Monday, April 23, 2012

The Fingernail Diaries

When I was a teenager I had lovely fingernails. I always had fresh nail polish on them, and they were long and strong. I even gave up on my desire to learn to play the guitar because I didn’t want to cut off my fingernails to do it. It was probably a vanity issue that I should have prayed about…but then, when you’re a teenager, EVERYTHING is a vanity issue!
Before I entered the vanity soaked teenage years, though, my nails were anything but lovely. I was a “biter.” When I was nervous, when I was excited, when I was bored, when I was hungry…I snacked n my poor innocent fingernails. I remember finally deciding it wasn’t very ladylike and I should stop doing it. I wore a rubber band around my wrist, and any time I would catch myself biting my nails, I would pull that rubber band taut…and let it fly. Man, that was painful when it hit the inside of my wrist. But it did the trick. I quit chewing on my fingernails, and they became (as mentioned above) quite beautiful.
I kept them nice and long and strong when I was a newlywed. I was very adept at giving myself a French manicure, and I took great pride in the fact that I had well groomed hands. (side note-that is a really lame thing to take great pride in. Well groomed HANDS??? My vanity carried into adulthood, obviously)
I didn’t do much that would hurt my masterpiece hands, but sometimes things just happen. When one of my lovely nails would break, I would cut the others off too, because the only thing I hated worse than short nails was for one to be different than the others. I would sit down sadly and mourn the loss of my perfectly cultivated finger nails as I clipped them.
And then I had kids.
The first time I scratched my squirmy little 3 week old daughter with one of my perfectly manicured fingernails…I got so upset that I hacked them all off immediately.
But it wasn’t a bad scratch, and it was an accident after all, so I let them grow back, and all was right with my world again. Fingernails are good for lots of things! It’s so much better to have an itch on your back scratched by someone with fingernails. And they are great for digging out splinters, popping zits, untying knotted shoe laces…I’m just saying, other than the accidental baby scratching, they are handy to have around.
But then I started noticing that they weren’t that strong anymore. I don’t know if it was hormones, or giving so many baths that the water weakened them, or what. But I had to work really hard to keep my nails beautiful after my daughter was born.
And then we had 3 more kids!
I don’t remember exactly when I gave up altogether on my fingernails, but it’s been a LONG time since they saw French tip polish. It’s been a long time since they saw ANY polish.
I do LOTS of yard work. I do TONS of dishes. I gave MANY baths. My fingernails have no hope of surviving all that. Paint would chip off immediately, followed by the nails themselves. And if that wasn’t enough…
I became a biter again. (insert gasp)
In an effort to keep this horrible habit at bay, I decided to keep my nails short all the time. Not that I could get them long even if I wanted to. But I DON’T want to. You know how hard it is to weed a garden with long fingernails? You know how much time you have to spend to keep them looking nice? You know how easy it is to get dirt, and food, and POOP stuck underneath them?
I’m just saying that long, lovely, ladylike fingernails have pros and cons.
I was visiting with a friend over the weekend and we were talking about we often feel like- in life- we are hanging on by our fingernails. (she has four kids too) She suggested that would be a good title for a blog post. It got me thinking, and the above fingernail dialogue is the result of my thoughts.
Except I don’t HAVE any fingernails anymore!!!! So I can’t use them to hang on to anything!
Obviously the term “hanging on by my fingernails” is not literal. It’s just a way we say ‘barely hanging on.’ It’s a metaphor. But it feels literal to me most of the time. When I hear someone say they are hanging on by their fingernails, I think of falling out of a tree, and clawing to hold on to the branch you managed to grab as you fell. I think of climbing a mountain, and slipping, and digging your nails into the dirt and rocks to hang on.
I think of Mufasa from the “Lion King” trying to claw his way up a vertical rock wall, and the close up shot of his nails digging into the rock…but finding nothing to grip.
That’s how I feel sometimes. Like I am clawing my way up a vertical hill with no fingernails to help me. And even if I had them, they would only last about five seconds. My fingernails have bad attitudes.
“You had us soaked in dish water for 20 minutes last night and now you expect us to be strong for you?” (snap) (crack) (rip)
“You were chewing on us this morning when your kids couldn’t figure out that school lesson. After all that abuse you really want us to HELP you?” (crack) (pop) Yes, my fingernails have smart aleck mouths. And they are quitters. And they are weak. And they are useless.
They won’t last. They won’t help me. They aren’t strong enough to help even if they want to.
Here’s what I have decided: My fingernails, both literal and metaphorical, are an extension of my SELF. My FLESH. My ability. My strength. An outward reflection of my inner being.
I can try and try and try to climb that rock wall, but with or without fingernails…Mufasa is gonna fall. I AM NOT STRONG ENOUGH to climb the cliff. My fingernails CAN’T help me, even if I grow them out and dig them into the rocks.
When I try to do it all in my own strength…I still fail. I still fall. I can’t make it to the top. I will end up falling backwards, screaming the whole way down, and get trampled to death by wildebeests. (okay, I may be taking this ‘Lion King’ analogy too far)
So I am not even going to try.
I am going to let myself fall.
Actually, that’s not true. I am going to jump!
And I am going to be caught.
And the One who is strong enough is going to carry me to the top of the mountain…and He is going to hold me in the thundering stampede…and He is going to breathe for me in the flood…
And when I forget to let go, and I try to claw my way through on my own, and I inevitably fall, and death feels imminent…
He is going to revive me.

