Monday, May 31, 2010

Lessons Learned

Today was a tough day on the Momma front. It is certainly my fault for not getting enough sleep the past month. I didn't even pause one moment to ask the Lord for guidance, I just reacted. You see, my five year old son has several labels. He's ADHD, has auditory processing issues (he hears every single sound) and Sensory Deregulation Disorder, which means he has no idea where his body is in space and time and feels more comfortable out of control than in control.

On this day my five year old had a melt down about toast. Despite my attempts to help him find a solution. He kept interrupting me and finally turned his back on me to ignore me completely. I snapped. I could almost feel myself turning into a giant green Lou Ferrigno (Incredible Hulk). To my shame, I grabbed him by the collar of his sweat shirt and dragged him down the hall to my room. On the way his head bumped the door jam. I set him down on my giant pillows and used my "angry mommy voice" to try and get him to hear me. It's a challenge, once he gets something in his head he's almost like Rainman...unable to let it go and work toward a solution. I calmed down. He calmed down. We spoke in normal human voices to each other until we solved the problem. Five minutes later he came to me and gave me a big hug and told me he loved me. It was as if he was thanking him for keeping the boundaries even when it means going head to head.

At that point I lost it. There is nothing I want more in my life than to love the Lord my God, be a good wife and good mother. I felt like a horrible mother, a complete failure and not even worthy of the title at all. Of course I feel like the only mom on the planet who has ever lost her temper. I called a dear friend with little ones and she consoled me:) I called a dear friend with grown children and she laughed and said, "with all you have to work with it's a wonder it hasn't happened more often." <> But I want to be perfect! Not as HE is perfect but as that perfect ME person I have in my head. I had to humble myself and apologize not only to my five year old but to all the other children. I had to tell them that this was a perfect example to see their Momma is NOT perfect. I pointed out that even when someone does something to ruffle my feathers I still have to take responsibility for my actions, tone of voice, etc. The great thing...they all forgave me and could relate to a sibling, friend, parent frustrating them to the point of exploding. They could also see that even when people antagonize them they are still responsible for their responses.

Just a little while ago I had to face someones wrath that was pointed toward my boys. My lovely, childishly foolish, boys used newly purchased sling shots to shoot pebbles OVER OUR FENCE INTO OUR NEIGHBORS YARD! The neighbor was not too pleased about his and yelled at them over the fence and even went so far as to use profanity! They hurried into the house to tell me what happened and I told them the neighbor was absolutely right to be upset. They could have hit a window or a person or damaged something the neighbor valued. An older man came over to make sure I knew what had happened and I apologized for their actions. But I also did something else my boys needed to see. I asked the man not to use foul language with my boys and to let me know if there were ever any problems. You see, they had to see that while what they did was very wrong, it was not appropriate for a grown man to use that kind of language with children. They lost their sling shots for the night and gained a rule of adult supervised slingshot play only. They went outside to goof around again and the neighbors yelled at them to go inside. There entered "Momma Bear". As politely as I could I apologized again to the other adult members of the neighbors family but stated that as their Momma it was MY responsibility to discipline them and monitor them. The man was quite worked up and yelled some things back to me but I stood my ground. I was so frustrated and really would like to have been that contentious woman tearing down HIS house! But I didn't. I went inside and cared for my home.

So what did I learn today?
1. Momma needs more sleep
2. Momma can NOT be perfect, but our perfect Lord is the one I'm supposed to be imitating.
3. It is important to apologize when Momma has been wrong
4. It is important to impart the same grace I hope for from my children when I've made a mistake on them when they make a mistake.
5. It's good to discipline your children when they do wrong and defend them when they are wronged.
6. I learned that all the ups and downs and ins and outs...all those "bi-polar" moments are Worth it because each of these crazy, wonderful, silly, challenging children is worth struggling for.

May the Lord have mercy on all us Mommas...our children truly help us work out our Salvation with fear and trembling (some times extra fear or trembling or both! :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Never Too Tired

I was thinking the other day about how tired I am. I keep staying up way too late and then I have to get up way too early. I stay up because...well...I have 7 wonderful children I'm responsible for. The youngest four have me running all day then I settle down on the couch to make memories with my older three. When they're all tucked away in bed and I've tended to the kitchen, etc. (if I'm not too pooped to pop), I enjoy those quiet moments typing or looking up things online I've thought about during the day. Eventually I fall into bed, sometime fully clothed, only to be awaken 30 minutes later for a feeding, four hours after that for another feeding, an hour after that for the wonderful goodbye kisses my husband gives me before heading off to work at 5:30 am and moments later morning shines through my windows mocking my curtains telling me to get up and do it all again.

