Thursday, May 28, 2015

Counting Sheep and Still No Winks

It's almost 3 a.m. and I can't sleep.

I've tossed and turned for hours.

Just like I did last night.

I even avoided watching my recent tv show on netflix addiction.

So, what have I done....

I've found out a few friends are pregnant. Thank you FB

i got a great recipe for glazed lemon zucchini bread. Thank you friend's post.

I read some articles.

I drank some water.

I admired some photos.

And time slips by and my eyes closing doesn't lend to dreaming. this is rough because I need to get up in a few hours and start my day. And we have practicum in the morning (Conference for Classical Conversations). And I got so little sleep last night... and the night before. In fact for the past several weeks. And I told myself I would go to bed by 9!

And now my thoughts tend to alternate between heavy and deep and loopy and weird.

And I pray... I pray for the Moms up with their newborns... awake in the wee small hours of the night. I think of what time it is in Sweden and how my friend's day is starting. I'm hoping my friend in CA is sleeping and getting some rest.

I marvel at how fast my kids are growing and changing and how sometimes, in the thick of it, in the drudgery and dirty diapers it feels like it's taking forever, and then other moments I feel like I blink and my kids have aged so much.

I wrestle with my anxiety... the usual ones, am I doing okay as a parent? as a teacher? as a caregiver? as a wife? friend? do I have what it takes? and the unusual ones.... why am I getting pimples at my age? Did I remember to floss my kids teeth?

Even though I'm changing and fickle my God is not. He's steady and faithful and good. Which is really amazing.

My son has been screaming at me lately. Well, that's actually a pretty normal thing. But he's yelling at me again and again, "Life is NOT fair!" and I tell him, "that's right buddy, it's not."

But yesterday I actually stopped in wonder and turned to him and said, "It's a good thing it's not fair. It's a good thing we're not getting what we deserve. We get Jesus and grace and forgiveness." He took punishment in our place. He who did no wrong. He who perfectly obeyed. We were given mercy. He took the wrath. And not only that but then we were given favor... all the good credited to Him is applied ot us. All the righteousness is given to us. It's kind of crazy.

So yeah, life isn't fair. We get dealt rough bargains sometimes... but overall we have been given so much, it's not fair. We are blessed. I'm not living in fear of being killed in war, murdered by insurgents. I'm not worried about my kids starving or a roof over my head or clothes to wear. I'm not afraid of my sins... because the price has been paid. I'm justified, declared righteous. And so I have bounty. Above and beyond what I need.

My birthday is around the corner (June 3rd) and I've been thinking about how I want to spend that day. It's a marker that causes reflection for me... I reflect on the past year and anticipate, imagine and dream about what is to come in this year.

I think about what can I give to someone else... I often like to donate my blood or plasma (Red Cross) or my hair to Locks of Love... or do something kind for someone else. I love to give. I'm not sure what it will look like this year.

I hope to go to the beach and soak in the sun and watch my children push their toes in the sand and admire the broken shells that litter the edge of the surf and taste the salt on my skin, in my hair, on my lips and breathe. Breathe deeply.

I'm alive. I'm still here.

This world is broken and sad and confusing. I have been battered along by the storms and waves but I'm here.

I'm going to overcome.

Not in my own strength. But in the strength that is given me through the Holy Spirit.

I'm not just going to survive but thrive. I'm going to take the longer walks and pause and admire the piece of nature that has arrested my child's attention.

I'm going to keep singing out loud in the grocery store and embarrassing my kids. I'm going to drink an iced tea and savor the day.

I'm going to clean and I'm going to rest. I'm going to picnic under the magnolia tree in my backyard and read out loud to the kids.

I'm going to make strawberry ice cream... and taste the tartness of lemonade. I'm going to sweat. I'm going to keep working out. I'm going to eat healthy and sometimes I'm going to blow it. I'm going to keep juicing and making smoothies and using my nutribullet. I'm going to bake chocolate chip cookies with the kids on a rainy day.

Because I'm alive and it's a gift... and sometimes I forget that. Sometimes in my longing for Heaven. Sometimes in my longing for Jesus to please return I forget that I'm here for a purpose. I ache for what is to come. For death to be no more. No sickness or sadness or  mourning or tears... but in the meantime there is this life that is to be lived. And I have a sweet Savior who keeps changing me and molding me more into His likeness, into His image.

