Friday, July 31, 2009

Reminder of a Promise

Doug spent Friday in class obtaining the 12 annual credits he needs to remain a lawyer in Mississippi. One problem was the class was in Louisiana, where he's been publicly disbarred for life. The other problem was the morning's keynote speaker was none other than the man (A.K.A. "Kurtz") who hunted down Doug like an animal so he could put his head on a stake in effigy, thereby warning other lawyers.

As soon as I found out about the class, I started praying and fretting because I could just see some of the snooty lawyers there being mean to my husband: snubbing him, making snide remarks, staring, pointing, whispering. Kurtz apparently saw my husband but didn't approach him. My fears, then, were obviously unfounded.

But when I picked up Doug after class for a dinner-date, during the entire drive to the restaurant, I could tell the old wounds from the situation had been torn open again. When my quiet man won't let his lady get in a word edge-wise, that is a sign he's hurting and needs to get it out.

It may seem strange that in our household, we don't talk much about such a life-changing event. Weeks or months may pass with it doing little more than crossing my mind, never lingering there. And then something happens like this, and it'd like we're back at square one. All the hurt, the pain, the "what if's", the anger---they all return, rushing to the surface, and making me want to just cry out to God and ask for a do-over. The pain must come out someway.

By the time we got to the restaurant, I felt a palpable sadness, like a heavy hand on my shoulder. I could've just gone home, buried my head in an already-wet pillow and cried again. But, we trudged forward, deciding to keep our reservation. Plus, the darkening storm clouds indicated it was about to rain--and being wet wouldn't do anything to our moods.

An hour into the meal, we were doing well: talking, laughing, planning, looking at the good and the humorous in our life and family, dissecting sermons strategies, and watching it rain into an open-top BMW. The discussion of an hour earlier was only at the edge of our minds.

And then it happened.

I looked out the window to see not one but two full, clearly-defined rainbows. A symbol of God's promise. Doug understood why God sent them and said, "One wasn't enough. He thought you needed two of them." I understood, too, and it was awe-inspiring...and humbling.

Things like this always happen when I lose faith, question God, and get the "mully grubs" for lack of a better term. When that happens, God throws up a sign, maybe a rainbow, showing me He is still in charge and that He's promised to always have my best interests at heart.

I do know in my heart of hearts that you, Lord, are still in charge of everything. Nothing happens to us that isn't sifted through your fingers. Forgive my unbelief.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Everybody Wants Some

The grass stuck to Wyatt's shoes as he bounded happily toward the south-west corner of the yard. I followed at a much slower pace, pushing with one hand the twin-loaded jogging stroller and pulling the empty wagon with the other. And behind us was the ever-faithful Jonah, our cat-dog.

The birds unhappily noted my approach. I knew they would. From my back swing, I've been watching them noisily flit in and out of the pear tree for two weeks now, knowing the fruit was almost ready to harvest...if the animals left anything for me.

When I reached the tree, I noted fresh deer tracks since Tuesday's rain. Yep, another animal wanting my pears. But Wyatt is as bad as any critter. He's eaten a pear a day since Monday, and has unsuccessfully requested "another one" at each snack time, too.

I should've known trouble was looming. But, I naively trusted my "big helper" to do as I requested.

We had a routine: I picked the pears and put them on the ground; Wyatt gathered them int0 the wagon. From atop the ladder, I would hear the occasional, "Ummm. yummylicious" or "That taste good." But, those noises were usually drowned out by two unhappy babies who were tired of sitting in the stroller as well as a group of rather raucous birds coming and going around my head. They didn't appreciate that I was leaving for them every pear with a hole in it. No, they sang tales of woe and thievery!

When I finally left my leafy perch, I took a bite out of a couple smaller pears and handed them to two eager mouths. The only problem was Emerson couldn't figure out how to use his teeth and Amelia kept dropping hers. So, the birds and babies were both still fussing at me.

As I started helping pick up the remaining pears to put in the overflowing wagon, I noticed a problem. Wyatt. On the top layer alone, I counted seven pears that he'd "tasted"!!! A little bite here, a big chomp there.

