Thursday, November 29, 2012

Forever Behind...But It's Okay.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might..." Ecclesiastes 9:10

So I am really far behind.  And when I say behind, I mean it.  I don't think I've ever felt quite this far behind on things since becoming a mom.  Transitioning to number five hasn't been a breeze but it hasn't been as difficult as you might think either.  Now that Nathan is going on four months, he's great.  Yet, I still haven't caught up from it all.  And I don't know when I will.  Everywhere I turn, I see something that needs my attention, something that is being neglected or something that needs doing.  The more I see, the more I just want to hyperventilate about it all so I have to consciously shut it off or I'll throw myself into a frenzy.

So that's what I've been doing.  I've been throwing my hands over my ears and yelling, "La la la la la" Jim Carrey style whilst trying to find just one thing to do, attempting to finish it and then starting something else.  I haven't caught up yet.  I probably won't for a really long time (if I ever do).

I'm just forever behind.  Always behind.  There's too much to be done.  Back in the day, I used to be able to get the laundry done before it piled up again.  That ended after number three came along.  Now the clothes pile up in two seconds flat and I'm still folding some of the last loads from last week's laundry when Monday rolls around again.  And hear me here, my kids help out, a lot!  They help fold clothes, have daily chores and help me clean the house once a week.  They're a huge help.

Yet, I'm still behind.  Always behind.

As I stare, or rather cringe at all of the unfinished business around, I've been thinking a lot about my job here and what it takes to keep things running.  It's tempting to be super discouraged about my seemingly insurmountable tasks.  For someone like me, who is extremely driven and task oriented, this type of living can be overwhelming.  Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to hold back the waves with the palm of my hand.  As you can imagine, not really that effective.

However, I'm reminded, there's nothing new under the sun.  Whatever season of life I find myself in, I pretty much always feel slammed.  I think that's how most people feel.  And you know what, I think that in some ways, it's good.  There's something to falling into bed every night bone tired.  We weren't made to coast.  We were made with a purpose to work.  And my little life might be busy, but it's not unproductive.  The everyday dealings with each child are reminders to me that my job, although extremely busy, definitely matters.  I'll probably always be behind, but I must keep chipping away because the little eternal souls placed in my care need me much more than I need rest.  God will give me rest.  God will care for my heart.

I might have to remind the little Miss to pick-up her never-ending strew of outfits from the day a million times.  But I must not despair, I'm teaching her to pick-up after herself.  If I don't, she'll be the biggest slob known to mankind when she's older and capable of being an even bigger fashionista.

Or I may want to keep naptime as my quiet haven and not read to my little man or have him practice his reading.  It'd be easier that way and much less work.  It's easier in the short term, but the benefits are only for me.  He desires to get better at reading.  And I am his biggest fan.  Why should I not sit down and work with him?  Why should I shine reading to him as well?  Sometimes, I may have to put these things off but if I'm capable of doing them, isn't it more important to fill his mind with good stories and his soul with the Bible?

And of course, there's the listening to this funny chap while he sits on the toilet.  His favorite thing is for me to sit on the floor next to him while he tells me some imaginative story-with the door closed of course!  It always starts with some large animal and ends with wide-eyes and some bad guys being killed, followed by a swift wipe and he is off to the next thing.  What about those words that are stored up in his heart?  If I don't listen, who will?  For only a mother can care about these such things.  If I am too good to listen, where will his little imaginations go?

My oldest might not need me physically as much anymore but he needs me so much emotionally.  He has big questions.  He has dreams and he has concerns.  If I don't address his concerns and indulge his dreams, how will he ever learn to grow up and be responsible?  How can he learn to trust me if I sluff off his true feelings as unimportant?

The baby needs me in the most basic ways but he has a soul too.  His heart overflows with love as we "talk" and I cradle him in my arms.  His blue eyes dance as his belly jiggles with laughter.  And the more I work to meet his needs, the more I fall in love with him.

And don't forget the most important person of all-this amazing man.  Everything else in this house pales in comparison to him.  I love my children more than anything but I am in love with this handsome man.  Apart from Christ, he is my whole world and that won't ever change.  What he needs trumps everything else.  Except his ironing...don't talk to me about that.  I've been behind on that for about a year now. 

