Monday, December 16, 2013

Lookin' at History

The stranger stared at me from inside the Chick-fil-A playground. His little boy was yelling to the top of his lungs and half the restaurant could hear him through the thick glass. Did I mention he also had his lips, nose and hands plastered on the see-through pane and was calling out for his mom? The man looked embarrassed and pained.

I hesitantly opened the door and let my youngest two loose. They are not exactly the quietest kids on the block. Plus, there was a history to our day and I did not feel like sharing it. Often, we as mommas, don't think about the history of someone's day and what got their sanity, kids and bodies to the point in the day where we so easily judge them. We think of our own day with details and extreme clarity and well, a whole dose of justification. But, when it comes to other women, we take stock of them in the present with little to no regard to what has led them to those few moments.

Everyone had taken a much needed nap that afternoon and well, it lasted longer than anticipated because of a serious lack of sleep this past week. It was 5:00 and we had to be at the piano recital at 6:30. Remember the days when you were single or childless and could just walk out the door with five minutes' notice. Yeah, me neither. Two teenage girls take at least an hour (at least...I'm screaming this people...hear me clearly...cause you will need this bit of information sooner than you think...AT LEAST an hour). Jett, well he's quick, but he also needs to be reminded every three minutes to get everything he needs. My fear was that he would forget his music, and well, he doesn't have it memorized. That would be an hour round trip back to our house, so I was going to make sure that did not happen. And do not for a moment think that there wasn't yelling and gnashing of teeth to get everyone to dress appropriately and do it in a timely fashion. There was plenty of that.

Then, there's Zeke and Elly, and I've frankly had enough criticism about skin and hair care to last a lifetime. So, I was careful to make sure that everyone was lathered in our favorite shea butter from head to toe. Just in case they played in the playground and their socks happen to fall off too. Then, there's Zeke's hair which requires a pick and a comb to get to the right height and evenness (the mohawk is not as simple as it looks). Oh and Elly's hair which demands the passing of an amendment to the Constitution in order to pass inspection. I divided it straight down the middle (oh, I cannot emphasize how important this is to her), applied the conditioner, brushed and brushed until my arm was on fire and properly prepared the pigtails. (The child is ADAMANTLY opposed to twists or braids or anything cute like that. Those hairstyles seem to ignite something in her that I don't want to wrangle right now). So, with two minutes to spare, everyone was ready to go.

We arrived at CFA and proceeded to find a place to fit seven people and check in with the piano instructor and get kids to wait for food and we seemed to be missing two people. JT strides through the door and has a determined look on his face. One kiddo is out in the car crying because she forgot her music. I think JT's words were something like, "You need to go take care of that because I'm not a counselor." Oh no! Let's just say that 30 minutes of therapy fixed the issue and all survived. Listen to music intermittently, feed kids, more music, don't eat off the floor, I'll stand while you eat, etc....and then off to the playground.

I caught the man's eye and he looked like he could use a listening ear. When I walked into the door, he immediately spoke up, "Are all those kids yours?" Pause. Now, is he asking about adoption, my occupation (am I babysitting? do I run a daycare? a teacher?), or is this just a general kill-the-silence question?

As it turns out, the kid was wearing him out that day, and his wife needed a break. Everyone was tired of the three year old, and he was an only child. What could've easily turned into a judgmental attitude on my part or his turned into several minutes of encouragement in the Lord. Because it is hard to be a matter how many kids you have or don't have...

And EVERYONE has a tendency to see others as having an "easier" life or a season that is so much more rewarding...yet, we forget that there is a history that can be painful or embarrassing or exhausting or difficult. We just see the immediate of others yet the whole history book on ourselves.

During this holiday season, let us pledge to think of the history of others and not to gauge everything by the moment. Parenting is a cumulative calling that affects us all and binds us together. Let us not wound one another with our judgments or assessments or self-help philosophies. Instead, let us run to the throne of the One who can show us how to love well and search the Word for wisdom that transcends earthly advice. Stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow parents and parents to be who are longing to lead their families to seek the glory of God. Shed the opinions for encouragement. Leave the judgments and choose blessings. Battle on.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The HARDEST number of kids to parent...a real formula to see if you measure up!

