Friday, October 21, 2016

Just write. Stop waiting.

There was once a day, and many of them, where I craved the time to write like I now crave sleep. It was my thing and it wasn't because I was necessarily eloquent or funny. But I actually enjoyed being fully exposed. Eww.Even before over exposure was cool via social media, I had an unhealthy habit of being way too real in person or on paper. I got it from my mama. I used to watch my mom in conversations and I would admire the way she made friends with the cashier at Publix. My grandmother had this same gift. No one met my grandmother without knowing she had 7 daughters. My favorite minutes of any day is making a new friend out of the man making my smoothie or the neighbor power walking by my house. My husband can attest, I make a special mid-day work-day phone call to him (I'm sure he loves this) just to tell him about the “nicest man I met walking out of Costco”. These are big deals in my world but not everyone feels that way about other peoples stuff. But I love a story and I used to love to write them down. And, transparency. I love that too.

Several years ago I would turn to “paper” in the form of a blog with my stories. That writing time had a life of its own. It felt like what I wanted dating to feel like before my gem of a husband began intentionally dating me. I will never forget him telling me “Betsy, I am intentionally pursuing you to date you." Somehow, writing in a similar way allowed me to be fully me and because I am not famous and only a few people read my words (not enough to actually be criticized) - I seemed accepted and loved. And I was very intentional about my writing. It was the perfect relationship!

In the years since producing little Bagwell humans I get a little sad and embarrassed to think of my former love that I just dropped one day out of nowhere. One day I just didn't have words that fit what was going on anymore. There was so much. So much refinement, sanctification, and beauty and pain too big that was brewing within our four walls in those first years of parenting. And then the exhaustion. Yes, the kind of tired that makes one want to sleep but more so, the other kind of exhaustion that you don't get until you are 2+ kids deep and dying for connection but dying from connection. Those days only long glares full of both "want" and "complete satisfaction" would suffice in our marriage. Words were too tiring. They took too much of what we didn't already have. So I dropped writing at least publicly and anything more than a quick note in my phone about the stats of the boys - "Bradford, 18 months, finally walking and so happy" - was lost.

Then we hit bottom. And hit it again. And here we are now. Hanging out on the bottom looking up and back at the long way down. Even with a beautiful baby girl on the side. It is still a bottom. But we are finding it is quite a comfortable place to be.

Throughout the days lately my mind spins with headlines. My own headlines. “She finally found sleep after years of searching for it!”. “Girl drinks water with lemon and cayenne and overcomes chronic sleep disorder.” Or even more realistic - ”The girl whose last pregnancy healed her for good!” Sometimes for atleast a day one of these headlines are true. We all get hopeful and have a few sweet tears and feel strongly that we suffered well but that the time has come…....And then the next morning the sun peeps out and I add yet one more completely sleepless night to the count that I thankfully stopped counting some time last year.

We are there today. Holding on to the last few hours of another bittersweet day. Theres a lot of good on these days. The good…..a selfless husband who is in it with me. Who has the ability to take off work yet again and tend to me and all of our children. And then the mother who once again in the midnight hours receives what I can imagine as a gloomy text of desperation and comes to our aid. Bringing with her always a coke, a box of sweets, some humor and endless compassion. Then this morning you have the angel, Brittney, who I think knows when Ill have a bad night before I do because dinner is always on our doorstep the next morning. Without her even needing to be seen. Dinner, oh and breakfast for the weekend too! Of course there are also baby smiles, and cute blonde haireds playing together in the backyard, the peaceful yet the sad sound of leaves blowing because that means yet another season has come, and there is always the encouragement from friends near and far. All of those things helped us get to this hour today. God truly delivers our hourly bread. Hourly. And each of these hard days I can remember every hour that He brought yet another carpool ride, a visit from a friend, or the perfect song or lovely scripture along with gobs and gobs and oodles of grace from my husband and family. He gives. We have certainly learned that treasure - He gives.

