A Life Stirred

I’m sitting in the hallway.

Sometimes this parenting thing is a little ridiculous.  Or rather, it makes us do and say ridiculous things.  Things that no other self-respecting grown-up would ever say or do.

Perhaps an example would help.

I have never, in my life, cared so much about someone else’s bowel movements.  “Do you need to poop?”  “Are you pooping?”  “Are you poopy?”  I know for a fact that I have asked each of those questions many, many times…this morning.

You want another example?  I’ve got plenty.

Right now, I’m sitting in the upstairs hallway outside my eldest daughter’s room.  That’s not weird, right?

Lately, Joanna has developed some less than desirable naptime habits.  So, I am trying to correct some of those poor habits.  But let’s be honest, I have no idea if this is going to work.

This is what we want at naptime: resting.  Adorable-ness optional.

This is our naptime goal–rest.  Being adorable is optional (but probably unavoidable).

Ben and I started a conversation about discipline this weekend.  We got interrupted before we got into the specifics, but we’ve got a good handle on what we want to teach Joanna through discipline.  So that’s a start, right?

Primarily, we want her to learn to love the Lord and to be obedient to Him.  And we want to use discipline to teach the gospel.  Joanna is a good kid.  She’s relatively polite and compliant and obedient.  BUT she is still a sinner in need of a Savior.  I don’t want her growing up thinking she is good enough on her own.  I want her to see that she needs Jesus just as much as anyone else.

I want her to love the Lord.

We both need Jesus.

Ben and I still need to “finish” our conversation (yes, yes, I know, it’s a conversation that will be ongoing for the rest. of. her. life) and figure out how to reach our big-picture goals.  But there’s something about having the big picture in mind that makes this sitting-in-the-hall-reinforcing-the-behavior-we-want a little less ridiculous.

No, wait.  It’s still pretty ridiculous.

But it’s worth it.

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Really Seeing

I walk around blind.  I get consumed with my own little world.  With my own little family.  With my own little concerns.

I don’t really see the people around me.

I would even venture to say I’m rather comfortable in my blindness.

But God hasn’t been letting me stay blind.  I guess it makes sense.  Jesus was into healing the blind, opening their eyes to see.  Granted that was a literal blindness, but I suspect Jesus cares just as much about my figurative blindness.

God started opening my eyes by opening my ears.  Every day, I turn on the Christian radio station for background music to my day.  I didn’t think much of it….initially.

But a steady stream of the gospel message is changing my heart, opening my eyes, reminding me that there more to this life than my own little world.  I’m singing along with songs and wondering if I really believe what I’m singing.  And if I believe it, why doesn’t that belief shape every. single. thing. I do?

Then last week, I was the first person to arrive at an accident scene–a car went off the road, and the driver was unconscious inside.  All of a sudden, all my CPR training seemed woefully inadequate.  A real live human life (with a real human soul) was in jeopardy.

And I was terrified.  And a little nauseous.  And completely clueless as to how to respond.

I do know that it rocked me.  I wish I had been braver.  I wish I had been bolder.

But it opened my eyes even more.  It reminded me that we have a very limited time here on this earth, and that as a believer, I am called to share the hope of the gospel.  No excuses.

Then why don’t I?  Why do I keep the good news of Jesus to myself?

Why do I fear man more than I fear God?  Why do I waste time when people I know and love don’t know about the God that I know and love?!  Why don’t I feel the brevity of life?

I don’t have the answers to those questions.  I only know that God is making me uncomfortable with my blindness.  And that’s got to be a step in the right direction.  I’m praying for my heart to change, my eyes to really see, and my life to bring nothing but glory to God!



Setting up the pins

“Everyone everywhere some way some how
are setting up the pins for knocking ‘em down.
It can feel simple but it’s really profound.”

–Sara Groves, “Setting up the Pins”

 This is my life.  I’m setting up the pins.  All day.  Every day.  Over and over and over and over…

Dishes, laundry, diapers, baths, grocery shopping, meal-making, toy picking-up, mopping, vacuuming, dusting…

The list could go on and on.

