Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Life Verses

Before my children were baptized, our church encouraged us to select a life verse for each of them.  Bray and I prayed about it, and then we sent the verses to the church to become part of a welcome slide show they created for the families of children baptized that year.  It was incredibly meaningful but, as over a year has passed since their baptism, I felt the verses were becoming forgotten before they were ever being remembered.  So as a part of my Christmas present to the trio, realizing they won't appreciate it for years, I had a friend of mine design a calligraphy of the verses to frame and hang over their beds. 

I hope those words are the first verses of Scripture the children commit to heart.  I hope the words hanging over them at night are an outward reflection of the words of God we will speak over and to them in the years to come.  I hope that seeing the words every evening as Bray and I pray over our treasures before we go to bed will remind us to claim those verses for them and recommit ourselves to raising them up in the way they should go.  I share them with you, and for them, here:

The Eldest - Proverbs 3
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. 
 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; 
bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 
 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

The Lady - Phillipians 1
I thank my God every time I remember you.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus... 
And this is my prayer:
that your love may abound more and more
in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern
what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ -
to the glory and praise of God.

The Baby - Colossians 1
For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you.
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will
through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience,
and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share
in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bouncy Houses Rock, And Other Nonsense

Saturday we went to a friend's son's second birthday party.  It was at a bouncy house place.  But not just any place.  It was a bouncy house dream land.  The party was in its own private room with bouncers big and small.  Included in this bouncy fabu-land, which my daughter squealed over with delight being half rabbit, was a gigantic bouncy slide that you can only get up by climbing a rope ladder.  Imagine having been away from boot camp for five months how grueling climbing a rope ladder was with three toddlers in front of you who repeatedly lose their footing and slide into you while you beg your arm muscles to remember what they are for.  Nonetheless, the super fast sliding action you were met with upon descent made the treacherous climb well worth the effort.  And I think I lost two pounds. 

Not only was our Saturday super fun, but the Thanksgiving outing to Austin, where we stayed under one roof with ALL 21 Vincents was not as overwhelming as I'd imagined.  We had our room and the kids actually went to bed at a decent hour and we ate great Thanksgiving food and the trio absolutely loved playing outside all day with their cousins. 

However, the weekend was not without incident.  As happens inevitably when we meet with great masses, the kids get sick.  And boy is my sweet eldest sick.  He's coughing and running a fever and I don't know what he caught but Bray's at the doctor with him now.  What with the weather turning cold, we've all got the sniffles and are saying prayers that no one else gets any sicker.  In addition, the little lady is 16.  Or so you would think.  She is cutting her eyes at me, saying "no" with such inflection you'd think we took the car keys, and completely disagreeing with my wardrobing choices for her (despite my penchant for style!).  I keep telling her she's two and she can't behave this way for at least another 12 years but she seems immune to the guidance.  Finally, the little baby is still just hysterical.  We're going on two weeks of him being the obedient light-spirited one and he's even adapted this little flirty wave for select people - imagine your palm outstretched sideways with your fingers snapping in as if to catch a butterfly - it's his little signature move and it's being met with warm reception near and far. 

All in all a Thanksgiving that will be fondly remembered with grateful thanks to the Lord for his continued delights. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

2011 Thanksgiving Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

We are humbled and overwhelmed by your abundant blessings on our life this year.  We know that we do not deserve them but you have mercifully provided more than we could ever ask or imagine.  We truly bow before you today with thankful hearts. 

We ask for your mercy on our world.  For you to bring peace to the hearts of warring leaders.  For you to bring food where there is famine.  For you to bring healing where there is disease and death.  We pray for the world leaders and for our country's leaders.  That you would bring wisdom to their hearts and that they would seek discernment to know and do what is right.  We pray for our soldiers serving far from their homes this Thanksgiving Day.  That you would bring them comfort and keep them safe from harm. 

Thank you for the family and friends around us and far away.  We pray for you to heal those that are suffering around us and to bring joy to those that have experienced sadness this year.  We pray for all of us to remember, in this upcoming holiday season, that You are the reason for the season. 

