Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Hay Nada Como La Casa de Uno

Well, I’m happy to announce that I’m alive and well and right back in my cozy, mostly clean little house. Thank you, Lord! I was planning on starting my update on Guatemala out with all the exciting details of the trip, followed by all the amazing God-moments, and capped off with the unbelievable, touching miracle that the Lord performed, leaving you with your jaw on the floor and your eyes moist with tears. Instead, I’ll do my best to make a week of homesick card-playing with the occasional feet-washing thrown in extremely interesting. I'll warn you: It's terribly long!

Last Saturday night, I sucked every hug and kiss possible from my kids and waited as late as I could to tuck them into bed because, come 4am, I was outta here for a week. There were tears, but I pried little hands off of me and steered my thoughts toward other things to keep from having to be pulled out of my house kicking and screaming. I crept out of the house in the dark, wee hours of the morning, just trying to hold it together long enough to actually get on the plane. (I’m still unsure where Jack gets his dramatics from. Clearly, it’s not his mother.)

The main thought going through my mind was, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” I did my best to fix my eyes ahead and not behind me and boarded a plane to a third world country. Flying is a strange mixture of scary and exciting for me. An airport teeming with hurried people just screams anticipation to me. But landing on a cloudy, faraway, run-down airport runway screams, “I wanna go home!” But, I couldn’t. So, along with the help of some very patient and strong men, I claimed my 49.8 pound bag, and made my way out the airport doors into a crowd of busy people. I had just been given a welcome to the country which sounded a lot like, “Oh, yeah. You can’t flush the toilet paper here,” but I’m sure was actually, “Bienvenidos!” The first thing that caught my eye as we exited the building was a man with no legs using a skateboard in lieu of a wheelchair and selling pencils. I didn’t know what to do with that, so I just huddled with my group and waited for our ride.

The excitement of entering a completely new environment quickly turned to an attempt to avert insanity as we headed to our hotel, where we would be held captive staying for the next ten hours until we went to bed and headed out the next morning. Honestly, this was one of the hardest parts of the whole week. I felt weird because I was totally out of my element. It was dreary outside, but it didn’t even matter because we weren’t allowed outside anyway. Something about mugging and murder and not wanting us to be a part of it. Party poopers. All that sitting and thinking left plenty of time for wanting to go home and gazing ahead at a whole week of time before my wish would come true. Clearly, I would not make a very hopeful prison inmate.

We passed the day with pizza, fried chicken, and card-playing – the hallmarks of any good mission trip. After the first of many nights where sleep was not easy, we headed to the mountains and the city of Tecpan. At this point, I will go ahead and tell you that I am possibly the worst missionary of all time. I just wanted to get that out of the way so we can all lower our expectations about twelve notches. Much of my time was spent trying to not be overcome with homesickness and forcing myself to do what I had to do despite it not being what I wanted to do.

After weaving up mountain roads complete with mudslides galore and men with machetes, we arrived (in the rain) at the first village where we would deliver new shoes and the Good News. My mind was in overload mode after trying to ignore the rather tight turnaround on a narrow muddy road on the side of a hill, seeing the crowd of people awaiting our arrival, walking in the mud, and entering the dark, sparse building where we were to set up shop. It was actually a relief to finally be able to do something instead of just waiting. But being the totally selfless missionary that I am, I kept having to push back the thought of “Wonder where we’re staying for the next four nights?” after we’d been told that we’d just driven past it, yet I had not just driven past anyplace that was on my list of acceptable places to stay. In case you don’t know, I’m just slightly anal about where I spend the night.

Despite my reservations about our reservations (ha!), I plunged into the work ahead. We set up our benches, buckets of water, scrub brushes, lollipops and shoe bags and the work began. A line of children waited patiently outside in the drizzle, their brown eyes wide with curiosity. I don’t even know why, but my eyes did get a little teary at the sight of them. I remember one little boy in particular. I can’t remember who was washing his feet, but I remember his face. It was plastered with a smile that just wouldn’t stop. His face must have hurt from smiling so big for so long, but he couldn’t help himself. It was gratitude mixed with excitement and I just had to smile back.