But there is still not a bow on this story today. Not the kind you are looking for. Not the kind that most people write books over or way too long blogs about. I have thought throughout this entire story from July of 2010 until now that it would culminate in some huge miracle story. Surely that is how God gets the glory? That is the kind of thing I have been suffering for…a big ole story.... "and they all come to know Jesus." Surely. But there is still no end. Finally today after years of writing this story in my head and waiting for the end to actually come about in order to acknowledge it on paper I had the thought to just write about it like it is now. Messy. Unfathomable. Severely beautiful. Unbelievable. Tragic at times. Painfully tragic. Like the leaves…the leaves are changing again and I remember sweating this summer in between contractions on our back porch and literally envisioning myself with my girl, my only daughter, taking a family photo of 6 in the yellow and orange of the season that was to come. I envisioned the birth of Anne Louise as the date where the battled ended. It seemed like such an intriguing story. Or better yet - the hemorrhage 12 days post birth. Surely that was my spiritual and physical bleeding that would make way for our new season. I just knew it.

……..And then we would have missed out on so much yummy treasure. Oh goodness, there is so much we have gained in these last 3 months. I feel guilty enjoying so much richness and not being able to send it with everyone who comes our way. That our life could have had a bow on it 3 months ago? 2 years ago? That we could have lived a fairly normal life with four kids this hard anyway season of parenting? That we could have taken family photos and smiled big and enjoyed one last summer jaunt to the beach or my husband could have gone to work most days and not worried the whole day about his wife at home? That could have been our story and it would have still been a God story. A big one. We would have missed so much.

Ours is still unfolding. Even still. And we praise Him. Even still. With burning eyes from days and years of lack of sleep and with a body that aches out my fingernails - I gratefully write. Our story is beautiful even without the ending I have been waiting for. I don't want to wait any longer to tell of His beauty. There is precious treasure in these thick middle chapters.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Yall. It’s everywhere. I feel guilty every time I take the big boys to the dentist, knowing that the toothpaste rarely got on their teeth as evidenced on the walls of our house. There isn’t a light switch that isn’t streaked blue. There isn’t a cabinet that isn’t sticky to the touch. And there isn’t a room in our house that doesn’t have a lost tooth brush floating around.

After a full day. You know the ones……my morning “plan” was bombarded by stubborn little boys just wanting to be at a park. So I pray towards lunch time because in the working world the lunch break used to pull me through… my head a little. But lunch is more like watching a slow train wreck on this particular kind of day. I relent to just suck slowly on chocolate chips. One, it keeps my mouth shut and any harsh words in the moment to slip out, and, two, it keeps my mind off the mess of the day. I work like a mad woman towards a refreshing nap period, to no avail. And all of that above just makes those witching hours, the b*%6ing hours, if I were to curse. Sorry.

We had one of those kind of days last week. Usually on these days all the boys are in the bathtub at 4:20pm because bed time is not long after. As I sat on the floor, the bottom of my jeans wet and clinging to my thighs, and my eyes burning seemingly just to remind me that it had been hard, I noticed the sticky blue in even more places than I had thought possible. Inside the empty bath room counter. In between the white tiles of the floor. Awesome. And then sliding down the trash can as if painted there on purpose. Maybe I should have been thinking, “these kids need a mamma who can actually show them how to brush their teeth and use tooth paste,” but as the Lord always does He gave me a moment that will stick to my soul endlessly.

I had this picture of me in maybe 20 years. I was in the same bathroom. I noticed the aging around my eyes in the mirror and the tone in my arms from carrying sandbags for children for so many years was barely noticeable. This 20 year older self was looking for the toothpaste to wipe up yet again. And then the me-forgotten-in-the-floor and the me-2-decades-later began to sob. There was so much in this picture that I was given. The desire to even make it to that day with even the slightest satisfaction that I did a job decently done. That I had made the most of the days in the bathroom where no one else sees us and hears our conversations. There was tiredness and heaviness thinking about all of the teeth brushing sessions that would need to occur to even make it to that lonely day. But mostly this was a picture of revolution. God has put a revolution in my heart over the last year to slow. it. down. And to literally not sweat the toothpaste that is everywhere. Or the fact that the toothpaste is on a 1950’s countertop, certainly not granite. This revolution in a culture of parenting that induces stress in my own experience, is freeing like nothing you have ever known.

