Family Update: This is your time

It has been forever and a day since I have written a blog post…and even longer since I shared any type of update of our lives.  With all the reading I have been doing on time management and scheduling, I rarely say, “I don’t have time” anymore.  Instead I say I use my time for other things.  Which is in fact true.  God has given each of us the same twenty-four hours in a day. We all use those hours differently, right?

Somehow time is slipping away and things keep changing.  Did I really just register my youngest for kindergarten?  Is it true my oldest does not want to play in the Playland at IKEA anymore?  Since when did everyone’s shoe size get past the children sizes?

I have seen this the most lately in my oldest.  Last year we drove to swim lessons and she spent the entire car ride talking about My Little Pony.  Pinkie Pie is an earth pony.  Fluttershy is a pegasus.  Zecora is a zebra (which is confusing…how did a zebra get into Pony World?).  There are times I will see her get the ponies out and let them prance around the family room, but most of the time it is with her little sister.  She wants to listen to the rock station in the car and I am grateful I am (most of the time) content to listen to it with her.  She actually bought me a Taylor Swift CD for Christmas instead of buying one for herself.

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I sometimes mourn the little pudgy cheeked girl she used to me.  But more of the time I am grateful for the beautiful young lady she is becoming.  I have always had a heart for middle schoolers and have been doing middle school youth ministry for years and years.  It is exciting (and a little nerve wracking!) that she is slowly getting to that age.

She is so unlike me.  The day she was born my mom took one look at her and said, “This baby doesn’t look a thing like you.”  She has been Daddy’s girl since she was an infant.  She thinks like he does.  Her hand writing looks like his i.e. hard to decipher.  She loves to cook and has her own drawer in the kitchen with her own knife, measuring cups etc. She loves to make lunch for everyone and has cooked a few meals.  When I was nine years old I doubt I could be trusted with any type of kitchen machinery or my own knife.  She plays piano beautifully and is self disciplined and self motivated…again she did not get this from me.  She likes to run but I don’t know if it will be her passion like it is for me.  Then again I didn’t really become passionate about it until my 20’s.  She enjoys basketball, wants to try soccer again, and still likes to swim.  She loves theatre and acting.  It is fun watching her try many different things.

My son is the child of which I sometimes feel like I am reliving my own childhood.  His big blue saucer eyes remind me of “little me.”  I hate to admit I thought he would struggle in school.  When I home schooled him for preschool many years ago, I pulled out alphabet flashcards.  After a few cards he groaned and said, “Mom can we do something else?”  He never got into Sesame Street and was not a big reader like his older sister.  I was very wrong.  He is an advanced reader now and brings home A’s.  Math comes pretty natural to him at this age.  He works very hard at school.  He has a great sense of humor and a big heart.  He reaches out to the kids who are hurting or left out.  He loves animals and like me cannot handle movies where animals get hurt (I guess we’ll  never watch Old Yeller together).

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He is very extroverted and likes having extra kids around the house.  He and I both a share a need to be outside and we get stir crazy on rainy days.  I love to run and bike with him.  He loves legoes and hot wheels.  Like me, he hates mushrooms and olives.  I asked him how he thinks we are alike and he said, “We both have the same feelings.”  Which is very true.  We are both pretty emotional… sometimes to a fault.

He had an experience in school in February that mirrored a situation I had at almost the same age, it was uncanny.  The class had to make heart-shaped animals for Valentines Day.  It required them to fold construction paper in half to make hearts.  He could not figure it out and tried repeatedly.  He got overly frustrated.  When he told me about it when I was putting him to bed and he got very upset.  When I was in second grade we had to make hearts folded in half.  We had to staple two hearts together and put memory verses we learned in the hearts.  I could not figure out how to cut a half heart shape with folded paper.  I tried so hard and gave up.  The teacher laughed (which made me feel even dumber) and gave me one she had already made.  I told that story to my son and he said, “Mom you’re not dumb. We just couldn’t figure it out.”

I wondered when the third child was born if she would be like her sister or her brother.  The answer to that question is she is not like either one.  She is who she is.  She was a strong willed toddler that constantly kept me on my feet and challenged me in many ways.  That made her into an independent girl who makes her own lunch every day without my help (she’s five), picks out her own clothes, and is learning to read (and do some basic math too).

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She is truly an artist.  She takes paper creations, pipe cleaners, paint, magazine cut outs, stickers and makes things.  She will do this for a whole morning.  What she comes up with is incredibly creative.  I am much more “arts” than “crafts” and I appreciate the “not having to follow directions.”  I would much rather have a blank canvas and some paints.

