Tuesday, June 29, 2010

summer rain

oooohhh how i love summer rain. actually, i love rain in general. for the most part. i mean, i guess i'm not a huge fan when i am getting soaked because my sweet little darlings are being extra...how shall i say....not-so-quick to get into the car during one of these times.....but overall i have always enjoyed being a part of rain. there is something very cleansing about it. i looove curling up and watching a movie and taking a nap in the winter time when it is raining. (or at least i did before i had children and i will enjoy that again in roughly 17 years)

but, summer rain....that, is special. i think what i love most about it, is that it surprises you. where i am from and have lived my entire life...summer equals hot. h - o - t - hot. and i don't mean hot, like, oh gee, maybe we should wear shorts today and get a cold beverage kind of hot....i mean....good Lord, i just peeled off a layer of skin getting out off the pleather couch, and the AC is on 64 degrees... kind of hot...and that is at 9am. i could not be prouder to be a texan and love where i live, but one of the realities is that we only have two seasons. summer and 'bout to be summer. and as if that's not bad enough, summer begins in late february and ends in early november, of which, the good majority of that time (i.e. may, june, july and august) you can pretty much bet that it will hit 95 degrees before your breakfast has even settled in your belly. so....if God blesses us with summer rain, we welcome it with open arms....or at least i do.

i have been known to literally walked out in it and turn my face up to God and let Him just rain all over me. sometimes i feel i just need a good rinsing off. literal and figurative. sometimes i feel hotter than a hornet. sometimes i just feel so blessed to get to share in a summer rain. it is special. for the most part, it only happens a handful of times where i live...so when it does, you soak it up and thank God for it. it is kind of like a cool, wet surprise party from God because you often can't see it coming. skies are blue. the thermometer gives you no inkling that it will dip below triple digits any time soon, and then all of a sudden, drip....drip....drip. ahhhhh.......

and i looooove surprise parties. i want to throw them for anyone and everyone i love. i don't even have to know you that well, and i'd be up for it! i've thrown them (or at least helped) for my dad, mom, step-mom, brother, husband (much to his displeasure- he's not big on being the focus of attention! but he still loves me :) and lots of other family and friends...i love them!!! and for years and years i used to tease those around me, especially my sweet hubby, that i love surprise parties sooo much and here i was, i couldn't get someone to throw me a surprise party. well, my amazing husband did it. he got me good. he, along with my family and amazing church friends, put together a great one....for my 30th birthday. they got me good. now....it was very uncool that i was about 8 months pregnant with baby #3 and so i was HUGE and waddling all over the place in all the pictures, but i guess that's what i get for whining like a baby all those years about wanting a surprise party for myself. justice was served. :)

but, i really do feel the same way about summer rain. the surprise of it is such a joy to me. another part of it i just love about summer rain is the smell. it has such a distinct smell that you never get any other time of the year. it is almost like the air is just as surprised at the new arrival of moisture as i am, and that sudden cool friend doesn't know what to do with the heat around it. but the two of them together make such a sweet aroma. do you know what i mean? i wish i could bottle it up...because to me, it represents that moment....that surprise of summer rain. that unexpected relief from the heat that is our world.

right now, it is the end of june. it has been super hot for weeks now. and it has rained almost non-stop for the last day and a half. i love it. yes, everything is muddy. yes, my kids and crabby because they can't swim anytime they want to because of the "big lightning and thunder". but....ooh that smell. that coolness it brings. there is nothing like that.

i cannot help but thank God for this unexpected surprise. i cannot help but tell Him that i appreciate that He knows when....exactly when we need a little of this unexpected joy in our lives. sometimes....actually, waaay more that sometimes...... i need to really stop and think of these "summer rain" type moments that He gives me so often. so very often.

a dear friend who sends us a gift card that i get in the mail, JUST in time to bless us greatly with our grocery budget at the end of the month.

a compliment from my man that comes just when i feel i could not gain one more pound and be cute at all.

a loved one who texts you just to say how special you are to them.

a friend who tells you how God used you (yes, YOU!) to bless their life during a hard time!

a verse that comes to mind at just the right time when you need to hear truth and not the junky thoughts in your head.

turning on the radio and hearing that song that lifts your spirits high, or makes you smile, or makes you wanna jump up and praise!

the nurse squealing, "it's a girl!!", when we already have two boys, and ryan and i screaming "are you sure!?!" at the same time and then bursting into joyful tears!

driving along on a hot summer day and then all of a sudden...drip....drip....drip

God cares about every single part of your life and my life. He knows you better than you know you. He knows me better than i know me. and the shocking thing is, He still loves us. i am so very thankful for so many things. i do not STOP what i am stinking doing and thank Him enough. for big things i usually remember, but not always. for small things, i sometimes remember, but not often. for seemingly tiny things....i often just blow right by. but tonight, i am so thankful for summer rain. for the memories it brings to mind of places so dear...of my sweet hubby....of the Christian camp i worked at for years and loved so dear....of playing in the rain just today with my kiddos...... thank you God for these ways that you bring blessing into my life. thank you that you love me so much that you want to bless me. thank you for the many, many ways you bring joy, especially unexpected joy to my life. give me eyes to see it Lord and the mind to give you thanks for it, for i know ALL good things come from you!!! (James 1:17)

now friends, in the spirit of full honesty....i will admit that i began this post sitting on my back porch, which i LOVE, listening and soaking up that summer rain that i just spent all this time speaking of....i mean, what better place to write about this, right? but..... that didn't last long. and, that didn't last long, because, along with summer rain......especially summer night rain....comes summer bugs, lots of them, and they all bite me....and i do not love them at all. :) so, i am indoors now, in my air conditioning and in my recliner admiring the sound of the summer rain on my windows. just keeping it real here, people. just keeping it real. :)
ps. a spider just crawled across the arm of the recliner. i am not kidding. i am going to bed now. that is a sign. :) good night. :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