None of it is drudgery.  It might be hard.  I could get frustrated.  I most definitely will never catch up on everything, but it's all good work.  Lately I've been reminded that I should keep at it, day after day after day.  Somedays I may just be putting my head down.  Others might be easier to laugh amidst the chaos.  Somedays may end in tears.  Whatever it is, it's all from the hand of God.

It's His work that He's given me.  And I am to attack it, live with it, flourish in it and revel in it, with all of my heart.  I can't stand the never-ending messes and look forward to the day when I won't be rubbing baby spit-up into my clothes when I don't have a burp cloth handy.  But I'm thankful for work.  It keeps me busy, happy and just plain tired.

Which, if you ask me (most days that is), it is a great place to be.

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not fo rmen, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ..." Colossians 3:23-24

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Welcome to the Covenant

Our precious little Nathan was baptized today, prayed over, blessed and dedicated to God.

Many special people in our lives were there to witness the event.  And he didn't even cry when he got doused with water.  Surprisingly, none of the babies did.

Our hearts are full.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Little Helper

This morning, it was just the little girl and me (plus the baby of course).  And there wasn't much on our docket.  So we decided to bake and bake and bake.  We had a stack of ripe bananas so we made banana bread and then we prepped dinner.  As we went along it was so fun to talk to her and show her everything I was doing and why.  I love to do that with all of my kids but, it's just really special to teach her in that way.  It just is.

One of my favorite things about Elliana is her desire to accessorize herself in whatever way she chooses.  Some days it is bracelets, necklaces and pretty shoes.  Other days it is whatever shoes she can find in my closet.

Today, her chosen accessory was Daddy's beanie.

And everytime she puts something on, she says, "So pretty."  Except it comes out like this, "Soooo peritty Mommy.  So peritty."

So of course, once she donned the hat she beamed, "So peritty.  Show Daddy."  Isn't it amazing how innate that desire is for a little girl to be beautiful to her Dad?  Too bad Daddy was at work.  He would've melted.

I love, love, love having lots of boys.  They are so fun, rough, matter-of-fact and playful.  And in some respects, pretty straightforward.  I truthfully am so glad that God gave me so many of them.

But even so, I'm thankful God gave me one girl so that I could get a glimpse into what it means to raise a daughter.

I still look at her in wonder and pray that we'll bring her up to be graceful, loving, cheerful, and kind.  For every little girl wants to be beautiful.  But you can't be beautiful on the outside without the inside being beautiful.

It's a tall order to raise a girl in this day.  Everyday my husband sees the fall out of broken marriages and hard family situations all over the lives of his students.  The girls are especially heartbreaking.  We talk about it often for it can be discouraging to him.  It gives us even more motivation to try and set our own kids on the right path as best as we can.

Apart from Elliana knowing Christ, we want her to be confident, courageous and hard working.  I want her to know that we're behind her and that we think she can succeed at whatever she sets her mind to.  But we also want her to be confident about embracing her femininity and all that being a woman entails.  That includes the amazingly important tasks of being a Christian woman, a wife, a mother and a homemaker (whether you work outside the home or not, you're still a homemaker).  It takes an incredible amount of grace to pull all of these roles off well.  Grace, diligence, creativity and intelligence.  

And in moments like this morning, I definitely feel privileged to pass it all on.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Soaking Him In {3 Months Already}

This little half-pint is three months old today.  I feel like we've hit another big landmark.  We're out of the itty bitty stage but not onto the more complicated stuff like solid food and becoming mobile.  It's what I lovingly call the honeymoon stage.  Nathan still eats and sleeps a lot but he's also more alert to play some and as a result, we're getting to know him more and he has stolen all of our hearts.

I can't believe we're already here.

I've been soaking this little man in as much as I can.

I know now that it all slips away much too fast.

Sometimes at night, after he's eaten, I swaddle him back up and then just rock him for as long as I can.  I know I should go back to bed for another hour or so of sleep, but I just can't until I've held him for awhile.  He's much too precious.  And I know I may never have another little one like this again.