He's given new meaning to Psalm 34:8: "O taste and see that the LORD is good." Thankfully, though, the Lord has bestowed on us more pears than I can handle. Compare this to last year when I harvested only enough for two pear crisps...this year, I didn't even get out the big ladder and my cup runneth over.

As I peeled and cored this afternoon, I thought of how many creatures wanted that fruit. Bluebirds. Cardinals. Blue jays. Deer. Worms. Wyatt. Animals and people alike are attracted to good fruit. And I realized my husband and children are more drawn to me when I bear good fruit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23).

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all would allow Christ to consume our lives so much that by next harvest season, we would have a tree full of good fruit instead of just two pans full?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Keeping My Heart in Shape

The twins were nine months old I celebrated surviving 9 months of twin-dom by dragging out the treadmill. Mia (cat) just thought I was giving her a new bed amongst the books at our front door.

Between caring for some very needy, fussy twins; running after my active 2 1/2 year old; and working nights at my full-time-job-from home, it's not like I've sat on my tush and gnoshed on bon bons for the past 9 months. I've been a flutter of constant movement during the day and a flutter of constant brain waves at night. I just haven't found the time for good, heart-pumping exercise.

No, strike that--I made a choice. Mommy exercising would mean two babies crying, so I chose to sit and cuddle, snuggle, love, and otherwise "console" two fussy babies. But now that both twins can crawl, it's time.

Yes--I'm not the "I-got-my-beautiful-pre-baby-body-back-in-9-months" woman whom you read about in magazines. I lost all my "baby weight" (plus some) last October when I tried to check out of planet earth after developing a serious case of toxemia, having an emergency c-section, and spending 48 hours in the ICU. But I still haven't managed to make my supposedly elastic skin snap back into its original shape.

The twins' two bodies stretched out my abdomen like yeast rising in one of those silicone bread pans, distorting a rectangle into some yet-to-be-named shape. It's depressing to step on the scale and weigh what I did in college...but yet my tummy looks like one of those hound dogs with the floppy jowls? Argh--twins!!

So, I put up a baby gate to imprison myself in a corner--just me, the fan, and the treadmill.

At first, Wyatt was excited: "Whatcha doin' mommy? I wanna do it! Let me try!!!"

But once he realized I wasn't letting him beyond the gate, he and the twins started crying and fussing.

"Don't you want to stop, mommy?"

Yeah--that's real good motivation for making me want to exercise.

Later, he resorted to slandering the treadmill: "I no like that."

There's no way I can tell my son that I don't really love exercise all the time either, but it's something I need to do if I want to keep my heart in good shape so I can really "live" life to the fullest.

That's not the only kind of heart exercise I do, though.

After Wyatt was born in 2006, I was so overwhelmed with having a new baby that I stopped Bible study for months. It was one of the driest seasons of my life. So once the twins were born, I arranged for babysitters so that I could spend every Wednesday morning in Bible study. Our ladies' group completed three studies just this past spring. We learned some amazing truths about God.

Sure, it has been rough to find the time to focus my mind and heart on Scripture. But, it was and is worth it.

Physical exercise. Spiritual exercise.

I have to convince myself that both are of great importance to keeping my heart in matter what my children think.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Thinker

We spent the moments before bedtime flipping through the 2007 photo album, recounting the first year of baby Wyatt's life. His eyes flashed with fascination as he viewed objects that he'd watched the twins play with over the past nine months. Perhaps the images even triggered a shadowy memory of himself.

At times, he didn't recognize the faces before him even though he sees them each week...I understand why. We've aged quite a bit in the last two years.

This trip down memory lane isn't because I need another excuse to cry over my now toddler-baby or my own more aged face. Instead, I'm trying to reintroduce Wyatt to Grandma Della, whom he'll meet again in a month. He was 8 months old when he last saw her. Sure, he has a good memory, but not that good.

