Division, the Heart, the Mind

“Or else she stayed in and nursed a mood with which she was becoming too familiar for her own comfort and peace of mind. It was not despair; but it seemed to her as if life were passing by, leaving its promise broken and unfulfilled.”
― Kate Chopin, The Awakening

“I’m not unhappy,” he said. “Only people with no purpose are unhappy. I’ve got a purpose.”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
― Winston S. Churchill

1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

My husband has been saying that I am mad at life.

He may be right.

I’m one of those people who internalize basically everything and who loose sleep at night trying to figure out and understand every minuscule function of the world and the people in it.

Lately, the things that keep me up at night really make me mad.

Life is really complicated. So. So. Complicated.

1 Corinthians 1:10 makes me mad.

I am a passionate person. There is a poem by David Jones which I used to use to describe my boy-child. Now I realize that the poem describes his mother too. It goes:

“It is both a blessing

And a curse

To feel everything

So very deeply.”

Yep. That’s me. I am fire and ice. Hot or cold. One, or the other. I have no in-between. And I’ve not yet figured out a way to be Switzerland.

If I’m one thing, you know it. And while I realize this is a flaw in my personal character, it is still an area I have been unable to improve myself in.

Some say I wear my heart on my sleeve.

Personally, I think I wear my heart on my face.

I remember taking a Facebook quiz many years ago…there was a question, which I cannot remember, however I clearly remember my response.

When I form an opinion, it takes me a very long time to do so. But when I form it, I am all in or all out.

I remember several of my friends commenting on this specific answer, leading me to understand that not everyone really takes the time to think about their own opinions.

For me, my opinions are not just a part of who I am. They quite literally are who I am. My opinions are informed and comprised of those things which I know and believe, my schemas and scripts and worldview, which are in fact who I am.

How will a person know who they are if they do not know what they believe?

And yet, while I understand that my schemas are likely to differ from others, because they are my own, and develop uniquely because of my experience, temperament, and personality, I struggle with how this fits in to the larger picture.

On an intellectual level, I admit that not everyone needs to nor should hold the same opinions as myself. But on a deeper spiritual level, life gets complicated quickly.

Because who you believe God is will influence who you seek to become in Him, how you live your life, the choices you make, the things that you do and say, and ultimately what you believe about yourself and the world.

The older I get, the more I realize that not everyone actually believes the same thing about God. And this fact has implications that enormously affect every single day of our lives here on earth.

And I’m not okay with this!

Admittedly, my own feelings regarding this matter war against myself. While I hold true to the fact that God granted us all free-will, which in turn suggests that we all have the freedom to choose freely in our lives, I cannot comprehend how God ever expected Christians to all be on the same page about things when he granted us said free-will.

I’ve always had a motto that goes something like this: Christians are the worst of people.

Mostly to remind myself that I have the potential for sin the same as everyone else.

But lately, I can’t even begin to understand or reason within my finite mind just how crappy we are.

Of course, I am no theologian. And I don’t pretend to be. Additionally, by adding my thoughts to this discussion specifically focused on Christians I admit that I am contributing myself to being a crappy Christian. The worst of people. Although, I will say that this composition is solely for my own soul, rather than others. I share them publicly because there are some people who like my thoughts, and also so that one day my children can read them.

So there it is. I’ve laid it all out. I’m not okay. I’m mad at life. I’m mad because I am a Christian and not everyone agrees with me. I am mad because the fact of this realization is that free-will makes life hard. Christians don’t agree with each other. And this is a problem for me. And probably for everyone else in the world.

We are literally the worst of people.

We tear each other down. We criticize each other. We judge each other openly, and then again behind closed doors. We fight with each other. We publicly call each other out. We call each other out on the internet. We disagree. We believe different things. We are not, for lack of better words, on the same page. At. All.

One of my friends, in response to an issue close to my heart, expressed appreciation for open conversation, and reminded me that at the root of the topic is a heart issue. But what makes my heart better than someone else’s? And if we as Christian’s are not of one heart, what does this say about us? How can we possible believe in the same God if this God is different in the heart of each of us?

