Thursday, May 30, 2013

Habits Are Hard to Break

When Anderson was born on March 18th, 2009 we had a 5 year old, 3 year old, and a 21 month year old. *sigh* What were we thinking? It was an insane time in our lives. When you are this outnumbered you cannot have too many expectations or goals, let's be totally honest here you are in survival mode, and the goals you do have have to be minimal. We had one main goal that set the tone for everything else in our house; SLEEP!! Lots and lots of sleep; nap times, early bed times, more naps, etc..etc.. Every sleep training technique was 100% selfishly motivated, we wanted sleep and we wanted to minimize the frequency and intensity of melt downs. Therefore, we have been super lenient when it comes to sleep crutches (i.e. pacifiers, thumb sucking, blankets, sleeping on bellies *gasp by the APA* white noise, etc) We figured if you are in your own bed (because this Mama does not share her bed with anyone except Daddy) and you are asleep, hallelujah!! Bless the crutches that got you there. And not only bless the crutches, but do not mess with the crutches. My brother-in-law says it so well, "Do not mess with good!"

Oh, we've paid for it; we've looked for blankets for thirty minutes, we've hunted pacifiers in the middle of the night, we tote white noise machines every where we go, but we all make the beds we lie in and the more time I get in THAT bed the happier I am to oblige. But I am no fool, I know all good things must come to an end. Remember last year when flew pacifiers to the moon? Last week Lucy threw her baby blanket in the trash because it was in pieces, we have used socks and packing tape to cover hands to stop thumb sucking, etc..etc.. I just wish I could tell the me 9 (almost 10 *SOB*) years ago to worry less about those habits, that they would in fact work themselves through. Do not hear what I am not saying, it does in fact take work to aid your children in breaking those habits, but it has been way less stressful and way smoother than I imagined it being. Especially, when I stopped worrying about it. Each parents willingness to put up with those crutches and its effects is totally unique to each family. While some parents would NEVER let their children sleep on their bellies, I happily did. While some parents LOVE co-sleeping,  Mark and I didn't. While some people never introduced the pacifier, I was begging the nurses for it on day two with Katie.

So for all you parents out there googling, "How to break the habit of____________" Just take a deep breath and remember what my dad always says, "if they are still doing it at twelve, call the doctor". And for heaven's sake, find a way to get some more sleep! ;)

Happy sleeping!

Julia on her belly

Anderson with pacifier

Julia with the thumb

Katie and Julia with their thumbs

Anderson in the swaddle

Lucy with her thumb and blanket, Julia with her blanket

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fun, Fellowship, Food, Fire and Fire Arms

We had an absolute blast in Mississippi this weekend! We went to Pontotoc to see Mark's cousin, Claire graduate from high school. Eleven and a half years she was our flower girl, now she's blossomed into a flower herself! It was so fun to see her walk across that football field and get her diploma!

Then we spent the rest of the weekend doing exactly what we were made to do; eating deliciousness, hanging out outside, building fires, and shooting fire arms. I hardly saw my children (HEAVENLY) because they were off riding bikes, running in the field, and tearing up the path between the family houses.

We took deep breaths, we swung on front porch swings, we crocheted (well, Mark did) we enjoyed space, fresh air, and each other (this is turning into a country song)! 

A great kick off to our summer, INDEED!
Enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Very Bad Breakup

For so long I have felt like things were off between us, like you were WAY more into me than I was into you. And for real, you far too CO-DE-PEN-DENT on our relationship. You want to be with me all the time and I am like, "Hey, I've got to have some space, you are smothering me!" I think about you way too often, and admittedly I am definitely not innocent when it comes to feeding into the unhealthy relationship we have going on here. I try and try and try to avoid you, but it seems as if you are EVERYWHERE! Like, you are in creepy stalker mode. And so today I am ending it. Yep, that's right we are breaking up. O.V.E.R. All you ever do is take and take and take, and the only thing you leave behind is misery and discontentment.  And the longer we are together the more ungrateful I become. And the more ungrateful I become I see the real me fading into conversations of entitlement. And the more I've thought about this moment, you and I parting ways, I realize more clearly than ever, you are toxic.

