When You Run Away Only To Miss Him

He loves to talk on the telephone.  Sort of endlessly he’ll talk.  So you slip out of the conference to say hello to him, all of them, before bedtime.

You know it’s hard.  Those rushed calls with background noises on either end of the line that prevents you from catching anything but snatches of sentences and garbled words.  You “uh-huh” and “Ohhhh” as best you can until the call passes the ten minute mark.  Then you start to get a little impatient and stop replying with the same enthusiasm of a momma missing her babes and move into the tones of a rushed businessperson.

So by the time the kids are off and your husband finally has the line, you barely remember to ask him about that important meeting he had that morning and how he managed to hike to the farm with three preschoolers in varying stages of having colds.

You wrap up the conversation to hurry back inside only to sit in a room full of mostly strangers and your heart cracks a little that you didn’t spend longer on the telephone with the four people in the world who matter more to you than anyone else.  Nearly instantaneously you miss those jumbled, beautiful, competing voices.  Miss them hard.

It’s like rushed is your default now.  Life is caught in snatches with background noises threatening to drown it out.  Everywhere you go you catch yourself running in one direction only to miss the direction you came from.

Rushed has to stop being default.

And you have to stop running to anything taking you away from your true love.

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This weekend I went to a unique conference that is very precious to me because some of my dearest friends in all of the world are there.  I’ll write about some insight I picked up along the way.  But more than anything, what I received at this conference was a further confirmation that I’m needing to take some time for quiet.  My call to step away, from all the things that so easily entangle me, for a season.  A break from the leading and the speaking and any external commitments that don’t involve my four people or my job.  Because in all the busyness of this year, I didn’t just lose an urgency to serve my family with a passion, but I also lost the urgency of seeking God so regularly as to be certain of what He would have me do in any given day.

So I called them back.  And the next night I sat in the quiet of my room away from all the frenzy and talked as long as they wanted.  And I’m calling God back for a longer conversation too.

That’s all you have to do.  You call back.  You make time.  You stop rushing.

 

** As a part of my endeavor to rush less, say  no, and set fresh boundaries, I’ve decided to spend the remaining leadership Tuesdays this year doing a study of The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.  You’ll have a chance this week to win a copy if you’d like to join and gain some insight on finding room for your best yes.

When I Write About Failing Miserably

I had no intention of broadcasting this very personal failure.

I didn’t even need to.  I had a poetic Alaskan post in the queue for today.  I went to format it last night and sat staring at the screen with this failure on my soul.  And I wondered what I had learned from it.  Then I wondered if what I was learning, still in the steep sadness, might help anyone else.  Because these private failures often offer some serious teachable moments as I sit with God in the quiet wondering why I have to be so stubborn.

You see, we rescued a dog two months ago.  Bandit.

The kids had been begging for a dog since their fourth birthday a year ago and both my husband and I grew up with dogs of assorted mutt and rescue lineage.

As August approached this year, the kids started in again in earnest, and I thought this fifth birthday would be a good time to explore the option. I researched breeds.  We met a bunch of rescue dogs over a few weeks.  I got feedback from friends in real life and on Facebook.

There were some warning signs that maybe this wasn’t the best time.  One, my hubby is not a fan.  Staunchly in the “I’d be fine if we never had a pet” camp.  Two, I am fried.  I have a million things going and am already worn pretty thin as I’ve written about some this fall.  Three, I have triplets that are only turning five.  Not fifteen.  We weren’t experimenting with a goldfish but a whole dog.

However, I plowed ahead, and we kept returning to this one precious rescue mutt so we adopted her.

