Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mercy and Peace and Grace

Is it just me or does it seem like life just gets more and more chaotic? I feel like, on most days, Peter and I just see each other in passing. We have so many things going on, and I think lots of other families feel the same way. OT for Jonah on Mondays and Tuesdays, swim team for Brienne on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, piano/guitar lessons for Brie on Wednesdays, and night classes for Peter on Mondays and Wednesdays. Even when everything goes smoothly, it makes for a crazy week. But when things don't go as planned, it can cause a lot of stress.

A couple weeks ago, one of those "unplanned" days happened and it almost sent me over the edge.

Brienne had an eye appointment, and since Peter was at work, I had to take all three kids to the eye doctor's office. This, in itself, can be a stressful thing, since you never know how Jonah (or Vivienne, for that matter) will behave. On this particular day, all the kids were pretty well-behaved. Until they depleted the juice and snack supply that I had brought with us. And once the snacks were gone, everything was fair game.  The little kids thought it would be fun to spin the eyeglass display and try on all the glasses. Fun for them. Not fun for mama. Thankfully, Brie quickly chose the pair of glasses that she wanted and we rushed out of the office.

Next, we had to go all the way across town to the base for flu shots. But before we could head that way, we had to stop at home to replenish our snack supply. (Yes, I stuff my kids with snacks when we have to sit somewhere and wait. When they eat, they are quiet and still. Judge me if you wish, but I promise that you would rather my kids be eating than climbing on the furniture. Or screaming because I won't let them climb on the furniture.) Anyway, we stopped at home for a potty break and snacks, then headed to the immunization clinic. We had to wait a bit, but the kids were fine and they willingly and happily got the flumist.

By this time, it was getting close to lunchtime, so we rushed back home so I could feed the kids. We were home for approximately 43 minutes before we had to head back across town for Jonah's OT session. OT usually lasts about an hour, but on this particular day, it ran over by about 30 minutes because they were working on some new skills. By the time we got out of there and headed home, I knew there would be no time for Jonah and Vivienne to take naps. Nap time is my saving grace, so when we miss it, it is bad.

On the way home from OT, Jonah was happily singing and Vivienne was unhappily screaming. This was our conversation.

Vivi: Jonah, stop singing! Mommy! I can't hear!
Me: I know, baby. It's ok.
Vivi: No! Don't say baby!
Jonah: (still singing)
Vivi: I! Can't! Hear!
Me: Vivienne, stop screaming.
Vivi: No! I can't! I THE BOSS!

Aaah. Can you feel the tension in my neck? Even now, two weeks later, I can feel my blood pressure going up. It's delightful.

So, I listened to that the whole way home.

Once we got home, I had to get supper in the oven and then we rushed out the door again to take Brie to swim team practice. We headed back across town and dropped her off, then headed back home. But guess what? Both little kids fell asleep 3 minutes before we got home. Not cool. So I left them in the car while I went back and forth in and out of the house to finish cooking supper. (Is that illegal? I hope not...) Jonah and Vivienne both woke up about half an hour later so I carried them inside and sat them down at the table for supper. Neither one was in a very good mood, as you can imagine. In fact, sweet Vivi screamed through the entire meal. But I was just relieved that we were now home for the evening and we could relax a bit.


After taking four bites of food, Peter texted me with the joyful news that he had a flat tire and I was going to have to go pick up Brienne from swim practice. This is usually his job. And I had to leave RIGHT NOW or I would be late. So, once again, I loaded up my supremely happy children and headed, you guessed it, BACK ACROSS TOWN.

The whole twenty minute drive consisted of Jonah and Vivienne arguing about who was dirty and who wasn't dirty and who needed a bath and who didn't need a bath. And Jonah was crying because he needed another snack. Sorry, buddy. Snack time is over.

We picked up Brienne, headed home, and then it was time for baths and bed. Thank goodness the day was over!

Now, generally our days aren't that crazy. This particular day was a doozy, but most days just consist of your normal busyness that comes with being a parent. But recently I've realized that I freakin' lose my mind around 6:00 every evening. I can handle the temper tantrums and the eight million trips to the potty and the rushing from here to there up until a point.

And that point is apparently 6:00 p.m.

Because by 6:00, it's bath time for both littles, and then the dreaded bedtime routine follows shortly afterwards. I look forward to bedtime all day. (Don't tell me that you don't feel the same way.) But the actual bedtime routine makes me nutso. The kids bounce off the walls while I try to read a story, then everybody has to go potty, then I have to put diapers on both littles, and then we say prayers, and then I attempt to get the kids in the bed. Easier said than done.

It is not my favorite thing.

At the beginning of the new year, I asked the Lord to show me a Scripture that could be our verse for the year. Sort of like our motto. Last year's verse was a good one and I'll write more about how that verse came to fruition in another post, but I was needing something for this year.

The verse he gave me was Jude 2:
"May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you."

Isn't that a great verse? I felt like it particularly applied to me because I have been in need of some mercy. And peace. And grace, for goodness sakes!

I need mercy. Mercy from the Lord when I sin. Mercy from myself when I mess up. Mercy from Peter when I offend him. Mercy from my kids when I deliberately make them angry. And I need to show mercy too. Mercy to my kids when they make me crazy. Mercy to Peter when he makes me crazy.

I need peace. I need God's perfect peace. Peace that surpasses understanding. Even in the midst of chaos and crisis and freak out moments, I need to feel His peace and to know that He is with me. He knew what he was doing when He made me a mom to my kids, and I need to remember that truth.

I need grace. We all make mistakes. And I am so thankful that Christ doesn't punish me for my mistakes. For my temper. For my exhaustion. But just like I need grace, my kids need grace too. They are still young and sometimes I think they should act like they are older than they are. They love to play and be silly and sometimes they need to have a good old temper tantrum. I need to give them grace when they get out of control. And I need to remember that they are only little once.

