Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Everyday

It's Saturday morning. Aquaman and The Dude are eating cinnamon honey bunches of oats, and there is a fine layer of them all over the floor. They are watching Magic school bus, because they pretty much didn't watch any tv at all this week, and when they both woke up full blast a few minutes ago I decided I needed a few more minutes of quiet. Anyway, what's Saturday morning without cartoons?


Greystoke is still sleeping, but should be up any moment. He had 2 3 hour stretches of sleep last night stretched out on his tummy beside me. The Dude was up during both of those stretches. He's been sleeping a little better lately, but last night wasn't such a good one.

JT is still in bed, after just completing 12 days in a row of work. We can all agree that was too many days of work, and he'll probably spend most of today recovering.
Everyone is growing and changing, which is why I am writing today even though I mostly don't feel like it. I would much rather write in my journal, and read my bible a little longer, or do a yoga video, which I have just started doing.
Or clean the fine layer of cinnamon honey bunches of oats up before the almost 9 month old wakes up and starts trying to stuff it in his mouth.
But sometimes even when you don't feel like it, especially during these good times...
you have to take the time to write. To process it.

 Aquaman got another report card, and school is going well for him.

He's writing some letters backwards, but so did I at this age. He still pretty much hates reading, so sometimes I reward him page by page just so that we can get through each book without crying. He's such a perfectionist, and that is exhausting.
Math is his thing. A few weeks ago, he asked me if 12+12 was 24. I told him it was, and he explained that he figured that out because 10+10 is 20, and 2+2 is 4.
His brain definitely works differently than mine does.

For his 100th day of school they had to make a poster with 100 things on it.
He chose stones, and he painstakingly counted out 10 groups of 10 stones and glued them on the poster board.
The day that he turned them in, his teacher chose his poster to count, and what do you know, 2 of the stones had fallen off.
She said his whole face fell, his mouth came open. He was devastated.
We repaired it, but he still hasn't recovered.


He is so sweet, and so intense, and sometimes he really embarrasses me, like yesterday when he came out of his classroom crying and throwing a fit because his brother, a classmate, and the classmate's little brother were playing happily together, and not including him (because he was trying to control the whole situation and they weren't interested). It was like an explosion of negativity, and I could feel the parents around me staring at him, and I really struggle with that. He never just fits neatly into any social situation.


It turns out the root of it was that he had built his 100th day of school up in his head into such an exciting thing that it could not deliver. He had a substitute teacher. There was not even any free centers. It was just like any other normal day. As if he is not exhausted enough by Friday afternoon, he was a complete mess on this one.


Sweet exhausting boy.


I've been studying and praying about the importance of the inside. How the condition of our hearts is so much more important to God than what our lives look like from the outside. Because sometimes things can feel like a total mess on the outside, but on the inside, God is working, and on the inside, we are changing and growing.
And on the inside, things are happening with this boy, but he just doesn't always perform like I'd like him to on the outside. And I'm working on being ok with that.

A few nights ago, as he lay in bed falling asleep, he suddenly sat up and said "there's something I've been thinking about that seems to be a problem to me. I love myself more than I love other people."
The Holy Spirit is working in his heart. Slower than I'd like sometimes. But he makes all thing beautiful in His time.

His report card at school was great, as was the conference with his teacher. I have to admit, I was concerned with public schools wanting to jam him into a mold, but so far, he has received only respect from his teachers, Yes, he mostly keeps to himself, yes he prefers parallel play, he is scared of the movies they sometimes watch, and is easily upset by loud noises. But he is polite to teachers and other children.
"I'm glad to have had him in my class. He is unusual, but many quirky children are difficult to like and get along with. That's not the case with Aquaman." I felt validated and encouraged by my conversation with his teacher. She understands him, and he so needs understanding.


I've been very blessed to spend some extra one on one time with each of the older boys lately (well, usually their little brother is there, but he is quite accommodating).

