the Rock and the hard place

we’re in it, friends. the hard place.

you might be in one yourself.  yours may be even worse than ours.  someone always has it worse.  i try to remember that when things aren’t going so well.

i’m just going to share my heart a little bit today, if that’s ok.

i’m a stay-at-home-mom.  i try to be a work-at-home-mom, but to be honest, the babies come first 24/7, and the dust doesn’t stop falling, so the hamster wheel of mothering, and housework rarely slows down enough for me to devote a serious enough amount of time to do anything else fully or well.  

my clothing and blanket making has hit a snail’s pace.  i have mounds of fabric, beautiful fabric, just sitting there, calling for me daily, but i put the kids to bed somewhere between 7 and 9, i clean the disaster areas and try to do laundry at record speed, and come 10pm, my husband is heading to bed with or without me.  most nights, i would watch him go, longing to go too, but instead, i would force my eyelids to stay open and my hands to keep going for another 4+ hours.  lately, i just can’t do it.  entering my 5th month of my 5th pregnancy, mother of three beautiful girls under five…i am exhausted.  so productivity has practically halted and so has any hope of extra income at the moment.  

and wouldn’t you know that during this season of involuntary rest, our wallets seem to be bleeding?  it’s like the enemy has snuck up and poked a hole in the bottom of our grain sack, and it’s a slow, steady, painful drain.

the hard place.  

the dryer broke.

ok.

new dryer.  ouch.

then, an unexpected vet bill, and school bills, and higher utility bills, crazy circumstances leading to a ridiculously high cell phone bill (long story).

next, of all things, while delivering a meal to friends last night i get pulled over going 55 mph on the highway for… expired registration.  news flash for me.  i don’t know the first thing about that stuff.  i always looked to my dad and now to my husband.  it just wasn’t even on my radar.  so as the cop is back in his car, i’m on my cell with my husband.  “kristi, i know that i paid that.  i may not have put the sticker on, but i thought i took care of it.”

cop returns.  nope.  expired.  and guess what else is expired?  my license.  yep.  double whammy.  so, now i have to appear before a magistrate (!) or pay a very high fine.  boring, pregnant mother of three that never breaks the law, and drives like a paranoid slow-poke…issued a citation and going before a judge.  hubby thought i was nuts as i cried crocodile tears.  “i don’t dooo this stuff!”  and i knew we didn’t have an extra pile of cash to throw at a fine.  after dinner, i completed my registration and license renewal online…$67…not much, but when you’re not expecting it…

i went to make my tea last night and the microwave (brand new last year) started randomly stopping.  “seriously?!”, i thought, “are you really going to break too???!”  i hit the restart button in an angry pout and went to cry some more in the basement in front of my new dryer. :/

fast-forward to this morning, past a night of tears and, “Lord, how will we ever make ends meet at this rate?!” prayers…i go to the funeral of a friend’s grandmother.  street parking.  no quarters.  yep.  ticket waiting on my windshield upon my return, and as i am crossing the street, so is the metermaid in the opposite direction.  just missed her.  literally received a ticket by being seconds late.  i can’t even remember the last time i’ve violated any laws or received any tickets.  has to be over ten years now.  two days in a row.  in.a.row.

and to squeeze us even more, we have a vacation coming up (our first in three years), and my husband’s birthday is next week, mine the month after.  then, we have november to try to recover before we are hit with ava’s birthday and christmas.  oh, brother.  

i look at my idle hands and endless demands and just say, “how are we supposed to do this, Lord?”  i know i’m not alone.

i debated if i should even publish this, b/c it’s one of those private posts that will invoke a lot of advice.  i appreciate advice, but i also have tried a lot of it already, so sometimes, it stings to hear that you should do what you’ve already attempted to do and hasn’t worked for you for whatever reason.

we are already on a strict budget and have been since i quit teaching four years ago.  my husband devotes hours to finances and knows where it is all going to go weeks before payday.  we are not careless, nor do we splurge.  we tithe faithfully, and we sacrifice greatly.  we are lucky to have a date night a few times a year.  we eat in before we head out to run errands.  there’s no, “oh we’ll be going to the mall for a birthday gift, so we’ll just grab dinner at that restaurant over there.”  we come home probably 48 weeks out of the year after church for lunch around our own table.

i’m mostly rambling, but i think i’m telling you this for a few reasons.

one – to get it out of my head.  it is overwhelming at times to feel like you are never going to get your head above water.  it helps to share whatever it is that is stressing me out.  don’t get me wrong, i know that we are blessed.  we have all that we truly need.  my husband is a wonderful steward of what we have, and i appreciate that about him.  and, as i said, i know there are many, many others who are struggling with much worse, so i’m trying not to complain.

two – to put to bed the misconception that moms that stay at home do so b/c their lifestyles can afford it.  i have heard things like:

“oh, he must make $$$, so that she doesn’t have to work.” 

 “i wish i could stay home, but we can’t afford it.”  

i would gather that a lot of you are like us.  you sit down with your spouse and say, “this is what we want for our family.  this is how we want to raise our kids.”  and you do it.  you know it is going to be difficult, maybe downright impossible on paper, but you do it.  you commit to it, and you do it.  i’m learning to stop the judging.  even the moms (myself included) that get their ‘stitch fix’ once in a while, have their nails manicured, or see the stylist more than once a year, have probably had to plan ahead and set aside five dollars here and there in order to afford those treats.  this lifestyle is anything but easy on one income, and while it is the greatest privilege i could have ever asked for, a true gift from my husband, it has also required some of the greatest sacrifices.  i know it will be worth it.  it’s not easy, but worth it.

three – to encourage you.  let’s be real.  if you, like me, struggle at times with your anxiety on how ends will meet, your jealousy of how others seem to have it better/easier, your fear of what challenges may await around the corner…  the “what’s going to break next” complex…  you are not alone, and there is hope.  there is always hope.  things will always have an chance to get get better.  even while i was having a pity-party in the basement, i knew it wouldn’t always feel so rough.

