away, saying "I didn't need it anyway."

I find myself moving 30 hours away from the brokenness.  But yet, it will follow me.  Because its brokenness has affected me.  It will always affect me.  I may say "I don't need it.  I can do without it.  I've managed this long without, right?"  But it will always be a part of who I am.

Yet, nothing is beyond the grace of God.  Nothing is beyond His repair.  He heals the brokenhearted.  He has the power to heal broken relationships.  He has the power to take what we look at and say "there's no hope for that, it's shattered into too many pieces," and make it whole again.

Am I willing to trust Him to do that?  Not only am I willing to trust Him to mend the broken, but am I willing to trust Him to put me back in the midst of the broken?  Am I willing to maybe take one step and apply just a little glue, to one area?  Am I willing to trust that He won't cause me to be broken, shattered, into a million pieces yet again?  Am I willing to trust that if He does allow me to be broken yet again, it is for a greater purpose?


This is written as part of a community of bloggers who spend five minutes just writing from their hearts about a single word prompt.  This week's Five Minute Friday is being held on Facebook due to Lisa-Jo's blog being overwhelmed thanks to an awesome post she wrote this last week, which I wholeheartedly agree with!

5 years

I'll admit it.  

I nearly forgot our anniversary was today. 

I had stuck in my head it was Sunday.  I don't keep up with what day of the month it is anymore, but that's still no excuse.  I guess it's just evidence that I'm tired.

So... 5 years ago today, right now, I was working on the telemetry floor.  Yes, I worked the night before I got married.  12 hour shift.

There was no honeymoon.  There was no wedding cake.  There was no bouquet or garter toss.  No flower girl or ring man.  No matching dresses and coordinated tuxes.

The wedding party

There's no white picket fence.  There are no cookies cooling on the counter.  There are no flowers on the table.  There are no beautiful curtains on the windows, no softly lit reading corner, no Better Homes & Gardens worthy decor.

There are, however, two baby girls asleep in cribs, one who looks just like her Daddy, one who looks just like her Mommy.  And the one who can say something besides "nono" asks about her DaDa every day.  We've been counting down till the day he comes home.  This morning, when she wakes up and says "DaDa?" I'll get to tell her "today.  DaDa will be here today."

There are two dogs.  They are causing significant trouble with housing right now, and they aren't helping my to-do list get any shorter, but they are testimony to the effect a man can have on a woman's fears.

There are boxes.  And boxes.  And more boxes.  Boxes that signify a new life for us.  A life of having meals together, weekends together, worship together.  Not just half the time.  The majority of the time.

The Mechanic said it best when he said "It figures that the only way for us to be a normal family is to go to an abnormal place."

Have the last five years been what I thought they'd be?  No.  Nor have they met his expectations.  I didn't expect easy, but I didn't expect this hard either.  Would I change anything?  Yes.

The one thing I know I wouldn't change, though, is this.  My answer to this question: "Do you, Stephanie, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?  ... for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor, and obey until death do us part."

I haven't always fulfilled my vows.  Actually, I've not fulfilled them more than I have.  That whole honor and obey part... work in progress.  I hope.

It's not the dreamy Prince Charming fairy tale little girls dream of.  In real life, unlike in Anne of Green Gables, you can't beat a guy down over and over and expect him to stay madly in love with you.  There's no mood music for those perfect moments.  And once you bring kids into the mix, any romantic moment you might experience has the tendency to be interrupted by a baby's wails or the sound of an exploding diaper.

But it's real.

Friendships in college were forged by facing the same trials together.  By dreading the same final, toiling over the same research assignment, dealing with the same 5 midterms within two days. Adversity drives you to lean on each other, to support each other, to sometimes scream at each other but come back later to share the carton of ice cream you bought together.

Marriage is the same way.  An easy, rose petal covered path would lead to a shallow relationship.  But when the road is rocky, when there are thorns and howling winds, that is when you learn who you can depend on.

Looking forward to the next five years of rocky roads with my Mechanic.

