Sunday, November 30, 2014

30 Days Of Thanks

I've noticed over the past few years that a trend has been started to post daily, via your favorite social media outlet, one thing that you're thankful for. A lot of my friends have done it before so I figured I would give it a shot, too. Here goes nothing, y'all...

November Thankfulnesses
Saturday, November 1st: Leftover Halloween Candy. Because I get to enforce Mom Tax while they're sleeping and because chocolate is my love language. My cousin Lani and I had a post-Halloween-candy discussion and we came to the same conclusion: Of all the lagniappe candy in our houses- THE CHOCOLATE STASH IS ALWAYS THE FIRST TO GO. Family genetics for the win, y'all. 
Sunday, November 2nd: Faith. It's my Safety Net. My Autocorrect. My Confident Expectation. My Compass. My Guide. My faith is the lifeline that tethers me to Jesus and I'd be hopeless without Him. 
Monday, November 3rd: Homeschool Preschool. It's a new week in my house. My oldest, Luke, (4) is at that age where he's absorbing and growing and learning and talking about absolutely everything in his great big, wide, world. It's awe inspiring to look at him and see his progress and know that even just the tiniest, littlest, smallest part of his new knowledge and the fact that he can now (almost) write his own name might just be because of me. Awesome sauce.   
Tuesday, November 4th: My Right To Vote.  Because God Bless America, that's why. 
Wednesday, November 5th: Breakfast Supper. We have a standing tradition that, before we go to church on Wednesday nights, we have supper at my Sister-in-Love's. About a year or so ago, it evolved into eating breakfast for supper with them. I grew up having breakfast suppers and I always loved them. There's something about giving yourself license to have pancakes and waffles in the same day that's somehow liberating. If you've never eaten breakfast for supper, I strongly suggest your trying it. I promise you won't regret it. 
Thursday, November 6th: Nathan's Eyebrow Raise. I caught it on camera today and I'm so glad I did.
 See what I mean?? So stinkin' cute. 
Friday, November 7th: Movie Night. Our kids are obsessed with our sofa bed. To them, hauling it out after supper on Friday nights to pile up in it with snacks (which lead to 1,372 crumbs) and blankets and every.single.pillow in our house to watch movies together is just about the coolest, bestest, funnest thing we could ever do together. Our Friday night Movie Nights are the hilight of their weeks and I'm OK with that. May our couch always be the coolest place for them to crash. 
Saturday, November 8th: Warm Krispy Kreme Donuts.  By the truckload. Hooray for shopping in Pensacola today!!! 
Sunday, November 9th: Mah Boo.  I got an awful flare up of mastitis (Sigh. Again. For like the millionth time since my oldest was born. Ugh.) and my husband, Matt, totally stepped up to the plate today to help. I woke up feeling awful, and managed to survive long enough to make it through teaching my Bible Class. I went ran home as soon as class was dismissed to dive into bed while he stayed and survived the 90 minute worship service while wrangling our three hooligans. He came home and left me (mostly) undisturbed in our bedroom under 4 blankets and a comforter and a quilt with a bottle of Tylenol, a glass of water and a Netflix marathon of Gilmore Girls while I slept and sweated and shivered my way through the worst of it. I'm so thankful for an awesome teammate like him. You are awesome, Boo!
Monday, November 10th: Netflix. Y'all, I limit my kid's TV times like the best of 'em, but LET ME TELL YOU that nothing makes a sick Momma's day quite like repeat episodes of Curious George and Strawberry Shortcake. Because today, I'm still sick and I'm in survival mode. KIDS- I'll fill your drink cups, throw a sleeve of Ritz crackers on the kitchen table, and if you need me, I'll be the one huddled in a chair under a blanket with a cup of hot tea in my hands. M'kay? Thanks, for understanding kiddos. Disturb me if there's blood or bone exposed. (Not really. But almost.)
Tuesday, November 11th: Chapstick. I must confess that I have a problem with this stuff. I am addicted to it. I've got tubes all over my house: kitchen sink window, junk drawer, nightstand, van door, diaper bag, purse, next to the sugar bowl- it's everywhere and in all the places. This time of year my lips take an especially hard beating and I am so thankful for those little tubes of Chapstick I have stashed everywhere that keep my lips from feeling like they've been burned by the fire of a thousand suns… And why is it so hard not to lick them???!
