and now we start all over

So, the husband just left to go back to Korea yesterday. He had been gone for six and a half months and he'll be gone for another 11 before he comes home for good. It was nice to have him home, and we didn't want to give him up, but at least this time will be the last time he'll ever have to leave us. At this point I'm honestly just used to him not being here and doing things on my own, but I know the kids will miss him desperately.

We're headed into the holidays! Thanksgiving is next week and then the season of Advent begins! I need to check through our Jesse tree ornaments so that if we're missing any I can make them ahead of time, and I need to dig around the boxes in the garage and find out Advent wreath and candles. Last year was our first year to celebrate Advent and I definitely want it to be a family tradition. Advent wreaths and the Jesse tree are such an excellent way of daily keeping Christ the focus of the season.

Tonight we're headed to home church at the Snow's for some food, fellowship, and study. I love going over there. It's such a positive and encouraging environment. Not that my regular Sunday morning church, Frontline, is negative by any means, because it isn't. It's just that home church is a more intimate setting where you can interject your own observations or words from the Holy Spirit into the lesson in a way that would be total chaos in a Sunday morning service where there are significantly more people.

Time to start getting the young'uns ready to go!

the curse of being type A

So, something that I've noticed about myself over the years, but particularly since becoming ingrained in the Army lifestyle, is that I have trouble accepting help. I've always had a smidgen of this sort of, "I can handle this on my own...for some reason I feel the need to prove to everyone I'm capable all the time and have no weaknesses" mentality and I'm positive I get it from my mother because she is the exact same way, always having to appear as if everything is under control.

Back when my husband went through his first deployment in 2006, I was extremely anxious about the whole ordeal. I wasn't really ever worried for him. I knew that he was a good soldier, good with his rifle, and could take care of himself. I was worried for ME! How on earth was I going to handle all of the things for which I was responsible, plus all of the things my husband handled? Oh, and lest we forget, I had a son who was just barely one year old and a newborn and was therefore in the throws of trying to figure out how to be a mother of two. (I think any mom of more than one can attest to the stress of adjusting to being mother to more than one. When you only have one child, you devote yourself wholly to that child's happiness. You can stop your world from spinning to get their needs met and a smile back on their face. Once you have another, that reality ceases to exist and suddenly you have two babies who can never seem to nap at the same time, but can always seem to be upset at the same time and both have yet to grasp the concept of patience.) To say that I was nervous about him leaving would be a severe understatement. It was more like full blown panic attacks the months leading up to and for several months after he left for Iraq. There were many days that I would just sit in the floor and bawl my eyes out because I felt so overwhelmed and helpless.

me, wearing Ephraim on my front, and Canon on my back at once. summer 2007.

But as is the case in life, you learn to adjust. It all made me a stronger person and during that time I became quite skilled at finding the most efficient way to get things done. Now, this strength and knowledge has been both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I have been able to help dozens of mothers learn how to wear their babies in slings, wraps, mei tai's, pouches and soft-structured carriers so that they can keep their little one close, comfortable, and contained while they clean house, grocery shop, or whatever it is they are needing to do. I've been able to offer a lot of encouragement to other military wives and girlfriends going through their first deployments.

However, along with the self-sufficiency I have noticed that I have trouble receiving offers of help. It's not that I don't ever want help, it's just that after so long of meeting my needs myself, I now find that I don't often feel like I have needs that need help to get met. I've reached a point where I'm now self-sufficient to the point that I don't leave much room in my life to be helped, or to be ministered to and blessed by others. I constantly find people asking me, "Do you need help with anything?" and I reply, "I got it." I've become a poster child for strength, efficiency and multi-tasking and it has come at a price. We're called to be an encouragement to others, but am I letting people encourage me or am I closing myself off to being ministered to by others? I'm afraid it's probably the latter, but at least I recognize it now.

Now the question is, how do I make the change? How do I open myself up to that community with others? That's also a problem that I've noticed since we plunged into Army life. It's so easy for me to get caught up in living in the present, instead of living in the now. Back when I was pregnant with Ephraim all of my thoughts were, "once John leaves for Iraq...." and then once he left my thoughts switched to "once John comes home...." Then he came home, immediately got pregnant again and it naturally turned in to thinking, "once the baby's born...." and then "once we move to Oklahoma", "once we move to the city" "once you're in Korea", and now a lot of my thoughts have been "once we get back to North Carolina...". Along those lines it can make it hard for me to want to open myself up to others because I think, "What's the point in making friends here when I'm only going to be here for a few more months? It's only going to make it that much harder to leave." Heck, even when we lived on an army post it was easy to not want to get too attached to people, because it seems like as soon as you find someone you really click with, one of you will move away. On the one hand, you get a really tightly knit family unit. On the other hand, you isolate yourself from other families who could be encouraging you and vice-versa. How do you pour yourself into others if you avoid all contact with the world outside the walls of your house?