Posts like these can seem ethereal. I read many like this one all the time….a pretty candid writer uses a seemingly small illustration to get on the same page with the reader and then ties it all up in a bow leaving me thinking, “Well, that’s nice.” That writer must have some weird gene that I just didn’t get having to do with patience and joy. She must have had a sweeter childhood or something. But I am here to tell you the genuine magic secret behind that authors apparent peace or aloofness, rather. I believe it’s three fold for our generation.

First, it is going against the grain of society. Many of yall are much smarter than me so thankfully you got this a long time ago but up until I became a mom I was a consumer of everything. I just did what everyone else seemed to do. I’m not talking about drinking in high school or those type of things but in the real world…..I was driven to achieve the next thing just like we all are. When we had a family we raced out and spent oodles of silly money on a nursery. There is nothing wrong with that but it really isnt me. And then before that baby could even stand in his crib I had him enrolled in preschool because that is what people do. Somewhere in the middle of it all I finally, like 3o years finally, realized I could be an active part in the outcome of my life. Crazy! Last night somehow my husband and I were watching a documentary about our food supply in the country and how it has changed so much from decades past. The documentary was totally disturbing and has me looking at the grass in my back yard as a great dinner for tonight but I heard something that will stick with me more. The author was talking about how as Americans we have become consumers of everything. We don’t realize that we can make choices for ourselves and that we have a voice.

Parenting was harder for me a few seasons ago. You wouldn't have known it on the outside but on the inside there was nasty inner turmoil over how well I was or was not doing especially in light of what the other moms around me were doing. I actually didn't worry so much as to how I was doing - I just wanted them to tell me what to do. Do you know what I mean? Would you please tell me when my child should be in school 2 days? 4 days? All day? Oh, hey. Will you tell me if my 3 year old son is going to lack confidence his whole life if he hasn't already started an organized sport? Will they ever swim if I don't pay a small mortgage to put them through swim lessons? Should we only be clean eating? Just tell me, someone. Oh, and when I am home alone and actually with my kids….could you tell me how to discipline them, love them, and enjoy them because I don't think I know how unless you tell me. Thank you very much. This is real, yall, and if most of us are honest, we spend so much of our precious awake time wondering about how everyone else is doing it and wanting someone to tell us what they did. Our mothers didn't have that. I often ask my mom if she knew what the other moms in our huge neighborhood were cooking for dinner. Did she know how many school choices they considered? And of course, she laughs. We have information being pushed to us and available at all hours. A month ago I felt quite stupid when it came to the situation in the Ukraine so I put the Foxnews App on my iphone. Well, goodness, I get up to potty between 2 and 3 every night and then I can’t go back to sleep from the images in my head after viewing the quick little push notification on my phone. We have so many choices and so much information that it has literally stifled our generation and caused what I think is harmful self-doubt. Where is the best answer for any of my questions anyway???

So the Lord and a dear student of the bible and precious teacher taught me how to sit before the Lord and ask Him for these answers from the only source. She says to sit in my chair and to not move until I have seen what the Lord wants to show me for that day. It could be a small thing. Recently we have been under the weight of a decision for our oldest son. One day last month, words jumped off the pages of the Psalms and I knew that is what she meant. There are no answers in even those around us that we adore. Only the Maker of our children, and my Creator, truly know me and my children and what He has in store for our family. Have yall experienced those moments too? The ones people talk about and we inherently think, “Oh, you don’t know me. The Lord doesn’t speak to me….” Those moments when something you are asking for about your children becomes so clear. And usually the answer is not as obvious as it looks. I have found that the answer is usually pretty counter cultural. As in…if everyone else is doing it or wearing it or getting one - usually the answer is the opposite. Don’t go on that trip. Don’t think that this seemingly small thing about my child is just that….small. Don’t buy the movie everyone else is singing to. Don't let this one pass. It’ll change us when we do just as He said, “ask…seek….knock.”

And number two. Turn off instagram. Just for two days to begin. I was a slave to social media all the while saying I never got on it. Its the same thing for me when I say that I am not a snacker but I just don't consider eating peanut butter cups while doing the dishes as snacking. So if social media hurts your heart even in the slightest. Turn it off. It doesn’t own you. You can decide what goes in your head. The first time I did this - I remember thinking how light my head felt. It felt so good to start to think the thoughts I used to think in the white space of the day. I wasn’t thinking about what so-and-so had for lunch or if that family was back from their cruise. And I wasn't bombarded with blogs just like this one telling me just one more thing to do or to consider. I was just doing those things and I was putting those things in to practice. But lets say "all or nothing" scares you - designate a time. For instance, from 1:30 - 2pm is my internet time. Today I used it writing. Tomorrow I may read something someone sent me. But it feels much more intentional if it isn't something just done all day, while in the car or on the toilet. It’s like my snacking….it doesn't seem real if I don't actually sit down with a plate and eat something. I’m working on this one… I just spit out my cashew!

