We like ta move it move it

As we enter the month of June, excitement and dread are hovering above me like a swarm of gnats. We close on our new house on June 14th, which means these next two weeks we’ll be packing up everything we own–from Magic Bullets to Magic Fairy wands–only to unpack them two weeks later. We are taking a week in between to remove some crazy kaleidoscope wallpaper and paint as many rooms as possible before we officially move-in to the new house.

Moving in-and-of-itself hasn’t been overly stressful for me–this will be our fifth home in nine years. The most stressful part is not having a “home” for a few weeks. I find it almost therapeutic to sort through every nook and cranny of our home and effectively start with a clean slate. BUT…I’ve never moved with multiple children before. Our last move, I was 7 months pregnant with Ally and Rae was only two years old. Packing was simple…I put her in her play pen as I packed up the whole house in under three days. So I’m already dreading this move–three kids means three times the mess and stress as before.

This past week was supposed to be our last week of relaxing before this house turns from a home into a den of boxes. So wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to have a few days in our “first home” with nothing to do and nowhere to go? Boy was I wrong. Here’s how my relaxing week turned out…

TUESDAY morning–I hopped on facebook while I was drinking my morning cup of coffee around 7 am, listening to the girls play upstairs in their room. After a few minutes, I decided to go check on them. When I got to the top of the stairs, I noticed little tufts of blonde hair floating on top of the hallway’s hardwood…”NO NO NO NONONONO!” I yelled, eyes frantically searching for the scissor-wielding savant. And there, hiding behind the bathroom sink, sat my three year old, whose long, single-length locks were now cut into a perfect…Mullet.

Mullet Mayhem

If you had TRIED to cut a mullet on a child, you couldn’t have done a better job than she did. With nicely shaped bangs (which she did not have before), feathered sides and a long tail trailing down her back, this child looked like the offspring of Joe Dirt and Uncle Jesse. I laughed, took a few pictures, rushed her to the ER (the Emergency Repair at a local salon), and she ended up with a cute stacked bob.

But out the door went one relaxing day–from trips to the salon to sweeping up hair tumbleweeds, Tuesday was not exactly what I’d pictured.

Wednesday After dinner the next night, Hubby and I were in the kitchen catching up on our day, when Rae came running down the stairs laughing and screaming, “Oh no! Wait till you see what Ally did! BaH HahaHaha!” Hubby and I followed her up the stairs only to find Ally sitting on top of her dresser, head-to-toe covered in diaper cream (which if you’ve had any experience with, you know is basically like smearing Crisco all over yourself.) I asked her, “WHY on earth did you do this!!!?” She tearfully replied, “I wannna look like a princess, but me no look like a princess now.” Well she got that right! She looked more like the abominable snowman!

Friday and Saturday were spent OUT of the house, with fun trips to the museum and my parents’. Thankfully, nothing of major consequence occurred. But this afternoon, I heard a knock on the front door. When I answered it, my neighbor timidly pointed upwards and said, “Um, I thought you should know that your girls are crawling around on the porch roof.” Apparently Rae had figured out how to open screen windows, and they decided it would be fun to climb out and say hello to all the passers-by.

So as I enter this crazy week of boxes and packing peanuts, there’s definitely a part of me that would like put my children in one of those boxes. If you think of us, please pray for me. And pray that my kids will be able to breath through cardboard.

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Why I hate Pinterest

For months after a friend proudly showed me her pinterest account, I denied it entry into my life.  I wasn’t sure how it all worked, and I certainly didn’t need one more thing to keep track of. But last fall, when I wanted to throw my daughter a Horse-Themed 5th birthday party, I finally succumbed to the inevitable–the initial encounter with the ultimate internet bulletin board.  I quickly searched and created a board about Horse Parties for little girls, complete with pictures of cowboy boot cookies, doily trimmed tables, and impossibly expensive favors. And for about a month, that was the extent of my experience on Pinterest.

