Tuesday, March 24, 2015

adventures in parenting

{via some e cards}

i feel like this should be the title of my life right now: adventures in parenting. life is exhausting as of late. on top of normal "having two very young children" stuff we've recently lost a family friend, and had to say goodbye to bexley - our dog of eight years.  and i've felt more than a little bit worn down and saddened and stuck.

our kids are wonderful beautiful blessings, and they make life extremely challenging right now. some days i feel like i'm floundering. i'm not exactly sinking and i'm not exactly swimming.

our house has been a bit of a disaster lately. since soccer season has gotten into full swing it seems that there is simply not enough time to do everything anymore. many days i feel as though i'm just scraping by in terms of sleep, and my emotional and spiritual well-being. i'm doing just enough to not completely fall apart.

it's not that i'm not thankful. i am very thankful for my husband and my kids and the fact that we have a roof over our heads that has more than enough space for our family. what i struggle with is the balance. i do not like to feel like days are happening to me, and lately i have felt that way time and time again.

both of our kids are exploring and discovering new things every day. keane has adventured further and further into autonomy. his new favorite thing is to tell me to "shut up" and clap his hands at me. yes, i'm that parent who used to get so frustrated with the dog barking at things of no consequence that in my exasperated state i would sometimes tell bexley to "shut up." and that is what keane picked up on. and that is what he says back to me whenever he doesn't get his way.

we are so very broken.

and our little girl is the sweetest, happiest little creature on the face of the earth. but she doesn't like to sleep. this is partially due to her personality and partially due to the fact that we have not been as rigorous with getting her on a super set schedule now that i have to juggle keane's schedule too.

most days i feel like a failure of a parent. and since i'm a stay-at-home-mom and parenting is my only "job" on my most dramatic days i also feel like a failure at life. it kind of seems like most people around me are doing this whole thing a heck of a lot better than i am, but when i step back i wonder if that is simply because i see all of my life, and just pieces of others' lives.

we live in a culture that prizes authenticity, but hates vulnerability. on my most vulnerable days this makes it tough to believe i'm doing much well.

living with a baby and a toddler can quickly send you from one extreme to the other. euphoria somehow leads to total meltdown.

adele now decides that she likes something, and if she's holding said thing - one of keane's fruit strips for instance - and you take it away from her, say to give her brother the fruit strip out of the package, she flips right on out on you despite the fact that she had been giving you a two-toothed-widest-you've-ever-seen smile not three seconds earlier.

keane gets something in his mind, and even if the answer is "not right now, you need to wait a minute and be patient" he somehow hears "never ever ever" and goes into flip out mode, usually complete with a "shut up" and rounded out with a timeout.

of course it goes the other way too. he could be flipping out about something and you ask if he wants to go play in the water, or go outside, or if he wants to do some other fun activity and he's immediately 100% fine. ah, two year olds.

i know that much of this is a "time of life" thing. that this too shall pass, and i will miss it. when i step back, i remember those things. sometimes i just get so caught up with what is right in front of my face that i forget. i get stuck in the toughness of it and miss the gems.

yesterday keane and i were outside before his nap time. he likes digging in the dirt with sticks right now - he usually pretends he's mixing something up and making cupcakes or cookies. while he dug in the dirt the stick he was using to dig broke. and i said "uh oh, it broke." and he said "it's still good." and it reminded me that he really is listening all the time. he really does take it all in even when i think otherwise.

you see keane doesn't like it when his food "breaks." bananas in particular tend to break on him, and he doesn't like that. so my go-to response when his food breaks is "that's okay though, it still tastes good."

and yesterday he reminded me in his two year old way that just because something else breaks it doesn't mean it can't be useful or good.

of course soon after that he decided to drive his car around the backyard, and this is how that went:
keane gets in his car and closes the door.
"buh-bye mommy"
not two seconds later he stops the car, opens the door, and says "shoot" as he's getting out.
"shoot, i forgot sometin"
"what did you forget?"
"backpack. i forgot my backpack."

do you think maybe i forget things on a regular basis??

my kids both keep me honest in their own ways. it's extremely humbling to have your qualities paraded back to you right in front of your face. it's a lot harder to ignore your bad habits when you see them in someone else. especially when that person is a tiny human who mostly learns from you.

of course my absolute favorite keane-ism right now is what happens when i tell him it's nap time.
"it's nap time keane."
"no. NO. not nap time. it's not nap time. it's morning time. it's MORNING time."
haha. he's pretty good at re-framing the argument.

