Friday, December 25, 2009

It's Christmas Morning!

Merry Christmas!!!

It's almost 7:30 a.m., and for some unknown and blessed reason, my whole family is still "nestled, all tucked in their beds".

Within the next half hour, I imagine everything will get pretty noisy and exciting around here.

So, let me take this little moment to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

May today's festivities serve to draw you (and all of us) closer to the one who's birth we're celebrating!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dear Santa, You're Fired...

Now before you accuse me of being a Scrooge, just hear me out.

I have nothing again the jolly messenger of cheer and his herd of reindeer. I'm just convinced that this Christmas, my "Wish List" is above Santa's pay grade.

For starters, I would like to make a few returns. Like my dad's recent diagnosis of Amyloidosis (really bad blood disease). Oh, and his subsequent diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma (really, really bad cancer along with really bad blood disease). No thank you, we're not interested.

I'd like to ask for Miss M to be cured of her RSV,
my friend to see justice revealed in her difficult situation,
my sister to have her house, family & normal life back,
my 8-yr old neighbor to not have to spend part of his holiday in the hospital for chermotherapy,
and my brother-in-law's family to get everything back that they lost in their house fire.

You see, I think I've realized that health, wealth, security and material possessions can be taken from us in an instant. And no wish list or well-meaning fat guy with a fluffy white beard can really bring me what I most desire this year.

And while I really would take any of the things on my list, I find my ONLY comfort in knowing that my requests have not been whispered into the ear of my local mall's Santa Claus.

They've been presented to the ultimate Giver of all Good Things. And in His perfect wisdom, He will provide whatever He knows I need most this year.

Now if Santa insists on bringing something down the chimney for me, a pair of pearl earrings wouldn't take much room on the sleigh.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

Sometimes I let Drew use my camera. I love to scroll through the pictures and catch a glimpse of what the world looks like through his four-year old eyes.

Yesterday, though, I was horrified at the view my son is subjected to lately. Sorting through the digital files, I came across an image that filled the little screen on my camera.

My rear end... as seen by Drew. My "just-had-a-baby" rear end.

And it wasn't pretty at all.
Wanna see?

















Are you kidding me!!!??? Did you think I'd actually post that picture on my BLOG!!!!???

Well, I don't want to leave you without showing you something that should make you smile. And with a crew like this to keep up with this Christmas season, I should burn a few calories off that backside in no time!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Day of Rest

I am beginning to wonder what, exactly, it might take to slow my four year old down. Don't get me wrong, I don't want him to experience any kind of physical injury or illness.

But lately it seems like the normal ailments don't slow him down even a little bit. Gone are the days when a runny nose equaled snuggle time on the couch. I've said good-bye to the memories of a child finding comfortable rest in my arms.

Now, he orders up a dose of Tylenol and is on his way.

Today, I kept him home from school when his morning started with a bout of tummy trouble. I fed him a popsicle for breakfast and spread his blanket and favorite pillow across the living room couch. Over the course of the next hour, he let the popsicle melt on the coffee table while he practiced his somersaults over the couch arms and built forts with the pillow and blanket.

Then, he was off to the backyard for some swinging and climbing. Not long after that, I found myself holding him up while he attempted to roller blade down the driveway.

After 2 laps around the block (first time on the bike and second time on the big wheel), I figured he'd be tired enough for a little nap. I figured wrong.

Feeling a little restless myself, we buckled up and headed for the mall. On the way home, he lost 6 consecutive rounds of the "Quiet Game" but beat my socks off at the "Loudest of All" game.

Now, he's chasing a dog around the living room.
And daddy's just walked through the door.
Which means I may just survive this day of rest after all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Feel Like Gumby tonight...


S T R E T C H E D

Pulled between life's highs
and lows.

Praising God for the blessings
and
Trusting Him for the blows.

It's ok. At least green's a good color for me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Parkour!

It's the latest, greatest, up-and-coming fitness craze. And therefore, my husband is TOTALLY obsessed with Parkour these days.

Have you heard of it?

Let me try to describe it to you, using my dear friends at Wikipedia:

PARKOUR
"(English: the art of moving) is a non competitive physical discipline of French origin in which participants run along a route, attempting to negotiate obstacles in the most efficient way possible, as if moving in an emergency situation, using skills such as jumping and climbing, or the more specific parkour moves. The object is to get from one place to another using only the human body and the objects in the environment."

Need a visual? Here's the cast of The Office with a little Parkour fun for you:


So... that's what my husband is now going to take on to keep his P90X-completed physique in tip-top shape. I have already seen him run up a tree trunk (I'm dead serious), and a climbing rope is on his Christmas list.

I can honestly tell you that I do not understand this exercise trend at all. But I did have a moment of clarity about it all recently.

Drew and I were on a walk around the block, and I took notice that my four-year old son was parkour-ing (is that a word?) without even realizing it. Every obstacle in his path became an opportunity. Rock? Jump over it. Garden wall? Climb on top of it. Lawn? Do somersaults across it.

That's when it hit me. My husband doesn't want to try a new fitness craze at all. He just wants to recapture the instinctive nature he's had for the past thirty years.

And, in the immortal words of Jim Halpert, "If point A is delusion, and point B is the hospital", then my dear, sweet parkour practioner is headed in the right direction!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Heigh ho, Heigh Ho

It's back to work I go!

After almost six weeks "off", I walked into work this morning more like it was the first day of first grade!

I was so excited to have an excuse to dress up, wear nice shoes, apply some make up and engage in adult conversations that had nothing to do with the consistency of my child's last poopy diaper.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to work on a part time basis, and to have my dad as my boss. It's a great situation, and it works so well for our family.

(It also eases my conscience to receive multiple phone calls from Grandma, thanking me for the opportunity to rock a baby all morning!)

As I sit here at my "other" job, though, I have to tell you how grateful I am for the chance to wear sweatpants & flip flops, wash off the make-up, and watch "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" with my son.

While my daughter works on making a poopy diaper.

Guess that's my cue...
Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holidays

With a new baby, followed quickly by three consecutive holidays, I haven't had much time for blogging these days.

Hoping that all changes soon, but I wouldn't trade these precious moments with my kids for the world...

Here's what we've been up to (and here's hoping I find a few moments for more updates soon!)...

Miss M turns 1 month old and we pose her with her teddy bear for a picture. I'm hoping to continue this type of photo once a month to watch her growth. You know, 'cause she seems to love it so much...


Drew shows off the crafts he made at "Turkey School". A friend of mine invited us over on one of our vacation days from school to do crafts, read Thanksgiving stories, and enjoy some fun times!


We also decided to pay a visit to Santa. Here are a few shots after we got home.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Divine (Little) Miss M

At four weeks old, Miss M has decided that she would prefer to be held. Always.

This explains why she had lasagna in her hair yesterday and white cheddar popcorn in the folds of her outfit today.

And why my blog posts have recently been typed with only one hand.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Do I Have a Big Shoe Print On My Rear End?

Because today kicked my butt. Handily.

It all started when my precious, delightful, "good-sleeper" newborn decided that she would like some girl time. From 3am to 6am. She wasn't fussy. She wasn't hungry. She was just awake. Wide awake. And nothing I did convinced her that it was time to sleep.

When she finally dozed off at 5:55 am, I sighed, knowing that my alarm was set to wake me in a mere 20 minutes.

I hit the snooze button until 7 am, so the day started about an hour behind schedule.

I gently nudged my son awake, happy that we wouldn't have to fight about clothes. I knew today would be busy, so we had chosen his clothes the night before. Unfortunately, when Drew woke up, he had a change of heart about his wardrobe.

So, instead of the adorable red Nike shorts and matching layered t-shirts, he chose to wear a pair of bright green shorts with the shirt my brother brought back from his wedding in Jamaica. I admit, I had a hard time obeying the shirt's message to "Smile, Mon!"

Because of our late night party, Miss M had to be loaded into the car still asleep in her jammies as we headed off to preschool. When she woke up, screaming for her breakfast, I had to pull out of carline and into a parking space. We walked Drew into his class and came back to the car.

