Saturday, November 17, 2012

Two Years and Ten Months, Respectively

This is Everett before it turned cold and drizzly out. The longer I am a parent the less pictures I take so forgive the less than current picture, but you get the idea. He is two years and 3 months old. He is, how do you say, the freakin' most awesome kid I've ever met. I was so scared that he would wake up on his second birthday and be the "terrible two" tornado you are always warned (aka threatened) about. But he has continued to be even keeled and friendly. Of course he has his moments of irrational anger and there are times he wakes up from his nap and there is someone over that he usually loves and he will refuse to look at them or acknowledge there existence. But who doesn't have moments like these, even in adult life. His favorite things right now are Curious George, my iPhone, and popcorn. He could eat popcorn for every meal if we let him. He is sweet and accommodating, and if his brother is crying he will say "brother OK mama?" in a concerned and caring voice that just kills me. The last few nights when I put him to bed he will pat his little pillow and say, "lay with me mama?" and I just dare someone to turn down that adorable request.

Our chubby little baby boy is slowly turning into a little boy and everyday it seems like a little more baby fat has disappeared of his little frame, which makes me sad, but excited to see what kind of boy he will turn into. He truly is a joy.

 This is Graham. He will be ten months in ten days. Our little skinny baby is now a full on fatty. He eats everything in sight. You can't put something in your mouth around him without him crying and looking at you like you haven't fed him in weeks. I can't seem to feed him often enough. I think as sweet as Everett is will be how strong willed Graham is. He knows exactly what he wants and will let you know it. Usually what he wants is for me to pick him up and hold him. He will be contentedly playing in the living room and if he hears my voice in the kitchen he will immediately start crying for me to come get him. Everett was a complete daddy's boy at this age and Graham doesn't care about anyone but me. Sometimes it feels a little suffocating, but I know one day soon I will miss this sweet time when I was his whole universe. He is getting more and more steady on his feet and has recently started being able to walk while holding on to the couch. He is strong and sweet and loves to be held upside-down and tickled. He also REALLY loves bottles and can drink them faster than any baby I have ever seen. He loves when Everett talks to him or plays with him and can now clap when you ask him to and will "dance" if there is music on, which looks a lot like baby pelvic thrusting which is hilarious and a little disturbing. 

I am so in love with my boys. I am starting to see the beginning stages of the two of them playing together and discovering how to be brothers and it is so much fun.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When Worlds Collide

I just realized today why being a stay at home mom feels so hard. Right now I am listening with one ear to the monitor for signs that my nephew is awake from his nap while feeding my 10 month old a disgusting meal of gummed down biscuit that he consumes like a pack of wild dogs going after a bone, all while my two year old sleeps peacefully downstairs. While doing all these things it came to me that I have just never worked this hard in my entire life. The days I spend with my children are relentless, unending marathons of picking up messes, making meals, playing with cars and trucks and too many things that make too many noises, and of course changing an infinite number of diapers.  Too many of which, by the way, require a change of clothes for all of us after the deed is done.

It should go without saying that I love it and LOVE my children. Even when it's hard and overwhelming, one little smile from my baby or funny comment from my toddler and my heart is so  full that I think it might burst. I wouldn't trade it for a day job. (Unfortunately i feel obligated to say that because mommy guilt kicks in and I worry that I will be judged for complaining about my children, or taking the blessing of being with them everyday for granted. For the record, I am an awesome mom and my kids are super awesome, and yes sometimes I want to hide in my room while they fight it out Hunger Games style). But every job I have worked up until now, no matter how busy or fast-paced I thought it was, did not hold a candle to this. The jobs I've had outside the home have been at least somewhat self-paced...meaning I could pick how hard I chose to work or how much I would try to get done in a shift. There might be a demanding boss, and sometimes customers or clients, but if I wanted to be crappy at my job, I could be. Or, I might have worked my butt off, but at least there was a break or a lunch on the horizon, or the joy of joys, the end of the work day.  But being a stay at home mom has absolutely nothing to do with me  and there is no pause button or stop button, and definitely no mute button (which would sometimes be the button of choice, let's be honest). I can't choose how hard I work because children have to be fed and changed and entertained and especially in this phase of life, there is no way that they can rely on themselves for any of these things. They need me for absolutely everything in their lives and the work isn't done until they decide it is by finally going to sleep at which time I usually fall into the couch and stay in that position until I get the energy to go to bed. 

Yesterday I spent a few too many hours dwelling and wallowing on this fact. "Just one minute to do what I want," I thought to myself, while angrily washing one more dish and soothing another crying child. I went to a dark place of bitterness and jealousy and selfishness that I'm not really proud of. But eventually kids do go to sleep and there is a moment to take a breath, after putting away the ocean of toys I spent the day tripping over and cleaning up the remnants of the days meals from the kitchen. And when I had a second of rational thought I realized something. This is exactly what my life is supposed to look like right now. It is no accident that God has been working through my issues with idolatry of self that I wrote about in my last post while I am in a stage of life that is the perfect place to let that work happen. What better way to cut away the love of self than to be in a place where I have almost no time to think about/worry about/even acknowledge myself? What better way to kill the demon of want and consumerism and vanity than being stuck in the house with three kids and only the energy to throw on some sweat pants and my hair in a ponytail?

