On Unexpected Rest

For the last 2 days I have been in bed. This long slumber was totally unexpected, but probably very necessary. Usually my days, as most people’s, feel like a never ending to-do list. Even if I do force myself to try and chill for a bit, my mind will keep racing with lists and thoughts of things to get done.  So, these past 2 days of forced rest to heal from whatever has taken over my body have been rather nice.  It allowed me to reflect on some things, to which I then felt more peace. I watched Pride & Prejudice, read several encouraging articles, finished a book, and started 2 more.The best part was that I started feeling like I wanted to do laundry again, I wanted to cook, and clean. Well, maybe not the cleaning part. I wasn’t feeling that well rested, but this forced rest did revive me (at least mentally, not fully physically). I started remembering my goals and and felt encouraged to find our rhythm again.  All from a little rest. A couple of days of minimal.

It mostly reminded me….and I have no idea how I forgot….that my family and I thrive when we have margin (open, unplanned time) in our day. Somehow with the beginning of school we lost that margin. I want it to be a regular habit, part of our natural daily rhythm. Some white space in our day for rest, however it is we define rest.

We’ve never been a fan of being too busy, and thankfully we’ve been fairly good at keeping things that way. I guard our family calendar fiercely. Rest was a whole other matter. So, the first thing I need to do is reprocess my thoughts…rest and margin in my day brings me joy and fills my house with calm. Busy days make me a bit cranky. Simple realization there. As we go through our days, I will remind myself of those things because FOMO (fear of missing out) will sometimes creep in. I know that I will wonder if it is really ok not to do such and such, or if I’m a good mom if I don’t have my kids in x,y, and z. Shouldn’t I be busy? I know the answers…yes, yes, and no! I need to push out the lies and fill myself with the truth (our truth-rest is essential). At the same time, I hope to start filling my table with hot dinners (where we eat together), and I will start un-filling my random sock basket, as I find more time to catch up on things that I never had time for before.

I have found encouragement for my pursuit of rest by devouring various books and articles on the anti-busy movement. I’ve started with It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil, and The Best Yes. As I flip the pages I feel relieved and hopeful. It’s as if the authors are cheering me on. And heck, who doesn’t like knowing that they aren’t alone in their thoughts? I’m eager to read a new book that has joined my pile, Simply Tuesday.

In a season of school, activities, and work travel happening….it may be hard to slow down a bit, but I’m going to do my best to try. If a couple of days of rest could make me want to do laundry and go through my unmatched sock basket, I can only imagine what 365 days with rest included in our day could inspire.

-Mary

Advertisements

How should I choose?

Let me set this up for you with a nice little description of this moment.  I went into my room to dry my hair after my shower. In one bedroom was Mr. College playing his drums. Have I ever mentioned that he is a musician? He’s very good…but it’s still…drums. Enough said. In the next bedroom was the high schooler who was drowning out the drums with his own Jeremy Camp blaring. My two littles were dressed in some sort of star wars/ medieval knight combo running through the upstairs doing a light saber battle culminating on my bed so I could “watch”. Don’t let me forget to mention that they had kazoos in their mouths at the same time from a random birthday party. (on a side note, mamas, let’s help each other out and not give noise makers as favors, please?) So, there I am, drying my hair with all this noise going on, rushing because I had to get out the door. My first instinct was to turn off the hair dryer, march myself over to the big boys’ rooms and use my best scary Italian mama voice demanding silence! Then, get those littles locked in their rooms sitting quietly doing anything, as long as it was quiet, with those kazoos in the garbage.  I was not handling the noise very well at this moment, the chaos making me feel frustrated. This scenario actually plays itself out quite often in my house, as many of you can imagine and relate to.  But, all of a sudden, amidst the noise and the chaos, I remembered what I say to my boys on a daily basis…choose life. And I looked down on my dresser at an ultrasound picture of one of my boys, the only thing left of him I have, and a purple bracelet that I wore for months as we went purple for Amanda looped around the neck of a bear given to me. Choose life, Claire. Look around you.  Your boys, they are healthy, they are happy (for this moment!), they are loved. ENJOY this moment of your house filled with life. Someday they will be gone making their own lives and you will look back on this day with nostalgia. Sweet perspective.  I wanted to be able to look back on this moment and remember how I chose. So, I chose life. I laughed as I turned off the hair dryer to hear it all in full force, turning around to give the littles my attention. The battle was waging hard and they needed an engaged spectator. And do you know what the littlest stinker actually said to me? “Wow, Mama! That hair dryer sure makes a lot of noise!”