 I'd rather face dirt roads and blizzards with you than have a white picket fence on a neighborhood street with anyone else. I love you. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Weakness and Strength

Do you ever get to the point that you just want to quit?  You're so tired that you feel like you simply can't go on?  

I'm there.

But I can't quit.

My husband told me to have some optimism.  I told him I was optimismed out.  

I have a newfound respect for single parents.  It's tough.  It's beyond tough.  It's exhausting.  It's being on call 24/7 for weeks on end.  I know moms are always on call, but this is different.  The knowledge that if my child were actually to get into something dangerous, I'm the only one who can stop her can get quite burdensome. 

I said today that I was exhausted in every single way possible.  I'm sure there are more ways out there, but I'd rather not find out about them.  

One of Andrew Peterson's songs that I love says this. "...the first time you know you're not enough, the first time there's no one there to hold you.  The first time you pack it all up and drive alone across America, please remember the words that I told you... go back to the old roads."  

So back I go... to look at what God has brought me through.  Is that not what the Israelites were commanded to do?

Those many times I had no idea what school I'd be at or where I'd be living in a few months.  Those college days of Lyme and exhaustion.  The blur of the first 6 weeks of having two 11 months apart.  

We are given strength to match the tasks presented to us.  It's not just physical strength.  It's mental and emotional strength.  

It's strength to withstand the constant "need" that pulls and tugs until you feel you're going to snap.  

It's strength to find patience when there are no naps, when the shrieking seems like it will never stop, when you are interrupted from your packing to try to interpret what "elpa elpa elpa" is referring to, only to realize the box you were halfway through packing has now been emptied and she needs help (elpa) to reach her Wubbanub that is now in the bottom of the empty box.  

It's strength to believe where the Lord leads He will provide.  

It's strength to believe there is a reason for all, even if it's something as simple as needing to have two cars totaled so they could be replaced by SUV's better suited for dirt roads. 

It's strength to realize it's okay to fall apart. To admit weakness.  To admit that you need a break.  

It's strength to drive to Sonic to splurge on a watermelon slush.  And then realize it's National Hotdog Day and be refreshed with $1 chili cheese coneys.  

It's strength to know the best thing you can do for yourself is to curl up with a book and a brownie and start the day fresh tomorrow. 

It's strength to have confidence that one day, I will know a young family moving.  That I will recognize struggle.  And that I, because of all this, will know what to do.  That I will be able to look that young mom in the eye and say "I know what this is like, I've been there.  Let me help you."

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has not might He increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The God of the 9th

I found myself saying a few days ago, "God, I starting working my way through Grudem today!  Can't You give me a break already?"

I'll admit, I'm tired of this God of the 9th scenario.  Why can't I get things taken care of during the 7th inning stretch?  All I ask for is a place to live, with my dogs preferably.  It doesn't have to be nice.  Just with working heat and a solid roof.  Is that too much to ask?

I wonder if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ever felt like this?  God could have stopped the guards from throwing them into the fiery furnace, but He didn't.  He let them be thrown into the flames.

Wonder if Daniel felt like this?  God could have stopped the guards from throwing him into the pit with the lions, but He didn't.  He let him be given to the lions.

Wonder if Abraham and Isaac felt like this?  God could have provided the ram right after the alter was built.  But He didn't.  He had Abraham put Isaac on the altar, tie him down, and raise the knife.

Wonder if Joseph felt like this?  God could have stopped his brothers from throwing him into the well.  But He didn't.  He could have stopped him from being sold into the slave trade.  But He didn't.  He could have prevented him from being sent to prison.  But He didn't.

The centurion's daughter was allowed to die before Jesus "healed" her.  Lazarus was allowed to die before Jesus "healed" him.  Christ Himself was allowed to die, and be buried, before being raised again.

The widow was down to her last flour before Elijah stepped in.

I'm pretty sure there are other examples of this.  This is what God does, often, apparently.  Why?  Why not show us His power ahead of time?  Why not save us this worry and trouble?  Why not prevent a few headaches and the worsening of my TMJ?

