A Life Well Lived

July 9, 2011

Today, Chad and I had the opportunity to attend a funeral.  I say ‘opportunity’ because it was the celebration of a life lived for Christ.  And despite the tragic accident that took this man’s life, God is receiving Glory.  Bryan Morgan was killed in a bike accident on the 4th of July.  If you live in the Atlanta area, then you probably heard about it on the news.  Bryan was the father of our dear friend Matt Morgan, and although I’ve only met him very briefly surrounding events for Reed, his grandson, after today, I feel like I know him well, and I have learned many things from his life.

Matt and Danielle are in our small group- and they’re part of our family.  This isn’t the first tragedy we’ve walked through with the Morgans, and it’s not the first death of a parent we’ve experienced within our small group either- but I’ve got to say, it doesn’t get any easier, despite our “experience”.  I spent the first half of the week in shock, just aching for my friends.  I would talk to Danielle each morning, and without fail, weep for their loss, weep over their pain, and pray.  I’ve prayed more this week than I have in a long time– and I know my Savior a little better because of that.  By the latter half of the week, I spent my time trying to figure out how we could help, how I could serve them, serve Danielle, and love them through the pain.  Chad and I have talked a lot about this week- just processing it all, hurting for Matt, trying to imagine what he’s going through- but today, my eyes were opened to a whole new side of it all.

Bryan’s memorial service was 3 hours- and I mean 3 very short hours.  3 of his closest friends shared about Bryan’s life, 4 of his 5 kids spoke about his love for them, and a Pastor reminded everyone of the Truth found in God’s word.  Time flew, as story after story was told about how this man loved God and loved others.  Songs of praise were sung to our God who has a plan– the same God who is in control– the same one who offers comfort– and most importantly, the same God who sacrificed his only Son on our behalf so that we may spend eternity in heaven with Him.  And of course, many more tears were shed– so much so that I had a crying headache by the time it was over. I cried watching Matt grieve, I cried watching Danielle hug on her hurting husband, I cried hearing about the way Bryan conducted his life, sad that he wasn’t here anymore, I cried for his young grandchildren who will only remember stories about him- but mostly, I wept for the lessons learned from this man that I didn’t even really know.  His life was still changing lives- even though he isn’t on this earth anymore!

Since that service this morning, Chad and I have talked about who we would want to speak at our own funerals, we have talked about what matters, we have talked about what it means to be intentional, what it looks like to focus on people, and how Jesus HAS GOT to be at the center of everything that we are.  I’ve got to tell you too, that after this week, the things that “mattered” last Sunday, aren’t the same things the “matter” now.  Life is short- regardless of how great of a person you are, regardless of how needed you are by your family, regardless of how healthy and happy you are- and so all that matters is love- loving God and loving others.  (Matthew 22:36-38)

I thank God for Bryan’s life, for the way he loved his wife and taught Matt to love his wife– I get to see my friend loved well, but also, as Chad and Matt do life together, Chad is growing as a result of Bryan too, also for the way he loved his kids- Chad and I can’t stop talking about all the things we can take away from hearing them speak today, things we can start right now and things for later, but mostly, I thank God for saving Bryan, for making him a child of God, who ran the race and fought the fight, and used his life to grow the Kingdom.

Although I am sad that Bryan is no longer here, although I hurt over the gaping hole in my friends life, although this is just the beginning of life without Bryan for so many loved ones, I am honored that I got to be a part of his celebration service today.

Psalm 86:11-13

11 Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.


Conquered! And Lessons Learned.

June 25, 2011

This week, we have conquered this whole growing family/ 2 children under the age of 2 bit– check it out:

On Saturday, we made it to a wedding, all bathed and dressed, and 20 minutes early, with feedings timed perfectly– and it was an hour away.