You ruin everything. You zap any and all beauty from this mundane randomness I call my precious life. You have broken my heart, left me all alone to battle sleepless nights, tossing and turning without reprieve, and you have dumped more stress on my poor body than it can physically contain (just ask my chiropractor).
And just like Isaiah says, I have trusted in the oppression of your presence for far, far, too long (Isaiah 30:12). You have no empathy. You have no desire to strengthen me, rather you strip me naked of any hope and walk away laughing. You are the worst kind of domestic abuser, but there is no counselor, no therapy, no feel good pill that makes you suddenly disappear. You have to be cut off in the strictest of manners with no room for negotiation. I desperately long for my children to remember their childhood free of YOU!

Like every toxic relationship, I am sure you will try and return to me dressing yourself up with lies and skin deep beauty, but I am prepared for your deceptive ways. I have called in an army per-say, to hold you off. I am determined. I will not be persuaded to return to your house of horror. I know it is impossible for me to take this on, on my own. I know I will fail, I know I will mess up, I know that I will want to return to you with a vicious lust. I know you will call to me when I am vulnerable and frustrated, but it is not about me any more. So it is by the undivided attention of grace and grace alone, I will never be held victim by you again.

 Tonight, and until I take my final breath; with no regret at all, I say goodbye to you, destructive Spirit of Complaint!
P.S. "We are never, never, never, getting back together...... As in NEVER!!" ~ Taylor Swift

Monday, May 20, 2013

Please Avoid Happiness, Success, and Dreams

First, a little shout out to my sweet husband for spending the majority of Sunday evening giving my blog a little face lift.  As you know, visual arts is not my thing, but I married a man who LOVES it. So, thank you dear for helping me copy and paste my way into a better looking blog.

Today, we made quite a spectacle of ourselves in the Walmart card section. (Side note: if ever again I have an entire day all to myself, I plan to spend it in a Hallmark store and at Barnes and Noble.) Any who, there we all were looking for a graduation card for a very special graduate in our life. Now that I have three additional readers everyone wants to volunteer to look for the perfect card too. I am all about helpers, so I gave them some friendly card rules. You cannot pick a card that has the word happiness, success, or dreams in it. Have you looked for a graduation card lately? That rule is extremely difficult to follow. While perusing, Julia said something to the effect of, "Mom, every card has those words in it, why is it that we can't use a card with those words?" Which, provided me the opportunity to have a long narrative in the Walmart aisle about why we are avoiding those words. To all the innocent bystanders who heard me on my soap box, you can send me a check in the mail for your daily inspirational, spiritually inclined, life coach moment. Your welcome.

The reason? Well, I struggle with wishing anyone happiness. Really? With all the amazing words at our disposal we tend to default to this extremely cheesy, shallow, and  non-meaningful word. If I am wishing a graduate from high school a future full of happiness, I am not being honest enough with myself or the graduate about what lies ahead. If all I want for this sweet girl is happiness than my "wish" will come to a dead end on the first day of college, when syllabus shock sets in, homesickness consumes her, and some alpha-pi-omega-delta-something-or-other sorority girl offers her a plate of cafeteria food as a consolation prize. "Happiness" will get her about as far as wishing on a star. I also avoid the word happiness in wedding cards, because wishing a couple happiness gets them a one way ticket to a front row seat of a self absorb, short term, ever alluding understanding of real-life-marriage!

Life is so much bigger and so much more beautiful than happiness. One of my best friend's has continually reminded me during these past seven months, "God is far more concerned about your character than He is about making you comfortable!" A to the MEN!! The last seven months have been the furthest definition of "happiness" anyone can imagine, but never before has the molding and shaping of my character been more solidified than in this "unhappiness".