But then there are those nights when someone is sick. The baby had two nights with very high fevers (104 and 104.5 respectively). I'm wide awake with no hint of a drag in my step. I'm alert and ready to respond. I play nurse made with no complaint if it can ease the suffering of the little one who has no idea what is making her little body feel so uncomfortable. I have had children vomit on my pillow, not once but twice. I've taken temps under armpits, in bottoms, ears and mouths (not the same thermometer as used for bottoms:). I've undressed, bundled and wiped down. I've given cool water, tea, Pediasure and 7-Up. And I've prayed like I've never prayed before!

God has given mama's a reserve fuel tank, I think. We think we're empty and tired and weak but when we're needed we switch tanks and charge through without a second thought. It's different than the adrenalin rush we can get in emergency situations. It's not a fight, flight or freeze response. We don't run from it but to the emergency. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, aren't we? And we will make it through all the diapers and spit up and teething. The high fevers and coughs and breathing treatments won't make us retreat. We're like God's postal service: neither vomit, nor boogies, nor fevers, nor diarrhea shall keep us from our duty as mothers.

Thank you Lord for Your strength!!! I'm tired, but You're not! Praise the Lord...Zzzzzzz

Monday, May 24, 2010


My brother is dieing. Not my biological brother but a man who has recently become my brother. He was known at our church in California as Homeless Mark. Each summer our church would have BBQ after vespers Saturday night. Sometime mid summer we'd start seeing these special homeless friends start showing up to "accept the hospitality of others":) They were always respectful and enjoyed the food. As the BBQs wound down their attendance dwindled to nothing fall, winter and spring. We'd almost forget about our visitors until summer came around again. Then one year summer came and went and Homeless Mark stayed.

Homeless Mark didn't smell very good. He had nights when he'd been so drunk he wasn't even aware that he'd urinated on himself...or worse, someone else had urinated on him. He walked with a limp because he was missing some toes and part of his foot. He had some of his fingers, but not all. That didn't stop him from playing piano or guitar though. He'd walk into church with a Snapple bottle full of alcohol and cheer for the choir as they sang sacred songs. When he talked he brought his toothless mouth so close to your face and spoke so loudly...I would turn my head take a deep breath and turn back to face him while holding my breath so as not to offend. He wouldn't call Fr. Andrew father and carried a big Bible and several study books with him. One year he made a home under the stairs to the choir loft. As the congregation came out to do an evening procession around the church near Pascha he popped out from under the stairs and clapped and cheered as if the procession was for his personal enjoyment. He'd asked once if he could start coming to catechumen classes (catechism) and Fr. Andrew told him he'd have to be sober for a few months first. That may seem a bit odd to deny a man entry to a class for seekers, but, contrary to popular belief, becoming a Christian should not be rushed into and is not to be taken lightly.

Homeless Mark was not always appropriate and would get easily offended. He shared offensive jokes and would sometimes become unruly in church if someone encouraged him to quiet down. He made comments to a couple of women, scared a few children and was even escorted off the property by a protective dad and told not to return. He had worn out his welcome at every other church in the valley as well as many organizations whose sole purpose was to help the poor. Homeless Mark did not return that summer. I was sort of surprised because he'd been around for so long, but he didn't come back.

We moved away and didn't hear anything about Homeless Mark until after Christmas 2008. Right after Christmas Homeless Mark was feeling quite hopeless and couldn't think of any other way to get the help he so desperately needed so he set himself on fire. That got him into the hospital and thus began his road to sobriety. Mark found himself drawn back to the Church. Though he'd worn out his welcome everywhere he still decided to come back. When he did return he was very different. He sat through church and listened. He didn't cheer. He was the first to the fellowship hall to help set up and the stayed to the last to help tear down. He came to many services and was faithful to remain in his SLE (sober living environment). He got teeth and wore them though they made him feel very uncomfortable. They were very distracting to him at first like a child who has just gotten braces and can't stop running his tongue over them. He got newer clothes and was able to bathe regularly. He started asking questions and listened to the answers. Although he still thought he could fly (he'd been perpetually intoxicated for many many years), he continued to seek the Christ who seemed to have alluded him for so long. He celebrated Pascha that year and stayed into the wee morning hours to help clean up. And with all the excitement and celebration no one realized he didn't have a way to get home. A man from the church returned early that morning to take care of some business and found him sleeping on the deck. When asked what he was doing there so early he simply stated that the buses stopped running at 11 and so he slept there. The man who'd personally escorted him off the property became his friend and welcomed him back.

