Mommyontheboysturf with her three sons

Mommyontheboysturf with her three sons

Sunday, May 10, 2015

No Big Deal

It started with our Friday "clean your room" routine. BabyBoy concluded, in his freshly turned 6 year-old mind, that locking his clean clothes in the bathroom would be easier than putting them in his drawers.  Since Daddy was in Haiti, Oldest stepped up to the plate to unlock the bathroom door-- unsuccessfully.
"No big deal, " I reasoned, "We can use the other bathroom for 24 hours until Daddy returns and unlocks the door."
That's when BabyBoy came down with the worst case of diarrhea I've ever seen .....smelled....heard.  The locked, convenient bathroom was next to his bedroom and the available bathroom happened to be a flight of stairs and around the corner.
Saturday morning I woke up with a craving for lentil stew. As I was preparing the  brown lentil stew, BabyBoy shouts, "Uh oh! Mommy, there is poop all over. Sorry mommy! I mean everywhere! Can you help me?" From brown liquid in the kitchen to a similar consistency in the bathroom, my craving for lentil stew completely disappeared.  Brown stuff re-grouted the tile and splattered the shower curtain, walls, and even entered the 1950 radiator vents.
I was calm. Mother's Day miracle. Really! Even I was amazed. I slipped on disposable gloves and laughed as I de-pooped the bathroom. I bathed the boy for the third time.
The level of liquid continued to rise throughout the day and the toilet refused to flush.
"No big deal." I thought again. "I'll just plunge the toilet."
Except, the plunger was locked in the upstairs bathroom.
"No big deal, I can run and buy one." I confidently told myself.  But then I remembered that it's Tulip Time and I'm smack in the center of the hustle and bustle during the busiest and biggest parade. I directed Middleson and Oldest outside to use the bathroom and designated the bathroom for BabyBoy and instituted a no-flushing rule.
On Mother's Day Eve, I realized all I wanted for Mom's Day was Daddy's help unclogging the toilet and doing laundry.  I sent emails to my single-mom friends realizing they can't request that kind of help.
Daddy arrived home around 11 PM greeted instantly by the bowl of brown. We stood in the bathroom with plastic bags and a toilet brush, assessing the situation. We laid in bed for an hour talking about his experiences in Haiti and mine on the Homefront.
I went to bed too late and woke up too early with a head-ache. I also started the day with the lowest expectations and greatest contentment EVER! It doesn't have to be about breakfast in bed and spa treatments, although my boys are experts in that department.
Today I'm celebrating motherhood and the "off" moments that God enabled me to meet with calm and peace. This year I'm not requesting breakfast in bed, just a toilet that flushes. I'm grateful for the perspective that Daddy's trip to Haiti gives our family. I have my family and my family has me. We all have Jesus.
That's a big deal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Man.  November-ish, just one year ago, we were "all-in", creeping toward Holland secretly. God was slowly, but surely, confirming His plan for us to journey to a new land.  Hubby and I would squeal with delight when a Michigan license plate appeared in front of us. Suddenly, blue and yellow wasn't so offensive. We pondered the future in our hearts and gah-gahhed over Holland like a teenage crush. Total infatuation. We began doing the work in the Fall that would be required to sell our home in the Spring.  We even laughed as we painted the inside of the garage wondering what the neighbors would think. While they were carving pumpkins, we were white-gloving our house.  Knowing what was ahead, made the work not so tasky.  At the same time, my journal reflected prayers regarding my kids adjusting, the successful selling of our home, purchasing a new "dream" home, saying good-bye, greeting hellos, and acquiring a job for Andrew.  I feverishly sorted and purged every square inch of our home. Eventually, praise God, I packed. I boxed. I taped. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat again.

