Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Terrible Triplet Twos: 24 month installment

It's not so much that these installments are really all TERRIBLE, it's just that they are boundary testing.  This, I realize from a developmental perspective, is a positive direction for the trio.  However, from a parenting perspective it is, let's just say, challenging.  But also, quite often, hysterially funny. 

Little bit has to lead off the developmental milestone discussion this month because she is clearly developing at a rapid pace.  Always independent, she is now also quite opinionated.  (I have no earthly idea where she gets that.)  This was most recently expressed in the form of her music preferences.  She loves music.  But prior to this past week, she's largely accepted whatever music we play for her.  Not anymore.  While tooling around town on our girls weekend, she loudly and clearly voiced her displeasure about anything playing on the radio that did not satisfy her musical sensibilities.  I try to keep the radio on KSBJ so I can be confident that the kids won't pick up any bad words or messaging.  But if a song came on that she didn't like, she would say, "NO!"  She would continue saying "no" as I scanned through stations until a song burst through playing a tune she favored.  Then she would say, "yes" and begin car dancing.  If I wasn't always driving when this happened I would video the entire scenario so you could experience it firsthand.  Maybe one day when Bray's driving I will be able to adequately capture my music critic.  As a result of this development, mommy was treated to an ecletic array of music including: country (which I hate), Mexican polka (which I'm beginning to appreciate), and Madonna (which takes me back to high school).  No, I can not explain this trifecta of music, I'm open to your thoughts.  Furthermore, she is now attempting feats of greater daring than ever.  Her current favorite is to stand on the arm of the couch and do a variation on Randy Savage's elbow strike with her knee (yes, I googled famous wrestling moves because she looks like a WWF wrestler) into some area on my body most prone to bruising.

While the dame is practicing her independence, the eldest is exerting his defiance.  Opinionated in his own way, his focus is on getting what he wants when he wants it and then immediately not wanting it anymore.  Talk about a rollercoaster.  I've always said he's Mister Affectionate, and he truly is, but the wild swings between lovable toddler and angry madman has me spinning.  He was a very mildmannered baby but I knew he had a temper at an early age because, rarely, if he didn't get what he wanted (i.e., held) he could scream in such a tremendous sustained fashion that it would set off the monitor he wore when he was released from the NICU.  I would be sitting there staring at the babies lined up in their bouncy seats while hooked up to a double electronic breastpump, trying to make milk for the masses and sooth three month olds, and he could get so furious that suddenly the monitor would start alarming.  Talk about freaking out a new mom - goodness.  Well, whatever THAT was is back.  With a vengenance.  And while I adore my sweet darling loving oldest son, I'm ready for this period to be OVER.   On the affectionate side, he wants to hold everything now, so he lifts and cups his hands together in front of his face and scrunches up his eyes seeking for me to allow him to hold whatever he's currently in love with - lately it's been birds and the moon - tough to teach a 2 year old why you can't hold the moon.  From a learning perspective, he's really piling on the words faster than ever.  We can say a word and he can repeat anything back (yikes).  Oh, and at his 2 year old well visit, he was 33 pounds and 3 feet tall!  He's going to be big (95% for height and 90% for weight), and handsome - with a huge smile and gorgeous hair. 

Which brings us to the darling little man.  He is so funny.   He laughs so much.  He has been getting so tickled that his face will split in two with whatever the latest funny thing is.  And he most vocally reacts to us doing silly things - he thinks it is fabulous.  He's also added a new dance move (they all three dance, but he's not previously been the most enthusiastic) - he has a little jump step with a back and forth motion which is a fun new addition since the little lady's side to side monster mash is what everyone was previously copying.  He'd been the slowest to pick up language, but is now catching up quickly.  He gets angry too though, and VERY frustrated if he doesn't get his way.  It is tough to know what will set him off though so trying to anticipate a melt down is impossible.  Today it was that I did not allow him to unpack the mega roll of toliet paper after our Sam's run into the garage where he felt, for some reason, it should go.  This led to an all out tug of war in our driveway trying to explain why the toliet paper needed to be taken into the house and him vehemently disagreeing with my recommendation.  While he is exerting is his independence, he strikes me at this point as the least opinionated of the three and one that can actually be talked down from a tree.  This comforts me because the other two are in such a brazen phase that I don't think I could handle a third.  He says knee, and pats my knee, and brings me a book so that he can sit on my knee and read together.  That melts my heart every time. 