Life is made up of stages.  There are seasons.  Every ending marks a new beginning and I am okay if he's our last.  However, after so many babies, I have finally learned to really enjoy them.  To let go of the things that don't matter and to hold onto the things that do.  To marvel at their coos, breathe in their sweet smell, and be amazed at every little accomplishment.

Thankful for this fifth time around.

Very, very thankful.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Belated Halloween

Well, I decided to take my sweet time with these pictures.  Sorry for the delay.  I'm sure you were all on the edges of your seats waiting!  Ha!  These are mostly for the grandparents.
Halloween round these parts is a big affair.  It always is.  This year was no different.  I love Halloween.  I know some people don't approve of it but, I love it.  I love any sort of reason to celebrate.  And what kid doesn't love dressing up and getting treats!  Our only rule is that our kids can't dress up like "the other team" with scary or evil costumes.  We're Christians so we want to represent Christ in how we dress.  Other than that, they can have at it!!

We had quite a few cute little people all dressed up.  We had a Giants player, technically Brian Wilson (injured Giants pitcher), Cinderella complete with her own pair of glass slippers (thanks Mom), a valiant Knight and the cutest elephant I've ever seen.  Joshua's favorite stuffed animal is his Doey, or better known as an elephant.  So he wanted to be a Doey.  We had to make his costume since every elephant outfit I saw was over $50 (thanks Grandpa for the safety ear phones-they helped make the perfect ears).
He looked adorable.
 Elliana with her best pal Evangeline.  These two are thick as thieves.
Our diamond in the rough.  We only own one girl movie and it is Cinderella.  Naturally, she loves it.
The fearless Knight!!  We've had that suit of armor since Isaac and Caleb were toddlers.  Amazing it's lasted so long!  My two eldest are growing too fast for me.  I just adore them so much.
And the cutest little pumpkin you ever did see.  Three out of my four boys have worn this outfit and I must say, I love it.  Little Nathan helped me pass out candy to the neighborhood.
Pre-trick-or-treating pictures with the neighbors.  We're so thankful we live in such a safe, non-scary place to go hunting for candy.
They all came back with loads of candy.  This mama is trying her darndest NOT to eat it.  I've been sending it in lunches and letting them eat a piece after dinner.  Pretty soon I'll have to start throwing some of it away.  Come on people, I'm trying to fit back into my clothes by Christmas (which is my Christmas present to myself)!  I've got to get that stinking candy outta here!!

All in all, it was a pretty fun Halloween.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one.  The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable.  For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.  GK Chesterton, What's Wrong With the World
July 20, 2012 Our 10 Year Anniversary
I'll never forget the first time I saw an ad for eHarmony.  I about barfed.   The ad promised a lifetime of love based on their patented test of compatibility.  I remember being disgusted.  It felt like one big marketing scheme to me and as such, it reeked of insincerity.  Now, I don't claim to know much about eHarmony's test.  If you were matched by them and are happy, so be it.  I bet there are marriages that have come out of this program and are doing fine.  But eHarmony's matching system, based on a certain formula of compatibility, isn't what procured their success.  Even though eHarmony's whole premise is that being compatible is what makes a good relationship.  

I beg to differ.  If you were to stack up the similarities between me and that handsome man above, you might find five, maybe ten now that we've been married longer.  I mean, just start with our major strengths.  The husband is a math savant.  I, on the other hand, am a wordsmith (ha!).  Two very different people at the core.  We're technically incompatible.  Yet we still work and we work well; really well. 

In a world of failing marriages, it's no wonder people are grasping at anything to figure out how to make a marriage work.  Many people aren't learning what true love is from their own families so, they feel they've got to figure it out for themselves.  And the lie of compatibility has so pervaded our culture that it's easy to latch on to it believing that if you can just find that one person that fits you like a glove, well then love will be easy.  You won't have to work at it.  You'll just be compatible and all will be well.

This is just not the case.

I'm not an expert on marriage.  I've only been married ten years.  And in our marriage we've had some hard times but we haven't faced any biggies yet, although I know we will.  It's inevitable.  Our trials have been pretty trivial.  But there are some things that I have learned so far and this is an important one:  

Love isn't about being perfectly matched.  It's about striving.

Striving?  Striving after what?