Because then it wouldn't be faith.  "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

When there's plenty of money in the bank... I don't really trust God.  When my children were healthy, I didn't really trust God.  When my marriage was perfect... well, that's never happened. =)  But when things are going smoothly, when everything is stable, when life is easy, trust is easy.  Because it's not really trust.  My girls don't have to really trust me to hold them when they're sitting on my lap on the couch.  It's when I'm tossing them up in the air that trust comes into play.  It's easy to trust me when they get to happily play in the tub, uninterrupted. But when I'm dumping water over their heads... that's when trust is needed.  (And that's still a work in progress.)

Actually, that's a good example.  I'm working on getting Ladybug to not kick and scream and flail while I rinse her hair.  I need her to trust me, that she'll be able to breathe with the water running down her face.  I need her to trust that it's not going to go on forever, that even if she doesn't fight me it'll still end.  That I have a purpose in doing what I'm doing, even though she doesn't like it.

Maybe God's the same way.  Actually, in a lot of those ways, I know He is.  I know He has a purpose behind what He's doing.  I know He'll bring me through this.  I know He'll provide.  Yet still, I kick and scream and flail.  Which only makes it worse.

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.
In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Phil 4:11-13, 19

Friday, July 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Belong


When I think "belong,"  I think of walking into the grocery story and seeing familiar faces and chatting while buying milk.  I think of recognizing the cashier and her asking how my babies are doing, and me asking about her grandkids.  I think of waving to people while walking the dogs down the sidewalk, greeting the same people in the park every day.  I think of knowing the name of the person taking my order in the McDonalds drive through.  I think of knowing when there is a visitor in church, because I know everyone that's normally there by name and face.

I think of inviting people over and they know where I live.  I think of having people nearby that I can call and say "can you keep my kids while I run to the store?"  I think of having my children's friends over after school, providing milk and cookies and helping with homework, and having their mom call and ask "is my kid at your house?  Can you send them home?"

I think of people who know my story.  Who understand if I cry on certain days.  Who know enough of my history to know what to ask and what not to ask.

In this time of transition, it's very difficult to feel I belong anywhere.  I'm not staying here.  I'm not there yet.  I don't even know where "there" is, beyond a city.  Which is more than I had a week ago.

But like all, I desperately want to belong.  I want friends.  I want a community.

My next agenda on the prayer list, after a house, is friends.  Perhaps I should bump that up the priority list, and realize that belonging is more about people than a place.


This is part of a community of bloggers who spend 5 minutes just writing about a single word, and then sharing their thoughts at Lisa Jo Baker's blog.  Come join us and be prepared to be encouraged, convicted, and wowed by women. =)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My theme song for this week

Still, my soul be still,
And do not fear
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow.
God is at your side;
No longer dread the fires of unexpected sorrow.
God, you are my God,
And I will trust in you and not be shaken.
Lord of peace, renew a steadfast spirit within me,
To rest in you alone.

Still, my soul be still,
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows.
Hold onto His ways
With shield of faith against temptations flaming arrows.
God, you are my God,
And I will trust in you and not be shaken.
Lord of peace, renew a steadfast spirit within me,
To rest in You alone.
I'll rest in You alone

Still, my soul be still.
Do not forsake 
The truth you learned in the beginning.
Wait upon the Lord
And hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming.
God, you are my God,
And I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace, renew a steadfast spirit within me,
To rest in You alone. 
I'll rest in You alone.

By Keith and Kristyn Getty

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I stepped out onto the porch to get the dogs' food and paused a moment, listening to the night sounds.  The sound of summer in the South: bugs.  I have no idea what kind of bugs they are, cicadas or crickets or something that, when all put together, sounds beautiful in my ears.

And I wondered, are there bugs that make this song in Montana?  Does Montana have lightening bugs?

Yes, we are moving to Montana.  Northeast Montana.  Closer to the Canadian border than to the nearest interstate.  277 miles away from the nearest Walmart.  Four hours away from the biggest city in the state, which is smaller than Knoxville.

