Sleep, Sweet Babies, Sleep

It’s nearly proverbial, you know. That resistance to sleep that is wholly ingrained in the youngest of people, the ones who always need that nap the most. My gentle reminders for a short restful nap are met with shrieks, and tears, and running, and bargaining, and just about any other tactic or obstacle that my busy toddlers can create to delay the inevitable nap. A little rest. Just rest. It must be ingrained in the mind of a toddler to fend off sleep with the fury of an angry rooster. Some days it seems easier to skip the afternoon siesta, but in reality, it isn’t. Rest, naps, and sweet slumber are critical to the emotional well-being of my toddlers. And of course, to their mom.

But in all honesty, I am no better. At 10:30 pm my fitbit reminds me that it is time to unwind for bed. And yet, at 10:30 pm I am still going strong. Finishing a load of laundry, folding a few towels, setting out the outfits for the following day. Clearing the days clutter so that I can start fresh in the morning. Jotting down thoughts for one more blog, one more article, another piece of music, then scrambling to pay a bill, tuck in the baby chicks for the night, and turning off all the lights. It’s more than an hour later that I finally crash, and yet my mind keeps racing as I try to get my body to sleep. When we are too busy to rest, we are simply too busy.

There is a hush that falls across the homestead in the middle of the day. Funny how it coincides with my own wee ones nap times. The activity in the chicken yard comes to a halt, and I see little groups of hens, snuggled up beneath the goat shed, or huddled under the belly of the van. The goats cease their playful antics, and cuddle up in a mash of straw and bits of left over hay. The silkie chicks pile up in the corner where the sunlight plays across their pen, a heap of fuzz and feathers being warmed in the sun.  My elderly kitty leaves her post on the bed, only to find just the right spot where she can snooze away the afternoon, relaxed in the sun. How is it that these animals know better than I? I, who try to cram every last bit of work and hustle into the hour and a half that my little ones are tucked away in their rooms, racing to accomplish just one more task, while the rest of the world that is my little homestead peacefully rests? The soft chirping of the brand new buff orpingtons tucked beneath their Ecoglow is soothing as I struggle to finish up one more thing before my gaggle of toddlers is jumping for joy to climb out of their beds again.

We are all in dire need of rest. We are all in desperate need of a break from the busy lives of parenthood, where the chauffering of children to their activities is draining on parent and child alike. We are in need of a break from the hectic rhythms of the work day, to slow our pace, and spend time together. We are in need of a break from the onslaught of information that we constantly crave, the status updates, the tweets, and the wealth of Google’s knowledge at our fingertips. We need to let our bodies, our minds, and our souls, find their rest.

I know what it is I need.

I need to still my body from the work, close my eyes, and allow my body it’s sweet slumber so I have the strength to face another task, another day.

I need to still my mind, to shut down the tech, to breathe in the fresh air of the country and breathe out all the cares of my day, and just be, alive, and refreshed, in the sunshine of the day or the stillness of the evening.

And I need to still my soul, to place it’s care into the hands of the ever-loving Jesus, to accept His rest, and allow myself to receive His peace. But I won’t find it if I’m running, I won’t hear the quiet of His voice if I am scrolling and surfing and tuning the world out with my iPad or my phone. If I truly want to find His rest, I need to make some time to be at rest.

It’s hard to shut it down. It’s hard to disconnect from the technology that I enjoy. It’s hard to refrain from googling the answer to every question my children pose. It’s hard to cut myself off form the workload, and lay my weary body down to sleep. But I am no longer a toddler who does not understand the things his little body needs.

I know my little ones need their slumber, so I’ll do the work of calming their little bodies down for sleep, no matter what antics they throw my way in order to thwart their own rest. And if I am going to care for myself so that I can be strong, and kind, and joyful, and accomplished, I need to stop the antics, and cease thwarting my own desperately needed rest.

Turn if off and shut it down. Close it up and pull the plug. Turn off the lights. It’s time to sleep. Sleep, sweet babies. Sleep, sweet mama. Just sleep.

 

Do you need more rest in your life? Do you need to increase your energy? Get a jump start on a fresh perspective when you sign up for my newsletter and get your Five Day Fast Fix absolutely free.

Does your life need a tune up? Like you want a little bit more out of your life? Or maybe you feel great and you just want to supercharge your energy and creativity? Sign up for you the Free Five Day Fast Fix and start living and loving life again.


Two of the most dreaded words in parenting vocabulary.

Parent pickup. Two of the most dreaded words in the parenting vocabulary. The angst multiples with each additional child in the vehicle. So do the number of earned timeouts, the level of odiferousness, and the depth of the scum in the bottom of the van. We won’t discuss the backpacks, water bottles, and dirty shoes. Oh the dirty shoes.

