I’m Fresh Out of Amazing

I’m fresh out of amazing.  That was the sentence that I read in a book called Hope for the Weary Mom. I sometimes feel fresh out of amazing by 9 a.m.  I always feel fresh out of amazing by 9 p.m.  I feel it when there are dirty dishes all over my kitchen.  I feel it when I cook something and it doesn’t taste quite right.  I feel it when I have no energy left to read the girls a book at the end of the day.  I feel it when I’m searching for the piece of chocolate that is hidden in my closet.  And I feel it when I can’t put two thoughts in a row to have a conversation with my handsome man.  Yep.  I’m fresh out of amazing. Brady_Bunch_Carol_Alice_bionicdisco When I was a kid I loved watching the Brady Bunch.  Carol Brady was always full of amazing.  She had 6 kids to keep track of and she made it look easy.  She never raised her voice.  She was always smiling and she never looked tired.  Every family crisis could be solved in 30 minutes.  When I grow up, I’m going to be just like Carol Brady.  Yes, I am.

Well, one of those things happened.  I grew up.  But I’m nothing like Carol Brady.  I’ve figured out the secret to why Carol Brady was so full of amazing.  Alice is what made Carol Brady amazing.  Alice was her full-time housekeeper and chef.  I don’t know of even one mom who has a full-time Alice living in her house.  I could totally change my name to Carol if I had a full-time chef and maid living with us.

I think most of us moms feel like we are fresh out of amazing.  We seem to think that what makes us amazing is a list of things that we are able to accomplish. We think we are amazing if our kids are well-behaved.  We think we are amazing if our house is completely clean and dinner came out of the oven instead of out of a bag.  The more we are able to do the more amazing we are.  Can I let you in on a little secret?  We aren’t amazing because of anything that we do.  A friend reminded me this week of what truly makes a mom amazing.  A mom is amazing because God has placed within her the ability to love like He loves.  God’s love never ends.  His love never gives up.  And He has created moms to love just like He loves.  A mom’s love never ends.  A mom’s love never gives up.

A mom can wake up in the morning thinking about how hard yesterday was.  She doesn’t feel like facing another day.  She secretly thinks that she can’t do it anymore.  But she sits up, she puts her feet on the floor, and she starts another day.  It is the love deep within her for her children that makes her keep going.  Her love for her children never ends.

A mom may hear the words “below average” or “disabled ” to describe her child.   She can’t seem to escape it because a professional actually took the time to write it down on paper.  It’s real and she can’t do anything to change it.  But the love that she has for her child reminds her that her child is fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14).  God doesn’t think any of His children are below average.  He believes that all of His children are wonderful.

The world tells a mom that her child is different.  Her child is labeled because she didn’t pass a certain test.  Kids this age are able to do all of these things but since your child can’t….well, she’s just different. But what the world doesn’t see is all of the slow and steady progress that her child has made.  The world didn’t have a front row seat to watch all of the times that her child didn’t give up when something was hard.  But she did.  And she smiles because she knows that her child is learning perseverance.  The world certainly needs more people with the character quality of perseverance.

Yes her child is different.  She giggles endlessly at something that most people don’t even notice.  A butterfly makes her giggle and smile as she runs around the yard with her net saying “I need to catch him”.  Flying a kite is one of the most exciting things that she has ever done.  Days when the wind isn’t blowing just aren’t as much fun.  Animals are the best thing that God ever created.  Especially flamingos and dolphins and peacocks and cats and dogs and caterpillars and birds and……well just all of them are wonderful.  Our girls have helped me to see things that I couldn’t see before. They have shown me how much joy there is in the simple things of life.  Yes, our girls are different.  Different is wonderful.

Moms have something so much better than a full-time Alice that makes them amazing.  God certainly knew what He was doing when He placed His love inside of His children.  When we feel like we are fresh out of amazing the truth is that we are totally full of His amazing.  We are full of His amazing love that goes on and on.

photo credit:  http://chrystalevanshurst.com/     .

