Parenting Posts

The Hidden Mother’s Day

The Hidden Mother’s Day

Do you ever feel like sometimes you are on the outside looking in? Or on the outside crying, moaning, and aching, while everyone else is in and so joyful about it?

Sometimes I think we forget that this happens so much on this very day – Mother’s Day.

Don’t get me wrong.

I know that today is a wonderful day!

Good mothers are exceptional human beings. Attentive, involved mothers change the course of history. Loving mothers are to be adored. So many things make us all thankful for mothers.

And they most certainly should be celebrated. If you appreciate your mother, for the love of all loves, please shout that appreciation from the rooftops (and for heaven’s sake, please do it more than just on Mother’s Day!).

But what about the hidden side of Mother’s Day? Those who have lost their mothers or have lost a child? What about people whose mothers were unkind or worse? Or those who have estranged relationships with their children? Some people feel conflicted between stepmothers and their own mothers.

There are children who have been adopted and long to know their birth mothers, and birth mothers who remember the children they don’t get to know. Children wait in limbo in the foster care system, waiting to see if there is a mother that will choose them to love. There are women who are, at this very moment, longing, begging, pleading for the chance to love a child as their own.

Mother’s Day is a very big deal. But sometimes Mother’s Day is hard.

For some, today is a big deal because it’s a big struggle. It’s emotional for all of us — but for some, that emotion is not all positive.

So here’s my request — please show kindness and love to all of the people around you today.

On this Mother’s Day, there is a lot of joy, pampering, breakfasts in bed, and fawning over mothers — just as there should be!

But today there are also people around us silently enduring the pain that Mother’s Day brings. Let’s have a little extra sensitivity and love for those experiencing this side of the holiday.

To those of you for whom today is a day to endure — I’m so sorry for your hurt and your pain that is exacerbated today. May you draw close to Jesus. I pray that He comforts you, holds you up, and sustains you through this day. You are a Spartan.

To you mothers for whom this day is very special — Happy Mother’s Day!

May you be taken care of, feel appreciated, and enjoy this day devoted to honoring you! I hope you receive handmade cards, kid-wrapped presents, and a nap. You are amazing, and what you do is so hard and often under-acknowledged. Thank you for what you do. You are a Spartan.

Have You Ever…?

Have You Ever…?

Have you ever

…picked a piece of food up off of the floor and, greatly underestimating the last time you mopped, handed it back to your child? Call it the “5-minute rule.”

…considered swimming in the pool a sufficient enough bath?

…tried to keep sleeping (or wishfully willing yourself to go back to sleep) on the couch while your kids watch TV because it’s far too early in the morning to be awake?

…looked at your kids and thought, “I seriously love you so much that I might eat your face off!”?

…used the rare opportunity of a moment of silence to just stare at the wall and think nothing?

…driven through fast food for your kids because you’ve been running errands all day and JUST NOW realized that you’ve fed no one lunch yet?

…been so sick and tired of everyone not listening to the words you say that you start having a heated discussion with yourself?

…offered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or cereal for all three meals of the day because it’s the one thing you know will get eaten and it’s just the one thing that you can’t handle fighting about today?

…let your kids sleep in their clothes so that they’ll be ready for school tomorrow upon waking up?

…invented reasons to run to the store “really quickly” just so you can walk around with no kids?

…eaten the last of the favorite treat in the house? Then when your kids asked for some, “sadly” informed them that it’s all gone? Or better yet…lied about it being all gone, planning to finish it up when they’re not looking?

…pulled into the driveway and realized that your kids were asleep, understanding that you’d have to be a self-loathing idiot to wake those kids up, so you decide to just sit in the car and read Facebook instead?

…or better yet, just left the movie running in the back seat once you pulled into the driveway so that you could fall asleep in the front seat and know your kids are buckled in and staying put?

Yeah, no, me neither. Those things would make me totally crazy.

 

What I Hope My Kids Know About Me

What I Hope My Kids Know About Me

Yesterday was a special day.

It was my mom’s birthday.

We celebrated with tacos, margaritas, and family!

