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Pressing In

Today was not a good day at our house. Nothing hugely catastrophic by most people’s standards (or really even my own if I really think about it!) I haven’t felt very thankful, nor have I had much time today to post anything. But I’m determined to say thanks. Even if my teeth are a little gritted. I don’t want to be hypocritical. But I also think that sometimes, when feeling the most ungrateful, the only way to feel the way out of the ungratefulness, is to call out the gratefulness.

Not hypocrisy.

Choosing.

Today was just a blip in what a day can sometimes be like in a household of three females (ranging in age of 16 months, to 28 years) and one, over-worked daddy. One female is currently a little hormonal, one is three years old (enough said) and one is teething. It was a day of crying, whining, fussing, griping, lamenting, pining, losing control, crying, and wiping away tears and racoon-looking, mascara smudges (Yes, I’m describing me here. Not who you thought, huh?).

You see. I had more than enough reason to be upset. But you know what? I’m the mama. And I didn’t look one bit like a Jesus-filled, loving mama today. Nope. I looked like one of those crazy-eyed mamas you see on reality TV. I don’t want to see her again. She needs to go. Far, far away. I’m slowly starting to realize that this reality TV version of myself seems to appear after eating one too many chocolate chip cookies. Whole wheat or not, they’re wreaking havoc and I think that reality TV woman needs to take her plate of cookies and go on home. Yep. She’s not welcome here in this house anymore. I don’t like her. And neither do my kids.

So, I’m announcing to the world (because I think that may be about what it takes for accountability for me on this one) that sugar is leaving my vocabulary and my diet for a bit. Not completely . . . you know, it’s going to be in certain recipes and things (and *definitely* still in my coffee creamer), but sweets and treats? I think they need to go for a while and maybe we’ll see if a nicer mama appears at our door with a plate of carrots and dip. Because I know I definitely have some heart issues to work on. And believe me, the Lord’s getting an earful on those. But I’m beginning to wonder if too much sugar is part of the issue. I’ll let ya know.

Yeah, so I know this doesn’t have much to do with a Multitude Monday. But this was a bad enough day that I’m desperate. If you know me at all, you know that if I’m willing to give up my chocolate chip cookies for a while? Even for just an experiment? That must be one, mean mama that was here in this house today.

And right now? I’m having to press hard into being thankful….  Thank you, dear readers. You bring accountability.

#422 that her emotions are so keenly felt . . . God can redeem . . . someday, into deep-felt compassion and all-out passion for Him

#423 driving, driving, driving me to my knees . . . nowhere to turn, but Him

#424 the beautiful, heart-melting moments when they laugh and play and love on each other

#425 Firefly, trying to teach Dove to share

#426 the super powers of a protein snack and an early bed-time

#427 the “just checking-in” call from a friend

#428 that he didn’t mind picking up the forgotten sour cream

#429 Dove trying to get the beloved neighbor’s dog to play fetch with her

#430 the way Dove says, “Ouch”

#431 that Dove’s head is hard enough to withstand all the falls onto hardwood floors and running full-speed-ahead into door frames

#432 that Princess band-aids finally won over Firefly’s confidence

#433 waving palm fronds in the car, little white teeth gleaming in the spring sunlight

#434 that my man is such a hard, meticulous worker and provider

#435 that coffee night with girlfriends came on just the right day

#436 little girl excitement over a new toothbrush

#437 the wonders of a tent made with a rose-covered sheet

#438 a recently-turned picky eater, gobbling down poppyseed chicken

#439 that He knows my weariness

#440 that He covers my sin

#441 that my children show me my need for Him

#442 and entrench the comfort of knowing that He is in control

#443 their daddy-given dimples

#444 their soft skin

#445 that love is spilling over in tears . . . this moment

#446 the way she recites John 3:16 . . . “loved the woooorrrrlld”

#447 how Firefly tells me she loves me out of the blue

#448 that Dove just has to come tell me she’s watching Veggie Tales (“Mama, Mama!” Deh Dee Deh!”) and then runs back to the couch

#449 truly spill-proof sippy cups (they’re rarer than I thought)

#450 how Dove leans into my kisses

#451 that I have been given such two, amazingly created, intricately made gifts

#452 that He knows my weaknesses

#453 and maybe He’s given strengths?

