Life never seems to go the way that we plan it. Last night, after getting off work at midnight, my youngest son came into the room saying he was going to be sick.
He had only got choked from being congested but the little guy slept in my room all night anyway. During the night, he decided to ask random question, almost always right as I was drifting back to sleep.
Why am I sharing this? To be transparent. A lot of times I hear Christians acting like they have it all together. I’ve been one of them in the past. It was as if people wouldn’t believe in God if things weren’t going well all the time.
But honestly, when I look back at my life it wasn’t the times when things were going well that people wanted to know who my God was. It was the times when I was struggling the hardest. When we had a miscarriage, when there was a death, when we were about to become homeless for three weeks.
During those times I was frustrated but not with God. I knew that God would make something beautiful from it all. I was frustrated with this broken world. Frustrated that bad things happen. Frustrated that we don’t value the lives of others as much as we should. Just frustrated.
Also during those times was when I had the most people say, “ I don’t understand how you’re so calm I’d be a mess right now.” To which I’d answer, “God.”
If you find yourself dealing with the crazy frustrations today, take a moment to read the Bible. If you don’t have one check out biblegateway.com or the youversion app. (Ephesians is a pretty good book to start on) Get to know about the God that created the heavens and the earth. The God that wants you to experience joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, gentleness, love, and faithfulness. These things will show up wherever he is. It will be the fruit that his people have upon them. But don’t stop at reading about him from the perspective of others. Take time to talk to him and listen for him to talk back. He’s not a distance deity wanting to lord over humanity. He wants an intimate relationship with each and every one of us.
God, I pray for anyone reading this today. No matter what frustrations they may be experiencing today, God, give them peace like a breathe of fresh air. Even if circumstances don’t change today or tomorrow, allow them to experience freedom from those circumstances. Freedom that only you can give us. Amen.
Our younger boys are fourteen months apart. With that kind of age difference, it is difficult not to compete, especially for our boys. At least once a day there is some kind of 'oh yeah, well..." or "that's not the way..." conversation. One of them is always trying to tell the other what is best for them based on their own personality rather than considering their brother's likes or dislikes. Today was no different.
As we were school shopping, I was trying to think of a project they could do that would occupy some time and encourage creativity. We bought shoes and fabric paint then headed home.
Josiah wanted gold that sparkled like treasure and Solomon said yellow was his favorite color (this changes often).
While they were painting Josiah said he wanted a lightening bolt for Flash. Well, Flash is Solomon's favorite superhero, so of course, Solomon wanted a lightening bolt as well. Josiah said he was painting the other shoe all gold, so of course, Solomon said he was going to paint the other shoe all one color as well.
Then something awesome happened. Solomon went rogue and decided to do his own thing. He mixed the gold and yellow paint and started painting both his shoes all over covering up the lightening bolt. I was happy to see their individual personalities coming through in something as simple as painting.
It made me think about how God must look down at us wondering why we are trying to be more like our brother or sister rather than embracing ourselves. God, made us each unique for a reason, it wasn't a mistake. If he wanted us to be the same he could have easily done that.
I worked with people that were skilled in one area and people that were skilled in another area. When they began competing with each other or trying to be more like each other, it was painful for everyone in the office. But when they each embraced their own skills and handed off the stuff the other was talented at things ran smooth.
It is the same with the body of Christ. We must accept what we need to recognize what our talents are and what are talents aren't. But even more than that, we need to recognize what our brothers and sisters' talents are and what they are not so we can encourage them as well.
"You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything." 1 Corinthians 12:27 MSG
God, help us to be original. Not that we would strive to be original or strive to be different than others but that we would embrace who we are as you created us. Holy Spirit, give us discernment to recognize our talents, confidence to embrace them, and wisdom to mature them. Help us to recognize that our brothers and sisters have their own original. Their original doesn't look like ours and that's ok. Help us to love them for who they are rather than try to make them more like us. Help us to encourage them to be themselves rather, embracing their talents and maturing them. Amen
This is the first summer that I have been home with the boys all summer. I've probably mentioned that before, if I have, I apologize for repeating myself but it is a change when you're used to dropping them off with a daycare/school/sitter. Being with them all day long has it's challenges but it also has it's rewards. It reminds me of when they were babies and they would have a crying fit. I really wouldn't want to be around them in that moment because there was no pleasing them, but when they finally went to sleep I just wanted to continue cuddling them because I loved them so much.
