Sunday, August 29, 2010

Practical parenting

Today a young mom asked me about having two children. She is expecting her second baby and wanted my opinion about transitioning to two and what kind of double stroller she should get. She wanted MY advice. I was thinking to myself, "Have I become the go-to mom on raising two kids????" 

I certainly don't feel that I should be the go-to mom. I have a lot of questions about parenthood: What works. What doesn't. What could be improved on. What should we do about this...and that...and this....and that.

And I think that there are many of you out there who have answers.

From time to time I'd like to post a question and I'd love it if you would comment with how you do it in your family - either now or when you were growing up. That way we can all learn from one another.

What I love to do (with anything in life!) is gather all the ideas I hear and read about and then decide what is best for me and my family. I'm all about practical...and I need to know what works!

This morning was a typical Sunday morning in our house. Sundays are not the calm, smooth-sailing, relaxing mornings that they used to be. Mornings are filled with breakfast, getting everyone dressed, diaper bag packed, showers for mom and dad, and sometimes one of us volunteering to help set up at church. Lunch is usually left overs or sandwiches because it's quick and easy and we're all hungry by the time we get home from church.

It's crazy!

By the time we get home from church, eat lunch and get the kids to naptime....we're wiped.

I'd love to hear how things run in your house on Sundays. Are they the calm, relaxing sabbath that you read about? Or the crazy, chaotic Sunday mornings that I'm referring to? How do you get to church (on time)? And what do you do for lunch?

I'd love any practical parenting tips, advice, or suggestions. Most of all, I'd love to hear what works in your house with little ones on Sundays!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Samuel's haircut

A few weeks ago Ryan took Samuel to get a haircut. This is what he came home with...
(I will treasure the last picture - my tough boy with his satin blanket that he loves!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What if God got fired?

I was driving home from VBS (Vacation Bible School) this morning with my 5-year-old neighbor in the backseat. I was asking him questions about the story we learned today. His take on the Biblical story of Peter denying Jesus three times was this: "God got fired."

Not sure how he came to that conclusion, but I found his statement quite interesting.

What if God got fired? What if I fired God?

Firing God doesn't seem to be real theologically sound....but what if?

What if humanity got so upset or annoyed or frustrated or sick of God that they decided to fire Him? What if we became so self-absorbed, prideful and greedy, that we decided we wanted to run our own lives?

What if we were no longer interested in the Big Guy above calling the shots, so we fired Him?
Or what if as individuals we had the option of firing God from our lives? We have freewill so I guess some could say that we already have that option. There are many who choose to say that God does not exist or that they want nothing to do with God. So, in a way...maybe people are indeed making the choice to fire God from their lives.

But I have lived long enough, and seen the mighty hand of God enough times that I can confidently say that I'm not getting on the bandwagon with those who want to fire God - whether that's all of humanity making a corporate decision to fire God or an individual choice of firing God from our life.

There were times in my life when I think I may have considered firing God. But that was when I was younger. And I thought I knew it all. Today I am totally and completely aware that left to my own, I know I would screw up my life and my relationships beyond repair.

My faults and weaknesses make it glaringly obvious that I need someone else to report to. Because I really am quite self-absorbed, prideful and greedy. And that's why I won't fire God. Ever.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One year later...

Yesterday Lauren was the exact age that Samuel was the day that Lauren was born (20 days before turning one). It's amazing for me to look back and see this video of Samuel meeting Lauren for the first time. 

He is such a baby! And Lauren is just a baby now too.

In the weeks leading up to Lauren turning one I've been thinking about the past year...all that's taken place, all that has changed, all that I've learned and experienced.

In a few short weeks my baby will be one. And then a few weeks later my son will turn two.

I keep reminding myself that's life. Things are continually evolving, changing, and growing. Just when I've learned how to be a mom to two babies, I'm going to need to learn how to be a mom to two toddlers.

I was terrified of being a mom to two babies. Now I have no idea how to be a mom to two toddlers...

I'm thankful for videos of my two babies so I can remind myself that I did it! I made it through the first - and hopefully the most difficult - year.

I look forward to posting another video of my growing kiddos again soon.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hebrews 10:23

This week I'm going to do my best to hold unswervingly to my hope....believing in HIS faithfulness. Won't you join me?

