On Monday, Joe slept until 8 and Ella slept until nearly 8:30.  This was amazing to me.

On Tuesday, Joe slept until 7:30 and Ella slept until 7:40.

On Wednesday, Joe slept until 7:15 and Ella slept until I woke her up at 7:30.
Both Joe and Ella took naps.

On Thursday (today), I slept until 7:45 and then spent the next hour pushing the kids through our morning routine to get out the door by 8:45 and get Ella to school.

Why are we sleeping so late?

Perhaps because Ella’s birthday party was this past weekend and not only did she have a ton of friends over for the party, but her Granny Mac and Pop came in town from the Outer Banks and her Uncle Warren and Aunt Rachel came in from Chattanooga, TN.  We had some late nights – I don’t make her go to bed on time when we’re with Warren and Rachel because those times are special… and precious… and just don’t get to happen often enough for her.

We’re actually recovering in a lot of ways… we each find ourselves looking for the dog, too.  Just today, Ella hopped out of the car and dashed to where she could see the backyard gate and called, “MAGGIE!”  It was odd for several reasons – mostly because we rarely left Maggie outside when we weren’t home and when we did it was because it was somewhere between 65-85 degrees and she was refusing to come in.

I think of the dog whenever I’m leaving the house.  I ask myself if I shut & locked the backdoor… I haven’t touched the back door in the two weeks since she died.  No need to.  I don’t even open the blinds on the door most days because she’s not going to be out there for me to keep an eye on and if I do I have to contend with the stupid squirrel who took a week to figure out she wasn’t coming out the back door any longer.  Stupid squirrel makes me want a puppy just to scare the living poop out of it!  …Anyway…  When I get home, I think to myself that I need to let her outside and then remember that I don’t.  It makes me sad and frustrated.  I also miss having her around over night.  She was going deaf and she never was a barker, but had someone gotten close to our door at night, we would’ve known it.  She was pretty good at barking when sounds were out of place.

I’m still recovering from the death of my grandpa.  That feels wrong to put into writing.  It has been years since he passed away, but I drive past Chestnut Grove at least 5 days a week (usually in two directions) and each time I think of how much I miss him.  How much I want him to know that Jeff and I got married… and had kids.  Oh, how he would LOVE these kids.  He loved all children.  He used to hand out dollars to the kids at church.  He also handed out dollars to random kids in restaurants and such.  I’m sure it freaked some parents out, but he just genuinely loved the look of joy that a kid gets when you hand them a dollar.  Grown ups don’t get that look for less than $50.

I’m still recovering from my first marriage.  Hopefully, that doesn’t hurt feelings, but it is the truth.  I made bad decisions going in and coming out of that relationship.  In five days we would’ve been married 14 years.  Don’t think that that doesn’t freak me out.  We were only married for one.  We’d known each other exactly three months and four days between our introduction and our “I do”s.  I’d call that a bit rushed.  We were miserable from the get-go.  I walked a mile in the snow several days of my honeymoon to get to the payphone in town to call my mama.  Who calls their mama from their honeymoon?  Granted, I did call home from  my honeymoon (and each Caribbean vacation) with Jeff – but that was to reassure my mother that we hadn’t died or gotten lost during our hike or snorkeling excursion that day.  The woman is a total worry-wort and it is funny to me.  I should never have told her that time we were going over to snorkel the bay where the nurse sharks come in to have their babies.  Nurse sharks, mom… not great whites.  Anyway – I’m still recovering from that bad decision and how cold and callous I became after I’d tried everything to save it and nothing worked.  I distanced myself and became snarky… a trait that rears its ugly head with Jeff every now and then immediately reminding me where I first started developing it.

Tomorrow, I’ll be recovering from a night out with friends – though I do have to thank whomever makes the decision when a premiere is going to happen.  A year and a half ago, I stood in line PREGNANT for the midnight showing of The Hunger Games.  Tonight – we’re going to the 8:00 premiere.  I may be in bed earlier than last night (when I stayed up to watch THG on dvd).

We’re all recovering, aren’t we?  From loss, from bad decisions, from a busy weekend… 

But that is where God’s grace and provision come in.  One of my favorite scriptures is Lamentations 3:19-24

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

God’s compassions are NEW EVERY MORNING.  Praise Him!  I do not have to live my life in regret and recovery.  I can turn my bad day, my bad year, my bad decision, my bad reaction, my yelling, my slamming doors, my tears, my heartbreak, my regret, my ache, my emptiness, my affliction, my wandering, my bitterness, my desperation, my searching, my hopelessness, my need – all of it over to him and he will pour his love, his grace, his mercy all over it and make us new.  EACH.AND.EVERY.DAY.