it ain't you, it's tcu

so, my sweet hubby and i went on a date the other night...WAHOOOO!!! at this current stage in our lives, the actual plans of the date matter very little. what matters is that we are alone, together...he feeds himself, i feed myself...we get to have a solid conversation without any, and i do many any (sweet, adorable, but constant and sometimes mind-numbing) interruptions. i was wearing a t-shirt and capri sweatpants actually, he didn't even care. don't worry, i bathed myself and straightened my hair, so i wasn't a complete mess. we were comfy and casual and happy to be together. but this wasn't just a date. ( i feel like i need a sound effect here, like dun-dun duuun) this was a date.... with a purpose. we were needing some time together, but also we were needing to re-do our dave ramsey budget. we live on cash only, no debt, if the money ain't in the envelope, we ain't buying it budget...and since i no longer work at church and since he just got a new job and is expecting a small (emphasis on small..but GOD WE ARE THANKFUL!!) increase in pay...we knew it was time to re-evaluate things....plus...i will be taking over the bill payin' for the family for the first time in our marriage...so this meeting was loooong overdue. and in all honesty, i was excited to be able to take this stress from him, submit to him in this way...and hopefully help out my sweet hubby who does soooo much more that most men do in the average household.
so, here we are, excited about our date... in fact...we were beyond thrilled because we had a coupon for "buy one dinner, get one free" at springcreek bar-b-q...score! we got there....planned out our entrees and sides so we could share and enjoy our dinners. even "splurged" and got one sweet tea to share...got to the end of the line and the nice 17 year old who was training the nice 16 year old looked at us and said "oh, ya, that isn't good....you can only use that coupon monday-thursday, sorry..that'll be $23.76" ouch. ironic isn't it...that we were so excited to go on our budget talking date and blew the budget on the meal. nice. ah well, that just meant less money for groceries that week. we made it work...and we ate every morsel of that meal and you know we brought the leftovers home for lunch. :) i did feel bad about the sweet tea though. :)
anyway.....so we found a nice little corner in the back of the restaurant and began our date. i probably failed to mention that it was barely 5pm on a friday night so the place was dead. shocking, i know. but we were happy to be able to have a relatively quiet place to sit and not feel bad about taking up a table for so long. and the atmosphere was fairly quiet, except for the generic country music playing and the occasional inquiry if we would like a fresh, hot, roll, to which we consistently and politely declined, but to which the sweet 16 year old girl consistently and politely asked over...and over...and over again. i know it was her job, God bless her, but you would think after 7 or 8 times, she would get that we didn't want any. sweet girl though. that wasn't even the point of my story this time, but i thought i'd give you a little background as to why we were camped out at springcreek bar-b-q for sooo long. and we did....for soooo long. we chatted, laughed, and then looked over the budget. made a few phone calls to verizon and at&t to talk about how we could give them a little less money each month. i am a queen of sitting on hold and "working my magic" as ryan calls it, with those people.
before we knew it, we'd been there a few hours and the place had really filled up. we knew we had to finish up because we wanted to run through walmart and get our weekly groceries while we were kid-free (hey, don't knock it...it is waaaay easier that way)...so as we were getting situated and ready to leave...i looked around the restaurant and re-noticed a few things. i say "re"-noticed because i had actually noticed this one large group that had come in an hour or so before. it was hard not to. it was a group of about 15-20 older people. when i say "older" i mean that most of the sweet people were at least in their late sixties and early seventies....which i must say is not a whole lot older than my very own parents, but they all sure looked older than my parents. so, maybe i'm being polite, maybe they were in their eighties. either way, you get my point. they were so sweet about getting all situated, moving tables together, working out who sat across from who...putting trays here, and drinks here. quite an ordeal when they all got there. so, as ryan and i got up to leave, i stood up.....and i am not kidding you....EVERY single one of them was staring at me. every one. i looked back at our table, thinking surely it was a fluke, glanced back up, and sure enough, ALL of them, still staring......so i began to walk towards to door, which led me by their long stratch of tables they had made.....wiped my face a bit and looked down at my shirt and pants to make sure nothing terribly embarrassing was going on....(ALL still staring at me)...i'm running things through my brain, like "what in the world? why are all these old people staring at me? i know i didn't dress up that nice, but c'mon!?! i don't look trashy! it can't be that bad! maybe it's not bad...but it can't be that good wither, i'm not that cute or anything?! i mean, i would get it if i had the kids with me, they always attract attention, especially from older grandparent-type folks...but they aren't with me...what is going on!?!?!" and i got closer to them and walked a bit slower, smiling so big and polite to try and show these people i really was such a nice person...i will still brushing myself off, and i kinda turned around to see what was behind me...and then i saw it....duh. right, directly behind me was a big screen tv playing some sort of baseball game.

i stopped dead in my tracks. (now, by this time, ryan is almost out the door) and i have pretty much gotten up to their table now, so i have clearly seen that the consistent and constant gaze of all 20 of these older sweet people is still going in that same direction and that direction ain't me...it was the tv. i glance back at the tv and back at all of them, and then i bust out laughing....LOUD! well, that shook them all out of their locked gaze for sure. i felt so foolish. and so selfish. and sooooo relieved, all at the same time. i couldn't stop giggling. pretty loudly, too. and so, of course, now they really were staring at me. i apologized and said, "i'm sorry, from where i was standing, it looked like you all were staring at me, and it was so weird! i thought why are all these nice people staring at me!?!" (ya like how i threw the word nice in there so they wouldn't think i was a complete lunatic, eh? i'm ok with partial looney, but not a total nutcase) they all started laughing and one of the men said, "now, honey, it ain't you, it's TCU. but go ahead and have a seat and join us." so i did. i sat down in the chair of someone who had clearly gotten up to get a re-fill (probably sweet tea...bet he didn't try to use a coupon though) and chatted with them for a minute.....(for those of you who know me well, this is shocking. i have never met a stranger and could make friends with a tree stump. a true sanguine to the core. i could have sat with these people for hours.) "how is everyone? you guys on a date, like me? our kiddos are home with nana and grandpa, ya'lls too?" they laughed, i laughed. then they found out i was a red raider fan and asked me to leave. :) which was fine, because my hot date had almost gotten out the door before realizing he wasn't being followed anymore, and then was only partially surprised to turn around and find out i was sitting with a table full of strangers.

what a joyful little surprise that was. it gave me a good laugh. the kind of unexpected laugh that does your body good sometimes. but what God really spoke to me about it all was so clear in what that man said to me...."it ain't you, it's tcu." this whole deal isn't about me. what in my little mind would make me think for a second that a whole table of people would be staring at me? and then, why would i torment myself over it if they were? ugh. soooo much of this life isn't about me. and yet so much of this life i torment myself over. pleasing people. wanting to have what they have. if i could just...oh, God then i'll be happy...i promise. my sweet pastor says sometimes (ok, more like OFTEN) that we Americans tend to "spend money we don't have, to buy things we can't afford and don't need, to impress people we don't even like anyway"...why is that? why are we all in this for ourselves? we get so stinkin' caught up in the temporal. why is it that these teeny-bopper clothes have the mentality "it's all about me" plastered across the front in neon splatter paint and there are fully grown middle aged people who could be wearing the same shirt?

this may be a silly example of this, but it spoke to me. i want so badly to get outside of my own self. maybe that's because my little world has been so small lately. i haven't been out of it a bunch. God- i pray that you can help ME and all of us to remember that you have us here to BE YOU to those around us. to spread your love and your joy and your good news (GREAT news!) to all we meet. to live it out. philippians 2:3 says "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." in humility. that's exactly right. i don't want it to be all about me. i want it to be all about You. and if people are staring at me God, i want it to be because they see something different about me that makes them THINK OF YOU! i want to stand out, but only because i don't look like everyone else. i love what my pastor talked about just this weekend. in romans 12:2, "do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." only Your Word, God can renew our minds like nothing else. only Your work in us can make us truly humble and truly unselfish. do that in us. please do that in me. it ain't about me. amen.