And lastly, don't give in to the system. Don’t be a consumer. Baseball doesn't have to be 3 practices a week. Homework doesn’t have to consume YOUR day. Goldfish aren’t the only “healthy” snack. Most people (not in over privileged Atlanta) don't go on vacation every Spring Break. Once upon a time a child didn't have an ipad to entertain them every time they ate dinner. I can only write this because this is me. I am you. And many of the seemingly innocent choices we have made have held alot more at stake than just making the baseball team or enjoying a quiet dinner at a restaurant. The toothpaste doesn't just represent a hassle for me to clean. It represents a soul gifted to me to help shape, and ultimately, if you believe the bible, a soul entrusted tome to grow to be a light for God in a heavy world where most people don’t even know that light and freedom exist. Especially in parenting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Been wanting to write, that's all...

I’ve never been more terrified of something. Writing used to be therapy for me. It used to come easily. I didn’t even edit or reread what I wrote because that would have messed up the gig. But between the 8763rd diaper change (that’s actually an accurate calculation) and humming to myself for the whatever-eth time in the car to try to outdo the gut turning whining that had taken over - I lost it. I lost my wit. I lost my flavor and I certainly lost any relevancy to the real world. Oh and complete thoughts. I lost those about 2000 diapers ago. Im not just being humorous…it is a real thing this lack of anything of substance in my head. So now everyday I think “just go write this stuff down” because I know in a wink and a blink I will not remember any of the delicious or equally vile things that happen throughout these days of the little years and I know know that I know that I know there will be a mom like me – outnumbered and in over her head with too many little people to be legal and I will want to be able to recall the day my 3 year old dropped apple sauce on my toddlers penis while having a diaper changed in the middle of the park after my moms bible study.

Or the most memorable stage to date that my middle child went through that mostly reflects a child with an oepdipus complex (sp?). It started a month ago as I walked away from his classroom at my weekly bible study with moms. I was 4 steps to freedom and I hear a child wailing. I mean “whose child is that anyway” kinda wailing and I turn around to see my toe headed, vibrantly clad glasses boy bolting towards me with 4 nursery workers on his heels trying to catch him. I had never seen him exude such passion and determination before. It was a sweet and scary moment in front of every possible onlooker. He knocked me over and while sobbing over me exclaimed “You FORGOT TO KISS ME!” Rip heart out, stab it, spit on it, and throw it in the toilet. Why, of course I forgot to kiss you and until now I didn’t know it mattered but I am so glad it did. He was fine after that kiss but now even if I am leaving him with his daddy at night he looks me in the eye and kisses me smack on the lips with great fervor. Whew. He could eat me with a spoon while he is at it because this kind of affection and dependence feels so good. So so good. It makes me dig deep in my memory banks to remember what it felt like to be that dependent. That unsure but then sure all with the strength of a daddy's arm around my neck. On a funnier note he ran after Brad and I with the same exact zeal two weeks ago as we were pulling out of the drive way for a date night (IN OUR MINIVAN….a whole different story!). We were 6 feet from Van Morrison tunes and hand holding and talk about anything but the offspring this time when our little escape artist comes roaring up the driveway in hysterics. The babysitter was new that night (poor thing) and we had told her she could share my stash of secret chocolate with the boys if they ate everything that was on their plate (another post coming soon on when bribery is okay). The boys took note of this instruction and started to analyze it the moment it came out of my mouth. “How much chocolate, what kind? Who get’s more? What colors” Anyway….we are pulling our swagger wagon over the hump of the driveway, see the middle child, I open the door and he explodes “SHE CANT FIND THE CHOCOLATE!” And he had the alligator tears of all alligator tears. I thought she had dropped his baby brother in the trash or something or taken off her dress in the kitchen. It was mortifying and quite hysterical altogether. Don’t get in the way of our boy and his after dinner treats or his mommy kisses!

