Tuesday, June 7, 2011

home sweet home

I have a goal this summer. I want to stay home. You say, "But you're a stay-at-home mom! Staying home is in your job description!" Alas, I am the least stay-at-home of all stay-at-home moms.

I love my home. I love my children. I love entire days. Put those three things together, and it's my nightmare.

I can probably count on one hand the number of days that I have stayed home all day. I take my children out, somewhere, every day. The grocery store, the other grocery store, the library, the park. Sometimes, we just drive down the street to the coffee shop.Sometimes, we just drive.

At some point, in the middle of the messes and babbling and screaming matches, I feel the overwhelming need to escape. I feel like I have three options: put the kids on the curb (free to a good home only, of course), lock them in their rooms with hamster feeders, or pack them into the car and go somewhere.

Now, there's nothing necessarily wrong with this habit, but it's been impressed on my spirit that I need to make some changes. We need to spend more time at home, period. I need to create a routine and a rhythm that uses more of the hours in our day in better ways. We need a less frantic pace. I need way less time listening to whiny, fussy, bickering children who are whiny, fussy, and bickering because their trapped in their car seats for too long.

Last night, I made the mistake of sharing this with my Bible study girls. I say mistake, because once it's out there, these women will hold me accountable to it. Darn them. So today, I devoted myself to trying it out, this stay-at-home thing.

Well, it's 3:49, and I'm freaking exhausted.

In the hours between Eli's 6:15 rise-and-shine (curse you, summer sunrise!) and when I plopped them into their beds for naptime, we did art projects, baked a pie, played in the backyard, put together our train set, and played the world's most frustrating game of Memory. Doesn't sound like much to you? Factor in the messes - my children get into EVERYTHING. Lucas is a champion dumper of all things in boxes. Add to that the 87,000 arguments that my children get into in the course of a day. Add to that the cacophony of wooden spoons on pots (net loss: 3 wooden spoons). And on top of it all, I actually managed to squeeze in a few chores. And I blogged! And I didn't escape. Okay, I escaped once, first thing, to get some coffee, but that barely counts. A girl needs her drug.

But here's what I loved about today: My kids were happier. We've been dealing with a lot of whiny, grumpy attitude from Eli lately, and so much bickering between the boys. Today was better. Our pace was slower, so I felt like I could actually stop what I was doing and give them the attention they needed in the moment. And it helped!

I certainly don't plan to stay home all day, every day. It's summer, after all! There are parks to be played at! And there are errands that simply must be run. But I'm going to try, really try, to build the rhythm of our days around what we can find to do in our very own little home. And who knows? Kid #2 might actually get potty-trained before kindergarten!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Happy birthday, my Little Lion Man. Can't imagine our world without you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

on my own

Ben is out of town this weekend, on a retreat to Sunriver with some of the awesome manly men of our church. He is snowboarding and skiing and snowmobiling, having (I hope) a fantastically wild-at-heart kind of time.

On the homefront, I have again proven to be a less than model single parent. On the plus side, I have made blueberry pancakes, cleaned house, and taken my boys on some sort of adventure each day. I let them stay up late and watch movies and read books and cuddle. On the minus side, I yelled - yes, yelled - at Eli to "SHUT UP!" in the car today. I actually had to pull over, get out, and apologize because, seriously? That is some weak self control right there (good teachable moment, though). Also, I've gotten take out two nights in a row and made numerous trips to Baskin Robbins (darn you, drive-thru!). So, not my absolute finest use of a weekend, but not terrible, all things considered.

(And in my defense, I recently discovered that I am severely anemic, so I'm considering it a major victory that I have gotten dressed each day, let alone anything else.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

papa's house

We spent a week visiting my parents in Idaho. In Eli's eyes, the sun rises and sets on Papa. For weeks leading up to our visit, Eli would tell any available pair of ears all about his Papa's house, where the following things exist: cars, trucks, coffee, a waterfall, candy canes, Grandma, cookies, and a race car bed.