Monday, June 21, 2010

ever feel like a diaper champ?

ok, so when i first had children...i admit i wanted the brand name of everything....i wanted the diaper genie...the baby bjorn....the huggies....the graco carseat.....only the best. now, we are on kid #3...and although i still stand behind huggies (all else had pretty much failed me...literally, all over my clothes. my lap. no one else's. therefore, i retain all diaper choosing rights.) but the rest of it, i don't care much about. we have moved on to the diaper champ. i think it is ridiculous to have to buy the refills of the other one. i am perfectly happy with the "off brand"-ness of this version...after all, let's stop for a second people...this thing is going to be holding the poopy diapers of my darling baby, right. does a brand name really matter? c'mon.

for those of you who don't know, a diaper genie or a diaper champ is a brilliant invention. whoever thought the thing up was clearly a mom. (maybe not, but i think so it must have been.) either that, or it was a dad who had innocently and probably ignorantly, agreed to dispose of all diapers, and then realized the sheer VOLUME of diapers that one small baby can produce and got tired of the (never realized before how) loooong walk out to the garage. so, this contraption allows you to put a stinky diaper in, wave the magic wand,(i.e. engage the handle), and then the diaper goes down into the shoot and then the thing seals away the odor. it is great. you can keep doing this until the thing is full and then you just empty and repeat. genius.

so, back to my story. brand names aside. it doesn't matter what name is on the outside. what matters is on the inside. literally. i was reminded of this, this morning, when once again i walked into sweet abigail's room and was greeted with "that" smell. you know the smell. the smell that says to me that daddy shoved a few too many poopy diapers in there, shook the thing around, stomped on it, wiggled the handle and forced an extra one (personally, i think he shoved three or four down there) down, in order not to have to ("get" to) be the one who has to change out the trash bag. it is the ol' "who has to make the new batch of lemonade" logic. when i was growing up, the rule of the house was, whoever finished off the lemonade was supposed to make the next batch. no problem. we (including my step-dad :) realized that if you left about 0.7 ounces in the bottom of the pitcher that you technically hadn't "finished off" the lemonade and therefore weren't responsible for making the next match. brilliant. of course, it didn't work, but we thought it would. nope. same with the diaper champ. if you could somehow manage to shake the thing around, bang it on the ground and borderline break the thing so that you could squeeeeze one more diaper down there, you don't have to be the one to change out the trash bag. and trust me on this one...you DO NOT want to be the one who has to change the trash bag.

this leads me to where God spoke to me today. funny of all places. God spoke to me through a diaper pail. yup. ya see....i really didn't want to be the one to change the trash bag. but it HAD to be changed, let me say that again....HAAAAD to be changed. i think even abigail was beginning to complain, and she is 15 months old. you see, if you try and try to put it off, and try and try to shove more stank (yes, at this point, we have moved beyond stink, to flat out stank) down in there, eventually the seal, designed to hold the smell in, doesn't work. it wasn't designed to hold all that in. the whole room begins to smell. the contraption designed for your convenience has now polluted your sweet baby's whole nursery. ouch. you don't sleep in there with that smell. you don't have to live with it.

that is my point. that diaper champ is my heart. and lately, i have been stuffing more and more stanky diapers in. i mean, let's face it....we all stuff a few stinky ones in here and there. we are sinners after all. we live in a completely warped, messed up world, surrounded my warped, messed up people, and those are just the ones sitting next to us at church. but lately, i really have been trying to push the envelope...trying to shake the thing around and squeeze in a few more than i should.....and i didn't even really know it. it isn't the huge stuff....i don't murder, steal, commit adultery, do drugs, etc. (whew, glad to clear that up, eh?) but ooohhh those "little" ones creep in...covet, jealousy, envy....those sneak in for sure. (by the way, there are no "little" ones, so don't start to feel better about yourselves if you do it too. they are all big. they are all bad. they all stank.)

and my heart is not designed for it. at least not anymore. thankfully. when i became a Christian. i traded my heart in for a new one. and God has the power to give me a whole new heart. (see Ezekiel 26) the problem is, we still have free will. we still can choose to stuff stank in. lately, as i have been feeling a little better and trying to "do" more around the house and for our family, i have been able to be "out there" more. and being "out there" more has reminded me of how hard it is "out there". i have been, in just the last few weeks (and i'm just being honest here)....jealous of a friend who has a beautiful new minivan when we drive old(10 years and 19 years), beat up vans.....been envious of friends whose husbands make a ton of money and "seem" to be able to buy all they want with no worries and don't have to do without their favorite snack because it wasn't in the food budget this week.....wished i could go work out like one friend of mine who is training for a marathon, because athletics and sports used to be WHO I WAS, but instead i still can hardly still walk up and down my driveway.....i've judged other friends of mine for their life choices because, i, after all, have it all figured out and think that i know the best way for women/moms/wives to behave (ugh, my pride makes me wanna hurl sometimes)......oh people i could go on and on...but i honestly think you have the idea. and i'm starting to make myself sick at this point and i assume you are feeling the same. the point is this.....all of these things are dirty diapers people. dirty, stanky diapers. and i am CHOOSING to shove them down into my heart. a heart that is not designed to hold them. it builds and builds and if i'm not careful, and i mean, real careful....it gets full....quick. and guess who it affects? that's right....those i love.

after a loooooong day of being around my darling three kiddos. (who i love and treasure but who flat wear me out sometimes) ok, it was father's day and i tried soooo hard to let daddy do absolutely everything and anything he wanted to and i would handle the kids, but it wore me out. i was "cuggling" with jacob, my eldest (who is almost 6) and i asked him a question....by the way...be sooo careful about what you ask your kids about you..they are honest and it can be brutal. i said, "baby, if you could change one thing about mommy, what would it be?" and without hesitation, he replied, "all your angry voices at me." ouch. stank.

the stank comes out. it comes out all over my man and my kids and my friends and my family. and it looks and smells ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like my Jesus. the more and more i stuff down in there, the more the stench overflows into my life and all over those i love. and, even worse...to those i don't know. to those who just see me with the fish on my van, or the verse on the back of my t-shirt.....ugh.

so, here i am today, i took a few deep breaths in, ya know... to get my lungs prepared for what they were about to have to endure......held my breath.....opened the diaper champ....and tried to quickly pull out the old, overflowing bag of yucky, stanky diapers...so i could get that thang out to the garage...and hurriedly replace it with a fresh new bag. confess it all to God. it wasn't pretty. it was then that it hit me.....if i had just changed the thing when i was supposed to, it would not only have been easier, it wouldn't have smelled nearly as bad. if i would have just dealt with my junk like the diaper champ was designed to, like God had designed for me to....life would be easier....when will i learn? when will i learn?

thank you God that by your strength, by your grace and love can i be anything worth anything. thank you that you see my disgusting heart and love me anyway. thank you that you can speak to me through a diaper pail. thank you that you love me anyway. because of your great love, though i am dead to this sin, you make me alive (eph 2:4-5) i owe you everything. keep working on me God. i know you will. i cling to that promise. i love you, amen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

mustard, calamari and pop tarts

now, if, after reading the title of this post, you don't want to have a snack, well, i can't blame you. but, at least for me, these things have something in common. allow me the indulgence of telling a few stories before getting to my point that has hit me so square in the face recently...(i know, i know...me? tell stories? weird.)

a sweet friend was over having lunch recently and i wasn't having a great day...exhausted and really kinda struggling (those days come and go)...so she was helping out a lot by making all the kid's lunches. she had brought sandwich meat and fixin's for everyone and was asking how everyone liked their sandwiches. abigail, at that point was screaming from her high chair...the girl is cute, but she does not play around when it comes to getting her food in a...shall we say...timely manner...so i think she would have actually taken calamari covered in mustard stuck in between two pop tarts....but alas, we fed her something normal like ham and cheese...and quick.