Thank you for Bray and for each of these miraculous precious healthy beautiful children in our arms today.  For their laughs, for their smiles, for their exuberance over life, and for their intellect and curiosity.  Thank you for a job.  For food.  For a house.  I know that there are so many on this day that do not have the plenty that we do.  Grant them a hot meal and a roof over their head and an opportunity to work. 

You have been so faithful.  Help us remember to give thanks for your blessings each day and not just on Thanksgiving Day. 

In our Christ's Name we offer this prayer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Family Circle Rant

I had not originally intended to post about this issue.  But as I sent off the letter to the editor today, I just felt I would go ahead and share the letter.  Last month, I read an incredibly troublesome column in Family Circle magazine.  So troublesome it led me to write the editor, which I have never done in my life, and terminate my subscription.  So here's my email to Linda Fears (in which I copied Rosalind Wiseman, the columnist who sent me over the edge, and Family Circle's feedback department and my husband):

Dear Linda (and Family Circle Account Subscription):

I am writing in response to an Ask Rosalind column that appeared in your November 2011 issue. This is my second year receiving Family Circle magazine which I have enjoyed. As a working mother to two year old triplets, I often fall behind in reading the magazines I receive monthly (Family Circle and Parents). Such was the case this past month, so I have been playing catch up and reading the last two issues.

I was astonished to read Rosalind's first response to a mother's inquiry in your November issue. Horrified may be a more accurate description. A concerned mother wrote in to inquire about setting boundaries with her teen daughter and a boy, who was a friend, coming over to visit even with parents home:

Among the incredibly shocking statements Rosalind made were:

"I'm guessing that 'lead to trouble' refers to the possibility of your daughter engaging in sexual activity with one of her guy friends? Let's dial it back a little."
"But most girls are naturally curious about sex and it makes sense for them to explore their sexuality with people who make them feel comfortable. Accept that your daughter may begin having sexual experiences and that's ok...."

I interpreted Rosalind's response as the equivalent of: hey, what are you worried about you old prude - your daughter at 15 is totally going to be having sex and you should get comfortable with it. (In order to make sure my reaction was not totally off the wall, I shared the article with my husband and good friend, both of whom had the same reaction.)

I might expect this from Cosmo, but certainly not from Family Circle. I am not a prude, nor am I ignorant of the times in which we live. However, as a person of faith, I think the continued granting of platforms to people who assail the values of modesty and propriety are, at the very least, disheartening, or at the most, downright dangerous. I hope that Family Circle will considering highlighting, whether in letters to the editor or as an alternative column which offers the flipside view, what mothers should aspire to in instilling character and values in their children. Instead of just rolling over and saying, well, most kids are falling into the trap of loveless sex which leads to heartbreak, disease and unwanted pregnancies with repercussions for the remainder of their lives, maybe Family Circle could be about, well, the family CIRCLE. One where parents encourage their children to live up to their best and highest goals and ideals. One that does accept failure because it represents attempts at success. One that lives out moral character at home so that children know how to model that behavior in their lives as they leave the family circle.

Until that happens, please let this serve as my notice that I wish to immediately cancel my subscription to Family Circle magazine. I can not continue to support a publication that takes the position that parents should not care if their 15 year old children are engaging in sexual activity.

Gindi Eckel Vincent

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Excerpts from Sunday's Journal

Two things parents of two year old triplets should know:  the terrible twos aren't ALWAYS terrible, and they're smarter than you think. 

I had an amazing weekend with my kiddos this weekend.  I'd had a pretty rocky week.  Home and work.  And I was short-tempered and exasperated with the kids.  I felt bad about it but couldn't seem to put on a good face.  However, I forget sometimes that my children are geniuses.  They saw I was at my breaking point (as proof of this, Bray looked at me Thursday night, half-jokingly, and said, "you're not going to have a nervous break-down are you?").  So they set their mind to be fabulous two-year olds instead of terrible two year olds, and we had a WONDERFUL weekend. 