Now, a year later, I am utterly amazed at what God has done. When I recall all the uncertainty we faced, I can't believe we kept going.  I know myself and my desire to plan and take a step at a time. We didn't do that at all.  It was just a crazy jump knowing who held us in the palm of His han ds. We multi-tasked at living out the top stressors simultaneously!  The sale of a home/the purchase of a home (add in the stress of NOT being able to find a home), a major move, a job change (and not knowing that wouldn't come until months after moving).  We didn't get a lot of hints on the radar, but we did/do know God's proven track record for faithfulness.

God is so good.  He DID come through and was faithful.  He not only answered every prayer, He also answered them according to His will.  In many ways, He answered according to my will, too.  I just didn't know it was MY will.  It was a secret.  You see, it was a s secret to me that the home we thought we didn't want was the house we don't ever want to leave.  It was a secret to us that our street/neighborhood would be community like we've never experienced.  It was a secret to us that God could so perfectly orchestrate a position for Andrew that so beautifully reflects our family Mission Statement.  It's hard to pray for things you don't even know how to ask for.  Oh the small prayers I uttered that I thought were so big. It's like God know's me better than I know myself.  He knew we were open/willing/vulnerable/desperate.  He kept us so close as He planned His own big reveal.

When we submit ourselves to HIS will. He can do above and beyond what we ask, think, or imagine according to Ephesians 3:20.  I will say though, that there were years of molding and preparation and W...A....I....T....I....N....G.

I still remember a call from one of my dearest friends on Christmas afternoon.  She found an SUV in the garage with a bow on it.  Her husband provided a wonderful surprise, and one he had kept a secret.  Just recently, he drove through the night to surprise her for breakfast after he had been away.  Once again, if he hadn't kept it a secret, it wouldn't have been a surprise.

That's a bit like what God did for us.  He took what we thought was "our" secret and turned it into His secret for us. A gift! Oh, if we had known, those steps of faith may not have been so scary.

Holland continues to be our "forever reminder that God loves to give the most unexpected of gifts." The community, the family activities, our church, hubby's position, the boys' educational opportunities, the beauty that surrounds us, the lake, THE LAKE, the sand dunes, the parks, the smallness, the slowness, the extra time,....the gift! The secret!

"And I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, Who calls you by name."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Just Follow Me

Our new life in Michigan has opened my eyes in many ways -- one completely unexpected. SAND! When I think of sand, Florida comes to mind instantly, not Michigan. This place is sandy.  Even my poor little backyard garden is packed with sandy soil.  The van can't seem to rid itself of those pesky little granules no matter how meticulous we are after our beach visits.

A friend introduced to a place called the Bowl Dune.  Oh my! It is a series of sand dunes to climb and conquer that eventually leads to a "crater" or "bowl".  I can't help but feel like Neil Armstrong sinking my feet into endless sand granules, pretending I'm on the surface of the moon.  One particular day we attempted to scale the dune.  It is almost completely vertical.  The workout is beyond what LIFETIME Fitness has to offer.  Strenuous, heart-rate increasing, no-talking, heavy breathing all the way up....only to reach the top and realize there are several more ahead.  The view, a breathtaking invitation from Lake Michigan to submerge yourself in cool blue water.

Umm.  I had my five year old with me.  The one that tires me with his endless energy except when he experts himself with his favorite line, "I CAN'T DO THIS! I'M SOOOOO TIRED!" My original plan, pre-dune visit, was to give BabyBoy a piggy-back ride.  After seeing the dune, my plans backfired mentally.  This little piggy and momma piggy roll down the dune backwards.  Not. Going. To. Work.

Feeling just a touch defeated and desperate for a solution, I huffed a command, "Just put your feet into my footsteps."  It's much easier than hollowing out his own sand mold each step.  If he can just step in my step, we can make it.  We did!  We made it!  The downhill was exhilarating, easy, fast, and full of joyful laughter.

Isn't that what Jesus requested of his disciples?  "Come follow me!" Jesus commanded. He didn't tell the disciples to go out on their own, to choose their own steps.  Instead, He asked them to follow, to come after him.  In my twisted thinking, I somehow think it might be easier to invite Him along my path as if I know the way I should take.  Ha.  He knows the journey will be easier if I just put my step into his footprint and follow His path.

