To the Mom on the Outside

Happy Mother’s Day, Everyone!!!

This post has been marinating for a couple of weeks, so I’m hoping that means it’s a good one!

How many of you have felt like you’re on the outside looking in? How many of you just literally raised your hands?? You’re my kind of people!!

It’s hard being on the outside. I’m a very extroverted person, so I really don’t feel like I’m on the outside that much, but when I do it’s overwhelming. Just a short while ago I was in a situation that I felt on the outside of a strong clique for many days in a row. I finally broke down a few days in, and literally found myself crying quietly in a secret place. Well, not extremely secret because my husband found me.

It’s so lonely on the outside, and that feeling is only aggravated when you try harder to get on the inside. But what is really happening? Is being on the outside my fault? Am I to blame when a group of people don’t fully accept me?

If you don’t hear a resounding, No, in your mind then this post is for you.

The past couple of days I have been in “Christian boot camp” we’ve jokingly termed it. We wake up and get started at 9am and go,go,go until 11pm, or later. I was worried about coming alone. You see it’s in Denver, Colorado, which is a big city, obviously, and I’m a small town girl. The crowds and traffic terrify me a bit. Also I have been to conferences alone before, and usually you just feel out of the loop since you don’t have your own “tribe” with you.

This time was completely different! The first night was a little awkward, but the lady in front of me and started talking about our lives and where we came from and why. Then the next day I met Deanna and very quickly we felt like sisters. The lady and her husband behind me kept asking to hold my infant son for me. The woman and her husband in front had a word for me and I was able to pray for healing for him. Even driving through the parking lot there’s so much peace it didn’t matter that I had to go further and further out. The overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by family made me happy that I could make a small sacrifice so others could get inside quicker.

I’m probably sounding like a maniac to some of you, but what I’m trying to get at is this. In Gods Kingdom no one is on the outside! We’re all family! We are made to love on each other!

So I hope that everyday I can make people around me feel like those “strangers” at this conference made me feel. Like a valuable part of an ever expanding family! We even all burst into tears when the blind man behind us was completely healed! I’m in tears now. I probably won’t see that man again until heaven and I couldn’t tell you his name! But he’s my brother, and I rejoice with him! Nobody should ever feel outside of the loop, just as much as you couldn’t make your hand or foot feel like it’s not an important part of your body!! If you’ve never read Corinthians, the correlation won’t make much sense to you, sorry. Just go look it up.

Motherhood Changes You

Motherhood changes you. At least it should.

For me, I was only 22 when I took my first pregnancy test. I took it just to rule pregnancy out, not because I actually thought I was pregnant. I’d only been married 3 months! My husband and I were saving up money to go live in India and do missionary work for however long we could get away with. As soon as that strip turned pink all of that got flushed down the toilet. Sure, at first I was upset, but the look on my husbands face changed my mind. He was happy. Pleasantly surprised is another way to describe it.

That day my life changed. Suddenly my body was no longer just mine. I shared it with this tiny human, and every choice I made affected us both. What I ate, when I slept, and the stress I allowed myself to feel.

Now a little over eight years later, I’m a completely different person. My life doesn’t revolve around my kids necessarily, but they definitely impact most decisions right now. Last night I laid in bed wondering if I should go along with the plans I made today or stay home so I could let my youngest lay around half naked to dry out his diaper rash.

What’s my point? Your life should change a bit when you become a mother. I’m not saying stop chasing dreams and goals and just stay home waiting on your kid hand and foot. They need to see you living life so they know how to live life when they’re older. But living like a college student on spring break would be the opposite end of that spectrum. I’m not a person to judge how someone else lives their life, but you don’t have your kids with you for very long, just live a life that’s best for them, too, please.

Let Me Hear You Sing

My almost three year old is in the amazing phase where she makes up songs constantly. Sometimes they’re derived from real songs, like the ABCs or Jesus Loves Me, but more often then not they are completely from her imagination. As a musical person I love love love this stage, and wish they would never outgrow it. Lately, she’s been singing the same nonsense song, “Na ma him a day, na ma him a day.” I have no idea what it means, but it has become so near and dear to my heart! It’s also so very catchy, I find myself singing it like a silly advertising jingle.

My older daughter is 5 now and when she was in that stage she would sing about whatever came into her head, or what she was feeling in the moment. I always found myself hanging on every word, desperate to know more about her and what went through her head.

Not all of us have the talent of writing and composing beautiful songs that worship teams across the US would want to sing, but we all have the ability to string along what’s in our hearts and just sing. It might not rhyme or have a catchy beat, but when we’re singing for our Heavenly Father, I believe He smiles and listens closely, desperately wanting to know more about what’s in our hearts!