We got to enjoy some surprise snow while we were in town, and the boys loved playing in my sister's giant yard. My dear, devoted dad pulled them around and around on his old wooden sled. Luke seemed a little nonplussed by it all, but then again, Luke often seems unimpressed by the world. He wears a funny expression a lot of the time that seems to say, "What else have you got?"

My dad, who is awesome in many ways, is particularly great at building things for his grandsons. The bookcase in Eli's bedroom, the race car bed, a giant wooden hippo (don't ask), and this time, a real wooden soapbox car. The kids were over the moon about having a real racecar to "drive" around the neighborhood.

As much as I love my children (and parents), for me, the highlight of the week was leaving them for three days to hole up in a cabin with six of my dearest friends. Four of us have been friends from birth, and all of us from early childhood. We have seen each other through every imaginable stage of growing up, and share an extraordinary bond. These girls have loved me through every awkward, obnoxious, and painful season of my life, and I know how unique it is to still have their friendship. The rare occasions when we can all gather together for a weekend away are precious beyond words.

I love having a home to go home to. I am thankful for parents who are joyfully married after forty-plus years, for the quiet little town that never changes beyond recognition, and for the sweet relationships that still tie me to it. I have roots, deep roots, and I love them.

15 things - whoa, i am behind

I've been awol for two weeks, so I'm just slightly behind on my great 15 days of blogging. Let's just pick up where I left off, with...

Day 10 - Songs I listen to when I am:

Happy - anything that helps me tell my Savior how glad I am to be His. I love the song "I'm Singing" by Kari Jobe. And "You Are My Joy" by David Crowder Band (must turn up VERY loud). And "Happy" by Aiesha Woods, if I want to dance around to a really cheesy song.

Sad - Hmm... not the songs I should listen to. I like to indulge my melancholy side once in awhile. I think the technical term is "wallow." Lately my favorite sad sack song is "Blood Bank" by Bon Iver, but also every other Death Cab for Cutie song.

Bored - I literally cannot remember the last time I was bored. Exhausted, yes. Maybe listless, but only if I'm avoiding my mile-long list of things to do. If I ever find myself bored again, I'll break out the Hallelujah Chorus.

Hyped - I really don't know what that's supposed to mean. But, on those rare occasions when a run feels really, really good, and I feel really, really energized and pumped about how good it feels (and how totally awesome I probably look doing it), I bust out one of my current favorites - Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People. Seriously, you must find it, and listen to it, and love it. It's streets ahead, people.

Mad - I don't usually listen to music if I'm mad about something. The imaginary conversations I'm having with the object of my anger tend to be pretty distracting.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

15 things - days 7, 8, 9

Day 7- A picture of someone/something that has had the biggest impact on you

These little people have changed my life in every way possible, for the very best.

Day 8- Short term goals for this month and why

1. Roast a whole chicken. Because I've always wanted to try it. Because on Top Chef they are always roasting chickens and talking about how amazing the the crispy browned skin is. Because I envision the whole process: glass of wine, favorite cooking music, the deep satisfaction I get from chopping fresh herbs, and the even deeper satisfaction of making something absolutely delicious.

2. Run three miles with at least one kid in the stroller. To date, I've managed two, with serious concern for my cardiovascular health. I can do 6, maybe 7 by myself, so it seems ridiculous.

3. Get my garage under control. It's still half full of boxes, most of them rummaged through and left for dead. It's a nightmare.

Day 9- Something you're proud of in the past few days

I cooked the chicken! And guess what? Chicken skin, no matter how crispy and brown, makes me want to puke. Also, I couldn't hear my favorite cooking music over the mind-numbing whine and wail of my two-year-old, who hates dinner-making time in a violent way. But the chicken itself was delicious, so, WIN.

a servant heart

On Friday, I had the privilege of taking part in our church's annual Women's Night of Prayer. This year, 650 women came together to pray, worship, and seek the Lord for six hours straight, from midnight to 6 a.m. It's an amazing time, and without a doubt, the world is changed because of it.

