Thursday, February 28, 2013

Livin La Vida Buena

Today I went on a run during Ross's lunch break. Usually my runs involve one of two scenarios. A) a 5:15 wake up to pump followed by a run in the freezing temps with lovely running friends or B (and always less preferable), a run later in the morning with 2 people, one of whom is always crying, whining, asking for snacks, pooping, standing up in the stroller or asking me to sing Bible songs. Well, no offense to the Bible, but when Ross agreed to let me fit a quick couple of miles in during his lunch, I took it. It is a rare day that I run alone and it was nice.

Running along busy roads on a windy day, I couldn't hear Madonna urging me to pick up the pace so it was just me and my thoughts. Can't bear the suspense of hearing what they were? Lucky day for you :)

I thought about the good life I lead. I read somewhere that the seeds of discontent start with ingratitude. As I thought about the things I've previously been discontented with, I was able to see more clearly why I needed to be grateful for those very things.

Example one: we have long prayed for a new job for Ross but the right opportunity has not come. Today I was reminded that this current job is five minutes from home and he comes home for lunch every day. Some days that affords me one less diaper change. Other days, like today, it gets me a solo run in the not freak early hours. I put kids down for nap and ran like it was my last day of freedom on earth. It was wonderful. So while God is remaining mum on the job front, I'll take a post dawn, no kids run and be thankful for his five minute commute.

Example two. Kind of on the same token, we are hoping to move in the next while. I'd be lying if I didn't say I've been waiting on this day for a long time. I want a little more space and a lot less orange bathroom. But this teeny tiny house is one story and is easy to clean. So easy, in fact, that I can vacuum it in its entirety in about 30 minutes (and that's an "under the furniture, into the corners" kind of vacuum. I can easily do it in less. Ross came home to me vacuuming yesterday and was seriously nearly moved to tears. I'm not sure what's more sad, that he's so excited about the prospect of a well vacuumed home or that the very act of his wife doing more than her usual D+ job of homemaking made him so happy. *side note* he asked why I would be vacuuming (fair question). I said that MK had crushed goldfish on the floor and his derned dog who eats Thomas's spit up from the floor refuses mk's goldfish.  I am so waiting to see MK purposely crushing goldfish upon bribe from her father. Anyway- the point it is, it's not a bad life when you can do a decent job of cleaning your entire house in 30 minutes.

Example three. Dreamboat baby has finally learned to roll over. Naturally that's only in one direction, prompting "rescue me" screams from the turtle himself a few times a night. I'd complain about the waking, but a simple flip back to his belly and a paci in his mouth and he's back out. I cannot complain about that and am really thankful that he goes back down so easily.

I'd go on and on but it really does amaze me how quickly perspective can change when I shift the focus to gratitute. All of a sudden I see blessings everywhere I look.

**if you follow me on instagram, sorry for the repeats. So trying to not let instagram replace blogging like the rest of you have :) **


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lenten Reflections

This year, I'm taking part in a Lenten reflection series put on by the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) team at Georgia Southern. My recent post is below but there are daily postings until Easter and they are all wonderful. Take a peek for a few minutes of spiritual time today!

Being the Hands and Feet of Jesus

No one ever said that the Christian walk was an easy one. In fact, many of the great disciples, from St. Paul to Mother Teresa, have reminded us that choosing to follow Jesus can be a difficult path. Thankfully, Holy Scripture gives us a roadmap, plenty of do’s and don’ts to help us navigate our way toward our Savior. Today’s first reading from Leviticus gives us some of the don’ts.  “You shall not steal. You shall not lie or speak falsely to one another. You shall not swear falsely by my name.”  This looks pretty straightforward.  Most of us don’t literally steal, lie or swear by Him.  But what if we remember that everything we have is from Jesus? Are we using the gifts He has loaned us for His glory? If we have extra money and we believe that this is a provision from Him, isn’t squandering it on (insert your luxury of choice) a theft? If we have a skill or talent, and we use our free time watching reality TV, aren’t we stealing that gift from Him?  How often do we say, “I swear to God?” Popular reality starlets proudly proclaim “Bible” instead of “I swear.” It doesn’t seem like much but asking for the clarity to see even the small ways we offend the Lord can draw us closer to Him.