And although Wyatt warms up to strangers fast, the shy 2 1/2 year old in him comes out easily in new settings. So, I'm trying to get him to recognize her in pictures, hoping to take some stress out of the upcoming trip, which is sure to be stressful nonetheless.

One picture caught his eye. It didn't even register with me, but his pudgy little fingers caught the page to turn it back.

"Who's that?"

"That's a statue called 'The Thinker.'"

"What's he thinking?"

"I don't know. What do you think he's thinking?"

"Mulberry bush."

And with that, he very seriously sang "Here we go 'round the mulberry bush" and "All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel."

Then, he paused and recited Winnie the Pooh: "Think, think, think."

We finished the book, as always, with "The End." He skipped off to read his "one last book" with daddy. And I was left to think, think, think myself.

I've done a lot in two years. And yet, I've also done very little. I count the days, weeks, months...writing down on a calendar each "first," snapping hundreds of photos in my attempt to freeze moments for remembrance sake. And as time clicks by, my children keep right on growing, never giving me more than a moment to just enjoy them as they are.

They never just "are"--they're always in the process of "becoming" something else, someone else. Each person's clock starts ticking down from the moment of conception.

Live with abandon. Relish each moment. Sacrifice everything for the sake of Christ.

No more Scarlett O'Hara syndrome.

Just think about it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Freeing a Jailbird

My three children would live outside if I would let them. For some reason, they perceive the house as a prison. Once inside, mommy closes the door, turns the lock...and everybody cries.

Sideways rain, terrifying thunder and lightening, unbelievable heat, finger-numbing snow--no weather is bad enough to necessitate retiring to the comfort of a semi-climate-controlled house.

And, on cooler-hot mornings like this one, it's even worse to be stuck indoors. The twins have learned they can stand up against the screen door and shake it, hinting ever so loudly that they want to go back out and explore.

But sadly, my little jailbirds stayed in their prison cell this morning because I had to catch up on housework I've put off this week. They don't realize it, but at times, this mommy considers her house a prison, too.

On bad days, I consider my life to be a prison. At those low moments, I see myself chained to a much-needed job that can only be done when I would rather be sleeping; chained to a husband who is sometimes not appreciative; and chained to children who need me every second. I'm trapped behind iron bars of housework that never ends; loads of laundry that I thought I just washed yesterday; and four hungry mouths who continually look to me to fill them.

What little news I've managed to catch this week has shown me a world of people who view their lives as prisons, too. A prominent lawyer in our area escaped through suicide. Another man I know has escaped the bonds of 20+ years of marriage to "try something new."

It's all too easy to see life as a prison, as a series of walls that keep clanking shut behind me, keeping me from what I truly want to be doing, from who I truly want to be.

It's all too easy to see life as series of "I can't's."

But change the magnification on the microscope, and suddenly I can see the job is a blessing. The children and husband are gifts from God. The housework and cooking are ways to show my love to my family.

How I see life is a choice. It involves daily taking those negative thoughts captive. (2 Cor. 10:5).

Jesus set me free long ago. But it's up to me to live like I'm free.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nice Weeds

Each summer, our family fights to keep the gravel driveway from being consumed by some really tenacious grass! You'd think that a well-used driveway wouldn't have this problem, especially since my husband and I drive our vehicles over the rocks several times a day, crushing the tiny green blades each time.

Wyatt further tramples the volunteer weeds as he plays for hours each day with his trucks, digger, bulldozer, and tricycle.

Nothing should be growing in these rocks.

But, despite the odds, there is grass aplenty in my driveway--small pale-green tufts; large, deeply rooted circles; and long green streamers that have snaked across the wide rocky expanse. My mother even commented last week about the huge clumps that have not only taken root but have also gone to seed right by the carport.

So, today, I decided to weed the driveway close to the house because there's nothing organic about the elixir my husband would spray to get this job done. As you can tell by the photo, Wyatt, of course, was right in the middle of the sweaty project. He contributed the heavy equipment to a job that only needed a good pincher grip and a few mighty tugs.

"May I help, mommy?"

"Sure. Pull up anything in the rocks."