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us…

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

I feel like I should sing myself this song every time that Ella frustrates me… though it doesn’t cross my mind at that moment.  I know, I know, “I’m a good mom”, “I’m doing my best”, etc… But if we’re honest – sometimes we’re not.

Sometimes we just want our kids to be quiet, behave, and let us do what we’re trying to do.

Growing up, I dreamed of being a mother.  I knew I’d rock at it because I adored kids and babysitting was so easy-peasy.  I even worked in childcare for several years – working my way up to being an assistant director in a pre-school setting. 

So why on earth is being a mother so difficult? 

Where is my creativity when it is time to decorate a turkey feather?  (Seriously – we did this tonight because it is DUE tomorrow and I’d forgotten.  I even allowed her to use – gasp – GLITTER)

Where is my excitement for I-Spy?  (Seriously – that is the worst game ever on 295 and we are forever on 295)

Where is my sense of “Who cares that all the puzzle pieces are on the floor?  Let’s play a game to find them!”  Just kidding – that chick has NEVER existed.  I hate puzzles.  I hate losing pieces or having to find pieces.  I had stepping on the pieces that have the little red knobs that make it easier for a kid to pick up the piece.

I really do love my kids, but some days I honestly do feel like running away.  Not that I would, because I’d never let their little lives leave my control.  I barely trust Jeff to watch them and do things “my way”… GREAT story on that…

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I had made plans with another couple to double date.  It didn’t work out with their sitter, but we kept Katie lined up and decided to go out to dinner ourselves.  When we got home, Katie had WONDERFULLY gotten both kids ready for bed.  I said, “Where did you find those pajamas for Joe?  I didn’t even know we had those?”They were in a drawer… who cares?  When she left, Jeff said, “So those are the wrong pajamas, right?”
They were.  But not because of any valid reason.  I really had forgotten that they existed and probably would never have found them.  Katie did a wonderful job, but I always have this odd tone to things I don’t expect with my kids. 
(I’m sorry if I offended you that night, Katie)

I bet there are lots of times when God looks down at us and sees our rebellion and our scrunched up “I don’t want to obey you” facial expressions; our disobedience and our choosing things for ourselves (his children) that he wouldn’t choose for us.  And yet – HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR US…

I can’t count for you the number of times my father has referenced God’s love for us and sacrificing Jesus in his sermons… how often he’s looked a parent sitting in the congregation and asked if they would sacrifice their child for the people around them – or for a stranger.  I’ve even heard those references since becoming a parent and let me tell you – NOT A CHANCE would I allow my kids to go through what Jesus did.  And yet – HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR US…

My youth minister from middle school sang this song on his CD.  I got our praise team at United to listen to it, and we added it to our list of songs we used.  Every time I have ever sung these words, I have been moved…so deeply.

“Behold the man upon the cross, my sin upon his shoulder; Ashamed I hear my searing voice call out among the scoffers”
How often do we hear someone say (or perhaps we’ve said it ourselves) that if we’d lived back then, we wouldn’t have yelled “CRUCIFY HIM!”  Yet I guarantee we would – Peter denied him, John ran and hid – and they were the big dogs.

I am totally unworthy of God’s grace.  And yet, I am his child and HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR ME.
How deep MY love for Ella…  How deep MY love for Joe…
My love can’t compare to God’s, but I can try harder.  I can pray that God brings this tune to my brain every moment I am tempted to yell, to shame, to hurt with words.

This past Monday, the Bible Study that I am a part of started Priscilla Shirer’s study on Gideon.  In our first video from her she talked about her shortcomings in doing Bible Study with her children.  It was funny when she told the solution, but I am seriously going to take it to heart.  She said that before her children left the confines of her van to face the day she prayed over them.
Here is a quote from her blog (dated Oct 30, 2011):

You are a man of integrity and character. You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength. You will be a blessing to your teachers and a blessing to your friends. You are the head and not the tail. You are above and not beneath. You are a leader and not a follower.

Normally, I say only a few more things before sending them out the door, backpacks securely in place, to school.

You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

You are a man of valor.

You have the whole armour of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil.

You will bless the Lord at all times and His praises shall continually be in your mouth.

Oh, that I can pray this prayer over my children every day… but I want to add “HOW DEEP IS GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU, CHILD” and then hope that it all sinks in…

P.S.  Here’s a video of the song… it isn’t Scot singing, but it is close: