Monday, October 31

A Postion of Prayer


      I got down on my hands and knees in the middle of my living room to pray this morning.

     I hesitate to even share this because it was such a beautiful, intimate moment with God and sometimes the world of the web seems so very far from beautiful and intimate.

     Having just returned from a blogging and writing conference this past weekend I feel even more acutely that the internet, and all that we are distracted from in it, can be SO far from holy sometimes. But God uses all to bring Him Glory, and can use the internet too... so I pray that this post would meet your heart in a holy place today...that it is not one more thing to distract you from taking care of your children, or loving your husband, or meeting with God...but that it would ultimately prod you to do all of those things more fully...

     I went to this conference this weekend hoping to learn how to become a better writer...

     I came home wanting to love Jesus more fully. Wanting to be a better wife and a better mother.

     Love how God does that. Takes what we think we need and turns it into a way to teach us what He needs from us. To teach us what we really need...and how far it sometimes is from what we think we need.

     So this morning I awoke early to steal some moments from a quiet house. I was praying...writing...thinking...reading...praying and eventually felt compelled to get out of my chair.

     First I thought it was my mind being my silly mind.

     "No. This is fine. That's silly."

     The feeling persisted.

     So I folded my hands and bowed my head low in my lap. Surely this was a more holy way to meet God.

    The feeling persisted.

    I got on my knees, next to my chair and rested my elbows on the cushions. Surely this was a more holy way to meet God.

    Alright, I won't lie here...the chair stunk. Like gym class. It's an old was my husband's great- grandfathers, passed down to his mom, passed  to us. It's been reupholstered, but it is still old. Many have sat, my kids stinky feet have stood. It smelled like gym class and morning breath.

     Surely this was NOT a more holy way to meet God.

    And so I moved to the floor. I got on my knees and bowed my head low. I felt silly and humbled...and realized NOW I was ready to go before God. He low...a place worthy enough to pray.

     The truth...again...I was initially pretty distracted.

     My kids are going to pitter patter down those stairs any moment. "Mom!" They will say, "Are you o.k?" They will surely think I've finally lost my mind. 

     Or my husband's heavier footsteps, "Lis, What's up? You o.k.?"

     Or my mother in law who was also sleeping upstairs. Surely I don't want my mother in law to think I've lost it...(Although she is certainly reading this and I love her greatly!).

     "Oh honey...are you o.k.?" I can hear her say.

     "Yes everyone. I'm o.k." I said in my mind. "I'm actually more than o.k. now that I am on the floor."

     I thought for a moment about an image I saw this image of a gathering of middle easterners all bowed low...they get on the floor five times a day to worship a god who doesn't even speak back...what we can learn from that!

     I tried to pray. I was still distracted. All that moving around, and thinking about people walking in on me, and the newness of being on my knees. So I started the way I start when I'm distracted...I started with the words Jesus gave us to use in prayer...

     "Our Father, who art in heaven...Hallowed! Praise! Praise! Praise! to your name (sometimes I improvise!).
     Thy Kingdom come...Thy will be done...
      On on my dirty living room it is in heaven!"

     I finished the Lord's prayer and we went on to have a great dialogue...Me on the floor looking up to my father like a small child on the floor looking to their parent for guidance and instruction...

     It was good. It was right. It was holy.

     And no one even came down the stairs....

Wednesday, October 26

Which Way do We Go?

       Does it feel like life perpetually brings you to points in which you are forced to stop and consider your options, make choices, choose between to alternatives: That that we are in a place that we have to ask the question, "Which way do I go?"

     It's what Dorothy asks in the Wizard of Oz when she comes to a crossroads and meets the scarecrow. They too are all looking for something meaningful, but which way?

     Always questions...always wondering...always taking steps down the path, hoping that it is the right one. Which job to take, should we move or stay, should we have another child, what would life look like if we did, where should your children go to preschool, then school, should mom/dad work part-time, full-time, or not at all for a time? 

     The list goes on and on...

     And, as my husband once said to me, "Sometimes you don't know which way is the right way until you choose one and find out if it is right or wrong."

    Oh dear...that's a nail biter for me...I like to get things right. So, you mean, that there are times in my life that I might have to get it wrong...just to get it right?! 

     Ack! Not sure if this sometimes type A momma can handle that!

    Life has been full of "which way do I go questions" lately.

    Nothing major...we're not talking job transfers, or houses for sale, or major school issues...

