Joy

God is taking me on a crazy journey to find Him right now. I’m desperately searching. I’m struggling with joy…wrestling is probably a more accurate word. I go through my life day to day and I’ve found it unfulfilling. And then I feel guilty.

This post is really hard to write. And I’m going to be completely transparent and open even at the risk of sounding incompetent, selfish and crazy. But I’m trusting that those who know me, will know my heart. And I’m hoping that my transparency will help others to know that they’re not alone if they too feel the same way.

I know God has called me to be a stay at home, home-schooling mother to my kids. He has called me to nurture their character, disciple them, lead them in the way they are bent to go. And yet, it’s so hard. It requires such a forced effort. I just don’t want to sometimes. Most times, lately.

I think it is because there is no gradient when it comes to children from the moment they wake up to the time their sweet little heads rest on their pillows, it’s 100 mph. They are constantly moving, engaging, needing, singing, asking questions, exploring, making messes, hungry, thirsty, crying, laughing, fighting, hugging (you’ll notice I didn’t say cleaning). Then, after the marathon of bedtime, I experience a little bit of quiet before passing out only to wake up bright and early and do it all again tomorrow.  Let’s just be honest, I’m tired. No, I’m flat out exhausted. I’m having a hard time enjoying myself. It’s all so laborious. I sigh before my feet touch the floor in the morning. I have a hard time getting on the floor with the kids to play a game or do a puzzle. It’s like lifting weights to build a blanket house or go swimming.

But, I do it. I do these things for the sake of my children, but I’m not really loving it. It’s more out of obligation or duty or necessity. I think the problem comes from the fact that I’ve looked for my joy and happiness to come from my children instead of from God. I’ve looked for fulfillment to come from them instead of from Jesus who is the ultimate comforter and fulfilled the ultimate sacrifice to that I may have abundant joy in the midst of trying times (or demanding kids). I’ve been serving and playing with my kids unto myself rather than unto Him.

Matthew 25:31-40 New International Version (NIV) The Sheep and the Goats

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

This scripture is so rich with so much revelation that I’m sure I could go on for days. But today, God is showing me that the ‘least of these’ are our children. He’s revealing that when I feed, clothe, care for and play with my children it’s for Him. I’m serving him, not them.

See, I carelessly forget that God loves my kids more than I do. I forget that He created them and knows their inner parts. And I bear the enormous weight of making sure their needs are met, both physically and emotionally. And while God has intrusted these children (His children) in my care, He ultimately holds them in the palm of his hand. He’ll fulfill their needs more and better than I ever could.

I definitely don’t have it figured out. In fact, I feel like I’ve just begun this journey of finding myself in Christ. But slowly, He’s peeling away the layers. It hurts to realize that I’ve been looking for joy in the wrong places. It hurts to realize that I’ve idolized my children. But God is tenderly calling me back to Him. He’s graciously showing me what a loving Father He is. And I’m learning to serve Him through my children. I’m learning where to find my joy.

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 2 Comments | Filed in God, Kids

A splinter

It never fails that in the midst of good times, my kids take off their shoes. I don’t know if it’s that shoes slow them down or if they want to take in everything that’s happening, even feeling the ground beneath their feet. Nevertheless, when the kids are indulged in good times, the shoes come flying.

It doesn’t matter where we are. They don’t think about the consequences of hot ground or rough terrain. They are too consumed with the ‘right now’ to be concerned about later. And so they run carefree, breeze blowing through their hair, and swing on swings and slide down slides. They play tag and dangle on monkey bars.

It’s not until the hush of night and usually *right* before bedtime that one of them comes to me upset. They have a splinter. In the midst of their play, a small foreign piece of lumber worked its way into their delicate little feet. There are tears. Lots of tears. Because it stings and hurts.

So I get a needle and sterilize it. I get some tweezers. I get some antibacterial ointment. And while I’m doing this, the tears continue. Only they’ve changed. Now, they are tears of fear for the removal and my heart breaks. I explain that I only want to take away the sting and hurt. I just want to make it all better. I explain that it may hurt for a tiny moment but it’s far better than leaving the splinter there. I explain that leaving the splinter could eventually cause infection. My heart breaks. I just want them to trust me and I love them so very much.

It was during one of these late night experiences that the Lord revealed to me how he often feels the same way with His children. We run carefree. We don’t protect ourselves with His word and we get a splinter of sin. And then it stings, because sin isn’t something to lie dormant very long. We want to run to God to fix it but we’re fearful. And His heart breaks. His heart breaks because He loves us and He just wants to make it better. He knows that if we leave that sin unresolved in our hearts, it could lead to infection and death.

