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Archive for the ‘Ordinary days’ Category

This is what I wish happens at our house every morning:

I wake up promptly at 6am, well before the kids, refreshed after a good night’s sleep. I spend an hour with the Lord while sipping my freshly brewed coffee. After being energized physically and spiritually, I walk (while humming) to the boys’ room and gently wake them up saying, “Good morning darlings, it’s time to get up and get ready.” They rub their sleepy eyes and respond, “Good morning, mother,” and immediately start getting themselves dressed without me having to tell them. I go into the kitchen and make us all a balanced breakfast. We sit down to breakfast as a family, Daddy kisses us all goodbye and leaves for work, and I walk both kids leisurely to the bus stop.

This is more like what happens at our house every morning:

The boys break into our room around 7am, screaming and laughing. They jump into our bed and I dream that I’m being ambushed by the enemy. I finally kind of wake up only to see a 24lb toddler straddling my stomach and jumping up and down trying to ride me like a horsey. With every jump he screams, “Mama, I want ‘nack!” (Translation: Mama, I want snack!) I manage to roll off the bed unhurt, leaving Larry to deal with the two jumping monkeys. I go into the kitchen to tend to the first order of business, boiling water for my morning coffee. The kids come into the kitchen and I try to make them eat breakfast, but they’re too busy arguing about who gets to press down the plunger on my French press. I kick myself for teaching them the verse, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first,” because now they quote it to each other and to me when they argue. I soon tire of refereeing the shouting match and send them to their room to get dressed even though they’re only half done with breakfast. Larry tries to kiss me goodbye, but I’m too irritated to kiss him back. I sit in the kitchen and savor my coffee in my one minute of peace. As I’m sipping, I look over at the clock and….oh no, only 15 minutes until the bus comes! I go in to check on the kids and they’re lounging around naked in their room. I get Turner dressed and make repeated threats to CC to get some clothes on. After the 10th time, he finally complies. I throw some lunch into his lunch box, some clothes on myself, and leave the house teeth unbrushed, hair uncombed. CC races down the sidewalk on his scooter with me following with Turner in the stroller at breakneck speed until we get to the bus stop. Thankfully, the bus isn’t always on time and the kids have time to play a few rounds of hide and seek with the other boy waiting there before the yellow school bus pulls up. Turner and I wave goodbye to CC and walk leisurely home where I have a second chance to begin the day again in the right way.

What do mornings look like at your house?

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Fixing the stop sign

Fixing the stop sign

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Recently I’ve been reading through a ministry book by Witness Lee titled “The Sufficiency, Pursuit, and Learning of the Lord’s Serving Ones.” I’ve been reading it in the snatches of time I have during the day – while waiting at the bus stop, on the bench at the park, during CC’s swim class. Reading it in little snippets during the day has been so enlightening, helpful and supplying. I’ve really enjoyed a particular portion I read a few weeks ago, which I’ve been chewing on and quoting to everyone. It’s so good, I’ll just quote part of it here –

Genuine spiritual life grows in desolate circumstances. We should not expect to always receive light when we read the Bible, to have the Lord’s presence when we pray, to save many sinners, or that our wife, husband, children, parents, and siblings will be spiritual. These expectations are unrealistic. Those who are genuinely spiritual pitch their tent between Bethel and Ai. God does not allow us to be free of desolate situations…God desires that we remain in the status in which we were called…If we can be normal human beings in our troublesome, complicated, and fallen situations, then we will have the genuine exercise of spirituality. Living between Bethel and Ai should be our normal experience.

Our outward circumstances in coordination with the operation of God give us the opportunity to develop a genuine spiritual life. We should not expect to be in a situation that is heavenly and without any problems…We have the weaknesses and desolation, but we also have the Lord’s blessing. We must leave our spiritual longings and learn to experience God in our desolate situations so that we may have genuine growth in life.

Is that not encouraging? To give some background, in Genesis chapter 12, Abraham was led by God to pitch his tent between Bethel and Ai. Bethel means “the house of God” and Ai means “a heap of ruins.” This is exactly where God also leads us to pitch our tent today. In our Christian life, our experience is often that we face the house of God on one side, but a heap of ruins on the other. We may be enjoying God in His house, but we also often find ourselves in the midst of many desolate situations that cause us to wonder if God is really with us. So often I have the mistaken concept that the more I grow in the Lord, the easier my life should become. But I was so helped to be reminded that genuine spirituality and growth comes out of the experience of Christ in the midst of all the desolate situations. We should never expect our life to be problem free, but our normal experience should be one of living between Bethel and Ai.