Sometimes the path is uphill, dark, hard, treacherous, and frustrating.  I can't find my way.  Other times are bright, light, and easy.  Either way, my role doesn't change. I'm the follower.  My way is behind my leader.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Two Peas in the Same Pod

Our turf looks starkly different this year.  Oldest and Middleson spend their days at a brick and mortar school. Babyboy is still at home with me, on familiar turf.  This Fall has included smooth adjustments and transitions for all -- uniforms, a school bus, sack lunches, teachers other than me, and homework.

Yes, HOMEWORK.  For the homeschooler, all work is homework but in a different, earlier-in-the-day kind of way. Yesterday, Oldest hopped off the school bus in a panic from head to toe.  "I FORGOT MY HOMEWORK!  I can't believe this. What am I going to do? I'll have to pull my card!"  He squealed.  There was confusion at the end of the day about whether he was taking the bus or getting picked up.  I'm  thankful he so badly wanted to get home.  But, in the midst of it all, he forgot his homework. I didn't forget my homework. He doesn't forget his.  We don't really forget things. We are responsible and conscientious to a fault.

Oh, I felt his pain. We are two peas in the same pod. That's like me forgetting to do my taxes.  Oldest said he would have to "pull his card". I don't know what that means, but that sounds seriously horrible.  Is it like a jail for kids who forget their homework? Outwardly, (proud mom moment) I was calm and told him not to worry about.  Inwardly, with rapidly beating heart, I was pacing.

Our personality includes traits like getting it done, right away, all the perfect (the dreaded P word) as possible the first time.  It is black/white. Work first.  Play if there is time.  We don't want a blemish on our slate even if it doesn't really matter.  Everything matters, right?

Since I could identify with Oldest and his feelings, I suggested going to school early Thursday to complete the assignment. We can go at 4 AM if we need to! We will do whatever it takes.  I emailed his teacher and didn't hear back. Truthfully, I forgot all about it.(See I do forget things...I was mistaken, your honor.)

This afternoon I received a reply from his teacher.  She let Oldest complete his homework today under the flustered circumstances yesterday.  Then she wrote, "I also tried to make him understand that even if there wasn't an excuse it would not be the end of the world....mark your card....get the homework slip signed...bring it the next day.  He doesn't have to be perfect. The world is still spinning." 

Oh I smiled. The grace. The Love. The Deeeeep Breath.  The lack of pressure.  She was speaking to me just as much as she was my son.  Self induced panic results from expecting perfection.  Life includes failure, tardies, mistakes, messes, and blemishes.

Was Jesus "late" when Lazarus died?  The healing where Jesus put mud on a man's eyes had to have been messy.  Stinky walky traveling disciples' feet.  The broken bottle of perfume on Jesus'' feet.  Who cleaned up the glass chards?  That could have been a safety hazard.  She could have been sued in this day and age.

Our failures and shortcomings and imperfections serve a greater purpose.  Once again, they point us to a Saviour, who heals our soul brokenness.  They cause us to NEED Him.  For we cannot save ourselves even if we could somehow present ourselves perfect.

For me and oldest, two peas in a pod, we need to remember the world is still spinning.  He has the whole world in His hands.

Celebrating IMperfection,
Mommy on the boys' turf

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day 101

     If I could, I'd gather all my sisters, new-mom friends, and teach a class on Mother's Day.   Mother's Day 101.  I'm no expert. Yesterday marked a DECADE of Mothers' Days for me.  But it was the best one yet.  Why?  I had no expectations.  Not LOW expectations.  I wasn't lowering the bar at all. I just didn't have any.  I've been to The school of Perfection and it always ends with a failing grade. 

Love is messy.
Motherhood is messy.
Therefore, Mother's Day is messy.  Noisy.  Squeaky. Squabbly.  Untidy. Crumbly.  

