Content Amidst the Chaos

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So he does have fingernails? August 29, 2010

Filed under: S1,S2,S3 — jps23 @ 1:29 pm

Yesterday, we were outside in our backyard trying to take down a tree.  Don’t laugh.  It was only a little dogwood.  The problem we are having with it is A) it’s in the middle of everything, kind of in the way, and B) it had two trunks, with one trunk no longer producing leaves or flowers.

just behind Cowgirl's head, to the left of the swingset

What does this have to do with fingernails?  Well, while we were working on taking down a dogwood with a hand saw (wrong equipment, I know), Picasso asked why God couldn’t just clip His nails so that one could fall out of the sky and chop the tree down.  Yeah, she comes up with stuff like that all the time.  I explained to her that God doesn’t have fingernails.  Jesus was the form of God who came to earth  to live as Man, so He would be the one with the fingernails, not God.  Then we continued to take down the tree.

Fast forward to today, when we were sitting in church.  Now, this is a complex path to follow, so if you’re tired, you might want to come back later when your faculties are in better working order.  Today was Homecoming Sunday, and Family Sunday, which means the elementary kids attend worship with their parents, and because of Homecoming, that would be in the traditional service with hymns and choral presentations.  Now, our contemporary band did a bluegrass mix of hymns, which livened it up a bit, but these kids are used to rockin’ sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs kind of stuff in their service that goes on each Sunday morning upstairs.  Anyhow, they displayed the words to the music on big screens, and the back drop for one of these screens was a picture of three crosses, like the ones on Calvary.  Cowgirl whispered to me, “Why are there three crosses?”  I told her I’d explain after church.  Then Picasso asked, “Why did Jesus die on a cross?”  I told her the same thing.  I mean, she knows that He died on the cross for our sins and because He loves us, but she didn’t know WHY someone would put Him on a cross to die.

So, after church, we commenced our conversation about the three crosses and why He had to die on one in the first place.  When I explained that Jesus came in the form of man to live on earth, but that He is also God (the Trinity is hard for kids), Picasso replied “So He does have fingernails?”  I just couldn’t help but laugh!  Here were are being all deep and theological about the three crosses and why Jesus was put on one by religious leaders who didn’t believe Him to be the Son of God, and that’s what comes out of her mouth.  She then goes on to ask why the guy who was preaching talked about food in his sermon so close to lunch time.  “Didn’t he know we were all hungry?”  She also asked about the big black speakers that were hanging in the sanctuary, wondering why they couldn’t just put some glitter on them.  These were their Family Sunday reflections!

I laugh, but we also had a very serious conversation about some big things.  Cowgirl wanted to know about the three crosses.  They wanted to understand the process of how someone dies on a cross.  They wanted to understand what would motivate someone to allow a person, especially Jesus Christ, to die that way.  They also realized that though this was a horrific and painful death, that Jesus was willing to do it for us.  That because God the Father loves us, He sent His Son to live and walk among us, and eventually die a painful death on a cross for us, so that we could walk with Him eternally by allowing the Holy Spirit to live within us.

What did you learn at church today?

My little theologians


Camp Clean Up June 1, 2010

Filed under: Our home,S1,S2,S3 — jps23 @ 6:48 pm

The title speaks for itself.  We are spending the first “official” days of summer cleaning up things around here.  I don’t know how you mommies who work full time actually pull this off.  Oddly enough, with us all home, I think we can do a better job of keeping things clean around here than when we were here part time and at school the other part of the time.  Well, enough is enough.  I need to change some habits in myself and in my children, so here goes.  Each day, we will tackle one room and clean it top to bottom.  We will take two small snack breaks and a break for lunch, otherwise we do nothing else until this is done!  Today we started in the girls room.  I didn’t take before pictures, and the room was honestly so awful, I probably wouldn’t have posted them!  You see, I don’t care about cleaning house or rooms simply because there are so many people here, it takes a matter of seconds to undo what took hours to do.  However, since recently finding out about Earnhart’s dust mite allergies, I’ve got to make a change.  We all have to make a change.  Here is the end result in the girls’ room after about five hours or work, total, in their room today.

The stray dolls were dropped off the beds by pesky brothers!

Wow! There are floors!

Their closet is finally clean enough to paint!

