Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Survivor {Mommy Episode}

I never once in the past thirteen years watched the show Survivor.  But, boy, howdy, was I on the show these past two weeks.  The only difference is that I didn't lose a ton of weight, don a two piece, or get a superb tan.

Eric has gotten to see some amazing and beautiful places around the world with his current job.  He has seen London, New York, Finland, China, and Argentina.  I wasn't ever too jealous until he announced earlier this summer that he would be going to Sydney, Australia.  (Hello opera house.)

My oh my.  My dream animal was a koala bear when I was a little girl.  I sang opera in college.  I secretly wanted to marry someone with an Aussie accent.  God just isn't funny sometimes.

Throw in the fact that Eric would be traveling the first two weeks of school and I wanted to contort myself into some awkward shape and squeeze myself between his suits and running shoes.  Because let's face it, actually having to pay for a plane ticket across the world simply wasn't feasible. Not if the boys wanted to eat for the next five years.

So, I put on my big girl panties and told him I would run the ship here at the old homestead.  The one with the non Aussie zipcode.

I learned one thing these past two weeks:  a 1:4 parent to child ratio is never a good thing. 

Whew.  I need a vacation.  Stat.

Me, the lovely insecure type, got thrown into two new schools, seventeen new teachers, and three new sports teams.  All that on top of trying to find my eyelids two hours earlier than normal, trying to mesh a 3 month old's schedule into whatever the new normal is, and photography kicking back up.

I found myself having real panic attacks, thinking that if something happened to Eric, this would be my life.  And I am telling you, you'd have to come see me in the looney tune asylum cause I'd be a little (or lot) on the cray-cray side.

Every night, after tucking us all in, I would take a big breath and say whew!  We are alive!  I didn't kill us today!  And that made it a good day.  :)

The good news is that he is almost home!  After a 24 hour travel period, he is almost home!

The boys and I decided to go celebrate the fact that we survived these two weeks by none other than stuffing our faces with unlimited amounts of salsa, cheese dip, and fajitas at Patron.  I started laughing at Sam who was singing some made up Mexican song.  Como se llama...let me see your momma...

He has the best little voice and he sounded so official that I started laughing so hard that I started snorting.  Cade got onto me and told me to pipe down.  All my pent up anxiety and frustrations of the past 15 days came crashing out in snorts and belly laughs.  It felt good.

Here's to a husband and angels and four precious boys who keep my world spinning.

I am a survivor.

Miley and King Saul

I know, I know.  I am so over the topic, too.  I am pretty much sick to death of Miley this and Miley that.  The last thing in the world I wanted to do was add my opinion.  But, God showed me something this morning.

Me and two brave souls are going through the whole bible together.  We have been at it a year and if we are lucky, we only have a year left!  It has been the most beautiful thing, seeing the Story as a whole and seeing God's threads of redemption throughout.  I am amazed every single week not at man's rebellion but at God's mercy and loyalty towards us. 

This week, we looked at the Israelites and their desire for a king.  They were sick to death of Yahweh, the True King.  Even though he fought their battles and brought deliverance after deliverance, He was invisible.  Not good enough.  So, they cast the Almighty aside and begged for a flawed human, one that would make them look good when they paraded him around to the enemy. 

Oh how we long for what we can see when the Invisible is all we need.

The scriptures don't lie.  They wanted a physical human king so they would look like the other nations.  They wanted to discard their holy uniqueness and culture.  Being set apart wasn't good enough any more.  Idols, anyone?

God, in His mercy, knew this day was coming.  Way back in Deuteronomy, He said...Now when they ask for a king, these are the parameters for allowing one...  God would allow a physical king but it wasn't the most beneficial thing for the people.  He was up to two things.  One, turn them over to their errant ways. Sometimes He gives us what we can see so our souls can eventually see that we are really craving Him when the idols don't live up to their expectations.  Second, point the way to the One True King, Jesus, the only human king that would ever get it totally right. (The same one that is coming back to reign, hallelujah!)

