Friday, October 28, 2016

Magic Trash

Most all of y'all know that before I had kids, I was a public school teacher. 
(Actually, I'm a 4th generation educator- because THOSE GENES RUN DEEP.)

Anywho, I taught in a public school for several years before I became a SAHM (shout out to Oriole Beach Elementary!) and then transitioned into a homeschool freak. I mean, home educator. I don't have the required perm or denim jumper. Yet.  ::wink:: 

Last night, there were about 417 Lego pieces on my living room rug. People, those things are the bane of my existence sometimes. It's like, HOW ON EARTH do they scatter so quickly??! And SO FAR from the big kid's bedroom??! I'm not kidding, I stepped on one in my side yard throwing a bag of trash in our collection can the other day. I think Satan plants them under my feet to test my spiritual condition. Well played Satan, well played. 

Back to the living room catastrophe. The Legos are everywhere, along with a few crayons, some abandoned Mr. Potato Head appendages and a couple of puzzle pieces, just for good measure. I sat down in a tiny white chair next to my window facing my back yard and wept bitterly at the task laid out in front of me. (Not really. But almost.) As I was sighing dramatically to myself, a light bulb went off in my head and an angel came down from Heaven, sent by The Father Himself and whispered two magical words in my ear: "Maaagic Traaash". 

I called the kids away from their wrestling match/hide and seek game/squeal session/bookshelf dumping exercise and explained to them that I had a game to play. I told them that I'd spied one special Lego on the floor, and that whom ever found it and picked it up would be the winner. I sent them to grab their empty and abandoned animal cracker cups (another few items littering my living room floor) and told them to pick up as many Legos as they could while I counted down from 50. THEY TOOK OFF LIKE A SHOT. 

They were digging in couch cushions and behind curtains and underneath furniture. They scrambled through our dining room and our kitchen on their Lego seeking mission. All three of them filled their cups with an impressive amount of Plastic Weapons of Death before I finished and when the winner was announced, they happily dumped them back into the plastic bin where they belong. We played a few more rounds picking up Mr. Potato Head arms and crayons and puzzles and counting bears and it blew my mind how much easier this was than cajoling them to clean up or standing over them like a dictator ordering them to pick up specific things. 

We played "Magic Trash" all.the.time. when I taught school and it never occurred to me until last night to play it at home, too. I woke up this morning to a clean living room, a tidy rug and I was able to fix my coffee without stepping on a single sharp Lego. I've got a good feeling this whole "Magic Trash" gig is going to be sticking around for a while. 

And thanks for stopping by! ~Katie. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

He's My Built In BFF.

 Husbands make the best Best Friends. 

Friendship and laughter and inside jokes and Starbucks stops are what make road trips with three kids, a dog, 17 pounds of animal cracker crumbs and a tiny toilet that's shoved in the back of your SUV actually survivable. (Even if it does mean he jerks the steering wheel every time you try to take a picture of yourself with your grown up unsweetened cup of coffee.) 

Marriage y'all. IT'S GOOD STUFF.

And thanks for stopping by! ~Katie. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The (un)Sweet Life

Friends, we have a VERY SERIOUS topic to discuss.

Earlier today, I forgot to sweeten my coffee. I realized my misstep after the first sip but seeing as I'd finally managed to wrangle all the kids into actually sitting down and doing their morning school work, I decided to push through and drink it at the table rather than to get up and afford them an opportunity to scatter. They're fast and they can sense weakness. It's like a sixth sense.

Y'all, here's the scary part: I DID NOT HATE IT. I feel like I don't know who I am anymore so I decided to test things this afternoon by intentionally using cream only and *gasp!* this coffee I hold in my hand is rich and creamy and delicious.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME? Please put me on your prayer list because I'm having an identity crisis.

And thanks for stopping by! ~Katie. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Never Thought I'd Ever...