    Kids wake up on Mother's Day. Therefore, they eat, use the bathroom, perhaps get sick, spill, and act like children. They should.  Mother's Day is no exception. 

     A 4:45 awakening was the first mis-hap of the day.  Mother's Day is a day that I should sleep in!  Praying, planning, running, and showering before my boys even stirred in their slumber. Babyboy stumbled into the bathroom, half-asleep, "Mommy, I LOVE YOU! Today is Mother's Day, but I am not eating breakfast in MY bed," he leakily spoiled the first "surprise".   Moments later I climbed back into bed like a drama queen pretending I hadn't been up yet.  Middleson brought the menu.  Babyboy delivered the first of many cards, and Oldest laid in bed next to me, too sleepy to participate in Mother's Day Breakfast in Bed.  
*Please note that I should have checked the box marked, more coffee.

     Breakfast in bed = breakfast on the counter, breakfast on the floor, breakfast IN the bed. Breakfast breakfast everywhere.  

     I heard the chaos of too many hands and feet in the kitchen. Trying to find food in foreign territory. My territory.  My land where I know where every little thing is.  Tiny feet carrying shaky trays up the stairs.  Fire alarm ringing.  I smile.  One boy still rebelling against Daddy's request to help.  Middleson joining me in my bed with crumbly toast and pasty oatmeal.  I envision bedtime later that night with oatmeal in my hair.  But, this is fun. Yes, it really is.  The discarded tray on the floor by my bed, the one with leftover ketchup, becomes a perfect target for Babyboy's foot.  He smeared the ketchup on my carpet like a farmer with his muddy boots.  I laughed.  I belly laughed!  Ironically the same weekend we tiled the master bathroom floor, the carpet is streaked with red.  I couldn't stop laughing.  THIS is Mother's Day!  The mess. The crumbs.  The noise.  The pictures that I want so perfect to portray that my boys don't burp, or fight, or complain on Mother's Day. The pictures that show me smiling, never a frustration or ruffle in my feathers.  

      Mommy and her boys. Dressed to match. Ready to smile. But, one is sneezing. One is monkeying. Another tantruming. I just want one picture with smiles.  We can't seem to pull it off.   Finally, we get a few, but not without the threat of frowning on their next Birthday pictures.   

     Piling into the van for church in a white skirt.  Mother's Day white skirts cause stress.  When in doubt, when parading in the grass for pictures, always wear the LBD - little black dress.  They camouflage mud and spills.   Home again, sent back to bed to wait for Mother's Day lunch.

     Alarm ringing, part II.  This time it doesn't quit.  Clinging, clanging of dishes, little boys working hard for me.  I hear it all. I picture my kitchen a complete disaster and then I take a deep breath because kitchens can be cleaned. This day is MORE about THEM getting to love me without my rules, and my boundaries, and my lectures.    

     I came to lunch, alarm still ringing.  Loud. Windows opened to release the smoke.  I'm cold.  I partake the fabulously presented meal in front of me.  I prayed the alarm would stop.  We talked loud and even on Mother's Day I corrected some less than ideal manners. The alarm finally stopped.  After we are done (delicious and beautifully plated, puts my meals to shame), everything in me wants to help with clean-up. Daddy, whisks me out of the kitchen again. My clean-up is quick and thorough.  Their clean-up is partial, long, and full of reminding.  But they loved me by removing me from my normal routine.  

     And back to bed again to wait for gluten free sugar cookies, delivered with milk and smiles.  A lazy shmazy lay-around afternoon for this always-moving, producing, mommy. It was wonderful!  

      Mother's Day will only be quiet and clean when those that call me MOMMY are gone.  Will I be content with the card in the mail or long for the days of crazy, chaotic, crumbly Mothers' Days of years past?   The monkey pictures will mean more than the poised one where life looks serene.  

