How I Roll (Plus Four)

Dear Friends/Neighbors/Loved Ones and Not-So-Loved ones,

I know you hear me. I know you see me. I can’t imagine what you think of me. The truth is, I’m not always like this. But you see, I have four children. I have *pause* two 7 years olds, one 5 year old and a 2 year old. When you have four children sometimes (or most of the time) you barely remember to call them by the right name. When you have four children you have to pause (see above) before you can tell people their ages. When you have four children it takes nothing short of a miracle to spout off all their birthdays (including year) without making a mistake or stumbling over your words.

And so you see… getting into the car to go anywhere with 4 children is a thing. Not only that but between those 4 children we have 5 official diagnoses (ADHD is real, yo! X2), 3 with developmental delays and 2 currently going through further evaluations. I repeat, getting in the car to go anywhere with 4 children is a thing.

Friends, neighbors, loved ones and not-so-loved ones… When you see me… standing at my front door… while a trail a children emerges from beneath my outstretched arm… know this… The words that are coming out of my mouth as I scream for them to get into the car 20 times (oh, look, something shiny), as I ask them to get themselves buckled 20 times (“that cloud looks like Mickey!!!”), as I scream for them to go back inside and put shoes on (because, seriously?! I told you 20 times inside)… Those words coming out of my mouth are not indicative of the type of mother that I am. Leaving the house with 4 children is a thing.

Friends, neighbors, loved ones and not-so-loved ones… Please take this as my formal apology for my rants between your snooze button compressions in the morning. Please forgive me for the borderline inappropriate rages while you drink that calming glass of wine at dinner. And please, please know that I am truly sorry as I wail when we get home at the end of a long day while you’re getting ready for bed, because you see, going from the car to the house with 4 children is also a thing.

Now please, friends, join me as I petition Kroger and all of it’s affiliates to sell wine, milk, diapers and their delicious fried chicken at their gas station island marts. Please, for the sanity of mothers all around the world, join me.

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Overwhelmed

Have you ever felt like your entire world was crashing down? As if one tiny drop of rain landing gently on your head would set off an entire Avalanche of chaos and emotions? Has that ever happened to you? I know it has me! One of my all time favorite quotes is by Jonathan Sofran Foer and it goes, “sometimes I can hear my bones straining from all the lives I’m not living.” It truly captures all of the madness going on inside of me.

What does it mean to be overwhelmed? Webster defines it as: 1. Bury or drown in a huge mass 2. Defeat completely 3. Give too much of a thing to (someone) inundate.

We as mom’s tend to do this to ourselves; but it’s really required of us. We take and take and take on the burdens of others and seldom let them return the favor. And sadly, for some reason, I have overheard my dear friends utter the word “overwhelmed” one too many times over the last several weeks.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah‬ ‭40‬:‭28‬ NKJV)

Have you not heard? Life is hard! I get it, believe me, I get it. My little family and I have had the craziest and most unexpected last 6 months of our lives. It’s like I said “God, I’m ready. I’ll be obedient in this!” And He replied, “Alright, here goes! I hope you’re ready!” One of the most common things that I hear on a regular basis from people is, “I don’t know how you do it!” But the fact of the matter is that I don’t! I don’t do it at all!!! I alone do not have the strength, courage or endurance to overcome but one single second of my life and the blessings that accompany it!

“He does not faint or grow weary” in Isaiah 40:28 we are being told to stop and then to “LOOK! LISTEN! BELIEVE!” We have a Father that is everlasting! He created the universe, He created the Earth and everything in it, and He created YOU! HE DOES NOT GROW WEARY! As believers we must, I repeat, we must believe this! He will not put a path in front of us that is too much too handle. I know at times it will feel that way but believe me, friends, He won’t. But on that same note, as I’ve said time and time again, Our Father does not intend for us to do this all alone. He wants all of His children to work together for the good of His kingdom. And that is what your life is… A gift to His perfect kingdom! So friends, fellow mothers, do not be afraid to reach out a helping hand if you feel so led and also do not be afraid to ask for help in this same manner from the people God has blessed you with. I can assure you that the Holy Spirit knows exactly what you need and with which vehicle to provide this to you. But remember that it may not always appear in the way that we expect. God has a funny sense of humor like that!

As you go into this upcoming week, let this be the first thing that you ask for when you wake up in the morning: Pray for God’s strength, Jesus’ indescribable peace and for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Ask for this until seeking Him becomes second nature. This, my friends, is how I can do it. Give it all to Him and be overwhelmed with God’s goodness!