now back to that rock and the hard place stuff…  

that phrase has been tumbling around in my noggin over the past few days.  yes, we’re feeling the squeeze.  life is expensive, any way you slice it.  we’re up against the rock – feeling pressed from all sides at times, but i was reminded…  i’m not caught in an impossible situation.  we’re not trapped between bad and worse, permanent and unchangeable.  we are pressed up against a rock alright, but its THE ROCK.  the Rock that we lean against and stand on when things get challenging.  Jesus.

i had this vision in my mind’s eye this morning of being pressed up against that rock, and rather than being crushed, i climbed up on it, and i said to myself, “when my heart is overwhelmed…lead me to the Rock that is higher than i.”  He tells us, “climb up.  sit here and rest and look over your problems.  look beyond them.  you can see past them from this point of view.”

and so, that’s what we do.  pray for wisdom.  pray for leading.  pray for breakthrough.  pray for faith.  pray for favor.  from up on the Rock.  so, i am reminding myself, as i am reminding you – keep yourself planted on the Rock with your eyes fixed on the horizon.  things won’t always feel so hard.

(and in the meantime, pray for me that my visit with the judge goes well. thanks. xo)

   

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Ps. 61:2 (NIV)


The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
Ps. 18:2 (NLT)

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going dark: the hard seasons

often, i wonder how people like joyce meyer, beth moore, and heidi baker do it. how do they share their deepest pains, their hardest experiences, their hurts and the wrongs done to them through the course of their lives and ministry with such grace and such transparency without offending the offenders? 

i sit here some nights and want so badly to pour my heart onto the keyboard and get the ugly out of my soul and into the atmosphere. i want to scream what i am thinking or how this situation or that conversation made everything stink, and then tell you about how God put all of the pieces back together. i want to testify. but i sit in silence instead. i can’t talk about some things, b/c i know that it creates the risk of hurting someone i care about…a friend…a family member…even my own spouse sometimes… so, i sit in silence. 

i read the words of other women that have similar experiences, and i draw comfort from their boldness and their experiences. i draw comfort from their grace and wisdom. how they manage to share their stories is still an art form that i haven’t even begun to master.

for example, how does a well-renowned christian author or blogger confess in a book read by millions or a facebook post ‘liked’ 4,000 times, that a friend she met for lunch last year really ticked her off and she had to give it to the Lord and love that friend through it, or even remove herself from a relationship? (*i am just paraphrasing a scenario there, not an actual quote.) i mean, doesn’t that friend have the internet and feel the sting? is it ok to share your heart if it means hurting even one person in the process? is that what jesus would have done? yet, i feel so comforted and encouraged when i read the stories and the ‘you are not alone’ feeling falls over me like a warm blanket.  and i feel so compelled myself to share my own struggles.  i can’t, though.  i want to.  but i can’t.

i noticed that during these times, when i am hurt or offended, i ‘go dark’ on here. i’ll share recipes more frequently or talk about a project or something fluffy, but i don’t dare bare my heart. it’s too fragile and volatile all at the same time, and there’s always that fear of the repercussions to be faced if i say too much. so i go silent.

i so badly want my daughters to read about the challenges faced in friendships, in marriage, in family dynamics with parents and in-laws, and siblings, and tense moments with co-workers, and strangers…  i want to be an open book to them – to you.  but i go dark for fear that my transparencies will build walls, burn bridges, or even break hearts.

how do i stay true to my voice, when i can’t speak the truth?

how do you?

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lament

i wish grace lived here.

once again i wake up after the husband and kids, b/c i’m dead-tired, dragging and wishing the day would rewind itself before it even had a chance to start. he’s in the shower, listening to his praise music. must be nice. to shower and spend your mental energy on Jesus in the morning. not this girl. i wake up to isla slamming a cupboard door that she shouldn’t be in, or hitting me over the head with a cup, asking for her morning milk, or ava swinging a remote two millimeters from my eyelid, whining that she wants to watch a show, or eden screaming from her crib, b/c isla already went in and offered her four barbie dolls.

husband emerges, says his hellos and begins to walk downstairs. ‘can you take the baby with you?’ i receive my first eye-roll/scowl/or lecture for the day. great. i just want to shower. oh, get up earlier you say, sir? well, i saw ava at 1am, and 230am (at which point i changed her peed-in pjs and tucked her back into bed). then, i had the pleasure of carrying isla back to bed at 430am, and i was so out of it that i called her ava, and it wasn’t until i was already walking down the hallway, that i noticed her petite body in my arms and realized that it was her this time. but hey, sure, i can get up at 6am and try to beat you to the shower so that eden doesn’t whine at you for more cheerios while you have your quiet time. either that, or i can just stink until 10pm, like i do most days anyway.

i stand firm though, and brush off his disappointment for some time to myself. cut myself shaving. ankles. probably the only bones still visible after growing my babies, and yep, i cut one. so, now i’m greeting the day with a bitter husband, whining children, and a wad of toilet paper stuck to a stinging ankle. doesn’t last long, b/c ava curiously rips it off before i make it past the dining room. baby is in her highchair, alone, a cheerio still left here and there. not happy, of course. hubs is partaking of his devotional time in the living room, alone, and the other two are running around like it’s 1999.

i have a sign in my dining room that reads: ‘let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God.’ what it should probably read is: ‘let us lay prostrate on the kitchen floor until God actually shows up.’ i don’t feel Him on days like this. i know He’s there, but i can’t feel Him steering us in any shape or form. three tender moments today. three. over 50,000 minutes with my family, and i can count three tender moments.

we have breakfast. i have two loads of laundry going and all three cleaned up and happily dressed before 9:30am. miracle. we play in the backyard, enjoy homemade popsicles, and follow a baby bird around the yard, all before noon. poor bird. lunch and grocery time.