And there it is, a yawn. A reminder that I am mere flesh and am in need of sleep. And that the heavy ponderings of the early morning can be stowed away for another time.

Matthew 10:29-31
29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?[h] And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

And I rest secure, I am held. I am worth more than sparrows. I am found precious in His sight... and so are you. You are precious. So breathe deep with me. And let's live. Let's keep this gift called life that God has given us and praise His name. Amen

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Two of My Heroes...

“A Hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength
to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” 

― Christopher Reeve

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Face Painting

The Hulk

Leonardo (TMNT)

Butterfly

Black Cat

Puppy

Friday, May 22, 2015

When I'm Awfully Low...


                                              Some day, when I'm awfully low
When the world is cold
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight

Yes, you're lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft
                                        There is nothing for me but to love you
And the way you look tonight

With each word your tenderness grows
Tearin' my fear apart
And that laugh..wrinkles your nose
Touches my foolish heart

Lovely ... Never, never change
Keep that breathless charm
Won't you please arrange it? 'Cause I love you
Just the way you look tonight


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ditch the Cleaning. Love the Kids.


I have the sticky floors and happy kids...


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When Fantasy Becomes Reality.

My fantasies have changed over the years. What used to grip me no longer does. What used to sound humdrum boring or simply of course that will happen has become illusive and slips through my fingers. I miss the days of youth of countless hours of reading books and playing at the ocean, of traveling the world, of sitting with a friend and talking without the distraction of littles to pull us away from our thoughts and leave us with fragmented conversations.

So now when I go to the beach with my children and don't live in a state of anxiety it's a complete haven for me.

And when I get the opportunity to see one of my dearest friends who i haven't been able to see for 7 years it's like a taste of Heaven.

So when I heard that my Swedish friend, who yes, lives in Sweden was coming to New York City I about had a heart attack. All I could think, was how can I make that happen? How can I see my friend?

So I took a bus that left at 11 p.m. and arrived at 5:30 a.m. and ended up in NYC in Times Square. And at first I was nervous and felt a little lost and then she called me and we kept talking on the phone until we saw each other and then we ran and gave the biggest hugs!

Could it be? Was it just a dream? Did our fantasies become reality? A chance to sit over Starbucks and look each other in the eye and tell of heartache and joy and pain and wonder of mothering, of loss and grief, of working hard, of watching the world in all it's beauty and brokenness.

I took a nap at her flat in N.J. that overlooked the gorgeous NYC skyline. We wandered Hell's Kitchen in N.Y.C. and enjoyed the offerings that the Food Festival held. We met up with her husband and their friends to take in the Met. And finished at an Italian Trattoria that's food was so delicious it literally melted in my mouth and yes, I closed my eyes from the pleasure.

I even had a good night's sleep and a shower before I headed for the bus.

And the moment that showed our friendship was 15 minutes after I boarded the bus, there is my dear friend in all her blue eyed, blonde haired, sunshine smile glory boarding the bus to bring me a Starbucks Chai that she got for me!

Me & Sara


It was a whirlwind. It was wonderful. Even the slight mishaps and mis-direction that we faced was a pleasure because we faced them together. We talked. We laughed. I cried. Gifts exchanged. Big embraces. And the feeling of acceptance that comes in and settles on me like a soft, warm blanket on a stormy night. The friendship that is sustained even despite the thousands and thousands of miles that separate us. The lapse in communication that follows busy lives of mothering and working and struggling and serving. And yet we pick up where left off. And the gap recedes. And the connection continues. And the ties that bind us are stronger than ever.

And this Swedish sister I would give my life for gladly. Whose children I love because they are wondrous extensions of her. Whose husband I pray for blessing and for their marriage to be strengthened and for their knowledge of God's love for them to be increased.

Thank you Sara for the gift of reminding me that the person I am is still here. That I am more than just a Mom. That I am Jennifer, in all my strengths and weaknesses. Thank you for treating me to a 24 hours of a magical time. A bubble we escaped into where I had to keep grabbing your hand and touching your face to accept that you weren't a mirage or a product of my wishful thinking.

