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Parenting is…

large_3566194663 (2)Incredible. Overwhelming. Exhausting. Terrifying. Challenging. Rewarding. Tricky. Testing.

In a word…hard.

What parent hasn’t felt desperate for help, answers, and wisdom in knowing how to raise their child(ren)?

Which of us hasn’t watched a screaming baby who’s been fed, changed, and burped and yet refuses to be calmed or cuddled…at 3am?

What parent hasn’t wondered what in the world to do with a toddler who refuses to go near the potty…and considered how bad it would be for him to actually go to college with Huggies?

Who hasn’t stared back at an 8 year old with an attitude the size of Texas and wondered how she got you to argue back with her for the past five minutes?

Which father hasn’t doubted his ability to lead his daughter through the murky waters of dating relationships?

And what mother hasn’t dreaded the learning curve of not overstepping her married son’s new role?

Exactly.

So since we’re all in the same boat, I thought I’d let you know about this two-day event coming up about which I am super excited:

Redemptive Parenting

428538_477135709027855_805128574_nJoin Benny and Sheree Phillips, a pastor and wife with seven children, eleven grandchildren and authors of five books on parenting and related topics, as they host “Redemptive Parenting”, a free two-day event that will equip and envision parents of kids of all ages.

“I remember being a young parent and drawing on the wisdom and experience of other seasoned parents. Now that Sheree and I have grandchildren, we believe more than ever that parents need to make use of good counsel and effective resources to be successful. This seminar is designed to equip parents to embrace the task God has given them. We want to model and communicate the grace that God has shown us through the gospel to our children,” — Benny Phillips

The seminar will take place Friday night and Saturday morning, June 14-15 and will feature a session for women by Sheree Phillips, who homeschooled seven children, co-authored two books with Benny and wrote three books of her own on the topics of womanhood and motherhood. The schedule also allots time for an bennypreachinginteractive period of questions and answers. The seminar promises an opportunity for interaction with seasoned parents who have experienced the full range of parental failures and successes.

About the Speakers: Benny Phillips has been a pastor for 33 years and married to Sheree for 40 years. Benny and Sheree co-authored Raising Kids Who Hunger for God and Walking With the Wise. Sheree also authored Mothers At the Heart of Life, A Royal Calling and The High Calling of Motherhood.

So pretty much this is an event for anyone who is a parent, right? No matter how you got your kids, when you got them, why you got them (ha!) or where…this is for you. And me. For us!

You can register here for this free event, hosted by Redeemer Church in Lake Nona.

Whether or not you’re local, this video will hopefully encourage you. Weary parents, take heart: there is grace for us and God is at work!

photo credit: hapal via photopin cc

 

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Mother’s Day Is…

Mother’s Day Is…

Like you, I was hit by a tsunami of “I love my mother” posts on all the social media sites. It was precious seeing everyone’s baby pictures, all of the “you’re the best mother in the world” declarations, etc. And I loved seeing all the women honored – women who have sacrificed bodies, careers and unending hours of time to produce and care for and love their children.

However, I found myself tossed by different emotions and thoughts. It seems to me that Mother’s Day is actually very similar to every other day before it and after it! (Bear with me here – I have only celebrated a few Mother’s Days, ok? I’m new at this. =) I mean, right? Would you agree that Mother’s Day is:

Breakfast with my three fave M&Ms ever!

Breakfast with my three fave M&Ms ever!

wiping snotty noses.
taking a nap.
picking up sticky, spilling sippy cups out of a puddle of milk on the floor.
having lunch made for you.
breaking up a fight…again.
waking sleepy children from naptime.
giving consequences for disobedience.
getting snuggles.
planning meals for the day.
a sweet card.
midnight-waking babies.
a frozen ice-cream yumminess treat.
changing diapers.
a day to worship with others.
a day to need grace, patience and mercy.
a reminder of blessings.

Mother’s Day isn’t just the pictures of flowers and coffee-retreats, the esteeming and adoring posts or the happy children racing to do our every beck and call. No, Mother’s Day is oftentimes just like any other day: a day to cherish the good, the bad and the ugly. A day to fulfill the calling given us by the One Who helps us each step of the way. A day to appropriate the much-needed grace and to enjoy the tidbits of a break or the sloppy kisses at the encouragement of a husband.

Mother’s Day is over. Until next year. But every day in between I have the opportunity to be encouraged, honored and loved. In a million different ways, if I’ll look for them.

