Tuesday, November 30

The Gift of Snuggles and Flowered Tights

Today was one of those days when I was completely enamored with my children; by the miracle of birth, and of how they grow, how they become their own little people with hilarious and sensitive, stubborn and persuasive personalities.

Two moments in particular stand out to me. The first was a short walk we took after lunch this afternoon. The weather, though windy, was relatively warm and given the snow in the forecast later this week I figure it was best to get some fresh air while we can without boots and gloves and hats and snowsuits!

Just before we were about to leave the house Ava came wandering down the stairs in a self-chosen outfit; a  busy, patterned dress in blue/green/purple hues and thick pink tights dotted with green, blue and red flowers.

"Ava, did you pick that out yourself?"
"Great job honey. Is that what you're going to wear on our walk?"
"Alright, let's put some shoes on."

There was no point in explaining the appropriateness of what I perceived as good "walking" clothes and not so good walking clothes. If she wanted to walk down the street in a tights and dress in all facets of coloring, so be it.

She hopped on her bike and was riding in front of Ella and I (I was pushing Ella in a Little Tikes push car) and she suddenly looked so old to me! It was her calf muscles, which seem to be getting more muscular, accentuated by the pink tights with flowers and pushing the pedals of her bike, faster and faster down the sidewalk.

And I had one of those moments, those thoughts, that "THESE are the things I will remember. THESE are the things that I will miss when they are both grown up and in school all day."

It was her carefreeness to not be worried about what others thought of her clothing choice, it was the freedom to ride her bike in the middle of the day, it was her laughter and yet the hesitation to not travel too far ahead of me, or out of my sight. I laughed because I realized that prior to this age I chose her clothing based on what I thought others  might think, as she grows she will start to pick clothing based on what others think, but today, for now, she was simply wearing items she liked in the purest and truest sense!

(Sorry if I'm boring you with my detailed account of a silly moment...I'm recording this more for my benefit...down the road...when the details of these days, the cherished moments, seem blurry!)

The other moment that captured my heart today was later in the afternoon. I had just sat on the couch reading books to Ava for a half hour or so and ran upstairs to wake Ella up from her nap. Her room was dark, she was groggy and so I grabbed the fleece blanket out of her bed to wrap her in while I carried her downstairs. She snuggled into my shoulder, sucking her binky and wanted for nothing.

We went down to the couch and turned Little Bear on. She sat snuggled on my lap, burying her head in my chest and sitting quietly while we watched t.v. Ava came over to the couch and sat next to us and put her head on my shoulder and I thought, "It doesn't get ANY better than this."

I needed to get up and get dinner started. I was only going to sit there for 10 minutes, but it turned into 20 because I couldn't pull myself away from the moment, didn't want to deprive Ella of the snuggles and thought THIS is why I have put any sort of career on hold for now...because I wouldn't have it any other way right now. I wouldn't have wanted to miss this simple moment and I wouldn't have given up the opportunity for my girls to feel connected, safe and loved for those extra minutes. It was a true blessing.

And, while I didn't really think about the Christmas season today, I have been thinking about it a lot lately-- about how I want to be in the moment and appreciate the small details, and not allow the next 3 weeks to fly by in a frenzied blur.  I suppose I'm off to a good start without having realized it-- it's about making the moment, being in the moment, staying in the moment and connecting with those you love on a deeper level in those moments. They are blessings. They are our gifts to ourselves throughout this gift-giving season...and they are gifts to those we are sharing them with.

Tuesday, November 16

Bye Bye Modesty and Decency

My husband and I joke, or at least I like to tease him, that our children are payback for HIS childhood not mine! I like to remind him of this on days that things are particularly hairy and we both wonder if there are several invisible children running around our house adding to the chaos because it is simply not possible that just two little girls can cause THIS much trouble.

See, I was a quiet child. My parents have told me this many times. They swear/joke that it's why my brother and I are exactly one year and four days apart, because I was SO easy! I used to sit and read books and play with dolls. I colored nicely. I tended to stuffed animals. I sat quietly and watched television. All the things I have preconceived notions that my girls should WANT to do.