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I put a post on Facebook listing some of the things that my mom taught me, and how grateful I am for her. She’s seriously the best.

This got me thinking about my boys and the Spartans I want them to become. What do I hope they can say about what I taught them when they’re grown with their own families? What do I hope that they know about me and who I am/was?

I spent the day making a mental list about the things that I hoped my kids would know about me, and what I hoped that they would do with those things.

So here is a list of some of the things that I hope that my boys know about me.

———-

Noah and Aidan, 

I love you so much that it makes my body ache. I love you unconditionally and with my whole heart. I could watch you chew, sleep, and giggle for the rest of my breaths and never be able to reach the depth of how much I love you.

I’ve learned that our only job in this world is to love other people – no matter who they are. I’m the worst at this, but you are both so good at it. You make instant friendships with random kids on the playground, and the idea of me doing that often makes my palms sweat. You see hurt and feel compelled to help. I hope so much that you never lose this. Every person matters, no matter their color, their beliefs, their job, their style, or their choices.

I love a good party. Any reason for a party is fine by me. Kentucky Derby? Find some hats! National Pancake Day? Bring some bacon, too! Oh, is it Tuesday? I think we need to have an ice cream party! I hope you learn to celebrate things — big and little. Life is so full of the big and the little. Keep your home open to people. Something special happens when people get together in your home…it fills to the brim with love and joy and laughter that lingers long after the people have gone.

For a long time, I tried really hard to be tough, and then decided it was just time to be honest.  It’s good to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and barrel full-steam ahead with determination and grit. But it’s also really important that you don’t pretend like life isn’t hard. Life is so hard. Sometimes just for no other reason than that it’s life. But it’s infinitely harder when you’re trying to tough it out alone, and so is everyone else around you. Don’t do life alone, and don’t do life pretending. Your honesty will give others permission to be honest, too.

I don’t do everything by myself, and it’s okay to ask for help. My mom makes dinner for us sometimes, and she cleans for me sometimes, too. Sometimes Grandma comes to play with you so that I can take a nap. My friends help with birthday parties, and talk me through my stress daily. Women in my Life Group pray for me. Don’t be afraid to lean on other people when you need it. And don’t be too wrapped up in yourself that you forget to be available for other people.

I do a lot by myself, and it’s important to learn to be self-sufficient. If something is broken, I try to fix it myself first. If I don’t know how to do something, I do my best to learn how to do it. I’ve become quite handy and gained knowledge in many different areas because I took some extra time to do it by myself. It’s important to me that in many areas of my life, I am not solely dependent on other people. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

I choose to stay home. I graduated from college. I had many different jobs before I was a mom. I don’t stay home because I’m not qualified to do any jobs. I’m not a mom who stays at home because it’s the easiest thing to do. I could have a career or do good things in many different jobs. I choose to stay home because I feel that it’s the best decision I could possibly make for our family. But don’t mistake the fact that I stay home for a desire to opt out of responsibility or because I’m unqualified to do anything else. I choose to do this because I’m willing to set aside my life to be present for yours.

I love adventures and spontaneity. There’s a big big world out there. I hope you explore it and experience it for all it has to offer. See the world with your eyes and your arms wide open.

I am angered when someone hurts you, and I will fight for you. I’m always on your side. I promise.

I can do hard things. I’m learning something about myself. I’m a tough cookie. I can do things that are difficult, painful, or undesirable — but necessary. And so can you. I’ll be right here to help you.

A song can change my day. Sometimes all it takes is that one song to bring me right back to high school, or to the day I married Daddy, or sitting in our backyard watching you play together nicely, or when I experienced pain like I’d never known before. Music will do that to you. It can wound you and heal you all at once. It can remind you. It can encourage you. And it can move you. Learn to love music.

I exercise so that I can keep up with you. I want to be able to run with you, ride bikes with you, swim with you, take you on adventures far into the mountains and out on the lake. I want to teach you to water ski and climb a tree. I love coaching your teams and chasing you up the stairs. I take time away from you so that I can spend time with you. I don’t exercise to look a certain way, although that would be a nice added bonus. You two never stop, so I want to never stop.