i hope you have a great tuesday! mine is better thanks to adele sleeping through the night the last two nights. it's a little early to call it a consistent thing, but we will certainly take it!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

dear vicki,

i cannot fully express the impact you have had on my life and the lives of so many others. i remember  hanging out with you at the middle school laser tag event when madi was in seventh grade. it was the first event i attended with the middle school youth after being hired at church, and you were one of the first people to learn that i'd been hired.

i remember many many women's bible studies with you and cynthia. i remember how often you reminded us "it's a heart issue." i think of that all the time, even now. i remember many youth events at your house, and the blessing of your family as i got to work with your three youngest kids.

i remember how happy i was for you and mason when i found out you were moving to utah, and how sad i was for me. in a strange way i feel sort of that way now. i'm happy that you will soon get to live in the light of God's perfect glory. i'm sad for those of us whom you're leaving for now. i'm sad for your family whom i love so much, and for everyone else you loved so well - myself included.

you are such a gem, and my heart is full as i think of you walking into glory, made fully perfect and whole.

i've had hillsong's "you hold me now" stuck in my head since last night.

on that day when i see
all that you have for me
when i see you face to face
there surrounded by your grace
all my fears swept away
in the light of your embrace
where your love is all i need
and forever i am free

where the streets are made of gold
in your presence healed and whole
let the songs of heaven
rise to you alone

no weeping no hurt or pain
no suffering, you hold me now
you hold me now
no darkness no sick or lame
no hiding you hold me now
you hold me now

in this life i will stand
through my joy and my pain
knowing there's a greater day
there's a hope that never fails
where your name is lifted high
and forever praises rise
for the glory of your name
i'm believing for the day

where the wars and violence cease
all creation lives in peace
let the songs of heaven
rise to you alone

for eternity
all my heart will give
all the glory to your name

and i am so very thankful for the wholeness you will soon experience. i am so very thankful for the blessing you've been on my life. for the many things you've taught me about marriage and parenting and loving people well.

your love for jesus always showed through. your openness about your life was an example to me of courage and vulnerability.

this morning in yoga class my teacher talked about gripping so hard to things that weren't ours to begin with. she had no idea how much that struck me.

you belong to God. he created you, he has sustained you, and now he calls you home. we "grip" you because we love you and we want you to be here a while longer. but you're not ours to begin with - you are his. 

and so, all i can say is thank you. thank you for allowing yourself to be a conduit of God's hope and love to those around you. thank you for your willingness to speak truth. thank you for your boldness. thank you for your courage. thank you for your vulnerability. thank you for your friendship.

i am so thankful for you. so thankful for all of those things you taught me. and despite the sadness it brings for those of us still here, i am beyond thankful that you will soon be healed and whole.

so much love to you.


Monday, March 9, 2015

6 months and then some

looking back over the last few months i realized that while i took adele's monthly photos i never posted them all on here.

despite the fact that it has been over a week since she officially turned 6 months, i still don't fully believe it. i don't believe it has already been that long. granted that probably has a little bit to do with the fact that we go to bed each night wondering how she'll do. she has slept the whole way through the night without interruption for three of the last four nights, but she was up for an hour in the middle of the night the other time. oh well. it'll happen eventually.

she has been reaching for things for a while now, and is currently working on her sitting skills. lately she has started randomly bouncing - all on her own. one of us will be holding her, and she'll just start bouncing. it's like she has more energy than she knows what to do with, and she has to get it out somehow.

here's our smiley girl:

she's definitely growing up! granted she's tiny, but somehow she's still getting so big. and we'll leave it at that because now she's also awake.

happy monday!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

who knows?

{found via pinterest}

that phrase - who knows? - sticks in my head right now because once again snowfall drifts down from our charlotte skies, and despite the fact that we were supposed to have over a week of soccer practice under our belt at this point [but only have a day], it's looking more and more like we won't get much time on the field this week either. {sidenote: in case you can't tell, i started this post last week...}

who knows what will happen?

who knows is such a loaded phrase, not just for me, but especially for me. "who knows" is such a true statement. we don't really know what's going to happen. that's why there are so many aphorisms about planning: "the best laid plans..."; "if you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans." 

but "who knows?" also makes me immediately think of something else every single time i hear it. in a split second i get transported back to my freshman year of college. to the very first semester - the very first week that i was on campus.

