Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kids, man.

Kids, man. They'll kill ya. At least it feels like that tonight.

This morning I listened as my girlfriend told me, "You know, when you're pregnant, you wait for the day that the little person will call you 'Mommy' and then a few years later when you hear it yelled in the car, in the house, on the way into the get to the point where you hate it." She laughed as she
said it, but I knew what she meant. It's so hard when you stay home with your children 24/7. There's no break.

The move has been hard, too. Each move we've done gets progressively more difficult, even though each time we've moved the distance gets smaller and smaller. We're finally home, but because we have three children now who were very much accustomed to their schedules in Cleveland, it has been difficult to find a groove here this week. We are staying at a home my parents own. It is a two bedroom. The oldest two are learning to share a room and that has been awful to put it nicely. I guess I didn't come here to complain, though. I have a glass of wine, three-ok four- Dove chocolates nearby, Big Daddy Weave in my headphones and my keyboard in a desperate attempt to not curl up in the fetal position and die tonight. I just had to start writing because as I was attempting to catch up on my emails, I had to stop. Abel's new speech therapist wrote to me and suggested some mother's day out programs and preschools that we could take him to so that he is around much more language than he encounters here between Kinley and me. I started researching the schools and I was overcome with the urge to cry because as much as I want to pull all my hair out during the day (and most of the night), I can't bear the thought of other people getting to see him (them!) the majority of the time. They tell me socialization and school is what is best for him as a cochlear implant recipient, but as his mama, I just want him with me. But then I think back to him opening the fridge eleventy billion times today after I asked him not to and it's a little easier. Not much, though. Look, I know my identity is wrapped up in these kids. I love them fiercely and the reason I get so upset when they're naughty is because I do care so much about them and the young men they grow up to be. I want to be the one who shows them Jesus. I want so desperately to be a good mom.

Truth is, I'm just as human as they are. I never struggled with anger until I had children. There are days when I raise my voice until I'm unrecognizable. There are more days than not I am mad, so mad, that Abel is deaf. I'm selfish. I say things I don't mean. I'm just a big child, a sinner. "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7:15). I am in a constant state of asking for forgiveness, for help, for guidance. And it makes me wonder- is this just how it is?

I can't help but believe it's not supposed to be like this, but then I hear Kinley having a pleasant, warm, intelligent conversation with someone and I know I must be doing something right. I watch as Abel, my deaf son, responds to situations with words- "Uh-oh!", he says as his younger brother drops a toy. "No!", he says, as his other brother does something to provoke him. I can't help but feel a little pride because I'm working so hard with him. I want him to talk and so I work with him, I take him to all his appointments, I try. And I think I must be doing something right. Then I look at Merit and kiss his sweet cheeks over and over and he giggles as his face breaks out into the most perfect grin and I know I'm doing something right. I think that one thing I might be doing right is that I'm desperately running, chasing after a relationship with my Heavenly Father. He is the only thing that is unchanging. He is the only one who can make me new. Through Him, I will keep pouring myself into my children even if it kills me. They're worth it. Every day.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands  have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." Proverbs 31: 26-31

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Race Recap

I signed up for the Scenic City Half Marathon thinking I'd have plenty of time to train. I've never trained for any of my races. I just wing it usually. The only other experiences I have with half marathons are from two I did while I was in college (and pretty out of shape) in Nashville, the Music City Half. Anyway, between the wintry weather, sick kids, a husband gone on business, trying to move houses, and another surgical procedure for Abel, the training did not happen. I barely got out there and ran. Those are my excuses anyway. Still, I didn't do too shabby. Although, if we were basing the race on the photos the folks at the race took, then you'd think I almost died. They're pretty hilarious and sad looking. This is the best one:

First off, it was cold. I wanted to quit before I started. Still, even with snow on the ground, I knew I'd be mad at myself if I backed out of the race. That's my step-mom beside me. She is a fitness machine. She actually enters races and wins (ha!). I was grateful to have her by my side, especially around miles 9 & 10 when I really would have stopped running and mostly walked the rest if she hadn't been there.