On Monday, I did a full out trip to the grocery store with both boys… I wore Jack and pushed Max 🙂

On Tuesday, the three of us spent the morning at the Atlanta Aquarium with our friends Lisa and Haven

On Wednesday, I took both boys out to dinner to say goodbye to our dear friend Michelle without Chad

On Thursday, we went out to breakfast with Chad and then went to a play date

On Friday, we ran errands all morning- the kind the caused me to get the boys in and out of the car 6 times!  And I partook in my first girls night out since Jack’s arrival, sans kids (which is actually hard on a mom- hard on the heart and it takes a lot of planning on the front end even if you are leaving them with their dad!)

Now please tell me this at least puts me in the running for mom of the year, or super mom, or something!  I’m exhausted!

Now for what I’ve learned… all from experience:

#1.  Sleep is important!  Thank you Moms on Call and their swaddle for drastically changing our nights around here.  Now I am physically able to do more than just “get by” and wait until my next sleep time- hence our week 🙂  But if you’re low on sleep, don’t go!  You won’t have enough steam or enough patience to make it through the outing

#2. Dress for the occasion- think through nursing in public and a youngster pulling on your clothes.  Think about bending down and holding both children at one time.  Will everything be covered?  Will any lumps or pregnancy rolls show? Can you access everything you might need?

#3.  Be prepared to sweat.  It’s hard work.

#4. Think through your day- what might you need?  Maybe some extra snacks or if you have a spitter like me, then extra burps clothes, bibs, and clothes.  Sunscreen and hand sanitizer too.  But get the travel size of everything- so you can carry it.  And make sure it’s all in ONE bag only.

#5. Let people who offer to help, help!  Someone will see you coming and hold the door. Don’t feel embarrassed, just be thankful! And let the Publix people carry your groceries out even if you used to do it by yourself.  A Stranger might offer to hold something for you, let them.  And since you are providing cute kids for everyone to see, don’t feel like a nuisance.  Instead note that your kids are brightening their day!

#6. Give yourself plenty of time.  You canNOT get out the door quickly.  You canNOT get in the car quickly.  You will load and unload kids one  by one.  Plan for it.  And then add 20 minutes.

#7.  Make sure you have a way to contain the kids as needed: park by the cart return, get the cart first, then unload kiddies into it.  Or wear the baby so you have free hands for the toddler- this is especially important in parking lots.  Always take your stroller in your car just in case… I counted on a stroller being available in Kohl’s and ended up exhausted without any of the things I went in for! And double strollers are most definitely worth the $$!  Someone is going to “need” you, and you must have somewhere to put the other one, that’s safe and secure, when that happens.

#8. Don’t view pulling in your driveway as the finish line- you’ve still got miles to go, unloading everyone and getting them settled and unloading your stuff.

#9. Don’t fill up your day- plan for down time. And when the kiddies are taking that down time, then you take it too- you don’t have to nap, but at least read, or sit, or find more stuff for your pinterest boards.  Or you will go insane and act like a crazy person.

#10.  Anytime you can, help as sister out!  If her hands look full, offer to help.  If the door is closing on her while she holds 2 babies, jump out of your seat to run and help!  Don’t fret being awkward or invasive, offer to help anyway!


An Article about Motherhood- A must read!

June 22, 2011

MOTHERHOOD AS A MISSION FIELD
by: Rachel Jankovic

There is a good old saying, perhaps only said by my Grandfather, that distance adds intrigue. It is certainly true — just think back to anything that has ever been distant from you that is now near. Your driver’s license. Marriage. Children. Things that used to seem so fascinating, but as they draw near become less mystical and more, well, real.

This same principle certainly applies to mission fields too. The closer you get to home, the less intriguing the work of sacrifice seems. As someone once said, “Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help Mom with the dishes.” When you are a mother at home with your children, the church is not clamoring for monthly ministry updates. When you talk to other believers, there is not any kind of awe about what you are sacrificing for the gospel. People are not pressing you for needs you might have, how they can pray for you. It does not feel intriguing, or glamorous. Your work is normal, because it is as close to home as you can possibly be. You have actually gone so far as to become home.