#454 and He made us for each other

#455 that He can strengthen bonds

#456 and has

#457 that He asked for our cares and burdens

#458 He knows my fears

#459 that His love casts them out

#460 that He can use, even me

The Accountability

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A Simple Monday Thank You

Continuing....

 

#342 seven little girls, all playing happily

#343 getting to visit with their mamas

#344 that I get to sit next to my husband during church

#345 little hands, playing in sand

#346 small confirmations that make it all worth it

#347 white petals snowing down

#348 lemon in my water

#349 bread, cake, and enough chicken . . . that He hears the small requests

#350 and that #349 gives me hope for the bigger heart-cries

#351 new, soft-pink ballet slippers and all her glorious excitement

#352 new, little hands at the piano

#353 an evening walk and that it was warm enough without a jacket

#354 falling asleep to thunderstorms

#355 that thunderstorms make me stop and hold her a little closer

#356 little breath words, like “shoe” and “juice”

#357 laughing together over little-boy communications!

#358 a full living room of friends and making room for new ones

#359 toys, strewn and scattered

#360 hot showers

#361 pink, purple, and orange nail polish

#362 a mama and papa bird, nest-building at our back door

#363 gas in the fuel tank

#364 emails from blogging friends (you know who you are and I just *love* you!)

#365 the way she worries over Japan and pictures of children with cleft lips

#366 Dovey’s arms-around-the-neck hugs

#367 that sometimes arguments give rise to solutions

#368 that he and He can forgive my tantrums

#369 clean sheets

#370 40 full hours of Pandora . . . praising vicariously, when I just don’t feel like I can

#371 and that now I want to . . .

#372 breakfast for dinner and enough to feed a spontaneous two more

 

Just Continuing

Merely continuing the count….

 

#303 rain, rain, rain

#304 a wide-mouth Ball jar, brimming with yellow-gold forsythia

#305 the drawings, the flowers, the drawings, the flowers . . . her always bringing

#306 the “Mom? I wuv you.”

#307 Dovey and her necklaces. All seven of them.

#308 That he still needs me

#309 old friends, gathered around our table

#310 That Borax and Scotch-Guard even work with red wine and curry chicken. And really? That I wouldn’t care if they didn’t.

#311 Five little girls, playing strong, growing friendships

#312 That He listens to my cries, my griping

#313 That He can calm my heart . . . heal it

#314 That he still has the touch . . . his stove-popped popcorn is the best! One less thing for me to do in the kitchen. 🙂

#315 A house.

#316 A roof.

#317 Four walls.

#318 Clothing.

#319 Clean water to drink . . . even ice.

#320 Little girls, dancing with smiles and giggles, tutus twirling

#321 good, long talks with my sis

#322 cardinals hopping on our patio

#323 beautiful, March sunshine

#324 That I could pull out the Chacos!

#325 the way He keeps turning my heart to Him in the waiting

#326 that only He can satisfy

Joining others in thanks

 

Rejoicing Always

It’s been a crazy week and I’ve been busy and not given Him much of my heart’s energy. But He is so faithful. And sometimes, I wonder if instead of worrying about how little time I’ve had for Him, if He’d rather I just rejoiced in the gifts and life He’s given me. We’ve been singing a lot of “Rejoice in the Lord Always” around here lately. My heart buoys and the girls clap and we search for Him and thank Him for our cups overflowing.

 

Continuing to count the ways . . . His gifts . . . His presence in our little, everyday lives….

 

#226 “let’s just veg” nights, cuddled on the couch

#227 holding a newborn baby . . . that wonderful, new-life smell

#228 that he would gobble up, even my over-baked lasagna.