Ohmysoul, I love their sticky, cranky, smiley, giggling faces!

Ohmysoul, I love their sticky, cranky, smiley, giggling faces!

My sweet girl!

My sweet girl!

Baby Girl can whistle. Oh, yes she can!

Baby Girl can whistle. Oh, yes she can!

The babies began passing out the cards to the mommies.

The babies began passing out the cards to the mommies.

Baby Girl took her job very seriously. =)

Baby Girl took her job very seriously. =)

Apparently Noah is confused...

Apparently Noah is confused…

Who knows? =)

Who knows? =)

Oh, how I love the three who made me a mommy!

Oh, how I love the three who made me a mommy!

How do you see your children honoring you on this Ordinary Day?

 

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Little Daycare in the Suburbs, part 2

Little Daycare in the Suburbs, part 2

Welcome back! If you’re just joining us, check out the first part of Little Daycare in the Suburbs. And if you’ve found us from Intoxicated on Life, hi!!! Be sure to like us on Facebook so you can get updates on the three M&M’s and each new post that comes along! Oh, and leave a comment so I can “meet” you! Can’t wait! =)

So. Why is it so hard to leave triplets with a sitter? Glad you asked! Here’s why:

It is physically exhausting. Loading three babies into highchairs (12 times), out of them (12 times), onto a changing table (18 times), off of it (18 times), into cribs (9 times), out of them (9 times), into the stroller (3 times), out of it (3 times)…it is exhausting. (That’s a full-on workout!! And mine “only” weigh 22 lbs!) And of course they aren’t all happily watching you cart one kid around…oh no. It often sounds like a daycare class. I challenge anyone who isn’t rattled by crying babies to join a MoM one afternoon. =)

My former boss, Benny, watching the babies with his wife, Sheree.

My former boss, Benny, watching the babies with his wife, Sheree.

It is hard to discern the needs of one toddler, let alone three. Remember that language thing? Yeah, there are three different dialects going on and I oftenoftenoften times cannot remember who says what, or who uses which sign or word for which item.

It is a lot of diapers. One wake-time is six diapers…six. More if you forget you already changed that one. Less if you forget you haven’t changed that one all day. I did this. Last week.

It is necessary to be structured. I have one nursery and three babies. One up, all up. One down, all down. And of course the babies all cooperate with this. Right.

It is confusing. What do you do when one baby wakes and cries? Is another going to wake before she settles back down? If two or more wake, what do you do? These are just some of the questions David and I ask ourselves. Still. It often takes the both of us to settle two babies down.

It is expensive. I’ll be honest. And frank. Frank is good, right? Paying a sitter is a new thing for our skinny budget…paying two sitters is even more daunting.

It is…well, you get the picture, right? =)

Two arms...two babies!

Two arms…two babies!

Of course, the fact that I have breastfed the babies has made it doubly difficult to get out because our schedule is just naturally tight. You can see a typical schedule here – except the 4pm nursing and the 11pm nursing are no longer! Before this, though…my get-out-of-the-house opportunities were even more limited. But, lest you think I’m complaining about breastfeeding and its limitations…I am not. I have loved it. I recognize it is a very short season and am ok with those limitations. David has been incredibly patient with me and was happy to fit in date nights after the babies went to bed and before I needed to be back to feed them at 11pm. Since we dropped those feedings, though, it’s been amazing! Which leads me to:

Sitters

Our friends - Joe & Kristen with their son, AJ!

Our friends – Joe & Kristen with their son, AJ!

Amazingly, we have been able to get out for date nights about 1-2 times a month for about a year! Granted, those date nights were usually just long enough for dinner and maybe an errand. But my parents have been heroes – coming over so often to play with the babies and then shoo us out the door after they were in bed. Other than them, our dear friends, Benny and Sheree, watched them for our second anniversary dinner (yes, you read that right – second). And some other dear friends, Joe and Kristen, kept the babies for a short afternoon and we came back to feed them before leaving again for a couple hours. Of course there was our first overnight getaway that my parents kicked us out for. In the past week or so, we’ve had two amazing teens from our church and then Katherine stay with the sleeping M&Ms (remember – she was a preschool teacher!!!).

Papa walking the grand-triplets.

Papa walking the grand-triplets.