It wasn't anything earth-shattering.  We went to the park yesterday morning with my best friend and her dog, both of whom they are in love with.  We rode tricycles.  We took a stroll.  This morning, because of an early morning disruption (4:30 a.m.), we ended up waking too late to get breakfast cooked and dressed for church so we just hung out.  The kids and me.  I had coffee and they swung.  We read lots of books.  They watched their favorite video on You Tube (for you parents with two year olds just introducing "tv/video" as I am, my friend told me about Barefoot Books - four fabulous minutes of entertainment, Driving My Tractor is our fav).  They're healthy.  They ate well.  They laughed hysterically.  My mom hung out with us, and when she arrived, the baby started laughing and clapping because he was so overjoyed.  (She's a fabulous book reader - they run to her upon arrival with book in hand and say, "lap, lap.") 

I am so happy tonight.  My spirit is quiet.  My life is still.  I have to give a big shout out to my sweet bible study group who had been praying for some "abiding."  So here's a few highlights of my observations of my funny kids:

1.  They've learned the word "mine."  It's so interesting.  They've never said it before.  But they go to school now two mornings a week and I think they picked it up.  They must think it comes in particularly helpful as a triplet.  Thing is, there's not much that is just "mine" in the playroom of a triplet.  The baby uses it the most.  Everything is "mine." 
2.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, the little lady is FEARLESS.  She leaps from the top of a single building (our couch) without a moment's hesitation.  They all throw the couch pillows off and start chanting, "jump, jump" and proceed to do just that.  She's the ringleader. 
3.  The eldest is the biggest, but he does not like to fight back.  While he will often be the first to steal a toy, he's only interested in what the others have, if the baby sits on him and pounds his back he will yelp for help. 
4.  They love each other and they love me.  They've started saying, "Wuv you."  Heart. Melts.  And since they're learning to count, this weekend when I asked each of them if I could give them ONE kiss, they would pucker up and allow me the one, but the baby would then say "two," "three," and once I got the kisses all the way up to "ten."  Fabulous. 
5.  They're so funny.  The eldest started crawling like a dog at the park.  I have no idea what brought it on but he, and I, thought it was so funny.  The little lady plays peek-a-boo under the changing table pillow each time we change diapers.  She gets so tickled every time I have a big freak out when she reappears.  The baby is amused by nearly everything, from silly voices to dancing like a maniac (I'm assuming that rocking out to You Shook Me All Night Long won't kill them at this age.  I was really sick of toddler tunes so when we turned on classic rock and that tune came blasting out I had to dance like a 21 year old around the room - they loved it and I'm pretty sure are immune to the lyrics at this stage). 

Also, as an FYI for anyone following the bed climbing thing, the boys have both figured out how to climb out even WITH the mattresses on the floor so I spend at least a half hour in their rooms at the beginning of nap and bedtime to ensure all go to sleep INSIDE the crib.  Fabulous weekend for them to master a new skill. 

I am so so so grateful to have these munchkins and can't imagine how dull life would have been with just one.........

Friday, November 18, 2011

Whose Dream Is It Anyway?

On Tuesday night I was listening to a woman share her story about why she and her husband were moving despite thinking they would live in Houston forever, and she said, Sometimes we have to surrender our dream of what we think our life will be

I am blessed to be living a dream.  Kind handsome husband - check.  Great career - check.  Wonderful church home - check.  Adorable bright precocious children (girl and boy) - check.  Nice house, car, etc. - check.  This is what I had dreamed my life would be, and it's truly more than I even thought I could hope for given some obstacles that were overcome solely by God's miraculous work. 

But whose dream is it anyway?  Is it really MY dream?  Or is it a dream filled up arbitrarily by what society deems success?  Or a dream filled up with God's vision and desires?  Or maybe it's a combination of a lot of those things? 

As you may have noticed, I've been unsettled this year.  I written about what God's calling might entail in my life, and it's uncomfortable.  His plans for the years ahead didn't really look like MY plans for the future.  So when I heard those words earlier this week, they just hung in the air like the bubble coming out of the mouth of a cartoon character.  Sometimes we have to surrender our dream of what we think our life will be.

