Cookies on the Couch

30545724956_25e266e583_b

Photo Credit: valeehill Flickr via Compfight cc

We haven’t had a date in the long time. At the end of June we were lucky enough to have a day (as in 24 hours) without the kids. We stayed the night at a local hotel having dinner in their beautiful on site restaurant and breakfast the next day. I realize how lucky I was to have that time. And yet , I’m feeling the need for another break.

We try to find time for the two of us, but with a house full of boxes and a to-do list of renovation tasks, a real date, the kind with a leisurely meal and my husband’s undivided attention without the adorable but persistent voices and needs of our little people, is likely any time soon. Now that the clock is ticking for the big move, yet another reason beyond the usual daily distraction gets in the way.

So we need to find other ways to connect. A cookie each sitting on the couch watching a sitcom hardly takes the place of a date, but it’s better than nothing. Going to bed early to read, talk and cuddle isn’t the same as an evening out of my crazy house, but it is still a time to rest and connect with each other.

Hopefully when the dust settles we’ll find time or one of those idyllic evenings of looking into each others eyes and having real conversations without pausing to wipe up anything or anyone. Or perhaps we’ll have to settle for evenings of cookies on the couch for a while longer.

bethany_31_days_honesty_big

20-2-e1473705920896

Advertisements

They Don’t Have to Like Me, But It Would Be Nice

5917140469_a9acb9b016_b

Photo Credit: David Salafia Flickr via Compfight cc

Sometimes it’s easier just to let it go. Because I hate when I have an adversarial relationship with anyone, especially my children. But then the disrespect reaches an all new high, and a little part of me shrivels up inside while I yell and lash out on the outside. I may put on a brave front, but like most mother’s I want my children to like me or at least enjoy life with me. (Ok, maybe not enjoy themselves all the time, but at least some of the time).

At MOPS yesterday, I was talking with the ladies at my table and I said “I have lots and things I’d like for my children, but when it comes down to it, I really want them to be decent human beings and actually want to come home to see us.” Obviously that is simplistic, because I want so much more than that for them. But at the end of the day, while I want them to be independent, I also want them to come to me when they need me.

I never know how to balance dealing with their behavior issues and hoping they will sense that I love them. Because I know that I am human, and I will mess them up. I believe God’s grace is sufficient to cover those mistakes. Yet,I sometimes fear that perhaps it won’t be. That either I will let too much go, and they will become self-centered, entitled little creatures (as truthfully, we all are, but for the grace of God) or I will be too hard on the, making life seem like drudgery and drive them away from both me and God.

It is so hard to be a parent. It’s like trying to juggle while balanced on one one leg, on a tightrope. (Oh and the tightrope is pitching in the wind and it’s over a gorge.) That’s how it feels some days. Maybe it’s not my childrens’ behavior I need to deal with (though I still do) as much as I need to face my own flaws and hurts and my deep desire not to pass those same issues on to my children. Though as I said to my friends yesterday, we will mess our kids up, it just may not be in the ways our parents messed us up. There are no perfect parents on this side of heaven. Accepting that while still striving to emulate Father God is the continuing challenge I must cope with.

bethany_31_days_honesty_big

20-2-e1473705920896

Grace to Trust Him More: Five Minute Friday & 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Day 9

IMG_5725

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus . . .” The words of the hymn struck me as though I was hearing them for the first time as I stood there in church. I was in my last trimester of pregnancy and things were so overwhelming. It had been a long and difficult pregnancy from spotting and severe nausea in the first trimester to extreme back pain and fatigue in the second and third.

“How would you feel about using that hymn for our son’s dedication?” I asked my husband in the car on the way home. I know it seemed silly, since our son wasn’t even born yet. He said it sounded good to him.

Two months later, I lay in a darkened labor and delivery room at four in the morning after a difficult 19 hour ordeal. We weren’t being moved to our room yet because of some clots and my passing out a few times. The baby had been taken to the nursery and I was encouraged to rest, having been awake for more than 24 hours at this point. My husband dozed on the recliner next to me but I couldn’t sleep. Every time I closed my eyes I felt like my throat was closing up. Every time I dozed off for a second I dreamed I was in labor again. Finally I began to hum to myself. Not sure where the tune came from, even that small amount of noise was painful on my throat, sore and raw from the moaning and then screaming through the natural delivery I hadn’t exactly planned on. But I didn’t know what else to do.

I was so tired I don’t know if I actually formed words and tried to sing, but the words swept through my mind even as the cracked and sour notes came.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

In that moment I was too tired to argue, or even to worry. There was much uncertainty and fear but in that moment I did the only thing I knew to do, I reminded myself of the truth. It wasn’t some grand moment of great faith. Just the tiny bit of strength I had left clinging to my Rock and trying to believe that things would get better.

It’s hard to believe that it was only a bit longer than three weeks since that early morning. Not much has gone the way I expected. School work has been slow, my children have fought what feels like constantly. I have fallen painfully behind on the blog series I planned, simple as it was. My house has experienced the constant coming and going of workmen as the bathroom renovation we started before the baby arrived has run overtime and over budget. I’ve had plenty of moments of discouragement and even despair.

But today I’m choosing to remind myself of those same words on truth.

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

31-Days-logo-2015-600x60031DaysFamily5

Calling: 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes as a Family of Five

IMG_5692
I hear their voices early in the morning. Sometimes I’m in the bathroom. Other times I made it to the kitchen table. Mostly I’m still in bed. Sometimes it’s the sweet request to come and cuddle, others it begins with shrieks and whines and I want to pull the covers back over my head.  But I have no choice but to start the day. I drag myself into a sitting position and wait for my ligaments and joints to settle before I try to put weight on my legs. These final weeks of pregnancy have not been kind. We are soon to be a family of five.