On the last mile, we had a bit of an uphill trail and I thought, "Really, people who designed the race. Really!" but we kept plugging away and sprinted the last little bit to make my official race time 2:21:36 and my pace 10:49. That is definitely a PR for me. The other two halfs (should I say halves? haha) I've done, I walked a lot. I don't recall my time but it was much closer to three hours. We were doing great for the first 6 miles or so, keeping a ten minute mile or under, but then the hills and additional miles slowed me down a lot. Julie could have kept going without me, but she ran alongside me instead. I loved having this time with her. This was our second race we've done together.

Now, I'm scheming when my next race will be and how I'll beat my own time. I think I'll take a break from halfs (again, awkward) for a few months, but maybe I'll sign up for a shorter one soon.

It sounds silly, but a couple times I was drawing strength from scripture written on race shirts I saw or that one guy I was behind for a time. His shirt said "Never give up." I'm going to rest my foot which I hurt while running and then get right back to it.

P.S. Want some Christian Athletic Gear of your own? Visit my shop here!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Reviews

1. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst - "It's not her best book"is something I've heard a lot about this one, but I wouldn't know because I don't really religiously follow Christian writers. If a book sounds like something up my alley, I will read it but I'm not one of those people who will read every single thing by a certain author. That being said, I enjoyed this book very much. I got a lot from it and I think it has helped me to have perspective during the month of January and a good start for 2015.
I've been so caught up in getting Abel to all his appointments that I often forget to slow down and focus on what's really important in our lives. 
Yes. The quote above. Every day. I need to read it over and over again as a reminder to pick and choose what we do throughout the week wisely. When I'm super overwhelmed, I like to ask myself does this activity matter to God? Will it matter in 50 years? That's how I can judge what's important in this life. After God, my little family of five comes first. The book isn't about empowering you to say "no" all the time, but it is about saying "no" when it doesn't line up with what God would have you do. It's about deciphering when God wants you to say "yes" from when you need to say "no"! 
2. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire - I grabbed this book on a whim. I wanted to read something new and there is was at Target, just speaking to me saying "Here's a little light reading. You'll get your fiction fix with me." And sure enough, I did. It's not a wonderful work of art by any stretch of the imagination, but it is good in an elementary sort of way. I know nothing about this author. I could google, I suppose, but I'd rather just make assumptions. Surely she's young? Or perhaps she specializes in the young adult genre? Either way, she came up with a story that I wanted to keep reading. There were times that I was rolling my eyes at the main characters and/or the plot line because much of it seemed so predictable. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't somewhat enjoy this book. 
I'm going to see how many books I can manage to read this year. Typically, I make a goal each year...but this year I have three kids and no pipe dreams of spare time to read. I'm trying to read my bible more instead, but hopefully I'll manage a book a month. I'm right on track!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Once Upon A Time

What a week. This year has started off with a bang. In just a months time, we've learned a lot of new things:

1. We are moving. Again. Just down the road about an hour, but still. It will be good, but I'm sad. I don't want to leave my church, my friends, my gym, my babysitter, or Abel's speech therapist. Move number seven in five years. It's coming. And the pity party is already here. But I'm trying to be positive, too. The struggle. It's real.
Home is where they are, though.

2. Abe's ears aren't working on some level. I just need to say that out loud. You know, I've felt like something has been wrong from day one and this last trip to Nashville didn't bring the best of news. It was leaps and bounds better than the time before that, though. THAT time brought puke, holding down of crazy toddler while they cleaned his ears out and the baby screamed bloody murder, and news of more surgeries to come. This time, however, I just learned that Abel is still not responding much on the right side with his cochlear implants. The odd thing is, there's something malfunctioning but only sometimes. I'll not try to recall the technical term the audiologists told me and I'd be no good at describing what's happening, but just know that it involved a phone call to the company who makes his implants. Said phone call ended with an agreement that his situation was very bizarre and rare. Because of course. Anyway, they assured me again that they didn't think that the internal portion was failing and that isn't what I should worry about at this point. I'm not sure if I told you before, but he recently had a CT scan that showed all the electrodes to be in the right place. I really don't know what to take from the latest appointment, but we are just going to keep trying. Keep on truckin'. My little man is good at that.
Hotel Breakfast in Nashville
The good news? Nearly optimal hearing on the left side. God is good!