It’s not my fault; I happen to have a fairly large family with 6 children. All under the age of 10. In order to accommodate the massive number of car seats and boosters as required by law, and as necessitated by my insanely-high level of passion for the safety and security of my gaggle of mini-me’s, I’ve had to give up all hope of driving a remotely cool car. Scratch that. I can’t even drive a cool mini-van. Nope. Not even a Honda Odyssey can accommodate this level of crazy large fam. I practically drive a bus.

It’s hard enough to maneuver my bumbling 12 passenger van through the serpentine of school safeties, orange cones, and actual school busses without running over dropped backpacks and forgotten hockey equipment. But my sense of repose is instantly repressed by those parents that presume my oversized family wagon is a dusty work van awaiting its occupant. It isn’t that dirty, is it? They zip by me in their pretty little Mustangs and Blue-tooth connected Honda Accords, and yeah, even that cool mom with the Odyssey manages to whip her way around my bus-like self as she rushes in to swoop up her singleton. Singleton. One. One child. I can barely even remember what that was like. Seems like a relaxed and easy life-time ago, as I sit exhausted from convincing 3 strong-willed toddlers to get in the van for parent pickup.

The three screaming banshees – I mean, the bored and rather vocal toddlers in their rear facing car seats complete with cups and snacks have already pushed my patience beyond it’s limitless nature when another precious parent swoops around for their duo. Clearly, there is no rush to get in position as school is not out for another 15 or 20 minutes. Clearly, my giant van is invisible. Hello…. I am parent pickup here. Don’t you see me? As I cautiously maneuver into position behind the Odysseys and the Mustangs, a pungent shoe whizzes by my head, courtesy of the adorable cutie-pie who dropped their sippy and ran out of granola bar snack. I cower from the angry shrieks and wait for the other shoe to fly.

Wincing, I wait for it….. andddddd there it is. At least that one is predictable. Finally, there is a lull in the triple threat toddler storm as I begin to ponder….. what is that smell? No, I don’t mean the diaper odor coming from the second row. The other smell. That smell that’s like rotten bananas that have been coated in sauerkraut and sautéed in pork livers. It’s hard to tell where it’s coming from, considering the left-behind, dirty clothes, extra sweatshirts, and at least 20 socks coating the floor amidst lollipop sticks and stale Chik-fil-a waffle fries that have been there since, oh at least last week. It was last week that we took the epic trip to Chik-fil-a, right?

I begin to pray. I close my eyes, head in my hands, dear God please don’t let anyone look in this disgusting filthy bio-hazard of a van. I think I’m having a vision, some kind of thundering, pounding in the cloudy sky. I must have fallen asleep and I am clearly and awkwardly confused as I realize the thundering is really the principal knocking on the window. I secretly wipe away the drool, hoping I didn’t smear my mascara while I was deep in ‘prayer.’

I roll down the passenger window, and as the well-dressed principal leans in I die a little bit on the inside. Maybe a lot a bit. He is, of course, dressed to the nines, complete with suit jacket and bow tie. I panic, wondering if I missed parent-teacher conferences, again. I secretly pray he has the worst cold of his life so he cannot smell that UFO – that unidentified freakish odor. “Your son was in my office today,” he states flatly, leaning in further. I die a little more, hoping he forgot his contacts, too, so he can’t see the filth on the carpet. “We had to discuss his behavior in gym.” Did I mention I have a phobia about school authorities? The quesadilla I had for lunch threatens to join the UFO and the plethora of trash that I hope is hidden on the floor. Swallowing hard, I eke out a faint “Oh?” “We worked it out. He went back to class.”

The quesadilla breathes a sigh of relief as he starts to turn away. The banshees start to yell again and I think I am out of the woods and off of the administrator’s radar. Until he spies my 3 trying to escape their teachers watchful eyes. Their ninja skills have reached expert level, I think proudly. Everyone needs to have a skill, right? Always the gentleman, Mr. Principal opens the passenger door and beckons for the little ninjas to come ahead. Quesadilla rising. Anxiety escaping. UFO intensifying. I am mortified as some of our rubbish spills out and into the car line. Inwardly, I beg Jesus to return. The rapture would really help me out right now, God. The three climb in the van and instantly fight with toddlers over snacks and seats and spilled sippies. Mr. Principal calmly shuts the door, closing the kids – and the smell – inside. I can feel the stares of the parents stuck behind me in the car line as I wrangle kids into car seats, kicking rogue sippies out from under me as I go. A shiny blue sedan zips around, and a perfectly coiffed little girl gingerly steps inside and buckles herself in her unbelievably clean seat while I give a few hairy eyeballs to my crew, muttering about the smell, and desperately trying to fade into the upholstery of my bus-van. Hiding is pointless, no one else here drives this bus. After what feels like an eternity of warding off stinky kicking feet, admiring sticky art projects and passing out wipes for smudgy faces, we are buckled and ready to drive the grand 4 minutes home.

