Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Breaking the Nativity

I can't believe it's already mid-December. I just realized it has been over two months since my last blog post. Apparently, things have been just a little bit crazy around here.

We had a quick chaotic trip to New Orleans in October. It was fun. But traveling with little kids is hard, y'all. It's like the kids just have some sort of innate ability to sense our fear and trepidation. And they understand that once we're all strapped in the car and driving down the road, they have our undivided attention and we are their prisoners. It's a flippin' hostage situation. "Get my juice!" "Not this movie!" "Vivi's talking to me!" "Jonah looked at me!" Aaahhh! I've said it once and I'll say it again:

Traveling with kids is what hell must be like.

And once we actually got to New Orleans, Jonah had a meltdown as we attempted to walk around the French Quarter. And Vivienne had a meltdown at the Aquarium. And they both had meltdowns at various random times throughout the weekend. Peter and I had already decided that we were using this New Orleans trip as a sort of trial run to get ready for our trip to Disney which was scheduled for Thanksgiving week. But after three days of hotel living, tantrums, and flat-out exhaustion, we realized our kids were not ready for the "Happiest Place on Earth." 

And thank goodness we cancelled that Disney trip! Because, dun dun dun... Jonah and Vivi got the stomach virus. One week before Thanksgiving. It was loads of fun for all! I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say, we went through three cans of Lysol trying to disinfect that mess. Then immediately following the stomach bug, Vivi got the flu. Yippee! Then my parents came for Thanksgiving, and we just really tried to not infect them with all our nasty germs. I'm not sure we were successful... 

While my parents were here, my mom taught Vivi the song "Hush, Little Baby." You know the one. The sweet lullaby that you quietly sing over your child as you rock her to sleep. Yeah. So now every night as I rock Vivienne, she yells that song at the top of her lungs. The. Top. Of. Her. Lungs. 

I'm pretty sure she doesn't understand the meaning of the words "hush, little baby."

Thanks, Nanna. 

And with sweet Vivienne, if you give an inch, she takes a mile. One night after I rocked her for a bit, she wanted Peter to rock her. For days afterward, she thought he should rock her after I finished rocking her. Um, no. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

And one morning, she woke up at some ungodly hour. Like 4:30 a.m.  And wouldn't go back to sleep. So I took her to the couch and tried to get her to rest with me for a bit. Yeah. So for the next couple days she thought she should nap and sleep on the couch instead of in her bed. What the heck?

But she can be stinkin' hilarious, too. This was our conversation one night at bedtime:

Vivi: You daddy. I Mikey.
Me: Oh ok. Hi, Mikey dog. How are you?
Vivi: Can I go outside and poop?

Um... Huh?

And the other night, after hearing, "I pee in my bed," Peter opened her bedroom door to find Vivi stark naked in her bed, clothes and diaper thrown on the floor, standing in a puddle of pee. Grinning proudly.

I know every parent has stories like these. But y'all. I'm too old for this.

With Christmas just around the corner, we've been talking a lot about the birth of Jesus. Now don't get me wrong - the kids are dying to get under the tree and tear into their presents. But I'm trying to do my best to give them a healthy perspective of what Christmas is actually about. We made a Happy Birthday, Jesus cake last weekend and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. I'm not sure my little kids fully understand it all, but we're trying. We've also been reading parts of the Christmas story and we've made several ornaments to go on our advent tree. The kids really love doing that.

I've been wondering if all this talk of Mary and Joseph and the baby is sinking into Jonah's and Vivienne's little brains. The answer became clear to me last night. I walked into the living room to see Vivi throwing the Little People nativity set on the floor. (You know how everyone on Facebook is posting sweet pictures of their precious children playing contentedly with their little nativity set? With all their little toys worshipping Jesus? Yeah. That's not happening in our house.)

I looked at Vivienne and asked her what she was doing to the nativity set. Her reply? "I breaking it!"

Oh. Of course you are. Because that's what we do with the Christ child and His family. We break them.

But then, in runs Jonah, screaming, "But baby Jesus! Baby Jesus! I need the baby Jesus! I need Jesus!"

And it hit me. When was the last time I needed Jesus? When was the last time I was desperate for Him? A year ago when Jonah was diagnosed with autism? Two months ago when we were agonizing over where our next move will be? When was the last time I truly sought Him? When I truly needed Him?