That's when I realized that I'd lost my cell phone. After 20 minutes of searching and several of my preschool mom friends calling my phone over and over while listening for the ring, I found the phone and was finally off to our big outing of the day...

BIBLE STUDY!!! I was so excited to return to my ladies' Bible Study this morning for the first time with my daughter. And although I was exhausted from a rough morning with little sleep, I had a wonderful time catching up with friends and spending some precious time in praise and worship.

After Bible Study was over, I walked out to my car and noticed that I'd missed 5 phone calls and 2 text messages. With an hour to spare before I had to pick up Drew from school, I made my way home to return the phone calls and check emails.

Before I knew it, the time had come to go pick up the boy.

That is when I realized that I'd lost my cell phone.
Again.

A frantic search turned up nothing. I left without it and picked my son up from school. I made it with not even a minute to spare before I was officially "late". The last mom (and aunt, I was picking up my nephew, too) to pull through, I was informed by both boys that I was late and that they were the last kids to be picked up. As I apologized, my son looked at the preschool director sympathetically and said to her, "OK, Now you can go home, too!"

Sigh...

We arrived home with a mission in mind. FIND THAT PHONE!! Only after cleaning out my entire car, dumping the diaper bag, employing the help of my sister and remembering that the phone was on vibrate... we finally found it.

At the bottom of the big black trash can in the garage. I have no explanation for that.

I'm happy to report that I made it to the end of the day without losing the phone (again) or any of my children.

My mind? Well, that's another story...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Everything Except THESE

There's a little box sitting on his bookshelf. It's for his spare change. He's helping raise money to build a brand new playground. An INSIDE playground!

Oh, and there's a brand new preschool building that needs to be built around that inside playground.

He's very excited to be a part of what God's doing at his church.

So, we find a big pile of change and I tell him that he can put it in his box. You know, for the big, new INSIDE playground. He's ecstatic. And he sets about to put the money in the receptacle.

But then he finds a big, shiny, silver dollar. He wants to keep that one. After all, it's big and shiny, and there are lots of other coins that can go in the box.

And, would you look at that!?? Another big shiny coin. This one's copper, and it's from another country, so that really wouldn't be helpful to build the new playground anyway.

A third, large coin is found. This is so much fun for him!! He grips his three coins tightly in his little fists.

And all of a sudden, it's occurring to me that the project has become more about what he wants to keep than what he's been blessed with to give.

And I start wondering why God speaks His loudest to me through my four-year old.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cleaning Products.. the sequel

I don't know why this seemed so funny to me.

But after posting about our blessed mess yesterday, I just had to share what happened when my hubby came home.

The first thing he noticed was a bit of sticky residue on the floor below the kitchen counter. I grimaced as I watched him get down on his hands and knees to clean up the portion of spilled milk that I apparently missed.

He then went into the bedroom to say hello to our son (I'd banished Drew to my room to watch cartoons so I could have a moment of peace... your "tsk..tsk...bad parent comments can commence now!). He emerged, announcing that the boy had eaten something and now there were apparently crumbs all over the bed.

After dinner, my dear, patient hubby stepped out onto the porch to let the dog out. He returned carrying a cereal bowl and wearing a scowl. I remembered pouring cereal in that bowl several days earlier for my son, so I didn't even have to ask. What he'd discovered inside is better left to the imagination (but if you ever need a great science experiment, go ahead and mix Apple Jacks with milk and let the mixture sit in 80 degree temperatures for 2-3 days).

I just had to laugh as he wondered aloud how things can get so messy in the course of a day. And I realized that I had two options.

First, I could go on strike for a day and let him see just how disgusting things can get around here.

Or Second, I could become a little bit more vigilant about keeping the house in order.

Oh, or THIRD... I could start shoving everything into closets and under beds before he gets home to provide a illusion of order. That should work for a few days.

After that, the curdling milk would probably start to smell...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cleaning Products

I registered for diapers and Dreft, trying to be a little more practical this time around. I included pacifiers, bottles, and nipple cream, too. No silly toys, no unnecessary clothing items, no blankets, diaper bags, books, or Baby Einstein DVDs this time around. I thought I was the epitome of rational forward-thinking new moms.

I had no clue, however, what I would really need as a parent of a four-year old and a two-week old.

Cleaning Products.
And lots of them.

Just today, I have:
dug my car keys out of salad dressing,
changed my spit-up-on clothes three times,
swept Doritos out of the crevices of the back seat,
cleaned up a glassful of cranberry juice from the coffee table,
soaked up the remnants of said cranberry juice from rug below the coffee table,
changed my daughter's spit-up-on clothes twice,
changed her dirty diapers at least five times,
rubbed lollipop residue off my son's forehead,
soaked eight tupperware containers in dish-washing detergent,
started two loads of laundry,
and mopped up 3 ounces of spilled breastmilk from the floor
(which, in a cliche' way, kinda made me want to cry).

I am out of windex, laundry detergent and lysol.

I am not yet out of patience, though. Because one sleepy accidental smile from my princess and one cuddle from my big boy are all it takes to remind me that I'm blessed beyond the mess.

I really do need to get the hubby to pick up some windex on his way home tonight, though!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

And Now I Know What a "10" Feels Like

When you're in the hospital, the nurses like to keep tabs on your level of pain or discomfort. They use the universal, "On a scale of 1 to 10... 10 being the worst", method of documenting a patient's pain.

Ten days ago, I finally learned what a "10" really feels like. For reasons still unknown, my beloved, coveted, twice-administered epidural failed to work.

Well, I take that back. It worked for the first several hours and only stopped providing pain relief when I got to eight cm.

Otherwise known as the really hard and painful part.

I can honestly tell you that I have never, EVER experienced that level of pain in my entire life. The sensations that accompany an unmedicated labor and delivery are almost too intense to put into words. And because my epidural worked so flawlessly with my son's delivery, I was completely unprepared for the experience.

No breathing methods to fall back on, no coaching skills for my hubby to recall. Just a lot of praying, panicking and pushing.

I wanted to scream, "TEN! It's a TEN!"

For the first time in my life, I understood the full measure of pain that my body could tolerate.

And then...

It was gone. And there she was - a perfect eight-pound little girl. Screaming, wiggling, wonderfully healthy. So tiny, so beautiful.

The nurses got busy working on her, cleaning her up, discussing numbers and ratings that I am not qualified to understand. I overheard her APGAR scores being discussed from across the room at one point.

"Eight and Nine" they said.

But I wanted to shout, "TEN! She's a TEN!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sshhhhh.......

Please don't wake me up.

I'm having the most beautiful dream...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dear Hubby,

In the next 48 hours, we will be spending some close, personal time together.

And while I consider you one of the smartest, most thoughtful of husbands, I feel like I need to take a moment to give you the following pointers on how the next few days need to go down.

The labor & delivery room we'll be checking in to is so very nice. It's spacious and clean, and it has a big television and DVD player for our enjoyment.

Unfortunately, the DVD player is incompatible with movies that star any of the following actors: Steven Segal, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, or any of the last seven guys who've played James Bond.

In addition, I want to give you a heads up that you will, at no time, have charge over the remote control for the t.v. Unfortunately, the risk is just too high that you may stumble upon programming that features Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly. New studies have shown a direct correlation between post-partum insanity and political talk shows, and that's just not a risk I'll be willing to take. You know, for the sake of our family.

You'll be pleased to know that the hospital provides free wi-fi for your computer. So feel free to bring the laptop with you for entertainment. I did read somewhere that fantasty football sites are unavailable while women are laboring. So sorry.

I've taken the liberty of loading our ipod with a bunch of new songs that I think you'll enjoy. If for some reason, however, you find that several of your old favorites (like all those songs they play at football games to hype everyone up) have gone missing, I assure you that I know nothing about that. Believe me, though... you'll find Fernando Ortega's soothing rendition of "Be Thou My Vision" just as thrilling as the Black-Eyed Peas promise that "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good, Good Night!"

Throughout the course of the night, I may find the opportunity to get some sleep. If this phenomenon occurs, please do nothing to disturb the few precious moments of rest. Even if I am snoring as loud as a freight train and other hospital patients are peering into the room to see what in the world could be making that kind of noise, I would advise you to just close your eyes and insert some ear plugs.