Let me see if I can explain what I mean.  Way back in the day, nearly 12 years ago now, Steve and I had just started dating and the topic of love came up a few times.  I was scared to death of it.  Steve seemed calm as a cucumber about it (our typical roles even now).  He explained to me that he thought love was simply a choice.  You choose one person and then you love them, regardless of what comes.  Of course you want to be sure you're making a good choice but once you're sure, then it's simple after that.

I understood what he meant.  But I'm a romantic.  And to me that seemed totally and completely UNromantic (now this was because I was young and stupid).  So, I would ask him why he loved me.  I wanted to know WHY.  What was it about me that he loved (notice the blatant self-centeredness)?  Was it because I was beautiful to him (every girl wants to be beautiful to someone-that's innately God-given)?  Or was it because I was so clever?  Maybe it was because I was funny or perhaps it was simply because I was a hard worker.  He'd then respond that although I was those things, they weren't the reason he loved me.  It was simply that he'd chosen me and that he'd love me until God chose to part us.

I didn't like it-not one bit.  It bothered me for some reason.  I wanted to know all of the reasons we were compatible and how I'd made his dreams come true.  I wanted to know this because simply put, it was all about me.

Fast forward another year and a half and we were married.  Very slowly in those early years, I began to understand what he was talking about.  You see, he saw everything.  He knew all of my faults.  He knew what I looked like without makeup or what I was like when I was sick.  He also knew bigger things like the deepest things in my heart, my sins, my shortcomings and my failures.  I couldn't just put my best foot forward and hide the rest.  No, he knew it all.  And the longer we were married the more thankful I was that he had simply chosen me.  For many things in life are fleeting-beauty, youth, accomplishments, money.  But a promise, a promise lasts forever.  And he'd simply promised to love me no matter what.  

It wasn't about him.  It was about loving me.  By his example, I started to learn the same thing.  It wasn't about me.  It was about loving him.  Wanting to be everything he dreamed of was about my own pride.  And pride is one of the main barriers to a good marriage (among many other things).  But love is striving for the other.  It's fighting whatever gets in the way to love that person.  It's not an end.  It's a means.  It's the striving for another that ends in love.

And that my friends is extremely romantic.

I see it now.  

The commitment to love over the years is what produces romance.  You can't simply be romantic.  It happens over time.  It's a byproduct of putting your own needs to the side, choosing to love someone and then living life with their best interest in mind.  This produces the best stories.  This is the stuff dreams are made of.  

Romantic to me now is him still loving me after five children have stretched my body into so many contortions  I don't even know it myself anymore.  Romantic to me now is him reaching for my hand in the dark while we sleep or him dreamily telling me he loves me while I'm nursing the baby at 4 am.  Romantic to me now is him working every single day for our family so that we can have every comfort and all we need.  Romantic to me now is him gently pointing out when I'm wrong and encouraging me to do what's right, yet still loving me regardless.

This is romance.  It takes time.  And it's built on a commitment that has no strings attached.  It's not based on chemistry or compatibility.  Nor is it something that comes easily.  It must be worked at.  And it starts with a choice.

I'm not that same girl I was twelve years ago (thank God).  And if Steve had loved me based on what I was then, well we'd be up a creek.  I'm older and have more gray hair!  We're not together now because both of us thought we were the best match or that either person was perfect.  Rather we're together because we must make it work.  There isn't another choice.  His faults and my faults regardless.  We've chosen one another.   

So there's just simply no other way.

But here's the caveat that all of this is based on-Christ.  We both have submitted to a higher authority than ourselves and that's what makes our foundation sure.  God tells us to love each other for life.  So we choose, we commit and then we trust that God will help us.  The minute our incompatibility becomes apparent, we fight it and in doing so, over time, no matter the circumstances, because of our steadfastness, our story grows lovelier and more beautiful over time.

This process is the oldest story ever told.  It's called redemption.  God takes even the ugliest things that seem beyond repair and restores them, making them beautiful.  Every good marriage is an incredible redemption story that preaches to the world.  But it's not perfection that it preaches, it's the Good News of the gospel.  God's redemption of mankind.  The ultimate romance story.

Christ saving His Bride, the Church, is the most amazing love story of all.

Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  Ephesians 5:31,32