Wednesday, November 12th: Dollar Tree's Helium Balloons. Because, for $1, I have the best good behavior reward incentive EVER. We have charts up in our house, and if I catch the kids doing extraordinarily wonderful things, they'll be able to prance on over to their corkboard and color in a square on their cards. Fill in all the squares and Voila!: A trip to the Dollar Tree commences to purchase said child a $1 helium balloon or any other treat of their choosing. But 89% of the time, they're gonna choose a balloon. Thanks, Dollar Tree.
Thursday, November 13th: My Day Runner. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am in love with my planner. There's something about the paper pages, and the two-page-per-week layout that just sings to my soul. Today is grocery day so I'm cruising through my trusty paper pages menu planning for next week and starting my Thanksgiving shopping and cooking to do lists and figuring out what leftovers we are gonna eat on what days. My life is a zoo sometimes, and being able sit down and take 20 minutes each week to figure out exactly what I'm gonna feed my family for supper each night (because for some reason they have to eat every single day) has been a sanity saver. I love you, DayRunner! Thanks for helping me make sure my family doesn't starve!
Friday, November 14th: Doorstep Delivery Starbucks. Today has been a banner day, y'all because I got not one but TWO visits in with friends! This morning brought a good friend of mine from church over who just got back into town after working away for SIX MONTHS and we were able to spend the morning drinking coffee (and a chai tea latte- yum!) and talking over the audio from a Disney movie and just plain ol' catching up. Having another real, live adult in my house between the hours of 9-10:30 am was a welcome change. Hooray for adult conversation! And, as if that weren't awesome enough, this afternoon brought ANOTHER wonderful lady over from church who dropped off the cutest, most adorable, most magical Christmas jammies that she made for my three kiddos. I seriously can't wait to put them on the kids; she embroidred their names on the thermal shirts and they have the cutest matching striped pajama bottoms and I DIED when she showed them to me- but then she also brought along two cups of Starbuck's Hazelnut something-or-others and they were awesome. They tasted like sugar and cream and coffee and hazelnuts and heaven. Staying home is a blessing, and I realize that, but it does sometimes leave you starved for adult interaction. But today I got a nice break from the toddler/preschool talk (twice!) and it was so, so nice. I'm thankful for my sweet, encouraging Sisters.  
Saturday, November 15th: Date Nights. I'm serious, y'all. Matt and I hadn't had a real date night (I think) since before Nathan was born last October. I got to actually get dressed on a non-church day, put on my make up and pants with a zipper and grab a purse that DID NOT HAVE A DIAPER IN IT and go to supper with my husband. We got to eat (namely a Bloomin' Onion and a steak as big as my face) and hold hands and actually sit next to each other in a booth and not take anybody to the bathroom and unbuckle zero carseats and it was perfect and magical and just exactly what we needed. Date Nights are vital- and addicting! Now that we had a taste of being out by ourselves, I want a Date Night every weekend!   
Sunday, November 16th: My (Other) Family. We worship with an amazing group of loving, laughing, and most importantly imperfect people at Gulf Breeze Church Of Christ. Our relationships with them have become some of the closest ones we have outside of our blood relatives. My best friends were made through connections here- and I'm a better person because of these women. We've put down roots for our family here, and I couldn't think of a better group of souls seeking Jesus to do it with. 
Monday, November 17th: Eggs. Specifically when they are packed by in a box of 5 dozen. We eat a lot of eggs in our house. It's nice not to run out every time I need to scramble some. Hooray for easy egg breakfasts! 
