Playing Favorites

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I know it’s not popular to have a favorite kid.  As a matter of fact, admitting that you like one child more than the other is generally frowned upon in the parenting community.  As parents, we are supposed to deal out affection, punishment, and reward in equal portions; every child is created equal, especially when it comes to having more than one, right?!!!

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Clint and I have three kids, and I’m pretty sure that my favorite is Jaden.  He was, and is my answered prayer.  He is the oldest, and for the past 14yrs has been my tangible proof that my Jehovah has heard my prayers.  After three miscarriages, and thinking that I would never hold a baby of my own flesh and blood, Jaden made his way into my arms, and healed my heart in a way only he could.  He is the kid who finds a place for everyone he meets.  The way he does things makes me shake my head, laugh, and forces me to learn that I can’t control every little detail.  He never cleans his room, and is always wanting to go, go, go…come to think of it, maybe Isabella is my favorite?

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My Bella is the one child I have who was planned.  We decided it was time for Jaden to have a sibling and a month later found out she was on her way; so totally the opposite of Jaden.  Isabella was born on a day we picked, and has always slept through the night.  She was the easiest baby, toddler, child, pre-teen in the world.  She loves order and keeping things clean (a girl after my own heart), and is the most giving person in our family.  Bella brings so much laughter (she may look like me, but she is her Dad through and through) and help to our family; how could she not be the favorite?  She is quite dramatic though!  I could do without the drama…maybe Olivia is really the fave?

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Everything about Olivia Grace has been a surprise.  From finding out she was going to be joining our family (only SIX months after Bella was born), to her dramatic arrival (EIGHT weeks early).  If you’re doing the math, that makes Isabella and Olivia only TWELVE months and TWENTY-TWO days apart!   We always say she was so anxious to be in our arms she just couldn’t wait the whole nine months.  Livi has always been the child who sees what she wants and goes for it; no one can stop her.  Trust me, I’ve tried.  This stubbornness, and ability to fight no matter what is in her way, is the most admirable and frustrating quality she possesses.  I am pretty sure it saved her life from the moment she came into being; that and God’s gracious hand.  To this day it drives her.   My Liv is also the one who LOVES to cuddle, hates when I am upset with her, and goes out of her way to show love to anyone she meets.  She also LOVES to sleep…right now she is the front-runner 😉

Well, maybe not; she did yell at me this morning because we didn’t have any Poptarts….

The bigger point of my rambling on and on about my kids is that I’ve realized there is NO favorite.  My relationships with them are as unique as they are individual.

I can’t approach Jaden like I do Bella.   Or treat Livi like I do Jaden.  Or love Bella the same way I do the other two.  I can’t have the same relationship with all three of them.  I have been given these lives as a gift and in turn am responsible to see their individuality and cultivate it in a way that brings discipline, character, and love.  I don’t have a favorite; I have three little hearts that I love uniquely.

Jesus, sees us individually too.  Uniquely made in His image.  Set apart from everyone else.  Each and every one of us has His heart.  He carries every part of our being in His scars.  But, not one relationship is the same.  Some of us pray without ceasing.  Some of us are worshipers.  Some of us study until we feel like we are overflowing, and can’t help but share what we have experienced.  Some of us thrive in the quiet.  The beauty of Jesus is that He tells each of us to come exactly the way we are.

I will choose happy today because His love for me is as fierce as it is unique.

 

Catch and Release

So, I have this kid.  He just turned 14!  I know, I know, I can’t believe I am old enough to have a 14 year old either!

Anyway, this kid is pretty great.  He is doing pretty good in school, he finished his first year of school football (versus youth club football) where he started all year, and he helps out with little kiddos at church.  He has a ton of friends and goes out of his way to find a place for everyone that he meets.  He is just a really, really nice boy, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

Except for this one thing.  This itsy, bitsy, little, tiny thing…he has absolutely no desire to do anything with his hair!  It is driving me CRAZY!

I have offered bribes.  I have threatened to take things away.  I have told him horror stories about kids with long hair and football helmets (okay, they were made-up stories, but still).  I even pulled out the mom-card!  You know the “I’m the mom thats why” card.

It didn’t work.

I am fighting a losing battle.

The last time scissors touched his head…it was May!!!

 

And I know that I need to let him find his own way, even if it is with something as little as getting a haircut, or wearing something other than athletic pants, or putting a coat on when it’s 18 degrees outside.  Yup, he insists on getting frostbite, too!  All the cool kids are doing it…

This whole parenting thing has opened my eyes to the way God must feel when He sees me doing some of the things I do.  Like, He just shakes his head knowing that eventually I’ll find my way.  That, sooner or later I’ll realize the freedom that comes with complete surrender to Him.

Yet, all the while, during all the wandering and all the times I insist on doing it my way:

He is still the Truth.