Home: The Headwaters of Mission

If you are a Christian woman who loves the Lord, the gospel is important to you. It is easy to become discouraged, thinking that the work you are doing does not matter much. If you were really doing something for Christ you would be out there, somewhere else, doing it. Even if you have a great perspective on your role in the kingdom, it is easy to lose sight of it in the mismatched socks, in the morning sickness, in the dirty dishes. It is easy to confuse intrigue with value, and begin viewing yourself as the least valuable part of the Church.

There are a number of ways in which mothers need to study their own roles, and begin to see them, not as boring and inconsequential, but as home, the headwaters of missions.

At the very heart of the gospel is sacrifice, and there is perhaps no occupation in the world so intrinsically sacrificial as motherhood. Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.

Faith Makes the Small Offering Great

If you are like me, then you may be thinking “What did I ever give up for them? A desk job? Time at the gym? Extra spending money? My twenty- year- old figure? Some sleep?” Doesn’t seem like much when you put it next to the work of some of the great missionaries, people who gave their lives for the gospel.

Think about the feeding of the five thousand when the disciples went out and rounded up the food that was available. It wasn’t much. Some loaves. Some fish. Think of some woman pulling her fish out and handing it to one of the disciples. That had to have felt like a small offering. But the important thing about those loaves and those fishes was not how big they were when they were given, it was about whose hands they were given into. In the hands of the Lord, that offering was sufficient. It was more than sufficient. There were leftovers. Given in faith, even a small offering becomes great.

Look at your children in faith, and see how many people will be ministered to by your ministering to them. How many people will your children know in their lives? How many grandchildren are represented in the faces around your table now?

Gain What You Cannot Lose in Them

So, if mothers are strategically situated to impact missions so greatly, why do we see so little coming from it?  I think the answer to this is quite simple: sin. Discontent, pettiness, selfishness, resentment. Christians often feel like the right thing to do is to be ashamed about what we have. We hear that quote of Jim Elliot’s and think that we ought to sell our homes and move to some place where they need the gospel.

But I’d like to challenge you to look at it differently. Giving up what you cannot keep does not mean giving up your home, or your job so you can go serve somewhere else. It is giving up yourself. Lay yourself down. Sacrifice yourself here, now. Cheerfully wipe the nose for the fiftieth time today. Make dinner again for the people who don’t like the green beans. Laugh when your plans are thwarted by a vomiting child. Lay yourself down for the people here with you, the people who annoy you, the people who get in your way, the people who take up so much of your time that you can’t read anymore. Rejoice in them. Sacrifice for them. Gain that which you cannot lose in them.

It is easy to think you have a heart for orphans on the other side of the world, but if you spend your time at home resenting the imposition your children are on you, you do not. You cannot have a heart for the gospel and a fussiness about your life at the same time. You will never make any difference there if you cannot be at peace here. You cannot have a heart for missions, but not for the people around you. A true love of the gospel overflows and overpowers. It will be in everything you do, however drab, however simple, however repetitive.

God loves the little offerings. Given in faith, that plate of PB&J’s will feed thousands. Given in faith, those presents on Christmas morning will bring delight to more children than you can count. Offered with thankfulness, your work at home is only the beginning. Your laundry pile, selflessly tackled daily, will be used in the hands of God to clothe many. Do not think that your work does not matter. In God’s hands, it will be broken, and broken, and broken again, until all who have need of it have eaten and are satisfied. And even then, there will be leftovers.


Ohhh… My Max is 21 months old!

May 19, 2011

My little boy is growing up- it’s pretty obvious.  And I think everyone around me is accepting of this– except for me.  He’s 21 months old today– that’s big– that’s a short step from 2, and an even shorter step from when he becomes a big brother next month.  Oh my heart.  Words and sentencing and analysis of his surroundings fly out of his mouth like it’s second nature– like he’s been talking for years.  He is very expressive– so much so, that we’ve begun beating “No thank you” and “Yes sir/ma’am” into him, because “No no uh huh!” and “No no Mommy” and “Uh huh” were just too much to bear.  If he was a girl, I’d call it sass, but since he’s not, I’ll call it “Noblitt”.