 

I never realized that relief is spelled “driveway” and “home” cools the raging heartburn of principal-induced anxiety. The kids begin to shout “MOM! What’s wrong?” When they hear my giant sigh of relief. Perhaps I am a little too happy to be home.

But wait. 47 minutes of torturous parent pickup is not quite complete. I still have to unload….

Feeling dried up, worn out, deadened? We have hope.

Feeling dried up, worn out, deadened? We have hope.
“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Ezekiel 37:12-14, NIV

 

IMG_0107

The Rose of Jericho, the Resurrection Fern, has an amazing capacity for survival. In times of drought, it dries out and shrivels up, looking dead, but hides a surprising secret. When given a long slow drink, that dead-looking fern resurrects and becomes lush and green and full of life again. If you’re a special needs parent, I bet you’ve got that same capacity for survival. We go through periods that are so hard, so exhausting, physically and emotionally taxing, that we feel pretty dead and dried up inside. I have days when I feel that way, don’t you? Worn out until there really isn’t much left. Just like that fern can live again, there is hope for you, and there is hope for me, too!

There is a pretty special prophet named Ezekiel who we read about in the Old Testament. I love the story of Ezekiel because he never intended to become a prophet. Ezekiel trained his entire life to be a priest. A priest had social standing, was respected, and admired. It was an honor to be a priest! But just as he was about to step into his role as priest and fulfill his duties, God called him to something entirely different – to be a prophet. Nobody really likes a prophet. They were looked down upon, disliked, and viewed with suspicion. But God used prophets to bring his stubborn people back to Him, so a prophet’s job was just as important as a priest’s. Few people desire to be a special needs parent, it’s something that often is thrust upon us, and leaves us feeling kind of isolated and at odds with the world, but it’s just as important and rewarding, isn’t it?

Well, God’s people seemed a lot like that dried up old fern – they were hurting, feeling alone, abandoned because they had rejected God. Have you ever felt alone and hurting? Isolated? It was Ezekiel’s job to bring them back to God. And God gave him an incredible vision, the Valley of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14.

In the passage, God takes Ezekiel to this valley of bones, old, dead bones. Because that’s how Israel felt, like wasted old bones. And Ezekiel was probably pretty horrified by those bones – because a priest would never touch a dead body! But God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones, and he obeyed. And the bones grew flesh, and became bodies. And God told Ezekiel to speak to those bones again, and he obeyed. And those bones were given the breath of life and became a vast army of living breathing people. This vision sounds more like something from the Walking Dead rather than a Bible story, so what does that mean for us?

It means that God sees us and hears us when we feel like we are dried up, wasting away, cut off, and abandoned. And it means that God wants to breathe new life in us! He wants to restore our weary souls, energize our lifeless bodies, and help us stand to our feet, ready to face another day. Just like that Resurrection Fern comes back to life with just a bit of water, God wants to breathe new life into our hurting, dead places.

Maybe you never planned on being a special needs parent, but now, somehow, you are. And it’s hard, and it can be isolating. It’s exhausting. And just as you are breathing life and love into your special needs child or children, God wants to breathe life and love into you. Breathe in, my friend, breathe in God’s Spirit and let God give you new life.

Dear God,

We cry out to You with our hurts, our loneliness, our isolation.
We cry out to You in our deadness, our dryness, our weariness.

We give you the dry places,
the hidden places,
the hurting places
so You can resurrect them.

Fill us, Lord, with Your Breath,
fill us with Your Spirit,
and give us strength to stand,
strength to fight, and
strength to thrive.

Give us Your infinite love
so we have love to give to those around us.

In the name of Jesus,

Amen

-Amanda Furbeck

This post originally published at Comfort in the Midst of Chaos on August 4, 2016.

I am Plan B.

They are my Plan A.

I always wanted them. Never for a second did I have to hesitate, to wonder if they were the wrong ones for me.

In that moment, I chose to give them my love and never ever take it back. When I received that call from the social worker requesting a placement, I chose yes. I chose them. In that moment, I had the privilege of choice and I am so glad I could choose to make them my Plan A. In that moment, I would do it all over again.