"Look! I have a nice weed!"

I laughed. I don't consider any weed to be "nice." But when he repeated the phrase a few minutes later, it sunk in a bit deeper.

How many "weeds" in my spiritual life do I consider "nice weeds"?

Small outbursts of anger after a long day with the kids--to be expected. A critical attitude toward my spouse--well, he should have done a better job. Lack of focus in worship--everybody's mind wanders.

And so it goes, my allowing those "nice weeds" to grow as I rationalize their existence in my life. Then, suddenly, I can't see the path I'm supposed to walk for the weeds.

Oh Lord, help me not to excuse the weeds in my life but to uproot them before they control my steps and conceal the path to you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Parts of the Whole

My mother, the kids, and I spent Monday at the mall's end-of-summer "Mommy & Me" day. So did every mom who owned a stroller in a three-parish area. Between the moms, the grandmas, the kids, and the strollers...a can of sardines looked like a spacious mansion compared to that food court!

But it was so interesting to be among that many women who looked just like me--all a bit frazzled, most with hastily put on make-up and another bad hair day in a long line of bad hair days. We all snatched up the coupons for free ice cream, cookies, and kids meals, plastered stickers on t-shirts, and stood in mile-long lines for free carousel rides. We encouraged our children to not fear but rather hug or shake hands with the life size Build-A-Bear, cookie, ice cream cone, and Chick-Fil-A cow.

All us moms looked like deer caught in headlights. Our movements were jerky; our eyes darted around constantly like Secret Service women as we stayed on high alert, watching for our child to dart out into the melee or erupt in a spontaneous tantrum, a stroller to lose control and swerve into us, or an opening to appear in the crowd so we could squeeze though to another square foot of afternoon fun.

And then there were the sounds! It was like someone had secretly recorded me over the past month and then just stuck my words into these women's mouths.

"No! You have to stay in your seat!"
"Where do you think you're going? I don't think so."
"It's ok. Stop crying. The big cow is way over there now."
"Not until you eat all your meat."
"No, not both: you choose--ice cream or cookie."

All the while, Amelia's disposition was less than cheerful, probably due in part to the tooth I can see right beneath her top gums. And Emerson's car-nap on the ride home meant he thought the bed-nap this afternoon was a no-no.

As I plopped on the couch for an afternoon respite, I had the discouraging thought that Wyatt won't even remember today's sacrifice. So why bother when it's not a memory he'll probably even keep?

Later in the evening, Doug and Wyatt rode up on the silver gator and asked me to come for a ride, nowhere in particular, just around the neighborhood to feel the wind whip through our hair.

"We going blackberry picking?" Wyatt asked. I had forgotten we hadn't gone riding together since earlier this summer. He hadn't.

"No. There won't be any more blackberries till next year. I just want to ride with you because I love you. Is that ok?"

"Yeah." And he snuggled a bit closer in the crook of my arm.

He won't remember this single event either. But, it made me realize that it's not merely one event that's important. What matters is that when he adds them all together in his mind, he hopefully will have a picture of a childhood where he was loved, where he was taught about God and Jesus, where he was part of a family.

That's all any mother can hope for.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Prayer Requests

If I were a well-seasoned blogger, I'd have many articles in my arsenal that I could recycle now that I'm in finals week at school. But, although it's hard to believe, I'm only about 6 months into this journey, so no recycling.

Instead of uplifting, encouraging, funny stories for you from my life, today, I'm asking for prayers from you.

1. Pray for my husband's eye. Doesn't he look just awful? Last Monday, he scratched his cornea, it became infected, and now he has an ulcerated cornea. "Mommy! Look! It's a Pirate!" is what the little girl in Wal-mart said (as her mom probably wanted to sink into the tile floor--and concrete, too). Pray for the eye infection to go away and for the severe pain to abate.

2. Pray for my sister-in-law, Liza. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this week, she'll be taking the Louisiana Bar Exam. As a future children's advocate, she will be a wonderful Christian asset to the legal field. Pray for her to have calmed nerves, a clear mind, and recall of the information she's diligently studied.