Not so much. Before I get to them, let me give you a little summary from the tidbits I've heard about Scott's childhood:

He is a twin. Both boys weighed over 7 lbs each AT BIRTH!!! Therefore causing trouble right from the beginning. The used to help each other out of their crib, sleep on their closet floor, attempt to climb dressers, attempt to climb out windows, attempt to crawl into parked cars and start them (I actually think there is a story in which their mother came home and found them on the roof and another where they managed to roll a parked car into the street...all before they were 5!). They used to crawl on floors, under pews, in CHURCH! The did NOT stop moving. (Scott still has a hard time sitting still!).

So, as you can see, not my genes that these crazy girls get their activity level from...So, it comes as no surprise to me any longer when I take them somewhere for lunch and swear people are giving me "the eye" the entire time I'm there.

You know "the eye". The one that says, "I was SO hoping to have a nice peaceful lunch here at this fine fast food establishment this afternoon until THAT lady walked in with THOSE toddlers."

Yes. Yes. We went to Wendy's this afternoon, in part because I did not want to clean up my kitchen from one more meal and in part because Ava had acquired a "free" frosty coupon from somewhere.

Here is how the visit went:

Before we even walk in Ava announces she has to pee. Instead of getting in line I carry Ella, and hold Ava's hand and drag them both into the bathroom. The girls insist on inspecting BOTH stalls before choosing the one that would be best for peeing. Seriously. At my prompting we chose the handicap stall because it was the biggest.

"Wow Mommy! This is the biggest bathroom EVER!" Ava announces as they both simultaneously crouch down to peer under the wall as Ava announces loudly, "There is someone in that one now!"

yes honey. yes there is...and even though modesty is not part of our experience here, we're going to try to allow it to be part of hers.

As I put toilet paper on the toilet for Ava and help her up, I glance up and see Ella hanging, literally, hanging, as if it were the monkey bars, from the long, stainless handicap assistant bar that runs next to the toilet. She keeps pulling her feet up off the ground to see how long she can hang and says, "Look mommy!"

yes, yes, that's great honey.

Ava pees and I figure I better go while we're in the restroom because I'm NOT bringing them in here again...I swear to you, they both stood at the back of the toilet watching my every move with Ella announcing "Pee. Pee.Pee" while I went.

(Sorry if that is too much information...but as I said, modesty is GONE here!)

Somehow I manage to get both of their hands washed before we head out to order food. Of course there is a line 7 or 8 deep in front of us and of course the girls insist on climbing on the metal bars that section off the line while we wait. When we finally get up to the cashier to order I swear she gave me like 5 dirty looks! One when Ella coughed, one when I told her I had a coupon and proceeded to pull out diapers, plastic bags, bottles, binky's and an extra t-shirt all onto the counter in order to retrieve my wallet from the bottom of my purse and one as Ava told us VERY loudly that she wanted chocolate ice cream and NO PICKLES on her sandwich.

Once we got to the table Ella and Ava both climbed up and stood on top of their chairs (my hands are FULL!) before I can explain to them (for the 756th time!) that our bums not our feet belong on chairs! Ava manages to grab the burger wrapper sending the entire thing flying to the floor while Ella tries to stick her fingers in the frosty.

Against my better judgement I quickly picked the burger off the floor...and I'm still cringing at this and waiting for child services to show up...but there were 7 NEW people in line so I picked the burger up as quickly as I could, brushed it off and fed it to my children!!! EWWWWW. I know.

Scott decided to show up just as we were leaving. When I told the girls daddy had just arrived, they climbed back to their feet on the chairs and both proceeded to bang on the window screaming "DADDY" before I could stop them. And at that point all I could do was laugh...it had me thinking to the days, prior to children, when we would show up for dinner in a restaurant and Scott would ask the hostess to move us to a different table if she had seated us near a table of children.

HA. How things change.

Friday, November 12

Miscellaneous Meanderings

Funny what you'll do for a little free time after you become a parent.  Like this morning, when I woke up at 5 a.m. to tend to Ella who was crying, and then found myself tossing and turning and thinking about all sorts of things...and then it dawned on me, "if you get up right now you will have a quiet house to drink coffee in and read and write for potentially two hours (even though you'll be REALLY tired later because you went to bed at midnight!)"

