Sunday, March 30, 2008

I like to kick it

Hope started soccer yesterday. My friend calls this four year old version of soccer “huddle ball”. They don’t quite know what they are doing and everyone just kind of huddles around the ball and tries to kick it. This is true for sure. We didn’t really get that far into a game though. It was our first day so most of it was spent learning some technique and learning how to listen to the coach.

I was a bit worried about Hope because she is kind of a mixed bag. Hope has this amazing sense of independence mixed with a determinedly emotional personality. It is a perfect mix of Loren and I. Basically, this means that she wants to be able to do something right the first time and be the best at it, and if she can’t, she cries. (It actually means a lot of other things but that is what it means as it relates to soccer. ) As troublesome as that sounds, it's one of the things I love about Hope. She is fiercely competitive and determined, but she is tenderhearted. Even though I love this about her, I am pretty aware that, at this stage in her life, it is almost always a disaster waiting to happen. Let’s face it. At four you are constantly learning new things and, chances are, you aren’t gonna be good at all of them. She cries a lot. It has been a challenge for me to learn how to respond in a way that encourages her to keep trying instead of how I automatically respond in my brain which goes something like, “I can’t believe she is crying about this!” I knew that soccer was bound to test my limits!

So, before the fiery trials of yesterday’s game I called my friend, Amy, for support. She is so good at reminding me of what I already know and at obliterating that deep dark place in me that is terrified that I am the worst mother. She told me that she knew I would respond well and she reminded me to tell Hope about the most important rule in soccer… have fun!

So, we went and Hope jumped right in. She listened well and practiced all the techniques and loved it. She did cry twice, briefly, but then she got right back out there. (It turns out that she loves the practice part, where everyone gets a ball, but not so much the game part where there is only one ball and all those kids. My favorite quote from her happened when she came over after the game part, a little teary, and said, “There is no ball and I am just running and running around and I am tiiiiiirrrrrreeeeed!”) The best part is that, when it was over, the coach said, “who had fun?!?” and she raised her hand and smiled. Then she came running over with her juice and her snack smiling all the way. I told her how proud I was of her and asked her if she liked soccer and if she had fun. She said yes to both.

I had fun too, watching her watch the coach, watching her listen to instructions and then trying to do what they said, watching her stand in line and wait her turn, watching her volunteer to sit out for a while:), watching her whisper and link arms with her buddy, Caden. I watched her all swallowed up in her orange team jersey and thought, “when did she get so big?”

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen, Indeed!

Loren woke us up with morning with a blaring song of praise to the Risen Lord. He cranked up the radio and bounced on the bed like a little boy saying, "He is Risen!" We got out of bed muttering "He is risen, indeed," but it wasn't long before we were all dancing around praising the Lord. I am sure we looked funny with bed head and sleepy eyes, but it seemed the only right way to respond. I loved waking up this way. I felt alive...which I think is the point of Easter Sunday for believers. I have always been totally in love with Loren's enthusiasm for life and today I fell in love again with his enthusiasm for Life, with a capital L. He gets it.

I loved waking up this way so much that we have decided that we are gonna do this every Sunday. (We talked about doing this every day and quickly agreed that Loren's early morning routine and my "sleep in as late as the girls will let me" routine would not allow for this to happen very long with happy hearts all around.) Sunday is the day we set completely aside to remember who God is and what He has done. While this happens in a somewhat grander way on Easter, it is no more true then, than it is on any other day of the year. So, on Sundays, we are gonna wake up with a song on the radio, in hopes that it will put a song in our hearts. That it will prepare us to meet the Lord with joy and thanksgiving and enthusiam. That it will cause us to remember that he came to give us make us alive.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

I love Good Friday and so today I prayed for a way to enter into this most precious story in a real and fresh way. It was such a bittersweet time of reminding and remembering. Here is a little of what came to mind.