3. Pray for me as I finish out the semester. Four of my courses' final grades are due on Friday. Pray that I have the energy and a clear head that I need to grade papers while keeping my house, husband, and children well-loved and in fairly decent order.

It may seem cliche, but I truly covet your prayers more than anything. If you have a request, send it on, and I'll be happy to pray for you as well. I've learned a good lesson from Lyla over at "A Different Story." I no longer tell people "I'm praying". I say nothing until I can say "I prayed." Changing just one verb tense has made such a difference in my prayer life. The "have pray-ed" keeps me accountable and not merely well-meaning.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Government Gets God?

Doug brought home a bouncing baby car today. It's a good thing even though he said it was shameful to get rid of any vehicle with only 175,000 miles on it. Around here, a vehicle isn't even broken in well until it rolls over 200,000 miles.

The Jeep's transmission was going (for the second time) and, as he so eloquently put it, it was spitting more than a camel. So, with the government's Cash for Clunkers program offering him $4500 to sentence his already-dying vehicle to destruction, well, that was just too perfect to pass up, especially since the program is only funded up to a certain amount. It was literally now or never.

The new arrival is grey, so that rules us black-and-white people out as biological parents. I dislike grey in areas of life, in Scripture, and on cars. But since this is the second time in two weeks that we've tried to buy this car (and both times, the color choice available was grey), I'm thinking God is trying to tell me something.

What surprises me most is that somebody hasn't picked up on the irony of how a government program is mimicking the pattern for God's plan of salvation.

Consider the similarities.

God approached an old clunker like me who was dying a little more each day in my sin. I had nothing good within me that I could offer Him to free me from my imminent eternal death.

Then, miraculously, He offered me not $4500 but rather His son Jesus' life for this clunker. WHY? Sure, I may have looked morally good on the outside to the passerby, but He knew what was going on under the hood, in my soul--my sinful thoughts, my problems with anger, my tendency toward pride.

He made the trade anyway, giving His life for mine and totally replacing my old, sinful self with a brand new soul.

When I accepted the offer, my old sinful life was destroyed. I was made anew, alive in Him. My life was forever changed.

God is patiently waiting for all clunkers to trade in their old lives for a new life in Him. But God's patience has a limit. Time is running out. It's now or never.

Such a simple plan; yet, so complex. Still makes me shake my head in amazement.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Joyful Noise

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God;
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise;
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psalm 100)

While these three pictures may not look like much, they're of this morning's "choir rehearsal" at my house. With a day of fussiness looming before me, I made a tactical decision to spend the entire morning on the kitchen floor.

Mommy Sitting = mommy isn't accomplishing anything, so you don't have to cry.

To add some excitement to my day, I took out some metal cake pans and tried to teach the twins how to beat on them like a drum.

I know--I've lost what little mind I had left. But it was fun.

Amelia wasn't too interested in anything save chewing on the wooden spoon, but Emerson took a few swats as he grinned knowingly: "This will drive mommy crazy if I do it enough!"

Wyatt? Well, he wanted to beat on the pan with a metal spoon, which was way too loud, so he brought in a Wee Sing book, and we sang it from cover to cover. Of course, he had to wear the shower cap I brought home from the hotel this past weekend.

What else do you wear when you're making a joyful noise to the Lord?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Needing Rest

A verse keeps running through my mind this evening: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30).

It's 11:30 already. I need rest. I have more papers to grade, more that are magically appearing in my inbox tonight as I type and another class' worth of essays that will appear tomorrow.

Rest. Sleep. Dreams. Right now, those words are more intoxicating than any drug.

This isn't a want, a frivolous desire, a random thought. At this point, rest is an all-consuming passion, a need. I can taste it much like a dehydrated man can taste water.

Since June 1, I've barely kept my head above the waves of student papers threatening to drown me. In fact, I haven't even been able to tread water. Instead, I've just clung to a piece of driftwood and hung on for dear life, waiting for the tide to bring me in.

