One of Those Women: Open Hearts and an Open Womb

12.11.2014


Ever had a conversation you wish you could do over?  The kind where you walk away thinking, “why did I say that?!?!”

I had one of those conversations in Walmart the other day. It was just a regular Tuesday afternoon. I’d gone to the store for our weekly allotment of milk, cheese, peanut butter, and diapers. I always buy diapers.

I chose the checkout line that looked the fastest (but of course, it never is). The cashier was rather friendly and in a very talkative mood

The conversation went something like this:

Cashier: What did you do today?
Me: Nothing much. Just stayed home with my three kids. They are all babies.

Cashier: Like triplets!?!?
Me: Oh no! They are just young. I have a 3 yr old, 2 yr old, and a 9 month old.

Cashier: Wow! You got ‘em all out of the way quick.
Me: Well, actually we’d love more kids. They are pretty great.

Cashier: Really. That’s cool. How old are you?
Me: Umm…28, I think.

This is where we take a minute to discuss how strange it is that I don’t always remember how old I am. Eventually she says…
Cashier: Man, you’re really joyful. Most moms are all blah and complaining about kids.
Me: (stumbling over my words cause I know I should talk about Jesus but not really sure how…) Well, there is a lot of joy in following God’s plan for your life.

Cashier: Ohhhh! You’re one of THOSE women.
Me: What women?

Cashier: You know...one of those women who wants to have a bunch of kids. 
Me: Well…I don’t want like 20 kids or anything….I mean we just love Jesus so we have a lot to be joyful about…I like being a mom…

Cashier: Whew! Good. I can’t see you with like 16 kids or anything. That’s crazy!

I smile and quickly pay for my groceries. I honestly can’t remember the rest of the conversation. It seems like there was more but I don’t know what was said. All I remember is the one voice in my head saying the same thing over and over again.

“I take it back."

But I couldn't take it back. As I walked out to the car, my heart was humbled because in one moment, faced with the possible criticism of a complete stranger, I straight up lied. 

Truth is, I'd love to have 20 kids. 

We live in a culture that likes to put limits on God. We make careful calculations to determine just how many children we can afford. We evaluate our life plan and career goals and we try to time our babies just right to minimize inconvenience. We draw our lines in the sand. "God, I want this many and please, no more!"

But I don’t want to live like that. In our house, there are no limits. 

It’s not that we don’t have a plan. We do. It’s simple and straightforward. We are going to love God, love each other, and love our children. Whether there are three or thirteen, we'll welcome every single one. 

Please understand, we aren't out to set any records. We aren't intentionally trying to have a bunch of kids. In fact, we recognize that even though our hearts are set on a big family, it's not something God has ever promised us. 

But we have decided that we won't be the ones setting limits when it comes to our family size. We won't ever "be done". We want to live with open hearts and an open womb. 

As I think back on that walmart conversation, my heart is humbled because even though I am confident in my decisions I still fear what other people think.

This life we’ve chosen is so outside the box I don’t always know how to talk about it in a way that doesn’t sound…crazy! My default reaction is be get defensive, and I end up saying things I don’t really mean.

So I want to set the record straight. 

We may be unconventional, different, old fashioned, or some rare breed of “super” parents, but we’re not crazy.

I have doubts and fears just like every mother. How will we provide for more kids? How will I manage to teach them all? What if pregnancy and childbirth isn’t easy for me? What if we need a bigger vehicle? Will I ever get a break from breastfeeding? How in the world am I going to do all that laundry?!?!

But if I’m honest, those things don’t really keep me up at night. Sure, they are issues worth thinking about, but they don’t concern me too much.

My real fears come down to one thing: YOU.

What will you think about me? Will you still like me? Will you say mean things to me? Will you judge me and criticize me when my back is turned?

When I’m tired and worn out, like every other mom on the planet, will you still be willing to pray for me and lend a helping hand?

Or will you make snide comments about how I probably shouldn’t have any more kids if I ever want to sleep again?

Will you assume that we’re judging you because our families look different? (We’re not.) Will you assume I must think you’re a terrible Christian because you do things differently than I do? (You’re not.)

Or will you rejoice with us, when Lord willing we have the pleasure of announcing the birth of yet another baby?

The truth is this: 

I am one of THOSE women. The kind who loves her children and loves her husband, and thinks the height of coolness is driving a 15 passenger van to church every Sunday.

I am one of those women who may never have a clean kitchen or a quiet house but will always have a full heart. 

I am one of those women who looks at her 9 month old and wonders just how much longer he’s going to be her youngest.

I am one of those women who will choose to be joyful whether she thinks she’s ready for another positive pregnancy test or not.

I know that means learning to answer tough questions about our faith and our children. My prayer is that as our family grows God will also grow us in wisdom and grace, so we can deal with the criticism and questions that will inevitably come our way.