#229 two unexpected mornings at home . . . the opportunity to exemplify flexibility

#230 little boy falling sound asleep in my arms

#231 the waiting for (I hope) a someday-coming little boy of my own

#232 the way her voice lilts when she says “Mama”

#233 the way his aftershave lingers on our skin, long after he’s kissed us each good-bye

#234 sunlight, shining through peace lily leaves

#235 little fingerprints on glass

#236 clean floors

#237 that he came with me

#238 family around the table

#239 a working vacuum cleaner

#240 watching her arabesque

#241 her little dancer’s excitement

#242 a warm, cinnamon dolce latte

#243 an ever-present second father

#244 hugging Dad

#245 Dove’s loving exuberance for others

#246 the way they both touch the ceiling by the strength of their father’s arms

#247 a full house

#248 a teenage boy and his sweet heart’s soft spot . . . the real him shining through

#249 snake-in-my-bed pranks (yes, especially this)

#250 seeking direction and that we get to do it together

#251 3 1/2 years . . . nearly every Sunday night, all gathered

#252 goodbye tears

#253 that He is in the winds of change

#254 He is more than worthy of my trust

#255 resting in His goodness

 

 

Joining others in offering gift-thanks

 

 

 

Questions at the Keyboard

It was 52 degrees yesterday and the sun was shining in all its blue sky. The girls and I had a fairly quick errand to run, but after the better part of two weeks spent indoors, I needed just a few more breaths of that fresh air. Instead of steering the car up the mountain curves, I made an impromptu, hard left turn and drove to a local playground. We frolicked and played for all of about 20 minutes in the usually elusive, but actually present, mid-January sunshine. And it was heavenly, I tell you, simply heavenly.

 

As yesterday’s glum mood lifted, my heart also sank a bit as I thought back to my recent mood and how it has presented in my recent blog postings. Why have I been so downcast? And while I want to be an Upside Down Blogger, what is the balance between being too real, too vulnerable, too sappy, too much of a downer, and still being a blessing to others? I wanted to delete a few posts. Maybe all of them.

 

And yet God gives so much grace. In this space, where I so want to be used for His glory and be a blessing to others, He calls me to be vulnerable and real. It makes me blush and I am humbled . . . I am the one who is blessed. A few emails. A friend bringing over a pot of soup. Flashing texts sent from friends and family, checking in on us. Even my daughters reaching out in forgiveness after I’d snapped too harshly. In my wallowing, whiney moments, grace upon grace. You know who you are. Thank you.

 

But what is the balance? How do you write of your life, your moments, your struggles when it involves others’ lives as well? How are you honest about parenting struggles while honoring details and struggles of just-sprouting little lives placed in your care? How are you honest about marriage battles while respecting your spouse and the sacredness of marriage? And on the flip side, how do you talk about the good gifts of life without sounding like you’re bragging or trying to rub something in someone’s face? This is where honest blogging, and really community in general, gets sticky.

 

Any wisdom anyone?

 

So, dear readers (and Heavenly Father), please forgive me for the meandering through. Thank you for the grace.

 

You shine light.

Sparrow

*Heads-up: This post is a bit long – just a story in the life of a regular-everyday mama like me. I promise it has a point. And I’d love for you to join me . . . learning the art of prayer….*


I’ve called her my grace because she has taught me so much about the One who is grace Himself. When my second daughter came into this world, I had a multitude of requests surrounding her birth. Little Mama-prayers – nothing monumental.

 

Of course, I prayed for a healthy baby. I prayed for other things though too – things important only to me.

Like, please, let my doctor be on call when I go into labor.

Please, let me have good nurses.

Please, please, keep my body whole.

Please, let me get the one larger mommy-baby room on the floor (my husband and I both come from gargantuan families and would have lots of visitors).

 

And there were more. Little, simple prayers that weren’t really huge requests in the grand scheme of things. They would just be, oh, so nice.

 

I woke up in the middle of the night that night and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was having a few contractions. “Hmmm . . . better keep tabs on those,” I thought. But more importantly, I was hungry. I rolled my nine-month-pregnant belly out of bed and padded my way to the kitchen.

 

Granola. I needed granola.

 

So, I ate granola at 3:00 in the morning and watched (what else would a pregnant woman watch in the middle of the night?) The Food Network. Giada De Laurentiis and I traveled all over New England from the comfort of my couch and we ate granola and timed contractions. I have to admit, between the two of us, she wins hands-down for looking amazing at 3 a.m.  😉 Giada didn’t know it, but as she talked of lobster and fish and oysters, I was slowly realizing that this was going to be the big day.

