Daylight Savings Time and the ABC’s of Sexy

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Men taking selfies = not sexy. Its the hard truth. 

It is 8:49 a.m. on the Monday following Daylight Savings Time. I am in the house alone as the Mr. delivers all the children to school which leads me to a couple reflections before delving into the day’s madness.

  1. Daylight Savings Time is evil and whoever came up with it clearly did NOT have children because Every. Single. One. of my children were ridiculously off this morning. Spring Forward looks good because everyone slept till “7:15” but as it turns out it is NOT 7:15 it’s 6:15 and turns out their little bodies aren’t ready for school at 8:30 because it’s actually only 7:30 and…. You see this madness right? Bad idea. Next presidential election this better be one of the major debate points. While others are screaming BUILD THE WALL…this momma will shout “Can we just leave the space-time continuum alone please?!”
  2. Seventeen years of marriage and five children will radically redefine the word sexy for a person. My husband has always been fairly attractive but let me just say I was a little short-sided when I negotiated our marriage agreement. Fortunately my heavenly Father isn’t quite as short-sided and so He gave me the hook-up. Here’s a list of things that now have quite a bit more say in the sexy factor than I would have initially thought.

A. Doing the dishes

B. Enjoying children

C. Being a good listener

D. Not keeping score

E. Understanding weakness  instead of resisting or resenting it (this goes for self and others)

F. The ability to laugh

G. Being supportive of my frame, desires, and giftings

H. Being yourself

I. Praying

J. Not being able to talk about Jesus without crying

K. Doing projects together

L. Goals

M. The ability to readjust goals.

N. Staying engaged as a father

O. Kissing me when I look absolutely ridiculous (which is often)

P. Reading- firstly the scriptures and secondly to our children

Q. Showing care for the people I love

R. Building stuff. (I’m not sexist. In my home I tend to enjoy all the “manly chores” but men who know how to use tools to make something with their hands, even if it’s just a bird feeder. Can’t help it! That’s attractive.)

S. Working a job faithfully.

T. The ability to manage the house so me taking a break doesn’t come back to bite me.

U. Having strong male relationships.

V. Being a learner and a teacher. The ability to absorb and pass on skills, understanding, life-lessons.

W. I’m going to start making these up now because I’m almost to the end of the alphabet. Might as well finish.

X. Cooking supper.

Y. “Don’t worry about cooking babe. We’ll just order Chinese.”

Z. Thank you. Gratitude is always sexy.

 

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That Hurt Real Bad

 

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The One Straw to Rule Them All!

 

So, my eyeball is bleeding.

 

Really the morning had gone fairly well: several baskets of laundry sorted, oldest daughter in photo appropriate clothing with hair done, no major fights, new bunny acclimating well and I even got a shower. By all accounts it should have been a win, but the moment I said those fateful words “Kids, time to get in the car” there was a sharp uptick in the tension-o-meter. The second son did not feel he had gotten his allotted video game time and was now sitting in the chair sulking in a passive-aggressive heap. It wasn’t until informing him a few minutes later that he “now has consequences” that he decided it was worthwhile to move.

 

The youngest son seemed to be enthusiastically obeying, but was sidetracked by the floppy ears of the coonhound which suddenly needed to be scratched. I managed to get him out the door, but when I followed several minutes later, I found that he hadn’t made it pass the ice arena (previously known as our driveway) and despite my correction, did not feel like he needed to stop his ice smashing endeavors to get into the van.

 

The three year old opted for his example over her older sister’s (the only child actually obeying) and decided to play on the ice where she promptly discovered a bright blue twisty straw that has probably been lying dormant under the snow since December. Okay fine! I will physically pick these children up and move them to the car.

 

Depth perception has never been my strong suit. I got the little one to the van but when I leaned over to get her seat belt on I neglected to remember the bright blue twisty straw in her left hand. It was like those chess games where they announce each move…

 

“Child’s straw to mom’s eyeball. Check.”

 

And now mom is doubled over on the ice, bawling and afraid to open her left eye, all the while feeling guilty for the expletive that just rushed out of my mouth and manically waving for my small son to get in the van, rather than what he was doing which was trying to make sure I was okay. At this point the sulky son decides to weigh in by screaming at his brother to get in his seat and now my repressed anger at his previous attitude comes out in a blaze of fury and pain induced rage terminating in a foul “Shut up! Leave him alone.”

