Thursday, November 15, 2012
I realize November has nearly reached her midpoint...I'm just thankful we survived October. We wrapped up a fantastic soccer season. We didn't win a single game, but man, we learned a lot about losing and losing well. It's a bit early for predictions, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Little Man hasn't found his sport. Every afternoon I hear the thud...thud...thud...thud...thud...thud... of the soccer ball against the house. I'm just thankful the wall he kicks against is brick. He broke my rosemary topiary today. With his soccer ball. I'm bummed. Oh well.
The temperatures have dropped 'round here and part in fun and part because well, we just think it's a good thing, we are starting a new tradition and are setting our thermostat at 58 for the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Our first winter married in our own house we'd dug a deep hole financially and were expecting precious Sister and we would do anything to insure I stayed home with her. Part of that desperate commitment meant keeping our thermostat set on 58. It was a cold winter. I remember my father-in-law begging us to turn the heat on, "I have thin blood!" he argued. As my dear husband said to me when I, with child, had pleaded, he said also to his father, "Put on another sweatshirt."
It was worth the sacrifice. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. And so we decided to do it again, this time with the children. For fun. And to remind us of how our Father has provided for us. What a sweet blessing warmth is. And there is something wonderful about bundling up and squishing together to keep warm while we read.
Sister continues to rock her homeschooling. I mean, let's be honest here, there are tears and some days she runs a few laps around the yard...and there is lots of writing the same thing again and again and again, and my heart is so happy and content having her here with me. This is such a blessing. Even when it's hard and I feel like beating my head against a brick wall, I wouldn't trade it.
Meet Mr. Inventive. What? Are those pistachios hard to open? Grab your dad's push up thing-a-ma-jiggers and smash the fool out of the pistachios. Uh-huh. I mean, WHAT was he thinking? (I'm smiling - but my initial reaction was more like, "WHAT are you doing???!!!)
They had a fashion show. And they roped Little Man into it by convincing him he could be a "sports hero." Hence the trophies and baseball.
And the shirt...not sure what's up with the shirt. But the hair, he likes it that way. Truth be told, I do, too.
Sassy doesn't stop with the clothes..."Little Bit, we got some work to do, girl friend!"
And Sister...with her hair like that and glasses on her head, she reminds me of my dear high school friend! You know who you are! (wink)
This is one of those shots you take and look at later and you gasp and wonder if it's a glimpse into what she'll look like in ten years.
The rip stick...he has yet to master it, but try, try again, he does.
I've been running with a group in our 'hood for several months now. It's been so good. Suffice it to say, a January doctor's appointment revealed I'd hit my all time highest weight. Higher than the day I went into labor with Sister. I changed my diet. Not much happened. After our move, thanks to a new friend, I started running and have kept at it. I am really pumped to say I've lost 26 pounds and am keeping it off. Several weeks ago I ran my first 10k. I placed first in my age category. (Of course, it helped to be the only female in my age category! Hee hee!) I'll take what I can get. (wink) The Engineer and the children cheered me on, the girls in their dress up clothes. SO FUN!!! I love my family!
Woop woop. After close to a year of saving...of working her little tail off, including some "babysitting" (read me: I was there to supervise), some deep cleaning, lots of friendship bracelet selling, etc. Sister saved enough money to buy her very own ipod. We are LOVIN' it!!! We've got restrictions set, etc. The Engineer and I have put on only what we want her to have access to. It is wonderful! We are so proud of you, Sister!!! I don't think that Hello Kitty wallet could've held another dollar.
So back to surviving October - I think I literally breathed a sigh of relief when the calendar turned and it was November 1. Last October we celebrated the exciting news of our long prayed for and so deeply longed for Little One. This October seemed especially hard...in that our arms, in that regard, are empty. Four Octobers total, we've had the exciting news of a baby! October seems to be an especially thrilling month in that regard. I was holding my breath. Hoping. And yet, this October, my womb is empty. And our hearts long. Our children's hearts long. And yet, our lovingly and good Heavenly Father is using this in our lives. I'm baffled. We are puzzled. Holding our hands out and at times, when I think about our family, I have to literally physically pry my fingers open and force myself to hold an open hand out to the Lord as I pray "Your will be done." To recognize that He is good and what He does is good. Even when the scars sear my heart.