Max giving "the look"!

Early Morning Soccer!

He’s very independent most of the time- wanting to play his own way and do his own thing- although he loves my company, anytime he has it, and he loves playmates– his favorites are his Dad, his brother, my Dad, and my brother.  But they just need to be ready to play what he is playing- golf or baseball, 24/7. He prefers to be outside- and is ready to head that direction by 7:30am- but if he’s inside, he’s good as long as basketball or soccer is involved… aren’t those things you play inside, too? When it’s just me and him at home, he has to go through the list– “Where’s Gabe?” (school)  “Where’s Daddy?” (working)  “Where’s Eli?” (He went bye- bye) “Where’s Pop?” (at Pop’s house)…. and then a few hours later, we do it all again.  His memory is unbelievable– he remembers stuff from days ago, he remembers people and names from weeks and months ago- and unfortunately, he hasn’t quite grasped the “soon” “later” “tomorrow” as in yes, but not right now.  Ah!  Hopefully that is next on his list of things to learn!

His favorite golf club!

"I jumpin!"

Recently Max has also become more clingy- wants to be right next me, like cheek on cheek, and when we’re sitting on the couch, he prefers to have his arm draped across my belly.  I think he knows something is coming– there is new stuff around our house, and we’re moving furniture to fit bassinets and swings, etc… I’m waddling… Chad is fussing over me doing too much… instead of being on the go, we’re staying home– he knows!  I can’t turn down the extra loving and cuddles- actually I’m soaking it up and can’t think of much better- but with this comes bad attitudes towards others like his Dad or our sitters when they arrive.  I want to find the balance here- making sure disrespect isn’t tolerated, but of course letting him know how very loved he is– I guess the balancing act begins now!

Max's favorite pass time: Jumping on the Bed!

We’ve also entered into the realm of obedience.  If you were a fly on our wall, you’d hear me tell Max to obey or ask him if he is obeying at least 10 times a day.  You’d also witness a couple daily spanking surrounding this issue as well.  Even though I warn him that a spanking is come, his face is filled with such shock that I actually followed through but we’re already seeing a difference in his obedience.  The phrase “Max you need to obey or you’re going to get spanked” goes a long way.  He’s begun jumping to action immediately this week! (Thank goodness because this child makes me a softy and I HATE spanking him!)

Brothers enjoy shakes and cheese fries

His stats are basically the same– at this point, he’s still in his 18 month pj’s because I plan to buy the next size for warmer weather but our nights are still cool, but all his other clothes are 24 months- and he can even swing a 2T t-shirt.  We moved up a sock size, yahoo, and he’s still right at 27 lbs, leaving him in size 4 diapers for a while longer.  This weekend, we’re trying the big boy bed for 3 nights- committed to fighting it as need be- but if it doesn’t seem to take after those 3 nights, then back to the crib and we’ll try again in a couple months.  We don’t need him in his big boy bed for a while, we just don’t want him to associate losing his bed with that new little baby that’s about to rock Max’s world in more ways than one!

Too soon?

Max, my dear, you make my world a better place.  I love how you think and how you play, I love your fingers and your toes, and even your little runny nose!  Your big boy hair cut, round cheeks, and big blue eyes melt me every time.  There is just no way I can get enough of you.  One of your newest phrases is “Mommy hold you” and you come to me with your arms open wide- whether I’m sitting or standing or sleeping or working or cleaning, it’s music to my ears.  Yes son, I will hold you- I’ll always hold you!  Thank you for challenging me to be a better Mommy and to be more like Jesus- it’s hard work, but the fruit is so sweet.  I really hope that the Fruit of the Spirit will reside in you one day too– it’s really amazing what Jesus does to His children, from the inside out.  It’s truly beautiful.  Thanks for being my boy– 21 months is awesome- can’t wait for more!  I love you, Max!