In His mercy, God also gives us suggestions of do’s in today’s Gospel from Matthew. They are not ways to earn His freely given love and grace, but ways that help us become more like Him, and become one with Him.  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” Jesus is pretty clear here. Saying “I believe in you” a few times in your life or going to Mass each Sunday aren’t all that He asks of us. We must resist the secular pull toward egocentrism, even self-centeredness.  Richard Sterns writes in his book, The Hole in our Gospel, that today’s Christian might re-read that passage from Matthew 25. It could say
For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.

The majority of us are good, loving people. But during these 40 days, how can we stretch ourselves from being a “good person” to literally being the hands and feet of Jesus in this broken world?  He needs us to put down the iphone and write a note to our grandmother or call (not text) our mom just to say hi. He needs us to live the scripture we may so readily quote by caring for orphans and frustrating roommates alike. He needs us to spend a few minutes each day praying for people who have no one to pray for them.  By acting out the faith we profess, we walk a path that leads directly into His loving and tender embrace. 

-Keri Ninness

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cinco Meses

Two weeks ago, our precious boy turned 5 months old. I think it may be his first monthly post and it's late. Sorry, my dear second child, c'est la vie. He may not get a monthly post, but fear not. This boy, my Thomas, is loved beyond measure.  My dreamboat baby. A few things about my boy at 5 months old.

  • Roughly a whopping 15 lbs and a wee little 23 inches long. Round and short and perfect.
  • Sports an old man's toupee right on top his sweet little head. Wild, hilarious hair.
  • Still exclusively breastfed with a few tries with oatmeal. Tongue thrust is still pretty pronounced so we'll wait another month before we press the solid food issue. We did introduce him to those gross baby mum mums but have some fine motor skills to work on.
  • Little man sleeps on his belly (shhhh) from 8p to 6:30-7:30 depending on the day (or depending on how loud big sister is yelling "get me outta this crib."). Pushing back that bedtime to 7:30 this week.
  • He is such a smiley boy. Just throwing a glance and a slightly exaggerated "hiii Thomas," guarantees you a huge smile.
  • He loves his mama's right hip. 99 times out of a 100, you will find our guy on my hip, facing outward, just taking in the world. He rarely prefers to be anywhere else.
  • That said, I can sometimes get 15 minutes of little man in the exersaucer or on the play mat, less time in the bumbo. Then he is calling for his perch again.
  • Like his sister (and all other children on earth??), is happy the second we walk outside and quickly soothed by fresh air.
  • Is a great eater, giving our days much more predictability than those with Mary Kate at this age.
  • Like Mary Kate, loves his daddy. I do not say that out of obligation but the fact is my kids have a fantastic  dad who treasures them, treasures quality time with them and loves them immensely. They feel that and respond to it.
  • Loves his mama too. Like I said, he smiles at just about anyone but I'll go out on a limb and say that I get them the fastest. Maybe he values his food source, maybe he likes an unshowered, tired looking lady but he does seem to like his old lady.
  • Is a little fish. Unlike his big sis at that age (sorry for the constant comparisons!), he loves loves his bath. He's ready to graduate from the sink but it's so easy and he loves every minute of the warm water. On rough days, I'll put MK down for a nap and Thomas and I will take a warm bubble bath. He loves it and mama does too.
  • Has two bottom teeth coming in at the ripe old age of 5 months. No telling how long it will take them to break through but until then we simply have 2 tons of drool covering every shoulder, fist, outfit, etc. Nursing is getting interesting too.
  • Doesn't love the carseat (as in, hates it) but if we get into the car .2 seconds after a mammoth feeding, he screams less
  • Praise the Lord, seriously, praise the Lord, He will take a pacifier. It isn't a cure all but buys me time when I need it. It is soooo nice not to BE the pacifier as I was with MK.
  • Goes down easily for a morning nap, wide awake, as long as he hasn't been up for more than an hour or so. Working on lengthening that nap a bit so he and big sis can nap at the same time in the afternoon. Right now, dreamboat is ready to sleep again by 11 or noon and I'd love to get him to 12:30 or even 1. But I'm not complaining. I know I'm lucky that he will actually nap!
I know there's more but I just wanted to jot those down before I forgot. I feel like all you mamas of boys have been holding out on a big secret, this intensity of love for a little boy. It is no greater than my love for MK, but is unique, just as I know the love will be for any future babes. I just can't say enough how much I adore this child, even at 4 am or on non-napping days or days where my hit is chaffed from his bottom not moving from it all day. Thomas Perry, you've got my heart little boy (and your dad's and sister's too!)  I am so thankful that you are here, happy and healthy and perfect.