But today was good and I always want to write on the really good days because tomorrow will probably be a notch the other way and that’s okay, too, but it's nice to be able to read about the sweet times when all the strings are coming loose. My expectations have finally sunk back a little bit to a more realistic level and I am content with 3 out of 7 really good days and I have learned the really good ones give you hope on the “I can’t believe this is really happening” days. Today we were confronted earnestly by what I should just call an angel. We had made it out to the river, one of our favorite spots in the city for a pseudo jog and bike ride slash let's see how many bikes and scooters mom can hold-fun-run while pacifying the baby with food and coaching the newest bike rider not to ride in between two walkers of age 80! Side note – this is my next story. I NEVER want to forget what it feels like to watch your child triumph. My oldest picked up bike riding with no training wheels like he learned to eat chocolate…..without even a teency fall or look back. And the joy and pride and he has shown in the last month will make you want to go throw every challenge his way. This was truly a beautiful parent realization and a beautiful step in our oldest (and most easily over disciplined and over scrutinized childs life). I digress…Again, my expectations are really really low for this kind of spontaneous outing to a public venue. But today we were looking quite stellar if I am honest. The baby who isn’t a baby anymore was gnawing on an apple and not my usual sucker-pacifier. Organic at that. My blue rimmed blonde boy was singing in the double stroller as I held his bike and every other object we just had to have with us while my nearly 5 year old was perfecting his newest skill of bike riding. The boys had on their matching shirts as usual which many folks probably attribute to my awesome mom, she-has-it-together and probably sews, too, look but really it is so that I can keep tabs on three boys in public places. And that little tip is free of charge but let me tell you ….you NEVER want to be the mom of the three boys in green shirts that just knocked over the ENTIRE grocery cart in the checkout line of your local Publix with the baby in tow! NEVER! That is when you take your broken eggs and bruised pride and go home and change their shirts and turn on TLC! But on this day the vitamin D was working in our favor. My speech was seemingly beautiful and carefree to my little darlings…we talked about butterflies and the dogs that passed us by and why God made so many different kinds of trees. Are yall with me? This was just one of those hours – the kind that you once thought only made up motherhood? All the while a frazzled newer mom of one had crossed our paths on her bike pulling a bike trailer and an obviously demanding toddler. I really didn’t notice the woman much more than thinking – wow, good for her, she even has the bike rack and she looks like she does this a lot. Well, half way through the trek her toddler wanted to throw all her snacks out of her chariot. This was right where we were refreshing with our cucumber/mint water and reflecting on the blessings of the day…not quite but still, yall, we were looking magazine-ish without even trying. SO RARE. The sweet lady drags her daughter over to me and with more sincerity than ever and says quite desperately, ”Ma’am, I just have to ask you a question? You obviously have a lot of young children and I only have this one (who of course had her pants down and was hanging on her poor mamas leg) and it looks so easy? Do you have any tips you can give me?” And then she waited. Like she really wanted me to give her some answers.

Moms, don’t you agree? We have been waiting for this moment since we hiccupped and a baby came out. We are all just wanting someone to think we have done an okay job. We want someone to affirm us that the 1 or 2 hours of tv a day is just fine and that all of our countless, seemingly fruitless hours actually... bear fruit! My old, less experienced yet more weathered self may have had some typical remark like “oh, It just looks good but they drove me bonkers this morning” or the other take of “oh, me, this is nothing. Have you read the book on parenting by John Rosemond?” But thankfully, Ive been “her” a lot of times. Most of the time really. I’ve felt like my one child was going to break me while watching other women homeschool their 5 children all while ousting the internet and any tv in order to teach their kids how to be genuine volunteers or and make dinner for the family.” My heart deeply feels for her, for me, and for the moms I talk to everyday who are Just. Trying. To. Figure. It. Out. We are all trying to figure out this pretend game called house that used to be so dreamy and so....well, fun. Come on yall, we know the answer. Our story is only beautiful when it's our story. My story isn't so pretty when I try to wrap it and serve it and dress it and color it like you do yours. That's not how it works.