I’m not saying you can’t have long, lovely, ladylike, literal fingernails. I am saying, spiritually, HACK THOSE THINGS OFF!!!!! They aren’t strong enough anyway. But He is! Go ahead and fall. Better yet…JUMP! He’ll catch you too.
Next time you see me, I hope you notice my junky looking fingernails. And I hope that you realize they are a physical reflection of my spiritual longing.
I want to decrease so that He can grow more within me. I want to be reminded that I can’t do it! I want to tell the world that…
I AM WEAK SO HE CAN BE STRONG! (2 Corinthians 12:9)
And that short fingernails are way harder to get poop lodged underneath.

Monday, April 16, 2012

storms...and anchors

“There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail.
There’s an anchor for my soul.
I can say ‘It is well.’
I’ve been singing this one stanza over and over all day. I couldn’t figure out why it was stuck in my head at first, but then I sat down and really SAID the words…and then I cried for about 20 minutes, and then I spent a few hours letting the words sink into my heart.
My heart and flesh fail every day. EVERY DAY. I get aggravated with my kids for their bad attitudes and I snap at them. FLESH FAIL. I get aggravated with my kids when they don’t do anything wrong. FLESH FAIL. I stub my toe and mutter an ugly word…or even just think an ugly word. FLESH FAIL.
I pull a shirt out of my closet that belonged to my sister Joy. HEART FAIL. I pick up my phone to call her and tell her something only she would appreciate…and then remember that she’s gone. HEART FAIL. I hear the news that people I know have lost people they love. HEART FAIL.
But there’s a peace I’ve come to KNOW…not a peace I’ve come to FEEL, because feeling peaceful is altogether rare in my house and life. I’m much more likely to hear the words “You’re freaking out” being spoken to me than the words “you’re so relaxed and peaceful.” Most days I feel bad about this. No one wants a mom/wife/friend/daughter/sister who is an emotional tornado. And trust me when I tell you that BEING an emotional tornado is no picnic either.
BUT there’s a peace I’ve come to know THOUGH my heart and flesh may fail. Read it again. Say it again. IN THE FAILING OF MY HEART AND FLESH there is still peace. It’s a peace I KNOW. It’s a peace that isn’t related to whether or not I FEEL peaceful.
There’s an anchor for my soul.
Anchors are used to keep a boat or ship from drifting away from a certain spot. You drop anchor in a port, or near land, or anywhere you want to stay for a while. It keeps you from being carried away on the current. When I think of anchors, I think of fishing, or scuba diving, or relaxing on calm waters. I think of peaceful afternoons, enjoying the lapping of gentle waves on the hull of a boat, soaking up rays of sunshine...all while sitting in one spot. Thats what the anchor is for.
But ship captains use their anchors in storms too. They use them to help minimize how far off course they will get. The crashing waves, the pounding wind, the driving rain…the ship is no match for them, and has little hope of staying in one spot in the midst of them. So the captain throws the anchor into the water, hoping that the weight will slow the violent toll being taken on the vessel; hoping that when the storm passes, IF it passes, the ship will be intact.
Oh yeah, that’s what I use my anchor for. The wind is way stronger than I can stand against. The waves nearly drown me over and over. When I get a chance to take a breath between waves, the rain is still pelting me. There is no hope, no hope, of staying where I was 20 months ago. That place is lost forever.  I have felt the storm. I live the storm. Some days it subsides a little. Some days it rages with such intensity that I can hardly cope. I'm fighting to stay in one place...and it often feels like I am dragging my anchor along behind me as I toss and pitch on the sea.
But it’s not that kind of anchor. This anchor is the kind that is weighed down with eternal, ultimate, undeniable, everlasting, overwhelming TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The anchor isn’t something I use in a storm to keep me close to where I started.
The Anchor of my soul is the One who created it. He doesn’t want me to stay where I was when the wind first started to blow. He wants me to rely on the weight of HIM, the reminder that HE IS WITH ME IN THE STORM!!!!!!!!
“I can’t feel Him through my pain.” The wave crashes over me. I can’t breathe. My flesh fails.
But the Anchor speaks. “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:27b)
“I will never get to hug her again. I will never get to hear her voice again. I will never be the same again.” The winds blow…they cut me to ribbons. My heart fails.
But the weight of Him tugs. “…help comes from the Lord.” (Psalm 121:2a)
“She’s gone…” my heart and flesh fail.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die. Do  you believe this...?" (John 11:25-26) The Anchor asks me to trust Him, to belive His words are true. And I do believe Him. Because HE IS THE REASON SHE’S NOT GONE FOREVER! He is the reason I can say (sometimes while coughing the water from my lungs between overwhelming waves) “IT IS WELL.”
I can’t keep going with the whole song, taking it apart and telling you what it means to me. Instead I want you to listen to it…and really SAY the words. Maybe grief isn’t your storm. That doesn’t matter. The Anchor is the same, no matter the storm. He is with you in yours. He is with me in mine.
And it is well.
This isn't the original Chris Tomlin version of this song. But when I saw the video, I couldn't stop laughing and crying. Joy loved all things multi-cultural! She was a missionary, after all.

SAY THESE WORDS! IT IS WELL!

http://youtu.be/_FQb-cVwbKE

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Parental FAIL

You know how people tell you that your kids will pick up on the things you do and say? You know how you are still shocked when it actually happens? You know how you say things like “You are not allowed to do that. You do as I SAY, not as I DO.” It’s okay, you are not alone. It happens to all parents. At least I hope so...I guess I should just say it happens to me, since I don't know if it happens to anyone else. Maybe it doesn't make you feel better to know that ONE other parent crashes and burns on a daily basis...but I do. And so does Heath, so that makes two parents!!!!
Last week Faith and I were looking at some jewelry we wanted to buy. We both had VERY large piles of things we loved, and once we had looked through it all, I told her we couldn’t buy everything and we needed to downsize our piles. Her response? “I can’t do it Mom. It physically hurts me.” Sigh…I apologize in advance to her future husband. I have unfortunately created a monster. I recommend you never let her have a credit card. That’s what my husband does. It helps…sometimes.

We were in the Walmart parking lot last week, and Clay suddenly exclaimed- “Mom, I just saw a lady wearing jeans with a jean shirt and a jean jacket! Fashion disaster, right???” Oh dear.

