Saturday, March 30, 2013

Life on Saturday

Yesterday was Friday.
Tomorrow is Sunday.
But today.  Today is Saturday.

On Friday we recognize the agony.  The pain.  The torture-beyond-imagination that our Savior endured.
On Sunday we relish in the HOPE of his resurrection.  Christ, our RISEN Lord.

But today.  Today is Saturday.

In our Bible class, leading up to Easter, we've been lead through thinking about the emotions, the decisions, the experiences of those that were following Jesus.  They first watched his death and then experienced him whole again.  Disciples heard his cry to his Father as he died and then touched his wounded hands when he came back to them.  Women went and saw that his body had been placed in a tomb and then went back and found the same tomb empty.  They were there.

And they also had Saturday.

As we've talked about the journey those close to Jesus walked, I've wondered a lot about Saturday.  The Bible doesn't say much about what that Sabbath day was like for them.  They certainly did not know what Sunday would look like, yet.  We know they weren't certain that he would be fully ALIVE on Sunday because that day the women went to "treat" his body- hardly necessary if he was going to be alive.

They HOPED.  Oh, they hoped.  But would he really walk among them again?  Even the most faithful had to wonder. 
"If this was the end, the gruesome end, what did it all mean?  How in the world do we just go back to our normal lives?  If he was dead- really gone- could we really just go back to fishing, after leaving everything to follow him?  What could we possibly do with all that we have seen and experienced.  The authority with which he taught.  The miracles. The healing.  The lessons of  REPENTANCE AND REDEMPTION."

What did they do?  How did they wait?
On Saturday.

This question resonates deeply with me right now. 
I believe that he faced a gruesome and torturous death and took with him the sins of the world.  My sins.  I know that no pain I've experienced comes close to what he endured.  And as a result, I believe he meets me when I'm enduring life's pains.  He knows about Friday.  (read this awesome blog that my sweet friend, Courtney, wrote  last year- The King of Friday).

AND I believe that he ROSE again.  Miraculously, and just as he foretold, he came back on Sunday to walk among those that loved Him.  He died, but in the end he conquered death for all of us.  He created the HOPE of Sunday.

When we come through pain- through the times of life the knock us up one side and down the other- sometimes the thought of "going back to normal" is just as difficult as walking through the tragedy, the unexpected, the loss. The idea that the rest of the world is going on about their day while you are remembering yesterday's pain is almost too much to bare. You can cling to the hope of Sunday, you can believe with all your might that redemption is coming, that He walks with you, but what about the between.  The wait. That day is Saturday.
I believe he knows about Saturday, too.

He knows about my Saturdays.  The days when I look back and see how he remembered our family through great pain.  That he carried us in so many ways through a dark and difficult time.  AND I can look forward with great anticipation and hope, fully believing that he is going to redeem every.single.ounce of it.  I do not fully know what it will look like, but I do believe that he is MIGHTY to save US.  I know Sunday is certainly coming. In some ways Sunday comes in the bits of hope we experience each day. 

But on Saturday, I stand between the two.  On Saturday I wonder how to just keep doing real life.  On Saturday, the pain I saw and experienced is so much a part of me, I can't help but wonder what I'm supposed to do with it.  Even though I cling to the hope of Sunday with all my human might, there are Saturdays.  On Saturday,  I wonder if anyone else remembers, and question even whether it was worth it. 

Right now I feel surrounded by Saturdays.
Thank goodness He knows about Saturday.

He knows about my sweet friends who sent their baby to heaven much too soon.  They came through the pain of his death, and they wait in confidence for the day they'll meet him again.  But today, today is their Saturday.

He knows about children who long for parents.  Much too early in their little lives, they've seen the pain of a home broken apart.  And they are learning about a God who is forever their Father, who will never disappoint their HOPE, who keeps his promises.  But today.  Today is their Saturday.

He knows about my sweet friend whose health means she'll never have more children.  She's experienced the pain of that news.  And she has great hope knowing that the Lord will redeem the plans she has relinquished for what her family "should" look like.  But today.  Today is her Saturday.

He knows about the marriages of friends I love.  The marriages that have been on the brink of disaster.  The marriages that are making a choice to cling to the hope of what they Lord can renew.  But for now, they wait.  They work.  They struggle.  Today.  Today is their Saturday.