Me, at 2:21am: 

"God you spoke this very universe into existence and Your awesome and mighty power astounds me. The smallness of my life compared to the vastness that You've created humbles me when I consider how deep and wide and far Your love for me still reaches. It's with this view in mind that I ask that Your grace and mercy and favor be poured out to me and that You SEND THAT HAMSTER OUT OF WHATEVER HIDING PLACE HE IS CURRENTLY OCCUPYING because, God- he long gone. And Lord, if it isn't Your will that this escaped rodent be found, I beseech You for Your imminent return because there is zero percent of me that wants to break this news to my oldest offspring in approximately five hours hence. It's in Jesus' holy and perfect name I pray this humble prayer, Amen." 

Y'all, I'm gonna go ahead and add this to my column of "Prayers I Never Thought I'd Pray". 
(The list is ever growing.) 

**And also, the hamster WAS found. That's the power of prayer for ya. 

::praise hands::

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"You're Pretty. On the INside."

Vanity, y'all. 
It's seeds get planted early with little girls, or so I recently discovered. 

A few months ago, as I was getting my 4 year old daughter dressed for church one Sunday morning, she admired her reflection in the bathroom mirror and remarked "I look SO beautiful!" And granted, she did. Her dress was freshly ironed and her hair was shiny and combed. I'd just pulled her hair out of her face and secured it with a bow. Her lace trimmed socks peeked out the top of her little Mary Jane shoes and she really was quite adorable, if I do say so myself. 

But, despite her preciousness, I heard warning bells. They rang out to me from just a few years in the future when, if pride in her appearance were too unnecessarily praised, my sweet Josie may fall into the trap of believing that feeling good about yourself as a person only comes when you feel good about yourself in the mirror. So I put the comb on the countertop and swiveled her to face me. 

"You're right, Shug. You DO look nice today. Your hair is combed and your dress is pretty and your bow matches the pink in the cupcakes on your collar. But there's a more important beauty I want to tell you about. And you can't see it when you look in the mirror. The prettiness I want to tell you about is the kind that's found in your heart. It's the loveliness that happens when your heart loves Jesus and your family and others. When you love God, you treat others with kindness and gentleness. You share your toys and crayons and very favorite stuffed animals. When you are that pretty on the inside, what you look like on the outside doesn't matter. Who would you rather play with? A little girl who has on a beautiful dress and fancy bow but who screams at her brothers and ignores her parents and snatches Legos away from people or a little girl in plain play clothes who loves her family and hugs her friends and shares her PlayDoh? It's an easy choice, isn't it? Because when your heart is hard and cold and unloving, it doesn't matter how beautiful you are on the outside because you'll still be unkind. But if you love Jesus and others, you'll always be pretty, no matter what you have on. So remember that the best kind of beautiful to be is when your insides are just as lovely as your outsides. AND YOURS ARE." 

I left the pep talk in the bathroom that day, but continued to bring it up from time to time as we dressed up or left the house looking especially special. We continued to talk about the importance of our pretty hearts throughout the months, but I never realized until this morning just how much of the message had sunk in with her. Bless it.

I was in my bathroom, brushing my teeth before we needed to leave for our weekly Bible study at our church building. It's a typical, stressed out homeschool Tuesday and I'm absolutely, positively looking it: jeans, t-shirt, dirty hair covered in one of my husband's baseball hats, chapstick and sunscreen rounded out my current ensemble. I'm wiping my mouth on a hand towel when I feel some tiny arms wrap themselves around my right leg. I look down and see my sweet, innocent Josie looking up at me, head cocked to the side and examining my current state. "Momma, you sure are beautiful on the inside," she said. ::inwardly beaming:: "Well, thank you, Jo. That's very nice of you to say," I replied. "Yep," she said, "because your outsides don't look pretty at all today." Sweet merciful heavens. 

I nearly died y'all, right there on the tile. I was crying laughing. CRI-NE. True story.

So the moral of the story is this: If you ever find yourself afflicted with false modesty, just come over to my house and spend some time with my kids and they'll knock you off your polished pedestal REAL QUICK. Bless 'em.