Tuesday, November 18th: Pediatric Dentists. I took the three kids to their first dental check up today and man y'all, things have changed a ton since I was a kid! The staff and crew at our office was spectacular. All three kids got gold star reviews and bags full of treats and temporary tattoos and toothbrushes and bouncy balls that have already been lost under furniture and between car seats. I spent the nights leading up to this visit panicked about cavities and imparting crazy childhood trauma on the kids and I'm relieved to report that neither instance occurred today. Yahoo! 
Wednesday, November 19th: Vick's Liquid Inhalant. Because today is the first day that I've had to break out our humidifiers and this liquid camphor that you can add to a warm mist humidifier is THE BOMB. Both Josie and Nathan have been battling congestion and coughing and are creating amounts of mucus that previously seemed to be phyically impossible. They are sick and crabby and sleep deprived and so am I. We have both warm and cool mist humidifers running in our house right now so walking into our living room has become akin to entering a Vicks VapoSteam Rainforest. The season of sickness has begun... 
Thursday, November 20th: Cadbury And Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup. The kids are still crazy sick and I am in serious need for self medication and this stuff was perfect. I do miss not having a calorie ridden bread bowl to eat it out of, but even still, it was mighty tasty. And when you've got two kids who are sick and the other who is cranky that Daddy is gone for a few days and will therefore not stop crying YOU EAT THE SOUP TO SUSTAIN YOURSELF. Throw in the fact that my dear friend Amy heard my plea for chocolate and Ding Dong Ditched me an entire bag of Cadbury's Christmas Chocolates and I think I just.may.survive. 
Friday, November 21st: Pizza Sister. Yes, I'm thankful for food items two days in a row. But my husband is still gone and the kids are still sick and I'm still hanging on by a thread. So takeout Hungry Howies that was picked up by my amazing Sister-in-Love, Tammy and then delivered here as she arrived to run interferience for me between the two-sick-kids-and-one-kid-who-is-still-missing-Daddy was essential to my survival today. She stayed for supper and Movie Night and I almost wept to see her leave because sometimes (lots of times) I'd be lost without Tammy. And not just because she comes over with pizza and fresh arms to hold all the clingy kids but because she loves my kids and they love her and family and sisters are amazing. ::happy sigh:: 
Saturday, November 22nd: Operation Christmas Child. Want a sure fire way to turn yourself into a blubbering fool? Buy a couple of shoebox labels, watch the OCC video with your kids, then sit back and watch your 4 year old immediately begin to run back and forth through your house gathering all his favorite toys to "share with his friends who don't have any". Kick it up a notch by going to the store with them to fill their containers and watch them talk excitedly to each other about what they are each going to buy for each of their friend's boxes. Sob quietly as your 2 year old picks out the same exact dress up jewelry that she owns so that she and her friend can match. Then have the waterworks really start when you go to the drop off site and your kids hug the collection crew and boisterously tell them all about how they want to share toys and treats and PINK UNDERWEARS with their friends far away who may not have any. Yeah, a day like that will really turn you into a hot (Mom) mess. I love my kids and their generous hearts.  
Sunday, November 23rd: The Closing Song. Because some Sundays are tougher than others and TODAY WAS ROUGH. Today was the kind of Sunday when, as the last song is being sung, you are frantically gathering all of the Bible Class papers and all the broken crayons and all the crying kids in your possession and are running to your van like a Jamacian Bobsled Team in an effort of straight up self-preservation. Days like today are exactly why we sit in the back, near the exit because there are times when you must Rise And Run as soon as that closing song begins. And there is no sweeter sound than that closing song because it means you have survived. Hallelujah. 
