Bathing Suits, Ice Cubes, and the Kingdom

As a parent of two kids, having only one kid around reminds me of bathing suits.

I remember from my swim team days that the really good, big kids would wear two bathing suits sometimes to practice.  The idea was that two suits = more drag = more work = stronger muscles.  Then when the meet would come and they’d wear only one suit, swimming would be noticeably easier.

Hear me:  I’m not at all suggesting that my two kids are a drag.  I promise.

I’m just saying that they are constantly working out my parenting muscles, and when I get the unexpected blessing of hanging out with just one of them, I sometimes feel that easy-breezy feeling of swimming with just one suit.

Tonight would be no exception.

Chica is spending the night with Nana so that she can get to her early morning violin lesson on time.  While Jay drove her over, Bubba and I were left to finish cleaning up dinner and do bedtime.  Chica’s usually our resident table clearer, so without her here, I tagged Bubba for the job.  This was after, of course, surveying that what was left on the table was (mostly) three-year-old friendly.

His first instructions were to put his cup in the sink and his straw in the trashcan.  Easy enough, right?

Next thing I know all of the water from his cup is dripping down the cabinet and into a puddle in front of the sink.  Not easy enough, apparently.

This is what I wanted to say:  “Bubbaaaaaaaa!!!!!  Ugggghhhhhh!!!!  How hard could it be???  Seriously?  Get out of here and sit on the sofa.  For a long time.  Now!”  And again for effect, “Ughhhhh!!!”

Maybe it was the one kid/bathing suit thing.  Maybe it was his sweet little stunned look.  Maybe it was me finally learning to listen to Jesus in the moments that count.  Whatever the reason, I took a nice long pause, and instead managed a calm, “Why did that happen?”

“I was trying to pour the water into the sink through my straw.”

“That was a bad choice, Bub.  What will you do next time?”

He points, “Straw-trashcan.  Cup-sink.”

“You’re right.  Like I asked you to.”  Still with a calm that I so rarely manage, “Well, what do you think we should do now?”

“I don’t know.”

While it occurred to me that his answer might have been in an attempt to avoid what was coming next, it is also entirely possible that he just didn’t know what to do.  Chica usually fetches the spill cleaner-uppers (aka leftover cloth diapers), so with her gone, I figured this was a good time for him to learn.

“Come with me.  I’ll show you where the good towels are.”

So I proceeded to show him how to open up the towel wide, lay it on the spill, and wipe back and forth.  He was rather bothered by the bunching up at first, but he quickly got over it…and then into it actually!  Realizing it was going to take a while, I went back to loading the dishwasher.  Despite my calmness, I also decided that one spill was plenty for this night, so I finished clearing the table myself.

At one point I grabbed somebody’s cup that held a few leftover ice cubes.  Not thinking, I slung them into the sink and onto a metal baking sheet….right above where Bubba was working.

“Whoa!  That was loud, Mommy.”

“You’re right, Bub.  Sorry.”

“You made a bad choice, Mommy.”

“Well….I’m not sure it was a bad choice.  I was just dumping the cup out, and it hit the pan.”

And then, with exactly the same tone I had used on him minutes earlier…

“Where should you put the ice next time, Mommy?”

Yes, I did eventually answer him, but only after laughing out loud.  Touché, Bubba.  Touché.

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My prayer these days is to live in the Kingdom.  By some strange path, bathing suits and a spilled cup of water and my funny little Bubba have all lead me back there, back here, to contemplating the Kingdom some more.

I hold lots of jobs as Mom.  Dishwasher loader.  Backpack emptier.  Bath giver.  Booboo patcher.  Smoothie maker.

I’m starting to think I should maybe add Kingdom tour guide to my résumé.  Even though I admittedly don’t fully get it myself, I am introducing them to a kingdom….whether it be my own or the Kingdom.

What will they see?

Blessed are the merciful…
Or blessed are the ones that don’t make a mess?

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles…
Or give a little extra only when you don’t have homework and aren’t too tired?

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…
Or seek first the approval and admiration of others?

 

Jesus, give me the strength to introduce my two little people to your kingdom, one spilled glass at a time.

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Five Minute Friday: Lost and Found

With a link in my inbox and a little time to waste, I browsed a blog I hadn’t read in months. Stories and photos and videos of this Disney princess (literally!) turned country-hopping missionary made me feel a bit like I had lost something. A lost opportunity, I guess.

Maybe. But the more I think about it this morning, the more I realize just what I’ve found.

I’ve lost…

…the freedom to pick up and just go and do whatever, whenever.
…friends to great distances of time and space.
…the houses where I brought each of my kids home from the hospital.
…a camera. The good one we bought when Chica was a baby. Who does that?
…interest in hobbies that used to consume me.
…fifteen pounds, then gained it all right back again.

But I’ve found…

…a job I truly, truly enjoy.
…new friends to share dinner with every. single. week.
…a home that fits my new friends and their kids.
…purpose in new hobbies like running and writing.
…that the number on the scale isn’t synonymous with fitness.

But even better, I’ve found…

…the great joy to be had in being somebody’s mommy.
…the miracle of someone choosing to love my messy, confusing self for ten years.
…a new, growing desire to remain in the Love that will bear fruit.

What have you found today?

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Five Minute Friday.  And yes, I know it’s Saturday.  I’m just now finding the time…

On Gifts and the Giver

Last week it was Jesus the Baby.

This morning at church it was Jesus the King.

Tonight it’s Jesus the Gift.

……………………………………………..