Photo: An Instagram repeat but can't resist. Same chins, same smile, new day of (mostly) sweetness!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Powerful Prayers for your Husband

With Lent beginning tomorrow, I've been thinking and praying about how best to use this holy time. God has beaten me over the head told me one major area he'd like for us, He and I, to work on together. I'd lie if I didn't say I was nervous about beginning this season, so confident about the impending failure of this task. But, like my friend Elizabeth reminded me, courage is a quiet whisper saying 'I'll try again tomorrow.' I'm anticipating needing a lot of courage for the do-overs. 40 days of Lent have me thinking I'll need about 40 of those.  Anyway, one of the easier, but certainly no less important, commitments I'll make this year was spurred by the Homily at Mass this weekend. Deacon John reminded those of us on a Christian walk that our most important goal is to lead our spouses closer to Jesus. I could write a whole post on all the ways I have done the opposite in our short marriage but agreed with all of the ways He encouraged us to lead our loved ones toward the Cross, most importantly, simply praying for them. I try to remember to pray for Ross and MK and I often say a quick "Help Daddy feel Jesus right now" or "Jesus hear dad's prayers today." I enjoy that with Mary Kate, making praying for her daddy and my husband a part of our day. But outside of the church, there were these beautiful cards, called Powerful Prayers for Your Husband by B.J. Reinhard.  It is helping me take praying for Him to a deeper, more specific level. So, in addition to that thing God beat me over the head with, I'll spend this Lent praying for the partner he gave me.

*I have the original card that I can email as an attachment if any of you want it.
 by b.J. ReinhaRd

Lord, as my husband faces another day of challenges,
reveal Your deep love to him. Cast out his fears. May your peace
rule in his heart. (1 Jn. 4:18; Col. 3:15)

Thank You, Lord, for daily bearing my husband’s
burdens. Remind him that You uphold him—physically,
emotionally, and spiritually. Refresh him with a sense of Your
presence. (Ps. 68:19; Col. 1:17; Jer. 31:25)

Intimacy with God.
Lord, remind Ross of Your deep, personal knowledge of him, and assure him that he can pour out his heart to You. May his walk with You be more than an intellectual
exercise. Reveal Yourself to him so that he can know and worship You as You are. (Ps. 62:8, 139:1-4; Jer. 9:24; Jn. 14:21)

Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, thank You that You live in and reveal truth to my husband. Teach him to
live in Your power—filled with, motivated by, and in step with
You. May he listen to Your voice and follow wherever You lead.
(Jn. 16:13-14; Gal. 5:16, 22-25; Is. 30:21)

Lord, show Ross how valuable he is to You. May he know that his true worth comes from You. (Mt. 6:26; Jer. 29:11; Zeph. 3:17)

Cultivate in my husband a diligence and desire to do his best for You. Establish the work of his hands, and grant him success. Direct him into roles best suited to his gifts, talents, and personality. (Col. 3:23; Ps. 90:17, 139:13-15)

Lord, as my husband provides materially for our family, help him to serve You, not money. Enable him to rest in Your provision. (Mt. 6:24; Gen. 22:14; Phil. 4:19)

Strengthen Ross with faith and patience in the difficulties he faces. Assure him that You are with him and are working all things together for good. (Eph. 3:16-17; Col. 1:11; Ro. 8:28, 38-39)