And then everything after that was just really hard.  I almost took her back within our two week trial period.  She ate everything – like our furniture and swim trunks and my high heels (and yes she had bones and balls and yes she slept in a crate and on and on – all the stuff we were told to do).  She was super high energy and we didn’t have much of a backyard.  But I dug in.  Partly because I’m stubborn.  Partly because I didn’t want to emotionally scar my kids.  Partly because I was embarrassed about failing and being judged.  {Here’s where I ask you kindly to please keep your judgment to yourself.  Feel free to judge, but just don’t share it because I’m smarting from how I mucked this up right now.}

Twice more I almost took her back but didn’t.  Two of the three kids were even okay with it because this precious mutt who was wonderful with my kids was still wreaking a fair amount of havoc in our home.  I tried to find her another family.  I checked with folks in all sorts of avenues.  I consulted with my hero friends who regularly, and successfully, rescue dogs.

Yesterday, after agonizing and going back and forth, I finally took her back.  We could not provide her with the attention and space and energy that she really needed.  And the rescue I had worked with, who I finally, tearfully, called Sunday afternoon, said they always take their own dogs back and try to find them a new family.  So as the boys worked at the ranch and little bit napped with my mom, I returned our family rescue mutt and cried the whole way home.  I cried that we couldn’t make it work.  I cried that she might not find a wonderful family.  I cried that I’d let my kids down.  I cried that I’d failed.

Here’s what I’m learning as I sit here trying to figure out how to do better:

1.  Make sure your spouse is on board with big decisions.

If something goes south, then at least you are in it together.  Do not press hard into something if your partner is in full resistance.

2.  Listen to people who are wiser than your preschoolers.

I’m not saying there’s not some sage wisdom to be had in preschoolers, but we can let their untested idealism trick us into believing that’s what reality might look like.  It’s not.  I followed my kids visions of happy playful pups piled in wrapping paper during our holidays, and I did want them to have it, but didn’t weigh all the other competing elements in our life or ability to juggle new responsibilities.

3.   Don’t parent out of guilt – from my very grace-filled and wise friend Christine

Instead of chiding me for making wrong decisions, she called out the right one – making the very hard, but right, decision for our family that we couldn’t accommodate this sweet doggie.  If I’d allowed guilt to keep guiding my choices, I’d have been two months further down the road having the same struggles but with all the more heartbreaking attachment.

4.  Just because you let something go, doesn’t mean you don’t grieve the loss.

 

A Rootin’ Tootin’ Fifth Celebration!

This Saturday, we feted my newest five year olds.

Since we didn’t throw a birthday party last year, I wondered if we’d be able to settle on a theme that boys and girl could get behind equally, yet it came surprisingly easy:  They wanted to be cowboys and cowgirls and have a Western Birthday Bash!

I LOVE to entertain.  I was so excited to have a theme I could do so much with that I decided our best option was to host their fifth birthday party at our home.  One, I hadn’t created the guest list so I didn’t realize how packed it would be.  Two, I got tired of bouncy houses and parks pushing us out in a certain time that this gave me flexibility.  Three, I knew Bray could bring in barbeque from the restaurant and hay from the farm and we could really enhance our western backdrop.

I planned this party for over TWO months.  I really really love planning parties. It’s one of the dozen careers I’d have in a parallel life.  I found custom invitations from Etsy and she did an excellent job.  Then I pinned a bunch of ideas from Pinterest and I pulled ideas from past parties I had done like Lillie’s tea party.

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The day came and was GORGEOUS.  I was concerned for a while but the cold front blew through and God delivered one of the prettiest days of the year for the party.

I installed a balloon walkway in reds and blues which were the colors that I used throughout the house for decorations – both girl and boy appropriate and the leading colors of bandanas (another key decoration).  Bray brought home hay bales from the farm which we lined the front yard with and tied pretend barbed wire between the bales since I wanted to keep the kids safe in our front yard which faces a busy street.  By our shade trees we installed a red and blue horseshoe game for our would-be-cowboys to play (Station 1).  I found a door poster I could put their names on and lots of decals for the house along with these simple little faux wagon wheels that filled in the space.

