The Crumbs On The Countertop

I am not proud, but there have been moments in my Christian life when I have cried over the dust on my baseboards, the spills on my carpet and the crumbs on the countertop.

Cleanliness is next to godliness and serving a God of order where my favorite things to say about keeping a tidy home.

But something has happened to me.

I thank God because He is before all things and in Him every single thing holds together. Even those tiny crumbs.

What happened to me is something I never would have imaged could happen to me. What happened to me was something that happens to a lot of people, I simply had my fourth child and now I do not have time to care about the crumbs on the countertop.

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I saw the crumbs on the countertop just this week and then the dust on my nightstand and the piles of folded laundry sitting out in the laundry room left sitting out and not put away.

I noticed the meal planning board with it’s good intentions but meals which were never made.

I tried to figure out when my life started to unravel from my idol of order and it all comes back to having that fourth child.

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I thought about my love of the order and cleanliness and then I thought about my kids. My three sons and that fourth child, my only daughter.

Yes. I am overwhelmed by the constant need for me to tend to something.

But I am thankful.

I am thankful for the gift which God has graciously given to me in having a fourth child.

The gift I needed, where I came to the end of myself and my abilities and ultimately all I had was dependance upon something much Greater than me.

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That fourth child, in all her lovely wonder, pushed me to a place where I found the end of myself and the need for a God who is before all things, and in Whom all things hold together.

That fourth child has given me the greatest gift. The realization that I don’t need to have every crumb wiped up and every baseboard completely dusted. The realization that every single moment will not be picture perfect and my hands are more full than I could have ever dreamed.

I see the crumbs on the countertop and although they still make me a tiny bit crazy, thanks be to God for helping me see the other things around me which are more important. The lives He has given to me to love and care for and the ability to let go of the spills, the crumbs and the dust.

That fourth child has helped me see that loving, caring and tending is greater than cleaning or dusting or tidying.

Thank you God for that fourth child, for bringing me to the end of myself and for finding a place where it is not me running this ship, but You, You holding it all together and graciously showing me the way.

Thank you God for the gift of seeing crumbs on the countertop less and being involved in the lives of my children more.

I couldn’t have come to the end of myself without the graciousness of God. I am thankful for that fourth child. Abundantly. Even if I can’t keep the order around here like I wish I could.

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Prayers For My First Grader

It was supposed to be rest time in our home at 1:30 this afternoon. I put my baby down in her crib, closed the door and walked down the stairs to call the boys in for rest time just the way I normally do.

I sing to the tune of Mary Had A Little Lamb: ” It’s time to find your resting place, resting place, resting place, time to find your resting place, it is time to rest.”

But as I went to open the door and sing my song I saw three boys laughing and playing and I just could not make them stop.

So I watched them play from the bay window. The older two were on the swings and the younger was whacking them with a pool noodle. They were all laughing hysterically but I started to cry as I watched them.

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Today was the last day that all three of them will run around in the backyard after lunch time most days of the week. Tomorrow our biggest boy goes off to first grade and seventy one percent of his lunches and after lunch play times will now be spent outside of our home. (Mathematicians don’t hate on me here… I did not configure school and summer vacations into that one.)

So as I watched them I prayed. As I have gotten in the habit of praying for my kids when I spy on their play times.

I prayed for my son’s first days in his new classroom.

Lord, you are faithful and good. Please give my son good relationships with his new teachers and help him make new and long lasting friendships with his classmates. 

Lord, help him find others to run around on the playground with the same way he runs around our backyard at home. 

Lord, give him friends to sit at the lunch table with and joke and laugh… but also in the appropriate ratio of socializing and food eating. 

Lord, help me remember your faithfulness to us last year. Give me hope and trust for a school year which will grow us and stretch us in ways we weren’t expecting. 

Lord, give my son confidence in his work. Help him know in his heart that he is always loved by The Most High God. Help my son remember that he is kind, smart and important, uniquely knit together, wonderfully made. 

Lord, help my son stand up for himself and others. Help him be strong and courageous because You are with him wherever he goes. 

And Lord, help me be strong and courageous too because You have written that You are with my son wherever he goes and You are faithful. 

And as I watch these boys play, help the youngers left behind miss their brother well. Help them miss him enough to long to play around him but not enough to forget the fun they have when they are all together. 

Lord, we need you in transition and the unknowns. Help us trust You more and love one another better in the days to come.

Amen. 

And now the hardest thing to do is to leave my prayers and trust. To walk in the faith that calls us to believe in God’s faithfulness, even when we can’t see His faithfulness coming. To let the tears come with peace. The peace of God which transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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First grade, here we come.

You can pray for me too.