In that moment, they were never given that choice. They didn’t get to choose the house they live in. They didn’t get to choose who would fill that role as mom and dad. In that moment, they didn’t get to choose what their future would be like. And in that moment, they would never have chosen me. I was their Plan B. And I’m ok with that because they didn’t have the chance to chose, didn’t have the wisdom to choose, didn’t have the years to know if they even needed to choose. They didn’t get to choose at all.

They didn’t get to choose to leave the only home they ever knew.  They didn’t get to choose to leave the only people they ever though of as Mom and Dad. They didn’t get to choose to stay with sights and sounds and smells that were familiar. They didn’t get to keep their bed or their sofa or their favorite chair. They weren’t given choice at all. But they wouldn’t have chosen me, a stranger, unfamiliar, different. They didn’t choose Plan B. They would have chosen their Plan A, but they didn’t get to choose.

And so they grieve. In that moment, their grief is strong and hard and they do not have the words to tell it. They grieve the things they cannot understand, they grieve for missing lovies, and lost dollies, and left-behind toys and they grieve the world they left behind. They grieve for familiarity and family and foods and friends; they grieve their pets and their people, they grieve for things that maybe weren’t so good for them but they were the only things they may have had. Their grief is real and there really is no way to get around it. You cannot placate grief with lollipops or lessen pain with popsicles. You cannot make it ever go away, as each new stage and each new age brings new understanding of loss and gain and grief. And so they grieve on and on, in different ways on different days.

But time goes on, and we practice sharing the light and love and grace of Jesus and we practice giving hope and help and most of all we practice Love. And unfamiliarity gives way to comfortable and comfortable unfolds gently, softly, sweetly, into love. And Plan A and Plan B come together, somehow, someway, sometime, and make something so new and beautiful and shared and I am so grateful for it all. And every bit of laughter, every lasting hug, or late night talk; every meal and moment shared, every booboo kissed and every homework assignment completed together, and every holiday and every bit of help and hope lead to healing and healing leads to joy that is immeasurable. And the heavy weight of grief begins to lighten as we learn how to carry that load, together.

 

Grace for the grind

IMG_6513We are creatures of habit, are we not? Easily falling into the routines and rhythms that make up out lives, yet as the wonder in the rhythmic repetition wears thin, we fill with disdain, or boredom, or scrolling smart phones, lost in the humdrum of the daily grind. I felt that way, that Saturday when I loaded 170 pounds of chicken feed into the back of the beatup minivan, with 2 kiddos chattering along beside. Just another chore, to feed the hens. But happy hens make tasty eggs, I think, so feed them well and feed them often.

We bantered our way up the drive, and the children dashed off to join the others in a rousing game of whatever it was they were playing in that moment. And I might have missed that moment, thinking about the humdrum of the day and the chores to be done, the cooking and the cleaning and the digging and the mowing, as I dragged and hoisted and fumbled with 50 pound feed bags. Moments are so easily missed amidst the rhythm of life.

But something caught my eye, and it made the moment sparkle, just a bit of gleaming in that sun. It seems the flock had their eyes on that van, and their eyes on that food, and they think with their tummies, and their little legs came running just as fast as tiny chicken legs can go. And suddenly, the sound of laughter coming from mIMG_6501yself as I watched the stampede of chickens coming down that hill at the very sight of a simple yellow bag of feed. Around the coop, and down the hill, and over the driveway and around the van, with a cockadoodledooing and squawking and bawking and with those little legs just scurrying as fast as can be. The flock knows my voice. Their little legs run and they come for the treats and they come for the feed. They’re just chickens, but they know what they want and they know what they need and they know they should run to good food and get fed and I laughed all the way from the deepest part of my guts as I watched all those chickens run and run fast.  And as I laughed with my chickens who run so intentionally straight, I woke up to the day and I smelled the sweet scent of the wild honeysuckle in the wind, and I felt the warm sun, and heard the laughter of kids. And this was a moment that I could so easily have missed. breathe

But there, right there, in that 50 pound bag was a grace from our God who made each moment for us to breathe in and breathe out and enjoy and not miss. But we stare at our phones and we stare at our screens and we stare at the things that are inside of our heads and we forget to look up, and we forget to look out, and we forget to breathe in the scents and breathe out. And we forget to watch for the giggling kids and the flitting of birds, and all those scurrying hens and we forget what the sound of our own laughter is like when we trade in the giggle and scurrying hens for the scrolling of stuff in the sweaty palms of our hands.

But what do we do? Can you picture the church, like a stampede of hens? RuIMG_6509nning straight, fast, and strong to the food of the Word and the arms of the Lord?  Can you take in this moment, with the fresh air and the squawks and the playing of children and just praise the Lord for the gifts that He gave and the moment He made and the Word and the love and the so many things? Things that we’ll miss in the humdrum of chores and the rhythm of life if we don’t look around and we don’t let ourselves laugh from the deepest part of guts. Breathe it in, breathe it out, and look for the gleam of this life, of this moment, God’s in it, God made it, you can’t get it back, don’t waste even a second.