Nate was trying to watch a cartoon and the volume was too low for him to hear. Faith told him she would turn it up if he brought her the remote. “Faith, you have legs!” he replied in exasperation. It’s true, she does have legs.

Last night Heath was changing Gabe’s dirty diaper. As he began the cleanup, he remarked- “Gross, Gabe! Holy BEEP!” Gabe looked at him with a smile and said- “Howy BEEP!” Heath laughed hysterically.


So feel better about your parenting skill today. At least your two year old didn’t say “holy beep.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

You know those paddles with numbers on them that people use to bid on things at auctions? I have decided that I need some of those.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to respond to something without having to speak? To make your thoughts, or interests, or feelings, known without even having to open your mouth? I could say SO MANY things and I wouldn’t have to explain them, because the whole idea is to streamline the process by eliminating talking.
I would have several different stacks of paddles that would cover all my bases. There would be the “tell something about yourself” paddles for when I just meet someone.
 “Wife” “Mom” “Teacher” “Writer” “Christian” “Sarcastic” “Loud” “Perfectionist”
There would be the ones with emotions on them for every given occasion.
“Frazzled” “Anxious” “Grieving” “Crazy” “Pissed” "Afraid"
“Happy” “Relaxed” “Grateful” “Satisfied” "In love"
And there would be key phrases that get repeated a lot…good and bad.
“I don’t know” “I don’t care” “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” “Because I said so” “Take a bite!” “Stop running” “Stop yelling” “Stop whining” “Stop fighting” “GO OUTSIDE!”
“I miss you” “I love you” “Thank you” “I’m sorry”
I think my husband and kids would really like me to have these. Then they could know what I am feeling before they approach me. Especially if I can combine more than one!!
“Relaxed Perfectionist” (yeah, those will never go together) “Frazzled Mom…I’m sorry” “Anxious Teacher…I’m sorry” “Crazy Wife…I’m sorry”
I think the “I’m sorry” paddle will get almost as much use as the “go outside” paddle.
The problem is that some of the most important things about me…THE most important things about me, aren’t on any of my paddles. I forget to even include them in my days sometimes.
“Forgiven” “Accepted” “Cherished” “Loved” “Redeemed” “Ransomed” “Adored” “Beloved” “Friend” “Calmed” “Held” “Empowered” “Delivered” "Never alone"
These are really the only ones I need. They cancel out lots of the other ones. And even if they don’t, they at least accompany them.
“Frazzled…and accepted.”
“Anxious…and calmed.”
“Grieving…and held.”
"Mom...and adored" (love this one)
"Wife...and cherished" (oh yeah, they just keep getting better)
"Perfectionist...and delivered." (please, Lord, let it be true!)
"Afraid...and NEVER alone!!!!"
And so I have now decided to pitch all my paddles and make new ones, combining my feelings with the truths that balance them out.  The WORD is FULL of them!!! For me and for you. For every feeling, every thought, every failure, every success, every pain, every joy, every single thing in our lives!!!!!!!!! HE IS IN IT ALL, we just have to look and we will see!

My paddle for today???