Monday, November 24th: My Vacuum. I do have, what some might call, an unhealthy attachment to my vacuum. But, with three kids and a dog and a cat and a husband and myself- we create a lot of dirt and crumbs and hair to pick up. I take a break from vacuuming on Sundays, so by the time Monday rolls around there are crumbs in all the corners and grit on all the floors. It always amazes me how quickly our floors can accumulate that fine layer of dirt after being left undistrurbed for a mere 36 hours. I certainly don't remember walking through every room of my house crumbling a graham cracker trail for some little lost German children, but somehow by Monday mornings my floor looks like something Hansel and Gretel could follow to find a cottage made of candy. Wait... Did I just use that comparison and thereby make myself the witch?? Hmm.... Anyway, thank you, vacuum, for keeping us from being buried alive in piles of toast crumbs and crayon shavings. 
Tuesday, November 25th: Sam's Club. Because y'all already know we buy our eggs in bulk (see November 17th's entry) but with our young family of five, we go through beaucoup flour and sugar and toilet paper and dog food, too. So hooray for Sam's Club- because where else could you buy a gallon of pancake syrup or a tub of peanut butter large enough to bathe a baby in?? 
Wednesday, November 26th: A Godly Husband. Because of Thanksgiving tomorrow, we moved our Wednesday night Bible Class to Tuesday night. And instead of having splitting into separate classes like we usually do, we all gathered in the pews and had an impromptu song service and devotional. The men all took turns leading their selections, and after Luke saw one of the big kids get up to lead a song with his Grandpa, there was nothing stopping him from wanting to get up and lead a song with Matt. My heart just about burst wide open when I got to watch my husband stand up and lead a song with my oldest son in his arms. Luke sat there singing "Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary" at the top of his lungs, and I'm pretty sure I fell in love with Matt all over again while I sang along. (Isn't it funny how parenthood makes you love your spouse more and more like that?? Maaaan.) I'm grateful to have a little boy who loves Jesus like Luke does, but I feel even more blessed to be married to a man that will guide and point him toward Christ like my Matt does. There's not better man out there y'all, and that is a fact.  
Thursday, November 27th: Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all! I'm thankful for so many things today, it seems like a trite exercise to try and list them all. We had the opportunity to double dip our tryptophan consumption today by having lunch with our church family this afternoon and then having supper tonight with some dear church friends at our house. They have a daughter that falls right between Luke and Josie so the kids all had a great time playing while the grownups got to visit and eat and actually concentrate on the conversation instead of constantly havin to worry about one of the kids knocking someone down in the church foyer. I loved today. And not just because the turkey. 
Friday, November 28th: 99¢ Poinsettias. While I've never been one to stay up all night hitting stores in the Black Friday madness, over the past few years I have gotten into a pretty reliable routine. Being an early morning gal like I am, early on Black Friday morning well before the kids wake up, I sneak out like a ninja and drive across the highway to WalMart to score my cheap Rubbermaid boxes and then slide over into the Lowes next door and scoop up a couple of their cheap poinsettias to put next to my front door. They aren't the huge ones, but they are red and festive (two of my very favorite things) and when I inevitably kill them come Spring there isn't much guilt involved because I got such a good deal on them.   
Saturday, November 29th: Leftover Pecan Pie.  Should I really need to elaborate on this one, y'all? Because really- it's lagniappe pie- what's not to be grateful for? Bonus points are applied if you eat it straight out the pie plate with a fork. Because then you don't have to clean a plate and less dishes are always a bonus blessing in my book. 
Sunday, November 30th: My Show Purse. In a rare turn of events, I went to a movie today with one of my Sister-in-Loves and my niece. It has been ages since I've gone to a movie and as I opened my contraband chocolate and Diet Coke I was ever so grateful that I'd remembered to grab my oversized 'Show Bag' when I ran out of left the house this afternoon because snacks smuggled into the movies taste so much sweeter than the overpriced array they offer to you there. Yay for a girls afternoon! And yay for Mockingjay!!! 

