My three-year-old is going through a phase. At least, I assume it's a phase. I've heard some other moms talk about their children just older than mine coming out of it, so I continue to believe we will, too. You see, my daughter has always loved her Daddy. This is just as it should be. But when she was two, she started telling him she didn't want him to do things. She wanted Mommy. She stomps her feet, points, screams, and cries, and inevitably ends up screaming, "No! I don't like you!" Needless to say, my husband finds this heartbreaking. Especially since earlier in the evening, they were tickling and giggling together and reading stories and having a great time. For some reason, this mostly happens when she's being put to bed, but sometimes more often. I have tried multiple ways of reminding her how much her Daddy loves her, how upset he and God are when she says mean things like that, how she hurt her Daddy, etc., but it's hard to reason with a three-year-old. Any tips and advice are welcome, as well as prayers!
The longer I am a mother, the more I understand what God must feel sometimes when he loves me. After all, I'm a bit older than three, but I still throw my own temper tantrums, stomping my feet, screaming and crying, saying things I really don't mean. And while I probably don't say the exact words "I don't like you" to God, I might as well sometimes. Because that's the way I treat Him. What? You don't believe me? Think about it. Every time we do something He has asked us not to do, aren't we just thumbing our noses at Him, telling Him that He and what He says doesn't matter as much as what we want? Every time we whine and complain because something in life hasn't gone how we wanted it to, aren't we basically saying that He doesn't know how to take care of us as well as we do? When we would rather spend time doing something else instead of spending time with Him, aren't we saying He's not that important and that we like this other thing better? Yeah. I'm stepping on my toes here, too. I guess maybe having a child who throws tantrums every time she doesn't get her way is one of the gentle reminders from my loving Father that even though it doesn't always seem "fair" and I may not always get things my own way, He knows best and loves me even when I'm being ugly. Because no matter how many times our daughter tells my husband that she doesn't like him, he will always love her. Always.
My husband and I bought our house "as is." And while it is in really good condition, there are a lot of little things that we are fixing along the way (the dishwasher may be next, but that's another story). The other day, we replaced the shower head. I had tried to clean the one that was in there, but that seemed to just make it worse. Instead of it having water cascading down through all of the holes, it had water coming out of only a few. No amount of turning it to a different setting helped. When I stepped in, a stream of water shot out in either direction and I felt like I was standing BETWEEN the shower instead of in it. Not a convenient way to get clean. Not to mention that it's not the warmest, either. So, we picked up another shower head. It wasn't the fanciest, but it does has several different settings including an amazing massage one. I might have tried out all the settings the first night. Maybe. What a difference it makes to have water coming out of every hole instead of just a few. Pure bliss.
As I stood there in my moments of peace (my husband is amazing and makes sure I get my quiet time to take a shower and not have children clinging to me with their snotty noses and whining), I thought about how sometimes we're like a shower head. No. I'm not talking about how we sometimes give massages. I'm talking about how sometimes we don't perform to our full potential. If we let the grime and yuck (the equivalent of hard water in the world) into our lives, it's going to clog up some of the outlets we have. And if our outlets are clogged up, how can we truly let the light of God shine through? Have I let some of my holes get gunked up with discontentment, selfishness, judgments, impatience, laziness, etc? If I have, then I'm not using my full potential and I need to make sure I clean that stuff out of there. Because I definitely want people to see God in me more than anything. So, let's evaluate and make the changes needed and head out into the world "full stream ahead."
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
Do you nap? Do you wish you could nap? Do you wish your children would nap?
My kids go down for nap every afternoon, usually around 12:30. The youngest usually goes right to sleep. Some days the three-year-old does, too. Other days, she fights it for an hour or more. I can definitely tell on the days when they don't get one, though. Their young bodies definitely still need that period of rest in the afternoons, whether they like it or not.
Quite often, once or twice a week, I will curl up on the couch and close my eyes for a few minutes, too (or an hour or so). Especially if one of the kids had a rough night the night before. Some days, I feel guilty about taking a little nap. I know there a ton of other things I could be doing instead. Naptime is usually when I get to do my Bible reading, catch up on emails, blog, edit, write, etc. I don't get as much of that done if I give up part of my quiet time for a nap. However, I am learning that if I don't stop and take care of me, I don't have enough of me left to give to others when they get up from nap, either. A tired Mommy makes for a cranky Mommy ... and a cranky wife. That means that even if everyone else is well-rested, the evening is not going to be pleasant.