Newsflash:  God anticipated this.  He realized that our dreams might not look like His.  So He wrote about it.  He warned us.  He said, if you'll give up what you think is your "dream,"  it will be replaced with something so much better, so much richer, so much more fulfilling. 

Isaiah 55 provides the perfect illustration of this:  “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD.  'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"

From the beginning to the end, the Bible reminds us that He is perfect and that His ways, His path, His dreams are unbelievably incredible if we would just follow hard after Him:  Deuteronomy 32 -  He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he; Ephesians 3 - 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.

What He has dreamed up for us is more than we could dream up for ourselves.  And at the end, when we get say to that we've "lived the dream," don't we want that to be His dream?  A dream of a life that mattered.  Today, that may mean that we have to surrender our tiny little dream and allow God to replace it with His much bigger, more exhilarating, mind-blowing, stunningly wondrous one.

I Will Follow by Chris Tomlin
Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow you
Who you love, I'll love
How you serve I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you

II Thessalonians 1 - With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Hole In Our Gospel and Giving Christmas Away

I've been working on a book review of The Hole In Our Gospel written by the President of World Vision, Richard Stearns.  I've never written a book review, but after reading this book (which took months because of how hard it was for me to digest this fresh perspective of what God is calling us to do) I want to do everything in my power to make sure everyone reads it - regardless of their faith.  However, the review has been lodged in my throat for weeks.  There were no words I could use that more beautifully capture Rich's story and charge to us than his own. 

Then I was sitting in church yesterday listening to the mission pastor talk about Grace's Alternative Christmas Market.  In December, our church hosts a market which allows you to purchase a gift for your friends or family but the present actually goes to someone in need.  So the recipient on your end gets a card and picture with a description of what has been bought, but someone else receives the gift and it is more precious than anything we could possibly pick up at Macy's for our aunt or assistant.  This market is a perfect illustration of what The Hole implores us to do.  The Hole reminds us that being a Christian is more than having a personal relationship with Christ; it also "entails a public and transforming relationship with the world."  If we have no outward expression of our faith, then it has a hole.  A big one. 

Rich shares his vision for how the world could be changed if Christians would do what Christ actually calls us to do.  But he shares it from an intensely personal place. He was a CEO of a major American corporation.  He had put himself through college and an MBA program.  He'd overcome great obstacles and was a "good" Christian along the way.  He and his family went to church and gave to mission programs, but with his luxury car and home and lifestyle he had avoided major sacrifice.  Then God called him to lead World Vision.  His life has never been the same.  He shares vivid stories of what he has seen across the globe, the suffering and hurt and disease, and then he shares how we can actually make a difference.  While The Hole is oftentimes incredibly daunting because of the enormity of the problem that faces millions of people worldwide, it is also hopeful that great positive change can come if we would all step up and contribute.

Let me urge you to consider two things today.  One, read The Hole In Our Gospel.  But be ready, it will challenge your perspective on what you do and how you spend your money.  If you can't afford a copy, let me know and I'll send you one.  Two, consider an "alternative" Christmas this year.  Don't do anything radical and impose it on your whole family, but implement this gift-giving strategy for you alone.  Ask those people who traditionally buy you gifts to donate the money they would spend to someone who REALLY needs it.  If you don't know where to donate, consider World Vision.  Their reach is extraordinary and they can do so much with so little - there's a list of items on their website you can purchase as alternative gifts.  If you live in Houston, then considering visiting Grace's Joy to the World Gift Market on Sunday, November 27th. Can you imagine what the world would look like this Christmas if one member of every family in America made the choice to only give instead of receive?  If your only presents under the tree were cards telling you what gift was being delivered to a person in need?  Meals to the Star of Hope.  A goat for hungry children in east Africa.  Spanish language Bibles to the church with no walls in Guatemala.  $1,100 worth of essential medicines, like antibiotics, to children in desperate need for $100. 

I heard this song by Matthew West for the first time yesterday.  It sums this challenge up.  We have the power to make a difference in a life or lives.  All we need is the resolution to do it.  Will you join me?