I am all for friendly discussion.

But where do we draw the line? When does open dialogue become toxic disparagement?

For me, this is one of those “what would Jesus do” situations.

Again, I am no theologian.

I honestly don’t think that Jesus would have Facebook, were he walking the earth today.

When I think about how Jesus spoke truth in the face of darkness, he did it in a relational way. He did it face to face.

I recently finished both of Bob Goff’s books. Life changers, right there. The central message that I took away from these reads is that people don’t want your opinions, but they do want their love, no strings attached, and this sends a bigger message about Jesus than anything else.

Again, from an intellectual standpoint, I agree with this 100%. I just haven’t quite figured out how to love people without any strings – aka me and my big opinions – attached.

But the first step for me, was that I left Facebook and all it’s Christian drama behind. Who has time for that anyways?

I think that there is a time and a place for open discussion, but that is among friends, and should take place face to face.

We aren’t doing anyone any good by debating our distentions on Facebook people. If you have an opinion and want to share it, find a friend. If you don’t like the way another Christian is living or what they are saying, remember to examine your own log before you call out their speck.

I still don’t claim to understand exactly how 1 Corinthians 1:10 is possible. I really haven’t the slightest idea. And this still makes me really mad. I’d really just like everyone to agree with me – pride and selfishness openly acknowledged here. We are the worst of people. We are the worst enemy of our brothers and sisters, the enemy within.

So while I might be unhappy, it will only last a moment in the timeline of my life.

Because I’ve got a purpose.

I’ll just be over here trying to follow my own advice. And figuring out a way to love people the way Bob Goff describes…just like Jesus.

 

 

 

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In Which I Struggle With Myself

“I had begun to feel that life was a repetition of the same thing; that there was nothing new either in me or in him; and that, on the contrary, we kept going back as it were on what was old.” ― Leo Tolstoy

“My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
― Aldous Huxley

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
― Plato

 

They say, “Ignorance is bliss”. I used to believe that. I used to think that not knowing, or not wanting to know, was the best life. But not anymore.

Stagnance is the friend of ignorance. Together these two moral flaws breed humans which are wholly incapable of being who they were created to be. Their spiritual growth is cut off by bovine trust in the opinions of those whom they surround themselves with. They take things at face-value, with little a thought given to true understanding. Discernment is dependent on the past, on what is known and comfortable and familiar (but is this true discernment, then?).

Shall we not rise from our own ashes, then? Resurrected from the limitations of our selfish, lackadaisical, minds, which thwart us from truly knowing Him and all that He has intended our lives to be?

Nay, I don’t want to be like every other person.

I want to be more.

I want to be better.

I wanted to be resurrected from myself.

Of all of the things in this world, I pray that I am never ignorant. I pray that I never take things at face value. That I abstain from blind confederacy. That I am active in my faith, in understanding what that faith is, what that means for my life, whom that faith is in, and ultimately who He is and who He wants me to be. I want to go beyond face value. I want to take in the whole picture, and truly understand. Dimly first, but then in a mirror face to face. I want to come face to face with God and understand. To know. To truly know. To go deeper, and dig deeper. And know.

Because if I take my life at face value. If I simply trust and accept. Stagnance and ignorance are my heart and my soul.

And doing this, and seeking this bigger picture…is hard. It is so hard. It takes time. It breaks your heart. When you start asking questions, and trying to understand, those rooted in stagnance and ignorance become agitated. They enjoy their complacency, though they cannot recognize it themselves.

Psalm 51:6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

 

But truth must be sought. It must be searched out. It must be pursued and examined. And then it can be understood. And when the truth is there to set you free, still the choice remains.

Will you let it?

Will you give up all of your former conceptions? Will you bury them six-feet-under? Will you say goodbye to your old man, and embrace the new?

