The importance of God

One of the most infuriating things about having children, and loving those children, and busting your butt to raise those children, is seeing those children deliberately do things you specifically told them not to do.

Me: “Merrick, take that sled to the front yard so you don’t crack your skull like a watermelon on this concrete.”

Merrick: “Hmmm sounds reasonable enough but I shall instead do the exact opposite of what you just said, because this hill in the backyard is prime for sledding yo, and we have insurance right?”

Dang it, son.

I’ve been able to take a shower almost every morning, so I am managing to get in at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted prayer time on the daily, which is lucky for you guys because now you get to hear me go on a crazy Christian ramble–something I haven’t done in a while.

But that doesn’t mean God hasn’t been hounding me about stuff. Example: God Himself. When was the last time I meditated on how awesome He really is?

I’m so serious.

There’s a book I heart called “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan, and in it, he discusses how amazing God’s creation truly is. I’d straight quote word for word from it, but I gave away my copy so let me round-about share one particular thought from the book that stands out in my mind: God created tiny things like ladybugs and all their little lady parts. He created plants and animals, each with a hundred thousand different working pieces. He created humongous things like oceans and mountains and clouds, which water the plants which helps them grow. Plants feed us. They give off oxygen. We need oxygen to live. Coincidence? I think not. I’m no scientist, but to think all that exists in this world came from some random explosion in the blackness of space? Seems way more far-fetched to me than the truth. Logic: we were specially designed and put together by a higher power.

God created the world–THE WORLD–and He loves us. Measly, little old us.

He created us–but not so He could have robotic little worshippers living in a giant terrarium where everything works together flawlessly like a well-oiled machine. He created each of us, with 200 bones and millions upon millions of nerve endings, and ten fingers and ten toes, with eternal souls, sparkly personalities–and also free wills, so that our love for Him and for each other could be deep and real, not forced and false.

GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD. He so loved it that even in the beginning, when we deliberately disobeyed Him, and blatantly went against Him, He didn’t turn His back on us. The creator of the entire universe doesn’t need us to be awesome. He could have been all like “Alright. I told you once. Have a nice life. I’ll just sit up here on my cloud, being all glorious and junk.” (Which, coincidentally, is similar to the way I felt today when Merrick ate cement after an unfortunate sled ride in the backyard: “Aw, that stinks. I told you once. I’ll just sit inside here, being warm and drinking hot cider.”)

But He didn’t. Instead, from the moment we jacked His perfect design with our own *fantastic* ideas and earthly cravings, God set into motion a plan that would ultimately lead to our redemption and salvation–the entire Bible is the story of our rebellion and of God’s unfailing and unfathomable love.

In all our sinfulness, in all our wanderings, this amazing God, who has existed since before the beginning of all time; who is surrounded by a thousand hundred angels singing His praises; who shines so bright we can’t even begin to look at His face–this God loves us so much that He sacrificed His only son.

Psalm 8
1 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Thoughts:

1. That’s so nice. Actually wow….holy crap, I’m so sorry for all the things I’ve done and ever will do. Mad respect to God. I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.

2. With all this being true and believed by so many, how is it then, that the world (which God created) is fast filling with people who don’t want anything to do with Him?

All people have one kind of relationship or another with God:

There are those that have never and will never believe in God. There are those that have believed but don’t believe anymore.

There are those that vaguely believe. There are those that believe a watered-down version of the Gospel, full of half-truths and feel-good vibes, but empty of any real devotion to or love for Jesus Christ Himself.

There are those that say they believe in order to push their own hateful agendas on everyone else.

There are people who do good but don’t believe.

There are people who do believe but just can’t get life right.

There are those who talk the talk but do not walk the walk.

There are those that believe, but tell no one. There are those that tell everyone, but don’t believe.

There are those that don’t have all the answers; who KNOW they don’t have all the answers, but who love God with every thought, with every breath, with every bone in their body.

There are those that believe, love God, and follow Him; that live out their beliefs and teach them to whoever they come in contact with.

The one thing everyone everywhere has in common is this: we all fall short. So, so short.

More thoughts:

Did you know there is a growing atheist movement called the Sunday Assembly, where people can come and sing and get all the feels, and experience the community of a traditional church, minus the idea of any God? (Did you know there are “Christian” churches all over the United States today that pretty much do just that?)

Our culture is changing, which is not always a bad thing unless our focus is shifting–and it is. We are becoming a society of self-worshippers. We are forgetting God’s importance and power. We are proudly patting ourselves on our fat backs and pointing fingers in every direction but our own when things go wrong.

And then we wonder why things do go wrong.

Christians, have we dropped the ball?

What can we as the church in general offer that a Sunday Assembly can’t? What can we do for a community that they aren’t already capable of doing themselves? What present do we give to the man who already has everything? What about us is enticing or different from the rest of the world?

It’s not sports programs or food banks or block parties or kick-ass rock music on Wednesday nights or a bomb children’s activity room. It’s not Tuesday morning coffee club with a 10-minute Christian-lite bible study on the side. Its not a cocky recitation of scripture or a memorized verbal assault on those who have their doubts. Its not a millionth Obama-bashing Facebook rant, or an inspirational bible verse printed over a picture of an empty beach.