i get the kids in the car, and something starts to happen. the unraveling of a day. they want lunch now. they want to go to target, not sam’s club. they want to listen to the lion king song, not jesus culture. they want; they want; they want. no sam’s club card. nice. hubs has it. call him – no answer. i bet he’s out to lunch. call him again – answers. yep. out to lunch with a buddy at panera bread. oh, you know, the one restaurant he won’t take us to, b/c the portions are too small, the food is over-priced, and he always leaves hungry. yeah, that place. i head to the bank first for grocery money. ‘do the kids want lollipops?’ sure, nice teller-lady! two please. then it hits me that i just asked for punishment during our entire shopping experience. once eden sees those ‘pops’ in her sisters’ mouths and figures out that i don’t have one for her…i’m doomed. no one gets a pop until we get to the store. okay? okay. (at least if i sit her carseat sideways in the ginormous cart, she won’t be able to spy her sisters’ lollipop-sucking profiles.) they begrudgingly agree to my terms. i do a drive-by and grab the sam’s card from hubs, recalling that the last time he met us for lunch, isla was in a highchair. max ‘n erma’s 2012. interrupting his lunch date would be as bad as hijacking his morning quiet time, so i drive off to buy us a much unhealthier option – sonic. ugh. cheeseburgers and french fries it is. we eat in the car and talk about what policemen do. random and typical.

{most ‘recent’ lunch date – 2012}

arrive at sam’s and load girls into the cart as planned. perfect. eden never catches a glimpse of the goods and she is content to smile in the breeze. as i go to grab the handle of the shopping cart, i mistakenly whack ava’s lollipop onto the ground. the parking lot ground. after making her wait for 20 minutes, and lecturing her to keep it concealed…i knock it to the ground. as if my life flashed before my eyes, i whisk it up without hesitating and the ‘oh crap’ moment sets in. now what? there is more than half left on the stick. isla is savoring hers, and it’s my fault it went flying to the ground. the dirty, parking lot ground… the germophobe in me is screaming, ‘noooo!’, but the mama-guilt in me wins by a landslide. as if i was being filmed in slow-mo eating slugs on the nat-geo channel, i put the foul thing in my mouth and ‘wiped it clean’. ugh. oh heaven help me. for chicken and lettuce. i’m doing this for chicken and lettuce. and butter. can’t forget the butter. almost an hour later, what are we leaving with? a lot more, and if it were up to ava…a pretzel and a trampoline would have joined our caravan. (you know that moment in which you start over the initial drop of a roller coaster? this was that part of the day, and it crosses my mind that their sonic kids’ meals were laced with a disobedience powder of sorts.) i’m not paying $11 for butter, so i decide aldi’s is our next and final stop. to say they were ill-behaved would be putting it nicely. i got a sympathy pat on my right shoulder from a stranger – a mom of four. ‘i know what you are going through, honey.’ really? great. my usually kind-hearted and darling daughters are attacking each other, trying to headbutt the baby, sticking their tongues out at me, and shouting, ‘poop and pee’ at the top of their voices. can’t i just believe in aliens for two minutes, b/c these clearly aren’t my children. the ‘lilo and stitch’ dvd is going in the trash can tonight. have to start the reformation somewhere.

i make it to the checkout without buying popsicles or leaving ava in the freezer aisle. i am promising bum spanks once we get to the car (something i have never had to do in a public setting in all four and a half years of being a mom.) people are smirking at us. i am making jokes about ‘waving the white flag’ to onlookers, and isla is growling. eden is crying and has a red mark on her forehead. gee, is it any wonder why daddy never thinks to meet us for lunch? now i’m thinking about that again and how bad i think he stinks and i hope that his ‘pick two’ gave him reflux. i pay for the groceries, which started out as a butter-run and morphed into a fruit and veggie extravaganza, and we go to the car. of course there has to be a woman next to us while i have to follow through with the promise of spanking ava’s bottom. ‘you’re getting this spanking, remember? you didn’t listen to me in the store, and i told you that you were going to get a bum spank if you didn’t stop those x,y,z behaviors.’ cries for mercy break out. the woman is still piddling with something next to the car, and i quickly give a swat to the tushie of a very unhappy four-year-old. what a horrible day, and it’s just 2:30. oh, but it doesn’t end there. oh no…what happens next makes amelia bedilia look like she has it all together.

after putting the kids and the food in the car, i throw the stroller in the back. the box of chickens is sticking out of the van while i put the beast stroller in the right spot. in total haste and embarrassment, i run to the driver’s seat and hit the button for the hatch to close itself. the chicken. hit it again, so it becomes as confused as its operator and stalls. fix the chicken, and push the button to close the hatch again. proceed homeward. hop on highway. where is my phone? the stroller? man. get off of highway. pull over. phone? brand-new, four-day-old iphone…sticking half out from under the rear door! yep. good stuff right there. thank goodness, it still works. get back in the car and drive home.

eden wakes up as i pull into the garage. we all know what 10 minute car naps do to babies. bear. little grizzly. i make dinner for us and friends who just had a baby. that is the only thing going right so far. ava and isla are begging for tv, and, as badly as i want to glue them to the couch and let them sit in front of a movie, i realize that we are heading back out soon and the last thing i need is for them to pass out in front of the tv and pee on my floor. b/c they would. b/c i am having that kind of day. so, no! no movies. okay then, i guess running around and hitting each other is plan b, and i asked for it, right? eden is content, b/c i handed her a bowl of baby-sized white cheddar cheese puffs, and who doesn’t love cheese puffs? they’re all quiet. too quiet. ‘what are you doing?!’ ‘playing duck-duck-goose, mom!’ believable. okay. i finish dinner and begin to wrap up our delivery items. shoes on. dog in crate. no purse to be found and a kid has to poop. oh, for the love! poop then! where is my purse?! i’ll tear the house apart while you poop. no purse. seriously? i came in, put down our bags and haven’t left the kitchen in over two hours, and i manage to lose a purse?! panic hits. it’s gotta be on the highway. it fell off of the stroller and some wanderer picked it up and thought it was his/her lucky day b/c it had twenty-five dollars in it, my only debit and credit cards, a license, and one thousand joann fabric receipts. lucky day.