Pretty much that’s it. Four non-grandparent sitters in 18 months. =) And that’s ok! There have been lots of things I’ve had to say no to over the past year and a half, but it means I’m saying yes to what is necessary for our situation. God has blessed us with three babies at once, and with them came unique challenges. But there is grace for these challenges. I definitely have to fight bad attitudes and a “need a break” mentality at times. But for the most part, He has orchestrated in my heart a love for the home and a desire to care for my babies during a season when few others can!

That being said, I’m currently in the process of working with some great girls who will hopefully, some day!, become the M&M’s babysitters! Won’t that be the day!! What should I do? Any suggestions? =)

MoMs, do you have any thoughts or suggestions? For those of you who are still pregnant with multiples, let me encourage you that there can truly be an incredible amount of grace for the massive work and unique challenges your babies will be. Few MoMs get to do what we do and it is a privilege! Amen?! =) Please let me know if you have not yet found an active community of other MoMs online and would like to join one. What a source of help we can be to one another!!!

Oh, and while you’re here…would you take a second and click the button below to vote for us? See, we’re in this contest competing with other blogging moms of multiples and would love your vote. And, if you reallyreally love us, you can vote once a day!

 

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Little Daycare in the Suburbs

DaycareIt’s really interesting, the spectrum of responses I get on various aspects of life with triplets. Sometimes I feel like a volleyball, being hit from one side to the other. I regularly have conversations with people who can’t stop shaking their heads at how I “do it all.” (I don’t. See my explanation here.) I often hear, “My one (or two, or three, or four) is so challenging – I can’t imagine having three at once.” Neither could I, friend. Neither could I. =) These are often the same people who seem surprised to see me around town – at church, the grocery store, etc.

Somehow, I should be unable to get out until maybe around age 6. And the fact that I am out must mean I am Super Woman. Most definitely not.

Then the other side of the spectrum sees it as no different as having two or three or four children and often comments how fun it would be to have triplets. Really. Wanna trade? Juuuuust kidding! (Stay tuned for a fun list of things you should nevernevernever say to a hormone-exploding mama of triplets. =) But these are the friends who tease me about having my children on a schedule, for not getting out of the house more regularly, why I can’t have babysitters and generally eliminate the fact that having more children at once is just different than having more children spaced out.

I definitely want to be careful here. I don’t want to communicate that what I do and the gifts God has given us are harder. I don’t want to be singled out and made to feel as abnormal as every stranger I meet seems to think I am. =) But the reality is, we are different. So…

I’d like to bring the volley to a happy medium….a nice, fat spike, if you will.

Mealtimes are MESSY...times three!

Mealtimes are messy times three! Oh, and this is extremely mildly messy.

Having triplets is like running a daycare class…that never.goes.home. And who are the individuals that run daycare classes? Well, we sure hope they aren’t random teenagers or people who have no experience. They typically are qualified or certified in some way or another. Why? Because managing a class of same-aged children in the pre-communication stage is incredibly challenging! To attempt to teach those children anything is nothing short of a miraculous accomplishment. I have great respect for these teachers because I now have a small glimpse of what they experience on a daily basis. (My friend Katherine ran a class of over a dozen 3 year olds all by herself. What?! Who can do that?? My right eye is twitching just thinking about the tantrums and varying degrees of speech levels and “learning” to speak a dozen different dialects of “threeyearold.” =)

And apparently he didn't get enough!

And apparently he didn’t get enough!

Certainly, this toddler-preschool age is fun. Ohmygoodness, it’s fun! I love watching the babies’ eyes light up with something they just “got.” I can only imagine it’s incredibly rewarding to watch that happen in a classroom setting! And there are lots of great things about having three the same age:

They all have the same bedtime and naptimes. When one is down, they’re all down!

They all are at the same level – no 6 year old begging to go outside while I nurse the baby.

They came at once so I got fat once. =)

There is no “first child syndrome” when baby brother or sister comes along.

Etc.

But…throw a teenager (or even two) into this 18 month mix? I’m not alone when I say, “heck, no!” Most MoMs (mothers of multiples) I have talked with simply do not leave their triplets at this age. I have talked with many, many moms and the general consensus is that up through even 4 years, triplets are often left only with grandparents or individuals with daycare and/or triplet experience. Or they secure a 1:1 child/sitter ratio. Or there’s an older sibling to help. Etc. And this is often only for a few hours at a time and most times after the babies are already down for the night! Why?