I had signed up to help out, expecting to be asked to help set up or clean up, or maybe greet at the door. Instead, I was asked to be on "the kitchen team." Now, you have to know that at our church, nothing is done halfway. The midnight breakfast served at this event isn't just bagels and fruit. It's bagels and fruit, and biscuits and gravy, and scrambled eggs, and homemade cinnamon rolls dripping in caramel sauce, and bowl after bowl of munchies, and... you get the picture. We are seriously spoiled. So being asked to help prep, serve, and clean up meant missing most, if not all of the event.

I was torn. Actually, I wasn't torn. I didn't want to do it. I decided to ignore the email and pray about it. So I prayed, "Lord, I don't want to do this. Tell me I don't have to, okay?" Or something along those lines.

After asking Him many, many times, He answered: "If you have to keep asking, I think you have your answer. If you want to be a servant, start serving."

You see, I've prayed for years for more of a servant's heart. Sure, I serve. I joyfully pour myself out for my family. I'm happy to bring dinner to a friend with a new baby. I'm glad to spend a few extra hours at church to help with Sunday School twice a month. But give me an opportunity to serve that presents the teensiest inconvenience, and I'm out.

I realized that this was just such a "feet to faith" opportunity. I said yes, but to be honest, I struggled with my attitude all week. I like to be in the mix. I hate the feeling of missing out. I imagined myself scrubbing dishes in the kitchen, hearing faint strains of worship and feeling hugely bummed that I wasn't a part of it.

As I was fretting and stewing about it, God brought me to Philippians 2:14: "Do everything without complaining or arguing." The ESV puts it as, "Do all things without grumbling or questioning." (I know this verse well, as I recite it to my son about a kajillion times a week.) It certainly applied to my attitude. I was complaining about the calling, questioning whether I should really obey.

Fortunately, when God shows us where we fail, He also shows us how to be better. God taught me that my obedience was empty if my attitude was rotten. He took me back to last year, when I staggered into the Night of Prayer needing to soak up every ounce of love and wisdom and presence I could possibly get, and how I was absolutely lavished with love. And He showed me how, in so many ways since then, He's been equipping me to pour out the same love onto someone else.

And so, by His grace, I marched into that kitchen armed with a new, humble, thankful heart. I took on Colossians 2:23 as my mantra: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as unto the Lord." I wrestled frozen sausages, mopped up spilled juice, refilled coffee, and scrubbed dirty dishes with a deep-down joyful spirit. A few times during the night, as I listened to the beautiful worship of so many Godly women, that "Aw, man" attitude started to creep back in. And each time, I surrendered that emotion, and joined right in the singing.

I know there are people who are naturally servants. I see them all the time, or don't see them, as they work tirelessly behind the scenes, out of the spotlight, in whatever way they are called. I am not one of those people. But I want that kind of heart. And so God, in his loving, gentle way, is building one for me.

Oh, and one more thing. Find the person who cleans the coffee pots after church each Sunday, and thank them. Profusely.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

15 things - days 5, 6

Day 5: A picture of somewhere I've been

I love this picture, although it makes me long for the days of spontaneous travel, available credit, and skinny legs. Florida was a favorite destination when we lived in Indianapolis. Tickets were cheap, and it was a great escape for us poor landlocked beach lovers. Our favorite spot to visit was the Fort Myers area, and we loved to drive out to Sanibel Island and comb its famous beaches.

Day 6: My favorite superhero and why


I got nothing.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

15 things - day 3

So, today should be a picture of me as a child. I have the ultimate picture, but I have to find it. And find the cord to the scanner. Which hasn't been located since we moved. So, it might happen on day 15. But when it does, it will be epic.

I'll do day 4 instead: A habit I wish I didn't have.

I have a number of bad habits, or at least annoying, non-productive habits. But the one that's really bugging me lately is my bedtime routine. I used to read actual books before bed, but lately I've been addicted to catching up on a number of blogs before I can go to sleep. I might be struggling to keep my eyes open, but I just can't put the phone down. And they aren't important, character-building blogs, either. They're pretty much useless crap. So thank you, Steve Jobs. You've ruined my literacy.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Poor, poor Lucas B.