Because the truth is not always what you thought it was. It is not simply a repetition of the past. It is not what you have always known, and sometimes not what you have always believed.

There are some truths which stand forever. But other truths stand falsely through the effort of man and man’s assumption that the past is always correct.

Proverbs 18:15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

And so, my dear Azrielle and Kreade. I hope that the life that I live shows you daily the importance of seeking this knowledge. Of truly knowing and understanding God. I pray with all my my heart, to the very depths of my soul that you not take life at face value. God created within you a desire to know. Do not allow stagnance and ignorance to take root in your heart and soul. Do not repeat the past simply because everyone else is. Seek him out. Seek out the whole picture. Start looking in that mirror, dimly first, until you come face to face with God, and understand. Above all, don’t take my word for it. This is your faith. This is your faith.

Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

 

 

The Triumph Song of Life

“God is the greatest thing that exists, ever has existed or ever will…for us to glory in anything else, would be sin, as there is nothing greater than God, there is no calling greater than praising God.”
― John Piper

“The chief purpose of life, for any of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Two weeks ago yesterday, I almost lost my sister and my unborn niece.

It’s really strange how one moment life is just happening all around you…and in the next it just stops. And stands still. And you’re left waiting for answers, but not really knowing if you really want the answer after all.

I was on my way home from work, had just picked up my children and our new kitten and was headed home when I got the call.

There wasn’t much detail…because no one really knew anything. But knowing what we did, we all knew it was not good. I don’t know all of the details exactly, but I knew enough to understand that my sisters life, and her baby’s were in danger. And time was on no one’s side.

An ambulance picked up my sister and her husband from the side of the road. A police officer drove the ambulance to the nearest hospital because all of the paramedics were needed to attend to my sister. She was loosing blood, and loosing it fast. At 5:02 PM she arrived at the hospital. At 5:16 PM my niece was born via emergency c-section.

The doctors told us that if the ambulance had arrived four minutes later…it would have been too late for both my sister and my niece.

According to the doctors my sister sustained a loss of over 50% of her blood. She received several blood transfusions. My niece had some difficulty breathing and was treated accordingly. At first, it looked like her needs may be too many for the hospital she was at, but steadily she improved and has been growing and improving by leaps and bounds. The doctors told my sister that women who loose so much blood are not usually able to produce milk. But my sister did, and was able to nurse her baby almost right away, although my niece has remained on a feeding tube for several weeks because she is so little she doesn’t wake up to eat on her own. I guess that’s what happens when you’re born seven weeks early.

I went to work the next day. I’m not one to sit around and wait for news.

That day I called my pastor to give him an update, as I had asked my church to pray for my sister from the moment we first heard she was taken by ambulance.

I explained that all I could think of was…”four minutes”.

Four minutes and two lives had been lost.

If they hadn’t already been on their way from the hospital for a check-up, they may have been four minutes more away from help.

What if there had not been police officer to drive?

What if the ambulance hadn’t arrived so quickly?

Four minutes…

Sometimes I struggle to understand the purpose of His will. I feel so small in the midst of this world and wonder…what is His intent in all of this? What was His point in all of this?

Four minutes…

He didn’t have to step in and intervene. But He did. So there must be a reason, right?

My pastor encouraged me not to try too hard to understand the will of God. For no man exists who can.

Four minutes.

Two lives.

Awe.

It took me a couple days for the miracle of what had happened to sink in. I almost lost my sister, and my niece along with her. It’s a lot to take in. And still I struggled…why God, did You choose to intervene. You didn’t have to, and yet You did.

But as often they do, my thoughts have led me no where. And so I arrived at the conclusion that sometimes God works in marvelous, un-explainable, miraculous ways simply because He can.

And maybe that IS the point after all.

He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

And perhaps sometimes He simply wants us to revel in the incomprehensible beauty of His power.

So this Christmas, that is what I will do.

I will fall in awe of His boundless love and power. He is a mighty God. A God who is strong enough to save; both our physical bodies and our heavenly souls.