Scary, yes.

We are splitting the 30 hour trip into two 18 hour legs by way of the UP in Michigan, so we can have a vacation and the girls and I can meet the Mechanic's grandmother.  This means we're leaving in two weeks.  Everything either has to be packed into a truck or pod of some sort, or has to be in loadable condition.  And transporting stuff 1800 miles is expensive, so I'm also going to be deciding if we absolutely have to have stuff, if we can wait and bring it later, if we can simply store it here and retrieve it if needed, or if we can get rid of it.

All while caring for my two girls and two dogs as usual, although both girls are now mobile.  Oh, and I'm trying to find a way of caring for my dogs while we look for a house to buy out there, since pets aren't allowed in the company provided housing.

Yes, I said the buy word.  So I'm also researching houses and mortgages and trying to figure out how much we might be able to get loaned to us.

Stressed much?




But, as I told the Mechanic, while we've made mistakes and bad choices, we've never made a bad choice in going somewhere together.  And that's the key.  We're doing this together.  All four of us under one roof.  Every NIGHT.  He will have a day shift position.  *happy dance*

This means we can eat dinner together.  At a table.  (Assuming we decide to take the table with us.  Or that we find one out there if we leave ours behind.)  But together.

This means we can restart our attempt at family devotions/worship.  We can sit on the couch together.  If we have a couch.  We may leave ours behind.

This means we can play together.  Daddy, and Mommy, and kids.  We can go out on the weekends to a park.  We can explore the area, together.  We can look for houses, together.  We can clean, or do dishes, or laundry, together.  Tag-teaming the kids.

This means the two of us get to talk, together.  In person.  Not texting.  Not over gTalk or Skype.  Face to face.

We get to enter the fifth year of our marriage, together.  This is why I'm willing to move to the middle of BFE, going through five states I've never even been in, to live 30 hours away from the nearest family.  Because it means our family can be together.

It won't be easy.  The next two weeks are going to be ugly.  The drive could very well be ugly.  I fully expect to experience some culture shock.  We may hit some bumps in the road, difficulties with loans and homes.  It may be hard to adjust to a different style of church.  It may be difficult to deal with the nearest specialist being 4 hours away.  It may be difficult if we have a #3 and they only have a 20 bed hospital; not so sure how comfortable any of us would be with a third c-sec there.

But I think it'll be worth it.  Because of that one word.  Together.

Timing, Tears, and Jump-a-roo Seats

I hung up the phone for what seemed like the 20th time today.  Call after call, received and placed, from moving companies, developmental assistance in our new state, landlords, realtors.  And after coming up short yet again, being told that housing was going to be very difficult to find (no kidding!), I finally broke down.  I'd snapped at my children and had to apologize to them for not being patient.  I'd spilled my entire mug of coffee this morning, which means I probably need to repack those boxes of books.  I'm facing being 18 hours away from my husband in a cabin in the woods in a state I've never been in before.  I'm facing paying absurd rent to live in former military housing 17 miles away from the nearest gas station or grocery store, where snow can blow in and drift meaning my husband may have to spend on call nights in town. 

I don't cry often, but I'd had it.  I was frustrated, tired, overwhelmed, and very discouraged.  

And then Pandora played this song.  I'd never heard it before.   

And while I was listening, and crying, and continuing to sort through boxes, I opened a box to find the seat for the Jumparoo I've been looking for since we moved here.  And the potty chair, not that we need it but I'd been wondering where it was.  And Ladybug's puzzles.  And all her shoes.  (She's wearing hand-me-down's from her cousin, which is fine but I had really been needing to find her something besides sandals.)

And I had to say, thank you Jesus.  It seems silly.  To be crying over Jumparoo seats and puzzles and shoes.  But just to finally locate those things, right at that moment when I was so overwhelmed... It was a welcome reminder that He really does work in the little details.  And He knows full well we need a place to live.  And He already has a place in store for us.  He just hasn't allowed us to find it yet.  If I can just trust and rest in Him, while continuing to work, it'll be okay.