The older two have been a constant explosion of fighting lately. So much competition and frustration. So I've been trying to give them a little distance from each other for a little while.
A couple of days ago, I took Aquaman shopping for new clothes with a gift card I received for Christmas. For the first time in his life, he got to pick out brand new clothes, and he was so excited. He loves clothes, and matching, and looking nice. Though he hasn't yet figured out that his favorite collared polo shirts don't go with his favorite athletic pants. But that'll come soon enough.

And The Dude.

 He is pleasing and frustrating in completely opposite ways than Aquaman. He is socially adept. He has really come out of his shell lately, and makes friends with almost everyone he comes in contact with.

He's still struggling a little with confines of rules.

But he does much better in one on one situations.

I'm so glad I ended up putting him in preschool 5 days a week. On top of having childcare for what ended up being my 5th appointment for this same dumb tooth, and for when I go to work, it is nice to have some time in the mornings to get some work done, and still know that he is having a great time for a few hours.
Friday afternoons have become our special time.

We go to the library together. We play computer games that practice our letters and sounds, do puzzles, and he gets to pick out one book and one dvd that is his entirely his own choice, without negative input from his big brother, and even if it is something that would be scary to Aquaman.
Last week, Aquaman went to Noni and Papa's on Saturday, and The Dude and I went on a date to Subway. The Dude chose a big booth with high chairs, and ate his whole sandwich. And his whole cookie.

Then I let him push one of those little carts around Winn Dixie, which would be an absolutely insane choice if both boys were along to spur each other along.

And sweet sweet Greystoke.

He has 2 teeth on the bottom, and is in the process of getting 4 on the top. He just started crawling this week, in his own sweet Greystoke way. One knee down, and one foot. He is very pleased with his accomplishment, and his ability to get into whatever toys he wants. So far, he hasn't gotten into too much trouble, though I know it is probably coming.

Still, considering at this age the other two were crawling all over the house following me around crying at me to pick them up, he is a breeze.
He is still so happy and fun, and I am loving every minute of his being my baby.

The laundry piles up in the pack n play in the closet, and every other day when it starts to overflow out, I put it away, and lately, I've been enjoying it.

 Because I have this whole big beautiful family to make dirty clothes for me to put away, and I am so grateful for it.
Even though this morning for some reason Aquaman's pacing the living room deliberately running into the glass doors and walls, and whatever other strange sensory stimulation he can get has been kind of getting on my nerves.
JT finally has a whole weekend off, and there are only a couple of those left before the season starts and he doesn't get any.
 We're heading to the park in 2 hours to meet some friends and enjoy this absolutely perfect weather we've been having.
Better go clean *some* of the cereal off the floor.





Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dear Discouraged Mom: Love, Jesus

Dear Mom,

I've seen how discouraged you've felt this week. I've longed to gather you under my wings, but you wouldn't let me. I've heard your thoughts: that you're failing at all of these things that you're doing. I've heard the condemnation, and it hurts that you thought it was from Me.

I don't see you that way. I don't see the old you. You are My new creation.

There are so many messages out there about how to be good enough, and your head has been spinning, looking back and forth, reading all that you can, taking it in until you are exhausted and empty, and don't want to try anymore, but can't seem to stop trying.

Be still. You are enough. Though your sins were like scarlet, now they are as white as snow. You are my beautiful bride. I am pleased with you.

I know that details are difficult for you. That you have trouble remembering things. And that it's hard to get organized, and that trying to keep up with being a good wife, and managing 2 jobs, and 3 kids and 2 different schools, and your home leaves you always feeling like you've forgotten something, and you usually have, but I want you to know that this is a gift from Me, and not a curse. You can't do it all, and you don't pretend that you can, and I love to see that in you. I don't love you more when you have it all together, and I don't love you less when you forget. Humble yourself, be ok with yourself. I will lift you up like I always have.

I saw you this week with your children. You love them so much, but you worry about them. Your older boys are forgetful too, they are very very active and they've needed more than the average child since the day they were born, and what you give them never seems to be enough.

Your older son told you this week that he doesn't have any friends. He was looking at you to see if you were ok with that.

Be ok with that.

I knit him  together in your womb. I've known the path his life will take since before he was formed, and I have good plans for him. Do you see how he's been falling asleep every night with his Bible in his hands?