A Little Scare

May 3, 2011

So I’ve mentioned like 100 times that this pregnancy is totally different!  It’s been great and easy and has just flown by… until a couple days ago. On Thursday I started feeling “off”- sometimes I’d have weird pain, sometimes I’d get clammy and dizzy, and sometimes I’d just feel like I was going to throw up.  I’ve had no appetite and really really bad heartburn, too.  And I’ve been having lots and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions.  Some of them have been really strong too– not painful, but enough to catch my breath or stop me in my tracks.

So the side story, is that at my 28 week appointment, when I was telling my midwife how great I was, etc… she told me that technically it was time for me to start coming every 2 weeks– but since this was #2 and since I was doing so well, that I could stretch the next appointment to 3 or 4 weeks.  And when I went to set the appointment, I was set on getting one with her because she is my FAVORITE, so it actually ended up being 5 weeks later– at 33 weeks…. which is/was scheduled for tomorrow….

So back to being “off”– I finally called the office and spoke with a nurse and told them what was going on, and they had me come in today.  And then all morning I basically had non-stop contractions.  It was the most intense that it had been- but still wasn’t painful or actual labor.

So by now, it’s probably obvious that I’m a worrier.  Apparently, I get this from my great grandmother Lucille– my Dad calls me Lucille anytime I start to get worked up or nervous or anxious.  It’s his way of telling me to calm down.  For instance, the other night, when there were storms across the south, as soon as our sirens started going off, me and the boys went to sleep in the garage (where our house is underground) while Chad went outside to watch!  If someone says they’ll be here at a certain time and then they are late and not answering the phone, I assume it’s a car wreck, etc etc etc…. WORRIER!

So anyway, by the time I was getting close to the doctor, I had myself so worked up that I was sure that I was going to have to have a c-section today, birth a 4 lb baby, stay in the NICU for weeks, and barely be able to hold myself together– all while Chad was working and unable to make it to the hospital– because that’s realistic, right??

Anyway, I have started to dilate slightly, and I am having a lot of contractions, but the baby is under no stress, his heart rate is wonderful, and I show no signs of real labor.  So I have to 1) eat more protein 2) drink more water 3) cut my activity in half.

Did you read number 3?  Um…. I have a 20 month old– how exactly should I go about explaining that to him?  And what about the laundry?  And dinner?  Do you think my family will be ok with no dinner or clean clothes for the next 7 weeks?  I kid, because obviously, it just needs to be a temporary life style change and Chad and Gabe are already helping tremendously– but the thought of cutting my “activity level” in half, with my personality, just makes me chuckle.  And makes me crazy.

But the bottom line, as my doctor said, is that my body is telling me something, and I can either react to it now, or be put on bed rest– my choice.  Um……… I choose to take it easier. She also thinks I’ll easily make it full term if I just adjust a bit– so really– this is not a big deal, and maybe even a blessing in disguise that I’m required to chill out, but I did pull a Chicken Little today as I drove and convinced myself that surely the sky was falling.


Heavy Post, Hurting Mama

April 19, 2011

I know the world is full of sin- really, I do.  And I know that there are addictions and “fetishes” that I just can’t comprehend. Luckily, blessedly, I also know that there is a God who saves, who redeems and who heals.  I’m trying to find rest and peace there right now, instead of where my flesh wants to go.

Let me briefly explain- this blog is obviously about my children- growing them, raising them, and learning from them.  It is my heart also- as you can tell, being a mom is such an incredible gift.  So when I write here, and post things here, I (naively) assumed that those reading and visiting would be like-minded– either mom’s, people who love me and/or my children, old and new friends, and other bloggers out there who love funny kid stories and adorable pictures…. if I do say so myself.

Anyway, I do watch my online data pretty closely- my blog hosting site tells me how many people looked at a certain thing in a day and what searches were used to find those things.  The norm are readers who come to the blog one of three ways– 1) By my site, meaning they have it in their blog roll 2) Thru facebook, as any new post gets noted on my FB status and 3) Thru twitter, as any new post also gets tweeted– these are the followers I want, thank you!

