Spewing Waterlemon and Tears, Summer Fevers and When Rest is Best

This year we had a 4th of July we won't ever forget. Peter and I were trying to be all patriotic and make memories for our kids and stuff, so we dressed in our red white and blue, snapped a family selfie (of course) and went to the parade down at Town Hall. Even just saying it makes me feel all Americana. We were late (also of course) and Royce was moody (ditto again on the "of course"), but we were making the best of it, ya know, getting way more excited than the event warranted in an attempt to raise family morale. "Look guys! I know its a bazillion degrees and we can't find a spot in the shade, but there is POLITICIAN riding in the back of some guys pick-up truck!! And they're waving at YOU! Whoooaa! I am so glad we came to this parade! Isn't this AWESOME!??"

Royce was still complaining, this time that her tummy hurt, so Peter took her to the bathroom. On their way back to our spot of sweaty death prime parade watching real-estate, he decided to cut through the parade in between two "floats". Why? I'll never know. But it was hot, and Royce and porta-potties were involved, so we will just chalk this one up to "Dad brain", (not to be confused with "Dad Bod").

And that's when it happened, perhaps my most surreal parenting moment to date. Royce started throwing up everywhere, right in the middle of the parade, literally-the middle, you guys. Right in between a judge throwing tootsie rolls and a Kid's Bible Sports camp squirting the crowd with water guns. Peter was carrying her and they were walking towards us in slow motion and she just started spewing and couldn't stop. Now, I don't want to brag or anything but she attracted more attention than any of the politicians I saw there. She didn't even have to throw tootsie rolls. To make matters even funnier worse, she picked her spot right in front of the town's video tripod set up to document the whole thing for public television. (We have since spoken to Royce about the dangers of downsides of reality television and about finding more appropriate means to get her 5 minutes of fame.) When it comes to public displays of sickness we go big or go home. And in this case we did both.

Royce ended up being fine. We chalked the whole big scene up to the fact that the day before she had eaten enough "waterlemon" to feed half of North America and swallowed enough pool water to hydrate Africa. Girlfriend was full to the brim and couldn't hold it in any longer.

I can sympathize.

"I need to schedule time to cry". That's what I told Peter the other day.

Life has been coming at us so fast and hard for the past year, and even more so the past few weeks, really heavy stuff, one right after another where if I wasn't living it I wouldn't believe it could be possible. I have felt no space because of the pace and weight of it to ever take a few minutes and just process it all. Every time the feelings start surfacing and my eyes well up with tears, I look over my shoulder and someone needs a reassuring cuddle or a juice box or a shoe tied or a 'pankin. A 7 year old artist wants to show me her latest chalk drawing, 5 year old man-child is hungry...again, a 3 year old needs her butt wiped and the baby is up from his nap. The phone is vibrating with another text bearing a bad news update or a request to add to my to-do list. I look at the clock only to see we have to be out the door in 10 minutes and nobody has had a potty break and even knows where there shoes are, or has brushed their hair today, including me...and the 5 year old is hungry again. So I twist the cap back on the tears, like a fizzy bottle of coke about to explode, and press on. One foot in front of the other. No tears right now.

I knew a breakdown was coming. If I didn't schedule it in, it would erupt at an inoppritune time.

Then I woke up yesterday to another day scheduled to the hilt, only to find poor Royce was sick again. This time with a fever, nothing waterlemon induced.  So the plans were canceled and new plans were made. We rested.

Yesterday we let rest settle down deep in us, as we settled down into it, Royce to a little Disney Junior and me to my own rest-to let it speak honesty to the parts of me where the Truth has gotten twisted up, to let it rub grace over the calloused places in me, and give space for held in tears and laughter. We settled into rest to let it cure what ailed us.

I am not going to pretend there wasn't an untimely meltdown mixed in there for good measure, but it was a long time coming. Girlfriend was filled to the brim and couldn't hold it in any longer.

I took time to process some of the crap-ton of stuff that has happened the past couple weeks. Life has left my soul screaming for some truth, but my heart aching for a hug of grace.

Suffering is brutal, but it is also a teacher in lessons of truth and grace. Sometimes a bit of the grace offered in that place of suffering is learning to take time for deep, holy rest. Summer fevers suck. But without that being on our docket for yesterday, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to add the rest I was craving to the docket either.