Enter Saul.  A man like no other.  Heads taller and handsome to boot.  God was up to something.  He was going to use Saul to show that man should not look at the outward appearance, but at the heart.  I want to laugh when Samuel says Saul is to be king and we find Saul shaking in his britches, literally hiding among the baggage.

We weren't made for fame.  We weren't made to take the place of the true King.  Saul must sense some of this.  He is scared out of his wits.  He has no idea how a human king should act and he doesn't even bother to find out from Samuel or the Lord.  He is about to be thrust into a position that God all along said was not the best thing for the people.

Enter Miley and every other celebrity that we scorn and gossip about when they lose their way.  They aren't meant to be on pedestals.  There is only One that is meant for worship and fame.  What else can happen except for a spiraling downfall.


Unless the spirit of God controls the person.  Only then can a person in a position of authority or fame be kept from pride and be kept from using others for their own advances.

Maybe that was why God instructed the kings to write their own copy of the law (word of God) and to read it daily.  Only then would they learn to govern the people wisely and cast their own desires for wealth and women and control aside.

So, pray with me.  Pray for Miley and the other countless ones who need the Spirit. I see that Miley dances and gyrates and exposes herself in order to hide her own baggage.  Wouldn't it be beautiful to see that baggage stripped see them dance and sing before the Lord one day?  Using that talent for His glory?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Becke' and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Asher's expression sums up my day.  You guys are familiar with the book, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," right?  Well, that was me today. I never was good at first days in school.  Did I ever tell you about the first day of 9th grade when the dance team did their initiation/hazing and I had to go as a 1970's gal/complete with a beehive hairdo which was in a totally new school and city?  God is hilarious.
This morning, I woke up in a jolt.  Took a quick shower.  Begged Sam to wake up.  Fed kids a healthy breakfast.  Asher decided he wanted to eat 5 minutes before I needed to fly out the door to take the kids.  Dropoff was not so bad.
I cried myself home.  Upset over Kiley.  Upset over the fact that my youngest is in a huge new school all by himself and that he said his tummy was "excited" which meant he was beyond nervous.  (But he walked in so bravely!)
I got home, fed the hungry baby and proceeded to engulf myself in budget and bills and balancing of the checkbook...all the while thinking I am going semi insane and borderline dyslexic.
I look at the clock, starving, and realize it is almost noon and I haven't had a single sip of water all day.
I call the counselor at one of the schools and have to leave a message about something I think is top priority in which she never returns my call.
I leave in what I think is plenty of time to get youngest child and am already twenty cars back and there is still 20 minutes until the bell rings. I finally make my way around to where he is supposed to be and the lady has to take my driver's license cause she does not know me.  I want to sob.  I have to offer identification in order to get the boy I birthed. 
I get to where he is, scan the little people everywhere and can't find him.  They say his name over and over.  Nothing.  Sam is nowhere.  He is lost.  I am in a panic.
The teacher insists that he is in another line (that he is not supposed to be in...probably a Sam-mishap.) I go to a different line and they can't find him either.  Finally, we track him down and I am putting on the shades in order to hide the tears.
Meanwhile, we are very late in getting the other two.  I speed down the busiest street in our city and realize the line is so backed up that I am going to be late.  Very late.  As in, I was 40 minutes late in grabbing the other two.  (How do you guys do it???)
We head home, the boys full of happy stories and me trying not to kill us all in the insane traffic. Asher and I were in the car for an hour and twenty minutes to get three kids that are not more than two miles away.
We get in the garage and I punch the door down cause I want no more of THAT OUT THERE EVER AGAIN!!!
The hooligans that I love start throwing paper after paper my way that has to be signed in blood or signed in check, or both.
Cade tells me he has homework that he does not understand and that all the other kids know how to type. 
Sam tells me I need to order Nutrisystem.
Eli senses the tornado in my head and stays far far away.
Asher wants to be held which is hard to do while I sign my life away.
Oh, and all without the help of my sweet husband due to his work.  (God bless him for working hard for us...)
Now I am a hot sweaty mess who is making herself reek from the stench.
Good night all.  Here's to God's fresh mercy.  I'll take a double dose at 6 am, thanks.

Glory (30!)