Hours later, when we were covered in mud and baby powder, we loaded up again and headed to the dreaded “resort” where we’d be spending the coming days. I was relieved beyond belief when we pulled through the opening in the barbed-wire-topped wall and saw rows of cute little cottages. God was so good to me. I actually loved this little place way more than the hotel we’d been at the night before. And we could actually walk outside whenever we wanted! There was the little issue of it being chilly and not having any heat (or a hot shower), but that I could deal with.

The porch of our cozy little bungalow

We settled into a little routine over the next few days. First we’d wake up and hop out of bed (shivering), get dressed, head down for breakfast and coffee, load up the vans, and head out. Then we’d set up our work area for the day, wash feet, share Jesus with hundreds of people, eat lunch, play Phase 10, eat dinner, play Phase 10, take a freezing cold shower as fast as possible, play more Phase 10, laugh a lot, warm ourselves by the fire, and go to bed. There was the occasional trip to a restaurant for wifi and a snack thrown in there, but that was basically the gist of our days. The last day before we travelled home, we got to visit the beautiful city of Antigua and do a little shopping for souvenirs. And then it was time to head back to the ol’ US of A. In some ways, it flew, but in other ways, it seemed like forever since I’d squeezed Sam’s sweet cheeks.

Washing feet is the “glamorous” job on a trip like this. It’s the one that gets the headlines and the “awww’s” from onlookers. But I actually enjoyed emptying buckets, measuring feet, fetching shoes…all the behind the scenes, administrative type things. And that allowed me to constantly look around the room at faces. I felt more blessed by watching the children’s reactions and the mission team members’ expressions during the whole process. One scene that moved me over and over again was the site of grown men washing children’s feet. It just said “Jesus” to me more than anything else. The guys were so tender and kind, just as Jesus would be in their position, I’m sure.

Happy Feet

Day after day, as we drove into villages, unloaded our stuff, set up the room, organized the children and the shoes, and set to work, God gave me the grace to touch dirty, damaged feet and not be grossed out by it. Day after day, He gave us the chance to see faces changed by the message of Jesus. Day after day, He refocused my homesick heart on the task at hand. Day after day, I saw the kindness and love of Christ through the words, actions, and faces of the other team members.

In the end, it was a very meaningful experience, but it was not as miraculously life-altering as I’d imagined it to be. We played a lot (I mean, a LOT) of cards in our abundance of free time. I had tummy issues and no appetite, which led to quite the effective weight loss plan. I fought back tears a few times as the week wore on and it seemed like a month since I’d seen my family. I shivered in our cozy bungalow with no heat and cold showers, wishing I’d packed something warmer to wear. There was a ton of laughter and lots of “holding it” to avoid going in the rancid village bathrooms. It was memorable because it was so different than my normal life, but it just wasn’t as dramatic as I’d expected.

And through the not-so-miraculous nature of it all, God whispered truth to me. My walk with Him often falls short of the miraculous category. Most days I don’t feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Usually, life seems pretty ordinary. So much of this Christian walk is just about my obedience and God’s faithfulness. I was obedient to do what He wanted me to do, even though I didn’t hear any angels singing or cry buckets of tears because I was so moved by the whole thing. And He was faithful to take care of me and give me tiny glimpses of Himself. Most of my worst fears did not come true and the ones that did, He gave me the ability to cope with. He gave me the grace to stay in a place that wasn’t so totally comfortable and to wash feet that I wouldn’t ordinarily want to touch and to survive a week without hugs from my babies. He was faithful to me. I was obedient to Him. It doesn’t seem very miraculous, but there are plenty of miracles hidden in there.

The fact that Almighty God chooses to stay by my side when I’m completely undeserving of His presence is pretty amazing. And the fact that He has changed me to the point that I’m willing to step so far outside of myself in obedience to Him is rather remarkable, too. And while giving these people shoes and candy and hugs is sweet, it’s the unseen that will last. I don’t know how many of the 1,000+ people we prayed with really gave themselves to Jesus, but for the ones who did, this was a miraculous week for them. Their eternities have been changed, and that’s what it’s all about.