I want you to read this post VERY carefully. Every.Single.Word. Because I am about to make history. I can feel it in my bones. Or perhaps that’s one of my kids crawling up my leg again. Either way, I just know that I am about to shatter your dreams.

Officially, according to The World of Me (Sheryl Turner), I have discovered the hardest number of children you can have. Stay with me here because this may just change the world as you know it. I know that many of us have seen Nineteen Kids and Counting and wonder how does Michelle Duggar do it all? And, then we have friends with one kid who are struggling to take a shower each day. So, I set to work to discover what the TRUTH behind the number of kids and losing one’s sanity might be.

And, I found it. Yep, I did. You can send your thank you notes straight to my mailbox because well, I like to get mail. And my kids fight over who earns the privilege of retrieving the mail each day. They always think there’s something in there for them…I toss them a catalog and they are happy. And then there’s the college recruitment doo-higgies that I toss in the garbage because I want to live in denial that my 17 year old only has another year at home. But, I digress.

Let me preface this life altering information with this little bit of insight. I am a numbers person. Always have been. I “get” math and I don’t have to work at it. You can hate, and I don’t mind. When a boy was kidnapped and it garnered national attention (when I was like 8 or 9), I began to memorize the license plate numbers of cars parked on either side of us wherever we went. I know it’s quirky but it’s a habit. I don’t do it as much anymore mainly because I’m counting heads of my own kids and I think that’s more important. I can remember phone numbers and birthdays over names. I can also tell you how many times people mentioned a certain topic in their conversation (often the one they say that they don’t care about but if you mention it 22 times in a matter of thirteen minutes, then I think you do care about it). I have counted the tiles in many funeral parlors, churches and waiting rooms. I know the distance between places but can’t tell you how to get there. I can, however, tell you down to the minute, exactly how long it will take you to get there. And I can pick up a piece of luggage and guess the weight within a pound or two. So, maybe it’s a curse. Now that I read all of that about myself, I think I need counseling.

So, I’ve crunched all these numbers, and I have come up with a formula that has produced the HARDEST number of kids that you can have. Some of you might not want to know because perhaps you think you won’t measure up. Others have more kids and hope that you are the perfect number. SPOILER ALERT….THE HARDEST NUMBER OF KIDS TO HAVE IS….

(You have to keep scrolling because I don’t anyone to go further if they truly need to stop now)


Yep, that’s the hardest number of kids you can have. Do you have kids? Nope. Then, that’s the hardest number. With friends who have struggled with infertility, you long for the day that you will be a mommy. And your heart hurts when people post about morning sickness or complain about how their baby won’t stop crying. You want that…someone to call you Momma. Or maybe your child lives somewhere else right now, and your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest in anticipation of meeting him or her. You are in THE hardest place!

And if you have one child at home, guess what? That’s the HARDEST NUMBER of kids to have. Because you ARE the entertainment, the caregiver, the only one responsible for this little life. And, since you’ve never done this before, you are scared to death that you are gonna mess this child up. Try timing a shower or eating or reading anything (besides a shampoo bottle) while your first born sleeps is a guessing game sure to change at any given moment. You have it rough.

Or maybe you have two kids and you haven’t had a shower in a few days. You are scared to leave the room with a toddler who likes to play rough with the baby, and you bide your time waiting for your spouse to get home so you can go to the bathroom alone. Those days are tiring and you are eager for your kids to grow up…or at least wipe their own bottoms.

Three? You only have two hands and now, they outnumber the adults in the house. It’s a different ballgame, and you have to learn new plays. When one is crying and needs your attention, the other two are carving I Love You into the walls of the living room. You are tired…all the time…and you just need a nap.

Four or more…people wonder how you do it, and you want to scream “By the grace of God..that’s how!” You are not superwoman although you probably keep a cape or two handy at all times. Someone is constantly needing you and calling your name. You just want to cover your ears and change your name. It is HARD.