Like her brother she loves to ride her bike and get dirty outside.  She is still very much wrapped up in the world of My Little Pony and Barbie.  She is still strong willed.  I have to tell her to tone it down and not tell her friends what to do.  Yet I see some leadership in her.  I am excited to see how her little personality is going to continue to develop.  I am not sure if she is more like me or my husband.  Most days I see a bit of both.  Sometimes she reminds me a lot of my sister and my niece which makes me smile.

As for my husband and I…when we first moved to Oregon we were in our late 20’s.  30 seemed normal and 40…well old.  Now we are inching closer to 40.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am in my late 30’s and I’m not 28. I don’t feel old most of the time.  Maybe sometimes when my middle school youth group kids have no idea who White Snake or Van Halen is or what life was like pre-Internet or that our family shared a phone that was attached to the wall.  There is something fun about sharing those stories of pre-technology age.

The husband and I both listen to indie/folk music pretty regularly now.  I don’t know if that is because we are in our late 30’s or it is more popular in the Pacific Northwest.  When I was driving my middle schoolers to go bowling I said, “You can put it on whatever radio station you want.  I have it on the indie/folk alternative station.  I am not sure you have heard of it.”  She said, “No I don’t listen to it but my mom does.”  It is a different experience when your youth group kids moms are your age and even your friends whereas when we started youth ministry years and years ago we were actually closer in age to the kids.

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The husband is about to graduate with his doctorate which is pretty amazing.  He made trips all the way to St. Louis for 2-3 weeks each year for classes.  He wrote a dissertation that included interviews and tons of reading and hours of research.  All while being a full time pastor, husband, and dad. And author…he wrote a book in there too!  I honestly think he could teach a course in time management.  I asked him what he is going to do with his spare time once he is completely finished.  That might include more reading, writing, and possibly model airplanes.

As for me I feel like my life this spring has not been this “run around crazy one thing to the next circus” like it has been in the past.  Maybe my husband’s time management skills finally rubbed off on me after 14 years of marriage.  I work almost full time doing in home child care, but I do have time to read, connect with friends, and of course run a crazy amount of miles.  I will be (Lord willing) running my fourth marathon at the end of May and this time with my sister.  I desired friends who run and even prayed for running partners over the years.  But I still was (mostly due to my unpredictable schedule with kids) the lone runner.  I have found people to train with and it has been a tremendous blessing.  I shared more about this on my running blog  where you can also follow my marathon training.

In this phase of life being a stay at home takes on a new form.  I feel like I still need to be at home, but I am not doing the changing, dressing, picking up their toys (most of the time they are supposed to pick up their own) etc.  We are doing more together outside of the home that are things we all enjoy (like going to a movie, bike rides etc.). More often than not, I am the mom on the play equipment or the trampoline or in the tree (that was a little much–I wasn’t sure how I was going to get down). I don’t expect every mom to be like me, but I am grateful for my energy and need for activity.

I know this post is getting super long…I am nearing 1800 words…yikes.  But tomorrow I leave for Michigan for my grandma’s funeral.  She was 96 years old.  I am reminded again how precious time is.  I am grateful for all the memories I had with her.  She was an amazing grandma and I am grateful I got to know her so well.  But we don’t live forever here on earth…time does not stand still.  It is time to say good-bye at least on this side of heaven.

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 So I close with this:  Don’t let time pass you by that you looked back and questioned, “What did I do with those twenty four hour periods God gave me?”  Create memories.  Make a meal together.  Go for a bike ride.  Paint a picture. Jump on a trampoline. Dance to 80’s music. If that’s not you–figure out who you are.  Even though there is pain, brokenness, anxiety, suffering, and fear of the future, don’t discount this beautiful life God blessed you with.

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Blog Giveaway! My husband’s book!!

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When most of us think of the “sex talk” from our youth, we think of purity rings, “don’t do that,” “stay away from that” etc.  But is the Bible’s view on sex so negative?  There is a positive and uplifting portrayal of sexual intimacy in the Scriptures and my husband shares this in his book Naked and Unashamed .

It is now available for pre-ordering and available late October.  However we want to do a giveaway and give one person their own free copy.  All you have to do is leave your name in the comments and (optional) how you found my blog.  For an extra entry, like my Facebook page and that will double your chances in wining.

One of my kids will draw a name out of a hat at 7:30 AM Pacific Time on Wednesday…a week from today.

Thanks for supporting my husband in this endeavor.  There is nothing quite like holding book you wrote in your hands as a published author.

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Marriage: Broken Not Bent

Last June my middle schoolers and 20 something leader introduced me to the song Just Give Me A Reason by Pink when they were singing it perfect unison while riding in the church van.  Me a 30 something who is a little late on the pop culture bandwagon immediately loved the song.  I thought to myself–“Wow this song describes marriage.”

Broken not bent.  Learning to love again. A nice break from all the “touchy feely” love songs.