Then came Christmas. OH bright and merry Christmas boards, with your trees and trimmings and tinsel and toys! So I added another board with pins on how-to-make-your-own burlap stockings and jingle bell garland and Egg Nog (which, ironically, happened to be Egg-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Soy-free, Gluten-free, and Vegan. Seriously. I’m not kidding.)

Egg nog *not!*

While I had nagging questions about these “Pinterest People” (like “How do they afford that!?” Or “Who has the time for that!?” or even “Seriously! Who does that?!”), I shrugged off most of my concerns because Pinterest is–well, ultimately–helpful. I’ve found great ideas for games and crafts with my kids, delicious and healthy recipes, additions for my spring wardrobe, and cute, cheap projects for around the house.

It wasn’t until recently that these doubts turned to hatred.
We are moving in a month. Compared to my current home, this new house feels like a mansion. I’m so excited to be there. But in my excitement to remove wall-paper and paint trim, I’ve also begun searching for ideas on Pinterest. I’ve searched for bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. I’ve searched and seen it all…glowing sunrooms, cozy fireplaces, inviting sofas and lush green lawns. And now I can say, without a doubt, that I. Hate. Pinterest.

I hate how superficial all of this is. I hate that these moms can put on their plastic smiles and with their perfectly manicured nails point to their perfectly organized closets and perfectly well-mannered children. Because we all know that nothing…and no one… can be that perfect.

Sure, I might paint a chair like it shows in the picture, but mine’s going to have drips of paint and sticky fingerprints on it. And I might try a pair of those pastel skinny jeans like the stylist recommends, but my thighs are going to rub together. And I might organize my pantry with fancy jars and labels, but my three year old is going to cover them with stickers and then spill the lentils all over the floor.

And the thing is, I DO have proud moments as a mom (like today, when my five year old tried to make a new girl at Sunday school feel welcome by offering to let her wear her bracelet). But even with those moments to look back on, as soon as I hop on Pinterest, those grateful moments disappear and I’m left feeling inadequate and overwhelmed!

I don’t want to suffer from Pinterest Perfectionism. And I certainly don’t want my children to grow up thinking that they have to be perfect, either. Hey, I’m not saying it’s wrong to get ideas or even to appreciate beauty. But it is wrong to think that you can and should be able to “do it all.” So I’m going to stop spending so much time worrying about these Pinterest People and start spending more time with the people that are actually IN my life. Because at the end of the day, I won’t remember pins about chalkboard paint and coral wedges–but I will remember the pleasure of those precious little sticky fingers wrapped around my hand.

Behold what manner of love…

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we should be called the sons of God!

1 Jn 3:1

It’s been three months since she came to live with us.  There are so many things we have thought and felt and changed and mourned since then.  But as so often happens, God takes the things of this world and is using them to shape us and refine us. 

This is the thought that has repeatedly resonated with me:  How could God, righteous and just, pull me, wretched and selfish, out of this life of sin?  And then–and this is what astounds me even more–despite the muck and chaos, He choose me and calls me his daughter!  He loves me.  He revels in me.  He wants me. 

Because the choosing was hard–knowing that our lives would change and her life would change and everything would change–was hard.  And the doing was even harder–mourning the simple life we had and fearing the storms to come.  But the hardest part is exactly where we are right now.  The loving. 

To take in a child who has no one to care for her only requires pity.  To feed and foster that child, clothe and care for her, only requires benevolence.  To discipline that child so that she can be wiser and stronger and someday be an influence for good only requires morality.  But to bestow love on that child?  That’s the work of God.