What if I told you
You have the power
To give someone hope
Beyond their wildest dreams
What if I told you
It’s right there in your hands
In your hands
It’s hard to imagine
How something so small
Can make all the difference
Tear down the tallest wall
What if December
Looked different this year

What if we all just
Give this Christmas away
If there’s love in your heart
Don’t let it stay there
Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed
By the gifts you receive
When you give this Christmas away

It’s feeding the hungry
Serving the poor
It’s telling the orphan
You’re not forgotten anymore
It’s doing what love does
Even when no one’s watching you
Give this Christmas away
If there’s love in your heart
Don’t let it stay there

Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed
By the gifts you receive
When you give this Christmas away
For God so loved the world
That He gave His only Son
So we could be
His hands, His feet, His love

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pile of Leaves

We always have one good kid.  It rotates but there's always one over the weekend that is the angelic one and whoever that happens to be makes you fall in love with him or her all over again.  Well, this weekend it was the baby.  He was an absolute doll.  He was obedient, affectionate, and funny. 

He also has one secret power that the other two do not - his scent.  I know this is going to sound bizarre, but he has a scent, it's not good or bad it's just....him.  And it is the best drug you could possibly sniff. I remember my Mimi had it too.  I could always tell when she stayed with us and would beg my mom not to wash the pillow when she left because I could still smell her Mimi-ness on the pillowcase.  He has the same distictive smell and it makes me want to kiss his little face and neck all day long.  But I digress. 

Yesterday, we were outside playing a lot because the weather was just perfect.  For about an hour in the afternoon we were playing in the driveway.  We have a long driveway that the kids can ride their tricycles up and down, and they also collect rocks and run and climb the gate - curious kid stuff.  The wind had been blowing and had left quite a collection of leaves in its wake.  Well, the baby started collecting these leaves.  First, he put them in his dump truck for us to drive over to the trash cans and throw away.  But then he started making a little pile against the wall of the house where I was sitting.  I praised his lovely pile of leaves and it grew and then he came and sat with me.  He's a very funny active toddler but he was quite serious yesterday afternoon.  He looked deep in thought as he sat on the other side of the leaf pile - me and him, him and me.  The other two were riding around like wildmen, but he sat quietly, looking off into the sky and then back down at his leaves. 

It sounds random and mundane, but it was absolutely precious.  It was also so restful.  Here were all these options for busyness around him, yet he was content just sitting with the little pile of leaves he had collected.  It made my heart quiet.  My mind still.  The lists I make for the after-hours necessities were shelved.  And I just sat there with him in the quiet.  I did eventually hop up to grab a camera because I had to capture his face and the moment for all time. I'm sure all my picture snapping kind of killed his pondering, but he tolerated me nonetheless.  Here's the little face I got to sit with yesterday among the leaves: 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Post: Mommy Myths!

I'm so excited to have my dear friend and Christian writer, Amy Vogel, guest post today: defines a myth as: a traditional or legendary story, with or without a natural explanation; or any invented story, idea, or concept; or an unproved or false collective belief.

If I had a nickel for every time I compared myself to a collective belief about how I should be as a Mom – I’d have enough to pay for Kim Kardashian’s wedding and divorce! There are some seriously dark thoughts that lurk in my Mom brain – standards I cannot compete with or live up to. I couldn’t do it as a full-time working or now that I am full-time at home.

Three years ago, I found myself face down on the floor. I had put myself there after yet another horrific morning of fits, curses and gnashing of teeth. You might think the culprit was either my (then) 5 year old or 2 year old, but sadly no. I was the one who needed the time out.

In that moment I realized I couldn’t live on what I believed about myself as a Mom because I didn’t know who I was. I found the answer in Proverbs 3:4-6, which started me on my way. It was then that The Lord started to dig up the lies so rooted in my brain so He could burn them up like the chaff they are. But they are stubborn boogers. They don’t want to come up. These are the ones that get me the most:

1. I am all alone in this.
2. Other Moms don’t yell or fuss or get frustrated with their kids like I do.
3. I don’t love my kids enough.
4. I didn’t think it would be this hard.
5. One day, being a Mom will be easier.

