Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mama Your Job is SO Worth It

Accountant. Actor. Architect. Bookkeeper. Car Mechanic. Chef. Chemist. Cleaning lady. Coach. Dentist. Doctor. Engineer. Farmer. Firefighter. Judge. Lawyer. Librarian. Mathematician. Musician. Nurse. Pharmacist. Pilot. Restaurant Manager. Secretary. Soldier. Teacher. Therapist. Veterinarian. Writer. Zoo Keeper.


The little girl with big green eyes looks up at her daddy with a huge smile on her face. "I want to be a gymnast when I grow up.  And when I'm too old to be a gymnast, a ballerina."

"Now I want to be a baseball player... I've changed my mind.  A golfer.

Laundry piles up. Into the hamper.  Into the washer.  Into the dryer. Into the closet. Repeat.

"Do just daddies work?  Do mommies work too?"

Food to buy.  Food to wash. Food to prep.  Food to cook. Food to eat. Repeat. 

"Do just some mommies go to work?"

Dishes pile up.  Dishes to rinse. Dishes to load. Dishes to unload. Repeat. 

"Does everyone have a job?"

Toilets to scrub. Sinks to scrub. Bathtubs to scrub. Mirrors to wipe down.  Bathrooms to use. Repeat.

"Do kids have jobs too?"

Toys to get out.  Toys to play with. Toys to put away.  Repeat. 

"Our mommy gets to just stay home."

Floors to get crumbs on. Floors to vacuum. Floors to mop.  Floors to sweep. Repeat. 

Handsome daddy answers the questions, "Yes. Daddies work, but mommies work too.  Some daddies go to work, some stay home and work.  Some mommies go to work, some stay home and work. Everybody has a job.  Even kids have jobs.  Some kids go to school and that's their job.  Some kids just need to be kids, so being a kid and playing is their job."

"But our mommy just stays home."

Babies to feed.  Babies to burp. Babies to change.  Babies to clean.  Babies to rock.  Babies to hold. Babies to snuggle. Repeat.  

Gracious husband responds, "Yes.  Our mommy does get to stay home.  She does a lot of things at home.  She makes sure we have clean clothes.  She helps get groceries so that we have good things to eat.  She washes dishes so we have clean plates to eat our food on.  She cleans the dirty bathrooms that we use all the time.  She tries to keep the floors clean.  It's a big job."

I look at him with a thank-you smile.  He knows.  He knows that some days are just plain hard. Sometimes I don't feel like I contribute enough.  He knows that sometimes my job is viewed only as checking the "other" box in the list of jobs.  He knows that I get tired.  He knows that without me at home, our house might not get as messy--because our house might not be as used.  He knows that I COULD go out and work and we COULD send our girls to daycare.  We wouldn't be home to get things messy.  The toilets would be cleaner because they wouldn't be used as much.  Our toys wouldn't get everywhere because they wouldn't be played with as much.  The floors wouldn't get as many crumbs on them.  He knows.

"Yes, our mommy gets to stay home.  She gets to play with you.  She gets to teach you.  She gets to help you bandage your owies.  She gets to snuggle you.  She gets to read to you.  She gets to take you to the zoo.  She gets to play outside with you.  She gets to watch you grow.

The green-eyed girl lets that sink in.  We eat lunch.  We play.  At dinner, the beautiful little girl looks thoughtful. "I've changed my mind.  I want to be a mommy when I grow up."*

Mama.  Your job is SO worth it.  Even on days that may not seem like it.

 *She has since changed her mind... Still worth it. ; )

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Days of Discord

Discord /ˈdiskôrd/.  Disagreement between people.  In music, lack of harmony between notes.

Well, a couple of weeks ago there was a major lack of harmony in our house between me and my girls, my girls and me, and my girls with each other.  I'm sure that a fly in the room would have seen many ugly faces exchanged between the three of us.  Negative tones were flying. Stomping feet. Pushing. Arguing.  Disregard for each other's well being.  Disagreements.  Disrespect. Displeasure to the Nth degree. Where did this stem from?  What. Happened. Here?

It came from another "dis".  DISOBEDIENCE. I want to say that it was the girls' disobedience.  It was.  But it was also my own. Did you catch that?  Yes.  I am admitting it; it was my OWN disobedience.