"HOPE!"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Math and mercy

I had a minor “freak out” session this week.
It had just been one of those days, you know? I was in a stressed out mood from the start. Two cups of coffee didn’t help. Reading my Bible probably would have helped, but I didn’t get to do that because the boys got up before 7 a.m. They complained about the fact that we only had one cereal option. “Tough,” was my response. “There are children all over the world who don’t get to eat any breakfast. Sit there, eat this, and be thankful for it.” After breakfast, we got dressed and we started school.
I should have known it would be a rough day with my mood being what it was. But I was unprepared for how grumpy the kids would be. School was a nightmare. Them talking back, or not listening, or making up excuses over and over of things they had to do…things that only became pressing when I was right in the middle of teaching them something. The two little boys, who usually play happily while we do school, kept running into the school room, yelling and fighting. At one point I bodily removed them from the room, closed and LOCKED the door, and then felt absolutely no remorse while they stood outside the door and cried. It was just that kind of morning.
To make it worse my daughter finally came up against a math problem that she couldn’t figure out. Not that this is the end of the world. I knew it would happen eventually. But if you knew her you would understand why it was such a surprise to me. She has been easy to teach from the very first day. She just GETS it. Reading came easily, and math, and EVERYTHING. She tests two grade levels ahead of her age on the state required testing. Teaching her is a breeze. My son…well, he’s a boy, so everything starts slower. But Faith is my easy student. Until this day.
Now math is not my favorite subject. Rephrase-I HATE MATH. I always got good grades in it, but I never liked it. I think it’s a waste of my time. And yes, I have heard all the arguments about how it’s the subject you will need most in real life. I am married to a financial analyst, people. I get the “Math is the greatest” speech every day. But I hate it. And Faith is doing 6th grade math this year even though she is only in 4th grade(see what I mean about smart?) so the math is getting pretty hard. I explain this particular equation to her…and she just blinks. So we go through it again…still no dawning realization…I try another way of explaining it…and she shakes her head and asks me to do it again. Now keep in mind that during all of this Clay is supposed to be writing down the months of the year in order (and they are written down for him already, he only has to COPY them) but instead he is staring out the window, and drawing doodles on his desk, and making machine gun noises with his mouth. Nate and Gabe are still standing outside the locked school room door crying. My patience is hanging on by a thread. Finally I say “You know what Faith? Let’s wait till Daddy gets home and we will ask him about this problem.” Her look of total devastation breaks my heart. I smile at her. “It’s not a big deal, Faith. You’re not in trouble. I just think maybe he can explain it to you a different way than me and you’ll understand it better.”
So school ended and I was feeling pretty wrung out. Faith had a play date set up with her friend, so after I dropped her off I decided to treat myself to frozen lemonade from McDonalds. The boys were asking for some too. I ordered a large and told them I would share when we got home. We arrived at home, and I dumped some for each of them into a cup. I was holding Gabe on my hip, enjoying my self-indulgent treat, when he decided to try and grab it out of my hand.
You know where this is heading. He knocked it out of my grasp and the whole thing spilled onto the floor. I said a really ugly word under my breath. It was just that kind of day. And then I had to mop up my splurge treat that I didn’t even get to enjoy…while listening to the boys slurp theirs.