Let me work.

I was watching you in the urgent care clinic when you told The Dude that it was Aquaman's turn, and, like he has been doing a lot of lately, he blew up into a tantrum of epic proportions. He was trying to hit you, and kick you, and bite you, and was screaming at the top of his lungs, and everyone was staring at you. He's been doing a lot of that kind of thing lately, and at home it is something you can deal with, but in public...it's really really hard. Especially when you have a baby on your hip and an older child to take care of.

You did fine, mom. And I know you felt really bad about how you wanted to just pick him up and squeeze him, but the thing is: you didn't do it. You stood back and you did your best to keep him from hurting anyone including himself, and you kept your cool.
And you know that paramedic who called you back while he was still raging? The one who smiled and said he had 4 kids of his own, and who went and got The Dude a blue crayon, because a blue crayon was really important to him?
And you know that lady behind you at the pharmacy who told you what well behaved kids you had, and you kept thinking "if you had just SEEN them an hour ago..."
They were gifts from me.

You're welcome.

I've seen how lately you've been so overwhelmed that even the happy little baby that I gave to you is a source of condemnation in your heart.

 You've been thinking that the reason I gave you such an easy going baby, who doesn't even cry during an ear infection, is because you needed a child that you couldn't screw up, since you're failing so badly with your other two.

But I'm here to tell you something different.

He is a gift to you. A message of help to you. That I see you, that I love you, and that I want to give you good things. I love to give you good things.

Did you see in the bathtub last night when Aquaman got mad at The Dude and splashed his hand down in anger, how Greystoke burst into the most melodic of giggles, and for one of the first times you have ever seen, Aquaman came instantly out of his anger and burst into his own?

Greystoke is a gift to Aquaman and The Dude too. Even though right now, he is requiring a little more attention. Even though they don't always get the one on one you want to give them.

Your other two are gifts too, and I know you know that. I gave them to you because you are the best mother I could find for them.You will help Me accomplish My will in their lives. And with their sensitive hearts and determination, know that their lives will leave an impact in this world for Me.

You're not a perfect mom, and sometimes you let them watch more television than is generally recommended, and sometimes you take them out for ice cream, and you don't even enjoy that like you should, because you've been so trapped in guilt lately, and you think maybe you shouldn't be letting them have any sugar, and it's probably going to ruin them, and that's why they're so crazy.

But I tell you that it's ok to celebrate sometimes. That I even ordained celebrations with choice food and sweet drinks, and that it's ok to lighten up a little

Speaking of which, how about that new kitchen you got last week? Your old counter tops were starting to leak and mildew was growing under them. It was time for some new ones. It was a hard week, taking care of 3 little boys without a kitchen, but it was worth it, wasn't it? But somehow, even that made you feel guilty. It was a Christmas gift, not something that you paid for for yourself, and so when you look at it, you feel like you don't deserve it. And even if you did pay for it, you wonder if you should be having a new kitchen when some people don't even have kitchens, or even food.

It was a gift from Me. Everything you have is, everything everyone has. And I want you to enjoy your gifts. What if your little boys felt guilty every time they played with their new trucks and blocks? Wouldn't that break your heart? You give them gifts for their enjoyment, and I give you the same kind of gifts. You spend so much time in there, and you're the only princess in a house full of boys who break everything they touch. Look around at the pretty. It's from Me. You needed some.

Give your kitchen back to Me, and you will see what I will do with it.

I know that you want to do everything the best that you can, and that you want to do it all. I see you reading mom blogs and searching Pinterest for the best activities for your kids, and ways that you can lead them in the right direction. I've seen you sneak a peek at the nurse practitioner requirements on college websites. I love your ambition.

My plan for you is not to be the perfect home schooling mom of 6 kids. My plan for you is not a big successful career.
Just stay with me, just take it one day at a time. Work hard, and be content where you are. Then, like you can already do now, you can look back over your life and realize that it WAS good, it was big. It was small things done nobly.

 It was a sweet smelling sacrifice to Me.