Because sometimes, He only asks us to praise Him.

So join me this Christmas, as joyful I sing His triumph song of life.

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee
God of glory, lord of love
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee
Opening to the sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
Drive the dark of doubt away
Giver of immortal gladness
Fill us with the light of day

All thy work with joy surround thee
Earth and heavenreflect thy rays
Stars and angels sing around thee
Center of unbroken praise
Field and forest, vale and mountain
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in thee

Mortals, join the mighty chorus
Which the morning stars began
Father love is reignning o’er us
Brother love binds man to man
Ever singing, march we onward
Victors in the midst we strife
Joyful music leads us sunward
In the triumph song of life
In the triumph song of life

 

 

Dreams: Forgetting to Live

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Because every good self-reflection should begin with some Harry Potter and Thoreau…and Hillsong worship music in the background as you write.

It’s amazing where you find yourself in this adventure called life.

One day you just wake up and say, how did I get here?

And, where did I go wrong along the way? 

That happened to me this summer.

But to get to the end, it is best to start at the beginning.

I’ve been fairly truthful with what a struggle it has been to be Baby K’s mommy. He turned three this spring, and I had one of those wake -up -and -question -everything moments. Who am I? How did I get here? Where did my joy go?

I used to love being a parent. When I had Baby A, my heart was filled with so much joy and hope and excitement and patience. I loved every moment of being a mom! And my heart was filled with dreams of having more children, lots more children. Maybe 6 children. Klayton and I both come from larger families (Klayton from 9 and me from 5), and with me teaching preschool kids have always been a central part of our lives.

I always thought that I would have a couple of kids and then stop working. My life would be filled with many tiny faces that would look like mine or Klayton’s, and would consist of school drop off and laundry and playing and excitement.

This was my dream, to have a large family, and dreams come true, right?

Well, not for everyone.

After Kreade was born life became such a struggle. He was SO hard, for SO long. And I was SO mentally affected.

And along the way and after several difficult events it became clear that when it came to tiny little faces, we would only be producing two.

But when I woke up this spring and questioned everything, I realized several things.

I  realized that I was grieving.

It may sound weird to say that you can grieve a dream. But that is the only way I can find to describe how I feel.

It’s hard to let go of something that you have always wanted, always imagined, and always planned on.

There is such a sense of loss in knowing that you thought things would be one way, yet life has shown you that they need to be another. And your entire perspective on life has to change. You feel so guilty for knowing that you just can’t do it…that even if you tried, you know so deep down in your heart that it’s just not meant to be…and you’re not good enough, able enough, strong enough to be that person. But you should be – women are meant to be moms, so why can’t you just suck it up and have another kid?

And the little voices sometimes won’t leave me alone.

They attack me and shout at me until I think that I won’t ever be good enough…

But somehow, in these moments, my heart awakens and reminds my soul that His ways are not ours…and I know, this is what is meant to be.

But in the midst of grieving this dream, and surviving Baby K I realize that I also lost my joy.

I lost myself somewhere amidst the cries and sleepless nights, the years of trying to be everything that one little body needed…and failing.

I forgot what it was like to simply be…a mom.

Our journey with selling one house and building another has been somewhat symbolic for me. I dreaded having to live in our tiny 24ft camper while the house is being built.

But, it’s funny where this adventure leads you and what you meet along the way.

And what I thought would fill my life with hardship and more struggle has actually brought both healing and re-discovery.

I’ve met simplicity.

I’ve met time.

I’ve met experience.

I’ve met the person who I once was, and who I want to be again.

And somehow, this simple little life of working and living in our camper has reminded me of who I used to be.

I enjoyed being a parent.

I enjoyed life.

I had hope.

So this move is my fresh start. It’s where I find myself again, and will continue to grow into the person who I want to be.

And while I still know I am meant to only produce two tiny faces, I am hopeful for the future.

Because even if I only have two myself, God can grow our family in other ways.

And besides, I have 120 tiny faces to love on at work.