This year, 2015, I want our home to be filled with mercy and peace and grace. I want our family to love each other and forgive each other and be an example of Christ to each other. It may be chaotic and loud and crazy, but we can still feel Christ's presence in our home and in our hearts if we allow Him to fill our souls. That's what I want from this year.

Friends, may mercy and peace and grace be multiplied to you, too.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

13 Things I Learned From Running the Disney Half-Marathon

I took Brienne to Orlando this weekend so that I could run the Disney half-marathon. We also went to cheer on my dear friend Angie who ran the full marathon. She is superwoman.

Here are a few things I learned (just in case you're thinking of doing a Disney race):

1. You should always run a 10k or a half-marathon during the year leading up to the Disney half so that Disney can verify your time. This is very important. Disney doesn't just take your word for it that you'll run a 2:15 half. You must have proof. I didn't have proof. Thus I was stuck in the last corral with all the walkers and the "I've never run before!" people. I was literally shoving people out of my way, running in the grass for about half the race, and I even ran into the back of one dude because he stopped right in front of me.

2. To go along with #1, don't get stuck in Corral P. Seriously. You'll hear things like, "Thanks for coming to P with me. Get it? Pee?" Um, yeah. It's 4:10 a.m. My sense of humor hasn't woken up yet.

In addition to the clever jokes from my fellow "runners," the dj wouldn't let our corral start the race until we had a sing-along. "We saved the sing-along for you, Corral P!" I don't know about you, but singing "Let It Go" at 6:35 a.m. while the professional runners are already freaking finished with the race is not cool. (See what I did there?)

3. People will take pictures of anything.
"Hey! There's the monorail. I know I've been riding it all week while I've been here at Disney, but I'm running now so I'll take a picture of it."
"Hey, there's a dj!" Um, yeah, he's playing music. That's what djs do.
"Hey, there's a Mickey Mouse sign!" As if there aren't 5,853 more Mickey signs...
People, just because we now have a camera at our fingertips at all times does not mean we need a picture of everything we see. I mean, what are you really going to do with a picture of running shoes that someone left on the side of the road?

4. Cinderella's Castle is the money shot. Seriously. If you want a picture, that's the one you should take. I almost cried when I entered Magic Kingdom and saw that castle. I'm such a hopeless romantic.  And wouldn't you know it? My dang phone was jacked up and I couldn't get a picture. I should've gotten one of the 3643 people around me to text me a pic.

5. Blue Powerade is nasty. That is all.

6. I don't have patience for ridiculousness while I'm running. Look, if you want to hold hands and take a stroll with your significant other, that's great. Just don't do it in a flipping race. There are some of us who would actually like to run.

7. Some people are multi-talented. I passed up one dude who was video blogging or vlogging or whatever you call it when you video yourself talking about what you're doing. He was "running" and documenting every single thing. Good for him. He'll remember that race forever. But I wonder if he continued doing it for the remaining 12.9 miles...

8. I might have anger issues. I wanted to punch that vlogger in the face because his commentary was annoying. And I really wanted to push everyone out of my way. It's a RUN, people. I might need counseling. Or medication.

9. To be a runner, you have to be slightly insane. How else can you explain waking up at 2:45 a.m. to catch a bus at 3:30 in order to wait in your corral for almost three hours? (And just so you know, in the three other half-marathons I've run, I've never had to get up that early.) Speaking of insanity, there were three girls (I'll call them girls even though they were adults, married with kids, because they were waaaay younger than I am); anyway, they were standing near me in our corral so we struck up a
convo. I'm friendly like that. They had never run in any type of race; not a 10k or even a 5k.
Basically, they woke up one day and decided it might be fun to run the Disney half even though they had never run before. Who does that? And to top it off, one of them had a Walmart sack full of Gu. Like 45 packs to share among the three of them. And they had never had Gu before. That was a train wreck waiting to happen right there. (If you don't know what Gu is, Google it. It's exactly what it sounds like. Except you eat it.)
Here's one more example of insanity. There was a group in my corral - two guys and three girls. The girls were dressed as Mrs. Potts, the little teacup Chip, and the candlestick from Beauty and the Beast. The guys were Gaston and Belle. Seriously, the Belle dude had a full Belle gown on, complete with a long tulle skirt and a crown. It was amazing. But the best part? As soon as we crossed the start line, "Belle" headed for the woods to pee. I have to say that there's something slightly disturbing and yet oddly fascinating about watching a "princess" stand up and urinate on a tree. It takes all kinds...

10. Runners are a friendly group of people. This isn't something that I learned from this race. I've always known this to be true. But at Disney, everyone is super happy and encouraging.

11. My body can't handle long distances. No more half-marathons for me. I know I've said this after each of my other three halfs, but I mean it this time. My knees hurt, the tips of my toes hurt, and 4 is my favorite number so I'm good. If you ever hear me mention that I might want to run another half, please, please, please talk me out of it. I'm begging you.

12. If you want to run a fun race, this is the one to do. There were a couple boring stretches but overall the course was great. Running through Magic Kingdom and Epcot was so much fun! And if you don't care about your time, you can stop along the course to take pictures with all the characters.

13. Much like life, you can't sprint an entire half-marathon. (I mean, I guess if you're a pro, you can. But I'm not a pro.) And the unexpected sometimes happens. You run into someone. You have to stop for a potty break. There are more people than you expected. No matter how well you train, you can't anticipate everything that may happen. And that's ok. Take life as it comes and deal with what you can.

I can check the Disney Half-Marathon off my list and now I never have to do it again. I'm glad I was able to do it though, and I'm especially glad I got to see one of my friends complete her goal of running a marathon. That was truly inspiring.

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Hebrews 12:1