I love you friend. I admire your strength. Your boldness. Your tenacity. Your perseverance. I admire your love. Your courage. And I'm thankful to be your friend. To be bound in sisterhood that isn't separated by the oceans between us.

And I long for the day for our children to meet and to play. And to live, even if it's just a few days, side by side. To cook and clean and laugh and to shake our heads over our children's antics.

Thank you for making a dream come true. To see you again. face to face. I'm on your team girl. You wonderful piece of Sunshine. And I love you so much!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mudfights and the Aftermath.

















Exhausted by the natives at times. Good thing they're cute!


Before:




After:




Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mornings, Motherhood, and the things I hold on to.

I've been waking up every morning before six. Before the alarm clock goes off. Before one of my children creep into bed with me and start patting my head or asking me if they can have cookies for breakfast or other such nonsense.

I've been exercising 3 days a week. It's been exciting. And on these "off" days where I'm not exercising I'm awake and thinking and allowing myself to become overwhelmed and anxious.

I'm an overthinker. I take things way down the road... way past what the day actually presents. If I look at my future too far out I get scared. I get overwhelmed and fearful and I feel condemned and sad and depressed and blank. But if I tell myself I can get through this moment. That I'm okay right now. Right here in the present, then I tend to be able to hold on until I can gain a hold on reality.

I'm juggling the needs of a large household: laundry, dishes, meals, etc. I'm holding people I care about that are hurting close to my heart. Those who are experiencing deep trials, grief, loss, heartache, disappointment, and the simple truth that life often really hurts. I'm holding gratitude for a home to live in and clean water to drink, hot showers and baths, food in our fridge. But I'm also holding the sinking feeling of being behind: bills that need to be paid but we need to space them out so there's money for them, doctors appointment and dentist appointments that need to be made, calls to SSI & Medicaid and Long-term care, and Ed/Cd waivers, and the plethora of applications, verifications, and other frustrations.

This disappointment I have in accomplishing so much and yet being unable to "keep up" or "move forward."

This beautiful gift that reminds me of my daily, hourly, moment-by-moment need for a Savior. That reminds me I CAN NOT do it all. That God is sufficient. That He allows me to do what I need to do in a day. That His grace covers my lack, my inability, my weakness.

That part of my authenticity is in my ability to express need. I can't do it all. I'm not superwoman or wonderwoman. I'm tired woman. Tired woman who is constantly crying out to the Lord, "Jesus, help me!" or "Help me Jesus!"

My days are full of the wonderful and the horrible. The fantastic and the mundane. The exhausting and the empowering. A life that seems so full of contradictions. But isn't that so much of what I believe? We give in order to receive. We love those who hate us. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. The weak made strong. The poor are blessed.

I''m baffled by how prone I am to forget God in the midst of my life and my day. I think somehow that I have to manage on my own (as if I could!) and pull myself up by my boot straps and accomplish all the things I ever think of that pop into my head that are "good ideas".

God is reminding me in His tender and loving way that I need Him. That I can do NO GOOD THING APART FROM HIM! That I can ask Him again and again to help me, strengthen me, encourage me. He can show me what I need to prioritize. He can lead me beside still waters. He restores my soul for His name's sake.

So once again I am yielding. I am surrendering myself to Him and His ways and asking Him to lead me. I want Him to be the one to show me what to do and what is important. To help me see the needs that He sees. To not overlook what He has for me today because I do not deem it important or worthy of my time and attention. I can rest that He is holding the world and spinning the earth and controlling the universe and the planet and stars that He set in motion. That is not my hand sustaining breath and life... it is His. I can rest in His goodness and mercy. That he has promised to never leave or forsake me.

And the fear that grips me and wants to choke me can be released. I am His. And I give Him my day's concerns and anxieties. Lord, these are yours. Your children. Do as you will. Take the burdens of the broken hearted that I try to carry. They are too heavy for me, but not too heavy for you. Help me to love like you today. Thank you that you forgive my failings and accept me in my weakness. Help me to rest.

Little feet are running outside my door. The chair is moved in the kitchen to reach the cereal. I hear their morning chatter. The day has begun. But I am not afraid. For He goes with me and He always will.