In the meantime, this song is now on repeat.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Present


Sitting in the floor while my oldest builds a block tower and my youngest attempts to eat the blocks, I find myself, cell phone in hand, texting.

Granted, I'm texting my husband.

But my baby girls have no idea who I'm texting.  All they know, is that mommy is holding a cell phone and not giving her undivided attention to them.

Before I had children, I always looked with an accusing eye on those women in the grocery stores, baby in the seat and cell phone on the ear.  I thought, talk to your child!  Interact with them!  Who on the other end is that important that your child is worth neglecting?

Then, my husband and I found ourselves under separate roofs.  And I've found myself torn.

Will my children remember me being really, truly, present?  Will they remember me talking and interacting with them?  Or will they remember me with a cell phone in hand?

I want to be present in the here and now.  I want them to know they have my full attention, that I am facinated by them and their abilities, that I love hearing them talk and watching them play and interact.  But if I'm always on the phone, even with my own husband, they may know me as a distracted mother.

It's hard, being present.  It's hard to know what to focus your attentions on.


That was a hard one to stop at five minutes.  But, that's all part of the fun, seeing the minute roll over and thinking, crud, I had more to say on this!  If you're up for the challenge and ready to receive tons of encouragement, ideas that make you stop and think, and in general be amazed by women and their perspective on life, stop by LisaJoBaker's blog and join the Five Minute Friday crowd!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Will Be Here

I will be here.  Two parts of this.  One is, I will be here for my husband.  The second, I will be here for my children.

I read a post that I've linked here that brought me to tears, and all I could say when I finished reading was “Yes.”  Yes, that is the mother I want to be for my children.  That’s where I'm aiming.  Attachment parenting or not, when my baby girl wakes up shrieking, I will be here, and I will make sure she’s okay and give her back her teddy bear and doggie, and cover her up with a blanket, and straighten out her legs so they won't fall asleep. 

Sometimes she'll need to learn a lesson.  That may mean I practice cry-it-out.  That may mean if she forgets her homework, she’ll just have to explain to her teacher that she wasn't responsible enough to remember to bring it and that she'll have it the next day, even if that means a letter grade lower.  But when she comes home from school and tells me that was just the start of her bad awful day, I will be here.  I will sit down with her, give her a “nana” or cookie or whatever her favorite snack is at that time, maybe even a “big girl” cup of hot tea, and I will listen.  If that means supper will be a little late, so be it.  If that means the house doesn't get dusted that day, so be it.  My little girl is more important.  If the shrieking from the room doesn't subside in a few minutes, I will be here.  I will go in and calm her down, let her know I love her, replace the lost paci, turn the seahorse and ladybug on for the 3rd time. 

Some of you know my situation.  Some of you know my heart, even if you don’t know my current situation.  Some of you were there through my tears in college.  Some of you loaned cell phones and watched me pace the road and fields, and watched me return the phone trying to hold back tears.  You were first-hand witnesses to my broken heart.

Through that broken heart, I now seek to give love to two tiny baby girls.  I now attempt to let them know, every day, just how much I love them.  I try to teach them, to imprint on their hearts and minds, that no matter what they do, I will always love them.  I try even harder as they get older.  It’s a challenge, sometimes, to love a newborn who needs fed every 2 hours around the clock for 6 straight weeks.  But there are lots of easy moments too, when they're snuggled up on you sleeping.  When they become toddlers, though… those snuggle moments are few and far between.  They're messy.  They're stinky.  They're into everything.  Even their diapers are gross.  Even my 9 month old gets told “oh what a cute little turd!”  My 20 month old… yeah, she doesn't get told that.  I said yesterday while changing her and wrinkling my nose that I needed to figure out what she’s eating that makes her smell like a nursing home bathroom.  Phew.   And that’s before the defiant moments.  The “come here” and she runs the other way.  Sometimes that’s cute.  When you have a twisted ankle that’s shooting pain up your leg, it won't dry up for 24 hours straight so your knees are throbbing, and you haven't finished your coffee and it’s noon, it’s not cute.  At all.  