load up all of the food and the kids back into the car. open garage. frantically search for purse and husband appears. am i that late already?! and talk about timing – i just got these monkeys buckled. of course they don’t want to stay here with dad, they want to go with mommy. of course! i lost my purse. what?!!!?!!!?! yes, sir. i lost it. needless to say, grace still wasn’t showing up. husband speeds off for aldi’s. b/c, for whatever reason, they don’t list their phone number.  another wasted 411 charge.  i head for the highway.  i drive my little route twice. no purse in sight. he goes to aldi’s – no purse. i go to aldis’. ‘oh yes, i remember you – you had all of the kids in the stroller.’ yes, that was me, thanks. no purse.

white flag still waving. children all asleep in the car. i break out in a nervous-sweat, and my pit paste doesn’t want to work when i nervous-sweat. only when i’m nervous.  weird.  and see? i shouldn’t have even bothered with that shower this morning, b/c i smell like b.o. now anyway.

tender moment number one…in the midst of all the chaos and negativity, i get to meet nora. i get to see a few smiling faces that aren’t mad at me b/c i lost my purse, aren’t yelling at me to play a certain song, and aren’t pulling at my burning ankle, crying to be held. for about 10 minutes of this day, i felt the warmth of patience and hope and peace. so nice.  i think grace lives there.

i return to the van and decide to check the highway one more time. i drive like a ninny with my four-ways on, creeping along the berm on a very busy portion of interstate. pull off the exit that i had taken earlier and figure it couldn’t hurt to walk about ten yards or so of the straightest stretch in hopes that it’s there, blending in with the dirt. i pull over, lock the doors, and walk in the rain. now i’m smelly and getting drenched. no luck.  i get back into the car, succumbing to the fact that nearly the entire day has been a wreck, and i may as well write ‘epic fail’ on my forehead.  as i sit down and glance at my phone, i see a missed call and a text from the husband, who has been back at home for some time now.  ‘found it along with an empty bottle of rubbing alcohol , aroma oil, hair spray…’ (and a few other not-so-nice words about the kids not being supervised well enough and responsibility). insert crossed eyes here, b/c i think my brain just decided to braid itself. seriously? duck-duck-goose my rear! those kids were up there for 10 minutes, max! and when i asked twenty times if anyone had seen, touched, played with, taken or hid mommy’s purse…the answer was, ‘no.’ the truth of the situation is that isla had decided to snag my purse from the diaper bag (turns out my subconscious really does work when i’m stressed and frantically going through the motions) and bathe eden’s rocking horse, so she poured an entire bottle of safflower oil on its mane and tail and about a tbsp (all the was left) of rubbing alcohol on its saddle. and they lied about it all with wide eyes and innocent faces.  grace. give them grace. i wish i had some thrown my way too. i’d take a medicine cabinet installation also, please. that’d be helpful. i individually take the girls upstairs and talk with them in the bathroom about safety and poisons and things that they aren’t allowed to touch… deep breath.

i return to the main floor. child one lays on the dining room chair. child two falls back to sleep on the couch. please don’t pee there. husband already ate. i feed the baby. he’s still peeved. the house is a disaster. i played with them this morning. i fed them, clothed them, chased bugs and followed a bird around the yard for an hour just b/c they wanted to. i did two loads of laundry. i made eden take a nap a whole hour earlier, so i wouldn’t screw up this day. i thought i lost my purse, but i didn’t. the kids are all okay, even though we have to throw out a rocking horse. dinner is cooked and waiting for us on the counter. i try. i fail. everyday, i fail at something. i fail him. i fail them. i fail me. i wish grace lived here.

roasted chicken, veggie pasta, greek salad, and the kids want to eat a bowl of feta cheese for dinner. whatever. hubs leaves for class at church. baby is standing in the dishwasher. girls are watching a movie with their feta cheese, and the white flag waves higher. fabric sits untouched on the kitchen island. another day goes by that i don’t get any ‘work’ done. i clean the house. i fold the laundry. the kids won’t have to wear play clothes to bed tonight, b/c i actually got caught up today. finally.  isla walks up to me with three barbies in her arms. ‘thank you so much, mommy, for buying me this doll,’ she says with the most innocent excitement. she is referencing a ballerina that i brought home from a friend’s yard sale a year ago. ‘and thank you for buying me cinderella and thank you for buying me rapunzel too, mommy. thank you so much!’ she kisses me between each sentence, and i experience my tender moment number two.

as i pick up the last of the toys, the garage door sounds. has it been that long already? two hours past the kids’ bedtime. they need baths b/c they are covered in safflower oil and smell like cheese. i brace for the feeling again. fail. ‘no, i didn’t wait for you to put them to bed. i cleaned up the house. i folded the laundry.’ i bathe the baby and he takes over with the other two. i put eden to bed, and go to change ava’s sheets. the crew arrives, dons pjs, and we do our bedtime thing. isla first. i silently wet her blanket with tears as i quietly pray over her. she’s so little. she’s so pure, and i am messing this up royally. i kiss her and walk out, heading for ava. i kneel by her bedside, and she asks me to scratch her hand and then her back. her love language. i lay my head on the edge of her mattress and pray for her too. i feel so unworthy to pray, especially for these kids. i spent most of my day yelling and trying to rein them in. i scratch her back and ask her if i made her feel bad at all during the day. ‘yes.’ when? ‘when you spanked me.’ i figured. i ask her if i made her feel happy at all today. she pauses. she turns her head away and says, as if she is surprising even herself, ‘i don’t know. i don’t know when i was happy today.’ i don’t remind her of the popsicle or the baby bird. i just sit there and say the only thing i know how to say, ‘mommy’s sorry. we’ll try to have a happy day tomorrow.’

she’s nods and asks me to stay and scratch her back a little longer. tender moment number three. she gives me grace, even when i can’t give it to her, her sisters, her dad, or myself. she gives it. grace may not live here, but at least it visits us from time to time.

it’s quiet, the kids are sleeping, my legs and hands ache from a long day of barely standing still or sitting down, but i find myself wanting to be here, listening to audrey assad’s ‘lament’ on repeat, and pouring my own lament out onto this keyboard like telling my story will somehow prevent a bad day from ever happening again.