Then, I got sick a couple Sundays ago and still can't kick this thing. My batteries died long ago, I'm miserable, grumpy. My teaching load this summer has been too burdensome.

Before the kids, I could have slept through this illness. No matter how late I had to stay up and work, I could always sleep in or catch a nap. If I still want a house and living children when I awaken, that's no longer an option.

Pray for me. I just need to survive until July 24, and then I can slow down my work to a rush-hour-traffic crawl for a month before the fall semester begins.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

No Upgrade Please

Doesn't this couple look fabulously relaxed? It's amazing what a half hour nap, 8 hours without the sound of crying infants, dinner with no chubby little fingers grabbing at your food, and an hour watching the sun set from a beach-front swing will do for those stress wrinkles.

Grandmama and Granddaddy offered to keep all three kids while Doug and I went on an overnight Friday trip to Alabama. We haven't been alone overnight since...December 28, 2006, the night before Wyatt was born, and that was one miserable night of slowly increasing labor pains.

It was a good trip, even if it started out rather rocky.

Since Doug's Jeep is slowly dying, we rented a small car, but when he went to pick it up, he was "upgraded" to a larger Dodge Nitro. None the wiser, we took the vehicle, dropped off the three small dictators, and then discovered "free upgrade" meant "no cruise control" for our 4 hour trip.

Then, I learned Doug hadn't brought his Ipod, so no music for the entirety of the trip. But, very quickly, the silence of an Ipod-free world turned into an entire trip worth of talking and catching up without a toddler saying, "Don't talk, mommy!" Hmmm...another "upgrade" of a sorts that we were better off without

Upon arriving at the resort around 4 pm, we learned we'd been placed in the "Spa Building," the newest post-Hurricane Katrina building. The problem was it had a view of boats in the marina, not of the man-made sandy "beach" on the bay that we remembered looking upon from our balcony a few years ago. A call to the front desk let us know this was a "free upgrade" because we were in the newer, more spacious rooms.

As you can guess, we declined this upgrade in lieu of an "older" room in the North Bay Building. Sure, the room was smaller, the carpets more faded, the balcony door a bit more difficult to open. But there were the memories of us in almost that exact room about 5 years ago--young, in love, no children, and two very bright career futures before us.

As Doug surprised me with chocolate-covered strawberries, I couldn't help but think the difference 5 years has made. He's a lot skinnier than the guy I married. A lot less hair. A lot more wrinkles. A career future that isn't quite as bright. A lot more emotional scarring.

And I had the horrid thought that the world would also want to upgrade him, replace someone who has dimmed with age with someone flashier and new.

Then, at dinner, we sat by an elderly couple celebrating their 40th anniversary. They had weathered the economic highs and lows of life, the "for better or worse" of marriage, the all-consuming trials of raising children.

After dinner, my hubby and I strolled hand in hand down the boardwalk and lazily sat in the swing for over an hour until the mosquitoes drove us inside. But as we returned to our room, through the candle-lit glass, we saw that couple still sitting there, lingering together over their meal. No upgrade for them.

As with all good things, our getaway ended all too soon with a return to the "crying-normal" at our house Wyatt and my parents enjoying the gift of those remaining chocolate-coated berries. I think Wyatt enjoyed them most of all. "Oooooh, I love chocolate!"

But more than that, 24 hours served as a reminder that I love my husband for how God made him, less hair, quirks and all. We don't need an upgrade at this house, either.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Making Connections

Wyatt is making connections that make me smile, laugh, and scratch my head. This morning, he was playing with Grandmama's Little People nativity set, pretending to hold intense conversations with them.

I took this as my chance to teach Wyatt about angels, telling him that God had given him a guardian angel who would protect him at night when he was scared like the other night during the storm. I then said his angel "protected him from himself." As if he understood, he said, "Yeah."

He continued to play, then held up a shepherd and said, "That not a monster. That an angel."

Huh? How did he make a connection between monsters and angels? I'm still scratching my head over that one.

Later in the evening as Doug kissed Wyatt goodnight, Wyatt looked up and smiled,

"You have stickers."