Join me on Wednesday for the explanation and conclusion of what it’s like to get a sitter for triplets! If you’re a mom of multiples, give us a sneak peek – leave a comment with your thoughts! 

Oh, and while you’re here…would you take a second and click the button below to vote for us? See, we’re in this contest competing with other blogging moms of multiples and would love your vote. And, if you reallyreally love us, you can vote once a day! I know, right?!

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Blog Contest, Family, Triplets

 

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What To Expect – In the NICU {an interview, part 2}

Welcome back! We’re discussing what parents can expect during a NICU stay and are interviewing a couple of wonderful nurses our babies had during our stay. If you missed Part 1 of this interview, you can catch up really quickly here. All caught up? Great! Ok, let’s jump back in:

Laura and Mandy

Laura is above. Mandy is below, with the newest addition to their family: Ainsley!

So how beneficial is kangaroo-care, really?

Mandy: Very beneficial! It can contribute to a decrease in hospital stay for your baby(ies). Just ask the nurse if it is a good day to hold your baby. There are some days where it is not the best day or time to hold the baby due to medical reasons, such as excessive apnea/bradycardia spells, recent work up for infection, general instability, blood transfusion, etc., so it is important to ask the nurse caring for your baby if it is appropriate to hold your baby that day.

What do parents do if the nurses say they can’t touch or hold their baby(ies)?

Laura helping me give Noah a bath for the first time - under the warming lights!

Laura helping me give Noah a bath for the first time – under the warming lights!

Laura: There will be times this request is made, occasionally after a stressful day for the babies, due to a medical procedure or situation. Your baby may need a period of rest. Ask when it will be advisable to hold the baby again. And if you feel the current situation doesn’t warrant a no-touch time, feel free to ask the charge nurse for another RN to check into the situation. This way, even though you may really want to hold your baby, you can feel confident that for the time being it is best that the baby rest undisturbed. While touch can be SO beneficial, there are times when it can physically evoke stress responses, visible through the baby’s increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.

Mandy: I agree – usually there is a good reason if the nurse asks you to not hold your baby that day. Most times it is still ok to touch your baby. There are ways to touch a preemie without disturbing them (talking very quietly, minimal stroking or “petting”, etcc) and your nurse can teach you how to appropriately touch. It is important to remember that they might look tiny and cute, but they are very sick and this should be respected.

If a mom plans to breastfeed, what can she do if the baby is too early to breastfeed?

David giving a bottle - before we knew what we were doing!

David giving a bottle – before we knew what we were doing!

Laura: A lactation consultant and/or your bedside nurse will work with you to facilitate education regarding pumping breast milk.  Breast milk will always be a first choice. Initially it may be through a feeding tube that is inserted through the nose or mouth that leads to the stomach. This may look and sound scary but this is very common early on in the NICU. As the baby grows, a nipple can then be introduced, typically a bottle and then the breast, as the baby is ready.

Mandy: Breast milk is crucial for premature babies to receive. In fact, if the baby is born less than 1500 grams (or less than 30 weeks) and the mom is unable to provide breast milk, we use donated breast milk for the babies! Early feedings are very important for the babies, and breast milk helps them to tolerate these early feedings much better. There are antibodies in breast milk that cannot be found anywhere else. These antibodies help premature babies, who have a very lowered immune system (think: chemotherapy patient), to fight off infections. Infections are one of a premature baby’s most common complications.

But the babies are so tiny sometimes. What can a mom do if she can’t figure out breastfeeding?

One of the nurses feeding one of the babies while David and I fed two others - it took all of us!

One of the nurses feeding one of the babies while David and I fed two others – it took all of us!

Laura: Breastfeeding a tiny baby is going to be a journey! Together with your nurse and lactation, we will help as much as we can, based on the baby’s abilities at the time. As the baby grows and you become more comfortable, the process should become increasingly more successful. This may take months. Pump as you can to maintain your supply, and practice frequently with the babies. Lactation appointments after discharge (NICU baby or not) can be very helpful in supporting this oh so wonderful, but delicate process.