So see, it's not all terrible.  It is challenging.  And exhausting.  But fascinating.  I feel like I have a science experiment going in my house watching different genders and different personalities all develop their own style and language and path.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Do you ever hesitate to share your faith or act upon God's calling because you worry others might not believe you are authentic?  I've recently wrestled with that question.  A doubt wedged deep in my mind between God's calling and my action in response.  While no one is perfect, I have certainly gone through some periods in my life that were anything but glorifying to God.  And if God ever called me to share my story beyond my backyard, what would those people who watched that behaviour think?  They would never believe my faith was authentic.  I might actually be more of a HINDRANCE to God than an asset or a reflection of Him.  Since the Bible tells us that God no longer remembers our sin once we have asked for forgiveness (Jeremiah 31, Hebrews 8), He clearly didn't contemplate these issues - He's forgotten!  So I've been doing the work of reminding Him and explaining why I would be a terrible messenger. 

Unfortunately, He set to work reminding ME of how the Bible is full of reluctant messengers.  Most searingly, God directed me to Saul.  This guy was running around killing all the early-day Christians.  Acts discusses this in detail, including his approval of the killing of God's servant Stephen.  But then, en route to imprison and kill more of Christ's disciples, Jesus appeared to him and he had a pretty radical conversion.  Acts 9 says that AT ONCE he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.  The Bible doesn't say anything about his struggle, but you have to imagine he had some periods where he was thinking, these guys are NEVER going to buy this message.  I was, in their words, wreaking havoc against the church and now here I am sharing the gospel?  Surely Lord, you could use a more conventional messenger - there has to be someone more believable than me. 

One of the commentaries on Saul's conversion to Paul says, "The most important event in human history apart from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the conversion to Christianity of Saul of Tarsus. If Saul had remained a Jewish rabbi, we would be missing thirteen of twenty-seven books of the New Testament and Christianity's early major expansion to the Gentiles."  (IVP New Testament Commentaries)

There are many more stories of reluctant messengers.  One of the first was Moses.  Here's a guy who had been saved by God to do great things - all the Hebrew baby boys of his time were being killed yet he was saved.  Moses ends up committing murder and fleeing the country, and then God appears to him in a burning bush.  Instead of Moses rushing to do as he was told after great signs and wonders, he says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  And despite God's assurances, he keeps asking and saying, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me...."  So God gives him all of these amazing signs he can use to demonstrate God's power.  But it's still not enough.  The rest of the exchange goes something like this:

Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

Whatever it is that I am being called to, and whatever it is that you are being called to, stop doubting that people won't believe you are authentic because of something in your past.  God calls reluctant messengers, often reluctant because of their tainted past or their human failings.  The reason God calls those kinds of people specifically is because it is through those very real human flaws that He is so perfectly revealed.  No one would believe it could be anything BUT God.  Broken flawed vessels are God's favorites.  Who expects the perfect sip of wine from a tin can?  Who expects the most spectacular rose to grow in a junk yard?  Who expects a world class operatic in a homeless shanty?  No one.  But God doesn't operate from a place of expectations.  He only deals in the unexpected.  Your message will be authentic not because you are the vessel, but because God's inside you.  The wine, the rose, the voice. 

Isaiah 64 - For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him...Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Romans 8 - I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God...And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Ephesians 3 - I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory...forever.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Perfect, Nearly

I was in a tizzy Friday night trying to lay out what everyone would wear for our pumpkin patch family photo shoot today.  I decided after last year that every October I'd have the kiddos pictures taken in the MDUMC pumpkin patch to chronicle how big they are getting and I have Bray and I sit in for a couple of shots just so we have a record of surviving each year :) 

Well, coordinating five people's outfits, with two small boys, one small girl, one adult male and one adult female, so that they "go" but don't "match" is QUITE a challenge.  I'd settled on all three of the male outfits and was trying to make something in my closet work with my three options for the little lady (everyone else received, at the very least, new tops to coordinate).  It was quite the ordeal. 

As I was outlining the color palette decisions for him, my wise husband commented, why are you getting so worked up about this?  Do we have to have a NEW "color palette" every year?  It doesn't all have to be just perfect. 