Last Wednesday Mark was Chrismated! He became an Orthodox Christian. Father had to ask him if he'd been baptized and he stated he'd been baptized 5 times! On that day Mark became my brother. Mark is dieing of cancer. We don't know how much time he has left. No one was even sure he'd remember he'd been Chrismated because of all the medication he's on for pain. But he remembers! His Good Shepherd has been searching for this lost sheep for all of these years and though it is just before the end of this precious lambs life his Master has found him and is rejoicing over him (Matthew 18:10-140. He has been hired during these last hours by the Vineyard Owner and will be rewarded in the same way as those who sought employment at the beginning (Matthew 20:6-8). He has been redeemed. He is clean. He is sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is merciful! This was a man who anyone would have looked at and seen little hope of him changing his ways, yet the Carpenter took the few scraps of wood that were left of his life and made him into a beautiful, perfectly crafted useful vessel. May I live as if I am homeless (this world is not my home Hebrews 11:13), and may I endeavor to humble myself the way my brother did.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy Upon Us. - Amen

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Thound Thunny Holding My Thongue

It's bedtime for the big girls at our house. The boys went to bed a few hours ago and we didn't even have any of them sneaking up to beg for a drop of water for their parched tongues or a crust of bread for their starving bellies. None of them limped across the living room with excruciating growing pains in their elbows. They are sleeping and all is quiet in the house.

What's that I hear? Gaiety in the game room? Could it be true?! Are the girls still up and with their dad as the instigator?! Doesn't he know they have classes in the morning? Doesn't he care that I, yes I, sent them to bed already? But...I don't speak. I listen to the joy being expressed down there. I don't interrupt and try to get my way and ruin this great opportunity the girls have to make a little memory with their dad.

Now, it takes a lot of strength to hold a tongue as strong as mine. My tongue exercises each morning almost immediately after the boys arise and throughout the day as it directs, explains, corrects and sometimes lectures. It has the power to heave tremendous guilt trips on the unsuspecting or praise to high heaven the actions, thoughts or creative genius my husband and children exhibit daily.

The Bible says in Proverbs 21:9 "Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman." I don't want my family huddled in a corner of our attic because of me:)

Tho I wiw hold my thung and thorce mythelf to enthoy the lauthter.

Bad News

No, not about our family, so don't worry. I had the unfortunate opportunity to watch part of the evening news tonight. Within five minutes we covered the disappearance and possible discovery of the body of a young teen who'd gone missing two weeks ago on her way to a birthday party. We heard about the body of a young child found in an abandoned apartment. We saw homeless teens featured in a public interest segment and even the weather showed the possibility of more dangerous weather.

How I wish there was more I could do to help. I wish I could comfort the family of the missing girl or could have somehow helped that poor child they found. I wish I could just open my home up to all the homeless teens and children and babies. I wish I could care for teen moms and help them through the maturing process that must now be jump started prematurely. Sometimes I feel like Oskar Schindler who at the end of the war wondered who else he could have saved if he'd just sold his gold ring or car or... I understand that the Lord has not called me to all of it, but He has given me a sensitive heart and with that gift comes some responsibility as well. Yes, we do foster care and in that way we are doing a small part in taking care of the "orphans" in our community. But I can also pray and I can work with my children to help them have a heart for the hurting so that perhaps some day they will be like Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8 calling to the Lord when they hear His voice "here am I, send me."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

There's Just Something About...

There is just something about a clean kitchen. I don't mind if there are still dishes in the sink because they won't all fit in one dishwasher load. I don't care that the floor isn't mopped yet (that's tomorrow's job). I don't even mind the few stacks of "things" on the counters because they're all in the correct "things" piles.

Staying awake until...well...too late is worth it most nights if I can make my counters shine. If I can get all the crud scraped off and wash and wipe until I can see my refection...ugh! Is that me?! I need a shower...never mind, the kitchen is clean!

