Sunday, November 18, 2012

When you know your day is in peril...

Sometimes I feel like my day has spun out of control before my feet have even hit the floor.  You know the days?  You can hear little animated voices already planning their adventures for the day even though you were planning to sleep for at least another twenty minutes.

I know it's Saturday.  It's the easy day, right?  But Teacher Man had to be at church for six hours of the day so "easy" might be taking it a little far.  I knew my day was in trouble when Teacher Man was getting ready to walk out the door.  The kitchen was a mess, the boys were both simultaneously asking/whining for different things, the laundry needed to be started, supper had to go in the slow cooker, over a hundred pounds of beef was on its way to my house, and I had not had any coffee.  I needed help fast.  So I began to count as I played catch-up.

164. Food to eat this morning.  I am so rich.
165. My sons. Precious gifts.  Best investment of five years. ever.
166. New books from the library... for all of us.
167. A meal shared last night, and the mess to prove it.
168. Warm clothing on a cold day.
169. A soft bed to rest on after a long pregnant day.
170. Beef.  It's what's for dinner, and it's filling up my freezer.  I know it will fill our bodies this winter.  How can we be so blessed?
171. Friends.  Who offer help.  God, give me the grace to accept help.
172. Clothes warm from the dryer.
173. Water.  Clean water.  So many today won't drink it, let alone shower in it.
174. Baby kicks.  This girl is itching to enter the world.  Never have I experienced a pregnancy like this one.  Never have I known the thrill of mothering a daughter.
175. Peace and quiet. Both boys rest. Ben has relief from his teething pain, at least for a nap.
176. Clearly spoken words. Ben requests water WITH ice in a tractor cup.  Well, okay then.
177. Sons who serve. Caleb picks up and carries so many small tasks.  His service in the little things makes a big difference in this momma's life.
178. Abundance of food.  I look at the freezer, my canned goods in the cupboard, and our refrigerator's stuffed shelves and can do nothing but breathe thanks.
179. A clean, safe home. The average family in 1950 had 1000 square feet of space.  I. have. enough.

And suddenly I have grace to share because I have taken time to recognize the grace I have received.  From graceless and empty to graceful and rich.  The counting was the quiet breath I needed to take before loving and serving the hearts in my home, not just appeasing the loudest voices. Even the one in my head that was demanding (not requesting) coffee.

The day took a different turn.  We read. a lot.  We played new games.  Both boys showed new maturity by sharing and loving each other well.  We biked together.  We raked together.  We took a little adventure trip.  And all the unimportant things (like eating and cleaning and not letting 100 lb. of beef thaw) got done too.  Amazing how that all works out.

Keep calm and count on, friends.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pregnant lady in need of grace.

*Please note that this post was written two weeks ago, but I laughed when I re-read it so I thought some of you might get a chuckle from my ridiculousness too.

Can I just put that title on a piece of cardboard and hang it around my neck?  Truly.  First of all, I need to say that any day that starts with my three year old waking up 30 minutes before me is bound to get interesting. There's way too much time for his brain to get fired up and ready for the day, while my brain is still wading through quagmires of exhaustion.  Today deserves a play-by-play; so, by golly, that's what you're getting.

7:00 a.m. I wake up to find that Caleb is awake, has been awake, and is happily playing with dinosaurs on the floor of the family room.  Once more, I give thanks that he likes to play more than he likes to eat.  I check email and FB messages to make sure there's nothing coming up/canceled for today, and I go ahead and eat a bowl of cereal.

7:30 a.m. I start serving breakfast to Caleb because his younger brother is still asleep.  We've been taking a break from the brothers sharing a room at night because Ben became so sleep-deprived that he was spending all of his waking hours half-sleeping on our floors, other people's floors, and the floors of local businesses. This break has allowed Ben to sleep in, which he does with an ability he inherited from Teacher Man.

7:45 a.m. Caleb and I sit down at the dining room table to eat breakfast, talk about the day, and do "school."  First, let me begin by saying that I don't think my three year old needs to do school.  I have a type-A, book-loving son who asked to do school.  I'm a teacher.  His words reached into my soul.  He was crying out for learning.  Okay, maybe he just wanted extra attention, but do you know how good it feels to have your child BEGGING to do more phonics?  I love that kid with all my type-A, book-loving heart.

8:30 a.m. Caleb and are finishing school, and we finally hear sounds coming from the nursery.  Ben is awake and joins us at the table for some peanut butter toast and Big Backyard reading (LOVE this magazine for preschoolers, by the way!).

9:00 a.m. I start cleaning up breakfast.  This is going to be a leisurely day.  I have a dinner to prepare for a friend who just had her third sweet baby, and I have Laundry Day to tackle.  Both things on my written calendar could be easily done without leaving the house until late afternoon.  Oh, and we wanted to go spend some time at our friends' home while Teacher Man works late.  Perfect.  Ah... no hurry.  No rush.  I start a Sid the Science Kid episode on the computer for the boys while I get the day in motion, unloading the dishwasher, starting the laundry, putting ingredients in the slow cooker for dinner, giving the kitchen a spruce.