Hhumph.  Well, I beg to differ.  And I told him so.  I replied that no, it wouldn't be perfect, but I should at least try to make it perfect.  Then it would be...nearly perfect. 

I can assure you that this morning was not perfect.  First, there is a mosquito epidemic in Houston and my children are covered in bites, including all over their faces (though our photographer assured me that she could photo shop that out - thank heavens for technology).  Second, the little lady was sick, and grumpy, and ripped her bow out so hard that it literally detached from the clippy-thing so there was no fixing it.  The baby wouldn't smile, and he's our HAM.  The eldest wanted to chase traffic.  Bray needed to get to work.  You get the picture (so to speak).  But you know, our outfits coordinated.  We got some good shots.  It was good to see everyone together after our weekend apart.  And I'm really glad that I made the effort. 

It was, well, triplet perfect. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Girls Weekend

Bray took BOTH the boys to the farm this weekend.  I've actually been looking forward to it for a few weeks - I'd planned loads of girly stuff for little bit and me to do all weekend when there would only be estrogen in the house.  I was looking forward to it right up until it happened.  Then the boys left.  And I have to say, both Lillie and I have been a little sad.  She keeps wandering around saying "bubby" and "daddy," and I keep trying to fill up the quiet.  

We had a great day - busier than any weekend could ever be if I had all three (it's crazy how much a mom of one is able to do outside the house on the weekends).  We went shoe shopping, grocery shopping, wandering through an open air mall, snacked on cupcakes at a sweet treat spot, got her hair cut for the family photo session, had dinner with my best friend - we were BUSY.  But when we finally arrived home, and sat to read and take baths, boy was it quiet.  I love my little girl and I love that I have had on- on-one time with her.  But I'm not going to complain (much) anymore about having three two year olds running around the house.  As my husband would say, one would be so boring. 

We have a big day planned for tomorrow too - a mommy and me music class, brunch, Build-a-Bear with one of her school friends - but I think we'll both be pretty darn happy to see that truck pull up for dinner time and welcome our boys home. 

Little Bit leisurely awaiting her hair appointment while grooving to the tunes

Mommy and Little Bit having dinner with Aunt Mary

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy One Year Blog!

I'm doing a RARE departure from my Wordless Wednesdays because today marks the ONE YEAR anniversary of when I started blogging!  (Technically I opened this blog when I got pregnant but didn't use it until October 19, 2010.)  In honor of that anniversary, and in recognition of the fact that I didn't tell anyone I had a blog until months after I began writing, I worked over the past weeks to pull together a list of my five favorite blog posts.  Turns out, that's like asking a mother to pick her favorite child.  So I do have a top five list, as well as a honorable mention list, but the best part of this task was going back and reading 170 posts!  So much has happened in my life and the life of my family over the course of the past year.  The kids weren't even walking when I started writing and now I can't catch them.  I hope you enjoy reading some of these as much as I've enjoyed writing them. 


5.  Mommies Camp Out - I believe this was the first post I shared publicly.  It took a lot of nerve to share that I was writing beyond just my mom or two closest friends.  This post was a gift because I had friends say such kind words, so it has some special meaning to me and it still makes me laugh (FYI - my kids love this school that we camped out to get into). 

4.  Our Story: An Interlude - This story still means so much to me.  Largely because I believe these words every time I look into my children's faces and know they were designed by God for me.  It's taken on even more special meaning since my sweet college roommate who spoke these words over us just shared they are expecting their third child. 

3.  Banshees (and Thank You Grey's Anatomy) - The main reason this made the list is because this IS how I think (sadly).  But I also laugh hysterically every time I remember Will's laughing the poop right out of himself!

2.  They're Stupid - I remember writing this post more vividly than almost any other.  I can remember that exact scene in the show I describe and the relief that the boy felt when he was accepted and those hurtful labels were rebuked.  I'll read this post to my kids - everyone should know they are priceless. 