Today was an interesting "everything" kind of day. You know the kind. There are 365 days in a year and everything has to happen on THIS day. First my wonderful dear friend came over for the day just in time for me to dash out the door leaving foster babe and child #5 behind while I raced to drop off child #1 for class and the doctor for child #6. Then there was occupational therapy for both #6 and #4 while having to make sure #1 got picked up from classes and #'s 2 and 3 got dropped off in a timely manner. I then raced back to pick up #4 from OT because, of course, he and #6 don't have appointments at the same time, that would be too easy. I then headed back to the house to make a quick lunch and hurry back out to pick up #'s 2 & 3 from their classes. My dear friend and I had a fun time, those 3 1/2 minutes we actually got to talk :). Our respite was short lived because child #2 had to go back to class for an assembly. While trying to pack all the kids in the cars to drop off #2 we found that our dog count was down. You see, Dear Friend had brought her adorable two puppies (and even cuter 3 little boys and little brother) to liven our home up a bit. So, 5 dogs turned to 4 dogs and we just couldn't find the little runaway. We headed to the park, while child #2 went to her assembly, where Dear Friend and I were able to enjoy each others company for a while longer. When we headed back to the house we searched and searched for the missing pup. Child #5 had the great idea to stop and pray and the pup was found in 5 minutes.

After Dear Friend left it was time to make dinner and prepare for the 1 year old foster babe who is staying with us for a week while his foster fam goes on a well deserved vacation. Since I was making dinner I figured I could make deodorant for my husband and all us females. I'm happy to report the spatulas never got put in the wrong pot and the deodorant (and dinner) turned out well. I meant to have everything done on time, but instead of getting to sit down and eat with the whole family I had to help child #4 remember how to be respectful even when he doesn't get what he wants. When I came back up the table looked like it had been ravaged by locusts with french bread crusts and crumbs laying on the table like rubble and pizza fondue droppings here and there. As I tried to scoop a few bites in my mouth Dear Friend #2 arrived with the 1 year old who was...well...less than happy to be here. Foster babe #1 and Foster babe #2 finally settled down and went to bed. I collapsed on the couch to spend some quality time with children #1,2 & 3 but found myself abandoned and watching American Idol and 16 and Pregnant (great show for discussion). At 10:40 I shooed #2 and 3 off to bed and, to my pleasant surprise, child #1 came to do her living room chore without being asked, begged, threatened or bribed!

When Child #1 headed to bed I headed to the kitchen to complete my "province" at a leisurely pace. I made some more cleaner, scrubbed everything down, wiped down the fridge, counter and island until they all smiled back at me. I was on such a role I decided to wash the windows on the french doors. I could clearly see the fingerprints were on the other side of the door, but what I didn't see were a multitude of BUGS! They were clinging to my window plotting how to get in AND I HELPED THEM!!! A big swarm zoomed in before I could close the door and next thing I know I'm playing sniper with window cleaner against these strange looking, loud buzzing, bugs.

But my kitchen is clean! Since I wake up first I'll be able to smile at in the morning before it gets smeared with jam and peanut butter or eggs that accidentally miss the pan. There's just something so satisfying about a clean kitchen:)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Can't Do Everything!

I heard a mom of 6 say the other day "I can't do everything..." when speaking to one of her sons. I don't know what the conversation was about, but those words are close to my heart :) When I think about it, that quote is true. I can try to be the best Proverbs 31 woman that I can be. I can try to go to bed late and get up early to tend the needs of my family. I can try to find a field and buy it (as long as it only costs $.45). I can try to clothe my family in purple and scarlet (which would work well for the boys, they get lots of scrapes and into lots of things so it would help hide the blood and berry juice!). I can try to provide for my servant girls...if they ever arrive. I can try to do all of these things and run myself completely ragged. The bottom line is, if I am trying to do all of these things in my own strength I CAN'T DO IT! It won't work! But God can do everything. It is only the Lord who can give me the strength to endure, and enjoy it, for the long haul. He can accomplish in each of us what He knows to be most important and most productive.

O Lord help me to stop striving and know that YOU are God:)
P.S. I wouldn't mind the servant girls...if it's Your will...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Will Yield

I have always been a die hard homeschooler. From the beginning I just couldn't imagine sending my children away so someone else could teach them what they thought was important for 6 1/2 hours each day. I couldn't imagine giving up those "a-ha" moments when they broke the code to reading or figured out new math concepts. Okay, so I stated out as a homeschool Nazi requiring the pledge of allegiance and my first kindergartner to memorize ridiculous amounts of history and science...did I mention she was in kindergarten?! I was so afraid of ruining my children. There were so many people with false views of what homeschooling meant and were quick to put me and my family in a box. Or they'd make broad statements about...say it with me...socialization, or lack there of. I've encouraged many families to homeschool over the years. I think it's been one of the greatest things our family has done. Even though my house may not stay clean because my children are always in it...even though I will probably be sleep deprived until I meet my Lord...even though there are daily conflicts and I have to switch hats between mama and Judge Judy, it's all been worth it.