We have baited a whole generation (or two) into believing it is all about them and their happiness, success, and dreams. Want to know why marriages are failing at an exponential rate? Want to know why suicide rates keep climbing? Want to know why unemployment is at an all time high? Because people have thrown themselves into a life long, frantic, cycle of searching in the darkness with a blind fold on for this mysterious fulfillment of happiness that will never arrive, only to then be left with disappointment, depression, and disillusionment and no tools to navigate the remainder of their lives. The absence of happiness, success, and dreams is not a horrible life without hope, it's a real life that is being filled up and satisfied with tangible, eternal, and precious jewels.

Minus the words, happiness, success, and dreams; here is my message to our graduate!

Sweet Claire,

Mark and I pray that you will love Jesus above all else. That you will allow Him to prove Himself faithful to you during this next season of life. The road ahead is not necessarily marked with roses in bloom; you might hurt, you might feel the sting of betrayal, there might be days when you are wrapped in sadness missing what once was. And that's ok. At some point, you will want to quit and walk away from life altogether (especially after you flunk your first college test :) But in that moment, please know that you are loved, you are valued, (you always have been) and you are fully equipped to take every step ahead of you.

If you fall, fall on Him.
If the road gets blurry and confusion sets in, seek out Truth; run to it, fill your mind with it, stand upon it!
Call your Mom and Dad.
Avoid the greek drama and don't pay for friends, real friends are free.
Go home, but not too much.
You are perfectly lovely and you have what it takes!!
Now go on with yourself and go rock that college thing.

All of our love,
Mark, Sara, Katie, Julia, Lucy and Anderson

Claire with Mark 15 years ago at Mark's graduation

Fifteen years later, Claire!!

All grown up

Friday, May 17, 2013

Let's Talk About Sex, BA-BY!

The last time we discussed sex (outside of my little one liners) on the blog was HERE. That was two and a half years ago. I figure it's time for another round of candid truth talk.

Last night we were once again invited to a "show" put on my our dear children. Last night's performance was entitled "Country Fun!" And it was F.U.N. Here is a picture of our invitation and the poster for the program.

My two favorite parts of the show were when Anderson slid his finger down his hanging tongue during this part of the song, "Her daddy said he ain't worth a lick". HI.LAR.I.OUS! My second favorite part was the invitation, it read, "Dad we would like to invite you to a play tonight called, "Country Fun" at 6:15pm in the living room staring the Lj kids. The couch is reserved for u and mom. We ask that all cell phones be put on vibrate and no K-I-S-S-I-N-G! Thank you for your patience in reading this. ~ The Lj Kids

The poster also noted, "NO WAY KISSING" by Lucy and  "PS NO NO Kissing!" by Katie

As you can imagine, Mark and I are among the worst of rule keepers when it comes to our children's no PDA demands. In the past, we have over exaggerate our kissing when commanded not to kiss, and the whole room explodes in shrieks. Any performers dream come true :)!

These requests got me thinking about the importance of parents displaying their affection in front of their kids.  The truth is, our kids aren't grossed out by our kissing, rather their innocent souls crave to know that we are in love. Which obviously got me to thinking about why the ongoing and open conversation about sex is vital in these developing years with our kids.

From the beginning, Mark and I have said if they are old enough to ask the question than they are old enough to get an answer. Katie was all of six years old when she asked us, "What does abortion mean?" Anderson was three when he asked, "Do babies come out of Mama's bottoms like poop?" This is real life. Deserving real answers.

Sex is real life. Every outlet available to your child is ready and willing to blanket them with their opinions and ideals regarding this fragile and sacred topic. So why is it that inwardly we want to run away from this conversation and cover our own adult heads with a blanket? The moment we decide that sex is going to be a hush-hush conversation surrounded by locked doors and embarrassing giggles, is the moment we give permission to our kids to keep secrets under lock and key, regarding not only sex, but all things.

I am not suggesting that we inappropriately expose our children to the precious happenings in the marriage bed, but rather in age appropriate ways address the beautiful, and hopefully never-ending marriage activity. I told Mark just the other day, "At some point it is going to dawn on our children what it means when our bedroom door is locked late in the evening or early on Saturday morning, and when that glorious day comes we are going to LIVE IT UP!"