It mostly has to do with my writing...If I'm totally honest, sometimes I miss working. I get to asking myself all sorts of questions when this feeling comes around; do I venture out to find a part-time job in which I would be writing daily in a tangible way (a newsletter for an organization, marketing materials, part-time freelance for local publications, etc.), do I keep blogging and what should that look like, do I venture out and try to start writing an outline for several...(gasp!) ideas...

        Do I just learn to be totally content at home and stop thinking about this all of the time?! (Don't answer that!)

        How is it best to use my time? the end of the day it all comes down to what is purpose...are there ways for us to be involved in our greater communities, to reach people beyond our own homes? 

     I don't mean to go getting all philosophical here, but I really think that in all of us there is is a desire to be connecting with and reaching out to the world in someway that is significant...something beyond ourselves and the little corner of the world that we live in. 

     For me it is observing life, writing about it and than trying to figure out how to communicate my thoughts, impressions and curiosity to the world. For my husband, it is playing worship music in our church. Others are passionate about taking care of nature and spending time in it, others about animals or caring for the elderly, or helping people stay healthy, or teaching people new skills. 

     I'm a thinker. I think about these things a LOT. It drives me crazy. I think it drives some of closest friends and family members crazy too.

     Here's the thing...we only have one life to live and I want to get it right. Consider the following quote from the very insightful teacher and thinking Parker Palmer. I heard Palmer speak at a conference in Grand Rapids, MI last spring. He spoke on purpose and how he maneuvered through finding his place in life. In is book "Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation" he says:

"Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you."

     What is my life saying? Yours?

     Man, it feels like mine is saying a whole lot of 'please clean the house, and wash the laundry, and clean the floor that looks like a high-school football team has trampled across it and please make food and clean up afterwards, and fold some more laundry and run some more errands,' lately.

     But it is saying other things as well...especially since I've begun to pray about it.

     I've been praying a very similar prayer ever since first becoming a mother, "Dear God, I love my children and I'm grateful to be able to stay at home with them, but please, please, puhleaze!!! help me to figure out how to do life with kids while simultaneously pursuing other passions and interests."

     I haven't been hearing a ton of answers to that prayer...mostly what seemed like silence...though I suppose silence is a type of answer.

     And then I found this book (to know me is to know there is always a book!)

     The book is called "The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You've Always Wanted" by Kathi Lipp.

     So first things first...nothing happens in 21 days in the life of a mom with 2 preschoolers.

    Just sayin'.

    I'm kind of taking the book at my own pace, doing the chapters as I can. That said, this book has been incredibly helpful and full of good insight and wisdom. 

    First and foremost it's a reminder that while it may be called the "Me"'s really not about me. It's about the gifts and experiences God created me with and how HE ultimately wants to use them.


     So it starts by asking some good questions. Namely, the title of "Project 1": 'What do you want from Me? Knowing God's Will for All the Parts of Your Life."

     Lipp prompts you to go through your motives, your desires, your past experiences and search for details that may give you a clue to what God wants to do with you. She also has you write down ALL of the dreams, passions and desires that you  have for yourself...even if they seem frivolous.

    She encourages you to start paying attention to what is happening in your life, to be praying fervently for God to speak and then to be recording what you feel like He might be saying. She also urges her readers to get rid of some of the distractions in their lives.

     What has this looked like for me?

     Well, until I am done with the book I have committed cutting out all recreational t.v. on my part...that is, after the kids go to bed I cannot watch junk t.v., crappy reruns, or the silly reality television programs that I can tend to get sucked into.

     Also, no radio when I'm in the car by myself.

     I have promised myself to use my time at night more productively; working on goal writing, essay writing, blog writing, or reading.

    The time in the car...that's prayer time.

     I even fasted a meal last week...I know you may think that doesn't sound like a big deal, but believe was a BIG deal for this constantly hungry momma.

     Guess what?

     All sorts of cool little things have been happening...I told you about a couple of answered prayers in my post last week...Mostly, I simply feel like God is speaking...He is inspiring me with new ideas, using mentors in my life to help me focus my thoughts, and even little things like bringing me completely unknowingly to a printer (for a business card I'm having printed for the conference this weekend) who happens to attend our church...something small, but a reminder that "I am here. I am in this."


     He is teaching me to trust. He is teaching me which ideas to follow. He is helping me to wade through the varied thoughts and ideas in my brain and showing me where to focus. He is showing me when I need to be loving my kids and when it is o.k. for me to be focusing on other things.

     It's like the verse in Matthew 7

      "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you"

    If you're asking from the right place, the right heart, God may just have some answers that surprise you.