This little darling has so suffered from Second Kid Syndrome. Even in utero, he got the short end of the stick. He was my percocet baby, because when you have migraines every day and a toddler to care for, you take drugs. Well, I did.

The first year of Lucas' life passed by in a complete blur. I struggled so much just to function with two kids. I didn't spend hours on end laying on the couch, just holding my baby (like I did with Eli). Couple that with the fact that Lucas, from a very early age, was a non-cuddler. He loved to be held, but hated to be held close and snuggled. He wanted to be upright and looking out. And as soon as he was mobile, he took off and never looked back.

So it has taken me by enormous surprise to realize that my sweet little baby boy is suddenly a toddler. I blinked, and suddenly he was rounding the bend to two. Talking non-stop (although, still can't understand a word he says), catching a ball, asking for labels (window? outside? cow? - which all sound like "flargaflafel"), and exercising his considerable sense of humor. He's already a little comedian and will do anything for a laugh.

For the longest time, Lucas refused to be read to - wouldn't sit still for a book if you paid him to. One night a few weeks ago, he brought me a book, sat in my lap, and opened it up. He sat for the whole book! Then he brought another one! My little teacher heart went flippy floppy and I immediately upgraded his educational potential from community college to Ivy League. And, just as I suspected, as I read more with him, he is finally making some actual words. The cow says "Boo," by the way.

I know that as mommies, we don't like to pretend that feel the same way about one of our children as the next. But the truth is, I felt kind of disconnected from Lucas for a long time. He was a needy baby and has the most obnoxious whine you've ever heard. He wasn't hard to love, he just wasn't as easy to
like as Eli had been. So the best part of Luke's transformation into a toddler is that I like him so much better. Is that terrible? Well, it's true. I feel closer to him, more connected, and enjoy being with him more than I ever did when he was a baby. He is fast developing his own personality, and I love getting to know him as a little person. He's silly, funny, intelligent, and very lovey. Now, he loves to cuddle, and I can't get enough.

I do, however, worry a bit if we have a third kid. What does third kid syndrome look like - I call him "Three" and stick him in his crib with a hamster feeder?

15 things - day 2

The meaning behind my blog name:

This blog is a work in progress. I'm a work in progress. That's about it.

How boring.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

15 things - day 1

A recent picture of me:

I love that kid.

15 "interesting" things about me. I use the word "interesting" loosely.

1. I have a serious ice cream habit. If it gets in my head, I cannot not get some.
2. I can't go to sleep without reading gawker.com.
3. I'm not nearly as fit as I look with my clothes on.
4. I have very detailed, specific daydreams about furniture.
5. I know all fifty state capitols. It doesn't help me out in life AT ALL.
6. I really want a daughter but I think my life is going to be all boys.
7. I don't enjoy playing with babies.
8. My favorite animal is an otter.
9. I'm great at starting projects and terrible at following them through.
10. My ultimate dream vacation destination is the Seychelles Islands.
11. I tend to be late, flaky, and forgetful. I try to make up for it with my charm and wit.
12. I'm exhausted, and I can't think of anything else. So, 11 interesting things about me.

the spacious place

Yesterday was a Bad Day.

Nothing particularly bad happened, but the whole day was rotten. I felt terrible, with a migraine and a sick stomach, and a bad reaction to some medicine that left me feeling groggy and achy and pitiful. I needed my children to be silent and still. They weren't. Every noise, every bang or crash or yell or cry or whine produced within a fifty-foot range was instantly on my nerves. I was short-tempered and ungracious. And no matter how many times I took a deep breath, asked God to change my attitude and put a guard over my mouth, it didn't take. You know how sometimes, your child is just kind of a pill, for no good reason? Yesterday, that was me.

It didn't get any better, and I put the kids to bed cranky, and Eli was up SIX TIMES during the night with the most ridiculous "needs" (I saw a baby squirrel in my room! I need a tissue for my boogie nose! You made me feel sad yesterday!). At one point I actually sat down on the edge of the bathtub (during his third middle-of-the-night attempt to poop), and started bawling. "You're not letting me sleeeeeep!!" I wailed. To my three-year-old.