I want our kids to know without a shadow of a doubt mom and dad have amazing sex on a regular basis. As a child I knew that about my parents and it was well....comforting! (Pretty sure Zach and Andrew just threw up in their mouths) Again, if the only place our children see sex glorified is through the world's eyes, we have FAILED! So much sweeter for them to see sex elevated and protected in the confines of a covenant marriage.

I know that sex is an awkward conversation, but a wise man by the name of Kevin Leman points out, how much more awkward will the conversation be when your sixteen year old daughter becomes a mother, or your sixteen year old son becomes a father. Have the conversation, earlier rather than later. And don't stop having the conversation.

I'll never forget, just days before I got married my mom earnestly wanted to talk to me about sex. A topic she and I did not explore together on a regular basis. God love the baby boomers, but this just was not their forte'. We can't blame them though, their parents (our grandparents) didn't just cover their heads with blankets, they layered on the quilts. So cheers for the baby boomers who actually wanted to address it.  Anyway, my mom described sex to me in a way I think she knew I would understand, "Sara, do you remember the first time you picked up a basketball?" Me, "Yes, mom!" In my head, "Sweet mother, this is actually happening!" Mom continues, "Well, I remember you weren't very good, but over time and with much practice, you became a very good basketball player. Bottom line, don't quit practicing together. It will only get better!" I replied, "Thanks, Mom!" In my head, "Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop!" After our honeymoon nightmare (another story for another blog) Mark and I determined to NEVER stop talking to people (specifically our children) about sex.

I am pretty sure the Song of Solomon has some of the most sexually explicit material I have ever read, and that is not a mistake.

So let's together, one layer at a time, pull the blankets (some of you have quilts) off our heads and engage our very worthy children in one of the most exciting and tender conversations ever to take place!

Happy peeling! (in more ways than one, *wink-wink*)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Bitter in Bitter-Sweet

"To live is to hurt, and we all have the wounds to prove it!" Dan Allender, The Healing Path

It's that time of year when we come out of hibernation and the increase of boo-boo's is exponential. Easily 4-6 scraps, bumps, skids, falls, and wipe outs a day. The other day as I was wearing my nurse hat, Anderson sobbed, "why all of the sudden am I getting boo-boo's all the time?"  I told him it was because he had so many more opportunities to get boo-boo's because he is playing outside all day now that ole' man winter FINALLY moved on.

In a rare but still moment the other day I asked God the same question, "Lord, why all of the sudden is my heart getting boo-boo's all the time?" And it dawned on me it is the same reason Anderson has more boo-boo's in the summer than in the winter; there are more opportunities. The more you allow your heart to open up to people, love, loyalty, and community, it is a guarantee there will be an increase in pain. A very wise man by the name of George Verwer once said, "where two or more are gathered there will be a mess!" Awe, reality.

In Dan Allender's book, The Healing Path, Dan does a beautiful job of describing the choices we make in response to the inevitably pain we experience. Some of us run. Some of us go numb. Some of us shut down in order to never feel pain again. Some get angry at the pain and take it out on others, because hurt people hurt people. Some retreat. Some fight back. Some ignore the pain entirely. Some of us kick and scream the entire way. Some stuff the pain down deep inside hoping to forget it ever existed, only one day to snap and choke on the vomit of the past.  But some very brave and astute people actually acknowledge, process, and make themselves vulnerable to the pain; eyes wide open, fully attentive to what pain might have to teach them.

In the story of Hinds' Feet on High Places, Much-Afraid is called to take a journey with two companions, Suffering and Sorrow. She responds, "I can't go with them," she gasped. "I can't. I can't. O my Shepherd, why do you do this to me? How can I travel in their company? It is more than I can bear. You tell me that the mountain way itself is so steep and difficult that I cannot climb it alone. Then why, oh why, must you make Sorrow and Suffering my companions. Couldn't you have given Joy and Peace to go with me, to strengthen me, and encourage me and help me on this difficult way. I never thought you would do this to me!"

