Friday, January 30, 2015

Nighttime Reminders

I realized tonight as I was lying in the quiet of Autum's 4-poster Hello Kitty adorned, fully decked out princess canopy bed... (that I always seem to get my earring or hair band or something caught in while trying to sneak out of her room at night) with one arm slung over her little body and the other one tingling with lack of circulation propped up under my head (because I can NOT touch her pillow) that each of my children represent something beautiful in my life.  Of course.  But I feel like God revealed to me in my prayers for each of my children tonight, that they represent a part of my relationship with Christ in each of their births.  Stages of my life that these children represent bring about a humble gratefulness.  A living breathing reminder of Christ's work in me.  A bright spot in what may have been a rough children quietly sleeping tucked in under their bed sheets...close out my day with prayers of thanksgiving as I reflect on what they mean to me and my life in Christ. 

For example, as I was praying over Autum Grace tonight, I realized that she is a beautiful reminder to me of God's perfect timing.  Of his perfect plan.  Of his love for me.  She was a gift.  A child we were not sure would exist in our lives.  For 2 years, we tried for her.  Just hoping to have another child, a sibling for Leah.  Leah came so easily.  Autum should have too.  But after many frustrating questions about my health and unanswered prayers, anxious thoughts, worry, fear, anger, sadness, loss of hope...we were pregnant.  In God's perfect timing, full of grace, He created a miracle in my body for her to dwell in before making her appearance-2 years later than we had planned or hoped.  But still on time.  By God's standards...

I praise you God for your perfect timing.  Thank you for this beautiful child as a reminder of your Grace.

Because God knew that the year before, our 3rd child had already been born.  Half a world away.  He was born in the time-frame that we had hoped to birth Autum.  We just didn't know it yet.  God was working behind the scenes, not only to bless us with Autum's presence, but to abundantly bless us with 2 children!  He brought our attention to Blake only 6 months later.  Blake represents Christ's redemption in our lives.  Jesus adopted us as His children.  He loves us as His own.  He cares for us.  Delights in us.  Desires for us to know Him more.  Just as we do, Blake.  Blake is a reminder of God's love for us.  He saved us from what could have been an awful death.  Blake was an orphan.  Set to enter an institution because of his Down Syndrome and living in a country that sees this as a cursing disability to a family.  Yet, God broke our hearts for this little boy.  And we were called to make him our own.  And so we did.  And still are.

I praise you God for your selfless love for me.  For saving me from my sins.  From a death I deserve.  For redemption.

And Miss Leah.  She represents so many things.  But the first thought that came to mind in my prayers of thanksgiving was the reminder of God's bigger plan.  Of His sovereignty in my life.  And His presence.  I was a young, naive mom.  I had no clue what I was doing with her.  She came at a time I was not quite ready for.  But we jumped in with both feet and took the best care of her we could.  I was still in college with all these pre-planned goals, a career, big money, a big house, a 5-year plan...all going to happen.  Yes.  Actually no.  I gave birth to a fiery-red head instead.  And she rocked my selfish world.  And all I wanted to do was be with her. Raise her. Love on her.  No 6 figure job could change my mind about that as soon as that little girl laid on my chest and looked at me for the first time.  You see, God's plan.  Bigger than mine.  I needed this baby girl worse than I needed a 5-year plan. 

I praise you God for your will.  For your bigger, better plan for me.  For loving me so much you put up with my whining and selfish desires to fulfill your work.  In me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I loved my great grandma Margaret.
I had the blessing of getting to know her throughout my childhood and even into adulthood.  I got to know her through experiences that now frame memories in my mind.  Memories I jog through my mind when daily events spur a reminder of her. 

I remember visiting her at her little apartment.  Sitting at her small wooden dining room table while she told us about her years cooking at the schools.  Her secrets to making the perfect chocolate cake.  And how it always tastes better after being in the fridge a day.  About how you take your cookies out of the oven 1 minute before they should be done so they finish cooking on the stove top.  And not to mix the batter too much. 

And other things like not to rub your eyes with your pointer finger because it held the most germs and would make you sick.  A Kleenex was best. She shared with me the misery of playing basketball in wool uniforms that covered your body from head to toe.  

She also represented many things she never spoke of either.  Such as how to lean on God and work through the sufferings of losing a child to a tragic accident.  To the secrets of raising 2 boys in tough times.  To the strength of balancing working full time and raising kids.  To the loss of a spouse early in life.  To the secrets of waiting on God to take you home at the age of 96, when you feel like your purpose in life is long past..

