Ships Passing in the Night

il_570xN.11494712My daughter came running in three times in the middle of the night last night because of bad dreams. When she was 4 and 5 years old she had a terrible time at night with bad dreams and would need help quite often. Now that she is older, she has learned to sing and prays or even reads when it happens. Her dreams must have been pretty bad this time because she came in at a full run each time.

Two of the three times, she crawled into my side of the bed, cuddled for a few minutes, and then ran back to bed when I gave her the pat-pat, time-to-go cue.

The third time didn’t go so well. She kept trying to whisper to me and I kept trying to keep her quiet. We both froze at the sound of, “get back in your bed” from Dad. I quickly scooted her out of our bed and ran her back to her bed. I lost my temper on the way down the hall and whispered angrily to her in the dark about this and that as she got into her bed. She lay very still and said she was sorry. My heart broke. I’m such a stupid wretch in the middle of the night. I stopped and took a knee. She asked if I would forgive her. My heart broke more. I asked her forgiveness and we ended up having a good cuddle and chat together.

I realized this morning that although it was a hard night (especially seeing as her little brother did his share of tag-teaming mom as well), it helped me remember a few important things: First, contrary to what it might seem “in the moment” sometimes, when my daughter needs my help in the night, it serves to draw us closer as a mother and daughter (many times because of the rough waves of emotion that toss us up and down and the necessary apologies and prayers).

Second, it reminded me of what I always share with my daughter: Jesus is with us, always. Getting up in the night 4 times or 6 times is no big deal to him. He never grows tired; He never grows weary. Or impatient. Or angry. He keeps watch with us. He is not God-way-up-there or God-standing-nearby. He is God WITH us. Face-to-face, hand-in-hand. He guides us through our rough passages. He is not a passing ship in the night. He comes walking toward us, over the waves. He gets in the boat. He calms the storm.

I can’t do all of that for my kids, but He can. And He does.

Maggots in my manna

IMG_3563I went to bed later than I planned because my day was so full that I ended up playing catch-up all evening. Then at bed time, instead of spending a sweet time in prayer (and generally getting all of God’s delicious nougat-y goodness that comes from sitting at His feet at the end of my day), I spent 2-3 minutes chatting with Him (aka crying on His shoulder) before I drifted off to sleep. Then, I woke up more tired than usual…less alert than usual…and later than usual. Kids got up, breakfast needed to be cooked, and folks needed help getting ready for their day. My morning time with the Lord was cut short as a result and I launched into the day, with only a few stolen moments with the Lord, feeling rushed, pressed, and empty.

I didn’t get a fresh batch of manna.

When the Israelites were in the wilderness for 40 years, God gave them manna to eat every morning. It was their main source of nourishment. They were instructed to go out each morning and gather it. Here’s the cool part, the KEY: The Israelites were told to get as much as they needed. “The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.” Exodus 16: 17-18

God didn’t tell them to get a little bit and try to live on it as best they could. No, he told them to get a full measure of it! God wants us to be FULLY satisfied. Not living on drips and drops.

We can’t live on yesterday’s manna either. We need FRESH manna each day. We need a fresh, timely Word from God each day. If not…maggots.

The Israelites were told to go out and gather fresh manna each day, eat it, and not save it over night. Some of them disobeyed and kept their manna for the next day. When they got up the next day and opened their jars, guess what they found: Maggots!!! Blech. (Ever seen a maggot? If not, you’re lucky. If you have, a shiver just went up your spine.)

I’ve had plenty of days when I’ve tried to munch on day-old (or month-old) manna. It just doesn’t work. Yesterday’s manna from the Lord — even if it was mind-blowing and life-changing (huzzah!!) — just isn’t going to be everything I need for TODAY.

I have to get my Bible out, sit down with it in a quiet place, and stop everything else. I have to focus my mind and heart and pray that the Holy Spirit would please come and speak to me and fill me. I need wisdom for everything going on in my family today. I need fresh wisdom that is applicable to today’s problems and questions. I need a word from the Lord about the struggles I am currently having.