He knows about the day(s) that follow the pain, while we wait. We don't wait without hope. We don't wait without faith. But some days we do have to wait. Wait to see. While we trust deep down that Sunday is coming, on Saturday we wait.  And sometimes the waiting, even while believing, is hard.

That's why I've been thinking about Saturday.  I ache at the thought of these Saturdays for those I love. 
Yesterday was Friday
Tomorrow is Sunday.
But today. Today is Saturday.

I can't take away Saturday, and I'm not sure I really want to- its the crucial link between our Fridays and our Sunday.  Saturday is the day we experience faith before sight.  The day we pray expecting miracles.  The day we wait in quiet knowing the power of the Lord will be fully revealed.  Saturday is not without hope. 

And the Hope of Saturday is in the one with whom we wait.  The one who has experienced Saturday to the fullest.  The one who is Lord of Saturday, just like He is over Friday and Sunday.

Please don't let the enemy fool you into thinking that you wait alone.
He waits with you.
And Sunday really is coming.


If you are looking for a group of people to wait with, please join us tomorrow at The Hills  People who have experienced the pain of Friday and who celebrate the Hope of Sunday.  Not perfect people, just people striving to do more to encourage each other toward faith and hope on Saturday. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Madness, for sure

If there was ever a season aptly named for our family it would be "March Madness".

I mean, on top of the everyday madness of four children under age 7:
75% of which can take care of their own "potty" needs
50% of which can bathe themselves
0% of which can transport themselves (unless you count bicycles), or plan their own meals.

In every other "season" of the year the six of us work hard to function as one team.
But for two weeks out of the year- it is every man for himself (bracket-ly-speaking).
You make your own selections, choose to seek counsel or not, root for your team, and hope that this is YOUR year.
It doesn't matter how savvy you are at your research, how much basketball you've watched to date, or whether your confidence in your selections is any reflection of your ability to even spell the team names.  Really, any man or woman, boy or girl, has a shot at the family crown.
And bonus: for a short period of time, the TV (and sometimes other devices necessary to catch cable games) are ON. All day. 
MADNESS, I tell ya.

Fair warning: just when you think you understand the "rules" of this annual family tradition, they will change.  But for this year, here are a few pieces of advice:

You may select Duke every year, without reason, to advance much farther than realistically possible, and I will respect that.  (At least for ABL, this rule- in effect since approximately 1992- is not subject to influence or change.  At least until Coach K retires.  Then we'll talk).

Relatedly, it will never do you any good to write down North Carolina in this house.  Even if you think it is cool that they have their own color, "Carolina blue".  I tried to tell you they would not advance.  While you will have to make your own judgement on this one- for this year, two of my darlings should have listened.

It may be true that a number 15 seed has never made it to the sweet sixteen.  But choosing a team based on the fact that you really like their Eagle mascot, sometimes pays off.  (All of my children picked them to win the first round, but KJ is one of the only people I know that selected FGCU to be in the sweet sixteen- even after I broke the rules of no-influence and tried to talk him out of that pick).

Selecting early upsets may get you a lot of early points, but it is still risky if you carry them too deep in the tournament.  (Refer to current family standings below)

This year's selection methods:
RRL and ABL- choose not to divulge their secrets for selection.  Carefully researched, of course.
KJ- selections based on mascots
Cbug and Lou- selections based on team colors.
Baby C- could not speak for himself so he got the default of top seeds advance

Under our family scoring system
(one point for first and second rounds, 2 for Sweet Sixteen victory, 3 for Elite Eight, 5 for final four and 10 for the Championship.  PLUS half the difference for an upset victory at any point in the tournament):
After rounds 1 and 2:
RRL= 31.5
ABL= 37.5
KJ= 35
Cbug= 45
Lou= 47
Little Bear= 32 
as you can see, the luck of choosing some crazy upsets sets two of our munchkins out to an early lead (a big one).

But here's the good news for the parentals.  The next rounds count for more points (see above) and...

RRL and ABL: both have 6/8 elite Eight team choices remaining, with both of ABL's final 2 teams still in (Duke and Syracuse).  RRL also picked Duke as National Champion (smart man.  refer to family rules above).
Baby C has 6/8 remaining, but all his hope is riding on Kansas, who "he" picked to win it all.
While KJ is the only person in our family to choose FGCU to go to the sweet sixteen, he did not pick them to advance beyond that and only has one of his Elite Eight teams still in the running (Indiana), a team which he did not pick to advance another round past that point. 
Cbug picked both Michigan and Marquette to elite 8, but has neither advancing beyond that.
Lou only has one team of her elite eight still in.  It, amazingly, is La Salle.  And she also picked them to be in the final four.  Madness.  So, she can get lots of points for upsets, but she only has one team to cash in on.