And that is where most of us are when we first find ourselves on the dance floor with Suffering and Sorrow. Begging that this too shall pass, unaware that within the sweet confines of precious pain there is purpose.

Today, I stand confident that it is ONLY because of Suffering and Sorrow I am who I am today. God has poured out his GREAT mercy by calling me to the sacred road of pain. For I am entranced by the Savior and Good Shepherd I meet on that road. I will never forget the endless encounters He and I have had on the desert path. Me, with my dirty, unworthy face to the ground, seemingly parched from all goodness, and He showering me and cleansing me with unending living water. And when that cool, refreshing, renewing, water hits the gaping, bleeding wounds of my heart and soul, how I cannot help but not gasp with all that is within me, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY!"

Here is to our companions, Suffering and Sorrow!

Some pics of my precious boo-boo man!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Sweet in Bitter-Sweet

It's no secret that the anticipation of Mother's Day was hanging heavy on my heart. I was pretty much dreading it. After 30 years of celebrating your mother on Mother's Day, what do you do on the 31st year and she is not there? Obviously, I had lots of other AMAZING women to celebrate on Mother's Day, including but not limited to; my mother-in-law, my sister, my sister-in-law, and all the mom's around me who make me the mother I am.

With a little bit of planning and some pre-game and post-game crying, the day was such a sweet, sweet, day!! We went to the zoo. Well.... because it's only fitting that you celebrate your motherhood a midst wild animals and a wild group of classy and not so classy humans. The zoo made me grateful to be raising MY children, MY way, in MY clothes... Ahem.

We laughed, we hugged, we did a little sea lion dance, we rode the carousel, we grilled, we soaked up the sun, we did a kangaroo hop, and we just WERE. Right where we needed to be, doing exactly what our hearts needed us to be doing on a very hard holiday. Sometimes grief needs you to hear it calling. Sometimes grief needs you to change your plans so that it can continue its course. Sometimes, for a season, you have to allow grief to dictate your days. Sometimes, grief needs you to be a little selfish.

After the zoo we went to the park for a barbecue, but not before having a tire blow out on the highway. If ten years of parenting hasn't taught you to be flexible and make the most of every situation (planned or unplanned), than you are a hopeless case indeed. While Shrek Two was blaring in the mini-van movie speakers; I, in a hot orange t-shirt, jean shorts, mama bun, and sun-glasses was very persuasively waving the speeding cars to the other side of the highway to protect my very handsome handy man while he used his massive muscles to change our deflated tire. It's a miracle no children were conceived after such alluring behavior on the side of K-10.

Then, after we got home I received such a perfect gift from the best friend and photographer a girl could ask for. It was a little bit of a sucker punch, but to be fair she did warn me it was coming. :) And for those of you not a facebook, here is the image that stole the day...

This picture was taking on my birthday just seven months ago. Forty nine short days before Mama went to see Jesus.

It says everything I couldn't say yesterday.

This picture and the pictures below are definitely the "sweet" of a very bitter sweet day!

Thank you for your texts, your calls, your thoughts, your prayers, your emails, (for Sunday's off), and your posts. Once again, they carried us through.

It was hard to hear grief, to change our plans, to allow something invisible to boss us around, and to be a little selfish in the name of grief.  But looking back, I am so glad I listened.

Happy to be a mother.
Happy to have my husband's mother.
Happy to have a sister who has been mothering me for 31 years, while simultaneously becoming my best friend.
Happy to have a sister-in-law who loves with such a genuine love.
Happy to have friends who are mothers, and who won't let go of me despite me.
And with buckets of tears, I am speechless to have had a mother who cherished, nourished, and loved me the way she did!!
Mom's beautiful bench

My Mother's Day gift from Anderson. A way straight to a mother's heart :)

Zoo fun!

 What are children do to us when we want to take their picture :)