Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On mowing the grass--and integrity

Sometimes when I’m going along, minding my own business, my littlest boy grabs my cheeks in both hands, turns my face toward him, and demands, “Wook-uh me, Mommy!”  He waits until I respond, so he knows he has my full attention, then says, “Yuh-you, Mommy,” and melts my mommy-heart.  He’s off to play, then, and I’m left to ponder the sweetness that is wrapped up in toddler-hood.

Sometimes my Heavenly Father does the same thing.

He did it the other day.  I wasn’t going to share this, because I felt like it was for me.  The more I’ve pondered it, though, the more I realize God didn’t just speak to me for me.  One of you needs to hear what God said to me.  I don’t know who.  You might not even know it’s you.  But one of you needs to hear it.

Last Thursday evening I was mowing the grass.  I was, quite honestly, trying to escape from the bedtime madness.  You see, Little Lou and Bugsy are bedtime rock stars.  Sure, it takes a little while to convince them it’s a good idea to get into jammies and get into bed, but once we finally get that taken care of and they’re tucked in, having been sung to and prayed with, they (usually) stay in their beds (mostly) quietly until morning.  Stinky, though, is a bedtime deserter.  He’s awesome at the diaper change and jammies gig, but then.  They all go to bed at 7.  Stinky typically also goes to bed at 7:02, 7:06, 7:12…you get the picture…often until nearly 10.  Some days (yesterday, for instance) I deal with him with love and grace as I put him back to bed 97 million times.  Some days I’m feeling anything but gracious and eventually need to step away.  Last Thursday was that day.

I left the kids in the house, the little one still fighting bedtime, with Daddy, and I slipped out to mow the grass.  It was a glorious 45 minutes or so of silence, all alone, just me and the grass.

Or so I thought.

But God.

He reached His hands out, grabbed both of my cheeks, turned my face toward Himself, and said, “Look at me.”  Just like with my sweet toddler, it’s pretty hard not to look at God’s face when He’s right there turning my head toward Him!  So, I turned.  I listened.  “If your little girl grows up to be exactly like you, will she be someone you’ll be proud of?”  Silence.  That’s all I could offer.  I was left, then, to ponder the love of my sweet Savior.

You see, friends, God knows what I look like when I go to the grocery, or a restaurant, or church, or my friends’ houses.  You’ve seen me too.  Maybe it’s not all smiles and giddiness, but the undertone is generally a peaceful, calm, collected one.  You’re impressed at how well I hold it all together when Stinky runs one way and Bugs runs another, all while Little Lou’s having a meltdown because one of her shoelaces is a smidge longer than the other.  You tell me I’m an amazing mommy.  I let you think that because I’m human and I don’t like to admit that everything’s not perfect.

God sees me at home, too.  Some of you have seen me at home.  What you see, though, is the me at home that is the me when someone else is there.  Admit it.  You’ve got a different personality when there are other people in your home, too.  You don’t see the part of me that gets frustrated because Bugsy has still not changed his clothes even though I’ve asked him 400 times.  You don’t see the me that is having a bit of a meltdown because Little Lou is, once again, having a meltdown.  You don’t see the me that is trying to cook dinner and help with homework and carrying a toddler and starting a movie and feeding the dog and…and…and…  You don’t see those frustrations, but God does.  I usually handle those episodes pretty well on the outside, I do.  (Not always, but then who does?)

But God?  God sees me on the inside.  That, my friends, is the me that He’s been dealing with these past few days.  It’s not the me that yells at the kids sometimes.  It’s not the me that gets frustrated or annoyed or impatient.  It’s the me inside: the one that doesn’t always mesh with the me outside.

You see, sometimes why I’m frustrated with the kids, the inside is telling me it’s not that big of a deal, but the outside sure makes it look like it’s the end of the world.  Sometimes when I am sitting on the couch watching TV with The Hubby, the inside of me says I shouldn’t probably be watching this show or that, but the outside of me thinks that particular show is pretty funny.  Sometimes I’m fed up with the way a particular relationship is going, and on the inside I am quietly seething but on the outside everything is peachy.  Sometimes.

The thing is, though, I’m pretty sure that God wants me to live a life of integrity.  Integrity means a lot of things to a lot of people.  I think to most people it means that they keep the same standards no matter where they are or who they are with.  I agree.  Lately, though, I’ve been challenged to take that idea of integrity a step further.  Lately I’ve been drawn toward looking at my inside and realizing that it doesn’t always match my outside.  That, my friends, doesn’t hold up to my measure of integrity.

I’m working on it.  I am.  That’s a big reason I’ve been silent the last couple of weeks.  I’ve been dealing with me.  And so has God.  Because people?  If my daughter (or my sons) grow up to be amazing and love God, I will be so happy.  But if she grows up to love God and her inside still doesn’t match her outside, I’m not so sure I’ll be thrilled.  I may be proud of her accomplishments, but will I be proud of her integrity?

I hope so.  I hope I can grow up in such a way that my outside will match my inside as well.

God, please help me to be the same person I am on inside on the outside.  Every day.  No matter what.  Even when it’s hard.  Or it hurts.  Or it’s not popular.  Or it doesn’t make sense even to me.  Help me be a woman of Godly integrity.  A woman of whom I can be proud.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On Toddler Bed Time

(Or "What are we thinking?!?")

"We have GOT to figure out why that little stinker doesn't go to bed until 10:00!"
"I know exactly why."
"You do?"
"Yep.  He knows we won't make him.  And he knows that if he holds out long enough, he'll get to sit on the couch with mommy and daddy and eat french fries and pizza rolls."
"Oh, right.  So we should probably stop that."
"True.  But it's a lot easier if we just let him."

Friends, this conversation actually happened at my house last night.  (I'm not going to tell you which voice in this particular conversation was mine.That's not important.)  And so now I need your help.

Stinky and Bugsy share a bedroom, which makes "cry it out" difficult.  Also, Stinky sleeps in a twin bed, so we can't really just put him in bed and expect that he'll necessarily stay.  We seriously need to get the kid to sleep at a reasonable time, though, for our sanity, his mood, and so we can have some time alone!  What should we do?!?  Any sure-fire suggestions for fixing the mess we've made?


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Find your "born to!"

It's Wednesday and this week has already been about 12 days long.  Ever had one of those weeks?  So today when the kids suggested we spend the 80 degree evening playing in the sprinkler, I agreed that was a good idea!  We finished dinner and headed outside to dust off the sprinkler!

Stinky was very unsure about the water at first.

(I love his new "nervous" face.)

Bugs fulfilled his big-brother duties by pushing Stinky right into the water.

And sometimes dragging him into the water.

Eventually Stinky warmed up to the sprinkler.

And Bugsy?  Bugsy, as he streaked across the yard, shouted at the top of his lungs, "Mom!  I feel like this is what I was BORN to do!"

Friends, we were all born to do something.  Maybe that "born to" is different today than it was yesterday.  Maybe you haven't found it yet.  Maybe you can see it, but you just haven't quite figured out how to make it work yet.  You were born to do something, though.  Find your "born to."  Dust it off.  Hook it up.  Head on out to the back yard and have fun!  

You were BORN to do it!