but then she got to benjamin (my 3 1/2 year old) and she asked him a few questions, knowing his severe food allergies, i am sure she knew he just couldn't have anything he wanted. but this was one question that really hit me...she said, "hey buddy, would you like mustard on your sandwich?" and i'm telling you....she might as well have asked what the formula for the Pythagorean theorem was...(a squared plus b squared equals c squared...by the way)...because he was looking at her like she was speaking another language. so, she kinda looked at me funny, like, what is wrong with your kid?.. and repeated herself...."buddy, do you want mustard?" again..my kid, with the blank stare. then it hit me....hmm...does he even know what mustard is, really? (i'll expand more in a minute)

a few months ago, we were out celebrating my aunt's birthday at the Italian restaurant that lets you color on the table with crayons and the waiters always show off my writing their names on it upside down...i can't ever keep the name of the place in my head. my aunt loves my kids and they love her. this celebration was 12 grown ups (ya know, "real" ones, my parents age) ryan and i, and my kids, and we didn't even meet at the restaurant until 6:00....just giving you a little scene-setting, that's all. anyway...my kiddos were being VERY good...but we had exhausted every distraction and "keep them entertained" technique. we had, obviously, colored on the tables...all.over.the.tables actually....we'd gone in every combination to see the "big fire" from the chefs, jacob goes with nana, benjamin goes with grandpa, then we switch, etc....shoot, we'd raced and washed our hands, even....and stiiiiill we were waiting for our food...it was getting late, and like i mentioned above, my sweet darling abigail doesn't mess around when waiting for food. she begins to scream a very distinct "i WILL be fed or you adults will pay" scream...that we tease as her going from cute to velociraptor in 2.4 seconds.

so...needless to say when the food did arrive at 7:30 (abigail's bedtime, by the way) we all dove in, and grandpa worked feverishly to feed the poor girl. now, both my dad and my mom have wondered how two such diverse eaters could have possible wound up with two super PICKY eaters as their children. my brother and i (ok, really just him) have gotten better with age, but we heard a lot growing up, "how can you by our kid?" and "well, you didn't get this from me!" because we both were pretty darn picky. my husband and my sister-in-law are both great eaters who make fun of us as well. (i know, it's tough...but don't feel sorry for us, we will be ok. therapy has helped)

so...back to my poor starving baby girl. my dad is cutting up her noodles and she is, no lie, double fisting, shoving them in her mouth. can't blame her. i would have been doing the same thing if ms. manners would have allowed it. but instead, i was politely using my utensils and cutting up one of the two meals i ever order from Italian restaurants...that are among maybe four dishes i have EVER even tried from Italian restaurants. i am happy in my routine. ryan calls me boring. i like to think of it as consistent. you will never hear me say "hmmmm...i wonder if that's good, i think i am going to try the......." nope. not me. so....as i am politely inhaling my predictable, and yummy dinner, i hear my dad call out from the other end of the table, "well, toots, (my childhood nickname)...she's definitely not your child!" i don't even have to look up. i know what he's done. knowing that he has the safety of about 4 other adults between us, he has given my sweet baby girl something that would make her mommy squirm. little did i know, that the entree used to squirm itself. ugh. (sorry, i couldn't resist) that's right....my sweet baby girl was joyfully, double-fisting, stuffing her face with calamari!!! i said, "DAD!! what is that!?!" he deceivingly replied, "it's ok, it's just shrimp." knowing i would freak out when i found out what it really was. ugh. squid. my baby girl was eating squid. and loving every minute of it. she gets that from her father.

ok, last one. my dear friend, mentor, and happen to be employer through most of college ( I was blessed to be her son's nanny) told me a story that always stuck with me and as i have been contemplating this blog in my head, was reminded of it. she grew up with a working mom and dad who were both hard-working and successful. they loved she and her sister, but were also very driven. she remembers her parents being busy but caring. but she also remembers seeing other kids who had stay-at-home moms who had homemade snacks waiting for them when they got home from school and big breakfasts on saturday mornings. she told me that she was old, waaay too old before she even knew that pop tarts were even supposed to be put in the toaster. i couldn't believe that. "how could you not know that?" i asked her. "well, my mom always just handed us the package as we were headed out the door and we loved them! but then, i will never forget.... i spent them night at a friend's house and when we got up the next morning, she asked if i wanted a pop tart, and i said, yes, so she got out the toaster. i asked what she was doing and she stopped and kinda looked at me funny. (i'm remembering benjamin and his mustard? face right now) she said she was getting the pop tarts ready. sure enough. that day changed everything. nice, warm, gooey pop tarts. think about it. BIG difference, huh? ya. big. difference.

now, before you go and judge my friend's mom, or me...or me again.....think about it. really stop and think about it. i have been. it has boggled my mind. we influence our kids in such big and small ways. such huge, monumental, life changing ways, and in such small ways. my dear friend loves her mom. i am pretty sure that many years later, and many nice, warm, gooey pop tarts later, she has forgiven her mom for allowing herself that convenience that we all do in some form or fashion, and in return been more than blessed by admiring such a strong, admirable, exceptional woman as her mother. i do not like mustard. not even a little. and you know what...that's ok. but, man...what if my kids LOVE it...how would they know? i never offer it to them, never buy it, because i do not like it in the least. calamari. ok, let's be honest, seafood in general...they could love it. who knows?

but this is just food, people. my kids really will be ok in life if they never eat calamari, mustard and have cold pop tarts every morning. they really will. but...as i always do...i really let my mind wander with this one. everything ryan and i do influences them. you see...we are just now getting to a new phase of parenting. our oldest is almost 6 years old and so we are entering elementary school...outside influencers....no more baby stuff. tough questions. unfair life happenings. things out of our control. so far, we have influenced our kids but they have been "babies" if you will, and it has been mainly about their development, their learning, their behavior, their manners. and yes, i understand that they have already been picking up on our habits, our actions, our REactions....but with all of this thinking i've been doing, i've also just been doing a lot of praying....because it has hit me pretty hard....i really don't want my kids to turn out like me...or ryan. yikes. i mean it, though. i just want them to be like Jesus.

i read in Beth Moore's book "goodbye insecurity" that when her daughter found out she was having a girl she said something like "oh man, i have to deal with my junk. i don't want to pass this on to her!" i couldn't agree more!!! i feel awful that poor benjamin doesn't really even know what to do with mustard. i know that sounds completely retarted, but really, people. the kid is limited in life because of me. does it matter? no. it's not like i'm losing sleep over it. but it spurred this blog and a lot of thinking and praying of what other things i want to make sure i don't miss out on influencing him correctly in. patience. kindness. TRUST in our great God. being joyful in all circumstances. (see 1 thess.)

i want my kids to have such a great life, a godly life. God wants that too. i know this may seem like a silly analogy, but really...HE wants us not to miss out on the nice, warm, gooey pop tart kind of life, not to settle for a cold pop tart kind of life. (john 10:10) fortunately, our kids can have a great life even with all the silly things i have "limited" them by. but, i honestly hope this has spurred your thinking too. because they can't have an abundant life without God working through you. i can't make it through breakfast without messing it up and acting like me. short-tempered, selfish, worried...etc. make sure you are getting in the stuff that matters. we started memorizing Scripture with our kids. it is written on their bathroom mirror. we try to have them think of other people and things to pray for other than just mama, daddy, nana, grandpa, mimi, papaw, marmie, pa...etc. we talked about the kids who are getting the toys we donate. we talked about how we don't want to "wish" for a bigger house, we are so thankful for where we live. oooohh how i want to influence their little hearts in the right way. and i know i can't do that without God helping me each day. His strength. Him in me.