It is not by chance that the Spirit lead me to re-read Knowing God, by J. I. Paker over these last few months.  This is what I read today…

In the ancient world, adoption was a practice ordinarily confined to the childless well-to-do.  Its subjects were not normally infants, as today, but young adults who had shown themselves fit and able to carry on a family name in a worthy way.  In this case however, God adopts us out of free love, not because our character and record show us worthy to bear his name, but despite the fact that they show the very opposite.  We are not fit for a place in God’s family…

Adoption, by its very nature, is an art of free kindness to the person adopted.  If you become a father by adopting a son or daughter, you do so because you choose to, not because you are bound to. Similarly, God adopts because he chooses to.  He had no duty to do so.  He need not have done anything about our sins except punish us as we deserved.  But he loved us…And throughout our life in this world, and to all eternity beyond, he will constantly be showing us, in one way or another, more and more of his love, and thereby increasing our love to him continually.  The prospect before the adopted children of God is an eternity of love. 

For none of the choosing, the doing, the caring, the disciplining–none of it matters without love.  . 

Thou Shalt not Covet

The look in her eyes was devious. She bent low towards her friend, formed her hand into a fist and seethed, “You’d better give me that purple cat or else…”

Yes. Apparently this is how my daughter reacts when coveting. She wanted to borrow her little friend’s toy and when she was told she couldn’t, she turned into a little green monster. After warning her through clenched teeth that she’d better not threaten anyone ever again and forcing an apology from an ungrateful heart, we trudged to the van and drove home.

“Rae, do you know what coveting is?” I asked, glancing back in the rear-view mirror.
“No,” she replied, arms crossed,, face fuming, heart unsatisfied.
“It’s when we want something that someone else has. Like when you wanted that toy your friend had—that’s called coveting. And the Bible tells us we should not covet, but instead we should be thankful.”
“But I really, really wanted it, Mom!” she broke down (and I’m amazed that a child sees sin so quickly.)
“I know. But you have been given so many wonderful things, and by wanting something you don’t have, you’re not honoring God. Why don’t you pray now and ask God to forgive you and then let’s name some things we’re thankful for, okay?”
“Dear God,” she whispered out the window from the back seat, “Please forgive me for coveting. And thank you for my family and thank you that I’m not an orphan. And thank you, Father, for apple trees and that we get to eat apples from them….”

Thou shalt not covet.

Our family’s been on a “Little House on the Prairie” kick lately. In the episode we watched just days after the coveting incident, little Laura thinks she has stumbled upon a river flowing with gold, and dreaming of all the things she could buy, she asks her father, “Pa, if you had all the money in the world, what would you buy?”
Pa, lighting his pipe, laughs and says, “Half-Pint, I don’t even think I can think of anything! All I could ever want is right here in this room.”

That slammed me in the gut. Because, let me tell you, if Laura had asked me that question, I could think of probably 100 things right off the bat that I’d be on my way to purchasing had I found a river of gold….(a charming little house in the wide, open country, a new van that starts every time, a new wardrobe, complete with shoes and jewelry, dance lessons for my girls, piano lessons for myself, a weekly massage…need I go on or have you seen the depths of my depravity?)

Sometimes I fear my list of wants is greater than my list of thanks. So here I am, teaching my child not to covet, when I myself am guilty of the exact same thing. Perhaps I hide my sin better in that I don’t directly threaten God (“You’d better give that to me, or else”) but it’s the same sin. Every time I notice things I’d like to change in my house, or check off things I’d like to buy, or gripe about what’s not working now, I’m essentially saying, “What you’ve given me is not enough.”

Please forgive me, Father. Help me to be thankful for the here and now and for all the blessings you give each day. Help me add to my list of thanks and subtract from my list of wants. Thank you for my family and my friends and my church and my home…and for apple trees.

Try, try again

So many times I feel caught in failure’s fist.  Stuck in self-saturated sin, unrighteous to my core, and wanting to reject the cross because I just. don’t. deserve it.   

I think am like the Israelites.  This special, chosen people rejected God to worship fake, unworthy heaps of metal. They forgot the God who rescued them out of Egypt and saved them from slavery. They followed other nations’ ideals instead of obeying the Word of the Lord.  And then–oh, how it broke God’s heart!–they removed Yahweh from their throne and replaced him with a king made of bones and blood. 