I feel like Vivienne, like I've broken the nativity. Like maybe I'm not living my life as if my every breath depends on the Savior of this world. I've tried hard to help keep Christ in Christmas for my kids, but have I kept Christ for me?

The world is so full of distractions, full of things, even good things, that take up our time and draw our attention away from Christ and the reason we are put on this earth. To bring glory and honor to Him. And it seems that no matter how early I get up to have some quiet time with The Lord, something is going to draw me away from Him. Whether it's a seemingly urgent email or a crying baby or the dog needing to be let out. There is always something to distract me.

My prayer is that I will not let this season pass by without fully resting in Christ. My desire is to want Him so deeply that I will feel desperate for His presence daily. And that is also my prayer for all of you, my friends. Take time to reflect on the miraculous birth of the Christ-child. But also remember Christ's sacrifice on the cross. He came to earth, lived a sinless life, died a sinner's death, and rose from the grave so that we can have abundant life. So that we can bring glory to Him. He wants to lead us and guide us through the hard times, the good times, the exhausting times. He is always with us. May we live desperately for Him. Because, in the words of Jonah, "I need Jesus."

Monday, October 6, 2014

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today...

One year ago today, Jonah couldn't form an original thought. Everything he said was a repetition of something he'd heard before.

One year ago today, Jonah wasn't able to look people in the eye when they spoke to him.

One year ago today, Jonah was having six or seven daily meltdowns because he couldn't transition between activities.

One year ago today, Jonah had no interest or awareness of others. He was locked in his own little world.

One year ago today, Jonah could not tell me he loved me and I wondered if I would ever hear those words from him.

One year ago today, Jonah was diagnosed with autism. And one year ago today, my world fell apart.

I can still remember sitting at the kitchen table, crying with Peter. I can still feel the desperation and the fear.

But thankfully, our story doesn't end in desperation and fear.

One year ago today, I cried out to the Lord. I begged for mercy and healing and redemption and grace.

And God was so faithful to hear my cries. Whether He chooses to grant us our requests or He has different plans for our lives, He is still faithful. And I've learned over the past year, that the Holy Spirit knows exactly where we are. What we feel. What we fear.

Throughout 2013, I participated in a scripture memory challenge where I had to memorize two scriptures every month. The Holy Spirit led me to so many of these scriptures that I probably would not have chosen on my own. Here are just a few:

"I will remember the deeds of The Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds."
Psalm 77:11-12

"Don't be afraid of the enemy! Remember The Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your home."
Neh 4:14b

"The Lord replied, 'I will personally go with you, and I will give you rest - everything will be fine for you.'"
Ex 33:14

"Yet I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living."
Ps 27:13

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Ex 14:14

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."
Ps 126:5

Even before we knew that Jonah had autism, God knew. He knew about Jonah's diagnosis and He knew that I would need reassurance. He knew that I would need to be reminded of how He had been faithful to me in the past. He knew I would need encouragement to fight for Jonah. He knew that I would need to be reminded that God fights for me. That He is always with me. He knew I would need to remember that God is good. He led me to those scriptures because He knew I would need them.

Even before I knew I would need them, He knew.

Today, Jonah can carry on short conversations.

Today, Jonah looks people in the eyes when he speaks.

Today, Jonah has six or seven meltdowns a week instead of six or seven meltdowns a day.

Today, Jonah loves to play with other children.

Today, Jonah tells me he loves me.

Today, Jonah is being healed.

Our sweet Jonah still has a long way to go, but he has come so far. He has improved in ways that I never thought possible. And honestly, I don't know why God chose to answer my prayers in the way I wanted. I don't know why He is healing Jonah when so many other children need healing. It's not because I'm more faithful than other parents. Because I'm not. It's not because our family deserves healing, because we don't. It's not because God loves me more than He loves others, because He doesn't.

Maybe He's healing Jonah so that we can share our story with others. Maybe He's healing Jonah to remind us all, to remind me, that He is the Great Physician. That His love is miraculous. That He is merciful. Whatever His reason, I want to be found faithful in bringing Him the honor and glory. Sometimes I am just completely overwhelmed by God. By His mercy, by His grace, by His love.