Today, I took the boys to the park and walked the trail. It's a mile (maybe). Before we even started, they began complaining about how they did not want to walk the trail. They wanted to go straight to the playground.
They had their plan, I had mine. Insert difficult moment.
As we walked, because I'm the parent and the can learn to accept the hierarchy of things like I had to, they complained about not going the way they wanted to go. After that they complained about it being too hot, too sunny, too long.
They told me how unfair it was that I was making them walk. They stopped walking a few times until they realized I wasn't going to stop walking and I wasn't going to give in to their complaining. (Just saying, parents, it wasn't easy, in fact it was REALLY REALLY hard not to simply drop to their level and say, 'Fine, you and your whining win')
Typically, they are good about walking and hiking but, you know, we all have our moments.
As we came to the last hill, leading up to the playground, my six-year-old had a meltdown. He's kind of a scrawny guy and certainly not as active as his five-year-old brother. He was crying that it was just too far and his legs couldn't do it.
It would have been easy to pick him up in that moment. It would have stopped the whining and made that last stretch a bit more enjoyable. Plus, it would have eliminated the few odd looks that came our direction. (Nothing to see here people, life lesson in session.)
I began explaining to him how walking more would build his muscles. It would make him stronger and the walk wouldn't be so hard. I went on to say maybe we should do it once every day just to build our muscles up. (They all thought that was a terrible idea, of course.)
However, this whole experience made me think of God. There must be times when he is so over my whining. Times when I am so excited for the end result (the fun playground) but so annoyed with the route he decides to get me there (the walk). I mean, come on, God, I can see the playground to the left, it's so obtainable. Why in the world do we have to take a right, go down a hill, up a hill, back down another hill, and then climb a ginormous mountain just to get there. None of that makes any sense.
To which I'm sure he'd reply, "If we take your route, you won't build any muscles along the way."
God, thank you for loving me no matter how much I complain along the way. Holy Spirit, give me strength to walk better without complaining so much. Help me to recognize that you haven’t forgotten me, you’re simply helping me build up my muscles. Amen
Yesterday was the first day full day back from our Florida trip. My cousin's celebration went well and the book signing went well. Now I'm back in the thick of the real world. No more lazy days at the beach or no regard to what time it is. Now I have sinks filling up with dishes, baskets filling up with laundry, boys wanting to know what they can do because they're bored, and book projects waiting to be completed.
I thought about writing last night when Jacob got home. But instead, I went to bed.
Why do I do this? Do you ever have those moments? Moments when you know there are things that you can get done but you have no motivation to do them?
This morning, I woke up thinking about my boys. Do I challenge them? Do I encourage them to be everything that they can be? And even more so, am I modeling that for them with my own life? My answer is no. All too often, I am modeling excuses. How do I change this?
God, guide me. Show me the best way to manage my day and the most responsible way to use the time I have been given. Sometimes, ok, most of the times, it is hard to figure out when to do what. I could pour a ton of time into writing and forget to spend time with Jacob and the boys, or I could pour a ton of time into my family and forget to take time to write. Help me with this. Amen.
Happy Mother's Day!
Man, look at how much they change in just four short years! My husband and I like to look back at pictures of the kids and remember the fun things we did together as a family. Both Elijah and Josiah have photo books covering adventures we took during their first 4 years of life. Solomon keeps reminding me that I haven't finished his yet.
Why are these years significant? What is the point of talking about them on Mother's Day? Well, my oldest son Elijah is completing fifth grade this year. Last week, he brought home a shirt that said 2026, the year he's expected to graduate high school. 2026? I don't have to do math on a regular basis but that felt like it wasn't working out correctly. How could he be graduating in just 7 years?! He was born in 2007 and he will be completing school in 2026 (or sooner, who knows). When he was born, that moment seemed so far away and now it's just around the corner.