1.  The Animals Take Over The Zoo - This one you've most likely read as it was my most viewed post since I've been writing.  I had to include it as the most-read post and because it succinctly summarizes the chaos that is my life today.  I could write this exact post now given the antics going on over at Briar Hill Drive :) 

The five honorable mentions were actually HARDER to chose than the Top 5, but here they are:  London, Day One:  Fatigued - a must have because it was the first of my five installments about my trip across the pond; Screaming - this was one of my earliest posts and it combines both things I love to write about, my kids and my faith; Oops, I Hit It Again - this one mainly made it because I cracked up because I'd had the little lady saying "holla;"  Wisdom - probably my longest blog post ever, I chose this because the words still resonate with me as I make decisions; Second Year Love Letter - I also wrote a love letter to my husband on our five year wedding anniversary but when push came to shove the trio's love letter eeked past his for the honorable mention. 

And then, as one last summary note, I mean I did have 170 to go through, here's a post I love that I wrote about each one of the kids individually:  The Eldest - The Bed Bandit, The Little Lady - She Dances, and The Baby Boy - Kisses

So let me end by saying thank you.  Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read when you're not my mom (I pretty much expected she'd read all of my posts).  Thanks for dropping me a note to say you enjoyed something.  Thanks for letting me share.  Two songs spring to mind, and you couldn't get more diverse if you tried. 

In the words of Elphaba in Wicked:
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made from what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good

Or in the words of Truth on So Far, So Good:
We have come so far,
You have been so good,
on the road that we have traveled,
I’ve got to tell You Lord.
I look at where we are and see where I could have been,
I need to say again,
You’ve been so good,
Who would have guessed that we would come so far.

The Kitchen Pass

I was given a kitchen pass last night.  Or a hall pass.  Or general waiver.  Call it what you will, my husband gave me a pass that I didn't deserve but that I appreciated long after it was granted. 

I've been sad for a few days.  Not for any reason, just a little down.  Unfortunately, that makes me less than an ideal wife and mom.  And I'd really been short with the kids during dinner.  They are in a terrible fit-throwing phase that is kicking my butt, and I'd been surrounded by it all weekend.  So when the milk spilled and the fork was used as a comb, I just lost it.  Bray tried to diffuse the situation, but I was fried. 

After the kids had gone to bed, I went to our bedroom.  He came in later and asked what was wrong.  Have you ever been asked that question, and you know something is off, but you just can't put your finger on it?  Well, that was me last night.  All I could come up with in response was, "I'm sad."  And he said the simplest, most generous thing in response, "That's okay.  We all get that way sometimes."  He could have said a lot of other things in response.  Things like snap out of it, or that doesn't give you a right to flip out with the kids, or what are you sad about - everything is fine, or let me fix it.  But instead, he gave me a pass.  Full fledged acceptance of my condition which allowed me to be sad without having to explain it or justify it or apologize for it.  He didn't have to do it.  Lord knows he doesn't always get a pass from me.  It was the kindest thing he could have done. 

When people are struggling in their marriage they are told to remember the reasons why they fell in love in the beginning.  Sometimes it's nice to remember those reasons even when your marriage isn't struggling.  Today, I remembered one of the reasons.  During our first date, Bray asked me kind, thoughtful questions. When he found my parents divorced when I was 12, he had asked me how I had handled that given how hard it must have been for me at that age.  Honestly, I'd never had anyone care before. He was thoughtful in December 2003, and eight years later nothing has changed. 

Marriage can be hard, but it can also be the biggest blessing on the planet.  I needed somebody last night to give me a pass and my kind husband did just that. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Idina and Today

I heard Idina Menzel in concert last night.  I didn't really know who she was until last night, but wow, this concert was incredible.  One of the best I've been to in a long time.  Not only is she super talented, she's hysterically funny.  I was in stitches for all her bits between singing.  I had planned to write about my pastor's sermon today, but then Idina hit me (my mom said last night, great - a concert won out over church, so I was trying to find a way to combine the two - Idina's discussion of seizing the day with my pastor's talk about why you like people, but it would have been SO long and you're probably already bored just reading this parenthetical). 

Idina, because we're BFFs and on a first-name-basis, is one of those people you figure you'd be friends with if only she lived down the street from you.  She has a two year old named Walker who I just know we'd always have play dates with, and we'd run over to CityCentre for dinner with her and Taye (yes, she's married to Hottie MacHotster, Taye Diggs), and we'd laugh about the funny songs we made up for our kids.  Yes, I live in la-la-land, come join me here, it's a happy place. 