But how in the world as women do we even begin to be true to ourselves if we are so stinking dependent on how everyone else is doing it? Namely, we think, how can the internet tell me who I am and how to be the best mom? That’s a big part of it yall. You aren’t’ who your instagram image says you are. I'm not. I lose my temper. I say things that would make you cry to my little people. There is jelly on my kitchen island that has been there atleast since Christmas. Heck…there are still Christmas lights on our trees! And I may pin the best way to get little arms in five minutes but I promise you I am eating Cadbury mini eggs while doing so. We are all the same and if there has been something recently that has kept me up at night thinking it’s this…. and Ill go ahead and say it – I don’t think our instagram followers really know who we really are. It’s not the real thing, yall. It’s a cheap filler. It’s like the buttery bread before dinner. It's soooo good but it’s just not the real thing and it isn’t really helping anyone feel like they are “okay” just the way they really are behind the camera and the keyboard and the bright screen. End soapbox.

So I graciously thanked this woman and agreed that we looked pretty good…. this hour. I told her I was impressed with her too and when she pulled up in her Acura with her bike rack on the back I had some seriously generous thoughts about her as well. Fit mom, I thought. Fit mom with little arms and no Easter candy in sight. Working mom, too, with a glamorous travel budget. Must have a husband with a substantial income as well and a pool in her back yard. I thought about how sweet her ride with her one daughter must be and how much better of a mom she probably is because she gets to actually have a relationship with one child and real meaningful conversations. Meanwhile, my 3 are often clumped together and called eachothers names and never have me to themselves for even a bottom-wipe! (How are there always atleast two kids in the bathroom at one time?!?!?) Heck they are always dressed alike and referred to as “the boys!” They are certainly doomed and in need of therapy.....these thoughts definitely went through my head in those few brief seconds. But I still knew I was very much like her.

So then I told her not to be so hard on herself because she was out getting some vitamin D, enjoying some exercise and allowing her daughter to see God’s creation. In my book she was winning and the only tip I had for her was to love herself more. She went on her way and my middle one kept singing loudly, “Oh, how He loves us. Oh how He loves us…” because yall, He does. And the God of the whole universe sees me even when it all isn’t so rosy. He sees me in my mess and He sees me when I may be on the right track (for even just an hour) with my mothering or wifely roles and, ultimately, He has assured me that the matching outfits/singing praise music while on a jog and the applesauce on the penis days are ALL for His glory. He can use even me and even a messy me. Actually, a messy me is much more usable me than the Friend or Follower I am on the internet. And even at the river with my 3 barely grown babies during one of our few fine hours….. He can encourage me and He uses my story.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Week of (too many) Firsts

There is so much meat to this post but in lieu of winding up a puddle of sweet tears during my one smoke break during the day - I may just lean towards a picture and blurb type post. After all, as I have come to realize - I dont care how often a little old lady stops me to remind me to enjoy this....I WILL FORGET less than 2 weeks. Moms, can I get an AMEN? For example, Bradford has been semi-walking not even a week and now today my brain can't even drum up what that pitter-patter on all fours looked like. A WEEK AGO! And by the way, I don't really smoke. Yet.

To start, the oldest son started real live school. No more glorified babysitting here with an occassional Christmas program attached. Our boy wore an equally adorable and hideous outfit and walked himself into his classroom by himself. It's the big leagues now, kid! He came home that first night and this is what we got.....I just love him!

Later that evening he started to tell us about an old old old man who was about to die but made "booooootiful" music for God. His name was "CHE-KO-SKI". Let's just say in one week he knows more about the classics than I've ever known. I am excited to learn again through his eyes.

Certainly, the other boys were missing their ring leader. On our first day alone (sans the Big Brother) I thought I would be super mom and make up for all the turmoil I caused over the summer. We dropped off our boy and headed to a local toy store. Ahh, isn't that just precious. Well, friends, it was. And it is but not when your sweet middle boy exclaims to the store "MOMMY!!! After you buy me toys will you change my poopy diaper!!!!" Oh buddy, you haven't worn a diaper in 2 months! Needelss to say, I was quickly reminded that 2 little people in tow still requires a diaper bag and mom essentials. Having one boy in Pre-kindergarten doesnt quite let me off the hook yet!