I’m thankful that God allowed me, the most selfish, ordinary missionary there ever was, to have a small part in what He’s doing. And I’m thankful He brought me back to my babies safely. I’m thankful that in His quiet, subtle way, He did something amazing…used a broken vessel like me to carry some very important news to people whom He dearly loves. As I looked around the room while our fearless leader shared the Gospel with a group of ladies and saw the eyes of some filled with such sorrow over their sin and relief to have finally found some hope, I saw myself. We’re all just broken people in need of someone to love us and fix us and give us a future. I was just there to pass along the hope, whether I “felt it” or not. I’ve heard so many times that “obedience brings blessing,” and I certainly experienced the reality of that statement last week.

I did not come home with a burning desire to spend my life on the foreign mission field, but I did come home with a new understanding of God’s love for people the world over. He is not limited to revealing Himself to middle class white Americans who love some Chris Tomlin music. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Lover of all. He is so much bigger than my tiny corner of the world, yet I see that this is the corner He has placed me in for the time being. My mission is the same no matter my location: to make His name known and bring others to Him.

Below are a few pics from Antigua:


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Looking to Guatemala

A conversation I had last night caused me to look back over how much God has changed me over the last few years. I am still very much struggling in some pesky areas that I just haven’t seen huge strides in yet, but when I pause and reflect, I realize there are some areas where I’ve changed tremendously.

In two and a half days, I will leave my family and head to Guatemala on a week-long mission trip. That right there, in my book, is a miracle. I am what you might call an anal-retentive anxiety-ridden person. Well, that’s who am I in my flesh, but not in Christ. For most of my life, I have been a person who has held very tightly to the things of this world. And by very tightly, I mean like a person deathly afraid of heights holds onto the railing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Except that I didn’t really see much railing at the edge of the Grand Canyon when I was there. Whose bright idea was that?

I’ll never forget (unless these kids drive my already weakened memory completely into the ground) an illustration I saw at a retreat I went to. You hold out the palm of your hand, flat and open. Then someone places an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss onto your hand. It is a lovely blessing. You can smell its aroma and you get a little excited at the thought of popping it into your mouth and how yummy it’s going to taste. But then you’re instructed to close your fingers around the chocolate. You sit there for a few minutes, holding on tightly to your little delicious blessing, until it begins to turn from a tasty little treat into a disgusting glob of goo. It even looks a little like poo when you finally open your hand to see what has become of it.

But that was me. I held on so tightly to everything God had blessed me with that I failed to enjoy the blessing and I even ended up turning it into a big stinky pile of poop. I was so afraid of what God was going to make me give up (because that’s the kind of God I thought He was – mean and bent on my misery) that I failed to appreciate what I had. My life was wrapped in and overshadowed by fear. FEAR. It ruled me. Would God make me leave my family and my home? Would he give me cancer? Would my kids get cancer? Would he cause me to be in an accident that would forever disfigure me? Would our house burn down? If there was something to worry about, I worried about it. If there was something I didn’t want to give up, I agonized over it.

As you can imagine, my relationship with God was not at all what it was supposed to be. I didn’t trust Him at all. At one (or two or three) points in our lives, it looked like He was going to uproot us from our familiar surroundings and those we loved, and I was NOT happy about it. I whined and pouted and railed against Him. Why did it have to be me when all of my friends seemed to be sitting all nice and pretty and free from conviction and calling? NOT FAIR, God!

I heard all about sacrifice and how that’s what the Christian life should be, and I fought it. I wrestled with God. I fought my selfishness and pride. I knew this wasn’t how I should feel, but I felt powerless to change it. Why did God have to make things so hard? How could God be good and seem to enjoy watching us suffer so? Why did following Him mean giving up everything good? The goal just didn’t seem worth the cost it would take me to get it. I saw God as a taker, not a giver. He seemed to want to take everything that was dear to me, and I was not on board with that.