Spiritual protection.
Lord, protect my husband from the temptations he faces today, especially concerning  (name specific area of temptation). Teach him to guard what enters
his mind, to focus on You, and to resist the enemy by faith.
(1 Cor. 10:13; Col. 3:1-2; Jas. 4:7; 1 Jn. 5:4-5)
Sexual purity.
Lord, Satan would twist his God-given desire for sex into something ugly. Prompt him to turn to You for safety and freedom from lust, pornography, sexual fantasies,
and inappropriate relationships. Let him find acceptance and satisfaction in You and within the context of our marriage. (Ps. 90:14; Prov. 5:15-20; Heb. 13:4)
Thank You, Shepherd, for leading my husband as he interacts with and leads others—at home, at work, and in our church and community. Enable him to set a good example for and love those under his care. (Is. 40:11; Acts 20:28; Titus 2:7-8)
 Lord, on his own, my husband cannot fulfill Your desire for him to love me as You love the church. But You are love, and You live in him. Teach him how You want to love me through him. (Eph. 5:25; 1 Jn. 4:8; 2 Cor. 4:7)
 Lord, give Ross the courage to share his innermost thoughts and feelings with me. Grant me grace to listen with acceptance and to share honestly with him. (Prov. 31:10-12; Ro. 15:1-3)
 Be my husband’s wisdom in the challenges we face as parents. Teach him how to relate to and love our children the way You, our heavenly Father, relate to us. (1 Cor. 1:30; Ps. 103:8-14; Prov. 3:12; Eph. 6:4)
Lord, bring my husband friends with whom he can share his joys and struggles—friends who speak frankly with him and remind him of Your love and power. Show him how to be a good friend in return. (Prov. 18:24, 27:6; Eccl. 4:9-12)
Loving others.
Give my husband courage and opportunities to share Your love with others in words and actions. When people frustrate him, help him to respond in humility and peace. When he sins against others or is sinned against, guide him to ask and
grant forgiveness. May those who interact with him touch Your
light and life. (2 Thess. 2:16-17; Col. 3:12-14; Phil. 2:14-16)
Physical protection.
Keep my husband safe and healthy. Teach him to care for his body, and heal his diseases, especially (name specific ailments). (3 Jn. 1:2; Ps. 103:2-3)

Passion for life. Father, show my husband his true purpose
for living, especially in areas that seem mundane. May Paul’s
claim, “To live is Christ,” always be true for my husband.
(Jn. 4:13-14, 6:35; Phil. 1:21) © 2007 by B.J. Reinhard
To subscribe to Pray!®, call 1-800-691-Pray.
For other prayer cards and resources, call 1-800-366-7788.
www.praymag.comISBN #1600061583

**Be back with original material later this week lest y'all think I simply copy and paste for blog posts :)




Wednesday, February 6, 2013

So God made a mother

I got this from my sweet friend Anna and it made my day.  Hope it brings a little encouragement to you!