Now in the world of pre-k (pre-kids) the idea of getting out of bed before 6 a.m. without reason would have struck me as completely ridiculous...I would have tossed and turned myself right back to sleep, especially given that I went to bed so late last night-- but these days all sleep bets are off...quiet "free" time trumps sleep in this world!

So now, instead of letting things churn in my head, you get to hear them here...as I drink a really big cup of freshly brewed Starbucks Verona (my favorite...hint.hint) with eggnog and vanilla creamer.

If you've ever attended a Franklin Covey seminar you would have heard their analogy (and perhaps seen the classic video, which I've posted on my blog for you to watch-- see the post titled "Big Rocks First") about trying to fit the important things in your life in...you have to put the big rocks in your container first and then fill in with the little stuff, i.e. make time for the things that are truly important and let all the little stuff "fill in" the space around them.

So, without saying much more about big and little rocks (watch the video!), I'm offering a run-down of three of my big rocks right now (faith, writing, organizing my house) and what I'm thinking in regards to them.

1. My faith...a constant journey...a figuring out...a discovery process that is sometimes very confusing, but at all times incredibly encouraging and gives me reason for hope and guidance for my days.

One way I've decided to strengthen my  current "faith muscles" is to read through the entire Bible in one year. I've been in church all of my life, and no, I've never read the entire Bible. I know all the "important" stories and can certainly talk the talk of a long-standing lady whose been in the church, but lately I've been thinking that seeing as the Bible is God's inspired word given to us I should read the whole thing.

There is a pretty cool line of Bibles that you can buy called the One Year Bible (published by Tyndale) that includes all of the required readings in order for you, broken down into 365 days. My sister recently told me about the chronological reading list that you can print right from their website, which is what I've decided to use.

My readings have been kind of eye opening this week...they've also prompted a LOT of questions and I'm only on day 4! Here are a couple of examples...

Eye-Opening: In my reading yesterday I found out that shortly after Noah got off of the arc he got really drunk in his vineyard one night and passed out...NAKED! ONe of his sons told the other two, who eventually dragged him into a tent and covered him up. When he found out he was so mad at the first son that he put a curse on him!

What is THAT all about?!!

Which brings me to my questions....as I'm reading through I wish I had a theologian sitting right next to me because obviously there is some backstory to the above story...I mean I feel kind of bad for the son who was cursed...I mean, didn't Noah sort of bring the whole thing on himself?!

And then, while I was reading the whole creation story I couldn't help thinking about all sorts of crazy questions... Where did God come from? If He thought it would be cool to create creatures called humans on this little planet in the mist of an incredibly unfathomably big universe, did he create other life in other places? or just us? How long had God been in existence before he decided he should create "the heavens and the earth?

Perhaps I'll say more about all of this in another post...but pretty crazy stuff and I'm excited to read more.

2. My desires to write and encourage other people (particularly women) in some way....As most of you know, one of my biggest struggles as a stay at home mom has been trying to figure out how to integrate some really big desires and passions in the areas of writing/encouraging/teaching into this crazy mothering life. At times I feel that the integration of the two has been unsuccessful...but then I step back to look at the big picture. While major doors or opportunities have seemingly not opened, a lot of little, one time, writing opportunities have...and I'm learning to be content with that for now (even though I can tend to get as frantically frustrated as an impatient toddler in regards to these things!).

We are an impatient people in a microwave society who want everything NOW! If I saw other people waiting patiently for things perhaps it would be easier! Yet, everywhere I turn I see another book published or mommy freelancer making headway in the vast publishing world.

And that is where my faith MUST come into play...

The funny thing is, lately, when I ask God when my "big chance" is going to come (or if it ever is?!)...want to know what I feel like He's saying back...

"Clean your house."

I'm serious.

Which leads me to my next big rock...

3. Re-organizing my house and my life. If you read my last post (Absent Minded Momma) you have a little big of the backstory on this. A quote I heard once comes to mind when I think about this area of my life, "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got." In other words, go ahead Lisa, keep on using your same old methods for organizing, running your day and managing your time and you'll keep losing birthday presents, and keys, and important documents and missing or showing up late for appointments, etc. etc. etc.

So, I have an book called Simply Your Life that I'm starting to read and I plan on calling the professional organizer that I have a coupon for. That said, at the end of the day, some of it comes down to basic common sense.