It started out as any other day.  I woke up with Natalie and fed her.  Then our "normal" day ended; Kara woke up crying.  When I went and asked her what was wrong, trying to hug and comfort her, she glared at me, pushed me away, and said, "No."  Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed.  We had breakfast and that went pretty well.  Then started the, "This is my Christmas present.  I'm going to play with it.  This is YOUR Christmas present and I'm going to play with it, too," stunt pulled by Kaylee.  I tried to deal with things peaceably for a while... but by 9:00 I hit my limit.  I was no longer going to try.  I couldn't do it anymore.  I had it.  I was done.  (Did you notice that I couldn't do it anymore?)   Here enters the, "I've had it, sit in time-out" fits from mom.  Oh. No.  That didn't work.  "Ok, time-out isn't working. Go sit in the bathroom and wait to have a talk from mom."  Yeah. That's setting the tone real well, Mama.  Good job.  Now, I'm getting the job done. Aren't I? 

The rest of the day was filled with blatant disobedience from my girls to me and Zach.  "Please stay up at the table," was followed by a mischievous look while climbing down from the table. "Don't touch the light," was followed by a pitter-patter run towards the light to touch it (and turn it off seeing as it was a touch lamp).  Wow.  This doesn't even do the day justice.  It was rough.

During a relatively good and easy bedtime (Thank Jesus!), I was able to reflect on the hard day with the girls.  We talked about our bad attitudes and how we treated each other with ugly hearts.  We didn't love each other like Jesus loves.  This is the point where I was finally willing to start looking at MY ugliness in it.  I still wasn't fully willing.  Then, as I lay in bed, I thought back through the day again.  Oops.  There it was.  Right in front of me.  My ugly, ugly sin.  Through all my raised eyebrows and "you don't want to mess with this mom" looks towards the girls, I saw it.  Through my, "That didn't work, but this will certainly LEARN YOU GOOD" words of "wisdom" to my girls that I'm supposed to be training up in righteousness, I saw it.  My own disobedience.  They came in small fleeting moments that could have made the BIGGEST difference throughout the day.

Ephesians 6:4 kept coming into mind throughout the day.  "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."  My response was to ignore.  My response was to deflect.  It wasn't MY fault that the girls were disobeying.  They are sinners on their own.  (Which they are, but that aside...) I wanted to see through my sin.  My tone, my action, my looks, my words of "Why can't you do better... JUST LEARN ALREADY!" were definitely provoking my girls.  My discipline tactics, although not completely wrong, were not RIGHT either.  I KNEW this and I kept doing things my way anyway.  I could figure this out.  I was disobeying.

"Love one another, for love comes from God (1 John 4:7a)" was not what I taught my girls that day. "We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)" wasn't either.  This is another point of me blatantly disobeying God again.  Kaylee has little handouts from Sunday school with memory verses.  She brought both of these verses up to me at two separate times during the day--both following ugly moments of discord in our home--and asked me to read them.  I read them.  I chose not to pay attention to them.

I remembered the past Sunday's sermon given by Mark Lauterbach.  We often get stuck in this "learn it, do it" cycle.  We just want our kids to learn how to be better and then actually be better.  We think we should be able to learn it and do it better.  The thing is, we forget Who actually works.  WE can't do it on our own.  By the Grace of God extended to us, we can do it THROUGH CHRIST.  We fail in our own strength.  We think that if we can just keep all these rules, we'll be better.  The thing is, this is actually bondage because WE can't keep all the rules.  We are only truly free when we live in Christ. Not rules.  I remembered Pastor's words of truth, but didn't act on them.  Disobedience.

God allowed me to remember these specific moments from throughout the day to see my sin of disobedience.  It's ugly.  It's not fun.  It's a necessary part of sanctification.  The recognition and reflection of my sin will only make my faith in Him stronger.  Hopefully, it will remind me to listen to His reminders and obey the next time my house falls into discord.  Because of Christ in me, the Fruit of the Spirit can be evidenced.  Because of Christ, the desires of the flesh can be put to death. I realize that I will fail and discord will once again be in my house.  I cannot stop my girls from sinning.  I will continue to sin. The next time my house falls to discord, the first place I must go is to the foot of the cross, for on my own I can do no good.  I must pray that Christ will work in me and through me.  I must pray that Christ will dwell in the hearts of my girls, for they are sinners, too, unable to do good out of their own accord.