Shining the Light on the Dark Places

001 (7)

The light above our bathroom sink is supposed to have 3 light bulbs in it.  But it only had 1 light bulb.  Brett had the bright idea that maybe we should actually use 3 light bulbs.  So he stopped on his way home from work and bought some.  The next day I was fixing my hair and I very quickly decided that I didn’t like these new light bulbs.  Well, would you look at that.  Look at all of those gray hairs.  I knew I had some but thank you dear hubby for illuminating them for me.  Wow.  Look at the circles under my eyes.  I had no idea that I looked this old and tired.  Maybe if our two turtles would go to sleep before 11 p.m. I would look a little younger.   The back of the light bulb package said “light that lets you see every detail”.  Ain’t that the truth.

Light bulbs illuminate our outward appearance and sometimes it just isn’t very pretty.   Not long ago God shone His light on my heart and it wasn’t very pretty.   It was as if He chose to shine 3 lights on my heart and I suddenly saw that dark place that I didn’t realize was still there.  God’s light is a light that lets you see every detail.

They were walking towards me and my stomach started doing flip flops.  I suddenly wished I could be invisible.  I didn’t want to talk to them.  Maybe they won’t see me.  Oh, that would be so nice.   What if they come up to me and start talking?  What am I going to say?

It’s funny how places bring back memories.  This room had so many good memories and this room had a few bad memories.  At this moment the bad memories were flooding my mind.

Remember when you were standing right over there and one of them said you used to look like a good mom?  Remember how that felt like a knife going through your heart?

Remember when they ……..

And then they……

And I still can’t believe that they…..

All this inner struggle was going on as they were still walking towards me.  And then I heard someone say my name. The sound of my name was coming from the opposite direction.  Oh, thank goodness.  I was saved.  It was a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while and we chatted for a few minutes. When we got done talking, I glanced up and they were gone. I was relieved.

Then I was confused.  I honestly thought that I had forgiven them.  But if I had forgiven them, then why did my stomach do flip flops when I saw them?  and why didn’t I want to talk to them?  God gently said “You haven’t totally forgiven them.  We still have a little work to do.

Ok, Lord.  What do I do now?  How do I totally forgive them? And this was the answer that He gave me.  Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:28).  Really?  That’s the answer?  That sounds really hard.  But I’ll do it because I want that dark place in my heart to be gone.  And so I began praying for them.  I believe that as I pray for them I will begin to love them.  I Corinthians 13:5 says that love keeps no record of wrongs.  I believe that as my heart is filled with love for them,  I will no longer keep a record of wrongs.  God will be with me on this path to total forgiveness.  I know with His help it is possible to love those who have hurt me.

God revealed something else to me through my experience with our new light bulbs.  I was thinking about Mikayla & Hope’s future.  Right now we don’t know what God’s plans and purposes are for them.  The one thing that I know is that He does have a plan and He does have a purpose for each of them (Jeremiah 29:11).   And that is enough for me to know right now.  It’s as if there is 1 light bulb shining right now.  There’s enough light to give us hope that God has a plan for them  But I believe that one day He is going to shine 3 light bulbs on them and all of a sudden we are going to see more clearly what His plans and purposes are for their lives.  He will show us every detail that He has planned for them.  And it will be good.

 For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord,

plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

I Can’t Do This Anymore

I’m afraid of public restrooms.  Almost every time I take the girls in a public restroom they start arguing with each other.  It was Wednesday evening.  It had been a horrible day and I was exhausted.  I didn’t feel like going to church, but we loaded up in the van and we drove an hour to church. Truth be told, it might be possible that the only reason I was going to church was to get a little break from our turtles.  The girls were pretty quiet on the way there but the minute we entered the restroom it started.  Great.  I’m really not in the mood for this.  Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Can you even hear me when I’m talking to you?  Stop touching her!

We went to the check-in station and I began entering the information to get their name tags.  I had one eye on the computer screen and one eye on my girls.  And then it happened.  One little sweetheart had the other little sweetheart in a headlock.  Really?  Do we have to do this?  Of course, my girls were the only ones making a scene at the check-in station.  I really wish I could come to church just one time and see someone else’s sweetheart creating a scene at the check-in station.  Now wouldn’t that be nice?