Especially when she spills your now cold coffee. 

But, it’s at those not-cute moments, those trying moments, that I really want to impress upon her that I love her.  That I will always love her.  Even when she does something wrong.  Even when I'm not happy with her, I still love her. 

When she fails classes.  When she’s in drama up to her ears.  When she and her roommates just can’t see eye-to-eye.  When it seems like she’s never going to find a man who wants to marry her.  When it seems like her body is falling apart and she doesn't know why. 

I will be here.  I will drive to her if she wants me to and take her to doctors.  I will tell her I understand what it’s like go through the dark night of not knowing.  When she’s in the hospital, I will be there.  If she tells me to give her space, then fine, I will, but I will be here.  I will show up and get her ice and pain meds and her pillow from her dorm room.  I will not judge.  I will not accuse.  I will help her get better.  If we need to talk, we will, but I will love her first. 

I pray this is the mother I become.   I beg God to form my heart into this kind of mother’s heart.   

Sunday, July 7, 2013

And so it begins again

And so it begins again...

I've lost count of the number of  "he/she's crawling!" posts I've seen on Facebook in the last couple of weeks.  I had over 30 Facebook friends all pregnant at the same time I was expecting Turkey, and since they're all between 7 and 10 months, the mobility posts have taken over.

And once again, I calculate how much younger they are than my child.  Who is not crawling.  Who is not rocking on her hands and knees.  Who can't even stay on her hands and knees if you put her there.  Who can't get from lying to sitting.  But who will let you know very loudly if she wants to be sitting and is stuck on her tummy.

The pulling up posts are also starting to pile up.  Me?  Well, I haven't even dropped the crib down yet.  She's able to reach over her head and pull, and she's working towards being able to pull onto her knees, but we're not there yet.

It is natural for parents to brag about their baby, share their accomplishments, post adorable pictures of the newly developed skills.  And I enjoy seeing them.  I really do.  I rejoice with them.  It is exciting to watch your child go from stuck in one place to being on the move.

But once again, I find myself identifying more with special needs parents.  I find myself going to the blogs of special needs moms for encouragement.

In a way, I feel like this is demeaning to those who truly have special needs kids.  What my family has is nothing compared to them.  We have no feeding tubes, no list of surgeries to perform, no wheelchairs or walkers or braces.  No ventilators.  Yet I find myself drawn to them.  They understand the worry, the fear, the "is she ever going to get this?"  They understand the looks you get when you tell someone your child can't do something their child has been doing for 4 months.  They understand the feeling of failure you get when you reach the developmental milestones portion of the well child exam.  They understand the self-doubt, the "what did I do or not do to cause this?"  The "should I not have eaten that cold cut sandwich at Subway in my 4th month?"

Thankfully, Turkey is so little that for the most part, I'm still being asked in the nursery "can she sit up?"  They think of her as ~6 months.  With Ladybug, she was chunky enough that she looked her age or older, which made the questions start sooner.  And no one means anything by the questions.  It's just usual conversation material for baby mamas.  But when you constantly feel like you're behind the curve, it can get uncomfortable.  I logged onto babycenter to update a few people on the status of Ladybug's ultrasound, and I saw a ton of posts on potty training.  We have a child's potty.  Somewhere.  I have no idea where.  And I haven't even thought to look for it because we don't need it.  I know some would say it's early to potty train, and that may be, but there sure are a lot of folks doing it.

Ah well... this is part of motherhood I never thought I'd encounter.  I suppose I thought my children would be perfect, and I would be perfect, and we would have this beautiful, right on schedule or a little early family.  Complete with the white picket fence.  With cookies cooling on the stove and everything put away but a few classic toys.  With clean faces and nice clothes, mom included.  And the perfect dog and cat who never climbed the screens or deposited dead birds on the porch, who never chew up a cloth diaper and eat the poop that was on it.