So between all of the frivolity and singing, she had an excellent, and serious, point to make.  She got her big break in the '90s performing in Rent.  After seven years of working on writing and perfecting Rent, the show's creator, Jonathan Larson, died from an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm the morning before the first performance.  He only ever saw the show that the had poured his life's work into during the dress rehearsal.  That event shaped the entire cast's, a group of 20-somethings, life perspective.  After sharing this story, Idina sang her favorite song from Rent, a part of which says:

There's only now
There's only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today

She ended with having the audience sing "no day but today" with her.  In the quiet, with the music stopped, and an auditorium of thousands singing "no day but today," the words couldn't do anything but resonate.  Settle into our bones.  Rest on our spirit. 

We don't know what is next.  We can not predict it or anticipate it or plan for it.  There's only now.  Whether it is Jonathan Larson's words, or Jesus speaking in Matthew 6, the message is the same: don't live in fear, don't live in regret, live today not with worry but with fullness and passion and joy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stockings and Other Nonsense

This is the crock pot of leftovers post.  The ramblings in my head that have been simmering around, none of which have to do with anything else but needed a place to go, so this Thursday's post seemed like as good a place as any.

1.  Stockings are hot.  Not the kind that you hang at Christmas, but the hosiery that you put on your legs, or that women from the '40s put on their legs.  Apparently, because of Princess Kate nee Middleton, they're making a comeback.  Well the only reason they made a comeback on my legs yesterday was because if I had not worn them with my skirt everyone would have thought I had been battered by a "little person."  From knees to toes, I am covered in cuts and bruises.  A combination of the massive clean up I did last Friday involving heavy moving  and the three knee-high super-active two year olds means that my legs look like they've been run over by the trash truck.  Hence the stockings.  Now in New York in October stockings would probably not have been hot.  But in HOUSTON in October stockings are freakishly hot when power walking across downtown in heels in 90 degree weather.  Whaddaya gonna do?

2.  There was a slug in my tub.  Yes, a slug.  In my tub.  First I put Lillie in for a bath Tuesday night and then  put the boys in.  I looked down and touched what I was worried was a little turd.  Turns out, to my horror (which I loudly exclaimed much to the boys enjoyment), it was a SLUG.  How the heck did I get a slug in my tub?  We are not living in squalor.  And can the children catch a communicable disease from a slug?  These are the questions I left on the pediatrician's nurse's hotline.

3.  It's not always a positive that your husband reads your blog.  He quotes you back to you.  So if I post about how I have so much and live in a state of plenty, he gives me crap if I complain.  If I'm stressed out, he quotes how okay is sometimes good enough.  Thanks honey for reading my blog, I truly appreciate the support, but discretion is the better part of valor. 

4.  Kids are funny little super-charged unpredictable tornadoes.  Last night, we went out to eat for our "support a school" night and the place ran out of high chairs.  No biggie for a family with a single two year old.  But with three, those strapping-in devices come in VERY handy.  The little lady sat just like a little lady and ate her meal by herself and drank her milk by herself and was, all in all, quite adult.  Very unexpected delightful surprise.  The boys were the Tasmanian Devils.  Climbing everywhere, wanting to run everywhere, trying to get ON the table, throwing crayons on the floor, you get the general idea.  Very unexpected less-delightful surprise.  Bray looked at me and said, "we need highchairs."  Yep, I agree. 

5.  There will never be an adequate Weight Watchers substitute for a good cupcake.  I've had a few too many encounters with cupcakes over the past month, which my pants very clearly reflect, but I'm sorry, no one has yet created a low calorie version of this most delicious food.  So sometimes, just eat a cupcake. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011


I have an abundance.  I was overwhelmed by this fact when two things happened: I continued my slow progression through The Hole In The Gospel and read about the plight of the millions without access to water and wondered what my world would look like if every time I needed water I had to hike five miles one way to carry two buckets at a time back to the house; and, when I read numerous comments from Lysa Terkeurst's blog today where she asked women to post their prayer requests so she could pray for the Lord lay across their hearts and make them still. 

A word kept circling in my brain:  plenitude.  It settled in my bones.  It's not a word that I use frequently so I looked it up to understand why I couldn't shake it from my soul. 