I'm reestablishing habits I used when I was in high-school in college...meaning, I'm starting binders and files for things (Christmas, coupons, important documents, recipes, craft ideas, etc.) as if they were the "subjects" (i.e. math, english, science) in my life. I'm also trying to do simple things like take the two minutes to put away my cosmetics and face wash and toothbrush after I'm done using them instead of leaving said stuff all over the counter until the end of the week when a bazillion other things are added to them and the bathroom starts to look like that of a frat house instead of a family home.

And, as I said earlier, God really did tell me to clean my house. Truly, I've been praying about the writing/professional thing for months and when I ask "When God?" God says, "When you get your act together!"

Not in a mean way...just in a, "Lisa, I love you and I did give you these desires, but seriously, you can't handle anything more or anything bigger until you start to manage what you have. Clean your house. Get you act together. Create a peaceful home for your family and then we can talk."

So, those are the big rocks in my life right now...Obviously continuing to become a better mother, and being a good wife are also big rocks...as is exercise (to burn off the girl scout cookies and pizza that my husband brought into my life yesterday).

Would love to hear from anyone one out there reading this!

Tell me, What are your big rocks? How do you balance them? Have you ever read the entire Bible? Do you have desires outside of parenthood that you find challenging to fit into your life? How do you do it?

You don't have to answer all of those questions, just share a thought or two!

Cyber hugs to all of you! Have a beautiful day.

Do The BIG ROCKS First

Here is the Stephen Covey video on organizing your life that I referred to in my other post today!

Sunday, November 7

The Absent Minded Momma

Alright mommas, I've got another story for you.

Some of you are probably thinking, "Come On Lady? Does this stuff REALLY happen to you? I mean this much silliness in your life? ALL the time?"

And others will rightfully be thinking, "Honey, you NEED to get your act together."

To which I will respond, "Yes. This stuff really does happen to me. I swear I am not making it up merely in a desperate attempt to lure you to my blog."


"Yes, my fellow mommas and ladies...I NEED to get my act together one of these days.!"

Before I tell you my story, the title of this blog post describes quite well my diagnosis of late. I AM absent minded.

Seriously, I walk in the house from the grocery store or from running errands and I lay things like my keys and wallet or other personal belongings down in random places. I do this while I'm greeting my children who come running to me like I've been away on safari on the other side of the world for several months and have neglected their every need in the process...I quickly lay things down and attend to them...and often don't mentally focus on what I'm laying down or where it is.

And then, depending on how many bags I have, I may bring most of them in the house and unload them, or throw them in one of the many baskets in the mudroom. Sometimes things get put in their rightful "home", sometimes (more often) things get put in temporary homes...homes in which I hope to rescue the things from before they become "homeless" or "lost"!

 We also have piles of paper typically stashed all over our counters and table spaces; you know books, mail, magazines, art projects, coupons, random notes to self, that sort of thing...sometimes it helps me find things...more often than not, it makes it more difficult!

For example, I'll write something very important on a very bright post-it note and stick it in a VERY good place (usually while I'm tending to a toddler crises or making lunch or cleaning the kitchen). And then, 2 days later, when I need said post-it note I send myself into a tizzy as I search desperately through the piles of papers and artwork and coupons. Sometimes I find the note, sometimes I don't....the problem is, it doesn't just happen with notes!!! And it's starting to get the best of me!

So, for the fun of it, I decided to do a little self-diagnosis before writing this blog entry and found the following definition for "Absent-mindedness"
"The distraction of attention from the object of focus by irrelevant thoughts or environmental events....Beyond the obvious costs of potential accidents there is lost time, efficiency, personal productivity and quality of life."
Seriously, my photo should be smack dab right next to the definition on Wikipedia!

So here is my most recent "story" the unfortunate result of my "condition"!

I had a birthday party to attend this past weekend-- it was the birthday party for a one-year old girl, daughter to a pretty close friend. Now, as you have heard, I have actually missed birthday parties before (because I wrote the wrong date on my calendar!) and I have also been known to be running around town the day or even several hours before the event looking frantically for the perfect gift.

Not this time! I was on TOP of things.