One year ago today, I thought God had forgotten Jonah. Had forgotten me.

Today, I think God has big plans for Jonah.

One year ago today... May I never forget...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Two and a Half Weeks

Two and a half weeks until school starts. That's it. The lazy days where we lay around in our pjs are almost gone. The mornings spent riding scooters in the driveway - have all but disappeared. The nights when we stay up way too late - won't be happening anymore. Where has the summer gone?

To be honest, usually at this point in the summer, I can't wait to ship my kids off to school. I mean, I need a routine, people. But this year, I'm just not ready for school to start again.

When summer started at the end of May, I was dreading it. Dreading it. Brienne went to visit her Nanna and Pappy in Louisiana for a couple weeks and I was NOT looking forward to being "stuck" at home with the little kids. I could foresee temper tantrums, knock-down drag-out fighting, afternoons spent not napping, and no time to myself. My attitude was terrible which caused the outlook to seem very bleak.

But can I just say that this has been one of the best summers we've ever had? (I hope I'm not jinxing myself since there are still two weeks left.) Now, don't get me wrong. There have been some tantrums. Some fighting. Some afternoons spent not napping. And there hasn't been much time for myself. There have been moments when I wanted to run away. Times when I've felt the need for a heavy dose of medication. (Just being real, y'all.) But for the most part, it's been a great summer.

Brienne took tennis and horseback riding lessons while she was in Louisiana. And when she finally came back to Valdosta, she joined the local swim team and she also started guitar lessons. She just came home from church camp last night, and I have loved hearing all about her crazy friends and the games they played, and seeing her so excited about new worship music makes me almost giddy. I love how she and I can just hang out and talk without too much attitude. I'm amazed at how much I enjoy being with her now that she is growing up. (It sounds like it wasn't ever fun being around her. It totally was! But I love this new older version of her.)

Most days, Jonah and Vivienne completely exhaust me. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. We've spent many mornings playing at a local park, and we've also enjoyed playing at Jump 'n Jacks, which has tons of bounce houses and blow-up slides. Jonah is doing amazingly well in his OT sessions, and his therapist really feels like he will be completely fine in a couple years. That is music to my ears and an answer to my prayers.

Sweet Vivienne is truly an entity unto herself. Some days (and by "some days," I mean every day), I really don't know what to do with her. For instance, she spent three whole days wearing goggles. Who does that? She's bossy and defiant, but she's also loving and giggly. She's my most cuddly child and I love it when she climbs up in my lap for snuggle time.

Just tonight, I was holding back tears of laughter while putting the little kids to bed. We were reading the story about David and Goliath and as I was reading, I pointed to Goliath and asked Jonah who he was. He answered with, "Goliath." We read a little more then I pointed to David and asked Jonah who he was. His answer? "Otis." Otis? Really? How many hundreds of times have we read this story?? Otis? Sheesh.

Then I turned to the story of Jonah and asked, "Should we read the story of Jonah and the Whale next?" And Vivi whined, "No! Read Vivi and the Whale!"

I'm telling you - these kids are a hoot! 

I've recently been studying 1 and 2 Thessalonians and I came across this verse:

"How can we thank God enough for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?"
1 Thess 3:9

Y'all, this is exactly how I feel about my kids. I can not thank God enough for the joy they bring me. They amaze me with their funny sayings and their cute facial expressions and their insights into life. They are precious jewels. Priceless to me.

Two and a half more weeks, then these long summer days will be over. We will rush through breakfasts, hurry off to school, and once again become busy with after-school activities and the hustle and bustle of life.

Two and a half more weeks.

Lord, don't let me take this time for granted. Thank you for the joy my kids bring. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

The past couple weeks have been full of excitement at the Terrebonne house. Nanna and Pappy came for a quick visit because THIS happened.

Brie was so excited to complete this milestone, but it was also bittersweet because all her friends will be going to different schools next year.

On the last day of school, the 5th graders got to do a final walk-through of the school and I was there to capture the big event. Honestly, it was a little over-the-top (the principal announced each 5th grader's name and they ran through the halls as the rest of the students in the school lined up, cheering them on), but it was a fun memory and a great way to start the summer.