That’s the vacuum arm that I left laying in the floor.  My camera battery was dying, so I didn’t have time to pull it out of the way before getting the shot!  Tomorrow, we tackle the family room.  One day, I’ll post about room names.  They are ever changing in this family!


Four years ago… May 8, 2010

Filed under: S1,S4,Superman — jps23 @ 8:37 pm

I should be preparing for the dual birthday parties we are having tomorrow, but I’m so tired from working on that today that I thought I’d take a break and share a little story.  Picasso and Earnhart will be celebrating their birthdays simultaneously tomorrow, her 8th and his 4th.  I can’t believe our oldest is eight.  It is true.  It goes by way too fast.  Tipper looks just like she did as a baby, the first sibling of hers to strongly resemble her, so it’s kind of neat to look back at her by just looking in his face.  I’ll have to scan in some of her baby pics to show you sometime.  She looked a little something like this…

…only with longer lashes.  I can’t believe how much she has grown.  She is my precious first born, the one I learned how to do this job with, the one I let sleep with us in our bed too long, keep her paci until she was four, and threw the huge party with mulch ordered for the backyard, which she slept through.  She’s taught me so much about being a mom.  I just love her.

She picked the Target doll over the AG doll because it made more financial sense to her!

Our first son was born four years later, almost to the day.  His birthday is nine days after hers.  Only with him, we had a moment in time where we weren’t sure we’d be celebrating a fourth birthday, or a first for that matter.  When Earnhart was born, I was a pro.  We went to church just days after we came home from the hospital.  We visited a friend at a children’s hospital after she had major surgery.  We went to the zoo in an effort to make up for the last few weeks where I mothered mostly from the couch.  We were out there.  The girls were actually attending a preschool program at the local baptist church, so they could have brought the germs home, or it could have just been my carelessness.  Either way, Earnhart got sick.  I couldn’t keep him awake to nurse.  He slept all of the time, and when he was awake, he was very floppy and lethargic.  We had a meeting with a developmental pediatrician regarding some testing we had done with one of our girls, and she was very concerned when she saw him.  He was very yellow, and she was concerned about his jaundice levels.  She canceled our meeting and sent us to the hospital immediately.

At the ER, they took his vitals and weren’t happy with his pulse and oxygenation.  They admitted him and ran tests, and while he wasn’t having alarming results, the nurse kept saying that his tests weren’t matching what she was seeing.  That nurse was our angel.  She would not rely on what the machines were telling her.  The doctor decided to send us to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in order for Earnhart to have a spinal tap done.  The Children’s team from the ambulance came to load us up.  It was a huge rig.  Just before they put me in the front for the ride up, they warned me that they may have to intubate him if he stopped breathing.  I nodded my head and got in the front, just trying to process it all.  The driver shut the door and went to the back to assist them in loading the incubator that they had to put him in, and it hit me hard.  Intubate?  My baby could stop breathing?  Could my baby die?  The thought had NEVER crossed my mind, EVER.  I knew that babies have passed, but I had never consider that happening to one of my babies.  Superman had to go home and get some stuff for us and get the girls taken care of.  My parents couldn’t ride up with me.  I was alone, and I was terrified.  Then the strangest thing happened.  The driver hopped in the front of the rig, made sure I was buckled up, and took off with lights flashing and sirens blazing.  And he talked to me.  Not about the baby fighting for his life in the back, but just random stuff to keep my mind off of that very frightening situation.  And we were there in a blink, greeted by at least 12 people rushing to care for my son.  They talked me through every step and procedure, though I couldn’t tell you what any of those things were right now.  They did a spinal tap and sent cultures off.  He had meningitis, but you have to wait on the cultures for a few days before you know for certain if it is bacterial or viral.  Did I mention the sweet child was only 8 days old?  They put him on antibiotics to treat him just in case, and we were placed in the NICU, right in front of the nurse’s station.  He was put on monitors, under bilirubin lights, and under a warmer to raise his body temp.  He was also wrapped in several blankets and put on an IV to get his vitals to a safe place.  I was scared.  Terrified.  Oh, and I had three little girls at home who were just adjusting to having me back home with a new baby in tow, one of whom was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder that we were still figuring out.  How was anyone going to be able to take care of them the way only I knew how to do?  They were too young to visit, and they had no understanding of what was going on.  The youngest were just shy of their 2nd and 3rd birthdays, and the oldest had just turned four.  They needed their momma.