And one last thing, as the nurses ask me for my entire medical history, including my current weight, just go ahead and keep those ear plugs securely fastened.

I know that this is a lot of information to take in. I do not wish to take anything away from the excitement you're feeling about the impending arrival of our newest family member.

But please know this... by Thursday afternoon it'll all be worth the inconveniences (and possible Project Runway marathons) you'll be subjected to.

Because I think you're about to fall madly in love with one precious little girl. And her mommy's about to fall madly in love with you all over again.

Love,
Me

Monday, October 19, 2009

FRUIT

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.


About two years ago, I was driving in my car and praying. It must have been around this same time of year. The beginning of Fall and the start of a new school year always put my mind in a position of resolve. Kinda like January 1 does for most people. What do I want the year to look like? What disciplines do I want to focus on? What greater purpose will my life serve this year, etc.?

And while praying, I felt impressed to ask God to work on bringing out the Fruit of His Spirit within me. After all, I have known Jesus as my Savior since I was 9 years old.

But have I, in the subsequent years, allowed Him room to develop the nine qualities listed in Galatians that are the Fruit (or evidence) of the Holy Spirit living inside of me?

Within weeks of that prayer, and by no coincidence, I was asked to develop a curriculum for the childcare program at our MOPS meetings. It just so happened that we would be meeting as a group nine times during the course of the month. I was charged with creating nine lessons geared toward 4-5 yr old children. Hmmm.... Perhaps the nine qualities of the Fruit of the Spirit?

So, I began working on the lessons and praying that God would work diligently on teaching me through my research.

I wish I had known my friend at "The Christ-Blessed Nest" back then. Because this weekend, she brought over a gift for my boy and girl that made me want to jump up and down (except no one wants to see a full-term pregnant woman do that).

She has developed a chart that displays the nine qualities of the Fruit of the Spirit in a format similar to the chore charts and responsibility charts available for young kids at most teaching supply stores, etc. Except this one.... oh, I can't even do it justice, it's so wonderful!



I would love for you to go to her etsy site (click HERE... click on the 4th image with all the magnets on the board...recognize those names?!?!) and take a look for yourself.

I rolled out the chart with Drew last night and it was an absolutely precious time. We sat on the tile floor of the kitchen, in front of his chart, and talked about Love, Joy, Peace, etc. We then read over all the "action tags" and I explained how each one represented some way he could act more like Jesus.

You can imagine my delight, when, later on during his bath he looked up at me and said, "Mommy! You are the nicest Mommy in the whole world and I love you!" After he was cleaned up and dressed in his pj's, I took him back over to the chart and let him put the "Give a compliment" magnet in his square.

One of my favorite tags says, "Share Jesus". And I loved the opportunity to explain what that meant to Drew. He claims now that it's his favorite magnet and he wants to put one up every day in his chart. Praise God!

I am in love with this tangible way to teach my child(ren) what God starts to do in a person's life when they put their trust in Him.

Like my friend's instructions point out, we are not able to become proficient at these nine qualities of our own volition. It's God in us. It's His refining. It's His Spirit's working to make us more like Him.

This is just such a precious way to recognize the qualities and give our children a deeper understanding of what they look like practically, lived out in our daily lives.

So, go on over and check out not only the chart, but some of her other wonderfully creative items that are sure to bless YOUR nest!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Inquiring Minds Want to Know...

Humbling?
Challenging?
Sobering?
Yes.
Yes.
Yes indeed!

Parenting is all these and more, especially when your preschooler begins asking you questions that seem to require you to obtain a theology degree before answering.

This has been the case for us over the course of several conversations recently.

In the car on the way to school one morning:
We were listening to the radio when that song by tobymac came on (the lyrics include, "I don't wanna gain the whole world and lose my soul"). I was singing along, and so was Drew from the backseat, when he piped up,
"Mommy - are they saying, 'I don't wanna gain the whole world and lose my sword?'".

No, buddy.. SOUL. I don't wanna lose my SOUL.

"Oh. O.k." pause... "Hey Mom? What's a soul?"


A few days later:
"Mommy... I know a new verse. Genesis 1:1. God made the heavens. And God made the earth. And he made the birds and the people and all the things. And then He rested on the 7th day."

Very good. That's right, bud.

"But Mommy. I don't think that's right. Because God doesn't rest. He doesn't sleep. He doesn't need to close His eyes. He never stops watching us, right???!!!"

He was adamant, and very concerned. Already he'd found a discrepancy that he couldn't resolve in his mind. I have taught him over and over, especially at bedtime or scary, anxious times that God is ALWAYS with him, wherever he goes. That he watches him while he sleeps. That God is always vigilant, mindful of him. And in learning about the creation of the earth, he now has visions of God laying down on the job... taking a nap... closing those Almighty, watchful eyes. And he needed an explanation for the discrepancy.

The very next night?
I was telling him the story of Adam & Eve. Which, by the way, is a pretty serious story once you get into the details. (Perhaps I need to use the Storybook Picture Bible a little more often to ensure my re-telling is age-appropriate.) But, there we were, talking about Adam and Eve and the beautiful garden, and how God had given them charge over the land. And God told them not to eat the fruit from one tree, but that Adam and Eve made a bad choice and ate that fruit and sinned.

"Why did they do that?"
Because they made a bad choice, honey.
"Why didn't God want them to eat from that tree?"
Because God knew there would be consequences, and He wanted them to listen and obey.
"What if Adam and Eve just didn't hear God tell them not to eat the fruit?"
They heard him, sweetie. They did.
"How? How did they hear God?"
Because He talked to them.
"With a real voice?"

It was only then that I realized the true concern behind his line of questioning. For my four year old has not heard the audible, booming voice of God and thought that, perhaps, this was the problem for Adam & Eve as well.

So, in the past few weeks, I have had the "opportunity" to explain the difference between a heart and a soul; the concept of God resting (as an example to us) yet being ever-mindful, ever-vigilant; and the many ways we can hear the voice of God.

God is so gracious. With the promise that He'll give me wisdom when I ask for it (James 1:5), I'm not as overwhelmed by the charge I have been given with this precocious child. I will not have all the answers for him, but I trust that God will use me to guide him.

And that He'll speak to this child Himself. Whether it's with a booming audible voice or a quiet whisper to that little soul.

Tell me... what are some of the questions your little ones have asked you that left you feeling like you needed to get your ph.D.?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

the Sub-plot

So, I spent a post detailing my latest bout with false labor contractions, but only alluded to the sub-plot of the entire evening. You know, the "other" story. The one that was playing out while I was packing my bags for the hospital.

You see, my poor, sweet hubby had come down with major flu-like symptoms a day or so before my contractions took center-stage and by Thursday, he was downright miserable. So, against my better judgment, I heard myself telling him to go ahead and take some nighttime cold relief medicine and get some rest.

About an hour after my pharmaceutical advice (and the pill) was taken, my labor began to get intense. I called a friend to explain what was going on, and we just started laughing, because all I could think about was this:



Mercy me. I'm so grateful that Daddy didn't have to miss out on his daughter's birth, because when I got home from work to pick up my suitcase and a few essentials, he was a dead-ringer for Steve Martin.

So, I drove myself to the hospital, checked-in, was unceremoniously sent home, and we avoided an exact replay of the classic "sleeping pill, wife goes into labor" plotline.

Which is good. I'd hate to be cliche'.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hanging on to my sanity by 1 cm...

That could all change at any moment. Because that one centimeter may just send me over the edge, depending on how stubborn it decides to be.

So... let's see, since my last update, I finally made a decision to call my doctor and discuss the little issue of all those contractions. I wasn't optimistic. After all, I'd been watching a clock since 5am, and still wasn't feel much discomfort or pain. But the tightening was getting harder to ignore, so on my doctor's advice, I set out for the hospital yesterday afternoon.

I arrived, checked in, and got all hooked up to the monitors and machines. And here is what I learned over the next 30 minutes:

1. I was having contractions every 3-4 minutes
2. They were consistent and getting stronger.
3. I was also running a slight fever of 99.5 ("Oh, my hubby is sick" I informed the nurse)
4. I was only 1 cm dilated.

