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His Power Is Made Perfect…

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

This past week, my family had an awful experience. We went on vacation, and our house got robbed. Burglarized. Broken into and violated and stolen from. A horrid experience overall, also stealing our sense of safety along with the thousands of dollars of possessions we no longer own.

Just let me tell you this: if it has never happened to you, there is just no way to know how it feels. It’s interesting, the process of grieving that you go through after your home is violated in such a way. There’s definitely all five stages, and they manifest accordingly: denial (There’s just no WAY that actually happened. I’m dreaming.), anger (I could REALLY punch that guy in the face for breaking my front door and stealing my stuff!), bargaining (If I had just left one more light on, this wouldn’t have happened. I bet the guy wouldn’t have taken so much if we had hidden it.), depression (I’ll never be safe again. Goodbye, sleep, it was nice to know you.), and finally, acceptance (I didn’t really need those things. They were just “stuff” and my family wasn’t harmed.)

Maybe it’s trite that I’m comparing a robbery in my house to the loss of a person in my life, but I will tell you this: it felt like a loss. It felt like a humiliation, a violation, an inordinate catastrophe, and in the MIDDLE of my VACATION! I’m making light of it for your own benefit, but I’ve cried a fair amount of tears over it, too.

But what do you do when this happens? You miss your stuff, of course, but there’s almost no recovering it. There’s perhaps an insurance claim to file, but even that doesn’t replace what you lost, and it certainly doesn’t replace your sense of (false?) security. So I’ll tell you what I’ve done. I prayed that God would take away my fear, my anger, and my sense of entitlement to those earthly things. I’ve thanked Him that no one was home to be violated in person, and that heirlooms and sentimental items weren’t taken. I’ve thanked Him for our friends who rallied around us, and for the fact we could afford to have an alarm system installed (immediately following the incident). I’ve prayed that sleep would return to my husband and me, and that we would not be looking in the face of every stranger, wondering if they were the robber who had offended us so.

In processing this trauma (yes, trauma) I had realized I feel a certain level of guilt. The “what-ifs” and “if-I-had-onlys”have plagued me since I first found out, and my conscience feels heavy about the fact that it happened at all. I am victim-blaming, and I don’t know how to stop. I feel responsible, indignant, frustrated, and sad. I have even had the thought, “Is this God telling us we have too much stuff, or that we put too much stock in earthly possessions?” But no, I do not truly feel that we are being punished. I don’t believe in a vengeful or hurtful God. I believe in a God who will redeem the situation – a God who will provide me with humility gently as I process, and strength to do what needs to be done in the wake of an awful situation. I don’t possess this strength on my own; God has provided me with strength to explain it to my kids, to file reports and papers, to clean up graphite dust from fingerprinting, and to process with my tribe ad nauseum. You see, God can take my frailty and weakness, and turn it into a place for His strength to shine. 2 Corinthians 12:9 is a verse I have clung to: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

I’d be lying if I said that had been easy. But part of my weakness and His strength is that I can ask Him again and again and again to help me let go of the anger and pride I feel, and He will gently lead me to humility and forgiveness. His power is indeed made perfect in my ever-embarrassing and stubborn weakness.

10 Chores That Young Kids Can Do

This piece also appeared on The Grit and Grace Project.

One of the things I’ve tried to establish early in in my parenting is my desire to raise responsible children who contribute to their community (be it their family, classroom, society, etc). In our culture, this can be difficult… they’re busy, they want to watch TV, or they’re used to being told “You’re too young to do that.” But I’ve got 9 things my kids can and should be doing to contribute to the housework load.

1. Help unload the dishwasher. My kids do their plastic dishes, their cups/bottles/all those parts, and all the silverware (not including sharp knives). I just ask whichever of them is around when I need to get it unloaded, and almost always, they’re eager to help.

2. Put away their laundry. This one is a big one. We often watch some TV before bedtime, and I set a timer for 4-5 minutes at a time, and we pause the TV, and everyone puts some clothes away. Sometimes it’s their own clothes into their own dressers. Sometimes it’s towels, or something of mine or Hubby’s that I have them carry to our room for me to put away later. They’re quite good at helping, and they’re learning to keep their drawers organized… or everything won’t fit!