I want to learn to make friends with abandon again. I want to jump in, head first without a worry as to whether or not this person is going to end up being shady and screwing me over. I don't want to worry about getting hurt by them down the line, or getting attached to them and then it being hard to leave. I want to just build relationships and be in the moment in them. I want to stop being the strong one all the time and be vulnerable and lean on people and I want to be in a friendship where I won't have to worry that being vulnerable is going to freak them out. I want that small part of the old, pre-Army me back.

Godly Parenting

So, if there is one thing that grates on my nerves faster than anything it is repetitive noises. Naturally this means that my children are all prone to making random repetitive sound effects. I feel like I am constantly saying, "Stop making that noise!" This morning my oldest son, who is four years old, was making this odd grunting sound over and over, and I told him to stop. So he smiles and makes the noise one more time. I took this disrespect hard. I corrected him for it and as it usually goes in these sorts of situations I immediately think to myself, "I must not be doing a very good job at disciplining my kids, or he would have understood that stop means stop."

The thing that made this morning different, though, was that I began thinking about God as a parent. I do this quite a bit but today a revelation dawned on me. There is no question that God is perfect. The perfect everything, including the perfect parent. He always does the right thing, and we, His children, are still continually doing things He tells us not to do. We may not do them to intentionally disrespect Him, just as I don't think my four year intentionally meant to disrespect me, but we do them just the same. It gave me comfort to realize that even if I was, in fact, a perfect parent, that would still be no guarantee that my kids would always follow what I say to the letter, because, after all even our Holy Father, perfect in all His ways has disobedient children who need constant teaching and correction.

Thank you God, for your grace and mercy and for loving a rebellious screw-up like me.

let's talk about our day.

so while this is far from being a true DITL post, it does hit the highlights. it's been a long time since a good picture laden post. you've hung in there with me. i think you deserve it.

today started with a trip to target. what started as an impromptu errand run for toilet bowl cleaner, turned into us buying canon a bicycle. !!! i tossed the idea back and forth about getting him one now while i know i have the extra money for it, or making him wait till christmas, and decided to just do it now. i feel so bad for him everytime the other boys on the street are riding his bikes and he is stuck with the little tricycle he's had since he was two. so now he has a big boy bike, in all it's Lightening McQueen glory.

oh! funny little side note: after target, we went out to eat at Louie's and C saw these posters and said, "see. you have to be black to do that. the white one isn't doing it. the black man is cause you have to be black to do that." omg. it was so funny. the way the four year old mind works things out.......anyway....

of course we had to get home and put the thing together

and take it out for a spin. canon rode it all the way to the playground at the back of the neighborhood and had lots of room to ride it around since there are only a couple of half built houses over there and thus no traffic driving through.

we played for less than an hour before deciding it was hot and we were thirsty, so we headed back to the house and decided to have some indoor fun and do an alphabet craft. little ones weilding scissors- look out!

glueing on teeth

A if for Alligator!

and then it was back to business as usual since dinner wasn't going to cook itself and i had three days worth of chicken to tend to. so what's a flying solo mom of 3 to do? take the youngest one and throw him on your back, apron on the front, and looks sassy doing it. that's how i roll.

just ignore those water marks on the mirror though, because i never did manage to roll into the bathroom and actually clean it.

trying to "live the live" without the Life.

I try to keep it under wraps that I struggle quite a bit with my temper. So often I catch myself missing beautiful moments with my children because I'm so wound up about something that there is no point getting that upset over. Does it ever solve anything to blow my top and explode about anything? Maybe this is a learned behaviour? I remember my mom flipping out on me over things that I thought weren't that big of a deal, and now here I am acting the same way. What really cuts me to the quick, is that more and more I'm seeing my oldest son, Canon, getting extremely frustrated and upset over little things in the blink of an eye. I constantly scold myself that I am setting him an example as to how one should respond to disappointment or frustration, and the one I am setting isn't so great. I feel like a drill sgt some days, constantly barking at my kids and I hate it. Every day I get up and say that today is going to be different. "Today I am going to be patient and kind." Good goal. There's just one problem: I am always trying to accomplish this through my own sheer will and flesh. Just trying to hold tight and white-knuckle my way through as my pastor put it on Sunday. Every day I inevitably fail because I'm not being changed supernaturally, I'm just bottling up the frustration and then shooting off about half way through the day. Why am I not cracking open my Bible more often? Why am I not continuously in prayer about this? It isn't just a parenting problem, it's a worship problem. It's a problem with my witness. I have my own children's ministry of my very own and I'm just not giving 100% because I'm not ever asking Jesus to fill me up before I try to pour out. How can I pour out something that isn't there to begin with?