But do you know what's not a great way to start the summer? Having your three-year-old pee in the Chick Fil A play area. Yep. That's right. After Brienne's final walk-through, we decided to celebrate with chicken nuggets and fries. After the kids finished eating, Jonah wanted to go play. I sent him into the play area and then noticed that Vivienne's diaper was very wet. I took her out to the car to get another diaper and I realized that I didn't have any more size 3 diapers in my bag. I did, however, have some of Jonah's size 6 diapers, which I thought was strange, seeing as how he's "potty trained" and all. Anyway, I did what any good mom would do - I put Jonah's ginormous diaper on Vivienne. It practically swallowed her, but what else was I gonna do?

I went back into Chick Fil A and Brienne greeted me with the news that Jonah had peed in the play area. Fantastic. I watched him happily come down the slide and noticed that his shorts were soaked. This was not an "Oops I just had a tiny little accident" accident. This was a major soaking. Like he had been holding it in for hours. (And, come to think of it, it had been quite a while since our last trip to the toilet. Oops. Mommy fail.) I scooped him up as he kicked and screamed that he didn't want to leave, I grabbed my purse and my half-eaten lunch (because, hello, we don't waste Chick Fil A), I ran to the counter to tell them about our "little" accident, and then I headed to the car to find some dry clothes. And this is when I realized that I desperately need to restock my supplies. The only thing I had for Jonah was a pair of jeans that were two inches too short. Great. All I could do was laugh...

I'm pretty sure I won't be winning any super mom awards anytime soon.

You know what else is not very fun? Listening to your kids fight over toys. Honestly, sometimes I just want to go hide and see if they can work it out by themselves. Without having to transport someone to the ER. Sometimes, they figure it out, but other times, someone gets punched or kicked. I tell Jonah quite often that he is the big brother, that he needs to set an example, and that he is Vivienne's protector. I even bought him a superman cape so he could be her "hero." This is how that worked out.

I'm not sure which kid is the bigger bully.

Sometimes in life, we are met with the unexpected. It might be a "good" unexpected. Like when the hubby brings home your favorite cupcake (chocolate cream, please and thank you). Or it might be a "not-so-good" unexpected. Like when you put on your favorite pair of heels and realize you now have old people feet and can no longer wear cute shoes. (This may or may not have recently happened to someone I know.)

Anyway, it's impossible to be completely prepared for everything life throws at you. And that's ok. We were never meant to have all the answers. (Although a fully stocked diaper bag would be a good thing to keep handy.)

I recently came across a scripture out of the book of Psalms:

"I cried out, 'I am slipping!' but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer."
Psalm 94:18-19

Isn't that an amazing promise? Even if we feel like we're slipping, like we can't keep up with everything the world thinks we should be, God is always supporting us. When we fall, he catches us. When we doubt our abilities as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, He gives us the hope we need to keep going.

Sometimes all we need to do is ask for wisdom. Because He is faithful to show us what we need in order to prepare us for whatever unexpected thing life throws at us. He is faithful to lead us down the right path. He is faithful to renew our hope. He is faithful to support us.

Hear me on this:

He is faithful.

So, my friends, this is my prayer for you:

"(I'm) asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called - his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance."
Ephesians 1:17-18

(Now go restock that diaper bag.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mercy, Time-Outs, and Chocolate

Recently, a friend mentioned how we should always strive to maintain control of our emotions and that we should extend grace to our children when they frustrate us.

Can I just say that I failed miserably at this last week? (And people who are gentle and self-controlled and have perfectly wonderful, compliant children make me ill.) (But I guess that's not "maintaining control of my emotions...")

Anyway, last week, Peter went out of town from Sunday to Sunday. (He was home for about 24 hours on Thursday, but it didn't really count because he worked all day and had class that night.) While he was gone, I was a wreck.

First of all, let me say that I've never been one of those women who pine after her husband when he's away. I don't stay up all night crying when he's gone. That's just not who I am. Basically throughout our entire relationship, Peter would be home for a month or so, then he would be gone for a bit. In fact, for most of the first year that we dated, he was stationed in Florida for training and I was in grad school in Louisiana. So the long-distance thing was just part of the package. Since we've been married, he has deployed 5 times and has been TDY too many times to count. It's just the way of life in the military and it has always been no big deal for us. In fact, sometimes in the past when he'd been home for an extended period of time, we would even "joke" that it was time for him to go on another trip. (Oh, don't judge me. I know you've all felt that same way about your husband once or twice.)