Instead of those things, let us be known for having a passion for God and His creation, a humble attitude of a servant, and an unbridled, burning, evident (and maybe even crazy) love for a savior, who is Jesus.


Rock

As I type this (super duper quickly), Arbor is sound asleep (for a second), rocking back and forth in her swing.

And life is so, so good.

You can find 300 million posts online about parenting a new baby during those first few challenging months. I need not bore anyone anymore with the mundane (and also gory) details of life with Arbor. But can I just say that no matter how frazzled I look or how scatterbrained I act (*not an act.) (**At all), I am thankful, because God has been with me this whole time.

My favorite poem (story? Not sure.) is that one about the footprints in the sand–it might actually be called “Footprints in the Sand”–where a man looks back on his life and sees exactly where God was carrying him as evidenced by only one pair of footprints in the–wait for it…..sand. Beach imagery speaks to this Florida girl and I know that no matter where life takes me or what I’m going through, I can always always always trust Him to be with me and lead me and sometimes straight pick me up and carry me like I’m some sort of colicky screaming baby. (Not that I’d know anything about that.)

I can also tell you that when I’m counting on anyone else but God to guide me through a situation or to make me feel better about myself, not only am I putting unrealistic expectations on that person and straining our relationship, I almost always wind up sorely disappointed.

Life is busy, and messy, and tough, for all of us at one point or another (for instance: from five o’clock in the evening until eight o’clock at night. And also on car rides.) As awesome as my family and friends are at helping me and lifting me up in times of need, they weren’t put here to be my emotional babysitters or to fix problems I’ve created time and time again for myself.

There’s only one dude that I can truly count on, and He is no dude.

He is God. And He’s awesome.

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Coping.

Arbor.

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I am all about that face.

But this girl knows how to break her mother down, smooth. Almost every afternoon she cries–hard–for hours. (Consequently, so do I.) It’s a new and horrifying parenting experience for me, because I’ve never hear such blood-curdling screams come from something so dainty and angelic, which is really something, considering my 3 other children who also were once babies that I did manage to raise past their 5th birthdays.

I’m a seasoned vet, aren’t I? How can such a tiny person bring me straight to my knees, so easily, in a matter of minutes? And why does this happen mostly when Caleb is not home?

Truth is, every kid is so different. All the people tell you that, but it doesn’t hit home until you’re sobbing and hyperventilating in your closet because all the tried-and-true techniques you used with Things 1,2, and 3 have proven to be completely ineffective against the wrath of nĂºmero 4.

Y’all. Y’ALL. Motherhood is epically hard. In the most trying of ways. It’s like a test and you almost always feel like you’re failing. I thought by now I’d be well on my way to straight owning baby’s first year. Instead, I’m exhausted and on-edge and I have nightmares of myself shaking my baby. I wake up panicked and crying, and I spend the rest of the night stroking her soft baby head to make sure it’s still attached.

Taking care of an infant is life-consuming. I have 4 girlfriends who have had babies since this summer; all of us have mastered the art of going to the bathroom with kids on our laps. We’re all muddling through the best way we know how.

Here are some things I know to be true, even if they are indeed hard to remember in the moment:

Babies grow up.

Fast.

These days are precious and I soon will miss them.

There was a time during the pregnancy and the two pregnancies before her that I would’ve given body parts away for the privilege of rocking a screaming, colicky baby.

There was a buttload of people praying for some super exquisite health for little Arbor the second we found out she was on her way. Prayers? Answered.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again a million-thousand times: I have the most supremely awesome group of friends and family; I’m never at a lack of people to call and vent to or bounce ideas off of. Also wonderful is the army of surrogate mothers and grandmothers I’m able to go to for hugs and advice.

God has a plan for us, for her. Maybe Arbor is unknowingly training for something that requires some serious vocal gymnastics.

And I guess if I’m still feeling a little traumatized later on in life, I can always come up with a bogus reason to ground her.


Stuff and Thangs

Fact 1: You cannot listen to Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls” without playing the air drums–at which, coincidentally, I am a master.

Fact 2: I need the soundtrack to “Chipwrecked”. Also: still convinced that David Cross would have to play the part of me in a movie about my life.

Fact 3: The fifth season of TWD has already achieved a level of bad-assery unmatched by any program in the history of television–and we’re only in 2 episodes. Seriously, it’s almost too much.

Fact 4: Carol is no longer a burden, just a burden.

Fact 5: Bob, however…


Getting there.

Alright alright alright! Sheet rock is in da house! And for the first time in forever, I can really, really envision what it’s going to look like when it’s all done.

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Also, our driveway has rocks in it now so we don’t sink into the mud on rainy days.

Let us camp out here for a sec: this is the house I drew. This is the house Caleb literally built (and is still building.) I love that it’s finally coming together and I just know it’s going to be a house that our kids can enjoy in all the ways I pictured them enjoying as I dreamed up every nook and fun little cranny. It’s also kind of mind-blowing that Arbor will not remember a time when we didn’t live there.

One glistening tear.

And then back to unchecked hysterical excitement.

