Playing Favorites

1346959921188_9283581

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?!!!

imageIMG_1167IMG_9592

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?

imageDSCN0774IMG_4910

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?

imageimageIMG_6740

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.

 

Advertisements

That Messy Room at the Top of the Stairs

Have you ever felt like you were drowning?  Like no matter how hard you tried you just CANNOT keep your head above water?  That, if you were being completely honest with yourself, it is all you can do to get through the hours from pillow to pillow each day?  And then, when you finally do get back to your pillow, sleep stays far away?  Me too!!! And every single time I go upstairs, I want to give in to the feelings of inadequacy, and let the scream building up inside of me out for the world to hear!  That’s right….a bedroom is about to push me over the edge.  My youngest daughter’s bedroom is a disaster area, and it has driven me to the very edge of sanity!   See, you thought I was going to get all serious on you…..

No one can safely walk into this room.  No person is capable of navigating their way from the door to the bed without the very real possibility of injury.  There are clothes (clean and dirty) everywhere, except in the drawers or laundry basket!  The growing number of half filled water glasses, cluttering her nightstand, are just waiting to be knocked over as someone trips on a pair of leggings (which are probably dirty)!  But, the biggest danger is the amount of earrings, that are littered about the floor, waiting to pierce an unsuspecting foot!  I have tried everything in my bag of tricks to get her to keep it clean; including (but not limited to): no screen time until it’s clean, no friends until it’s clean, and even…wait for it….NO POPTARTS until it’s clean!  I just CANNOT get through to this little slob in the making!

when-my-kids-grow-up

Seriously, how can she not see the mess around her?  She is completely deaf to my constant requests for her to pick up.  I am pretty sure even she has trouble walking from door to bed.   And don’t even get me started on how she is always losing everything!!!  Then, just when I think she is finally going to clean it up, and I have the parenting victory…..she just closes the door.  That’s right, she CLOSES THE DOOR!  Because everyone knows if you can’t see the mess, the mess doesn’t exist!

Eventually, it gets to the place where she cannot handle it on her own.  I don’t think she intends for it get this messy; she is only 10, it just kinda happens.  But, no matter what her intentions are, the mess becomes so overwhelming that she needs my help to clean it up.  It’s just easier for her to ignore the mess and close the door.

You can’t ignore the miracles that followed Jesus and his disciples.  The blind would see. The deaf would hear.  The lame would walk and even the dead lived again.  These are pretty awesome things that are promised to follow us too.  What if we looked at this promise a little different and prayed these things for ourselves?  What if we earnestly sought for our hearts to be cleaned up?

What if we asked for that healing to be ours?

That our eyes would be opened to the hurt around us…that WE would no longer be blind.  That our ears be able to hear the cries for help in our community…that WE would no longer be deaf.  That our legs would take us to the area of greatest need…that WE would no longer be lame.  Do I keep myself buried in MY stuff, in MY world, controlled by MY circumstance?  Oh, that we would no longer be dead!  Instead, that He would find us serving each other and those who have need without expecting anything in return…that WE would be raised to life again.

56dccf2c3cd24e90e8d705f712389ce1-2

Today I will choose happy because it doesn’t matter how messy my heart is I have Savior that will help me clean it up.   He will open the door and go in with me.  He will show me where to start and help me reorganize.  He will open my eyes.  He will show me how to listen.  He will raise me to life again and teach me how to run!  I only have to ask…..

Home

Yesterday (actually in the early morning, still middle of the night hours of yesterday), I woke up to a little blonde girl telling me her stomach hurt.  This little girl has been complaining of tummy aches since school started last week.  This mama is a nurse, so  if you don’t have a fever, and you aren’t puking or pooping your guts out you are going to school!  It falls in line my “only bleeding owies get band aids” theory of wellness.

1335196393319_9703128

My Livi, had neither a fever or an expulsion issue from either end, but this tummy ache seemed different.  One: it woke her up in the middle of the night.  Two: she was on the verge of tears as my husband walked her back to bed.  You see, she just moved from elementary school into the big intermediate school with all of the 5th and 6th graders.  Of course, she is one of those big kids now too!   But, she sees it a little differently.  In her mind, she went from being one of the “big” kids on campus to one of the “little” 5th graders.  She can’t help but see a new school where she doesn’t quite know the routine yet.  Sure enough, she woke up a mere 3hrs later with the same ache! We tried so hard to push through it, but I ended up calling her back into the house before she got on the bus.  Yes, I was the mom who sent her child limping down the road to the bus crying “ow, ow!” with each pathetic step.  Hey, we tried….we tried really hard!

We put our jammies back on.  We cuddled in bed.  We watched TV.  We had lunch together.  By the end of the day, she said she was pretty sure she could go to school tomorrow.  I know I can’t do this every time and that 9 times out of 10 she is gonna be forced to face the stress head on and not be able to climb back in bed and hide under the covers, but it was pretty wonderful to be able provide that shelter for her.  This little, cute, blonde girl just needed the comfort of HOME.

