Sunday, April 24, 2016

4 Boys, 1 Mom and a Grocery Store

Sounds like the title of a T.V. show doesn't it?

It kind of plays out like one as well, including the laugh track that comes from your kids and perhaps the people sitting at the in-store coffee shop who have nothing better to do than sip coffee and people watch at 3:30 in the afternoon when you should really already be in the process of dinner, not heading to the store with post-school, four starving males under the age of 16.

It is an activity I do only in emergencies because shopping with kids, in general, borders on crazy anyway, but shopping with 4 boys after school is akin to setting fire to your wallet and losing your mind simultaneously, in public.

So should you ever, for whatever reason: demomtia, momheimer's, Mother Hubbard disease, whatever it may be, have to go to the store with your children, go prepared.

Yep, have your list in hand. Not the grocery list, that's secondary. The one with emergency numbers. The number for the friend you can call and have her come rescue you by taking the child who began crying the minute you pulled into the parking lot because he has to go to the store "eyry day." That's a mythical person by the way, they only exist in parenting books.

The number for your spouse so you can let them know that even though you got to the store at 3:30 and it is now almost 5 you still haven't gotten to the dairy section yet, please pick up a pizza on your way home.

You have carefully made your assignments and attack plan before you entered the store. The oldest was assigned to push the cart down the middle of the aisle so the youngest can't reach anything on either side. The second is to quickly put back anything that the 3rd is grabbing off of shelves and placing in the cart while you are scanning shelves and list and mentally thinking about your pantry.

You smile for the kindly older people who say nice things about how cute your kids are, while you are wondering how on earth they suddenly have bright red mouths. You endure the comments of those who clearly have an agenda, "Are all of these children yours? Are you trying to repopulate the earth yourself? Do you think that is environmentally responsible?" And as you hear a scream from another aisle you say a silent prayer for that parent and quickly count heads making sure none of yours have escaped and are the cause of the distress being heard.

You are doing all of this in "go mode" which means you are talking quickly, reacting quickly and thinking faster than is humanly possible.

You have quieted a child asking in his outside voice, "Why does that lady have blue hair?" As well as excusing him to the man who he told, in the same outside voice,  that he wears race car underwear and asks, "What kind of underwear do youse wear?"

Embarrassment is no longer part of your daily experience. You have been humbled to the dust by your children's comments and questions already. You now just hope that you actually have words of wisdom and redirection that make sense as you are trying to decide if you want to buy boxed pancake mix or make it yourself.

You have now made sure there is at least one thing in the cart that each family member can/will eat under the duress of starvation. The adrenaline rush of the expedition is wearing off and you head for the checkout. This is when it takes all of your reserves and stamina because the dreaded checkout lane is full of reachable sugar laden goodies you don't want your kids to have, touch or see, as well as magazine covers you don't want scarring the eyes of your adolescent teen who is trying to stay virtuous in spite of, well, Junior High.

Then, the reward hits. Your eyes meet. The waters have parted and you get her/him. The cashier who removes each and every unwanted pack of gum, ring pop, trinket, toy and gift card, except that one. The dark chocolate Dove bar you surreptitiously put on the conveyor belt and she hands you tucked nicely into the folded receipt whose final total declares that your children will have to earn their way through college because your 401k will be paying to fill their little bellies.

You have survived with your chocolate now safely in your purse, groceries headed to the car, all little heads accounted for when your realize with your heart sinking to the very bottom of your feet.

You forgot the milk.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Good Fight

Nope, this post isn't about my boys.

I hope though, that it will be a call to arms so to speak.

It is time to put down the poisons of judgement, the mirage of perfection, and the emptiness of worldly cares.

It is time for us to live what we believe.

I believe in Jesus Christ.

I believe that it is only by Him and through Him that any of us can ever return to the Father.

It is not for me to judge and decide who will or won't get into heaven.

We can try to live lives that look like perfection, but that is not mentioned anywhere in scripture. I have never read a passage that says, "If you have a picture perfect home, are married, have 12 beautiful children who are all dressed in matching outfits, play every instrument, sport and participate in every activity, send out amazing Christmas cards faithfully with a well written letter, and have a well manicured lawn, you are going straight to heaven."

Nope. Never have I read that.

