Friday, October 16, 2015

Miracle Morning?

I realized recently that I have only blogged once since this guy was born. He's almost one.

Last night, I was reading through past blog posts, and I started to get a little sad that I haven't been documenting our life, for my own sake. It was so fun to go back and read little stories (mostly about the kids). So I said to myself, "Self, it's time to start blogging again."

Here goes. This morning I was doing some menu planning and was surfing Pinterest for inspiration. I came across a pin that said-the perfect college morning, with a link to an article: "Miracle Morning". I actually clicked on it because I could use some miracle mornings. I'm not bothering to link the article because it was kind of silly and not that profound. 

That got me thinking about my morning, and what defines a miracle morning for me. For my own record, so I can read this post in a few years and chuckle, this was my morning:

5:30am: Alarm goes off. I am trying folks. The hope is that I wake up before all the kids, shower, get dressed, put on my make-up, get breakfast ready for the kids, and then sit in a chair with a cup of coffee, read my bible, and journal for just a few minutes before the crazy starts. Reality, this morning? I hit snooze until 6:20am!

6:20am: Pop out of bed, throw on clothes, put hair back into a ponytail, start the coffeemaker, get breakfast ready.

6:40am: Go into Cece's room, turn on lamp, rub her back (a new strategy that seems to soften the wake-up blow).

6:45am: Big boys wake up on their own. The one morning this week that they could sleep until 7:15am, they are up. Alex is complaining already, and he tries to go eat breakfast without getting dressed first.

7:00am: Alex and Gabe are wrestling in their bedroom. I tell them it is time to get dressed.

7:05am: Alex is not happy about the pants that he chose the night before. I make a fatal (I mean fatal) tactical error and tell him he can choose a different pair of pants. 

7:10am: Gabe is still trying to wrestle with Alex. I institute a new system. Gabe does not get to watch the Friday night movie unless her earns 5 points.

7:12am: I am answering way too many questions about the new point system!

7:15am: Cece is heating up her second muffin in the microwave, but I tell her she doesn't have time to eat it.

7:16am: Alex wants Cece to pass him a knife; Cece freaks out! The new 5 point system now includes Cece. In order for her to earn a point, she has to do something nice for her brothers. She does two things immediately following the institution of the system that do not earn her points.

7:20am: Alex is cold. I tell him that perhaps he should choose long-sleeve shirts instead of t-shirts, and then he might not be so cold. He decides he wants a long-sleeve shirt right then. I think to myself that I shouldn't talk so much.

7:25am: Cece and I go outside to wait for her ride. (Bless our friends who carpool with us.)

7:26am: Cece reminds me that she needs money for her lunch. I run inside grab my wallet and run back out with money.

7:30am: Gabe has brushed his teeth and is reading books because he wants a point.

7:40am: Alex has not brushed his teeth, and he is now wearing his third shirt of the morning.

7:43am: I tell Alex enough is enough, and that he must choose between the two shirts he was already wearing.

7:45am: Our babysitter arrives. Eli is still sleeping despite the previous Cece freakout.

7:46am: Alex is still wearing the third shirt. I skip all point systems and just tell him that he will not watch a movie tonight if it is that important to him to wear the third shirt.

7:47am: Alex is still whining. I just repeat the same words more slowly and more clearly. He cries, but says he wants to watch the movie, so he goes to change his shirt.

7:50am: Gabe is outside with his jacket, hat, gloves, and backpack because he wants a point.

7:52am: Alex is still whining, but he has on a different shirt, and I am helping him put his two sweatshirts on. Yep, he chooses to wear two sweatshirts instead of a jacket. 

7:55am: Alex suddenly stops whining and says, "I'm sorry mommy." We walk to the garage together.

Miracle morning? I think so!

(This is Alex a few weeks ago. No pics of him this morning. Never occurred to me to take one.)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

the fourth child

In the first 21 days of Cece's life, we posted 20 times on this blog!! Eli is three months old, and I haven't posted one photo of him. When he was a few weeks old, Daniel, who serves on the JV creative communications team came over to take some family photos, and he also took some pics of Eli.

Sweet boy is the fourth child, so he doesn't get 20 posts, but he sure is cute!

Friday, October 31, 2014

ready (or not) for baby number four

I am 37 weeks pregnant with our baby boy (yep, it's a boy). Our twins were born at 34 weeks, so we are happy to have made it this far. Much of our weekends these past two months was spent painting rooms, refinishing furniture, and moving stuff around our house to get ready for this little guy's arrival. I think we're ready.
To be honest, I have had fear that Number Four (we'll give him a name when he arrives) will limit my capacity. When our boys started preschool last January, I began to increase my involvement and expand the ways I serve in JV and in our community. A few months later, I found out I was pregnant. The truth is, my capacity will be limited, for awhile. However, this week, Brian and I had dinner with Dave and Connie Patty, and they helped us to think practically about ways I can be involved, use my gifts, and serve JV in the next few years. This conversation meant a ton to me personally.

Also, I recently finished reading The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis. After finishing the book, I began to pray and share with God all the emotions I was feeling, a lot regarding having four kids. As I was praying, I got a picture in my mind of our family of six standing on the edge of heaven (much of the imagery came from the book). I saw Brian, myself, Cece, Gabe, Alex, and this little toddler boy bounding through a field toward these mountains where heaven awaited. Then, I heard the Spirit say, "This baby is eternal."

In these next few months, I so desire to keep eternity and Christ's Kingdom in mind.

fall conference

This year was JV's biggest fall conference ever, with close to 300 young leaders attending from 13 different European countries. I still remember when Brian told me, "I think there are going to be 300 people at this conference!" Because he carries a lot of details, he had excitement and a little fear in his eyes as he said it!