She may not have known it. But she had a purpose in my life. She was my listening ear.  I would write her letters, often.  Sometimes weekly.  And though she would never reply, I had an ear to listen to my teenage struggles.  I always felt more comfortable writing my emotions down than verbalizing them.  So she became my sounding board.  I could relay the struggles of secret boy crushes, frustration with not making 1st chair in band, with being worn down from sports practices, with heartache of friendships, with disappointments, not fitting in, trying to figure out who I was, what I wanted to be, where I wanted to go... 

She was who I turned too.  Even when I couldn't speak to my parents about such things, I could trust her with this information.  Never looking for an answer but letting it flow out of my brain and heart onto the powerful white of the paper.  Release.

Later on in her life, I remember visiting her at her nursing home.  She lived alone.  Fully mindful of everything.  And still able to walk, just needing more assistance.  She never completely liked being there.  But accepted it.  Mostly.  She felt like she didn't belong there.  Feelings I can't imagine.  But she stayed.  I remember her tiny little room.  Her bed we would sit on when we visited. While she rocked in her chair with her feet up and her white support stockings peering out under her cotton pants.  She always had a vest over a silk blouse on that beautified her silver curly hair and soft, round face.  Her eyes were always droopy and watery, but her beauty still shone through from days of old. 

I fully believe she forged the way for me in my heart for special populations.  She made a way for me to be at ease with people in wheelchairs, or people who could not communicate up to society's standards, who made weird noises, or did not follow social cues.  She softened my heart toward people who needed a voice.  People who had so much to say, just no one to say it for them.  People who had more to give than we could ever imagine.  People who loved fully. 

She is a big reason for who I am today. Who I have a passion for. And how.

So as my kids spent this past weekend with their Great Grandma, I felt my heart pitter patter.  Knowing they were going to be blessed with the same opportunity as me.  To create memories with their Great Grandma's.  Memories that may forge them into who they will become.What they believe.  And who they have a heart for.

What a blessing! (even if the girls did think she ate more of the cookie frosting than she put on the cookies) :)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Thought Of...

"What if your "success, make a name for yourself, impact" on this world is to do NOTHING? What if my plans for you include quietly raising your children, at home, serving your husband, and praising me?  And that is all..."

*Silence* Minus the deep breathing erupting from my pursed lips...

This is usually the part where I say, "But..." 
Except for this time I don't...I sit.  Letting the Holy Spirit indwell my soul, speaking so deeply down to my core.  Echoing the previous acquisition..."what if?"                     "what if?"                 "what if?"

This is a battlefield in my mind lately.  Because as of late, God is challenging my previous way of thinking. Go big, or go home.  For God.  I was made to do big things for God.  Make a big loud noise.  A splash on this world.  Out loud.  For all to see...

But.... that's just the opposite of what I'm hearing now.  Or maybe just now listening too...not sure.
Going big for God is NOT going big for God by the world's standards.

It isn't a facebook status that screams to the world of God's power in my life--that changes many lives.  Or a proclamation of my salvation and testimony that turns hundreds of lives around.  It isn't an Instagram video that shows my kids reading their Bible and quoting Scripture, showing signs of holiness at an early age.  No.  It isn't me doing amazing feats with a barbell or gymnastics on the rings all while proclaiming the Gospel that changes hearts.  No. It isn't raising millions of dollars for a non-profit organization that serves orphans.  No.  It isn't being a role model in the fitness world. No. Or an inspiration to other mom'

None of these things are what I'm being called too. Right now.  You see, my depiction of "success" (yes, even in the ministry) has been squashed to pieces.  God is picking up each sliver of what I thought I knew to be success and questioning my motives in it. 

He is calling me to a new definition of success.
A definition I am battling.  Because to me it seems like a call to "nothing."
Yes, nothing by the world's standards. Or facebook standards. Or society's standards it seems like nothing.

But it is everything in God's grace.

It's as if He has been quietly, patiently waiting in the background for me to hear Him.  "I'm here.  When you get disappointed enough running around aimlessly trying to make something of yourself, let me know...I'll be here, waiting.  To speak truth into your heart and soul.  When you get tired enough, worn down and discouraged enough to hear my desires and plans for you, I'll be here.  Ready to whisper to your anxious heart.  To quiet the world's false claims, and to fill you with my promises....still waiting, longing for you to return to me..."