From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (‭Psalms‬ ‭61‬:‭2‬ NKJV)

Bah Humbug

I’ve been a realist my entire life. Maybe I’ve even been called a scrooge once or twice. I never believed in the big bearded fellow as far as I can remember and I’m not proud to say that I ruined several children due to that in my time. It’s not that I’m a horrible grump when it comes to this stuff, it’s that there is SO much amazing things surrounding this season that I can’t imagine the need for anything made up. I’ve been a parent for almost 8 years now, and for the entirety of those 8 years I’ve managed to escape the topic pretty much altogether. I guess it’s one of the perks of being divorced… “go ask your dad…”

I became a foster parent shortly prior to Easter. My sweet duchess, 7 years old, joined my family and life as we new it changed forever. In her short 7 years she had not experienced the security and love that my boys had experienced, much less any magic. I managed to make it through Easter without giving the magical jelly bean pooping rabbit any credit. I was proud of myself. The kids came down on Easter morning and gushed over their new fishing poles and baskets filled with lots of learning materials and toys. In the days that followed Easter, I paid attention to the conversations between the kids and their friends. They all discussed how this magical bunny paid a visit and lavished them with candy and gifts. When the duchess finally approached me regarding the topic, I was at a loss for words. Was I not good enough? Did I do something bad? Why didn’t the Easter Bunny give me anything?

That was the moment in time when I decided to look deep into my black little heart and try to look for any shred of magic. I promised myself that I would at least try. The tooth fairy, I could handle the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy didn’t interfere with any of the spiritual lessons that I try to pass down to my children. I’m not sure how I escaped a lost tooth in the time between Easter and this Christmas season with either of the 7 year old or the 5 year old losing a tooth, but I did. As Christmas quickly approached, I started to purposely ignore the topic. I was not prepared.

Almost as soon as Halloween was over the children started bombarded me with questions, gift requests regarding Christmas and… that awful, wretched Elf on a Shelf. Oh, that Elf on a Shelf. I’d like to find the creator of this Elf. I would find this person and trap them in a room with life-sized elves darning that same evil spark in their eyes and that wickedly creepy plastic smile. The elves would then proceed to periodically and strategically torture this person in a way that would make the Viet Cong blush. Only they’d use toilet paper and M&M’s and Hershey Kisses… and the rest of the torture devices these elves are so accustomed to using. I had finally decided to give into the peer pressure when my sweet duchess had most horrifying experience with our neighbor’s elf, Buddy, in their guest bathroom. Yes! I had gotten off the hook! Or so I thought. Over the next two days she convinced herself that it wasn’t “that bad” and they started requesting it again. But that face!

I’m one of those moms. I try to find a life lesson or create a meaningful experience in almost everything that we do. So, I took to Pinterest and found this post. Then I headed over with my strategically started Amazon Prime trial and ordered these adorable, not creepy elves. Kindness Elves that would assign the children different Random Acts of Kindness for the next 25 days.

Meet Ender(man) and Ginger McNotCreepy:

ender and ginger

Today we completed the third day of our assignments and I do have something meaningful and life lesson-y to add about each one of them so far, but for now I will share my list in case any of you are looking for anything fun to do to spread love over the next season:

(in no particular order, except number 25 on Christmas Day)

  1. Pass out flowers to women at a grocery store.
  2. Donate toys and clothes to a homeless shelter for families.
  3. Hand out balloons to kids shopping with their families at the mall.
  4. Candy Cane bomb kids at a restaurant.
  5. Bake cookies for a fire station.
  6. Rake leaves for a neighbor.
  7. Adopt a kid from the school’s Giving Tree.
  8. Cook a meal for a family.
  9. Hand out $1 bills to kids at the dollar store to buy a toy.
  10. Hand out hot chocolate to parking volunteers at church.
  11. Hot Chocolate and thank you note for trash guys.
  12. Gift and thank you note for mailman.
  13. Gift and thank you note for a server.
  14. Chalk notes on driveway for neighbors.
  15. Sticky note compliments on cars on parking lot.
  16. Pay for someone behind us.
  17. Give a homeless person a gift card.
  18. Bake cupcakes for library workers.
  19. Mail a card and a small gift to a random stranger out of the phone book.
  20. Kind bomb library books (notes in the books)
  21. Make Christmas flowers for the school front office staff.
  22. Tape microwave popcorn and candy to Redbox.
  23. Take coloring books and crayons to children waiting at Children’s Hospital.
  24. Send a package to a Marine that’s overseas.
  25. Take treats and thank you notes to people working at drug store on Christmas.

 

 

All the single ladies

I started going to church on Saturday nights a few years ago. I realized that it was the most genius way to get showered and dressed only once per weekend and stay in pajamas the next day. So, as I was singing loudly and obnoxiously through the worship set tonight, I had some sort of an epiphany. Something I already knew and speak of to others; but it was something that really sank deep into my heart seemingly for the first time. As I stood there belting out the lyrics to Hillsong United’s “Sinking Deep” I found myself feeling more and more like a fraud.