The nurse left armed with that information and called my doctor. She came back in 20 minutes later. "We're going to let you go home."

OK... I was prepared for that. After all, I was only 1 cm dilated, and I have done this before. I knew that the bulk of the marathon still lay ahead of me. I began to climb out of the bed when she started giving me instructions.

"YOu did the right thing by coming in tonight. And please come back if you experience any of the following:
1. Contractions that occur less than 5 minutes apart
2. Contractions that increase in intensity
3. or if you start to run a fever."

I just looked at her and said, "So.. would you like me to walk to the elevator and come right back? Because you just informed me that I am well-past every symptom you have told me to come back to the hospital for..."

Her only response was, "Yes, but you're only 1 cm."

O.K. Thank you...

I have to say that I hoped I would be in a position of experience going into my second child's birth. Knowing firsthand what childbirth is like, I have rested in the knowledge that this time around, at least I knew what was coming.

But this morning, I'm at a loss. I have no clue when to call my doctor or when to go to the hospital. I am a novice all over again.

But in her defense, the nurse was right after all. Sometime around midnight, the contractions (which had intensified to the point I could not breathe through them), just stopped. I fell into a deep slumber (well, besides the 4 times I awoke to go to the bathroom) and woke up this morning with enough reserves to get through at least another day.

So, like my Facebook status reads:
"False Labor = 2; Mom 2 Drew = 0... Well-played contractions... well-played."

Tough Decisions

Q:What do I use to keep my son's lunch cold when I failed to re-freeze his cold pack overnight?
A: Frozen limeade concentrate

Q: Do I give in when Drew pitches a fit in car line because he no longer wants to stay for lunch?
A: At almost 9 months pregnant, you bet I do. No lunch bunch. Done.

Q: Do I also give in when Drew decides to sob uncontrollably, begging not to go to school today?
A: At almost 9 months pregnant, I decide that I have the right to be completely inconsistent and DO NOT give in to this fight. He's going to school today.

Q: Do I carry my 43 lb child into class when he refuses to walk?
A: Yes... Yes I do.

Q: Do I decide, with his teacher's full support, that he is just fine and needs to be left at school in order to avoid encouraging this type of behavior in the future?
A: Yes, even though it results in a need for both physical strength from the teacher (prying his screaming body off of mine) and mental strength from me (just walk toward the door, just walk toward the door).

Q: Do I go home and clean up a little for the cleaning lady.
A: Normally, I would. But at almost 9 months pregnant, you've gotta be kidding me.

Q: When, exactly, do I need to call my doctor if I've been having contractions amidst the chaos of the morning and they've pretty much been 4 minutes apart all day?
A: I'll get back to you on that one.... still haven't decided.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pearl Girl


Oh... I have been waiting and wanting to write this post for so long.

I've even started it several times, but the words seemed less-than-inspired, so I have backed off, waited, saved many "drafts".

Then two days ago, one of my wonderful friends waved me down in the preschool carline and handed me a book titled, "Pearl Girls: Encountering grit, experiencing grace" by Margaret McSweeney.

I haven't read the book yet (though it promises to be a great one), but the contents of the book weren't even the reason my friend passed it along. She knew that the title and subtitle alone were worth their weight in literary inspiration to me, and so here I am... finally ready to tell you about my little "pearl girl".

Several months ago, I wrote about choosing a name for this child. I told you that I wanted it to be something meaningful, something special, something that defined what God was up to in our lives as He chose to bless us with this addition to our family.

We (ok, I...) poured through baby name books and began making lists. And then I stumbled upon a name that meant, simply: PEARL.

My heartbeat quickened and I drew in a deep breath. Surely this was to be her name. I ran it by my husband, who happened to like the name anyway, so it was decided. We have called her by name ever since.

So, why PEARL? Besides conjuring up an image of someone's 85 year old grandma or high tea at some elite country club, what could possibly mean so much to me about a name that means PEARL?

The seed, as it were, was planted about eight years ago, when I began working for a very well known jewelry company. As my career grew, it became necessary for me to learn in greater detail about the products I was tasked to sell. Our company was known the world over for exquisite jewelry and gemstones... the best of the absolute best... and (besides diamonds) one of our greatest claims to gemstone fame was our offering of pearls.

Each morning, I would slip on pristine white gloves and carefully lay strand after strand of pearl ropes into showcases for the viewing pleasure of hundreds of clients who would be walking by each day to admire their beauty.

Some were "cultured" pearls - smooth, perfectly round, glistening in all shades of white. Some were "natural" pearls - each unique in shape and found in a variety of colors from blush pinks to steely grays.

I loved them all. I decided that while diamonds were typically a girl's best friend... I was going to become a PEARL GIRL. I took product courses, read books, and spent time just staring at and trying on my favorite gemstones.

I learned that pearls were formed when a small, unexpected grain of "something", usually sand or grit, found it's way into an oyster. The oyster, in an effort to shield itself from the uninvited guest, secreted a substance known as "nacre" (pronounced nay' ker). Depending upon the length of time the oyster was left to deal with it's grit, it would secrete layer upon layer upon layer of nacre. The more layers that were introduced, the larger and more irridescent the little ball, or pearl, would grow. Under the right circumstances, the pearl had the opportunity to grow larger and larger, and more and more beautiful, which, in the end, would result in determining it's value.

Now that you've completed Pearls: 101, let's flash forward a few years:

If you know our story,you may recall that my first pregnancy with Drew was an absolute fiasco. I was no good at pregnancy and decided quickly after his birth that one child was enough for us. We didn't want to be disobedient to God's plans for our family, but we absolutely COULD NOT imagine going through another nine months of pregnancy every again. After much prayer and discussion throughout the next four years, we rested in a place of contentment with our little family of three.

And then, we became swept up in the current of excitement created by my brother and his wife's desire to begin their family. It wasn't until weeks after we received the good news that we would be expecting a new niece or nephew that I began to become suspicious of some signs my body seemed to be shouting out at me. I took a pregnancy test and... SURPRISE... found out that we, too, would be adding to our little family.

This was not planned, and I was not excited. I was anxious...scared to death, in fact. I had feelings of guilt for selfishly taking anything away from my brother and sister-in-law's excitement.

So, along with a tiny little human, I was now dealing with a bit of grit in my spiritual life.

But this turn of events, while unexpected to me, was known by God from the beginning of time. And in His infinite grace, He had already set up a system of support and encouragement. He'd been preparing my heart. He'd been in the processing of opening my eyes for quite some time to His ways, which are higher than my ways, and His thoughts that are higher than my thoughts. And at the time, while I couldn't imagine any of the reasons "WHY", I was resting in the knowledge of "WHO". I knew that He was in charge and had something in this that was for His glory.

So, like layer upon layer of nacre, this little person inside me was coated with prayer. I withdrew to Scripture on my sickest days. Friends provided encouragement and accountability on my grumpiest ones. The bond of sharing in the pregnancy process together deepened my friendship with my sister-in-law. And somehow, a pregnancy that was intially met with surprise, fear, and anxiety, has been growing into the lovliest of treasures in my life.

We are less than a month away from her birth now. But unlike a pearl of the sea, my prayer for this little girl is that the nacre of God's grace continues to grow around her long after she's taken out of the warm, comfortable depths of her current home.

She, too, will face grit in her life. There will be times I long to protect her from hurt, from pain, from suffering. But I know if I entrust her now to the faithful love of the Father, He will continue the work of growing her into a beautiful, irridescent pearl. And when she radiates with the glory of God (Oh, I pray that His glory is so evident in her life always), then the world will see the value and treasure that began with the tiniest, most unexpected little seed.

And while I guarantee you I won't be slipping on white gloves any time soon, I cannot wait to study our newest gem... to finally hold this pearl in my own hands!

For Megan.
We love you, little pearl, and we can't wait to meet you soon!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Just a Little Off the Top...

A couple of weeks ago, I shared photos of the men from our small group at church shaving their heads in support of our eight year old friend JW, who was diagnosed a few months ago with leukemia.

