Our Family Date Marathon

The kids had been crazy lately. Mean really. They argued over every thing. Who opens the chili. Who rides the hoverboard. Who takes the dog out. I was full-time referee and done with it.

First, I prayed the desperate prayer of a tired Mama. These are the 2 verses I focused on-

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)–God, give us one, just one, peacemaker among these 5 hoodlums.

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)–God, help our kids to unite with You and each other as one not many.

Jeremy and I also wondered if maybe the kids needed a break from each other. Maybe there’d been too much togetherness lately. But how do we get all 5 of them on individual dates at one time?

Here’s what we came up with:

1.We need a sitter to keep those who aren’t “dating.” (For us that was Stephen…how do we have a kid that old?)

2.It has to be a big deal. Unexpected. “Guess what everyone…we’re having our first ever family date marathon tonight.” Followed by blank stares.

3.Every child gets to pick his or her restaurant but it has to be quick and close by.

4.Kids left at home get to pick a Netflix show for everyone else to watch (and to help Stephen).

Then we did it.

I took Kenan to Moe’s while Jeremy took Esther to Wendy’s.

We met back at home and switched dates. I took Jonathan to Wendy’s and Jeremy took Caleb to Moe’s.

Lastly, Jeremy went home and started bedtime while I took Stephen to a local taco truck.

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And for bonus these are the 3 questions we ask our big boys on dates:
1-What is the hardest (worst) thing in your life right now?
2-What is the easiest (best) thing in your life right now?
3-What is God teaching you right now?

In total, our family date marathon took 2 hours, cost less than taking our whole family out, and Jeremy and I ate samplings from different restaurants. And more importantly, our kids went to bed feeling cherished as an individual not a group.

Has the arguing gotten better? Some days yes. And some days no. Our kids fight the same sin nature as me and Jeremy so I’m not expecting a date night to fix that. But we’re still praying and trusting. Knowing that God has good plans for all of us because of His steadfast love and compassion.

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:10-13)

 

 

 

 

 

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To Those With “Littles”…I see you!

Mamas of littles…listen…closely…tune out the crying from the other room…I have something to tell you…a little hope to offer…here goes…

It will get easier!

I can barely believe it myself. Nope, I’m not in the stage yet where I’m saying, “It goes by so fast. Enjoy it.” Truthfully, there’s still not a ton of this parenting gig I actually enjoy. But we’ve progressed a little and I’ve realized something huge. I’ll say it again…

It will get easier!

By around 3 and a half, the clouds begin to lift. Your kids will most likely be able to tie their own shoes, pee in the potty, buckle themselves in their carseat, get their own snacks, and even entertain themselves for a little while in the morning (while you….sleep in!).

It’s a breath of fresh air. You can read a book in another room while they’re in quiet time, confident that no one will die. You don’t have to worry about toys in the mouth or falling down steps. You can even take walks without a stroller. And there’s no diaper bag to pack before leaving the house.

Hear me out tired Mamas…3 years. 3 whole years. You can do this. You can do it multiple times.

God will meet you where you are today. He will strengthen you. He will give you patience. He will help you smile. He will wipe away those tears that no one even knows you’re crying. He’ll lift your tired head up from the playroom floor. He’ll redeem those arguments with your spouse because you’re not even sure you really know each other anymore. He is right there with you.

And His strength is perfect in weakness. Today. Tomorrow. For 3 years. For more.

It will get easier!

Believe this. And lean in deeply (so deeply) to Him. He is there!

 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)

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I don’t want this moment to be holy…it wasn’t planned!

Most mornings you’ll find me sitting on the closet floor. Door shut. Pen in hand. Journal open.

I write to think. To wake up. To assure our kids after I’m gone and they nose through my journals that yes…Mom really was a big mess.

But recently the kids have found my spot. They know where I hide. And they come in.

THEY.COME.IN.DURING.MY.ALONE.TIME.

The other morning Kenan was the culprit. Dinosaur pajama pants. Shirtless. Carrying a blue blanket.

And I wanted to frown at him. To shoo him away to an Ipad.

But for some reason I stopped. Put him in my lap. And just held him. Smelled his hair. Breathed deeply of our littlest who’s now 3.

“This is holy.”

That’s what came to mind as we sat there. In the silence.

My Bible was waiting. My journal entry was half done. But somehow the moment felt holy. And I held grace in my arms.

Friends…let’s read our Bibles. Let’s pray. Let’s journal. But let’s not miss the moments where He slips in and says, “This…Even THIS is holy.”

Jesus revealed Himself to people on boats, land, and sky. He spoke to fisherman, tax collectors, and children.

Let’s not miss His grace today in the unexpected places. Let’s BE His grace today in the unexpected places.

 “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)

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A couple things…He was asleep on me. I wasn’t faking this smile. And we were out of town sleeping on the floor.

 

 

Where Moms Fail (Confession Time)

I hate (HATE) to use the word fail. But can’t think of a better one. This has been burning a hole right through me lately.

Every time I utter the 2 words–“I’m fine”–when I’m really not…I fail.

I fail you because I’m lying. I fail my family because they’re getting fragments. I fail God because I’m relying on my own strength.

You know what the kids get most days…me. Like…FULL–ON–ME.

I’m mentally counting the minutes I spend with each kid, making sure they get equal “Mom time.” I’m stressing out if it’s near dinnertime, and we haven’t read a single book. I’m beating myself up over sunny days we’ve spent inside.

And this blog is titled bumps, bruises, and GRACE.

Sigh…still so far to go.

God’s grace seems big enough for my kids. It seems big enough for my marriage. But often it seems too small for me.

Y’all…lots of days…I’m just not fine. I’m really not. I’m meeting needs on the second all  while trying to live simply and be still.

I’m offering grace to others but not letting it spill over onto me.

Father, forgive me. I admit that I easily swing back toward works-righteousness instead of grace. I confess that lots of days I consider you my Savior but not my friend. I’m tempted to make You a thing I do instead of a relationship I bask in. Be my strength. In your beautiful grace, redeem these bumps and bruises.

Friends…let’s be fine with not being fine. Christ came for “not fine” people. He uses “not fine” people.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)

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For the Restless and Unsettled…

It’s midnight right now. I’m tucked away in the closet, trying to ignore the pile of dirty clothes in the floor, stacked up shoes, and trash bag full of “Goodwill stuff.”

The week ahead is busy. Crazy. I’ve said yes a lot lately. To good things. Things I’m honestly so, so excited about.

But I’m easily overwhelmed. Then restless. Then unsettled. And then…well…up at midnight, hidden in the closet, with fingernails chewed to the quick.

I know busyness doesn’t equate holiness. And I know everything that comes from Heaven doesn’t have my name on it.

And I am sure so many of you live lives much, much busier than I could every dream. Bless. Your. Heart.

But somehow there’s peace in knowing none of us are alone. My friend on the other side of the world just texted me. It’s noon there. She said she’s restless.

Wait. Me too. That’s why I’m up…responding to your text.

And I sent this verse to her. And here it is for you this Monday morning.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Corinthians 12:9,10)

There aren’t “insults, hardships, persecutions, or calamities” written on my calendar for the week. (Please, Lord, keep them away.) But in a bright red marker, there’s the word GRACE.

And it will be sufficient…For my midnights, Mondays, and eternity.

Because “It is finished.”

Grace…then and now…for all of us…the unsettled…today.

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