Last week I heard a statistic that more than 50% of adults are now single. Although I did zero fact checking on that number, it shocked me and I believe it. That number seems to be pretty much in line with the numbers of the Motherhood small group that I attend, with me being one of the single ones. One of the side notes that the radio DJ added to the statistic was the large number of adults simply choosing to be single as a way of life and never looking to marry. Whilst I understand the comfort and freedom that comes from doing what I want, when I want and having nobody to answer to, I think that’s mostly bull. God created us for relationships; relationship with a partner, our families, our children and our friends. You can find happiness in that life for sure but true joy cannot be reached without people. God did not create us to go through life alone. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. We are supposed to pour our gifts onto others and at the same time allow others to pour into our lives. But in talking to most of my single friends (whether they’ve been married in the past or not, have children or not) the most common thing weighing on them is finding the right man to spend the rest of their lives with. Don’t we all want that happy ending?

“I’m wide awake, drawing close, stirred by grace And all my heart is Yours”

Is it? Is ALL my heart His? I’ve heard this song a few dozen times and sang along with my arms stretched wide. But is it His? Or am I putting all this stuff that I want or that I think I deserve for Him to give me above having Him in my heart and a relationship with Him?

“Your face is all I seek, you are my everything.”

Your face is all I seek. All I seek. Is it? No. The answer is no. It’s not. You are my everything. My everything? I realized that was also another big no. I’d like to tell myself that both of those statements are true but let’s be real…. the truth is that I get SO hung up on my struggles, wants and the things that I feel I’m entitled to that I seek those things first. And not just wants but mine and my children’s needs also. I put those things first and THEN I reach out to God, even though He’s always provided for us and never once let us down. I try my hardest and when I fail then I turn to Him. God tells us to seek FIRST His kingdom and all of these things will be given to us, not the other way around.

“Jesus Christ, You are my one desire”

Man. That one stung. MY ONE DESIRE.

Before I continue I should probably state my position on singlehood. I’ve been divorced for 3.5 years. I’m co-parenting two of the most handsome boys on earth with their father and fostering two others on my own. That makes FOUR children. I am perfectly content in my current situation. I love coming home, jumping into pajamas and having PB&Js for dinner if that’s what I feel like we should do that day. In fact, I couldn’t even fathom the idea of having some other person as part of my routine messing up my groove right now.

As I sang those lyrics “my one desire” I realized that I wasn’t being honest. I want so much more. So as I desire so much more, am I then putting this person and my desires with this person above God? As I pray to God for His will to be done, for His guidance and direction am I ignoring His instructions until I get what it is that I think I want?

The truth is that I’m not ready and God knows this. As I sit here waiting so impatiently, God is working on my heart. I’ve tried the wife thing before. And I was ok at it then but mostly really immature and my temper was out of control. I started too young and before I was ready. When I do this again I want to be a great wife. Not just a good one. I need more patience. I need more understanding. I need to be able to hand the reigns over to that man and let him be the strong, nurturing, God-fearing man that I say that I want to lead my family. God is really working on my control issues right now and I know that I wouldn’t be ready to do that now. Or maybe it’s the opposite of that? Maybe sometimes I’m so tired that I want my knight in shining armor show up and rescue me? But again, if someone “rescued” me now (I don’t need rescuing….) will I then learn to lean on that person and forget to give God all the glory He deserves?

This week God has shown me that He really is all that I need. He has shown me that when I’m hurting the most, to cover that pain in His love. His perfect love. This week I learned that God really is my provider and He will always come through and give us what we need even when it seems impossible. He did the impossible for us this week. This week I learned that God will send us the people we need to fill those areas where we need them and that in turn He will send us to the people that need us.

And so I’ve decided to set out on a journey for God to be all that I seek. For God to be my everything. And for Him to be my ONE desire.

“All fear removed, I breathe You in, I lean into Your love, oh your love”

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. ~Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭33‬ NKJV

Cilantro

A decade ago (how time flies), I used to live on Oahu, Hawaii. I had the privilege of living there for about 2 years in a 2 bedroom condo on the 40th floor with a breathtaking view of Pearl Harbor. I was 23 at the time. I remember walking into that condo and instantly falling in love. I just knew that was the place where I would spend my time while living in paradise. I lived in Hawaii immediately after I got out of the Marine Corps while accompanying the ex during his final tour. It seemed like a great idea. We had researched the units that had recently deployed and thought we picked the one least likely to deploy again during the short time that he had left on his contract. Boy were we wrong. He was immediately shipped off to Iraq and I spent the next 18 months living on the island alone.

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Starting over and over… (and a child’s love)

This was one of those weekends. You know, the kind that makes you look forward to Monday morning. Yeah, one of those. When I woke up on Saturday morning I was motivated and encouraged. I had my weekend planned out to the minute. I was going to hit the gym, do some grocery shopping, buy a couple of gifts for a double birthday party the kids and I were going to later that day, and then pick up the boys from their dad’s place… all by 10am. I was that sure of myself.

And so I jumped out of bed, got dressed and headed to the gym. As-soon-as-I-put-my-car-into-park at the gym my phone dinged. The boys were ready to be picked up. I let out an enormous defeated sigh as I gathered up the shattered pieces of my heart from the bottom of my floorboard, shifted my car into drive and headed that way.

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