Let us HOLD unswervingly
to the HOPE we profess
for He who promised is FAITHFUL.
- Hebrews 10:23

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Surviving parenthood

Some day I'll be old(er) and I'll forget what it was like parenting young children. 

So that's why I'm writing this post. Not for you. Not for them (well, maybe a bit for them). But for me. So I can be reminded of my days as a mom with young children...and give thanks to God that I survived those days.

Two weeks ago
I spent the afternoon/early evening at my in-laws. Ryan had a meeting for church so we played at grandma's house, took naps, ate dinner and then it was bath time. I brought the kids' PJs so I could have them ready for bed when we got home.

We were bathing them together when I noticed Lauren was about to eat something. Brown.


In. Her. Hand.

Heading towards her mouth.

We pulled both kids out of the tub quickly.

Barb drained the water and cleaned the tub while I washed Lauren off in the bathroom sink. This washing included a thorough scrubbing of her hands.

Meanwhile Samuel was standing in the middle of the bathroom. Naked.

All of the sudden I heard him say, "Pee." And he pees. And then proceeds to stomp in his urine in the middle of the bathroom floor.

Back in the tub he goes. 

I dress Lauren and go downstairs to bring bags out to the car while grandma has the kiddos. In the process of walking through the kitchen I knock over a glass with my diaper bag that was sitting on the counter and is filled with a frozen slush-like dessert drink.

Shattered glass. Everywhere.

This all happened within about 15 minutes. My in-laws were very thankful to see my car leave their driveway that night.

I was driving home tonight after sending my husband off to see a movie with some buddies. He never goes to a movie with friends and I encouraged him to do so. I knew it would be good for his spirit and weeknight movies are only $5 so I thought our checkbook could handle that.

I was (a bit smugly perhaps) thinking to myself how parenting two has gotten much easier and I am not nearly as worried/anxious/nervous/fearful/stressed about doing the bedtime routine alone, as I was 6 months ago when the kiddos were 5 and 16 months.

We walk in the door and I put both kids in the tub. Samuel has a bug and he's got quite the case of messy diapers. His bottom was so red he wanted out immediately and cried the entire time I washed his hair. I got him out quickly and wrapped him in a towel. I drained the water in the tub and then walked in the other room to put on his PJs. Lauren sat in an empty tub playing with toys. She is SUCH a content and happy baby :)

I decided to let Samuel run around with no diaper on because "they" say that air is the best healer for diaper rash.

As I'm about to pull Lauren out of the tub, Samuel 'toots' (in his words) and poop sprays onto the bathroom floor. I set him on the toilet and wipe off his bottom.

Then I quickly wipe up the poop off the floor and decide I'll have to disinfect it later.

I decide I better get Lauren out of the tub before she decides she is bored and wants to try standing or something equally as dangerous.

As I wrap Lauren in a towel the doorbell rings. I run to the door with baby in towel and naked-bottom Samuel tagging along behind.

I find myself talking to a woman at the door selling a packaged deal of some sort when I realize Samuel has not only peed on the floor in my entry way, but is also in the process of pooping - again. A lot of poop. Nasty diarrhea-that's-green-with-left-over-from-lunch-corn-filled poop.

What's a mom to do?

Two kids. No diaper on either.

Poop and urine on the floor.

I plop Lauren in front of the television that is 8 ft away because that seems like a good distraction from the attractive mess on the floor in the entry way. I sit her on her towel in case she decides now is a good time to expel any sort of liquid or solid from her bottom.

I grab Samuel as poop continues to drop from his bottom and run to his bedroom. I clean up his bottom and put on his diaper.

I grab Lauren and put on her diaper.

I wipe up poop. Wipe up urine. Lysol floors.

Both kids to bed.

These are the days of parenthood. They're not pretty. They're certainly not sexy. They're just about surviving and knowing that tomorrow's a new day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One author, three stories

A friend sent me a sermon she heard online from her home church. It is fantastic and spoke to both Ryan and I. I thought of many of you while I was listening to it, and knew I had to share this message.

The speaker shares his personal journey of a health issue that nearly took his life (and one that he is continuing to recover from). His main point is that God has a story that he is writing in each of our lives.