There's the Team L rundown.
Welcome to the madness!

How do you stand?


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pi Day and other celebrations

Thanks so much to all of you who took the time to interact with the conversation about holiday celebrations via facebook, blog comments, private messages, and face to face.  I loved all of the different perspectives.  And I especially loved being reminded how blessed I am to be surrounded by so many moms doing so much each day to make a difference in the lives of their children.  We approach it in as different of ways as we are different people, but it is so encouraging to know that we're in it together.

So, speaking of taking time to celebrate...
That's exactly what we did last weekend.

It started on March 14th.  Pi Day.  Which to us is way more than just about circles.  Two years ago, March 14th was the very first time I even recognized Pi Day with my kiddos.  And by that very evening there were three more little loves sleeping in our home.  An event that would definitely change the next five months of our lives, but in many ways would change US forever.  That's why we remember it.

Although, even if the day itself wasn't so significant, I'm not gonna lie.  I think having a day that I get to come up with fun ways to incorporate circles into the ordinary things we do, that I can give my kids early lessons in math without them even realizing it, and that we can have an excuse to make and eat pie together- yep, that would be a pretty good day.  But I'm a dork like that.

This year we celebrated both.  Pi Day AND our temporary party-of-eightness.  We celebrated by going to pick up those same little loves that helped change us and starting our weekend off right with a stop at DQ (during which the kids got so many compliments for being so well behaved that I thanked THE LORD for having mercy on me.  Taking all of them on this little road trip by myself could have lead to an epic fail.  With the exception of one chaotic trip to the bathroom with all 7 of us in one stall, it was quite the opposite of fail)

And we celebrated with circles.  Lots of circles.
"Auditing" circles by showing that it is "about 3" times farther around a circle than through the middle. (of course we had to eat our yummy measuring instruments, too.  i mean, since they were circles and all.)

Drawing circles with chalk on the driveway.  Which, because they are boys, turned into a target so that they could throw things at it and compete with each other to see who could get more points. Sheesh.

And of course, making and eating some circle pies. 
As tempting as these beauties were- RRL and I passed on eating any.

And then, because the celebration couldn't be limited to just one day.
We made a weekend of it.
We played at the park

And played at the house.

We also had an (early) Easter celebration together.  Including a fun lunch and hunt at Grammy's house.

And some fancy Easter clothes pictures together before the festivities ended on Sunday. 

My sweet niece telling everyone who would listen that her cousin, Lou, picked out that new dress for her, was worth the cost of the dress and then some (especially since it was super on sale).  I loved watching the two of them so giddy about dressing up together.

And then there's these hams.  My musclemen.  Gotta love 'em.

So, there ya have it.  A smack-in-the-middle-of-March celebration worth remembering.

Of course there were also parts, not mentioned here, worth forgetting.  Which is why they aren't mentioned!  Just picture seven children under the age of 7, one potty training, one crawling and putting everything in his mouth, and 5 others oblivious to how this might make it impossible for me to pay attention to each of them without ceasing.  And yeah, you'll get a pretty good picture of the chaos.  Happy chaos.  But chaos none-the-less.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Three CHEERS for Tea

Lou and I were treated to something special on Sunday when the children's ministry hosted "Three Cheers for Tea", a tea for mothers and daughters.

There is a lot I could say about this fun hour together, but I think I'll just leave it to this one photo.  Because this moment for Lou was BIG TIME.

You wouldn't know it from this evidence, but it took her a long while to work up the courage to take a picture with the "real cheerleaders".  Once she did, though, it was a HIGHLIGHT of her little life. She was beside herself with delight.

AND I was delighted that these big girls were teaching her that loving Jesus is what makes her beautiful.  A life with HIM is CHEERful indeed!

Thank you so much to all who made this sweet "mom and daughter only party" (as Lou called it) a perfect way to spend our afternoon together.  We even survived the sugar high!


Celebrating Ordinary Joy

I'm an ordinary mom.
I have four (and on some weekends- seven) pretty ordinary kids.

Hear me out on this one.