Throughout the course of the last few weeks, I have been so blessed to watch the men & boys who participated, and to hear the stories of the conversations their haircuts have opened the doors to.

(And because I live across the street from JW and his family, I have just loved watching these four brothers come out to play baseball in their front yard with their matching haircuts.)

So, in general, those round fuzzy heads have given me a whole lot of warm fuzzy feelings lately.

But at the time of the Big Shave (and in the days following), Drew showed no interest in joining his daddy and the other members of the "No-Hair Club For Men". And I didn't push it. At four years old, it seemed to me that he just didn't understand the reason behind the gesture, and I really wanted him to do it only if he understood WHY he was doing it.

Yesterday, as several of my in-lawed family members were hanging out at our house, my brother-in-law offered to shave down my hubby's head again. They set up shop out in the garage, and as the clippers hummed to life, I noticed a strange smile spread across my little one's face.

"I wanna do it, Mommy!" he whispered.

"Do what?"

"I wanna shave my head, too! I want to! Can I? Can I?"

"Of course you can!" I responded immediately. Wanting to ensure that he understood the WHY, I got down on his level and asked him a few questions, ending with "Do you know why you want to do this?"

"For JW.." he responded, emphatically.
OK, then.

With Daddy's permission, too, Drew made his way to the plastic green chair sitting on the garage floor. The men talked it over for a few minutes and decided that a scissor-cut was in order first, considering the sheer volume of hair resting atop my preschooler's head.

I went inside to grab scissors, a comb, and a camera, and felt a flutter of hesitation. I was so surprised. I thought, really thought, that as long as he understood his decision, I would be fully supportive, excited even. But walking through the house, gathering the tools to take all that hair away, I hesitated.

I thought about those beautiful blonde locks. The haircut I'd just paid for only 3 days earlier when I'd adamantly insisted that the barber take "NOTHING" off the top. I thought about all those mornings of mousse and hairspray and watching him thoughtfully decide how he was going to "do" his "do". Oh, that gorgeous hair.



That gorgeous hair that would grow back. I gave myself a quick "talkin' to". After all, I want nothing more for my son than to understand the beauty of this type of comraderie in Christ.

So, scissors in hand, I held my breath... and, moments later, a handful of thick golden locks.



Now, my son is pretty much back to looking like a little clone of his daddy. And I have a second & constant reminder to pray for our friend JW.

Because every time I rub one of those soft bald heads, I think about the medicine that is capable of causing hair loss and healing.

And I'm reminded to pray.

Please join me in praying for our friend. Tomorrow is another big day for treatment, and all his counts need to be high enough for the doctors to administer another dose of chemo.

I'll leave you today with that request.. oh, and this picture... of two of the most beautiful round heads I have ever set my eyes upon. I love these guys!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Something Doesn't Feel Quite Right (Or "Things You Tell Your Doctor If You Want to Spend a Day in the Hospital")

I began the week feeling, well, weak. But I'm 8 months pregnant and most of my ailments could be explained by the big round belly protruding from my midsection. By Monday night, though, I felt a very different, distinct "Un-wellness" come over me. In the middle of the night, I broke down and sobbed over my various aches and pains as I climbed into a tub of hot water, hoping to alleviate some of the discomfort.

A dizziness had settled in my head and I found it hard to catch my breath. It felt like I'd walked a mile, though I'd only traveled from one end of the house to the other.

So, like a good patient, I called my doctor late Tuesday morning. "I feel dizzy and short of breath. I don't mean to be overdramatic. After all, I expect to feel this way a little - with 5 lbs of baby pressing on my lungs, stomach, heart, etc. But I just feel DIFFERENT." The nurse put me on hold. She came back to the line a few minutes later. "The doctor wants you to go to the Emergency Room now."

"Can't I just come to the office?"
"Can't I just go to the maternity floor?"


I pleaded for anything but the dreaded emergency room. They gave me no choice. "The ER will be expecting you," the nurse firmly instructed. With visions of swine flu germs dancing in my head, I dropped my son off at my mom's house and drove to the ER in a fit of frustration.

Mad at myself for calling the doctor in the first place.
Mad at the doctor for sending me to a germ-ridden department of a hospital instead of the quiet comforts of my OB's office.
Mad at my own body for feeling so "icky".

Upon arrival, I was greeted by big signs that confirmed my germy fears. Hand-sanitizing stations were set up at each entrance, along with masks that were to be worn by anyone exhibiting the long list of symptoms described on the warning placards. "Fantastic," I thought. "I am surely going to leave here worse than when I arrived."

I checked in, handed over my insurance and ID, then filled out several pages of information and medical history. When it asked me for my reason for the visit, I wrote: "Dizzy, short of breath (8 months pregnant)."

I brought my paperwork back up to the admittance desk. She reviewed it momentarily until her eyes fell on the magic words. "Oh, you're pregnant! You need to go to the maternity floor."

I explained to her that I would much rather be with my round-bellied comrades, but that my doctor specifically sent me to this department. I watched her tear my registration paperwork into shreds as she explained that, "After you are 20 wks gestation, all health-related concerns are handled by the maternity ward." So... armed with directions on how to navigate the back hallways of the hospital, I was on my way.

The elevator doors opened and revealed an inviting, relaxing waiting room filled with nervous and excited families. "Much better," I thought. I waddled toward the friendly woman sitting behind the desk and explained my symptoms again. This time, I was handed a new stack of registration paperwork, along with a big flowery pen (unlike those cheap miniature pencils provided downstairs). As I sat down in the big cushioned chair began to rehash, in writing, the reason I was there, a phone rang behind the desk. I overheard a hasty, frustrated voice on the other end. I picked up portions of sentences, including, "Why is she up there?" "What... symptoms?" "Baby o.k.?"

The staff member looked at me and asked, "Is your baby o.k.?"
"I hope so," I replied.
"Well, why did they send you up here from ER, then?"
"Um... because I'm more than 20 wks pregnant and that is apparently the policy of this hospital."
I set my flowery pen down as she relayed my information to the stranger on the other end of the phone.

A few moments later, a second call came in. The gatekeeper to the maternity ward looked at me and sighed. "You need to go back to the emergency room."

Unsure whether I should be amused or irritated, I set out on my journey down to the dreaded ER. I walked back up to the lady who sent me on my fool's mission. "They sent me back down here.
No, I am not sure why.
No, you tore all my paperwork up.
Yes, I would be thrilled to fill it all out again.
And yes, if I wasn't short of breath before, I certainly am now!"


Twenty minutes later, I was ushered back to a cubicle where I could overhear the cried (or laughs...?) of a patient in no small amount of mental despair. I listened as doctors discussed my neighbor's possible risk for another seizure. And I waited as my nurse hooked me up with stickers, probes, IVs and monitors. I was told that my symptoms had nothing to do with my pregnancy. I was asked hundreds of questions about my family's medical history of heart attacks, blood clots, hypertension, cancer, and anxiety disorders.

Each one of their theories was categorically dismissed as my bloodwork and heart tests came back normal. One test finally came back with "elevated" levels. The one that detects blood clots. The doctor came back in with the news. "We need to do a CT scan to rule out any blood clots in your lungs."

Unfortunately for all of us, I was still 8 months pregnant. And radiation exposure wasn't exactly on my checklist of things to do to "prepare for baby".

But neither was dying of a blood clot in my lungs. The decision wasn't easy, but it was the best one to make. Seven minutes later, I was lying under the giant circle that would scan my body for any malicious clots.

The CT technician who wheeled me in for the test had been explaining the risks and rewards as we maneuvered down the hall. I asked him to take whatever precautions he could to protect the baby inside my belly during the procedure, and he responded with the unfortunate news that they could do nothing to shield my child. The lead aprons they used to use apparently only served to trap the radiation, allowing it to bounce around in your body for a longer period of time. The only way they could perform this test on me was the same way they would perform it on any other person. Full-on exposure.

So, I had no choice but to pray. An image popped into my head of God's arms. So, I just prayed and pictured Him wrapping His arms of protection around my belly and shielding my little girl from those penetrating rays. (And I have to say, I'd rather have that kind of protection than a lead apron any day).