The Bluff

One of my children’s favorite books is The Gruffalo. In case you haven’t read it, it is a rhyme of a mouse walking through a deep, dark forest. Along the way he meets a fox, an owl and a snake. All natural predators, in case you didn’t pick that up. They each try to trick him into sharing a meal with them, where obviously he will become the meal. He in turn replies that he cannot come to their place to eat because he’s meeting a “gruffalo.” They ask him what a gruffalo is and he feeds them whatever features he thinks will scare them the most. If you have read this story to your kids, I’m sure you can hear it in your head. “His eyes are red his tongue is black, he has purple prickles all down his back.” They suddenly get scared and leave the mouse alone. He chuckles and moves on laughing that they fell for his trick. Ultimately, he runs into this fabled creature, and the gruffalo looks at the small mouse and comes right out to say he’s going to eat him, no tricks. The mouse replies that the gruffalo should be afraid of him because he, the mouse, is the scariest creature in the wood. The gruffalo scoffs. The mouse then convinces the gruffalo to follow him through the forest and see what happens. As they walk they run into the snake, owl, and fox again the animals run away in fear. The gruffalo believes they are running away from the mouse and ends up running away in fear as well.

How often the Devil walks through the world tricking people into thinking he’s the scariest creature in the universe. We run in fear, shake in our boots, and give in to his temptations thinking we aren’t powerful enough to defeat him. He’s like the stooge in an old movie with his hand in his pocket pretending to point a gun, when in reality it’s just his finger. We as children of the most high God have high powered assault rifles and we lay down our weapon in front of him. That’s ridiculous! The only power he has is the trickery. Call him on his bluff. He can make it hard on you, yes! He can try messing with your thoughts and your motivation, but greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

The “Mom Ringer”

This last 36 hours I have been through the “mom ringer.” No, I don’t mean on the phone, Santa Baby. A ringer is something used in hand washing clothes. Instead of a spin cycle on your machine, it would squeeze (or ring) the item of clothing so tightly as it rolled through that any excess water would be rung out. Therefore, making the clothing easier to hang dry.

My 2 year old caught a bad case of croup. She started with just a sore throat, and I live in a high, dry elevation, so I simply sloughed it off and put a humidifier in her room that night. She woke up at 1 am with what they term “stridor.” Which is the most raspy, raggedy breathing I’ve ever heard. I spent the rest of the night on the floor beside her bed, to comfort her when it became to hard to breathe. I described it as “horrific” to a friend of mine as I cancelled plans the next morning. Little did I know that horrific hadn’t even begun. The day was tough, I tried all the home remedies I could find on the internet and through friends. Moist air, hot showers, Colloidal silver, Lavender essential oil, Elderberry syrup, Honey, cough drops, and even Vicks Vaporub. All these things would give a few moments of easier breathing, but nothing seemed to make it get better. I did not look forward to another night on her floor, so I brought her in bed with me that night. My husband and I have a king-sized bed, but she was so restless she literally flipped and flopped all over it. By 11 pm she had only sat still for maybe 20 minutes, and most of that was only to watch an episode of “The Octonauts” on my IPad.

As I held my baby struggling to breath, I kept searching on my phone for more details to let me know what I should be doing. Everything I had read said that croup is common and easily taken care of at home and only in extreme cases does the child need to go into the hospital, but I couldn’t find anything on what “extreme cases” would look like. I prayed and begged God to please help her get better so we could just both sleep. Finally, I couldn’t watch her suffer any more. Around 12:30 am I called the emergency hotline and explained what was happening. The nurse on the other end told me croup was going around and if she was having such a hard time breathing I should bring her in. So I called my husband home from work and packed up for the emergency room.

When we got there, Praise the Lord, we were taken back right away. They went to work on her so quickly I think she was almost in shock. She sat so still, so stoic, and wide-eyed as they strapped blood pressure cuffs and heart monitors and oxygen lines on her. She opened her mouth obediently when the shoved a nebulizer in her face. Finally her breathing turn from the “see-saw” to just a ragged shudder again. Then they put an IV in. Since her tiny arm and blood vessels are no match for large needles, it took them a couple of tries and I held her as she screamed out in fear and pain. I held her pink stuffed bunny as they took X-rays of her chest. I nodded and tried to wrap my head around all the medical jargon as they explained to me each step and each medicine and asked questions about her symptoms and when they started.

Finally things slowed down enough that I was able to call my husband and update him on the details of what was happening. We decided that he would come and switch out with me so he could deal with the doctors and decision making.

It was painful leaving my tiny baby lying there in that big hospital bed. I knew she was in good hands and that I was too drained to be of any use to her anymore. When I got home I needed to go feel all my other children’s chests. I needed to know they were breathing okay. I needed to know those ragged gasps I was hearing was only in my head. I stood and stared at the large bed with the heap of covers and pillows where my poor daughter was just thrashing around struggling for a basic necessity.

My story has a happy ending. My daughter recovered and came home from the hospital. My older daughter, Capri, has even been jealous of her new stuffed animals and stickers and the fire truck nebulizer Ella gets to use. She has whined several times saying she wishes she was sick, too. My oldest son, Colton, and I have a different opinion. When I asked him what he was going to write about in his school journal, he said something along the lines of, “Not everything that happened with Ella. I don’t want to remember all of this.” “You and me both, Bug,” I replied squeezing his shoulder.