Now, this friend is a very sweet mom. The kind of mom who bought a very thoughtful birthday gift for my 3 year old this past summer. Her older daughter actually brought a homemade card and they gave Ava a really sweet devotional book designed for pre-school girls. It was a heartfelt gift and I wanted to return the favor.

A full week before the party I made a special trip to our local Christian bookstore because I wanted to return the kindness with just as thoughtful a gift. She had mentioned seeing these books published by Zondervan with Boz the bear.  I brought home a really cute Boz book, and another really cute chunky book on thankfulness with big, colorful pull out pieces-- it was the kind of thing I knew they would appreciate because she is a Christian momma like myself who is always trying to find fun and creative ways to share good values with her girls.

Now, fast forward to this past Saturday...a half hour before the party was supposed to start when I was finally going to get around to wrapping the gifts.

I wake up from a short nap, go into the kitchen to make some coffee and casually saunter into our dining room where I am convinced I left the bag with the books. Nothing.


I start rifling through the baskets and the piles and the papers...I mean they're books, they might be piled under the other books, right? Nothing.


Living room drawers, bins, baskets, under the couch. Nothing.

Crap. Crap. Crap. (I know that doesn't sound very Christian of me but you would have been thinking the SAME thing...I mean, I didn't SAY it aloud in front of my kids or anything!)

I look in my bedroom under piles of clothing. Nothing. I look in our spare room under piles of clothing. NOthing. I check the hallway and the basement and the garage. Then the dining room, again. And the mudroom, again. And my bedroom and the guest room, and the basement. AGAIN.


Miss Absent Mindedness here evidently came in from her evening out and put those books in a really good spot that was supposed to be very obvious to me when the time came to wrap them. Ahem...too bad I couldn't remember the very good spot.

Alright, by this time I'm thinking plan B. I have a whole bunch of presents in the basement that I had purchased for my girls and my sister's boys ahead of time for Christmas!

I run down there and find big chunky truck and dinosaur puzzles. Furry plastic princess shoes. Princess puzzles with 50 pieces...workbooks for 3 -year olds, clothing items for 2T's and some dress up stuff in size 4T....not so much the perfect gift for a 1 year old.

Alright...I had bought a really cute stuffed elephant at TJ Maxx earlier in the day so that was going to have to be part birthday present...but I needed something else.

I grab my keys, some tissue paper and a gift bag, say goodbye to Scott and head out. The only place not out of my way at this point is Rite Aid.

Great. I go from wanting to be personal and all Christianly moral to the corner drug store! Such IS my life.

I scan the aisles. I see really cheap princess stuff, Chutes and Ladders, very scary looking plastic dolls, large bins of play dough, light brites....you know...all sorts of stuff TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE for a 1 year old girl. I settle on a Happy Birthday Sesame Street Coloring Book and some chunky crayons. I KNOW she's probably not coloring, but she will be soon...so at least it's practical.

I drive to the party, now an HOUR late with my very impersonal present. Fortunately, there were quite a few guests and quite a few presents, so I'm sure this very sweet one year old's birthday was not very impacted by my absent mindedness...

All that to say...ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Does my life really have to go this way? I was standing in Rite-Aid, staring in disbelief at my options and thinking, "Only me! No other party attendee is standing in their local drugstore at this moment (1/2 an hour after the party had already started) looking for a gift!


I do have intentions of becoming a more organized person...it's actually one of my new years resolutions from last year that OBVIOUSLY did not get resolved.

All that said...don't I get to blame these things on mommy brain at least until my children are in kindergarten. Because, truly, being home full-time with a 3 1/2 year old and a 21 mo. old really is enough to make you batty on most days.

So, to my lovely, thoughtful friend and one of my most dedicated blog readers, "SORRY for the kinda lame birthday gift!" I have a really cute BOZ book sitting on my kitchen table that I am going to bestow on you later this week because as soon as I walked in the door from the party Scott told me he found my bag, with the gifts, under the bed in the guest room....Not really sure how it got there.

On a positive note I recently purchased, at 50% off, 3 hours with a professional organizer....I think I better call her before I lose the voucher and her phone number!

P.S. A mere couple of minutes after finishing this post (at Barnes and Noble) I packed up and was ready to go home and have dinner with the family. I put all my stuff in my bag, put my coat on and go to grab my key. No Key. Nowhere!

