Grace for the Impossible

He’s searching for her keys. We all are. In the middle of a house that is packed and unpacked depending on the day. Depending on what her 85 year old mind tells her. Some days she’s home. Other days she’s not.

He’s only 8. And so distracted. I can’t blame him. It’s a lot to take in.

I tell him to focus. Knowing he can’t. Knowing there are too many treasures to look at. Brush the dust off. Slip into his pocket.

The wind recently blew the roof off the barn. I can see it from her kitchen window. Then uprooted the tree by the pond.

Seems like everything in my original safe place is collapsing. Aging. Getting distracted. Forgetting original purpose and intention.

I’m like that too. Not much different than an 8 year old in a old house.  Looking this way and that. Forgetting the mission. Collapsing like a barn roof.

Today will feel like an unending search for house keys if I miss the purpose. Misplace the mission.

It’s because of Him. Every breath I take. Every beat of my heart. Every stroke of my hand on her sweet cheeks. Or hand on his uncertain shoulder.

The treasures I choose to slip into my pocket are grace. They too are part of the mission. Pieces of life that remind me the journey is worth it. The laughs. The meals. The memories.

Today…here in our house of fresh minds and young thoughts…I choose to hold on to grace like it’s a wind away from disappearing. To open my hands and heart big and full and let grace wash over all of us.

To believe that God is only good and I am only loved. And the Gospel really is good news. In wandering minds. In questions unanswered.

“In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28a)

God is enough. He loves you deep and wide. Distracted and focused. At home or work. With questions or answers.

We move forward because He moved toward us. And we rest in the grace of His mission when ours seems impossible.

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(Oh outside…and mountain tube slides…you are grace to me!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When a change is (unexpectedly) just what you need…

Last spring our 2 older boys made decisions. After multiple conversations. After months of talking. Stephen decided to stop playing soccer. Caleb decided to stop playing football.

I was devastated. Not being dramatic. Totally honest.

We are a sports’ family. Jeremy coaches. I wear the team shirt. One of us is at every practice. Watching. Enjoying.

Both of our childhoods would cease without organized sports. We both love it. Compete hard. Practice tons.

But both older boys said no. Not now. They wanted a break. And honestly, we had seen it coming. Apathy. Frustration.

Here’s what we didn’t see coming. The joy of being here. The freedom of looking at the calendar and having nothing on it. Oh.My.Word.

We’ve had neighbors over for dinner. We’ve had extended family dinners. We’ve had trips to the museum. We’ve had overnights at Grandparents.

Our life finally has margin and we have loved it.

Y’all…we’ve got basketball starting up in a few weeks. So don’t dismiss me as anti-sports. Far from it!

But I will say that our little break was just what we needed. And we didn’t even know we needed it.

So thankful that God gives us seasons anchored in His unchanging grace.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

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Our Family Date Marathon

The kids had been crazy lately. Mean really. They argued over every thing. Who opens the chili. Who rides the hoverboard. Who takes the dog out. I was full-time referee and done with it.

First, I prayed the desperate prayer of a tired Mama. These are the 2 verses I focused on-

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)–God, give us one, just one, peacemaker among these 5 hoodlums.

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)–God, help our kids to unite with You and each other as one not many.

Jeremy and I also wondered if maybe the kids needed a break from each other. Maybe there’d been too much togetherness lately. But how do we get all 5 of them on individual dates at one time?

Here’s what we came up with:

1.We need a sitter to keep those who aren’t “dating.” (For us that was Stephen…how do we have a kid that old?)

2.It has to be a big deal. Unexpected. “Guess what everyone…we’re having our first ever family date marathon tonight.” Followed by blank stares.

3.Every child gets to pick his or her restaurant but it has to be quick and close by.

4.Kids left at home get to pick a Netflix show for everyone else to watch (and to help Stephen).

Then we did it.

I took Kenan to Moe’s while Jeremy took Esther to Wendy’s.

We met back at home and switched dates. I took Jonathan to Wendy’s and Jeremy took Caleb to Moe’s.

Lastly, Jeremy went home and started bedtime while I took Stephen to a local taco truck.

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And for bonus these are the 3 questions we ask our big boys on dates:
1-What is the hardest (worst) thing in your life right now?
2-What is the easiest (best) thing in your life right now?
3-What is God teaching you right now?

In total, our family date marathon took 2 hours, cost less than taking our whole family out, and Jeremy and I ate samplings from different restaurants. And more importantly, our kids went to bed feeling cherished as an individual not a group.

Has the arguing gotten better? Some days yes. And some days no. Our kids fight the same sin nature as me and Jeremy so I’m not expecting a date night to fix that. But we’re still praying and trusting. Knowing that God has good plans for all of us because of His steadfast love and compassion.

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:10-13)

 

 

 

 

 

To Those With “Littles”…I see you!

Mamas of littles…listen…closely…tune out the crying from the other room…I have something to tell you…a little hope to offer…here goes…

It will get easier!

I can barely believe it myself. Nope, I’m not in the stage yet where I’m saying, “It goes by so fast. Enjoy it.” Truthfully, there’s still not a ton of this parenting gig I actually enjoy. But we’ve progressed a little and I’ve realized something huge. I’ll say it again…

It will get easier!

By around 3 and a half, the clouds begin to lift. Your kids will most likely be able to tie their own shoes, pee in the potty, buckle themselves in their carseat, get their own snacks, and even entertain themselves for a little while in the morning (while you….sleep in!).

It’s a breath of fresh air. You can read a book in another room while they’re in quiet time, confident that no one will die. You don’t have to worry about toys in the mouth or falling down steps. You can even take walks without a stroller. And there’s no diaper bag to pack before leaving the house.

Hear me out tired Mamas…3 years. 3 whole years. You can do this. You can do it multiple times.

God will meet you where you are today. He will strengthen you. He will give you patience. He will help you smile. He will wipe away those tears that no one even knows you’re crying. He’ll lift your tired head up from the playroom floor. He’ll redeem those arguments with your spouse because you’re not even sure you really know each other anymore. He is right there with you.

And His strength is perfect in weakness. Today. Tomorrow. For 3 years. For more.

It will get easier!

Believe this. And lean in deeply (so deeply) to Him. He is there!

 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)

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The Wrestling Match of Parenting

I toggle between two words when it comes to parenting.

Pride and Fear

On good days, I feel pride.
Yes, we’re doing something right.
Yes, our kids will make wise choices.

On bad days, I feel fear.
No, we’re not doing anything right.
No, our kids won’t make wise choices.

It’s a sticky spot. There’s a balance between pride and fear we can rest in. And honestly, our feelings aren’t up for the task of telling us where to land.

When I’m in the wrestling match between pride and fear, our kids get the punches. They get the mood swings. They get the “here’s a little freedom” versus “do what I say” versions of Mom at various, unpredictable moments.

I have the power to create a home in limbo or at peace. And it’s settled by my choice to rest in the stableness of God or the movement of my emotions.

The days will change. The kids will change. But He won’t. It is finished. For my kids and yours.

We fight our pride with prayer and our fear with faith. Because He is listening. He is steadfast. And His mercies are new every morning.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22,23)

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