     So, if you feel like you have a heart for playing music, or to connect more strongly with your community, or perhaps you're considering a job opportunity, or a homeschooling opportunity or a ministry opportunity...start asking God to open doors in that area. 

    For me, it is writing. And, it is with a prayerful, curious and slightly anxious heart (I'll admit!) that I  am getting ready to leave for this conference in PA this weekend. It's an interesting opportunity...a church friend and I are attending with press passes...which means we get to go in and check everything out, but we're not full fledged conference attendees...

     I was thrilled but then just a little skeptical...just a little...I swear (I kind of wanted some of the conference freebies that the real attendees get, among other things!! Silly, I know!) but, because I've done so much praying about open doors to this conference I know that if this is the way God has chosen for me to attend, well then by all means...let's see what He has in store.

     So, we head out on Thursday morning, from Buffalo to P.A. asking 'which way do we go'... Who will we meet, who will we talk to, how will you use us to help tell life's bigger stories?

     I'm looking forward to sharing some of the discoveries when I return!



Saturday, October 22

Fun for Fall...And Fall for Fun

     Alright, my post title is a little cheesy. Here's the sounded to me like something a ring master would holler out from outside his tent at the circus "All for one and one for all!"...or maybe that was the three musketeers, or some other fanciful characters...nonetheless, I felt like we were at the circus all morning.

     I say that in the nicest way...really.

     I feel like we're at the circus a lot lately, with children can tend to ebb and flow that way; constant organized chaos with some bright lights, and loud music and fun thrown in the mix. Throw in some sort of excursion (even the mall and library can be an excursion, but we're talking a little larger than that today) and you have yourself a full blown, mind numbing, adult onset ADD inducing, kind of experience.

    Our excursion today was a very "fallish" excursion...there is a chill in the air here in Buffalo this week, the girls wore winter hats to play outside after dinner last night, our hands were cold and the temperature today was in the mid to upper 40's. Brrrr....

     Because I won't be home next weekend I decided we should do a farm/outdoor type trip today...we settled on The Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence, N.Y....a place that has become synonymous with fall here and that many families try to visit at least once during the month of October. The "farm" boasts massive numbers of pumpkins piled high and tiered on wooden platforms, along with animals, hay rides, a bakery, face painting, crafts, pie eating contests, haunted houses (which we stay away from!), and carnival rides, among other events.

    The farm also boasts massive numbers of parents and children, especially on the weekends. Yes, it's one of those places that you might avoid at all costs before having children and that you cannot avoid at all cost after you have them. (And that ends up being costly for your pocketbook once you pay the price for those stinkin' traveling carnival rides...grrrr.)

     It's one of those places, as I said to Scott as we were pulling away, "that was fun... in a nutty, my head hurts sort of way and I'm REALLY glad we have pictures and video because a year from now I will say, 'awww, that was great', even if I'm not thinkin' that right now."

     It's kind of like having a baby...if someone asked you an hour afterwards if you want to have another baby...well, my answer is usually "NO WAY"...but a year or two later, you kind of forget the hard parts and agree to trying again.

     Does anyone else feel this way about excursions with kids?

     It's kind of a love/hate sort of thing if we're really honest, right?

     So, the funniest part of the entire day was not really our visit to the pumpkin farm...we did the obligatory rides and slides and crafts, ate some nachos and used porta potties. We even fed a Camel and then watched as another couple with a young child tried to feed him and instead of eating the animal food from his hand, the camel reached down and used his big mouth and long tongue to grab the ENTIRE dixie cup of food, cup and all, out of this guys hand. It was kind of funny, actually...

     However, after two hours at pumpkin farm with 3 adults and 4 small children (my sister joined us with her boys, her husband had to work today), the adults had that "I'm hungry.I'm done. My brain is about to burst.  Get me out of here" look on our faces, so we piled everyone into the cars and drove to a local restaurant where one of my younger brothers works, for lunch.

    The restaurant was very, very busy...apparently a lot of other families out having fall fun had the same idea about not wanting to take the chaos home to their tables, but to take their kids home fed so that they could simply fall into their beds (like we did) and have family nap hour!!!

     We sat down at our table and waited for our waitress...because the restaurant was so busy nothing was happening quickly.

     We  put in an order of spaghetti and meatballs and apple juice for the kids right away...and then while we waited over the next 20 minutes, each of the kids requested to use the bathroom, all at different times...Ella twice...they colored on the table paper, shrieked, whined about being hungry, demanded to know when the food was coming and eventually fought over who was going to pray...which prompted momentary tears.

