A Constant Chinese Fire Drill

On of the hardest things about being a mom of young children is the perpetual state of chaos that exists in your home. Each day is like a Chinese fire drill in the living room with the toys being the objects of replacement. Unless you are witness to this organization, good luck ever finding that kitchen utensil you gave your child in exasperation as you attempted to make dinner.

Baskets seemed like a viable alternative to the increasing mountain of parts and pieces that my daughter identifies as treasures. However, the baskets fill to a point of overwhelming capacity and then no one wants to deal with the contents. There’s nothing quite like tip toeing your way to bed through the dark house only to kick into the one missed toy that had to be motion activated and in the quiet of the night you cringe as you hear, “I’m a pink teapot hear me whistle…”.

Less stuff would make my life easier, but it’s hard to keep up with the voracious imagination of a toddler without a rotating number of toys and objects that can be touched, pitched, disassembled and worn around the wrist as a new fashion accessory. There is hope. One day my mess maker will also be able to put away the things and help restore sanity to the living room. This will be done at the cost of a once mute child, but what’s the fun without new adventures in life? I vividly remember my 6 year old brother’s new found ability to read and repeat every road sign as we ran errands with mom. As much as I look forward to the ability to reason with my toddler, I know there will be days I wish that she came with an off button. Especially when she starts repeating the speed limit to me.

As someone who thrives in a clean, organized atmosphere, having a child has stretched my ability to stop caring so much about the temporary and start living in the long term. This means that some Saturdays are spent completely cleaning and reorganizing the house instead of hanging with friends, but when you are stuck in bed with a snoring toddler on you because she needed someone to cuddle with, you know that making memories is more important than perfection.

Maybe God and a Dog Have More in Common than just the Letters

My husband and I chose to do something slightly insane when I was around 6 months pregnant. We got an 8 week old puppy. Getting a puppy is an intense commitment, especially when anticipating adding a newborn to the mix. Between the house breaking, obedience training and constant chewing it was a full time effort. I have had a dog in my life for as long as I can remember. This is something I wanted to share with my little girl when she entered the world. Now, a year and a half later my fuzzy little puppy is a full grown black German Shepherd. While on the smaller side for a shepherd, she is still muscle from head to toe and can easily plow over our daughter, Colleen. The amount of restraint our dog, Lexi, uses has come from a decent amount of training, but I love to watch the two interact. So much power, yet such gentleness. It makes me think about how omnipotent God is and despite that, he chooses to let us have an intimate relationship with Him. 

I took a bit of a risk agreeing to a high drive dog breed, but the reward is a resilience and loyalty that is hard to compare. While Colleen adores Lexi she also enjoys picking on her. Petting turns into whisker pulling or using Lexi as a walker. Despite the looks of annoyance that I get from Lexi, I know she can endure it and has a certain amount of affection for the small human. The bond between the two is one of trust and for Colleen, reassurance. Having Lexi with her when we go new places gives Colleen confidence. I wish that I could let go of my personal reservations and have a similar relationship with God, like Lexi and Colleen. Trust that He will always protect me, adoration for his love and relationship, comfort in his presence and reassurance, “…that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Too often I find myself during the day trying to take on life’s problems on my own. God is my Lexi, ready to be my friend or my walker. All I have to do is call out to him. While I don’t recommend a German Shepherd for every young family, I do encourage you to consider your relationship with God. He is patient and waiting. I look forward to the years ahead as my two goof balls grow and mature together. I know we will share many more great moments, muddy feet and plenty of dog hair. 

Brown Paper Packages

I love buying gifts for people. It’s one way that I express love. I enjoy getting to know someone and then thinking about the kind of item that would hold great meaning, evoke a laugh, cause their eyes to light up or even muster a few tears. I also very much enjoy wrapping presents. As Maria von Trapp sings, “brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things!” Though I usually expand my horizons past brown paper wrapping on most occasions.

Having a one year old who loves tissue paper has made this Christmas a wrapping adventure. I finally succeed in completing my present wrapping this week and now each item sits beautifully under the tree. I usually like to get my wrapping done with a few weeks to spare so that I can sit and admire all the festive colors and ribbons. As my eyes move from one present to the next, I think about the treasure inside and what the person’s reaction might be. Sometimes the reaction is quite amusing and very unanticipated. Then my mind travels to the memories that I have shared with that person and I eagerly await the opportunity to share time together again.