I look around. I see this world around me and these hurting people. These people who don't know Jesus. Who don't understand - they haven't tasted His goodness and His grace, His mercy. They don't know what it's like to know you are scum. To know you are hopeless. To know you are so bad, so flawed. So sinful. So wanting and loving of sin. To know you have done such awful things, thought such horrible things...that part of you likes being bad - delights in sinning - that even when you want to do good and set out to do good, you can't. You don't. To come face to face with who you really are - like, the stuff no one else knows - and to meet Jesus there...it's incredibly humbling and so freeing. They don't know what it's like to know that He knows and that still, He loves. Still, He put on flesh and came down to us. He humbled Himself. And they live, day in and day out, without hope. Buying stuff, pursuing something else to fill that void...that void that only He can consume.
And in light of that, I'm like, shouldn't I let this pain go? This shouldn't be such a big deal. I have this eternal hope. And then I'm slapped across the face with the hilarity of what I've been thinking...that it shouldn't be such a big deal. Because it IS a big deal. Our babe didn't accidentally die. God wasn't caught off guard. He sovereignly purposed our Little One's beginning and ending. And He is good. And He has shown me more of Himself through this. He scours my heart. My soul. He refines me through the pain. This is part of my Gospel story. And He is good. And I pray that makes the Gospel more authentic to the friend without hope. I hope and pray that because of my pain, I can reach out to the one hurting and feeling the pain is purposeless. To the one buying and going and doing and smiling that smile, behind which, there is a deeply wounded and grieving heart without hope.
Because, sweet friends, it hurts. Life hurts. And there is Hope. The Gospel is messy. And it is real. And it changes people. It changed me. It's not for perfect people. It's for messed up, screwed up, hopeless punks. It's not for the well. It's for the sick. It's for you. It's for me. The Gospel redeems us. Jesus redeems us.
We recently spent a weekend with college friends and while away, we got to hear our college RUF Minister preach. It was precious to sit under his teaching now, with nearly eleven years of marriage and walking with Jesus since our last encounter. We exchanged hellos after the service. I hugged him and his wife and marveled at how grown their children are and they marveled at ours. But, what I really wanted to say, to shout - I wanted to grab them by the shoulders and say, "The Gospel is real! I'm not the same. God has done so much in my life. I have such a long way to go, but oh, He has shown me so much of my sin and the futility of my thinking, of my choices, of my ways - and I am not the same. WE are not the same. He is changing us!!!" But I didn't. I keep thinking I need to write them. I want to write them.
So anyway, October, you were a hard month. I'm glad you're over.
Before I move on entirely, Mama had a birthday in October! My sisters and I spent a weekend with her. It's always so fun to get away - just the girls. Well, The Engineer and children traveled with me, but stayed with The Engineer's parents. Oh the drive. OH. The drive.
We had Warrior with us. The drive is long anyway, add in miles and miles of stand still, bumper to bumper traffic...it was late. Little Man had been whimpering, complaining of a stomach ache. We finally pulled into a gas station. The Engineer sets the pump on auto and takes Sister and the dog over to a grassy area while Little Man searches for his shoes. It's a busy area. Little Bit has been dead to the world snoozing. We'd already stopped twice, I think, because she thought she needed to go. So I'm in the front seat just hanging while all this is going on. Suddenly Little Bit wakes up and starts screaming. She climbs out of her seat, turns to face it and grabs both armrests and...uh huh...starts grunting with that look on her face.
I scream, "What are you doing?! Are you going???!!!"
Still, with that look on her face and her teeth gritted, she nods. I beg her to stop. I scream at her to stop. I jump out of the car, thankful her bag is at hand, grab pajamas and a pull up and grab her. I'm carrying her so her little fanny is sticking way out...and something is sticking way out of her fanny. She's wearing leggings, so it's all quite obvious. I yell across the parking lot to The Engineer and I literally run for the bathroom. It's a one man deal. Her outer clothes are salvageable, but the undergarment, I just chunk it. Here's my baby, stripped to nothing on a public toilet, not even sitting on a seat protector. She's got both hands on either side of the pot. And girl friend has a tummy ache. And while she's sitttin, her fingers, without her thinking, go straight into her mouth.