I slapped their name tags on the front of their shirts and off we went to their class.  The girls teacher greeted us at the door and she asked how I was.  I answered her with the 5 words that I think often but I try not to say them out loud.  I can’t do this anymore.  Ok.  I had said it, I couldn’t take it back, and now I was crying.  The girls teacher tried to encourage me.  She told me to go relax and enjoy the service while they took care of the girls.  I went into the sanctuary and I sat on the second to last row.  The last thing in the world I wanted was for someone to come up to me and ask me how I was.  No one did and I was relieved.

The service started.  My mind was not good.  I don’t remember any song that we sang.  I don’t remember anything that was said.  But I do remember the thoughts that were going through my head.  Is our life always going to be this hard?  or is it possible that it could get better?  Am I the only special needs parent in this room?  Is there anyone in here who understands the constant demands of having special needs kids?  God, are you even there?  Could You do something to make life better for our family?

The service ended and I went to pick up the girls.  I felt horrible and I knew that I looked horrible.  I just wanted to grab the girls and run to the van.   I didn’t want anyone to talk to me.  But before I got out the door someone spoke to me. Her name is Jennie.  She asked me a question that stunned me.  She asked if the girls could come to her house sometime.  She talked about how much she loves them and she would like to spend more time with them.  I thanked her and I left with tears in my eyes.

I would like to say at this point that we have a wonderful family who is always there to help us. Grandmas and grandpas watch the girls so that we can have a break.  Aunts have watched the girls so that we could go to violin and dance recitals.  But this was the first time that someone who is not related to us offered to keep the girls.  As I was walking to the van that night God whispered in my ear  “You asked if I was here.  Yes, I’m here.”

On Sunday the girls are going to Jennie’s house after church.  I will be sitting in the movie theater watching Do You Believe? with my husband.  And all the grandmas and grandpas will be sitting back in their chairs and relaxing while Jennie watches the girls.  I’m just amazed at what God has done for our family.

As I was trying to figure out how to end this post, the phone rang.  The caller id said it was Jerri.  I wonder why she’s calling?  She said she had just found my blog and was enjoying reading it.  And then she went on to say that she felt like God wanted her to help us.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21      

I asked God if He could do something to make life better for our family.  I don’t know exactly what I expected Him to do, but I certainly didn’t expect two people to offer to help us.  That is definitely beyond what I imagined Him doing.  Tonight as I lay my head on my pillow the tears are going to start.  They won’t be “I can’t do this anymore” tears.  They will be “I can’t believe how good God is” tears.

Welcome to My Brand of Crazy

001 (6)

I was reading the book The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst.  I wanted to laugh out loud but I didn’t because I was sitting in the parent’s lounge at Easter Seals.  I was laughing on the inside but I chose not to laugh on the outside.  I prefer that strangers not think I’m insane.  I’m funny that way.

Lysa told a story and then she said Welcome to my brand of crazy.  Lysa TerKeurst has a brand of crazy. I have a brand of crazy.  Maybe we all have a brand of crazy.  Would you like to be introduced to my brand of crazy?  My brand of crazy sometimes makes me cry.  It makes me want to tear my hair out.  My brand of crazy makes me hide in my bedroom and eat the chocolate that’s hidden in my closet.  And it also makes me laugh myself silly.

So here we go.  Welcome to my brand of crazy.

Whose birthday is it anyway?  The girls can argue about absolutely anything.  They even argue about whose birthday it is.  It’s my birthday!  No, it’s my birthday!  C’mon.  Do we really have to do this? You’re twins.  You have the same birthday.  You’re both right.  Now let’s move on.

Is it in English or is it in French?  One of the girls asked me if the cartoon they were watching was in English or French?  Um….it’s in English.  If you can understand what they’re saying, it’s in English.  If you can’t understand what they’re saying, it’s in French.  They’ve never watched a cartoon in French. I have no idea why this has become an issue.  They ask “Is it in English or is it in French?” every single day.  <Sigh>

My pants are crooked  One of our sweet turtles says “my pants are crooked” all day long.  Is this because of sensory processing disorder? or are her pants just getting too small?  She constantly asks me to straighten her pants.  She won’t let anyone help her except me.  I feel so special.  One day I left for 5 hours.  She never once asked anyone to straighten her pants.  I fix her pants all day long but I leave and her pants mysteriously don’t bother her anymore.  Talk about a miracle.  The second I walked in the door her pants were crooked again.  Weird.  I hope I can find some miracle pants that won’t feel crooked.