I desperately need more of Jesus in my life. Not just in my life in general, but right here, right now, in this very moment.

I'm grabbing my bible and heading outside. My two older young'uns are running around in the backyard with bubbles and water guns and all manner of fun and I want to be present with them in these moments. This is one of the big reasons why I stay home, after all, is so that I can experience all the little joys with them. So I'm going to go read my Bible with the laughter of children as the soundtrack to my afternoon. I want to soak up every wise and beautiful thing that Jesus is, so that I can better pour Him out and into others.

living life on mission

So, yesterday at church we were talking about not "if" but "when" persecution comes your way, what do you do. This "not if but when" lesson is not one that has been lost on me. I think it first came to light in my mind when I was in middle school or high school that if you are truly living for Jesus and on mission with him, that people, even other christians, will think you are crazy and do things to come against you. I feel like I need to start offending people more. lol. Not that I want to go out specifically trying to be some abrasive jerk, but that I need to be pursuing more, risking more, being more open.
Something that our church is wanting to do, is to have ten community centers planted in lost neighborhoods throughout the city, and to have a group of people dedicated to worshipping at that center and doing outreach there for a year at a time. This is what I want to do. I don't know that I have the experience to be a leader of a center, though what do I know. How much experience did Moses have when God sent him up against Pharaoh? But I at least want to be on a team of people dedicated to a center. In fact, nearly a year ago, a seed of idea was planted within me about people who purposefully move to "bad" neighborhoods in inner cities to be a witness for Christ there. When I first heard about this I immediately thought, "There's no way I'd do that with three small kids. Heck no." But God has steadily been working on my heart and what once I knee-jerk rejected, I now have as a heart's desire. Since about third or fourth grade I have wanted to be a missionary, but I had always assumed that that meant forgein missions. I don't know why it never dawned on me before, but I can be a missionary right here to my own city!
For months now I've been browsing looking at inner city homes for sale. My parents, who live in a house that is worth between 250K and 300K in the Putnam City North school district, think that I am completely insane for wanting to move deeper into the city. Heck, they think NW 23rd St. and May Ave. is "ghetto". They obviously don't get around much. (For anyone who does NOT live in Oklahoma, a 300K house here is a really nice place in a nice neighborhood. ) I love them, and I love their house. It's been awesome that me and the boys have had plenty of room while we've been staying here waiting for the mice situation in our own house to be resolved, but I just don't feel like their lifestyle is the one I'm supposed to be pursuing right now.

How do you live life on mission? Or do you at all? Would you jump at the chance to go on an adventure with Jesus, or do you think moving from the safe suburbs to an inner city neighborhood is crazy?


Tuesday before last Doyle woke up crying about fifteen after five in the morning. In my half-asleep stupor I thought I heard scratching coming from inside one of the walls in my bedroom. It soon stopped and I figured it was probably my DVR box doing something and my sleepy imagination was playing tricks on me. Two night later I was woken up by the scratching sound, again, just past five a.m. This time I popped up wide awake and listened. I walked over to the wall just to make sure and yes, there was most definitely some thing inside the wall.

I proceeded to panic.

I immediately started packing up a suitcase throwing all the clean clothes I could find of mine and the kids inside. When the clock finally hit six a.m I called my mom who I knew would be sympathetic to my plight as she is also afraid of mice. I got the okay from her to come on over, so I woke up the kids, got them dressed as quickly as possible and high-tailed it to my mom's house on the north side of OKC.

Once a more reasonable hour rolled around we called an exterminator and he came out the next day. Right away he started off by saying that this isn't typically the time of year that mice enter houses, that the wall in question would be an unlikely hang out for mice, and that the house itself was sealed up pretty tight against pests, but I knew what I heard so as a last ditched effort he checked the attic and that's where he found them. He said there were dropping everywhere and that they had chewed tunnels all through the insulation. (Insert me shivering with the heeby-jeebies.) He put down multi-feed bait in the attic and in some bait stations around the house, charged me an arm and a leg and said he'd be back to check the bait in three months.

THREE MONTHS!? We spent one night in the house and after being up all night listened to the mice (which as it happens I had been hearing for months, I just didn't realize that was what the noises were) we headed back to my mom's place. My step-dad decided to be a little more proactive and put actual traps up in the attic to help take them out faster, but until I know they are gone, I refuse to go back. It was bad enough when giant spiders started moving in, but I could spray those bad boys with my giant black can o' spider death. But then I found the huge intact snake skin in the backyard, and now the mice.....Why do these things happen when my big strong husband is gone? I think it's that way for military wives everywhere.

What about you? Is there any creepy creature that would make you hit the road if you discovered them in your house?