my littlest warriors…different day, different battle

My Hormone Haiku

My Haiku

Hormones wreak
Havoc on the heart and mind
I need chocolate

Is that how you spell havoc? It didn’t show up wrong in spell check, but you never know. It’s been a day. A day where I feel all weepy, wonky, and annoyed. I decided to try and make myself laugh at the day instead. That’s why I wrote that little haiku up above. It represents my day. Seems that my husband had a similar day. He just came home from work and showed me his pants. Apparently, first thing in the morning they split up the back. Can you imagine? I chuckle just picturing it. Fortunately, he’s the type of guy that would laugh as soon as it happened. Still, it’s a good representation of the day.

I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to go with your hormones…..or split pants. Accept and understand how you are feeling…..knowing that tomorrow will be a new day. Those around me are learning this coping mechanism, too. My husband just walked in the room with a bowl of soup…..I asked him to please go in the other room because right now the sound of someone eating soup would just about send me over the edge. Fortunately, he’s the type of guy that also would chuckle at that and then leave the room.

Please don’t judge me. It’s just one of those days.

Have you ever written a haiku?

My husband just dictated one to me…..

Pants split
Man swallows pride
Coffee

Thankful for mercies new each day {and that there are another pair of pants in the closet}.

-Mary

Promise in a Rainbow

 I was driving my son out of town early this morning for an event, my mind swirling with all the things I wanted to accomplish while I was waiting for him to finish. He was furiously trying to finish his work that was due…in the car…on the way. We won’t discuss where he gets this from. However, in his defense, pressure does bring out the best work in some people. Just sayin’.

I don’t know about you, but when the list starts going through my mind, that overwhelmed feeling starts, then all the issues of life roll on in…maybe some of you know the drill. As I was driving along the thruway, I looked up and saw just the beginning of a rainbow.  Soon, the clouds moved and the entire sky was filled with a complete rainbow. The sun was brightly shining behind us, rain droplets creating a beautiful sun shower, and the rainbow filling my entire view, reminding me of God’s symbol of His promises. His promises, His words, they are true. They are true in the sunshine and they are true in the rain.  It doesn’t matter what my circumstances say or what people say. It only matters what God says. As the clouds once again rolled in and blocked my view, it was ok because I  knew the rainbow was still there even though I couldn’t see it, just like His word, His promises, His presence. Still there even when storm clouds of life try to block it out. He is always faithful.

And please don’t judge me for taking a picture while I was driving. I did, after all, have a 14 old available to grab the wheel. 🙂

You’re my Dream Come True – Addendum

I posted this on Facebook when Joel was around 5 months old.

old dreams

Unpacking old dreams. Sometimes you have to let go of your dreams for a season, only to find the reality of them will come later. I gave away baby clothes YEARS ago. Now I get to unpack some of those same clothes with my dream-come-true baby sitting near by.

You’re My Dream Come True

  1. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

Tonight as I was rocking my 1 1/2 year old, I made up a little song that said, “You’re my dream come true, and I love you.” Let me tell you about that dream.

Six years ago, back when my daughter was two, I remember being content with our family for the moment, knowing we weren’t finished growing it yet. When she turned three, I was itching to have a baby, and each year after that the baby bug would bite harder.