Kroger Online Ordering

There are so many reasons why I am thankful to be a mother in 2015. TiVo is probably the first, not churning my own butter second and the crock pot and the wrinkle free setting on the dryer are tied up for third.

Kroger is now stepping up their online ordering and I have to say, the ability to order my groceries online and pick them up at the store the next day may be better than TiVo.

Yesterday I logged onto Kroger’s Online Ordering website using only my email, a password and my  Kroger Plus Card Number. The website already had all my purchases from the last four months stored from the times I’ve used my Plus Card and all I had to do was go through and check off what I needed.

I then selected a store near me to pick up my groceries. You pick a store and a time. Then you get an email saying Kroger received your order and you get another email when your groceries are ready for pick up.

I was so excited to load up my four kids and PICK UP MY GROCERIES. I was even more excited because it was pouring rain and I didn’t have to run four kids into a grocery store.

We pulled in near the pharmacy window to a clearly marked door. kroger online ordering

I pulled into a clearly marked space.

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I pushed a clearly marked button and told the online ordering angels my name. kroger online ordering

My kids were so happy and they could not believe what was happening. kroger online ordering

An online ordering angel pulled my groceries out to my car and I paid him from my front seat. You can also give him your coupons if you have them.

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The angel then loaded my car.

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And we were on our way home in less than ten minutes. kroger online ordering

The kids gave Kroger Online Ordering TWO THUMBS UP! kroger online ordering

And I was leaping for joy.

You have to try this.

The first three visits are free and then the fee for online ordering is $4.95.

Find participating stores below.

Liberty Twp 7300 Yankee Rd Liberty Township, OH 45044

Lebanon 1425 Columbus Ave Lebanon, OH 45036

Springfield Twp. 8421 Winton Rd Cincinnati, OH 45231  

The WORST Mom Ever

I am the WORST mom ever.

Sometimes I say this phrase to my kids when they are experiencing a disappointing circumstance. Truly. I can be fun but I am also tough. This combination leads to many disappointing circumstances.

When I say that I am the WORST mom ever to my kids I am only joking to add to the drama of their disappointed hearts. (When all my children are in counseling as adults they will talk to note taking men and women about how I used this phrase against them to feel guilty.)

I know I am causing damage when I joke with them about being the worst mother ever but I do find myself saying things like:

Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t get ice cream on the way home tonight but that is because I am the WORST mom ever.

Lately my oldest son has been saying something back to me and the more he responds to me the more I am taking his words seriously.

When I call myself the WORST mom ever he always says,

“Mom, why do you say you are the WORST mom ever when you are actually the BEST?”

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The first time he said this I took his response lightly because this is the reaction I wanted to get out of my children. (The children crying while leaving Kings Island because I only treated them to Chick Fil A and a day filled with amusement park fun and I did not add ice cream on top of it all.)

These words from my oldest son have continued to stick with me even though it was the response I was expecting.

Even though I was expecting my son to respond in this way, I never expected his words to affect me the way they have.

How often do we all speak these words of untruth to all of our hearts when we find ourselves not measuring up to the moms whom we encounter at church, on the playground, in our schools and on social media.

How often are we speaking to our own hearts that we aren’t doing this mom thing as well as someone else?

I do this all the time.

Every time I fail throughout the day. Whether it comes down to feeling guilty over what I put on the table, the amount of activities I did or did not plan, the hours I spent away from them on a trip or on a run, the amount of minutes I fell short on a reading log or the homework folder.

However I fail, I sometimes and in someway speak this poisonous phrase to myself.

The WORST mom ever. 

I think it and I really feel this phrase I speak jokingly to my children at times.

And the words of my oldest son are such a sweet gift to me:

“Mom, why do you always say you are the worst when you really are the best.”

I may not feel like I am always measuring up. But to the four kids who I feel like I am failing, currently I am the best mom ever to them. Currently, my kids see me doing this job of mom and through their lens they see me doing my best.

Why do I always say I am the worst? I don’t know. I wish I could see myself though the lenses of my children.

Maybe I wouldn’t be so hard on myself.

Maybe I would see myself the way they see me.

To our young children, we are the best. They can’t see what everyone else on social media is doing. They just see their moms waking up each day and loving them the best they can. Our kids don’t have the ability to measure us up against everyone else. They only measure us up against the happiness they find within the walls of their happy homes.

We may feel like the WORST but to the little people who matter, we are THE BEST.

I’m actually may be doing a decent job at this mom thing.

Those are the words I need to speak more kindly to my own heart.

The Things I Said I’d Never Do: An Unraveled Parent

There was a moment the weekend right before Christmas where I found myself cheering in a dark deserted parking lot on a chilly December night. I was cheering because my three year old was peeing in the bushes, outside and in the cold.