Mandy: We are here to help! Premature babies have the added challenge of not having the innate process of sucking, swallowing, and breathing in proper order yet, and must also learn how to complete this task. Breastfeeding can be harder for a premature baby initially, because it is more work to learn how to latch, and they have to produce more negative pressure with their suck to extract the milk, whereas the milk from a bottle comes out much more easily. However, it is much easier for a premature infant to breastfeed, once these tasks are learned, due to the fact that they are able to regulate the flow of milk coming out much easier while breastfeeding. I have found that it is a much slower start, but breastfed babies tend to learn how to eat faster than all bottle fed babies, due to the positive experience they get from it. Be available for feedings as often as possible, as the more time at the breast, the sooner it will be learned. Initially, the baby will only be eating once a day, then twice a day, etc. as they do better with it, so be sure to tell the nurse you are interested in breastfeeding for those sessions. Bottles will be used to supplement afterward, and for any feedings where the mother is unavailable. But again, any time at the breast is a learning experience, and the more, the better.

What happens when the parents aren’t there?

Laura: This is a hard thought, I’m sure. Having to walk away from your tiny babe will be one of the hardest things, every.single.time. But my, oh my, your baby has a skilled set of caregivers…the best baby sitters you will ever have! Your baby will continue to feed every 3-4 hours, receive needed therapies, treatments, and medications. Most hospitals also have volunteers whose job is to cuddle babies when they are in need of some TLC. You are also welcome to call at any time of day for an update on your baby!

Mandy: Also, assessments are completed every six hours on your baby (blood pressure, temperature, etc.). We change diapers every 3-6 hours, depending on how stable the baby is (the less stable the baby, the less frequently we will be touching them, in order to provide rest). If anything extremely out of the ordinary is going on with your baby, we will contact you.

As a NICU mom, I think one of the biggest unspoken questions I had was “do you enjoy taking care of my babies?

My NICU Visitor stickers for nearly a month!

My NICU Visitor stickers for nearly a month!

Laura: YES! So much. As mentioned above, this is a common thread among NICU nurses. We love our babies, and even become protective over them and their well-being. We want to see them grow and thrive! NICU staff turnover is the lowest in the hospital; it’s said once you go NICU you never go back.  This is not to say you will love all of your nurses, or feel everyone is super friendly, all the time.  I hope that’s your experience, but know that even nurses I didn’t care for personally as coworkers— are still people I would still trust with my baby.

Mandy: Most all of the nurses in NICU have a true passion for what we do, and love our job (or we wouldn’t be there!). Take comfort in knowing that we treat your baby just as we would our own, and really invest our hearts and souls into the care of your baby…and you. Your bad days are our bad days (even if we have our professional mask on). Yes, we go home and cry – we feel your emotions, too. We laugh with you, cry with you, worry with you. We feel these things because we love what we do!

Lastly, what is one thing you wish you could broadcast to every parent going into the NICU?

Our First Family Picture!

Our First Family Picture! The babies were one week old!

Laura: Ok it’s more than one thing… (1) Pray hard. This is a time where you will quickly realize that any control you thought you had is totally gone. Trust your baby to the Lord. (2) I am always encouraged when I see families on the other side of the NICU, with toddlers running around. It warms my heart so much, and reminds me why I do what I do. The NICU experience can be intense, and life changing – for sure—but it is a season. It will not last forever. (3) Be cautious of what you research online and whose stories you listen to. Every experience is SO different, every baby comes with unique circumstances— and, chances are, the way things played out for someone else’s baby is not going to be your story.  Work closely with your caregivers to receive the most accurate information about your baby’s specific circumstances. Family meetings are available for further discussion and education—you can get good one on one time with the provider this way.

Mandy: Take it ONE day at a time! It is going to be the wildest rollercoaster ride of your life, but taking each day as it comes helps to deal with it better. The nurses and doctors are here for you, and it’s important to remember that we are on your side. Please ask lots of questions (write them down as you think of them) if you don’t understand anything, instead of keeping it inside and letting it upset you. We are here to help, and want to help! Be there for your baby any way you can, but also try to get away to keep yourself emotionally centered.

Wow! I hope this interview is helpful to you (feel free to share with others who are in the NICU or may be entering a NICU stay!). This has brought back a flood of memories, some good and some bad. But they are parts of our babies’ lives – parts of our lives as we learned to trust God in new ways. Mandy and Laura were two of many wonderful nurses who made our month-long stay just that much easier.

Thank you so much, ladies, for serving countless families by taking the time to do this!

The babies at Easter - 18 months old!

The babies at Easter – 18 months old!

Were/are you a NICU parent? How did a nurse affect your stay? I’d love to hear your NICU stories!!! Or do you have a question for Mandy and Laura?