Sometimes, in a twisted way, suffering gives me just what I need, if I will just take it.

Yesterday it was a little space to process and grieve and be okay with not being okay. Sometimes the gift in suffering is encountering God in ways I never would have otherwise. Sometimes it is learning to trust farther than my eyes can see, or to experience comfort and peace that transcend understanding, or to grow in compassion for other people who I see suffering. Other days suffering shines the light on the sinful crevices inside me that need to be cleaned out, another gift of truth and grace.

There are dozens of other gifts I have found in suffering, gifts of hard grace. Suffering doesn't always take, although it robs us of so much. I never want to minimize that, please believe me. But I have been in the place that only wallows in what suffering takes and its no where I want to stay. I am allowing the suffering to hurt, not pretending that it doesn't, but I am trying to look for the gifts in it too. I have learned, to my great joy, that the gifts are always there if I am looking for them. They might sting a little. They might need to be brushed off and shined up a bit in order to really look like the gift they are. They might not be the gifts on our wish list. But they are there. The gifts are there in suffering because my God is there too. And He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He has promised to bring all things together for my good. That's truth and grace, sweeter than any waterlemon.

Who do you follow? {Walking in Freedom}

Recently I have had the opportunity to be involved in some exciting things, good Kingdom building things. But like he tries to do with anything good, Satan is trying to use these things to start a storm in me and keep me bound up in things that either don't matter, or matter less than what really matters. I have felt tangled up in the comparison game, which if we are being honest is often more of a competition than a game. I look around and it seems like other people have been given such an audience, such a platform to shout truth about the glory of God. I vacillate back and forth between shameful envy and shameful guilt thinking that I must not be putting the right message out there, or God would be blessing me more in this area.

{Isn't it ugly when we treat God as if He is a puppet on our strings?}

Worrying about who is following you is a bound up place to be. While I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given lately, the greater opportunity that comes from this seems to be the chance to look inside myself, see what I am bound up by, and begin to let God untangle me. Once again, His grace is more.

{God isn't the one tangled in the puppet strings, I am.}

The Chase Part 2

The other day I shared about the not-so-fun game my kids and I play, the game where they chase me down and corner me. I imagine them as villagers wielding pitch forks and torches but in reality it is more likely that they are carrying plastic swords and parasols. The villagers keep chasing me with their incessant requests & needs and I keep running away. No one is winning this game. You can read Part 1 of "The Chase" here. 

Today, I am super excited and honored to be sharing Part 2 of "The Chase" over at "To Choose Joy" ! You can read Part 2 here. It promises to be full of ridiculous 7th grade me, in all my sweaty, nervous glory! How is that for a draw, right?

To Choose Joy

And while you are there please be sure to look around at my friend Becky's website; it is as beautiful as she is! Becky is one of the most genuine, faithful, inspiring, JOYFUL people I have ever met. Read her story. I promise it will encourage you and draw you nearer to God!

 I would also ask that you take a couple minutes to pray for Becky and her family. It is not an easy road they have, but they walk it with such grace- bringing God the glory.

I hope you enjoy Part 2 of The Chase and meeting my friend Becky!

The Chase Part 1

I have a confession. I have never read or seen The Hunger Games. Hopefully that statement is not so polarizing that it prevents you from still being my friend, either Internet or flesh (if that doesn't sound too awkward). I don't know a ton about it either, but I know enough to feel kinda sorta like there is a real life game going on in my own home. I not-so-affectionately refer to it as "The Chase". (Apparently we have upped our intensity since I wrote about our game of Hide and Seek.)

The basic premise of "The Chase" is for the children in our home to relentlessly pursue the mother in our home, to corner her, badger her, and surround her on all sides with requests for snacks, TV shows to be played off the DVR and craft scissors from the top shelf. The mother has no safe zone, not even the toilet or shower is considered safe. She does, however, get bonus points if she can eat a peanut butter chocolate chip granola bar without anyone finding her out and pouncing. Sometimes though, even after the fact, a stray wrapper or crumb may do her in. The mother must be crafty, and not just in the pinterest-y way. Meanwhile, from their strategy it appear that this is the breakdown of how the children in our home earn points:

Thoughts from Gethsemane

Sometimes the internet just gives you the best gifts: the perfectly worded meme, an inspirational (and unattributed) quote, a video of someone making a fool of themselves-just what you need as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Many a time during witching hour the internet has saved me. Yesterday it gave again. With Easter in just a few days so many of you are sharing inspirational truth. My facebook newsfeed (let's use the word "news" loosely here) and my instagram are littered with pictures of  three crosses silhouetted on a hill and hand-lettered scripture nested in a bouquet of water-colored flowers that I most certainly do not know the name of because I am no botanist. I kill everything green, or that is supposed to be green.