One day last week the Lord reminded me of this in a very practical way. It was a regular weekday and the day began as all other regular weekdays begin. Some time after breakfast CC discovered that his little brother had destroyed his Lego creation from the night before and a level 9 tantrum ensued. Let’s just say the situation quickly deteriorated from there. We missed the school bus, and as I was trying to get the boys out the door so that I could drive CC to school, they began fighting about who would open the door. By the time I got both screaming boys buckled into their car seats, I was on the verge of screaming myself. I was tempted to just leave them there and go back into the house and crawl back into bed. That’s when the Lord spoke that portion to me again. Here I was in the midst of a desolate situation, here I am facing Ai, but that is perfectly normal. If in the midst of that, I turn to the Lord and learn to be a normal Christ-enjoying mom to my children, then that can be an experience of genuine spirituality and growth in life.

So as I drove, I let the boys scream until they were all screamed out. I inwardly called on the Lord and tried my best to speak to them with my soft non-screaming voice. I don’t think I ever had the chance to get into the Word or spend much time in prayer that morning, but I felt like I touched the Lord and had a real experience of Him in the midst of that loud minivan. When we cooperate with His operation in the middle of our troublesome circumstances, whatever they may be, then God will really be able to grow in us in a practical way.

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Dear fellow mom at the park this afternoon,

I really wanted to tell you that you’re doing a great job with your twin babies, but I thought it would come off a little awkward. I saw you pushing that double stroller tiredly, weighed down by the double bags under your eyes, knowing it has probably been forever since you’ve had a good night’s sleep. I wanted to say bravo to you for getting out of the house, knowing it probably took you forever and a day to get those two little ones ready.

I wanted to tell you that I saw you, as you struggled to put one baby into the swing while the other clung to your leg. I saw you when you heaved a sigh of resignation when neither baby wanted to be in the swings and watched in admiration as you lifted them out and tucked one under each arm. I wanted so much to offer you help, but for some reason I hesitated. Maybe because I didn’t want you to think that I thought you were incompetent, or maybe I didn’t know how you would feel about a stranger wanting to hold your child. Sorry all I offered you was a sympathetic smile, when what I really wanted to do was to invite you over for tea and take those two precious weights off your weary hands while you cradle a nice hot cup of tea (or better yet, of latte) instead.

I wanted to tell you that I saw you as you sat with those babies on the playground floor, so needy, barely crawling, demanding constant amusement from you. I felt kind of guilty sitting there on the step by myself, watching my own two boys playing happily by themselves, independent of me. I wanted to offer you encouraging words, that eventually those two little ones will also be running and sliding on their own, but I didn’t want to come off as patronizing or condescending.

I watched you as you reluctantly loaded those babies back into their stroller when their fussiness indicated that they’ve had enough of the park, even though it had barely been half an hour. I saw you look back longingly as you headed out the gate, at all the moms chattering and laughing, while their kids played happily, probably mentally counting how many hours you still had left in the day being alone taking care of those babies. My heart went out to you. I wanted to run after you and say, “It’ll be okay, really. It’s super hard, but it will get better,” but instead I offered up a silent prayer for you, that you would find the grace needed to get through the rest of today.

So dear mama, if we do meet at the park again, I’ll try to overcome my shyness and awkwardness and stop worrying about how I come off. I won’t hesitate to offer you help because that’s what fellow moms do for each other. Maybe I’ll even work up the courage to strike up a conversation and invite you over for tea. And while you’re cradling that cup, maybe I’ll get a chance to tell you what I wanted to tell you today – that you’re doing a wonderful job.

 

 

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The prompt for this week is…

Hands

GO

I look down at my hands typing on the keyboard and notice how dry and worn they look. Product of washing dishes without gloves and being too lazy to apply lotion, because really why bother when I have to wash my hands every 15 minutes? These hands that are constantly wiping down tables, counters, little faces and little bums, handling food and sticky messes, folding laundry and papers for crafts…these hands that do so much in a day and need constant washing.

These hands that carry the weight of babies and my own heavy head at the end of a long day. These hands that are constantly responding to the cry of “Mommy, help!” These hands that wipe away tears of others and many times of my own. These hands that absorb the smell of garlic and baby skin and dish detergent. Thank You Lord, for giving me these hands and may You use them as Your own. Remind me to take care of them because so much depends on them. Okay, time to go put on some lotion.