Sorry about the quality. It's a photo of a photo.

I went a couple of days without getting to hold him.

But I couldn’t leave my son.  I was the reason he was there, struggling, in the first place.  Or at least that is what I thought in my mind.  So I camped there in his room, watching nurse rotations and doctor’s rounds, waiting to hear what was going on, pumping so that I could supplement my breast milk with the formula he had to take because of his decreased weight from not eating much that week, and reading.  We got the cultures back and found out it was viral meningitis.  We were in the clear, sort of.  The urgency and edge-of-our-seats feeling had left the room, but you can still face complications with the viral, especially with such a young child.  I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I had become calm.  To some, I may have seemed like I wasn’t worried enough.  But I knew worry wouldn’t make him better.  Worry wouldn’t change our circumstances.  Worry wouldn’t reverse what had happened.  So instead, I prayed, and I had many prayers behind me through family, friends, and fellow church members.  Our parents visited daily, as did members or our church.  We were bathed in care and concern.  My sister-in-law helped out with the kids, and Superman spent some time going back and forth.  I was so grateful for the calm.  I was thankful for the nurses.  Even the lady that cleaned my room each day was heaven sent.  And I learned something.  I don’t have to do it all for my children.  I can’t do it all for my children.  My son needed those doctors and nurses to help him live.  I couldn’t do that for him.  He did need me there, which meant I couldn’t take care of the girls.  But you know what?  Someone else did the job and they survived.  And as you know from the fact that I am celebrating his birthday today, Earnhart survived.  I learned a valuable lesson those days I spent in the hospital.  God is in control of it all.  I can’t do it all, not without Him.  A lot of folks have some loud, obvious life changing moment that draws them closer to God.  He seems to be taking me on more of a path, with many events along the way that point to His power and might.  They aren’t always easy, but He’s always there.

Happy birthday to my very wild, fun, and rambunctious four year old son!  I’m so thankful for the gift of your life, no matter how loud you choose to live it!


Why it’s worth it February 27, 2010

Filed under: S1 — jps23 @ 9:58 pm

I wanted to share an email with you that I received on the Sunday Picasso was baptized.  It makes the days I posted about most recently so worth it in the end, even when I think I can’t get to the end!  Picasso had called Preacher that morning, which I told you about already, but this is what that experience moved her to share with the Children’s committee and our senior minister.  She has such a way with words (names have been changed for privacy purposes, although I think the only ones reading this blog know us personally anyway!)…

At 7:30 this morning I was rummaging through my bottom drawer where all the stuff I don’t really need this time of year is. I was looking for my swimsuit. “Who else is tearing-up-jack looking for their swimsuit in February so that can wear it to church?! For crying out loud!” I mumbled as I heard my cell phone buzz in the next room.

“Well, that’s just great – another teacher calling in absent for the morning!” I thought as I finally laid hand on the elusive black tankini that I wear under my robe when I baptize. Stumbling out of my closet and around the corner I find a new voicemail on my phone. Determined to be fully filled with the Spirit, by way of coffee, I grab my mug and settle myself at the kitchen island to listen to the message. After the automated voice that pleasantly informs me of my new message (“What’s she got to be so happy about!” I grouched), here is what I heard a small voice say:

