March 26, 2015

a simple thought.

Jesus said to the Jews: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." So the Jews said to him, "Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ´Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.´ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ´He is our God.´ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the Temple area.

John 8:51-59 (emphasis mine)

OOPS, I did it again. I was going to write about something else (laundry....ooooo how exciting) but then all these thoughts started swirling during my morning prayers and, well, detour. 

This is today's Gospel reading and sometimes I choose to read it instead of my usual ditty. And, this morning, I'm glad I did. I chose to include the whole reading for context but there was one line in particular that jumped out at me - the line I bolded and made big (so that it can slap me in the face with it's awesomeness over and over). 

"If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing...." Ah, snap. How easy it is to fall into this trap. Social media. Seeking the validation we all need and crave. Putting our little selves on big pedestals. These things aren't bad in and of themselves however once we receive the props it ends there. Whatever it is we used to seek this attention has it's purpose "fulfilled" in the accolades. And I use quotes because there is (there should be) much more.

"...but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' " THIS. This is where it all should end, right?! It's up to the FATHER to gives us the props - the so called glory we desire. What does this mean?? Well, Jesus gives us the example. Our actions, our words, our lives aren't meant to end with just us. They're meant to reflect and point back to the Father - the one who gave us life. And in this process God will illuminate and make beautiful everything it is we have to offer. The glory won't end with us - it will bounce off God, shine through us out to the world, and hopefully (HOPEFULLY) suck everyone in and draw them back to the Father. 

That's why I'm here people - to suck you in and draw you back to the Father. Muhahahaha. Speaking of suck, I really do suck at it sometimes (a lot of the time). Selfishness, vanity, needing validation are all easy things to get swallowed into and I'm SO not immune. Goodness gracious I pray every morning that whatever it is I put here is well intentioned, not dumb, and doesn't just stop with me. 

Won't you join me in this prayer?? And if you're not the praying type how about joining me in making life not about us. Let's make it about everyone else - making others better. Loving others better. This is where true peace is found - true glory is found. Although, to be honest, I haven't quite figured out how to reflect God's glory in hashtag all. the. laundry.

March 25, 2015

On being open.

For me, having a baby is (for lack of a better term) a very bipolar experience. One day, one second, I feel all this love and am overflowing with immense joy and the next second I'm super grumpy pants - swearing I will never have another child. Ever. Again.

And then two seconds later I'm in love...and the cycle continues.

There really is no other time during my children's lives that I feel so polarized. Maybe it's the hormones. Maybe it's the baby crap (literal and figurative). It is just so funny to me how these emotions happen and can quickly change. I mean, it feels so weird to swear off having children in one breath and then, in another, feel this bursting joy of baby fever and want to have another like right now.

I/We often get asked if we'll have another baby. Totally a loaded question for sure and the long, real, answer is usually too long/real for reply. So the short answer is: well, at this point we might just keep on going, right,  (insert coy hahaha here). But in all seriousness,  I don't know.

I don't know what the future will hold 1, 5, 10 years from now. My emotions about babies seemingly change on a whim so I can't really rely on that to make our decision. (whoa, this post is turning heavy. didn't mean for that to happen but I guess I'll roll with it....) My heart wants 100 more babies one day and sell the ones I have the next but it's obviously a bit more complicated than that - and again, can't let those darned emotions make all the decisions.

So, what do we do in the meantime. We pray. Michael and I pray about it every month - are we ready??? Is there anything major/pressing/so crazy in our lives that it would be not wise/prudent/smart to have a baby??? And if the answer is no: Is there anything we need to root out of our lives in order to be open to pulling 4 months of all-nighters having another one???

There are many, many more things we add to the prayers/discussions/thinkings about having more kids. But at the root of it all we try to remain open in our minds and hearts to whatever direction God wants to lead our family. 'Cause one thing I know for sure is that my own silly emotions should never drive the train. (Actually, if I allowed myself to do that I think I'd go insane with the pressure of translating my feelings to decisions...eeeek) God has taken our family down paths we never knew were ahead of us and I don't want to stop those surprises by being set in what I think should happen - whether it has to do with babies or not. Duh, we have to be prudent, but the leap of faith is sometimes way more exhilarating.