That day and every day since, I make a choice. I could let these myths fester or I could let God turn me into the Mommy He meant for me to be (and that my girls deserve). I could keep on being the unpleasant, foolish person crying into the tile or I could start to act like the victor He said I was.

We all have to make that choice. We have to lay these burdens down or they will eat us alive.

When I prayed change into the Mommy my girls needed (which is a dangerous prayer by the way!), God had no intention of making me perfect or wiping my memory. He wanted to change how I thought. He used my brokenness to show me how to fight back. You see, we can’t just take the garbage out, we have to put good back in.

And since there are 5 myths, I’ve found 5 ways to counteract their poisonous effects.

1. Listen to God’s Word - For overcoming Myths 1-5 (Hebrews 4: 12, 2 Tim. 2: 9)
2. Listen to your Godly Friends - For overcoming Myths 2, 3 & 4 (Eccles. 4: 9-10)
3. Listen to your Mentors - For overcoming Myths 4 & 5 (2 Timothy)
4. Listen to your Husband - For overcoming Myths 1, 3 & 4 (The biblical equivalent of date night – Mark 10: 8-9)
5. Listen to your children - For overcoming Myths 3 & 5 (You don’t have to wait till for your “crown of the aged,” Proverbs 17:6, to enjoy your children!)

When we overcome these myths – through God’s power – there is freedom to know Him, your husband, your children – YOURSELF – in ways that will bring you unending joy.

To hear more about Amy's journey, follow her on

Thursday, November 10, 2011


It seems as though everyone has come down with something.  Everywhere I turn, a friend or family member or co-worker is ill.  Unfortunately, that has not passed over our house.  While each of the kids has had a bit of a cold, the little lady has been the sickest.  It came as a complete surprise because she's usually the healthiest.  But boy has she been sick.  It's apparently not quite pneumonia but a nasty case of bronchitis and some other respiratory infection so they're treating it like you would pneumonia with two antibiotics and a breathing treatment. 

As a result, she's cried a lot the past few days.  The worst is when she wakes up crying at night.  She sounds terribly forelorn and, of course, sick.  So the past couple of nights I get up and rock her.  Normally if we have a child crying in the middle of the night we won't pick them up because it makes it worse so we just pat them on the back and tuck them back in.  But not so when they're sick.  I get up and rock them back to sleep in the nursery.

It's been a while since I've done this and it's been precious time.  Even at 2 a.m., I have treasured our rocking time.  With her arms wrapped around my neck and her head nestled in my neck, I feel like I have a baby again.  And I am rapidly recognizing that they're not babies anymore.  So I've rocked her long after she's fallen back to sleep.  I've held her and prayed over her and thanked God for her.  I've treasured the moments I have left to rock-a-bye my baby.  Because I know, all too soon, that rock-a-bye will turn into bye-bye and I will hold these moments in my memory as precious keepsakes forever.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Four Friendships You Gotta Have

I have recently had some wonderful, fun, uplifting friend experiences.  I've written periodically about how this period of working and having young children can be isolating and challenging for those of us used to deep friendships with frequent in-person connections.  But over the past week, I had four encounters that rejuvenated my friendships and my spirit.  Here's a list of four, very different, types of friendships that I highly recommend:

Number 4:  The Couple Friendship. 
Bray and I have not experienced this much because our interests are so different, and therefore my girlfriends' husbands don't have a lot in common with him and his friends' wives don't have a lot in common with me.  Recently, however, we've made friends with a couple in the neighborhood.  We don't see each other much, but they have a child the same age as ours and are dealing with similar issues (interviewing  schools, both working, etc.), and we met up with them Saturday night to watch the LSU game (go Tigers!).   After five years of marriage, this is a special treat for me to have in my friendship repertoire now!

Number 3:  The Old Friendship (not as in age, but as in tenure). 
Last weekend, my dear friend and matron-of-honor came down from Fort Worth for a visit with me and the kids while Bray was traveling.  It was so much FUN!  She's known me through many different phases of my life, over 13 years now, and we have a shorthand in conversations that comes simply from the longevity of our relationship.  She and I have rarely seen each other since the babies came, but this is a friendship you can just pick up where you left off.  Facebook is fine to keep up with folks at a distance, but nothing can replace an in-person encounter with an old friend.  No matter how far you've moved from your old friends, try to find a time once a year just to hang out with them. 

