Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wrinkle Cream, Here I Come

Tonight, some of my friends and I helped another friend host a dinner for some ladies from the Lovelady Center. We do this every so often, and it's always so much fun. We all pitch in and bring food, help serve the ladies, and spend time chatting with them during the evening. If you ever need to know how to start a flame to light your cigarette or make make-up from coffee grinds while in prison, some of these ladies can give you some pointers. I'm praying I never have to use any of this information, but I'm keeping some tidbits stored in the back of my brain just in case.

Seriously, it's a great step out of my safe, sheltered little life into the harsh reality that is this sinful world we live in. You get to see lives restored by the power of Christ and lives still shattered by sin. It makes my little life seem very boring...in a good way. But I love the transparency that many of these women have. We are all just sinners whom Jesus has rescued. Many have nothing to hide and will talk with you about things that many "good, church-going suburbanites" would never share with you. Of course, some of these women came from settings much like ones I'm familiar with. You just see how quickly lives can be wrecked, but also how faithful God is to those who seek Him.

So, I'm sitting there enjoying my delicious meal without a soul asking me to cut their food or get them seconds before I even sit down to my firsts. There is some of the usual chit-chat...do you work, how many kids do you have, have you ever done any time...when one of the ladies looks at my friend sitting next to me (knowing we both have four kids) and asks, "So how old are you? You look like you're 20!" My friend blushes politely and replies, "I'm 32." And they all oooh and aaaah over how youthful she looks and how they want to look like that at the ripe old age of 32 and they just can't believe she has four kids. And, let me say, she is very youthful and beautiful (on the inside and out). And then...AND THEN...nothing. No one turns to me and says, "And how old are you because you simply can't be a day over 25?" Nothing!

Well, there you go. It was so ridiculous, but I wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time. Naturally, I spent the rest of the evening weighing my options as to what dermotological treatment I should seek. Or maybe it's a plastic surgeon I need. Forget ministering to hurting souls...I look old! I reminisced back to the days when I was getting married and people would exclaim..."How can you be getting married? You only look 15!" Or when I was pregnant with Maddie and people would insist, "You look like a child yourself." Gone are those days when others would think I was at least five years younger than my actual age!

I said I was going to be real with you people, and I'm just telling you, it's not easy to concentrate on a conversation with people who, by their silence, are telling you that you look like you have one foot in the grave! You know what led to all this? One sleepless night too many! These sweet, precious children are slowly sucking the youth and the life out of me. (The only problem with that theory is that my friend has as many kids as I do.)

There was nothing left to do but to accept my elderly appearance, lay my pride down, and put a smile on my face. God must really have a sense of humor to throw this at me just as we're finishing our book on brokenness. If an incident like this won't bring you down to size, nothing will.

So, I will pick of the shattered pieces of my broken heart and move on with life. What little life I have left, anyway. I suppose I'll start looking into nursing home options soon. And I will choose to think of myself as so obviously oozing with wisdom and maturity that people simply assume I am older than my peers. Come to think of it, I was wearing my glasses tonight, and people keep telling me how smart I look in them. Yes, now that I think of it, that must be it. Whew! Glad I solved that one. Now I'm off to find that wrinkle cream.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lunch Cookin', Tantrum Throwing, and Dice Rollin'

That's what we've been up to today. I was super late to Bible study this morning. I could use the "I had to cook two casseroles and get two munchkins ready" excuse, but so did 75% of the people there today and they weren't late. I've just been stinkin' up lots of things lately, so why do today any differently? On the bright side, my casserole went from "call the fire department, my mouth is flaming" to "just right" after baking for 30 minutes. Who knew that could happen? I'm thinking maybe it was a little gift from God since I was stressing about fixing a new recipe for 40 people. Whew. That was close.

In other good news, Luke has been to both church and Bible study and emerged with dry pants in the last 24 hours. He even threw in a little pooping for good measure. Another gift from God: while potty training would not fit into any category with "fun" in the title, it's been WAY less stressful this time. That could be due to the fact that I have trained two other kids who, despite the days when I wanted to throw myself in front of a bus, do #1 and #2 in the potty on a daily basis. Nothing like a little perspective to make the stress level come down. My theory is now going to be "the worse the sleeper, the better the pottier". If that proves true, Sam will have himself trained by the time he's 18 months old.

