a little hello

May 31, 2014

it’s been so long. life has been intense these days – a word i keep coming back to, and fitting. self-employment, long long work hours for hubby, unstable income, parenting challenges, 2 small and nonstop boys, josiah’s consuming skin issues and subsequent sleeplessness. three years of fatigue and sleeplessness *does begin to impact one’s sanity, i’ve concluded. it’s pretty real.

that said, it’s also a time of fullness – and growth. a precious dear friend said this to me last week: this is one of the most difficult but also one of the most valuable times of my life (her words were more eloquent). indeed. for starters, we are completely dependent on GOD’s provision and have experienced it and HIM in ways that we *never* would have, were we still ensconced in the system of jobs and steady paychecks.

hard and good.

and i am being stretched way beyond my capacity and skills as a parent, particularly with my precious teenage daughter. my instincts are just not there – or really, my instincts lean way too far toward the comfort and happiness of my child. i *know* what i want as far as character training and i *know* the deep lessons and discipling that i am called to do and yet i fall so short. i am so thankful for a partner with  great wisdom, strong instincts and who is the leader GOD has given our family. and most of all, i am seeing that perhaps in this area of struggle and lack, GOD is really calling me to HIM: to His strength that He promises for me, His wisdom that he generously supplies. oh, that i would move quickly out of discouragement (self-focus, really) and look UP.

and now, for a few pictures? many of these are repeats from instagram ( oh, i love that social media outlet that allows sharing of lives through pictures!) …

this is happening right now: my beloved, taking the boys on an adventure, sporting the dora backpack filled with snacks and drinks :))

this is happening right now: my beloved, taking the boys on an adventure, sporting the dora backpack filled with snacks and drinks :))

 

 

yesterday, when he figured out he could spray me! cracking up!

yesterday, when he figured out he could spray me! cracking up!

 

and another, because Oh.My.Word.

and another, because Oh.My.Word.

 

 

a little painting time with my boys which they love - for about 15 minutes. a ton of mess and effort but worth it  :)

a little painting time with my boys which they love – for about 15 minutes. a ton of mess and effort but worth it 🙂

 

 

this boy is serious and unwavering in his love for balls. all balls. last week, it was the basketball at the park - watched these folks mesmerized by the ball for several minutes.

this boy is serious and unwavering in his love for balls. all balls. last week, it was the basketball at the park – watched these folks mesmerized by the ball for several minutes.

 

 

my big boy, at the same park last week.he is fearless with slides!

my big boy, at the same park last week.he is fearless with slides!

 

 

*such a fun time at sweet zeke's 4th bday party last week. love those bigboys

*such a fun time at sweet zeke’s 4th bday party last week. love those bigboys

 

 

speaking of big boys (lol), where did my baby go?!

speaking of big boys (lol), where did my baby go?!

 

 

loving our time with dear friends and their littles - the boys love their friends, i love my mama friends, and love the sweet learning (sharing, playing together, etc). good stuff. especially with friends who show abundant grace, don't sweat the small stuff like messes and funky kid's behavior, etc.

loving our time with dear friends and their littles – the boys love their friends, i love my mama friends, and love the sweet learning (sharing, playing together, etc). good stuff. especially with friends who show abundant grace, don’t sweat the small stuff like messes and funky kid’s behavior, etc.

 

 

friends! super fun play time with winter last week :)

friends! super fun play time with winter last week 🙂

 

 

this day? they were driving me bonkers!! grabbing each other, hollering out for me to stop running, walk a certain direction, pick up their dropped toy etc etc etc. oh boy.

this day? they were driving me bonkers!! grabbing each other, hollering out for me to stop running, walk a certain direction, pick up their dropped toy etc etc etc. oh boy.

 

 

this picture is *huge. had to capture it to show hubby, who wasn't at the appt. josiah is complying with the nurse - typically he *flips out. so thankful this day that he was obedient and delightful. (and this was a visit back to see the derm to get back on the high powered ointments to stop a *MAJOR* un-liveable flare for him. hate it. )

this picture is *huge. had to capture it to show hubby, who wasn’t at the appt. josiah is complying with the nurse – typically he *flips out. so thankful this day that he was obedient and delightful. (and this was a visit back to see the derm to get back on the high powered ointments to stop a *MAJOR* un-liveable flare for him. hate it. )

 

 

perhaps my FAVORITE PICTURE EVER!! taken at the jville park a couple weeks ago. LOVE them.

perhaps my FAVORITE PICTURE EVER!! taken at the jville park a couple weeks ago. LOVE them.

 

 

an indescribably sweet night out with a lifelong friend.

an indescribably sweet night out with a lifelong friend.