Doug rubbed his after-five shadow. "Yes, I do."

"Are you a cactus?"

At least I understood this connection, even though it was amusing.

Such a large, inquisitive mind, constantly whirring in that small body. I want to tell him to slow down a moment. Stop jumping, stop talking and let me hold him again before he's a teenager.

This little boy's mind and body tell him to go, move, think, connect. It's fascinating to experience. But I still miss the little boy who used to look in my face with wonder, memorizing its dimensions and smiling as he drifted off in my arms.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Beautiful Mind

Alert all the archaeologists! Treasure seekers, start packing! Cartophiles, start admiring the unique find pictured here!

Remember last week's posting about Wyatt wanting to spend every second naked? I predicted then that he'd "find" the Garden of Eden in some part of my yard and then leave me a glorious trail of clothing to follow.

I was wrong again.

That's not how his cunning little mind chose to manipulate mommy's rule that you can't be naked anywhere except your room, the bathroom, or the Garden of Eden.

Saturday morning, Doug and I were entertaining the twins when Wyatt found an ink pen. I hide pens so well that I can't even find one when I need it. But, somehow, Wyatt found one and demanded paper.

He then sat on the floor, intently scribbled on the paper, then handed it to me.

"Look mommy."

"Oh, that's very nice. What is it?"

"A map."

I paused. That wasn't the answer I expected. Dog. Cat. Chicken. Somebody he knows. But not "map."

And then it clicked. The little rascal had drawn a map to the Garden of Eden. I did say the Garden was lost and that there was no map to it.

At this point, Wyatt was grinning and Doug was laughing--truth in this household is much stranger than fiction!

I think I'm going to be one step behind this child for the rest of my life! His brain just works in ways I can't even predict.

So, there you have it. If you can interpret the scribble map, you're a better map-reader than I am.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I Scared

The storm hit five minutes after all three children were safely tucked in bed. God chose that exact moment to tap His baton and direct nature's orchestra in a rather loud movement of His newest fugue.

This was in-your-face music, as if I were sitting far above the earth in the pit with the musicians, themselves. I seriously considered going to find my earplugs so I could continue my work, but instead, I sat and listened to the beauty of the music, music that has been rare here lately in the sun-parched South.

I flinched with each crash of cymbals as their frequency increased in crescendo. I watched in anticipation for the accompanying light show tracing intricate patterns across the sky and lighting up an otherwise blue-black night.

Then, the electricity flashed off. Darkness save for the light of my laptop. A dramatic finish to this part of the composition.

Seconds later, the electricity returned; the bass drum decreased its intensity; and a slow, steady snare drum beat in time to the rain descending upon the roof.

Then, from down the hall came cries of panic, fear, and a desperate need for mommy.

The twins had been oblivious to God's orchestra being played over their dreamy little heads. Wyatt, however, had listened in silence to the entire performance only to realize with the absence of the noise from his window unit air conditioner that the electricity had gone out.

After I calmed down a hysterical 2-year-old, I asked what was the problem (like I didn't know).

"I scared."

"Why? Mommy's here."

"I can't find the light."

He doesn't sleep with a night light. Since infancy, he's slept in darkness in a room with blacked-out windows so not a ray of light gets in. But he knew the air conditioner's noise meant the light was there if he needed it.

This is the first time he's ever vocalized his fear, which means he is old enough to be taught how to start dealing with fear. How can I explain to a 2-year-old mind that the light is always there even if he can't see it? That if he could see Jesus, Jesus would appear as bright as the sun? That Jesus watches over him all day and night to protect him when he's afraid? That there is no darkness to God? That God turns the darkest of dark into the brightest of day?

How can I make him believe and trust in these truths....especially when I know them, myself, but still sometimes become scared of the darkness?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Livin' La Vida Naked

My home is no longer rated "G." It meets the no violence and no bad language clauses, but it's failing miserably at the no nudity requirement.

This problem has nothing to do with the 100 degree temperatures down here. Or the newly-potty-trained toddler's mishaps. Or the twins' tummy troubles.