My brain is more important to me than beauty. And my heart is more important to God than my brain. And the same goes for you. Love, mercy, and kindness always, boys. Always.

I’m a good arguer. And I guarantee that I’m more stubborn than you are, so we can go all day. If you want to argue with me, I suggest you come prepared. And sometimes, in the middle of an argument, just like my mom did for me, I’ll school you in the ways of arguing. Listen closely — it’s a valuable skill. And so is fighting fair — never fight dirty.

I do my very best to feed you healthy things so that you will be strong and live long. I wish that you’d trust me that vegetables are delicious. I’m not lying to you when I say they’ll make your muscles bigger, your legs faster, and your arms stronger. Food is delicious, but it’s first and foremost fuel. I want to feed your body good fuel. Please just trust me. But never fear — know that we can always eat cake.

I don’t care if you go to college, and I don’t care if you’re the best at anything – except loving. I hope you’re the best at love.

I try to make our house a home so that when you walk through the door, you know that you are safe and loved and accepted just for being you. I want you to know that you are always welcome here, no matter what you’ve done or where you are. You can let your guard down here. This is a safe place for you.

I will know your friends and treat them like they’re my own, but they aren’t my own. I’m YOUR mom, and my rules apply to you, even if you’re the only one to whom they apply. Our family will operate very differently than many families will. Tough.

I have passions and hopes and dreams that are just mine. Things I wish I could do, or become, or experience. Just because I’m your mom doesn’t mean that I’m not a person. Please know that as much as I am over the moon about being your mom, I am more than just a mom. I hope I show you sufficiently how to follow your dreams and keep chasing your passions. Never lose your passion.

There are few things that are more awe-inspiring and humbling to me than honor, dignity, respect, sacrifice, and fighting for injustice. I pray you have and do those things always.

I’m so human it hurts. I am so broken, and I’m terrified that I’ve been put in charge of other broken little humans. I can’t believe no one has shown up to take you two back, citing some administrative mix-up at the hospital that confirms that you weren’t supposed to be allowed out of those double doors and entrusted to me in the first place. I’m so sorry I’m broken.

I lay awake at night and worry about all the things I’m doing to damage you. I forgot sunscreen at the park today. I let you eat too much candy and processed food today. I yelled when I was frustrated. I lost my marbles when you were fighting again instead of calmly pulling you apart…again. I let you watch too much TV today because all I really really wanted to do was sit down for more than 30 seconds in a row. I kept talking over you and getting upset that you weren’t listening when you were really just trying to tell me that you couldn’t reach what I was asking you to grab. I wonder I gave you enough hugs today. And it all haunts me. I pray that Jesus protects your little hearts from me sometimes. I hope it works.

I know who I believe Jesus is, and I hope that you come to that conclusion, too. But it’s not my decision to make. It’s yours, and it scares the hell out of me that I can’t assume that you will know the boundless love that Jesus has for you. I pray with every fiber of my being that you acknowledge the blood that Jesus shed for you, and that you let Him show you a better way to live your life. He’s changed my life, boys. I hope He rocks yours, too.

What are some things that you wish your kids (or other people, for that matter) knew about you?

A Birthday and a Hospital – My Messy Beautiful

A Birthday and a Hospital – My Messy Beautiful

I went to school to be an event planner.

I love the colors, the planning, the joy!

My degree is all-encompassing. I can work in many different event and entertainment venues – a concert venue, a sports stadium, corporate meetings, convention centers. But my love of all loves is parties and weddings.

But for right now, I’m a mom. Not many weddings are happening in my life. But parties? Oh I can find any excuse to have a party.

Thank goodness for birthdays!

Super Why.

Aidan was turning 3 and he wanted a Super Why birthday party.

It is my firm belief that my kids don’t care about how spectacular their birthday parties are. If you give them cake and invite their friends over, it’s pretty much the best day of their lives.

My kids don’t worry about Pinterest, or DIY decorations.

Those are totally for me. They remind me that I have talents, passions, and things that are still mine.

Please hear me when I say this – I don’t think you need to have a Pinterest-worthy party to be a good mom.