I need today’s manna…and I need to gather as much as I need. I won’t survive without it.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Ephesians 3:16

Mommy is Wonder Woman

supermomMoms get to be super heroes every day.

When the small boy person comes running up, with a soggy face, saying he can’t find his “udder little doggy and the little elf guy,” I feel like I’m wearing a red cape and gold boots.

Because I know exactly where those toys are hiding in this house. Moms always do.

I take the lead confidently, saying “follow me, little man,” and walk to his room. His little steps pound hopefully after me, stubbing along down the hallway. I pull open the closet, pull out the blue bucket, put my hand into what appears to be only a tangle of dinosaurs and trucks, and pull out the little doggy and little elf guy. The smiles and joyful exclamations make me realize that this…this is what it’s like to be Wonder Woman. I tell you.

It’s not like I feel this way all the time, but more and more I can see myself through their eyes. And it’s fun. It helps me to be happier about what I do every day. I spend a large part of the day either working around the house (or working on projects for my job, etc) while wondering if I should be playing with my kids more OR playing with my kids while wondering if I should be working more. I don’t always get it right, but most days the balance makes me pretty happy. Because it’s my job to play with my kids…and it’s my job to do my work. Both are good.

But sometimes cleaning and organizing and cooking and cleaning, despite evvvverything else going on my life, can seem like it’s pretty much just for me. I mean, I’m the one who likes it neat and tidy. I’m the one who can’t stand gross floors and dirty counters. I’m the one who wants to be able to put clothes away easily and open closets without having the doors run off their tracks because there is so much junk falling out of them. And I’m the one who does the bulk of that kind of work.

I can say, oh yes, we need to keep things organized and clean because it helps us all to find things when we need them, it teaches us to be good stewards of what we have been given, it helps us learn responsibility, and on and on and on. (I can lecture all day. It’s in my mommy blood.) But really, it’s my own preference. And I have things down to a pretty good science most days, and yes the others do help, but I’m the one who gets the most weirded out when things are all over the place.

But when I get to be Wonder Woman, it feels pretty awesome. I see how what I do all day means something to them. Yes, they take it for granted. But that’s kind of cool, too, if you think about it. They know that if they come to me for a missing item, the human database will probably be able to find whatever it is. Moms tend to be the proverbial glue that holds everything together.

So instead of being annoyed when my husband can’t find the shirt hanging right in front of him or my kids need help finding the things that they left behind and didn’t take care of properly (sometimes I joke about being “housekeeping” in my best David Spade voice), I just picture myself standing with my feet firmly planted, my head held high, and my fists on my hips, looking svelte in a gorgeous red, white, blue, and gold one-piece. I envision my glorious long black hair flowing down my back and my tall boots. And my shining red cape. (Usually, there is a wind machine involved in this picture.) And it makes me smile.

Of course moms are heroes for many other bigger and better reasons, but I’m pretty happy with the smiles and dimples and jumps for joy I get to see at my house when Mommy comes to the rescue.

I just have to look at myself through their eyes…and I’m Wonder Woman.

Sacred Offerings

new“Do not present an animal with defects, because the Lord will not accept it on your behalf.” Leviticus 22:20

Jesus came to abolish the daily sacrifices for sin that the Levitical Law required; He was the unblemished, perfect sacrifice given on our behalf. Why? Jesus came to do and be all that we could ever need to do or be…because He loves us and makes all things new.

This verse stands out because it shows us just how much Jesus must enjoy setting us free and unburdening us of the continual need to make atonement.

In our own strength, no two waking hours in a row is perfect; we can’t get through the day without a million “defects” popping up. Bring on a stressful situation, a meal missed, a snarky comment, and we are immediately short of temper and quick of tongue. But Jesus cannot and will not love us any less than He loves us right now, which is more than we can ever understand.