I am trying to learn this lesson not only in my everyday life, but also in my spiritual life, too. Not that I need to sleep. But I need to stop and be quiet some every day. I need to listen to God, make my mind stop it's constant tumultuous churning and send all those thoughts up to God in a prayer, get back into His word more. Just like the days that I need a nap and don't take one, on days when I try to do it all myself without His help, it doesn't go so well.
How about you? Do you nap? Do you need to?
I have read the Bible through quite a few times. Yes. The whole way through. From Genesis to Revelation. I have done it the "traditional" way my Daddy does it: three chapters Monday through Saturday and five on Sunday. I have done it using a Bible designed for daily Bible readings -- one was set up to have a bit of the Old and New Testament each day combined with a Psalm and Proverb, and one was designed to just be read through, but was arrange chronologically instead of the typical way a Bible is printed. One year, I actually read it through in only three months (check out those plans online -- they're pretty intense, but it's very doable). Each way of reading it through has its perks. I hadn't accomplished this in several years, though. I let mommyhood and the general busyness of life take over and convince me that I just didn't have the time. As this year was beginning, I realized that I missed it. I love reading all the way through, stumbling across things I had somehow overlooked in the past, refreshing my memory on stories I thought I knew, seeing the way God works it all out in the end. So, January 2nd (oops, I missed a day while moving boxes to my new house), I picked up my Bible and started at the beginning once more.
This year, I am using my journaling Bible. The first time I saw Bible journaling, I was skeptical. Why were these people drawing in their Bibles? What was the point? But the more examples I saw (thank you, Pinterest!), the more it spoke to me. I am not one to cover the words with my art. Nor do I just draw pretty pictures that have nothing to do with the verses. I want what I draw in my margins to add meaning to it when I see it again, to help me visualize it as I study, to illustrate it, and help tug my memory so that I can remember it more. I don't consider Bible journaling "studying." But I do think it helps me. As I take my colored pencils and pens to the paper, I am focused on that verse. What does it actually mean? What will best show it? How on earth can I take my meager skills and try to mimic the amazing artistry of the perfect artist -- God? I also believe that the more ways you focus on a verse, the better it will stick with you and you can learn it. By reading it to myself, sometimes reading it out loud, writing it, and drawing it, that's four different ways I am repeating it in my head. If I just read it, that's only one. Also, I love how pretty it looks in the end. I think my biggest problem with this trend is probably going to be convincing my three-year-old that even though Mommy draws in her Bible, the child doesn't need to follow suit ... at least not yet! Ha!
So, however you choose to dive into God's word this year, I hope you do choose to spend at least a few minutes a day with Him. The more time we spend with Him, the more we can know Him and the better we can trust Him. And that's definitely what I want in my year. How about you?
When my daughter was born, we were living in northeast Texas, about five and a half to six hours from each set of parents. Up to that point, it hadn't been terribly inconvenient. Honestly, it was how I was raised to believe it should be. We didn't live near my Grandparents most of my growing up years, either. But when you add children to the equation, things change.
We were worshiping with a sweet little congregation, and well-loved already. When we introduced our daughter, she was instantly the church darling and soon adopted more church Grandmas than we could count. What's a church Grandma, you ask? It's a lady who worships with you and loves on your child(ren) like he/she/they are her own grandchildren. We were more than blessed with ours. Every time I turned around, I was being handed something with the comment, "I saw this and just thought, 'Oh, wouldn't she love that?' or 'Wouldn't she look so cute in that?'" Not only did they spoil us with material things, though. Oh no. They gave us free babysitting. Some of them would sit with me on evenings when my husband had to stay home with a migraine and I had the kids at worship services by myself, or help during services when my husband was leading singing. They made sure to get a hug from my children each time they saw them. They showered us all with praises and encouragement. If you live near your parents/family, maybe you don't need that as much as I did, but for a first-time mother, those church Grandmas made all the difference.