IMG_1646If you’re getting a gift from me this Christmas, I’ll go ahead and tell you where it is.  If you’re one of my kids, it’s under the bed.  If you’re anybody else, it’s in one of those bags along the wall of my bedroom, in the same place I dropped it when I came home from my marathon shopping day on Black Friday.  I had great visions of wrapping everything that night or that weekend and putting them under my tree to admire for the month of December.  Well….exhaustion and a stack of ungraded papers and Facebook and previously aired episodes of the Voice overtook me.  So there they still sit, and I’m sure they’ll be there until school is out for Christmas break.  And one night, with the help of a glass (or two) of wine and more episodes of the Voice, I’ll get it done.

…………………………………………….

One day this week while driving to school I heard the song, ”What a Glorious Night,” by Sidewalk Prophets.  It left me thinking about that night.  The night.

“I hear the angels singing, hallelujah.  Let the earth receive her king.”

I couldn’t help but think that the earth didn’t know what a gift they were getting on that night.  God knew, the angels knew, and Mary had some small understanding.  But God chose such a quiet way for our Savior to enter the world.  It was a glorious night, but no one around them knew just how glorious yet.

All of this left me thinking about God, the Gift Giver.  As much as I hate the wrapping, I am eagerly awaiting my night to be gift giver.  I’ve picked out things that I know my kids will like.  I can’t wait to see Chica’s reaction to both the things she asked for as well as the things she didn’t know she wanted.  Bubba…well, he doesn’t know to want and ask yet, but I anticipate he’ll be just as excited, if not more.

So I imagine that God had some of those same anticipations as the Gift Giver that night.  He knew that the Gift he had picked out was exactly what we needed.  It was exactly what we wanted (a savior, a king), but the form it took was unlike anyone had expected.  So as the earth slept, he delivered the Best Gift and waited for us to discover it.  Some days, most days, I feel like I’m still discovering it, still unwrapping it.

“I know that love has come.  Singing it out:  Jesus Christ is born!”

Just like the shepherds, I’m amazed.  Just like the shepherds, don’t let me hide it.

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So one more thought about the gift and the giver.  Can I just confess that a small part of my joy as a gift giver is the price at which I find my gifts?  I start my Black Friday shopping with a fairly tight budget, and I mostly stick to it.  I found Chica’s one “big present” this year at Ollie’s for $10.  Woo-hooo!  And Jay snagged Bubba’s during Cyber Monday on some fluke, two hour deal.  As much as I know this really isn’t the point, it sure has made the giving sweeter for me.

But what about The Gift Giver?  I keep rolling over and over the idea tonight that his gift was at full price.  The biggest price.  I wonder if his joy that night was also mixed with tiny pangs of sadness as he knew just how much it would cost him in the end.

Let the earth receive her King.  I eagerly await that glorious night.

Oh, what a glorious night.

 

Practicing Peace

Teacher friends, close your ears.   Ok….everybody else ready?  Good.

I go back to work in less than a month.  Wow.  

Ok, you can open them again!

This morning it dawned on me that it wasn’t going to be summer forever.  I realized all of a sudden that I had to start tackling some of the tasks on my growing to-do list before it was too late.  And as soon as I made that realization, I started to feel that panicky feeling in my chest that I haven’t missed one bit in these last few weeks.

Get a new Social Security card for Chica.  Schedule doctor and dentist appointments.  Order agendas for school.  Figure out childcare for the first week back to work.  Shop for school supplies.  Start planning for the first month.  And on.  And on.  And on.

As I finished breakfast and wondered to myself if I could afford one more day of putting off my list, Jay must have asked me three times if I was okay.

Yes.  I’m fine.  This is just panic mode in mute.

This all got me thinking about the new peace that I’ve been feeling and practicing and living this summer.  I really want to believe that this peace is a result of setting my heart and mind on things above, and not just a welcomed side effect of being off of work for a month.  I want to believe that Jesus is changing me into a peaceful person, a person that deliberately chooses calm and grace over panic and hurry.  Maybe most of all, I want to believe that something will be different when I go back to work.

I heard a speaker talk this week about sin.  In his section about the ways we can remedy sin and its power to harden our hearts, he pointed out some more peace verses in Philippians 4.  He suggested that in response to anxiousness we are to pray, be thankful, and think about those things that are Godly.  And here was the interesting part that he added:

The best time to practice this is when you are in the middle of it.  The second best time to practice this is when you are not in the middle of it.

So what does that mean for me?  It means that this coming month is like a dress rehearsal before opening night.  Like a scrimmage before the season opener.  Like behind the wheel before hitting the road alone.  But the real test of my his peace will come a month from now.  When I’m sending my big girl off to kindergarten at a new school, and Bubba cries when I drop him off at daycare, and I still have 47 things to do to be ready for my class of 26.  Oh, and don’t forget the laundry and the dishes and who knows….maybe moving to a new house??  Yep….it’s then I’ll know if this peace is really rooted in a changed heart or just a sparse calendar.

I once co-directed a school play.  Talk about anxiousness…but that’s a story for another day.  Anyway, after a long rehearsal, I would sit down with all my little actors and actresses and give them notes from that day’s practice.  This person missed their line, let’s change this light cue, somebody needs to go find that missing prop, etc.   And occasionally (yep…I was probably a little too harsh most of the time) I gave a few positive remarks too.  We could finally hear this girl’s lines, or thanks for hitting that music cue right on time.  The point always being that they would keep the good stuff and change the bad stuff when the real thing came along.

So this whole practicing peace idea got me thinking about a few quick notes from today’s “rehearsal”:

  • Good:  Getting started on “the list” early this morning instead of just continuing to worry about it.
  • Bad:  Screaming at Chica after she asked me for help while we were trying to get out of the house on time for swimming lessons.
  • Good:  Keeping way calm during another stretch of maybe-I-should-pull-over rain.
  • Bad:  Continuing to worry (even now, as I write this) about things that I just can’t change.

Keep the good.  Jesus, change the bad.

P.S.  Ask me in a month about peace, ok?

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