He is the truth that shines through the dark no matter how far I wander.  No matter how long I am gone.  It doesn’t matter how lost I think I am, His truth always brings me back.

Jaden, used to run up to me with his arms open wide, and hands up in the air saying, “You! You!” whenever he needed to be held.  Whenever he needed ME.  It didn’t matter if I was in another room; he would find me.  It didn’t matter how long I was away from him; he always ran.  When he found me and I picked him up, he would look at me with these huge blue eyes and say “I YOVE you, Mommy, I YOVE you much!”  It didn’t matter where he was, or how long it had been since he last ran to me; I caught him every time.

I will choose happy this weekend because I can run to the one who always catches me.  It doesn’t matter how far or how long I’ve been gone.  He longs for the days when I finally throw my arms up in surrender and say, “You! You!”  He is the only one I really need, and he takes me in His arms no matter how badly I need a haircut ♥

P. S.  Take a minute (okay, maybe 4 1/2 minutes) and listen to Forever Reign by Hillsong…it paints of perfect picture of the love and acceptance we receive when we run to His arms!  You can listen to it by clicking here

 

 

Keep Calm and Wait a Little Longer

In 3 short days, I am going to be 19 years from my 18th birthday.  That’s right, I will be further from 18 than I am close to it, yikes!!!!  Don’t get me wrong, the past 19 years have been great!  Let’s see; I planned a wedding, got married, started a family, graduated from college, and became a nurse.  We also moved 4 times, bought a couple of cars, built a house, and changed churches.

I have seen people come into and walk out of my life.  Some of whom I have been happy to see go, and others I still grieve over.  How can 19 years sound like such a long time, but in reality go by so fast?

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IMG_9294It seems like just yesterday Clint was proposing!  We got married and bought our first home.  Then, all of a sudden, Jaden was taking his first steps and we were finding out that he was going to have a sister.  Then, a few months after Isabella was born, we got the surprise that has always been Olivia.  Now, Jaden is talking about drivers training, and the girls are starting to rethink this whole sharing a room thing!

This birthday just feels different.  Like I can’t possibly be that far from a time in my life that held so much possibility.  Mostly, because I still see such hope and possibility in front of me!  And, of course, suddenly 40 is really, REALLY close!

And time keeps flying, and we wait for the next milestone….

Sometimes, I feel like all I do is wait.  For a baby, to finish school and become a nurse, to get a job in the NICU, to be able to stay home with the kids, to be comfortable with where and who I am…waiting, waiting, and then more waiting.

I can be really impatient most times (okay, ALL the time), and that leads to me trying to fix things.  I try to get everything exactly HOW I think it should be, exactly WHEN I think it should be.  I get so frustrated realizing that there are some things completely out of my control!

EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.

Then, this really wise and handsome guy (who I get to call my husband), pointed out that without waiting it’s really hard to trust.

I always seem to forget there are situations where the only solution is waiting and trusting.  Waiting to see God come through; because He is enough.  Trusting He has my best interest in His heart; because His love never fails.

That His timing is perfect.

The thing is, when I take a step back and look at that list up there; that list full of waiting.  His hand is everywhere in that list.  During those times of waiting, those times that seemed so frustrating, the times that felt so quiet, where He seemed silent and almost indifferent to my waiting…to our waiting.  Those are the times that forced the most growth.  The times where all we could do was wait, those are the times we were forced to find refuge in Him.  Those are the times we learned to trust.

 That list up there is full of answered prayers.

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During these last 3 days of my 36th year (and hopefully from here on out),  I will choose happy because He ALWAYS comes through!  He is always showing me how trustworthy He is, even especially in the waiting.

 

 

 

 

October is My Happy Place

I’m sure if my hubby had to guess, he would say my favorite month was either May (Mother’s day, our wedding anniversary, and nurses week), or December (my birthday, his birthday, and Christmas).  It’s one of those questions we would get wrong if we were playing the Newlywed game!  But no matter what he says, my favorite month is October.  The world around us gets more beautiful with reds, oranges, and yellows.  We get to have soup, chai tea, and lots of pumpkin.  Jeans and sweatshirts, cute fall boots, and fall bonfires are commonplace.  And best of all: FOOTBALL!  Needless to say, this is my absolute favorite time of year!

So, it is with a grateful heart that I say,

Hello October!

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Another thing that I cannot help but remember during these crisp mornings and shorter days is being pregnant.  I was like wayyyyy pregnant with Jaden in October during 2000.  He was born November 3rd, so October was the last month that Clint and I were just, well…Clint and I.

We nested together while the leaves turned beautiful.  We turned our little starter house into a home ready to welcome a baby.  Looking back, we should have slept the entire month of October! But hindsight is 20/20, and how did we know then that we probably wouldn’t sleep another night all the way through?!!