*PSA: I am 1000% taking a shower during nap time today. Promise. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On Slothful Motherhood.

Heaven sakes, y'all. Am I the only one who feels like they are trapped inside a tornado of stress and school and activities and dog hair?? My two bigs woke up nearly TWO HOURS EARLY this morning so that can only mean one thing: MANDATORY REST TIME this afternoon. (And that is the lone reason I can even sit still long enough to write all this down.) 

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind around our house. I won't go into ALL the gory details, but let's just say the hi lights are: we've started school, adopted a hamster, baked almost 70 pans of bread pudding, practiced baseball, planned food to feed 150 ladies at our church's Ladies Day, taught a new quarter of Bible Classes, and bleached our porch furniture. For starters.

I am busy and frazzled and fried, if I'm being totally honest. There are times when I think I'm being held together by Jesus, coffee and dry shampoo. I'm not sleeping much and instead spending the hours between 1:30am and 5:00am channeling my stress energy by wiping out my icebox drawers or turning over laundry loads or rewriting my To Do list or Pinteresting butterfly life cycle lesson plans. I've become quite good at managing my work flow demands at 3:45am and cat napping on my couch while our newest family member Rhino the hamster trains for the Olympics on his squeaky exercise wheel. (Also to be noted: When the pet store associates tell you hamsters are nocturnal: THEY ARE NOT LYING.)

Early mornings come and I brew my coffee and read my Bible and pray before my day "officially" begins and more often than not, despite my best efforts- I'm burned out before the sun even comes up. And I realize that, while I'm not alone in the stress vortex that sometimes comes with motherhood, busy seasons like this are ripe with opportunities for me to meltdown. I'm busy, tired, stretched thin and ready to snap all before breakfast is over. Coffee can't cure what ails me, but it does give me enough energy to blink in surprise when I look at the clock and realize it's only 9:07am. 

 I can feel my emotions simmering just below the surface and they are ready to boil over at the slightest provocation. I KNOW YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. On a normal day, my youngest's artistic expressions inside one of my lesson planner pages wouldn't bother me. But on a day like this, it's enough to make my temper explode and my blood positively boil. I see a spilled bag of goldfish crackers and want to scream. Abandoned uncapped markers make my neck veins distend and do not even get me started about what milk splatter on my baseboards does to me. Normal sibling squabbles find me quick to overreact and typical childlike delays have me barking orders and thundering through my living room. My stressed out self can turn me into a short tempered, overly dramatic, narcissistic, whining, complaining, victim and THAT IS NOT COOL because last time I checked, approximately zero of those things were fruits of the Spirit.  

But fear not! I've discovered a trick that has helped me cope on days like these. When my tank is running on fumes and I haven't washed my hair in like 100 hours, I CHANNEL MY INNER SLOTH LIKE A BOSS and somehow find the strength to survive another day. That's right: When I can't take it anymore, I take on slothful motherhood and

When I want to yell at the kids for emptying Legos onto their bedroom floor: I whisper. I walk slooowly around the house instead of stomping in frustration from room to room. I make the bed purposefully instead of throwing pillows down in angst and self pity. I gently open the icebox door to get eggs out to scramble instead of jerking it open with impatience. I brush teeth gently, comb hair like it's fragile and drive like I'm 92. When my patience is thin and I want to scream: I start speaking in nearly monotone. I wash dishes by hand instead of tossing silverware angrily into the dishwasher caddy. And guess what y'all: IT WORKS.

When I am nearly out of energy, and the opportunity for me to refill my tank is still hours away, it makes sense for me to conserve as much of it as I can by limiting my energy output. The more I fuss and the more I sigh and the more I exhale dramatically over every.little.thing- the less energy I have to do the things I really need to do like Godly parenting. And teaching. And vacuuming. And cooking supper. On the days when I blow my top and explode all my emotions on all my kids over all the little things they do, by 10:45am I have nothing left but a sick, guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach and loads of remorse for the way I lost it with the kids. 