Would you click the link above to vote for us? And if you want, you can vote every day (from multiple devices!) through May 8! Thank you SO much for helping us out! =)

 

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I’m Not Super Mom

To Do ListI can’t do it all. It’s true. Actually, I struggle to do most things. I fall into bed exhausted and many times I wake up still tired. And this is nothing new. I had a hard time “doing it all” when I was a teen…single…married and working. Even the months I was on bedrest with seemingly nothing to do, I found myself overwhelmed many times because of my limitations.

And I still have limitations. Lots of them. They look different now than before I had babies. And now, with three M&M’s hanging on me during the day, it’s pretty dang difficult to accomplish much. And I’m sure my limitations will look different in 5, 10, 15, 30 years.

Most days I accomplish little else besides getting food on the table, getting poopy diapers changed and picking the house up (some days not even that!). It seems so small, so insignificant. I want to accomplish a lot.

  • I want to write an ebook.
  • I want to go back to school.
  • I want to get window treatments for my living room.
  • I want to make baby books for my babies.
  • I want to play the violin again.
  • I want to write those guest posts she asked me for.
  • I want to clean the baseboards (ok, not really this one).
  • I want to plant a garden.
  • I want to become a lactation consultant.
  • I want to volunteer.
  • I want to figure out how to spend less on my groceries.
  • I want to organize the guest room closet.
  • I want to read those books piling up on my nightstand.
  • I want to date my husband.
  • I want to get a pedicure.
  • I want to minister on the sidewalk at the abortion clinics.
  • I want to do lots.

And yet. 

  • Each poopy diaper I change is an expression of love.
  • Each “owie” I kiss is an expression of care.
  • Each fight I intervene is an expression of love.
  • Each meal I make is an expression of care.
  • Each load of laundry I switch to the dryer is an expression of love.
  • Each time I prefer my husband is an expression of care.

That’s a lot of love and care. And it takes time to do all of these things. I mean, right?? When I think about it, it’s not surprising that I can’t carve time out for a “hobby” or “me-time” that our culture tells us I should have. And when I start feeling like I deserve a break…that’s usually when I start getting overwhelmed. I don’t know about you, but that’s the time I get frustrated because I can’t get to what I want to do (even if it’s not “break”-related).

But the truth is, life isn’t supposed to be easy. (Genesis 3:16-19)

It’s supposed to be really hard. And my craving for ease is something I constantly have to battle. Of course I’m definitely not proposing we never stop, never rest, never enjoy doing nothing. God showed us how to rest when He rested after creating the world (Genesis 2:2). So rest is definitely a good thing!  David and I recently enjoyed a whole weekend of doing nothing! And I can hardly wait for the next one.

But often this desire for rest gets in the way of what needs to be done. And so does the desire to be able to do it all. God doesn’t command me to do it “all.” He doesn’t require that I check everything on my task list off every single day. When I am weak, He is strong. He wants me to draw from Him the strength I need to accomplish what I can. Good news, isn’t it?! So that pressure I feel? I can take that load off. And that long list of pinned ideas on Pinterest? I can enjoy seeing what God has enabled others to do until I find time to fit that in. Until then…I’ve got lots to do in my world:

  • I have babies to breastfeed.
  • I have bread to make.
  • I have cloth diapers to bring in.
  • I have a meeting to get ready for.
  • I have dinner to finish.
  • I have snacks for my M&M’s to prepare.
  • I have a chapter to read in “Rid of My Disgrace.”
  • I have a husband to bless.
  • I have friends to pray for.

I probably won’t accomplish all of these, but my goal is to work hard and do my very best – releasing what I cannot do (Colossians 3:23-24). And that’s ok. Right? =)

Does what you’re doing seem small and insignificant? What are you struggling with right now?

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Forty Years in the Making

Benny was one of the officiates at our wedding.

Benny was one of the officiates at our wedding.

Every once in a while you encounter a moment in time that you realize will be life-altering. You know the kind? Life is just happening…when all of a sudden it dawns on you that this present moment is a bit bigger than you had thought.

I’ve had several moments like these. Most recently, was when I learned that I was carrying triplets. The world around me stopped and life as I knew it – life as I’d hoped, planned and dreamed it – was shattered. (The Good News Is – It’s Triplets)

These moments can be good but they can also be terrifying and tempt us with serious doubts, worry and flat-out fear. But I think even in these scary, life-altering moments we can be propelled towards a more Christ-honoring response as we become aware of how others around us have been carried through difficult times like the one through which we are about to walk.

