Friday, April 29, 2011

The Harder I Try The Harder I Fall

Wednesday of this week was a beautiful day in Northwestern Pennsylvania. I woke up early, did some reading and hit the ground running. I got Howard and Luke off to school and then I got the rest of us dressed and sent the little ones out to play on the deck while I brought things outside for thorough cleaning. I spent the entire morning and early afternoon scouring and scrubbing. For me, cleaning is therapy. When my heart is unsettled, I take it out on the house. I find relief somehow in the scent of Method Cucumber Melon cleaner, it soothes me as I frantically scrub and scour tiny sticky fingerprints from everything.

I then made the kids lunch, got Hope down for nap and Ben settled for rest time and I got to work on dinner. Once I had dinner done I jumped in the shower and got myself ready for Luke's baseball practice and then church. I packed bags and got things organized and was feeling pretty darn good about things. I almost felt like I had it all under control. The house was sparkling, I was dressed and primped, the bags for practice and church were packed and by the door and I still had a few minutes until Luke's arrival.

I set the table and began getting things gathered for dinner. I had just pulled the bagels out of the oven for bagel sandwiches and was reaching up into a cupboard high above my head to get the deep fryer down when Luke walked in. I looked over and smiled at him. I felt accomplished. I asked about his day and as he began to talk I lost my grip. I had used the oil the night before and put he fryer away with the oil in it as it was still fresh. As I fumbled the fryer tilted forward toward me. And then it happened...the oil spilled out and hit the top of my head and began running down my face and suffocating my joy. There was oil everywhere. All over the counters, cabinets and floors I had JUST scrubbed, all over the stove I had just cleaned with a toothbrush, and ALL down my head, face, and clothes.

Luke stood there stunned and I stood there the world blurred by the oil in my eyes trying not to completely lose it. Luke looked at me carefully, trying to judge what I was going to do next. I laughed...not like, funny haha laugh, but the inappropriate, I really want to scream and cry but I am going to laugh anyhow kind of laugh...the I should probably be in an asylum laugh. I stripped down to my underwear so as not to track the oil through the whole house, grabbed kitchen towels and skated on them back to my bathroom carrying a bottle of Dawn. Luke laughed as I am sure it was quite a sight and asked if he could help clean up. I told him I would take care of it and that he should go start his reading.

I jumped into the shower for the second time that day, which has to be a record because usually I am lucky to get ONE. I washed and washed trying to get the oil out of my eyes, nose, mouth, hair. I stood in the shower tears streaming down my oily face trying hard to find something to thank God aloud for. "Thank you Lord, that Hope is sleeping right now so I don't have to worry about her running through the pond of oil on the kitchen floor. Thank you Lord, for soap and water...." I got out of the shower but could still feel a film all over me and I now had NO time to dry or flat iron my hair. I added some product, attempted to scrunch it. I threw on an old tshirt and shorts so I could go begin cleaning. I smelled like a salad and I felt defeated.

We were out of paper towels. I threw the shirts I had been wearing in the garbage as there was NO saving them. They were so saturated they would for sure not be worth the effort. I picked up my favorite pants and began to douse them with Dawn and put them in the sink. Howard walked in. He saw me on the floor, tears streaming and he knew I was struggling. He hugged the kids, came over and bent down and began helping me sop up the oily mess. He said, "Kristy, I know you are frustrated, I know this has to be very disheartening, but it is okay. I will clean up, please go take a few moments and collect yourself and get ready for church." I protested. "What about dinner." He assured me we would figure it out and gently nudged me toward the hallway.

I stood there in our bathroom looking in the mirror and wondering why on earth I fail so badly when I try so hard. Tears fell again,tears of frustration beaded up and streamed down my hot face. It was just an oil spill and it was minor in the grand scheme of life, but my heart was so broken. I had spent the entire day trying so hard to have everything just so, I wanted to be organized and I wanted Howard to come home to such a different scenario than what he walked in on. I was disappointed in myself. Who keeps a deep fryer on the top shelf? (A mom who doesn't want her kids to get into it) I breathed deep. Thanked God that there was no permanent damage to anything and for such a fantastic husband, and got myself ready.

We ran through the drive through (gasp) on our way to baseball and then headed to church. When we got home we gave the kitchen another once over to remove any remaining residue and we sat down to talk. I thanked Howard for how he handled things. He was just what I needed to defuse the situation. He is never easily frazzled and jumps right into my troubles with me. I am so blessed to have him.

As we talked, he asked what I was doing prior to the Bolte Oil Spill of 2011. I told him that I was just trying to have things ready so our evening could go smoothly because we had so much to do. He smiled. He said, I think God did it. I laughed. "You think God dumped a vat of oil on my head?" He insisted it seemed too random and coincidental. He told me to give it some thought. I had a vat of oil poured over my head there must be some significance there.