On this side of November, I can look back and say that I'm glad I made myself sit down and perform this little exercise of gratitude. I've always considered myself a grateful person- I've always considered myself somebody who knows how blessed she is to live in a house with multiple bathrooms and a microwave and magic machines that clean my dishes and clothes. I live a very "first world" life, and some of my daily gratitudes reflect that. I get it.

But below that; underneath the funny little, silly little things I've recognized that I'm grateful for runs a deep river of gratitude that springs from a realization I have that makes me understand that everything I have- every blessing and gift and funny ante-dote that I've ever been given- has come from Him. 

And that's what I'm most thankful for: Jesus. Because without Him, all I'd be left with is an empty shell of gratitude. Without Jesus, my thanksgivings would be like one of those old, hollow, hand painted eggs- it would be pretty to look at, but incredibly fragile and empty on the inside. The slightest shift or movement would crack the pretty exterior of my life and before I'd know it all the "blessings" of my life would be nothing more than a pile of painted eggshells on the floor waiting to be swept up and thrown away. 

So I'm thankful to possess a strengthened form of gratitude through Christ. Because thankfulness like mine was purchased with a price: Jesus. And it's with that attitude of gratitude I'm connected to Him, tied to His mercy in ways that make my daily reachings out to Him exactly the lifeline that I need to survive. 

So now that November has drawn to a close, I'll keep up with my exercises of thankfulness with a renewed vision of just exactly how much I have to be grateful for.  My blessings have abounded this month, and I pray yours have as well. 

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." -James, Jesus' brother. (James 1:17)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Life, Interrupted.

Y'all, I am frustrated. And the source of my frustration is my kids. I hate to even admit that, BUT I AM. 

At 6:22am today, I sat down again to finally try and finish the 'Happy Halloween' post I'd started writing almost three.weeks.ago. :45 seconds later, Nathan woke up screaming. 
(I still haven't finished that post. True story.)

::UPDATE- It has taken me over sevennine, TEN DAYS to writing this. Because- Motherhood happens, y'all.::

 It was literally minutes, no- moments after I'd just settled down with my warm blanket and freshly poured coffee that it happened. I'd barely settled in my comfy chair with my laptop; I'd just exhaled as I prepared to begin to write when I heard the first stream of his cries coming from the nursery down the hall. And, as selfish and hard-hearted as it makes me sound- for the first few moments when I heard him- my raw reaction was that it frustrated me. 

I went down to his room, changed his diaper, got his blankets arranged and found his favorite doggie pacifier. I got him snuggled back into his bed, tucked him in again, and by the time I closed his door like a Mom ninja, he was back asleep like the precious angel cherub baby he is. (Because he really is- that kid is adorable.)

Looking back on it now, it seems petty and selfish to have gotten so frustrated with such an innocent interruption- the logical part of my brain knows and understands this. But, in the emotional "Borderline Burned Out Mom" part of my brain I can admit that it frustrated me because for me, in the life phase that I am in right now, one of the biggest drawbacks I deal with is the constant, never ending, unceasing feeling of interruption and incompletion because sometimes, I JUST WANNA FINISH SOMETHING. 

And if you've ever stuck around for any length of time in a house with three kids preschool aged and under, you understand that completing things (much less actually finishing them without interruptions) never happens.  A typical day for me is a 13 (sometimes 16+) hour merry-go-round of interruptions. I start and stop so many tasks and chores and projects and errands that my mind feels like I'm an internet browser with 438 open tabs. 