     We, the big people, were just making it through...wishing for a nanny or some sort of magical fairy godmother sort of help. Once the kid's spaghetti came and the three adults systematically cut up noodles and meatballs into little pieces, buttered bread, offered napkins and finally sat down to enjoy the 180 seconds of quiet before another request emerged, Scott, my husband decided he was really, REALLY hungry...

    You will NEVER believe what he's actually what inspired this entire post.

     The table of three adults next to us got up after finishing their meal and left a third of a tray of uneaten pizza on their table...My hungry husband got up, walked over to that table, took a slice of pizza off of that tray and started to eat it!!!

      It reminded me a little bit of that camel eating the paper cup...kind of non-tradational, non-conformist, but "hey, why not? I'm hungry!"

     I still can't get over it.

     I immediately got my i-phone out to take a picture....

      "I've GOT to take a picture..."

    "No. You're not going to put that on your blog."

    "Oh I HAVE too!"

    Scott was so outnumbered because then my sister chimed in and agreed that it needed to be blogged about.

the table which Scott stole pizza from...

    Shortly after the pilfered pizza, we looked across the table and saw the youngest of the 4 children with this face....

     The painted animal (spider?) that had been on his hand suddenly found itself smeared all over his face....

     And eventually, we adults were all so tired that you would have thought we had just won the lottery when Scott proposed bringing in the portable DVD player from the car so that the kids could watch Dora (because they were ALL finished eating and our food had not even arrived!).

     "Should I grab the DVD player?" he asks.

     YEEEESSSS! (me)

     "You have a DVD player in the car?!!!!" asks my sister with a slight inflection of "And you haven't brought it in here yet BECAUSE???!!!""

     Dora was as magical as any fairy godmother at that moment.

     Scott got the DVD player, the kids found a bowl of lollipops and we ate our meal in peace.

     It's quite astounding how much less annoying Dora's voice becomes when the alternative is hear the consecutive demands, questions and exhortations of 4 preschool aged children.

     We were SOOOO that family....

   ...You know the people you are NEVER going to be once you have kids!! In your pre-parenting mind that is.

     We made it home, we napped, we're recovering...

     I do NOT want to go back to pumpkin farm...

     Not next week anyways...

     Ask me 355 days from now and it will likely be a different story.

     I'll just be sure to pack the DVD player in the car.

Thursday, October 20

When God Answers Prayers

Cute, huh?

My MOPS (my mom's group) friend and co-newsletter creator (for our mom's group) knows a thing or two about design and took some time out of her very, very busy schedule (and despite being tired and pregnant with baby #2) to create this very cute blog banner for me. 

So, Amy M., thank you, thank you. 

If you caught my blog last night you would have seen the crazy orange background and new header font that colored these pages for all of 16 hours or so...I was wanting something new, but did not, technically speaking, (there is all sorts of html and crazy computer code stuff that I do NOT understand) know how to get from point A to even point B. 

Enter Amy, my sweet creative friend...she's helped me get to point "B"! 

That said, there are a lot of things on my mind for the direction I'd like to take my blog...points C, D, E and F....all good things, creative things, fun things. I will be sure to let you know as soon as I focus my thoughts and ideas...

So, this cute new header is a move in that direction...hoping to work with a blog designer soon to streamline some other things as well. 

That said, God was very cool today and answered a prayer that I have been praying for six months now...Here's the story-- writing, communicating and teaching have been my passions and background for years now. I was a Secondary English Education major, then entered a Journalism M.A. program, then jobs in publishing, education and fund raising and writing for a Christian high school in M.A. 

And then...

...then we have our kids. I say "we" because I know other mom's can empathize with this split in the road...

And all of those many dollars and hours spent on degrees and learning how to teach and write seem a little...well, not so useful for a while...

And then...

...then the stay at home momma with the degree starts to get a little antsy creatively and professionally speaking and wants to figure out how to balance a life home with kids and life of creative pursuits...

Except said momma feels a little non-relevant, non-edgy and non-qualified to do anything but change diapers and make mac n' cheese. 

Is this the reality? No, not totally...but it is hard to find your way again...what does life look like taking care of kids and pursuing your creative and professional passions at the same time? I'm in the process of trying to answer that question. 

Enter God...

3 For you created my inmost being; 
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
   your works are wonderful, 
   I know that full well. 
15 My frame was not hidden from you 
   when I was made in the secret place, 
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book 
   before one of them came to be. 

Don't you love that passage? I LOVE that passage...I may not know what motherhood and creative pursuits look like in a balanced way, but God does...

