Thursday, June 30, 2016

I Prayed For Flip Flops. FOR REAL.

About a week ago I bought Josie, our 4 year old, a new pair of flip flops for the summer. And, BECAUSE SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS REAL, about an hour after we got home- she lost one. 

::eye roll::

It's situations like this that help me understand the lionesses' urge to sometimes eat their young because sweet merciful heavens I'd *just* bought them for her. 

When she came to tell me (read: crying like she'd just been mauled by a bear) that she couldn't find one of her new shoes, I initially blew her off. My kids "lose" about 17 things a day and I can usually locate them with fairly decent accuracy within a few minutes. I did a quick visual sweep of our living room, came up fruitless and encouraged her to go look in her bedroom. I shrugged it off as one of the many aforementioned "lost" items I find each day and went about my business. (I'm pretty sure I was cleaning toilets. It was a riveting day.) 

But then, when it came time to clean up before bed, my usual under-the-furniture-behind-the-doors-beside-toy-chest haunts were empty and void of that bright pink shoe. "Whatevs", I told myself- "It'll turn up in the morning." 

Except that it didn't. ::groan::

I dove deeper into the recesses of our house. I lifted mattresses, I emptied dirty clothes hampers, I even checked the pot drawer in my kitchen. NOTHING. 

It was at this point that I started to feel a little...frustrated with the whole situation. I mean, c'mon! She had them for like before one was magically vaporized. It was maddening, y'all. 

Surprisingly, (or not really) I don't handle losing things well. We have a rubber set of squeaky building blocks that are my own personal Kryptonite. I haaaaaate them because if we've pulled them out during the day, I can't go to bed until I find ALL TEN OF THEM and put them away for the night. It's a character flaw, I know, but to thine own self be true- AND THIS WHO I AM. 

So, on like Day 4 of the ShoeQuest, my eye started twitching. Like, FOR REAL. It became more than a $9 pair of shoes and had turned into a mountain of disrespect for toys and a lack of appreciation for things and a whole downward spiral of despair and angst against life. (I may have a flair for the dramatics. MAYBE.)  And clearly, I needed Jesus to hold my hand through this. 

So, in the middle of another fruitless search, I snuck away to my closet, closed the door and gave God the current rundown of the situation, ESPECIALLY about my current semi-psychotic state regarding the whole big thing. (God knows I'm really good at making mountains out of molehills and He still loves me anyway. Ridiculous, I know.) 

So I pour out all my shoe insanity to Him, and ask Him to help me curb the crazy a wee bit. I give Him all the backstory of all the facets to the whole thing and then ask him to slow my roll. I humbled myself. I recognized that I had weaknesses that were coming to the surface because of one single lost shoe. (It's pathetic that I had to climb off the ledge because I'd spent a week looking for a shoe, these are first world problems, I get that.) I owned my flaws and asked Him to prefect them for me. I left my closet feeling better, and knew that I'd have  that shoe located before bedtime that night. 

Except that I didn't. 

I didn't find the shoe that day, or the next, OR THE NEXT. My psychosis continued to try to read it's ugly head, but instead of giving in to it, I gave it up. I forced myself to exhale. To unclench my jaw. To put it in a bubble and blow it away. (Again, I may be just a little dramatic.) 

A family connected with our church tragically lost their home in a fire this week. There are siblings in the home that are the same ages as my oldest and middle child. We are collecting clothes and other donations for them so yesterday, The Great Purge happened. I went through all our toys and books and puzzles and clothes and PlayDoh molds. Things that were nice enough to donate were donated. (Side note: DON'T GIVE YOUR TRASH TO THE NEEDY. It's not nice. But that's another post for another day.) Things that were broken were recycled. Things that were kept were organized and put away. Also, how on Earth did we accumulate so many stuffed animals??

I was going through a bag of off season clothes that were stored on the floor of the big kid's closet in their room when I saw it. THE PINK SHOE WAS FINALLY FOUND. And at first, I couldn't believe it. And neither could Josie. She shrieked, ran to grab it's mate and literally hugged them.