Time will move at a snail's pace and faster than the speed of light all at once.
I'm sure that you've heard the phrase "Don't Blink". There's a whole country song about life progressing faster than you could imagine. Parents, I have my own phrase, "Don't wait!" Take the time to enjoy your kids at every stages:
...dirty diapers...potty training...bed-wetting...eat your food...chew your food...where are you putting it?
...the stages of 'why is English such a stupid language' spelling practices...'why would they change math' addition homework...'Google how to find the common denominator' fractions...
I'm sure you have your own list of difficult stages that you've faced or are facing. The thing I find myself telling Elijah most is this, "In case you haven't realized yet, you didn't come with a How to Raise Elijah for Dummies book. That's why I'm going to tell you the wrong thing sometimes. That's why I'm going to mess up or blow up or seem like I have no clue what I am doing. Because sometimes I don't and I have to apologize. But despite all that, I will love you and encourage you to be you."
Parenting is harder than adulting
You succeed at adulting when you take the time to wash your clothes. You succeed at parenting when your child understands the clothes don't wash themselves.
Don't wait to read the right book or get the right advice. Embrace every moment with your kids. And maybe, you can find something to help you along the way in the truths that I've learned:
Above all else, love them!
There are moments that my husband and I look at our sons and wonder ‘did we lose the manual somewhere’. One of them will decide to do something completely out of character for themselves, or so different from what we remember experiencing with the others. They are certainly, each their own little man. They each have their own quirks and qualities.
There are times that they can be so sweet, inspiring, and creative. Then there a times that they can be so crazy, loud, and destructive.
I remember having a friend over once that had one little girl younger than our boys. The boys were being pretty rowdy. My husband and I could tell that they were trying to impress this baby girl, show her how much fun they were, show her how cool their toys were. It was actually kind of amusing. Our friend asked, ‘is it like this all the time?’
We both laughed it off in that moment but knew that we were each thinking the same thing ‘oh sweet single child parent, you have no idea what chaos is, this is just the calm before the storm’.
Take a moment to thank God for the quite moments, the noisy moments, the rowdy moments, and the tender moments.
As a nod to mother's day this weekend. I thought I'd take a moment to write another blog about being a mom. Specifically, a boy mom, the only female in the house. I mentioned my three sons in my blog yesterday. Three stereotypical, sometimes not stereotypical, boys. I thought I’d elaborate on that just a little bit.
The wild life of raising Alphas.
Raising boys, can probably best we described like living with a pack of wolves. When we had our first son, Elijah, the world was fine. He knew his place in our little world, daddy was the Alpha, he was the second in the house, as far as males go. He knew, you respect your daddy. He also understood that you respect, and protect, your mama. Life is good!
Enter boy number two, Josiah. First boy, Elijah, still has no issues because he is five years older than the new guy, he’s stronger, he’s wiser- this little baby is no threat. He likes the little guy and he’ll care for him. There's no need to change who he is because he still recognizes: respect your daddy, respect your mama, oh and let's add- protect the helpless little new guy.
Enter boy number three, Solomon. I can look back now and recognize that when this happened my 14-month-old was suddenly facing an identity crisis. He was no longer the baby, suddenly there was someone more helpless than him. He wanted to take care for the baby but he wasn't mature enough to understand how to do that.
Fast Forward 5 years
Everybody wants to be "king of the hill". The 11-year-old no longer has two helpless, non-threatening babies to help care for. Suddenly, he's struggling with hard math problems while his brothers get to bring home pretty paintings that they completed in centers. (Yeah, for papers about decimals hanging on the fridge next to colorful art).
The 6-year-old is wise enough to recognize that is younger brother is stronger than him and will always overpower him. So, most of the time, instead of fighting him, he recruits him to gang up against their older brother. At which time, World War D breaks out in our living room with Nerf guns or wrestling.
Respect the King, Hail the Queen! Now go build your own kingdom!
Sometimes it's difficult to be the only female in a house full of testosterone. I don't always understand the constant need for wrestling, battling, and struggling. I think about them starting their own packs one day and I get a little excited. But, I'm also not in any hurry for them to do this today because I know they're not yet ready.
