Yellow Cars

Our family has been noticing a lot of yellow cars lately.

You see, as my kids are getting older, I'm learning more and more about just how important it is to instill in them an “attitude of gratitude.” For some reason I imagined they'd come out of the womb knowing how blessed they were.

I've perfected the art of clearing my throat loudly after handing them something and not receiving a reply. I've begun to read “Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World” by Kristen Welch (which I highly recommend, by the way, even if you don't have kids of your own). And I've been trying to work other hypothetical kids' stories in throughout the day; for instance, the “Did you know some kids don't have fill-in-the-blank...” or “Some kids don't get a home cooked meal very often if at all...”

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So when my sister told me about the yellow car idea, I was eager to try it out – a concept that I could start implementing right away and wasn't over complicated. The idea behind it is simple: Yellow cars are somewhat rare, right? But like anything, once you start looking for them, you see them everywhere. The same can be said of focusing on what we can be thankful (or not) for: the more you do it, the more you “see” it. Therefore, each time you spot a yellow car, you are supposed to think of or say something out loud that you're thankful for.

At first it was great – the kids loved the “game” and the hardest part about it was limiting them to just one single thing each time we saw one. But soon the devil stepped in and arguments began about who would say it first, who said too many things, who didn't want to go last. It got so bad that we now limit our time of thankfulness to only one yellow car per trip, as that was really all I could handle to referee from the driver's seat.

But this isn't really a post about my kids. It's about me.

Because there are the days when I just don't feel like “playing”. You know, the ones when you feel dumped on by everyone? Unappreciated, over-worked, ugly, poor, destitute, rejected, inadequate, entitled. By no coincidence that it is on those days that we seem to see the most yellow cars. And the kids will always inevitably say, “Mom, it's your turn!” Great.

I have a confession to make: on days like the one I just described above, I don't want to see the good parts. In fact, there have been times on a day like that when I have seen a yellow car and have not even pointed it out, praying that no one else would spot it. My mind is not into focusing on the good – it's too busy seeing the bad and my sinful nature wants to stay there.

Because, you see, some days I'm bitter. I'm mad at the world and maybe even a little frustrated at the Big Man, too. And for one reason or another, saying “thanks” for something else seems counter intuitive. How can I hang on to my bitterness and also show gratitude?

The answer is I can't.

But the devil wants us to. He wants to take all the good in our lives and cover it with the bad. He wants us to focus on all that isn't going as we planned, all that we don't have, all of our expectations that aren't met in our relationships and our jobs and our families and ourselves. As this year ends and we reflect on all that's happened, he wants us to see the failures, the illness, the losses and none of the ways that God has already or intends to bless us through them.

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And when sitting at the Thanksgiving table this weekend, the Great Thief of all happiness is going to try and fill your head with all of the aspects of this holiday (like all others) that are wrong. The relative that you wish would stop talking. The loneliness that sweeps over you when you look around at everyone else who “has someone” and you once again notice that you're the odd man (or woman) out. The frustration you feel when no one else understands your children's schedules and how important it is that dinner is served on time. The heartache that once again bubbles to the surface when you hold the new baby of your sister and long to see yourself in a child's face. The fact that your boyfriend always seems to say the wrong thing around your dad, leaving you to step in and make everything ok. The exhaustion you feel after spending the entire meal fighting with your four-year old, desperate to get him to take just one bite of the feast before him and stop wrinkling his nose. The happy face you once again put on because you wouldn't dare show weakness and admit that you're actually in the pit of depression and don't know why. And the list goes on.

Or maybe you won't even get to sit down at a Thanksgiving meal this year. Maybe you're working at the hospital, clinic or care facility taking care of those who don't have the opportunity to spend the holiday in their own homes. Maybe you were mandated to help cover the Black Friday mayhem (which now starts on Thursday in many places) and you'll look at those shoppers with disdain as you think about the meal you're missing. Maybe you're far from family and friends and would give anything to feel a warm hug or share a laugh with someone you love. Maybe you're finding yourself in circumstances you never thought you'd be in and tomorrow will feel just like another day to dread.

Whatever your situation is, there will inevitably be the not-so-great parts. Because unfortunately, we will never know a holiday without sin this side of heaven. But do you know what else? There's also gonna be a whole lot of good. Maybe it won't be anything big. Maybe you'll actually have to look for it. But whatever it is, be determined to find it and don't let the Deceiver steal your joy. Refuse to believe the lie that holding onto your bitterness will somehow make you happier in the end. For your heavenly Father has incredible plans for you and He gives each and every one of us experiences and things everyday for which we can be thankful. For He alone can see the bigger picture and knows how each moment of our lives fits into it.

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So the next time you see a yellow car, practice gratitude. Say it out loud, even if you're the only one in the car. Even if you don't feel like it, challenge yourself to find something about the day, about your life, about your self that you can be grateful for. Trust me, it's not going to hurt ;)

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.’
— Lamentations 3:22-24
Bio - Mel.png

The Leftovers

It had been a long stretch of less-than-smooth bedtimes. Ever since our boys decided to play Houdini and escape their cribs months before, the whole bedtime process had taken on a life of its own. While we kept a gate at the doorway to their bedroom (my husband laughed at me but the visions of one of my boys wandering out of his room in the dark and tumbling head first down the stairs were just too great to bear), this didn't mean that they physically stayed in their beds or tried to hide the fact that they disagreed it was time for sleeping.

However, besides the occasional need to be tucked in "one more time" (particularly by my little Michael), things had been getting steadily better.

And then there was "the stink bug incident".

If you don't have much experience with these somewhat disgusting-looking, annoying little creatures, consider yourself lucky. They seem to hang around sunny windows and somehow find their way inside. At any rate, one happened to fly into/touch/bother Michael one night while he stood at the gate for his "last tuck" -- having been stung by a bee out in the yard only days prior, he freaked. I took pity on him. After all, I loathed they things myself and being touched by one (in the dark, no less) would've been difficult for me to shake, too.

So I did what any mother with half-a-heart would do and I laid next to him in his bed, singing "Amazing Grace", "In Christ Alone", "Silent Night" and any other hymn I could think of until he forgot about the bug enough to fall asleep. By the time I returned downstairs, my husband had finished cleaning up from dinner and was already asleep in his favorite chair in the living room.

The next night proceeded much the same, the memory of the stinkbug trauma continuing to cause my Michael to need extra help falling asleep. My husband took one for the team and after several trips upstairs, decided it was easier to lay on the floor for a bit between our twin sons' beds while Michael settled in and fell asleep.

The troublesome nights continued long after the stinkbug memory had faded. Night after night I'd lay there, singing hymns, desperate for my son to fall asleep.

They're only little once, I kept telling myself.

Soon there will come a day when they won't ask me to sing and they'll have grown so big that there won't be room for me in the bed next to them, not that they'd even want there.

But soon, my patience began to wear thin. After several weeks of this routine, I was worn and tired. And my son's "demands" were only getting stronger and more involved. I needed a break. I intentionally left my boys' room before my husband (I am always the one who lingers) ad I heard him tell the boys that he would be the one coming back up the stairs on this particular night if they called.

And a small part of my heart broke in two.

As I kissed my girls goodnight in their room next door, I heard my husband return to my sons' doorway with a gentle yet stern reminder to get back in bed. As I walked down the hallway to the top of the stairs, I expected to see my son's brown eyes peering out from behind the door with an adorable plea for me to tuck him in and sing "just one song".

But I didn't. The door was closed. All was quiet.

And my heart broke again.

Downstairs, I found my husband dutifully starting the dishes. I looked at him and then at the clock. Was I really seeing him in an upright position and prior to 9pm? It felt like it had been months.

"So, did that go a little bit smoother for you?" he asked.

"Yes..." I said, undisguised reluctance in my tone. "It's so tough," I continued, "because so much of myself is saying: Just go in there. Sing the hymns. Give a few extra hugs and kisses. Fall asleep next to him. Because I know that day is coming when I can't.

My husband gave me a half-smile; the kind that seemed to say I love how tirelessly you love our kids.

"But I've missed you," he said.

I stood there for a moment, stunned and perhaps a bit ashamed. By continually, night after night, saying "yes" to my son's increasingly long rituals for falling asleep, had I actually been saying "no" to my husband?

Now, believe you me, I will be the first to tell you to sing the songs, give the extra snuggles, tuck them in "one more time". There will no doubt be times as a parent when our kids need us more than others -- embrace those times, enjoy them, be there. And hopefully, your spouse, like mine, will support you in those times.

But it's the staying in balance that us "tirelessly loving mothers" need to keep in mind.

Are we meeting the needs of our children? Are we showing them love as much as we are able? I think these are questions we ask ourselves quite often. But what about our spouse?

I often think about the short amount of time I have left with my children still "needing" and "wanting" me in the way that they do now. I figure there will be time for my husband and I once the kids have grown -- when I'm not tucking multiple times and singing half of the hymnal each night. But the truth is, there's no guarantee we'll get that opportunity years and years down the road. And without him, I wouldn't even be a mother. Isn't our love for each other which started this family in the first place? And if I don't take the time to invest in our relationship now, that could be one uncomfortable "empty nest" scenario.

As I look ahead at the kids getting older and becoming more aware, I realize the utmost importance of staying connected with my husband and functioning as a team. It is essential that they see me making him a priority so that one day they, too, may be blessed with a thriving marriage -- one that stems from an incredible friendship and partnership.

So the next time someone less than four feet tall is clamoring for your attention, ask yourself: Is anyone sick or ill? If not, does this require my immediate response? Is this within my reasonable boundary to tend to right now? And then, once you've made your decision, turn and hug your husband. He'll be glad you did :)

 

 

 

When Does it Get Easier?

I slumped into my favorite Northwoods chair with a thud and my now cold coffee and glanced at the clock on the mantle: 10:45am.

Where had the morning gone?

Here I was in one of the most astoundingly beautiful, serene places on earth, the sun lighting up the golden tamaracks like a harvest across the river and all I could think of was how amazing it would be to go back to bed. Feeding and dressing my four kids every morning was enough of an undertaking at home, let alone in a new place with new distractions and new places to sit at breakfast and new arguments to be had about who sat in which new place.

When does it get easier?

This was a question I had asked myself countless times before. In the midst of those twilight feedings. While scrubbing blue marker from my freshly-painted living room wall. When feeling the hard floor press against my back as I struggled to get comfortable on the floor of my daughters' room during yet another thunderstorm. As I played referee in yet another argument over who last sat behind me in the van (just when and why did that become a "thing"?).

When I was a new parent and my girls were still babies (less than 6 months old), many of my thoughts began, "I'm sure it will get easier when _____________." Whether it was a coping mechanism to get me through some tough days or I actually believed it to be true, I cannot say for sure. Perhaps it was a little bit of both. But I mean, c'mon, isn't it the truth? It'll definitely be easier when they can walk on their own and I don't have to carry them everywhere. (Translate: They can run incredibly fast in opposite directions, especially when in an incredibly busy parking lot.) Or...it'll certainly be easier when they can feed themselves and I don't have to constantly think about nursing or preparing and packing bottles. (Translate: Food will be everywhere which will result in the need for more frequent baths and much more frequent vacuuming or the acquisition of an incredibly hungry pooch.) Or...it'll feel so much easier when the older ones go to school and my amount of "free-time" increases. (Translate: An exorbitant amount of paperwork, permission slips, book orders, lunch tickets, homework and over-tired attitudes are brought home on a daily basis, requiring enough organization to constitute a full-time job.) Or perhaps my favorite: it'll be so much easier when my children can talk and just tell me what they need or feel. (Translate: Lots of unasked for opinions and unpleasant whines can be heard when decisions are made without first consulting said children.)  

In my short six years as a mother (short years, long days), I've learned that the illusion that the journey of parenthood somehow gets less intense as your children grow is a farce. Don't fall for it.

I hate to tell you this, any "new mom" readers out there: it doesn't get easier.

The challenges just change.

As a fellow mom, I never want to sound like the one who's "been there done that" and knows so much better than you. I've heard too many times moms of older children say to those of little kids "Oh, just wait! You wish for them to get older but let me tell you, I'd much rather deal with tantrums and sleepless nights than curfews and teenage mood swings." I've also found myself wanting to tell the brand new mom with her single baby, sleeping soundlessly in her carseat "Don't you dare tell me how tired you are! Do you see these four monkeys I run after all day?" But why do we do this? Don't we remember how it felt to be at that stage of parenthood, how the days stretched before us and the thought of going to the bathroom uninterrupted seemed like an unattainable dream? None of us have it harder than the other simply because of the stage we and our children are in -- we all have our own challenges and struggles regardless.

As I watched from the window that day, sipping lukewarm coffee, I breathed a silent prayer. I asked God to help me see my children for the blessing that they are. I asked Him to show me the joy in the current stages of my kids and help me not to "wish away" the day we were given in hopes of an easier tomorrow. And that's when He reminded me: I'd only been woken up once the night before by one of my son's because he needed to use the bathroom (a habit we'd been working on quite diligently). I'd given my kids breakfast that morning which they fed to themselves and didn't come from me or a bottle. I was currently sitting in a way-too-comfy chair, still in my pajamas, watching them play at the wood's edge. Sure, there were a whole new set of challenges before me which I felt completely unprepared to handle... but there were also many others which had gotten easier over the years.

And God had equipped me for them all.

Jahleel Is Wonderfully Made // Interview

Hello! My name is Kallie, and I have been married to my wonderful husband, David, for nine and a half years. We have lived in five states since our wedding, and currently live out in the Pacific Northwest region, where David serves as a pastor. We have been the deeply blessed parents of our son, Jahleel, for just over two years. We adopted him from Hong Kong in 2014, and are in the process of adopting our second child, a little boy waiting in China. 

Jahleel has a number of ongoing medical issues, most of which fall under the umbrella of his main diagnosis of a paternal 15q11.2-14 genetic deletion, sometimes known as “expanded Prader-Willi syndrome.” He is one of just a few known cases in the world with this genetic deletion. He is non-ambulatory, non-verbal, and can only be fed via g-tube. Jahleel uses a bipap machine overnight and for naps due to severe obstructive sleep apnea, and wears braces on his hands and feet. My little boy sees 12 doctors in 14 different medical specialties, and goes to therapy six times per week with four different therapists. He has a charming smile and a social, laid-back personality!

What has God taught you through Jahleel's special needs?

God has used this special needs parenting journey to teach me many important things! When you have a child with a disability, the challenges are unique. I have really seen how His strength is made perfect in my weaknesses. Because of the unique challenges we have faced, I have a much deeper level of compassion and respect for others. Also, seeing Jahleel’s excitement at simple joys in life has made me more thankful for our many blessings.

This could probably be its own post, but I have truly seen that God provides – whether through financial provision with the medical bills, a calm attitude when Jahleel is in pain, the energy to get through another long day of medical and therapy appointments, tube feeds, medications, and lifting my 32-lb. child. The Lord has given us the resolve and mental toughness of hearing hard diagnoses, having one good cry, and moving on. He has put some dear, wonderful friends in my life who are also moms through special needs adoptions.

Most importantly, having a child with special needs helps fix my eyes on heaven. It would be so easy to get caught up in constantly wondering if my son will ever walk, talk, or eat by mouth. Because of my faith, I can remind myself daily that my son is baptized, he hears God’s Word, and that nothing else truly matters in this life.

 

What kind of struggles does Jahleel have because of his disability?

With Jahleel’s severe low muscle tone, many ordinary tasks are really hard for him. Movement is an enormous challenge for him; he is currently limited to rolling. He is not able to eat anything by mouth. His throat muscles are so weak that he cannot swallow safely and will aspirate. Sleeping is not simple for him. He is a great sleeper, but he must wear a bipap to keep his airway from obstructing itself. Jahleel tires quite easily because it takes much more effort for his to use move body than it does for a person with normal muscle tone.

Communicating is also tough for Jahleel. He currently doesn’t have any words at all and attempts to tell us things with gestures. Try as we may, we often just can’t understand what he wants or needs.

He also endures a fair amount of pain on a very regular basis. Jahleel needs blood draws every few months. He certainly gets sore from all his hard work at therapy. We have to give him a daily hormone shot every night. I change out his g-tube button every few months, which is painful for him. He’s had about a dozen surgeries. Anesthesia tends to give him emergence delirium, and he has night terrors for days or weeks afterward. We’ve been told it’s the toddler version of PTSD.

 

What are your Jahleel’s strengths?  What does he enjoy doing?

Jahleel’s greatest strength is his happy personality! He is a joyful little boy and very laid-back, with one of the most charming smiles I’ve ever seen. He loves being out and around other people. I describe him as a “music and movement” kid. Music can instantly calm him if he’s upset. (He particularly loves Adele’s voice). As Jahleel slowly learns how to use his voice, he is trying to sing. It is adorable! He loves watching moving scenery while riding in the car or his stroller. Other things he enjoys are water (baths and swimming), the hair dryer, church and Sunday school, swinging, lights, Wheel of Fortune, playing “ball” (rolling it back and forth) and Baby Einstein videos.

Jahleel is also tough. He doesn’t cry at all for shots, blood draws, or IV starts anymore. He is very cooperative with all the appointments he has to go to. I am very proud of his bravery and how he makes the best of his circumstances.


 

How do you keep fed spiritually?

It took me awhile to figure out that reading Scripture before bed like I used to just wasn’t working anymore. I was too exhausted at the end of the day, yet my mind was still going a million miles a minute! I eventually figured out that listening to Bible readings or devotions is a much better fit for me now. The WELS mobile app has daily Bible readings and devotions that you can either listen to, or read. I use those often. Also, the ESV Bible has a “listen” option which is also a great Spiritual tool for me. We also frequently listen to hymns in the car.

 

How does Jahleel receive spiritual enrichment?

Jahleel was baptized on his “Gotcha Day,” in spring of 2014, which created his saving faith. (read David's guest blog post here). His faith continues to be fed whenever he hears God’s Word. Daily, we read a Bible story to him before bed and say prayers. He is often at my side when I listen to Scripture readings. We attend church regularly. Let me tell you, we could all learn a lesson from Jahleel – he LOVES church! He gets so excited to be there. He will even cry if we happen to drive by church and don’t pull in! He also gets to attend Sunday School, and is always excited about that.

How has your church family actively been a help to you? 

I can think of a few specific ways that our church has helped our family.

The first is by their willingness to include Jahleel in Sunday School. I would completely understand if they were uncomfortable with his feeding tube and lack of mobility, but they love having him, and he loves his class! It is also a blessing for me to be able to attend Bible study.

The second was the kindness of a dear friend (a church member) after Jahleel had surgery earlier this year and had to spend the night in the pediatric ICU afterward. Jahleel had night terrors all night long, and I didn’t sleep at all. My friend texted me the next morning, offered to run to the store for anything we needed, and brought us dinner that night. It was such a relief to not have to worry about cooking that night, or leaving the house for the next few days!