 

The contractions slowly progressed until all of a sudden, they came in a flurry and I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t walk. Perfect! My doctor had told me at my appointment earlier in the week that he was going to be on call just the Saturday of this particular weekend! One prayer answered.

 

We rushed down Georgia and Tennessee mountain roads to get to the hospital.

 

But by the time we reached the bottom of the mountain, all of those frenzied contractions had all but ceased. I was determined that I was not going into that hospital just to be kept in a bed. I wanted to be more than convinced that this was the real thing before being admitted to the hospital.

 

So what did we do?

 

We went to Sonic, of course.

(For those of you not from the Southern U.S., Sonic is a drive-in, fast-food chain where the waitresses still come out to your car on roller skates! They serve a mean Cherry-Limeade over mouth-watering pellet ice. If you’re ever down this way, you gotta try one.)

 

And as we sat waiting for our order, I realized. I could not possibly be in labor. If any other woman was sitting in a Sonic Drive-Thru ordering a morning shake instead of waddling through those hospital doors?

 

I’d pat her sweet, little shoulder and sympathetically say,

“Honey, you need to go on home. This isn’t it.”

And I hated to admit it, but it was true.

 

So after an hour or so of walking at the mall, trying to get something going, we went home and I crawled in the bed. Exhausted.

My husband went to get his hair cut (Yes, I gave him permission – if this was the day, I didn’t want him scaring our new, little one with scraggly hair. <sheepish grin> Oh, okay, you caught me – it was really all about the pictures.). Our oldest was with family. I tried to nap.

 

But I was disappointed. I  had thought this was the day.

 

“Lord? I thought this was it. What’s happening? I’ve done this once before, why is it so different this time? My doctor’s on call. My husband’s off of work already. This would be the perfect day.”

 

The contractions were only every 20 minutes apart and far from noteworthy. The doctor called and told me I could come into the hospital and he could check my progression if I wanted him to. I was tempted. But also terrified. I wanted as natural a birth as possible and didn’t want to get stuck at the hospital, or be pressured to be induced, etc.

 

I told the doctor that I needed to pray and I’d let him know what I decided.

So my husband and I, we cuddled in our bed and prayed . . .

“Lord, you know that we think this would be a perfect day for our daughter’s birth. We pray that you would show us what is going on here. If this is real labor, we just pray that you get things going because the doctor isn’t on call tomorrow. If this isn’t the day, please stop all contractions for now and give us peace in your timing.”

 

We closed our eyes for about five minutes.

And then my eyes flew open to the bedside clock. Hard contraction.

Five minutes.

Contraction.

And another and another.

Within an hour of that prayer, I was in that hospital bed, very close to holding our baby in our arms.

She came.

And she would have come, regardless.

 

But, I had my doctor. I had good nurses. I got that big room. My body did more wonderfully than it did the first time around. And I had a healthy baby girl. And there were other prayers too.

 

Every single prayer? Even the small, it-would-be-so-nice-but-it’s-so-small-I-probably-shouldn’t-even-bother-asking-You requests? He answered, “Yes.” He has said yes to me before. He’s said no to me plenty of times. But surrounding her birth, He showed me more of His loving-kindness. He showed me that He *truly* listens. He showed me that He cares – even about someone like me – that His eye is truly on the sparrow. He showed me that nothing is too small to ask.

 

Let us not be afraid to ask of Him.

 

Am I saying that He will answer every request with a “yes”? No, I’m not saying that. He sometimes has to say no to our requests, but I have no doubt that in those instances, He says yes to something better. I’m also not saying that prayer is only about asking of Him, but that is a subject larger than the scope of this post, or my understanding for that matter.

 

What are your requests? Big or small? If there is something on your heart, would you please give me the honor of taking you before the Father? Because seeing His faithfulness in my life and in the lives of others strengthens and encourages me. If you feel comfortable, feel free to share your request(s) in the comments, so that whatever readers come this way may pray for you as well. If that is too public for you, please feel free to email me at lifeinlimits@gmail.com.  Either way, I promise that you will be taken before the Father. Let us take advantage of this blog community….

 

~Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16~

~Prayer is the easiest and hardest of all things; the simplest and the sublim-est; the weakest and the most powerful; its results lie outside the range of human possibilities-they are limited only by the omnipotence of God. ~E. M. Bounds~