Shortly after we bought our 4 bedroom house, my husband, Will and I had “the baby” conversation. I wanted to fill that fourth bedroom and reminded him that we dreamed of four kids when we were engaged. He reminded me that we didn’t plan to have our first 3 children in less than 3 years. That was such a hard, chaotic time, that he couldn’t ever picture starting over, not even with one baby.

Will was in a job he didn’t like, he was depressed, and felt like he was barely able to survive. He had stopped dreaming and lost all sense of vision for himself and our family. He was actually rather upset with me for holding on to this dream of baby number 4, and was even bitter that I, being a stay-at-home-mom, was able to live out one of my very big dreams, when he could barely keep treading water. We had a fight about changes that should or shouldn’t happen in our family and ended up compromising for a season in order to keep the peace between us. I remember running to my friend, Claire (a fellow 5 mama) for prayer and to have a good cry.

A few months after this Will lost his job. (I’ll write a post about God’s provision during that time at a later date.) During the weeks Will had no work, God gave him rest, vision, and helped him to dream again.

A few months later, I timidly asked Will to seek God about why he didn’t want to have another child. My desire was getting so strong it was almost heartbreaking. I was praying God would take it away if it wasn’t from him, or change Will’s heart if it was. I wanted to be on the same page as my God and my husband.

That same day, my sweet husband sent me a text that basically said, “I’m sorry that every time you have tried to bring up the baby discussion I have shot you down. I realize I have hurt your heart. I will take my feelings to God and see what he says.”

God showed Will that his reason for not wanting more children was based on fear. Will told God, “How would I ever agree to have another baby when I can barely provide for the ones you’ve given us already?” God said, “What you’re really saying is that you don’t trust me. Haven’t you seen that I am your provider? Whether you’ve had a good job or not, your family hasn’t been in lack. You don’t want another child because you don’t trust me.” My husband chose to deal with that. He decided that saying yes to baby number 4 was a great idea! In fact, after I got pregnant, he said, “I’m never saying no again. Let’s have another baby after this one so they can be playmates!”  I said, “Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?? Would you please slow down? Let’s have this baby before we talk about more children.” What a total heart change! Praise be to God!

I remember at my baby shower, Claire gave me a card that said she had been praying for my heart’s desire to be realized since that day I came running to her for prayer. She was rejoicing with me that our fourth baby was finally on his way! I cried when I read the card, floored by God’s faithfulness.

Our fourth baby, Joel, was born at the end of 2013. During his first year, there were many times I would look at him and just be in awe that my dream had become a reality. I know God has big plans for his life, and I’ll always say that the great story of his life started with my God-given dream.

When Joel was 9 months old, we found out we were expecting baby number 5! Daniel is the “immeasurably more than we could ask for or ever imagine,” our very loved baby that we didn’t even dream of until Joel was on his way.

Meet my Dream Come True, and my Immeasurably More:

micah and evan

 

How do I Surrender?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x2IpLSfqp8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1RQciil7B0

I was hoping to write something light hearted and funny; this is my first blog post, and I didn’t want to be all depressing and heavy! Alas, I couldn’t do it. I don’t feel light hearted, I don’t feel like I am much fun, and I don’t know how to shake off the blues. I know and proclaim all the Christian cliches…..”This is a season,” “Let go and let God,” etc., etc. But how?

I am a wife of an ambitious husband and mother of 6 healthy children, we have food in the fridge and a roof over our heads….I should be grateful. I should be happy, I should embrace moments, I should be present…..I should but I’m not. I have cried; I have tried to be numb; I try to go through the motions; I can’t. I am tired, emotionally tired, spiritually tired, physically tired, and it is not how I want to live. I feel overwhelmed in my mind, in my heart, and it shows on my face as anger and discontentment.

I try to read the right books, the right articles, the right blogs! I have tried to talk to my husband, my friends. I have tried to talk to God.