3. Clean up their toys/pick up their rooms. I don’t make them do this all day every day. We frequently have toys left out, even when we go to bed sometimes. But I do ask them to keep things fairly organized (in labeled bins!) and mostly off the floor. If it gets too out of control, we spend a morning or evening cleaning EVERYONE’s room. But I help, not really facilitate. They know what to do.

4. Bring dishes from the table to the sink. I like having them help clear the table. That way, they can’t just get up whenever they feel like it. They tell me they’re full, and I say when they can get up, take their dishes to the sink, get their hands and faces clean, and go play.

5. Gather/Sort/Switch over laundry. I have them bring their dirty laundry to the laundry room, and often to sort it, help me start a load, help me switch it to the dryer (they’re a little short to get in my top-loading washer), and bring it out to be folded.

6. Clean the table/windows/doors. I let them loose with a roll of paper towels and the Method Glass Cleaner. Boom. It’s not as streak-free as when I do it myself, but they learn that their contribution is valuable at any level.

7. Sweep/pick up crumbs. My kids really like to sweep, and I have a handheld broom and dustpan for them to get everything up off the floor. We try to do this once a day (but then again, it depends on the day).

8. Weed, water, and harvest in the garden. They love this one, simply because they love being outside. We’re teaching them to recognize weeds, and the right way to pull them up (getting the WHOLE weed). They’re also learning when our vegetables are ready to pick – or to eat right off the plant, in the case of several tomatoes and cucumbers!

9. Pack lunch. This one I’m going to start soon. Once I’ve given a good idea of what a healthy lunch looks like, I’m going to have things semi-prepared for my kindergartener to grab a few things to put in her lunch box each morning. I’ll choose a bit, and let her choose her snack and a few add-ins. That way, she’s more excited about eating it because she picked it.

10. Help make the bed. I haven’t set a good precedent about this one, but I often find myself having them help, even if it isn’t first thing in the morning. Having lots of decorative pillows can make the job cumbersome, but pulling up sheets and blankets and putting the animals on TOP of the blankets is pretty darn easy. As is helping Mom or Dad strip the bed and change the sheets! My kids like the putting-on of the pillow cases the best!

What are some things your kids to around the house? Are there other chores I should start my kids on early?

Currently: Loving the Psalms

Hey Monday! It’s time to get back in the swing of things, without the snow this time. I’m happy to have a regular currently, and a little Psalms update as well.


Watching || the LOTR trilogy! Extended versions, of course. Now that I’ve read the series, I am excited to watch them again from a more educated point of view. And Hubby’s a huge nerd (and that’s why I love you, babe!) so he was all in when I presented the idea. We’re almost done with the Fellowship of the Ring, hopefully finishing tonight.

Enjoying || Hubby’s presence at home at night. He was SO BUSY the month of December that I got accustomed to him being gone in the evenings more than he was home. We’ve had a blessed two weeks of him being home at night, and are now gearing up for him to get busy again. Busy means work, so that’s a plus!

Thankful || for our community group. There are six couples (and several children) that have been meeting together for over a year, and we’ve added a seventh, and these people are so fun and wonderful. We took a break for Christmas and New Year’s, so last night was our first meeting in a while. We’re starting a study on Tim Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage” and I’m totally stoked. It was great to be with each other, to break bread together, to fellowship, and to get our study started. I have missed those people!

Excited || that Grimm has started back! It’s a spring season show, and so we’ve been waiting since last May for its return. I think it’s the last season (BOOHOO) but maybe that means it’ll hit Netflix when it’s done and we can watch it all the time! It started out a little rocky, but we were hooked, and it’s gotten SO much better!

And also, here’s a Psalms update. Because I feel like the blogosphere is my accountability.

That isn’t actually true.

But what IS true is that I’ve studied a Psalm every day, at least for a few minutes. I’ve used my Verses app every day at least once. I now know Psalm 23 (which I decided was an easy place to start) completely by heart. Stop me and ask me! (And actually, I’d love it if you joined me in studying the psalms; I need some people to talk it through with! Let me know if you’re interested!)