I wonder how often we skip out on that shelter because we think we can’t afford to be vulnerable for just one day, or for just an hour, or even less than that.  The chaos of work, school, kids, and life rages all around us.  We feel really strong pushing through the stress like there is some kind of reward at the end of the day, only to find ourselves sinking into bed feeling worn out, helpless, and downright vulnerable.

I have this very vivid memory of my Dad holding me.  I am only 9yrs old.  I am pretty sure it was a Monday.  We are standing in the three season room that was off of our dining room.  The windows are full of condensation.  It was the end of July.  I remember feeling vulnerable.  I remember not knowing what was going to happen next.  He held me as long as I needed to be held.  I cried.  It didn’t matter what was going on around me.  He cried with me and I was HOME.

Psalm 61:3-4 (msg) says this:

You’ve always given me breathing room, 

a place to get away from it all,

a LIFETIME pass to your safe-house.

Psalm 63: 7 (nkjv) says:

Because You have been my help,

Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. 

It’s okay to be vulnerable.  It’s okay to need shelter.  He wants you to let Him hold you in the shadow of His wings while the storm rages around you and you aren’t quite sure where the next steps will take you.  And you know what else?  He wants to be your HOME.

securedownload-4

I am choosing happy today because I have the love of One who always finds a way to break down the walls I build and try so hard to reinforce around my heart.  Sometimes it takes a little blonde headed sweetheart with a tummy ache.  Sometimes it takes a desperate moment at the end of the day when I feel like I can’t go on.  Sometimes it’s just a gentle reminder in my ear, but he always finds a way.  He wants to hold me in the same way it felt so good to hold Livi.  I just have to let Him.  I am His and He is mine.

I choose happy today because He will always be my HOME.

My Happy List

image

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!

image

Peaches

peaches_for_syrup

Stubborn.  Seriously, my youngest has got to be the most stubborn girl I have ever encountered.  She has always done things her own way, including the way she decided to come into the world.  At eight weeks early, in the middle of the night, and so fast we have no pictures to prove she actually came out of me, she started out calling the shots!  Yesterday was no different in the life of my Olivia.

The school offers breakfast in the morning for the kids that come early because their parents have to leave for work.  Olivia rides the bus in the morning and always has breakfast at home.  Well, at least that’s what I thought.  I found out yesterday, after reading an email that said she was overdrawn in her school account (she also takes cold lunch, so there is no reason for her to even use her lunch account), that my dear, sweet, Livi has been eating TWO breakfasts! Not only has she been getting a double dose of the most important meal of the day, she is getting it by eating PEACHES!

Those of you who know my Olivia, know two things about her:

1. She prefers to eat poptarts

and

2. She REALLY prefers to eat poptarts

Imagine my surprise, when I questioned her about the debt at school, and she told me it was because she was eating peaches and milk in the morning!  Seriously?!!  It is a fight to get this girl to eat anything that is not her norm.  By the way her norm includes; green beans, mashed potatoes, NO meat, a few select cheeses, and you guessed it poptarts.  Most definitely, not peaches!  Sometimes, I wonder how she survives!

I am guessing she gets her stubbornness from me.  I have been known to dig my heels in and not give an inch on several occasions; just ask my husband!  I am sure if you checked with my parents you would find that I gave them some headaches while I was growing up too (only when it came to my diet of course).  But, I just could not get over the fact that she was eating peaches!  I was happy she had made a healthy choice (as healthy as school peaches can be anyway) but why didn’t she just ask me?  Was it because she thought I would say no?  Or did she think I couldn’t help her get what she wanted?  Whatever it was, she was sure she could handle this breakfast issue all on her own.

This all got me thinking about the numerous times that I try to take care of things on my own.  Whether it’s because I think God is too busy dealing with other issues, or there are situations where I think I am the best person equipped to handle the situation; I admit I can be that stubborn girl who thinks she knows best.

Don’t get me wrong, I think stubbornness is a great quality to have when channeled in the right way.  This inherent determination, that Livi seems to have, has gotten her through the very challenging times she has already had to face in her young life.  But without surrender stubbornness can be a dangerous and isolating little game.  That is the game changer!  Surrender doesn’t negate determination.  Surrender brings us closer to the One who can get us through to the other side of what we are trying to do on our own.

My little girl could have avoided some consequences if she had just come to me and asked for peaches!  But she didn’t and she got into a little bit of trouble (as I tried to suppress my laughter)!  Sometimes, it’s as easy as asking for something we want and other times it’s a lot more complicated.  Today, I am going to choose happy because I have a little girl and a big God who are helping me see that there is freedom in surrender!

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!

images-12

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!