One last thing. I know that sometimes you go to bed and you still feel hungry and thirsty, but you're so tired that you have to just go to sleep. I know that getting that tooth of yours fixed these past couple weeks has seemed like an insurmountable task when you add up the cost and the coordination of child care and the time you don't seem to have. I want you to know that you're worth it. I know you haven't felt like you are, but you are.
You have given up a lot of things that are important to you in order to be the mother I have called you to be, and that is ok, you won't regret it. But sometimes you need to take a break and let Me, and others, minister to you too.

Most importantly- go outside sometimes. By yourself. I know that's where You've always felt me best. In the quiet, with the wind in your hair. That's our special time together. That's where I have always whispered My Love to you.

You are a wife, you are a mother, and you are a nurse. But most of all, you are My child. And you need My comfort, and My encouragement. You are always seeking My instruction, but you know from being a parent yourself that it your relationship with Me has to come before those things. Otherwise My instructions will overwhelm your heart like they have been.

I love you. I know it's hard down there. I care, and I'm here, and I'm sending help today. When you start to forget like you sometimes will, remember who you are.

You're Mine.

Love,
Jesus

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Rebirth

It's a new year, and I found myself actually enjoying putting away the Christmas decorations on December 31st.

I've been waiting to write this new year post. Longing for some sort of writing revelation. A way to put the deep-down knowing feeling into words, but it hasn't come.
 The sheer volume of pictures from the flurry that has been this past 2 weeks intimidates me. But how can I choose which ones are best, when each one tells the story, in between the temper tantrums and cleanup?

I went back and read my last years' new years' post for revelation.
My resolutions?
To read through the bible.
I did that.


To remember the important, when faced with the urgent:
I had quite a few panic attack inducing slip ups in the department, but overall, I let God remind me when I was losing my way.

I did, many times, forget that it's when you most feel like you absolutely cannot take a break that you need to sit down and seek God. But toward Christmas time...I remembered.

I enjoyed my husband and his work this year. I measured his success in friends instead of paychecks- most of the time.


I didn't have time to read the posts from the whole year like I wanted to, but I skimmed them.


I saw how I went from heavy with pregnancy fatigue, to bright with glow of maternity leave and rock star newborn sleeper, to weary with holding an a hot little all night nurser and breaking up brother fights night and day.


I saw, between the lines of course, my struggles with selfishness, with discontentment, and with weariness.


I saw many many smiles,
because it was a truly happy year. Probably the happiest year of my life.


And now I am faced with the prospect of new resolutions.
And this year, I only have two, because- for the love- 3 little boys and 2 resolutions are enough.



1) I want to know Christ.
Want to experience Him, see His face. I want my heart to choose Life over all the many other things that compete for its attention.

I want to seek Him first, and not worry about the details.
And what does that look like? I don't know exactly, and I think it will probably evolve.
But I'm pretty sure it means that even though I am tossing and turning and getting up with kids all night, and even though sometimes I don't think I'll make it until bedtime if I do- I need to start getting up early in the mornings again.

2) I want to make the time to go on dates with my husband. Due to milk and babysitter issues, we just had our first date in 8 months this past weekend, and that was way too long, and it wasn't long enough to make up for all that time. Once a month needs to be a priority. We;re getting a calandar, and we're writing our dates in. Because.


It's going to be a really busy year, we're on the cusp of it, as surely as little Greystoke rocks eagerly on his hands and knees and does 360s from a sit and somehow gets his hands into things that seem way out of his reach.

I need to start my days with quiet study and prayer. Even if it means one less hour of sleep, and an extra cup of coffee.
I know that the fruit of it will be far more than one more hour of the little man grabbing at me in his sleep. Besides, I'm pretty sure he likes having the queen bed to himself anyway.


True to the way of our lives lately, Christmas came and went quickly this year.

We soaked up the electric guitars in the Christmas Eve service, grateful that they drowned out the noise of three hyperactive little boys.
One sat and smiled on Papa and Noni's laps, and two, dressed like wise men, acted like maniacs hopped up on the excitement of the night before Christmas.
And I feel quiet certain that Jesus was smiling on all of them. Because I feel quite certain that he loves little boys and all of their energy, and that all of their fidgeting probably doesn't get on his nerves like it gets on mine sometimes.