I don’t often set “goals” but I do try to point my heart in a certain direction. And though it’s been less than a week since I feel like I truly felt led to begin a journey in the psalms, I’ve been doing it.

And no, I haven’t given up on my “reading for pleasure” resolution, either.

One cannot replace the other. They satisfy, in themselves, two separate parts of me. While they both could be considered “disciplines”, one is more of a spiritual discipline, and the other is no longer a discipline because I enjoy it. I’m not reading for anyone’s else’s satisfaction but my own. I don’t need to learn the characters’ motives or be able to write about the author’s purpose. I just get to enjoy the story. I finished up my Tolkien books (in case somehow you missed it, I had been slowly plugging away at the LOTR series) and have begun The Golden Compass. I probably should’ve read a “fluffy” book in between these two series, but, too late! I’m in too deep to jump out now. I might stop for a rom-com breather after the first book.

Well, there’s a January update for ya, and I can’t believe we’re over halfway through with this month. What are you up to currently?

 

My Kids’ 5 Favorite Tree Ornaments

I don’t know about your Christmas decorations, but there has been a lot of time, effort and money that’s been put into my Christmas tree. It’s an artificial tree that’s six years old. I’ve replaced the lights, compiled ornaments from every Christmas of my life (literally – we’ll get to that in a minute) and started getting some sweet things that represent my whole family.

This year, my kids have been carrying certain ornaments around the house and I keep having to ask them to be really careful. So I thought it might be amusing to share with you what their five favorite ornaments are… especially since none of them are handmade with pride or featuring their faces, like you might expect. 

1. The obnoxious singing cow. I’ll spare you details (aka the video of it happening) and just give you the cliff notes: it “moos” its way through “Jingle Bells” with questionable pitch.

2. My “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament. It winds up and plays a song that I can get stuck in my head for days. I don’t even know what song it is. The kids have fought over it so much that it’s currently sitting on the mantle.

3. The cement truck. It’s J’s favorite because it actually rolls, but every time he plays with it, he reminds me that the cement mixer doesn’t really turn.

4. This North Pole-Christmas Eve-alert ornament. Supposedly it changes color when it’s Santa begins delivering presents (spoiler alert: I’m the one that has to switch it to change the colors). It also plays a song, and it happens to be really loud. Like REALLY LOUD. So I put it where they can’t get to it. 

5. Anything with Ariel on it. I’ve spent my whole life getting Ariel ornaments from my mom. She’s my favorite princess and it’s kind of our thing. Now, EK really loves Ariel too, and so we’ve started getting them for her as well. So our tree is covered in Ariels of all sorts, and so they’re the favorites of my daughter. So naturally, two are currently broken and several were broken in years past and are glued back together. Poor Ariel. 

 There you have it. All the favorite ornaments of my three kids under five. Do your little ones have a favorite ornament?

My Love Affair with Breakfast Food

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: breakfast is my favorite. 

I grew up in a household that made sure breakfast was important, healthy, and delicious. There was usually a carb involved, probably some eggs, maybe a cured meat or a sweet item. But there was always plenty of it, because my brother and I came hungry. 

You see, it was love at first sight with me and breakfast food. And it has been ever since. If I’m at lunch at a restaurant that also has a brunch menu, I don’t think twice about which menu to choose. If a restaurant serves breakfast all day, it’s a no-brainer. When I visited Texas and became aware of breakfast tacos, my life was changed forever. 
In related news, brunch is pretty trendy nowadays. We’re all “Let’s get brunch!” and “Brunch is for lovers!” and “Mimosas!” I agree with those things. But do you know what you’re typically doing at brunch? Having breakfast later in the day. Breakfast is the heart of brunch. 
I’ve done my best to instill the love of all things breakfast into my children as well. They love bagels or biscuits. They love French toast. They love scrambled eggs and fruit. They REALLY love pancakes and waffles, especially when I flavor them with strawberries or pumpkin. They don’t even need the sweet things in their breakfast. They will, of course, gorge themselves on cinnamon rolls. They will also eat a mountain of grits. 
In short, breakfast is the king of meals. It doesn’t matter when you eat it, or what it looks like. All things breakfast are greater than all other things. Pair the breakfast item with coffee during the week, or a mimosa on Saturday, and you’ve got a perfect way to start your day. I’m pretty sure there’s even some science to back it up. 
Breakfast, I love you. 