And even if I only have two, I can still love being a mom…even if it wasn’t the mom I once dreamed of.

So in the midst of this simple summer, I am remembering how joyful it is to just be with my children…to explore the world around us, to investigate nature and all it has to offer, to read and to play…and sometimes, just to cuddle and sing songs until Baby K falls asleep and then snuggle up under the covers with a flashlight and read “big kid” books with baby A.

And of course Dumbledore is right…in dwelling on my dream I forgot to live.

But thanks be to God who can restore both hope and joy, and resurrect me to be who He created me to be.

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me

-Elevation Worship

 

 

 

Note…Instrumental in my self-discovery this summer has been a book that my friend recommended for me…Simplicity Parenting. I’m only halfway through but I can already say, it is highly worth the read.

 

 

Mr. Aksel Turns 3 – On Letting Go of Birthday Expectations

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.  – Voltaire

There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.  – William Barclay

I still haven’t forgiven myself for failing to have my hospital bags packed when I was a week over due. The irony is that, though my bags were not packed, my homework for the next two weeks was complete ahead of time. But my bags were not packed, and if they had been I would have missed Mr. Aksel being born on that infamous first day that people like to attempt to fool one another one. Alas…

And now it has been three years. Three years and finally most days bring more smiles than they bring tears. And while he still is a challenging child, speech delay and all, I finally feel like we are getting there. Like I can handle each day and not need to talk to a therapist at the end of each day.

But another year older bring another years party…and parties have proven to be all but disastrous for Mr. Aksel. I can’t remember one of his birthdays that have been “fun” or “cute” or anything that you would generally imagine.

Of course, year one he put the candle out with his fingers – and didn’t cry – I should have realized then he had sensory problems 😉

Year two, I can only remember thinking…let’s get this thing over with.

When your child, the birthday star, is clinging to you and fussing through his entire birthday, too overwhelmed to even eat his cake, and dis-interested in opening his own presents you start to wonder if having a party is even worth it.

It is sort of one more thing that I’ve grieved over this boy-I-never-wanted, but the boy-who-God-knew-I-needed.

So I won’t have all of the instagram and Pinterest worthy pictures that every other mommy posts.

So I won’t get to make my daughter’s day planning and decorating for a party (she on the other hand, thrives on parties).

No cute pics. No cute decorations.

I’ll tell ya, you definitely get some weird looks when you tell your family and friends that you are not having a birthday party for your own child.

But guess what?

We didn’t have a party.

And it was the best birthday that little boy every had!

All day smiles and all day celebration.

Ellie and daddy went to the store and got him balloons and a sister-present before breakfast.

He opened his presents from us, played with them, and ran around with his balloons most of the day.

Grandparents and his Aunt stopped by throughout the day to give him a gift and wish him happy birthday.

And we ended the day with cupcakes and candles and singing happy birthday.

Because even though you may think that society expects you to have a party and that is just what you do if you are a good parent – sometimes, it is just not true. And while you yourself may grieve the fact that your baby boy just does not like crowds, and noise, and parties and all the pictures and planning that go along with them…you may be surprised to find out that you like a no-party birthday after all.

Because every child is different. And every child needs different things.

This idea is the whole reason why I began studying child development and chose my career path anyways.

God made them all, but He made them all different too.

And what’s good for one is bad for another. And in learning about your own child you will learn a lot about yourself.

And so Mr.Aksel…I hope that you remember this day – your third birthday. Or at least the feeling of joy that we saw on your face. What a long way you have come! Like a caterpillar emerging from its cocoon as a butterfly – finally prepared to face the world in a beautiful way, independent and with emerging confidence.

I pray that you take this gift of life that God gave you and live it well. I pray that along the road He takes you down you will come to understand yourself, and realize your purpose in this world. We are so lucky to have you in our lives…mom, dad and Ellie, you have taught us so many things. And because of you we have realized that it is okay to let go…and now we understand what is truly important in this life. The little things.