So lately I've been giving these ideas and thoughts over to him...these questions on my mind...really giving them over. Praying about them. Asking others to pray for me (something I neglect to do and which is a very cool and important part of faith for us and others that we often feel funny about and forget to do) and asking for wisdom and direction. 

In the midst of all of this I heard about this really cool blog conference that I wanted to attend in Harrisburg, PA. It's called the Relevant Blog Conference...It just started a few years ago, but has grown rapidly and is boasting an incredible group of speakers and writers...and attendees with blogs WAY beyond my little corner of cyber space here...these folks/mommas/writers have like 2,000+ followers...I was tired of seeing my "20" google friends on the side of my page so I removed the "blog follow" gadget. 

I felt like it would be a great conference to help guide me in the right direction, encourage me, focus my writing and hopefully inspire thoughts for my future blogging and writing. 

I was so excited back in May when I found out about it...I didn't even hesitate to hit the "register" button...and then, guess what? 

It was sold out! 

With a waiting list of a 100+ people or something crazy like that...

So, I prayed. 

Despite the conference being sold out, God put this expectant hope in my heart that I would find a way there. 

I sent emails. I asked friends. I prayed. I entered contests. 

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. 

Still, up until a couple of weeks ago, the expectant hope persisted. 

But then we got to this week and that glimmer of hope got a little drab. Today is Thursday, the conference starts a week from today. I wasn't discouraged, I just started thinking, "ok God, maybe next year. You have given me such peace about this that I have no choice but to trust." 

Despite the conference not seeming to be working out, God had sent these other little memos of encouragement in the last couple of major open doors, or offers to write a parenting column for the NYTimes ( I wasn't really looking for an offer from the Times, just sayin'!), but these little tid bits...

I'd think..."really, this blog thing...maybe I'm done...I'm not sure anyone is reading it anyway"

And then someone would approach me at church and say "thanks for that post you wrote..."

What? Really?

Or someone from another state would randomly post a comment saying they had been reaading...

Really? I love you!

And this week, out of the blue, my husband happened to have a business appointment in the same building as an editor I have written for but never met. He happened to see this guy, stopped in to say "hello" and came home with some really nice compliments from this editor...

How cool is that? 

So, here is the kicker...

A friend of mine from our church and my mom's group saw a post I had written about looking for a ticket. 

There are some other details surrounding the whole thing, but basically she sent me a FB message last night saying "I have some good news for you." 

I called her this morning and she told me she had an extra ticket for me to go!!  

She already has a hotel room that we might be able to share, we get to carpool and we both have some very similar passions regarding motherhood and creative ministry pursuits that we get to chat about for hours in the car!  

No. Stinkin'. Way. 

I cried on the phone when she told me.

And then I called my husband and my mother in law and told my entire mom's group. 

I think they thought I was a little nutty...but I HAD to give God praise. He TOTALLY opened that door. 

So, I sit here in Panera, enthusiastically anticipating what God has in store next, I continue to wonder, to ponder, but to feel encouraged... God is showing me SO clearly that HE has my plans in HIS hands.

The more intimately I allow that to seep into my heart, the more peaceful I begin to feel...

I'm hoping more joyfully...

Trusting more deeply....

Breathing a little more easily as my anxiety begins to melt away...

Wednesday, October 19

Changing Things Up

You may have noticed the change of blog background, color, and template.

It's what I do when I get bored.

Sometimes I cut my hair...

Sometimes I color my hair...

I have been known to repaint rooms...several times actually...until the color fits my mood.

Today...well, it was the blog background...

The other background was starting to drive me if it were wallpaper in my house that I simply got tired of starting at.

What I'd really like is to find a great designer who could do a really cool blog design that fits my personality, the voice of my posts, and tie in some cool creative elements in the way of facebook button links and all that other cool stuff that techie types know how to do and that I haven't the faintest clue about.

Until then...well, I'm stuck with blogger template designs.

I told Scott I thought that maybe it looked like a really bad shirt from the 70's.

He said he thought it had a nice "fall" feel to it...good answer honey! (Much unlike the response he gave me years ago that I still tease him about...I had said "Honey I feel fat..." his answer...."I feel fat too"...yup, wrong answer that time-- he's learning!)

Do tell...what do you change when you get bored?!!! OR, what kind of silly things does your husband say to you because he really doesn't know what to say?!! I could use a good laugh...

Tuesday, October 18

A Chord of Three Strands...


     There have been a dozen roses sitting on my kitchen table for almost a week now. They have slowly opened and have grown fuller since they were first placed there last Tuesday night...the night before our 8th wedding anniversary for me to find in the morning.