i’ve probably listened to it twenty times in a row just now, and it’s nearing 2am.  i’ll crawl into bed, hoping for double the tender moments tomorrow and praying that this song is the only thing on repeat.  xo

I’m Mary and I’m Martha all at the same time,
I’m sitting at His feet and yet I’m dying to be recognized,
I am a picture of contentment and I’m dissatisfied,
Why is it easy to work but hard to rest sometimes,
sometimes, sometimes

I’m restless, and I rustle like a thousand tall trees,
I’m twisting and I’m turning in an endless daydream,
You wrestle me at night and I wake in search of You,
but try as I might, I just can’t catch You,
But I want to, ’cause I need You, yes, I need You,
I can’t catch You, but I want to,

How long, how long until I’m home,
’cause I’m so tired, so tired of running,
How long until You come for me
’cause I’m so tired, so tired of running
I’m so tired, so tired of running
How long, how long until I’m home,
I’m so tired, so tired of running
How long until You come for me
’cause I’m so tired, so tired of running (X2)

{i originally shared this song in this post.}

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motherhood.


motherhood.


warm smiles.



a window into the very heart of God.



couch cuddles.


thigh-high hugs.



pillow-soft cheeks.


being immersed in innocence.



the gift of interpretation and the art of negotiation.



the opportunity to see the man you love in a whole new light.


squishy bellies and feathery curls.



long afternoons, even longer bedtimes, but very short years.



songs and stories and dancing in the kitchen.



backyard adventures.



perpetual dress-up.



the chance to relish in childhood a little bit longer.



walking down the bumpy road of life paved by miracles.



i am so thankful for my children.  

i’ll buy them some new play dough this week, and as i watch them giggle, pat, and argue over who has the biggest piece… i’ll imagine that when God brought these little people into the world, He handed them my heart, and everyday i think He smiles a big, wise smile, watching them mold and shape it just like that.  young, old…near, far…yesterday, tomorrow…
they will always and forever be shaping me.

happy mother’s day. xoxo
and because this mother’s day is making me think of taylor swift songs…grab a box of tissues, hold your babies’ hands and enjoy.
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when everything isn’t enough

i fell in love. 
i had a fun, adventurous courtship.
i married my dream guy.
i became a teacher.
i was gifted three gorgeous, miraculous, amazing children.
i was given a beautiful home. 
i was granted the best job on earth…homemaker.
i work in my pajamas.
i can eat chocolate for breakfast.
i can be an artist, a chef, a couch potato, a gardener, a writer, a chauffeur, a teacher…anything i want at any given time.  
i can dance in the kitchen with both snow white and rapunzel at any given moment.
my needs are met daily.
my family lives in safety and is loved.
i am loved.
little angels wake me every night and call me ‘mommy’.
i am needed. 
a faithful husband calls me every afternoon from work just to see how we are doing.
i have a mother who drops everything to be there when i’m unraveling.
we are all healthy and strong. 
i have everything i need.
i have everyone that i have ever hoped for. 


i am living my dream life.
i am loving my dream family. 

so how does everything become not enough? i admire and coo over pictures of my children – oh they are so beautiful… oh, i can hear her laughing when i look at this one… yet, they sit three feet from me 90% of the day, and i am cooing over yesterday’s images and already daydreaming about what tomorrow will hold?!  how has the present become so lost on me? when did everything become so lost on me? time to stop sleepwalking through these irreplaceable moments, daydreaming about my tomorrows and rehashing my yesterdays.

 

Ephesians 5:14…
This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,

rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

yes. wake up, you sleeper!
you have everything you have ever needed. 
you have everything you have ever wanted.

today, it will be enough. 
today it will all be more than enough.

 

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i.hit.his.truck.

oh this day.

oh this day, this day.

technically yesterday now, but can i just tell you about it? maybe you’ll feel a little better about your day! 🙂

i.hit.his.truck.

there. i said it.

ok, now i’ll rewind…

today was weird. eden slept in until almost 11am. so weird for her. so weird for any of the kids in this household to sleep past 8am. yeah, they’re thoughtful like that. 😉

so, i of course was lazy with the big-littles until 10ish, which translates to breakfast and movies in mama’s bed while mama takes a shower. (i can see them clearly from my shower.) they know not to move an inch. they chilled on the cozy bed, watching disney jr. while i showered/got dressed, then we hung out downstairs while i ironed dresses for the second time to take to a local boutique.

around 2pm, we headed out the door, stopped at michael’s for some craft/sewing supplies, and ended our errand-running at the boutique to drop off the dresses. we then went home to start dinner and wait for dad.

this is where i think favor may have checked out for the day…

the plan was to eat quickly and head out to the mall as a family.

i got the kids into the house and went to take eden out of her carseat. poop.was.everywhere. great, typing that line just reminded me that i have to wash that bad boy. i forgot. you’ll see why soon enough. oh yeah, i already told you – i hit the truck.

anywho…back to eden. had to strip her of her brand new, cutesy outfit and give her an inconvenient 4pm bath. fortunately, i had made a roast a couple of nights ago, so beef stew was on the menu. i had it simmering on the stove when hubby rolled in… recovery (from the time lost thanks to the impromptu bath) was looking good and the mall with three littles was still looking plausible. isla had passed out on the couch, and shortly before the hubs walked in the door, ava announced, ‘mom, isla pooped in her pants.’ say what?!

yep. poopy pants numero dos. seriously. come on.

hubs walks in. ‘you’re changing number two’s number two, mister. welcome home.’ yep. i’m a nice wifey. *not really.*

while he protested, we discussed the trip to the mall. basically, he came up with every excuse reason under the sun not to go to the mall as a family, citing isla and her poop-pants needing a bath and dinner not being physically on the table as the two major ones. on the table. really, sir? it’s not good enough to have it cooked and ready. it has to be in the bowl on the table??? 

 i was mad. he was bitter (over the poop pants), and no one but mama was heading to the mall. (yes, you may be thinking that it would be a good thing to be going to the mall alone. normally it would be, but it was supposed to be our family time, b/c we’re probably not going out anywhere over the weekend.)