But for me, it’s my hobby. It’s my creative outlet, and it is a part of my DNA to go all in for a party.

So Super Why it was!

I planned. And planned. I made cute little Super Computer labels for the taco bar, themed posters, Super Why Bingo…even the plates were Super Why. The cake from my favorite cake decorating extraordinaire was shaped like a book from the movie (with some planes from Planes upon Aidan’s request). I was in heaven.

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The party was just getting started, and it was almost time to eat. The dads were outside playing some game with a ball that requires manliness, and the kids were playing…well, everywhere.

Now, let me say this also, because I don’t want any chiding emails or finger wagging. We are sticklers for helmets at my house. That’s why we have cool helmets…see?

*Note: this is actually from his party — he got a bike and helmet from Grandpa and Nonni for his birthday!*

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You don’t get on a bike without a helmet, and for the most part, my kids comply without me having to ask.

For the most part.

This day, it was chaos, and Noah hopped on a scooter and took off without giving a helmet a second thought.

As I was toasting tortillas, one of the dads came in from outside and, bless his heart, calmly asked for a towel.

“What kind of towel?” I asked. Hesitantly, he said, “A towel for Noah’s head. It’ll get bloody. You might want to come out here, too.”

In flooded about 30,000 children in total hysterics screaming about how Noah was broken, bleeding to death, and the like.

I rushed outside muttering to someone that I left tortillas on the griddle…don’t let them burn

I pride myself on keeping a pretty chill attitude about messes and injuries in my house. I encourage my boys to climb higher if they want to, rub some dirt on injuries, and get back up and play. I know that God has blessed me with a washing machine, bathtub, and bandages for a reason. I took a deep breath, and on my way out the door reassured all the guests and children who’d melted into the floor from the hysteria that I was sure everything would be fine. Why didn’t some people start to eat?

You guys.

When I finally rounded the garage to the driveway, Noah looked like he’d survived the apocalypse. As I picked up my previously nonchalant pace, I saw blood dripping down his face from his forehead. I couldn’t see an injury. I just saw blood. Blood in his hair, blood in his mouth, blood on the ground.

This was a hospital trip, for sure.

As I gathered information, it came out that Noah had fallen off of his scooter right into wheel well of our van parked in our driveway. A one-in-a-million shot. Isn’t that the way it always goes??

I collected him, towel and all, asked my mom to grab my keys, and hopped in the car.

All the dads started gathering up their kids, saying that they should just go home.

No!!! That’s seriously the worst thing! Aidan wouldn’t get a birthday party!

As the car was pulling away, I was yelling, “Don’t go! Please stay for Aidan! The tacos are ready…eat and play, and we’ll be back by cake!”

Can I just say that I have the best mom friends?

They were already in the kitchen working on dinner, pulling out the games, and distracting the kids.

They sent pictures from the party to Noah to keep him in the loop while we waited at the hospital.

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The nurses worked double-time when Noah said he was missing his little brother’s birthday party.

And you know what? FIVE stitches later, we were back in time for cake.

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When we pulled in the driveway, Aidan was waiting anxiously to see Noah, and Noah was excited to get back to the party. He hopped out of the car and they rushed toward each other.

While they were hugging, Noah said, “Hi Aidan! How’s your birthday party going?” And Aidan replied, “It’s fun! I missed you! Do you feel better?” Noah said, “Yeah! Let’s open your presents, okay?”

Stop it. Just stop it.

The tears that I hadn’t even thought to cry came like a flood.

This.

This beautiful moment between these sweet boys of mine.

This is why I am a mom. This is why what I do matters.

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It’s not about the cake, or the decorations. It’s about the love. It’s about the people.

Mom friends who finish throwing your party so you can go to the hospital. Your friends who wait in the driveway for you to get home from the hospital to make sure your head isn’t in 5 pieces. Brothers who spend the afternoon worrying about each other.

This is the beauty in the mess.

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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Operation Escalones {#12} – Tat It Up!

Operation Escalones {#12} – Tat It Up!

Last weekend, I crossed something off my bucket list, and off of my to do list.

It’s something that surprised more than a few of the people closest to me.