A funny thing happens when you ask God to move. He does. And you want it to be this magical experience where you wake up and all of a sudden you don't care about the dumb things you used to and you feel this supernatural love and joy and peace and your children's crying all of the sudden sounds like angels singing and you could care less how much money is in your bank account or how many pairs of jeans you own. But it doesn't really happen that way. It happens in the way it's happening right now. You capture what is vile in you and offer it up to Christ in repentance, and then he starts working on you and in you, and it is usually hard and painful and stretching in ways you didn't really sign up for, if you are honest. But it is also pure JOY, because you realize how pure, how TRUE the gospel is. How petty the things of this world truly are when held up next to Jesus and his infinite power and how beautiful it is when you feel that power inside of you.

When I made this connection I could do nothing else but worship, to thank God for loving me enough to want me to be better, to be changed.  Colossians 3:1-4 says 

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at teh right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

My life is hidden with Christ in God, what?? My gross, jealous, bitter, selfish life is hidden behind His perfect one? If that doesn't make you WANT to be better, to kill those things in you as an act of worship and thanks for that being true I don't know what will. Because that is the truly beautiful thing about this whole thing. It is already done. All these things are already hidden in Him and my perfection is complete because it is HIS perfection that God sees in me. But he still chooses to work in us because he knows we need it, that life is better when are attentions and desires are towards Him and not the things of this world. Thank you Jesus, for loving me more than I even can comprehend.

Being a mom to little ones is hard, really hard. The knowledge that it is supposed to be hard doesn't change that, but it does give me something to cling to in those moments when the dishes are piling up and the baby is crying. My prayer is that my children see this struggle, somehow see and remember this time when there mom is learning how to cling to Jesus amid the biscuit crumbs and toy cars. And that they will learn to cling to him, too.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

A New Normal

Right now the wind is blowing in fierce gusts against our house, shaking the trees last desperately clinging leaves and sending them falling and swirling to the waiting earth below. It is overwhelming and beautiful that the same Creator that makes that wind and created those leaves is doing the same thing inside of me, something I have not allowed to happen for what feels like forever. I feel Him there, in the deepest corners and the most forgotten crevices of my heart and it feels scary and painful and SO necessary.

Jesus love me. He LOVES me. He loves ME? It’s a sentence that I write but still do not understand, a concept I don’t think I ever will. Yet as amazing as it is that God loves and forgives me, my idols rob me of the joy that this knowledge should bring. How is it that temporal things can seem bigger or more important than that which is eternal? Especially such small things, even by the world’s standards. Specifically body image, comparison, and insecurity.

In the 11 years I have been a Christian these issues have come up and been “worked through” time and time again. They have never gone away and I have had varying degrees of denial or acceptance of the role that these things play in my life. But they are always there. Lately, the ugliness of these sins have been truly disgusting to me. I am SICK to death of talking about things I have bought, or want to buy, or wish I could buy. I am sick of worrying about what the clothes I am wearing say about me, what people will think of my hair, makeup, nails, shoes, the existence of baby weight or the loss of baby weight, if strangers would look at me and think I was wealthy (yes I have actually had that thought, more often than I would care to admit), if I’m prettier than insert name here, if I’m skinnier that insert name here, if I’m more fashionable than her, I could just go on and on. How often these thoughts captivate my mind I don’t even want to admit to myself. They are a constant dialogue of flesh and sin that plays in my head and I just can’t take it anymore.

I feel like for the first time I understand the consequences of idols. I have always understood the definition of what an idol is but this is different. The Spirit has been talking to me despite the clutter that all this sin has caused in my heart. He has been shouting, actually. For the first time I have a picture of what I have been missing out on because of my constant unrepentant sin. Joy! Joy in the spirit that is real and tangible and isn’t based on circumstances. Joy in serving Him, in seeing the transformation of other’s souls, of having a relationship with Him and feeling his working in life. I am so filled up with other things I have suffocated the joy right out of me. Such a tragic way to spend a life.

The thing is, I do not have the power to change the desires of my heart to the things that matter. I can’t just will myself to not care about my appearance no more than I can will myself to go to sleep and wake up looking like a Victoria Secret model (let’s be honest, I’ve had that wish a time or two). Repentance in this area will be a complete transformation of my mind, my daily activities, the way I spend my money, and even my relationships with the people I care most about. I don’t even really know where to start. Actually I do know,  its also where I finish and where I continually return to day after day as I fight this battle. Jesus. Praying to Him, reading His Word, crying out to him as I struggle to change the way my mind has always worked. Praying that he captures my heart in a way that I fear I have never let Him.

*As I process through all this I already know that I will regret putting this on the internet and that is exactly why I am. Even if no one reads it I will know it s here and transparency is essential to the death of this sin*