IMG_0987It’s easy to forget, isn’t it? Easy to forget just how we have it so good. And it’s hard to remember all the things that we have, and it’s easier to overlook the blessings we didn’t take the time to count up. It’s easy to think about how hard this life is and harder to think about the good this life gives. Because this life is hard and this life is tiring and this life can make you so very very weary and the weight of the world gets heavier each day you and you think you carry it, just you, own your own. And don’t we we cry and complain when things aren’t going straight the way we want them to go, and its heavy and tired and just seems to get worse? And days upon days are ruined, we think, and where on this earth can we find some relief for this hurt and this heavy and this complaint in our hearts that won’t go away?

And then somewhere on our day, we forget how good it is to have fresh clean water every time we turn the handle of the faucet. Some people, some people have no water at all. Some people have water, but it isn’t safe to drink. But we, we have water. What did we do to deserve fresh clean water any time we want it? Nothing, really. We were just born here, where these is fresh clean water for just about anyone, just about anytime. All we have to do is turn it on.

But, we, or was it just me, who forgot to say thanks because I have water, all the water I need?

Sometime this morning, I turned on the light switch to see in my closet at the clothes that I own. I opened my chilly-IMG_0934cold fridge. And fried up a few delicious warm eggs. I turned on the water and let it get hot, and I washed my face and it felt so good to wash off the dirt of sleeping last night. And I must have forgot to be thankful for my lights and my cold fridge and my deliciously fried up eggs and the hot water I used to wash off my face. Until that little text this morning, from a friend a ways away.  “My power is out. And I need to call.” And we don’t realize how much we love our lights until we flip that little switch and those lights don’t go on. And what did we do to live in a place where there is power, so much power, that we only notice it when it’s gone?

Did we forget to say thank you, for lights? And thank you for chilly-cold fridges and thank you for warm, fried up eggs and the hot water to wash off our tired dirty face?

IMG_4025And right there, out that window, some bunnies scatter off into the weeds, and a fox yipping distantly, there – right there, a blue bird perched up high with lazy swings dangling below. And a couple of yellow finches, flitting and bobbing among the dandelion heads, and some too tall grass, and a few toys strewn about, and a robin or two listening hard for their plumpy worms, and that pesky wood pecker who loves all my trees. And right there, out that window, did I look and be thankful for those little blessings I count on so much?

And there, on my porch, some plants in their pots waiting to be snuggled down in the tilled up earth, where the worms get to play and the plants get to grow and give us vegetables, delicious, and filling, and so good for tiny tummies, but did I forget to be thankful for those little plants, just waiting in their pots? And there in the patchy sun, a wise old kitty who dozes away her days.

And I forget to count those tiny little blessings that every day should fill my heart with blessingsoverflowing thankfulness, like great big hugs from tiny tots, and kissing faces dripping with crumbs, and well-fed tummies, and chilly-cold milk, and chickens, so many chickens that give us their eggs, and lovely, loved people reading these words, and leftover pizza from friends that come play, and bananas and coffee, and a place to call home, with a pillow, and a bed, and a sofa, and a Bible to read, and a home that is cozy and plenty warm enough, that keeps out the rain and the snow and the cold, and a van that goes, and see? All these blessings that we just forgot. Real riches are found when our blessings are counted and maybe, just maybe, if I stopped just to count and say thanks for these gifts I’d know just how giving and good our God is.

And today, I will change my life, if just a little bit, and I will change my heart, if ever so slight, and I will give thanks and I will know that we our so blessed and our God is a good, good God.

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.

 

 

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?

100_8863When it’s Monday, and the alarm clock is yelling to get you out of your bed and the coffee maker is clogged up yet again and you can’t remember if the kids did their homework or if the field trip is today or last week.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and all you want to do is sleep, glorious sleep, because it’s your only refuge from the hardness of the weekend but you have to get up because there are tiny hungry tummies and carpools to drive and noses to wipe and work to get done and gardens to plant and music to rehearse and lessons to plan.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday, and you never did get caught up on those bills that need paid and the laundry that’s mounded up in the laundry room and the hallway and the sun’s not even risen but you’re up and you’re taming tantrums and kissing away booboos and you just don’t want to think.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and you’re still tired from the weekend and you’re exhausted and it hurts to move and the morning feels raw and you have regrets for the things you did and regrets for the things you didn’t do and you think you really just messed up.