playing soccer meant that i was on campus before everyone else, and going to a christian school meant that we had a team theme each year based on a bible verse. my freshman year the verse was esther 4:14 - "for if you remain silent at this time relief and deliverance for the jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" [niv]

the whole theme of the season was "who knows?" who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this. who knows what will happen?

that season kicked off a great two years for the soccer program at grove city. my freshman year was the first time in school history that the women's soccer team went to the ncaa tournament. the following year we went on a 15 game win streak, and went back to the tournament for the second time in school history.

all because we, as a team, took to heart that idea. 
who knows what can happen? who knows but that you are in the exact place you're in because you now have the ability or authority or position to do something, or to speak something that you couldn't otherwise.

we cannot see everything all at once. we live in a linear world. and sometimes that's scary. 
but God is sovereign. 

and that's the thing - he knows, even when we don't.

it's like another saying i heard a few years ago: i don't know what the future holds, but i know who holds it.
sometimes we walk through fun and exciting things, or do something that has never been done before, all because we have the audacity to believe that God is God and if we listen to what he's asking us to do he can bring things together that we couldn't possibly know or predict.

of course that doesn't mean that we don't do anything. we still have to put in the work. [yes, there are times when you put in the work and it still doesn't seem to get you anywhere, but at least then you're not left wondering what would've happened differently if you had.]

we miss that piece though. we don't want to put in the work. we want to have everything handed to us without needing to work for it. we don't want to do the hard thing simply because it's hard. too often i don't recognize that life isn't easy for anyone. the grass always looks greener on the other side because too often i'm looking on the other side, wanting the easy way out. in that moment of wanting something else i don't realize that even if i trade in my grass for that greener grass over there i still have to water the grass eventually, or it won't be green anymore.

no one really has it easy even if it looks like they do. we all have different struggles - some are bigger than others because they involve struggling for things necessary for life - but we all struggle. and we all think that others out there don't struggle. we've become so obsessed with our façade that authenticity has become refreshing.

too often i subconsciously think things are supposed to be easy, but most things in life worth having take a ton of work - despite what our culture tells us.
a good marriage? it's not just flowers and sunshine all the time. it takes intentional work. [despite the theme of many a rom-com]
parenting? hardest thing i've ever done. beyond worth it, but tough day in and day out.
building a business? having a successful career? staying in shape? becoming well-versed in any discipline? most things in life take work.

peter and i were talking last week about the "overnight" success story that actually took 10 years of work. businesses and products pop up [seemingly] out of nowhere all the time. they make us think that they truly came out of nowhere, but in reality those businesses or products had been in the works for a long time.

we want to take the easy way out, but there's not an easy way to accomplish many things. we're fooled by the end product. we missed the process and mistakenly think that there was none.

we live in an immediate gratification society, and we've started thinking that everything should happen immediately.

there are so many tangents spinning through my mind right now because there are so many ways to apply this in my own life.

i want to make changes, but changes don't just happen because i want them to happen. i have actually stepped up in some aspects and taken steps to make changes. i've started making changes to small things, but those often trip me up more than the big things.

for instance: i've started waking up earlier to get a few things accomplished before the kiddos get up. this "extra time" has allowed me time to write far more often than i could before. writing more has caused more reflection, and has helped me come to a few important realizations about my own life at this stage.

i'm at this stage at this time because God put me here. i say that with 100% clarity because it took us so much longer than we hoped to have kids. if it had only been up to me our kids would be older at this stage in the game. but they're not. and there is a reason for that.

who knows but that you have come to this position for such a time as this?

God can use anything. do i trust him enough to walk with him even when life doesn't make sense? do i trust that he wants me at the center of his will even more than i want to be there?


Monday, February 16, 2015

walking the dog

{via kateelizabethconner.com}

it's clear out tonight, and cold. not so cold that it cuts through you, but cold enough to let the tips of you immediately know. your nose and your ears know well enough that given time the cold will seep into you, down to your very core.

the moon shines so brightly that a blurry glow radiates out from it. the clarity of the stars seems to make the temperature drop faster. staring into all that cold. all that empty. all that space.

bexley and i are the only ones out on this path tonight. it's solemn in a way. nothing but the sound of our footsteps and the occasional jingle of the leash. nothing except the sound of us, and my stern reprimands when he starts to pull too much.

nothing, but everything.

we pass by houses and lives. we pass by doors closing and voices wafting. and then we move on.

a jingling leash.

a few measures of a song. a light switches off.


the stars take me back to high school for a moment. i remember a poem i wrote for my english class in 11th grade, but i can't remember all of it. only the beginning.