You, perfect unblemished Lamb

Me, with my secret blemishes and those in full view

You, full of grace and beauty

Me needing grace and needing beauty restored

You, with a matchless name

Me, with a name given by the Father of Lies

You, the Light of the World

Me, groping in the darkness

Before I even cried out for mercy there was

You, taking all my blemishes

All my need

All my lies and darkness

And You, willingly wearing them and wrapping yourself up in them

Filfthy with my mistakes, to make me clean

Me, without blemish in your eyes

Me, with your grace and beauty restored

Me, with a new name and an illuminated life

Today I celebrate what you did

And I mourn that you had to do it

For me

Wonder Jen

Move over Wonder Woman, you have some competition. I needed a rescue today and I got it, in the form of my wonderful friend, Jen...hencetofore known as...Wonder Jen. Despite the fact that I have called her pretty much every day this week to complain about my sick kids, and despite the fact that I called her again today and actually said out loud, “I mean, I feel bad that my kids don't feel well, but I really feel more sorry for me. I need to get out!” she still loves me. Not only that, she pulled me over on the side of the road today, state trooper style, just to give me a Vanilla Soy Latte, my favorite(see list of things that rock my world), that she bought just for me. This, she said, was so that I could have a little bit of the world outside my germ-infested home. I smiled all the way back to that home! What a mood lifter! I am sure my kids and my husband will be as appreciative of that as I am. Wonder the rescue!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pinkitis, Day 6

And now...we're over it. Lessons learned, more thankful hearts, it was great, but now we are done....and starting to feel trapped in our little house. If anyone can hear!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Bella had pink eye this weekend. Those of you who are more medical minded might know it as conjunctivitis…which, to me, sounds more like a grammatical term, but whatever. We got the drops, she is better, and there are no signs that Hope has it yet, but it was an interesting few days.

First, she woke up with her right eye covered in gunk (and yes, that is the most professional term I could come up with to describe it). In fact, it was swollen and glued shut by the gunk. This is a tasty little treat to encounter pre-breakfast. Then, speaking of breakfast, we quickly realized that Bella was having a hard time seeing out of that eye, despite my ungluing efforts, when she was not eating the food on the right side of her high chair tray. Now, many of you don’t know this about my youngest daughter, but the girl can eat. She does not leave food on her tray…ever. So, we realized what was going on, shifted the food to the left side, and she happily ate all the rest.

We went to the doctor to get a perscription for the obligatory drops to clear up the eye, where we were then told that she had it in both eyes. Drops for both eyes it is! She has accepted the drops as rountine now, but not before we discovered that our sweet girl has an uncanny knack for shutting her eyes so tight that we can not pry them open. Honestly, she does this weird thing where they almost flip inside out and her baby blues remain secluded behind the lids. This is a talent we will be developing, for sure!

The rest of our weekend has been spent keeping the girls, who are great friends, away from each other. This is no easy task since our house is roughly the size of a compact car. Things seem to be clearing up in the eye department and so, as I like to do far too often I am afraid, I have been reflecting. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I take that literally and so I have to be thankful for the pink eye. Here are the reasons I am thankful for the gooey gunk.

1. I am thankful that pink eye turns the eye pink and not green or purple or yellow. That would be creepy. Plus it makes it sound kinda girly and I am all for girly.

2. I am thankful that pink eye showed me how much my girls love each other and that when they can’t play together, they are a little sad.

3. I am thankful that Bella curled up on my lap last night and fell asleep while I sang, which she hardly ever does anymore, and that I got to breathe her sweet baby scent for a while.

4. I am thankful that her distorted vision reminded me of my own distorted vision and how I am often too happy to walk around with one eye glued shut, oblivious to how much greater, fuller, and clearer my vision could be if I would allow the Lord to heal those infected parts of me. Bring on the drops, Lord!

See, even pink eye can be redeemed!

Monday, March 10, 2008

You've got a friend...or 12

It’s funny, the people we let into our little worlds. I am so blessed to have a great many friends who enrich my life in ways that I could never even have dreamed of during those days when all I wanted was one “bosom friend”. These friends, with all their wildness and strength of heart, pursue me, challenge me, sharpen me, love me, provide rest for me, and know me (and this is just the tip of the iceberg) all in the name of Jesus, whom they steadfastly and refreshingly cling to. Without naming names, here they are…can you guess who is who?