But first
If you haven't already read "Rage Against the Mini Van's" call to bring the holidays down a notch.  Start there.  It has caused quite a stirring amongst my facebook friends so I'd venture to guess you've come across it already.  I'll tell you my two reactions:
1) PREACH IT!  I'm so over the purposeless-excess at holidays (and I'm terrified of a sneaky elf that watches us).  I'm so far from crafty, I can't even tell you how much the very thought of "helping" my children make things for their classmates makes me sweat.
2) But WAIT.  Isn't there more to holidays? More to motherhood?  More than just survival, doing the minimum, making it through each day? **

Did you see this video?  From a mom, years ago, about her ordinary days with her (now grown) sons?

At first the two may not seem all that related, but last night, as I tried to figure out what bothered me about the first, I realized that the answer was found in the second.

My problem with holiday-overkill IS NOT that I think I could ever do too much to celebrate with my children.  EVER.  I love the moments we stop to create traditions.  Traditions like our Christmas countdown, or remembering Pi Day  (a day that changed our family).  Traditions like reading with their Nonna on Christmas Eve or taking pictures in the pumpkin patch each October.  Traditions like we started this year, of praying together at the playground on the First-Day-Of-School-Eve.  Traditions we've learned from others and traditions we've created or adapted to fit our family.  Traditions in which we stop to celebrate. Together.  Traditions in which we try to teach our children a bit about loving each other and extending love to others.  There's not an ounce of that I want to take down a notch. Not one.

In fact, why wait for a holiday.  What about that 20 minutes of reading, the mathfacts, or the eating dinner together?  You know. The Ordinary.  Can't those be filled with JOY.  Can't we move them off a checklist of "to be done before bedtime" and count them among our ordinary blessings.  **

Now wait, don't roll your eyes yet. 

I know Know KNOW that some days aren't too fun with a capital F-U-N.  Trust me, I know.  Remember, my child hid in the grocery store and pooped in his underwear, and another one attended a birthday party we weren't invited to, and family pictures aren't always what they seem.  And those are just the ones I've blogged about.  In fact, I'm only finding time to blog right now because I'm home with a sleeping kiddo who isn't feeling well.  Totally rearranged all of our plans for the next couple of days.  Wouldn't necessarily put that in the category of FUN.

I, too, battle the inner "if they don't start soccer before kindergarten OH MY WORD how will we ever afford college without a scholarship" and the "if they wrestle with each other to the point of death ONE MORE TIME I just might go CRAZY."  Seriously.  Everyday. 

Instead, my problem with holiday-overkill is that sometimes the moms outdoing each other via extraordinary treats sent to school and birthday parties that are the envy of our social circles takes away from the very point- the together.  the ordinary. sometimes we miss THEM, our little ordinaries (our children) in the middle of what we are doing "for them".  It might take some energy, it might take some thought, it WILL take a lot of prayer. But isn't it worth it, to celebrate JOY in the ordinary.  AND BONUS- it turns out, since a lot of us happen to agree with the notions in the blog about taking the holidays down a notch, we have some energy available to redirect.

There has to be more to motherhood than just surviving.
There has to be more to motherhood than competing and outdoing.
There is JOY to be found in the ordinary.
And we can encourage each other to find it.
And here's the thing.
You can make your ordinary EXTRAORDINARY.  And it wasn't my idea.
It has little to do with how BIG you do holidays, whether you do anything the "right way", whether your kids were ever the very best at ANYTHING.
It has everything to do with how and why you do this job called motherhood (or parenthood).
Its from John Chapter 3, verse 21
NIV: But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
The Message: But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.
Did you know that verse was written for parents?  Ok, so maybe not exclusively.  But lately it has been my encouragement in all of this.  I'm not extraordinary because of what I do.  Not to my children and not to others watching me parent.  Not because I'm getting everything right (in fact, some days I'm not getting ANYTHING right).  If any GOOD comes from me, if any JOY extended to my children its because of the TRUTH. The light I'm choosing to stand in is not one I can create, but it certainly is one I can reflect.
In Holidays. And in Ordinary Days.

I'm an ordinary mom.
I have four (and on some weekends- seven) pretty ordinary kids.
Only to me, they aren't.
And I have a feeling that to them, I'm not either.
Maybe someday I'll tell them the truth, about being ordinary.
But each day I hope to SHOW THEM the TRUTH about being extraordinary.
We celebrate together.
With great JOY.
And we're taking that UP a NOTCH.