As frustrating as it is sometimes to watch them struggling to see who is the strongest, the smartest, the fastest, the loudest, and yes, even the stinkiest; I have to recognize this is their way of fighting for who God made them to be.
They are each Alphas. And one day they will each have their own packs to lead. As their mom, I need to love them through each stage and through each of their unique quirks. I have to look past the cubs I see before me and envision the Alphas they will soon become.
Raising boys can be exhausting, but we're loving every moment of it.
Look past your cubs to the Alphas,
Mother's Day is this Sunday. So, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what it means to be a mom. I don’t know that anyone could compile the perfect list of all that it takes to be a mom. I don’t even know if one could really exist because every single child is different, every mom is different. I can only tell you what I do know.
I have three boys. Sometimes they are stereotypical boys- they’re rowdy, they’re dusty and muddy, they’re finding bugs, they’re battling each other, they’re stinking up the house and not caring, they’re ‘oh just get over it’ when someone gets hurt.
Then there are time when they're not stereotypical boys-they’re wanting to relax, they’re wanting to take baths, they’re freaking out over flies, they’re helping each other, they’re ‘are you all right’ when someone gets hurt.
Being a mom, is challenging. As Forrest Gump said, “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” That’s so true with children. I know some moms cannot wait for their children to get older. Maybe those moms don’t feel like they do very well with that nurturing stage. Maybe they need someone a little more independent to feel comfortable. I know some moms that say they don’t want to leave that baby/toddler stage. (Personally, I think they’re crazy, diapers are a life sucking disgusting black hole of life.) But maybe those moms are scared of how their independent child will no longer need them and they might feel as if they lack purpose.
Before I became a mom, I thought, "It's easy to be a mom, you just have to love your kids." All you need is love, right? How could that be complicated, how could that be difficult? Loving a child is simple, you trained for it with baby dolls and babysitting. You’ve got this. Then you become a mom and find out that the fine print adds: keep this child alive. Okay, that complicates things a bit. I mean, am I really up for this challenge or did God make a mistake by letting me be a mom?
God provides ALL we need to complete the tasks we face!
I think I had to take my oldest son to the doctor maybe one or two times within his first six years of life. So, when I found myself going to the doctor's office every 4-6 weeks with my middle son I felt like a failure. I'd walk in and say, "Something is not right, he has this high fever and he's just not acting like himself." The doctor would listen to his chest, do all the regular things, and then give him some medicine to fight off whatever 'virus' he might be battling.
I would gladly accept that there was nothing wrong with my child, I'd pick up the medicine, and life would be golden for about 4-6 weeks. Then I'd find myself in the office once more. I was not a doctor, I didn't have a medical degree, but I knew in my heart that this was not ok. I had probably taken him to the doctor at least 4 or 5 times and the emergency room at least twice because I knew that something was wrong. His fever had spiked and wouldn't come down or he wasn't acting like his normal self.
God never audibly spoke to me. But I knew that the doctor in the ER thought I was just an overly concerned mother. So I began speaking the truth on my heart. I told them that I wasn't a doctor, I was just a mom, I didn't know symptoms or procedures or anything about their protocols. I didn't WANT my child to be sick but I KNEW that he was and I needed them to humor me.
They said they didn't hear anything and he seemed to be fine but they would do a chest x-ray just to confirm. I told them that I'd rather the x-ray come back and show nothing than walk out the door knowing that something was wrong. The doctor told me that if they hadn't seem the x-ray they wouldn't have believed it because his lungs sounded completely normal. My little guy had to be admitted to the hospital, for three days, so they could treat him for pneumonia. Doctors do what they do and they are good at it but there's something about a mother's relationship with their child that defines logic. To me, 'mother's intuition' is really the Holy Spirit helping you parent the child that God has given you.
How you mom is different than how I mom. But one thing is certain, being a mom is a challenge. Seek God every day for guidance. He knows who your child is and who they will be. And he had this knowledge long before you even considered being their mom.
Just being transparent,
A New Identity
What is this blog about? You mean, I'm supposed to have a purpose? Ok, if that's required then my purpose is life.
Better with age...
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