I set up pins.  So they can be knocked down.

It can get downright discouraging sometimes.  Because at the end of the day, there’s nothing to show for all my efforts.  On a good day, it looks exactly the same as it did in the morning.  On a bad day, it doesn’t.

Don't let the cute baby distract you from all the knocked-over pins around her.

Don’t let the cute baby distract you from all the knocked-over pins around her.

It can be really hard to find joy in that.

It’s hard to find joy in doing something that’s really only noticed if it’s not done.  And for this words-of-affirmation-love-language girl, that’s hard.  Sometimes I just want praise for changing diapers.

But Colossians 3:23 reminds me that I’m not in it for the praise of man.  “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

It's no coincidence that Colossians 3:23 hangs above the changing table.

It’s no coincidence that Colossians 3:23 hangs above the changing table.

I’m working for the Lord.  He sees me.  He sees me setting up all the pins.  He sees the pins being knocked down.  I desperately want my work to be done for the glory of God.  Which means my attitude needs to glorify Him.

Anyone else find that hard sometimes?  Or all the time?  Or after the 6th poopy diaper of the day? (Seriously. That can’t be normal for 2 kids.  Sometimes I think they break them up on purpose…which is both impressive and annoying.)

The end of Sara Groves’ song puts it perfectly:

My grandmother had a working song
Hummed it low all day long.
Sing for the beauty that’s to be found
In setting up the pins for knocking ‘em down

Oh that my heart would be able to sing for the beauty that’s to be found in setting up the pins for knocking them down.

(P.S. If this concept resonates with you at all, go watch the music video.  You will. not. regret it!!)


Ten on Ten: The Monday Edition

I had a really great weekend!!  We made an impromptu trip to Bangor (aka civilization).  It was a little crazy though.  We decided at 7 on Saturday morning that we were going to make the 3 hour trek.  And Ben and Jo were in the middle of making gingerbread donuts for me.  And I needed to shower.  And we had nothing packed.  We were on the road by 8:45, though.   So there should be a prize for that kind of awesome-ness.

All that to say, it’s Monday, and it’s normal life again.  We’re all adjusting.  Plus there’s the time change.  And Operation Paci Elimination (which is into its 3rd day).  And a house that was tornado-ed by our efforts to leave quickly on Saturday morning.

BUT I got to spend today looking for the beautiful in the ordinary (once I remembered it was the 10th).  This little activity always does wonders to adjust my perspective.

Bare baby feet time.  I can. not. keep socks on this kid.

I can. not. keep socks on this kid (or on the other kid, for that matter).

Drink time.

Joanna is always concerned about Claire’s hydration.  What an excellent big sis!

Play time with Mommy.

So pensive.

Stealing Mommy's cell phone.

Stealing Mommy’s cell phone.

Peek-a-boo eggs for lunch.

Peek-a-boo eggs for lunch.

Joanna and George.  Best friends.  He's helping her cope with her paci loss.

Joanna and George. Best friends. He’s helping her cope with the loss of her paci.

A cute, non-napping baby in a messy living room.

A cute, non-napping baby in a messy living room.

So funny story:  When I took the above picture, I was super frustrated.  It was 1:30.  Nobody was napping.  The house was a mess–dishes everywhere, sticky floors, and piles of laundry.  I just wanted a break.  But now, looking at this picture, all I see is the adorable baby on my lap.  And all I remember is the fun we had playing, bouncing, “dancing”, and giving kisses.  Yet in the moment, I kept feeling like I needed to be tackling something.  But I didn’t.  And it was worth it.

That might be worth remembering next time.

Rite Aid drive-thru.  A Mom's best friend...even though I can never get close enough and always end up looking like a fool.  (Also, note the gigantic wall of dirty snow...ugh.)

Rite Aid drive-thru. A Mom’s best friend…even though I can never get close enough to the window and always end up looking really silly while I hang out my window trying to pay.

Sockless...again.  Joanna was smelling her sister's feet.  Brave.