If you recall my testimony, you'll remember that it was difficult for me to sign a blank piece of paper giving God control of my life and allowing Him to write my 'life story.'

I love the story analogy and I believe it to be so true. I believe God started writing my story a long time ago and Samuel and Lauren and my journey to motherhood were all part of the story God had planned for me.

Here is a quote that I love from this message: "Our tendency as Christ followers is to live comparing....he got off easier, he got an answer to prayer, he got a job right away. We do this comparing thing and it doesn't do anybody any good."

Ryan and I wondered for a long time why siblings and friends seemed to get pregnant so easily and why God wouldn't allow us to conceive and carry a baby to full term.

Here's the answer why: Because that wasn't our story.

When we were in Hawaii after our second miscarriage Ryan's cousin Jess from New Jersey called me to check in on how I was doing. One thing she said to me I will never forget. In sharing with her that it was especially difficult because some close friends of mine were expecting, she responded by telling me not to look around but to look up.

Isn't that great advice?

Now that's easier said than done, but what freedom we would have if we didn't worry about other's stories. If we only worried about ours. If we didn't look around at what others have, and instead looked up. If we didn't worry about why God answers the prayers of others, and not our prayers.

A job. A baby. A house. A newer car. A thin body. A spouse. Health. A strong marriage. Stable finances.

Why doesn't God answer our prayers sometimes? We don't know why except that it's not part of our story.

"God's writing your story uniquely. Will you cooperate? He's writing a unique and precious story in your life. Don't worry about somebody else's story."

You can listen to this message titled One author, three stories here.

I would love to know if you listen to it and if it spoke to your heart.

Friday, August 13, 2010

God's plans

I May I blogged about my friend Meredith as she underwent a double mastectomy. Meredith has fought her battle hard and is recovering well. She will undergo a second surgery this fall for reconstruction. She has faced extreme highs as well as extreme lows during her recovery. She has fought insomnia, infection, and excruciating soreness - all the while caring for her home and family.

As I mentioned in my post in May, Meredith and her husband adopted Gracie, conceived Issac through IVF and and were in the process of adopting Matty who had been in their care for more than two years. His adoption has been a long, prayerful one and they have faced many obstacles because he is part Native-American.

When I posted in May Meredith was minutes away from going into surgery.

As I post today, Meredith is currently in a courtroom committing to love and care for Matty for the rest of his life. The SAME day Meredith got her news about breast cancer, a letter was postmarked and sent to them that confirmed that they could proceed with his adoption. I have no doubt, this was part of God's plan all along.

Today Matty will officially become part of their family.

Today I am reminded that we serve a GREAT God. I am reminded of His PERFECT timing. I am reminded that in the midst of pain, trials and difficulties, God continues to show his GOODNESS and FAITHFULNESS. I am reminded that God does indeed answer our prayers - just not in the ways we ask Him to.

Meredith told me a few years ago that she did not feel as though her family was complete. 

Today, it becomes complete.

Meredith's family has clearly been brought together by the hand of our great God. Three children from three different wombs. All loved so completely. All knitted so perfectly. All with a story that is so miraculous no one can question God's plan for this family.

Thank you Lord for reminding me, once again, that your plan is far greater, and so much better than mine. And thank you for showing me, once again, that you are able to do more than I could ever ask or imagine. All the glory goes to you Jesus. All the glory.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Look unto Jesus

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross..." Hebrews 12:1-2

I have read this passage so many times before. In certain seasons of life I found myself keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus...not looking to the left or the right. I was running as best as I could the race set before me.

I read this passage today and thought about the race I'm running now. It's a new race - not one I've run before. I don't like this race. It's hard. It's exhausting. It's scary. It's stressful. Yet it is the race set before us.

We didn't just happen upon it. We aren't just off-track with the universe. As one friend put it, "This is not God's plan B."

This is the race set before us. 

And we're not told to walk. Or wander. Or jog.

We're told to run. With e n d u r a n c e.

Because running is hard. And we need endurance when the race is long.

We're told to run with the same endurance that Christ used on the cross. My race certainly is not as difficult as what Jesus faced on the cross. And yet he endured...