I made a point to stop then and thank God for the help He gave us. I'd been praying and searching and working so hard- and I never thought in a million years I'd be praying for a tiny pink flip flop, but BECAUSE MOMMING WITHOUT JESUS IS INSANITY, I did. 

I'm sure there will be more ridiculous things I'll ask God to help me with, but for now, this takes the cake. What's the craziest thing you've ever asked God to help you with? 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Things You're 'Dye'-ing To Know.

I'm totally lame with post titles, I KNOW THIS. 

I posted this morning about one of our yearly summer traditions: TIE DYE. I've gotten lots of questions and messages and texts, so I figured it would be easiest to answer them all here in one place. 

It came about maybe four summers ago when my niece Ashley gave me my first tie dye tutorial. I loved it and the kids loved it and we've been hooked ever since. 

Ashley was/is my tie dye mentor and she's given me some sage advice over the years. (I may or may not have texted her AGAIN this year because my memory is either completely blank or filled up with current episodes of Animal Mechanicals.)

So here's her/my advice:

-Get a kit with bottles and dye powder from your local craft store. Pay attention to the volume of dye each kit makes because running out ruins everyone's day. TRUST ME. 

-If you have brand new shirts, wash them first and leave them wet. You want to get the sizing out so your dye will be vibrant. Better yet- use an old shirt. Recycling for the win! 

-Rubber bands. Get loads. They only give you like three in each kit and we use more. Walmart sold a huge bag with their craft supplies for like .97¢. It's worth it FOR SURE. 

-DYE OUTSIDE or, if it's raining, in a bathtub OR on your sworn enemies' kitchen table. ANY OTHER AREA is a terrible idea. Awful. 

-The crumple design Tulip tries to sell everyone on is lame and anyone who thinks it's cool is a loser. (I'm looking at YOU, Steven
Brighton.) That is not tie dye. That's cheating. No rubber bands= NO TIE DYE. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. (But we still love you, S.B.) 

-Wrap your dyed shirts in a WalMart bag and leave them to soak overnight. It'll make the colors brighter than if you rinse them after say, 6 or 8 hours.

-Cut the rubber bands and lay the shirts out to sun dry on the grass before you rinse them. (Again, it'll help your colors stay vibrant.)

-Hand wash individually (I know it's a pain) each shirt after you've rinse it until the water mostly runs clear. I just swish each one in my sink with some soap and then rinse and then hang to air dry. We will wear them after this initial dry and then for the first several washes I'll keep our freshly dyed shirts in a separate load because BLEEDING WILL HAPPEN if you don't. 

-After a couple of washes you'll be good to go tossing it in with your other colors, so don't worry too much. Or, if you're still nervous, you can always go back to your sworn enemie's house and toss them in with their good church clothes JUST TO BE SAFE. (Not really. Jesus would not approve.) 

-Gloves are a hassle and pain, and I never wear them. They're huge! However, I sport an interestingly colored palm/fingertips for a few days after we dye so PICK YOUR BATTLES. 

-Make a shirt for your husband that he will never (willingly) wear out the house because the family that tie dyes together, STAYS TOGETHER. 

Unify your family this summer by tie dying your cares away like we do! Make your husband a shirt that he will "love" to wear. ::wink:: 

Enjoy your summer creating traditions like this one. I know we do! 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

1 Corinthians 13. (Motherhood Edition.)

If I speak with the tongues of toddlers and of Kindergarteners, but fail to tell them every single day how deep and wide and high my love is for them, I've become nothing but a noisy Mom and a towering grown up that's blocking their view of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

If I have the gift of sleep training, and breast feeding, and toddler potty training, and know every single way to clean a house from top to bottom in under two hours but don't do it out of love- all I am is a well trained maid. 