So there it is…the HARDEST number of kids to have. We all struggle. But, God’s mercies are NEW every morning, and I am so grateful. Without His strength and faithfulness, I would fail miserably every day. As I sit here now, one child is singing to the top of her lungs while her sister is busy finishing a school project. I hear three other sets of legs running in the hallways pretending to be the Avengers. And I’m grateful for the noise as it reminds me that He is good. And, He will provide exactly what I need to raise my kids to His ultimate glory. He will be here and be with me when I think that I can’t carry on.

To all of you mommas out there, march on. You are doing the most important thing…raising a human being (or two or seven or twenty three) who will learn how to praise Jesus from you. You are investing in a child who will grow up and worship the Almighty God of Heaven. You are critical in God’s plan. Thank you for how you will give Him the glory today in spite of the hard times. Thank you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Lifetime Struggle

My mind is racing with so many things to write but I can’t seem to focus on just one. There’s the post on the HARDEST number of kids to have (I have a formula, and I think it’s pretty snazzy), how to shop for Christmas without blowing the bank or your mind, the fact that our girls just beat the socks off us in a 1/2 marathon relay….there’s just so much. I think it’s the curse of being a female. My mind only stops to go to sleep. And even then, I wake up with a “to do” list a mile long.

So, let’s get back to the basics. I struggle with my weight and staying healthy. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone but in case it was, now you know. And knowing is far less than half the battle. It’s about 1% of it. I think that all people who have a hard time eating healthy and exercising KNOW the issues. It’s not the knowing that we need more of…it’s the DOING that we long for.

I am at a FAR better place than I was 2 years ago when I tipped the scales at well over 200 lbs. I think I allowed myself to get on the scale around 210 but had already lost some before I got there. When I look back at photos, I think 220-225 was probably more like it. And, on my frame, that doesn’t bode so well. Double/triple chins, belly rolls, size 18-20 pants and X-Large shirts please. And don’t forget to tune out anything and anyone who talks about eating well and getting healthy. They just don’t know.

In part, that’s true. People who don’t struggle in this area have a hard time understanding it just like I have a difficulty understanding other sins that are not a weakness for me (kidnapping, shoplifting, pornography, etc.). Everyone has a bent to sin…it’s called the flesh and our sin nature. Mine is sharply pointed at eating whatever is in sight with no regard for health and being lazy (meaning sitting down all day and avoiding activity if possible).

Two years ago this past month God broke our hearts and convicted us in the area of honoring Him with our bodies. It has been the hardest journey of my life. Because it is NOT over. I still struggle daily with making wise choices and exercising. I want to avoid it at all costs. I make excuses. I loathe that part of me.

What do I want? Honestly, I want it to be easy. I want to crave healthy foods and to jump out of bed ready to run. I want to enjoy it…for it to be fun. Flashback to me telling my kids “Not everything in life is fun. But, there are just some things you HAVE to do.” Uuggh. I need to take my own advice.

So, after my surgery, I have to recommit to healthy eating and exercise. I know that this is a lifetime struggle for me (and many of you too). It does NOT come naturally or easy. The best things in life usually don’t come that way. I have to be disciplined and self-controlled under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I must be strict because my body EASILY leans toward out of control and downward spirals.

I have already been back at Crossfit and slowly running. This fall I am taking the “mile a day” challenge as well. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, I will run at least a mile EVERY day…no off days, no excuses. Rain or snow (ha!) or cold or hot or sick…I will run. The plan is to continue to go to Crossfit three days a week, run a 5K two days a week, and a long run on Saturday. Now, I will run one mile on the Crossfit days and on Sunday…no days wasted. The idea is to instill discipline in my body and a craving for running daily.

A half marathon awaits in February, and honestly , I am scared stiff. It is hilly, and it is COOOOLD (I know that’s relative to my friends in the north, but lookah here…we Southerners can withstand 110ยบ heat and 100% humidity dressed to the nines for a funeral outside for an hour…so there!). It’s the hills that frighten me most. I despise them because guess what? They are more work! Uuggh. See a pattern.

Join me in this fight as we battle on to honor the Lord in this area of our lives. I am in the trenches with you. You are not alone. We will not waver. We will not be defeated.