We are planning to play it fairly safe as far as finishing touches but the creative side of me wants at least one stand-out feature. Barnwood accent wall–too overdone? (It is a farmhouse in a field in the middle of the country, after all.) And what about the regular stuff? What if I get bored with a white subway tile backsplash? What if I end up hating that mushroomy gray color that we used in all the rooms? I want–I need–an overall calm house, but my heart loves me some taxi-cab-yellow.

Can someone just come pick everything out and put it all together?


Sucking Snot

This is real:

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And I can tell you from personal experience that it works. Arbor has been suffering from a vicious head cold and a friend of mine suggested this mind blowing contraption. Now, this is my home-schooling super-mom friend who is paleo–and you know I normally don’t trust those people as far as I can make my own organic granola bars. But she had this thing sitting around, and I was really tired from sleeping zero hours, so I took it, just in case. Well, I put it off, hoping to get away with not having to use it at all ever, but “just in case” did indeed come, later on at about 3:00 a.m.

My child was congested and screamy. I put the mouthpiece to my lips and gagged a few times, pretty hard. And then, when Arbor was about to explode from the most epic hissy fit an infant has ever thrown, I sucked.

I got mad amounts of snot out of her precious red nose, and none of it got in my mouth. (I gagged some more anyway, for good measure and dramatics.) I sucked again. And again. And Arbor breathed. And nursed with ease. And slept long. (2 entire hours at a time!) I will never use a booger squeegee thing again.

Today I have to call a realtor to see what all I need to do before we list our house. I imagine we will be cleaning our brains out and finding a temporary home for the dogs; I do not see how it will be possible for me to sweep, vacuum, hide the giant crates, and then load up baby plus kids plus dogs into the car for last-minute showings. Like, that will never happen.

I also wonder how smart it is to list our house so close to the holidays. I’ve never sold a house before. I’m kind of freaking out. What if people just don’t like it? I will feel so personally offended (and also bankrupt because 2 house payments are fast becoming uncool.)

Any thoughts? Tips? Suggestions?…or potential buyers?


Raging Baby

Can I just be real for a second here? I mean, realer than usual? I’ve got 4 kids. And I still have no idea what I’m doing. So if you parents out there would like to clue a mother in and sound off on any one of these following bafflements…yeah, that’d be great.

1. Babies with colds: this week friggin sucks, true story no lie. Not because I’m inconvenienced, not because I’m drinking more coffee than what’s medically recommended (all decaf btw, so I don’t know what the hell good it’s doing). But because there is almost nothing I can do to help my child. She can’t breathe, can’t eat. I’ve done the steamy bathroom and the nose sucky thingy. Essential oils has been suggested but our budget for all that is about negative ZERO dollars (plus it seems really complicated and I hate things that smell like not sugar and coffee). You can’t give a newborn any medicine. The universe can be so cruel.

2. Taking temperatures rectally. This has always been beyond uncomfortable for me, so imagine my delight when I was told at the hospital that this practice was outdated and thus not recommended. And then imagine my supreme gross-out when the dial-a-nurse at my pediatrician’s office told me to go ahead and take that rectal temp so I could get the most accurate reading. On the phone, while she talked to me. So here I am, with my poor unsuspecting infant daughter in my lap, and I’m trying my best to mom-soothe so the cold metal stick in her butt doesn’t send her into a fit of hysterics from which there would be no escape–not fun at all ever under regular private circumstances, but having that strange lady hear the play-by-play of the whole process in my best baby-talk? Awkward.

3. The crying baby in the backwards-facing infant carrier–MOTHER OF GOD is there nothing more nerve-wrecking than driving anywhere at all with a 6-week-old rage-a-holic screaming bloody murder in the backseat? Never in life do I ever get such a strong almost-uncontrollable urge to ram my car into a tree except for moments like this, which occur essentially anytime I go anywhere with any baby. And somehow, despite being approximately 80 feet out of my reach way back there in row 2 passenger side, she manages to sound like she’s standing on my actual ear drum. I cannot bear it.

4. And while we’re on the subject, what the devil is up with you moms and your car seat obsessions? Stop it, just stop it. Stop demanding all the safety studies and stop getting all excited when new laws come into play dictating that all children under the age of 20 are required to be in a $700 rear-facing car seat that’s welded into the frame of your SUV. Quit keeping me up to speed by posting Facebook articles and smiley faces. I don’t care! I hate the rules and I count the minutes until I can break them. Does my 4th grader really need a booster seat? It doesn’t matter, because I threw it away when she was 5! Apparently my own mother held me in her lap when went anywhere in a vehicle–and I’m totes fine. So the law can suck it.

5. I’m totally kidding, I care about my child’s safety and also my ability to live outside of prison. I will use the correct car seats for the correct children…but I will hate that new rear-facing law and so will my one-year-old who is sure to get car sick by looking at backward scenery. When she’s not busy screaming her head off in a blatant attempt to drive me nuts.

6. Babies poop on you. That’s real. I’m not complaining; I just thought I’d bring it up. This happens–sometimes three times a night, and it always, always, takes you by surprise. They poop on you.

That is all. Signing off with this baby, who I will be rocking all night long:

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