God is such a loving Father. Sometimes, we get these splinters and we’re fearful to take them to God because we don’t want to deal with the pain involved with restoration. But Jesus paid it all and the Lord is good. The pain is only for a moment because He is the ultimate healer.

I’m extending my hand out to the Father and asking Him to remove the splinters of my heart. And sometimes, it’s painful. But it’s so worth it. Because where there was once a burning and stinging, there is now peace and hope.

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 2 Comments | Filed in God, Kids

The Invisible Woman

A while ago (June), I was playing my guitar and worshipping the Lord when I felt he laid something on my heart. I felt as though our homeschool group should have a women’s retreat. We’re all believers and followers of Jesus, though we do not all attend the same church. The goal of RRHOME this year is to build and cultivate community outside of our bond of homeschooling. What better way to get to know one another than to worship alongside one another! Leadership was gracious enough to let me lead the discussion time as well as a little worship. It was such great time to get together with lovely ladies to relax, refresh, and get to know one another better before starting the school year.

I was so very stressed out planning it. I didn’t want to offend anyone. I didn’t want to look like a fool. I prayed and asked the Lord what He would like to speak to us about. A few days before the retreat, I still didn’t have a topic to discuss. I was browsing YouTube and came across this video and I knew the instant I watched it; this was what we were to talk about.

How often do you feel this way? I feel like this a lot. I feel like no one hears me. No one cares. No one sees. I remember making pancakes for my kids early one morning. I remember thinking “I’m such an awesome mom (pride! yuck!). I’m doing such a good job! Way to go, Melody!”. When I put those pancakes down in front of my children, they complained. They didn’t want pancakes. Pancakes are gross. I remember taking it so personally. I can see now that my ego was hurt as well as my feelings. But how many times do we serve out of a sincere and humble heart only to have it go ignored or unappreciated.

Everyone likes to be acknowledged. It makes us feel good to be told “Thank You” and “You’re Awesome”. But what about the heart? If all we’re doing is fulfilling a function (cook, clean, chauffeur, teach) then why does the heart matter? It doesn’t. But if we’re serving the Lord and answering a call He has placed, it does.

God is so sweet. He sees when we feel invisible. He knows our hearts. It really changed my perspective. I no longer try to do the laundry, cook or homeschool our children with the expectation of gratitude or immediate result. I do it because the Lord has called me to. I understand that I am helping to build something that I may never see finished. I try do it with joy in my heart because it is pleasing to Him. And He sees it.

Thursday, September 1st, 2011 1 Comments | Filed in Family, Homeschool, Kids

1st Grade and Kindergarten

We started our homeschool year last week. We were pretty excited about 1st grade and Kindergarten.

This will be our first year to homeschool the entire year. We schooled Lakyn at home for part of her kindergarten year. I was so excited to get started. I planned our calendar year, made a daily schedule, and planned our first week. We’re using Sonlight curriculum for our Bible, History, Science, Language Arts, and Reading. We using Alphabet Island for our phonics program and Handwriting without Tears for handwriting (obviously). I selected Saxon for our math program because of it’s heavy use of manipulatives in the early years. I haven’t gotten these manipulatives yet, but soon. Really soon.

Holden is four years old and will turn five in February. Technically, he’s got a year before he should start Kindergarten. But he’s totally ready. He knows all of his letters (both visually and phonetically), numbers, colors, days of the week, and shapes. He can recognize rhyming words and words that “sound alike”. I figure we’ll take our time with it. No rush.

The kids were really excited to start school. They kept asking me when we were going to start all summer but I wasn’t ready. It takes a lot of preparation and honestly, I was a tad overwhelmed with all that needed to be done to prepare. On Monday, they awoke with a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and anxiousness of the unknown.

 

This week we learned about creation, the earth and its rotation on its on axis as well as around the sun, the continents, and hemispheres. We spent time learning about the Nomads, where they lived, what they wore, how they hunted and what they ate. Lakyn read a book about Pat the fat rat. It’s mostly three letter words but she’s getting so much better and sounding the words out and she’s thrilled to be reading. We spent time writing our names and practicing our grips. We learned about Noah’s ark, Abram and Lot, and the tower of Babel.  Of course, there was a lot of coloring, cutting, and pasting!! TJ has been reading a chapter a night of “The Boxcar Children” to the kids at bedtime. They love it and always ask him to keep reading! It was a pretty full week.