"there are no stars out tonight.
nothing to even wish on.
no reassurance that it's all going to be okay."

that's all i remember. i know it ended on a better note. but my teacher praised me for turning the "wish upon a star" thing on its head. then he said it resolved too easily at the end, and rather easily convinced me to add "maybe" in there - i don't remember how we got from the beginning to the very end, but i changed the ending to "and tonight, maybe that's enough."

i'd like to find that poem.
it was one of the first times i wrote something and actually thought it was halfway decent. it was one of the first things i was praised for writing. one of the first times i realized how much i enjoyed putting my thoughts down in ink.

too often now i read back over what i've written and think it's mostly - if not all - crap. and i wonder what ever made me think i was halfway decent at this anyway?

and then i spiral. i question everything. seriously. everything.
one self-critical thought after another --
i'm clearly a bad writer. i'll never do anything but piddle around with it, no matter what i aspire to do. i can lie to myself all i want, it'll never happen. and i'm not a very good mom either. or wife. and i don't really have a purpose. what am i doing here again? why does any of this matter? i'm not really very good at anything. and no matter what it doesn't feel like it's good enough.

is that part of our humanity? to spiral?
i think maybe it is.

i've been lost in thought and my pace has slowed.
the seeping cold snaps me back and bexley and i push on faster.

it's time to go home. to walk back into the warmth of baby laughs and toddler hugs and the embrace of my husband.


Monday, February 9, 2015

to matter

{via dvoapp.com}

we all want to matter. this is not surprising or revolutionary news. it is certainly not an epiphany that never occurred to anyone before. but it is profoundly true. we all want to matter, and to know that we matter.

what i have realized more recently is that this is one of the big reasons for the debate about stay-at-home moms versus working moms. [sidenote: personally i don't think there is one right answer to that question, but i do think there is a right answer for your family.]

anyway, from my perspective as a stay-at-home mom there are plenty of days when i feel like i don't matter. where my entire existence is wrapped up in the raising of two tiny humans and just feels exhausting and nothing more. there are days when i wish i had work to do outside of my home. but i also know that if i had to go to work everyday i would miss staying at home with these two tiny humans.

in my daily existence i often feel like i don't really matter because on many occasions i don't interact with anyone over the age of 2 for the majority of my day. don't get me wrong - if i didn't think raising kids was of the utmost importance then i wouldn't be okay with staying at home with them. however, when zero percent of my daylight hours involve real adult conversation it's easy to miss the forest for the trees.

that said, i know that there are plenty of working mamas who hate that they have to leave their babes everyday. and really there is no winning in our society. in most circles one or the other is advocated. but this isn't really the point.

the point is that no matter what you do there are days when you feel like you don't matter. too often i look at what i do and want that to completely define me and to give me meaning. i'm looking to those things that i do, and i want them to define me.

too often i strive and strive and strive [after the wind] and try to make a dent in this life. to make a difference.
and that is a good thing.

but the problem lies in the fact that i want to earn it by what i'm doing. my heart is not in the right place. i want to matter... to make a difference. but too often i want to make a difference for me. and there is a huge difference between wanting to make a name for myself, and wanting to trumpet the God that i serve.

i think it was my youth pastor who said this - if not, i know it wasn't my original idea - but whoever it was said: it doesn't matter who you are; it matters whose you are.

and we miss that.

God matters. he's the creator of this whole crazy universe we live in. and we all want to be like God. that was the very nature of the fall of man. so we've tried to take over the primary role. but most of us [at least i'm pretty sure it's not just me] want to take over and stamp our name on something and leave a legacy of ourselves.

it's not bad at all to want to matter. but if i want to matter just because it'd be nice to stroke my ego and feel all wonderfully powerful then it is nothing but stupid. period.

this weekend i was feeling bad for my stay-at-home-mom self. i was feeling all "woe is me, i'm so tired, and in the grand scheme of things i don't really make a difference." and sunday the sermon was about self-pity and how it can really screw us up and eat away at us. [insert embarassed called-out and convicted emoji here. is there one of those? anyway...]

because i wanted to matter for me. not for God. for me. but that is completely, utterly, beyond pointless. at the end of the day the heaven and earth will pass away. so even if i'm remembered for something for generations of humans my name is still not the one that matters.

