Thank You

 

Every day you work hard to provide for our family but that’s not what makes you amazing.

You get down on the floor to wrestle, change the princess dresses, play hockey in the drive and run around the playground but that’s not what makes you a terrific father.

You help me demonstrate every single day what a loving, healthy marriage looks like, that fun and love, apologies and respect are all part of the daily give and take but that’s not the thing that makes you such a titan among dads.

What makes you the example I thank the Lord daily for is the bible verses in your email, it’s the passion for understanding God’s will, it’s the desire to do what he calls even when it’s not what you “want”.

Our children are so blessed to have you, science can show the impact of a father on almost every area of a person’s life from self esteem to education and earning potential but it can not quantify the impact a Christ following father has on eternity. The seeds you are sowing in our family will sow seeds in their families and so on through the generations. I am thankful for the quanitifable impact you have on our kids but more so for the things that can’t be seen, those are the true treasures.

 

Finding Beauty in the Mess: Week 1

At my Momtourage group (a group for moms of preschoolers) this past week we were challenged to try and find the beauty each day in the mess of life and parenting (because it’s always a little messy but with the right perspective it’s always beautiful too!). I’m better with accountability so for the next 4 weeks I am going to try and reflect on the week to see some beauty that might have otherwise been hidden. Hopefully, this can encourage you to do the same.

My son has become increasingly independent since he turned four, trying to do things on his own he’s never tried. Sometimes it’s great…sometimes it means my husband finds two ziploc baggies containing: playdough, water, pompoms and miscellaneous items in his bedroom…one slightly leaking. He’d helped me make gel writing bags for preschool a few weeks ago and thought he and his sister would like some at home… he would have asked me for help if he hadn’t been so confident he could figure it out himself! He explained his ingredients (playdough, water to make it squishier, pom poms he thought would change the color if they soaked in water and some pretty things since he didn’t have any glitter).

I could have gotten mad at him for the mess and the waste and the sneaking them in his room but I instead looked at his intentions. He truly thought he could surpise me when he made these cool pouches for him and his sister, his heart was in a beautiful place. I laughed at his attempt before throwing them away and promising we would buy more hair gel to make our own next week.  I love this sweet, creative and independent side of him, in fact just writing this made me smile then give him a big hug again.

There is always beauty in the mess. Today of all days I remember that, what happened 14 years ago was ugly and horrible but from the ashes rose so many beautiful acts of love and compassion, they don’t change the damage but they give us hope.

Look for the beauty in the mess this week.  

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Why I’m Never Busy

I used to always be busy. Always. I was a full time nanny 55 hours a week getting my degree at night and trying to see my husband occasionally still 😉 Then I was a mom and kindergarten teacher with a home and husband. For years when someone asked me how it was going chances are I would respond with some variation of “busy but good”. It was, it was always hectic somehow. Then before I got pregnant with my 2nd God convicted me to slow down. I was reading scripture and realizing that busy is often the enemy of the Christian. Sure, it is glorified in society, if your not busy you risk being labeled as lazy, spoiled, selfish… But busy can keep you from what’s really important: relationships, gratitude, joy, love. In 2012 I set a goal for myself to live what I called a “God-paced” life knowing it would be a difficult journey with no actual destination. I would never arrive no matter how far I came. That comforted me instead of discouraging me, because in a destination-less journey as long as you are moving forward you are on track, there is no timetable to race against, there is only one way to fail: not trying.

I began to say no to things I used to agree to out of guilt, time suckers that were harmless enough alone but piled onto the balance of my life they could tip the scale and drag me down. I put quality time with my child ahead of housework or other obligations and time with God ahead of time with facebook or the tv knowing they would still get done at some point. I was feeling myself grow spiritually as I stopped feeling rushed and frazzled. I made a conscious effort not to say busy, hectic or any other synonym when asked about my life, instead trying real answers.

Then I got pregnant. How could I balance prepping for maternity leave, working, family and pregnancy… how would I stay unbusy with two kids?!? Was that even possible?

I found it was.

I had to work at it and I slipped up still occasionally allowing “busy” to take center stage again. But mostly I found I could do it, I could drink in the opportunities with my students, my kids, my husband and say no to the extra stuff… I could feel… not busy.

When I first started staying home in the summer of 2014 I felt busy creep back in. I NEEDED to make sure the kids had enough playdates and social interaction and of course dinner and the house must be perfect since it’s my whole job now and what about volunteering and teaching sunday school and helping in Awana and maybe I should sell something to help appease my guilt supplement our income…

Wait!!!! I had to all but yell at myself.

God. Paced. Life.

Going at a pace that allows me to praise the Lord, to see the opportunities he puts in my path, to enjoy all God has given me.

I can’t do that at break neck speed. I can’t do that racing through life just to check it off my list. Life can not be a to-do list.

It took a few months but I righted the ship and found myself again reveling in the life God has given me, the people he has placed in my life and the opportunities to minister to others that I had never noticed were SO ABUNDANT around me.