As someone who is not very open or transparent, gifts are my way of connecting and expressing. This is an area I hope to grow in, as I learn to get outside of my comfort zone. Gifts are a great relationship building tool, but they don’t always need to be tangible. The gifts of service, encouraging words and time, often mean more than a gift in pretty wrapping.

I was reminded today by someone’s wise words that one of the best gifts of Christmas is family and being grateful for the time we get to spend with them. Enjoy all the crazy, happy, messy moments this weekend as you celebrate and say a little prayer of thanks to our Heavenly Father for an opportunity to his sons and daughters.

Being More

I know that raising a child from a newborn is only a small part of life as a parent but the year long struggle of interrupted sleep, constant feeding and complete lack of privacy or personal independence, it’s exhausting.

As parents, the comment that children are a gift from God and a bundle of joy is dependent on the timing that said comment is uttered. Actually, children are a test of patience, perseverance and logic that continues indefinitely and begins when you leave the hospital. Sure they are cute, wrinkly but they are also helpless and demanding.

Keeping a small human alive and well is not so much difficult as draining. Parenthood pushes you to the brink of what you can handle, but surprisingly you can handle more than you think. You may not be coherent some days, but you will survive and adapt. Each season in life teaches us something. Maybe parenthood is also about pushing yourself to do more and be more than you ever thought possible. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you.

Perspective

Sometimes in life we have so much emotion we cannot express ourselves. Today I find myself staring at yet another dead end. Finding the motivation to pick myself up and head back up the trail in pursuit of success is becoming more difficult with each passing day. I lament to myself that all I want is for a door to open, for the opportunity to grasp onto normalcy again. If I speak honestly though, I realize that my heart desires a specific lifestyle. My mind is focused on my mental picture of normalcy and perfection.

In this moment I must ask myself what am I truly asking for? What is it that I am refusing to compromise over? It is not wrong to want to avoid struggle and strife. It is not wrong to desire for release from worry. It is not wrong to desire more than just enough financially. However, if these things become more important than my faith, then I fear sin has won the day.

The weight of paying bills is daunting and I cringe every time I open the mailbox. Yet, I am given small reminders of my inward focus. I look at my perfect baby girl and then I read a story of a young child who lost her arm to cancer. I wake in the morning frustrated at another day of leftovers and then I hear of refugees starving in their plight for freedom. I become impatient with my husband and then I see the uniform hanging in his closet and think of all the wives currently counting down the days until the deployment is over.

Life is difficult, unfair, frustrating, discouraging and heartbreaking but it is also a gift. Perspective changes everything.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Things to Come

Like everyone else who lives in a climate that experiences all four seasons, including cold and snow, I have cabin fever. As my boss and I laughed about today, we are painfully optimistic in our current outerwear choices. Spring can come as soon as it likes! The signs of future warm weather are all around. The grass has gone from brown to mostly green and my tulips are getting a little bigger each day. After the harshness of winter, spring is such a welcome reminder of renewed life and things to come.

Yesterday Austin and I celebrated our engagement-a-versary and wow…so much has happened! Life has not gone anywhere how I expected, but without surprises there would be no adventure. I love going on adventures and traveling to new places, but getting to my destination is usually the most tiring and exasperating part. I have found that is pretty much how life goes too. However, once I make it to my destination the difficulty or craziness of travel looses much of its potency. This doesn’t necessarily make the journey any easier, but it certainly makes you appreciate where you are at more.

Three years ago as I stood out in the sunshine as Austin proposed, I could not have imagined my perfect little house next to an outlet center that I avoid shopping at because Austin and I are being very intentional about our spending. I could not have imagined our fun neighbors that deliver veggies from their garden in the summer, the ugly basement centipedes that Austin has waged war against, all the ups and downs of employment for both Austin and I, or the new ladies that my brothers would introduce to the family (sisters? maybe???).

I have no idea where life is headed this year, but I am excited to see where we end up. Regardless of the journey, I have to say I have the best travel partners. One knows where we are headed and the other is a constant reminder of the exciting things that are bound to lie ahead.

For such a time as this – Krista.