Monday went really well. The kids were very attentive and excited about learning. Tuesday…..sucked. I actually called TJ in tears because it was going so badly. I lost my temper, the kids would not sit still long enough to let me even blink! Somehow we muddled through the day but it was rough. I spent most of the evening seeking the Lord and asking him to reveal things to me to make this process easier. I got up early Wednesday morning and prayed for our day. It’s a hard realization when you see that your children are given to you to edify you and make you more like Christ. Through them, I see how flawed I am everyday. I’m thankful for my kids and feel so blessed to be able to educate them and spend time with them. The Lord revealed to me that I need to “lighten up” a little and not be so rigid about everything. I need to have fun and remember the benefits of being able to educate at home. Jesus was so sweet and comforting to me. Needless to say, the rest of the week was much better. Friday, our homeschool group RRHOME had it’s annual “Not Back to School Party”. It was a swim party and the kids had a blast! I’m so thankful to have these lovely ladies in my life to influence and encourage me.

All in all, I’m excited about this school year and the many memories and  blessings that will come from it. And I think they are too.

 

*Note – Lakyn keeps holding up one finger for 1st grade.

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 2 Comments | Filed in Family, Homeschool, Kids

The mother of swings

Our friends have this hammock that is really comfortable to lie in, as hammocks are. But every time we’re over there it becomes something far greater, it becomes the raddest of backyard swings. The kids live in this thing, constantly yelling “higher, higher!”

photo by our friend Zack Russell

Saturday, May 21st, 2011 0 Comments | Filed in Family, Friends, Kids

35 weeks

Well I’m about 35 weeks now. I made the rounds with all the doctors yesterday to find that I have another (that makes 13) UTI infection and I’m still only dilated to a 1. Yesterday really wasn’t a good day.

I knew I had another infection by the way I was feeling. It’s the usual trend. I get towards the end of a round of antibiotics and I feel pretty decent. I feel like I could handle this a little bit longer. I’ll have energy to do the normal, required things around the house like laundry, dishes, taking care of the kiddos and still have a bit left to do something crafty. But then after a couple of days, I relaspe. I feel feverish, have burning when I pee, my back hurts in the kidney region, and I’m lethargic. Lately, I’ve felt nauseous too. Throw all that on top of the normal “pregnancy sucks and I’m sick of this crap” symptoms and you might get and idea of how I feel. Seeing as this is the 13th infection I’ve had in 35 weeks, I’m getting pretty good at recognizing the symptoms. Needless to say, I wasn’t suprised.

I was disappointed that I hadn’t progressed at all. I know it’s still early but try to put yourself in my shoes. I’m exhausted and I’m tired of feeling like this and I just want some relief. I’ve been having contractions for a while now and some are getting to bring tears to my eyes. I just want it to be over.

I told TJ yesterday that it’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that a baby is coming from all of this. I can’t seem to grasp it. I feel all the movements and kicks and I know there’s a baby in my belly. But at the same time, it’s all a little surreal.

I think I’ve just been so distracted by the health issues that I haven’t been able to “enjoy” this experience if that’s even possible. None the less, my heart knows there’s a life in all of this even if my mind can’t comprehend it. And I think that’s what helps keep me going each day. Relying on my heart and not the things I know.

Friday, April 16th, 2010 0 Comments | Filed in Family, Kids, Pregnancy

Nesting?!?

Though I still am feeling yucky, I can’t explain this need I have to GET THINGS DONE. I can’t really describe it. It’s not so much that I have more energy, it’s just more drive I guess. I’ve washed all of the baby clothes and the various covers for chairs, bassinet and car seat.  I’ve gotten completely caught up on laundry for the rest of the family. Yesterday I actually cleaned and organized the bathroom! Say what???

In the midst of my craziness, I’ve actually been able to do some crafty things. I love to make stuff and be creative. I am often either just too lazy or can’t find the time to make it happen. But I stumbled upon a website - www.homemadebyjill.blogspot.com - and I fell in LOVE! She makes some of the neatest stuff and even had a tutorial on homemade burp cloths.  So I thought I’d try to make some and then I was hooked. I made 16 burp cloths for our baby boy and they turned out awesome! They’re extremely soft and very absorbent. So I made 8 more for my friend who just had a beautiful baby girl!

Then, I found another tutorial on her website for a “car caddy” and I thought it was such an awesome idea. Especially because Holden loves cars so much and we often have to take several with us anywhere we go. I had no other choice but to make one for him. Again, it turned out amazing.

So I re-vamped the idea a little and made a “color caddy” for Lakyn to carry when we go someplace. I think hers turned out great as well and they both love them! They carry them around everywhere.