I run a preschool co-op, we go on playdates, we go to church and Awana, I’m in a mom group, I volunteer, I make dinners and clean my house and grocery shop I even go on dates occasionally and have nights out with friends but… i’m not rushing, i’m not rushed. I remind myself that the timelines we set are just that timelines WE set and I don’t need to do everything all the time instead I just want to be PRESENT where I AM.

Our summer has had as many days of playing for hours in the yard as it has had adventures, i’ve spent countless hours watching my kids skip rocks in the creek, hiking through trees, hunting ants in the grass…all very important stuff, not stuff to push off because I need to get to the grocery store. I have seen chances to offer kindness to strangers, expecting nothing in return, to be thoughtful toward my friends, to pray more, to read more, to love more; these are the things I am working on. I’m never busy. If you ask me to help you, to meet you, to talk to you I can almost always find a way because i’m not busy and i’m proud of it.

  “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  FOR WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?  It is even a VAPOR that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”          James 4:14-15

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“I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;  also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

Not all Fathers are dads, Not all Dads are Fathers

Some fathers aren’t dads. They are men who biologically help create life but their contribution to your upbringing is inconsistent or nonexistent.

Some dads aren’t fathers they may come to you by marriage, adoption or happenstance but they are the men who are there teaching, guiding and helping you grow.

Some dads have children you can’t see hidden in wombs or heaven or missing and lost. Dads are always dads even when they can’t hold their children.

I am thankful that my husband is both. He is the father of our children but so much more than that he is their daddy. He is the one they drop everything to run and tackle when he comes home from work. The one they want to hold them when they are scared. He would work five jobs to feed them, take a bullet to save them and embarrass himself to make them smile.

Everyday he is painting a picture, however imperfect because of our humanity, of our Heavenly Father’s love for them. He is showing them that he will always be there for them, love them and try to help them so how much more do those things ring true for God?

I am so thankful for him and all the other Dads out there.

Happy “Father’s” Day! 

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The Milestones We’d Rather Not Reach

Parents love milestones, some get way too into them, everyone worries a little about them and most talk or brag just a smidge once they have been achieved. First tooth, first step, first word, potty trained, abcs, counting, reading, shoe tying, the list could go on and on with landmark first events that remind us our kids are growing up.

But some of the milestones are silent and maybe even painful. The first time they turn down a kiss or hug, the last time they say a word that cute incorrect way, or the first time they aren’t accepted.

At some point someone is going to reject your child and they may not even notice. But you will. They may notice and not care. But you will. They may care and do something about it. It will still hurt you.

Maybe your child isn’t invited to a party you see their friends at on facebook, maybe they are left out of play, maybe they are the only ones that don’t get asked on playdates, it can be a million things. What I can guarantee you is that it will hurt you, quite possibly more than your child.

Some parents may be spared this milestone for years, it may even seem a charmed few somehow skip it but if you are the parent of a quirky child you will probably see this one early…and maybe often.

My son mentioned that a subset of his friends at a weekly event we attend always say he’s the “bad guy” and run away from him. He asks them if he can play with them but they continue to pretend he’s a bad guy and run from him. He’s a little quirky, socially a little anxious, often dressed in costumes, refuses to pretend to like things he doesn’t and unapologetically loves the things he loves. These traits make him an interesting human being, they make me proud that he knows who he is and embraces the way God made him …and they make him stick out in a group of preschoolers.

At this age most kids just want to do what their friends are doing, they want to be liked and if there are bigger kids (like these boys) around they want to seem “cool”. 4-6 is a hard age because for the first time they begin to struggle with who they are and who they think they ought to be to be “popular” (thus why being a copycat is such an issue at this stage). My son won’t pretend to like scary movies or hide the fact he still loves Elmo and Mickey and it’s not going to earn him fans in an age group where conformity is the standard.

Does he care that the same kids exclude him every week? Yes, he tells me so.

Does it hurt his feelings? A little.

Is he willing to be someone else so they will like him more? No.

Does my heart hurt for him? Yep.

Do I wish I could fix it? Yes.

Will I? No, because he will be dealing with shallow people his whole life and the more practice he has the better.

So we’ve reached the first time my child has really been rejected and I am certain there are a lifetime more ahead but I am thankful that he is strong enough person already to let it roll off his back and pray he continues to for years to come. It’s not a milestone you’ll find in a scrapbook, you won’t treasure the memory but it will come just the same.

And someday my child will probably unintentionally help some other kid reach this milestone too, I pray they too continue to be who they are in the face of rejection.

Where Have All the Good Dads Gone?

Society has a tendency to portray dads as unintelligent, expendable goofballs who make a nice addition to a family but really aren’t necessary. But what does the Bible say and is it attainable?

I am by no means qualified to discern the primary responsibilities of a father from scripture so I am using going to share a list from Pastor Scott Harris of Grace Bible Church in NY, you can read the full context here. For my purposes I am pasting the list, I feel that provides a nice overview of the basics of a biblical father.