I fumble through my purse and pull EVERYTHING out. No key.

I ask the girl at the cafe counter. No key.

I ask the service desk. No key.

I take all of the contents of my bag out again! No key.

I go back to the cafe, check my table and then interrupt a stranger (whose table I had sat at momentarily before I realized there was no plug.) No key!

I go out to the car. Locked.

I go into the store and decide I'm going to shake my bag up and down and hope the key was hiding somewhere...

10 frenzied minutes later it turns up in the pages of the Oprah magazine that I pull out of my bag.

Enough said.

Saturday, November 6

To Chance or To God...Part 2

 I can't tell you how often I write an essay or a blog post and it turns out to be only the very beginning of the idea. It's like a seed planted to germinate, and then all of these other ideas start popping to the surface-- little poppies and daisies and dandelions of ideas--that is the beauty of writing I suppose. 

So anyway, earlier this week I wrote about prayer and how important it is to pray for your children, but also how prayer, in general can be a bit strange sometimes. How it can also be a challenge if you, like most women, have a very busy mind that is constantly reminding you about to-do lists, and forgotten tasks, and children's needs, and meal preparation and who you need birthday presents for and the syrup you forgot to pick up at the grocery store (gosh darnit!). 

And then it hit me, like 36 hours after I wrote that post...the fact that prayer is SO hard sometimes because our brains are so jumpy and busy is EXACTLY why we NEED, let me say that again, NEED, prayer. 

I need prayer because I need guidance; guidance on how to handle all of the swirling thoughts and ideas in my mind, guidance on how to structure my day, guidance on how to best spend my time. Prayer, is one of the only tools I have that actually quiets my mind and therefore helps me to focus. 

Prayer, when practiced regularly, is as effective as meditation in a person's life...mostly because it can often BE a form of meditation. For me, prayer is a time when I sit down, quiet down, and most importantly quiet my brain to hear what God might have to say about all of the craziness in my life. I suppose that is where prayer differs from meditation-- in  most meditation practices you are purposely focusing on the moment and perhaps one word or idea and not allowing other ideas into your mind....whereas with prayer, I sit down, release all that is on my mind and HOPE that God fills my mind with his words, his thoughts, his ideas about my life.

While attending a recent women's retreat through my church the keynote speaker Jan Johnson suggested that meditation on God's word actually become a part of our prayers. I've been putting her suggestions into practice the last couple of weeks and I can tell you that there is a sense of release and of peace that accompanies the practice of meditation in this way. 

For example, she suggested, take the first part of Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me besides still waters. 
He RESTORES my soul. 

Jan suggested that you close your eyes, and create a mental image of what this would actually look like for you. What would it feel like to truly be in a place where God had provided for ALL of your needs (which in many instances and on many days He has! we just choose to not see it that way)? Once you create a picture of what that means to you, just sit in that place and meditate on that truth, those words, that picture, for as long as you can; 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes--whatever works for you.

Doesn't that feel better than living in the perpetual state of want and need and frenzy that so often feels like the pace of our lives.

So anyway, I just wanted to share that with you. I wanted to say that even though prayer is hard because our minds our noisy, it is also necessary and crucial because our brains our noisy.

I also think the more we practice praying, the easier it becomes. It becomes choppy and impersonal when we are not doing it regularly...kind of like when you haven't talked to a friend in a long time and aren't really sure how to reconnect at first...but then, slowly, and surely,  you pick up right where you left off.

Tuesday, November 2

To Chance or To God...

I have been reading a book called "Professionalizing Motherhood"-- a book recommended to me by my new friend Brandi, an awesome mom from my MOPS group who has a really big heart and recently put her career on hold to stay home with her kids.

It's a good book. A bit simplistic at times, but full of practical, insightful and encouraging information on the life of a stay at home mom. (You should also know, if you go to buy the book, that it was published almost 10 years ago. While that doesn't matter inherently, if you're like me and order a used copy on Amazon, it may come to you a bit yellowed and the cover is a little dated. I DISLIKE yellowed books! I won't lie. I like nice, crisp, white, fresh, pages. All that aside, I decided to read it and it has been encouraging!).

The section I'm reading right now is called "Tools of the Trade". The first, and most important "tool of the trade" that Jill Savage recommends is prayer.