But this morning, as I dragged my weary self out of bed and hauled Eli off to school, I was reminded of a favorite verse in 2 Samuel:
"He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delights in me." It dawned on me that, seemingly out of nowhere, I feel better.

I'd been walking through this dark, dry, desert place for so long, believing and knowing that God was working, but not feeling it. I knew that eventually, he would bring my emotions and sense of well-being into alignment with the truth he was teaching me - that how I feel would catch up with what I know. And you know what? He has! I am beginning to see the fruit of all he has been doing. I am actually able to look back - which means, I have moved forward. Out of the desert.
He has brought me out into a spacious place. I can breathe. I can rejoice. Heck, I can dance like a crazy person. There's plenty of room.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the schedule

I've had an idea rolling around in my head since before Christmas, and yesterday I finally sat down and did it. I made a daily schedule. For me, and my kids. At home. I know, I know. It kind of sounds ridiculous, right? I swore I would never become "that" stay-at-home-mom (might as well start saying SAHM, since this is such a very SAHM-ish thing to do). My parenting style is pretty laid-back, so actually scheduling the mundane activities of our day seemed restrictive and uptight and... well, unnecessary.

But God has been teaching me (read: DRILLING into me) to be moldable, teachable, and obedient. So last fall, when I noticed that I was wasting a tremendous amount of time during the day, and that I rarely actually sat down and played with my kids, and that Eli wasn't learning his letters and numbers as quickly as I expected, I began to ask God if he wanted me to change. Turns out, he kind of did. (Shoot.) I came across this verse:

"His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'" Mt 25:21.

And this one:

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart." Col. 3:23

Truth be told, I was slacking. Being a low-maintenance mommy, I have pretty low-maintenance kids. But I was getting frustrated with them - a lot. I was impatient with their neediness. I was constantly behind on everything. I crashed into bed each night feeling deeply unsatisfied with how my day had gone, how much was left undone and how much was on my to-do list for tomorrow. I know this is a common state for most people, especially for a mom. But I knew God wanted more from me. He had more for me. More responsibility, yes, but also more blessing.

One day, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind a reminder of my past (short) life as a teacher. I wasn't a great teacher, but I was a pretty good one. And darn it, I was organized. I kept things running smoothly with a classroom of 20+ kids. Why, then, couldn't I run my own home the same way? Soon after, a wise friend shared how she schedules her day - every hour, every activity is accounted for. She homeschools, and has a child with special needs, so her schedule is ten times busier than mine. But the idea stuck.

So, the experiment begins. My schedule is loose, and I don't expect to ever follow it completely. The point is, it's there. It tells me to get up EARLY and have my quiet time before the chaos of the day. It gives me times to stop everything and devote my attention solely to my kids. It includes times for specific activities with Eli (and Lucas, by default) to work on his early language and math skills, because it's important to me. It even tells me when to do laundry, clean my bathroooms, and weed the garden. And every night, at 8:30, it says "RELAX."

Feel free to laugh out loud at my idea. Eye-rolling and "Girl, please" will be allowed. After all, we're already off schedule - it didn't tell me to spontaneously post on my blog with numerous interruptions to play elephant, referee, and Old Lady Who Really Wants Your Trains. But you know, that's the beauty of being a (gulp) SAHM.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

wednesday thoughts

It's a random-thought kind of day.

The sun is shining and there are two gorgeous blue jays sitting on my back fence. Oh spring, how you tease.

Two New Year's resolutions this year:

1. Start every morning in the Word. I'm embarrassed to say that I've never read through the entire Bible. In this season of life, I've learned that nothing - no devotional, no sermon, no worship song - can substitute for the life-shaping power of God's own words. So far, I'm keeping up with our church's Bible-in-a-year plan, although dragging myself out of bed an hour earlier is painfully hard to do. I quickly learned that trying to have this quiet time after Eli gets up is impossible - or at least, unfruitful. (Is that a word? Fruitless. There you go.) Yes, some days it feels more like a "to do" than a desire, but the more I dig into scripture the more God makes me hungry for it.