 

And now everyone is in pain and crying.

 

It was like a perfect five minute cross section to study sin nature. I could pull about three blogs from it without even digging. I was able to open my eye eventually. I delivered everyone to school before the bell rang and I would be forced to get everyone out of the van and walk each child in (something I’ve actually had nightmares about this week). I can see well enough to write this all down so I think I’m all good but I cried the whole drive this morning. I cried for their sin and I cried for mine. Parenthood teaches you a lot about God in a very direct way. The object lesson of the last two weeks has been the cost of disobedience. I cannot believe how much strife enters into our home because my children, in their folly, choose their own desires and opinions over the instruction of the one person on this planet who is completely devoted to their good. And everytime I want to rage at that, God simply whispers “Do you understand now? Do you see how I always have in mind your good even when it looks uncomfortable?”

 

It’s pretty understandable that I lost my gourd this morning. But it doesn’t mean it was profitable. There was a reason He tells me “be slow to anger, slow to speak…”. My disobedience this morning caused a lot of extra pain- a lot of extra strife. My anxious energy was even more at the root of what happened than my children’s disobedience. There’s a reason He says “do not be anxious for anything.” That command is there to protect me.

 

After I dropped of the kids I cried some more, but it wasn’t for my sin or theirs. It was for gratitude.

 

I didn’t obey perfectly today. There are very few days I do. And God is so so so merciful that He just redirects me and says, “Do you see? Okay. Let’s try again.” He’ll heal my eye. He’ll heal their hearts. He’ll give me wisdom to make things right and strength to do it differently next time. He just gives and gives and gives. He’s not put off by my weaknesses or failures. He’s even bigger than my insolence. He is a patient Father. Impossibly wise and infinitely kind.

 

And His flawless depth perception means He never stabs Himself in the eye with my twisty straw while manically trying to get me to school on time.

A pictures worth a thousand words… but I wrote them anyway.

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Big shout out to Alexander Fleming for accidentally making penicillin and to the obese American pharmacuetical industry who I innately distrust. I am thoroughly grateful for you today so that I can go on romanticizing my homeopathic idealism and get back to planning my off the grid organic homestead. Here’s to steriods and antibotics that are likely overpriced do to an insane insurance system which is no longer serving people! I toast you!    

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Meds Rock. Until they kick in I discovered that this rice cooker (which also makes delicious plain rice for unsettled tummies) is great for keeping water warm while putting compresses on ears for ear infections. LIFE HACK! 

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Despite 10 days of awful sickness and being pushed to my emotional limits My Father still found a way to continue my training in identity. Acceptence of my frame, giftings and continually renewing my mind regarding His will to and for me. This includes (within my home in particular) QUEENDOM! To reign is also to serve. It’s to love. It’s to wield greater power and greater consequences. It is to speak, instruct, command, defend, judge, discern and lead. And it means that I get this really cool throne! It’s my Mommy Throne! 

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Joy is not optional for a healthy life. It’s not optional for the Christian life. It is the strength defining reality that makes us any good to a lost and dying world. I’m not talking about pleasure in the way we think of pleasure. I’m talking about connecting with Joy! He is a person. He gives us strength. I do not know why but these dumb fish help me connect with Joy. I watch them swim totally other than me. No oxygen, no legs, no weight. They shimmer and shine by doing nothing. I wonder at His creativity and delight in the simplicity of His gifts. Seven little guppies, mediums of Eternal Joy. 

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Daniel Tiger’s Words to Live By: “When your sick. Rest is best. Rest is best.” (Always in song form)

 

 

 

Love, Romance and Playdough (In Soundbites)