And if I can fix homemade, scratch cooked meals that would make Paula Deen weep bitter tears of envy, and know all the mysteries of crayon stain removal and car seat regulations, and have faith so as to daily move the mountains of laundry that are set before me, but do it out of the desire to self promote on social media platforms at the expense and shame of other Moms and not love- I am nothing but a self righteous woman with a well fed stomach who lives in a spotless, diaperless, dirty laundry-less house that is completely void of all the warmth and sticky handprints and peanut butter and jelly smeared faces of love that childhood has to offer. 

And if I give all my hand me downs to the poor instead of consigning them to buy more, and if I give my body over to be burned empty of calories and lazered free of stretch marks, but lose my patience when my four year old wastes 7 minutes of my perfectly timed day because she wants to dress herself, I've gained nothing but an muffin top-less middle section and arms that are strong enough to push a 100 lb. double stroller but that are too weak to slow down and take each day's hurdles with grace and fortitude. 

Love is patient in grocery lines. 
Love is kind when other judge her parenting decisions. 
Love is not jealous when friends lose their baby weight before her.  
Love does not envy when other Mom's drive a nicer car than she does. 
Love does not brag about potty training or current reading levels or how many hours in a row her child sleeps at night. 
Love does not boast with narcissistic pictures of herself on social media. 
Love is not arrogant when someone compliments her children because love knows she can fall from that lofty perch faster than a two year old runs when they hear contraband candy wrappers being opened. 
Love does not act unbecomingly during a fight with her husband. She gives out grace by the bucketful because she knows grace covers a multitude of sins. 
Love does not seek her own way as the ONLY way; she sees both sides of the story. 
Love is not easily provoked when her kids trample the last of her patience as they dump out their Lego tub onto the living room rug only 3 minutes after it's just been picked up. Love does not keep a record of diapers changed or teeth flossed or who's turn it is to discipline a repeat offender. Love knows there's no room in her marriage for a tally count because marriage is a team effort. 
Love does not rejoice in "cute" toddler backtalk but in heartfelt prayer time. 

Love bears all things. All the late nights and early mornings and old fears and new worries. Love gladly shoulders the world for her children as they grow and strengthen themselves to be prepared to hold it up on their own. 

Love believes all things. She believes in the innocence of pretend tea parties and sword fights and praying for stuffed animals. She believes in the healing power of kisses and leaving cookies out for Santa and how a sandwich tastes better on a specifically colored plate. 

Love hopes all things. She hopes for fertile soil and seeds planted and nourishing rains of faith. She hopes for more vegetables to be eaten and fewer cavities found. She confidently expects all the sacrifices she's given here to pay off in eternity. 

Love endures all things. She endures the interrupted showers and worship services and phone calls to answer approximately 528 questions per day. She buckles seat belts and checks chest clips and make sure all the bad dreams have been banished. She endures the same episode of Little Einstines being played on repeat for three months in a row.

Love never fails. EVER. 

Because when she thinks she's got her kids sleeping through the night- they won't. And when she thinks she got potty training licked- she gets a soggy carseat liner to remind her that she hasn't. And just when she thinks she's got everything running smoothly- it won't. Roofs will need replacing and teeth will form cavities and kids will decide to fight over the most ridiculous items. (There's a single confiscated fake carrot sitting on top of her icebox to prove it.) Love will develop endurance within her like she's never had because failing herself, her family, and her faith is never an option. 

If there are feelings of pride, motherhood will do away with them immediately. If there are outfits that aren't stained with peanut butter or bacon grease, cooking meals for her family will do away with them soon. (Buy an apron now and save the heartache.) And if there is knowledge, staying home around three little ones will decimate it. Because motherhood takes away your ability to do mental math faster than you'd ever believe. 

For we may know some things, and we may be able to see some things coming, but when we learn to rely solely on Him for our strength, those partial things will finally be made complete.

Before I was a parent, I spoke like an expert. I thought I knew it all and could point out other's parenting errors with laser precision. But when I became a parent I put away my childish judgements quickly because I then knew how hard it was. 

After I became a Mom I understood how much work went into all the things that come when you've suddenly been put in charge of pointing someone else's soul to Heaven. The responsibility of raising arrows is one that I could have never anticipated the weight of. 