This post is a part of my NaBloPoMo, where I publish a piece every day in November. 

Currently

It’s been a hard week, y’all. Trying to figure out who is well and who isn’t, making it to whatever functions we can, trying to keep up with extra laundry and dishes, sanitizing pretty much everything to stop the spread of germs… I am exhausted. So exhausted that last night while I made dinner, I put my wine glass down and let go of it before it was firmly in the counter. It fell over and shattered on the granite. Like I said, it’s been a week. 

Anyway, it’s time for a little update about what else has been going on! Here’s what I’m doing currently. 

Finishing || my Christmas shopping! I’m almost completely finished buying gifts, and that feels great! 

Hosting || my friend Andrea’s baby shower this Saturday! I’m finalizing my Costco list and getting out my nice serving platters. I can’t wait- I haven’t hosted a nice party at my house in a while!

Watching || Just Friends. I had never seen this movie, and I was scrolling through Netflix comedies and it popped up. First of all, Ryan Reynolds is nice to look at and I’m sure somewhere he has a movie he acted well in. But he’s not exactly a genius, am I right? Secondly, I still enjoyed it. I giggled a little, and saw a few familiar faces I haven’t seen in years. All in all, it’s a B movie for sure, but if there’s nothing else on, I’d watch it again. 

Anticipating || Advent and Christmas. I love this coming season, and I’m actually surprised at myself for waiting to put my tree up. I’m usually an early decorator, but I guess I’ve been a little too busy to get it all together. Probably better that he baby shower this weekend doesn’t have a Christmas theme!

Running || because I go crazy when I don’t. I need to do some exercise and burn energy however i do it, but. Onus points for running because I love the added fresh air and sunshine. I love running this time of year- not too hot and not too cold. I pushed out three miles today at a fast pace because I was time crunched but wanted a hard workout. 

Well, that’s it for me right now. Not too much time for things when people have been sick! What have you been up to currently? Is your tree up?!

I hate sick.  

The past few days have been hard. I am fortunate that I’ve had remarkably healthy children, and so true that “sick days” really are few and far between. That might make it even worse that when we do deal with a sickness, no matter what kind or how many members of our family have it, it’s just no fun. 

Today, I’m running on very little sleep. So is Hubby. So are the kids. The boys have had hand, foot, mouth disease, and they’re exhausted, uncomfortable, and upset they missed trick or treating and are still missing school. We are all going a little stir crazy, and wishing we could at least go to the park. But we won’t- we will just wait it out until the fever is totally gone and their wounds heal a little. 

They’ve recovered quickly, thank goodness. But I know from experience that HFMD leaves its marks for weeks. They won’t feel the effects for that long, but I’ll have to explain them for a while, and assure other parents that they aren’t contagious any longer. I mean, I’m a responsible adult. I wouldn’t knowingly send my kids to school a) feeling badly or b) spreading terrible germs. 

That being said, it’s tough. We have an established routine, and now it’s been thrown off kilter. Bedtimes are skewed, naptimes are odd, meals are here and there (especially for the one who had worse sores in his mouth) and we are going stir crazy. We are ready for normal. The bigs have been asking to go to the park and the excuse of “but you’ve been sick” isn’t working that well. We’ve taken walks around the neighborhood (strapped in the stroller, of course) and played in the yard, because their energy is beginning to come back. But my little extroverts are tired of being homebound. 

So here’s to Tylenol and movie watching, and we’ll see y’all out in the real world this weekend. 

This post is part of my NaBloPoMo, where I publish a piece every day in November. Many of the posts will be writing exercises, sometimes straying from my usual style.