But, by LITERALLY SLOWING DOWN and almost coasting through the day's activities- the more energy I have to actually make it through them. And, surprisingly, the less I fuss at the kids or lecture them for not listening or freak out over their typical sibling bickering- the less I am inclined to actually do it. For me, madness breeds madness and havoc breeds havoc. Once I lose my temper it becomes that much easier for it to happen again and again and again AND AGAIN. But, on the flip side- the longer I can exercise self control and refrain from blowing my top, the easier it becomes to knock my gears down a few levels and channel my patience instead of blowing it while I yell at the kids over fighting over what episode of Wild Kratts to watch next.  

So my hopeful hope is that maybe this self realization may help you on the days when you feel like you have nothing left. Maybe knowing I slow down, breathe quietly and tiptoe around my house when I'm about to lose it will help you do the same. And maybe, just maybe, channeling our inner sloths will in turn help us be better Moms on those hard, empty tank days. And y'all, I know this for sure- going slowly through my day beats the post freak out high blood pressure headache HANDS DOWN. 

So go on and own your own version of slothful motherhood on the hard days and rest assured that I will, too. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Am I Doing Enough?

I love summer mission trips. 

As a teenager, I went on several. My first was a trip to Honduras when I was 14 and I'm not going to lie, IT CHANGED MY LIFE. I went to Mexico the following two summers and I can say that experiencing life outside my comfortable 'first world' bubble was humbling and gratifying and I'm so glad my parents sacrificed their time, money, prayers, and stress levels (HELLO!)  to allow me experiences like that. 

Coming back (or re-entry, as it's sometimes called) gave my teenage self a romantic vision of future mission field work with my nameless, faceless future spouse. I COULD JUST SEE US working in the mountains with the people, learning the language and reaching their souls for Christ because until we came, they'd never have heard the name of Jesus. 

Then I went to college. I continued my educational career and the opportunities to continue international mission work waned. I charted a course through my studies, began dating and then married my husband, Matt and suddenly my spouse wasn't nameless or faceless anymore. I finished my degrees and began teaching in a fabulous school in our county but the back burner dream of reaching lost souls for Him still burned. 

I'd see others begin long term mission works of their own or watch as high school students embarked on their own first mission adventures and the feelings I had all those years ago for mission work would surge back and I would remember the fire that had been ignited all those years ago. I still desired to reach those who didn't know Him. 

Then, after a few more years, we had a baby. Then, 18 months later- we had another one. Then, 17 months after that- we had our third bundle. I became a SAHM and later a homeschooler to my oldest two and while raising a bunch of homeschool weirdos was fulfilling and I loved it, there were times when I began to doubt the amount of my affect on the world for Him. 


A member of our congregation's youth group took their first international mission trip this summer, and as I heard the stories and watched as my social media feeds filled with re-entry stories and testimonies and changed lives, that now familiar nagging feeling came back to the surface. "What difference am I really making now?? What happened to the zeal I felt? I don't feel like I'm doing ANYTHING to spread the Gospel now." 

AND THEN IT HIT ME. I am doing mission work. Right here, in my home, with my family. God's given me my own village full of souls who, before they met me, had never once heard the name of Jesus. While I may not be trekking through mountainous terrain to reach the lost, I am traveling my own path to touch lives for Him. It's just that I'm crossing valleys of Legos and rivers of spilled chocolate milk instead. 

Every day I'm working to point three souls Christ. I'm the first and biggest and most influential force in their lives and to them, in this moment- I have become The Gospel with skin on. Their view of Jesus and His love and grace and care are nearly wholly dependent on how they see Him working in my life daily. Everyday I get to work in my 1,749 square foot mission field as I use my actions and words and feelings to show them Jesus and point their way toward Him. 

So while I may not be in a foreign country or in a far off land teaching and preaching and serving- God has put me just where He wants me to work. Right here reaching out to the souls He has charged me with. And maybe one day, there will be another opportunity to serve somewhere else but until then- I'll keep working where He has planted me. 

Thanks for stopping by.  ~Katie.