All I hear in my heart is the word surrender…but what is that?? How do I surrender? I am in the midst of nursing, homeschooling, housework, being a wife, and being a mother, not to mention trying to keep everyone fed and somewhat clean. How do I begin to surrender? Can I surrender? Did I take on too much? Am I trying to do too much? Do I have too many children? Should I just send them to school? All these questions swirl in my mind, and I cannot seem to get a handle on even my thoughts.

I have cried and cried, and my prayers have become “Lord, I don’t know what to do,” and he continues to say, “Surrender.” Does that mean give up? Throw my arms up? Wave the white flag?

What does surrendering look like? What does it mean? Why do I have to? Do I have the courage to give everything to you Lord?

I am just beginning to look at what surrender means from a biblical stand point and this is what I have found so far.

There are many instances and examples of surrender in the bible but as a start I took this one:

Surrender yourself to the Lord, and patiently wait for Him. Psalm 37:7 (GWT) In the ESV it says “Be still before the Lord.” In the KJV “Rest in the Lord.”

I know there is so much more, and I am sure books and books have been written on the subject, so by no means am I an expert.

But for right now, as a busy mama who feels sleep deprived and at her wits’ end. God is telling me to be still, to rest. Not give up, but to hold onto him. I NEED to surrender, I need to devote myself to him.

God is telling me to understand that I cannot have a self-centered vision of my life. I need to have a God given vision. He gave me my husband, he gave me my children, he has called us to home school, and he has made a mother. I cannot wave the white flag and become a prisoner of war. I fight the battle by resting in Him! I cannot win by trying and fighting harder. WHAT!! God wants me to be still and take a nap?

What about the laundry, the crumbs, the endless to do list?

I close my eyes and try to imagine Jesus saying to me “Come, Deborah, I know you have labored and are heavy laden. I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your soul. My yoke, Deborah, is easy and my burdens are light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

To surrender, to draw close to Jesus, to go to him, is to take his burdens. I want to choose to be gentle and lowly. Jesus has given me the freedom and privilege to surrender to him daily. Why did I think surrendering would be harder than relying on my own strength?

I still have my never ending, forever growing to do list, but I feel less burdened because I have surrendered. I have let go of my self-centered expectations and I am holding onto the burdens of Jesus.

Am I the only one? Do any of you feel overwhelmed with all that life brings? Even the great things? Have you thought surrendering means giving up yourself?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changed Forever

IMG_2340Today I am reminded of the song, “I Will Never Be.”  The song writer shares how they are changed after receiving Christ as their Savior.  This speaks to me as I realize that I respond differently to things now than before I was a Christian.

For example, God has taken away fear. I used to be unsure and fearful about life.  Transitions were difficult and I clung to my family and friends. I liked things to stay the same. Now that I have Christ, I have started on a journey to embrace every day including all the NEW things that come. Maybe even the challenges.  🙂  Stepping out in faith is easy now since I know that I am held by my creator.

Another example is that now I see others as more important than myself.  My future is secure, but is theirs?  I long to teach, hug, pray with, and embrace others who are hurting and longing for peace.  I find myself praying for ambulances as they advance toward the scene of an accident.  I pray willingly for the man on the beach who struggles with alcohol and drugs.  His name is Michael. We pray together that God would meet him where he’s at, and that he would see Jesus.  Living on Virginia Beach in the summer and on various beaches in Florida in the winter can be lonely!  I pray that Michael meets other followers of Christ that will tell him that he is never alone.

These examples are just a few of the changes that can occur in a relationship with Christ.  Life is never the same again, that’s for sure!  Would you consider embracing a life in Christ and be changed today?

Homeschooling Twins

twins

I never imagined I would be the mom to twin boys, or that I’d be homeschooling. Through God’s amazing grace, I am doing both.During the 10 years I’ve been parenting my twins and the 5 years we have been homeschooling, I’ve learned that both parenting and homeschooling bring daily joy as well as daily challenges. I’ve often heard that it must be so easy homeschooling twins. It’s not as easy as you might expect.