Needless to say, when we moved from Texas to Tennessee over the summer, some of the first people I started missing were those older ladies. It's not that there aren't sweet ladies here, too. We just haven't been "adopted" by them yet. However, our Texas church Grandmas have still kept up the spoiling and love from afar. We've received packages and notes and occasionally a call. And this past weekend, we received a visit. After six months, my children still remembered this lady and ran to her with hugs. They snuggled her during worship and played with her at our new house while I unpacked more boxes. She treated us to several meals and brought surprises for the kids. She even babysat Monday evening so my husband and I could have a rare night to go eat without having to worry about spills or cutting up bites or answering a hundred "whys." It was lovely. It's just another little bonus of being a Christian. Even though our physical family isn't close by, God takes care of us by giving a church family. I've said it a million times and will a million more. I don't know how people survive without a church family. And I am especially grateful for church Grandmas.
For Christmas, I painted this sign for my husband. It's sort of a combination of us. He's a huge baseball fan (Go Braves!) and I love the Wizard of Oz. It's going to look great when we finally get it hung on the walls of our new house. Moving into this house over New Years' weekend got me thinking a lot about "home."
As I cleaned up the townhouse we had been renting, I thought about all the memories we had made there in such a short time. Less than six months really. My baby started walking, talking, sleeping through the night, climbing ... My little girl turned three, made a best friend, started drawing pictures that looked like more than scribbles, grew several more inches, I'm sure. We lost a mom. We gained new friends and church family. As I scrubbed marks off the wall from crayons, juice, miniature cars, keys, chairs, it almost overwhelmed me how much life we had crammed into that space in such a short time, despite it being temporary. It had still be a "home."
Most of our stuff is now in our new house. With us pulling some of our things out of the storage unit, I feel a bit like Maureen O'Hara's character in "The Quiet Man" (seriously, go watch that movie if you've never seen it) when her furniture is brought to her new house and she lovingly touches it and brushes off invisible dust particles. It's nice to have all our things about us. As I look around deciding where glasses should go, where pictures will hang, where to put furniture, etc., I know it's all things that will make this house into more than just a structure. It's making it into our home.
There are so many songs and sayings about home. "Who says, 'You can't go home?'" "There's no place like home." "Home is where the heart is." Everyone wants someplace to call home. It's a safe place, a place of belonging; where you can be yourself, let your hair down, run around into slippers and a paint splattered sweatshirt with your hair piled up every which way and no one will say anything because they all know it's just who you are.
A lot of people, when they think about "home," think about where they grew up. I can't really put my finger on one place that is more home to me than another growing up because we moved every few years. I have people I love in each place, but none of them pull on my heart much more than another. I guess where my grandparents have lived in Oklahoma is probably more home to me in that sense. But even that has me longing for more.
No matter how homey this house becomes as the boxes get unpacked and walls get decorated, no matter how many memories my family makes here, no matter how many years we live between these walls, I will still long for more.
Because my real home is in Heaven. And won't it be great to not have to unpack boxes when we move in there?
I was up a little before 6 this morning, snuggling a boy who couldn't sleep due to a cough he's developed over the last few days. My stuffy head hadn't made it easy for me to sleep, either, so it was just as well. Sitting in my comfy chair in the living room, rocking and enjoying the quiet before a busy Sunday, I had the perfect view of the back door. When we first entered the dark room, the sky was still dark as well. It slowly lightened to a gray. Then, an orange tint started at the horizon and worked its way up, brightening to a vivid coral, back to orange and then to a lovely yellow before day fully took over. My picture doesn't do it justice, but then, none of our pictures really capture the full beauty of God's handiwork, do they?
As I sat and watched the show, I realized that I was looking at it through the neighbor's trees. If this were another time of year, I wouldn't be able to see it. The sun would be at a different angle, the trees would be leafed out and block more of the sky, etc. A lot of times, seeing trees in winter is just depressing. After all, they look more like naked sticks, reaching their empty arms to the sky, bare and empty of most life. But if they weren't bare, I would have missed out on a lot of the spectacular colors.
It's just another reminder that just because something doesn't seem to be lovely or the way we want it, it doesn't mean something good can't come from it. I am thankful God allowed me to see not only the beautiful sunrise, but also the lesson this morning. If you're not allowed to sleep another hour, I can't think of a much better way to spend it. Can you?
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.