But gently, oh so gently, He drew my heart to Him. He helped loosen my grip on my house, my comfort, those whom I love, my security, my love of pleasure, my desire for control, my pride, my selfishness, my fear. And he began to show me, through experiences and glimpses of Him in His Word and through His still, small voice, that His ways truly are best. That He is a God who can be trusted. And that all those things I held onto so tightly were not making me happy. They (or the fear of losing them) were making me miserable. I had it all wrong. I was worshipping the gifts instead of the Giver. He has shown me, through a long and winding journey, that He is Who I need, all I need, and the only thing worth seeking and holding onto tightly. He has given me the ability to trust. To trust His goodness, His power, and His love for me.

At the heart of it, I was trusting in idols instead of the One True God. I didn’t think He was worth giving up all I had in order to attain Him. My mouth might have said He was, but my heart and actions didn’t show it. It’s funny how we worry so much about what we might lose while all the while we are giving up the One thing worth keeping. He was not taking to be cruel. He was taking away the worthless to give me that which is of infinite worth. It was painful. It was hard. No doubt, it is not over completely. But at the end, I have learned that to save my life, to experience Life, I must indeed give up every part of my own.

Tozer spoke of Abraham, who made a choice. A choice between his long-awaited and much loved son and the Lord. It was heart-wrenching, but he chose God. Tozer described Abraham, a rich man materially, as having everything but possessing nothing. “The world said, ‘Abraham is rich,’ but the aged patriarch only smiled. He could not explain it to them, but he knew that he owned nothing, that his real treasures were inward and eternal.”

Obviously, I still struggle with living and believing that He’s worth giving up all of it. (You just have to look here for proof.) Even in typing all of this out, I fear that the fear will return and I'll look foolish. But I know now that I am living with my hands more open than not, for I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I know that, no matter how many times I falter, I can trust Him. He is doing a work in me. The fact that I can look a trip to Guatemala in the eye and not flinch or break down in fear is evidence of God’s grace at work in me. For somewhere in my soul, I now know that I am in the hand of the only One who can be trusted, who loves me enough to lay down Himself for me, and who holds my life in His very capable hands. And, because I’m in His hands, I can open mine, releasing all I have to Him and making myself available to receive all that He has for me. Himself.

Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there.

~A.W. Tozer

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mama Jack Needs a New Pair of Shoes

I know it's rare that I blog two days in a row, but I am being forced to write something now as a way to avoid what I should be doing. Namely, making lunches, rereading my Scripture for Bible study tomorrow, getting ready for bed, trying to decide which shoes to buy for my boys. I have been a parent now for over nine years, but this whole shoe buying bit just stresses me out, especially for boys. Yes, I know. I have three. I'm in trouble.

Theoretically, I should be able to buy shoes for Jack and be in the clear for the next two. But it never seems to work out that way. Summer is fabulous for everyone in our family. I'll sum it up in one two words. Flip flops. What shoes should I wear today? Hmmm, just go with the flip flops. But fall and winter? Well, there are tennis shoes, which will get worn out in approximately 3-4 months and then I'll make them wear them another month or two. Then there are brown shoes, because they have khaki pants and these adorable brown corduroys. So, that sounds sufficient, right? Except their mama was so lame in the brain as to buy black corduroys and/or gray pants, too. I know many people would just slap some tennis shoes or brown shoes on with the black pants and go on with their lives, but I just cannot bring myself to do it. I can't bear the thought of all the Sunday dinner conversations that would revolve around the Bond boys and their poor mother's choice of shoes for them.

I'm clearly too cheap to go out and purchase them three pairs of new shoes each for a season that is regrettably short in Alabama, so to ebay we went. Oh, the agony. Ebay is not the place for someone who has trouble making decisions or committing to a purchase. So, Jack has one pair of tennis shoes, Luke has one pair of brown shoes, Sam has one adorable pair of Navy Keds and I am at an impasse. If only I would wake up in the morning and find, neatly lined up in my living room floor, the perfect pairs of shoes to get these poor boys through the next few months without committing any major fashion faux pas.