By the time Heath got home from work I was worse off than when the day started. I asked him to please help Faith with her math problem. He said sure, and asked me to tell him what the problem was. I showed him the book, tried to explain to him the trouble she was having…and he just stared at me like I was speaking Chinese. I guess I wasn’t very clear on the problem. So I tried again…”You’re gonna have to give me an example,” he said. After a few more attempts, he finally understood what my FRIED mind translated into words for him, and he started explaining to me what to do. Now it was my turn to stare. “You’re speaking college math to me.” I said. He laughed. “No, I’m not. This is exactly what the book is telling her.”
“AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!!!!!!!!!” Okay, I put that in quotes even though I didn’t actually scream out loud. But I wanted to. If I couldn’t understand what he was saying, how would Faith? My one salvation in this homeschooling thing is that when higher math arrives I can let him help them, since he is a math whiz. Except I have no idea what he is talking about!!!!!!! In fairness to him, I don’t think I would have understood if he had said “when you find two Easter eggs in the grass and then you find two more on the playground, how many do you have?” I was too fried. So we ended the conversation by deciding that when that problem came up again she should skip it and have Heath help her with it at night…without me there to confuse things.
By the time I crawled into bed, I was beating my head against the pillow…wishing it was something hard. Heath was sitting in chair beside the bed getting ready to read a Psalm to me like he does every night. But I was ready to vent.
“School was a nightmare. The house is a wreck. The boys wouldn’t nap, so I didn’t get the flowers planted that I was planning to. The kids don’t listen. They argue with me, they whine, they disobey. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Again the scream was only in my head, but I swear it was loud enough that Heath could hear it.
“None of that is really true, you know.” This was his calm, quiet response.
“Yes!” I snapped. “I know that. But emotions don’t care about what’s true, and right now all I feel are emotions.”
He read to me, kissed me, and I turned off the light to go to sleep while he went to the living room to work for a few more hours. Because the truth was that his day was every bit as crappy as mine. He still had work to do at 9:30 at night, that’s how crappy his day was. But he didn’t complain about it. He just let me rant about mine, then went and continued his.
Feeling appropriately reprimanded by this thought, I lay in bed, tears in my eyes, thinking.
I wondered if God had ever felt like screaming. Or wished for something hard to smack His head against. Or ranted to the angels about how BADLY His kids had behaved. If ever there was a day for Him to look down and feel like freaking out over someone’s attitude, this was it, because my attitude SUCKED. I deserved Him to freak out on me.
But He didn’t. Instead, He just listened while I poured out all my emotions to Him. Just like Heath had done. He listened, and then He reminded me what was true…just like Heath had done.
“Mightier than the violent raging of the seas (and a woman’s emotions) Mightier than the breakers on the shore (and a kids disobedience) The Lord above is mightier than these!” Psalm 93:4
I cried. He spoke. I listened. And I fell asleep with the peace that only comes when you KNOW you deserved a beating and He gave you mercy and comfort instead. That’s just how He is. Wonderful news, isn’t it? We deserve His wrath, and He gives us His love. And in the morning, His mercy is NEW!!!!!
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness: His mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself ‘The Lord is my inheritance, therefore I will hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, those who search for Him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:21-26
I use up ALL my mercy every day. I need new mercy!!!! Sometimes I need an advance on tomorrow’s mercy. I wonder if I have to understand higher math in order to get that advance…maybe Heath can explain it to me.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

