Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Just A Phase

From under the covers I said, "The next person who tells me, Oh this is just a phase, is going to get punched in the throat."

My husband laughed, but I fought back tears.

My season of life is exhausting. Having three small children at home should not be flippantly dismissed as just a part of life. There should be some sort of fabulous recognition, like a monthly Starbucks gift card or at least a brand new outfit each month to replace the one that has been stretched out, thrown up on, or torn.

I'm tired.  I'm tired of multitasking. I'm tired of the loneliness that motherhood sometimes brings.  Oh and I'm tired of the financial strain. Am I whining yet?

When my burdens bubble to the surface, they usually arrive in the form of...

I'm sorry we were late to church again.

I'm sorry I never called you back

I'm sorry you have to scrape goldfish and mine for juice pack straws just to find a seat in my van.

The generations ahead of me say, Oh this is just a phase. This, too, shall pass.

First of all let me say, I get it. I understand that one day I will wake up, I will be 49, my kids will be grown and gone, and life will look much different.

I get it. Even just six months from now life will look different. They grow and develop and gain independence at the speed of light when they are this young. It won't be long. I get it.

But today.

Today, I am exhausted and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is very dim. And it might be a train wreck on the way. Is anyone else stepping in this with me today?

Today, I want to be so much more for my kids than I am.  Today, I want to choose joy. I don't want to just push through to the next phase. Because that phase will have challenges all of its own, and if I don't choose joy now, I probably won't choose joy then, and one day I will wake up and be 49, and be regretful.

How do I break out? Gratitude. I cling to gratitude. What is it about this phase that I love? What about this phase will I miss?

I love their little voices. One day, their voices will have depth and will sound a lot like mine.

But today. Today, they are sweet and small. So when they cry and whine and scream for 8 hours straight, I will choose to cling to the sweetness.

I love those naked little bottoms.  One day, it will be awkward and inappropriate to have my offspring running around the house in their birthday suits.

But today. Today, they are round and chunky and just adorable.  So when potty training is unsuccessful and the laundry wreaks of urine, I will choose to cling to the adorable.

I love his preschool sense of humor. One day, he may be sullen and moody and listen to dark music.

But today. Today, he laughs loudly and tells jokes that make no sense. His smile makes my heart beat. So when he becomes obnoxious and pranks his younger sisters, I will choose to cling to his smile.

These days are tough.  And beautiful.  It just depends on what I'm choosing to focus on.

Jesus, this motherhood thing is hard. Hold my hand please? Show me the most excellent way? Pat me on the rear when I need to get going, and pat me on the back when I just need to try again tomorrow. I love you too, Lord.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ministry Envy

They're taking trips together to the Holy Land, instagramming seagulls above the Sea of Galilee and the olive branch wreaths they made while in the Garden of Gethsemane. Touching the places where Jesus, himself touched.  Walking where He walked. Soaking in a kind of presence that I may never know.

After a number of days or weeks, they will come home with a more intense love and passion for our Savior, and that passion will spill over into us.  Books, sermons, and studies will be the overflow.

And I am envious.

Do you ever covet the ministry that others have?  Maybe it's your favorite singer or songwriter.  Maybe it's the woman in your church who loves the children so well.  For me, it's my favorite speakers and writers for Christ.  I just want to spend hour after hour soaking in and pouring out like they do.  I want to reach thousands.

And then a post from one of my favs just soothed my soul.  She had just returned from speaking at a phenomenal women's weekend retreat and was immediately immersed in loads of dishes and an all-nighter with a sick little one.  So life goes on there too, huh?

What I have to remind myself is that ministry is not something we do outside of our messy lives.  It's not a life-changing weekend that ends when it is time to get back to real life.  Ministry is our lives.  It's how we walk out what we preach.  Some of the women who rock ministries that I long to have, also sit in long carpool lines.  They also change twin diapers, and tweak the budget yet again, and entertain overly-tired children at the grocery check-out.

My ministry is not something that I long to get to.  I'm here now.  I may only write a couple of times a week or speak a couple of times a year, but my charge of loving women, encouraging marriages, and strengthening mothers never gets turned off.  I'm here now.  I'm in the thick of it, and if my focus remains on just getting through to the next writing day, I'll miss the exhausted friend who desperately needs a hug and someone to hold her baby.  I'll miss the sister in Christ who needs someone to say, tell me more about what you're going through.

If my focus remains there, I will one day wake up in the land of glory without a published book or a following of thousands, and hear my Savior say, what did you do with the hurting hearts I gave you?

The extremely dark and grainy photo above is of me and my youngest daughter in the wee hours of the morning.  I'm studying 1 Thessalonians, and she is reading a book called The Easter Story.

This, too, is ministry.

Today I am writing to myself, but if you find yourself here too, drink it in.

Monday, March 2, 2015

4 Ways We've Kept Our Marriage Fun

1.  Shower Curtain Graffiti

Some people keep a toothbrush in the shower.  We keep a sharpie marker.

I like to leave little notes in unexpected places for my hubby.  You the toilet paper roll.  So naturally, one morning in the shower, that giant white liner was screaming, blank canvas! 

It started with my cell number and a note to call for a good time.  It moved on to a game of tic-tac-toe, and doodles, and messages of love.  Every so often, we add to it.  No one sees it but us anyway!

2.  Nerf Guns and Snow Balls

Then there's this I found on Pinterest:

And you guessed it...I put my skills into full effect. The front door cracked open and I watched from my hiding spot until I had the perfect shot. Then, chaos ensued. It was every bit of the meaning of the word epic.  We also have these pretend snowballs in our house which provide equal amounts of fun:

(Can be found at Walmart!)

3.  Movie Quotes

My hubby is a huge movie fanatic, so it's fun to throw movie quotes at him when he least expects it, and see if he can guess the title.  Anything goes from Beauty and The Beast, to The Avengers, to The Goonies.  Pumping gas into the van, driving to church on Sunday morning, or just before we fall asleep at never know when one of us might take on the voice and lines of Gandalf or Marty McFly.

4.  Couch Dates

I am in a large company of folks who believe that date nights after the I do's are vital to your marriage.  In reality, with two two-year-olds, a four-year-old, two very busy schedules, and a slim discretionary budget, dinner and a movie is scarce.

So we have dedicated every Tuesday night to be Couch Date Night.  We are currently unashamedly obsessed with The Office and are eagerly awaiting Jim and Pam's baby.  We have a glass of wine and eat cheesecake right out of the pan.  I wouldn't lie to you.  It's an oasis right in the middle of a stressful and exhausting week.  I look forward to it with great anticipation.

What do you do to keep the everyday fun and fresh?  I'd love some new ideas!