(A birthday letter to my sister, Kiley)
If we were chatting it up right now, face to face, wish a smear of chocolate cake across our faces (because who doesn't love chocolate cake for breakfast?) I would tell you a lot of things.  I would tell you that turning thirty was a hard transition for me.  It made me feel old.  I started noticing things that I had never noticed before.  A wiry gray hair, a little hair on the chinny chin chin, gravity doing its thing, even more cellulite.  I wasn't expecting to start feeling older when I turned thirty and I wanted to go back to being twenty nine for like ever.
Do you remember coming to see me on my thirtieth?  We went to PF Changs and ate til we could eat no more and then proceeded to stuff our faces with raspberry chocolate cake.  Thanks to you, Amelia, and Mom for coming and helping with the transition.
I would tell you to get off your high horse and career and start your family because time is short.  You need to have twenty kids because nineteen is not enough.  You would be the best mom, equal parts spunk and discipline.
I would tell you that thirty was the hardest year for me.  Life threw me a curveball and I had to deal with unexpected death for the first time.  I thought I knew who I was and I thought I knew who God was, but a whole new learning curve was about to begin. I cried more tears being thirty than I had my first twenty nine years combined.
I would want you to know that out of that grief, something happened.  God took the ashes and turned them into something beautiful.  It was a long process, which is still ongoing, but God proved His supremacy in all things.  He taught me that I don't have to have the answers for everything.  He whispered over this bleeding heart that He has a glorious plan.  A plan that is indeed, good.
I would look straight into your big green eyes, seeing you clearly, and tell you that we don't have to see the good in order to believe that He is good.
But instead of seeing you clearly, I see you through a sheer white curtain blowing as the raised windows let in the cool air.  I see you in glimpses.  Never a wrinkle.  Never a gray hair.  Never a day older. 
You are forever 24.
Perhaps I am jealous.  I am the older one.  I should get to see Him first, you know?  That all supreme and all loving and all consuming Love that we both share.
What do you see when you look into His big eyes?  I know you see Jesus clearly instead of seeing Him through the sheer white curtain.  I try not to get in a rush down here, wishing terribly I were there.
My daughter would have been one on this day.  I know you are a great aunt to her, equal parts spunk and discipline.  Oh how I wish I could squeeze you both.  Eat some chocolate cake with her, OK?
happy birthday in Glory, kiki.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back to School pics

 Oh my stars, Sam looks like his Uncle Zach here!  I usually think he favors his Uncle Lee, but it is Zach here...especially the jaw line. 

When did you get so big, sweet boy?  As you enter a new school, I want you to know that you are smart, you are tender hearted, and you will be used this year in a mighty way.  If I could teach you anything from when I was in your grade, it would be to listen to your teacher lest she put you in your place.  (THIS account of my second grade is worth the read...funny!)

Oh second child of mine, you bring such delight.  As you enter a new school, I want you to know God has given you everything you need to make new friends and be at peace.  Like me, you don't enjoy change, but sometimes change is exactly what God orders in order to break the ties of fear.  If I could teach you anything that I learned from your grade, it would be not to pre-judge people.  I got the dreaded "Mrs. Whitlatch" and she ended up being one of my favorite elementary teachers.  She even had an would have loved that!

How can you be as old as you are, Cade?  It was just yesterday that you were Asher's size.  I am proud of the young man you are becoming.  As you enter a new school, I want to tell you to take a lunch the first day, lest my "new school experience" becomes your own.  (Again, pretty funny!)

And we can't leave little bit out!

Friday, August 16, 2013

On Raising Young Men

Cade has become such the helper this summer.  He takes out trash, mows, cooks lunch, cleans, helps with his brothers, keeps his room and bathroom pristine, changes top bunk sheets for me (praise the LORD!), unloads, folds clothes, and can shop like the best of them at Kroger if I simply hand him a list.  To say I will miss him terribly come Monday is an understatement. I still don't know how I used to do it all now that he helps me in so many ways.  The others are in training, but Cade has made huge strides this summer.

It makes me think of the day when he will be married...far far far away, I tell you!  It makes me think of how blessed his wife will be, that he will know how to manage a family! 