     I can't help but think of the women with the alabaster jar.  She broke the jar at Jesus' feet. Did she have a Dyson near by to clean up the broken glass.  Did Jesus chastise her for making a mess?  Was the smell overpowering?  And, the waste she was accused of!  My, my, my.  It was messy.  Loving Jesus, her Savior, with everything meant breaking out of normal and causing a scene.  The same can be said of the ULTIMATE act of  love at Calvary.  Surrounded by imperfection, messes, noise, cries, sickness, and sin.  Grace covered it all.  Love covers messes.  

     Yesterday, in all their imperfection, I received the wonderful gift of love from the treasures God has blessed me with.  In the messes, I saw their love, in the noise, I heard their love.  The fire alarm rang loud and clear to remind me that I was OUT of the kitchen and loved loudly.

     That's what I'd say to those around me if I could teach Mother's Day 101.  Sometimes love is written most powerfully in untidy ways.  And that's okay. That's the way to celebrate Mother's Day.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Martha! Martha! Martha!

(Wow, I have not posted since October 1!  Unbelievable. Today, though, something was stirring in my heart and I had to write.  Once again, it relates in NO WAY to my time on the boys turf. Yet, in another way, it affects my boys in EVERY WAY.)  

     I shouldn’t be annoyed by a Bible story. That sounds sacrilegious and sinful. But, the story in Luke 10 about Mary and Martha gets me every time.  I’ll announce it to the world. “I AM MARTHA!”  I clearly see myself perfecting the house for my guest, Jesus, and being greatly frustrated with my sister for sitting around with the guest and not helping me. That’s not fair!  Surely Jesus would see my busyness as a sign of my love for Him.  I know what all the books say about choosing to BE instead of BEING BUSY for Him. I know.  I get it.  I’ve gotten it.  Done.

     What about the busyness deep inside my heart, my soul, my mind. Contrary to the external, the internal striving no one can see but me. My clamoring about my spiritual kitchen banging pots and pans. Slamming the cupboards in my mind.  Gritting my teeth, I SOS every sin that surfaces.  If I can just srub harder. Deeper. Longer.  Why can’t I get myself perfect?  Earnestly I attempt to clean myself, but the cycle never ends.   My spaghetti and meatball stained insides won’t. come. clean.  I scrub. I scour.  I plan. I prep. To-do lists for Jesus suffocate and confuse. 

1.  Tell someone about Jesus
2.  Memorize this verse and that one
3.  Take care of the temple
4.  Speak right
5. Live right
6. Do this
7. Don’t do that
8. Don’t think that
9. Don’t you dare say that
10. Give that

     I am distracted by the very rules I’ve created to somehow get me “more ready” for Jesus.  Rules never bring freedom.  Rules always come with chains.  But in a sick way, rules bring artificial freedom.  They comfort us by allowing us to feel like the victory is in our control.  It is for FREEDOM that Christ set me free according to Galatians 5:1.  Rules focus on ME everytime.  Freedom focuses on Christ and what HE has done.  Ever tried to abstain from something and realize that is all you suddenly think about?   When my own dirtiness deters me and causes me to see myself as wretched, I tend to look at others in the same way. I see the sins in others like the etched line in my thirteen year old dishes. Scratched. Imperfect.  We are all alike. Chipped beyond self-repair. Self-help. Self-control.  Self. Self. Self.   My striving in my own life for who I want most to reflect, causes me to get agitated with myself and those around me.  The washing-machine- self I’ve created can’t handle this heavy load. I can’t do it. 

     Jesus died once.  All of my sins were in the future. I see no date on my scribbled calendar that says, “Jesus death, part II, III, IV, V....”  Any straining on my part does nothing.  I can’t prepare for Jesus. The preparation has already been done.  My own to-do list to clean myself is shredded.