Print me some papers!  I get the crooked pants and Daddy gets to print some papers.  Every day the girls ask him to print out coloring pages of their favorite cartoon characters.  As soon as they spot Daddy it happens.  They start yelling “Print me some papers!” Can you at least let him get his eyes opened and swallow a cup of coffee before you start putting your orders in? Nope. Daddy was put on this earth to print me some papers.

Pray for Monkey, Ping Pong, and Louise  Who do we need to pray for?  The answer is always the same.  Pray for Monkey, Ping Pong, and Louise.  We rarely pray for people.  We pray for critters.  Ping Pong and Monkey were their pet hamsters.  They are now living in hamster heaven.  I’ve explained that Ping Pong and Monkey are very happy in hamster heaven and we don’t need to pray for them anymore.  But the girls still insist that we pray for them.  Louise is a cat that showed up at our house uninvited.  She enjoyed our cat food for a couple of days and the girls named her Louise.  Our cat Zoe was not a fan of Louise.  So Louise had to relocate to a new home. Wherever you are, Louise, please know that two little girls love you and pray for you every night.

Don’t touch my underwear  There is a certain little turtle who doesn’t like another turtle to touch her underwear.  It leads to violence.  She’s asked me to straighten her underwear and then I got in trouble because I touched them.  Wish I could figure out how to straighten underwear without touching them. My life would be much easier.

She needs to talk louder?  Mikayla’s speech therapist brought her back to me and said “We need to work on getting her to talk louder.  She talks so softly that I can’t hear what she’s saying.” What? She talks so softly that you can’t hear her?  Really?  She talks so loud at home I’m contemplating buying ear plugs.  Am I on candid camera? I didn’t have time to talk to her about it. I had to rush home, grab Brynna, and take her to a dance rehearsal.  We shall have that discussion on another day.

Cover my feets  I tuck the girls in and kiss them goodnight.  Within a few minutes I know I’m going to hear “Cover my feets!”  I can’t convince them that they are feet not feets. Anyway, their feet mysteriously become uncovered and they want me to cover them back up.  It’s a game that they like to play with me.  I’m not really fond of the game.  I especially don’t enjoy the game when we’re still playing it at 11 p.m. Sometimes I will play the game just to keep them out of meltdown mode. Sometimes I tell them that I don’t want to play anymore because I’m too tired.  I go to my bedroom and I shut the door.  Then I will hear “Taylor!……cover my feets!”

Could you turn that fish into a corn dog, please?  What do you want for lunch?  Do you want a corn dog? or fish? I want fish. I cook the fish, the timer goes off, and I take the fish out of the oven.  I don’t want fish! I want a corn dog! You told me you wanted fish. No, I want a corn dog! Listen, my little sweetheart.  You said you wanted fish.  I cooked fish and you are going to eat the fish. My brand of crazy wouldn’t be quite as crazy if I had the ability to turn a fish fillet into a corn dog.

And that is just a small glimpse of my brand of crazy.  I just realized that today has been an extremely quiet day.  I’m sure it’s just the calm between the crazy.

Just Let Them Have The Cotton Candy

images

Last weekend we took Mikayla & Hope out  to celebrate their birthday.  We started the day with merry-go-round rides at the mall.  The girls mounted their horses and the merry-go-round started to spin.  And I saw it once again.  A daddy was riding the merry-go-round with his little girl and he was on his phone throughout the entire ride.  I was thinking about my Put Down Your Phone and Just Ride that Merry-Go-Round post.  I was wishing that this dad would read it.  It seems everywhere you look nowadays people are obsessed with their phones and they are missing precious time with their children.

Our next stop was Chuck E. Cheese.  It’s a place “where a kid can be a kid” and where parents can get a headache.   The place was packed.  And it was loud.  Our girls have sensory processing disorder, but the atmosphere wasn’t bothering them a bit.  I was in sensory overload which caused my head to start pounding.