Yeah, right. I guess I'm getting my reality check.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Five Minute Friday!


This word conjures up so many thoughts in my mind.  As someone who has struggled with eating disorders, I have battled with this word.

Now, what do I consider beautiful?  If I'm really honest?

Pudgy knees with scabs.  Pudgy cheeks with dried sweet potato mush on them.

The first "nigh nigh" I received from my oldest daughter this evening as I left her room for the evening.

The joyous "mama!" I hear when I enter her room in the morning.

The sound of jabbering between sisters, neither of whom can talk, but who seem to be making sense to each other.

This is beauty.

The mournful sounds of nature are full of beauty.  The cry of the wolf, the hoot of the owl, that cooing of the mourning dove.  Beautiful.

The quiet sounds of rain on the roof and window.  The rhythm of the windshield wipers as I drive sleeping babies home.

The wildflower picked and brought to me by a grubby toddler.

The first crayon marks.  The grin when she realizes she did it.

What am I leaving out?  What is noticeably absent?


After children come, I fade into the background.  My imperfections, many that they are, no longer matter to me as much.  Because my life is filled with beauty in so many other, different ways.


This is written as part of community of bloggers who spend five minutes simply writing, with no editing, no pondering, just writing what pops into their heads given a certain word.  It's a challenge to myself, to get a coherant thought out in five minutes and to stop when I promise I will.  And it's fun to read what others have written.  Come join us at Lisa-Jo's blog. 

A Rainy Pedde 4th of July

It may be a holiday in most people's books, but for us it was shaping up to be just another rainy dreary stuck inside day, like any other rainy dreary stuck inside day.  DaDa (the Mechanic) was in another state working, Grandma was in another state vacationing with the aunts and uncles and cousins.  So this is what we did to make the day just a little different from every other day of the week.

We started out splashing in puddles. 

Then we needed to document Turkey's first 4th in her patriotic outfit. 

Then it was time for sister pictures. 

Which quickly dissolved into giggles. 

And proof that even sisters wrestle, or whatever this is.

Then we had watermelon.  I think Turkey was shocked by
the size of what I was offering her. 

Of course we have to touch it. 

Finally giving it a try...

Not initially impressed. 

Ladybug was more than happy to put
both forks to use.

Turkey: "Eeeww"
Ladybug: "Mmmmm"



More balls!


Because the fireworks were rained out, and both children
and both dogs were all fighting over Cheerios,
we went to Grandma's empty house to find fireworks on TV.

"Mom, I'm tired, why are we sitting here?" 

Ladybug figured out why we were there! 

"Oh hey, this is pretty neat!"

Not quite the same as being in DC,
but we had a better view.

Fireworks with credits... oh well.
Did the best we could!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Cheerio Years

I am in the midst of the Cheerio years.  

The years of crunching Cheerios beneath my feet, finding them stuck between my toes, discovering them in my bed, having them fall out of my shirt, cleaning them out of my car.  

I've found them in the diaper bag.  I've found them in my purse.  I've found their crumbs in my wallet.  

And the couch.  Oh my.  It's no longer a couch.  It's a Cheerio refuge.  Protected from being smashed by either feet or gums, they take up residence under the cushions and multiply. 

I vaguely remember hearing a young mother say, years before I had children, "they're everywhere!"  I didn't understand.  Now, I do. 

They're everywhere.  

They should make a Cheerio doll series.  Dress them up as ninjas, undercover agents, army men.  Market them with the slogan "they're coming to get you."

I wanted these years.  I dreamed of these years.  I longed for the years of crayons and cheerios and cartoons.  

And now that I'm ankle deep in Cheerios, I find myself gripping my hair singing "lalalala I'm going crazy!"  

I love my life.  I love my children.  I love the Cheerio years.  Yet at the same time, I'm going nuts.  Messes accumulate faster than I can clean them up.  Do you have any idea how long it takes to clean up a bowl of dropped Cheerios?  The fastest way I've discovered is to go out the front door, untie the dogs, and tell them "go eat."  And they dash towards the high chairs.  