And I pray that through our family others see the joy of Christ and the blessing of children.

The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Gave Myself

11.24.2014


I’ve read a ton of parenting books. Something about having three little ones at home makes a person desperate for advice, help, and encouragement.

Books. Blogs. Podcasts. How-to-make-everybody-sleep manuals. Anything parenting related, I'm interested. 

But knowledge only goes so far. You actually put it into practice. Ask me any parenting question, and I’m bound to have a “smart” answer for you. Just don’t come over to my house and ask me how I do it. You don’t want to do what I do.

However, there are a few things I am genuinely working on. These are things I remind myself of daily when I know I need to step up my parenting game. 

This, my friends, is the best parenting advice I give myself. 

1.       Stop talking. Whatever you are about to say, don’t. Think about the words that are about to come out of your mouth. Do you need to say them? Are they kind? Do you intend to follow through with whatever threat/warning/instruction/command you are about to say? Cause if you don’t *really* mean it, then it’s best not to say it. 

So much confusion and chaos in parenting comes from the fact that we are quick to give commands and slow to make our kids follow through. I’ve heard it referred to as first time obedience (making sure your children obey everything you say the first time), but really I think it’s more of a “stop being a lazy parent” issue. If you are going to give your kids an instruction, be ready to help them obey. If you want kids who take your words seriously, YOU have to BE serious.

2.       Put down your phone. I know you just need to do A, B, and C really quick, but while you are doing those small things, one of your kids is doing LMNOP in the living room and another is shoving XYZ down the toilet. Do you really wanna have to clean that up?

There is definitely a time and place for being on your phone or computer. Whether it’s paying bills or just checking Facebook, those things are a part of our lives and are perfectly acceptable. However, DON’T let those things cause chaos in your home. If you decide that NOW is the best time to get online, at least stop and take care of your kids first. 

Make them stay in the room with you, or start a movie, or strap them in their high chairs, or at least put up a baby gate for goodness sakes! Make sure they are locked up occupied in a safe and controlled environment. Don't just let them run wild while you tune out all the screaming and pretend that you don't even have kids. Just don't. 

3.       Give kids what they want. You know it’s a proven fact that the happiest people in the world get everything they want (not really). Why not just give your kids what they want and make them happy? Of course, I’m not talking about sugar or non-stop television, but do look for ways to give your kids the things they want.

Have a child that won’t stop playing in the toilet? Put a massive bowl of water in the middle of the kitchen floor and let them go to town. Kids won’t stop jumping on the bed? Throw all the pillows on the floor and let them jump off stools instead. Have a little shadow following you around all day? Take the time to let them “help” with whatever you are doing. Two-year-old won’t stop throwing toys? Give her a massive tub full of plastic balls and let her throw them everywhere (maybe even at you!).

So often, I get into a “no” mindset. I’m always saying, “No, you may not do this or that or that other thing.” Sometimes I have to make myself say “yes”. Often that means figuring out what my kids want to do and finding a way they can do it without breaking all the rules and/or hurting themselves. It requires some creativity, but praise the Lord, we have Pinterest. Just imagine how difficult it would have been to raise a child before the internet came along! (not really…)

4.       Be ridiculous. There will come a time when you will find yourself across the room from a young child who has repeatedly done something that drives you crazy. Because you completely ignored Rule #1, you will have said, “Stop doing that,” 7 million times. When you finally snap, you’ll move quickly across the room with the sole intent of teaching your young child a lesson.

You are angry and understandably so, but THIS is the moment when you really need to stop and do something ridiculous. Run at your child making a weird face and howling like a monkey. Scream “bah!” really loudly and attack said child, tickling them until they beg for mercy. Announce you are serving cookies and ice cream for lunch, and join your children in their celebration dance.

There are times when my kids really do deserve consequences for their actions, but I’m just too tired or too angry to be fair. So instead, we curl up and read a book or snuggle on the couch, or tickle each other until we are both laughing so hard the offense has been forgotten and forgiven.

Because sometimes we ALL really need to laugh. Parenting is hard work, and no matter how much you know, somedays you just aren't going to do it "right". That's okay. Your kids don't need a perfect parent. They just need YOU.

FREE Printable Christmas Gift Tags

11.21.2014

I've been super busy in Photoshop this past week, and while I was there I whipped up a little something for YOU.

This is a PDF download of four printable gift tags that match the small Christmas scripture cards I have in my Etsy store. Of course, you can just use them as regular ole' gift tags, but I thought they would be super cute attached to a metal ring along with a set of verse cards.



In less than an hour you could have 8 homemade Christmas gifts perfect for Sunday School teachers, friends, or anyone who usually just gets a plate of cookies.

Scripture Card Set- $4
Set of 8 Book Rings- $2
Gift Tags- FREE

That's $6 for 8 gifts. You can't beat it!




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