God is faithful.

IMG_2922When it’s Monday and the lawnmower is broken and the laptop is barely working and the toilet won’t flush and there are bugs where there aren’t supposed to be bugs and you’re pretty much in the worst mood ever.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and your week is already falling apart and your life is already falling apart and nothing was supposed to happen this way.

God is faithful.

And when it’s Monday and the sun is shining and the birds are singing and you love your work and your children are happy and everything is right in the world.

God is faithful.

When the kids are singing “King of kings and Lord  of lords” at the top of their lungs all the way to school just because.

God is faithful.

And when the kids are fighting because they were singing “Kind of kings and Lord of lords” at the top of their lungs all the way school and it got to be too loud for their own little ears.

God is faithful.

When your son holds up the entire car line of children trying to get in to school because he just wants you to meet his little friend and they come to the car and run off into school holding hands.

God is faithful.

And when news from work and news from school and news from your friends is nothing but bad news.

God is faithful.

And when you just want life to go back to the way it was and you know that it just can’t ever go back.

God is faithful.

IMG_0906 - CopyAnd when it’s good and it’s bad and it’s both all at the same time and you cannot take it all in so you just don’t even try.

God is faithful.

And when it’s Monday or it’s Tuesday or it’s Friday or it’s Saturday God is faithful.

And when things are going right and things are going wrong and things are completely out of our control all we can do is trust in the one who has always been who always will be faithful.

And when you need to remember that He has pulled you through before and He will overcome again take a big breath and let it out and turn it over to Him.

God is faithful.

There is a dream I have, of gently easing into my day, with a cup of coffee and a magazine and maybe some dippy eggs, and I am still resting in my bed, all snug and cozy, with cat at my feet, while the sun comes up, and I feel awake, rested, and at peace. And I have a few minutes alone with my Bible before the busy of the day begins, and I can think, and pray, and clear my head and just breathe. Oh to just breathe. Breathe in the scent of lavender, or peppermint, or the fresh morning air while I am at rest and at peace and the scent of coffee brings comfort and love.

Reality is so much harder. It is dark, and I am tossing about because I’m too hot or too cold, or maybe it’s my allergies and I think I can’t breathe, or maybe it’s the cat breathing in my air and asking for her breakfast. And finally, finally, I doze off again.

And suddenly there is squealing and shouting and pounding on the floor above and small children bounding in my IMG_0630door and jumping on my head and begging to be fed and I realize there is no gentle easing into my day, there is a harsh knocking awake and my body takes a small beating from excited children who cannot contain their energy because it’s a new day and who could possibly ever want to sleep another minute when there is a world to explore, a language to learn, and new discoveries like worms and dirt and tasty foods and math equations and a pizza party in the classroom and can’t we have apples for breakfast or bagels or eggs or just anything? And the bounding babies make me smile and laugh and cringe and dive under my pillow for just one more moment of sleep.

And finally the coffee maker turns on and there is the smell of dirty diapers, not the smell of lavender and lace and the harsh reality that the day has started long before I was ever even ready. And I drag my weary body up and out and sizzle up some breakfast for tiny little tummies who have much exploring to do.

And getting going is not so hard because there is no leftover work from yesterday. The dishes were done, and the backpacks were packed and the lunches were ready and in their little bags and 6 little sets of pants and shirts are all laid out in a row so there is no scrambling for baby socks or stain-free shirts and hole-less pants. Homework’s been checked and rechecked and signed and even water bottles are waiting in the fridge, ready for little fingers to grab and take along. And it may not be quiet, and it might not smell sweet, but I can sip a few sips of coffee as the baby sips her bottle and I can savor my eggs as the kids savor theirs and we can talk and tell jokes and jump together into this new day.