STOP

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The prompt for this week is…

Grateful

GO

Sometimes in the midst of my messy noisy life, it’s easy to forget that I have so much to be grateful for. It’s so much easier to focus on and complain about the little imperfections I have to live with – yet another marker stain on the couch, toys that refuse to stay tidy in their spots, little boys who can’t get along, a four-year-old’s constant non-stop whining. These little things cloud my brain and even though I’m always telling my boys the importance of saying thank you, I know with my sharp words and short temper I’m modeling to them someone who’s not very thankful or grateful.

So I’m so grateful for this week’s word, grateful for the reminder that for me to raise grateful children, I need to be a grateful mother.┬áToday I will exercise to give thanks to my heavenly Father instead of using my energy to inwardly whine non-stop about all the trivial things. Thank you Lord, for providing for all our needs, marker stained couch and all. Thank you Lord, for healthy happy children, even though they bicker and whine and drive me up the wall. Thank you Lord, for the most understanding husband who after you, bears the brunt of all my complaining and whining. Thank you Lord, for friends and sisters I can not only commiserate with, but also pray with. Thank you most of all, for your daily unending supply of grace. Thank you for your life in me that can make me a thankful person. Amen and amen.

STOP

 

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The prompt for this week is…

Friend

GO

This summer CC’s best friend will move away to New York City. He’s known her since they were both 10 months old. I met her mom at the weekly library story time and as we pushed our strollers next to each other on the way to the library, we found out that our children were a week apart and that we lived a couple streets apart. Our friendship and the friendship of our children was sealed on that day four years ago. Since then there’s been innumerable play dates, two years of preschool together carpooling everyday, toys and meals shared between the two homes like family. She calls CC “older brother” in Chinese even though she’s only a week younger and a whole head taller than him. They don’t ever seem to tire of playing with each other, begging to go to each other’s houses after school. Sometimes they fight like an old married couple and it’s hard for me to keep a straight face. I wish I could tape record all the conversations I overhear between them in the car on the way to and back from school.

But in a few months she will move across the country and there will be no more car pooling and no more play dates. CC will start transitional kindergarten at a new school without his trusty friend by his side. I don’t know if either of them realize yet the changes that are coming, but children adapt quickly, and unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) also forget quickly. It’s the adults who don’t deal as well with change. Soon there will be new best friends and who knows if they’ll even remember each other in five years. They’ll only have the pictures to remind them. Hopefully the next time they meet, she won’t still be a whole head taller than him.

STOP

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Last week was a lazy blogging week for me. Larry had the week off and we were too occupied with getting our spring break projects done and getting in some much needed down time. The week before spring break I had a little bit of a mini breakdown. This whole school year has been tremendously busy for us and during the couple of weeks leading up to spring break, I had just about had it. I was exhausted and not so happy about the fact that my husband and I were like ships passing in the night. Let’s just say not a few tears were shed on my part, which caused us both to finally sit down and reevaluate our schedules.

So for us, last week was a Sabbath week. We didn’t make any big plans; just a short list of projects for us to work on individually and together. Sometimes it’s nice to relax for a week at a beach house, and sometimes it’s nice to just have a week to get to those things you normally don’t have time for. I find both rejuvenating to the soul in its own ways. So for Larry it was getting our taxes done, and for me it was finally repainting that cabinet I’ve been wanting to put in the living room. We would take turns watching the kids so that each of us could have time to work on our projects and then spend the rest of the day together as a family. There were no big outings, just afternoons at the playground, picnics on campus, trips to the library and our new favorite family activity, dining out at Ikea (Tuesdays kids eat free!). We also managed to squeeze in a date night, which was definitely one of the highlights of my week.

I’m very thankful for the timely selah we were able to have. It’s nice when ships passing in the night can finally find a harbor and dock together for awhile. This week we go back to our normal schedules and once again the busyness of life will resume. But I hope we will remember as we go about our days that we are not two ships, but passengers on the same boat, our Lord Himself at the helm. Whether the waters we face be turbulent or calm, we are partners together with Him in navigating them. With this reminder and a week of rest behind me, I’m encouraged to once again sail on!

How do you and your family recharge when you are overwhelmed by the busyness of life?

 

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