I got a tattoo.

It’s on my foot, and I’m absolutely in love with it.

But no one knows what it means, so that’s what this post is about today.

The words on the arch of my foot read “ezer kenegdo“. It’s Hebrew, and it’s what God called woman when He created her, long before her name was Eve.

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‘ezer in Hebrew is commonly translated as “helper” or something similar, but in my study of the word, it seems that the more accurate translation is “power” or “strength”.

“Therefore, could we conclude that Genesis 2:18 be translated as ‘I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man.’ ” (source)

It’s important to me that you understand that I did not get this tattoo because of how this term applies to me simply as a wife and a mother, but also how it applies to me as a woman.

The following, bolded text is an excerpt from the book “Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul” by John and Stasi Eldredge. It’s long, but it’s what really sparked my interest in the term ezer kenegdo.

When God creates Eve, He calls her an ezer kenegdo. “It is not good for the man to be alone, I shall make him [an ezer kenegdo]” (Gen. 2:18 Alter). Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, who has spent years translating the book of Genesis, says that this phrase is “notoriously difficult to translate.” The various attempts we have in English are “helper” or “companion” or the notorious “help meet.” Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat…disappointing? What is a help meet, anyway? What little girl dances through the house singing “One day I shall be a help meet?” Companion? A dog can be a companion. Helper? Sounds like Hamburger Helper. Alter is getting close when he translates it “sustainer beside him.” 

The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately.

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you…Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. (Deut. 33: 26, 29, emphasis added) 

I lift up my eyes to the hill — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Ps. 121:1-2, emphasis added)

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help. (Ps. 20:1-2 emphasis added)

We wait in hope for the Lord, He is our help and our shield. (Ps. 33:20, emphasis added)

O house of Israel, trust in the Lord — He is their help and shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord — He is their help and shield. You who fear Him, trust in the Lord – He is their help and shield. (Ps. 115:9-11, emphasis added) 

Most of the contexts are life and death, by the way, and God is your only hope. Your ezer. If He is not there beside you…you are dead. A better translation therefore of ezer would be “lifesaver.” Kenegdo means alongside, or opposite to, a counterpart.

You see, the life God calls us to is not a safe life. Ask Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Esther — any of the friends of God from the Old Testament. Ask Mary and Lazarus; ask Peter, James, and John; ask Priscilla and Aquila — any of the friends of God in the New Testament. God calls us to a life involving frequent risks and many dangers. Why else would we need Him to be our ezer? You don’t need a lifesaver if your mission is to be a couch potato. You need an ezer when your life is in constant danger. 

Picture the character Arwen in the mythic motion-picture trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Arwen is a princess, a beautiful and brave elf maiden. She comes into the story in the nick of time to rescue the little hobbit Frodo just as the poisoned wound moving toward his heart is about to claim him. 

ARWEN: He’s fading. He’s not going to last. We must get him to my father. I’ve been looking for you for two days. There are five wraiths behind you. Where the other four are, I do not know. 

ARAGORN: Stay with the hobbits. I’ll send horses for you. 

ARWEN: I’m the faster rider. I’ll take him. 

ARAGORN: The road is too dangerous.

ARWEN: I do not fear them. 

ARAGORN: (Relinquishing to her, he takes her hand.) Arwen, ride hard. Don’t look back. 

It is she, not the warrior Aragorn, who rides with glory and speed. She is Frodo’s only hope. She is the one entrusted with his life and with him, the future of all Middle Earth. She is his ezer kenegdo

That longing in the heart of a woman to share life together as a great adventure — that comes straight from the heart of God, who also longs for this. He does not want to be an option in our lives. He does not want to be an appendage, a tagalong. Neither does any woman. God is essential. He wants us to need Him — desperately. Eve is essential. She has an irreplaceable role to play. And so you’ll see that women are endowed with fierce devotion, an ability to suffer great hardships, a vision to make the world a better place. 

– Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

This is the conclusion I’ve reached in all of my studies.

The woman was created to be a warrior. She was meant to be a warrior because the battle for souls, for our husbands, for our children is fierce and the mission is monumental.

