Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Not You

Beckett is really developing quite the vocabulary and fills our home with non stop chatter these days.

When anyone is talking or asking a question, Beckett is more than happy to respond - even if the question wasn't directed to him.

I have a habit of having full out conversations with Declan - you know what I mean, "Are you having a hard day Declan?  Is your belly hurting you?  Are you tired?" etc etc etc.  I mindlessly talk to him all day long.  Beckett, assuming all conversation must include him, generally will respond.  

And I playfully say "Not you, Beckett!"

It goes a little something like this.

(Declan screaming)

Me: Poor Declan, is your belly hurting you today?
Beckett: Yeah.  It IS Mommy, it IS hurting.
Me: Not you, Beckett!
Beckett: Yeah!

Lest you think I'm the world's worst mother, I assure you I respond with a playful tone.  In fact, I never thought much of it until one day I addressed Declan, Beckett responded and then quickly chimed in to address himself with, "Not you, Beckett!"

I don't know why but this little interaction stabbed me in my mama heart.  I felt AWFUL about him repeating that phrase.  It made me realize just how much those little ears hear and what they take in. What Beckett had been hearing was, "Not you, Beckett!"

Even though these past interactions had been playful and silly, and with absolutely zero ill intent, anger or frustration on my part - the last message in the world I wanted Beckett to internalize was, "Not you, Beckett!" - especially in the wake of a new baby brother.

This Christmas season, I've been particularly grateful for the message of the gospel.  

Tim Keller says:  “The universal religion of humankind is: We develop a good record and give it to God, and then he owes us. The gospel is: God develops a good record and gives it to us, then we owe him. In short, to say a good person, not just Christians, can find God is to say good works are enough. . . . But this apparently inclusive approach is really quite exclusive. It says, ‘The good people are in, and the bad people are out.’ What does this mean for those of us with moral failures? We are excluded. So both approaches are exclusive, but the gospel is the more inclusive exclusivity. It says joyfully, ‘It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been at the gates of hell. You can be welcomed and embraced fully and instantly through Christ.’"

Encouraged and hopeful that I am loved by a Heavenly Father who doesn't say, "Not you"

Merry Christmas, friends.  
May you find joy and peace in Christ this holiday season.  May you rest in the freedom of a Savior who offers you relief from the bondage of sin.    

Monday, December 9, 2013


I'm never one who likes asking for help.

Does anyone, really?

Seriously, I'm pretty bad at it.  After Beckett was born, we had meals set up, and about a week or so into it, I shut that gravy train down.  I just felt so bad having people do all of that for our family.

This season of my life?  Oh, God is using it to humble me.  In a big way.

There is help being offered, and I am taking it.  Dinners?  We had them for a good solid month, four times a week.  Not a night went by that we didn't have a delicious dinner at our ready.  Friend at the store offering to pick something up for me? Sure.  Diapers, please.  Family at Trader Joe's?  Yes - bread and milk, if you don't mind.

I am taking the help at every corner it's being offered.

Do I feel awkward?  Yep.

Do I feel like I'm burdening other people?  You bet.

Am I doing it anyway?  Absolutely.


Because it takes me until 4:30 some days to get dressed and leave my house.  Because some nights I'm up almost until the sun rises and I'm too tired to worry about dinner or diapers.  Because my children are probably going stir crazy and if you offer to take them out of the house for me, I am going to let you.

And because I know deep down in my soul that God intends for us to live in community.  I preach it - I offer it - I have brought countless dinners to new mamas and offered to pick things up for friends if I was out.  It's easier to give than it is to receive.  But that's not what God wanted for me.  For you.  For all of us.  He wants us to carry each other's burdens.  He wants us to live in the mess and chaos with each other.  He wants us to grieve, to celebrate, to pray, to live, to BE with each other.

The kindness of other people in the last 2 months has brought me to tears several times, with utmost appreciation and gratitude.  With absolute and utter relief.

There is a lot going on right now in our lives - not just new baby stress, but things that could make me feel bitter and angry and resentful.  And I can't promise I don't feel those things - I do - but you guys.  YOU who have brought dinner or diapers or bread and milk or sent messages and gifts and cards and prayers - God. Is. Using. You.

He is using you to show me He is here.  He is using you to show me He knows ME.  He knows my heart, my struggles, my pain, my happiness, my joy.  He is using each of you in different ways and in my angriest or saddest or most overwhelmed of moments, He uses you to soften me.

Friends - always be ready to help.  Friends - always be ready to accept it.  
Thursday, December 5, 2013


If I'm being honest, I feel like I'm failing at life right now.

Ok, maybe not in all aspects...but in lots.

I'm experiencing a level of exhaustion that has settled into my bones and I fear if I utter the words, "I'm just so tired" one more time my husband might start to worry I've lost all ability to communicate any other feeling or emotion.  Which, I sort of worry about myself.

Anyway - what this means is...mama's cranky.  And the house is messy.  And the kids are dirty.  And we all stay in pjs more often than not.  And I am surviving on green smoothies and coffee which is about all I have time for these days - so you'd think all my baby weight would be long gone on that kind of diet, but it isn't - which is another post for another day.