Plenitude is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
1: the quality or state of being full : completeness
2: a great sufficiency : abundance

Synonyms include: abundance, affluence, avalanche, bounteousness, bountifulness, capacity, copiousness, cornucopia, deluge, enough, flood, fruitfulness, full house, fund, good deal, great deal, heaps, loads, lots, luxury, mass, masses, mine, mountains, oodles, opulence, peck, piles, plenteousness, plethora, profusion, prosperity, quantity, stacks, store, sufficiency, torrent, volume, wealth

These words create mind pictures in my head that illustrate the true condition of my life.  Despite my personal struggles day to day, I am in "a state of being full."  I have an "abundance."  My challenges are so inconsequential compared to the woman who wrote about her husband leaving her for another woman, or the woman who posted her home was in foreclosure and any day she will be homeless with her two sons who are old enough to remember this happening, or the woman I read about in Africa who is caring for her numerous grandchildren on less than a dollar a day because her family was decimated by AIDS. 

Growing up, my parents used to tell me during challenging financial times that no matter our situation we were blessed compared to many others.  But I realize more and more it isn't just the money.  It is the security and safety.  It is the love.  It is the family and friends and housing and opportunities.  It is plenitude.  I do not deserve it.  But I will stop to take the time to be grateful for it.  And to try to find opportunities to share with those without an abundance today. 

No matter your challenge, stop for a moment to say grace over your plenitude. 

Philippians 4 - I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


It had been a weird hard week.  For a bunch of different reasons.  So I took Friday off and cleaned out my junk room.  It. Was. Fantastic.  I've taken after pictures to share with you but can't believe I didn't take before pictures.  Imagine a room which we keep trying to make an extra guest room but it also holds my office, everything that we store for the kids (toys, clothes for the next season, etc.), it serves as our gift closet/wrapping supply room, and it holds extra things from around the house that have been put away "temporarily" while kids are in super destruct mode.  So let me paint a picture for you before sharing this pretty astonishing "after" photos. 

A 12X12 beige room that used to serve as our second guest room, the masculine one (hence the deer heads).  A queen sized mattress on a double bed frame in the center of the room.  Stuff piled so high on the bed that you couldn't see the bedding.  You could walk about one foot in before walking into "stuff" we were storing without adequate storage bins.  A closet overflowing with clothes in the closet, on the floor in boxes of the closet, and things helter-skelter on the shelves, from wedding photos to gift candles (you know the shelves, the extras you keep for when you inevitably forget someone's special day).  I started pulling everything out at 7:30 am when our nanny arrived.  I took a break at 10 to grab coffee and storage containers at Target and came right back to it.  While the kids napped at noon, our nanny helped me tear down the bed move it to the garage.  Then I began to assemble all the new storage containers I had acquired and filled trash bags of things in our hall for Goodwill.  There were a few new things I piled up to sell to my Mothers' Clubs.  I played with the kids for several hours when Maria left at 4:30 until they went to bed at 7:45 and then went right back to it.  By the time Bray arrived home at 10:30, the room was spotless (technically I have half a box still to go through but it's not cluttering the space).  I did everything from heavy lifting and furniture assembly to radical organization.  It was so CATHARTIC.  I didn't think.  I didn't work.  I didn't worry.  I just cleaned and organized.  I feel like a new person.  I'm taking off Tuesday to work on two more rooms - I may not be featured on Hoarders after all. 

Here's a few photos to motivate you to fall organizing this weekend - if I can do it with two year old triplets, anyone can:

Looking In From the Hall
The Closet
One of the New Storage Units

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I've written before about how God occasionally beats me over the head with a message because He realizes that subtlety is not always my strong suit.  Such a message-beating has been underway this week.  And I've been in a battle over what I'm hearing.  As a lawyer, whenever I'm in a battle, I use the most persuasive language I can to win. 

So the, sometimes one-way, conversation with God has gone something like this:  I hear you, really I do, but you're just not up to speed on modern day America, God.  You have NO idea what things are like these days.  That message you're delivering to me may have been just fine for a mother when there were a bunch of people running around in sandals, no modern-day technology, no universities to get into...but it just does NOT make sense today.  Really, we feel very blessed that you've given us these precious gifts, however since you've now entrusted us with them we've got to make some serious coin.  These precious children are expensive.  There's no way we could make it with less money.  They need top notch shoes to make sure that they're developmentally at the peak of possibilities.  Of course they have to have all the latest books and toys to help them learn.  Plus, they deserve fabulous birthday parties and presents so they are completely assured of how much we love them.  Um, have you SEEN the latest tuition schedules for private school? They need to go to the best schools in Houston, starting about now, to make sure they can get into the best college so that they can maximize their potential.  What kind of parents would we be if we were just running around trusting you for everything and not holding up our end of the bargain?  I do hear what you're saying, but I just wanted to update you on how things work now - what you are proposing is CRAZY. 