 

We went out to see the Supermoon…

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For some people small, beautiful events are what life is all about. – The Doctor

Last week, we went out to see the Supermoon.

I was reminded once again just how beautiful the world is in the eyes of a child. The way that they perceive the things around them is just so wondrous. Their untouched perception of the world and all it has to offer is comparable to a cool glass of water on a hot summer day…refreshing.

I didn’t really know what they would think of the moon. But I figured that since it has been nearly fifty years since the last Supermoon, I should probably fulfill my parental responsibility to make sure that they saw the moon with their own eyes so that they could tell their grand-kids someday “Yeah, I saw that moon”. Cuz, you know, that will definitely be something to brag about.

Anyways, we got on our winter jackets and hats and mittens just before bedtime.

And we went out to see the Supermoon.

And in the crisp, cool air of that moon-lit night, something beautiful happened.

The second they saw the moon those precious little children started running.

I mean flat out running as fast as their 4 year old and 2 year old legs could carry them.

Eyes on that bright, huge moon. Running towards it, fully expecting that they could jump up and touch it.

And as their feet brought them to the edge of the dark woods, their eyes stayed on the moon, and their glee echoed through the night air in strains of unashamed laughter.

They ran towards that moon, eyes unwavering from their goal, and they expected to touch it.

Being a parent is one of the most beautiful things in the world. And it is small moments like these that really do remind me of what life is all about. Small moments, small adventures.

Sometimes it takes the un-touched perspective of a child to remind you…We adults get so caught up in reality that we often loose sight of our goals. Our minds become so distracted by everything else around us that we forget what we set out to do. We forget where we are going, or get caught up in the details of how we are going to get there.

My kids didn’t loose sight of their goal. They kept their eyes on it and never looked anywhere but where they were going. They weren’t distracted by the darkness of night all around them…nor by the shadows of the trees, or the edge of the forest…by the bird in the tree watching them, or their beloved cat who followed along in their glee.

They didn’t stop to think that they would never be able to actually reach their goal…and really, it didn’t matter because they believed they could, and that was enough.

I’m pretty obsessed with the song 7 Years by Lukas Graham lately. The words from his song ran over and over through my head that night as I watched my children running towards that moon…I only see my goals, I don’t believe in failure, ‘Cause I know the smallest voices, they can make it major. 

And isn’t that the truth.

As adults we allow ourselves to listen to those little voices, and something small becomes something huge and all of the sudden all we can see is our failures, and we are too afraid to try to reach our goals anymore.

But not my kids. Childish or not, there was nothing going to stop them from getting to that Supermoon.

Now I know what Jesus meant when he talked about faith like a child.

Simple, beautiful, un-touched and un-ashamed faith.

And so Kreade and Ellie, I hope that you always remember this night. I want you to know that God used you to touch mommy’s heart and remind her of a simple life-lesson.

I want you to always remember this night, and remember running towards that moon – nothing was going to stop you from reaching your goal.

If you remember anything that I say or write for you, remember this – Run toward God. Run toward Him and never stop running. Make Him and His glory your only goal in life. Set your eyes on that goal and do not waver from it. Remember that night when you were running towards that moon, unaware and uncaring of anything else around you, unafraid of the darkness of night, the edge of your little world that began at the edge of the forest, or of the fact that you couldn’t see me anymore.

Run. Run towards God and do not be afraid. Keep your eyes on him and remember that place in your heart where your childlike faith lives.

Run. Run towards God. And never turn back.

Phillipians 3: 12-14 (The Message)  I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 

For me, to live.

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Sometimes I feel as if I am just barely keeping my head above the water.

I feel as if I am completely unequipped to handle my life.

Two kids – and here I am feeling all guilty because I really don’t know if I can ever have anymore and make it while also feeling like a terrible person for being almost completely unwilling to be pregnant again. All the while feeling completely overwhelmed with the life that having even two kids creates. The health issues, the growing four year old attitude, the exhausting fiery personalities, the speech delays, the discipline, the schedules, the laundry, the cooking, the trying-to-go-grocery shopping…the baths, the potty-training, the constantly applying Nantucket Spider Bug Spray.