I’ve been trying to be led by joy this year. Joy led me to make seventy-six handmade valentines and six large batches of homemade, scented playdough which were then cut out, stamped and individually packaged.
While I was manically scribbling “Love Never Fails” on pieces of sparkly paper my eleven year old weighed in saying, “Mom, I don’t think Valentines is about THAT kind of love.”
Me: “That is the only kind of love there is.”
Him: “No. What about you and dad?”
Me: “You’re talking about Romance. Romance is not love. It’s a feeling and it comes and goes. The only reason dad and I still have romance is because we first chose love.”
Him: “Oh”
Meanwhile my husband commended me on my hard word and enthusiasm. “I hope the kids appreciate it.” he added.
“They won’t” I replied with a smile. “I’ll be lucky if they even read the note and tomorrow the play-doh will be dried out in the corner of someone’s kitchen.” He looks at me inquisitively but I just keep smiling.
This is how God’s loves us; for the joy of it.
He knows that the vast majority of us will never see the value- will never get the message. But if even one child read my little note and was able to feel the words you are loved– my God… was the twelve containers of cream of tartar ever worth it!!! Yes. I would do it all again for one child to feel loved. And so would He.
The best records account for Valentine as a martyr. His life had nothing to do with romance. There’s not even evidence to suggest he was married. But He found something so worth while. He found something worth living and worth dying for. He found a Love that had lived and died for him, on the chance that maybe, just maybe he would notice.
I hope you find that kind of love today;
For the first time,
Or in a way that feels like the first time,
All over again.
Might Help You Remember – Reckless Love
And Since Romance Has Some Perks Too!  – Some of my favorite love songs. Not all of them but a couple.

Oh The Humanity!

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Recently I’ve come to two realizations. The first is that I’ve spent twenty years expecting my Christianity to cure me of my humanity. The second (and more sobering) is that rather than rid me of my human nature, I believe God’s intent has been to walk me down the steep, dark path straight into the middle of it.

To behold God is to know how very human we are.

To clarify, when I say humanity I am not talking about “sin”. Sin is the plight of humanity, not humanity itself. We were made fully human before we ever tasted of the knowledge of good and evil. To be human is not bad. Rather, it is the wisdom and creativity of God. But for all else it may be, to be human is to need. We need food, water, air, shelter, exercise, love, identity, purpose (the list is much longer) and I find this is where I buck against the saddle.

I wanted Christ to be a magic wand that cured me of need; that made me whole, super-natural, otherly. I have tried to use faith and religion to transcend my normal “pathetic” human state and attain to some more holy place. Most of these desires have some basis in a spiritual truth but I find with striking clarity that my motive was wrong. In the truest case I was wanting all the transformation that the Holy Spirit offers, not so that I could draw further into God but so that, in the most foolish of ironies, I did not need to.

I’m sprinting towards forty and am just now seeing that need is the gift of God. I have hated my needs. In my home we playfully acknowledge that at times my unorthodox design means I have “special needs”. I have so often wasted my days resenting this- fighting this- pleading to be free of this! The enemy of my heart has used it as a constant source of accusation; selling me the lie again and again that I should have it together by now. That I should be more than I am. That if I was truly “saved” I would not need.

Needs are not flaws. They are the places of encounter.

Needs are the path that lead us into the revelation of God’s great sufficiency and even more relevant, His kind intention towards us. As it reads “good will towards men on whom His favor rests.” I cannot experience the fullness of His glory without first realizing the depth of my need.  And my goodness does the need run deep. As my husband I mulled over this concept a few days ago I jokingly referenced a scene from Ace Ventura  where he laments “It’s in the bone! It’s in the bone!” ( If you need a laugh here’s the clip).

As humans the need is in the very marrow of our bone. To fill the need with anything other than God is where sin enters the picture. It is to place in those God-given voids anything other than actual relationship with Him. So many of the blessings He means for me to enjoy turn to rot in my soul because I try to use them to meet the need. Success tarnishes into perfectionism. Belonging deconstructs into the need for approval. Pleasures balloons into addiction. Discipline calcifies into religion. None of them can withstand the weight of my need… but He can.

In fact not only can He withstand it, He can understand it.

He knows I am created. He knows I need. He never expected me to be autonomous. Not in the sense that I want to be. He understands that I am prone to pride. I’m susceptible to deception. He still says yes and amen! He has a great sense of humor and He’s not threatened by my weaknesses. In fact He is glorified in them by showing the abundance of His mercy. He’s patient, and kind and despite all the challenges that come with being a needy creation living in a fallen world, He’s making me more like Himself every day through the power of His love.

Maybe… just maybe, being human isn’t such a bad thing after all.