That precious, pooping little child celebrated his 3rd birthday last week! I can see how we have a 4 year old and a 1 year old but it just doesn't register that my once "baby" isn't a baby and is in fact 3. We had an impropmptu celebration with the best kinds of friends - the ones that will come celebrate your boy with a few hour notice. He picked out a scooter (thanks Grandma!), a guitar (oh boy!), and a trip to the zoo (thanks Nise!) for his 3rd birthday and all he wanted was "panilla" cake with icing. This boys could eat his way through a birthday and not think twice about a gift or a candle or the happy birthday song. We had all his favorites on his special day - chocolate chip pancakes, quesadillas, and pizza all topped with a little cake and icing! It is fun to celebrate this wee one...he makes it easy for sure!

Then, not to be left out, the baby took his first steps. You would think we hadn't witnessed this before with the commotion around our house as our proud nearly 15 month old stomped around the kitchen with his hands high in the air. Everything this one seems to partake in is lively and full of laughter. His expressions are as delicious as his thighs and I can honestly say we are finally enjoying the littleness about little people. I think for a few years we were just trying to survive and keep humans alive and now we finally aren't alarmed by anything and we can see that this thing called parenting....flies! I have enjoyed even the little moments with this baby and I am grateful that he has redeemed my feelings about toddlers. (Pardon the obnoxious mom in this video)

As you can imagine this week (as all the fuss happened last week) we have done a whole bunch of nothing. It's crazy how the emotional stress at times is enough to wipe a woman out. My heart is so full and I am grateful to be the mom of these three little men. What an honor!

Monday, August 12, 2013

What do you have for me today, Lord?

I asked this question first thing this morning. In my heart, silently, but on this morning I really did ask it before I even checked the time or put my feet on the floor. And then like it was His perfect answer I heard the whimper of our newest boy through our shared wall. On any other day, apart from this light but loaded question in my heart, I would have felt violated by the baby's early morning cries. Don't I have a right as an overworked mom to just a few minutes of quiet before the saturated day begins? Isn't there just one morning I can get up before the crazy begins? I used to be a morning person. The kind that bother non-morning people. I loved the world that existed well before 6am and I was completely comfortable with a little less sleep but a whole lot of stillness before the sun was up.

Thankfully, the Lord has been doing something deep in me about my rights and for once I didn't hear his cry as a personal assault against me as if the babe-child was staking his win over me once more. I heard it differently this morning. And it changed everything about the rest of the day. This must be the season for this weighty lesson. There's been a shift in my thinking and it has began to free me from so much disappointment and hurt and wounds and bitterness. If I'm honest with myself much of my day can be spent disappointed. By myself and by those closest to me who seem to run rampant on my so called "rights." The right to move quickly through the day. My right for a break from mothering each day. It's my right to be understood, right? The first time. The right to exercise. Daily. My right to have children and husbands and parents and siblings and friends who respect me and listen to me. The right to be thought of, delighted in, made to feel special. Whew. It's exhausting just writing these things that I so cling to. These things that if adhered to will bring peace to my day and my heart right? Right?

I've been going through a study called Stuck by Jennie Allen with some dynamic women this summer. I could write a series of posts over several weeks regarding this study but this has been the biggest thing for me so far - the loss of my personal rights. This truth couldn't be any more of an antithesis for our culture today where every segment of society seems to be fighting for their own little freedoms. But If I believe I am in Christ and He is also in me than ultimately I have lost my own rights and I take on His. Does this work for you? Does that make sense way way down in there to you like it has for me lately? In Galatians Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Jennie Allen said it this way. Wow. But let's start with your life, your expectations, your money, your family's approval, your right to a family, your right to move quickly, your right to be successful. I {God} know I am asking alot. But if you die to all of this....I will do things greater than you ever hoped, dreamed, or imagined. But you have to let go. You have to lay down the very things that are most valuable to you, if you love me. Do you trust me?

Do I? Do I trust you Lord with my time during the day if I really give up striving to make the day go my way? Can you fill me in those holes in the same way (or more?) that I think a quiet, early morning alone, a long run, or a break during the bath-routine can fill me? If I stop defending myself and stop fighting for my rights will you protect me?