While we're running we're told to look unto Jesus. Not unto the world. Not unto our friends or family members. Not unto our neighbors. Not unto our church community.

Look unto Jesus friends.

Stacy, look unto Jesus. Look unto Jesus. Look unto Jesus. Look unto Jesus.

And keep running.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Here are some fun videos of our kids talking.

Samuel is talking up a storm

Lauren crawling

This is just cute. Samuel is a boy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hannah's Hope

I read Hannah's Hope cover to cover during my time of waiting. It covers infertility, adoption and miscarriage. It is still amazing to me that I am familiar with all three.

Just came across her blog. Not sure if it is still being updated, but for those of you interested, it is a great resource:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Being real

How honest are you?

Actually, let me rephrase that.

How authentic are you?

In real life. Blog life. Personal life. Public life.

My husband is a very open and authentic person. He is R E A L. He has taught me a lot about being open, honest and authentic when it comes to our life and our marriage.

We also tend to be pretty positive people, so sometimes we need to work on the balance between optimism and positivity and authenticity.

When people ask, "How are you doing?" how do you respond? For me it depends on if they are asking the question to really know how I'm doing or if it is just an intro to the conversation.

For instance, "Hi, how are ya?" seems like a greeting to me. But when someone asks, "How are you doing today?" and it seems like they really want to know, I try to answer honestly.

That's tough in this season of life, because some days I am not doing ok. Some days are really discouraging as we wait on the Lord. Some days are downright depressing. Some days are full of fear. Some days Ryan and I yell and holler and scream at one another about money, jobs, expectations, bills, our future, me working, him working, on and on.

There is a part of me that doesn't want to share that. But if I'm not honest and authentic on this blog, then I certainly won't be in real life. And since Ryan and I value authenticity in our marriage, we must remain true to that - even in this season of life.

If you don't like real, I'm not going to apologize. There are plenty of blogs available for you to read about being happy and fulfilled according to the world's standards.

My life - and this blog - is about striving to be real in the midst of the heartache and trials we face. I'm committed to being honest and authentic through it all. I hope to remain positive. But I will be real.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Brave enough to be still?

I got out of the house for a few minutes today. I grabbed a bag holding my Bible, a book on waiting, and some note cards.

I was desperately in need of time with the Lord. Not that I can't set aside time with the Lord at home...I can. I'm just not very good at it. The kids or dishes or laundry or email or meal prep or the phone seems to call my name and tempt me away from what I know I should be doing.

I read through a few verses and came across a short devotional in my Bible. It referenced Exodus 14:14, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Immediately my mind drifted back to my missions trip to the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2008. I came across that verse and it spoke right to my heart as I was trying my best to win my battle of infertility and fight as hard as I could.

After reading that verse, I chose to lay down my armor and let the Lord fight my infertility battle for me.

Today I am tempted to fight another battle: unemployment. Although it's not me specifically looking for the job, I am still tempted to pick up my armor and try to take control of the situation.

A situation that we have no control over.

The devotional in my Bible said, "You have the ultimate defender on your side. Be brave enough to be still. He is a fighter."

What? Be brave enough to be still?

But we're educated. And smart. And have lots of connections. What does being still have to do with getting a job? Shouldn't we do everything in our power to try and find a job?


Or maybe not.

Maybe what we need to do is follow Psalm 37:7, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."

The easy thing to do is fill up our days trying to do everything we can to fight the battle of unemployment.

The hard thing to do is lay down our armor, and be brave.

Be still before the Lord. Wait for Him.

I'm not sure I'm any good at being brave.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My lil' fireman

Samuel has become quite attached to a fireman 'outfit' that he found at our neighbor's home. They let us take it home frequently so Samuel can play with it.

Samuel learned how to say the word fireman in about two seconds once he realized it communicated his strong desire to wear the red hat and coat. So he's been wearing them everywhere....85 degrees out and he wants his coat and hat on. His hair is literally soaking wet when I take the hat off. I even stashed it beside him in the highchair one day because he didn't want to part with it during lunch.

He didn't want to put the coat on for pictures this morning (of course!), but I snapped a few of him in the hat and carrying his 'uniform.' The last picture is my favorite...

Oh these precious days - they're going by too fast.

Oh my little fireman. I love you so.