 Mary, I can sit. Rest.  I can reduce my list to just one thing.
1. Accept His grace -- not bolded or exclaimed.  A gentle invitation

  When I see myself in Him, I begin to see others in need of grace just like me.  I begin to feel free. For freedom is the ability to say YES to what is best, not NO.  Grace takes the chains and rules OFF.  Grace allows me to just soak in His grace. Grace does not equal spiritual 
laziness as I have so often thought.  Instead grace gives up control and allows someone else to do the work for me.  I’ve often let the dirtiest of pots soak for a while. Amazingly, as it sits, the gunk loosens.  The same happens when I just submerge myself in Christ.  Transformation from dirty to clean.  Dark to light.  Imperfection to trusting in the PERFECT ONE.

     Now that’s not fair!  He did it all! For me?  He’s okay with that?  He doesn’t want my help?  He didn’t require me to do the work.  Wow! Amazing grace.  He just wants me. That’s all. That. Is. All.  


Monday, October 1, 2012

Double Digits

Oldest is TEN!  Officially in the double-digits for the rest of his life, unless he lives to be 100.  He is a gigantic part of the best decade of my life. It started with marriage followed by boy 1, boy 2, and boy 3...or Oldest, Middleson, and Babyboy.

Of course there is much excitement around the birth of your firstborn.  All the newness and itty bitty clothes, diapers, and shoes. Oldest started our parenting journey and the cycle of hand-me-downs for his two little brothers.  I still can't believe I am at this point -- a TEN YEAR OLD?  Wow.

Dear Oldest,

Let me start by saying you are an incredible son. From day one, you bounced out of the womb with energy and an insatiable appetite.  Your cry was never cute. It was a full roar!  You never needed a lot of sleep and you let us know that from the start.  When all the other newborns were sleeping 18 hours a day, you didn't give into peer pressure.   To this day, you like to stay up late and read.

One thing I have always loved about you is your passion.  Each stage in your life has brought out determined enthusiasm about something/someone. When you were one, you had a fascination with trash cans and trash trucks.  Whereever we went, you went straight for the trash can.  At two, you loved Curious George and I even caught you constructing skis with hockey sticks and taping your shoes to the "skis" to be like Curious George. We have gone through the military phase, the firefighter stage, the hockey stage (your room still reflects this) and the spy phase.  You pour 100% into your phase of the moment in your attire, book selection, Christmas gift list, etc.  You learn as much as you can and you aren't afraid to share your knowledge.

Right now, you are surprising and alarming us with your computer skills and knowledge.  Even the librarians know what section to take you to -- the adult computer manuals.  The head librarian offered you a job a while back when he saw the stack of books you were checking out.  Today you started a blog all on your own.  You have far surpassed me in your knowledge. Having an in-house tech support is fabulous! No more being "on hold" on the phone. 

Oldest, you have such a sensitive heart. You don't like to see others hurting.  You want to make sure your heart is "right" before God. It has been so neat to see your desire to read the Bible and memorize God's word. I see growth in you. You have had the opportunity to stand up for what is "right" and I could not be more proud of you. 

You are a GIVER of good things.  Time and time again, you have sacrificed to give something of great/worth and value to you.  You have made lists of what you want to give others.  You share your favorite things with your favorite people. Daddy told me just this week about you offering your favorite, rare treat to him.  That makes my heart so happy.  You have learned to give. What a gift.

If I could give you advice, it would be the same thing I have been telling myself for a few decades.  Don't be so hard on  yourself. You don't have to be perfect.  It's okay to make a mistake or mess up.  Just keep trying. And, get back up.  Give yourself GRACE just like God gives you grace. 

This past decade has been wonderful.  You enjoy life.  What will the next decade be like? You will enter the tweens and teens.  Will I still blogging on your twentieth? If so, I can guarantee, it will even longer and more things to "brag" about.  I pray you continue to live a life of integrity and uprightness. I can't wait to see how God uses the gifts and talents He has given you.  Continue to be passionate about God and people and life.

Oh, happy double-digits Oldest.  I love you so!