From the beginning I've always told people that while we love homeschooling we take it one year at a time. I said I'd love to homeschool through high school. I said with conviction that we will trust the Lord and His leading no matter what He may call us to, even if He called us to put our children in public school in the middle of Compton. I really almost mostly kinda meant it. It's very easy to say you believe something when there really doesn't seem to be any threat to your ideal.

All of my children are very unique. I have a "gamer", a socialite, a dare devil, an artist, a Tasmanian devil and a musician. I can say with all honesty that I have no idea where the Lord will lead us for the education of each of our children. But I do know, and am learning daily, that whichever direction He leads we must yield. Even if it doesn't make sense or fit into our plans. Even if it gives us that yucky sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs. These lessons may just be the most important life lessons our children learn.

We are at a sort of crossroad right now. Our "musician" seems to be called to something other than what we have gotten comfortable with. It looks like she may, for reasons I can not fully understand, need to go to day school. Not because day school is the more reasonable choice or may offer a better chance to achieve something greater, but simply because it may be what the Lord has for her. It is so hard to yield when all you want to do is keep holding on to your little girl's hand. But if God is asking me to release her hand so she can hold on to His more securely how can I possibly argue that?

Before we became Orthodox we were lead on a similar path by our "socialite":) I attended the church with her and though I was NOT in agreement with it I saw that there was something about it that brought her closer to Christ. I didn't understand that either, yet I was compelled to allow her to go to that church with friends. I had no idea at the time what kind of impact that would later have on our whole family, but even if we had not become Orthodox it still would have been the right thing to allow her to go if it were essential for her salvation. I have that same feeling now.

I have no idea where this will lead. Sometimes the Lord opens a door so we can walk through it and sometimes He opens a door so that we can receive His strength NOT to walk through. Who can know the ways of the Lord? But we can trust that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. We can KNOW that He who began a good work in us WILL be faithful to complete it. And we can say with confidence (with a dash of Holy fear) not my will but Thine be done.

Oh Lord my God may we never waiver in following You! Amen!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Best Momma's Day Ever

It started out like most Sundays do, with Momma waking up 6 children who REALLY don't want to wake up for Church. I pulled off blankets and bounced little people on their beds and grudgingly they rose. My one consolation was the smiling baby who'd been up before anyone else:)

Church was lovely with Walmart donating flowers they'd forgotten in the back fridge and could no longer sell. Each momma at least got flowers. My wonderful husband had to work but for some reason this Sunday that fact made me feel a little pouty. I went to take the baby to her visit with her bio mom and finding the visit canceled went to a store instead to "make my own fun". I ended up purchasing a stove top popcorn popper with a stir handle. Once again I sacrificed my own pleasure to buy something the whole family could enjoy even though I wasn't appreciated. The fact that I like popcorn more than almost any other snack was pure coincidence. Sure my children had plans for something later that evening, but my own husband hadn't even called to wish me a happy Mother's Day! (do you hear violins or is that just me?!)

When I got back home I found my children anxiously awaiting Daddy's return from work. Apparently my 14 year old daughter had concocted a plan to bless me, but at that point I was too busy entertaining my self pity to notice what was really going on. Self pity is a very time consuming guest! Finally my husband arrived at home and that's when the blessings began. My five year old son ran outside to the crab apple tree and picked two giant fist fulls of blossoms. He came in to show me his lovely treasure, which I thanked him for, then proceeded to start tossing the blossoms into the air shouting "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!" over and over. He looked at my astonished face and quickly said "Well, Fr. Andrew did it at Pascha!" and tossed the last petals all over the living room floor.

Next, my lovely daughter had planned for Daddy to take me to the movies and then she and the other children prepared dinner and dessert, set the table with an actual table cloth and lovely fine...uh...styrofoam plates and flowers. We even came home to my eldest daughter washing the dishes. The night finished with my 12 year old daughter preforming interpretive dance to "sad piano music" she'd found on youtube. She was very graceful. I was completely exhausted by the time it was all over and collapsed into bed. I looked at my cell phone and saw there was a text message I'd missed that morning. It was from my wonderful husband! He'd texted, instead of calling, me first thing in the morning so as not to wake the children. "Happy Mother's Day! I appreciate everything you do..." I felt like such a heel! I pulled my undeserving self out of bed and went to my charming, handsome, thoughtful husband and repented.