The decisions- what to do, and when to do it and why to do it. And are you sure that you should do it? But what if this happens instead, what do you do then? And where and why and how all over again. Then the doubt. Oh doubt…

There are so many things. Relationships. Career choices. Friendships. Family. Life.

Life.

Maybe it’s just that I am home for the summer. I sometimes wonder if I am just a better person all together when I am working. But then the guilt sets in and I feel like a terrible mother for even thinking that.

I feel like I am in an endless cycle of waking up, Mr. Aksel waking up ten seconds later and screaching “Mummmmmmaaaaaaaaa”, fighting with my four year old about what to have for breakfast while my two year old is repetitively whining “can-cakes, ‘ausage” and proceeding to scream when I tell him we are having raisin toast.

And I just wonder.

Am I doing something wrong? Am I the only one who wakes up and winds up arguing with my children, even though I began the day with such resolve to be a calm, patient mother who blinks and magically calms her children and bends their will to hers.

It’s just exhausting, you know?

Proceed to finish breakfast when the children run off with sticky hands, drifting them all over your walls and kitchen cabinets as they gleefully run away from you. And before you know it you are wrestling trains and Elsa Barbies from their hands and half carrying them half dragging them up the stairs to brush their teeth and twist some clean clothes on – all the while hoping that you didn’t put someone’s pants on backwards.

And you spend the rest of the morning coaxing them to drink their water.

And there is no joy.

Because as soon as you collect your thoughts and resolve yet again to be a happy, calm person, you hear a fight break out.

And suddenly your life becomes some sort of raging tumult that resembles both screaming fans at a country concert and the crashing and banging of cars at a demolition derby.

So instead of enjoying playing with the trains, you are swiftly plucking them from sticky-again hands before they become catapult ammunition.

And I just wonder.

Why? Why me? Why can’t I have easy going kids? Or is it me? Did I make them like this?

So on a whim in an effort to calm the screaming-demolition-craziness you half begging half bribe them to go outside with you and play. Which is all happy and jolly until someone gets sand stuck between their toes, and the chickens start clucking and the four year old causes the two year old to believe that impending doom is near because the chicken are doing their scared cluck…so Armageddon is near! And everyone is running screaming and crying or semi-evily laughing back into the house and you are just standing there with weeds in your hand wondering….will I ever get anything accomplished EVER in my life?

Before you know it lunch is upon you. And you must know how this goes. It’s like a portal to another dimension – the window of opportunity for lunch time only lasts for a specific amount of time. Miss it – your toast. Try it too soon – you’re still toast.

So you end up bribing little Miss with a penny if she just sits down and eats her Annie’s Shells & Cheddar. And Mr. Aksel ends up sitting on you, spilling his milk down your shorts because  you bumped elbows as you were trying to shovel  your own food into your own mouth while simultaneously giving him a bite of his macaroni. I mean, he’s not going to insist upon sitting with me when he it ten, right? And by insist I mean scream and shout and throw his food and flat out refuse to eat. I can’t wait to tell his girlfriend about his childhood…

And finally, FINALLY rest time is here!

A half an hour, maybe longer if you’re lucky.

But instead of taking a nap or reading a book, there I am. At the computer. Working away on grad-school assignments in record time. I love school. But I’m not going to pretend…it’s downright hard when you have kids. Sometimes I look at other people, and I wish my life was like theirs. Two kids is hard.Two kids and grad-school is like climbing Mt. Everest. I guess we all have things we are called to do, and God allowed grad-school to call my name. So homework during rest time it it.

On a good day, Mr. Aksel wakes up happy as a lark.

Those days are few and far between.

Like maybe once in a blue moon (do we even have those?)

Most of the time when he wakes up from a nap he resembles a mummy emerging from a stasis-pod that he has been in for 20 million years.

If I could, I’d be on Mars.