I gathered the Mustela smelling child and immediately his right cheek fell on the top of my chest. We crept back in the roomy, inviting bed. Isn't the bed so perfectly comfortable first thing in the morning? For 20 minutes he let me hear the increase and decrease in his lungs while my hands were serenaded by the softest hairs ever made on his little head. I didn't want to stop stroking him back to sleep. He would look up at me occasionally as if to stroke my soul just a little bit by affirming me that this was good. I remember that feeling. My grandmother used to occasionally rub the top of my back with her fingernails in the rarest of moments. It was always a little uncomfortable. Maybe that's just my personality. I loved the attention and I never knew that touch could feel so deep down good but I also didn't want it to stop so I couldn't fully relax without thinking about how the tender scratching would have to end at some point. Certainly, this theme hasn't left me in this season of mothering. It's all so sweet, so good but I know it will end and how do I live with that tension?

I think that was His soft answer to my innocent question this morning. Be in the moment, Betsy. In this moment your perfectly rounded baby, the last of them thus far, is fully content laying on your chest feeling the touch of your fingers and everything else really can wait. But I left the washed clothes in the washer overnight. And we start school this week, albeit two half days of school. And I want to be the kind of person that gets up early again to take on the day. But you have a baby, and you wont always have a baby at home. What about the empty fridge warranting no breakfast selections for the Crazies who will soon be scattering about the halls, too? But the baby is asleep on your chest. He knows nothing else right now but the comfort of this moment. Can't you be like that, too? I'm giving you moments, Betsy, lots of them. They may seem inconsequential but I promise they'll go farther than checking the laundry off the list. Rest. You're gonna miss this. You're hidden in me and I will take care of even your deepest desires.

Then earlier this morning I saw this quote and I have no clue who wrote it but a friend reposted it just for me I think. Thank you, sweet friend.

As I grow in my understanding of the way Jesus lived his life, I find great rest in knowing I have more to "unlearn" about the way I think I need to live and lead my life. Help me "unlearn" quickly , Lord......I don't want to miss it all while I was too busy protecting my rights.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Oh, sweet, salty tears. My heart moves a little faster and my gut literally feels like it empties a little more with each one that hits my neck. These aren't the shallow, steady kind that are usually easy to come by but those thick, weighted ones that are pretty sparse but carry so much.

Since having children I don't recall crying too often with the exception of those wacky months of pregnancy and the beginning of a nursing season where I would cry if the mailman came late or something. I'm not sure if it's lack of time to allow myself to feel enough to even cry or if it's truly just lack of feeling. I think it's the former though. As this last year has now been the longest stint in between pregnancies in the last 4 years (yet the busiest for sure) and it feels like it has been a rather dry year with very few opportunities to just indulge and let the healing flow.

Then this morning the Lord spoke personally to my heart. There's this icky thing. It isn't huge. But it isn't small either. It's huge to me though and I believe that my Creator, the one who made me just this way, knows that this small yet large thing is there. Occupying space. He sees it and I believe He wants to come alive through the cracks and creases in my brokenness.

So while watching my oldest son slurp the milk from his cereal bowl, and while in the background a rather corny Children's song about God's limitless love on a devotional cd played, I cried. And I felt the tears down to my knees and all over.

There's something about water. Whether salty held in tears, or the depths of the Gulf of Mexico (my personal favorite). It cleanses. And I always feel a little lighter, whether immersed in it, or covered by tiny drops streaming down my cheek.

And that's the definition of hope to me. The tears bring it. The water washes me and I know that things matter and that life isn't stagnant and that growth happens. Hope emerges. New beginnings can happen and my story is always in motion. It doesn't have to always weigh on me. The space in my mind can be taken over by truth, purity, and loveliness. This isn't groundbreaking but as a mom of three little guys it is eerily scary how life can only seem about the day to day. Survival from 7A to 7P splashed with moments of intense richness but a whole lot of doing the tasks, keeping everyone going and moving, just like the day before and the day before.

I welcome these seldom moments like this morning when Someone who knows me deeply, sees me intimately, and wants things to work for my good only for His glory nudges me out of the monotony of a waffle toasting morning to remind me of that very thing. His real, living love that is on the move for me which means all of me, even this small yet loaded thing that ironically feels a little less burdensome already.

I'm reminded that salt changes things and God's mercies are new every single morning we get to call "today."