These lines sung by Nate Ruess were said to me at one time or another in some form:  “I’m sorry I don’t understand.  Where all this is coming from.  I thought we were fine…Your head is running wild again.  My dear we still have everything.  And it’s all in your mind.”

As a child you sit in church and see all the couples sitting around you–moms and dads and grandparents.  You assume they have happy marriages and love one another.  After eight, nine or ten years into your marriage you realize how difficult and sometimes complicated this relationship can be.  Sometimes you carry within you brokenness.

I always have a small army of children in my house.  I watch them play…most of the time very well.  Sometimes there is a squabble over “When is it my turn?”  or “Can I be first? I wanted to go first.”  There is an anxiety that the child will not get a turn so he or she sometimes resorts to begging, pushing, bossiness, or entitlement attitudes.  They are kids.  You and I were probably the same way.

Broken marriages can be the same.

We’re adults but we never fully grow out of that mode.  There is an anxiety about our needs not being met, being walked over, taking advantage of,  or mistreated.  Sometimes we do not express what we need.  Or we do so in a overly dramatic or condescending way.

The other day my youngest (who sometimes struggles with being grabby and pushy) said to one of the kids–“May I please have that toy penguin when you are done playing with it.”  The other child realized she was not really playing with it anymore and saw my daughter really desired to have it.  So she politely passed it to her.

Sometimes we simply do not say what we need using kind words.  We resort to pushiness and self consciousness.

Marriage is day by day renewal.  Recognizing your own brokenness.  Examining your own faults.  Figuring out what triggers your anger. Healing the hurts deep inside of you that might even be scars from your own childhood.

When my husband would go out of town on business (he’s away right now as I’m writing this so I’ve been reflecting), I would feel abandoned.  Yes, of course I missed him.  But often I missed his help or his way of keeping me from losing my mind in my crazy stay at home mom world.  

After we put the kids to bed we often sit on the brown couches in the family room.  We watch a TV show we both love.  Right now we’re deep into the Bones series.  Last night as I sat on the couch he usually sits on (I sleep on his side of the bed when he’s away too), I felt an emptiness.  I had a difficult time enjoying myself and I could not fully relax. I don’t miss his help (OK I do a little–he’s a better cook than I am).  But I simply miss him.  I miss the little things, the companionship, the laughter.

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Over the years, like many couples we had bad days and bad weeks.  Even though I would never have changed anything, having babies close in age was challenging.  We did not always work as a team.  Sometimes my struggles with anxiety got out of control.  Some times might be classified as broken.

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But not bent.  God has taught us many things over the years and we have  learned to be loving servants to one another (while still being a work in progress obviously).  Servant hood.  Sacrifice. (Romans 5:8)  Not words you’ll find in touchy feely love song either.  But without it, there is no love.

I totally know what people say when they share–“I love him or her more today than the day I married her.”  Because I feel the same way.

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Our trip to St. Maarten in greater detail

 

 

I knew deep in my heart we would experience the relaxing island life one day even if it took us  years for us to do it. About ten years ago I lead a mission trip to Belize.  As we stepped off the plane surrounded by tourists venturing to beaches, resorts, and snorkeling spots, I sinfully wished we were there on vacation…but only briefly.  I really fell in love with the Caribbean and had a strong desire to go there.002-DSC00009

 

We left Portland last week Wednesday evening.   Once we boarded our last and final flight to St. Maarten, we anticipated it being the shortest.   Unfortunately there was a domestic disturbance on board and a couple got escorted off the plane.  It was the first time in my life I saw six police vehicles race up towards the plane.  Then more bad luck…there was a  fuel spill on the runway in St. Maarten from an Air France jet.  We were diverted to St. Croix where we sat in the airplane for 1 1/2 hours.  When we FINALLY got to St. Marrten and picked up our baggage, it was one of those dreadful moments of standing in a deserted baggage claim watching the last suitcases circle around.  I reported my missing bag and the attendant said someone took my bag thinking it was theirs.  She seemed hopeful they would turn it in.  Rob saw a gate agent wheeling my bag.  He chased them down and thankfully no missing luggage.

009-DSC00016By the time we reached our resort we were exhausted…and extremely hungry. We had dinner our first night with another couple who had arrived a couple hours before we did.  It was wonderful traveling and being alone with Rob, but I did enjoy meeting others staying in the resort.  This couple was from Canada.  I felt bad we were exhausted and I was craving sleep versus conversation.  I fell asleep in front of the TV at 8:30 PM and slept until 8:00 AM.011-DSC00018St. Maarten attracts air plane enthusiasts like my husband because it has one of the shortest runways in the world.  The planes literally swoop over your head while you’re on the beach.  I am not an aviation buff, but I even thought it was totally cool.  We spent most of our first day plane watching, sitting by the pool, and swimming.