In addition to the picture and the prayers, a song popped into my head while I listened to the hum of the machine. It's the Newsboys song, "It is You", and the first lines were all I could recall. But they kept coming, over and over again for the next five minutes or so:

"As we lift up our hands, will You meet us here?"

(Interesting choice of words, because during the test, I had to lie perfectly still with my hands raise straight above my head, touching the outside walls of the machine... anyway.)

"As we call on Your name, will You meet us here?"


So, I sang and prayed, "God, will you please just meet me right here, right in the middle of this circle and protect this little girl with your own arms?"

And I was completely at peace.

The results came back quickly. No clots. They felt confident enough to release me. They had done all they could do, run every test they could think of. They decided that, in my case, the symptoms could only be explained by the fact that I was, indeed, 8 months pregnant.

And if we'd all been that logical from the beginning, I might have been spared the first 4 hours of my hospital stay.

But not the last four hours...

Because another symptom was becoming harder and harder to ignore. Those pesky Braxton-Hicks contractions I'd been experiencing since Sunday.

"I don't mean to be a pain. I know you're trying to get me out of here. But I've been feeling a lot more contractions in the last few hours."

A decision was made and I found myself back on the maternity floor within a few minutes. "Hello again!" I called out to the familiar face that turned me away hours before. "I'm back!!!"

I explained the sudden onslaught of consistent contractions and was handed that flowery pen and stack of papers (I can only assume that she, too, took my original paperwork to the shredder).

After waiting and breathing through the next half hour, I was finally in a bed, listening to the steady swoosh of my little girl's heartbeat. The nurse began asking me questions, and I tried mightily to answer despite what was now starting to become significant pain. During the course of questions (which took 5-6 minutes), the nurse informed me that I'd had 3 contractions ("Yes, thank you... I know").

Over the next 1/2 hour, those pesky Braxton-Hicks became the REAL DEAL every two minutes, gaining strength and momentum. The nurse came back in. "Oh my! We've been watching you out there at the nurse's station. I think we need to call your doctor!"

Long story short.. (too late), it was determined that I was in pre-term labor. It was subsequently decided that five weeks early is just a little too early for this princess to make her debut. And a shot of something very painful and potent was literally "what the doctor ordered" to delay her arrival. An hour after the shot was administered, the contractions had faded and become inconsistent again. I was topped off with fluids and given the green light to go home and rest.

So, after 8 months and 8 hours... I was headed home with my little family of three. Exhausted. Hoping that our fourth would be patient for just a little while longer.

And it turns out that calling my doctor because something "wasn't quite right", maybe wasn't all that wrong of a choice after all.

Oh to be in the right place at the right time. Whether that's the 5th floor of the hospital or the protecting arms of the Father, I am grateful that the experience left me feeling quite alright today.

So, how's your week been? ;)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Funny Friends

This is the kind of email you can expect to receive if you're blessed enough to have a very funny and creative friend in your life. Who borrows a cup from your house. And becomes very concerned that she hasn't yet returned said cup to it's rightful home...

Dear Owner,
Yep. Your pink cup here. Sorry I have not written in awhile. I have been trying to figure out how to find my way home and figuring out who I am and why I am where I am. I decided to let you in on my journey just to assure you that I am OK.

First, I tried to get home to you on my own.

I was able to maneuver into a van but I had trouble reaching the pedals and steering wheel at the same time. I kept hopping on to the gas but then I could not see. When I could see, the van would not go because I needed gas. OK. So I went to Plan B.

I tried to mail myself to you. But I am not considered legal, United States Mail. Plus, the stamp I used was only 41 cents.


Then I decided maybe I needed a new group and to escape the Green Meanies. I joined the Java Mugs and tried their way of life.

But they only seem active during the morning time and quite frankly I was not made to carry anything hot.

Then I tried the nomadic lifestyle. I just packed up and roamed the streets awhile trying to figure out the plan God has for me.


And I realized that I am with the Greenie Meanies for a purpose and a reason. I finally submitted to this way of life, knowing that the stops on this journey are all essential points to lead me the way home.

So if you have been worried, don't be. I tried a few things but I realized I am right where I need to be, and I am better cup for it.




Love,
Your "At Peace" Pink Cup

Thanks, Jess, for always giving me a reason to laugh out loud!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thrill Ride

I cannot pretend to understand the matters of a four-year old boy's heart. The things that thrill or terrify my Drew often leave me shaking my head in either amusement or disbelief.

He is frightened by loud noises, crowds of people, and his most recent list of worst fears, which includes dinosaurs, snakes, lizards and roaches. Other insects fascinate him. Daredevil stunts on his swing set amuse him. And he gets absolutely giddy when it's time for mommy to get blood drawn at the doctor's office.

So, it should have come as no surprise to me when, during our recent trip to Orlando, spectacular heights made his list of Life's Great Thrills.

From the 24th floor, my son's spirits soared as he took in the views from atop our hotel perch. (And mommy's stomach turned somersaults as I begged him to "stop dangling your flip-flopped feet through the railing!!").


And his favorite, hands-down activity of the weekend?


The glass elevators that gave him a wild ride as we made our way to and from the pool several times a day.



The biggest thrill for this Mommy, though, was the realization that we still haven't had to purchase a single, solitary ticket to one of Orlando's theme parks.

And in this economy, I find myself pretty excited by free rides on glass elevators and mornings at the pool, too!

Monday, September 21, 2009

In Search Of...

Green pastures...



Still waters...


Restored souls...


Just trying to sneak a little spontaneous magic...


into our lives before newborn cries, sleepy eyes, and blissfully weary hearts!

So, how was your weekend?

Monday, September 14, 2009

More Than Words

Three electric razors:



$60


One plastic shower curtain:



$12


25 Men & Boys Whose Actions Spoke Louder Than Words Yesterday:


Priceless

Please pray that as each of these men steps back into his work routine today, someone will ask why he shaved all his hair off.

And that each one will have the opportunity to share what it means to want to offer some support to an eight-year old boy who's fighting a courageous battle against leukemia.

And while you're at it, let's pray that someone might understand the true meaning of community. A community of people who believe in a God who saves, delivers and heals!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Obligatory First Day of School Post

I'm guessing that this post is as essential as the obligatory "We just had our first day of school" Facebook status. But, since it was MY FIRST first day of school with Drew (last year the hubby and I were in Guatemala for his real first day of school ever), I just had to share:



The above picture was taken Friday at preschool orientation. Drew had a blast. So much fun, in fact, that he couldn't sleep this morning past 6:30 a.m. By 6:45 a.m. he was dressed. At 7 sharp, he was sitting down, waiting for breakfast (and wearing his backpack while he ate).

The following picture was taken after a long day of playing hard on the playground. I'm pretty sure it's not all he did today, but it's all I could get out of him. Oh, except that his day was "Good! Oh very, very good, mommy!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Spy

You may recall that several months ago I attempted a regular posting idea called "I Spy", wherein I'd add a new blog to the list of blogs I follow on my sidebar, hoping that you'd take a moment to visit the sites that make me smile. I really believe that linking up to eachother can be such a source of inspiration and encouragement.

With that goal still in mind, I'm going to try to be more diligent about sharing great blogs that I spy... starting here:

One of my dear friends recently began a blog that you just HAVE to go check out. She calls it "Two Shades of Pink". I'm completely in love with the name and theme, because of what it truly means in relation to her darling, precious two little girls.

But instead of explaining anything about it to you, I encourage you to go meet my friend for yourself. You'll be glad you did. She is hysterically funny, wise, and crafty as all get-out. She shares two tips every Tuesday that make me want to be a more creative wife & mom... or at least make me want to send my kid over to her house!

A few days ago, she began sharing the story of her family. When you go visit, make sure to scroll down to get PART 1, because she's continuing with PART 2 today. I had the privelege of hearing the story of faith that God has written for her family last summer while we were in a Bible study together. And I know that God has big plans for His story.

Go check it out HERE , and if you have a minute, leave her a comment!



What are you still doing here....??? GO!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Not One Redeeming Thing About It...