but, let me be clear. i am not going to run out and start trying all new foods. i am a grown up, after all, and don't have to now. :) (na, na, na, na, na)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

i am the ant

so, i was in sweet abigail's room today...daddy was changing her diaper and i was lying flat on my back on the full sized bed that is in her room....i was looking up at her ceiling fan which we are needing to replace...and as each blade passed, i had to take a second glance to see if i was seeing things correctly...is that what i thought it was??? sure enough. there on her ceiling...crawling along, was a little black dot....a little rolly polly.

now we live among lots of trees and nature (gee, caroline, ya don't say...you live near trees? i had no idea. he he, just making fun of myself for a bit! :) anyway...bugs in general, especially spiders of all sorts and rolly pollys (not sure if it is pollies or pollys...both look wrong and i have never had to make that word plural before, hmmm) are very, may i repeat, VERY common in our house. we have two little plastic "bug-catchers" that we got as a sonic toy months ago that we often use to catch and release the bugs. (mommy often then stomps on the spiders, once they are outside, fyi. i have no sympathy for spiders, sorry.)

anyway...but never, ever have i seen a rolly polly on the ceiling. have you? this really struck me. and then because my mind wanders (and wanders and wanders)....off my thoughts went and i followed. i stared at the poor little guy and wondered if he had any idea where he was. i mean, let's be honest...this was rough terrain. we live, after all, in a house that was built about the same year as i was, and therefore we are blessed to have popcorn ceilings. (that was going to be one of the first things to go when we moved in, but that was almost two years ago and now the thought of covering all our stuff and spending money on having smooth ceilings for goodness sakes, makes me anxiously excited for the inevitable turn around to when popcorn ceilings are "in" again. hey...it could happen) so, as i said, this poor little guy was battling rough terrain, and upside down nonetheless. now, i don't know much about the anatomy of a rolly polly but i would venture to say that it requires more effort to crawl upside down than it does right side up. needless to say, this bug was waaaaay out of his element. he was not made to live in a yellow and lavendar room, as precious as it may be, and have to crawl around the equivalent of hills and valleys for miles and miles (in rolly polly distance)...and don't even get me started on the danger he was crawling toward. could you imagine the damage a ceiling fan could do to the poor little guy.

seriously caroline, you wasted this much brain energy on a stinkin rolly polly?? yes i did. i often do. my brain just wanders all the time. but this time it reminded me of something i heard once about our great God. i spend a lot of time trying to control things in my life. this is not something i am proud of. i could go into great detail as to why i do this. recently God has shown me (through my current on-the=couch- circumstances and also through Beth Moore's book "goodbye insecurity; you've been a bad friend to us" which i am sure i will talk A LOT more about later!) that i went through a great deal of drastic change in my life...some good, some bad. some in my control, most out of my control. over time i have developed the desire to want to control things so that i am not "blindsided" anymore. whew. NOT a good habit to get into. and also NOT an easy mindset to break. He is working big on it though, people, BIG. anyway...often i sit and try to "figure out" all God is. all that my life means. how i can make sure it goes how i planned. where it fits with the past, and with the future. it is then that i remember what i heard once ( i can't remember who said it, sorry! i think it may have been my pastor, but i can't be sure) about trying to figure out God....the quote that i thought of today staring at that brave little rolly polly who had no clue where he was or what he was up against.

trying to understand God would be like trying to explain the concept of the internet to an ant.

fyi...i am the ant. :)

really, think about it. an ant doesn't even have the brain capacity to understand what anything in our "people" world is all about. they can't fathom what real things are all about, like a car or a toaster....much less something abstract like the internet. we are the ants, people. we can't even begin to fathom the greatness of our God. the same God who sees galaxy after galaxy that we know nothing about....who invented the concept of DNA and the cell.....who created the rolly polly and gave it the ability to crawl upside down :) how in the world do we think we need to (or even want to!) know everything....or have a better plan that the One who made us...from dirt, nonetheless.

so, yes...i am not sure what actually happened to that daring rolly polly. i do know that he has about 432,000 of his closest family and friends in our yard that my kiddos love to hunt for. God - you love me. you know me better than i know myself. thank you for placing me where you want me. for equipping me to crawl upside down on popcorn ceilings if need be, whether i WANT to or not. you equip me and hem me in. you never forsake me. you never forget me. you never need reminding that i need you.

keep reminding me of my ant-ness, Lord. thank you for your beauty all over. i love you. amen.

i never tire

there are a some things i never get tired of doing....eating Blue Bell ice cream (homemade vanilla with hershey's chocolate syrup).....listening to random old favorite songs of mine, The Eagles, Steve Miller Band (i know, weird...but true) 80's classics....watching football, especially my red raiders (go tech!).....listening to the rain....waking up next to Ryan.....

but last night when i just couldn't sleep...i blogged until late and then just couldn't sleep still. and with my current illness, i NEED sleep. i crave it almost...my body generally shuts down at about 7pm and i have to fight through to put all the kids to bed and then kiss Ryan as i fall into our bed at the pathetic hour of 8:30 or so. but not last night. last night, i saw hours on the clock that i had honestly forgotten were there. i will pay the price for that today for sure.

but it reminded me. as i went around the the boys' room and to my sweet baby girl's room...i was soooo reminded of something i never, ever, ever tire of doing....watching them sleep. if you have kids, you must know what i mean. when they are little bitty, i think part of it is the sheer relief that they are quiet and still that you are simply thanking God that they are asleep. :) but now i just love to watch them....i looooove to stop and stare....

my kids sleep so differently. my eldest, sweet jacob (is now 5 and three-quarters :) sleeps like he is; consistent, traditional, predictable. he is precious. he finds a comfortable position, i think one of the three main positions that you are "supposed" to sleep in, flat on back, on his right side or on his left side. he will readjust his covers so that everything is straight and evenly covered and then he simply closes his eyes and goes to sleep. he is like his mama, in that he can literally be talking to you and then by OUT COLD in 30 seconds flat. interesting, but true. i have actually been known to fall asleep in the middle of conversations...MY part of the conversations, nonetheless. but, jacob will fall asleep and lie there sweet and secure in that same position, often for the entire night. he breathes so deeply, with his mouth open (yet another trait he so attractively inherited from yours truly).....i know he is always dreaming, because he is always thinking. analyzing. wondering. maybe worrying. (again, for the most part, he is my husband's twin, but he is his mother's son as well) trying to figure out this world and if he can't do it awake, by golly, he will do it asleep. even as a baby, you could just tell looking at him sleeping, that his little mind was going. in the morning when he wakes up he often needs a "little time" (like his daddy) before he wants to deal a whole lot with everyone. but his heart is so big and fine, tht he will welcome kisses from his baby sister immediately...so sweet.

then there's sweet benjamin (he is 3 1/2) who could not be more different than his older brother. but he could also not want to be more like him. oh i know what that younger sibling deal is like. anyway...benjamin gets into bed and if he can find his covers, will use them or not, doesn't matter. he will sleep however he wants, one leg up, on his belly, pillow under his belly at the foot of bed, perpendicular to the "right" way. he'll rustle around, until finally his body just gives in and out of sheer boredom, falls asleep. if i wanted to, i could check on him throughout the night and just for fun take a picture of him every 20 minutes or so...in each different position, and i think it would make for a very fun flip book. but my favorite, and i would say his most favorite position is on his belly with his sweet legs all tucked up under him and his hiney in the air. he looks so cozy and safe. i just want to "cuggle" (his version of the word cuddle, too cute) up next to him...but i dare not, because unlike his elder brother, he is a VERY light sleeper and the sweet cuggle time isn't often worth waking him up. in fact, it is that reason that i have far less sweet sleeping pictures of benjamin, because the simple sound of the digital camera clicking often stirs him from his semi-sound sleep. i am sure benjamin dreams, and i can't wait until he can express what it is, because he often wakes with a smile before he is really even awake. often ready to receive praise for not peeing in his bed or sleeping all night there. (and yes, that need for affirmation, he for sure inherited from me!)