Yes, little Sam still likes to hang out with me anywhere from one to three times a night. And, yes, he's still in our room. Not only that, but he is doing the vast majority of his sleeping in his swing. It's going to look a little funny when his feet are dragging the ground, but hey...what's a momma to do? But he's super cute and as chubby as he can be, so we're going to let him stay.

Back to Luke...I will have you know that this kid can cause some trouble. He's not as consistently challenging as some other boy who lives in our house, but when he decides to challenge us, he pulls no punches. I already mentioned how last week, in the middle of our version of General Hospital, he decided to unroll a whole roll of toilet paper and put it in the potty and flush. It was a new low point in my life when I had to answer the door for my mom wearing my pajamas and a purple rubber glove at noon with my kid screaming in the background. Then today, he had me seriously considering studying up on exorcism as he threw the temper tantrum of all temper tantrums. But who could blame him? I mean, his cruel mother had asked him to put his juice bottle in the refrigerator. Who wouldn't go ballistic over something so absolutely unreasonable and horrid?

Jack and Maddie have been a couple of sweeties lately as it's obviously been Luke and Sam's turn at trying to drive Mommy and Daddy to the brink of insanity. Since I'm probably a little closer to insane these days, Daddy let me go play bunco with the girls while he dealt with Grumpy and Grumpier. I guess he figured that way at least he had a night without Grumpiest!

For some reason, though these days haven't really been any crazier than any other days at our house, I've been struggling. As any real woman would do, I am blaming it on hormones. But no matter what the cause, I know at least one piece of the purpose. Each moment of my day, I am forced to choose plunging into despair or crying out to my God (and occassionally my mom) for help. And just as the age-old question "Why?" begins to form on my lips, God answers, "Because you need to need me." Better one day spent totally dependent on the God who can do all things than one thousand days dependent on this flesh which can do nothing but fail. I am so thankful for a God who holds me up when I am about to fall and carries me when I can no longer walk. And so, since His strength is made perfect in my weakness, I should rejoice in all this weakness that is so plain in me. So I will say, "Bring on the craziness if it will bring me to the feet of Jesus."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Amy, Uncensored

I've mentioned before that I'm reading a book entitled Brokenness. Now, at the moment I cannot, for the life of me, locate said book which I'm supposed to have read for tonight. I'm seriously considering taking that as God's sign that I am broken enough and no longer need that stinkin' book. However, something tells me that's probably not the case.

Now, one unfortunate effect this book has had on me is showing me many, many, many areas in my life where pride has a hold on me. I have always considered myself to pretty much be an open book. I pride myself on my transparency, but I've come to realize there are still many things about which I'm unwilling to be totally transparent. I know there are things that I say and do, even on this little blog, that still involve some attempt to put a nice sweet cover on the ugliness in me. I know I have made choices to add or delete certain things based on what people will think of me rather than what God sees in me. So, it is my new goal to be real with you. As a dear friend cautioned me recently, I will make every attempt to be sure that my weakness brings glory to God and not attention to me. That there is some point to my realness. Nevertheless, I do not want to be a whitewashed tomb. So, I'm just going to have to open the casket sometimes and let you get a fresh whiff of all the rottenness inside. You may not want to read this blog on a full stomach.

I just read a puritan prayer that sums me up pretty well:

O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much about man's creaturely power and goodness, when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment, we should be devils incarnate. This, by bitter experience, thou hast taught me concerning myself.

Just ask my family. There are moments they're pretty sure I'm a devil incarnate.

Speaking of devils and all things evil, I just got back from the pediatrician's office for the third time this week. Just as I'm not a party girl, neither am I a gambler. I've only been to a real casino once in my life, and I refused to gamble a cent. It wasn't necessarily on moral grounds but on the grounds of I hate to flush money down the toilet. (And speaking toilets, I think Luke just wet himself. I'll be back.........Yay! False alarm.) However, I have gambled three times this week. Like I said, I've been to the pediatrician's office.

There is little that can bring me to the highest possible level of stress like trying to decide whether or not to take my kid to the doctor. You'd think the fate of every human on earth lay in the balance the way I stress over this decision. Well, thirty dollars and at least two and a half hours of my life are on the line, so that's pretty much the same thing. Seriously, a call to the doctor, and certainly a trip to the office, is the best cure for anything that ails my children. I kid you not. Yesterday morning, Sam wheezed for hours and periodically attempted to cough up one of his sweet little lungs. Made an appointment and voila, he is healed. Today: Repeat.