I even remember the last day of October that year….I was leaving home to be induced.  I was also praying, with all my heart, that I would NOT have this baby on Halloween!  After all, he needed his own day; not a day filled with pumpkins and little goblins!  Little did I know, that by the end of the whole experience I would have done anything to have had that baby the minute I walked through those hospital doors; no matter what day of the stinkin’ year it was!  But, like I said, hindsight is 20/20.

Now, that little 5# 11oz baby boy is taller than me, weighs more than me, and fills my heart with more joy, frustration, love, and pride than I could ever imagine.  We left home that day a couple and returned days later a family; a family that just kept on growing!

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Still, this month, in my humble opinion, is the best!  It’s my favorite for all the things that it is, and for all the things that it held for us during that time before Jaden was born.  I hope that we will be able to hold those days in our hearts and remember what it was like to be two.  Because soon, there will again be Octobers where it is just the two of us, and we won’t need to talk about homework, or homecoming, or parent/teacher conferences.

What?!  Wait….really?!  There are days that I cannot even imagine this scenario!

Do you remember the days when it was just the two of you?  Is it hard to find those memories buried beneath the falling leaves of a growing family?  I want to challenge us to find that time again.  I want to encourage us to make each other a priority even when it would be so much easier to make the kids, and the schedules more important.  It’s not going to be easy!  There are going to be a thousand excuses; most of them valid.  However, we all get the same amount of time each day, let’s make an effort to remember how we became us.  Let’s take a little bit of that 24hrs we all get to look back at who we were and who we are becoming together.

As hard as it can be during these days when the kids are all consuming and the schedules are overwhelming, it’s important to remember why we chose each other.  It’s important to remember going to movies at midnight just because we could.  How fun it was to jump in the car and end up in Chicago because the weekend was wide open.  I know that taking long walks with no where to be, sharing long kisses while watching TV, and sleeping in on Saturday morning may be a thing of the past, but the reasons why we chose each other shouldn’t be.  I have a responsibility to make my relationship with my husband a priority, and not let it get lost in the chaos of these new Octobers.

I love this guy who I chose with my whole heart!  But, you know what?  I love the guy who he has become even more than I could have dreamed on the day that he chose me too!  Today, I will choose happy because I have the best partner during these beautiful and chaotic October days!  It can be as little as leaving me a note on my coffee cup and making me laugh during homework, or as big as holding me when life is overwhelming, but he still shows me he loves me.

 

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I have to admit, I am kinda looking forward to the Octobers of the future, especially with him by my side!

 

My Happy List

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Not to sound selfish but this week was made for me! I should probably explain…..it’s Nurses week (I am a nurse), Mother’s Day is Sunday (I’m a mom), and my wedding anniversary is Saturday (yep, I’ve been married 17 years).  If only I had been lucky enough to be born in May too!  Anyway, what I am trying to say is that this week I should get a ton of presents, right?!!!  Okay, maybe not but I do have a lot of reasons to choose happy this week.  Plus, it looks like Spring has actually decided to stay around, yay!

In honor of it being Mother’s Day I wanted to share a list of mine.  This is a list I made to remind me of why I love being who God made me to be; the wife to a really great guy and the mommy to three really great kids.  This list reminds me to choose happy even on not so happy days!  Here it is:

1).   I am chosen.  Everyday.  God chooses me, my husband chooses me, and my kids choose me (for the most part anyway).  I’ll be honest, some days I wake up and can’t imagine anyone willingly wanting to be around me!  I am sure you can identify with the days you realize that you can’t even stand yourself…..even on those days I am chosen.  Even on those days it’s me who is put on this earth to be the best I can be for those who love me in spite of myself.

2).  I was known by God before time.  That is pretty outstanding!   He knew me, the real me!   The me who loves to laugh with her husband, and can’t stand to be talked to before 9 am (that doesn’t work so well when you have children).  The me who wants to make everybody happy, the me who argues with Him all the time, and the me who is grateful beyond words for this life.  He knew all of me before he even created this world, and even though he knew all of this he did it anyway, for me! Wow, just wow! Read Psalm 139; it’s pretty awesome!

3).  I get to be part of THESE lives!  I get to walk alongside a guy, who is so great to me I don’t have words to tell you exactly how great; seriously we were made for each other!    I am the one who got to witness Jaden’s first breath, see Isabella’s first steps, and hear Olivia say mama for the first time.  Even though on some days it doesn’t seem so glamorous, I’m still the one who gets to experience never ending track meets, endless laundry, and late night hugs when they just need their mama.  And it’s only gonna get better from here on out!