Yet, here I am writing about it. Why? To share the moral of my story. The ringer is used to get rid of the excess. I had a lot of excess I had been worried about in my day to day. “When will Ella finally get the hang of potty training?” “When will we get the driveway heated?” “What will it be like when Reed changes jobs?” “When will I reach my ideal weight?” “When will we finally have our house remodel finished?” On and on and on.

Last Sunday a fellow pastor preached about living 24 hours at a time. Christ told us to let the things of tomorrow take care of themselves. I thought, “Huh, I pretty much do that already.” Nope! I do not!

When your busy routine comes to a screeching halt because you’re sitting on the floor holding a sick baby, you realize that you haven’t thanked God for your child’s good health. That you’ve been taking all the daily provisions for granted.

I can’t say that I’ll remember this lesson every day, but I can tell you when I do think about “that time when Ella had the croup” I will remember to thank God for all the little daily things He does for me.

The Best Friend You’ve Ever Had

Have you ever had a best friend? I mean a real, true, I-would-die-for-you best friend? As an adult it either gets easier to have a best friend or harder. I was one of those kids who had at least 5 “best friends” at a time. We moved every couple of years, however, so the next place I would quickly lose touch with these best friends. Why? Because, we never talked. Writing letters was difficult and this was before every 10 year old had a cellphone. It’s hard to know your best friend’s heart if you never talk to each other, and it’s hard to be truly best friends if you don’t know each other’s heart.

This week I had a couple of conversations with friends about their relationship (read: friendship) with God. I asked them how it was going, and they each answered, “Good.” This being their standard answer every time I’ve asked before, I felt the urge to delve deeper. “How’s your prayer life?” I asked. Blank stares. A couple of them had to think about it, and answered with, “Oh, I pray at…” and listed a specific time they pray each day. At least one of them said she only ever prays when it’s her turn to pray over a meal at home. I’m not knocking on these friends. I could talk about how important prayer is until I’m blue in the face (which I probably have). But its definitely ‘Better caught than taught.’

Let’s go back to the best friend conversation. Can you be best friends with someone if you never talk to them? Simple answer, No. I know, I know, when you see them again after a couple of years everything falls back into place and it’s like no time has passed at all. But, you know what? That’s what I call compatibility, not best friendship. Best friends are in your business. Best friends get upset with you when they find out you were struggling with something and didn’t tell them about it.

God wants to be your best friend. Yes, He’s a supreme, majestic, supernatural being, but underneath it all, He loves you more than everything else. Like the shepherd looking for a lost sheep, a woman looking for her lost treasure, and a father watching out for his lost son; He longs for you. He wants to hear about your joys and your sorrows. He wants you to ask Him for help. I always think about watching my two year old trying to put on her jacket when I picture God watching us go through life. I stand there frozen, unable to move on thinking, “Please! Please, ask me for my help!!” How often God must feel this way.

What if someone you love never talked to you. That child that thinks you’re old and boring, who comes home from school and heads straight to their bedroom instead of telling you about their day. Doesn’t God already know about our day? Yes! Of course, but I bet you could guess how your teen’s day at school probably went, but you want them to tell you, still, right?

What am I getting at? Pray!!! Talk to God!! He longs to talk to you! He’s longing to give you peace about the tough things in life. He’s longing to hear how much joy you got from a flower or sunset He created for you. He’s longing to show off His miraculous power and gift you small things you want and need. He’s a good, good father and the best friend you could ever have! But it’s really impossible to be best friends with someone when you don’t know their heart. Do you know God’s heart? Ask Him? It’ll take some practice to listen for His voice, but He’s longing for you to try.

A Mother’s Precious Time

How much time do you spend with your children? Recently I flippantly shared a meme on my Facebook page (which I honestly never do) that sparked that question in a group of my mom friends.

The meme’s point was that homeschool moms spend 5 times as much time with their kids than the average American mom. I saw it and I thought it would help explain my occasional need of some space from my kids, but realized afterward it was probably a mean poke to those moms who do not homeschool.

I’m just going to take a moment to say here, that homeschooling is simply one option among many to educate and bring up your children. There is nothing, I emphasize absolutely nothing, wrong with not homeschooling. My belief is that we all homeschool our children, some of us just do it full time. But, just because you send your kids to school does not make you any less interested in what or how they’re learning. Anyway, back to my point…

Sure, I spend every waking, and sometimes non-waking moment with my children. I count this to be a blessing and a privilege most days, but there are days it feels more like a prison sentence. But how much time do I actually SPEND with them? Sure, we’re in the same room breathing the same air. But I know that a whole day can be spent this way without ever having a true connection and without putting any effort into a relationship. In fact, some days are more detrimental to our relationship than helpful. So when those days happen does that 16 hour day I spent with my kid make me a better or worse mom than the mom who only got to see her precious child for 2 or 3 hours and spent most of it talking about their day and intentionally connecting? You tell me!

If anything the pure overflow of time I get to, I repeat “get to!”, spend with my children numbs me to the importance and preciousness of every second.

I firmly believe that every mom is striving to do her absolute best! It’s something that just clicks inside the first time you see the pregnancy test, ultrasound photo, or held your baby close to your chest. Your life is no longer just about you anymore.

No matter how many hours you spend in the same space as your kid, just make it count!