Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Surviving the toddler years, enjoying the fireworks.

The husband and I decided to be brave, and take the children out in the big city for a fireworks display. Plan A.(state park) didn't work out, so we set out to down town Atlanta for plan B. Sure there were moments of looking over at each other, not saying a word, but giving that glance of "Are we nuts?". The only one that complained was the baby of the family. He was hot and tired, and well, he's the baby so it's kinda his job to be the center of attention. Amazingly enough, we didn't loose a child, or any belongings. And the fireworks were amazing.

Funny how, just five or so years ago, such an adventure would have been impossible without The Reinforcements (aka: Grandparents). They made every vacation, concert, museum trip, zoo trip, Fireworks, even doctors appointments possible. When you have four kids, in five years, it really does take a village to help you. We were blessed to live close to family during that season of babies and toddlers. And I don't know what we would have done without them.

Well, actually, I do. We would have done nothing. Ever. No vacations, no concerts, no museums, no zoo's, no fireworks and doctors appointments would have been impossible. Because life with four toddlers/babies is hard enough at home, all enclosed in a house. Much less out in the big world, where, they have to walk and hold your hand everywhere. (re: practically impossible in every way.)

So as we walked through a sea of people in a very big city, down town, July 4th Fireworks. I couldn't help but feel a sense of accomplishment. A "WE MADE IT". We actually have fun on outings now! We can really enjoy their company. I don't have to bring strollers and up teen bags of everything we own to keep them occupied. (Cue the Hallelujah chorus!)

THEY DON'T RUN AWAY FROM US ANYMORE! Seriously, I thought that day would never come when I was in the trenches of toddler hood.

By the time fireworks started...there was no green spaces left and that sidewalk was PACKED with people. It was nuts.

 A sweet cousin said to me not too long ago (She is in the trenches of toddler hood and might I say fighting the battle very well.)

"Don't you feel like discipline is sometimes harder on you than your kid? I mean, you are just making your life harder!"

To that I said and "ABSOLUTELY!"

It does make your life, much harder. If you say it, you have to follow through with it. I don't want to even tell you how many times I sat outside my toddlers door, because the toddler was in time out, and if I didn't sit and watch him, while in time out, he wouldn't have stayed, in timeout. (and I mean really, just getting to sit down was kind of a luxury, though I think most times I was nursing a baby too.) I had to do the same thing at nap time too. Sit. In front of their door, watching them fall asleep.

I think that is why it's so hard for us parents to stick with discipline consistently. Because it's exhausting, and makes our life hard.

We believe in teaching our kids how to be okay with loosing. I mean, Obviously.

But here's the thing. Because I stuck to my guns when they were two, I enjoy their company at ten. I can now have a conversation with my ten year old about his behavior, and he doesn't throw himself on the ground screaming and crying, because he learned self control, at two. THERE IS HOPE!!!!!!! Was it easy? Heck no. Did I cry probably more than my children? YES! Did I screw up? Of course.

~ Why yes...we did do the patriotic hair star. 'Merica ~


So you may not particularly enjoy your toddlers company now, I mean you may have brief moments of bliss. Followed by many more moments of sheer terror. Everyone does.
He was hot, and thirsty, and refused to look at me. Whatev' because what he doesn't know, is I LOVE profile pictures.

But...one day, one day it will be all fireworks and ooo's and ahh's. Followed by your kids saying things like "This was the best day" and "I love being with you." and "I'm so glad you are my mom and dad"...okay and maybe a baby of the family that just says "Can I get my sonic slush now?" (But he didn't cry about it. Winning!)
Nothing says "Successful outing out with four kids" like having time to take pictures of your cute shoes while sitting in green grass. This would never have happened five years ago. I would have been too busy chasing many small children around.

One day your Children will rise up and call you blessed. Because you stayed the course, You rode out the storm, You loved them so much that you were willing to be not liked on most days, to one day, have them love you so much for it. I saw a glimmer of that hope on July 4th. And it was dazzling. The fireworks were just the icing on a pretty amazing cake.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Resting in Him...

So much has happened since moving to Atlanta. The other day, someone asked how long we had been here. I realized at that time it had only been three weeks. It felt much longer. Not because I know my way around (GPS is my BFF) or that we already feel so settled (Because we don't). But because so much has happened in such a short period of time. It's been a whirlwind. A very difficult, grief and loss filled whirlwind.
Photo taken about four years ago, Myself, my daughter, and my Grandmother at 86 years young

Just a few days after we moved my brave and beautiful grandmother became ill. After a short stay in the hospital, she went to be with Jesus. I am thankful I was able to talk to her on the phone, right after she was hospitalized. My Mom insisted that I say hello to her, I thought she probably needed to rest. I am forever grateful my Mom insisted. At that point we had no idea she wouldn't be going home from the hospital. I will forever hold that last conversation with her as a most precious memory. I told her I loved her, so much, and that we were praying for her. That I wished I could be there. I more than wished that, it was really really hard to not be there. With difficulty breathing, She told me she loved me so much, and thanked me for the prayers. Then, with bated breath asked "How are you honey? Are you okay?". I knew she would. She always did. No matter what she was going through, she wanted to know how you were. This woman, who I loved so incredibly much, never ever failed to ask that. My first thought was, "You are in the hospital and you are asking how I am?" Though her memory was failing, she always remembered her family. She remembered Elliott has Arthritis. She always asked about him. She always prayed for him. We are so grateful and blessed to be able to say, until her last days, she knew and loved her family.