Now here is where it gets tricky. Is this attainable? I myself grew up in a home of multiple divorces from each parent so my relationships, not only with my father, but with my stepfathers also, were sporadic at best and they did not fulfill many if any of these items. Luckily I have a another personal guinea pig, my husband. So I am going to analyze his fulfillment of each one.

1. Provide for his family (Mt. 7:9-11 Tim 5:8)

I am now a stay at home mom, nuf said. He is willing and able to work enough that our family can exist with me home caring for our children. Even before this he has always worked and provided, not just our needs but most of our wants as well. When the bottom fell out of our economy and he was laid off for a year (before we had kids) he actively sought new work the entire time.

2. Instruct his children (Prov. 1:8)

My husband teaches our son everyday in direct and indirect ways. Directly, like when my son gets 3 year old frustrated and decides to speak angrily to me I know I will hear my husband step in lovingly  “Joel that’s not how we talk to Mama, you need to….” or indirectly, like showing him how to respond to people in need (running back across the parking lot to open the door for a man with a walker even though we didn’t see him until we were almost at our car because that’s the right thing to do and convenience should not be considered).

3. Exhort, encourage and implore children (1 Thess 2:11)

My son’s biggest fan may be Mommy but his biggest cheerleader is Dad. My husband is always there to encourage Jidge whether things get hard or he’s already excelling.

4. Punish unruly children (Dt. 21:18-21) & 6. Discipline his children (Heb 12:7)   *I am combining his two because they seem pretty similar to me. *

I am with our children more so I handle the day to day punishment (and honestly at this point in their lives our little ones still don’t need alot since the oldest has a usually teachable spirit and the youngest is an infant). But when the situation warrants or when I am not being given proper respect by a boundary testing preschooler I can count 100% on my husband backing me up, stepping in, whatever is needed.

5. Raise the children in the discipline and nurture of the Lord without provoking them or exasperating them causing them to lose heart (Eph. 6:4;Col. 3:21)

Without ever raising his voice or losing his cool he encourages and nurtures a curious, strong willed preschooler, enduring the neverending questions about God and life, laughing at the jokes that don’t yet make sense and gently guiding him away from paths and choices that would bring harm.

7. Love his wife (Eph 5:25,28,33)

I admittedly make this difficult at times I am certain and yet he unfailingly loves and me and reminds me with his actions of my worth as a redeemed member of the body of Christ. (Plus he makes me feel pretty 🙂 )

 

So I declare that despite the weighty list of responsibilities placed on a father I am seeing it lived out daily and biblical fatherhood is attainable and realistic. I am so thankful to have a husband who relies on the power of our heavenly Father to be a husband father.

 

Comment with why your husband or father  is one of the “good ones”.

 

Happy Father’s Day my dear 🙂

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The Impracticality of Pumping

I will be a stay at home mom in a few days but for the first 3+ years of my son’s life (2 of which he nursed) and 6 months of my daughter’s I have been a working mom. A working mom who breastfeeds exclusively. Which of course means pumping. Pumping is time consuming, inconvenient and at times awkward.

I am so blessed because I have the most ideal pumping situation possible yet even then it is a total hassle. Let me explain. I work at a school located in a church which means down the hall from the education wing is a nursery which is deserted during the week and has a private nursing curtain with rocking chairs and natural light filtering in from the windows. It’s pretty perfect. I am a Kindergarten teacher which means my specials are half an hour though so  the one half hour break I have each day to lesson plan is spent racing down there, setting up my pump, cleaning up, labeling and storing milk in a cooler in the staff freezer. If I’m really lucky I have time to go to the bathroom! The other time of day I pump is on my lunch break which of course means scarfing my food down and racing down the hall.

It also means my planning needs to occur before and after school on my “own” time. It means sometimes I am making the long walk from the nursery to the staff room with milk bags in my hands when I awkwardly encounter students or adults. It means occasionally I leak through my shirt. It means I get really uncomfortable if my body doesn’t want to wait for my pumping break. It means my poor husband has had to drive 30 minutes each way to bring the pump I forgot at home on more than one occasion. It means remembering to take milk bags to school with my little pranciss everyday.

So why do it?

I know breastmilk is better for them but I also know formula is pretty close so that’s not a good enough reason for me. I know it’s free but my time is worth something to so that’s not why (although let me tell you with our insurance providing the pump and milk bags for kid #2 it has literally been FREE not a dime ya’ll!).

I do it because the bonding experience I get while nursing my sweet little angels in the silence of 2am, or under a cover at the zoo for that matter, is so amazing.  There are tons of ways to bond with your kids so if you can’t nurse (or I guess don’t want to) then take heart but if you are a fellow mother like me who just truly enjoys nursing your kids, including those bleary eyed night feedings woohoo sister it’s something special ain’t it!

So yes pumping is an impractical pain but, for me, it is more than worth it!

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