Ann Voskamp had this take on the 'God Made a Farmer' commercial posted on her blog this morning. It made me think of all my mama friends - so blessed by you!
God said –
I need someone to get up at midnight and scoop the most fragile of humanity close to her warmth and rock though she can hardly stand and nourish though she’s mostly sleep-starved and change the diaper and the sheets and the leaked on, leaked through, and leaked down clothes though she’ll have to change them in the morning and next week and that won’t change for years.
So God made a Mother.
That God had said I need somebody with a strong heart.
Strong enough for toddler tantrums and teenage testing, yet broken enough to fall on her knees and pray, pray, pray.
Someone who knows that in every hard place is exactly where you extend grace, who looks a hopeful child in the eye and says yes, even though she knows every yes means a mess but this is how you bless, who has the courage to keep letting go because she’s holding on to Me.
So God made a mother.
God said I need somebody who can shape a soul and find shoes on Sunday mornings and get grass stains out of Levis.
And make dinner out of nothing and do it again 79, 678 times, and keep kids off the road and out of the toilet and in clean underwear and mainly alive though she’s mainly losing her mind and will put in an 80 hour week by Wednesday night and just do one more load of laundry.
And one more sink of crusted burnt pots.
And keep on going another eighty hours because raising generations matters and weaving families matters and tying heart strings matters and these people here matter.
So God made a mother.
It had to be somebody who could comb back pigtails and tie up skates just-right tight.
Who could pretend she remembered algebra and how to get home from here and that really, she was just fine, that it must just be the silly onions.
Somebody who would run for the catch, jump on a trampoline and play one fierce game of soccer and not give a thought to all those labors and her weak pelvic floor. Somebody who’d stay up late with a science project that never ends, who’d get up early for the game in the rain, somebody who’d wave at the door until the taillights were out of sight and still be smiling brave.
So God made a mother.
It had to be somebody willing to keep loving when it made no sense because that’s what love does.
Somebody who knew that patience is a willingness to suffer.
That joy is always possible because there is always, always something to be thankful for.
And that life is not an emergency but a gift — so just. slow. down. There are children at play here and we don’t want anyone to get hurt and the hurry makes us hurt.
Somebody willing to feed and lead, lay down her life and pick up her cross, give of her time because they have her heart. Someone who knows that we all blow it — and what matters is what we then do after.
Someone who could humble herself into the tender sorry that covers a multitude of sins.
And who’d bow her head at night over the girl asleep with the doll in the crook of her arm — and thank her Father for this hidden life that’s the turning gear for the a whole spinning world.
So God made a mother.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
It's been a roller coaster of a week around here. We committed a family sin by packing too much into last weekend so, by Monday, I wasn't exactly refreshed and ready for a week o' chil'ren. Monday was hard. It was one of those melodramatic "I am not a good mom and can't do this' kind of days. Mary Kate totally picked up on my heinous mood and was herself in a heinous mood. Two Ninness women in a heinous mood is a recipe for natural disaster. And it was. But thanks to a really understanding husband and some reflection time, I remembered what ingredients are always present in a good day: prayer, exercise, hydration and getting out of the house with the kids, even just for a pizza run trip to costco for milk.
--- 2 ---
After a day in which my child's nose was permanently fixed in a corner, we changed directions. Anyone in a remedial child rearing class knows that positive reinforcement almost always yields better results than negative ones. So, we now have the "Mary Kate's Doing Great" chart! It's amazing what that kid will do for a stamp on the "listen and obey" line. I have said it before and will say it again, I was a much smarter parent before I became a parent.
--- 3 ---
The mamas of boys of the world have been holding out on me. No one told me how that little man child would grab hold of my heart with no chance of letting it go. He is scrumptious. He is a total butterball, short and round and perfect. And if I so much as cut my eyes his direction, he smiles so big it takes up his whole face. THIS is why people get fooled into thinking they can have kids close together and not go crazy. That smile, that perfection in a round body, almost convinces me I could do it again and again and again. Thankfully, his big sister usually chimes in with an "I tee tee'd on the floor mama" , eliminating any delusions about a 3rd arrival any.time.soon.
--- 4 ---
One of those Huffington post articles was all over facebook recently. This one was on things not to say to a working mom. I was sharing it with a friend and we were talking about it. She was quick to point out that everyone makes choices and each one comes with sacrifices of some sort. (We were talking about the very very small segment of the population who is blessed to have a choice on whether or not to work outside the home.) Anyway, I was quickly convicted that I, too, made a choice. This past terrible Monday, Ross asked me if  I wanted to go back to work, if that's what I needed. He was asking sincerely and I thought about it sincerely. And for now, the answer is no. But I have to be an adult and acknowledge that I have a choice and I made a choice. So, yes, there are horrid, horrid winter days (totally feeling you here Betsy).  There are days when I so badly want a bigger home, beautifully decorated and a housekeeper solely dedicated to Mack's hair. There are days when I feel so lonely and isolated and crave just a few minutes of uninterrupted adult interaction. But I choose to be home. I have to take all that comes with that choice and do my best to stop complaining about a decision that I, myself, made.
--- 5 ---
I had dinner with a precious friend last night. She was in my Athens bible study for years and is now a crazy successful pharmacist all around fantastic human. It was a wild night for 4 reasons. A) I was sans kids for a whole meal. B) we were in line behind Jake Gyllenhall for like 15 minutes, as in RIGHT behind him. C) I ate a veggie burger (jury's still out). D. Jennifer introduced me to barre3 and after 2 videos, I'm hooked. Which is saying a lot because I am NOT a workout video kind of girl. But since I am clearly now a "only leave my house for 3 purposes kind of girl," this was born out of necessity and is so far, ah-mazing. The whole night was totally worth the effort to find clothes without drool or spit up on them.
--- 6 ---
We are house hunting and (hopefully) home selling and preschool hunting and job hunting. It's a lot of hunting and a lot of impending decisions for this hater of decision making. Luckily, my husband is a methodical, lover of spreadsheets kind of guy and is pretty great at pulling triggers. Basically it all boils down to, drum roll please, fully trusting in God's plan for MK's education, where we will raise our children and where Ross will best be able to provide for us. SOOO much easier typed than done. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3 has been with me through many a life change so we'll keep repeating it.
--- 7 ---
I'm all out of life changing material so I'll leave you with this pic of my sweet boy.  I'd live the rest of my life on bedrest to get to have this baby.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!