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The front entry had bandanas for each child, a gift bag to fill with treats to come, and a flower-filled boot:

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Station No. 2 was a dress up station complete with ride on horses, cowboy hats, sheriff badges, and masks:

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Station No. 3 was a Cowboy Creates art station – there were three projects to chose from: design your own bandanas, create your own Western scene with cowboy stickers and backdrop, or color your own wanted poster (these were the adorable creation from a woman on Etsy as were the crayons in the shapes of cowboy hats, boots, and horses):

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We had a watering hole station for thirsty cowkids with tea and lemonade in dispensers as well as ice chests full of juice and water for kids and soda and water for adults, and then we set up our own chuck wagon buffet full of yummy barbeque (which was a bigger hit with the adults than with the kids).

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Since we ended up with over 50 people in attendance, I was glad that the fourth station was rented – a Big Tex cowboy bounce house that became the main attraction, although the boot piñata was certainly a close second in the line up:

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Tiara Cakes did a gorgeous job with the cake – I sent them all these images from Pinterest along with the invitation and said design something that works for triplets.  Not only was the cake beautiful, but it tasted super yummy.  I think the kids were shooting for fierce cowboys here, but it came off a little wonky:

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It was such fun for the kids, but I don’t know that momma is going to sign up for anything this big again (famous last words, right?).

A Fifth Birthday Thank You

For several years now I’ve been writing love letters to my trio on their birthday.

I get so nostalgic every year – I start looking at their fourth year pictures and notes, the third year, and the second year (which was the first year I had a blog on their birthday!) and am both excited and totally sad that the trio is turning FIVE.

I still want each one to know how madly in love I am with each of them, but I also want to take a moment to say thank you to all of the people who got us to this day – this day where we celebrate five years with these bright, funny, crazy little humans.  So from the bottom of my heart, let me express my thanks in the best way I can cobble together with words – even though they will never be enough:

To the five weeks of NICU nurses, or angels as the case was for us, especially Nurse Melissa who saved our little man on the Monday morning after he was born on Friday afternoon;

To the ten weeks of the most gracious night nurse, Jenny, who saved me and soothed and loved at 2 am and teed each baby up for healthy eating and sleeping habits that remained with us;

To the five years of the most loving and steadfast nanny, Maria, who enabled me to go back to work knowing that the children were loved and cared for and entertained and all the while kept our house in the middle of the melee;

To the now-going-on four years of teachers from MDUMC to Holy Spirit that have taught our children about letters and numbers but more importantly about kindness and faith;

To the fun aunts and uncles (both blood related and otherwise) that have been a constant presence in their lives, from Aunt Catherine taking little bit on innumerable horseback rides, to Uncle Caleb diving in the pool with the boys with his jeans still on, to Aunt Mary coming with zoo memberships and lunches to keep us all sane;

To the grandparents who have loved each child with abandon, from surprise packages from Gaby and Papa, to unlimited swings and tractor rides at the farm with Grandmother and Grandfather, and a Mimi on call 24/7 for five years for everything from middle of the night ER runs to date nights for mommy and daddy;

To the best partner that I can imagine walking this crazy triplet path with, I love you more today than I did the day we got married over eight years ago;

To all the hundreds of people who prayed tirelessly, brought food, did laundry, sent presents, came to parties and baptisms, and all the things I can’t even remember now because I had kids;

And to a God, a Heavenly Father that gives more than we could ever ask or imagine, that heard my cries night after night for years as I begged to be a mommy – that you would give me these three precious gifts moves me to tears maybe more now, now that I know who they are and who they could be, than it did that day in March when we saw those two pink lines on those three pregnancy tests (not even realizing the irony at the time).  There still are no words to express how this was the best singular gift I have ever been given and I only pray every day that I might grow worthy of those with whom You have entrusted me.

S – You keep moving at your own pace my love.  It sets you apart.  It makes you intentional.  Differences are good.  And in a world of increasing attempts to be the same as others, I love how you march to the beat of your own drummer.  You are such a love and I am going to work to be more patient as we learn what God has in store for you.