My two bigs usually wake up before the baby, so as I'm getting them out of their jammies and into their day clothes, I gather a load of laundry to run. However, just as I'm scooping up clothes and socks and random dirty pajama tops to wash, I'm interrupted by the baby's cries from the nursery. 
I leave the laundry pile on the floor in their room and leave the bigs to finish getting (mostly) dressed by themselves to go wake up and tend to the fussy baby. As I'm changing his diaper, my two bigs are finished getting dressed with their backwards undies and mismatched tops and socks that are pulled way too high. They've now made it into the nursery for me to help my middle child fish her arms out of the correct holes in her shirt (we are still working with her on dressing herself- she's 2.5) and are now begging for drinks. 
I herd the four of us into the kitchen (while I stop at the deck door to let the dog out) to fix my soon-to-be-dehydrated bunch of children fresh cups of 2% chocolate milk (Luke), grape juice (Josie) and Vitamin D milk (Nathan). I start some water boiling for oatmeal and as I'm handing them their cups, I peek around the open door of the dishwasher that's waiting to be unloaded and spy a lone dishrag I forgot to gather last night after I wiped off the supper table. That reminds me of the laundry I started gathering before the baby woke up. 
I dash back into their bedrooms to gather their clothes and make a pass through their bathroom to gather the 291 handtowels and big towels and cold, wet washrags that have been sitting in the bottom of their tub, unrung out from their baths  last night. (Ewwww.) 
It's while I'm in there that I hear the two big kids squabbling over the recently anointed, recently elected, prime drinking cup in our house: a 3 year old, faded blue plastic souvenier cup from the Aquarium of the Americas in NOLA. I'm not kidding. There have been tears and squabbles and wars and rumors of wars and blood has nearly been shed over who's turn it is to drink out of the blessed "Fish Cup". 
If I were a sane person, I would simply hide it in the back of the cabinet or try and find a duplicate, or give it away BUT I AM NOT THAT PERSON because, for some perverse reason, I feel the need to teach them an object lesson in loving and giving and turn taking EVERY SINGLE DAY- I set my sights back to the kitchen. 
As soon as I dump the mound of laundry to be sorted on the floor in the corner of my kitchen, and let the poor dog back inside, I take a moment (for what seems the millionth time) to drag both kids into my lap and go over the high points of sharing and generosity and loving others more than we love ourselves BECAUSE JESUS WOULD WANT TO SHARE THAT RIDICULOUS FISH CUP AND I WANT MY KIDS TO WANT TO SHARE IT TOO.  
We eventually eat our breakfast. As soon as our oatmeal bowls are stashed into the sink, we start our school work and the varied and numerous array of interruptions continue on throughout our day as I try to keep up with our laundry and our housework and our meals and our hearts and our minds and our souls. I need a nap and it's not even 10am. 

Being home with my three kids is a daunting task, and there are some days, like that day when I just want to be able to do something start-to-finish without stopping. Mornings like those leave me with the feeling that I'd be content to just get my dishwasher unloaded without having to stop 17 times in the process. 

Before I had kids, I could unload an entire dishwasher (that I'd only had to run every other day, ha!) in less than 4 minutes. Now that I've got a 3:1 child-to-Mom ratio, if I can get it unloaded by lunchtime I'm feeling pretty stinkin' good about myself. 

And I'm not saying that there aren't ways I've found to better equipped myself to help make my days run more smoothly. I've made and actually follow several routines for both beginning and ending my days. Because it's so much easier to have the kid's morning cups fixed up the night before. Not having three kids hanging on your legs in the morning begging for hydration is actually quite niceI try and follow these routines EVERY SINGLE DAY because, when I do- I really can see a positive difference. 

I have a DayRunner that I love and adore. That bad boy stays open on top of a short bookshelf in my living room. I walk past it 372 times everyday and I would be positively lost without it because it's become my lesson planner and my calendar and my menu and my shopping list and my cleaning rotation and my routine and my brain. I would literally be lost without my trusty DayRunner. We've become organizational BFF's. Hooray for paper pages!!

But, even with all of those plans and to do lists and daily cleaning zones and routines and schedules, I can still get discouraged. There are still days that I am tired and cranky and fussy and frazzled and short with the kids and my husband. There are still moments when I long to be locked, undisturbed in a room with a blanket and a book and a cup of coffee for a couple of hours. Better yet- throw in a strong wireless signal and my Netflix cue and that may just about push me over the edge into an endless pool of bliss. For a burned out Mom like me, that situation happening would be like the equivalent of an entire lifetime of using towels straight from the dryer.