But there is a part of this story I just don’t understand–instead of cursing them, instead of writing them off and picking another people to cherish–God shows grace.  When they come to ask for redemption, admitting that they deserve death (1 Sam. 12:19), God’s reply through the prophet Samuel is this:

“For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” (1 Sam. 12:22)

So this is grace.  Not forsaken.  Not because of who we are, but because of who HE is.  He shows grace because it pleases Him.

But I love that God knows humanity’s nature, knows that grace is complicated and messy, knows that we want to both accept it and reject it.  So he says:

 “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you.” (I Sam. 12:24)

And this too is grace.  These commands to fear the Lord, serve him faithfully, give thanks for what He has done…all grace.  Because he knows we’ll want to….we need to.  So not only does he allow us to try, try again, he asks us to! 

It’s his grace that redeems, and it’s his grace that lets me wake each morning to try again.  And so I do.

Heaven is…a wonderful place

After tonight, if you were to ask my three and a half year old daughter what heaven will be like, she’d probably tell you something like this: “Well, it’s very beautiful and there’s a humungous pool and lots of barbies and I get to dress up like a princess every day and have icecream for dinner and it kindof looks like my house but even better and it’s funner than even the park or the beach and I can sit on Jesus lap, or Mommy’s if I want to and…”

Rae’s in that “asking questions” phase, and tonight she was all worked up about heaven. It all began with her first random question: “Will we come back here after we go to heaven?” Of course I answered simply “No,” which brought about a torrent of tears: “Why not, Mommy?! I like my house! My room is the best place and I don’t want to live in heaven!”

I think to an almost-four-year-old, home IS the closest thing to heaven. There’s people here whom she loves and who love her, and she feels safe and happy here. So I replyed, “Well, heaven is just like our house…but even better!”
This, of course, led her to dissect her room–she had to name everything and ask if heaven would have it. For exmple, “Will heaven have barbies?” “Yes, Rae, lots of barbies.” “Will heaven have books?” “So many books you can read a new one every night!” “Will we get to wear pretty dresses in heaven?” “Of course! You can dress up every day like a princess!”

So, although there may not be any mention of Berenstain Bears or flowered bedspreads in heavenly refrences in the Bible, I hope that the Lord doesn’t mind me taking a few liberties with the idea of “streets of gold.” Because ultimately, I want her to look forward to heaven! I want her to know that it the only place she truly belongs. I want her to feel completely confident that being with Jesus will be more than her little heart could ever imagine.

Like the old hymn says…”When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” Come quickly, Lord Jesus…

Can’t fake it

A Blog about Faith

I’m obsessed with craigslist. I’ve been looking for this “Rose Garden Cottage” for Rae’s birthday and finally found one! New, it costs around $150 (how they can charge that much for a child’s playhouse that’s built out of nylon and plastic confounds me), but I found one on the magical craigslist for $30! Since it was local, we all went to see it. We pulled up to the house, and I went to meet the woman who was selling it. As we were chatting about the weather, her grand kids, and the mess of toys that have taken over our homes, my husband got out of the van to put the cottage in. She surprised me by saying to him, “You’ve got a quite a catch here, I hope you know! She’s so sweet!” I blushed at the complement (and at my husband’s concurrence.)
Once we all got back in the van, however, something sparked an argument between Hubby and I, and I’m forced to confess that I said some pretty wicked things. As I was lamenting my side of the argument, however, God stopped me in my prideful steps: How can I be so sweet and pleasant to a complete stranger and so grossly mean to my own husband?
It can be so hard to live for Christ in my own home. Sometimes I think it’s the place where I’m most challenged to face my flaws. Isn’t it easier to speak pleasantly and politely to the grocer in the check-out lane than to talk to our children in a similar way? Doesn’t it come more naturally sometimes to forgive a friend who’s wronged us than to extend the same grace to our spouse? I am praying that God will give me the strength to love my family the way He does. I want them to see Christ in me! Oh, that HE would become greater and I would become less! And when I fail (because it’s bound to happen)..maybe I’ll hide away for a while in a little Rose Garden Cottage.