He came and became that sacrifice without defect and said, “Okay, now that we have that settled, let’s really get down to the business of love.” And yes, we stumble and fall and mess up and freak out and give in and give up and spout off in the midst of living life and trying to please Him…but God…but God says my offerings, big and small, are without defect.

Jesus gave all so that we could have all.

It’s incomprehensible, really. But if we can but see ourselves as complete and whole, without blemish…not crippled or defective or blind or deaf…we can be set free to offer everything we have to Him — the good, the bad, the ugly — and know that it is, to Him, a sweet savor. He makes everything we have and everything we are beautiful and without blemish.

In Him, all things are made new.

Second Chances

YSWC-websidebar-272x220Have you ever wished you could go back and have a do-over? You know, when put your foot in your mouth or lose your temper or criticize someone…and you just wish you could hit the back button and start all over again?

I know I have. So many times. I say something I shouldn’t or say things are the completely wrong time. I’m unkind to my children or husband, I get frustrated, things come out of my mouth that I can’t shove back in. It’s the worst feeling when you just can’t take it back!

I love that God is a God of second chances. He never gives up on us and is always ready to wipe the slate clean.

When Moses went up to get the Ten Commandments from God, it was a great beginning. He went up the mountain, the people were waiting, God met Moses face to face, all was good. But boy did they mess it up. They had a big party while Moses was up on the mountain and end up making a golden calf to worship. God said enough is enough, and Moses pleaded on behalf of the people.

But God relented and gave them a HUGE second chance. And something remarkable happens.

“Then the Lord told Moses, ‘Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones. I will write on them the same words that were on the tablets you smashed. Be ready in the morning to climb up Mount Sinai and present yourself to me on the top of the mountain.'” (Exodus 34: 1-2 NLT)

What?! He actually said let’s boost back and have a do-over?! I love it. I want it. I need it.

But that’s what God is all about. Over and over and over again, the Bible tells a story of second chances. And He gives us our do-overs all the time. Yes, there are consequences. Yes, things get hairy. But God extends grace every time. There are no utter failures to God, except the heart that just refuses and refuses to ever turn to Him and say, “Hey, please come in and fix this mess.”

When we screw up, whether it is big or little, God says to us what He said to Moses: “Get up in the morning, be ready, and come meet me.” And when we do, He hands us a clean slate and begins again to write His story and His plans on the tablets of our hearts.

31 Things

Some bloggers do 31 posts in October, one for each day.  I knew that wasn’t going to happen, so I kept a list going all month of the things I have done as a mom. I hope this list gives other moms a chuckle…and some encouragement.

As a real-life mommy…

I have, like a cat, used my own saliva to clean my child’s face.
I have, in a dire situation, picked up a pacifier from the floor, rubbed it on my pants, and given it back to my crying child.
I have slept on the floor of my child’s room waiting for him to fall asleep.
I have built a fort as big as a living room.
I have killed spiders with my bare hands (even though I am deathly afraid).
I have changed my baby’s diaper on a plane, on a train, in a car, on my lap, standing up, in the dark, at the beach, in a tent, on a boat, in a car seat.
I have washed my baby’s hair and put baby lotion on him so he would smell clean when I didn’t have time to bathe him.
I have given my child a “wipes bath” when I didn’t have time to wash his hair and apply lotion.
I have said the words, “please go back and flush the toilet” 2,452 times.
I have gone back into a grocery store to search every aisle for a lost stuffed animal.
(I have found a lost stuffed animal on an end-cap of apple juice in a grocery store.)
I have nursed my baby on a plane, on a train, in a car, on a boat, standing up, while working, in the dark, at the beach, on a stool.
I have missed dinner because I gave it to my child.
I’ve gone three days and seven hours without a shower.
I have hidden the best Halloween candy from the rest of the family.
I have found toys in my shoes, in the shower, on the toilet, in the toilet, in my bed, in the couch cushions, in cupboards, in drawers, in the pantry.
I have sailed on a boat made out of pillows.
I have ridden in a wagon made out of couch cushions.
I’ve flown on an airplane made out of blankets.
I have used my sweatshirt as a blanket for a cold baby on a cool day.
I’ve been late for church, school, work, weddings, funerals, parties.
I have used ribbon from a gift bag as a hair tie.
I have used my daughter’s hair bow as a bow tie for my son.
I have stopped at a store on the way to an event to buy new clothes for my baby when she puked all over her whole outfit…and all over the spare clothes I had in the diaper bag.
I have sat backwards, been dizzy, been car sick, had my arm fall asleep, hurt my neck in order to help my children through long, hard car trips.
I have carried a huge sleeping kid to bed from the car.
I have prayed all night for a sick child with a spiking fever.
I have mopped up messes on the floor 1,932 times.
I have hidden an annoying toy at nap time in the hopes that my child would forget it ever existed.
I have done a millions things right and made a million mistakes.
I have given thanks to God for the miracle of my children every day for five years…and counting.