She's taking her sweet time and while she's taking her sweet time, the line outside the door is growing. Someone knocks. "Just a minute." So after like, five minutes, I stick my head out and there are about eight college kids. "My three year old has a stomach ache. I'm so sorry. We will be out as quickly as we can." They were kind. Five more minutes and I hear, "Well, the mom is in there with a sick three year old and the dad is in this one with another sick kid."
We finally made it out, after touching every surface of that public bathroom, including standing barefoot on the floor. The line had grown longer. And much to my surprise, they were all - every one of them - sweet and kind to us. They smiled and nodded in understanding. Say what??? That was the grace of God.
So anyway, it was a long trip.
And we gave Warrior away (with full disclosure!). It's a long story. In short, since our move, he'd snapped at Little Bit, leaving bruises on her arm, and had made a regular habit of growling at the children - all the time. And sometimes at me. I worked with a trainer. We made changes at home. We learned about pack mentality. Funny how the tables turned (remember these posts?-whitewashed tombs and then part II). It's like I finally broke, gave in, came to terms with the fact that he would be a part of the next ten to fifteen years of my life - of raising our children. I had accepted it. And was trying to make the best of it. And The Engineer, who I'd fought every step of the way, He decided it was time. The risk to the children wasn't worth it. And he made the call. We all cried. It was bittersweet. I miss the idea of Warrior, but oh my, life is much simpler now. I worried Sister would take forever getting over him, but she hasn't.
Goodness. Sin comes from within. Y'all, we should've named that dog "Sanctifier." He brought out more sin in my heart! It was bad. Like, we spent time in counseling over my anger towards The Engineer about that dog. For a long time I couldn't seem to do anything without cussing my husband under my breath. It was nasty! We decided we both failed HUGE in the whole thing. Lots of lessons learned. Chapter closed. We're still sad. 'Nough said.
So...I've already shared about nearly setting the oven on fire.
I'm thankful to be married to a genius. I say, "I have an idea. Let's just cut this chunk of cabinets out and slide a range in there."
He's like, "Okay." And he gets his saw, etc. and he does it. He rocks my face off.
Beneath our house is a terrible maze of old and older duct work. There's decent space down there (for a crawl space), but not with the way things are right now. So, when the plumber came to run the gas line for the stove, I volunteered Little Man for any tight crevices. Mr. Plumber accidentally dropped the end cap of the gas line on the wrong side of the duct work and ended up needing Little Man. He was only too happy to help.
After suiting up to crawl under the house he got a HUGE grin - like - ear to ear grin on his face and said, "Mama, God really does have a plan for my life."
I nearly burst into tears. "Yes Little Man. God does indeed have a wonderful plan for your life."
He executed Mr. Plumber's request with perfect precision, following instructions exactly and spent the rest of the afternoon as a "Plumber's Assistant." Prior to leaving, Mr. Plumber paid Little Man two dollars and shook his hand. I think it made Little Man's month.
Hee hee. I am giddy with delight. Cooking on this new baby - I've made eight loaves of bread - every one has turned out PERFECTLY. I just can't express the thrill and blessing this is. The Engineer came home to that first loaf cooling and smiled. I love to love my family with food. There is nothing like the smell of soup cooking all day...of bread baking...the crackle of eggs frying. Thank You, Lord for this new range!!!
And last - I'm finally (I think) learning something so basic. So "duh." So - "I've known this, what's my deal?" Have you figured out - because it's just now clicking with me - that your (my) attitude sets the tone for EVERYONE ELSE'S ATTITUDE IN THE HOUSE???
Because I'm so dense it's just now clicking. If I will just choose ('cause it doesn't usually just happen) to be happy - it makes all the difference in the world. My kids are happier. They snap out of their funky moods quicker. I am the one to set the tone.
And guess what? I don't have to ride their emotional roller coaster. You don't have to ride your kids emotional roller coasters! Just - get off! (Someone told me that once and it's so true.) And so these last few days, when mine have started on that wild ride that drives me INSANE, I'm reminding myself I don't have to ride. To stay on the ground. It's really quite freeing.
It's taken us quite a while to catch up. Perhaps I won't be such a stranger in the future. Regardless, I've missed you and I'm delighted you stuck with me. (big smile)
Happy Friday, y'all!