Number 2:  The Family Friendship.
Friday night we went out to dinner with Bray's brother and his wife and kids.  I mentioned this in another blog post because I was just so surprised to find out how much I'd really been missing hanging out with them.  With all four adults working, some with travel, it's hard to find time to get together.  But there is an easiness that comes from being with family that you can't recreate.  You can be TOTALLY yourself and say wacky things and act like a goofball and your kids can freak out and it's all okay.  They're family, they CAN'T disown you.  The freedom that comes with knowing you're getting to hang out with people that are stuck with you allows you to have a blast without worrying what anyone thinks.  This is surely going to go on our priority list as a monthly dinner get together. 

Number 1:  The Godly Friendship.
I don't know what the four-some equivalent is for tri-fecta but this week has been the "quad"-fecta of friend get together's.  Last night was absolutely the cherry on the top!  There are two women who have been through some mega spiritual battles with me, and me with them.  Additionally, one other woman joined our group a couple of years after our trio began praying together and added such sweetness to our midst.  This God Quad of women has seen it all and prayed for it all.  Last night, we got together for a long overdue dinner.  One of the women I hadn't seen since she had her baby a year ago.  The entire two hours was filled with sharing what God had been doing in our lives, and a couple of us, me specifically, came away convicted about an aread in my life that needed to change because of the testimony of my Godly friend.  There is nothing you can't do or get through with a Godly woman on your side.  Don't let these friendships flounder.  They not only are an other-worldly reciprocal support system, they are also a check and balance in your walk with the Lord which is critical if you want to stay traveling down the right path.  I walked away from the evening refreshed, encouraged, and ready to make some changes in my life because of what we shared. 

I know God rejoices in our friendships - he talks about friends throughout the Bible as do his followers.  Take some time to maintain and strengthen the friendships in each different area of your life - it's worth it!

Phillipians 1 - I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart.
I Samuel 20 - David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’”
3 John 3 - To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.  I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 4, and counting......

So, as you may have read, Larry, Moe & Curly have all three learned how to escape their cribs.  The first night, it was novel and somewhat amusing.  Particularly the baby's dance of pride.  The second night was Chinese water torture.  The eldest was the last down at 10:15 pm (from a usual bedtime of 7:45).  Because we'd blocked their room door with a pack-n-play (read prior post if you want to know why we can't SHUT the door), the boys were hysterical with grief.  Screaming and fit-throwing as you've never seen.  One was nearly hyper-ventilating from the crying the other's head was wet with sweat.  There's no way you could just LEAVE them. 

Last night, I got a fun break.  Bray and I rarely get to see his brother and wife who have two young kids so we all got together for dinner at a local, very family friendly, Mexican food restaurant.  We had so much fun, split some margaritas and dinner and, remarkably, even with five kids ages one to five, everyone did great.  I was so relaxed and ready to tackle night three of the great escape.  And it started off seamlessly.  Everyone went into their cribs and Bray and I sat in the room until all settled down with blankies and began to rest.  He suggested there was not even a need to block off the door because we'd done it, finally, and on only night 3. 

Ha!  Ha, ha, ha, ha.  Not so.  They all escaped the moment we left the room, they were just toying with us.  And so the game began again.  Until 9:50 this time - that's the earliest so far.  So.........a very secure gate was installed this morning which led to an absolutely disastrous nap time where the boys cried hysterically again, throwing themselves against the gate, and destroying what was left in the nursery. 

I do not know where this leaves us.  I do know I have a date with my hubby and a couple friend tonight after the kids go down to watch the LSU game at Ragin Cajun and I'm leaving my mom to deal with it.  Before you think I'm terrible, I warned her very descriptively and she still agreed.  Maybe she'll have the magic touch.  We've still not caved to crib tents.  We are going to try lying the mattresses on the floor so they're pseudo-jailed in the cribs.  If that fails tonight, the beds get converted tomorrow.  And a Facebook friend told me just to grit my teeth and let them cry because the exact same thing happened to her daughter and she stopped after two nights of no attention.  We'll see if my stomach is that strong. 