     I actually did not deserve the roses. Not at all. Wanna know why? Because I teased Scott about them before he even bought them...He said he was running to the store at 9:45 at night...I asked if was going to pick up some carnations for some girl he knew?

    He probably should have left a lump of coal on the kitchen table, or a bag of cat liter, or nothing at all for that matter...that would have set me straight, right?!

    Fortunately, Scott is a good guy. He's often the bigger one in our relationship...the one who relents when things get tense, the one who gives when things get tough. When we did one of those pre-martial relationship tests I think it was determined he was a golden retriever and I was somewhere between a Lion and an Otter...we'll just leave it at that...

   Thankfully Scott wasn't out to set me straight, he just wanted to do something nice to show me that, as he says, "he is still crazy about me after all these years."  Personally I think he should start to say he's gone crazy because of me after all these years...but then again...he's a good guy.

   Fortunately for both of us we have a bigger, stronger, better foundation that our relationship rests that is not dependent on mine or Scott's wills or desires...

     At our wedding the pastor who married us talked about the power of not one, not even two, but three:
Ecclesiastes 4:12: Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A strand of three is not easily broken. 
      That third strand, the most important one, is God, who, when allowed in to permeate your relationship really changes the dynamics. If you are seeking Him, seeking wisdom, seeking to lead a Godly life you will find you quickly are learning lessons about servanthood, selflessness, patience, kindness and goodness even when you don't feel like you want to.

     ...oh am I ever working on those things. Motherhood and marriage give us ample opportunity to practice...

     So, in commemoration of 8 years of marriage, and in honor of a man who is truly a blessing and a gift, I have a few words of thanks...

     In a world where commitment seems a thing of the past...
                                  I'm so grateful for commitment to each other and to God.

     In a society where selfishness is advocated and valued...
                                           I'm grateful for my husband's selfless spirit

     Where infidelity is the norm...
                                          Fidelity is, and will always be, our norm

     In a world where faithfulness seems optional...
                                             I know that we will always be faithful

     Our marriage is a place of refuge in the midst of our society's foggy values, a source of security in an atmosphere of insecurity, and a gift in a culture where long term, committed marriages are becoming less and less the norm.

    So thankful for my husband, my life, my marriage and the God who has blessed me abundantly.

Sunday, October 16

Sacred Sundays: Heavenly Conversations

     I had the cutest conversation with Ava on the way to church this morning. We were listening to "church music" as the girls call it (a compilation of worship songs on CD that we often sing at church) in lieu of Big Bird (thank heavens for that!) and she picked up on some of the lyrics...

"Mommy, why are they saying Lord?"

"Well, honey, it's another name for God...There are a lot of names people use to refer to God. Like sometimes we say 'Heavenly Father'"

"Oh, yeah, like when we pray at night...'Dear Heavenly Father?" 

"That's right sweetie, during our prayers at night, and at dinner. There are a lot of different names you might hear at church and that people use to refer to God."

"Oh. O.k."  

End of story...for now anyway. 

I love that she is picking up on these things. I love that she is asking questions. I love that we are having conversations, as simple as they may be. 

It makes me realize the responsibility that we have as parents; to be role models, to offer answers, to be talking about God, to be surrounding our children with enough Godly input that they start to formulate questions and answers and a Godly worldview. 

It reminds me of a verse in Proverbs...

"Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it." (22:6)

I know this has been true for my own life. For as many "detours" as I've taken away from my faith, as many rebellious rabbit holes as I've wandered down, I've always come back...every single time...back to my knowledge and my faith that there is no firmer foundation than the one I have in Christ. It's the only thing that has always centered me. 

And now I'm working letting it center my parenting...

It's a big call...but a good one. Sometimes the answers are not always clear...but inevitably they are always there. 

Happy Sunday. 



Thursday, October 13

To Mall or Not to Mall...No Longer a Question!

     There was a time in my life when the mall + kids equated to an o.k. situation.

     Alright, let me take that back...There was a time in my life when mall + kid (singular! not plural) equated to an o.k. situation.

     Like when Ava was a very small baby, still in a stroller and unable to walk and I could hand her puffs and juice and stroll leisurely through the mall because I was either bored at home or needed something new to make me feel better about my post child figure.

     The mall + 2 small children, however, is NEVER, ever, ever, ever really an o.k. situation. I don't know why I try to convince myself otherwise.

      I knew better when I took them there the other day, but I figured I'd be quick...just this once...AND, I didn't want to stare at the stupid Pottery Barn wreath that I ordered, along with the napkins and high priced holiday "berries" that I added (to get to a total of $50 so I could use my coupon for $25 off a $50 order) any longer...