This Easter I have felt myself feeling a bit angsty over all these posts. Don't get me wrong. I love them. I love their beauty. I love their meaning. I love their truth. I even love to let out a slightly troubled laugh at the occasional Easter themed Jesus Juke. The problem isn't the posts; its me. For some reason this season I wanted more. To be honest, I have felt a little blasphemous about the whole thing. I have sat with my Bible and read and re-read the story of Jesus' last week on earth, his death and resurrection, in every book of the Gospels. I don't know what I was looking for. Did I really think I would find something new? Could there really be anything better than what was already written there- that Jesus took MY sin upon him, undeservedly suffered MY punishment and then conquered sin and death to claim victory for ME?

The story could never get old, but yet I found myself tearfully pleading with God for Him to let it wash over me with new, personal meaning. Give me something new in the Good News-some new sprout of hope, one that even I can't kill.

And then the Internet delivered in the form of a John Piper quote.

Encouragement for the Mom Hiding in the Bathroom

First off, let's just be clear. I am the mom hiding in the bathroom. I am my own audience here, guys. I totes hide in the bathroom on the daily, sometimes with a secret sugar, until the bathroom gets too filthy to be considered much of a refuge and then I just hide in there and shake my head at how inept our cleaning lady is. Seriously though. She's the worst.

I thought you should know that because I would hate for you to think I was preaching from some non-hiding-in-the-bathroom-and-stress-eating-mom-pedestal. And apparently I would also hate for you to think that my house was any cleaner than one notch above "hazmat". I am sure you are encouraged already. With that firm foundation laid we can move forward.

A few months back I read a familiar passage in Mark and it struck me anew, as scripture has an awesome way of doing. It was the passage from Mark 6:30-44 where Jesus feeds the 5000. Now, if you grew up in church you have probably heard this story yourself what feels like 5000 times. That's a bit how I felt reading it, but with this read the story touched me like it hadn't before, and I don't think I can ever look at it the same way again.

Hair-lickers and Mothering Ideals

I looked in the backseat and there she was, eating leftover breakfast out of her hair. Never mind the fact that her usual hairstyle looked like something out of "The Boxcar Children", now she was using her hair as a spoon, and with more accuracy than I had ever seen her use any utensil before, hence  this whole scene unfolding in the first place. I remember turning to Peter and remarking that she was going to show up to church looking like she had just climbed out of a puddle, if puddles were made of oatmeal, and she was wearing the purple rainboots to match. Maybe she would at least smell like sugar and spice.

Something kind of funny happens the more kids you have, and I say "kind of funny" because it is also kind of pathetic and terrifying and embarrassing too. So its the "laugh and throw up your hands but your eyes are really pleading 'help me' " sort of funny. The more kids you have, the more your ideals go out the window. At first this is probably a good thing. I mean what newborn was ever happy with a flower headband the size of her entire body and what 15 month old is thinking, "man, this sitting on the potty seat is so fun. I wish we spent all our Saturdays this way, every hour on the hour. I have no desire to play with blocks or poop my pants...or play with blocks while I poop my pants ever again! Diapers are so last year. And I bet we are having trapezoid shaped tofu as a reward for dinner tonight, because I am a vegan who totally already knows what a trapezoid is. Why is Mommy sweating and crying in the corner?" (I don't mean to offend. I'mean just saying we can all let our ideals get out of whack.)

In fact I think the main purpose child #2 served in our house his entire first year was helping me break down my ridiculous ideals. At the time I was pretty sure his purpose was to let me know I was a horrible mother, but time has given me a little perspective on that one. I know now that I am not horrible, but marginal. And if abolishing crazy-lady ideals was not the main purpose for #2, it was hands down #3's purpose: my purple boot wearing, hair licking, free-spirit. And then by the time #4 came 5 months ago, I realized I didn't really have many ideals left. Turns out that isn't the best place to be either.

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