10:00 a.m. The boys get dressed, and I put on yet another Sid the Science Kid.  They love it, and the house is a wreck after a very relaxing Sunday.  I spend the twenty-five minutes of their science-induced coma getting dressed, making a grocery list, and figuring out what I want to do with the rest of the day.

10:45 a.m. I finally wrestle both boys into the car for a quick run to Aldi.  When did "put your shoes on" become a fifteen minute task?  If you ever wanted to see me wandering around town, having a bad hairday, and looking frazzled; your dreams would have come true today.  I was halfway to Aldi when I realized that we had missed a 9:30 appointment on the north side of town, which had never been written down on the calendar.  I veered the car off the main road, hoping I could reschedule at the office in person and beg forgiveness.

11:00 a.m. I arrive at the destination where I should have been at 9:30.  Yep, they were more than gracious.  No, they didn't beat me or berate me, but I was mortified.  Why did I not write this one down?  Why was my brain so foggy?  Why do they keep making those cheese stick wrappers so hard to open?  Deep questions for which I have no answers.

11:30 a.m. We finally make it to Aldi, and I start my shopping.

11:32 a.m. A friend calls, asking if she can pick anything up for me at the store on her way to my house to drop her daughter off for a couple of hours.  WHAT?!!?!  Yep, I forgot that commitment too.  Totally knew about it, then promptly forgot.  I run through Aldi, getting the ever-necessary yogurt and a few other things before running out of the store and getting home at 11:44.

11:45-1:15 p.m.  After apologizing profusely, my friend just laughs at me, hands me a decaf pumpkin spice latte, and bravely leaves her daughter with the crazy woman who can't even keep track of the days of the week.  After she leaves, her daughter entertains us with stories about their family (be careful what you say in front of your five year old!) and reads a ton of books with us.

1:30 p.m. Our sweet house guest leaves when her mom returns, and I put Caleb down for his nap (Ben is already asleep.).  Normally this is the time I breathe for about thirty minutes, but there is no time for that today.  Laundry needs to be switched, lunch needs to be cleaned up, clothes need folding, cornbread needs to go in the oven.  No breathing allowed.

3:00 p.m. After switching laundry, folding laundry, making our bed, and putting away most of the clothes; I'm feeling good about the laundry.  Dinner is almost done and the house no longer looks like it's been taken over by plastic dinosaurs.  I'm feeling like things are semi-under control, but I also know that we have a playdate scheduled for after naps and I need to deliver the meal.  I pay bills online, play with Ben who always wakes up first, and continue meal prep.

4:00 p.m. We leave for friends' house to play for the afternoon, and I have forty-five minutes of just watching my sweet boys play with toys and talking to a friend.  They are in boy heaven.  There are Thomas trains involved.  They may never want to leave, but I grab Ben anyways to help me deliver the dinner on the other side of town.

4:45 p.m. I pack up the dinner and realize how foggy my brain really feels.  It's so bad that I question my ability to drive.  Not sure if pregnancy brain counts as a prohibitive driving condition, but I'm strongly thinking that it should.  Teacher Man gets home, rescues Ben from his tired momma, and lets me deliver the meal all by myself.  Bless him.

5:15 p.m. I deliver the supper fifteen minutes late to the dad who graciously accepts my culinary offering and allows me to make a quick exit so I can get Caleb from our friends' home.  I'm pretty sure Caleb has already considered getting his last name changed and joining their family by the time I arrive.  He is chasing after frisbees, wrestling on the ground, and generally being a boy when I get there and he runs away from my car. I'd like to think he didn't recognize me and was practicing stranger danger... but I know better.

5:45 p.m. I finally kidnap my child away.  He asks if he can go back tomorrow.  I say I'll think about it, but really I'm on autopilot.  My sciatic nerve has been acting up whenever baby girl decides to move to just the right spot, and I can no longer walk, stand, sit, or crawl without serious back pain.  The day is about to go downhill in a hurry.

6:00 p.m. We sit down to eat.  Teacher Man knows I'm tired because I say nothing at dinner.  This is very unusual.  I talk. a lot.  Clearly.  I just have no energy left.  Teacher Man cleans up the table, the boys, and the kitchen.  Bless him again.

6:30 p.m. I sit down on the couch and announce that I'm reading.  Caleb runs to the couch and allows Gertrude Chandler Warner to escort him to Surprise Island along with the Boxcar Children.  He is enthralled.  I am grumpy.  I hurt.  I just want my kids to go to bed so I no longer have to move or hurt.

7:00 p.m. I almost cry trying to brush the boys' teeth.  They are full of giggles.  I am all-business.  This is not going to be easy.  Somehow I've directly associated their going to bed with the pain in my back stopping.  Totally unfair to them and totally untrue for me.