I'll keep you posted.........keep your fingers crossed that sleep is in their (and our) future.

(Addendum from Sunday morning:  my dear friend's genius suggestion worked - the springs being removed so the mattress would lie flat on the floor has rejailed the trio - here's hoping it buys us six months!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween, 3.0.

Our first Halloween was spent in the NICU.  They wore "boo" hats. 


Our second Halloween the kiddos weren't yet walking around.  They were Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet. 


Our third Halloween, they were not only walking, but running, and I'm in love with all of the Halloween events having bouncy houses.  These are the best invention ever.  And the little lady is OBSESSED.  She jumps twice, then kicks her feet up and lands with a big "boom" on her bottom.  Then she laughs, hops up, and does it all over again with great gusto.  They were a horse, cow and a rabbit because they are in love with farm animals (and little bit is in love with anything that hops).  Here's the highlights:


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bedlam (literally)

Last night, at my house, there was bedlam.  Literally:  bed. lam.  Meaning everyone learned how to escape from their cribs.  As you may recall, the eldest had already figured out this skill until we turned the bed around and trapped him in on all sides (in front of him was the back of the crib which is very high, to two sides were wall, and the final side was the high side of little lady's crib).  This had been successful for a few months.  Until the baby just learned to crawl out of his crib.  This motivated the eldest to SCALE the high side and drop down outside.  So upon returning to my house last night from an overnight trip, I rejoiced in having arrived in time to tuck them in bed.  Little did I know that I would tuck them in again, and again, and again.  I lost count.  But from 7:45 to 10 (that's right, 10 pm!), we were putting them back in bed.  I sat in their room and sang songs to keep them in the crib, I rocked them, I cuddled them with their animals, but to no avail.  The second I stopped, tried to tiptoe out of the room, out they came, pell-mell, with the baby doing this hysterical white man dance exhibiting great joy and pride at his accomplishment. 

IN ADDITION, Bray came up with the genius idea of shutting their door to keep them in the room.  I was hesitant because they had never had that door closed and instead thought we should relocate one of our child-proofing gates to their door frame.  But that would have taken a fair amount of work at 9 pm at night.  So upon shutting the door we were met with (a) hysterical sobbing and screaming, mainly from the little lady who I believe is teething again and in a bad mood, and (b) a LOCKED door.  Yes, they turned the doorknob lock and locked themselves in.  So then we're on the ground unscrewing the doorknob from the door so we can get to the inner workings of the door and extricate them from their imprisoned status (dad wasn't nearly as frantic about the door locking situation as mom, I was ready to break into their window so frantic was I). 

So tonight the gate goes up, and this weekend the bed's get converted to toddler beds, and you get to experience what I'm sure will be a series of stories on the bedlam that ensues...........

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Will of God

I've found myself in a position recently looking afresh at how to "know" the will of God.  I realize there's no thunderbolt that will come from the heavens to zap the wrong choice, but I wanted a new perspective on how to pray about this particular issue.  Everything I found in my research, from scripture to scholars, directed me to do one thing first - read/study/meditate on God's word.  Simply praying for clarity in a choice, or for God to open or close a door, would not do.  Rather, I had to be grounded in the knowledge of Him to be able to have the wisdom to know what He would have me do.  Among the words I found to give me counsel were these, and I share them today in case you too are having to make a decision or seeking clarity about a situation you are in: 

Psalm 119 - Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word...I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Romans 12 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Proverbs 3 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Matthew 6 - So do not worry...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Romans 8 - In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will 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.
Hebrews 10 - You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
2 Corinthians 8 - For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

So if you're at a fork in the road, join me in spending some time meditating on scripture, praying and relying on the Spirit to intercede, and persevering and giving yourself to the Lord - I'm confident that we'll find peace in a decision if we take these steps to prepare.