Here's what I'm learning - don't EVER think, "I'd never do... I'd never say... I'd never feel..."

Because you're bound to end up doing, saying, feeling things you never thought you would.

Today was another one in a long line of days where I have basically relocated myself to our couch in the living room.  It's where I slept for a few hours the night I went into labor, it's where I camped out for the first 5 weeks of Declan's life while he screamed into the wee hours of the morning and I watched reruns of Will and Grace & Sex and the City bleary eyed and sometimes crying right along with him.  It's where I spend much of my day, holding and nursing this colicky little munchkin of mine who wants to be held and nursed all day and all night long.

Today we made it to the pediatrician, where Declan got his very first shot.  (He was a champ by the way)  I thought this might perhaps make him sleepy and that he would sleep more than his typical 20 min spurts and maybe I could get a few things done.

It didn't turn out that way, of course, and so I found myself feeling very snappy at Beckett, who knows just when I've camped out for another nursing session and takes off to create mischief somewhere in the house (Daddy's books this time...)

After raising my voice one too many times, I took a deep breath and felt this little nudge to just embrace this.

Embrace this season of my chaotic life.  Embrace the toddler who finds joy in pulling books of Daddy's shelf.  Embrace the colicky infant who only wants to be held on my chest.  Embrace the mess, the crumbs, the toys in every nook & cranny of my increasingly dirty and disorganized house.  Embrace my rats nest of a hairstyle, embrace that I haven't had my hair done in over a year, embrace the smear of dirty fingerprints on the mirrors that hang over my love seat.  Embrace that lately we see more television than books.

It's just a season.

Watching my husband send his oldest off to college this year - knowing that my oldest will be getting his driver's permit in TWO YEARS...the proof is right here in my own house that this all goes too fast.  It's gone in an instant and the chaos will be gone along with it.

So I took a deep breath and grabbed the kids for a cookie making session.  It was messy and took longer than it needed to, and even resulted in a temper tantrum over raw cookie dough.

And honestly, at one point Beckett was crying because I'd told him no to the cookie dough and Declan was crying because I wasn't holding him and Logan was crying because (just kidding, Logan wasn't crying...just seeing if you were paying attention still)...I almost threw in the towel.  But when Daddy came down the stairs just a few minutes later, I heard Beckett go running across the floor and excitedly exclaim "Beckett help Mommy make cookies!"

In the chaos and the crazy, I am reminded that these moments really are fleeting, as cliche as it sounds, and even when I feel like I'm absolutely drowning in exhaustion and short on patience I need to embrace it.  I need to embrace my children in every season of life they are in.

And I need to embrace myself for every season *I* am in.  It's ok to cry when I've hit a wall.  It's ok to feel frustrated when I step on yet another toy train.  But it's also ok to decide not to cry & not to be frustrated and bake cookies for dinner instead.

Not only do my kids deserve it, but so do I.  It's ok to cut myself slack.  It's more than ok to soak in every second of my children - the good, the bad and the ugly.  They all create memories that I know I will treasure for years to come.

Cookies for dinner.

Followed by a banana - that's a complete meal right?

Here's the recipe in case you're interested!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups uncooked regular oats
  • 1 package chocolate mega morsels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

  1. Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add oats and stir well to combine.
  3. Add to butter mixture and beat on low-speed until mixed in. Gently stir in morsels and pecans.
  4. Drop by rounded tablespoons on prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until brown around the edges. Cool on pan for several minutes before placing cookies on wire rack.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Is there anything so satisfying as your first sip of freshly brewed coffee, first thing in the morning?

I drink a green smoothie almost every morning - and though it goes against all health and nutrition 'rules', I have to have a mug of coffee before I have my glass o' vegetables.

This morning, I was extra exuberant about my morning cup o' joe and as soon as my mug was full, I took a huge gulp, not pausing to think about just how hot a freshly brewed cup of coffee is.

I don't know what came over me - generally I let it sit, blow on it a few times, sip slowly to savor.  But this time?  A gulp.  You've been there - that moment when your mouth and tongue are scalding and tears are practically streaming out of your eyes and you have a split second to decide whether to keep going and see your gulp through to the end or spit it back out and hope it saves your poor mouth from feeling funny all day.

Socrates said:

I could've stood there, with my mouth full of burning hot liquid and tears streaming down my face, and waited for it to cool down.  I could've fought the urge to spit it out all over my living room.

I didn't.  (of course)

I spit the coffee back into my cup. And then I threw it out and got a new, freshly brewed cup of coffee...

Sometimes things that seem like they should be good for us can cause us pain, even if we have enjoyed those things a hundred times before.

That cup of hot coffee still had value.  Really, there was nothing wrong with it except the gulp that caused me discomfort and pain.  But, sometimes the best thing you can do is to cut your losses and move on to what's next. Get a new cup.

Change is hard.

Redefining yourself, your direction, your path and destination can feel overwhelming and uncertain.

Don't spend your energy holding on to things that are old, in the past.  Redefine, redirect - let go of fighting the old and instead, build the new.

I love this.

Build the new.  

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness,
and streams in the wasteland."

~Isaiah 43:18-19