7:30 p.m. I nearly lose it when Caleb tells me he needs to go to the bathroom AGAIN.  I call Teacher Man. I have had .... enough.  I declare myself done with Monday and start the bath water running.

8:00 p.m. Baths are great when you're getting in but awful if you can't get up.  I literally am lying in my tub, and I can't figure out how to stand up without serious pain.  It's pathetic.  I'm pathetic.  I just want to fall over.  So I do.  Then I crawl out of the tub somehow and sit down to write this post.

There are definitely better days.  The boys get along, Caleb begs to do more math problems, Ben learns a few new words, and supper is served promptly after Teacher Man gets home by a woman who is pain-free and smiling.  This was not one of those days.  I'm starting, ever so slowly, to realize my limitations, to accept them, and to live within them so I can truly LIVE my life rather than drag my pear-shaped body through the daylight hours.  When did accomplishing a list become my standard for success?  Why do I consider my body the only one that doesn't need special care?  Must. slow. down.  Must give self grace to rest.  To heal. To nurture the life growing within.  To love those around me these last two months.  To smile.  I'm a pregnant lady in need of grace, God's grace.  Grace that comes from upturned hands receiving rather than hands kept busy doing.

And, by the way, I know I'm not alone.  Join me.  Stop.  Take a deep breath.  Notice what's really important.  Discard the rest.  Lift your hands up to receive the gifts.  Revel in God's sustaining grace that is just enough for this day.  Return thanks to the Grace Giver.  He is enough.  You are not.  He will supply all your needs.  You cannot.

2 Corinthians 12:9: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Living Right Now

I can already hear the buzz of the next ten weeks.  Preparations for baby girl.  Thanksgiving feasts. Christmas traditions.  Extra appointments.  End of the year meetings.  Meanwhile, I feel my body slowly shutting down.  Legs won't move.  Back won't bend.  Baby has a clear need to do her jujitsu practice in my womb at 4:30 a.m. when I so desperately need to sleep. Time ticks away, and I get slower each day.

The future terrifies me.  I live under the shadow of fear all the time.  Fear of never sleeping again.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of failure.  Fear of disaster.  Fear of the unknowns that I don't have the awareness to fear.  Fear of being too much and not enough all at the same. time.  My coping mechanism for these fears is normally to do something.  Make a phone call.  Freeze an extra meal.  Clean a bathroom.  Do another load of laundry.  Write down a to-do list. Just do something to prepare.

But right now, my knees are physically, forcibly bent to touch the earth. These have been some of the most humbling days of my life.  The deep-seated need to prepare has been overpowered by the complete inability to move.  In other words, my body won't allow me to try to be Spunky the Super Mom right now.  Ha!  Right now as I hobble around the house, struggling to make a bowl of cereal for my preschooler and to cook that egg for my toddler, I have to laugh.  Spunky is LONG gone.  She has been replaced by her 80-year-old great aunt Wimpy, who spends her afternoons crocheting and her days trying not to move more than is absolutely necessary all while sporting the latest fad... drumroll, please... compression hose.

I can't do it all.  I can't prepare for all contingencies.  I can't predict the weather either.  Grrr... I'm just so powerless it's pathetic.  And it's in these moments that I hear a still, small Voice calling to me... Trust, my daughter.  Rest. Attack one REAL problem at a time.  Let me worry about the unseen because, unlike you, I can actually see what is coming.  Open your hands wide to receive my grace.  Trust that I know all that you need and am looking out for your good.  It may not feel good; but, my child, it will do you so much good.  The enemy might intend it for evil, but it will be oh, so good.  So let go, and give thanks.

So I return to my list, the list of gifts that somehow miraculously returns me to the present moment, focuses my heart on the now.

145. Cookies showing up at my door
146. A friend who lives her life at my house so I don't have to lift or even move.
147. A husband who does dishes... endless loads of dishes.
148. The Body who prays.  I can feel the strength of your prayers.
149. The kicks of a wee little girl, itching to see the world.
150. Technology. It's at times like this that PBS Kids finds its way into our home.
151. Our new speech therapist. Love how well she loves my boys.
152. Caleb's love for information, for books, for a good story.
153. Ben's new ankle braces.  So amazingly provided for.
154. Food IN my house when I can't leave my house.
155. Teacher Man's phone call.  I love talking to him in the middle of my day.
156. The light in my house reflected off the snow outside.  Just. Beautiful.
157. The good news of a friend's healthy pregnancy. For this child, we have prayed!
158. Teacher Man's "secret project" during naps yesterday. Woke up to bookshelves just for Caleb so he can read in his bunk bed.
159. Making jelly for the first time and just talking to a friend.
160. Ben's new words.
161. Resting on a Sunday afternoon with my big boy.
162. Laughter. (Ben brushing his hair with Teacher Man's toothbrush.) Still laughing about this.
163. God's Word about forgiveness.  Needed to hear this again. and again.

Food gets eaten and clean carpet will get dirty, but the souls around me will live forever.  Praising God for another day, even if I do have to live it sitting down.