Who the heck knows what's around the corner - for me, for you, for Joe Shmo next door. (sorry, just wanted to say shhmmmo) But perhaps all we really need to do today, in this moment, is just be open. To let go of the clenched fists and open our palms and be ready to experience the joy ride of being led. Having to have it all figured out RIGHT NOW AT THIS SECOND hurts my brain (and annoys my husband...although he's good at smiling and nodding) so instead let's NOT have it all figured out. Let's roll through the day with intentionality and purpose (loving the people right in front of us while doing so) and be at peace with all the surprises (good or bad) waiting around the corner.

Oooooo, I like surprises. Clap clap jumpy jumpy happy happy joy joy.

March 24, 2015

A child's work.

"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood."

-Mr. (Fred) Rogers

My kids wants to play all. the. time. Well, duh, what kids doesn't. But what strikes me, honestly, is little Miss Avila. She is 7. She does cursive and multiplication and division. She reads chapter books and falls anywhere between the 1st and the 5th grade for her school work. I don't say this to hang with me for a sec.

By the nature of being 7 and all growed-up (and like a super sponge in school) the common notion would be to keep at it with her - to push her to go further in her studies, to dive deeper in unit work (or just more work) and all that jazz. Now I'm not dissing unit work and pushing kids but I've noticed something really interesting with her: as much as she loves (well, sometimes "loves") school and as serious a student as she is, the thing she wants to do more than anything else

Legos, barbies, forts, superhero, pirate, boxing, riding doesn't matter what it is. After their massive fort building this morning they are now immersed in a world of dress up - some Seahawks dude married to a Belle with a Rapunzel daughter. Unfortunately Levi is the Rapunzel daughter. (I have the cutest picture but Michael would kill me if I posted it. He has a thing about his boyzzz in dresses and I don't blame him.) 

Lucky for Avila she got all her school work done bright and early. Well, lucky for me, too, because once they build a world it is like PULLING TEETH to get them to come out of it. They become different people: fire fighters and princesses and bad guys and whoever else they want to be. They spend hours, HOURS, building Lego creations and if I were to interrupt with a silly little math lesson my head would get chopped off. Or at the very least I would hear over and over from the school table: "Levi, don't touch my tower!!!" 

Sometimes it's really hard to balance getting our school work done with their desire to play. I try to get it busted out after breakfast so I don't have to worry about interrupting them the rest of the day (unless it's some review while they're eating or a read aloud while they're coloring). But if we can't ('cause you know, insert baby) then we just make it work. I give her 5,000 warnings that school is starting and then we roll through our work with intentionality. (Hence the reason I don't do busy work. That would be the death to us all....) Yes, sometimes she has to sacrifice some/lots of her play time but I also realize how important this stage is to her little heart and soul (not to mention development). So we get 'er done so she can go back to her "real work."

And don't get me started on Max. Actually Max LOVES school. He wants to do more than his sister. Luckily we can get 500 chapters done in like 30 minutes (most days I only spend 10-20 with him one-on-one and in that time we can get reading and math done) but he's just about 5 and there's no way I would push anything at this point. In the fall I started direct reading instruction but soon realized he just wasn't ready so we shelved it for a few months and now he loves it. As a former educator and current mother it's my opinion that early childhood education is pushed way too much and that kids just need to PLAAAAYYYYYY. But that argument's for anotha day. 

OK, time to get back on track here. At the end of the day I've realized that kids have a short window to be kidzzz. Play is so important to them...and they need it. Like a mama needs her coffee. Yup, serious bizzness. So, let's not feel guilty or like we're cheating them out of something "bigger or smarter" than playing. Plus, when they're off in their own world I get to have alone time. Sweet, precious, don't bug me alone time. I guess play really is that awesome.

March 23, 2015

When it all seems too much.