Saturday night held a good life-altering moment for me. David and I were super excited to celebrate our dear friends’, Benny and Sheree’s, 40th anniversary that evening. Prior to having the babies, Benny was one of my bosses at Metro Life Church and Sheree and I worked closely on many ladies’ events for years. They were heavily involved in meeting with the two of us for pre-marital counseling and instrumental in our short post-marriage relationship. To say that we love them dearly and respect them highly would be an understatement.

But that’s only how they affected us.

Forty years of marriage to the same person is an amazing length of time in this day and age. Think about it…how many 50-60-somethings do you know who are still madly in love with the same person they married in their teens? Sadly, there are statistics that say that as much as 90% of couples will be divorced before their 40th anniversary!

Forty years is also a very long time to affect other people’s lives. And this is where the “aha” moment happened for me.

The evening began with some individuals honoring them for the way they loved God, served the church, invested in their family, made sacrifices, and loved one another. …And this theme was repeated over and over for an hour and a half. It was truly incredible to hear person after person – even some relationships from several decades ago! – sharing how affected they had been by various aspects of their lives. We’re talking kids who came to Christ because of their involvement in their broken homes. And people who chose to ignore the culture’s mocking voice that many children are tedious and impossible…and welcomed many children into their home because of Benny and Sheree’s example. And people who watched them walk through intense suffering, only to emerge bitterness-free and still trusting in their Saviour…giving these individuals hope for their own struggles. And people who saw major sacrifices later in life when many are getting comfy with empty nests. People who saw a woman following a man, laying down her own desires to see his dreams fulfilled – and finding her own desires being fulfilled in new ways. People who saw a man love his wife in the little things, both from the pulpit and with the dishes in the sink. People who saw a couple loving God more than comfort, ease, reputation and accomplishments. And their children rose up and called them blessed (Proverbs 31:28).

{Enter my life-altering moment.}

You see, the people at the celebration that night were not viewing this couple through rose-colored glasses. No. We have lived life with this couple and their family. We’ve seen the sin. The tears. The offenses. We know and have been affected by some of their flaws…as they have been affected by ours. But underneath it all, motivating them for 40 years through intense life circumstances, has been a love for God and a passion for His church.

Is all I do fueled by a love for God?

Or am I more concerned with how others view me? By what people will say about my accomplishments after I’m gone? By how obedient my children are? By how successful we are in raising three teens at once? Am I more aware of the present moment than I am of the eternal weight that this present moment has?

Do I love Him above all else? When my husband asks me to follow him somewhere, will my response be fueled by a love for God or a desire for ease? When my children hurt me beyond belief, will I respond with trust in God – as I sought to do during the fear of carrying multiples, a high-risk pregnancy?

Do I want to be more like Him than anyone? Am I willing to confess sin, exposing the hollows of my deep and pervasively rebellious heart? Are there any costs too high in pursuing Christlikeness? 

Do I view the church as the highest priority, as Christ does, outside of my marriage and family? Have I allowed my attendance to become a duty? Do I cherish the people inside that building (or in any building across the world that professes Jesus Christ as their Saviour)? Do I allow love to cover a multitude of sins?

Certainly, having all these things in place does not guarantee me a stellar 40th anniversary celebration, thrown by three children who want their marriages and families to reflect ours. It doesn’t guarantee that everyone will adore me and that I’ll be as cute as Sheree was this night, dancing with her high school sweetheart. =) But it does paint a picture of a life that has eternal effects. It pulls my view from “the daily” – the endless tantrums and diapers, dishes and laundry – and pushes it towards heaven and the realization that I have the opportunity to affect people (as do we all!) in ways similar to Benny and Sheree.

Benny & Sheree Phillis

Benny & Sheree Phillips

David and I are just starting out. We could barely be more “starting out” than we are with these three 18 month olds. We have the pitter-patter of feet, the grubby hands and the long-but-short childhood and teen years before us. Benny and Sheree have the pitter-patter of grandchildren’s feet and can look back on raising their family with both regrets and happiness…

My hope is that in 37 years, David and I will both be able to look back and see, more often than not, a marriage fueled by a passion and love for God.

Benny and Sheree, happy, happy anniversary. We love you. Like family. ❤

Vote for us? Pretty please??? 🙂

 

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