Monday, March 23, 2015

Little Brown Eyed Girl

It was Jesus who led me into the department store today, just as you were checking out. He needed to teach me something I had forgotten. I was in line behind your Grandma, and you were playing quietly near the pretty bed displays. You touched each pillow and comforter so carefully. It was obvious I startled you, when you realized I was watching, and you ran to your Grandma for comfort and safety. I noticed you were getting a new quilt today, and you kept sneaking touches of it from your spot below the counter. There was no smile, but your big, quietly beautiful, brown eyes showed that you were getting something special. Your dark hair and brown eyes reminded me so much of one of my own girls. But there was something about your eyes, so round, and so quiet, that I couldn't seem to turn away from. You finally smiled at me, but when you reached for Grandma for reassurance and security, your thin little hand accidentally caught her shirt, pulling it up a little.

Everything happened so quickly, I almost wouldn't have seen it, had I not been right behind you. I saw how hard she squeezed your painfully thin, little arm. And although she bent down to whisper in your ear, I could hear every single angry word. Oh, little brown eyed girl. As your face turned to the floor, my heart broke for you, knowing your little heart had been broken so many times before, just like this. And as your little brown eyes released streams of silent tears, I let quiet tears fall from my eyes, as well.

Oh, sweet girl. I searched my heart desperately for words to help you. Something, anything, that would let you know I heard, and I care. Like always, my social awkwardness left me standing there silent, just like you. The sweet lady behind the counter tried to tell you how pretty your new quilt would be on your bed, but you could only attempt to smile with your red, and tear streaked cheeks. I'll never forget you, little brown eyed girl.

See, I haven't had to feel those angry hands or hear those angry words in a very long time. Jesus healed those wounds and gave me a life of peace. I am so thankful for that peace. But, I allowed my own heart to forget that there are still little girls and little boys that aren't always treated with care and patience. Little ones that need to feel safe and loved. Jesus does love you, sweet one. And He heard those words today, just like I did. Maybe Grandma was having a very hard day. And I know there is much more to your story than the few minutes I witnessed behind that counter. But meeting you has changed my heart forever. And you and your grandma will be prayed for fervently, every day from now on. You have such beautiful brown eyes. I pray that one day, they sparkle with joy, instead of sadness. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Please DON'T Ask!!!

Ok. Disclaimer: I am WAY more private than most females. So, the following opinions are totally based on my own level of comfort. But, I also believe need to be said ;).

Please, please STOP asking people if they are pregnant!!!!! That may sound rude to you, and I understand that {most} people are just excited about a new life and want to celebrate with the expecting mama. But here are just a FEW of the reasons it may not be a good idea to ask:

She wants to have a baby so badly, but for some reason, it hasn't happened yet.

Seriously, y'all. This is probably my biggest reason I don't think you should ever ask a woman if she is expecting! It could be that wife wants a baby, but husband doesn't. She doesn't need added questions from you, while she is battling not to resent her husband in her heart. Or maybe she and husband BOTH want a baby. But they are in the waiting period, and not sure if it will happen for them or not. Imagine Hannah in the Bible. Her heart was constantly hurting and yearning for God to open her womb. Women today have those same desires and those same hurts. Just because YOU aren't aware of her struggle, doesn't mean it isn't there. She doesn't need a reminder of how badly she is waiting on God to answer her pleas. PLEASE don't be a hurtful reminder to her!!

She is struggling with weight gain, or with losing weight from previous births.

I don't lose baby weight quickly. I try, but it seems to just stick to my midsection, like a permanent reminder that it is NOT going away. Please don't draw attention to it ;). And DEFINITELY don't pat my pudgy tummy if you still can't help but ask if I'm pregnant! Seriously :/.

Maybe she IS pregnant, but she and hubby aren't ready to announce it yet.

SO many times, we've had to rush and try to call or text family members to tell them about a new baby because someone asked before we'd told anyone, and they could definitely read my silent but obvious facial expression. Consider that we had probably hoped to tell our families in a special way, but missed out on that opportunity because we had to rush to tell before they found out from someone else and got hurt feelings they didn't know first. If the mama wanted you to know, she would have already told you! Or she would have announced it in some semi public way that you would have known about.

Honestly, I don't fault anyone for being excited about babies. And people have asked me before in ways that I was NOT offended. So, it isn't always bad. But my suggestion is to play it safe, and practice patience. You WILL find out, if she is really is expecting a baby ;). But it will be on her time schedule.

Tell me. Am I being too harsh?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Why I Don't Throw {Huge} Birthday Parties For My Kids

So, my little Mia Joy turned 2 years old yesterday!!! Yay, Mia!!!! She truly has brought much joy into our family and home :). But as I was thinking of something special to do with her for her day, the thought crossed my mind that I am an oddity as a mother when it comes to birthdays. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone like myself ;). But here's what we've done for our kids' birthdays so far, and the reasons it may seem very unconventional...

We don't invite people over to celebrate.

Yeah, yeah, I know. But I actually have several reasons why I don't "go all out," and a few of them are actually valid ;).