So here I am. 
With a rawness.  A fatigue that sets so deep within from years of running.  A vulnerability.  A weakness.  Almost a crawl.

Here I am, Lord.

And this is what you want me to do??  Rest?
Find peace and joy within my own family?  I should serve them, only?  That's who I am to make a big splash upon?  My own family?  That's it. (gasp)

But...(here we go again) that is no fun.  There is no pat on the back for that.  There is no immediate gratification. No validation.  No worldwide effect. 

Trust me.  I am doing a work in you.  

But...that is not "living out" your mission.  There are 1000's out there who still haven't heard the Gospel Orphans need saving.  Women role models in the fitness world are desperately needed to pave the way.  Platforms to proclaim your Gospel are around every corner.

Just sit.  Rest.  Be still.  Learn to find joy in me in the mundane.  In the day to day.  In serving your husband. In raising your kids.  I see all that you are doing.  That is enough.

And this cycle plays through my head sometimes on an hourly basis and sometimes on a daily or weekly basis.  Just depends on my fatigue level, stress level, lack of faith or trust, or inability to get into the Word that day...but it is there...

Reminding me I need God.  Because when I am weak, He can be strong.  And I'm needing Him to be strong for me lately.  Feeling rather needy, actually.  Which I am learning is the best place to be, by His standards.  Not the world's....yes, another lesson there to be battled.

But slowly the layers are being peeled back. One by one.  God is a God of redemption.  Of Hope.  And HE WANTS what is best for me.  I just have to be very observant of what lens I'm looking at my current situation through, in each moment.

God's or the Worlds.
(somedays this requires me to put both hands over my eyes, mouth, and ears...and just trust.)


Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Friday

I started out taking pictures of peculiar things around my house that I realized probably only appear "normal" to a household of littles.  Part of me wanted to remember this time in my life through pictures, and part of me needed to step back and laugh about all the silly things before I let the "messes" "craziness" and "chaos" swallow me whole...

This age is cool because helping mommy with chores is still "fun"
Like for instance, I woke up early yesterday morning...(Friday)...decided to do my devotionals by flashlight so as not to wake anyone..and enjoyed the peace and quiet.  I even dove into a suspense murder mystery novel I checked out to read...I was flipping through pages getting drawn into the plot when I hear this "thunk" "thunk" "thunk" coming down the stairs...I see a figure in the's Autum wearing her panties, cowgirl boots, throwing her lasso, and asking where a gun is because she is "Sheriff Callie Wild West" and needs to practice...keep in mind this is 6:30 AM...then she suddenly switches roles and remembers this is cheerleading/dance performance day AND she has gymnastics class today...she turns around and plods back up the stairs in her boots, shaking pictures on the wall yelling something about her hair bow and cheerleading uniform...

I blink a few times, try to process what just happened and go back to reading.

After getting the two older kids to school, Autum and I play.
First I do her make-up and pink eye shadow, purple blush, braids and a high pony tail with a big ribbon for the Bull Pup Hi- Stepper Performance she has 12 hours from then...

Then, it's my turn...
She has a thing for purple streaks down your face...very Native American.  I removed the black make-up from her box after last time's makeover session..
Then she did my hair...
 And my nails...but I had to wear her gun and holster because we were still acting out "Sheriff Callie" at this point.
Well, after playing a while...I told her I needed to do some book keeping from last year's tax stuff and could she play by herself a little while...she agreed.  So I stuck my head into my laptop and tried to run some numbers...well before long an hour had passed and it was time to go pick up Blake from school.  Without thinking, I throw on a hat, a coat, get Autum all bundled up and ready to roll...

I get in the van to leave and Autum says, "Mom you look so cool with your striped face and your gun and holster...!!"

Oh my word.  I realize I just about walked into the school dressed like a wild woman with a gun and holster and face paint, with 1 ponytail out the side of my head...I may have taken over the evening news in our town if it weren't for the grace of God and Autum's observance of her "cool" mom...(plus the fact, I had just told Leah's principal a few weeks before I wasn't crazy, just concerned, when it came to same issues I brought up in a meeting..)

Dear Lord...

2 hours later we go to the dentist...Leah is so excited to get new band colors for her braces.  So she decides on red.  But finds out she only has room for one we get ready to leave and Autum says, "look mom! Leah has 1 bloody tooth...!"
Yes, yes she does.