Lastly, I found a link with an incredible idea for a button flower bouquet. It was pretty easy and only took a couple hours to create from start to finish. It’s nice to have some color that I don’t have to water.

I posted some pics so you could see the finished project but if you’re interested in making any of these things, the links are probably your best bet. They give really great step by step instructions.

Needless to say, I’ve been like the energizer bunny. I can’t explain it except to say that maybe (please!!!) I’m nesting and labor is coming soon. I sure hope so…

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 0 Comments | Filed in Craftsy, Handy Things, Kids, Play Time, Pregnancy

I have my password!!

I love my husband dearly and he does so much for me but one of the those little things that annoy the fire out of me is his use of passwords. Rather than having a consistent “uncrackable” password, he is always changing it. Which wouldn’t be a problem except he can never remember what password he’s used and is always having to request a password change and well, you get the idea.

So my darling and talented husband did a site re-design for me but in the process changed the password and then proceeded to forget it. Yes, I know it’s not really a big deal but due to his busy schedule, I just got my password reset and am able to post again.

Now, I can’t blame ALL my delinquency on my husband. This pregnancy has had a LITTLE to do with my inability to post. So for the sake of time and to relieve you of reading a novel of a post, I’m going to bullet point the main events that have happened since my last post.

- My sweet little bubby boy turned 3! I can’t hardly believe it. I have every intention of writing him a letter to post but as you’ll see I had other events that kept me from doing so. The guilt is crummy.

- If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’ve had a bit of trouble with infections with this pregnancy. Well I started having intense pain that lasted for over a week. My urologist did a repeat renal sonogram and found that I had hydronephrosis of both kidneys (which basically means my kidney’s were swollen and not draining properly) and my left kidney (the side I was having all the pain) had debris.

- I had emergency surgery to have a stent placed from my left kidney to my bladder on Feb 12 to help my kidney drain. It was pretty scary. They put me completely under and when I woke up I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes and they were concerned they were going to have to transfer me to labor and delivery. I was only 26 weeks pregnant at the time. But the contractions calmed down and I was able to go home, only to return a couple days later to be re-admited to the hospital for a couple of days of IV antibiotics to combat a nasty infection.

- My sweet mother-in-law came to stay for a week while all this happened and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. She was a godsend. Not only did she help to watch the kids, but she completely cleaned my house and did all my laundry. And trust me, that was not easy. The appreciation I have for TJ’s family reached a whole new level through this process.

- I’ve had yet another infection since my stent was placed. This brings the total count to 11!

- I have been a Craigslist fool! I have gotten so many amazing deals for our baby off craigslist and I feel very thrifty. I got a stroller/carseat combo for $40. I got a bassinet for $10. I got 23 Avent bottles, bottle warmer, and bottler sterilizer for $50. Heck Yes!!!

- TJ found a drop-in daycare in our neighborhood called KidSpace. I’ve used it for the kids a few times and it is AWESOME! Not only are they open late (12:30 on the weekends) so that TJ and I can go on a date for once, but it comes in handy with all these doctors appointments I’ve been having to go to, or if I just need a break.

- I took Lakyn to register for kindergarten. She is more than thrilled and excited about starting school. I, on the other hand, have mixed feelings. I’m excited for her to learn, make new friends, and flourish as I know she will. But it’s a little scary throwing your child into “the real world” where she’s no longer shielded by my filter.

Well, I think that about wraps it up for now although I’m sure I left something out.

HOLY UPDATE!!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 2 Comments | Filed in Family, Kids, Pregnancy

Oops…I’m back

I fell off the blogging bandwagon for a minute but I am now back. Honestly, I’ve had a lot on my mind.

* Disclaimer: This post will talk about my pee. If that weirds you out, sorry.

When I went to the OBGYN last Monday to find out that we’re having a bouncing baby boy, I also had an appointment with my physician. Which was very much needed because I’ve been having some issues. I’ve mentioned on here before that I’ve had some UTI issues. Like I’ve had 6 (SIX!!) of them since I’ve been pregnant. So I’d finished up yet another round of antibiotics and was taking my daily preventative but I was having some symptoms. My urine was super dark and cloudy. Like apple cider.  And there was a little blood in it. It was a tad alarming.

So at the OB’s office I pee in the cup and when the doc comes in the room he says “Your urine is pretty yucky.”. Really? I hadn’t noticed! So he tells me that he’s referring me to an Urologist because he can’t figure out why I’m having all these issues and that sounds great to me because frankly, I’m tired of it. So I set up an appt with the specialist.