Yesterday, while rocking Lola after a marathon nursing sesh right before bed, I did what I usually do while rocking Lola: I exhaled.

A big, freaking long, worn out, sink into the chair exhale.

Sometimes I wonder: how will I go on? Not in a despairing sort of way. But rather in a "I am responsible for so many important things and (little) people and if one of the pieces gets broken the whole darn puzzle is ruined" sort of way.

Know what I mean?

After that exhale I tallied it all up in my head - everything on this mama's plate: homeschooling, running a household, being a support to a busy busy man, cooking, scheduling, working out, blogging, dealing with health issues, so much laundry, so much poop, and the mommy list goes on and on. Now I really know you know what I mean. 'Cause you're there, too, right??! Sometimes we think of all those balls in the air and they become heavy - almost too heavy to keep juggling. We feel as if one will come down crashing, at any moment, at then it all will be at a loss.

So, what's a mama (or a papa or a grandpa) to do??? I don't have all the answers but I do know this: it'll be alright.

God has asked me to do each and every one of those things I listed above. (How do I know? Well, that's a whole other post....) And if He's asked me to be responsible and tend to the sheep in this crazy sort of way then I guess (no, i KNOW) He will give me the strength. His burden easy and light? Yup, I'll take that one please.

In more practical terms ('cause even though God asks me to do these things He doesn't give me a magic wand to whip them all out...but that would be awesome) here are some things I've found helpful during the days, the moments, the seasons when it all seems too much:

**I smile. Yup. After my exhale, I smiled. There is just something peaceful and relaxing about smiling - something that forces the body to chill out and focus on the good. And I have so much good.

**I stop multi-tasking. I actually stopped this one a looong time ago (because it's annoying and overwhelming to me) and I focus on the task at hand, and only the task at hand. Whilst snuggling Lola my brain wanted to remind me of the 11,000 things I had to do. But snuggling Lola was more important (and preferable to those 11,000 things) and I let myself be in THAT moment. Folding laundry? Sometimes I talk on the phone but mostly I just. fold. laundry. No music, no TV. Making lunch? Sometimes I play the school review on the computer for the kids but mostly I just. make. lunch. Try it out. The brain needs a rest.

**I remind myself that everything will not fall apart. And then I remind myself of this over and over.

**I tell myself I'm not in charge. It's not up to me to save the world. My only job is to be a darn good wife and mother and to focus on the task at hand. Gotta take the pressure off, man.

**I remain GRATEFUL. Dude, this one is tops. And I battle for gratefulness everyday. Whenever (and autocorrect just turned that one into whiners...bahahahaha) I want to complain I stop myself, immediately, and make my brain tell my heart every-thing that I have to be grateful for. And in almost an instant my grumpiness or overwhelmedness turns around and I am supported by the peace of knowing that, even if everything does fall apart, I still have so much to be thankful for.

OK, so I guess it WILL be alright. As I face another Monday, another week, I embrace that big long list. I'll take it moment by moment - chiseling away at the sculpture of  my life (ooooo, like that one?!) until the masterpiece is formed. It may take years and years to finish but that's just fine. In the meantime I will roll up my sleeves and make some pancakes (and bone broth...mmmmmm) and juggle the balls with pretty pink fingernails.

March 19, 2015

a simple thought


What 'normal' people perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it."

-Alexander McQueen, legendary fashion designer

Sometimes life, people, circumstances, the clothes kids pick out to dress themselves in for the day can be ugly. But...are they really? What if there is beauty in everything? What if the mundane, the seemingly unapproachable, the unkind, the stuff of life all still possess so much beauty that - if we look beyond outward appearances - we can see it?

I say yes. I contend that everything is beautiful. We just have to dig deep enough to find it sometimes. But once we get our shovels out and reach the spring of beauty under the sand of crap we have truly found a treasure. We have found a means of peace and contentment and rocking a smile no matter what life throws our way.

So, today, let's find the beautiful. In whatever you (WE) are faced with, let's look for the glittering gold under the gray. 'Cause gold is pretty and sparkly and much more fun.