i got into the van alone. this is where it gets crazy. before it was just cranky. now it gets crazy and uber-cranky.

i couldn’t find my check from the boutique. i planned on stopping at the bank on the way to the mall. i looked everywhere i could think of for the check i had just gotten hours before. it was nowhere to be found. i envisioned it twirling across the parking lot or being cashed by some joe schmoe. i was getting all flustered over it. not good. i pulled out of the garage in haste, staring at the concrete on the passenger side to see if maybe it dropped out of my pocket when i was unloading the kids/bags earlier. 

and it happened. 


cruuuuuuunnnnnnch.

uh-oh.


i looked back and reality hit me as hard as i hit his truck.


i scraped the front corner of his BRAND NEW F-150. i wrecked into his most beloved ‘baby’! the man loves his truck, and i crunched it. ugh.

i pulled back into the garage, ran upstairs to my doom, and confessed. let’s just say for that moment (or several minutes rather), i was ralphie and he was the dad of the christmas story, or maybe i was the mother when she broke that awful leg lamp, and he was still the father.  either way, it wasn’t pretty, folks. it was head-on-the-kitchen-island-crying-while-the-kids-watched-hubby-dropping-the-word-stupid kind of not pretty.

after he returned from the initial inspection, i retreated back to the scene of the crime and ran away to the mall…and trader joes…and target. i closed down target, people. i was the last customer out. i did not want to come home tonight.  on the bright side, i did get all of my easter shopping done.

deep breath.

i will survive. somehow, i will try to make this better.

right now, i’m thinking this bag of dark chocolate almonds is helping. maybe he’ll leave in the morning without talking to me about it. maybe he’ll never bring it up again. probably not, but a girl can hope, right?

geesh. why on earth did i have to go and crash into my own husband’s truck in my own driveway?!

anyway…i found the check. i won’t say where. ok, i’ll tell you. why not? it was in a ziploc baggie, rolled up in my garment bag on the front seat of the car. perfect place for it, huh? 
*rolling my eyes at myself*

i’ve beaten myself up all evening and night. do you do that too? when you do something ridiculous, do you kick yourself in the tail?

trouble is, so does my hubby. there’s not a whole lotta grace here when mama does something stupid. i’m a different personality. i get harsh and say mean things when he hangs a shelf crooked or drips paint on the floor. when he hit a deer last year and hit the garage door with his jeep, i didn’t say a word. crazy how certain things make people explode and other things just roll off our backs, and it can be totally different for someone else.

tomorrow (today), i’m setting the bar low…i aim to wash the carseat cover, clean the house, feed the children, and have school. i think that sounds relatively safe, right? i’ll let you know how it goes… hope friday is a good day for you!  good night, friends!

(i’ll post pics to accompany this post tomorrow…)

***there’s currently an eden gray by klover house giveaway happening on the owl’s skull blog.  check it out for a chance to win a custom, handmade matryoshka doll skirt called ‘matryoshka maiden’.  (this fabric is also available in our baby romper and child’s dress.)  visit the klover house shop for more!  all owl’s skull fans can also find a special eden gray discount on her blog!***

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a mother. a mess.

mistake #1 tonight… watching ‘gravity’ as a tired, weepy mama of three little girls. the red shoe, ppl. i’m still thinking about it. and if you haven’t seen the movie yet, and you’re a weepy mama too, grab the tissues for that scene. my husband, on the other hand, embraced that part as his ‘ah-ha’ moment…’i thought this was halle berry all along!!’  oh, men.

mistake #2… having a serious debate conversation with your husband minutes before bedtime, after watching an intense and moving movie that made you burst into tears at one point. needless to say, my emotions are running hot, and i no longer wanted to go to bed. instead, i retreated to a hot cup of tea and my thoughts.

mistake #3… grabbing a box of samoas on my way to the couch.

yep. there i sat with raging hormones, a racing mind, a cup of tea, and a box of samoas. then, the baby cried. midnight. right on cue. as i walked into her room, dad was already there, holding her sleepy self in his arms. i love that sight.  even after a debate…

as soon as she spotted me, she lunged for me. i love that sleepy baby needing her mama stuff. she is pure preciousness. as i took her, i asked hubs to grab a bottle before returning to bed. you see, i’m a nursing mom with a history of complications, but God has been so good and faithful to me this time around. with ‘a’, things started to fail around five months. i went back to working full-time, and my supply quickly shut itself down. with ‘i’, i had even more of a struggle, even being a sahm, and things disappointingly just stopped working at a mere three months. but with ‘e’, i have been praying and believing for a miracle run. God has granted it. she’s nearly ten months old, and i still have the pleasure of nursing her in the wee hours of night. i am thankful.

all that said, i took ‘e’ to her nine month appointment, and her growth had slowed significantly enough that her doc wants to see her midway between the nine and twelve month appointments. that was a blow to me. a blow to my ability to sustain her, to satisfy her, to see her thriving and to have had a hand in it. so, to say i gave it all i could, i began pumping and doubling whatever i produced with formula. she has been doing quite well that way, but in the back of my mind, i think about doubt, and trust, and faith, and responsibility. but that’s all enough for another post.

in the minutes that my husband was gone, retrieving a bottle, i decided to nurse and sat down. ‘i still have this, Lord. i know what You’ve done so far, and i am believing for it to keep working, b/c you are faithful and i have faith in You. not me. You.’ and once again, i pray over myself and this vessel of a body, and i thank God for the gift as she takes every gulp.

no, this isn’t a post about nursing. that’s the one that i wrote while i nursed. this is a post about me, the mama. the mess.

i nursed her. hubs sat the bottle in the crib and returned to bed. i sat in the dark and stroked her head. she is so incredibly soft. i couldn’t believe how soft she is. no silk, no velvet could ever compare to her skin and fuzzy head of hair. babies are so soft and beautiful. i thought as i was bathing her tonight that there is nothing cuter that a naked, rolly baby sitting, splashing in a bathtub. well, there is nothing more precious than a soft, sweet-smelling, sleepy baby snuggled in a lap. so sweet, so soft…the epitome of peace.