The girls were excited.  They were smiling and happy.  Hope was in the middle of all the fun and she stopped, hugged me, and said “I love you, Mommy!”  My heart melted and I didn’t care about my headache.  Three hours passed and they finally used their last token.  We went to the counter to trade their tickets in for a prize. They had known what they wanted from the moment they walked in the front door.  They wanted cotton candy.  Great.  This is not going to be good. And so began the battle in my head.

Cotton candy makes them crazy.  I’m not really in the mood for crazy.

But it’s their birthday.  We should really let them have the cotton candy.

But it will make them crazy and we have to ride in the van with them for an entire hour to get back home.

Oh, but look at them.  They’re so cute.  And they’ve been so good.

My head was screaming “NO! Don’t let them have the cotton candy!”

But my heart was saying “Just let them have the cotton candy.”

My heart won and the girls left with 2 bags of cotton candy.

The next stop was Cold Stone Creamery because it’s always a good idea to mix cotton candy with a bowl of ice cream.  Mikayla inhaled her chocolate ice cream.  Hope inhaled her cotton candy ice cream. And then we started the venture home.

The ride home was bad.  I mean really, really bad.  The girls were loud.  They were arguing. They were obnoxious.  They were totally out of control.  My head was pounding so hard I felt like throwing up. Aspirin and caffeine couldn’t even touch this headache.  We stopped at Walmart to get a few things. Mikayla asked if she could go in.  Um….no.  We are way past the point of being in public.   So Brett ran in and grabbed the things that we needed.  I sat in the car and listened to the sounds of screaming and arguing while my head continued to pound.  I was not happy.  I even ended up crying. Why does life have to be like this?  Why can’t we have a nice family day out without all the drama?

When we got home we started getting cleaned up because we had church the next morning.  I had just put Hope in the bathtub and the phone rang.  As I was rinsing her hair, Brett came into the bathroom and he told me what had happened.  A wonderful man who lives just up the road from us had been killed.  He was only 36 years old.  I felt like I was going to be sick.  I ran out of the bathroom and went into my bedroom and shut the door.

A moment ago, I thought I was having a horrible day.  Now I felt so foolish.  A beautiful woman in her 30’s was now a widow.  Two handsome young boys and two adorable little girls no longer had a daddy. A mom and a dad had just lost their son.  Two men had lost their brother.  A grandma had lost a grandson.  My heart ached for them.

I immediately thought of James 4:14 You do not know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Life is only here for a moment and then it’s gone. Last week this family would have never dreamed they would be facing life without him this week.  Why did this have to happen? There is no answer.  It’s heartbreaking for those that he leaves behind.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going        John 14:1-4  

This man loved the Lord and he served Him well.  A place was prepared for him in Heaven.  There is peace in knowing that he is in Heaven but there is still a process here on earth of grieving.  This family must pick up the broken pieces of their world and trust God to help them go on.  Before you go to sleep tonight, would you say a prayer for my friend Erin and her children? and for the entire family? They need comfort and strength that only God can give.

I can’t help but think about the daddy on the merry-go-round.  What if it had been his last day on this earth?  Would he want his daughter’s last memory of him to be “Daddy was on his phone when he rode the merry-go-round with me”?

What kind of memories do we want our family to have of us?

Is it time to put down our phones and read a book to our kids?  or play a board game with them? or take them to the zoo?

Is it time to stop texting and start calling people and telling them how much they mean to us?

Is it time to forgive that person who hurt us so deeply that we didn’t feel like we could go on?

Is it time to stop scrolling through facebook to find out what is going on in our friends lives and start spending time with them?

Is it time to stop arguing with our husband/wife and be thankful that we have him/her?

Life is short.  We should just let our kids have cotton candy and enjoy their smiles.  We should ride the merry-go-round with them and leave our phones in the car.  We should make as many memories as we can.  We should be thankful for the memories made even when the making of the memory gave us a bad headache.  We should place our head on our pillow each night and thank God that we have a family.   Phones and facebook will pass away.  But memories will last forever.

And please remember to pray for Erin and her family.

 

 

 

photo credit: http://www.clowns4kids.com