Really. I was rejoicing. This is something I’d never thought I’d be doing. Six years ago in my early parenting days, when my first son was about nine months old, my husband shared a story with me about a little boy peeing in the church parking lot and I said,

“I WILL NEVER let my son pee in a parking lot.” And I really believed myself. I was even reluctant to let my first son pee in the yard while we were potty training at two.

And there in December, I found myself applauding my three year old in the dark. I was so proud of him. This was same kind of pride I feel when one of my children take their first steps. Peeing outdoors has actually become an important milestone for me and after three sons, this “will never” along with many others has given me the opportunity to see myself unravel my wound up strings, breathe and let go of all those things I thought I’d never do as a parent.

A dear friend told me once, “parenting is actually for the parents” and I could not agree more. I can see how these little humans that I’ve carried, nursed, fed and cleaned up after are actually changing me more than I ever thought they would back at the beginning of the all the “will nevers”.

Parenting is for us. The parents. It’s funny how such tiny people have helped me grow and change. How these tiny people have helped me conquer fears, push the boundaries of who I thought I was and help me learn to love in ways I never thought I could.

I also said I will never let my kids watch Spongebob but when your stuck in a hotel room at 4pm on a rainy day with no Disney Junior you learn to let go on the tiny things that you think will corrupt your children’s tiny hearts and minds and you trust that God is bigger than Spongebob.

I said I will never own a toy gun back in those early days of being a new mom. My intentions were to raise boys that were not violent miscreants shooting everything and everyone they see. But looking back now I can see those intentions were ruled by fear and not trust. We now have multiple storage containers for weapons and nerf darts lodged into every couch cushion in our home. And so far- no violent miscreants.

I believe I may have uttered the words…

I will never let my children jump on the beds or the couch. Clearly I did not understand boys or children when this sentence came out of my mouth. This was also tangled up with the fear of my children getting hurt. I now actually sometimes encourage jumping on the couch and the beds, rejoicing when I hear them jumping and laughing and playing together the same way I was rejoicing when that little three year old was brave enough to pee outside in the cold.

I will never let my kids have formula. I am pretty sure I cried like a madwoman when the pediatrician told me my first son had lost too much weight and we had to supplement formula. The doctor’s eyes even bulged out a little at my overreaction. He wasn’t suggesting poison. Just formula. For supplemental purposes. And I was hyperventilating in my hospital bed uttering words of defeat, fear and remorse. When my fourth child was born I actually asked the nurse to give her formula our last two nights in the hospital so I could rest after having my fourth c-section. For supplemental and sanity purposes.  All my kids have been nursed and given formula and despite my fears none of them has grown a third eye or eleventh toe… yet.

I will never teach my children the word MINE. I found myself correcting a friend a few years back when he was playing keep away with my infant son and using the four letter word, mine. “I don’t want him to know what that word is” is what I think I said. I felt like the word mine was the root of all selfishness. The word that in four letters can turn a sweet child into a monster. My desire was to teach my son that everything was given by a Great Giver and therefore help him learn to not use words which represented a heart of selfishness. But again, my good intentions were tangled up in fear and the unknown that a word does not produce a heart of selfishness. A heart of selfishness is naturally in all of us and selfishness will work it’s way into a home with or without the word mine.

I will never be able to survive parenting four young children, who happen to be within four years of one another. Look. It is true. Having little humans is tough. Tears on the floor, will I make it to nap time tough. I do not like to live in the unexpected. But having four kids so close together has taught me to learn to swim in unexpected waters. I am slowly learning to survive in the unexpected and learning to be comfortable when I can’t control every little thing happening around me. So far I am surviving. I haven’t lost anyone yet and everyone is still all in one piece. Things almost never go the way I planned them to go but I am learning to trust that God’s plans are greater than my plans. God is growing me and changing me, unraveling threads of fear and weaving new stronger threads of trusting in Him.

I am thankful when I find myself doing things I thought I said I would never do. It is there where I see growth. It is there where I see God making me into a better version of myself. 

I never thought about parenting being for the parents. But it is. It changes you.You may even find yourself cheering for your children when they are peeing outside in the dark.

 

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Hi, I’m Rachel. I became a follower of Christ one year before I found myself married to a man pursuing a seminary degree and on the road to become a pastor. That was nine years ago. We now have four kids, he is the head pastor of a PCA church in Mason, Ohio and I am figuring out how to be a mom, how to love my husband and how to trust God in the every day, one day at a time. I write stuff here and I try to keep it honest and encouraging as I have accomplishments and set backs. Follow this page on Facebook or add your email to the follow box on the right so we can stay in touch.