While I completely believe that God loves me with agape unconditional love, I do think when He sees me running to Him with all my "persuasive arguments" in hand, He must shake His head and say, "Again, Gindi!?!?!"  Can't you just hear Him saying (or trying to shout over me), “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  [Matthew 6]  The translation in The Message translates the last portion of that passage like this, "What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. "

The message I've heard, about four times since Sunday, is this:

"One of Satan’s most brilliant lies is that if you surrender something to God, you’ll receive something less beautiful in return.  If you empty your hands, God will place something less amazing in them.  You’ll surrender gold and, in return, receive dirt.  This is the lie of chasing your dream: That when you let go of your plans and trust God’s, he will call you into a mission that you will hate."  (Jonathan Acuff, Stuff Christians Like blog)
"Maybe there's a place in your life that you need to surrender.  And you're holding on so tightly you just can't let go.  Maybe it's your plans and you have worked them out so carefully and maybe everything is turning out the way you want but something is stirring inside and you know that your plans are getting in the way of God's.....I can't think of a better to place to surrender everything you're holding on to so tightly....let it go, give it to God."  (Doug Ferguson, Grace Presbyterian Church sermon)
""When we fail to respond to God's calling, our hearts harden, and He gives us over to what we 'want'."  (Traci Baudin, Get A Grip On Life bible study)
"I'm not my own, I've been carried by You, All my life."  (Addison Road, Hope Now)

So I'm working on it.  I'm terrified to even utter a word like surrender when my plans are so firmly in place.  However, a wise friend recently told me that if I felt God calling me to action, instead of praying for God to "make" me act, to pray for God to give me the desire to act.  So I'm praying for the desire to surrender, and other than that, I'm going to pipe down for a while and let Him do the talking.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

God Uses Our Story To Tell His Story

That title is not original.  It is a carbon copy from the lead bullet in my pastor's message this Sunday.  He was preaching from the Great Commission text that is found in Matthew 28.  And he said that he was convinced as he studied the text that God uses our individual story to tell His story to the world.  To share His message of love and grace. 

To illustrate this point, he shared an encounter with Jesus from John 9.  I don't know if I had never read this passage before, or it had just never struck me, but boy it hit me this week.  In this story, there was a blind man that came into contact with Jesus, and the disciples asked whether or not it was the man or his parents that sinned to cause his blindness.  During that period, it was commonly accepted wisdom that any disability or impairment you had was a result of your or your family's sin.  But listen to Jesus' response to their question, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."   His blindness was not because of sin, but because God was going to use this man's journey to reach others for Him.  God's work would be revealed and glorified THROUGH this man's story.

Then my pastor hit a home run on my conviction scale when he shared about his choice to leave our church this month as a result of a clear calling from God.  He said:  "Everything was turning out just the way we had it planned.  And we knew the plans we had for us.  And then God interrupted those plans....."  He went on to say that his period of wrestling over what to do was not because he didn't trust that God knew best - he did.  But, he said, "I just simply didn't want to surrender my plans for His." 

Wow.  Have you ever been there?  Are you there now?  I am and have been for a while.  Heck, I've been writing about it on and off since I began writing last fall.  I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  This was his invitation at the end of the sermon, "Maybe there's a place in your life that you need to surrender.  And you're holding on so tightly you just can't let go.  Maybe it's your plans and you have worked them out so carefully and maybe everything is turning out the way you want but something is stirring inside and you know that your plans are getting in the way of God's.....I can't think of a better to place to surrender everything you're holding on to so tightly, your plans, your guilt, your fear....let it go, give it to God......." 

If you think of what God surrendered, His only son, Christ's death on a cross, then surely no matter what we are being asked to do, no matter where we are being asked to go, it's not nearly the surrender that Christ made to give us the hope and promise of eternal life.  It's not going to be easy, but I am going to try, Type-A-Super-Planner-Me, to surrender my perfectly laid plans and replace them with His.  To allow Him to call me where I'm supposed to go.  In order for His story to be revealed through mine. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Second Birthday Festivities!