But there are three foundation stones that will keep any Mom sane on the crazy days, calm during the hectic ones and grateful through the messy ones. Build yourself up in Him. Live in faith that you're doing a good job even when you think you aren't, strengthen your hope knowing that even the darkest night will eventually dawn, and love your life even when you don't like some of the days. 

And know that the greatest and hardest and fiercest of these is love. 

Love like that and you'll be all set. 

And thanks for stopping by, ~Katie. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I Like You, But We Can't Be Friends.

Ok, so here's the deal. I LIKE PEOPLE. 

Ask any visitor that's every come to our church or any person that's ever dropped off packages on our front porch or the gal who makes my coffee at Starbucks and they'll tell you "That gal likes people. A LOT." ::grin:: 

There are many worship services that end with my husband, Matt taking a kid or two to the car and waiting for me outside while I hang back in the foyer with the rest of them talking and catching up and telling anybody that looks new just exactly where the best local Mexican restaurant is located. (Shout out to Mariachi's in Gulf Breeze! I will love your fajitas and your cheese sauce and your chips until my dying day.) 

Anyway, I like people. All the people. All the visitors and telephone banking representatives and cashiers and bakery associates at our local Walmart. The kids and I make friends just about wherever we go. Maybe it's because we are such a gaggle of hooligans, maybe it's because we just love Jesus so much we can't help it- I'm not sure, but I do know that we love to love folks. 

But just because I love folks, doesn't mean I can be everyone's friend. I can't. 

Years ago, I watched as some friends of ours' marriage ended. They had been married only a short time longer than we had, and because of some doors in their pasts that hadn't stayed closed, infidelity crept in and slowly destroyed their union. It was hard and sad and infuriating and scary to watch happen. I thought to myself "That could've been us. They got married just before we did.".

Their marriage ended because of so many reasons, but the first crack in the dam was through their social media activity. There were connections kept that weakened their vows. Friendships online weakened the one between themselves. Virtual conversations took the place of the communication that should have been happening inside their home. They put more time, energy and effort into building online relationships and they allowed the reality of their own to disintegrate.

Watching a marriage fall apart is one of the hardest, but most convicting things I've ever seen. It brought into check my own priorities and made me realize that getting married is easy, but staying happily married is hard. It takes work and drive and dedication and sacrifice to make your union a lasting and joyful and healthy one. To choose one person to spend the rest of your life with, no matter what comes your way- is a decision based on a covenant you as a couple make with God, and you've got to make a decision to honor that covenant daily. 

I can honestly say that I am married to my best friend. Matt and I are way better together than we ever are apart. We are stronger, more confident, better equipped to face life when we are standing beside one another. And I don't ever want that to change. We've got too many inside jokes, for one thing. Yeah!  

And as much as the deck is stacked against lasting (and happy!) marriages, I am going to work to do everything I can to affair-proof my marriage. I decided that there was an easy step I could take to help safeguard myself from an attack like the one that had happened to our friends. I don't have connections to men on social media. I went through and deleted anyone who wasn't a direct relative of mine and sent them a message  explaining why. (Because rudeness isn't cool, either. Even now, if I get a request on a social media platform, I'll send a message to them explaining my stance on social media boundaries BECAUSE I LIKE PEOPLE.) 

I'm sure it seemed silly and sort of extreme, and maybe it still does, but what matters most to me is maintaining, and protecting, and encouraging growth within my marriage vows. My job is to engage with my husband first and foremost- and if there is an area lurking outside our union that may inhibit that bond, it's my job to seek it out, dig it up and eliminate it. If it were a real, actual thing, I WOULD BURN IT WITH FIRE and sprinkle the ashes around my rose bushes in our front yard. (Because I think I read somewhere that ash is good for the soil. Maybe?? I digress.)

My marriage is for keeps. And like it or not, whatever life throws at us, Matt is stuck with me until the very end. 
(And I may or may not move into his mansion once we get to heaven, too. ::wink::)