2. Eat (and feed my children) more fruits and vegetables. In my mind, I was going to make smoothies for myself and the kids a few times a week, sneak pureed veggies into some of my recipes, and ample fruits and veggies cut, packaged, and ready for snacking. In reality, I finally cut up said veggies today - the 20th day of the year. Oh, well. Baby steps.

Have been trying some new recipes out and really enjoying cooking lately. I made my first homemade pasta into ravioli (thank you, Top Cheftestant Fabio, for making this look so deceptively easy). I made a delicious soup - pasta e fagioli - that they serve at the Olive Garden. Prosciutto and sage and garlic and white beans and tomato - oh, so good. The problem with my cooking phases is that they rarely involve really healthy food. It's always the comfort foods (read: fattening) that grab my attention. Sauteed kale with olive oil? No thanks. Bacon mac-and-cheese? Bring it.

Two major victories in my house of late. After the longest potty-training battle in the history of parenting, Eli has finally begun to poop on the potty every day. Before bed. Without screaming. What magical bribery tool finally brought this about, you ask? Was it the multitude of Hot Wheels cars? Dips into the candy jar? Threats of bodily harm? No, it was stickers. Just... stickers. (And yes, we've tried stickers a few times in the past. Apparently my child is now "developmentally ready" for stickers.)

The other victory is that I haven't taken migraine medicine in over a week. That may not sound like much to you, but believe me, it's huge. I can hardly remember when I could go two days without a migraine. Who knows why or for how long it will last, but I'm just gonna go ahead and praise God.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

mr. personality

This kid.

He's coming up on four years old, and he is a Character. Eli has had personality to spare since he was a young toddler. He keeps me either in stitches or pulling my hair out. There's very little neutral with this one.

Eli isn't often outright naughty, but he is curious and mischievous. As any reader of my blog (or anyone within hearing distance) knows, he gets into trouble the moment your back is turned. The other night, around four in the morning, I woke up to a very quiet tap-tap-tapping on my door. "Eli?" I groaned. His little head poked through the door, and he informed me he needed to go potty. After putting him back to bed, I stumbled back to my room and noticed my broom leaning against the wall outside our door. "That's odd," I thought sleepily. "I don't remember sweeping the carpet before bed." I went downstairs for some water and on the way passed a random empty sake cup sitting on the bottom step. "Also odd," I murmured. "I don't remember drinking sake on my way to bed."

The next morning I noticed a few other strange things around the house. Another sake cup in the refrigerator. The pantry door left open, and the quarter-bag of chocolate chips from the pantry lying on the floor, empty. A pair of pajama pants stuffed into the coffee table drawer.
Someone had done a little exploring during the night.

Later that morning, Eli pointed to a glass measuring cup that was sitting out on the kitchen counter. The night before, it held a good amount of leftover balsamic vinaigrette, but now it was empty. "Mama?" said Eli with a mournful look on his face, "I dwank that chocowate miwk and it. did. not. taste. good."

Later still, we found the last sake cup in a drawer, with a bit of balsamic vinaigrette still in the bottom.

Eli definitely inherited his mommy's gift for words (which is a nice way of saying that he talks, endlessly, just like I did. Again, mom and dad,
I'm sorry.) I usually fall asleep and wake up to him babbling away in his room. He's developing a great imagination and loves to play with (and talk to) his stuffed animals. He already has a great sense of humor and we laugh together a lot - and at him a lot. I could, however, stand a fewer pee and poop jokes.

Oh, and he loves his little brother. A few months ago, he turned a 180 from trying to clobber Lucas at every turn to trying to (aggressively) hug him at every turn. Every time he says, "Wucas is my sweetie brudda," my heart melts a little.