Whew!  After all of the planning and running around and chasing my tail, the trio turned two without any assistance from me, and the weekend of festivities - from the party Saturday to the school celebration today - went off with a bang accompanied by absolutely gorgeous weather.  There were a few pre-party near misses on Saturday:  the cupcake picks which I wrote about Thursday arrived Friday afternoon -what a relief, I got the outfits by Friday in time for the party, and the people who had also booked the same park/pavilion space went rushing off to find new party digs since we'd already set up the space when they arrived (I felt terrible for them but was quite relieved that I didn't have to chase down 40 people 1/2 hour before a party to relocate the celebration).  The kids loved playing with all their friends at the playground Saturday, and even dug into their cupcakes with relish, and mommy didn't have to spend all day cleaning the house!  Yesterday, their actual birthday, was a wonderful day with the five of us hanging out together - we went to church, and then adventured out to the Dewberry Farms pumpkin patch in Brookshire, and topped off the night with dinner outside at a family friendly Mexican restaurant.  Everyone was pooped by bedtime.  Finally, this morning, Bray and I took the kids to school and walked with them to chapel in their Giraffe crowns (they are the giraffe class and they get to wear crowns on their birthday) where everyone sang happy birthday to them and then returned to their class to pass out the last of the super yummy birthday cupcakes!  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's the weekend in recap:

The Birthday Party Site (that almost wasn't.....)

The Party Festivities (and yes, Lillie is holding the flame instead of blowing it out)

Birthday Morning

Ready to Go to School and the School Festivities (yes, the boys have runny noses...)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Second Year Love Letter

It was on this day, two years ago, that God delivered the most surprising, remarkable, beautiful, unfathomable three gifts to Bray and me.  I still can't imagine what we did to deserve such a spectacular set of presents on October 2, 2009, but I will forever be grateful.  And on this second year celebration, I thought I would begin the tradition of writing a love letter to those little presents (who I know will not always be little). 

Dear Sweet S,
You are my heart.  You are the most loving and empathetic little human being.  You are always there to wrap your arms around my neck and give me a kiss, but you also throw your arms around everyone.  Just yesterday you ran back to give the lady who cut your hair a big hug before we left.  When your siblings are in distress, you run to them to hug them and comfort them.  You are also so ingenious.  You can figure anything out.  You were the first to crawl out of your bed this year and the first to learn how to open the doors and lock me out of the house.  You are the one learning dozens of words at a time now.  You are persistent and stick with things until you understand them.  You also emphasize cleanliness and are always cleaning up around the house, thank you very much.  You are a delight and our home will always be filled with love with you in it.  You are a gift.  And I hope that one day I can live up to be the mother that you deserve.  I love you,

Dear L,
You are my joy.  Your lightheartedness lights up the room.  You laugh and dance and sing and jump and spin.  You absolutely love living and you throw your whole heart and body into it.  Your lust for life is contagious.  You are also very independent.  You are so great at doing things yourself.  You were the first one to climb up into the highchair alone, the first one to put on your pants alone, the first one to run into school without needing us, and the first one to string two words together.  Even though you don't know as many words as your brother, what you tell us, you tell with great drama and emphasis and it's fascinating to listen to even if we're not sure what the story is all about.  You are such a treasure to have in this family.  We'll always be on an exciting adventure with you as a part of our home and I can't wait to watch it unfold.  You are a precious present.  I hope that I can be a Godly role model for you as you grow.  I love you,

Dear W,
You are my love.  You have the most sensitive soul.  Your tenderness is absolutely breathtaking.  When I was sick, you crawled up on the couch and covered me with your blanket.  When I was worried, you put your arms around me and patted my back.  You are the one that cries the most because you have such deep feeling, but you also are the one that laughs the most.  You find life so funny and your laugh sets us all to laughing with you.  You love to learn.  You were the first one to know all your shapes and your colors and your animals.  You could sit in my lap and read books for hours and want to drink up every new piece of information and commit it to memory.  We will always be seekers in our home, on a journey to learn and understand more, because of you.  You are a matchless prize.  I hope that I will be the faithful and tender touchstone in your life that understands and appreciates your deep soul.  I love you,