A few hours later, at Pizza Hut.
Autum shoots our waiter between the eyes with her straw wrapper right as he's taking our order...then laughs!  As Leah is shoving crackers off the salad bar into her coat pockets, pants pocket, etc...While Jerad and I try not to laugh and he mumbles something about us not getting out much...they bring us our order of cheese sticks and Autum yells, "oh sure, bring us the SHORT pizza..."

Finally, last event of the day.  The girl's hi-stepper dance performance at the McPherson boys basketball game...

Girls are prepped to perform. Blake is freaking out because of the loud noise and buzzer.  He has his arms wrapped around my neck, legs wrapped around my waist, head buried in my chest, and keeps pulling his "dude" ear flap stocking cap down over his ears farther... only gotta last til halftime dude...just hang in there...

Well, we get to half-time, I stand up to take video of the girls performing and realize several things all at once..."my legs and crotch of my pants are soaking wet..."  "I forgot to put a pull up back on Blake before we left the house..."  "he drank a lot of water at Pizza Hut"

UGH...I had to walk down to the half court line to pick the girls up...with 2 wet streaks down my thighs and a wet crotch...

I swallowed my pride, pulled my coat down as far as I could, and owned it. :)

The life of littles.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Here's What I Would Do...

My sister is going to have her baby any day now...anxiety is building...the kids all have names picked out for this little boy to be...
"Harry Gary"
"Baby Cuz"
and on and on...

My dad personally LOVES Autum's choice of "Harry Gary."(his first name is Gary)
Lately I have been thinking about all the things I would have done or had appreciated more, before I had my first baby...
If I had to tell her a few things, I'd say...

1) Enjoy sleeping in til 9 am...and laying in bed til noon...those days are OVER.  Probably for good.  Soon you will be awoke by juicy poops, screaming hunger cries, and magic wands that sing, "LEt it GOOOO...LET it GOOO..." over and over without an 'off' button.

2) Take long, hot, steamy showers and silence...LOTS of them.  Before your 4-year old comes in and says she has to poop and it's going to stink and her legs were too tired to walk upstairs and use that bathroom, plus she wants to talk to you about the newest Sheriff Callie Wild West show...where her cowboy boots are, what's for lunch-hopefully PB&J...that she has a boyfriend...whoo, her poop really stinks...bla bla bla

3)  Familiarize yourself with Witch Hazel wipes...they will be your saving grace.

4)  Appreciate the ability to pee straight.

5) Get a mani/pedi one last time...from here on out you will paint your own nails and about the time you paint yours, a diaper will need changed and your newly painted nails will be covered in diaper hot nails polka-dotted in fuzz.  And your child's backside will have red streaks on it from your fresh will panic at first thinking they are bleeding before your sleep-deprived mind catches up and you realize its your nail polish...phew!

6)  Nipping in your swimsuit is no longer sexy.  Especially when your nips point north and south.

7) Wet wipes are universal.  Can be used for anything at any time.  Boogers, make-up remover, poop messes, food spilling from your lips onto your child's face while nursing/eating...hand sanitizer, etc.

8) Enjoy your Victoria Secret padded bras...because soon your padded bras will consist of paper padding that is SUPPOSED to prevent you from leaking before/after nursing...and have been known to fall out in the most inopportune times...

9)  It is okay to shoot your husband in the face with your milk while being's just going to happen...maybe invest in some goggles. ;)

10)  Enjoy a spotless living room that you can absent-mindedly walk across in the pitch black of night...not worrying about a thing.  Because soon you will be doing full alert, ninja style movements across your floor because I'll be darned if you are going to let another LEGO figurine under your sensitive, vulnerable, bare feet...causing you to stub your other toe on the couch as you attempt to catch yourself falling to the floor-hoping your cuss words don't wake the neighbors...(because you're pretty sure your family is already awake)

11)  Be thankful for being on time.  With a shirt that matches and isn't soaked on one shoulder from throw up...or poop...or something you may not even be sure what it may have been there 2 days...what day is it again?

12) Finally, be appreciative of your one single handbag when you travel...because now your trips will consist of a traveling caravan, possibly a trailer attached to the back...with nothing but your kitchen sink to leave behind.

So there ya have it! Things I would NOT have taken for granted pre-baby phase.
Despite all that, though, there is one thing I would never have known I'd love so much...

And that is being a mama.
(So excited to be an auntie for the first time too! )