3. I have great friends near and far. About a week ago, I arrived at the airport to pick up a friend I met when I lived in Alaska. I hadn't seen her in years and when she showed up, I noticed she had a pal with her. Upon closer observation, I realized it was another one of my friends who showed up to surprise me. It was awesome. These women have no reason to show up and do nice things for me, but they just did. From the tone of my posts, they knew I was having a hard time with life and they swooped in with great company, cooking, cleaning, and helping with my kids. I don't deserve the friendships I have in life, but I'm ever grateful God blessed me with them. And can I just include y'all on that, too? I have so many wonderful friends whose friendship with me began online.

4. If J goes out of town, all the children will get sick. I can't even go into detail without getting super annoyed. But we've been hit hard with ear and sinus infections, croup, and stomach bugs. It has been pretty miserable. Looking forward to warmer weather, fresh air, and less of this sickly feeling floating around. But three cheers for early bath/beds and footie pjs!
Just livin' the fairytale over here, folks ;) Looking forward to a new week with my wild boys and another chance at being a happy, peaceful, godly, and disciplined mom to my little crew.

What are your big plans for the week?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hands full, quiver full.

I get so caught up in getting the house cleaned, the kids to xyz, or being here or there because that's what I'm supposed to do that I let their little lives slip before my eyes. This past year flew by. One of my favorite pastimes is looking at old photos on my phone. I'm blown away with how they've grown. I say all this after holding my 5.5 month old until he nodded off to sleep tonight. His sweet little frame breathing in and out, his eyes closed, and mine were, too in desperate prayer that I can somehow shape him into the man God wants him to be. Psalm 127 says, 
"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat- for he grants sleep to those he loves. Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate."

Sometimes I cling to this chapter because in the hustle and bustle of this life, the enemy creeps in and says to me that I'm not good enough. He tries to tell me that if I were a good mom that I would remember every single new sound or word that my deaf child utters. If only I were good enough to have my three year old completely potty trained. Then, there are the things other people say. "You know what causes that right?" "Oh, look! There are three!" "It looks like you need to get a hobby." "Are you sad you didn't get your girl?" Oh, I'm sure they're said jokingly, but they're not always understood that way. Sometimes when the enemy is attacking, I interpret those comments in a way they weren't intended. The overall message is clear, though. The world says that we're to have 2.5 children and a white picket fence. People often look at me like I've met my quota and I should be done.
But then I visit the middle of God's holy word and it's right there in black and white. Children are a reward. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them....they will NOT be put to shame.
Yes, I know my hands are so so full. Most days I want to pull all my hairs out. Sometimes I yell and have to ask my kids to forgive me. Sometimes I really really really just want to run away. But then, Abel comes up to me with his head full of curly hair, pizza smeared all over his cheeks and hands, and he gives me his toothy grin. Or Merit does his cutest kid ever laugh. Or Kinley says, "Mommy's my girlfriend." And I just know that I'm doing alright at this mom thing.
I might be stressed to the max. I might be tossing babes into the car in tears. I might eat chocolate for breakfast because I'm already ready for their nap time at 9:36am, but I'm blessed and I know it. Ultimately, my job isn't to have dinner on the table at five o'clock or to keep the house orderly all the time, or even to get Abel to every single therapy he "requires". My job is to raise up these boys so that they will hopefully make a decision to know God and to follow him. That's what I was put here for and I know that now.

"Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise." -Andy Stanley

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

a new beginning

Happy New Year! The month is nearly over and I've scarce had time to write here. I haven't decided if that's because I'm super busy or because the entire right side of my keyboard is sticking and, well, that's annoying. Much has changed since I last wrote, but I will get into that a bit later. Did you have a good New Year's? We did! I rang it in with some friends from church and our large lot of kiddos (11.5 between us!). It was nice. 
Happy NY!