My family had SO kindly arisen and called me blessed by their acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. Mother's Day isn't about my children or husband remembering me. It isn't about getting flowers or receiving a card or even a night out for "faithful" service. It's a day for me thinking about me...but not in the way you may think. I have to remember why I am so blessed to be a mother. Why I get up early and stay up late trying to accomplish all there is to accomplish for 1 husband, 6 children (plus one foster babe), 22 chickens, 1 cat, 3 dogs, 9 fruit trees and a pitiful struggling little garden. I have to recognize myself God's amazing blessing of children and the high calling of motherhood. Each day I can accept God's grace and mercy in my life and pass that on to my family I am happy turning each day into a Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

This Is NOT a Hill Worth Dying On

My 7 year old, for some unknown reason, came into the room with his hands in the air and stated "it's not a hill worth dying on". It made me chuckle at first because this is something I say often, and no one else was awake for him to be making that comment to. Whenever there are arguments between sibling over things like who used the brush last or someone "stoled" my shoes, I tell the kids that it's not worth it. Sometimes they come up with all sorts of outrageous stories to avoid having to forgive their "neighbor". My favorite was one of my sons who was SURE that his sisters were secretly getting up in the middle of the night to play XBOX so they could get ahead of him in the game. There was no room in his rationale for any other options such as age and experience giving them an advantage over him. He was willing to die on that hill even though it was completely illogical. Dying on every single hill makes it near impossible to successfully interact with ones own family let alone anyone else in the free world. Carrying an arsenal around with you wherever you go is too heavy a burden and gets you on edge before a battle even presents itself. But if they can learn to enter each situation with the white flag of peace and be willing to negotiate a reasonable treaty, they will have the skills to interact with confidence and overcome or avoid many land mines. And there are many many many landmines in this world! One will working with or against another...everyone wants their own way:)

Now I do try to show them that there ARE hills worth dying on. If they are being challenged morally, yes that is a hill worth dying on. If someone is trying to force them to do something harmful, foolish or illegal I absolutely encourage them to take that stand, pull out that arsenal and push the "enemy" back, or at least dig a foxhole and wait for reinforcements. Our world history has shown us that there are things that were literally and figuratively worth dying for. The freedoms we enjoy today were purchased by the blood or reputations of others.

I'm so blessed when my children apply what I'm trying to teach them to their lives and make it their own. At the same time I'm reminded of the power of my words and my example. They're going to apply what I do and say. They're watching, always watching. They'll call me on my inconsistencies and if I'm a wise mama I'll listen. I too have to choose which hills to die on in parenting. Some days it seems like there is an ambush waiting on every single hill and mound of dirt. But I must keep my arsenal put away and carry my own flag of peace. I have to remember I'm not approaching an enemy but rather an ally who is not in agreement with my interpretation of the rules of war. When we're at that negotiation table I do have to listen to the input that soldier has so we can work together on a reasonable solution. We are, after all, fighting the same war on the same side.

May the Lord grant His peace today as we climb each hill and may we only fight the battles that will bring our little allies new wisdom so they will be able to be successful, wise, humble and kind warriors when they grow up.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Mother's Day is approaching. This is the time of year we are supposed to thank our mother's for their impact on our lives. We're supposed to take one day out of the year to rise up and call them blessed. My momma did so much with us when I was little. She had a wonderfully positive influence on my creativity and left me with unique memories I want to create with my children.

It's one thing the thank my momma for giving me life and a whole other thing to accept that from my own children. As undeserving as I feel of any praise they might muster for the occasion, I do have a few things to say about the life I've chosen.

There is a picture of me, floating around somewhere, at the age of four sleeping on a fold out bed in Washington DC with a doll under my shirt. I'd fallen asleep nursing, you see. For as longs as I can remember I've wanted to be a momma. I had other ambitions as well including being the lead singer in a band, going to UCSC to major in psychology, getting my BA in early childhood education, being married to Nikki Sixx from Motle Crue (I'm so embarrassed!), going to Africa to be a missionary (Now THAT'S a contrast from Nikki Sixx!!!) and being a traveling teacher to missionary kids. I've accomplished most of what I had desired but in a way I never realized could be so rewarding (and in a way that, PRAISE THE LORD, did NOT include Nikki Sixx:)