But something has happened to me over the past year. Maybe it's the addition of a third child. Maybe it's the fact that I'm getting older. I don't know. I just know I'm turning into a sap.

Like last week...

Last Monday, Jonah got sick. Coughing, green sticky snot (sorry for those who don't have kids and are grossed out by that image), and a very painful ear infection. Then Wednesday, Vivi woke up sick. Thursday, Jonah's fever spiked to 104, so, super fun. Whiny kids everywhere. And I don't even want to get into the Brienne drama. Let's just say being a 10 year old girl is hard work. Friday morning I had to call a plumber because, plumbing problems. And also that morning, our thirteen year old dog had a seizure. (Apparently he's fine, by the way, although I felt certain he was going to die while Peter was gone, and what was I supposed to do with that??)

And then of course we had all the normal daily routines: grocery shopping, never-ending laundry, sibling rivalries, bath time (sometimes accompanied by poop in the tub), a hand towel being thrown in the toilet, tantrums over books, forcing/bribing/begging the kids to eat their dinner, etc etc.

All the little things just kept adding up and I kept wondering what would happen next. Will the air conditioning go out? Will the van break down? Nothing would've surprised me.

My hidden stash of chocolate was depleted.

I had just about had enough.

So one afternoon I lost control of my emotions, and I yelled at my kids.

And then the attacks from satan began.

"You are a terrible mother."

"Godly mothers never yell at their children."

"Good mothers love their children and never feel anger towards them."

"Maybe you're not meant to be the mother of these children. They should have a mother who loves them."

"You're scarring your children and they will be in therapy for years because of you."

I felt like satan was attacking my call to motherhood. Have you ever felt like that?

Obviously, guilt is never from God. And I was feeling desperately guilty. Why wasn't I good enough? Why couldn't I control my outbursts? Am I scarring my kids for life?

The Lord convicts us of our shortcomings but He never makes us feel guilty. And He is so faithful to grant grace to us. But I need to be better about giving grace to myself when I fail. No one is perfect. And God doesn't expect us to be perfect. He does, however, want us to strive to be like Him. To love like He loves, to grant mercy when our children mess up, to pick ourselves back up when we feel desperately incapable of raising little humans.

And I think it's important to pray with fervor for our family.

"Father, give me your unconditional love for my kids, even on the hardest days when I don't like them very much."

"Teach me to demonstrate self-control when I feel like I'm falling apart."

"Mold me into Your likeness, Jesus."

Because isn't that really the point? To live like Christ? To completely depend on Him to get us through our days? If we are truly followers of Christ, we should rely on Him for everything. Everything. We can vent our frustrations to Him. He can handle it. He is big enough for our problems. And He will give us patience and love and self-control and joy.

I've been thinking about last week and how I could've reacted differently.

I need to be intentional about spending time with The Lord each morning. Last week I was so tired. Parenting alone can be so exhausting, and I didn't exactly want to get up at 5:45 every morning to read God's Word and spend time with Him in prayer. But on the days when I did get up and have some quiet time, I was calmer and better prepared for whatever was thrown at me.

I need to lower my expectations for the day. Sometimes I wake up and decide that today will be the day I finish that book I've been reading or today I'm going to take a nap or today I'm going to... (you fill in the blank). When I have selfish expectations for the day and they don't come to fruition, I find myself getting frustrated with my kids and with all of their requests for my attention. (I mean, I just want to sit for 20 minutes and catch up on a tv show. Is that asking too much?) But when I start the day with no expectations other than being a good mom and serving my children, we all have a better day.

When I am frustrated, I need to remove myself (or the offending child) from the situation. When I reach a point where I just can't take it anymore,  I need to take a deep breath, count to 10, put myself in timeout, or take the child who's making me crazy to his room for a bit. Just so I can cool down and figure out how to respond appropriately to the offense. Timeouts work wonders. For all of us...