My eyes were being physically pried open several hours ago by a very eager four-year old.

"Mommy! Guess what!"

uhgmphfffwhadoyouwant?

"Mommy! Did you know that cockroaches can hang upside-down from the ceiling?"

Oh, I didn't want to know how he knew this.

"How do you know this?" I managed to ask as my eyes tried to adjust to the light shining in through the windows.

"Because there is a roach crawling across the ceiling in your bedroom RIGHT NOW!" he answered, beside himself with excitement. "Come see!!!"

I hate roaches.
I really do.
I cannot find one redeeming virtue to extol upon these creepy little crawly bugs.
Yet, because of where I live, I have to learn how to deal with roaches (read: I have to learn how to kill roaches when my husband isn't home to do the deed for me).

Squashing bugs with shoes is not my preferred course of treatment. For starters, I respect my shoes too much. And besides that, killing a bug with a handheld object means that you have to get within a close proximity of said creature.

So, I prefer to use the "poison in a can" approach. Which works fine when you have a can of roach spray around.

But a few weeks ago, I found myself in a stand-off with the Godzilla of all cockroaches, and my weapon was EMPTY! So, I ran back to the pantry and grabbed the only other can on the shelf - Lysol.

It kills 99.9% of germs, including the flu virus, makes the diaper pail and the trash cabinet smell fresh & clean, AND just so you know, it also kills roaches..

GLORY!!! (That's for all you Beth Moore girls...)

So, this morning, I found myself gazing up at the amazing acrobatic talent of one ceiling-walking roach. And with Lysol in hand, I put an end to my son's morning entertainment.

Now, just in case you think I won't be able to bring this story home with an invaluable life lesson learned, you have truly underestimated the inspiration and insight I received during the Beth Moore Simulcast this past weekend (I told you I'd come back more inspired!).

I spent Friday evening and the better portion of Saturday alongside 500 precious women from my church, and technologically connected to another 90,000 from around the world as we worked through the wisdom found in Psalm 37.

There was so much to take in... and I'm still letting God do His work on my heart about so much of it. But one kind of surprising little nugget seemed to be thrown into the mix just for my benefit.

On Saturday morning, I wrote the following notation from Beth's teaching. "God cannot ever use our arrogance or pride. He will go OUT OF HIS WAY to protect our humility. (Because) humility will set us up for intimacy like we've never known."

Even as she said the words, I was frantically scribbling them in my notes. I've mentioned it before on this blog, and I'll say it again. I have a problem with pride. It creeps into my life at unexpected times and I look back on my prideful or arrogant moments with deep regret and pain because the Bible clearly teaches that God hates pride. He desires for me to be confident... just not in myself.

Well, in the midst of all the glorious inspiration of the weekend, I was unaware that a Godzilla-sized dose of ugly, disgusting creepy crawly pride had crawled right into the living space of my heart.

With a few new maternity outfits (purchased just for the weekend) and a little extra time on Friday to primp before I got to church, I arrived for the Simulcast event feeling pretty good about myself. The sweetest friends in the whole world did everything they could to build up my self-esteem. "Wow! You look great!" "I can't believe you only have 8 wks left." "You're just glowing." "LOVE the new hair-do!" It went on and on.

They were precious words from sincere mouths, but I let them settle into an ugly place in my heart.

And when Beth shared the following passage from Proverbs 25:27 (The Message): "It's not smart to stuff yourself with sweets, nor is glory piled on glory good for you."
I knew that God was prying my eyes open with the light of His truth. "Come see!" He seemed to be advising me. "Come see what has creeped in and is walking around in your mind."

Compliment upon compliment. Glory piled upon glory. Thought after thought cascaded through my mind about... ME, ME, and a little more ME. It needed to be dealt with. It needed to be squashed. And unlike my "stand back and spray stuff in the general direction of the problem" approach, God is willing to be a little more hands-on in my life.

So, on Saturday afternoon, He took a proverbial shoe to my pride. I was setting up some decorations for our Women's Ministry booth at the church. We had a special event the following morning between church services. I'd brought some lovely decorative items from home and was enjoying the results of my work (especially since many other people were walking through the lobby and vocally admiring what I was doing).

A woman approached the table and we began talking. I didn't know her - but she was delightful. I was enjoying our conversation. That is, until she paused, in the middle of a sentence, and asked with deep concern, "Do you have very dry skin?"

"Um.... not really?"

"I don't mean to be presumptuous here, but...I'm a beauty consultant for (yeah, you've heard of the company, but I don't wish to do them a disservice here) and I would love to give you a free facial to get your skin back on track."

"Um... thank you?" I managed. I was equally horrified and amused. A strange combination of emotions. Other people were standing around listening, and I wondered if they were as uncomfortable as I was at the moment.

I managed to mumble something about how my skin during pregnancy might be slightly different than my "normal" skin, so I'd better hold off on facials or purchasing any of her products until my body had a chance to bounce back after the baby.

And then I immediately made my way to the nearest bathroom to see what hideous skin condition might possibly prompt a total stranger to tell a hormonal, pregnant woman that her face was a mess.

A few hours later, as I mulled over the "offer" of help, I remembered the words that I'd scribbed in black ink that same morning. "God will go out of His way to protect our humility."

Do I think that God sent this woman to give me an insult and make me feel bad about myself? No. I really don't. But was it a humbling experience? Absolutely it was. And did it give me cause to run to Him, to put my confidence in Him rather than myself? It sure did.

And for that, I'm so very grateful. Because there's nothing redeeming about arrogance and pride. Not one thing about it that God can use in me.

So, when He sets about to squash the things in my life that are so ugly and displeasing to Him, so that I can share a more intimate relationship with my God...it makes me just want to shout,

"GLORY!"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Brushing off the dust... or the lint, as the case may be.

So, I apparently have fallen into some sort of blog-related slump.
I'm feeling a little rusty.
My brain is a little dusty.
Writers block.
Lack of inspiration.
Pregnancy brain.
Who knows.

I do know this, though. I am attending a Beth Moore Simulcast hosted by my church this weekend, and I'm more excited than words can express (which doesn't surprise me, since we've already established that I am having trouble putting words in any kind of order lately).

So, be prepared for a more-inspired MOM2DREW on Monday. And be warned that I might just use words like "GLORY!" and other Beth Moore-isms for the next few weeks.

I also want to let you know that I have possibly sunk to an all-time low in pregnancy-related food cravings. I was fishing through my purse for something a few minutes ago when I discovered a lone yellow jelly bean.

I didn't even hesitate before I popped it in my mouth. Unfortunately, I should have brushed off the lint first. Who knows what that little lemony snack has been sitting next to and for how long.

Luckily, I have found that the third trimester of pregnancy leaves me less-than-picky when it comes to food.

And blog post topics, too (apparently).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To Preschool - AND BEYOND!

I thought I had him convinced. Something more mature this year. Something understated and, well, just not so GLOSSY.

But the lure of the Disney store proved too powerful, and the half-priced Superhero backpacks and lunch boxes just wouldn't be ignored.

So, while I'd hoped for something camoflauged or sports-themed, we are now the (VERY) proud owners of a Buzz Lightyear backpack and matching lunch tote.

My very wise friend (and mother of four boys) advised me to cherish these days. Before I know it, my son will be begging me to stop sending him to school with anything except a brown bag lunch with his name scribbled in marker.

So, today, I will be grateful that my little boy is still enticed by the antics of a spaceman and his friends.

Buzz Lightyear - to the rescue!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Girls Weekend

She's one of my favorite people on the planet, and I just got to spend almost 5 days with her (and her adorable twin three-year-old girls). And now, the author of PUT ME IN THE ZOO is hopefully surviving the long car trip home after our fun GIRLS weekend!

We followed a pretty standard formula each day:

1. Do everything we can possibly think of to wear out two 3-yr olds and one 4-yr old.
2. Deprive aforementioned children of any naptime or rest time during the day.
3. Have children fed, bathed and tucked in by 7pm.
4. Sit up until the wee morning hours solving all the rest of the world's issues... or at least making fun of our own.