As a mother I have gotten my degree in psychology as I've worked with everyone from toddler to teen and in between. I work full time as an early childhood educator and teacher. I haven't gone to Africa, but I listen to African music with my 14 year old:)I have been the lead singer as I've sung them to sleep while holding them (the teens aren't so into that anymore, LOL!) And while I haven't been a teacher to missionary kids Our home has been home to 20 children so far, not counting the first three from my belly. In addition I have been a professional "home chef", housekeeper, chauffeur, coach, interpreter (ahhh, the toddler years:) And the teen years for that matter!), personal shopper, nurse, seamstress, home herbalist, music instructor, editor of many a paper, project manager, administrative assistant, detective, goof ball, laundress and cheerleader. I think there's more but my brain is going numb just thinking about it all:)

I'm so thankful for my children. Without them there'd be no mother's day:) Yes, there'd be more nights of undisturbed sleep and finishing thoughts and phone conversations. Perhaps I'd hear more birds chirping and be able to drink in the beauty of God's creation. But the light I see in their eyes when I do happen to do the right things and catch them in their "moments of glory"...There's no sunset can compare to the faces and heart and love they lavish on me or bird song more beautiful than being called mommy by my children. If I couldn't sleep one more night or finish one more thoug....oh look at the pretty lights, they're so spaaahhhhkly!...ahem...I mean finish one more thought or conversation on the phone I would, and do, count it my privilege to hold this post Christ has given to me.

Now they key is to remember all of that during the day time when they sound like european police sirens as they say mommy mommy mommy over and over again:)

Many blessings and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The "Why" Stage

The pipes started leaking last Monday. I thought my youngest son had peed on the floor, since that's what he told his 7 year old brother...and because that's not quite out of his system yet. He got down on his knees and smelled the floor to prove it was not pee. He made me get down and smell it too. To my surprise (and delight) I found it was not pee! But as I straightened up I saw water streaming down the basement wall and a bulge like a water balloon in the ceiling. It turns out whoever put in the pipes used outdoor sprinkler pipe. Not even as strong as PVC. The plumber the bank hired to fix a leak prior to our purchase of the home neglected to point this out to us.

Last Wednesday the little car got sick. It started running a fever which we thought we could remedy with a dose or two of coolant. It got me home, but Saturday the "fever" came back and so there it sits next to the driveway...this illness seems to be fatal.

There are times in life when it seems one bad thing happens after another. The handle for the sliding door to our van falls off. The cold water doesn't work on the Northern part of our house because of the plumbing difficulties. The dogs have gotten just tall enough to grab things out of the trash and leave shredded paper towels and bits of packaging from our defrosted chicken legs all over the kitchen and living room which of course causes a bit of a tummy upset for the poor dears who graciously leave a "deposit" near the bathroom for us to clean up at our earliest convenience. The van's check engine light laughs at me each time I get in and try to start her (no really, I'm sure I've at least heard snickering!).

My oldest son asked me today why all of these things were happening. Why were the cars breaking and why didn't anyone warn us about the issues with the house and why can't Grandma be out here yet and why do these things have to happen now and interfere with some of the things we hoped to be able to afford to do during the summer?! In addition to his "why's" I have my own about why certain people in my family keep doing those THINGS that drive me nuts. Why can't little boys be CONstructive? Why do teens have to be so hormonal? Why do there have to be SO many appointments to drive everyone to in order for them to have the chance to be productive members of society. It seems logical at this point to find a nice quiet dark closet, curl up into the fetal position and start sucking my thumb while humming a lullaby over and over again.

But there are SO many blessings to be found in all the chaos. Things could be much much worse. I had my 9 year old son watch a video about Nick Vujicic (type his name in on youtube! He's amazing). This man was born with no arms and no legs. He's basically just a trunk with a head. He can't wipe his own nose and he'll never be able to hug someone he loves or hold his own child if he ever marries. Yet, this many has amazing joy! If he can have joy in his present situation certainly we can be joyful in ours.

We watched a movie this evening about Fr. Damien a Catholic priest who was missionary to an island of leapers in Hawaii. He went and served faithfully without support from government or Church who had written all of these poor people off. He struggled to serve these people with so little and evenutally contracted leaprosy himself and STILL served. If he can, by the grace and strength given him by Christ, minister to the sick and the poor surely God can also give us the grace to endure the "hardships" we face.

"Why do all of these things have to happen?" was the original question. "Why not" is my response. Why does any good thing happen? Why do the flowers bloom each spring? Why do we have warm beds to sleep in and food to eat each day? Why are we healthy and able to work and play? Why is there laughter? By the grace of God we are being sustained every moment. Each positive thing that happens is a small miracle and blessing from our Lord in this dark world. These good things are possible because He first loved us...because the Bible tells us so:)...because on the sixth day God created us and said we were good...because He trampled down death by death and bestowed life upon those of us in bondage.