Like any family with multiple children being homeschooled at the same time, I try to remain flexible, patient and aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each child. There are some specific obstacles that twins face. At times I experience people wanting to treat each of the boys as equals; equal in their likes and dislikes, creative ability, athletic interests and learning ability. They are sometimes treated so similarly that people even see them as one person. For example they may get one shared gift at Christmas or a birthday. And it is common for people to refer to them as “the twins” rather than by their individual names.

Since their birth, I’ve be very deliberate to treat them as individuals, never dressing them alike unless they request it, of course, which often happened when they were younger. I have always used the same curriculum with my twins, but that alone can cause problems. If one child is not “getting it” the way his sibling is, he can feel very discouraged. On the other hand, sharing a curriculum can motivate him to work harder because he wants to keep up with his sibling. It can get a bit complicated, but understanding how our twins groove, how they react, and what motivates them has been a big help.

When they were young, they enjoyed being similar, but as they have gotten older, the individual in each child has come rushing out. Thankfully, through all their changes they remain each other’s best friend. They can be conflicted about this at times, wanting to be similar, but wanting to be seen as individuals. If one expresses an interest or particular competency with a subject or activity, the other will often times want to participate as well even if it’s not their true interest or talent. Often the one without the “natural” capacity can become frustrated or discouraged that he cannot “be as good as his brother.” So one of the challenges of having twin sons is to keep each boy encouraged that he does not have to be like his brother and that he does not have to be as good as him in a particular talent or subject.

There are times that the desire to be like his brother benefits me as their teacher. If one child does not want to work on a particular lesson, watching his brother eagerly complete this same lesson encourages the other twin to do the same. Often I am able to just sit back and let this happen without coaxing. One child may ask “Well, what did he do?” Sharing that his brother completed the task is enough motivation for the other twin to give it his best effort.

There are other times when I feel like the ball in a tennis match. Because my twins are working on the same lessons, I find myself bouncing back and forth when questions come at the same time. Through these few years that we have been homeschooling, we’ve thankfully fallen into our own rhythm and have found our own personal way to remedy this. Patience, for me, is key. The thing about patience is that you never believe you have it until you are forced to use it. From their infancy, they have had to learn patience, for example while waiting for their turn at a feeding. I have had to learn my own patience in so many mommy ways.

In many ways, homeschooling twins is no different than homeschooling multiple aged children. The biggest lesson I have learned from being a homeschooling mom to twins is that though they may look alike, they are different. It’s taught me that one specific way to teach can bring about two very different results based on the child’s personality or learning ability. Realizing this fact has given me freedom as a mom. It has taught me to adapt and modify when necessary and to be flexible. From my experience, twins have an amazing and unique bond. I feel filled with joy as I’m able to watch that bond grow and change.

-Mary (originally published many yrs ago, but the facts remain the same)

Mom Quilt

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the amount of needs around me. So many good causes to give to, injustices to fight against, that I wonder if my little part amounts to anything. I long to step out of my own world to make a difference in the wider world around me.  Awhile back I started to follow the blog of Kirsten Welch and Mercy House Kenya, along with reading her book (which is awesome, by the way). There was a call put out for mom stories to be compiled into a book which would be sold to benefit Mercy House. 100% of the proceeds to go to building a well for these precious young mamas and their babies, plus helping the community around them! I could definitely put myself behind this project, so I submitted a chapter and was so very honored to have it selected to be included in the book.

The chapter is very precious to me, written about my loss, and the hope and healing I have found. It is my hope that other women who have lost will find a bit of themselves in my story. As I read many of the other stories in The Mom Quilt, I found parts of myself in their stories as well, a true weaving of the hearts of mothers together. And as we ourselves are blessed by this amazing book, we are indeed reaching out to the wider world of mamas, as we support and give to this Mercy House project together.

Purchase The Mom Quilt