 

What are some other ways can we support families of children with special needs? 

In general, there are many ways that friends can support families of children with special needs:

  • First and foremost is to pray for them.
    The special needs parenting life is rich in blessings, but also full of very unique challenges. Loneliness comes by easily in our world, and the challenges to our faith are abundant.
     
  • The second is to understand that scheduling is hard for us.

    My son’s schedule is busier than that of many adults, and it wears us all out. It’s hard for us to leave our son – we only have a few baby-sitters who know his care well enough. Day trips away from home require much packing and planning with tube feeds and medications, and we are limited to activities that are wheelchair-accessible. All too often, things just don’t work out. But please keep inviting us, because we truly do need a break sometimes!
     
  • Practically speaking, I would advise to just ask how you can help (especially when a child is hospitalized or has a sudden ER trip).

Special needs moms are all different. Some moms would love a helper to come to doctor’s appointments, some would love a volunteer to do a quick grocery run so we don’t have to deal with transfers, wheelchairs, and packing medical equipment; some of us are looking for people willing to be trained to baby-sit our children with medical needs, and some of us maybe want to go out for coffee and talk about anything not medical for a couple hours!

  • Finally, I would ask that people please choose their words wisely.

It is a dagger to our hearts to hear things like, “What’s wrong with him?” or, “I bet if you fed him ice cream, he would eat,” and, “Must be nice to ride in that thing [medical stroller] all day long.”

Instead, positively-worded questions and comments such as, “Tell me about your son!” “He is looking so healthy and happy today,” and “Look how much he’s moving his upper body! That is great!” are appreciated.


Kallie, thank you so much for sharing Jahleel's story with us. Having a glimpse into your every day helps us know how we can better support families with special needs.

Being informed removes ignorance and we as a church family need to take more responsibility and be proactive in this area.

Research shows that special needs children and their families aren't getting the spiritual support they need and they need encouragement all the more! 

Thank you for sharing specific ways that your church family has been a blessing to you. That is such a blessing. 

And how fitting that Jahleel's name carries this message:
"Waiting for"
"Beseeching"
"Hope in God"  

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
— Romans 8:18-25

A Season to Stay

I sat there in the Costco parking lot and felt like a complete failure. I had just pulled into a spot and was taking a moment to breathe when I noticed a woman walking from her car to the front doors of the gargantuan store. To the “normal” person, there wouldn't have been anything particularly spectacular about her to note. But to me, her black “shooties”, long jacket, fresh face and bouncy hair said it all: she had it together. She wasn't some young thing either – I imagined she was also a wife and mother, all-be-it of older children than mine. (Wow, there's a lot of assumptions in that observation, aren't there?)

After all, this was post-dinnertime. A time of the day when my husband counts himself lucky if I'm still wearing something other than pajamas. I couldn't remember if I had glanced in the mirror at all on that particular Tuesday and I wasn't even quite sure if I had managed to brush my teeth that morning. It didn't really matter at this point – in a few short hours I'd be doing it as part of the bedtime ritual anyway.

You see, I almost hadn't made it out of the house that night.

Once again, every one had picked at their dinner, causing the time we sat at the table to stretch on forever and ever (which of course only succeeded in me consuming more food than I had intended). Once again, someone started having a bit of a meltdown when I reached for my shoes after asking my husband if I could just simply “get out” quick before he left the next morning for two nights out of town. And once again, I had glanced at the clock as I grabbed my keys thinking Is it even worth it to run out right now? Bedtime is in less than a hour.

But there I was. I had made it OUT. And I hadn't even journeyed more than 2 miles from our front door. And I definitely hadn't stopped to think about my appearance before venturing into the outside world – after all, that would've wasted precious minutes which I could be spending wondering the Costco aisles in peace.