The Baby Announcement

I can’t remember why I thought a baby announcement was important this time around, but I did.  This is the story of how it took 6 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days to get them in the mail.

When Baby was born, things went haywire.  Some moms are calm and collected, going out to see friends only a few days after delivering.  Some moms bounce back easily from pregnancy and have it all together.  That is not me.

When Baby was 4 weeks old, I somehow got ALL FOUR OF US into coordinating outfits for a 20-minute photo shoot a friend was offering.  We looked nice.  Baby was still jaundiced but cute.  Daughter was glowing.  Hero looked good.  I looked decent for 4 weeks post-partum.  Unfortunately, we did not look so nice on camera.  None of the photos turned out except two of the kids that were just okay.  I gave up on the baby announcement idea and went back to sleep.

When Baby was 3 months old, I thought about how I needed to get him to a portrait studio for baby pictures.  The baby announcement idea resurfaced but I lost steam and forgot.

When Baby was 5 months and 3 weeks, Daughter started preschool.  The very first day of school, I took Baby for his first portraits.  We got a few great shots and I started to dream again of a baby announcement. Completely aware that everyone I would send an announcement to had, at this point, either met the baby in person or seen photos online, I stayed the course and ordered pictures; I knew at least one of them would be perfect for an announcement.

When Baby was 6 months 1 week, the portraits were ready.  He looked amazing.  But, gad, he was already sitting up in some of the photos.  That just wouldn’t do for a baby announcement.  I got out the two “okay” photos from the 4-week photo shoot and decided to order announcements with those photos after all.

When Baby was 6 months 2 weeks, his announcements were fetched home from Costco on Hero’s way home from work.  The photos were fuzzy and the poor kid looked yellow, sleepy, and a little upset at his sister.  Compared to the bright-eyed, healthy baby boy sitting next to me eating his dinner, the announcement photos looked kinda sad.  I decided to order multiple wallets of his best portrait photo to add to the announcement package.  Hero played along and gallantly fetched photos from Costco again.

When Baby was 6 months 2 weeks 2 days, three books of stamps were fetched home by Hero on his way from work.

When Baby was 6 months 2 weeks 3 days, everything was on the counter and ready.  I got sick and a few more days flashed by.  Yesterday, I decided we would get the announcements in the mail, come what may.  Daughter and I addressed and stuffed envelopes all morning, giggling and laughing, all the while rushing like mad to beat the mail carrier.  We got them in the mailbox…just two minutes after the mail carrier came by.  We ran out to the street to try to catch him but he was long gone.  Some moms in the face of such a silly delay would, with boundless energy, pack up both kids and race off to the post office.  That is not me.  We cheerfully left the stack in the slot for the next day and brought in the mail.

Today, 6 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days after Baby was born, we sent a lovely packet out in the mail to our dearest friends and relatives announcing his birth.