lastly, is sweet sister friend....darling abigail (now almost 15 months) she is still in a crib, so her patterns are still a bit limited. there's no telling how she will be once she's turned loose in a big girl bed. but for now, she sleeps pretty sweet and secure. i like to say she sleeps "pretty". it is almost like she knows i want to come in there and take a picture of my only girl....in her purple and pink flowered jamis with her arms thrown up over her head, paci in mouth (don't judge), hair curls flipped evenly on each side.... i mean it..sometimes i peek my head in there and think, "oh sister friend, thank you for posing so sweet for mama!" she is a mix of her brothers really. her positions are more all over the place, like benjamin, but overall, once she decides, she sticks with it, like jacob. ryan and i like to think that she will be a good mix of the two of them, a bridge between the two. a lovely, sweet, pink little bridge, that they both happen to adore, to bring the two opposites together. (no pressure little girl...you just be you....we will all love you no matter what!) but, oh she really is so sweet when she sleeps. so delicate. but she's not. she is a tough cookie. by far the toughest of any of the three. but, like benjamin, she is a light sleeper (i must have just lucked out on that first one.....or maybe i am just unaware of how loud i am now.......nah.) sometimes she falls asleep with her leg through the crib rail. it doesn't bother her at all. it sure bothers me and i fix it every time. of course, me fixing it usually bothers her and rustles her sleep. (there's a lesson there mama) but seeing her in possible pain....i can't help but remember all the time i spent watching her sleep in the NICU bed. she had jaundice somethin fierce. the doctors threw the words "brain damage" around if she didn't get better. gee, thanks. she got better. but the two extra days in NICU and the three days in the "special bed" (which is basicially like a baby tanning bed---yes, don't you think i whispered in her sweet baby ear all about how this was the only tanning bed she'd ever have my permission to lie in!) at our house made me soooo happy to have her sleep in her regular crib. and now...all these months later. she sleeps so sound, so secure, so "pretty"...and she'll never remember those hours i watched her sleep and pray she'd be ok.

that reminds me. none of these babies will know all these hours i've watched them sleep. just like i don't know all the hours my mom peeked in on me. and even more so...i don't know all the hours God watches over me. hmmm. God never sleeps or slumbers. isn't that amazing that He is always watching over us. He knows when i sit down, when i get up. He knows my thoughts before i do. (see psalm 139) i wonder how often He watches us toss and turn over pointless worries. i wonder how He has enjoyed watching us grow up. the nights we have acknowledged Him before we slept. the nights we haven't. ugh. the mornings we have awakened with Him on our mind. the mornings we haven't. ugh. we are His kids. and like my pastor always says. our kids are His kids. God doesn't have grandkids. God knows more about them than i do. he loves to watch them sleep too. He never, ever, ever tires of it either. that brings me joy. not one day of my life, and not one day of my kiddos' lives has been unwatched by our great God. He cares and He knows and He watches. thank you God for that kind of love. thank you for never tiring. thank you.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

beautiful, the mess we are

ok, so have you heard it? the song that i stole the title of this post to? it is called "better than a hallelujah" by the ever amazing amy grant. she has flat out been around forever. like really, since the 90's. :) please look up the song. listen to it. have the lyrics in front of you. it is so real, so true. my dear friend told me months ago..."i heard this song and thought of you" she knows how many times i have poured out my miseries to God in the past few months. she knows He has heard my cries and heard a melody. the genuine cry of His kid, must be so sweet to Him. not because He wants me to cry....but because He wants me to cry out TO HIM.

ugh. i feel like the most stupid person when i type like i have all this to be miserable about. there are, right now, people who literally have no food, no clothing, no roof over their head. mothers who have buried their children. children who have never known their mothers. so many with illnesses so far worse than mine. God forbid, others whose children have illnesses far worse than mine. and i cry out in misery? ugh. perspective people, perspective.

but i would be lying to you, to myself and therefore to God if i told you i didn't have a little pity party every so often. and, so often i feel like my trees. (huh? your trees? i know, it sounds silly) and i am aware that i write about them a lot, but my backyard has truly become a haven to me these last few months. i meet God there every morning. it is a special place.

but before i tell you how i am like my trees, i feel compelled to make a slight correction to an earlier post. :) now, let me make mention that i am not much of a detail person. my sweet husband is. (again, there are few ways we could be more different...but, hey, it works) it goes against my nature to pay a great deal of attention to lots of pesky details...especially if they get in the way of a good story. :) i recently posted that our backyard has 90 oak trees. i would like to correct myself that we really have more like 100 trees, and they are not all oak. yes, while the majority of them are post oak, some are black oak (sometimes known as blackjack oak) and we also have some mulberry trees along the back fence. whew, i don't know about you, but i feel much better!

what really matters for this analogy is the size of the trees. and for this...i did actually recruit my sweet hubby to help me out. this is because i am h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e at judging size and distance. no, really...this is NOT false modesty. if i tell you i live 5 miles from somewhere, it very well might be 1 mile, or 22 miles. if i see a bear running at us from 10 feet away, it could actually be 30 feet away or 100 feet away...there's no telling. (but it would be best to just run, in that case!) i'm a poor judge with both over and under estimating...making me an equal-opportunity fowl up. so, today, i asked Ryan..."baby, how tall are our trees?" see, this is me, the one who doesn't really care that much about details asking a methodical, detail-oriented man, to which he replied, "well, the post oaks can generally reach heights anywhere from...40 feet to...." (i went ahead and interrupted him here because i could just tell this was going to turn into a looooong explanation about the history of post oak trees)..."no, baby, how tall do you think these trees in our backyard are, you know i can't guess height, i'm always wrong, are they like 10 feet, or maybe 20 feet?" i was sooo thinking i was close. to which he replied "no babe, most of them are at least 50 feet" darn. i had wanted to be a little closer than that.

i appreciate you letting me detour a bit in my story-telling to lead you to this. lately, as i sit there in the morning, after i put my glasses back on and can see clearly again (see blog post title "blindness") i breathe deeply and watch what God does with my trees. how they move in the wind. and whoa, how i feel like them sometimes. if you look at their trunks, i must say it is fairly impressive. each one, about as big around as a telephone pole, so.....fairly substantial...thick, even.....of substance....not easily moved....secure....unaffected by the wind....rooted....established....i glance around and they are all unmoved...still.....in fact...if you look at just the trunks for long enough, it is easy to forget that it's even a windy day. but then i look up. way up. 50 feet up. and i must say....i am amazed. those branches are swaying back and forth like die-hard Eagles fans at a live reunion concert.....back and forth....back and forth......three and four feet in each direction(let's be honest, it could be 10 feet in each direction)..... leaves whistling all around....branches whipping all over.....completely being controlled by the will of the wind. it is deceiving really. could these be the same trees??? i look down and see the same solid, immoveable trunks. i look up and see the wind having its way with the tips of these same trees.