We stayed up much too late and got up much too early, and Christmas was everything that it should have been with three small children in the house.


The Dude jammed mightily on his new guitar, and slept all night with it around his neck.


Greystoke loved his new high chair, and ate prunes for Christmas morning breakfast because....well, you know.
And later that day, he gave me a lovely present....

Aquaman said he really wanted a white Christmas this year, so he got shaving cream in his stocking.
And also, he got a baby brother in his stocking. :)
There was much cousin love to be had.







And then, Christmas was over.
And the tree, which still smelled heavenly because JT did such a great job watering it, was out on the curb, and the stockings and garlands and lights were stuffed in bags and boxes.
But I left the lights up around the boys' bunk bed, because I've grown to love reading to all of them by the light of it. Me and three boys snuggled up in The Dude's bed, all of our heads on the same body pillow.

Every night, The Dude falls asleep with his head on my arm, while I'm still reading Aquaman's books.
Most nights, Greystoke falls asleep too, nursing on the other side.


This is where we all were on January 1st 2015.
It was a new year, but it didn't feel much different than any other night.
Aquaman requested the Jesus Storybook Bible, like he always does, for his two stories. And this time he picked the last two.

The younger boys had both drifted off to sleep by the time we reached the last page, and I could feel myself breathing a sigh of relief that we had almost made it to the freedom of another bedtime.


 I've been praying a lot for Aquaman. He's been asking a lot of questions.

I've found myself struggling with it, and almost wanting to back off. I don't want to push him into anything. I want his relationship with Christ to be a real and personal experience.

Which is one thing I have always loved and admired about him. He has no desire to borrow my personal experiences. He deeply longs to have his own.

But just a few days prior, I felt Jesus tell me suddenly, in the car on the way to work: "let the little children come to Me."

But it wasn't until I started in on the last page that I realized Aquaman was coming today.
Me reading: "For anyone who says yes to Jesus         Asher: "I say yes!!"
For anyone who believes what Jesus said                   Asher: "I believe what He said!"
For anyone who will just reach out to take it              Asher: "I want to take it!"
Then God will give them this wonderful gift:

                                                               To be born into
                                                        A whole new Life          Asher ("I want a whole new life!")
To be who they really are
Who God always made them to be -
Their own true selves -
God's dear
Child.


Aquaman has many many times verbally expressed his belief in Jesus. He has always been very painfully aware of the price and depth of his sin.

But this time, I knew.

This time, I couldn't stop the tears, but I also couldn't stop reading either.

When I finished the page, I turned to Aquaman and asked if he was ready to ask Jesus to forgive him for his sins, to turn away from them, and to follow Jesus, but I already knew the answer to my question.

He asked me to pray with him. He asked me to pray very very slowly so that he didn't miss a word, and we prayed together.

And like the little child that he is, he came to Jesus. With his simple faith, in his own Aquaman way, he was reborn at the age of 6, and I was blessed enough to be there.

I know that this is just the beginning for Aquaman, and I am excited for him. Starting that night, we opened up to Matthew 1, and we're going to read through the New Testament together as he's falling asleep. He lay in his bed that night and said "I'm trying to picture it all in my mind."
We read about how we should love our brothers, and turn the other cheek when they are mean, and the next day I came upon The Dude pounding on the door to their bedroom, telling Aquaman to open up. When Aquaman came to the door, I saw his Bible sitting on the rocking chair, open.
He said The Dude was trying to hit him, so he barricaded himself in there so that they wouldn't fight.

That night, we read about how when we pray, we should go into a closet and not parade our prayers in front of others, and Aquaman said "that's what I do, mom. That's how I pray."

I look at him differently now. A brother, and not just a son.

And my tired, mother heart has found strength and encouragement in the beginning of this new and busy year.
Because despite all the things I messed up in 2014, all the opportunities that just blew by, God's grace was enough.