Sockless…again. Joanna was smelling her sister’s feet. Brave.

ten on ten button

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Swirling thoughts and a question

It’s 1:45 on a Thursday afternoon.  Both girls are sleeping (praise the Lord!!).  I have an unknown amount of free time.  Do I mop, shower, read, blog, nap, or scroll through facebook?

Such a tough question.

I decided to blog in my head while mopping.  I’m pretty sure I missed big chunks, but I’ve got most of a post written in my mind (and scribbled out on my grocery shopping list on the fridge).  Classy, right?

A Slinky-trapped baby.  (Nope, it's not related to anything, but it sure is cute!)

A Slinky-trapped baby. How’s  that for a smooth transition?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about community…

And how community connects to friendship…

And how friendship connects to encouragement…

And how encouragement connects to social media usage…

And how social media usage connects to competition and comparison…

And how competition and comparison hinder community and friendship and encouragement…

And on and on and on my thoughts go.

I feel like I’m on the verge of a big thought breakthrough, but then the demands of two kids yank me out of my thought-world.  <–Literally, a baby started crying as I wrote that sentence.  And I still haven’t quite put a finger on how all these sorta-connected things actually connect.

I do know this is what God is stirring in my heart, and I think this will all eventually connect to what He’s calling me to.  I just don’t see all the dots yet.

I have some questions for you.  Yes, you.  It’s about encouragement.

I’m assuming that we all want and need encouragement, right?

So, how do you want to be encouraged?  What form of encouragement would mean the most to you?

I suspect our answers will connect to our love languages and personalities, but I still want to hear from you.  How could someone show encouragement to you?  Would it be spoken words?  A letter?  A surprise cup of coffee?  Help folding the laundry?

Aaaaaaaaand discuss.

And because no post is complete without the help of both girls, here's Jo, eating a post-nap snack and reading the Bible.  She cracks me up!

And because no post is complete without the help of both girls, here’s Jo, eating a post-nap snack and reading the Bible. She cracks me up!


On Competition and Comparison

If you know me at all, you probably know that I’m a pretty competitive person.  It’s not my most becoming characteristic.  I just really like to win.  Doesn’t matter what the game is—I need.to.win.  In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a game.  I’ll make a competition out of everything. 

“Oh, average newborn birth weight is 7.5 pounds?  Well, Joanna was 9 pounds 2 ounces.  I WIN!!”

See?  I win.  (Yes, I will shamelessly insert pictures of my adorable kids.)

The face of winning.

I told you it wasn’t an attractive quality.

It’s really only a helpful quality for those awkward ice breaker games.  I will be enthusiastic.  People will laugh with (at?) me.  I will break that ice.  I will be the best ice breaker ever!!!  (I have issues.)

All that to say, my competitive streak causes me to have issues with comparisons.  Because really, competitiveness is just a nice word for comparing.  It’s lining myself up next to someone else and seeing who wins.  Appropriate when you’re talking about football teams, but not so much when it’s my life against yours.

It steals my joy.

This has been rocking my world lately.

This has been rocking my world lately.

Maybe an example would be helpful.   Or at least it’ll show you the depth that I struggle with this.  Here comes the real.  Brace yourself.

So, I have two beautiful little girls.  What’s that?  You’d like a picture?  Well, ok, fine, if you insist…

See?  So cute!

I wasn’t kidding.  They’re beautiful inside and out!

I love them lots and lots.  I enjoy our days.   Joanna is hilarious and a bit OCD and just too cute.  Claire is mobile and intense and also too cute.  I enjoy my little family.

But then there’s that nagging voice, begging me to compare….and I give in.  I compare my family size to yours.  I compare our kids.  I compare post-pregnancy bodies.  I compare parenting styles.  I compare incomes.  I compare marital relationships.  I compare blogs, decorating skills, houses, craftiness, friendships, clothing, and on and on and on.  (That list wasn’t even hard to come up with…I compare so much!)

And where I fall short (and I do fall short), I start to feel like I’m losing.  Like I’m behind.  Like my family isn’t legit anymore.  Like I’m not a legit mom anymore.  Like I should do more, be more, have more.