that is when it hit me. i sooooo am those trees. for all intensive purposes, i am rooted and established...secure in who God made me and not easily moved. i receive my nourishment from my God and have a firm foundation in who i am in Him. but the further up and up and up and away i get from Him, the further up into the elements..into the world...the wind....how easily swayed i can get. i worry. i am prideful. i am selfish. i am not thankful. wow it sure feels windy up here. ooooh, how these circumstances sway me sometimes. i think so many people see me for my trunk. and only my trunk. over these last months and months of illness, i have been brought face to face with who i really am and all that God wants to work in me. and i have found out a lot of what i would like to allow Him to change. i have been blessed as He has grown those top branches thicker and leaves stronger, so that when (not if) more winds come, i won't be so easily blown about. but i'd be lying if i said that i haven't been blown about quite a bit as well. i have also loved being able to love and accept that we are all just a bunch of trees....some of us might have super thick trunks, some of us might be more than 50 feet tall....some of us might think we are 50 feet tall when in reality we are much, much smaller....it doesn't matter... if we aren't rooted in Him...if that is not what we are established in...then you'd better hold on, because wind is surely in the forecast for today. and for today, it may be gale force...it may be a light breeze that wouldn't even blow your skirt up...it doesn't matter, none of us are getting out of this without some swayin to and fro.

read matthew 13. be the seed that grows the root that bears the fruit. winds will come. we will cry out to our God. He will hear our cries...and strengthen us....every one of us.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

my joy boy

i am quite sure i will have multiple opportunities to write multiple posts about my adorable three kiddos. but, for this morning, i want to write this one about my sweet benjamin..... he is such a treat. God chose to sandwich him in the middle of our precious firstborn, jacob and our beautiful baby girl, abigail. and, oh is he truly our creme filling of team holzberger. what a joy. all of them are, really. but there is just something about benjamin that has always been such a joy. hence my little name for him, my joy boy. i used to love going to wake him up out of his crib as a baby because he literally had a smile on his face before his sweet baby blue eyes were even open. the kid can get so excited about just about anything. i believe i passed my ability to be very easily amused on to him. but i am convinced that he must have stood in line in heaven a few times for it, because he ended up with mega doses of it, and boy is it a joy to be around! often we will be sitting at a meal (like, last night at dinner, for instance) and out of nowhere and absollutely no "prompting" from a grown up, he will just burst out and say "oh daddy, thank you sooo much for fixing us this breakfast, it is so yummy, thanks daddy!" and the inflection in his voice is so darn cute and pure and filled with joy, it melts your heart. and yes, i think there is something so precious about the fact that he doesn't even call the meal the correct name...doesn't matter, he is still just happy to be fed. (yes, you see where i am going with this)
but recently, my sweet baby boy has truly had a tough couple weeks. now, before you read on, (and debate about calling cps) remember that bejamin is 3 1/2 and sits still about as long as a gnat. unlike my compliant and cautious firstborn jacob, who flat out spoiled us and would sit still and focused, looking at a book or building with blocks for an hour at the age of ONE...benjamin is much busier, MUCH less cautious, and much more likely to get into all this trouble. so, like i said...in just the past few weeks...benjamin has sliced his finger open (pretty badly, but thankfully no stitches) on an open tin can....been handed the wrong cup and taken a full swig of HOT coffee, thinking it was his orange juice.....been stung by a bee in our backyard.....gotten a hold of a peanut (which he is highly allergic to) and broken out into whelps and hives.....touched a hot grill and gotten 2nd degree burns on his palm and fingertips.....and had skin meet pavement more times than we can count. in anyone's world, this would be a VERY tough couple weeks...but especially in the protected, supposed to be sheltered world of a 3 year old. you know that even a kid could start to think, "ok, seriously?" not benjamin. it really hit me the other day when (once again) i woke him up and one of the first comments that came out of his barely awake little mouth, was "oh mama....(such pure joy, excitement, and anticipation in his voice, like he just couldn't wait to share his joy with me and see my reaction!) mama, mama...guess what, i think my owie is getting better!!!" now, he had said that before...but this time what hit me was his response to what i asked him next.....i said "oh buggy, i am so happy to hear that, which owie is feeling better?" and he looked confused as he looked from his arm, to his hand, back to his leg....hmmm...you could tell he was thinking....he wasn't sure. so, after a few minutes of deciding... he picked his finger and held it up proudly and with a huge grin..."look mama, it looks better!" whoa. that really hit me. my joy boy was so sure something was getting better, but he didn't even know what it was yet.
talk about expectant praise. talk about living out your faith. talk about expectant joy. oh, why can't i be that way more often? especially through this medical drama i have going on....His Word tells us (doesn't suggest, by the way) to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess 5:18) it also says that the "joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10) i could go on and on and on.....but i already know these things. i just love that God also shows us in real life ways how He wants us to react.
He would love if we smiled before our eyes were even open..."this is day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be GLAD in it!" (psalm 118:24)
thank you Jesus for this breakfast, i am so grateful!! sooo many people don't know where their next meal will come from yet i seem to complain because we are out of fruit loops. ugh.
God, i think my owie is getting better! which one? who knows? (You do, Lord) how did it happen to me? who knows? (You do.)
thank you God for loving ME so much. for loving my benjamin and for trusting him to us. may we both shine YOUR joy for all to see. oh that you would call me your "joy girl" someday, Father. amen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

yada yada yada

ya know, the very first episode i ever saw of seinfeld was the finale. i totally didn't get it. i was like, um, ok what is the big deal? of course, since then i have seen many an episode on re-runs and i get it. not sure what "it" is, but i get it. hence the title of this post. ( i also have been quoted as to saying that i think i have "man-hands" but that's for a whole other post) i have no agenda tonight, just needed to vent to my void. so, goodnight dear void. (yes, that reminds me of "you've got mail" too. classic movie) the beauty of seinfeld is that is was often about nothing. life every day, just normalcy. the significant. the insignificant. all of it.
that is how i am feeling right now. i have so much going on. where do is start? my appointment today went pretty poorly, by my standards at least. still haven't gotten much "research" from this research hospital. still not much closer to answers, still not much closer to healing, at least from these docs. am closer to God and thankful for that though.
summer rain came tonight. ah, i love, love, love summer rain. the smell. before and after. the kids splashed around and had such a blast. i had a few moments of worry if it was safe with lightning and all, but ryan and i decided it was fine. the kids didn't halt for a second. remember those days...before you knew better than to stop and wonder if it was safe to do stuff? there's my sweet benjamin running around in just his birthday suit (don't worry, he's only 3 1/2, so it's still cute) head tilted up trying to catch rain drops without slowing down...no worries, only fun! why oh why don't grown ups play in the rain. why didn't i tonight? well i was too exhausted really. oooh, but next time....
love love loved getting to hang out with ryan today. we got to eat lunch together, just us. that was so great. so very great. i ate off my plate. he ate off his. i cut my own food. he cut his. i went to the bathroom......alone. it was great. i could write a whole post about how old i felt with the wide range of teenagers there, so free of school, so in need to wear their college paraphernalia yet look like they just threw it on (oh ya, i recognize it because that was sooo me).
completely overdid it today and feeling the pain tonight. not sure why i do this to myself. i start to feel good...i get a small glimpse of what sort of, kind of normal life could be like again and instead of taking a small bite and savoring it, i go through the dang buffet line three times and have to unbutton my pants afterwards because i feel sick. ugh. i am in pain now and that is pretty much why i decided to write. i should go to sleep. i should have gone to sleep an hour ago, but the sesame street A-Z songs just finished in the monitor and all just became quiet once again and for some reason that God is dealing with...once i start to feel bad again, that is when i worry more. makes sense, i guess. feel good, there's less to worry about. ahhhh, but i know better than that. boy oh boy do i know better than that. God, you have shown me soooo much about how not to worry over these last months and months, i could write a book about it. oh wait, YOU ALREADY DID....and thankfully i have read the end of the book and yes i will tell the ending, WE WIN! my pastor mentioned that the phrase "fear not" or "do not fear" is written 365 times in the New Testament....and just in case that number didn't trigger your memory, that just so happens to be the same number of days in a year. coincidence? i think not.
so, here i am, pecking away....telling you all that i am feel awful again, because that is what happens when i walk around my yard and take pictures of the boys playing catch with daddy, then try to help get dinner ready, then eat upright, then change kiddos into jamis....waaaay to much. thankfully sleep helps a lot. thankfully God's truth helps a WHOLE lot. thankfully.....tomorrow is a new day, where more significant and insignificant things will happen. who knows, maybe i will go to eat lunch at panera and hear "no soup for you!" that would be pretty funny, i suppose. especially if i ordered a panini. :)