I sometimes feel like the harder I try to do things the harder I fail. I think sometimes I work myself into a frenzy trying so hard to make things perfect that I forget to include the Perfect One in my plans. I get wrapped up in myself and what I can do and my to do list and I forget what He is capable of and what might be on HIS to do list for me. I forget that I don't need to run around like a mad woman all the time. I need to rest in Him. I need to let him take the reigns and direct my path and yet as a "do-er" I tend to spin my wheels frantically trying to move forward on my own and in turn I get nowhere. I felt like the entire day I had spent ALL of my time working hard, preparing dinner, cleaning the house and primping myself. ALL of those things were undone in a moment. I felt like the entire day did not matter. I might as well have set on the couch and watched TV all day eating bon bons!

So, I am not sure if the Lord was teaching me a lesson in taking a breath and really enjoying my day and spending the bulk of my days doing things that cannot be undone such as reading, studying, playing with the kids and letting them make the fingerprints instead of frantically erasing them, snuggling with them and having fun, things that really matter or if he anointed me ;), but a lesson was learned and I am eternally grateful that He always gives me perspective and has given me the perfect person to walk this weary land with because Howard blesses me more than words can say.

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.
Psalm 45:6-8

Oil of joy...yeah...let's go with that. ;)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday: The Day Between

We have been trying hard to really teach our kids the meaning of Easter and the magnitude of what Jesus did for us. I want them to understand that while bunnies, candy and Easter eggs are fun, they are surely NOT what Easter is truly about. Friday night I was sitting with Luke and we were talking about the events that happened on Good Friday. I said to him, "Isn't it crazy that Jesus would endure so much pain for us. He suffered so much and he never did one thing wrong. We are the ones who do wrong." an Luke said to me, "It isn't crazy Mom. It is awesome. I am sad that he had to do it but I sure am glad he did." I love that kid. He believes every one of God's words and never doubts. I learn so much from him.

As I sat last night in a quiet house reflecting and reading and worshiping, my heart broke. I sat here in the dark imagining the suffering He endured for our sins. I also found my heart very heavy thinking of Mary. As a mom who has watched as two of her sons died, I could only imagine the pain Mary felt as she watched the events unfold, as she watched the body of her sweet son broken and as she saw his blood poured out when he never deserved a moment of it.

I went to bed with a heavy heart, and today as I continue to try and really do some heart work and really try to accept the amazing gift the Lord gave to us, I can't help but think of what that Saturday must have been like. I can't help but think of how the disciples felt or how Mary must have felt. I can only imagine the mourning that must have taken place and the extent of their grief. I wonder about the anguish and guilt the disciples, especially Peter must have felt that they stood by helplessly and denied even knowing Jesus. Now he was gone.

I remember the eerie stillness and quietness of the days after Isaac and Asher's deaths and I wonder if that is what it was like. The tomb was sealed, the tears were still fresh and hearts broken. Bewildered and sorrowful, the world would never be the same.

I have said it before, that I struggle with the idea of being still, but Holy Saturday is a day for just that. To be still, and wait. It is a threshold day for sure...a day of waiting. I am reminded that on days like this I am to refocus. So often throughout life's twists and turns I have worried, become anxious and stressed. On these threshold days, where grief grips the heart, we are called to turn to the One who goes to those dark places with us and sits with us, the places so empty that no one and nothing else can reach. He goes in to those places with us so that He can bring us out.

As I sit and really grasp the magnitude of Jesus' death and suffering, I find myself bewildered that I continually fail to trust in Him. My worry, my stress, my anxiety, all of those are failures in trust. He never promises that the road will be paved and smooth. Sometimes it is gnarly and treacherous, but He does go before us. He paid the ultimate price. What else do we need to be able to fully trust Him? What more could he have done? Has he not done enough? We cannot accept the resurrection until we fully grasp the death. He died for us. He was blameless and perfect. He was whipped, beaten, and hung to die for OUR sins, not his own. How much more does he have to do to prove His UNFAILING love for us? He has earned our trust and yet we fail to trust again and again. I am guilty.

I am coming to learn that we cannot fully accept our gift of salvation if we are walking through life with a clenched fist...we cannot accept the gifts of love he has to offer unless we are willing to open the hand and receive. I tend to want to look back on the pain of the past and use those experiences to show that I cannot trust, but if I am being honest, even in those dark and sad places, He was there...He held me and He carried me. He died for me. I am working hard to change that habit and instead look back at all of the gifts of love he has bestowed upon me. I am uncurling my fingers, one at a time and learning to accept each and every gift, and look for the beauty and give thanks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cure for Frustration

I have been reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts for the past several weeks. It has taken me quite a while to get through the whole book because I had to stop and digest several times, but I cannot tell you how this book has changed me.

You would think that living through what I have lived through, that I would be grateful for each and every moment. That I would breathe it all in and live in the moment, but I don't. I have always struggled with that. Despite the fact that I know that we are never promised a tomorrow, I am ashamed to admit I fall into the trap of taking things for granted and always living with hopes for the future instead of choosing joy and gratitude n the moment I have been given already.

As I have been reading and digesting I have been really taking Ann's words to heart. I have taken time and prayed and written in my journal and begun my list of One Thousand Gifts. I have always been a person who felt unrest. At some level, even in a peaceful moment I have felt some form of unrest. I tried hard to be grateful and choose joy in everything but I was missing something. I feel like Ann's words and experience have helped me to put it all together and connect the dots.