And I've had to realize something about my frazzled and frayed and burned out self. I can have all the paper pages of lists and tasks and reminders and post it notes and alarms and still feel ill-equipped to face my days and unprepared to accomplish all my responsibilities if I have not RESTED AND RECONNECTED with my Savior. 

I recently read my way through The Gospels. What I mean is, during my morning Bible studies, my plan took me straight through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John's accounts of the events in Jesus' life and ministry. And y'all, when I say it was a game changer, I am not exaggerating because after I wrapped up John I WAS CHANGED. My view of Jesus had forever been altered and I am a better person now because of it. 

I've always loved Jesus. I've always admired Him. Respected Him. Worshiped Him. But y'all, after reading through all the ins and outs and happenings of his life and ministry, I AM even more IN AWE OF HIM on levels that I never even thought about. He was a multitasker. A go-getter. An early riser. A night owl. A shepherd. A physician. A therapist. A life coach. A guide. As I read through the endless and tireless lists of places and people and situations He encountered- I couldn't (and I still don't) understand how Jesus could have physically and mentally and emotionally survived a life like his. 

For the life of me, I can't get over how unbelievably tired He must have been during his ministry. I mean, serioulsy, y'all- HE WORKED NONSTOP. Teaching. Preaching. Healing the sick. Kissing the babies. Hugging the people. Teaching The Word. I can not imagine what the pressure He endured felt like.This never ending stress, the constant pressure of the needs and demands of other people both physically and spiritually is something that, up until recently, I'd never thought about. How mentally and physically and emotionally exhausting that must have been for Him because everywhere He went- every town he visited, every shore his boat arrived on, every city he preached in- there were people waiting for Him. Because they needed Him. Wanted him. Sought after him. To heal their sick, bless their children, teach their people. I only have three little people's needs to meet every day, and even so- there are days I don't know quite how to handle it well, but Jesus did it for entire towns and cities and hillsides and regions and THE ENTIRE WORLD. Learning how to deal with stress like Jesus did is a lesson I needed to learn. 

There is one particular story that really struck me about how Jesus handled stress in His life. (Matthew Matt.4:23-25, Mark 1:21-39 **my favorite account**, and Luke 4:31-44) Jesus had just begun his ministry, and Luke's account tells us that Jesus had just been in Nazareth- his hometown- where his message was so ill received, that the people in the synagogue were in a rage against him. They were so mad they wanted to throw him off a cliff! 

Jesus left Nazareth and travelled to Capernaum, where he began teaching them in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus was still a relative unknown, and while he was teaching, a man with an unclean spirit came up to him, declaring him "the Holy One of God". Jesus immediately rebuked him and the demon left. The news of this miracle got out, and pretty soon it was spreading like wildfire all over town. 

He left the synagogue and went to Peter's house where Peter's mother-in-law was sick with a debilitating fever. They immediately asked Jesus to see to her, and he healed her. While all this was happening, the people of the city and surrounding villages heard the miraculous news about the synagogue and started bringing him people to heal. Mark's account tells us that "the whole city was at their door". I can't imagine the crush of people that surrounded Peter's house, but Jesus saw to them and healed them. What a job that must have been. 

It's the end of this story that really struck me, because the VERY NEXT THING that Jesus did, after teaching and healing and preaching and caring for an entire city's worth of sick and afflicted people was to escape. "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus go up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon (Peter) and his companions searched for Him; they found Him and said to Him, "Everyone is looking for You." (Mark 1:35-37) And y'all, I bet they were

Jesus had just spent nearly an entire night healing the sick and casting out demons, and the thing he needed most, the first thing he did to cope, the first steps he took to decompress was to rest and reconnect with His Father. He recognized where His strength came from, and He realized that He needed to lean on that Relationship to keep Him strong enough to survive the life and events and stresses of His ministry. 