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L – Don’t ever stop dancing precious one.  Keep your paints out, the music up, and the wind in your hair.  You are bold and brave and will dance through life if you refuse to let people stop you.  Be kind.  Let’s love others well together as we seek God’s confidence in your heart tempered by His compassion.

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W – Allow all of those emotions to grow and mature so that you can keep everyone laughing or care for those in need.  It is rare to see such emotional depth in a young boy, and they will allow you empathy and understanding as you mature.  Let your strong work ethic and discipline also govern the harder emotions to manage as we pray that God will use what you learn and feel to help others.

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Happy Fifth Birthday - You Are The Gifts!

Give Them Jobs – Worst Parent Ever Series, Guest Post

I’m so delighted my dear friend Kristen Smith allowed me to use one of her funny, but wise, posts on parenting.  She wrote this funny series called Parenting Advice From The Worst Parent Ever, because let’s face it, none of us want someone pretending to have it all together and telling us what to do.  As a mom in the thick of the mayhem, I just loved this series.  Welcome Kristin:

I have said it before that being a parent is tough business. When we were pregnant with Isaac I had no idea what being a mom would really mean. I loved babies and had babysat as a teenager…so it would be a piece of cake loving on your own baby, right?

But sleepless nights and a colicky son that cried for hours at a time, quickly showed me that this thing wasn’t for the faint of heart.

It has been a few years since I have paced the hallways with a crying baby…but as I find myself in the thick of raising two toddlers along with 2 older boys, there is a new sound that has emerged inside my home.

Whining.

Oh the whining! The fighting and hitting is awful too…but I don’t know that much else irritates this mama more than the constant whining and fussing.

Because Elijah and Karlena are so close in age (18 months) it seems to have magnified. There is 7 years between Isaac and Gabriel, and 5 years between Gabriel and Elijah. I just don’t remember it being THIS terrible with them.

And while Elijah and Karlena really do play well together at times, and I know they love each other, they also argue and bicker and fight and cry and fuss and bawl and whine.

The whining was threatening to push me over the edge on the way home from church on Sunday. Oh yes – even then!! I can leave church happy and filled because of worship and a good sermon, and want to scream myself silly after a 15 minute car ride home! :)

Because I am really trying to change my pattern of screaming at them when they are screaming at each other I decided to try something different this time.

I gave them jobs.

Elijah, who just turned 5, is interested in helping. I don’t always give him enough opportunities to be helpful but he loves the praise that comes with being a good helper. So we got home and we got right to work.

I asked him if he wanted to be a bog boy and help mom with some important work. He said yes and we set to task.

It wasn’t anything huge, and honestly I could have done it myself in 1 trip upstairs. It took him 3 trips, but he was very proud of himself for getting the work done. And he didn’t whine once during the entire process.

Once we had finished that task, I had him help me set the table for lunch.

Now the Type A, perfectionist personality in me cringes at a sloppy set table, but again this was a chance for him to learn. So we talked about where to put the fork, and Gabriel helped with the napkins…it wasn’t pretty but the whining had stopped.

Of course I was sure to praise him heavily during this time. Telling him how much I appreciated that he was being such a big helper and what a great job he was doing.

Kids LOVE to hear how awesome they are. Sometimes I forget that really. I get overwhelmed by the whining and fighting and I find myself focusing on everything they are doing wrong, instead of celebrating all they are doing well.

I know it isn’t a perfect plan. Sometimes asking them to help may cause more whining, oh heaven help us if it does!! But it is worth a try and might just give you a few more minutes of peace and sanity in your home!

What kind of jobs have you given your kids to do? Please leave them in the comments below so I can add to my list!

kristinKristin is a wife and a mother, but most importantly I am a daughter of the King. Redeemed by His Grace and so very grateful for it. Through the past 18 years we have walked some hard roads. Many of them difficult by our own doing. But despite our choices and at times lack of faith – God loved us anyways. We have seen and continue to experience the riches of His love.  I blog over at The Riches of His Love and you can find me on Twitter and Facebook @therichesofhislove.