One of the most powerful things I learned from this book is to give thanks aloud even when it seems there cannot be a single thing to be thankful for. There is. It is always there, we just have to be looking for the gift and not the negative. For example:

The other night, Howard was about an hour late getting home from work. I was making dinner for our family and another family who's daughter had just had surgery. Hope and Ben were sitting in the living room watching a DVD and suddenly Ben was crying. I had my hands in bread dough so I was washing my hands when I heard Hope hit the floor, hard. Hope was crying, Ben was crying and I had no clue what was going on. Then I noticed little wet footprints all down the dark wood floor leading to the bathroom. As I got closer to the trail and Hope who was still lying on the floor I noticed that Hope was lying in a puddle. I scooped her up and as I inspected further, I noticed that Ben must have been so into the DVD that he did not take the time to go to the bathroom so he sat right there in the bean bag chair and peed. He then tried to take care of things himself and got to the bathroom where he peed again and got his clothes off. There was a trail of pee from the living room to the bathroom, Hope was soaked in her brothers urine, and Ben was crying in the bathroom.

If you know me, you know messes are something that I don't deal well with. I took a deep breath and started bath water for both kids. No sooner did I get the bath started and I heard Luke come in. Before I could warn him about what was going on he too fell prey to the urine river that was running through the house. So now I have three urine soaked kids, a mess all over the floor and the bean bag and bath water running. I get two kids into the tub and ask Luke to jump in the shower in my bedroom and put his clothes in the basket in the hall. As I washed Hope and got her out of the tub, I realized I had forgotten dinner. I realized, because the smoke detectors were blaring wildly. Tears began to fall. Mine. I was overwhelmed and screaming inside because Howard was SUPPOSED to be home. Frustration and anger began to take over and I felt the urge to yell.

I stood in the hallway, holding Hope, took a deep breath and was determined to find a way to give thanks even though not ONE thing was coming to mind. Luke had just gotten out of the shower and I was standing there, in the pee soaked hall with the smoke detectors blaring. He looked at me wide eyed as I stood there and through my tears said, "Thank you Lord, that Ben is able to pee." I am pretty sure Luke was ready to call the loony bin to come and haul me away. (Ben has had urinary tract issues. We have had trouble in this area and he has endured 4 surgeries and is finally just fine in the urinary area.)

Now, it may seems silly and insignificant, but I swear to you as soon as those words left my lips peace came over me. I honestly felt joy. Joy comes through gratitude. When we accept the good gifts our Father gives us with a grateful heart, joy follows. EVEN when we give thanks for pee. ;)

This has been life altering for me. I often find myself overwhelmed and frustrated. When this happens I get irritable and I tend to get snippy and short with those I love. I don't want to be this way. I want to speak with love. I want to carefully consider the words that come out of my mouth because they are affecting these little people more than I realize. I want to be better. I want to practice gratitude in all things. I want to know joy and live life to the fullest in this very moment, not always looking forward to the moments to come. My kids deserve for me to be present with them NOW and so does Howard. They deserve all of me not just my left overs.

I have honestly found as silly as it feels that when I give thanks aloud when I am feeling the frustration coming, it is like a release valve. I admit, it is still hard. It is hard to take a breath and CHOOSE gratitude because man it seems so much easier to just allow frustration to take over and slam pans and cupboard doors, but it really doesn't do anyone any good, nor does it please the Lord. I am a slow learner, but I truly am finding joy more often than not and living in the moment and enjoying ALL of the gifts the Lord has given me today...look around they are EVERYWHERE once you are paying attention.

I cannot recommend her book or her blog enough. She truly is one of the most honest and beautiful writers I have read. She is a fresh drink of water and just the perspective I have been needing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Too Busy To Blog

We are preparing for Easter and that means Peggy Gray's Candies, bunnies, and Bible stories.

That IS a jawbreaker in Luke's hand.

We've been worshiping at church and being Spiderman.

We've been experimenting with hair products and just plain being cute.

And we have really been taking the time to slow down and just enjoy these amazing kids. We are so very blessed and want to live a life of gratitude. Things are hard, but we are amazingly blessed and very grateful. To God be the glory! He provides all we need and blesses our faithfulness.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fun Night Out for Grandma and Papa's 40th Anniversary

Silly boy! It is so hard to get a serious picture of this awesome kid!

They melt my heart!

Enjoying his dinner!

The kids with Grandma and Papa. (No those are not gang signs...Luke thinks he is Spiderman.)

This little boy is like a giant ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone he knows. We really are a blessed family and I cannot help but look at these people we love and praise the One who gave them to us. My cup runneth over.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sassy Much?

I cannot believe that my baby girl is almost two. She challenges me more than I would like to admit and blesses me even more. She LOVES to pick out her own clothes and accessories and LOVES getting her hair done each day. She is the epitome of girly girl and while I never imagined myself the mama of a girly girl, I sure do love it! Praising God for each moment he grants me with these precious kids. I am over the moon grateful that I get to be their mom.