You might have multiple toddlers if…

Your fish tank is decorated in little stickers that come off of bananas, oranges, imageand apples.

Your ability to hurdle baby gates has reached Olympic Gold Status.

You can’t find your refrigerator under all those handmade pictures.

You find unidentifiable science experiments growing under your sofa. You’re not sure, but one might be an old hotdog.

You are keenly aware that epic destruction can occur in less than a minute, about the time it takes to change the baby’s diaper or take your own bathroom break.

You live for naptime, bedtime, and gynecological appointments because you finally get a break from the screeching, screaming, and Barney songs.

You’re thinking about buying a coffee farm in Brazil. Because that much coffee is critical to your – and your toddlers’- survival.

imageYour backyard looks like a combination parking lot- playground- junk yard.

You can’t remember the last time their wasn’t a pile of laundry the size of Mt. Vesuvius with a stench like something you’ve never smelled before and hope to never smell again.

Your windows have a pretty, stained glass effect. At least that’s what you tell yourself when you don’t have time to wash off the ketchup, chocolate, and pudding smears that have been accumulating for weeks.

Your poor kitty is always running out of food and water because her bowls are easily accessible and most frequently used for dumping, pouring, and scattering.

Your essential oil diffuser lives on the kitchen counter to counteract that diaper smell.

You have as many sippy cups as coffee mugs.

You have a secret stash of chocolate.

You have a backup supply of coffee.IMG_1785

You keep a special, secret stash of wine for those days which are extra hard – you know, all of the ones that end with the letters d.a.y.

You buy baby wipes by the case.

You change clothes more frequently than a toddler because, well, there is ketchup. And spit-up. And fingerpainting. And, well, diapers. And that’s all before 9am.

You decide that keeping them in diapers a little longer is much easier and better for your sanity than attempting potty training. It’s ok, the kindergarten teacher can handle it.

Your mini-van has a special smell all its own.

You’re not sure if there is a floor under all those toys in the playroom.

Your bathroom only gets cleaned on bath night, and only with the shampoo and water that was supposed to stay in the tub.

image1 (2)Your idea of date night is to get in bed with a glass of wine and play dice on your cell phone while your other half watches ridiculously dumb Youtube videos but you don’t really care because you just want everyone to stop touching your body parts.

You can’t remember the last time you read a book with more than 35 words.

You daydream about what it’s like to go to the bathroom all by yourself.

You’re completely relieved when the tamper tantrum happening at the grocery store isn’t from one of yours.

You wouldn’t change it for the world.

 

 

ISO: New Mercy. Wore out the old one

IMG_1083Some days. There are just some days, some weeks, some months.   You know the ones. Where everything is just hard and even the simple stuff doesn’t come out so easy any more you’re just plain tired of the hardness of it all. When you need a little bit of slack but there isn’t any slack to be had and you thank your lucky stars that you don’t actually believe in karma because you think you must have done something pretty terrible to deserve all of this frustration and all of this hardness and all of this stuff.

And maybe it’s nothing really terrible but lots of little things that add up to one great big thing, like when the cat throws up on your freshly cleaned bed and the crumbs get spilled and stomped and spread in the freshly cleaned carpet. And maybe you step on a Lego and you drop the eggs that were going to be dinner and you’re just too tired to think of something else and now your patience is gone and the kids are in need of quite a bit of it and you just want the day to be done but there’s a long way to go and it’s just hard and you’re just that tired of it all.

And Facebook tells you you’re not good enough and you just don’t have enough andmercies you don’t do enough. You didn’t do the things with your kids or buy them that toy or go to that place that a good parent would and your house isn’t fancy it’s just a home with a roof and the yard isn’t mowed because the mower is old and the garden’s not done and the weeds are growing strong and fast and big where the vegetables should be and you feel like you’re less because you just didn’t and can’t and sometimes, you just won’t. And the worst is the guilt because you snapped at your kids and you snapped over the bills and you just know you’re supposed to be thankful and grateful for this blessed life that you have but none of it feels so blessed in this moment. And you want to crawl in your bed and pull the covers up high but you can’t because of the cat and the throw-up and so you just want to throw in the towel on this day and it’s not even noon and you’re already done.

And it’s ok.