tomboys...and BOYS!!!!!

I was a bit of a tomboy when I was young. My brother was closer to me in age than my sisters, and so we did lots of things together. I played soccer with him and his friends, rode bikes with them, went snake hunting with them, played tackle football in the rain and mud with them. I am not afraid of mice, or snakes, or bugs, or any of the other things girls tend to get "squealy" about. I don't mind getting sweaty and dirty...as long as I don't have to sleep that way. I like to watch college basketball. I didn't start wearing make-up till I was in high school, and didn't really take it seriously till much later. Sweat pants, a ponytail, and flip flops will ALWAYS be my attire of choice. Even if I cave in to social pressures and dress in girly clothes, wear my hair down, and put on some mascara, you can rest assured that when I get home...its back to the sweats and ponytail. You can also be sure I am DREAMING of my sweats the whole time I am wearing anything else.

All these facts about myself led me to decide, as a girl, that I would be a good mom for boys. I could teach them how to correctly strike a soccer ball, how to cheer for the RIGHT basketball team (which is Kentucky, by the way) where to look to find the coolest bugs and snakes...I just KNEW I could be a cool mom for boys. I am pretty sure I even prayed that I would have some.

When I was 21 our first child was born, a sweet little baby girl. She was an angel from the start. Obedient, brilliant, kind. She just turned 10 this week and she is still all those things. I love having a daughter. We can paint our toenails together, watch sappy movies, get haircuts, go shopping...its wonderful to have a girl. I loved dressing her in pink frilly outfits when she was a baby. But I was not deterred in my desire for boys, and so when I was 23 we had another baby. A BOY!!!!! And when I was 26 we had another boy. And when I was 29 we had another boy.

"YAY!!!!!" my mind said. "I KNEW I would be a good mom for boys, and the Lord must have agreed with me!!! This is gonna be awesome!!!"