 

 

had to capture his growing hair :) it's actually much shorter and less curly than josiah's was at this age.

had to capture his growing hair 🙂 it’s actually much shorter and less curly than josiah’s was at this age.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

odds & ends

January 27, 2014

it’s been a while, so here are a few “highlights” of life lately …

:: we are on day 15 of the Whole30. we did it last january and maddie and i particularly felt a great readiness to do it again. it has been a challenge some days; easier others. hubby and i were having crazy energy crashes during the afternoons which weren’t pleasant! – but getting more manageable. truthfully, the challenge is a different and more difficult one for me this time (aside from the logistical burden of cooking from scratch 3 meals a day for everyone, growing super weary of savory food for all meals even though it is *delish, longing for something sweet, the boys asking for various off-limits items, etc): i am not losing weight the way i normally do. the few times  in the past that i’ve implemented a plan with the goal of losing weight, i see results fairly quick. last whole30, i was down 5 lbs on the 4th day (and 15 lbs after 30 days). motivating! this time, 5 lbs as of *today. not so motivating (but thankfully i took some measurements and have lost 2.5 inches from my waist which feels good). and yet here’s what i know: this is a longer play. i am closer to my regular weight and not carrying as much extra as i was last year. my body has gone through crazy physical changes in the past 2 years with 2 pregnancies and 2 csections. i know intuitively that this time around, this is more of a slow & steady … diligently making good decisions, day in and day out, moving toward the goal of being healthy and strong. so i’m doing it! i haven’t cheated – not one morsel or nugget – so only protein, veggies, fruit, some oils and nuts … for 15 days. 15 to go! and then, moderation. most of all, i am missing my cream in my coffee. coconut cream is ok but just not the same.

:: for certain, one of our primary goals in this elimination diet is to find healing for josiah’s skin. i took him to a naturopath last month which felt helpful and good … a good step of many. so it is deeply discouraging that his skin is worse, and in a severe flare right now … so much so that he can’t sleep well and the past 3 nights has been up most of the night w/hubby or i, miserable itching and raw. (he had been doing SO great w/sleep, for the past few months. ahh.).  again and always, it feels like we are trying everything. and still, the answer – the trigger – is elusive. the other day i had an ah-ha moment: what if it is coconut?? i use coconut oil in *everything and even more on this diet … so i cut it out totally. and just last night, someone suggested perhaps it is *fructose … so all those apples and pears … ?! LORD, please heal our boy.

:: this is a tiring, relentless season of parenting. and yet, i hate being a complainer – both to others, and in my own head. i was talking with a friend about this yesterday – about being *real in how we share life (ie social media) without sounding uber negative. i think social media can also tend to the other direction: sharing only the glowing superlatives about our days and our lives, mistakenly leaving an impression of blissful living. there’s got to be a happy medium. so for me, for today, my happy medium is right here and the words i am sharing. the truth is that parenting these boys – ages 16 & 33 months – is intense. i have literally zero breaks, round-the-clock. and i don’t believe i *deserve breaks necessarily but just that none exist. i have a baby on or near me including pretty much every time i use the restroom. and really the most intense part is the way THEY interact: without boundary, restraint, understanding, control … and thus in constant perpetual motion and inevitable conflict. this is a season of hands on, eyes-always-on training and intervening and directing. EVERY second. caleb is toddling grabbing instigating in all his chubby deliciousness. josiah is possessive of his toys, impulsive in his movements (hitting kicking). they are moving appropriately through age-appropriate learning and training and AND it’s wild and crazy around here.

add to that? i have a teenage daughter for whom i am (attempting to) homeschool *well, as she works through an academically challenging classical education.  i fail constantly in maintaining the patience and grace that i am desperate to share. i know that i cannot share and “produce” something that isn’t being generated within me; i cannot strive harder or more to be more or different. what i can do is be so saturated both in GOD’s Word and His grace in my life, that i pour this forth in my parenting. i see evidence of His incredible work; ways that He has changed and softened, and i am desperate for more.

wow, how is that for some uplifting updates!? LOL. just keeping it real. all is well and good and up and down and OH! that reminds me of this, the most totally awesome article that resonates SO much for me.

hardship & character

September 7, 2013

i’ve had a few great conversations lately about the benefit of hardship in our children’s lives … and how equally difficult it is, especially as mama’s, to allow the hardship.

i realize that i am a blessed beneficiary of the hardship my husband endured growing up (and honestly experiences to this day). that sounds strange, perhaps, but here is what i mean: my husband is a humble, long-suffering servant … due in no small part to experiences of sustained racism (coffee boy for years as a navy sailor when ultimately he tested so high he was put in charge of an entire engineering plant?? after years of degrading coffee service?? without complaint, but using his down time to study so as to show himself knowledgeable when he was finally given the chance to show his skill?? how many young people today would flip out on day 4 of this humiliating work, throw a fit and give up?).

he was raised by a single mother, raising 5 black children in the south. life was not easy.

ever.

his story is filled with both moments and seasons of great hardship.

no one spared him.

and as much as i my heart aches knowing this, his story … i recognize that this story has created the fabric of the man to whom i am married. the man who never whines, who doesn’t complain, who is tireless in his efforts and love, who serves wholly without counting the cost.

i am a blessed woman to be married to him.