IMG_0926It’s ok if you feel like the mercy ran out and the patience ran out and the peace ran out and the everything else that you’re supposed to do and supposed to be is gone for the moment. It’s just a moment. And you don’t need to feel guilt and you don’t need to feel bad and you don’t need to worry about not being enough. And Facebook is wrong, flat dead wrong because God is enough and His love is enough and everyday there is mercy, new mercy, and it’s all just enough. God’s love is enough and that means you’re enough and you’ve done enough and you will be enough. So just hit the pause for a sec and take one big deep breath and let it all out and remember that mercy, God’s mercy is enough and it never runs out and it’s new every day and you don’t have to fight to get it or have it. He gives it to you with all of His love and that makes you enough for today. He’s enough.

Lamentations 3:22-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.

 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

10 Tips for surviving sleepless nights and tired days

IMG_1655Sleep. I love sleep. And I know I need more, consistent nights of sleep. Even my dear sweet Dad lectured me the other day on the amount of sleep I get, but I’m pretty sure I learned my sleep habits from him! I guess you’re never too old to hear the wisdom of your parents, and he is right – we all need to sleep. Studies have shown how poorly people perform on tests, decision making, and driving when they are sleep deprived. In fact, driving on little sleep can be just as dangerous as drunk driving because sleep helps us make the right choices, think quickly, and react appropriately. But if you’re a parent, a student, or you work nights, you are probably going to suffer more than a couple of sleepless nights. Worries, busyness, and sick and teething babies, toddler nightmares, and thirsty little throats are great interruptions to our sleep. And it happens… so how do we function on little sleep? Here’s a few tricks I’ve learned from 6 kids, 3 years of seminary, and far too many sleepless nights…

10. Drink a little extra coffee.  I mean, a little. It’s ok to indulge in a little extra caffeine to keep you going, but too much coffee will give you the jitters and upset your stomach. Plus, it’ll keep you awake that night.

9. Drink water. Our body functions slow down while we are sleeping, so we need less water and calories. However, when we don’t sleep enough, we’ll be using up those resources more quickly without giving our bodies a chance to recharge. Add that to the diuretic effects of coffee, and we are quickly dehydrated. Make sure you keep a glass of water handy and drink up!

8. Eat well. Sleep helps us regulate the hormones that tell us we’re hungry. When we don’t sleep enough, our bodies get confused and we think we are REALLY hungry, when we’re probably just thirsty and tired. But when we’re tired, we are more likely to make poor food choices, and this is a time when we need extra nutrition to help us cope with too little sleep. So eat healthy – and if you’re extra hungry, it’s ok, just make sure you’re noshing on the good stuff – apples, carrots, lean protein, and any kind of fruit and vegetable will give you vitamins and minerals without destroying your diet.

7. Watch out for your emotions. When we’re tired, we’re much more emotional. When you feel yourself getting agitated or weepy, take a big breath and relax before you react. If you feel like you’re flying off the handle, it’s probably just the tiredness talking. Make an extra effort to let it go! And give yourself some grace for a bad mood. This day will pass and you will be ok!

6. Turn the lights on. When you start feeling sleepy, turn up the lights. Brighter lights will help you stay more alert.

5. Take a quick walk. If you have to get some work done and feel yourself dozing off, take a brisk walk to the water cooler, bathroom, or jog around your living room to get your heart rate up and rejuvenate quickly.

4. Get a little sun. Fresh air and sunshine helps your mood and your energy level. A quick burst of sunlight will give you a little extra Vitamin D and it will help you sleep better that night.

3. Skip the workout if you’re really exhausted. If you’re just a little tired, that workout might help you have more energy for your day. But if you are exhausted to the point that your muscles ache, you might want to give it a break and spend that time taking a snooze.

2. Reward yourself. Give yourself something good to look forward to at the end of the day. Maybe a small delicious treat, take out so you don’t have to cook, a little time to relax by the fire, or a favorite tv show you’ve been wanting to watch. Giving yourself a nice reward will make your day go faster and better.

1.Take a nap! Never underestimate the power of a cat nap to help you feel refreshed. I like to drink a cup of coffee and set a 20 minute alarm right before I lay down. If I’m really tired, I’ll be fast asleep before the coffee kicks in. The alarm will wake me up just as the caffeine starts to work and I can better face the rest of my day.

What are your tricks for surviving too short nights?

20 excuses we tell God

IMG_7380God called Moses to a very special task. A grand adventure, the moment of a lifetime, an incredible opportunity, to leadership, to the desert, to the Promised Land. God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, where they were being mistreated, to the Promised Land, where they could grow and thrive. I can only wonder what it would have been like, to stand there, in front of that burning bush, feeling the heat of the flame and the heat of his own shame as Moses gave God reasons excuses as to why he couldn’t do the task that was set before him. Moses, who came to be known as God’s friend, who broke the tablet containing the 10 commandments, whose face shone with the glory of God, who did incredible miracles, that Moses was called by God and then argued with God when he said:

I can’t do it because I am a nobody.