So the pipes, they'll get fixed. The cars...either the Lord will provide alternative transportation, fix it Himself (carpentry can't be THAT different from car mechanic:) or we'll be spending a lot more quality time together. The boys will continue to be boys and we'll have lots of memories to laugh about...later:) In the years ahead we won't remember the pipes or cars or appointments but we will have, hopefully, the fruit of perseverance and love for one another. We'll have funny stories. We'll have each other and the memory that the Lord of all creation helped us not only make it through, but allowed us to learn to be compassionate towards those in much more challenging situations.

James 1:3-4 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The 10k of Childhood

I think I've said this already, but I really like the toddler stage over the teen stage. I'm trying to embrace each new stage of development each of my children goes through, but sometimes it's hard to hug a porcupine. We discovered at a young child's amusement/animal park that porcupines don't throw their quills when in danger, as all the cartoons show. And if you can pet them in the right direction their quills are quite harmless. So it is with teens. They threaten to "throw their quills" and they put on a very believable show but they still need to be approached and hugged and cuddled quills and all.

I was faced, this morning, with a dilemma. One of my daughters had dressed for church in something that wasn't quite appropriate. It wasn't risque, but it wasn't quite church attire. When I told her to go put on leggings she got a little huffy and, in fact, got a bit smart with me. I found myself apologizing to her and then stopped myself. I wanted to express myself correctly here. Could this possibly be one of those moments? Those wonderfully teachable moments? I explained that I was sorry that she was disappointed about having to alter her outfit, but I wasn't sorry for the rules we have in our home.
Nope. It wasn't one of those moments after all. She was still frustrated and twerpie. She still stomped to her room and, being the passive aggressive person that she is, changed her outfit in a huff but not her attitdue.

I tend to second guess myself a lot, especially with my oldest daughter and oldest son. I'm going through all of this the first time with each of them. My eldest daughter is my first try as a mom, my poor little guinea pig. When challenges present themselves in her life or she feels the need to test the boundaries it's really often with a song and a prayer...or a yelp and a prayer, that we proceed down that dark scary parenting ally way. Sometimes there are dead ends and the methods we've chosen don't work. Other times it opens up unexpectedly into the patio of a nice little bistro we didn't know existed. You'd think it would be easier with our oldest son, given the vast experience we've obtained from our eldest child. But no! He's a completely different creature who thinks and feels and processes things so totally opposite of what we've come to consider the "norm" in our home. You see, the younger girls have learned much of what not to do and which buttons not to push from watching the interactions between us and our eldest daughter. Our eldest son, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be reading the same play book and has concluded the rules don't apply to him. Then the two younger boys...if I can call them boys, they're more like little crazy destructive monkeys, haven't reached that developmental stage that helps them notice or acknowledge the world around them yet. They're still running into walls and trying to see if they can fly by jumping out of trees while flapping bits of cardboard they've tied to their arms.

But there must be rules. I've seen too many parents lose the respect of their children because there weren't rules. They were too busy trying to be their buddy. There have also been the parents whose rules are so constricting that the children break away from the family simply because they're searching for oxygen! There has to be a balance and I can't say with any certainty that I've reached it, but that is my goal. It's like tightrope walking over dog poop. It's an extreme challenge to begin with and when you fall it really stinks! Don't get me wrong. I want to be friends with my children. I want them to talk to me when they have struggles and tell me their dreams. I want them to know we can just hang out. But I also want them to feel the security of the boundaries. They test them over and over (AND OVER) again, but we try to keep them in place. We offer opportunities to express themselves if they don't agree with one of the rules or if they have more information that could lessen their sentence.

I don't know where I'm going with this. Perhaps this is just a note to myself to "just keep swimming" as Dori would say (I so relate to that blue fish!). It's all been worth it and with my oldest children that finish line is quickly approaching. I hope when they finish their race in our household they will feel energized and ready to take on whatever the Lord has for them. I hope they will understand that sticking to our house rules required perseverance on our part a s well. It's tough to jump those hurdles of inconsistency, let me tell you! But through faith, with trust (and a little pixie dust...ahem...where did that little Peter Pan moment come from?!) perhaps we'll run through that finish line together. If not, at least we can be there to give them the Gatorade and orange slices before they begin that marathon of adulthood. :)