And the single secret to saner mornings isn’t to do lists or well-behaved babes or skipping breakfast or doing imagesomething that is very hard at all. The secret is simply finishing yesterday before it’s a new day, and putting away, and planning ahead, and whenever you can, to work until the work is done so that rest is more restful and the day starts shiny and new, without dragging along the baggage of the past to weigh down the newness and dull out the shiny and ruin a day before it begins. And it might not be the daydream beginning that is soft and sweet and smelling so good, but it is the closest and best that I can come to making the dreams I dream be my life. And someday the bounding bouncing babies will be seeking coffee of their own, and cringing under their pillows in their own cozy warm beds and I’ll remember the times they bounced me awake and all I wanted was peace and dreams and lavender and a saner morning. And the mornings are hard but they are good because they are full of laughter and sillies and bounding babes and I’ll just do my best to cuddle and sip as they drag me along and it’s ok because yesterday is already wrapped up tight and cleaned away and I can face this new day because joy is in it, and love is in it, and babies are in it, and God is in it first.

IMG_4036
I think that I am not alone in this.

I think a good night’s sleep is important, kind of critical, in fact desperately needed. For my sanity. And everyone else’s. Beauty sleep, they call it. Attitude sleep is what I think it really is. And I need it. Especially for Sunday, when I lead worship. When I want have myself together, be at my best, so I can help others to worship their Savior. Sleep is as critical as breathing.

But I think that Satan must love Saturday night.

 

It’s 11:30 pm. Lights off, my head sinks into the pillow, my body gives a  big sigh of relief. I love my bed.

Sadly, Sleep doesn’t come, so I pray a bit, and rest.
It must be just about midnight, when I finally doze off. It is bliss.

Oh no! At 12:10 I am awakened by a mini heart attack as the sound of elephants stampeding through the house quickens my heart to a jolting pace. What’s going on? Is the house falling down? An earth quake? Are there really elephants above me? What?
Oh wait it’s just the cat.

The really old cat who barely, rarely, gets out of bed is running around the house like a stampede of elephants.IMG_4033

Ok, I can go back to sleep.  Just as soon as my heat rate gets back to normal.

12:20 Once, again, dozing off and returning to sleep. Ahhhh, bliss.

12:29. A giant thump in the foyer gives me another mini heart attack. Did someone fall down the steps? Is the house caving in again?

Really cat? That was you? You sleep 92% of your life away, why can’t some of it be now?

12:45 Return to bliss after mini heart attack subsides.

1:10 Jolted awake by the sound of a small child’s coughing fit. It quickly subsides.

1:12 Is that more coughing? Do I need to get up and do something?

No, this time it’s the cat. Hacking up a hair ball

On the bed.
Jump up and move cat to the floor to save the comforter.IMG_4028
Clean up the yuck.
Crawl in bed. Sink into the pillow. Relax. I really really love my bed.

1:17 The baby begins to fuss. She’s hungry. Or maybe needs changed.  Both, probably.
Tap the hubby. It’s your turn.
No response from hubby.
Tap the hubby harder.

Still no response.
Shake hubby. Get up get up I want to sleep. And my attitude clearly reflects it.
Doze, but not quiet sleep, as hubby feeds baby for the next hour.

2:20 Everyone gets settled.
Head sinks into pillow. Eyes closed. Sleep comes quickly. Bliss. Oh, how I love my bed. Maybe someday, I will marry my bed.

3:20. More coughing.  It’s the cat again.
Hacking up a hair ball. In the freaking bed. This cannot possibly be happening.
Move cat to floor to save the comforter. Forget the yuck.
Climb in bed. Head sinks into pillow. Eyes close.

4:07 Eyes pop open. Breath catches. Gulp. Someone’s staring at me. Two someones, actually. Preschoolers. “Mommy. Mommy wake up. We need tucked in.”  Ok. Ok. I’ll tuck you in.

4:12 Bliss is tainted by crazy dreams about Target and shopping and houses and elephants and hairballs.
And then the phone rings and rings. Somebody answer the phone. Please. Please because I love my bed and I want to sleep. I need bliss.
Oh wait.
4:45 am. It isn’t the phone. It’s not someone calling me in the middle of the night.

It’s the alarm and it’s time to get up.
It is Sunday. And I will do my best with what I have to praise our Savior, and create the opportunity for others to do the same.

But first, coffee. I love my coffee. Coffee is bliss.