so for those of you that maybe sometimes get exhausted and feel like what you're doing doesn't matter - remember that it's not about who you are, it's about whose you are. it's not about your name going forward, but His name going forward. it's about soul-saving grace. and we all need a whole lot of grace every day.

we were all created in the image of God. we all matter to him. and he calls each one of us back to himself. and he gives each one of us grace upon grace. forgiveness upon forgiveness. he is far more gracious to us than we are to ourselves, or to each other.

at the end of the day, we matter to him.
and that means we matter.

much love to you!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

they know

recently i read another blog post from a friend who described her time as a young mother as wonderful, but somewhat frustrating. it seemed like every time she awoke early to do something without her four littles hanging on her at least one of them would "know" and find her.

my experience yesterday morning fit the above sentiments to a T. it was one of those mornings when in all of my selfish human-ness i wondered if God really hears prayers because oh-my-goodness-you-have-to-be-freaking-kidding-me.

my morning started at 3 a.m. well, sort of. adele still is not actually sleeping the whole way through the night on most nights. she's not eating in the middle of the night anymore, but she persists in waking up a lot of the time. if it's after 3:30 peter will get up, but anytime before that is my window.

she woke up at 3, and hence i got up to check on her. she went back to sleep pretty quickly that first time, but from 3 to about 4:20 she was in various states of wakefulness - mostly talking happily in her crib. when she was still very awake at 4:20 [and i had slept for about 30 minutes in that almost hour and a half] i woke up peter and asked him to take a turn to give me a half hour of sleep before i needed to feed her around 5.

at this point i should probably also mention that i was planning to get up shortly after 5:00 so i could get in a brief workout and shower before keane woke up and my day with the kids officially "started"....

peter woke me just before 5:00 since adele had fallen asleep in his arms and then promptly woke up when he put her back in her crib.

i nursed her and [despite her best efforts] got her back to sleep. i headed downstairs about 5:40 to change clothes so i could get in my workout. [in all honesty, i wouldn't have worked out if i hadn't desperately needed a shower. i knew if i didn't just stay up and work out i wouldn't wake up just to shower, and i actually had to go places and see people outside of my own house.]

i was quietly grabbing workout clothes when keane's video monitor popped on. when i looked at it i realized that he wasn't just moving in his sleep, but was actually awake because he couldn't find his lovey, or his pacifier and he basically needs both to fall asleep. i headed upstairs to try to prevent him from fully waking up, got him all squared away, and put him back to sleep. or at least put him back in his bed thinking he was going to fall back asleep...

i returned back downstairs to change clothes, checked the monitor, and saw him get up again. i went up and returned him to his bed. i changed clothes and was about to throw my hair up when i saw a little head moving down the last two stairs. 

at this point peter was awake and my stern "get back in your bed" roused him from his pillow. he took the little man back up to his bed. i did manage to get in a workout and a quick shower, then as i got dressed and ready for the day i watched keane get out of his bed and back in his bed. out of his bed. back in his bed. i thought he was staying in his room as he's supposed to until i heard legos dropping between his bed and the wall. oh well. he stayed upstairs and when his light turned on [we have it on a timer to tell him when he's allowed to come downstairs] he made his way downstairs.

suffice it to say that i was completely wiped out exhausted yesterday. like wiped out and done. you know all of those thoughts that you think about yourself that you know you shouldn't think about yourself? the thought snowball when a tough night turns itself into a ruined day even though it's not really ruined, but you find yourself just kind of wanting to cry? yep. i thought all of those yesterday. 

i normally brew 4 cups of coffee in the morning and finish my mug around lunchtime. [if that on some days] yesterday i drank the first 4 cups and then brewed another 4 cups of half-caf for the afternoon. and i was still dragging even before dinnertime. 

some days are just like that. and in some ways it's frustrating to not have one stinking moment to myself - okay, miss over-dramatic - to not have more than about 30 minutes to myself over the course of about 17 hours, but it's just one day.

one day where my little loves know that i love them despite my severe shortcomings. one day when his mommy-radar went off and he just wanted to hang out with me. one day when i woke up time and again because of sweet little baby babbles. i'd be lying if i didn't say those things made me a bit miserable at the time because i was just.so.tired. but thinking about them now? now i want to remember those things. they're growing like weeds, and i'm told it only gets faster as they get older.