4).  I get to laugh pretty much everyday.  If you have ever met my husband or any of my children, especially Isabella, I don’t even need to explain why this is on my list.  Jesus knew I was gonna need some levity in my life and he gave me Clint.  We laugh a lot, to the point where I was getting some strange looks from the nurses when we went in to deliver our youngest  8 weeks early.  But I was stressed and he knew how to calm me; we just get each other.

5). Finally, I love my family! Bottom line, end of the day, after all is said and done I love them more than life itself.  So, no matter what the day brings or how little sleep I get at night that love makes me happy!  This love gets me through the failed math tests, the drama that is picking out clothes in the morning with the girls, and makes me a happy girl even though my husband is still working even though it’s 11:30 pm.  And what really makes me choose happy is that this love doesn’t even compare to the love God has for them!

So there it is, my list of happy!

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Who Wears Shorts in the Winter?

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This winter I feel like all I did was fight with my son about wearing shorts to school (ummm, you remember this winter; the one that is still kinda hanging around,and is one of the coldest on record)!  He was always trying to persuade me to come to his side.  He would say things like, he didn’t even go outside during the day.  Everyone else in his class was wearing shorts!  And my favorite; the school is really, really hot during the winter! The list went on and on.  And I kept saying no.  Over and over, I kept saying no!  I said no, because I knew the forecast.  I said no, because I didn’t want him to get frostbite.  I could see the bigger picture and he was only seeing what everyone else was doing.

This made me think; is this how I deal with God?  When he wants me to change my mind, do I argue with him?  Am I so convinced that my way is the best way that I won’t even hear what he has to say?  Do I get upset with Him whenever He wants me to do something contrary to what I think would be the best?

I’ll admit it, I don’t like it when I don’t get my way!  Sometimes, I remind myself of Jonah.  You know the guy from the belly of the fish.  The guy that ran and yelled at God when He changed His mind about destroying Nineveh.  The guy that actually responded to God’s; Do you do well to be angry? (Jonah 4:4) by leaving!  That’s right, he just walked away without saying a word, from the Most High God!  Oh, wait he also tells God that he angry enough to die (verse 9)!

And you know what?  I’ve said worse.  And you know what?  He loves me anyway.

Back to  Jaden…..

So, one day I didn’t argue.  He came downstairs in shorts and I didn’t send him back up to change.  I let him wear the shorts.  Guess what?  He never did that again!  He was FROZEN!  It took all my self control to keep from saying I TOLD YOU SO!

Which made me think of all the times I have forced my own way only to find out it was a not such a great idea!  So, instead of reminding him that I was right; I turned the seat warmer on for him when he got in the van!

Like Jaden, I don’t always see the bigger picture.   Sometimes, it takes me waiting out in the cold to realize that God has my best interest at heart.  Oh, my word! He could say I TOLD YOU SO many, many times!  Instead, He just wraps His arms around me and warms me up!

Are ya Havin’ a Happy Wednesday?

What am I gonna write about?  It’s already Wednesday and I have nothing to write about……..

I am pretty sure no one wants to hear about my grouchy kids, their insane amount of homework, or the fact that the ground is STILL covered in snow.  No one wants to read about how I cleaned out my refrigerator, what we had for dinner last night, or that I stepped in syrup this morning and tracked in all over the kitchen (with bare feet).  No one really wants to see me write about how it’s only Wednesday and I feel like the weekend was forever ago, that I am sick to death of my stuffy nose, or how the dogs are making me crazy.  I also cannot figure out what to make for dinner tonight, whether or not it’s worth the tired kids to go to church this week, or if we should have small group this weekend; because I really need to let people know!

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There is just so much whining in my house this week; myself included (obviously)!  So far this week I am having to make  a very deliberate choice to be happy, because my little world feels kinda down.  Has your week been kinda whiny too?  Maybe your daughter had a meltdown this morning because you didn’t have any bagels!  Maybe you cannot stop dropping things and finally dropped a glass full of milk.  And as it shattered all over the floor you just wanted to cry (or crawl back in bed, because both seemed like better options than facing the day ahead)!  I know it could be a lot worse.  What am I saying, I’ve seen it a lot worse!  It IS a lot worse for many of my friends; especially this week!  Maybe that’s why everything feels so much heavier than it actually is?

 So, I’ll choose to find joy Olivia’s laugh, even though she was the one who had the meltdown (that’s right it was about bagels).  I can definitely find it in the amazing guacamole and chips Clint brought me after he heard about my morning (I love him so much).  I’ll choose to see happy in Belle’s beautiful hazel eye’s while she tells me about her reading group (for the thousandth time).  And Jaden will help me find it as he tells me about the guest teacher he has in Social Studies, who always seems to say the wrong thing to a large group of 7th grade boys (you can only imagine).

Tell me about your whiny day and how you are gonna find the happy in it!  Or don’t and just listen to me vent.  Either way I hope we can all find a way to look past the little things that make us want to spend our time whining!