and don’t i want this for my kids? for them to be prepared;  to have hardship enough in their life to be prepared and have practice doing the hard thing when it doesn’t feel good; overcoming their feelings to do the right thing?

don’t i want this for their future spouses?

i do, and so i resolve again to keep my focus on the longer term picture of raising these babies up, not being mired in their current comfort (or discomfort) but in the character developing within them.

outside the home

August 16, 2013

a few weeks ago, i was alone in the car with my beloved grandmother. the subject of me working outside the home came up and she said that she imagines that at some point, i will return to work. her comment? “they need you.”

it struck an interesting nerve in me and prompted some further thought and musing.

may i be candid here? the work that i did outside of the home … the intense, home-based counseling and advocacy with teens and their families … spanning over a decade … that fueled me. i was *made* for that kind of work, i knew it in my gut during my time working at juvenile hall in san diego, working in gang-infested areas, working with primarily minority families and kids that were hurting and lost and desperate.

when i moved to oregon and was hired by the local mental health agency to bring an innovative model of care to their children’s mental health division, once again i felt *right* where i belonged, doing work that i loved and was good at. i spent a few years there, creating and facilitating wraparound home-based care for children & families … and then took a job that was honestly “gravy” as a supervisor for those working with kids. the work flowed and came easy for me.

and then there was this part: i got a lot of strokes, a lot of positive feedback and reviews and commendations over the years.

i share that to say that life is very different right now. the work that i am doing – being home fulltime with my growing family – i don’t feel so “good” at it most days. it doesn’t always flow.

mostly, i see my areas of lack and of insufficiency increase and get highlighted. they are on my mind so much, the ways that i wish i was better, stronger, more capable.

and there are few if any “positive job reviews” coming my way these days. i don’t regularly hear words of encouragement or praise for good work. i feel alone a lot, grappling with the many ‘shoulds’ that burden my heart, and feeling unable to tackle and handle all that needs doing.

just being honest.

and so yes, i *absolutely* get the appeal of working outside the home. it is not for me in this season, and perhaps not for a long time … because i know for sure i am right where i need to be.

but i sure get it.

i said yes

March 22, 2013

i am glad that i said yes.

not just with my lips, but with my heart.

admittedly, i was looking forward to my morning walk … alone with my thoughts while pushing the boys in the stroller; a “much-needed” break from the nonstop routine of cleaning-cooking-schooling-mothering at home.

as i got ready to leave, she quickly said, “i’ll come with you, mama!”

yes, sounds like a great idea. 🙂

as we walked, we talked and laughed … ideas were shared, plans discussed, ideas offered.

and i realized: i am the person closest to her, her primary influencer and her main relationship (a daunting reality i’ve been grappling with much these days) – a tremendous weight and responsibility.  when i open the door, there is a safe and beautiful space to share her heart … and for me to love and guide and disciple.

as women, we can be bombarded by our culture telling us what we need and deserve; as mama’s especially we are reminded that we deserve “me” time. and i’m certainly not downplaying the deep value in solitude; i just know that construct creates an artificial scenario that plays out in my mind (‘wait, you come on my walk?? but i want/need to get away‘).

it felt so good to embrace the moment … remembering how fleeting this time is, and how extraordinary it is to get to spend my days with this growing {fast} girl. and? how awesome that she wants to join me on a walk!

{one extra nugget of beauty: we talked about extracurricular involvements, perhaps there is a sport or activity she can participate in, now that theater has ended? her response: “i love our evenings at home together!”. ahhh. me too, my girl.}

today's walk

today’s walk

ministry

December 22, 2012

ministry

my sweet friend heather made these, and gave them to a group of us mama’s at a recent homeschool mama’s brunch. what a beautiful (and thoughtful!) reminder that our work in our homes is our ministry. she encouraged us to hang it in a place we see often (over my kitchen sink) to be reminded, when days are rough or monotonous or challenging … this is right where GOD has us, and this is our most important work.

“My joy isn’t dependent on keeping my house as orderly as i would like, or on obtaining possessions to put in it, or on getting all the schooling done, or accomplishing anything else on my To Do list. My joy is dependent on my relationship with the LORD and our celebrating this life he has given me.

So make the choice to celebrate life with your family.  It is so easy to think that life consists of the assorted responsibilities, tasks and crises that fill up the hours of each homeschooling day.  But it doesn’t. The parts of life that matter most are the unexpected moments and memories that happen each day – the ones that won’t be forgotten.

Choose to be thankful, and learn to be content. You’ll find the joy that GOD wants you to know.”

(Season’s of a Mother’s Heart, Sally Clarkson)

when i feel overwhelmed at the effort and energy needed, and feel daunted when considering how exponentially that will be increasing when baby green bean arrives, i realize …

i must look not at the “work” but instead look in to their face.

it’s all SO worth it!! and so fleeting.

when i look in to the face of my beloved josiah, my gift and treasure, i am FULL … of gratitude and reminders of GOD’s faithfulness and goodness to me, this mama.

eyes off the work and on the gifts, mama …