I need to get more rest. Now obviously this isn't always possible. I mean, Vivienne still wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes. (I wonder if she'll still be waking me up at 12:45 a.m. when she's 15. Probably...) However, maybe some nights I need to forget the dishes in the sink and just go to bed at 8:30 in order to ensure that I get a bit more sleep.

I need to gain perspective. Perspective is always a wonderful thing. Life could always be worse and there is always something to be thankful for, even on the most difficult days.

These are just a few ways to regain my composure when my kids decide to frustrate me. I could also threaten Peter so that he won't go out of town anymore (but somehow I think that might backfire on me).

And of course, a secret stash of chocolate never hurts...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Plagues and Prayers

Insomnia is the pits. Especially when my favorite thing to do is sleep.

Lately I have been plagued by sleepless nights. The last time I suffered from insomnia was when Peter was deployed for a year. He was getting shot at and bombs were exploding all around him so I think it was sort of acceptable for me to stay up, worrying about his safety.

But now, there is no explanation.

My body is so exhausted. For the first thirteen months of Vivienne's life, I didn't sleep. She was up every couple hours to eat so by the time I fell asleep from one feeding, it was time for another one. By the time she finally started sleeping through the night, I had forgotten how wonderful it was to sleep seven straight hours.

But lately, I've had significant difficulty sleeping. I just can't seem to shut my mind off. Why is that? And why do men have absolutely no trouble sleeping? It's irritating. Peter can fall aleep anywhere at any time. But me? Even on the days when I'm completely exhausted and I try to sneak in a little nap, it's a no go.

And Peter has no difficulty tuning things out when he's sleeping. Last night, Vivienne decided to wake up at 1:20 crying, "Book! Book!" You know how most kids sleep with stuffed animals or soft blankets? Well, Vivi sleeps with books. And sometimes she loses the book in the middle of the night so I have to go find it. That's what happened last night.

After listening to her cry on the baby monitor, I finally got up, stumbled to her room and felt around in the dark on my hands and knees until I finally found the stupid book. I gave it back to her, she laid back down, and she fell right to sleep. I then stumbled back to my room, crawled in the bed, and bam! I'm wide awake. I tossed and turned while Peter snored beside me. Irritating! At 2:30, I finally decided to get up and read the Bible.

And hey, you know what's not a cure for insomnia? Reading about wars and false gods and plagues of tumors and gouging people's eyes out. Thanks for the nightmares, Samuel...

I think I posted a few months ago that I was praying through the Bible for Brienne. I don't think I truly grasped the enormity of this endeavor when I began. Let me just say this - I'm currently praying through 1 Samuel in the Old Testament and Mark in the New Testament.

It's slow going, people.

There aren't a whole lot of verses that I can pray from the OT. How about this: "God said that He will give you a baby so don't let your handmaiden sleep with your husband." Or maybe this: "Try to avoid selling your brother to some gypsies just because you think Daddy likes him better." I'm telling you, some of those stories are crazier than reality TV. There were some screwed up families back in the day.

And there are some screwed up families now, too. Just this morning I was watching the news and they were advertising a new reality show. (As if we need another reality tv program.) I didn't hear the entire promo but I think the basic premise was this - the grandson became a huge YouTube star and decided to move the whole family to Hollywood from Georgia. I don't know how he became an "Internet Sensation" and I'm not sure I want to know. I mean, seriously, where do they find these people? But as I was listening to the crazy talk, all I could think was that that family needs Jesus.

Y'all, I can not begin to tell you how many things I've done in my life that I would change. So many things that I'm embarrassed and humiliated about. Things I would rather my kids never know about me. And I can pretty much guarantee that they won't find out about those things unless I tell them. But what about these reality stars? In ten or fifteen years, will they be proud of the choices they've made? Or will they one day be ashamed to let their grandchildren watch their escapades?

Honestly, I'm embarrassed for them.

But more than likely, I will never come in contact with a reality tv star. I will, however, come in contact with people who need Jesus.

Today, I took Jonah to a play date with some other children with autism. As I sat around, watching these precious children, I heard some constant themes from their moms. Frustration with school systems, difficulty getting appropriate therapies for their children, hopelessness, and physical and emotional exhaustion. As I sat with these new friends, I realized that they need Jesus.

Who else is able to give you peace in a storm? Who else is able to bring you out of the pit of depression? Who else is able to give you wisdom to know what is best for your child?