But I can’t, because I’m his mother, and someone has to help the grumpy mummy.

The short end of the straw.

So then we enter the post-nap phase which is comprised of fussing and whining and trying to crawl inside my skin because I just love mom so much and want her to take away all of my post-nap woes. And I want a cookie, but I don’t want a cookie, and I want a banana, but not that banana…on and on and on.

Until suddenly a switch flips.

Was it something I said? Something that I did?

Am I the only one with kids like this?!

And off he goes, running with his excavator in one hand and green blanket in another to join his sister.

But little Miss is NOT okay with this, because she has happily been playing peacefully without him and really, if you were her would you want some clumsy two year old brother stumbling into the playroom and knocking over your train bridge?

Nope. Not me.

Take another nap, Bud.

So that screaming concert demolition derby thing starts happening all over again.

Sometimes I just get so tired of being a referee that I just stop.

Barely keeping my head above the water.

On top of all the other demands of life. On top of all the stresses that life brings. On top of all the things that need doing…sometimes it just all seems like too much. Too much.

And I just can’t help but wonder…why? Why me?

There I am again. Fighting through dinner time. Because Mr. Aksel is going through this phase where we won’t eat unless he is sitting with me.

And that alone brings so much stress. Am I doing this wrong? Should I just not let him sit with me? But then he won’t eat? People must think I am an awful parent – letting my two year old win the battle.They must think that I’ve allowed him to be like this, that somehow, it is all my fault.

But he’s not going to sit with me forever. So for now, let’s just get through dinner.

After dinner is probably the best part of the day. For some reason every one is generally very calm.

Maybe they just got tired from the drama of the day.

Until bed time. And I literally have to say to myself over and over…be patient, be patient, be patient.

The trying to brush teeth and floss but he just spit his toothpaste out on my face! And she took my blanket and put it on her bed. And I don’t want my diaper but I don’t want to use the toilet, and not those pajamas I really just have to have the ones that are in the washing machine!

And the thousand and one kisses that I love to give but really, who has energy for a thousand kisses? Mr. Aksel, that’s who. Because mommy, I just want to be awake with you forever.

And little Miss who likes to relive the entire day just as you are about the walk out her bedroom door. And yes, it’s just easier to pretend to listen as you rattle off the post-bedtime to do list in you head.

Just keeping my head above the water.

Or can my feet really actually touch the bottom?

Maybe I’ve had it wrong this whole time.

Perhaps instead of floating along struggling to keep my head up, the bottom has been there all along.

Yet I’ve allowed my perspective to overwhelm me and failed to see the truth that all I needed to to was stretch out my legs and sink my feet into the sandy bottom of water that is actually calm, but became rough when I began to struggle in my effort to survive.

 

Wilt the seeds of wanting more
Rippin’ pride out by the roots
And if I’m still, let me hear You speak
Not the tone of my transgressions,
But the song of the Redeemed

Because perspective can make or break life. And wanting more than the life you have is a dangerous path to travel. Sometimes you just need to be still, and in those moments allow your spirit to be refreshed by the simple fact that no matter how awful your day was, not matter how much you struggled as a mother, the song that is your life is one of redemption.

My great desire is to be with You
But this is the place you chose for me
This is the place you chose for me
To lift my cross and give everything
This is the time you gave to me
This is the time you gave to me

Because let’s face it, heaven would be amazing. I don’t think it is possible for my kids to fight with each other there. But there is a time for everything. And now is my time to be a mother. And even when I feel completely unequipped and unworthy…this is place He chose for me. No matter how exhausting, how messy, how stressful and overwhelming.

This is the time He gave to me.

I’ll never be the same, I’ll never be the same
For me to live is Christ, to die is gain

So let my dreams of perfect parenting die as I strive to pour my heart and soul into the life that He designed for me and the time He has given me to live.

Yep, that’s me.

I just stuck out my legs and my feet hit bottom.

I’m not struggling to keep my head above water.

I’m living.