     Want to know why I didn't want to stare at it any longer?

     Because the day I got it in the mail I was so excited to hang it on my front door that I ran down to the basement to gather the other fall decorations that I had nicely set aside in a bin labeled "Fall Decorations"...too bad I didn't open that bin before I placed my Pottery Barn order...

     Guess what?

     I ordered the same stinkin' wreath last Fall with the same stinkin' coupon and it was in my stinkin' "Fall Decorations" bin all along...

     This, my friends, is what has happened to my brain since kids...mush...pure mush....

     So anyway, it's a nice fall day and we pile in the car to and head to the mall.

     Not sure if you've ever tried to do a  Pottery Barn return with two children...let's just say, not a great place to do a return with two small children. My dialogue sounded like this as I tried to complete my transaction with the sales girl (who EVIDENTLY did NOT have children!).

     "Yes, yes, I need to return this."

     "DON'T put your feet on the couch it is VERY light tan!!! Ella, we DON'T put our dirty feet on couches in stores."

     "Did you want to look around?" she asks.

     "Who? Me? Oh NO! I can't shop with these....ELLA, do not touch those vases!!!...with these two! I don't even usually do...AVA, put those apples (fake!) back, they are not ours!... What was I saying, I'm sorry."

     "Oh, it's o.k. I'll just finish this up for you."

     "Yes, yes, that would be great!"

     "Ella, you can not take the lids off of those jars! Put those back before you break something!"

     We do somehow finally make it out of the store unscathed and without having to purchase any broken merchandise...and then head to the Gap (to buy two t-shirts for a scheduled photo session the next day) and Old Navy for a Halloween costume.

     All of our errands are successful, despite Ava knocking Ella down on the floor in the Gap...I mean like flat on her back which the sales lady said, "Ooooh...that was loud, she hit her head hard"...I pick Ella up, and put Ava in a time out on the bottom of a sales rack...

     We manage to buy Ella a costume and even purchase lunch in the food court...though I must confess to having asked two 18ish looking old girls and one 18ish looking old boy...with a 2 year old sitting next to them (I think he was the father, though I can't be sure) to watch the girls while I ran to grab Ella a slice of pizza because she refused to eat the Teriyaki Chicken I had purchased for Ava...not my crowning best mom moment, but I didn't have much choice and I was completely watching them the entire time I was in line.

     We finish lunch, ride the elevator and escalator one more time each (this is the only reason my children come to the mall!) and head which point I realize I have my Old Navy bag, but no Gap bag...

     Apparently, I had left my Gap bag somewhere in Old Navy. It is a complete mystery to me where I may have left it because I was trying to get the girls to keep from knocking over the clothing racks they were attempting to hide beneath while I looked for a costume...however, when I called the store they had miraculously found it and so I asked them to hold it until later in the day when I could get back to get it.

     So....Ella and I made a second trip to the mall that pick up the missing bag from Old Navy and return the shirts to the Gap because I had consequentially determined that black was not a good t-shirt color for a nice fall picture of my children.

     For those of you who are my Facebook friends, you likely know the rest of the story...but just in case you do not it goes like this...

     Ella and I spend about 20 minutes rifling through racks of clothing trying to find 2 t-shirts that will coordinate with each other and with the silver skirts I have at home for the girls. I am finally successful at finding shirts and ready to get out of the store because I am actually supposed to have Ella at the Doctor's office in about 20 minutes for a late appointment because she had been coughing for days like an old man with emphesma (although, come to find out her lungs apparently sound completely fine!).

     We are finally cashing out and I am about to sign my receipt when I here, "Mommy...I peeing"

     Oh my.

     I look down...big puddle on the floor, pee coming out of the pant of her jeans and soaking through EVERYTHING...pants, underwear, socks, shoes...she has soaked herself and puddled the floor as two sales girls stand watching and a gentleman stands behind me in line.

     I look at the cashier, eyes wide, "I'm so sorry!"

     The cashiers were great and, if you did read my Facebook post you would know that the scariest part of the entire situation was that I was not even embarrassed...I'm thinking I lost that part of my brain along with the rest of my brain that has gone to mush...One sales clerk grabbed paper towels and bless her soul, wiped up my daughter's pee. Another helped me quickly find underwear and pant and another came to console me in the dressing room with stories of her own son doing the same thing.

     This is what I LOVE about being a is this total fellowship of women who completely understand things like pee on floors at stores. They don't judge you, they don't criticize you, they simply help you clean up the mess and move on your way!