I, on the other hand, have not always seen my need to rest and reconnect as being that important. When I'm stressed with the kids and need an outlet to decompress, I've been known to jump onto social media or browse delicious recipes on Pinterest or text my husband ridiculous ecards or just about anything besides what I really need to be doing to empower myself to survive this crazy life I lead: JESUS. 

Instead of logging on to Facebook or Instagram to decompress during stressful afternoons, I feel so much better when I escape into my quiet, dark bedroom, and seek Jesus' solace. The kids can knock on the door and bang on the walls for my attention just as well if I'm in there for five minutes as much as they could if I had my nose glued to my iPhone while I hid on the opposite side of a locked bathroom door. Reconnecting to Jesus is peaceful. Reconnecting to my wireless signal is playtime. And, if I'm feeling particularly stressed and void with my Instagramless moment, I can always throw a hashtag into my prayers with air quotes because Jesus will understand those, too. 

Before I became a Mom, when I'd read the story of Jesus calming the storm (found in Matt. 8, Mark 4, Luke 8) I'd always be surprised that Jesus could actually sleep through such a terrific thunderstorm such a tiny boat. Now that I'm a Mom I can totally get it BECAUSE HE MUST HAVE BEEN WORN SLAP OUT. His abilibiy to sleep through that storm, to me, is a testament to just how drained He felt. Stress exhaustion makes much, much more sense to me now that I've experienced my own versions of pressure and sleep depravation and . Because there are days when I think I could take a nap in the hull of a boat during a storm, too.

On this side of the never ending, never quitting, never-gonna-clock-out-for-the-day stream of the stress of Motherhood and all the interruptions that come along with them: I GET IT NOW. Jesus needed to reconnect and I do, too. His life, His ministry, His mission was one of constant interruptions. There was even one time when he was in the middle of preforming one miracle, was interrupted- preformed a second- then went back and completed the first miracle that he'd started. (Matt. 9, Mark 5, Luke 8) And I thought my struggle to complete a full circut of laundry from hamper to closet was tough. Mercy, y'all! Jesus was the Master multitasker.

And that's my takeaway. I used to live an uninterrupted life. I used to be able to start and finish tasks. BUT THEN I HAD KIDS. And now, my life is different. The value of my life is no longer based on starting and finishing tasks. It's surrounded by three precious little interruptiosn and the duties I've been given to raise them. I can take steps and measures to ensure that my waking hours are as productive and fruitful as possible, but I have to let go of the comparision of what my life used to be like to what it is now. Because there is no way I would ever want to go back to my 100%-completed-to-do-list, perfectly-folded-towel-and-washrag, spoiled-milk-sippy-cupless life. Because my kids are blessed messes. I may be tired, and my days may be long, and I may not get to wash my hair everyday, but it's the best kind of exhausted I could ever think to be.  

Jesus knew the value of taking time to himself to rest and reconnect when He was stressed. And it's time I took that lesson to heart, too.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I Will Be Aretha Franklin This Winter

The first day you have to break out the family's humidifiers is always a depressing one, don'tcha think?? 

It means that you've got croup and congestion and runny noses and fussy babies and earaches and long nights filled with Vicks Vapor Rub smear downs and hallway hoverings while you try and discern which of your children's rooms the last croupy cough came from. 

It's the season of lying awake listening for phantom baby cries and cleaning the phar
macy shelves of every single decongestant and essential oil and camphor mist and Vapor Rub and box of Kleenex they have to offer. 

If you're like me and are dealing with a sick (or in my case, TWO sick kids), I salute you. I lift my extra cup of coffee to you as I begin to Lysol all the things and wipe all the noses and suck out all the sinuses and pray that my one remaining healthy child doesn't succumb to the Mucus Monster that rears it's ugly head in my house each winter.

But I've got good news, y'all, because we will survive this season, friends.