BUT recently, some people have used some impure/ indecent searches and found pictures on my blog.  And then they keep going back again and again and again and again to view those pictures, in a day.  The first day I noticed this, I decided it was me, over-reacting, the second day I started to freak, and now, plainly, I feel like my son is being violated.  Precious baby pictures during bath time and his other funny bathroom stunts can no longer be public domain. I have removed those pictures, so if you see this note:  *NOTE: Certain pictures were removed after some disturbing online data– that is why.

If you’re a blogger, I want to urge you to consider every picture that you post- can it be distorted?  Can it be abused? Honestly, I despise feeling this vulnerable- but even worse, I despise feeling this stupid– why didn’t I consider this before?  I’ve seen the news, I’ve heard statistics.  But I’m thankful that God revealed this truth to me in a matter of days- not months or years- and in such a way that will open my eyes and evoke protection over my children’s purity in a way that I wouldn’t have thought of/ been able to before.

Readers, going forward, no naked pictures regardless of how adorable they are, but I promise all the funny stories will remain 🙂 And to those of you who were abusing the pictures I posted, I pray that you know that there is a God who loves you and has already OVERCOME sin- He can give you the strength to do the same.


Desperation

March 18, 2011

Sometimes, it’s the little things that reminds me of the HUGE-ness of being a mom.  The other night, during Max’s bath, him and Gabe managed to soak the ENTIRE bathroom.  Honestly, this is normal, and they always have so much fun playing in there, that we really don’t discourage it.  Gabe isn’t in the bath with Max, but he might as well be!  By the time the water is draining, Gabe’s clothes are soaked and his glasses are dripping.

That night while Chad was getting Max out of the tub, I was helping Gabe mop up the floor with his bath towel.  Then I had him put both his and Max’s towel in the laundry.  We then shuffled both of them into pj’s, got their teeth brushed and sent them off to bed.  Before I headed downstairs, I stopped by the bathroom for a potty break (thanks pregnancy for making this my #1 pass time). I looked over and noticed both of the empty hooks so I got out fresh towels for the boys.  And it hit me.  If I didn’t get a towel out for Max, he would  never get one.  If I didn’t bathe him, he would never be clean.  If I didn’t change his diaper, he would never get a new, fresh diaper.  Max’s depth of dependence on me overtook me in that moment.  Although this wasn’t the first time I had realized this truth, I was paralyzed by the bigness of this yet again.

Gabe is a slightly different story.  I honestly think that if he were left to fend for himself, he would take showers and brush his teeth.  Chad and I were just noticing the other night how Gabe has NEVER slept through his 6:30am alarm- he doesn’t even lay there for a few minutes… it goes off, he hits it, and jumps out of bed, making his way straight to the shower.  This eight year old could take care of himself.  But he is dependent on us for meals, a roof over his head, and safety… for some reason, he can’t remember to look both ways before he crosses a street without a reminder!  He is also dependent on us emotionally.  He needs to talk and he needs someone to listen and respond- Gabe doesn’t do alone time for more than an hour- and that’s only when I “make” him go read for an hour.

God blessed us with these boys- and really there are times when I just think my skin is going to pop open because of all the love in my chest.  But He also made them dependent on me- needing me- learning from me- growing because of me. How humbling.  How huge.  The magnitude of the parenting role is so much that these words I’m fumbling and bumbling around for- I have the power to make or break these kids.  What a responsibility.  Thank goodness there is a big God leading the way.  I pray I’m attentive to His leading- I pray for Christ in me.

The other day, while praying in a small group, my friend Courtney prayed “God, despite all these blessings, we are desperate for you”.  That statement has wrecked me- in a good way- this week.  Despite all these blessings, despite me being wired to be a mom, despite the joy I find in mothering, despite the gratitude and gratefulness Chad and I have for these boys– we need God.  We are nothing, and can do nothing, a part from him.