It doesn’t wait for a woman to become a wife or a mother. It begins because she is female — from the beginning.

God created a team — man and woman. They are the perfect complement to each other. Each has their own special skills, callings, and expectations, but their mission is the same. In order to win the war, all soldiers must fight with their own specialities.

If each soldier gets concerned with being just like the other, the division will destroy the team. They need to be confident of their calling, secure in their mission, tasks, and skills.

My tattoo is on my foot because I never want to forget that I am in a battle.

I’ve been called to fight for the souls of all men, women, and children.

More specifically, for me…I am a partner with Ty in a battle for the hearts and souls of my family.

I am a woman.

I was created to fight. To be a warrior in a battle of all battles.

An ‘ezer kenegdo.

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Do you feel like you are in a battle? Are you ready to be a warrior? Do you have any tattoos that have any special meaning to you? I’d love to hear about them! 

For more explanation of the term ‘ezer kenegdo, see this site here. Carolyn was the speaker at our women’s conference this year, and she blew me away.

1,826 Days

1,826 Days

Wow.

I know that they say that time flies, but seriously, it’s like in warp speed.

1,826 days ago, I became a mother.

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1,826 days ago, I was tasked with the growth, health, education, nurturing, and overall survival of this incredible little person.

It has been 1,826 days since Noah took his first breath, and in that time, my world has been completely turned upside down. My priorities have been rearranged. My nights have been pretty sleepless, but full of cuddles. My days have been full of giggles, and sometimes a few tears.

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As I’m typing this, I find myself at a loss for words in the face of all of the things I could say about the person that Noah is.

From the very beginning, he has been so much fun. We call him “Monkey” because from the start, he’s been this long tangle of limbs that doesn’t know how to sit still. He climbs, jumps, runs, and falls with ease. This kid never slows down, and he goes with all his might.

He’s full of knowledge that shouldn’t be in a 5-year-old brain. And he’s full of emotions that you don’t find in many 5-year-old hearts.

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His memory astounds us on a regular basis. Ty and I constantly find ourselves silently mouthing, “How does he remember that?!” in bewilderment over his head.

There is a capacity for love in that kid that puts many adults to shame. He forgives quickly and completely, and he has an understanding of sympathy and empathy that I can only hope to emulate.

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Noah is an old soul. He has wisdom far beyond his years.

And yet, he’s the goofiest kid! He’s the one who loves perfecting jokes, knows how to work a room, and has the best imagination!

For over a year, he had a little world that existed only in his mind. He called it “The Office.”

At his own American Family Insurance office (just like Daddy’s), which was located “downtown,” he golfed all day and made birthday hats. The office could only be reached by helicopter or private plane. His office staff consisted of “my Wee-sa” (Lisa) and his “kids.” He had a lot of kids. In a crazy twist, one day he declared that he had just acquired some dolphins. For $5, you could buy a ticket to swim with the dolphins at his office.

“The Office” was not without mishaps, though. Frequently, Lisa (who had such a knack for causing trouble) would set the office on fire. This would (obviously) ruin his afternoon as he dealt with the clean-up and aftermath. Thankfully, Lisa always suffered only minor burns. His kids also found some stray dogs and took them in, which proved to be an unwise decision, as he often lamented about the poop they left all over the office!

While shopping at the grocery store, it was a frequent battle to balance his imagination with reality as he declared that certain items must be purchased for his office — toilet paper, swim trunks (for swimming with the dolphins, of course), and dog food were frequent requests.

One day, when my mom asked how the office was going, this sweet boy sat both my mom and me down and announced he had something to tell us.

You can imagine our dismay when he stated, “I’m so sorry to tell you this, but I actually don’t have an office. I made it up.”

This is the kid that Noah is. Even his imagination has steps, logic, responsibility, and ultimately, truth.

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Watching him learn about life is thrilling for me. I love to watch him understand the process of something, or to watch him think through consequences and outcomes. He understands “if-then” scenarios and cause and effect like many adults can not.

He keeps me on my toes. He loves sports almost as much as he loves Jesus. He can pretty much always be found with a ball in his hands.