“[Preacher], this is [Picasso] and I’m calling to tell you I am so excited that I didn’t even sleep! I am just so excited that today Jesus will become my forever friend. Being baptized is all I thought about for days and days. Today Jesus and I will be friends for ever and ever and I am just so excited I had to call you and tell you that I can’t wait until you baptize me this morning. I’ve got my swimsuit and I’ll see you at church.”
When I had cleared my vision of the tears that welled up in my eyes I had no choice but to hit the floor of my kitchen, right in front of the dishwasher, and thank God for reminding me what today is all about – what EVERYDAY is all about. There is nothing as precious as the opportunity to tell someone about Jesus Christ. Introducing people to the Lord of all creation as their personal Savior is all that is eternal.
This morning, as all church leaders do on Sunday morning, I had my mind appropriately focused on the details of our worship experience. Were all of my volunteers in place? Would I have enough substitutes to cover my volunteer positions? Factoring in the holiday weekend, three church retreats that will call people out of town and the conjunctivitis that is going around, how many kids will I average today anyway? Then there is the worship: Do I have all the songs I need loaded and ready? Is my media for the lesson in place? How about this lesson on Ezekiel – will it come off the way I wanted it to? Then there is the CPR training after church. I wonder if someone will be there to let them in before the class? I guess I’ll need to do lock-up today? So that means no lunch…well I guess I’ll have to eat breakfast then….
All of these necessary, but tedious details, had completely eclipsed what was really the main event of the morning – immersing a child into the Kingdom of God. Taking her small hand and placing it into the nail scarred hand of her Savior who has been watching and waiting for her to announce to the world that she believes in him for 8 little years. All this time he has been waiting to hear what I heard on that message this morning. A small, sweet voice say: I’m so excited about Jesus that I can’t even sleep until I tell everyone what I know!
If you got this email, you are a church leader and someone who I think might also get caught up, unintentionally, in the temporal details of Sundays. Well, really, of everyday. Everyday is an opportunity to acknowledge the eternal as we navigate through the temporal and determine that we will remain focused on matters of the Kingdom. A Kingdom we will relentlessly pursue until the day Christ comes back to take us, and all those we’ve told about him, to worship God forever.
So I’m suited up and ready to go. All I can think about as I maniacally try to finish this email so I can load my laptop in my bag is: I’m so excited today that someone will come to know their Savior1 I’m pretty sure all of heaven is waiting with baited breath for me to walk a nervous, shaking little 8 year old girl down the aisle to confess her love for Jesus Christ. It really is the Main Event of the day.


A new kind of birth to celebrate February 21, 2010

Filed under: S1 — jps23 @ 9:06 pm

That’s our first born with our children’s minister and dear friend, whom I’ll refer to as ‘Preacher’.  There’s a story behind her name, but I’ll go into that another time.  She baptized our sweet little girl into the kingdom this morning!

I told you previously that Picasso was ready.  She made this decision a couple of weeks ago, and we didn’t do it last week because my friend was guest preaching at a church for her professor (which is part of the story, but not all of it).  Anywho, Picasso decided that the next Sunday would be the day, which is today.  She was so excited that she called all of our family members to invite them to attend.  All I have thought about this week is that old song I remember from childhood- I’ll shout it from the mountain top.  I want the world to know, the Lord of love, has come to me.  I want to pass it on. Remember that one?  Yeah, she wanted to shout it from the mountian top, and spread it throughout the valley, too!  She went to bed last night around 8:30 or 9:00, and then woke up at 10:30 asking if it was morning yet.  She complained of her stomach hurting (nerves, I guess) and just couldn’t sleep.  The next morning, she was up in the 6:00 hour (I don’t like to look at a clock that early), and around 7:00, she asked if she could call Preacher and tell her how excited she was about being baptized.  I allowed her to call because I knew Preacher would be up early enough, and she got her voice mail and left her a message.  Preacher called right back and talked with her for a bit, sharing in her excitement.

When Picasso got to church, she went straight to the baptismal bathroom to drop off her bathing suit and hairbrush.  She was ready!  She got to practice sharing her confession in her worship service (our children’s department does a service with a format similar to “big people” church), and then she walked down with Preacher to share her confession with the adult congregation.  She was nervous, but she did such a great job!  It was so touching to have our sweet friend take our daughter’s confession and baptize her.  She shared that Picasso called her so early with such excitement and that she was really the reason we were at our church.  You see, we were visiting when we were pregnant with Picasso, and even though we had never attended our age-group Sunday school class, they brought us a week’s worth of meals when she was born.  We were so touched by their outpouring of love to us when they didn’t even know us.  They were loving like Jesus would love, so that got our attention and we gave them a chance.  Our life has been so blessed in the almost eight years since we’ve been there.  In addition to our obvious joy today, the sermon was amazing.  All of our family attended and joined us at home for lunch afterwards.  The weather was beautiful, the kids were well-behaved, and our precious first born celebrated with absolute joy and excitement her birth into the kingdom of God.


She’s ready for Him February 9, 2010

Filed under: S1,S2,S3 — jps23 @ 9:31 pm

Our sweet firstborn daughter has made the biggest decision of her life.  She is ready for Christian baptism.  Honestly, I have felt this decision was made by her even before she could say Jesus.  Picasso has always loved Jesus.  She once wanted a Jesus-themed birthday party.  She has loved Him all her life.  She is now just two months shy of turning eight years old.  She has been asking about baptism for the past couple of months, here and there, but we have been talking about it a bit more in the past few weeks.  The conversation about a week ago went a bit like this…

Me:  So, are you ready to consider being baptized?  (Remember, we’ve had a dialogue going on about his over the past few months.)