     So, here is Ella holding up her new undies in the dressing room...yes, I did stop her for a moment to take a picture. If we were going to be in the middle of something that crazy I was going to certainly document it for future laughs!

      My wreath is hanging on my front door, the pictures have been taken, and Ella's cough is getting better...

     ....but perhaps most importantly, I will NOT be going to the mall today, or anytime soon with my children...until, that is,  I get really, REALLY bored, or perhaps re-order something else that I already own...I'm thinking Christmas decorations...

Sunday, October 9

Sacred Sundays: Rising Above


      I find it slightly ironic that the afternoon that I had planned to write this post about this book that is essentially about choosing joy, being peaceful, focusing on God, that I'm feeling a little....well, irritable.

     Why, you may ask, am I feeling irritable?

     Oh, you know... female hormones, the non-stop needs of children, and a husband who had commitments from 7:30 this morning until 6ish tonight...yes, that's right, on a beautiful Fall Sunday afternoon. I'm so happy about it! Really!

     This post isn't seeping with cynical sarcasm already, is it?

     Shucks. That's one of the traits I was hoping to to have left on my Dad's side of the family...

     Alright, alright, cynical sarcasm is a far cry from anything sacred...and suddenly I'm feeling a  little sacriligious.

     So here's the deal...I"m feeling a little cranky, it just happens doesn't go the way we'd like it to go and our inner 2-year old comes out (and do I know about 2-year old tantrums) and we start whining...maybe we're not even whining to anyone in particular (which is much better than the way a 2 year old whines....just sayin'), BUT our entire inner dialogue is whine, whine, whine, whine, whine...

     Frankly, it's a beautiful day and I'm a little tired of listening to it and my only choice in the midst of it all is to CHANGE MY ATTITUDE.

     See, we always have a choice...and that is what God is teaching me most this week, and today. Will you give into the cranky feelings or will you rise above?

      So far today I've mostly given in, though I'm ready to rise above.

     The book I've been reading during my quiet/devotional time this week is called "A Woman's Passionate Pursuit of God" by Karol Ladd. It's a wonderful exploration of the book of Philippians from the Bible-- a book that is a letter from the apostle Paul to his followers written mostly from...prison!

     Alright, I'm going to be really frank and honest with you here...there are days that I have equated time stuck in the house with kids to....oh boy, here goes...being in prison!

     Yes, yes...I know that is terribly ungrateful and pathetic of me and I can't believe I'm saying that aloud for anyone in the whole world to read...but it is true.

     I don't go there often or for long, but there are days when I feel a little stuck...when I feel like I don't have a whole lot of choices about what I'd like to do, where I'd like to go, or even what time of day I'd like to shower or brush my teeth. Some days I feel like I'm unable to eat, clean, dress or even visit the ladies room on my own terms, and it makes me a little grouchy. And some days, here comes confession #2, I feel a little crabby because our spouses mostly get to do all of those things on their very own terms...and, oh boy, the resentment bug creeps in...


     SO, rising above...

     I was reading this book this week and Ladd was talking about how Paul was writing this book from prison and that in the middle of his crappy situation he was joyful, praising God and praying for those he was writing to. It also talks about how life is messy, how we are messy and "under construction", but that we should rejoice because it is all part of the process:

"Paul's life was messy, yet beauty blossomed through his difficulties. He said his challenges happened so that he and his companions would rely on God and not themselves...Paul grew strong in his faith through the challenging detours in his life. He didn't quit when the going got tough. He didn't give up on God or on others. Quite the contrary, he grew strong, he improved and his faith increased.

Being under construction doesn't always look pretty, but as progress and improvements are made, we begin to get a glimpse of what the architect is doing, and our faith grows in the process." 

     And so I got to thinking about how I could reframe my focus, and my attitude. I realized I've been framing my thoughts through the lens of "These are all of the things that I cannot get done because of my stage of life"....when, like Paul did, I should be saying, "These are not the circumstances that perhaps I expected but what can I do from this place to still glorify God, love others and be encouraging to those around me?" 

     Wow...just a little tilt in perspective and the whole world suddenly looks different. 

     Lastly, and I'll leave you with this...God has been teaching me through several books I've read, through life circumstance, and through my quiet time, what it means to "offer" thanksgiving...we are not always in the right "mood" to give an offering of thanks, but that is not what God asks...

Lisa, please offer thanks and praise and be joyful only when you feel like it....

     Nope. That would be pretty ugly...

God says always be thankful, always be prayerful, always be ALL circumstances. 

    Working, working, working on that this week....