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His heart is so tender and caring. He’s the most grateful kid — he is so quick to say “thank you” and mean it.

I have learned so much about unconditional love from being a mother. I’ve learned about my instincts, and how to use my intuition to my advantage. I’ve discovered that I know how to read my kids better than anyone else in this world.

1,826 days ago, while the world’s eyes were glued to their televisions as Barack Obama was inaugurated as our 44th President of the United States, my eyes were glued to this little tiny 7 lb. miracle that had just hours ago made me a mom.

Looking at the boy my baby is becoming fills me with so much joy it takes my breath away.

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I wish I could say that I can’t wait for the rest of his life, but the truth is that I can. I don’t want to miss any minutes of the incredible life that he is leading.

God has big plans for this boy, and I can’t believe I get to have a front row seat.

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Happy Birthday to my sweet, sweet Monkey!

Jesus for When I’m Selfish

Jesus for When I’m Selfish

You guys….it’s been like 8 days since I posted last, I think. Something like that.

We’ve been under attack.

Seriously.

All four of us have been sick for almost a week!

My family rarely gets sick, and this week we have all been sick at the same time. Noah, Aidan, and I have one thing, but Ty has had something completely different. He’s been quarantined in one room of the house, while the boys and I have been sleeping in my bed.

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As I went about my life this week, feeling sick and overwhelmed, I started to see a truth. Every mom that I talked to about being sick immediately had the same response, more or less: “Oh wow, I’m so sorry! It sucks being the mom when you’re sick, doesn’t it?”

As moms, it’s just a reality that you don’t get to stop when you’re sick.

People still need things from you! They need even more when they are sick, too. Everyone still has to eat, snuggles need to be distributed liberally, each separate medication schedule needs to be updated frequently, temperatures taken. Even if you get to sit down and watch TV, it’s Arthur. The spread of germs needs to be mitigated, extra-emotional outbursts need to be lovingly navigated.

Let’s face it. Sick doesn’t equal rest for moms.

In the middle of this week, I had a little pity party for myself. I was so tired, my body just ached, and I wanted to go to bed. Alone. Even for just a couple hours. At that very moment, all three members of my family asked for something. Nothing big, just something. I couldn’t even tell you what it was.

Something in my brain froze.

I couldn’t even think. I couldn’t process their requests.

I just sat down and cried.

It pains me to say that I was totally consumed with myself in that moment. I’m ashamed that right then, all I could think was, “And what about me? Who’s going to take care of me? I feel so alone!”

I think I have found a new item for my list of things at which I suck.

This week, I was confronted with my selfishness over and over.

This week, I failed that test a lot.

I had moments of unkindness, a short temper, and definite selfishness. At times, I couldn’t seem to find my compassion, my patience, or my servant attitude.

But I’ll tell you something amazing…

I saw Jesus over and over this week.

I saw Him in my mom, who played with my kids who were in various stages of contagiousness, washed all my dishes a couple times, and stayed home with whichever kid was home sick from school.

I saw Him in my mother-in-law, who brought us food and drinks, stayed with Ty at urgent care, and made my kids giggle.

Jesus showed up in my kids in the way that they took care of each other. In the way they felt compassion, empathy, and sympathy for each other. He was so evident in the way that they served each other.

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And most of all, Jesus showed up to forgive me.

As I look over this week, there were some blessings that I couldn’t see in the moment. I got to snuggle more with my kids than I have in so long. Each one of the kids had the opportunity to go to school by themselves for a couple days due to the other one being sick. This also meant that each one of them got a special lunch date on their own.

Jesus lovingly nudged my selfish heart and showed me where I needed an attitude adjustment.

We’re feeling better. Our bodies are healing.

But more importantly, thanks to Jesus, my soul is healing.

Where is Jesus healing your soul today?

Santa Confession

Santa Confession

We don’t do Santa in my house.

*gasp*

Not that he’s not allowed to be a topic of conversation, or that his image is not allowed in my house (obviously, see my post here!). I just mean that my kids know that Santa isn’t real, and there are no presents from Santa under the tree on Christmas morning.