But I have read, "Judge not that ye be not judged." Matthew 7:1-3
" good to him that persecute you and despitefully use you," Matthew 5:44
"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."John 6:38

It is time for me to fully engage myself to His work. To reaching out to the poor and needy, even if that means that I can't get that dent in my car fixed.

It means looking at myself and evaluating where I am lacking.
Do I care for others as much as myself,  or do I care more about what they think of me?

Am I trying to look like everything in my life is perfect, or am I showing the world what God can do with a very imperfect person?

Do I have the courage to speak up and speak out when God needs me to?

Do I truly love, or am I honest enough to say, "Ok Lord, I have trouble loving this person, please help me love them."

Am I so busy finding the fault in others, that I can't see what I need to change?

Do I reach out only to those who are my friends and neighbors, or do I help those who can do me no good?

Do I know what Christ taught and what He promised, as well as I know what the characters on my favorite shows say?

My friends, fellow Christians, those who are coming to know Christ, and anyone who reads this that I will never meet in this life, it is time for us to put ourselves aside and come unto Him. It is time for us to unite, no matter what our religions might be, and stand on the merits of Christ. It is time to take His name upon us, step out in faith and stand together to show this world what He really is all about.

And that is to bring to pass that immortality and eternal life of man. To give us a chance to return to our Heavenly home. To know the peace and power of forgiveness and redemption, even when we have done NOTHING to deserve it!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Pain and Butterflies

I love butterflies! There is something so dainty and beautiful about a butterfly flitting through the yard. I always pause, just for a moment to appreciate them.

I also love caterpillars! They come in so many different colors and patterns. Some are furry, some aren't, some have stripes, others are plain. But the amazing thing about them is to think of the change they will go through to become these dainty beautiful creatures silently drifting through your flowers.

I'm sure we have all thought about the change they go through to become those beautiful creatures.

But today I was thinking about how it is kind of an unattractive process. Have you ever seen a chrysalis? Not very pretty. Not colorful. If you didn't know what it was, or what was happening inside you would completely overlook it.

Yet, it is such an essential part of what God created that caterpillar to do. To change. To become something new. To struggle out of what is holding it, into its new and different form. Somehow, instinctively, that caterpillar knows that it has to pull in, take some time to build it a place to change and then the change begins.

We were all created to do things. What you and I were created to do, may be very different. But to completely fulfil what God's purpose for us is, requires change. It requires us to let go of who we think we are to become what He created us to be. He did not create us to be selfish, unkind and prideful. He created us to be the opposite, selfless, kind and humble.

A caterpillar is an interesting creature. It eats plants and poops. In that part of its lifecycle it does do something, but not a lot. However, when it becomes a butterfly it can pollinate plants and flowers. It can lay eggs to create more caterpillars. It cannot reach the full measure of its potential in the caterpillar state. It must change.

Change is often ugly, uncomfortable and unattractive to those who don't understand what we are going through. It's often not until the metamorphosis is complete that others can appreciate what we have gone through.

But we need to not fear the ugly. That is the only way a caterpillar can change into the butterfly it was created to be. We need to recognize that the work is hard and sometimes silent, sometimes seems boring, can take longer than we think.

And in all that, we need to remember that the process is different for each of us. We may look at someone else and think, Hhmmmm, not so attractive." But that might be the chrysalis part of the change that person is going through.

I am currently raising a teenager. If nothing else, it qualifies me to recognize how a metamorphosis can be frustrating, ugly, difficult, uncomfortable, and seemingly unending.
Can you think back to a time as a child when you had growing pains? I remember waking up at nights with my legs aching. The pain was unexpected and overwhelming. It was also seemingly "undeserved." The pain wasn't from an injury, or as the result of too much running, hours of roller skating or anything else. It was simply part of the process of changing, growing. Yet that pain was essential to my literal growth.

Some of my most frustrating and ugly spots have been when I realized that I wasn't being who God wanted me to be and that it was time for change and I didn't necessarily know how, or even want to change.

But when I let go, and let Him do His work, He makes me more of the beautiful creation He intended. My change will take a lifetime. There will be times that I feel like the gorgeous butterfly, but more often than not, I will probably feel like the ugly chrysalis. And that's okay, as long as I don't lose sight of the process and forget the outcome! He created me to be more than just a caterpillar. He created me to be a useful and beautiful butterfly.