Joy? GONE!

Contentment?  GONE!

It’s rough.

And it’s really, really dumb.

There will always be someone out there who can “beat” me.  Sure, I could turn my focus the other way, and find the people that I beat.  But that’s exalting myself at someone else’s expense.  And yeah, that’s not cool.

So, it comes down to being content with where God has me and how He made me and what He’s given me.  It’s letting go of my competitive streak.  Which is really, really hard to do when you’re as competitive as I am.

BUT I will not settle.  Perhaps I am naturally competitive (I am).  I don’t get to say, “Oh, well, that’s just the way I am.”  God is refining me and asking me to let go of who I am on my own.  He wants to transform me.  He wants to change the way I think (Romans 12:2 in the NLT).

I believe that I don’t have to be competitive about everything.  I don’t have to live my life in comparison to yours.  For freedom, Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1).  Bring on the freedom!!  Bring on the joy!!  Bring on the contentment!!

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The Flipside of Comparison

Friday was a good day.  I was an awesome mom on Friday.

No, seriously.  An awesome mom.  Both girls got baths (with bubbles) after breakfast.  Claire took a three hour nap, while I engaged and played with Joanna.  We baked brownies, built a cardboard house, and then ate the warm brownies in the cardboard house.  I totally nailed motherhood on Friday.

Claire even had her own window.  Labeled and everything.

Claire even had her own window. Labeled and everything.

And I wanted to brag about it on every form of social media that I use.  Ok, fine.  I did brag about it.  I was so stinkin’ proud of myself.

Then I felt bad about all my bragging.  Because it presents just a fraction of my full reality.  Generally, my days aren’t that stand-out awesome.  Generally, there’s a lot more…mess.  Literally and figuratively.

Generally, it’s a struggle to get Claire to nap.

Baby toes...attached to a sleeping baby.    I take so many pictures of her sleeping because it’s such a big deal every time.

Baby toes…attached to a sleeping baby. I take so many pictures of her sleeping because it’s such a big deal every time.

Generally, it’s a battle to engage with Joanna when Claire does sleep.  It’s just too easy to let her play by herself.  all. the. time. because she’s good at it.  (“No, I don’t want to play “People”.  You don’t ever share the pieces I want.  Yes, I know I sound like the toddler in our relationship.”)

She makes the same person every time.  I wonder what she likes about it...

She makes the same person every time. I wonder what she likes about it…

Generally, I waste too much time on my computer.  (Sidenote: I think this is the next area of obedience that God is calling me out on.  There’s a way to use technology in moderation…and I’m a ways off from that.)

Generally, the house is a disaster zone, and the dishes are piled up.  And the bathroom is super gross.  Oh, wait, my house was a disaster zone with dishes and a gross bathroom on Friday.  Ha!  (See?  I’m not perfect.  Just in case you thought I was.)

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot about how comparison can steal our joy.  I’m pretty sure that concept has been around for a while.  (A quick google search gives credit to Theodore Roosevelt.  So there.)  But it’s new to me.

As we all know, social media makes it oh-so-easy to compare.  So often as I scroll through my newfeeds, reading about your stand-out awesome days, I compare.  And my joy is stolen.

Yet, when I had a good day, I wanted to share, knowing full well that I was making it easy for you to compare.  And perhaps I even wanted you to compare (so long as I come out looking amazing).  So…uh…I wanted to steal your joy?!  Yikes.  Talk about an ugly heart.

It got me wondering….do I share things based purely on the image that it creates?  Do I share things to puff myself up?  I think if I really analyzed my facebook posts, I would find that more often than not, I post to present a polished image of myself.  I want you to see me, compare yourself, and fall short.  (I would never say that.  Ever!  But I think it’s at the heart of some of my desires when I share things on facebook.)  It’s the flipside of comparison.  And it can be kind of ugly.

Am I the only one who struggles with this?  Do you ever share things for ugly-heart reasons?  Have you ever looked at why you share what you share?

(It’s worth noting that I know I’m not in charge of your response to my posts, but I am in charge of my heart and motive in sharing.)