I can’t do it, because I don’t know what to say.

I can’t do it, because I don’t think they’ll believe me.

I can’t do it, because I’m not a good speaker.

Do you know what happened next? God got mad! Because Moses asked God to send someone else to complete the work that was set out for him. How many times have we argue, not me, God, send someone else? Clearly, God was not surprised by all these reasons excuses and met each one with a plan of action (You can read it for yourself in Exodus chapters 3 and 4). God even had Aaron, his brother, already on the road to meet him in the desert and be the spokesperson for Moses. Seems to me that Moses, one of my favorite Bible heroes, ran out of reasons excuses for why he couldn’t do the work God told him to do. So off he went, on the grandest adventure of his life, side by side with his brother, and doing miraculous works all along the way.

And then there’s me. And then there’s you. And there is a grand adventure waiting for us, too. So think about it for a IMG_1528moment, just what exactly is it that you are called to do? I bet you already know exactly what that is.

Did God give you a dream? A passion? Or a purpose? What are you doing with that dream? Are you going all in and following what God has asked of you or are you just letting it all simmer on the inside, leaving you feeling empty, unfulfilled, annoyed, bored, and wasted?  You want to make a difference, you want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, you want to change the world, or just do something anything to make this dull heartache stop, but you can’t seem to move it along. You are stuck. Stuck in the pain, stuck in the misery, stuck feeling like you’ll never do anything worthwhile or anything will ever change and you just don’t like yourself or your life because you are not where you think should be. It doesn’t feel good to be so stuck in our spaces and stuck in our selves and stuck on our selves and you can feel the heat of your own shame hotter than that burning bush, can’t you? It doesn’t feel good when we aren’t pursuing the path that God has set us on.

Life has a way of never going like we think it should.

Life has a way of making us end up where we never thought we would.

But life can be fulfilling or you can leave your calling unfilled.  I can let those giant reasons excuses that get in my way stop me, stall me, hit the pause button on my life and stand by while life unfolds however it goes and limp along life with a vague dissatisfaction or I can hurdle those obstacles, slay those misery-inducing giants, and power ahead, fueled by purpose and God’s power no matter what circumstances come my way. Which will it be? I’m sure that I, and I’m sure that you, have used those very same reasons excuses Moses used. Who am I to do this? I’m a nobody. Who am I to tell people about You, God? I don’t know what to say. Who am I to tell anyone anything? They’re not going to believe me. Who am I? I’m not good at this, God, send someone else…..

Here, 20 more reasons excuses that stall us and stop us from being everything we should or could or would or even want and hope to be. 20 more reasons excuses that stop us from taking off on that grand adventure that God has called us to. Which one of these giants will you slay today? Which one are you letting define you or defeat you? What plan of action will God give you for each one, until there are no more to get in your way?

  1. IMG_1523I don’t feel like it. We sabotage our efforts when we let feelings control our actions. Most of the time we won’t ‘feel like’ doing the hard stuff, the dirty stuff, the boring stuff… but if we put it off until we feel like it, it won’t get done. So just do it.
  2. I’ll do it later. Procrastination puts it off until later – but if it needs done, it needs done so get it out of the way. The longer you wait, the harder it is, the worse it gets, and the less likely you are to get it done. Just do it.
  3. I’m too tired. Tired, or bored, or just lazy? Take a nap and get to work.
  4. I’m too busy. Maybe it’s time to say no to lesser (but still good) things and focus on the better things. There are so many many things I love to do, but I just don’t have time for all of it. We get to and we have to choose or the things will choose us, keep us busy, and keep us from the best things.
  5. I have to check my email. Sure, but please, only once or twice a day. Any more than that is just obsessing.
  6. I have to see what’s happening on Facebook. Really? You do? Facebook is known to cause depression and polarization. Just close it and move on. Yup, close it. And Twitter, and Snapchat, and Instagram, and….
  7. I forgot. You really actually forgot, or you didn’t plan to remember?
  8. I didn’t know. 
  9. It’s not my problem. Make it your problem and take care of it so it doesn’t trip you up. Or find someone who will take care of that problem.
  10. I don’t care. Apathy is the hardest to cure… what is the thing you are most passionate about?
  11. I can’t afford it. You really can’t afford? Or you need to restructure your budget so you can afford the things that are most important?
  12. I’m too afraid. Don’t let fear be the defining factor in your life. Do it anyway…. because God tells us over and over and over, Do not be afraid.
  13. It’s not my choice. Sometimes, we have to work withing circumstances we didn’t create. It stinks, but are you going to let someone else’s choice define your life?
  14. It’s not my style. So? Trends change and quickly. Besides, anything out of style today will be back in 20 years… 
  15. I don’t like who is in charge. It’s hard when you don’t respect or like the person in authority…. but God puts people in positions of authority, so it’s our job to just roll with it.
  16. I’m better than that. Maybe, but everyone has to start somewhere. And we are always called to serve others before ourselves, even if it isn’t pretty or glamours.
  17. It’s not a priority right now. Does it need to be?
  18. I need to pray. Yes, you do. We always need to pray, all the time. But using prayer as an excuse not to act on what we know we need to do? How is that helpful?
  19. I’m waiting on God. Yes, you do need to wait on God and so do I. But waiting can never replace obedience to what God has called us to do.
  20. I have kids. Don’t use your kids as your excuse, but as a reason to make this world better. Of course we need good boundaries and balance, so our children don’t suffer as a result of our passion, but if God has set you on a path, and you have kids, He’ll give you a way to make it work.