Utter Blindness

This morning is a great morning to remind myself of how blind I really am. I blame my mom.
This is because my Dad has superb vision. Only now, at age 65, he might have to get reading glasses for night time. Waaah, poor thing, I told him recently how I just feel so sorry for him. Ya right. Yes, a bit of sarcasm here, blended with love, of course.

My Mom, however, was headed for double bifocals before she was old enough to give up her baby dolls. But, then they came out with these new-fangled things called "contacts". As the story goes...my Grammy didn't know how blind her eldest daughter really was, but when the optometrist questioned her about her soon-to-be kindergartener, it hit her. "Well, she does describe all the adults we know by the shoes they wear, ‘Mama, where is the lady with the red shoes?’” Little did my Grammy know it was because my Mom couldn't see far enough to see the adult’s faces. Whoops.

So, I guess I drew the short straw when it comes to vision. I was older when it hit me enough to actually affect me though. And to be completely honest I was way more freaked out about how it would affect me socially, than my dumb ol’ eyesight. I had heard talk of braces in my near future as well and I couldn't imagine getting the dreaded “double ugly” within such a short time frame. But, I did. Awesome.

By sixth grade I had them both. You remember sixth grade, don’t you? That was the year. The first year of middle school. The year to make any sort of social impact. The year to meet all the cute boys and become the popular giant you were destined to be. And I got braces to go along with my glasses. I could just see my dreams of being on the homecoming court fade away like my acid washed jeans.

And to make matters worse, I was very much an athlete. I played all types of sports all the time. But, my parents were about to cross the line. They wanted me to get those goggles you’re supposed to wear instead of glasses so you can see better during sports. Um, no. Not happening.

I think Kareem Abdul Jabaar was the only person I'd ever seen wearing them and I bet even he got made fun of by the guys over 6 foot 10 that could take him. Nope, I can squint real hard and see the outline of the scoreboard just fine, thank you very much. Lie. Somehow (thank you, Jesus!) I didn't have to get the goggles. I think I appealed to the waste of money it would be...smart girl, eh?

That was many moons ago, friend, but my eyesight has been steadily failing on me ever since. I am now legally blind without my contacts. Yet, I still haven't caught up to my Mom. Wow.

You may be wondering how this all fits into my current situation. After all, I have socially recovered from the “double ugly” (for the most part) and am many removed from the potential of winning the Kareem Abdul Jabaar look-a-like contest. So, what gives?

Well, I will tell you. This morning isn’t just any ol’ morning. This morning, is a big morning along this medical road I’ve been (reluctantly) traveling. I have another appointment with UT Southwestern Research Hospital...this time with the OBGYN. No...I am not even going there with any of the stirrups jokes. I am still in denial about that part of my day, thank you very much. I am, however, hoping this doctor, whom I have met before and was impressed with, will be able to help us figure out what else could still be wrong with me.

But, I am doing my very best not to get my hopes up. Hard to do, but I'm trying. In order to prepare my heart, I started my day like I have started almost every day for the past few weeks. I went outside to my backyard...my haven...in the still quiet moments of the early morning. Long before anyone needed their Cheerios poured or their hineys wiped, I escaped outside and laid down on my patio couch. And then I did it. I slowly removed those once dreaded spectacles off my face. These things I absolutely loathed having to get some 20 years ago and now I can't much make it the bathroom without. I removed them, rubbed my eyes a minute, blinked repeatedly…and then I just…stared.

I stared out into my backyard full of trees and I just…sat…still. When I do this, my environment immediately becomes a huge blur. For those of you with good vision (i.e. the "cool kids") you may not know what this feels like. But, for the rest of us, this blur is our constant reality. For me, I can barely even tell that there are any trees in my backyard. Honestly, I have probably ninety gigantic oak trees scattered throughout my backyard, and without my glasses, I can barely even see to distinguish even one of them. It is all a blurry mess of green and brown and sunlight. Yes, friend, in my backyard sunlight is its very own color.

I know the wind is blowing the leaves, but not because I see them moving. In fact, I have to squint real hard to even be able to tell the leaves are there. I surely can't distinguish one tree from another, much less one leaf from another.

Then, it hits me.

Just like God always does.

This is how I see things. This is my vision of my life.

All muddled, unclear, not fully known, misunderstood. Blurry doesn’t even begin to cover it. And today of all days, I am thankful for this Truth: God sees perfectly. Today especially I thanked God that He knows my life and my world so clearly. (1 Cor. 13:12) I only know in part, He knows fully. I can't even tell that these giants are trees, friend. Yet He knows every single striation of every single leaf out there. If one falls and gets trampled underfoot, He knows it. He not only sees the wind clearly as it waves each leaf, I am pretty sure I remember reading something about Him halting that very same wind.

So, I talked to Him for a while about my fears, my insecurities, and my desire to see more clearly than I do. I reminded myself that today's appointment may go well, and it may not. Either way God is good. Either way, I still only see a muddled, blurry mess. I cannot control that. And friend, neither can you.

I then... put on...my glasses (insert a few bars of the Hallelujah chorus!) and instantly, I can see again! It’s a darn near miracle.

And right then, I mean, that very second, I thanked God that this is how He sees each moment of my day; with absolute perfect clarity. I am so thankful for that. Now...here's praying I remember that all day today...on the loooong drive to the hospital...in the stirrups...in pain and out of pain…receiving good news or the other kind of news. He sees clearly. I do not. He has this all taken care of. I need not worry. (Matthew 6)

And friend, the same goes for you. I don’t care if you have had 20/20 vision your entire life or if you were like my Mom, and could hardly see your own toddler hand waving in front of your face. We are all blind. Even when we think we can see; we can’t. We absolutely need to rely on the only One who can. Trust Him. Believe Him. Surrender to Him. And I will try to do the same. We are in this together!

He sees all there is to see. And that is all you and I need to know.

Thank you, God. Thank you. For your vision, your perfection, your wisdom, your everything. And, in the spirit of full honesty, thank you for sparing me from the sports goggles, too. J