Now, when I first saw the chapter I thought I've heard this before. Yes, of course, we need to pray for our children. 

But, while I've thought that and know that I'll admit that I don't always DO IT! Do you?

Prayer, for me, can be a strange experience sometimes. Prayer, of course, is essential and necessary if you are trying to engage in any sort of relationship with God, but that doesn't mean it isn't a little odd and hard to grasp at times.

Now, I'm going to admit something else that may make me sound a little crazy; there are a LOT of voices going on up in my head! And sometimes all that noise makes it hard to pray!

Maybe it's just me, but my hunch is that it is moms (and women!) in general. We are always trying to manage, and figure out and plan for and remember and organize so many things in our head! I also think that some people (me excluded) are much better at being in the moment and focusing on one thing at a time. My analogy (that I offer my husband to in an attempt to explain my zany brain) is that there are often 16 different television channels going on in my head at once! I can relax if I can get that number down to like 10 or 12!

All that to say, when I start praying, this very intimate conversation going on in my head, sometimes feels like one more voice...and I find myself thinking, "Can God really hear me if I'm not speaking aloud?" "Does He really hear our prayers? Or are these just pleadings and praises and questions bouncing around in my mind that go no further than the space I'm in?"

Well, I can tell you that I pray often and I pray honestly, and though sometimes it just feels like extra noise in my head I do believe and have seen proof of it working in my life.

Here is how Jill Savage puts in in her book:
"As our children grow more and more independent, they spend less and less time with us. Although we cannot accompany  them through all the ups and downs of life, God can. he can be where we cannot be. He can guide when we aren't able to guide. He can protect when we are not present...Prayer is an indispensable tool for the profession of motherhood." 
She goes on in the chapter to ask if we are leaving things, are we leaving our KIDS, to chance or to God?

What a great question! I know, so often, I leave things to chance. I ASSUME God knows my needs and if he wants to meet them, well that would be great! That, I realized, is leaving things to chance. God wants us to ASK.

I'll share one quick story about how this recently played itself out in my life.

Last week I was feeling frustrated that the girls were fighting and whining SO much. Seriously, it seemed like 80% of their waking hours was consumed by some sort of anguished fight, whine, need or call. It was diving me CRAZY.

I mean, if you think about this in terms of any sort of more professional job, if your co-workers or even your students (as a teacher) where whining and complaining and being just plain miserable all day, it would make you miserable too, wouldn't it?!

So one morning, I came downstairs before the girls got up. I try to do this is often as possible to pray and gather my thoughts. On this particular morning, it dawned on me that if I couldn't do anything about it maybe God could!

At first I thought "This is silly. I can't pray that God change my children's behavior. Don't they have to do that on their own? Don't I need to teach them biblical principles to help the grow, etc. etc." But as I started praying I prayed that God would give them a sense of compassion and love for one another...that He would warm their hearts towards each other.

I swear to you, I have NEVER seen a day (and haven't seen one since!) in which Ava was SO stinkin' nice to her sister! She greeted her when she woke up (instead of grumbling at her), she was giving her hugs and sharing her juice and cheerios with her (instead of yelling that Ella was trying to take them from her), she helped her with her breakfast, she asked me to put music on the radio that Ella would like, she was offering her toys instead of taking them away-- the list goes on and on. Truly, ALL DAY, Ava was a completely different person!

Now, I'm not expecting this to happen all the time, but I do know that God was showing me something that day. He was answering my prayer-- reminding me and encouraging me that prayer works AND that he does care about our needs-- even the ones that seem small and unimportant in the grand scheme of life. He also cares about our kids and is there to guide them (and perhaps even change their hearts) when we have exhausted all options.

So, if something is going on in your life that you are frustrated about, give it a try. If your kids are driving you crazy, pray for them! Pray about that thing specifically that is making you nuts and see what happens! I don't mean to make this sound like a game because it is SO much bigger than that, but God likes to surprise us and even more importantly he likes to hear from us. If you take some time to break from the other voices in your head and start a conversation that has eternal reach, rather than just causing more internal noise, I promise you that that very conversation will go further than the walls of your house and  God may do a little something to let you know He's hanging out in your home as well!