Here’s were I’m going to go off on a little tangent. I knew that I would have to take both kids with me alone to the Urologist because TJ was not going to be able to get off work and we are “new” to the neighborhood thus we have NO babysitters. Seriously, I need a Mother’s Day Out. Like yesterday.

Anyway, I woke up in a delightful mood the morning of the appointment. I talked to the kids and explained that mommy had a doctor’s appointment today and they were coming with me and they would need to be on their best behavior. I packed a bag and let them each pick out some toys to bring to the office to keep them occupied. I bribed them and told them if they did well they could have a sucker and I put some in my purse. I had high hopes.

They were TERRIBLE! I was so embarassed. Maybe it’s because I made such a big deal about the appointment instead of just doing it. I don’t know. They yelled and screamed. They threw toys and stepped on them. It was awful. I had to apologize to the doctor several times though he was such a good sport. Let’s just say that didn’t make for a great day at the Taylor house. Does anyone have any ideas on how this could’ve been avoided? I tried to be prepared and let them know it was important, brought toys to keep them occupied, and they were jerks.

So back to the pee. The Urologist tells me that he’s concerned about a couple of things.

1. Preterm Labor – He tells me recurrent infection in pregnant women often leads to preterm labor. I told him that I already had a history of preterm labor with my other children and as a result, my OBGYN put me on Progesterone injections once a week to try to put that off. So that’s good. But he’s still concerned. He wanted me to finish this sixth round of antibiotics and do the preventative again only this time, twice a day. And he’d like to monitor me during the duration of my pregnancy and thereafter.

2. Kidney Stones – Apparently, it’s common for pregnant women to get kidney stones. I had gallstones when I was pregnant with Lakyn but they’re unrelated. He tells me he’s concerned that I have a kidney stone that’s become lodged somewhere and it’s backing up my kidney thus the dark urine and blood clots. This is pretty serious. If this is the case and it’s left untreated, I could lose a kidney. YIKES! He explained that when this happens, it’ll present as an infection but no antibiotics will fix it. The infection will keep re-occuring.

He told me that because I’m pregnant, he’d like to start with a Renal Ultrasound to see if one of my kidneys is inflamed or swollen. I told him I’d had some discomfort in my kidneys but only on the left side.  If that’s what the ultrasound revealed, then we’d have to look at more invasive procedures but we’d wait on the results of the test.

So I went this morning and had the ultrasound done. The tech that did it was stone cold and didn’t imply anything. I kept trying to read her face but she was a statue. I go back to the Urologist on Thursday for the test results. I feel like it’s all in my head and I’m paranoid and there’s nothing wrong with me. In fact, I’ve been obsessing a little about how this is going to come back normal and we’re going to have spent all this $$$ for no reason. But I guess in the end it’s better that way, right? I certainly want to be healthy. I don’t want to appear to be freaking out over something that’s nothing.

So Thursday’s the day. Until then, I wait and torture myself.

Monday, January 11th, 2010 0 Comments | Filed in Kids, Pregnancy, Rants

Goodbye 2009

2009 was a pretty rough year around the Taylor house. I can’t necessarily say that it was all evil. We did have some amazing moments and as a result of such a tumultuous year we have learned to take note of what’s really important. It’s not the money, bills, or work. It’s the valuable time spent with family, friends, and loved ones. It’s the laughter shared over a couple of drinks or the tickle sessions shared at bedtime.

I contemplated writing a timeline of our year, outlining all the many highs and lows, reliving each event. But in the end I decided I would focus more on the lessons learned.

Even when you haven’t been able to pay rent in 3 months, you’re on the verge of having all utilities disconnected and you’re not sure when you’ll be able to buy milk, it’s important to take a step back. Disconnect from reality. Give yourself a timeout. And think about all the things you have to be grateful for.

I’ve learned to slow time and really look at what’s going on around me. I take mental photographs for my treasured scrapbook that I keep filed away in my mind. I try to capture the little things. Those moments when the kids don’t know you’re watching them and they’re playing together lovingly. Moments where TJ is talking to the kids or hugging on them. Times when Lakyn is giving a concert to her stuffed animals. Rare instances when Holden is caught in a daydream. Those little moments that I always seemed to take for granted before because I was so concerned about when the next paycheck was coming.

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I could go on and on about the financial struggle we endured and the strain it put on my marriage and my family. But at the end of the year, I have so much to be thankful for. We had amazing health. We love each other. We’ve learned to laugh through miserable situations and thank God for our life together. Because at the end of the day, that’s all we have…. each other.

Monday, January 4th, 2010 2 Comments | Filed in Family, Kids
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