In the midst of these Cheerio years, I'm also being squeezed by every other part of life.  And pulled in many directions.  

I'm supposed to be packing so that we can go to Michigan.  15+ hours.  Over 600 miles.  With two Cheerio eaters and two furry Cheerio cleaners.  If we go.  We may not go.  We may be leaving this Friday.  We may leave next Friday.  We may not leave at all.  

I'm supposed to be packing to move.  When we move.  Which is in question.  We may move next week.  We may move the following week.  It may be next month.  We may move just up the road a few hours.  We may move out of state.  We may move to the other side of the country.  

I'm supposed to be unpacking.  Sort of.  I'm supposed to clean the house to a liveable condition.  To access the printer cords, the jumperoo seat, the half a dozen other things that would be really nice to have available.  I'm supposed to be unpacking and getting rid of and organizing and repacking.  

And I'm supposed to hand out Cheerios.  And clean up Cheerios.  And feed my children and dogs something besides Cheerios.  

Anyone else understanding why I'm a bit stressed right now?  And don't even let me start on finances... wow. 

Somehow I thought the Cheerio years would be monotonous.  This is not monotonous at all.  Oh what I wouldn't give for some monotony.  Being able to look ahead and think "this is never going to end.  I'm stuck with this for the foreseeable future."  The only way my life can be considered monotonous is in the chaos, or in the tiny little details like changing diapers.  (Oh yes, Cheerios are found in diapers too.  How they miss the mouth and still end up in the diaper, when the child is wearing a onesie, still baffles me.)

These are more than the Cheerio years.  These are the Chaotic Cheerio years.  Not only am I herding cats, I'm attempting to herd them through a maze that keeps changing.  

What am I to do?  How does one cope with Chaotic Cheerio years?  I find myself laughing at other moms and their problems.  And I chastise myself for doing so.  But then I laugh again.  Just today, I was belly laughing over a woman who posted "Two kids under 2.5?!?!?!?!"  Especially when she wondered how she would survive, if she would ever sleep again, how she'd give them both enough attention.  I see that and think, wow, her kids are kind of far apart!  I read about the crisis other moms go through, "oh, little one hit her head on the bookshelf today!"  Whoopdefreakindo.  In the last 3 months... well never mind.  I do know of a few other children who have been through far more than my kids.  

But it does cause me to get cynical.  Because I have the idea that what I go through is so much worse than what others go through.  That my children have so many more problems than most others.  

But, in all honesty, so what?  Even if it's true, which it's not, does that give me the right to laugh at others in a mean way?  Does it give me license to get really irritated with people who park in the space reserved for those with young children when they don't even have a car seat in their fancy SUV?  

No.  It doesn't.  

How should I be coping with the Chaotic Cheerio years?  With grace.  With humility.  With a gentle and quiet spirit. 


I clearly can't do that alone.  But the song playing right now says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble and mild, and you will find rest for your soul."

We're not promised rest for our bodies. I'm not promised that my toddler won't wake me shrieking at the top of her lungs three times again tonight.  I'm not promised that my bank account will suddenly be filled with funds tomorrow.  I'm not promised the perfect, allergen free home near campus along with a job offer for the Mechanic that not only pays $30 an hour and has great health insurance but that will also provide us with $2000 for the move.  I'm not promised that my child's eczema and allergy to mosquito bites will disappear tomorrow.  

What I am promised, is rest for my soul.  What I am promised, is peace.  What I am promised, is that I will be led by the peaceful and quiet waters.  Not in my physical body.  But in my spirit.  And if I allow my spirit to rest by those peaceful and quiet waters, that will nourish, refresh, and calm my mind and body.  

My challenge, then, to myself more than anyone, is to allow myself to be still and calm, for a few minutes a day, to be near those peaceful and quiet waters.  

And this post went an entirely different direction than I intended it to go.  Oh well... this was better anyway.