Monday, January 3, 2011

a little tiny soap box

So, it occurs to me that the blog post I wrote late last night may have come across a little too transparent for those of my readers who prefer light-hearted "Guess what Eli said today?" posts. I hope that I didn't send anyone into a panic - I am not planning to jump off any bridges, and I don't need an intervention. One of my New Year's goals is to blog as often as possible - and that means that on some days, you will see the sunny side of my life, and on others, you will see something much more raw. The truth is, as women, especially as Christian women, we tend to live lives of great secrecy. We share the whole truth - the really ugly, scary thoughts and emotions - with very few people, if any. We are afraid to speak up when what we experience or what we feel isn't found in any Beth Moore book. And this? The shiny half-truth that we clothe ourselves in before we head off to church or work or play group or Target? It's a tool of Satan. I know, I know, nobody's comfortable tossing around the word "Satan." But he's real. He is the enemy. And this enemy of ours tells me that the Me who is content, self-controlled, faithful, gentle, and patient is the "Christian me." And the one who fails to live out the fruits of the Spirit is the sinner, and has to hide. But the truth is, it's all just me. I'm a real human being, and I live a real life. I swear when I drop something on my foot. I lose my patience with my kids when they whine and fight and make messes. I feel real things joy and sorrow, lightness and anger, hopefulness and hopelessness. Yes, I strive to live a life that pleases and glorifies the Lord. I try to be controlled by the Spirit and not by my emotions. I am quick to repent when I know I am hurting His heart. But my humanity does not make me a hypocrite. Please, don't believe that yours does, either.

I have two purposes in writing this blog. One, to encourage other women that they are not alone, even in their ugliest moments. That is why I try to write very transparently. Oh, I self-edit, of course. I do so to protect the people I love (because really, I swear a lot more than my mother-in-law thinks I do). But I see no need for another blog about another "perfect" Christian woman. I love to hear from readers who tell me they can "so relate" to what I've written. But even more important to me is to ultimately point you to Christ. I hope, and I pray that even when I let you see me at my weakest and lowest points, you will understand that I still have incredible, unexplainable joy and hope in the arms of my Savior. It's a tough balance to strike, and I know I fail at it often. Thanks for coming back anyway. Tomorrow, I promise, will be all about my cute kids.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

happy new year

I've been reflecting on the past year. This morning, I was thinking about a women's prayer night at our church last spring. I was given a verse that would prove to be a touchstone for a very hard year.

Ps 18:2: "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

If ever I've received a prophetic word from God, that was it. While the past year brought many moments of joy and laughter, it also brought some incredibly dark days. In 2010, I was overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, discouraged, or sad more often than I've ever been. I spent countless hours on my knees, praying for circumstances to change and mountains to move. I pored over scripture, asking for answers to problems I couldn't begin to solve. I sobbed, shouted, and pleaded with God over pain and sorrow that ran so soul-deep that I could sometimes barely breathe.

Most years are marked by lots of little battles (a protracted potty-training standoff, for example). But 2010 seemed like a different type of animal. Trial after trial headed our way, the desert season seemed endless, and I spent a good deal of the year feeling like I was drowning, or at best, furiously treading water.

I'll be honest. In 2010, God's most frequent answers were "No" or "Not yet." And while I was dying for a "Yes," aching to see him move, I clung to his promises, dug deeper into his word, and staunchly refused to give in or give up. I'd love to say that I was never shaken, but trust me, I shook. I trembled, and I faltered, and I got really angry and full of doubt and tried to hide from the One who I felt was most failing me. But that verse, that promise, stuck with me. "The Lord is my rock. My fortress. My deliverer. My stronghold." I couldn't shake that.

The turning of a new year didn't magically fix the holes in my boat. Did it for you? I think we all hope that January 1st will bring a fresh start to everything in our lives, but on January 2nd, we wake up to the same reality, with a new calendar. I know the coming year will have its trials, and while I pray for a way in the desert, I know that sometimes, life just... sucks. There's a reason that we're not home yet. But life in Christ, on the rock? That life is hope, and joy, and renewal. That is the life I look forward to, this year.