The first challenge was figuring out where they would even put 300 people for the sessions. The solution was a semi-permanent tent that our conference center added to their facility a few weeks before the conference started. 
300 young leaders gathered in what ended up being a pretty sweet tent to receive training on how Christ modeled discipleship and how to multiply your ministry.

One of the first times I was trained in this material, ministry according to the life of Christ, was by Dan Hash in 2002 at JV intern training. I remember thinking:this is so good; why don't all ministries just study Christ and how he did ministry? 

Amy Nickerson did a great job of blogging on the JV website about the conference. Check out her Now That the Conference is Over blog for a great summary.

JV's 20th anniversary

This year, JV is celebrating its 20th anniversary. During Fall Conference, one of the evenings was dedicated to a celebration of all that God has done in Central and Eastern Europe through JV in these past 20 years. (Read more about it on Connie's blog.)

While I wasn't apart of JV 20 years ago, I did start serving short-term with JV in 1998. I also lived with the Hashes in the summers of 2002 and 2003 where I had the privilege of hearing a lot of stories from those early years.

20 years ago, two families, the Pattys and the Hashes, took a step through an open door to do Kingdom work in a part of the world where the church was almost dead. They just came. They didn't always know exactly what they were doing, but they did one of the most brave things that anyone I know has ever done. I'm just walking in the path they paved.

Here's a video that shows the fruit of that bold beginning. More people in this part of the world now know Jesus. To be even a small part of that is truly an honor.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

triumphant and cracked pot parenting

Yesterday morning was one of those mornings in our house when you wonder if anything you are doing as a parent is working! You're not sure whether to cry, scream, or laugh at how terrible your kids are acting. (Don't they look cute in the dinosaur's mouth? Maybe the dinosaur should eat them!)

I awoke yesterday morning 10 minutes before my alarm went off to Cece yelling at us from her bed about how mad she was that she was wearing a pull-up. Cece still wets the bed, and while we've made great progress in the past few weeks, the night before she had peed, so we stripped her sheets and put a pull-up on her to get her through the rest of the night.

I purposefully set my alarm for a half-hour before our kids wake up/need to get woken up to get ready for preschool. That gives me time to make breakfast for them and have it ready to go when they come to the kitchen dressed for the day, and it gives me time to make coffee. I think the fact that I make breakfast and have it ready for them is pretty darn awesome; however, they don't seem to always grasp the awesomeness.

I laid in bed and ignored the attack until my alarm went off. I don't parent well until I've had a cup of coffee, so I decided to ignore the malice coming from down the hall and stumbled into the kitchen.

Brian woke the boys up about 30 minutes later. Cece made it to the kitchen table, and with my coffee cup in hand, I proceed to explain how crazy it was for her to be saying such things to two gracious parents who had helped her the night before, and how next time she pees on herself, she could deal with the mess herself! That seemed to clear that up, for the time being.

Alex made it to the kitchen and climbed up to his breakfast, only to complain about what had been prepared for him. After several minutes of whining, he was escorted back to his bedroom. Gabe came out about that same time wanting help with his jeans when I noticed that he hadn't changed his underwear. I told him to put clean underwear on, which incited a fit of outrage. How dare I make such a request?! Well, we go to school with clean underwear in this family; I'm sorry! Gabe was also escorted back to his room, and he never made it to the breakfast table that morning, missing out on what I thought was a fabulous yogurt parfait.

Two of the three kids were crying when Brian left the house with them at 7:50am. I, funny enough, had language at 8am that morning, so I needed to get out the door at that same time too, with real clothes on ready to learn language. I somehow managed to leave the house at 7:54am.

As I walked to language, I wrote Brian a text that said, I'm so sorry, thinking of him dragging crying kids into preschool.

He sent me a text a short time later that said he brought each kid into preschool separately. I guess one of the teachers asked him if things were okay. He said, "We've had one of those mornings!"

After I got home from language, I began formulating a plan for the evening after I picked the kids up from preschool: extra chores, no shows, early bedtime. And a plan for the next morning: assigned seats at the table, no choices about breakfast, I choose the chores, what you don't eat at breakfast becomes dinner, etc. I was ready for battle!

Funny enough, I picked up angels from preschool yesterday; I mean, angels. A good report from the teacher about the day. Cooperation like you wouldn't believe about the extra chores. Pure delight in the dinner that I made (something new even that everyone tried with excitement). We had a family meeting to discuss the following morning, and all kids went to bed with limited drama! It was like night and day!

This past Tuesday, we had what is now being called the international teams' bible study. Those who are on a team that serves all of JV make up the iteam. Dave lead our bible study from 2 Corinthians (photo credit to Connie; click here to read her post for more about the bible study).

Together, we charted the characteristics from the verses that describe our lives as followers of Christ that are triumphant and those that show we are cracked pots. We talked about how, because of Christ, we are triumphant in all that we do, but that we have these treasures in jars of clay; therefore, we are afflicted, but not crushed; preplexed, but not driven to despair. We are humans living in a fallen world, but by the grace of Christ, we are triumphant!

2 Corinthians is not really talking about parenting, but I am reminded today that I am a cracked pot, Brian is, and so are our kids. We will have mornings like yesterday because I'm a sinner who needs Jesus just like my kids are sinners who need Jesus. However, by the grace of God we are triumphant, and our kids are sometimes angels reminding us of heaven! Whew. What will tomorrow be like?