Picasso:  But Jesus already lives in my heart.

Me:  Yes, but the Bible tells us that He wants us to follow that decision in Christian baptism, telling others of our love for him.

Picasso:  I just don’t want to be baptized yet.

Me:  Why not? (she makes a face)  Do you not want to get up in front of everyone? (she is terrible shy outside of this family)

Picasso:  (Shakes her head)  No, I don’t want to do that yet.

Me:  That’s okay.  Just keep praying about it, and you will know when you are ready.

I really felt like God would give her the confidence she needed to get up in front of the church when it was time.  I didn’t know she would find that from Him so quickly.  She looks at me two nights ago and almost whispers to me, “Mommy, I’m ready to be baptised.”  I wanted to jump up, shout for joy, and squeeze my sweet little girl, but I held back a bit and calmly asked, “What changed your mind?”  She went on to tell me that our children’s minister said some things that morning in worship hour that made her think.  Since our children’s minister likes to talk to them before they walk down before the church, and since she is one of my very best friends, I sent her an email letting her know what was going on.  She’ll be talking to Picasso tomorrow evening.  I’m so excited that she has made this decision to live life for her precious Jesus!

On a side note, Mary Lou piped in to say that she was also ready.  Now, she is five, so I am a little hesitant.  However, she has also loved Jesus with all her heart, and she doesn’t hesitate about much that she wants to do.  She’s learned way more than I did about God at that age, and she has always acted about a year ahead of her true age.  Part of that is the two older sisters, but the other part is simply her personality.  Our children’s minister will also be talking to her this week to see what she thinks.  When I asked her if she understood what being baptized means, she said that it means “My sins are all washed away and Jesus lives in my heart as my forever friend.”  Even if she doesn’t move forth with Christian baptism just yet, living with this frame of mind is a great start!

As for Cowgirl, she didn’t hesitate to say, “I’m not ready to be baptized yet!”  Don’t worry sweet girl, we’ll get there.


Thoughtful Thursday November 19, 2009

Filed under: S1,S2,S4,S5,S6,Thoughtful Thursday — jps23 @ 1:23 pm

My kids are some of the most thoughtful kids I know.  I know you probably think I am biased, but they really are extremely aware and respectful of other peoples’ feelings.  Even with each other, although they are close in age and with each other all the time, they practice compassion and thoughtfulness.  I’m not bragging or claiming this as an awesome parenting victory.  This one is all God.  Superman and I try to model and demonstrate such love, but we aren’t perfect.  You see, when I was “surprised” by my pregnancy with S2, just four months after S1 had arrived, I prayed, HARD!  I prayed for their development and their ability to get along.  God delivered, and He’s offered that same gift to us with each child.  I am grateful.  I’m not one of those parents bent on my children reaching (or racing to) certain milestones.  They’ll get there in their time, and when they need extra help doing so, we make sure they get it.  This, however, is a goal that melts my heart.  My 3 yr old son, who is every bit a rambunctious and wild little boy, came looking in the bathroom for his brother to give him his backpack today.  You don’t understand, either.  This isn’t just some backpack.  For a few months, S5 slept in this backpack.  It is very special to him, and S4 wanted to make sure that he gave it to him this morning.  As I type this now, I’m hearing S4 say to S5, “You wanna try that?” and S5 replying, “Yeah, sure, I wanna try that.  Do you wanna try that?” in his squeaky 2 yr old voice.  All the while, they are including their 1 yr old brother in their fun.  Little boys.  I don’t know if you realize this or not, but little boys don’t act that way a whole lot.  You might at one little boy who is sweet as can be, but put him with another little boy, just one year older or younger, to live and breathe with every day, and it can get tense!  That’s the one area my mom, who is my mommy mentor, has not mastered.  She was a wonderul mother and almost always has the answers to my parenting questions, but she only had one boy.  It’s different.  Just trust me when I say that.  So for Thoughtful Thursday, I’m going to abandon my post and finish listening to my boys being thoughtful of one another.  In a matter of seconds, it could be a totally different story!!!