After they left, Jordan and I cheersed to FIVE years of marriage and a fresh start in 2015. Last year was pretty tough for our family, but there were so many awesome things that happened, too. It's scary and exciting to think about what God might have in store for us this year. We really really tried to start if off right. That's one of the reasons why I haven't been around on this blog or more notably-facebook (I deactivated it temporarily. No, I did not delete you.). Many of you have reached out to me to find out what's up and tell me I'm missed. I appreciate that! I just needed a break from social media. I felt as if I was getting so busy that I was forgetting to take time to play with my sweet kids. Playing with eyes floating to the big screen of the iphone every few minutes does not quality time make. We decided to give up many things for a few weeks in order to draw closer to God and each other. Now, at the end of this "fast" of sorts, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Life still feels pretty wild and crazy even without the distractions it turns out. Still, I will savour the moments when we chose walks around the neighborhood or reading a book over filling our house with background noise with the t.v. It's all crap, isn't it? 

Anyway, we spent the last few weeks making memories and I hope to continue doing just that. My three, three and unders, are growing up before my eyes. I don't want to look back and wish I'd played more instead of worrying about having a clean kitchen. I'm trying so hard to make this year different for us. Part of that is saying "no" when I need to. Focusing on God and then my family. Writing more. Reading more. Worrying less. Controlling my thoughts. Orienting toward positivity. Getting fit physically and spiritually. Reconnecting with my husband. The possibilities are endless! I love a new year, don't you?
Weekending in Gatlinburg

Shopping sans children
I'm feeling so blessed to have another year with this husband of mine. Here's to our best year yet! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

At Every Corner

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill toward men."
Luke 2:14
I love reading through the book of Luke this time of year, recalling the Christmas story in my mind. What an incredible event! What an example of trust in Joseph. Faith from Mary. Grace and love from God Almighty. 
I know I've talked a lot about the stresses of the past year. I've discussed our struggles to some extent, but hardly in depth. I also know many of you who are dealing with many other issues. Death. Sickness. Frustration. Loneliness. Grief. PTSD. Divorce. Sadness. The list is endless. Whatever it is, it's big to you and I know that feeling all too well. I just wanted to share some bible verses that I have on repeat in my head lately that might just help you get through the holidays, too.
"God surrounds me with his favor." Psalm 5:12
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those who's spirits are crushed." Psalm 34:18
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14
"He will be our peace." Micah 5:5
"Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!" Psalm 116:2
"My God with his loving kindness shall come to meet me at every corner." Psalm 59:10
Are you getting the major theme? He is with us always. ALWAYS. He'll be with you when your patience is tested with those people you don't really want to be around. He'll be with you when you're seemingly all alone. He is with you in the wee hours of the morning when you'll try to put together a crazy, difficult toy in hopes of surprising your kid with a new gift. He'll be with you when your Christmas isn't the picture perfect facebook post you thought it would be. When the kids are crying in the backseat while you travel, when they forget to say please and thank you, and when they ask for something you can't afford, God will be right there with you. How amazing is that? The God of the universe is with you. He's with me. He's right there with us.
We aren't promised an easy road in life, but that doesn't mean we can't choose happiness every day. Every hour. Or in my case, minute by minute. It's a decision.
Earlier this week, I almost let someone upset me. But I quickly came to my senses because I asked myself if I had any control over the situation? No, I did not. I asked myself if there was anything I had done wrong in the situation. No, there wasn't. The awesome thing about God being by my side 24/7 is that I can have an overwhelming sense of peace when others try to put me down. My identity is tied up in Him so I don't have to fear. I don't have to let anyone walk all over me in order to build themselves up. I'm God's girl. He is my peace.
Be kind to one another this Christmas season. We don't know what other people might be going through inside. May the glory be to God and goodwill to all our neighbors down here that we're doing life with.
Merry Christmas, y'all! I wish each of you well. I really, really do.
(The boys do, too despite their grumpy faces.)
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