As I knew we would when I decided a lot of boys would be cool...we do LOTS of boy things around here. We play sword fighting, and kickball, and we chase and capture all kinds of creepy crawly things. My sons come to the table with their hands dirty (confession, I usually let that slide. Their hands are never the dirtiest part of them anyway) they pass gas and burp out loud all the time (and then they laugh about it...a lot.) and they never EVER remember to put their dirty clothes in the hamper. Just the other day I found Nate's dirty underwear back in his drawer. He said those were his favorite and he wanted to wear them again. I guess he doesn't have much faith in my laundry skills.

The thing I am realizing, though, is that you never really know what you are getting into when you ask the Lord for something. In my mind asking for sons was all about the bugs, and dirt, and sports. But OH MY GOSH no one told me about the rest of it.

They fight all the time about who is the strongest, or fastest, or who did something first. They have to be FORCED to bathe, but once they are in the tub, nothing on earth can get them out. And why does there always have to be a hurricane during bath time??? Why can't they ever play "Peace be still" while taking a bath?? And how hard is it to aim at a toilet?? Seriously? It can't possibly be as hard as they are making it seem.

Last week Clay filled a bucket with dirt and bugs and PUT IT IN HIS CLOSET. I found it several days later dumped in the floor...all the bugs were either dead or had disappeared, and I vacuumed the entire house hoping to suck them up before they laid eggs. The same week, Nate ran to go pee and (he says) forgot to check if the lid was up. THE LID!!! THE GIANT WHITE THINGS COVERING THE HOLE!!!!! He forgot...and I had to mop the floor twice. Also last week, Gabe ate bird poop at his brothers suggestion. I was so exasperated I didn't even know what to say to that.

So, not trying to scare you or anything, but it is NOT what you expect when you think it will be cool to be a mom for boys. There is a downside. You will ACTUALLY say things like "We do not pick our noses, wipe them on our swords, and then chase our sister with them." And you will keep a straight face, because if you crack a smile while saying it, you can BET it will happen again. You see what I mean? DOWNSIDE!

But, OH, the upside.

"Mom, you're the best cook in the world."
"I love you, Mommy."
"You are beautiful, Mommy!"
"Can we snuggle, Mom?"
"Mommy, can I play with your hair?"
"Mommy, I had a bad dream. Will you pray for me?"
"Mom, when I grow up I want to marry someone just like you."

It just melts my heart when they smile at me and say my name.

Which is probably good, because the sparkle in their eyes may not be out of love for me. It could be them trying not to laugh while telling me that they threw their action figures in the toilet to see if they could swim.

So, okay, God must have thought I would be able to handle boys, because He gave me three. But He was also aware that if He didn't make them cute...they would never survive. And He gave me a sweet girl to help sooth away SOME of the wild craziness. Man, He's clever.

Although, my daughter is kinds of a tomboy too. She is right there with us chasing bugs, playing sports, wrestling, and watching superhero movies. I was thinking the other day that she would make a good mom for boys. I wonder if she's thought that yet and asked God to give her sons one day. While I was mopping pee off the bathroom floor I may have considered telling her "WAIT!!!!! GIRLS NEVER MISS THE TOILET! PRAY FOR DAUGHTERS!!!"

But then one of those sweaty, dirty, mischievous little boys trotted into the room and asked me to kiss an 'owie' and make it better. And the upside won. I will let her pray for boys, if she wants too, and then when she calls me freaking out that they had a food fight at the dinner table...I will smile, and tell her "You prayed for this. Maybe God is reminding you to KEEP PRAYING while you're in it!!!! I know I had to!"

"Dear Lord, thank you for these boys. May they see You in everything they do. Grow them up to be mighty men for Your service. I won't ask You to keep them clean, or out of trouble, or even safe. Keep them close to You, Lord. That is my prayer. I desire that they seek You, and serve You, and be willing to share You with those around them for their whole lives. Help me to teach them well. Help me not to kill them!!! Help me to love them with abandon, the way that You love me, and to enjoy every minute I have them in my care. Or at least most of the minutes."

Gotta go. I have just been informed that someone has their head stuck in something and can't get it out.

P.S. Girls, even tomboys, never stick their heads in places they might not be able to get out of.