Only Jesus. Precious Jesus.

I've been praying for opportunities to tell others about Christ, and I believe God put this group of women in my life so that I can show them the Jesus that I know. These women realize that I understand exactly what they're going through because I also have a child with autism. We can relate to each other and share our concerns. But I can do something more - I can give them hope. I can introduce them to Jesus.

So tonight, when I can't sleep, I'll pray through the next part of 1 Samuel and Mark for Brienne. But I'll also be praying for these women - that The Lord will open their hearts to Him and that I will be bold in telling them about Christ. Will you pray with me?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Someone Is Watching

I learn something new from my kids all the time.

I've learned to stop and enjoy the rain pouring from the sky.

I've learned to take a break from chores and run around the house, giggling.

I've learned to relax and enjoy a little cartoon time with them.

I've learned to immediately empty the little potty before Vivienne pours the pee out all over the playroom carpet. 

Yes, they teach me something new. Every. Day.

When Brienne was three years old, she could throw an unbelievable tantrum. I remember thinking that her behavior couldn't get much worse. Then along came Jonah with all his issues and he made Brienne look like an angel. But nothing could compare to Vivienne. Don't let her precious little face and sweet smile fool you. She can punch you in the mouth while smiling innocently. She can steal a toy from Jonah and then come to me and tattle on him! She can throw every piece of food on the floor while looking you directly in the eye. She is strong-willed and won't back down from a challenge.

But she is also watching me. Looking to me in order to see how she should act. Just the other day, I was wearing some flip flops and she decided she needed some too. I found an old pair of Jonah's and put them on her feet. She was so proud of herself. I was standing in the playroom wearing my flip flops, leaning against the doorframe with my arms crossed. She looked at me, and then she stood in the exact same position that I was standing in - leaning against the door frame in her flip flops, arms crossed. It was so cute and hilarious. My mom and I giggled about it. But in reality, it scared me a little. I mean, she is truly watching everything I say and do. Everything.

When I lose my temper, she is watching.

When I'm too exhausted to get off the couch, she is watching.

When I choose my iPhone instead of choosing to play with her, she is watching.

When I cry, she is watching.

When I choose despair instead of joy, she is watching.

My kids are watching every time I mess up. But they are also watching when I (occasionally) get things right. And sometimes they surprise me.

Like when Brienne asked all her friends to donate shoes for orphans instead of bringing gifts for her 10th birthday.

Like when Vivienne serves Jonah by taking him a snack or giving him his favorite toy.

Like when Jonah displays empathy toward Vivienne. If Jonah has a cup of juice or a snack of goldfish but Vivienne doesn't have anything, Jonah will start crying because he thinks Vivienne needs what he's got. And at first, I thought his crying was sweet, but after listening to the whining multiple times a day, it started to become a little annoying. (I mean, clearly, Vivienne does not want her juice. She just threw it down five times.)

But as I analyzed the situation, I realized that Jonah just wants Vivienne to enjoy the same things that he enjoys. He doesn't want her to miss out on the goodness that he is experiencing.

And it got me thinking. How often do I cry out for the poor? For those that don't have a roof over their heads or food on their tables. What about my neighbors who don't have the joy of Christ? Do I have empathy for them? Do I even care about the problems of those around me? Of those around the world?

So many times I find myself drawn to people who are just like me. People who don't have a lot of "needs." People who already love Christ so they don't need me to tell them about His joy.

But I know there are other people watching me. The people on the sidelines. The young mom whose child has autism and she has no hope for his future. The homeless man on the street corner who sees me walk by in my "Jesus loves you" t-shirt. The little girl down the street whose parents never seem to care where she is. These people are watching to see if I'm going to lend a hand. To see if I am who I say I am. They are looking for Christ in me.

And here's the thing - I don't want those people to just be "sideline people" in my life. I want to show them Christ's love. Because He loves me and gives me grace and mercy, I am called to do the same for those around me. James 4:17 says that "if anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them." What an amazing and convicting verse!

I am praying for opportunities to show the love of Christ in my neighborhood and in our community. I want to be a light in the darkness. I want to help give people hope in their despair. I need to show Christ to those around me.

Because someone is always watching.