And for all this agony I'm going through for them to have just the right shoes at just the right price, what am I doing to be sure they have just the right knowledge of the Lord and just the right love for Him? Do I concern myself with their hearts as much as their wardrobe? I'm thinking God wouldn't give a flip if they showed up with black pants and brown shoes. Gasp! I want my kids to be known for their love of Jesus more than their snappy dressing. But sometimes I get so lazy. I let the matters of the heart slide but stay up late poring over a computer screen filled with shoes.

So, I'll say goodnight and try to get the rest I need to be the mom I really want to be. But before I do, I'd like to pass along a little tidbit of extremely useful information that Jack shared with me as he got out of this bath tonight.

"Mama? Did you ever wonder what to do if you didn't have a music staff with you and you needed one? You can just use your hand, because it has five lines (fingers) and four spaces just like a staff! Isn't that great?? Now you'll always have one!"

Whew. He may not have shoes on his feet, but all his musical staff needs will be met. I can truly sleep peacefully tonight.

Oh, and just one more thing. If a certain intermediate school could kindly add a few words to their insanely long spelling list each week that I actually need to learn how to spell, that would be awesome. I just had to so many words in this post. I just figured two birds with one stone would be great, 'cause we spend a whole lot of time on spelling words around here.


He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

~Matthew 5:3-12

As someone who grew up in church, it seems like I should have a grasp on “popular” passages in the Bible. The Beatitudes is certainly well-known, but for most of my life, I just didn’t get what Jesus meant. Since I’ve been an adult, I’ve heard sermons on this passage, and at the time I thought, “Oh, okay.” But it just wouldn’t stick. I’ve found that there is a great divide between the head and the heart, and only the Holy Spirit can speak truth to our hearts.

Jump to today. Lately, I’ve been battling doubts and feeling attacked so much. Seeing as I’m going on a mission trip in less than two weeks, I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. But having these doubts and finding myself in somewhat of a spiritual dry spell, I’ve been throwing up these little, yet specific, prayers to God. You always hear these stories of people praying for detailed things, God answering, and the person being so amazed by God’s love and sovereignty. That’s what I was going for last night when I threw yet another request His way. When nothing, and I mean nothing, happened in that little situation to show God’s hand in it, I was frustrated with Him.

“Are you real? Are you there? Why don’t you show yourself to me?”

That sent me searching, seeking, questioning yet again. He’s been whispering to me lately that I need to use fewer words and listen more in my prayers. Am I there to throw my list at Him (even though my list consists of good things like prayers for others’ salvation, healing, God to work in certain people’s hearts and lives, etc.) or am I there for more of Him?

So today, with His holiness and awesomeness in my sights, I humbled myself. I admitted that He never had to show Himself to me ever again at all, because that’s His prerogative, but that I wanted Him. My heart was one of praise and humility rather than distractedness and self-absorption.

Then, a little later in the morning, as I was doing laundry (He likes to speak to me when I’m doing humble tasks, it seems) and pondering the question my friend and I had discussed earlier, “Why does it seem that some people are so blessed and others (like us, sometimes) just get skipped over?” We hear people say, “God blessed me with a new car, or healthy children, or physical healing” but when He doesn’t give us those things, we wonder why He chose to bless that other person and not us.

And then, to my humble heart that was seeking Him just for Himself, He spoke. Oh, what refreshment, excitement, and revitalization His voice brings. And how I want to drink it in when I’ve been so thirsty for Him. He reminded me of the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

What if our idea of a blessing usually turns out to not be a blessing at all? And what if those who are experiencing suffering and pain are really the truly blessed ones? When you are poor in spirit, humble, and meek, thinking little of yourself, do you feel blessed? He says you are! When you are mourning over death or sickness or sin, do you feel blessed? He says you are! How can we be experiencing the blessing of God during thiese times? How can the persecuted and the insulted be the blessed? Because that’s when we are driven to the One who is The Blessing. We are sent running and falling before Almighty God, from whom all blessings flow. It’s when we’re in the fire, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that we SEE Jesus. Because, for once, we cannot rely on ourselves or earthly comfort or material things or even other people. We have nothing left but the I AM.