i kept writing that post in my head – the one about nursing and God’s faithfulness, but i kept stopping myself thinking, ‘think about this, kristi. enjoy this. don’t go to the mental keyboard. you don’t know how long this will last. enjoy it. get out of your head and back into this room with this amazing baby relying on you for comfort, food, and love.’

and so the cycle went, until she began to snore (she has the sniffles). i prayed over her one more time, and as i placed her into her crib, i thought, ‘my goodness. i am a mess.  my head and heart are all over the place tonight’, and matthew 14:22-33 came to mind instantly.

i think about peter walking on the water a lot. and it struck me tonight that i feel like peter in this motherhood thing. peter called out to jesus. ‘let me come to you.’ (i am paraphrasing), and then he goes out with what seems as confidence, notices the wind, probably looks around at the unsteady waves, the rising waters, the unknown depth, the natural, the physical, the reality of the situation, and he falters. i mean, imagine the awesomeness!  you are walking on water to Jesus! seriously, could anything but flying be more incredible?! that’s motherhood. awesomeness. it’s also as scary as all get out, if you’ve turned your attention. that’s so easy to do. some days, i am confident. i’ve got this. i’ve got grace and peace and assurance… and then, i take my eyes off of Jesus and catch a view of the uncertainties, the responsibilities, the fleeting moments of baby-bliss, the state of my overwhelming emotions, and whoa. ‘catch me, Lord!’

i am a mess.

and just like with peter, i feel Jesus rescue me. mothering is hard. the ‘what-ifs’ are unending. the sleep deprivation and the worries are manifesting themselves daily in my body, mind, and soul, but He’s got me, so i know He’s got this. since nursing eden, i’ve gotten to put a sniffly isla back to bed and deliver a drink and a prayer to a sleep-walking ava. i kissed each of their heads, stroked their hair and cheeks. (gladly, even at four, they are still so soft. that doesn’t fade too quickly, thank God from this mama’s heart…) and i returned to my half cup of cold tea and a box of samoas with only one absent row (hallelujah) to tell you about my mess, and the water, and my Jesus before i let Him take me by the hand and lead me back to the boat. in this case, my bed. He knows that i need some sleep in order to fully embrace and appreciate the three beautiful blessings that will surely be there to greet me in t-minus four hours. hang in there, mama. i’m going to wake up in the morning with matthew 14:22-33 on my mind and ask the Lord to call me out on the water again. and tomorrow, as well as each day after, i’m going to try my best not to look down. keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

xo

and how can i reference matthew 14:22-33 without hearing this song?  
i love it.  it’s written on my heart.

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klover house update

oh where, oh where have we been?

i can’t believe it’s been over a week since i’ve posted anything! i’m sorry! it used to be that it wouldn’t bug me all that much, b/c i still have the idea that i’m writing to the sky and there isn’t another human on the other side of the screen waiting to *hear* from me, checking our page, and enjoying our little ditties about life, food, Jesus, and everything in between. that blogger misconception changed a bit though when i ran into someone that reads the blog and she stated that she wished i’d post more! i think about that a lot now, and i’m encouraged. really encouraged. so, thank you for that. i’m happy that this little blog matters to others out there. i hope it ministers to you, makes you laugh, makes you think, and inspires you at least once in awhile. if you like pancakes, this is a good blog. haha (more on that later.)

so what have we been up to?

well…i have a gazillion dresses to make. my mom and i are working hard, burning the late-night-oil, trying to get all of these orders done for our business, eden gray {find us on facebook here}. we’re still tweaking our processes everyday. she works full-time watching my nieces, and i am a full-time sahm/wahm, so we often sew well into the night. hence, i sewed the eden gray women’s nightie prototype’s sleeve on backwards the other night. it was 4am, i was on a roll, or so i thought, and in my tired determination, i screwed up. i even reinforced that baby with a double stitch…  the nightie was abandoned next to the machine, and i haven’t mustered up the motivation to grab the seam-ripper just yet. maybe tonight. 😉

along with dress-making, i’m trying to work on house projects. the paint debacle in the playroom… the bookshelf… i loved the bookshelf. and…then, it put eight large holes in my wall. yep. it’s just ‘okay’ now. maybe i’ll love it again once the room comes together around it. on a happier note, since the new bookshelf gave the old expedit shelf the boot, i was able to put the expedit shelf in the coat closet (another unfriendly space of the house, as you know already if you’re following us on facebook). hubs put a real door on it last night, which took a lot more thinking and effort than originally planned for, considering we had a 29″ opening and the doors were only available in 28″ and 30″. he got creative and handy though (i’m married to a deacon. 😉 our church friends will get that little reference.) so, the door is on; it’s safer than the original, and all of our shoes and winter items have found cozy homes in the expedit cubbies. my broom also has a spot on the inside of the door, so that makes me sooo happy. ahh, the little things. (post/pics to come.)

i’m also working on some amazingly fun and simple curtains for the playroom. they make me happy just looking at them. hubs was actually so impressed with this project. i love it when he’s proud of the little things i do or the ideas that i come up with. fills my love tank when he thinks i’ve done something awesome. most of the time, he’s like, ‘oh dear. what have you gone and done now, and how much did it cost me?’ haha but not this time! he loves it and it, like i said, it has been a simple and cheap project. i think that you’ll like this post when it gets typed, but here’s a peek… 😉

and of course, the most important and time-consuming…my kids! these three girls take up a lot, if not nearly all of my time. we’re attempting to complete home school work, playing, kissing boo boos, playing dolls, watching movies, eating pancakes, taking pointless showers (them, not me, unfortunately. i’d love a pointless shower.  they figured out that they can strip down and get into mommy’s shower whenever they please. helps when they’re in need of bathing, but sometimes, it’s just a way to convince me to mop the floor…), snuggling (we have a family full of belly aches, fevers, coughs and runny noses spring, where are you????!), and the list goes on. add that to housework and endless laundry, and well, you can see where i’ve been…in the weeds! haha we’ll get it under control someday. 🙂

so those are the physical things that have been swallowing my time up lately. mentally, i think i’m twice as overloaded. alongside the above, i have been giving a lot of my ‘mental space’ to ailing children these days. our six year old second cousin was admitted to children’s hospital suddenly with an unsettling prognosis…and my mind was fixed on her and her parents day and night. what a shock it is, when things like that hit so close to home. i believe that God intervened, and although the physicians were saying the worst was 99% certain, it was not! not a single cancer cell in sight!  hallelujah! she is home now, and hopefully able to return to life as normal for a busy, precious, little girl…dancing, playing, hanging out with her family and friends.