Wyatt simply wants to be naked.

Today, before I could even get the babies from the van to the kitchen, Wyatt's shorts and shoes were already strewn across the floor, and the shirt was not far behind.

With one arm already free of the confining material, he looked up, saw my disapproving glare, and asked, "Can I take my shirt off?" "No. Put it back"

He and I have replayed this scene each day for the past few weeks. Several times a day, in fact.

Last Friday, I went to pick him up from Oma and Opa's only to find him naked save for his underwear. He was "hot" in a frigid, well-air conditioned house. Right.

I'm sure this is just a toddler phase, but I'm not going down without a fight. I want my G rating back.

So, I've told Wyatt "the rules" say there are only three places children are allowed to be naked: the Garden of Eden, the bathroom, and his room. He knows what the Garden of Eden is because in his Bible, there's a picture of a naked Adam and Eve parading around in the bushes.

His response to these new rules? "I want to go GardenEden."

Mommy expected that one: "Oh, I'm sorry, but the map to the Garden of Eden was lost a long time ago. That means the only naked place left is the bathroom or your room, so you can just be naked in there. Go ahead, but remember you can't take one step outside the door until your clothes are back on."

I'm waiting for this to backfire in my face. I have visions of walking outside one day to find a stream of socks, shoes, underwear, pants, and shirt...and at the end of this rainbow, a naked toddler leaping joyfully around some flower bushes as he says, "Look, Mommy! I found the GardenEden!"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's in the Details

Since I have the heart of a perfectionist, I notice the little things. And it's those little things (rather than the ginormous whoppers) that have caused this mommy more meltdowns with her children and spouse than she would like to admit.

When God gave me twins + a 2 1/2 year old + a stay-at-home job, he knew I'd have to give up a lot of control, to be more flexible than a gymnast, to rely on Him more completely, and to learn which details were really important.

I'm a work in progress.

It's not important

That Emerson went to the store today without socks and shoes.
That Wyatt's hair has not been brushed in two days.
That the laundry is never completely put up.
That the toys are never 100% in their proper bins and baskets.
That I'm 8 months behind on putting pictures in the albums.
That the plants haven't been fertilized in three weeks.

What does matter is

Amelia's smile when I lift her from the crib each morning.
The piercing sapphire of Emerson's beautiful eyes.
Wyatt's impromptu hugs and "I love you, mommy."
A kiss on the head from my husband at the end of each day.
An answered prayer for rain, showing my heavenly Father's love.

Yes, the details matter. It's all about determining which ones.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Helping vs. Hindering

"May I help?" That's a question I hear each day from Wyatt. He wants to stir the pot of noodles that doesn't really need stirring, carry the watering can that's too heavy for him to even lift, and put up all the folded clothes even though that will mean they'll be unfolded and "stuffed" in drawers.

But I don't want to discourage this attitude because one day he'll have the ability to be a real helper! I'm constantly telling him, "You're mommy's BIG helper" and seeking for ways to involve him in everything. Yesterday, I let him try his hand at tearing lettuce for the salad, stuffing his own underwear in the correct drawer, and holding the watering can's second handle to water-in the ant poison.

And now Amelia has decided she wants to help. Eight months old and she's already helping me empty the dryer...and adding a little sweetness to the laundry by chewing on daddy's freshly washed sock.

"Helping" in my household doesn't follow Webster's definition. Instead, it means "doing things more slowly," "doing things twice," or "hindering mommy's attempts to be productive."

Somehow I wonder if this is how God sometimes views my attempts to "help" Him share the gospel and glorify His name. Does He sigh in frustration when I screw up? Roll his eyes heavenward? "Fix" what mistakes I've made as I sleep at night?

I know He could do so much better if He just did everything Himself. It constantly amazes me that He still chooses to use mankind to further His kingdom on earth, that He still chooses to use me.

Perhaps He doesn't want to discourage my helpful attitude because one day, I, too, will mature in Christ and be more useful to Him.