One loves fiercely, is wildly funny, and fills up a whole room with her sunshine. If she told me to get naked and dance around in her living room, I might be inclined to do it, without fully understanding why.

One is unfailingly faithful, with a heart so full it bursts out onto everything around her. She is incapable of pretense and I feel incapable of it in her presence. She makes us all want to be a better mom, a better friend, a better follower of Jesus.

One is tender and careful. She tends the garden of my soul often on behalf of the Lord. Her presence is often enough to calm me and make me see a little clearer. She is all that, and then, when you least expect it, a kick in the pants that will have you laughing for days on end….dear friend.

One is as refreshing as fresh squeezed lemonade on a hot summer day. She’ll tell you straight up and makes no beans about it and wears it all so well. She also sees beauty hidden in me and convinces me to see it as if she is God's little echo in my life. She is really more like family because we know all the best and worst parts and couldn’t imagine life without one another.

One is my insta-friend. She had me at hello. She makes me laugh out loud, a lot, and she has given me a new appreciation for the beauty in the routine parts of life. We travel companionably, through life together, certain that we have a friend along for the ride.

One stirs my soul. She sees all the way into my heart and invites me to be more, to go deeper, to shed some more flesh for the glory of God. She watches over me and my family through her prayers. She knows all about full life and spills it out onto me often.

These are just some of my friends. God’s richest blessings showered down on me after years of praying for just one. Alright, I get it already…You are faithful!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hope, Faith, and Love

Hope is starting to understand what it means to disappoint someone, namely me. It occurred to me today that she may understand this too well and then it broke my heart. This is a concept with which I, too, am overly familiar. Never does it show up better than in my relationship with the Lord. My posture, most often, when I come to God, is of one who is sure she has disappointed. I am so aware of my unworthiness, my unholiness, that it makes it a chore for me to come at all. Who wants to feel all of that?

Hope and I have had a rough couple of weeks. There has been lots of discipline. Today as I sat down to meet with the Lord and felt that immediate sense of disappointment, I could totally relate to my sweet daughter. She says, “I’m sorry mom. I’m really sorry. I keep doing bad things. I’m sorry.” I say to the Lord, “I’m sorry, Lord. I’m really sorry. I keep doing bad things. I’m sorry.” Then, I tried to put myself in the Lord’s shoes (a mighty feat for sure). What must he be thinking? What would he say?

It occurs to me that I have no real concept of how he feels when he is disappointed. My only relatable example is how I feel when Hope disappoints me in some way and I am afraid that, too often, my feelings of anger or sadness are too mixed up with my own distorted expectations of her, or of myself as a parent, or of life in general. So, I doubt if I ever come close to any sort of righteous disappointment.

But I know a thing or two about love. Pure, sacrificial, heartbreakingly beautiful, terrifying love. I knew all about that kind of love as soon as I laid eyes on my little bundles. I experience it every day, even on really hard days. There is always a moment, and sometimes more, when I look at my kids and am overcome with love. In that moment I would give anything to erase the ways I have failed them. (As a side note, I think I can only really handle moments of this raw kind of love. For the first year of Hope’s life, I got teary every time she smiled. This love often causes a physical reaction in me.) So, if I know about love then that means I know at least something of the way God feels about me. Why, then, do I tend to think of myself as a disappointment to God…that somehow, despite his infinite resources of love which far exceed my own, when it comes to me, flaws outweigh beauty?

Here is truth. The times that I have most fully experienced the Lord have been times when he has sweetly whispered his love to me. He knows that I am flawed. We talk about it a lot. But, from my own experience with my kids, I am convinced that he is most often overcome with love for me. Certainly, that love caused a physical reaction as he spilled his precious blood.

So, today, I made cookies for Hope. And I let her have four of them, right before dinner. And I sat her on my lap and told her that, even though she sometimes does bad things, she is precious, and she has a good and beautiful heart, and I love her. She smiled, and I got teary.