I call and make another appointment this morning since, when I spoke to a nurse yesterday, it seemed of the utmost importance that I bring my fat four-month-old in asap since he was wheezing. So, I called back when the wheezing returned and got a morning appointment, hoping he'd still be sounding horrible when I got there. Then, as any good mom would, I proceeded to pray that my kid would sound like he was at death's door just until the doctor could see him.

Ya'll, I am not exaggerating. We got to the office, wheezing, got seen by a nurse almost immediately, still wheezing (though his oxygen was good), and even got fast-tracked to the back. Then we got left in purgatory, I mean the trauma room, for a good 45 minutes...still wheezing. Then we get shown to a normal room (imagine very hungry, tired, bored three-year-old in tow)...still wheezing, and Sam is finally exhausted. He falls asleep in my arms and STOPS WHEEZING about 2.5 minutes before the doctor walks in. Do you know how frustrated I was? DO YOU? Why is it that the nurse gets you all worried and the wheezing persists just long enough to make you feel like the biggest fool on the planet and flush $30 of money you don't really have to waste down the toilet? I have no words left in me to express my feelings on this matter. And now I have spent more of my day writing about it so that the frustration doesn't stay bottled up in me until I erupt!

I'm not sure what eternal purpose my day has served up to this point. With all these doctor's office visits, God is either preparing me to endure being imprisoned in China...or telling me if I can't handle three doctor's visits in a week, there is no way I could handle being imprisoned in China. Either way, not good.

My prayer is to not set foot in that office again for at least a month. And, to quote the puritan again...

I ask great things of a great God.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Party Girl

You can say many things about me. I've been called a perfectionist, a smarty pants, a goody-two-shoes, a snob, a stick in the mud...all back in the day, of course. But one thing I've never been called (at least not with a straight face) is a party girl. However, there is one kind of party I frequent, I'm ashamed to say, and I've been trying my best to stay away from that party this week. Yes. I admit, I love a good pity party.

In the last eight days, my time away from home has consisted of one very exciting trip to Wal-mart and two visits to our pediatrician's office. All four of our lovely children have been sick with the crud and poor Lukey is still battling. I feel like I've been in the mommy trenches all week, and it ain't over yet. Let's just say I'm not going to be in the running for the Florence Nightingale award anytime soon. (Assuming there is such a thing as the Florence Nightingale award.) Nurse material I am not. But, I still have my sanity, or at least as much of it as I did before all this, and I'm thankful that we went two whole months without any sickness, though we're certainly making up for it now.

Now if anyone around here deserves a pity party, it's this little guy.

Our sweet Luke turned 3 today. I'm just guessing, but I don't think he really wanted to celebrate at the doctor's office. However, that's exaclty what we did. The whole thing was not a total loss, though, as he did score a new Hot Wheels car from the doc. He came home and had a very small Woody-Buzz party with the fam, during the middle of which he requested a nap. Chris and I realized tonight that all three of our older kids have been sick on at least one of their birthdays. Knowing us, that sounds about right. Sorry, Sam, but I'm afraid your day is coming.

Sick or not, we love our Luke. He keeps us on our toes, and keeps us laughing. He's a big ball of mischief, but it's impossible to stay mad at him for more than a minute or two. His signature move is to come up to you when you're upset or angry, tilt his head, and ask to see your "Sweet Face" as he grins this totally fake grin. He decided to end his Terrible Twos (though I don't think two is so terrible) with a bang by stuffing an entire roll of toilet paper into the toilet yesterday...and flushing...while I was nursing Sam. Good times.

Luke is full of energy, says the funniest things, and loves some snacks. He has been so much fun as a two-year-old, I can only imagine what THREE will be like.

And, seeing as how I've had very little time to attend to this little blog here, I'll just sandwich two posts into one and leave you with a look at our adorable little Sam as well.

S is for Sam....

...and smooches...

...and sweet...and smiley...

...and squishy...

...and sister.

Now how could I ever justify a pity party after those pics? I really am blessed. Why do I fret or complain? Now, back to nurse duty.