In death, people tend to be immortalized as being super human. While my Grandmother certainly was a God fearing and loving woman. She wasn't perfect. She'd be the first to tell you that, and likely that you aren't either. She was a fire cracker. Many a times, before she came to visit, I remember my parent's telling me "Grammie doesn't know about Hunter's accident (my little brother who was CONSTANTLY getting hurt), so don't say anything to Grammie.". She was a worrier. She lived in Florida, we lived far away from her, and my parent's knew that she couldn't do anything about my brother's many accidents, so why worry her with it. She had an alarm system installed, before most people knew you could do that. She gave me mace on a key chain when I turned twelve, and I think almost every Christmas after that in my stocking I received something to help keep me safe. My Aunt shared in her eulogy that even when she was hospitalized, she would say to her girls when they were leaving "Be safe, Stay safe." She was a worrier.

I could relate to my Grandmother in that area of her life. Ever since I can remember I have struggled with fear and anxiety. I'm thankful my parents didn't make me feel like I was crazy, when I was a child, and would sneak into their room every night to sleep on the floor. I was terrified of the dark, and being far away from them. I hated spending the night with friends, because I couldn't be close to my parents, and my brothers. I had irrational fears of getting lost, or losing my family. I liked sharing a room with my brother, because I could check on him and make sure he was breathing (mind you I was probably five). I had a wonderful childhood. Amazing parents. I have no idea why I struggled with fear and anxiety like I did and at such a young age. I don't think they could figure it out either, but they never made me feel bad about it. Not kidding I would sneak into their room and sleep on the floor, on a pallet my mom made for me, every night, until I was about ten. When we moved from my childhood home in Kansas when I was nine, to an older home in Alabama, it was a ranch style house, and my parents room was across the hall from mine. So I could leave my door open, and see them, and feel safe. For the first time, I actually slept in my own room.

I can not remember a time when fear and anxiety wasn't a part of my life. Many people say they have a traumatic childhood experience that made them a very fearful person. I didn't. At all. I was a very creative child, and had a pretty amazing imagination. Maybe that is part of why I struggled with fear and anxiety. I don't know. But, when my Grammie came to visit, and put me to bed. She never made me feel bad for asking her to stay with me until I fell asleep. When we stayed at her house, and I would ask a million times "When are my parents coming back?" or "Are my brothers okay?" she would reassure me "Honey, the alarm is set. It's okay. We are safe. Your Mom and Dad will be back. It's okay." She never said to me "You are a child, and being completely irrational." I think she knew, without ever saying it, exactly how I felt.

I grew up in the church, my Dad was a youth pastor. But it wasn't until I was twelve at church camp, that I re-dedicated my life to Christ, when the fear and anxiety that I struggled with dissipated. Oh, it still reared it's ugly head. But I learned about renewing my thoughts, and learning scripture to quote to myself when I began to feel the anxiety bubble up within me. It's still something that I have to work on. I suppose everyone has different things they deal with, and that is mine. But, it doesn't paralyze me as much as it did when I was a child.

Until recently. I suppose losing my last living Grandparent, moving to a very big city, with none of my family close by. It's all been a huge anxiety trigger. It's one of those times where I know...my heart knows...
"With God, Any thing is possible."
"Cast all your cares on Me, for I care for you."
"Nothing is impossible with Christ."
"I will never leave you or foresake you"
"My mercies are new every morning."
"If God is for me, Who can be against me."
"In Christ, you are a new Creation. The old has passed, the New has come."

But my head. My darn head. He has done SO much for us. He has gone before us. Every time. My heart know's this. My head know's this. Getting them to agree at the same time. It's been difficult.

Can you relate?

Grief does strange things to us doesn't it. While we know and have the hope of heaven. Loosing those we love is just hard. Mourning doesn't end the day of the funeral. I am so happy for my Grandmother. I know she is free of pain, in the very presence of her Savior. That doesn't mean that my heart doesn't ache.

Yesterday at church, Pastor John Woodall gave a powerful message on just what I needed to hear.  Maybe you have come to a point in your life, where you feel your life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is lacking. Maybe it's like having a cloud over your heart, a heaviness, or sadness you can't pinpoint and won't go away. Maybe you need to do some soul excavation. I strongly encourage you to go listen to the message linked above.

I can't change that my early and formative years were filled with fear and anxiety. But I can change the internal message that I spoke to myself.
"I am not _(fill in the blank)__".

My fill in the blank words would have been, safe, or strong enough. Like I said, I never questioned my parents protection. They did a wonderful job of doing so. I really can't look back and pinpoint when my fear and anxiety started or why. I just know I was incredibly fearful. And so, I set about to do some soul excavating. Until it is filled with God's Truth.

Jesus said :

I have felt so much comfort over the last few weeks. I know God is with me. I know God has a purpose and a plan for our family in this season. I look back on my early life and the messages I spoke to myself, and I am working on replacing it with the Truth of God's promises. I am beginning to experience so much freedom.

The day of my Grandmother's memorial service, I looked one of my biggest fears in the face. I took a microphone and sang. For her. But, I think God prompted me to sing for her service that day, to speak to me. He is peeling back the layers of fear and anxiety that had been wrapped around my heart. To tell me, that I am enough. Just the way I am.

I miss my Grandmother, my family, and my friends. But I have an anchor for my soul. A hope that brings me peace and comfort. And wonderful memories of a beautiful childhood with her. I long for the day, when I too am resting with Him. Until then I rest in the Hope He gives.