Then I had the question pop in my head, “But what about Old Testament people? God blessed Abraham and even the nation of Israel and her kings with many material things as a sign of His blessing and love for them. Why can’t we have those kinds of blessings?” But I was reminded of a truth that has helped me understand all the perceived differences between the God of the Old and New Testaments. Things in the OT were very physical and literal, but were only pale shadows of the reality of the spiritual world. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, we now have access, through the veil being torn, to the true, real things of God.

Why would we want the blessings of the old covenant when we have the REAL THING? To us, those physical and material blessings seem like the ones we want, but Jesus says, “Those aren’t the real blessings I have for you!” He has something that far surpasses a bunch of sheep (or cars), or tents (or mansions), or gold (or, well, gold). He has Himself. The people who are “blessed” with those material things, both in the OT and today, so often lose sight of the Blesser, who is Himself the greatest, most satisfying blessing we could ever desire or attain.

Would our lives be radically transformed if we went with few words and a humble heart and bowed at the feet of the Most Holy God each and everyday? What if we went earnestly and honestly seeking Him and not His blessings? Would we see those who mourn as those who are blessed? Would we see the fire and praise Him, knowing that it will bring us more of Him who satisfies and less of the things that don’t? Have we been seeking the wrong blessings all this time and missed the One from whom all blessings flow?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bananas for Sam from Guatemala

What a fun weekend we had! We got to celebrate life at its finest…Sam turning ONE and Jack choosing new life in Christ. It doesn’t get much better than that. Sharing both occasions with family made it even better.

I am really not great at throwing birthday parties, but this one ended up being low-key, yet cute and fun. Try as I might, it seems like I can’t do any party planning more than a week out. So, we spent bits and pieces of this week putting together some cute monkey d├ęcor for Our Little Monkey.

I can’t take credit for most of the ideas. Gotta love the internet, and the blogging world specifically. And the super fantabulous cupcakes were done by our resident cupcake expert – Grandma. The were almost too cute to eat.

The fact that all of our Alabama family was able to make the occasion made the whole day extra wonderful. Now if we could only have the Texas peeps as well.

(Sam loves Grandma and Grandpa's dog, Shelby. He just walks around behind her all day and will gently touch her if he gets close enough. Shelby does not share the same fondness for Sam, but she tolerates him well.)

(Emily went for the sprinkle cupcake rather than the chocolate monkey, which was no surprise to those of us who know her well. For those of you in suspense, I went with the chocolate. But don't think I didn't swipe a bite of the cream cheese with sprinkles, too.)

Sam was a doll, as usual. I mean, this kid is unreal. He’s just the happiest little fella and cute to boot. It makes me wish I could freeze time, but I haven’t figured that out yet. He wasn’t too interested in opening presents, which I don’t think any one-year-old is, but he had plenty of siblings who were willing to help him out with that. Luke also helped out with the candle-blowing.

The weather was picture perfect on both days. I certainly don’t deserve it, but I had a wonderful time celebrating the blessings that are overflowing in my life. I’ll have to show pics of the baptism later since I don’t have them yet.

And wouldn't you know that the bananas at the party were grown in Guatemala? How's that for a segue into the topic I keep teasing you with? My looming mission trip to Guatemala. To put it as briefly as possible…it’s in two weeks. Yikes. A month ago, I almost had a panic attack during and after our meeting. I was completely overwhelmed by fear and doubts. But, after praying with several people about it, the fear left me. Now that the trip is drawing closer, I can sometimes feel the fear trying to creep in again, but I’m focusing on truth. The two things that keep me grounded are God’s power and His goodness. He is able and He can be trusted. Why should I go to the ends of the earth to proclaim a God who my life declares to be powerless and vindictive? That’s not the God I believe in, and my life needs to show it.

I am choosing to trust Him and not dwell on the what ifs. Prayers are appreciated, though, as the time draws near where I will put my babies in bed and then vamoose before they wake. That’s the hardest part, especially when they’re as precious as this…