Sometimes the pain feels like too much and I wonder if I can really do this. But I know that somehow I will muddle my way through as I have two times before. That eventually the memory of the pain will fade, my body will heal and someday I’ll have energy again. That the sound of their voices will change and soon they won’t be knocking on my door, but getting themselves up and ready to start the day. I look forward to that day, yet I know when I comes some small part of me will grieve the end of the early morning call.

I wrote this particular post before the recent birth of our third child, but I loved the picture of my daughter with him, so I used to anyway. 

31-Days-logo-2015-600x600

31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes as a Family of Five

31-Days-logo-2015-600x600

It was an interesting experience last year, trying the 31 days challenge for the first time, and joining the sub-community of 5 Minutes Free Writes. Without that I don’t know if I would have had the guts to try it. This year I am due to deliver our third child just before the challenge starts.  (Update: He actually arrived a bit early, giving me a week or two to recover). But I think I will try it anyway. Some of my posts will be pre-written, so you may find yourself reading the words of a late term or post due mama or the exhausted mom of a newborn, depending on the day or week.

Last year I decided to focus my challenge on taking pictures of my kids each day and reflecting on life with them. This year I will be musing on our transition to being a family of five. There will no doubt be some pictures, but I can’t promise new one’s every day. As last year brought me through some interesting experiences including the decline and death of my grandmother just before the 31 days and her funeral during the challenge, I know this year will present its own terms that may both inspire of stifle my creativity. I look forward to seeing what happens and I hope you will read (and perhaps write) along with me.

31DaysFamily5

Day 1: Calling

Day 9: Trust – Grace to Trust Him More

31 Days: My Life as a Landscape

IMG_4292

When I look at my life, it’s easy to only see the rough terrain. The deep and craggy valleys. The steep and rocky mountains. The typography of eroded places.

When I’m in it, it doesn’t look like much. I see the debris, the chaos. But on the rare occasions that I’m above it all, I can appreciate the view. The beauty and wonder of what I have and what I do.

IMG_4293

Sometimes (most of the time) it means cleaning up messes that are not my own. Doing without things I want or enjoy. But if I can separate myself for a moment, I can try to see this as an interesting and uneven part of the landscape. It may not be easy to walk through, but it’s beautiful to look at from above.

IMG_4296

Day 3
He Makes All Things New

Five-Minute-Free-Writes-button31DaysOfCandidsButton

Day 1
Let’s Move

 

Feeling Overwhelmed: 31 Days to Clean

20130824_144736

This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

I don’t know any moms who can’t relate to this–feeling overwhelmed. I don’t know why it happens so easily to moms, especially when our kids are young. There is always more work than we have hours or strength, whichever runs out first.  Fortunately in this chapter Sarah gives some practical suggestions.

She seconds the Fly Lady’s suggestion to set a timer for 15 minutes and just clean, choosing tasks that you know can be finished in this amount of time. Things I find that work well here are emptying or filling the dishwasher, picking up toys, clearing a table or countertop, emptying old food from the back of the fridge. I’m sure there are other things, do what works for you.

The next suggestion is similar, just get moving. Any little amount of effort is better than nothing. Dealing with the mail as it comes in instead of putting it on the table. Rinsing the dishes right away and putting them in the dish washer instead of sitting in the sink until it’s full. (Can you tell this is a regular problem at my house?) When we are overwhelmed, it’s easy to just give up before we start. When we do that we underestimate the power of baby steps.

Keep your eyes on the goal. This one is so hard for me. All I see is the mess and I sometimes forget the point. I want my home to be livable but inviting. So if there are some pillows on the floor or a pile of books on the table, who cares? It shows we live here. But when there are so many toys on the floor that I can’t walk across the room, then something must be done. The goal is for my home to get to the point where we own items that we use and love, and maintaining our home only takes regular but short periods of time. If it takes me hours a day, something needs to change.

1926832_274742269355476_717252192_n

Mary Challenge

Light a candle, (only for 10 minutes), sip a favorite beverage, close your eyes, and envision your big picture. Then write down your big picture. Ask God to help you physically create the vision for your home life.

This is a tall order. When I have just a few moments of quiet, my mind usually wanders to all the tasks that need to be done rather than my ultimate goal. But I’m going to try and focus on the big picture I want for my home. A place for everything and everything in its place. Owning only things we find both useful and beautiful. These two goals mean that I need to purge the things we don’t like or needs and be very careful about new items that come in. It also means that I need to focus on storage, and make sure I use that storage.

Martha Challenge

Living Room – Clean window treatments and wash inside of windows. This is timely in that I don’t know if I’ve ever really washed my windows and it has probably been a while since I washed our window curtains either. If the eyes are the window of the home I’ll try to think of this as clearing my vision of the future.
31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way

Why Clean?: 31 Days to Clean

Created to Give Life: 31 Days to Clean

10 Ways to Give Life to Your Home: 31 Days to Clean

A Place to Put Your Feet Up: 31 Days to Clean

Priorities: 30 Days to Clean

The 6 List: 31 Days to Clean

The Curse – What We’re Up Against: 31 Days to Clean

Overcoming the Curse: 31 Days to Clean

Confronting Laziness: 31 Days to Clean

31Days1