Over the summer, we gave him the book "The Mark of a Man" by Elisabeth Elliot to read.  It was a book that Eric read in college which really defined manhood for him.  Perhaps some would say that 13 is too young to call male children to manhood, but we disagree.  Eric is taking charge and teaching him what true and Godly manhood looks like because Cade will be seeing everything but as he experiences more and more of the world. Our goal is now not so much to shield him from the world but to teach him how to stand and be a light in the world. (There are a few chapters at the end of "The Mark of a Man" that are geared towards married men that we are saving for later.)

There is a concept in the book that almost seems foreign to today's society. The idea is that the woman was created to be the adapter and responder to the man.  All feminists and even some non feminists would balk at this idea.  But, it is the type of wives we are praying for for our boys.  Here is an excerpt from Elliot:

" When you're looking for the right woman to marry, look for one who is prepared to adapt to you.  Now don't suppose for a minute that you yourself won't have to budge.  When two people live together day and night, for life, both of them need to give and take; and I'll mention more of this later.  But if you find a woman who is ready to go where you go and do what you do without brooding about being "her own person," you'll have found a treasure.  She will have to be a woman who has submitted herself to God, first of all, because otherwise she'll be listening to the insistent voices around her, telling her that she's got to be independent and autonomous, that she ought not to be "only" somebody's wife or somebody's mother, that she needs to seek fulfillment for herself, and that that can only be found beyond the bounds of home.  If, having submitted herself to God, she understands that what He had in mind when He made her was response--in order that both man and woman be fulfilled--she will be at peace with the arrangement."

"The important thing for you, as a man, to remember, is that a woman cannot properly be the responder, unless the man is properly the initiator.  He must take the lead in order that she may follow, as in a dance.  The willingness of each to perform the "steps" that have been choreographed gives the other freedom."

"The New Testament word for a woman's position is hupotasso, 'to place or arrange under, to subordinate, to bring under influence.' It is used of the spirits of the prophets; and of the whole of creation, subject to Christ.  Jesus as a boy submitted Himself to His parents, and the same root word is used as is used of demons being submissive to the disciples in Christ's name.  It is a matter of placement.  It does not by any means necessarily imply that one is of lesser worth, any more than Jesus' being placed in a position 'inferior to the angels' suggests that angels are worth more than Jesus.  (It was, in fact, His willingness to take that position that resulted in His being given "a name beyond all names.)"

Yesterday, Sam asked me a good question: "When you were a girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?" The answers were easy. I wanted to be many things, all ranging from a vet to an OBGYN to an English high school teacher to a Christian Counselor.

I had dreams, but no dreams that were higher than being a wife and a mother.  I got my degree in English and planned to teach, but Cade came only two years after we got married.  We didn't hesitate in our decision for me to stay home and raise him.  As each boy came, we never once considered me working full time. 

There were seasons of "famine" where I had to clean toilets for extra cash.  And now, there is photography.  (But, let's face it, photography is for fun, my sanity, and to force myself to see God's beauty all around.)  But I would even give that up if it meant my family was taking a back burner.

Every once in awhile, the enemy sneaks in and tells me I could have "done something with my life."  But, I throw water right on that fiery lie because I know there is nothing more meaningful than being home with these boys. 

I am not saying that every woman should quit her job and stay home.  The whole point is that a woman should come under her husband's authority and ask what would please him most and be the most beneficial for the family.  It just might be the workplace to help with the budget...

So, back to Sam's question.  I told him my dream came true, I got to be a Mom and a Wife...and an occasional English teacher to my boys as needed. There are days I fall into tears because God has been lavish enough to allow me to be at home.

Eric and I pray that as we (with much GOD NEEDED GRACE) strive to raise our sons to be Godly servant-leaders that there are parents out there raising there daughters to be Godly responders whose true beauty shines forth as they submit to their God given authorities.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Season of Rest

I just picked out one of my son's toenails from my eye.  While cutting his dirty toenails, one flung into my eye.  My EYE!!!  Just one of the joys of motherhood!