First of all, I don't have it all together. My kitchen floors are covered with juice stains and muddy foot prints more often than they are clean and sparkly. Every system of toy organization I have attempted so far has been effectively demolished by busy little hands in less than a week. You get the idea. I don't mind visitors, but for me to get everything in shape for alot of people to come over, I would have to give up time with my kids.... on their birthday. To me, that sends the message to a little heart that wanting other people to think we have a spotless home is more important to me than spending time with them on their special day. I don't like that.

Another reason, is we have 4 little blessings {#5 will be here in August}, and we would be thrilled to have more. If I set the standard now that birthdays are supposed to be huge Pinterest occasions, what am I going to do if the Lord chooses to let us add more babies to our family? Because by then, they'll expect a huge event in their honor. I can't be planning 5... 6... 7 parties every year, when we have things more eternal we need to focus on.

And, probably my BIGGEST reason? I do not want my kids to learn that they "deserve" anything, just because it's their birthday. The Lord allowed them another year of life. The life He gave is more than enough. The blessing they have been, and ARE, to our family is what I'd like to focus on for their birthday. I just don't think fancy decorations and too many presents teaches that. I think a huge party teaches them to be superficial, to expect life to be all about them, and to hold high standards of what others must do for them. Gifts aren't bad, celebrations aren't bad, doing something special for someone isn't bad. But, I believe it should never be expected.

They may or may not receive a gift from Eric and I on their birthday. 

Yes, we buy gifts :). But, only if we know there is something that would be very special or useful to that child. We don't give "obligatory gifts." Again, what does it teach a child if they come to expect gifts every year? That people are SUPPOSED to buy them something, just because it's their birthday? I do know that certain people show their love by giving gifts, and one of our children is that way. So, I am not saying it's bad to give gifts. I AM saying it is bad if a young heart believes everyone has to get them something, and is upset or disappointed when that doesn't happen.

So what does a birthday look like in our little family? 

 Well, we all talk about what the upcoming birthday baby would really like to do on their birthday, and then we work together to try to incorporate that idea into their day. It might be making a train or construction site out of that night's dessert. It might be letting the birthday babe decorate the supper table how she thinks a fancy tea party would be, and letting her have a special cousin come to eat with her. For Mia, Ely really thought she would enjoy seeing all the animals at the zoo. So, when the rain clears, Mia will get a birthday zoo trip. Were there gifts involved? Sometimes. Did the kids expect them? No, but they were really excited and surprised when daddy brought the gifts home :).

We wake them up on their day with a reminder that it's THEIR birthday!!!! Yay!!! We spend as much time as life will allow that day, letting that baby do special things (ex. They get to pick the book we read before nap. I might even let them pick out their own clothes. I might let them do something they've previously been too young to enjoy, like help wash dishes or try honey for the first time). I have each sibling tell their brother or sister something they really like about them, and why they are thankful for them. I *try* to make something for supper that night that I know they really like, and when we pray before the meal, daddy gives thanks for allowing us the gift of that special child. To me, THAT is special :).

What are some special things you do in your family for birthdays? I would love to hear everyone's ideas and special traditions :)

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Silent Storm

Have you ever gone through a battle, a spiritual battle, that was so intense, it left you feeling like the person you once were is only a memory and this new person is a complete stranger to you? What if the physical circumstances that threw you into this storm, were completely out of your control, and so private in nature you couldn't confide in one single person for even prayer and comfort in knowing you weren't alone? Or maybe you tried to pour out the turmoil inside, but the hearer couldn't truly hear the cries of your heart, and you were deeply misunderstood, only adding to the pain that was already too heavy to bear?

What do you do, friend? What do you do when life feels more like a death of your heart?

That is where I have been. These months have worn out my spirit to the point I have retreated into deep silence. Unable to speak of anything with significance to anyone, for fear my heart would betray me, and pour itself out for everyone to see. Unable to write. Almost unable to love.

But isn't the love of God amazing? Isn't He so kind and gentle, in how He touches those tender wounds, and slowly binds them up, one by one?

My load has been heavy, friends. Too heavy for me. Just when I thought there was no hope, that no one would hear my silent cries, and I was left to walk through this awful battle alone, look at the love He poured into my soul:

Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it." Deuteronomy 1:17

{He hears the cries of my heart.}

And the LORD, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed." Deuteronomy 31:8

"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them." Deuteronomy 33:27

"With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for His mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 136:12

"In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul." Psalm 138:3

Suddenly, His sufficient Grace is so real. Suddenly, I am no longer alone. Suddenly, I don't need to be heard, because the only One that matters has already heard :). And suddenly, I am ok. My heart that I thought was surely damaged beyond repair, feels Life again. He is quickening my spirit once again.  As long as I have Him, I can face today. And the next. And the next.

I praise Him for never letting me lose my joy, through all of my dark days. He kept smiles and giggles in my home and in my heart, through it all. He is GOOD. So good.

If you don't mind sharing, what are verses He has given you, during the darkest trials of your life? His Word is life. HE is Life :). Let us never forget that.

Note: If you know me, outside of this blog, the details and circumstances leading to this trial, are not something I wish to discuss. Prayer is sufficient. HE is sufficient.