Pictures to come! (of the kids... not us sitting on the couches solving the world's problems...which might be entertaining to listen to, but certainly boring in pictures)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stuff This Christian Likes...

As you know, I'm a big fan of the blog "Stuff Christians Like".

I'm also a pretty big fan of free stuff.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I am to learn that I WON a free book in a contest he ran last week!! The book, written by Jennifer Schuchmann and Mark Herringshaw, is called "Nine Ways God Always Speaks". I can't wait to read it.

Follow the link HERE to see the post announcing the winners and read about one of the best little nuggets of wisdom I have ever received.

And do yourself a favor and read some of Jon's other posts while you're there. He'll make you laugh, and he'll make you think.

A pretty good way to spend your Tuesday afternoon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's been a good day...

I was determined this morning to share some special time with my boy.

The days are ticking away. School is starting again soon. "The Fall" is coming, as Drew reminds me almost daily. His little sister is scheduled to make her debut "when the pumpkins come out".

In short, if our lives as a little family of three were a day, it is sunset... and I want to appreciate the glorious colors and the relaxation that comes with a day well-spent.

So, in that poetic frame of mind, I asked my son if he'd like to do something special with me. His response, "What? Like sit - or lie down?"

He's an observant little boy, I'll give him credit. My activities have alternated lately between those exact two things.

But I was undeterred. We were going to have a special morning. So, we got dressed and made our way to the mall for some back-to-school shopping. Once we arrived, I had a brilliant idea. The Build-A-Bear Workshop!

We walked in and examined each and every unstuffed animal. Drew chose an owl for his sister and some kind of terrier dog for himself. Not being that much of a "bird" person (or really a "terrier" kind of girl, either), I was able to talk my child into getting two identical standard teddy bears - one for him and one for his sister.

We proceeded to stop #2, where he was instructed to fluff up his bear, choose a heart, make a wish, and place the heart inside his creation. While his bear was being stuffed and fluffed, I listened as my child carried on a conversation with the lady doing all the stuffing.

What's your name? Andrew.
How old are you? Four.
I really like your hair. Thanks! I use mousse and then hairspray.
Wow... that's great.

As he stuffed the baby's bear, he carried on the conversation:
Who's this one for? My sister
And how old is she? She's not born yet. She's coming in "The Fall"
What month? When the pumpkins come out.
What's her name going to be? (Let's call her "Pearl". I haven't told you her name yet, have I?) Pearl.

He picked out a basketball jersey for his bear and named it "Basketball Bear". He's incredibly creative and imaginative, don't you think?

He then picked out two pink hairbows (after I nixed the leopard print cutoff top and mini skirt he chose for baby's bear) and named her "'Pearl' Bear". Again, I am dumbfounded by his imagination (and slightly concerned over his attraction to clothes of the less-than-modest variety... I'll be watching that first girlfriend closely).

The freshly stuffed animals were placed in their new boxed up homes and we were off to the clothing store across the street.

Our next mission was to find a new backpack and lunchbox for school. He noticed the camoflauged lunch boxes at the front of the store. "I like these, but let's keep looking for what I really need." OK... He had his mind set on a certain piece of apparel that he had determined was not well-represented in his 4-yr old wardrobe. We couldn't find any.

"Let's ask for some help, mommy!"
We patiently waited for the sales assistanct to finish with the customer at the register. She acknowledged me when she was ready for the next customer, and before I could make our request, Drew stood up on his tip toes and caught her eye. Ever-so-politely, he began, "Excuse me, but, where are your... do you have any ties?!"

Ties? She asked me.

"Yes, neckties", I confirmed. "He only has one, and we're looking to add to his collection."

Well, just the ties that go with the school uniforms in the front of the store.

With this bit of direction, he was off to see his one choice. It met his approval, so we purchased another necktie "for church and for when all my playclothes are dirty and I can wear it to school."

I could tell that the salesperson was amused. But not just by this four-year old's penache for business attire.

I like your hair, she commented.
"Thanks. I use mousse and then hairspray on it."

(Note: We get this comment almost everywhere we go, and I promise I will soon add pictures of Drew's hair-dos. Complete with his own video tutorial. We've been working on it.)

We departed with another mission successfully completed. As we drove toward work, my son pitched a bit of a tantrum as we passed by his favorite fast food restaurant without stopping. A few moments later, I asked him a question and got silence from the backseat. Adjusting my mirror at the stoplight, I asked, "Are you pouting?"

"Yes, I am." he replied.

"Does it make you feel any better to pout?"
"Not really."
"Yeah, me either. Just checking."

He was his normal self again as we arrived at work and I handed him off to spend the afternoon at Grandma's house.

"See you at 5 o'clock, mom!" he chirped.

Yeah, I thought. Five o'clock it is. Almost sunset.

And it's been a good day.

Monday, August 3, 2009

He Restores My Soul

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.

It's been a hard week, I won't lie. By six o'clock this evening, I was nearly depleted.

I hesitate to share a lot of what's going on. Some of it is still fresh and painful for our family. There will be a proper time to tell you, but it's just not now.

And some of it is heartbreaking news of illness (my dear friend and neighbor's 8 year old son was diagnosed a few days ago with leukemia).

And some of it's just been going on for a little too long and I'm ready to see the evidence of victory in battles that I know God has already won for some friends.

But none of these stories are mine to share. As in, they are not personally happening within the walls of my home.

And I find that when I try to share, I am at a profound loss for words. I begin to type, but I end up staring at something utterly insufficient. The delete button is becoming a good friend.

All I'm left with lately is some verse of Scripture. That explains my previous post. And the beginning of this one, too.

So, back to 6 o'clock this evening. Dinner time. Family time. I managed to pull together a few ingredients and pass it off as a proper meal. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who have been staying with us, made small talk, entertained my son, and helped set out and clean up.

I heard my husband thank me for the delicious food. I heard him thank me a second time. I was pretty sure I had responded with the appropriate "You're welcome!", but I said it again. My words sounded foggy in my own head, so perhaps he'd missed my acknowledgement.

A third gesture of appreciation sent me over the edge. "You're welcome... you're welcome... you're welcome!!!!" I said, with great emphasis! I took my plate to the sink and began to clean up the dishes, trying to act normal, although I knew quite well that my outburst was anything but socially acceptable.

I felt an odd lump rising in my throat. I couldn't tame it.

So, I made my way to the bathroom, hoping that I could walk away from the intensity of the emotions that were caving in on me. As I shut the door, I just sat down in the bathroom to gather my thoughts. My husband came in quickly and asked all the right questions.

I could only answer with a few soft words about being overwhelmed. As I reached up to rub my burning eyes, I was surprised by the pool of hot tears just waiting to spill onto my fingers and down my cheeks.

"I need to get out of here for a little while." I managed. To his credit, my husband asked nothing further. He promised to take care of the bedtime routine and handed me the car keys.

I grabbed my Bible and journal and walked out the door. I had no idea where I was supposed to go - the sun was setting and darkness was imminent.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I found myself moments later in the parking lot of the nearest mall. Well-lit and teaming with security vehicles, I figured it was a safe place to have myself a good cry.

Which is what I did for the next five minutes or so. I cried tears of grief, anxiety, and some self-pity, if I'm going to be honest. And when a sufficient amount of tears had been shed, I opened my Bible and began to read through the Psalms.

As I read, my devotional-style Bible revealed a page titled, "Being Still Before God." It challenged the reader to meditate on the 23rd Psalm. To picture God leading us into green pastures and beside still waters.

My heart settled. I had memorized this familiar passage of Scripture early in my childhood. I didn't even have to turn back to the correct chapter. The psalmist's words were fresh in my mind.

The Lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.

Somehow, as the mall parking lot emptied and I continued to meditate on that picture, God proved Himself once again faithful by restoring my soul.

I was no longer depleted.

Of course, none of the circumstances that brought me to a place of momentary despair had magically changed over the course of those few hours.

But I found comfort in the words of writers who, thousands of years ago, knew and recounted the faithfulness of a loving Father. One who tends to his sheep and leads them to peaceful places. The one who saves, delivers and heals.

The one who restored my soul tonight and will do it all over again tomorrow if I need Him to.