Okay, put down the phone. I’m sure the authorities will be too busy to arrest me anyway.

Let me say this before I explain my reasons…

I don’t judge you for doing Santa in your house.

I’m not writing this post to tell you not to do Santa, or because I think you are a heathen for practicing this fun tradition in your house. I think Santa is a fun part of Christmas! I love a good Santa movie, it’s fun to see Santas at the mall, and I think an awesome rendition of “Santa Baby” is great background music for tree decorating.

I have quite a few reasons why we don’t do Santa in my house, and almost all of them have nothing to do with religion (though a few do). I don’t think that you are a bad Christian if you tell your kids Santa brought their new bike…so take a deep breath and keep reading, okay?

Reason #1 – “You better watch out….”

Can I just say this? I hate the feeling of anxiety that we give our kids when we tell them to “watch out” because Santa Clause is coming. It’s sort of like telling your kids that the policeman at the restaurant is going to arrest them if they don’t sit down and behave. Isn’t that counter-productive? Don’t we want our kids to like the police and Santa?

We should be good and nice because we are supposed to be. Not because we’re about to get blacklisted at the North Pole. Or to get our names on a list.

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Plus, no one ever gets coal in their stocking. Santa’s still bringing your kids that new Nano. So this is an empty threat….again undermining the whole process anyway.

Reason #2 – “He sees you when you’re sleeping…”

Um…excuse me? I remember being so creeped out by this weird aspect of Santa. He watches me all year long? This is not comforting, this is some twisted gift-giving Big Brother concept that I’m not excited about. Also, he can get into my house with all the doors locked AND no chimney? Could he do this any time of the year, should he choose? Yeah…no thanks.

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I want my kids to know the only person who is watching them all the time is Jesus, and He isn’t looking for reasons to note when they’ve screwed up. I want my kids to know that Jesus shows them grace when they screw up instead of adding a tally to the “naughty” side. Every time.

Reason #3 – Gratitude

Ty works hard. Like really hard. He gets up early and goes to work before the rest of us are awake. He provides the money for their sports, their school, their food, their clothes, and their Christmas presents.

We put a lot of time, effort, and thought into what we will get our kids for Christmas. We pick out the perfect clothes that they will like, the toy we know they want, the book that we think they will enjoy. I spend Christmas Eve frantically lovingly wrapping each present.

Gratitude is so important to me (see here and here). I think it’s important that our kids know exactly how they get their presents, and to be grateful.  They should look Ty in the eye and say “Thank you, Dad. This is awesome!”

Has anyone ever sent Santa a thank you note? No.

But you can…

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Reason #4 – I don’t celebrate Ragnar

Wait, what?

Okay, this is Ragnar.

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He’s the mascot for the Vikings — our family’s favorite football team (don’t judge…we know).

We don’t watch the Vikings play on Sundays for Ragnar. We watch them for the football that they play. While Ragnar is a fun part of the whole experience, he certainly isn’t the reason the Vikings play football. He doesn’t get all the screen-time, analysis from commentators, and he’s not why people buy tickets.

Santa is to Christmas as Ragnar is to the Vikings. Feel me? He’s a fun addition. Just not what Christmas is all about.

In my house, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. We celebrate His birth by blessing and loving each other and others — just as Jesus asked us to do. It’s not about what we can get from Christmas, it’s about what we can give. Santa is a good symbol of the spirit of giving, and that is all.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the decorations, the family, the food, the parties, the music (oh! the music!). I love taking my kids to see Christmas lights, Christmas carols, watching Miracle on 34th Street (the original) and It’s a Wonderful Life. I love giving gifts to all of my loved ones, and I love that everyone around me is in the same wonderful mood. There’s electricity in the air when the first snow of December falls (except in Arizona…maybe when the temp drops to 60 degrees?).

I love a well-played Santa.

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We’ve just chosen to skip the part about him being real.

And for the record, my kids know that they are not to be telling other kids that Santa is not real. They know that other kids think he is real, and they know not to spoil that for them, so you don’t need to declare a quarantine of my children until Christmas is over.

Do you do Santa? Do you skip it? I’d love to hear from you about it!

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