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And I tie dyed a t-shirt.  The resort employees in charge of entertainment aka The Animation Team were so fun.  I jokingly told Rob that would be the perfect job for me.  He reminded me we worked at a Christian conference center the summer before our oldest was born leading activities…so we had a brief career as animators.

Our first night we wanted to stay up later than 8:30 PM so we headed to the sports bar within our resort for appetizers and drinks.  We were hoping to watch the Cardinals game.  It was a bizzaro restaurant as we were practically the only ones there.  After getting bored with our baseball game, the waiter switched it to wrestling.

Our next day we spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon shopping in Phillipsburg.  This is where all the great shops are and marketplace type stores as well.  Everything is decently priced and you can barter in almost every store.  I was intimidated with all the pushy sales people, but Rob seemed to enjoy it.  This is also the town where the cruise ships dock and there is a beautiful beach.

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We spent the rest of the day plane watching, laying out on the beach, and swimming in the pool.

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On Sunday we spent the morning at the larger pool I referred to as the Party Pool.  This pool had a swim up bar, DJ, and activities.  The other pool was the Ocean side pool which gave a better view of the beach.  Kind of an extroverted mingling pool and introverted hang out pool…I will let you guess which one I preferred.  The Animators put on a trivia game which we played with a few others.  Rob answered the vast majority of the answers.  He was hoping to win a bottle of rum, but his prize was a St. Maarten bracelet…oh well.

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I also got my hair braided by a local islander who hung out on the beach during the day.  Another local was trying to sell me a foot massage with aloe, but I passed on that one and told him my husband would give me one for free.

On Sunday night we went to Karaoke in the lobby.  Rob is not a huge Karaoke fan, but he had just as great of a time as me.  We were with a bunch of French Canadians who sang a lot of old tunes from the 60’s and 70’s.  I sang an 80’s hit.

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Our last full day we took a taxi to Baie Rouge beach on the French side of the island (we stayed on the Dutch side).  We had a relaxing morning of swimming, walking the beaching, and snorkeling.  We saw several fish and coral, but I actually was starting to get sea sick and nauseous–I’m getting old!

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As we left the beach around 12:30 PM, it started to rain.  It had hardly rained our whole trip…just a few sprinkles here and there.  We assumed it would pass through and turn sunny again later in the afternoon.  It rained the whole rest of the day into the evening.  Everything kind of shut down.

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Tuesday was the day we were leaving, but we had the morning to sit by the pool one last time.  We left for the airport around 2 PM and then got on our flight to Miami which thankfully was normal with no mishaps.  Getting through customs was monotonous and felt like it took hours.  We had time to eat supper and then took our next flight to LAX.  We arrived in LAX close to midnight and we were not schedule to fly out until 8 AM the next day.

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So we found a corner in the terminal and slept on the floor which was pretty much as miserable as it sounds.  Rob said the insane elevator music blasting from the speakers all night long was worse than the uncomfortable floor.  I think they were tied for crumminess.  Neither of us slept very much.  I also lost my cell phone on the plane.  While I was aimlessly searching for my cell phone on the plane I took my airplane pillow out of my backpack…and never put it back in.  Then my camera also got scratched on the screen.  But…I need a new phone anyway, the airplane pillow was a cheapie from Wal Mart, and the camera still works…it’s all about perspective.

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And now we’re home and slowly getting back into the real world.  Last night I slept from 9:00 PM until 7:00 PM.  I was so tired I could not think straight.  Today has been more manageable.

I am grateful I could visit such a beautiful island.  No one got sick. It was wonderful to have quality time with Rob.  All three of our kids were giving us advice before we left and our youngest said, “No fighting”…and we didn’t.  We enjoyed a break from the go, go, go of our lives and technology…I only checked facebook twice in St. Maarten.  I really could not ask for a better trip.

 

Surreal

For many years…probably soon after we were married in 2001…we wanted to take a trip to St. Maarten.  For those who don’t know where this is, it’s a Caribbean island.  Half the island is French and the other side is Dutch.  This was a dream even before we had kids.  We knew we would not be able to take the trip until our future kids were past the baby/toddler phase.

At one time we considered Hawaii instead since it’s closer to the Pacific Northwest versus the Midwest (where we used to live).  The husband was actually watching travel videos on Hawaii when I was in labor with the third child.  I kindly asked him to turn it off when it was time to push.

Then we realized why should we hold back on our dream?  Even if it took a couple more years.

St Maarten it is!

While we briefly considered the idea of a cruise, we realized we wanted a full week on the island.  We found on an all inclusive resort.

And we leave TOMORROW!

We’re a pretty frugal family.  We saved our money.  For years and years.  It adds a whole meaning to a vacation when you literally spent this much time saving for it,  The whole thing is a little surreal to me right now.