Onto other topics, I am not ready for our summer to be over.  It has not really felt like a summer, but we have enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.  We haven't gone on vacation or gotten to swim a whole lot.  Most days have been spent at home.  Cade and I do a happy dance when we go on our weekly trip to Kroger...simply because it means we get to get out of the house. 

We have slept long and stayed up late.  We have played spades galore.  We have made cookies together. 

Eric has been able to work from home a lot this summer.  In a small way, I felt like we were at a resort all summer, since we moved into a new home and everything felt fresh.  Sports took a back burner and we were able to have a lot of downtime of simply enjoying each other. 

It was a season of rest that God knew my heart needed.  His word is true.  I was weary and burdened and He brought rest.  The first 4 months of the year were filled with fear, fear, and fear.  I lived in constant turmoil that something was going to be wrong with Asher.  We also had a lot of decisions to make and yet nothing seemed to be pointing to the way God wanted us to take.  I was so unstable that I couldn't control the tears.  I would cry making supper, cry taking the boys to practices, and cry trying to fall asleep.  I wondered if I would ever be "myself" again.  My soul was writhing in absolute upheaval. Peace was as far away as it had ever been in my life.

Things started falling into place in April.  God graciously gave us a very healthy and happy baby.  He provided us a buyer for our home.  He gave us a new and spacious home. (Which was the only one on the market that fit our needs and was within our budget!)  May was an absolute blur.  Not only did we have a newborn, but we were packing up a house and dealing with end of the year events with school. 

About the second week of June, things felt settled.  Our new house immediately felt like home.  My soul could breathe.  I hadn't realized just how long I had been holding my breath.  We were later given more guidance from God about some decisions we were still needing to make.

God gave me the word "possess" for 2013.  I knew at the beginning of the year, that change was coming.  We have already had a baby and God has provided a new home.  The boys will be attending different schools this year.  I wonder what other change He has for us that is yet to come.  I am learning that He goes before us and all we have to do is follow in faith.

But, right now, in this moment, I praise Him for this summer.  It has been one of restoration and healing.  He has brought a season of much needed rest and downtime.  We have been able to enjoy Asher.  We have cuddled and bathed and fed and giggled with and tickled and rocked and taken silly pictures...all without feeling rushed.

It was a fear...that I would have this precious new baby and not have the time to enjoy him.  But, God has been so sweet to give us time for bonding as a new family of six.  I am brokenhearted that the boys will go back to school and miss seeing him all day.  I know Asher will miss his little entertainers for sure!  The word homeschool even entered my mind to overcome know, for about five total seconds!

Things are about to get hectic again around the parts.  School is starting.  With that, comes three boys in three different sports.  Throw in Eric's work schedule and I am trying not to have a mental breakdown before it all begins.  But, I know God is faithful.  I know He provides rest to the weary.

This summer proved that.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cousin Lovin'

Eric has a couple of younger brothers, one being Lee.  Lee has the gumption to raise his family in sunny-perfect-in-every-way Florida, leaving us all missing him, his hot wife, and his three kiddos.  The good news is that they come to see us all for an extended period in the summer. Our kids love getting to see their cousins for long periods of time.  They maximize their time well and have treasure hunts, silly string wars, pool parties, nerf gun wars, and movie nights.  They play well together until about the last day when all are so tired that someone inevitably falls to the ground in a heap of snotty tears.  {Or maybe that happens because they know a hard goodbye is right around the corner.}

One of my favorite things to do while they are in town is to get an updated picture of Eric and Lee's Grandmother with all her great grandchildren.  This year, we got to throw Asher into the shot. Her heritage just keeps getting blessed!

I often wish they lived closer because Eric and I love "doing life" with Lee and Kelli.  They are super fun to double date with because the conversations are always real and sometimes quite hilarious.  One night, we sipped our decaf Starbucks and pretended we were hip while we complained about the hard seats, the invisible vacuum that sucks all our money away, and bowel movements.  We are getting old, what can I say?  {Insert:  today I colored my hair for the first time due to the mass amounts of wiry gray.  Old, I tell ya.}

I am blessed to have family on both sides that I adore and love being with. God has been so good.