baby sophia is heavily on my mind and heart today. would you take a moment and go pray for her? she’s fighting the fight of her life, but i am believing God for a miracle. He can do it. i literally laid my hands on my computer screen over her sweet face last night and prayed and wept over her. can you join me? i see these babies, and i know i’ve said it before, i think of my own. what would i do? how would i feel? what would i hope that others would do? i would hope that they’d cry out to God for us too. i am thankful. so very, very thankful that our children are healthy. they merely require hugs, kisses, and mac ‘n cheese most of the time. thank you God, for your mercy and hands of protection over our healthy children.


(since writing this just minutes ago, it was posted that sophia has gone to the arms of Jesus.  my heart hurts so badly for her parents right now.  i wish we knew why these things happen.  someday, we’ll know.  please continue to pray for her parents, and any child that you come across in need of prayers.  like a ripple in a pond, our prayers echo into eternity.  a miracle takes only a moment.  like ani’s sweet ruby, i’ll never forget about you, precious sophia. xo)

so that is where i’ve been, both in the natural and in spirit. i’ll try to write more, and get some fun things up here for you. once we finish these current dress orders, we will have more time on our hands for the regular stuff. (like videos of isla shaking her stuff and recipes about pancakes!)

until next time…

xoxo

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oh, the heavy

before you read…this is my heart.  i pray it doesn’t weigh you down, but opens you up to feel something as deeply as you are meant to feel it.  i write as an outlet for my soul, and i write for my girls.  ava, isla, and eden, i pray that God can use me to help mold you into some of the most courageous, passionate, God-loving, God-fearing, compassionate women that this world has ever known.  anything less would be meaningless. xo, mama

i read a news story tonight that i just can’t shake. i’m sure some of you saw it as well, b/c it was traveling on facebook, even though it happened in 2008. my heart is broken. i shut the computer, deflated. turned out the lights and headed upstairs, tears rolling down my cheeks. why, Lord? what do i do with the heavy?

i shared the story of baby benjamin with my husband. i can still see his round, little baby face in my head. five months old. an american baby, for cryin’ out loud. aren’t we supposed to be a well-adjusted nation? and aren’t parents supposed to naturally love their babies? how come it doesn’t work that way, God? i know; i know. satan. he steals. he kills. he destroys. evil is real. it’s heavy.

‘cast your burdens on me.’  that is what you say. i’m trying, Lord, but i might be the only person still up at midnight on a wednesday, five years later mourning this baby, benjamin. someone should honor him. tonight, i picked me.  it’s not a choice i can control, and it’s heavy.

everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!  the greater my wisdom, the greater my grief.  to increase knowledge only increases sorrow.  so i came to hate life because everything done here is so troubling.  i have seen the burden God has placed on us all.  yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.  again, i observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun.  i saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them.  the oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless.  better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.  after all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart.  sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.  a wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.  i have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people.  not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.  i have thought deeply about all that goes on here under the sun, where people have the power to hurt each other.

{taken from ecclesiates}

right now, my thoughts are completely ‘ecclesiastes’. wondering. thinking it is all meaningless. imagining leaving my daughters someday to battle the spiritual war in the world that is so ugly and  sometimes so heavy.

i think of solomon’s words. and one thought hits me hard. this was before Jesus. not that Jesus didn’t exist, because He has from the start. but this was written before He came and gave His life for us. for me. for my daughters. for baby benjamin.  all of this, ‘life is meaningless’ stuff.  yes, it’s true, but then Jesus showed up.  my hope is in heaven, and this world is not my home.  my faith assures me that the sweet innocents treated so terribly, like benjamin, are resting in the arms of my Lord and King.  that gives my weary mind peace.  the hope of heaven and the promise of eternal life.  so how can i make it all mean something – this time on this earth?  what can i do to change this world?

Jesus. hold me now, Lord.

‘cast your burdens on me.’ He tells us.

i’m casting, Lord. i can’t forget what i read. i never will. evil seems to loom, but i’m casting hard. those daughters that You gave me need to see hope in my eyes when they wake up in the morning. it’s why i’m here. it’s why You leave us in this broken world – to spread your Hope, to share your Truth, to speak your Word, and to Pray. if my heart didn’t break so often… if my heart didn’t twist in my chest after seeing the cruel things in this world… would i pray nearly as much? probably not. would the ugly still happen? yep, probably would. so, i’d rather know and pray and possibly see a change in myself, my home, and my world, than tune out and see the world through rose-colored glasses all of the time.  that, to me, would be meaningless.  

benjamin’s short life is worth every tear a stranger cries and more. if i could, i would ask the Lord to have had someone know what that baby was going through. the longest my child has ever cried for her mama was 20 minutes. minutes. eight days. that baby sat, strapped in his car seat and left alone in his crib for eight days. days. and what killed him?  sent him to be with Jesus, as we say in this house.  his soiled, toxic diaper. sweet baby, i would have loved to have saved you.  i wonder if God and His angels were trying to tell someone about that boy, in that room, all alone for over a week…  maybe we aren’t listening?  God, let me hear you!  

and there i go back to ecclesiates. meaningless, Lord. it’s all meaningless.

those of you that may not follow probably think i seem bipolar at this moment.  but, anyway…

when these thoughts hit hard, i think less of me, more of my girls. less about this house, and more about unloved babies. less about what’s for dinner, and more about being loving towards my people.

what are we here for, friends?

what are we here for?

won’t you join me in this rally call? can we make it mean something?

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