IMG_2507Don’t let reasons excuses keep you from the Promised Land. Don’t let reasons excuses keep you from the path that God has set before you. God is not surprised, He’s already got a plan to help you soar over these hurdles. Maybe He’ll send you an Aaron, or a staff that turns into a snake, or who knows? Give all those reasons excuses to God and pack your bags for the grandest adventure of your life.

 

Do you want to be rich?

“Mommy, are we rich?”IMG_0762“Yes, honey, we are.”

“But we’re not REALLY rich, are we? I mean, not REALLY ACTUALLY rich?”

“Actually, we are rich honey, really actually rich.”

The children looked at me, bewildered. The pile of bills that I stuffed in a drawer, the dated paneling on the walls, the broken lawnmower, the nearly dead laptop, and the ugly mauve carpeting on the living room floor disagree wholeheartedly as they beg for my attention and dollars, taunting me, how can we be rich?  How can we be rich when we don’t take annual vacays to Disney or drive new cars or remodel our house or have our yard professionally landscaped or pay for karate or tuba lessons or mani/pedis or shop at the mall? How can we be rich when our budget is small and we have to be creative and inventive and not waste food and not waste clothes and not waste anything at all? How can we be rich?

What a brilliant moment of teaching gratitude, an opportunity to instill thankfulness, to help our small ones understand the gifts that God has given us, to count the blessings we overlook and take for granted each and every day and realize how very, very rich we are. In my county alone, there are over 46,000 who don’t always have enough healthy, nutritious food to eat. 46,000 who sometimes go to bed hungry,  who don’t have all the groceries they need to feed their families and fill their bellies so they can learn and grow and be healthy and strong. My family has a lot of little tummies to fill, but I don’t have to send them to bed hungry. We are rich.

And my church, it collects underwear for the children in the school district because too many little children just don’t have enough, or any, IMG_0754to wear to keep them clean and safe and comfortable at school. And my children have more clothes than can fit in their dresser drawers and stuff in their laundry bins and my laundry is always overflowing and I can’t seem to get it put away because yes, honey, we are rich and we have more than enough.

And my husband and I discuss the bedroom situation, because how can a house with 5 bedrooms not have enough rooms for everyone to sleep and have space and room for all their clothes and their things and a special space for them just to be themselves? And how can such a big family live in a house that is smaller than the average house in the state where we live?  And most of the world lives in just one room, or maybe two, and how can we complain when our bedrooms might be bigger than so many people’s entire house and not because they want a tiny house because all they have and all they afford and all they can muster is just a tiny little house that is as big as just one room? Because, yes, honey, we are rich and this house is big enough.

And maybe we have stacks of bills that need our checkbook’s attention and maybe our budget is tight and that’s not very fun at all and maybe we don’t have every toy or pair of jeans or the newest gadget or the prettiest color carpet but we have a house and a yard and more than enough toys and food that fills our bellies and clothes to keep us clean and comfortable and space for everything and everyone and chickens, and a cat, and we are blessed and yes, we are very, very rich.   And we have enough and more than enough, and often more than we really really want so let’s just pause and say thank you, God, that You have given us so much and made us so very very rich.

And better than clothes and food and toys and space and chickens we are blessed in love and we are blessed in laughter and we are blessed with education and we are blessed with choices and we are blessed with clean air and we are blessed with peace in the hard times and hope in the dark times and lots of children and giggles and joy and best of all we are blessed with Jesus and there is none richer than the one who knows Him as Lord and Savior.

So, honey, we are rich in so very many ways and let’s learn together how we can be thankful for just how rich we are.