 

Why I love Marie Kondo

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An actual drawer in my house

The rumors are true. My back porch is full of garbage bags. In the blistering thirty degrees below zero that’s as far as they made it. Between that and the fact my friends are tagging me in all their “Tidying Up” related posts I think it’s safe to say that I’m officially on the bandwagon. And while I loathe bandwagons the truth is I am shamelessly pro Marie Kondo. Here’s why…

Firstly, she’s adorable. I mean seriously. Have you seen her? You can’t look at her and not smile. I mean it. She’s so stinkin cute. I believe much of that cuteness comes from her gentle demeanor. It doesn’t feel like there’s much room for gentleness in a world so fast and fierce. This is all the more true for me when I am looking for change. Mentally I’m suiting up in armor and approach my home/children/budget like I’m about to fight the holy wars. Marie reminds me that gentleness may be a more sustainable approach to change; even drastic change. I find her manner to be a breath of fresh air!

Secondly, she’s actually demonstrating some of the most basic disciplines. Gratitude. Simplicity. Silence. Have you seen everyone get all moppy-eyed up when she “greets the home”? It’s like no one even knows how to hold still long enough to be where they are. Oh, and Joy! She doesn’t have the corner of the market on that either. The fact is these are some of the great spiritual disciplines that the church left behind a century ago and her uproarious success should be a sign to us that the world is hungry. They are hungry for a more honest path.

I’m not saying that everyone who wants a clean closet is willing to give up their rights and follow Jesus. I’m saying that there appears to be room for us to bear witness to the world in the simplicity, joy and tranquility of our life (I have five children so we interpret the word tranquility loosely). It’s the practice of intentional engagement with the daily things of life. It’s refusing to sprint through our days and our homes in mindless exasperation instead of savoring and examining each point. 

I will never greet my home or thank my clothing but you better believe there is power in actually considering what we’ve been given, giving thanks for what we have and letting go of all the extra that really just makes our lives more difficult. And regardless of whether Marie Kondo ever finds out who’s actually on the other side of all that gratitude we should be giving, she reminds me to do it and for that I applaud her.

And really… she is adorable.

 

 

I’m Sorry

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Tonight I found out that another mother lost her child. I felt everything inside me scream “No!”. The general travesty of losing a child was particularly eclipsed for me by the sense that I felt somehow responsible for this boy; responsible for his fate. From his birth I had a sense about him despite having few personal ties to his life. It made the news real. Inside I raged at the wrongness.

And then I wept.

I lost my neice over a decade ago. We learned a lot about grief as a family when that happened. Like; it comes in waves and the “why” is never good enough. We learned that there can be beauty in how we grieve. We learned to throw eggs at trees. I also learned something else…

Never tell a grieving parent “I’m sorry”.

I’ve tried hard to stick to this rule understanding that wounds go deep. Platitudes are salt to open wounds. But tonight, sitting in my van, sobbing and imagining his mother’s beautiful face all I could think was how very sorry I am. How woefully, deeply, piercingly sorry I feel for the whole thing.

This is going to walk the line of giving grieving people unasked for advice (another thing that I don’t recommend). Really, it’s meant more as an encouragement, because the truth is that if you are grieving you are going to hear “I’m sorry”. You are going to hear it way too many times and it may drive you out of your skin because I’m sorry just doesn’t fill the hole. But maybe this will lessen the blow.

When we say “I’m sorry” we are actually using it in its truest sense. Usually it gets substituted for “excuse me” or closer still “Will you forgive me?” Asking for forgiveness is very vulnerable so we tend to opt for the “I’m sorry” instead which keeps us in the driver seat. But, the truest meaning of “I’m sorry” is not excuse me or forgive me. What we are really saying is this…

I share your sorrow.

I see your sorrow.

I too, am full of sorrow.

I am bearing up this sorrow with you.

At times the words “I’m sorry” are the shortest and clearest path to acknowledging the great pain, perhaps even the wrongness, of loss. It is how we know to come alongside when there is nothing else that can really be said. And yes, the clerk in the grocery store will misuse it when he finds out that the reason you’re all dolled up is to go to a funeral. He will not know what to do with the pain and he will wrongfully use “I’m sorry” to move the conversation along without a shred of real emotion behind it, but many won’t.

For many that “I’m sorry” is frought with true grief and embodies the beauty of us coming together to bear up a loss we were never meant to know. We weren’t created for this. Death wasn’t in the original plan. There can be strength and comfort found in those two words. And when you are grieving strength and comfort can be hard to find.

I hope that anyone grieving tonight has those along side of them who truly are sorry.