 Hopefully that's a movement you can get on board with. 

**I don't know the author of that blog.  I think she is hilarious.  I am not saying that I think she doesn't find this kind of joy in her parenting.  I just didn't read it in this one post.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Apple

Sweet Cbug
He's the APPLE of my eye
One of them, at least

One of his favorite things to do right now
is to smile for my camera

until just right before I actually take the picture
and then

while everyone else is still smiling
he bombs the photo with craziness.

Next, he runs over to me and says "Hey Mom, check me out in that one"
He makes me laugh. WHERE does he come up with this stuff?

 it turns out this APPLE of mine
doesn't fall too far from the old tree.

Note: I was just SURE they said this was a silly picture.  I was wrong.
Note 2: This is only a handful of HUNDREDS of crazy pics of Cbug...and all of these are from the last couple of weeks.  HONESTLY.

Sure love my little APPLE and all of his craziness!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, RRL.

Yesterday was RRL's birthday.
Last weekend we celebrated on the beach with my parents.
But because it was the big THREE.FIVE. I really wanted to make it memorable at home, too.
I had some great ideas.
I could write out 35 things I love about him (heaven knows it would have been tough to limit it to only thirty-five)
I could make a book of my favorite 35 places we've been together.
I could spend 35 minutes for 35 days doing something special just for him.
Truth be told, he deserves all that and more, and maybe someday I will follow through on some of it.

I did spend (at least) THIRTY-FIVE minutes dressing and posing these munchkins for some bday pictures.  That counts, right?
Instead, we simply celebrated by going to dinner at a special place that he chose.
We enjoyed dinner as a family and then a movie date alone.
It wasn't grandiose. But we were together. And I love knowing that is what makes him happiest.

Lots of people at the restaurant must have known it was a special occasion because they smiled at RRL and watched as we all followed him to our table.
Either that or it was because his daughter was wearing her tiarra and polk dot shoes, his boys were dressed alike, and he was carrying a 10-month-old that doesn't know a stranger.
Maybe that had something to do with it.

And while it may be the adorable munchkins who draw the sighs and stares,
I hope at least a few of the people watching last night were insightful enough to put together what seems so obvious to me.
That the handsome one-
the one who patiently played tic-tac-toe, took kiddos to the bathroom and was so content to enjoy his steak between munchkins enjoying corndogs and chocolate milk,
the one we were celebrating...
He's the glue.

Love you, Babe!
Happy Birthday!

Monday, March 4, 2013


 I've never really minded the idea of my children getting older.  There are certain milestones that make me sentimental, of course, but for the most part each new age or stage comes with new and exciting things that they are learning.  Just like I'd never wish away the young years, I've also never considered asking them to linger.

Until Little Bear.  In many ways, I'm excited to catch glimpses of what he'll be like as he continues to show personality and interact more with the rest of our family.  However, I also would not mind one bit if we just stopped counting the months.  Despite my best efforts, he just keeps getting older.  I've asked him not to, but he insists on inching closer to being one-year-old, which is practically the same as OH MY WORD, MY BABY IS GOING OFF TO COLLEGE.  It is so selfish of him.

With each new month he seems to grow exponentially.  Sometime between this picture at 7 months

And this one at 8.  He could stand, assisted.

And then by this one at 9 months, he could pull himself up completely.  And with this talent, also come the ability to stand-up in his bed.  Unfortunately, it was not coupled with the ability to lay himself back down.

And by the time of this one, just a week ago (at his 10-month-birthday) he could officially crawl at lightening speeds.  He now views any closed door, drawer or cabinet as his personal invitation to F-U-N in the form of emptying the contents.    He also makes the silliest faces, can say "Da-da" and just laughs when I request a "Ma-Ma".  Oh, and he loves to eat EVERYTHING (even princesses and superheros).

Also, his reaction time to grab something that he wants has far surpassed my reaction time to keep him from it.  As evidenced by the fact that the above photo was taken seconds before the following one.  Sweet Little Bear decided that he really WANTED the camera, dove forward to grab it, and met the sidewalk with his forehead (bruise to your left).  With me sitting right in front of him. 

I'm going to have to work on my reflexes if I'm going to keep up with this one.
That, or he could just stop growing up.
And we all know which one I'm voting for!