How I thrive (survive/stay alive) with 5!

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear that sentence about once a week. From friends. Family. Even strangers.

And I know what they mean. What they’re really saying.

“I don’t know how you put up with so many kids for so many hours a day.”

Why would a sane person have 5 of them? Why would they choose to stay home with them? And how in the world do they do it?

Okay. Here’s the answer. For any of you considering 5 kids. Considering homeschooling. Considering jumping out of a plane with a mended parachute.

One-God. Honestly. I couldn’t do it without my morning time in the closet (literally) with Him. Tucked away from the world. Cramming verses into my head. Scribbling prayers that often end with “help me.”

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Two-Quiet time. “Do not come out of your rooms till 3:00.” This house shuts down from 2:00-3:00 every day. Not kidding. The introvert in me craves this hour of silence. It’s golden. Do not speak to me. Do not cry. Do not come near my bedroom door.

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Three-Video games. Judge me. It’s fine. But our kids get an hour of “screen time” every day after quiet time. They come up, get a snack, then waste their brains for an hour. So in total, I get (count it) 2 hours of “me time” every afternoon. And it’s glorious!

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Four-Schedule. Things run like clockwork around here. I’m a legalist when it comes to routine. A little OCD maybe. The big boys know what to do when. They know when  it’s their “school with Mom time,” “watch Esther/Kenan time,” and “alone time.”

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Five-Trampoline. “Everybody outside right now.” I say it almost every day. “Go. Just go. Everybody on the trampoline.” Because we all (me included) need fresh air. We need to jump. Throw balls at each other. Curl up in blankets and read books.

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That’s just 5. I could name tons more. Helpful friends. Jeremy’s support. Family close by. Simple curriculum. Crockpots. Audio books. Minimal expectations. Ritz crackers.

Is this the life my 18 year old self envisioned?

Not a chance. Not a single piece of my current reality matches up with my original plans.

And that could scare me to death. Make me doubt.

Or it could make me humble. Reliant. Leaning hard into the only One who really knows.

God doesn’t make mistakes. With our jobs, families, locations, or callings. With our kid-count. Money-count. Achievement-count.

He just keeps loving us. And strengthening us. And being extra gracious to us.

And in the irony of it all, I find myself echoing these same words back to Him.

“I don’t know how You do it.”

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3)

 

 

 

 

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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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I.CAN’T.DO.THIS.

Because sometimes He speaks so clearly I stop in my tracks…

If following God means the joy I’m showing, would our kids want to be in His will?

I tell them:
-The best place to be is in God’s will.
-God loves you and has a plan for your life.
-Serving God is the greatest thing you could ever do.

Then I mope around the house. I’m short with them. I rush through bedtime to get a break.

Sometimes I probably look downright miserable doing what I tell them He’s called me to do.

Why would they ever want to follow Him with me making it look so terrible?

I’m the first to say that the life of a Christian is not one of ease. Christ suffered. Why would we expect any less? But I also believe a life without joy is not living the life Christ died to give us.

I’m also the first to admit that having kids is hard. And we don’t own it enough. And everyone looks perfect, so we keep smiling while we’re dying inside and just so, so tired.

But has He called me here? In this little spot we call home? Has He called me to be His ambassador? To partner with Him in shaping these little arrows to be sent out?

YES!

The disconnect…Working in my own strength. Carrying the burden He intends to bear. Talking God to our kids while not talking to God myself.

I.CAN’T.DO.THIS.

That’s where I find freedom. I can’t, but He can. He never asked me to do the things I’m trying to do. That’s why I get burned out.

So I give them to Him all over again. And I can smile and laugh and run and tickle. And yes, I’m still so tired, but it’s a joyful tired.

Because being in His will…where else is there to be?

  “Have you not known? Have you not heardThe LORD is the everlasting Godthe Creator of the ends of the earthHe does not faint or grow wearyhis understanding is unsearchableHe gives power to the faintand to him who has no might he increases strengthEven youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhaustedbut they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eaglesthey shall run and not be wearythey shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

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And currently we have two two year olds!

 

“The gospel lib…

“The gospel liberates us to be okay with not being okay. We know we’re not-though we try very hard to convince other people we are. But the gospel tells us, ‘Relax, it is finished’.”

Because of the gospel, we have nothing to prove or protect. We can stop pretending. The gospel frees us from trying to impress people, to prove ourselves to people, to make people think we’re something that we’re not.

The gospel grants us the strength to admit we’re weak and needy and restless-knowing that Christ’s finished work has proven to be all the strength and fulfillment and peace we could ever want, and more.”

From Tullians’ book Jesus + Nothing = Everything

Ode to the “Other Days”

His “strength is made perfect in weakness (II Cor. 12:9).”  Praise the Lord!  I am so weak so many days.  I wake up late, skip my time with the Lord, and then rush through the rest of the day.  I check the clock to see how many hours til naptime.  Then I check it again to see what time Daddy will be home.  Before bed I check it to see if it’s too early to put them down.  Yes, 6:00 is a little too early.  Then I put them in the bath knowing that they’ll entertain themselves for nearly an hour before a reasonable bedtime comes.  Those are the days I’m weak.

There are other days where I get up early, workout, pray, and spend time with the Lord.  The boys and I have an excellent day filled with laughs, hugs, and walks to the park.  We’re actually surprised when Daddy comes home “so early.”  I’m reluctant to put them to bed and gladly give in to their pleas for “just one more book.”  Those too are the days I’m weak.

Each and every day, no matter how smoothly things go or don’t go, I still need my Father.  I need His strength to be perfect, because I’m not.  I need to remember the grace I’ve been given and the love I’ve been shown.   Every day, I need to remember that I’m His and live in His strength.