This particular Tuesday had been a bit of a mental struggle. Tuesdays happen to be the only day of the week that my four children and I have the entire day together – the others I am either at work or running my twin daughters to and from preschool in the afternoon. We hadn't left the house the entire day, nor had we done anything particularly excited while at home. I had woken up feeling overwhelmed by housework, bills that needed to be paid and the ever-looming issue of what we'd be eating for dinner that night (by “we” I guess I really mean my husband and I since everyone 4 feet and under in our house seemed to be on an eating strike). We maybe had read a book or two (which someone most likely couldn't see well enough), broken out the crayons for a 10-minute coloring session (which took about the same amount of time to clean up), taken a stroll around the block (while I panicked about my two-year old boys getting too close to the curb), and watched a little Netflix (after everyone finally agreed on the same thing) while I sat at the table looking for comfort in a cup of lukewarm coffee. I had many-a conversations with God that day about why He hadn't made be better at this whole "mom thing."

Crayons

Needless to say, I wasn't feeling very proud of my day at home in that moment. And then this put-together woman had the audacity to walk right past the front of my minivan! How insensitive. I glanced in the rear view mirror to see a million fly-aways framing my makeup-less face and my messy bun falling out of position (wasn't that the style?). Oh Mel, I thought, why can't you get yourself together?

My trip to Costco proved to be successful – both in purchases (as it always is!) and for my emotional well-being. When I returned home not more than a hour later, I was greeted by hugs and delighted voices, enough to make a person think that I had been gone much longer than 45 minutes.

They didn't care that we had spent another entire Tuesday at home. They didn't notice that I hadn't even bothered to put in my contacts and looked much the same in that evening moment as I did when I pulled myself out of bed that morning. They were happy they had gotten an hour to spend with Daddy. They were happy I was now again home.

They. Were. HAPPY.

My husband and I are currently in a season of our lives where we don't “get out” much. Neither of us are members of any adult volleyball, basketball or kickball leagues. We don't have a gym membership. We don't do swim lessons with the kids. Our girls don't do gymnastics or dance or horse back riding or 4-H . And it's not because we think any of these things are a waste of time or a bad idea. With four kids under the age of 6, any event which necessitates one, some or all of us to leave the house at a specific time requires an incredible amount of preparation, planning and patience. You should see us on Sunday mornings just trying to get everyone to church! In this season of our lives, my husband and I have decided that committing to any additional, regular activities would simply be too overwhelming. But it's a decision I struggle with constantly.

Are we doing enough? Are the kids getting enough interaction? Are they sick and tired of being home? Why don't I have the energy and stamina of other moms I know who seem to do waaaaay more with their kids? All of these doubting questions run through my mind on constant replay.

But then I look at my children's faces on a night like that Tuesday. I see happiness. I see a feeling of security. I see the knowledge that they are loved. I see children who know and love Jesus. It is in moments like those that I realize that if I'm being completely honest, the guilt I feel over “not doing enough” is placed there as a result of my own insecurities, feelings of inadequacies and desire to “keep up with the Jones's” – it really doesn't have much to do with my children at all.

I try hard to know and understand my limitations. I know that between work, home, keeping up with family and friends and keeping everyone well-fed, I've got enough on my plate right now and there's not a lot of room for “extra” – at least not if I want to keep my sanity. If I manage to sign each one of my children up for a new class or activity but end up over-stressed, overwhelmed and over-extended, what good is it? Am I really enriching my children's lives by denying them a more emotionally available, loving and relaxed mom?

Gabes Eyes

If you run from here to there with your children, from tennis practice to dance class to fencing club and back again, more power to you. Truly, I admire your abundance of energy and ability to balance it all. But if you don't, look into your children's faces: are they happy? Do they know you love them? Most importantly, do they know their Savior loves them? If the answer is yes, then rest easy, my friend. You're doing exactly what you should be because God made you exactly as He intended. And I'll try to remind myself of the same :)

MelBioEdit