Fall at His feet.  Drink up His grace.  Put on the Fruit of His Spirit.  Pray for Him to work in our hearts.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Prayer for My Son

We don't have any boys.  Only God knows if we'll have a biological son added to our family. But if I don't have any sons, why am I praying for them?  We pray each day for our daughters by name.  We pray that the Lord will guide each one in that path that He has for them. My husband and I hope and trust that one day each of our girls will be able to experience the wonderful gift of marriage with a young man of God. Those young men will become our sons.  Our parents prayed for our spouses and their families from the beginning.  We are doing the same.

Prayer for My Son

To my son who I have yet to meet,
I pray that the Lord will guide your feet;
that you will love Him who died for your Sin,
and trust in the Spirit for guidance within.

I pray that your parents show you the way
To grow in Grace from day to day.
I hope that they live and speak Gospel Truth
from the day you are born throughout all your youth.

May you grow in courage to stand for what's right.
May your love for God stay strong each day and night.
May you have integrity and may you be honest.
May you go through life giving only your best.

I pray that you live out Micah 6:8,
Each--justice, mercy, humility--is a good trait;
That God's Goodness is reflected to those around you,
And that your motives will be pure and true.

I pray that you have great self-discipline,
But that, realizing your nature, you know that you'll sin,
You'll turn to your Savior for forgiveness and grace,
And that you'll always again search for His face.

To the young man who has won my daughter's heart,
I pray that your love for her will never depart.
Know that when the two of you become one,
You'll join our family and become our son.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Embrace the Scars

Scars.  We all have them. I used to look down at my scars and wish that they would go away.  I have a couple of scars on my bottom lip from where my teeth went through.  One was from jumping on a couch and landing into a coffee table at a friends house when I was 4.  The other time my teeth went through my lip was when I caught a pop-fly in softball--only I caught it with my mouth. I have scars on my knees from sliding into home plate (on occasion--I really wasn't all that great at softball).  I have a perfectly round scar on my right knee from paintballing in high school as a result of close-quarter shooting at a high velocity. I have a few stretch marks and other imperfections that I gained when I was pregnant with Kaylee.   I have a scar on the outside of my left wrist.

I saw scars only as bodily imperfections.  I'd wish that I could go back and redo things the day that I received any given scar so I could have my body back to what it was like before.  What flawed thinking that is!  It was with the last scar mentioned above that my thinking changed.  My scars, no matter how they appear, are actually beautiful.  They show that things were broken, but they are now mended.  They show that life has happened.  I will embrace my scars.  They help tell my story.

On that summer's night in August, we had just come out of the hospital from visiting my Mother-in-law, who had undergone surgery.  The layout of this hospital has a large wash (a riverbed that has dried up and occasionally fills up during a monsoon) running between the building and the parking garage. A bridge connects the two.  Although this "riverbed" isn't all that wide, the drop from the top of the bridge down is quite a drop. The bridge has a railing, but it isn't solid.  I was carrying my sweet little Kara and we were crossing on the sidewalk.  My flip-flop caught on the sidewalk and it was one of those slow-motion moments--you know what's going to happen, but can do nothing about it.  I took 3 or 4 giant steps.  I tried with each step to catch my balance, but I couldn't and still keep a tight hold of my sweet girl. I knew I was going down. I turned my body so that I would fall towards the road as there were no cars coming.  Zach was in front of me and could hear me falling but didn't know which way.  He turned to make sure I wasn't falling towards the side of the bridge with the huge drop.  I landed hard, but didn't break any bones.  Kara hit her head a bit, but not too hard.  It scared us more than hurt us.  

I see that scar and I realize that things could have gone so much worse.  I was about 3 months pregnant and I landed on my 1 1/2-year-old. I could have broken my wrist. Something could have happened to the baby.  Kara's head injury could have been serious.  I kept a good hold on her, but what if I hadn't?  What if I had gone toward the edge of the bridge instead of the road?  I could keep thinking what-if after what-if.  But this is what was.  God protected us.  I see that scar and I am reminded that my mother-in-law came through a successful surgery.  I see the scar and I see God's protection around my family that night.  Things could have ended so much differently than they did. I'm thankful that all that happened was that I got a scar on my wrist.  It is a reminder of God's sovereignty and His graciousness even in the "small" moments of life.  

I look at the scar on my knee and I think of the guy who shot that paintball at me.  He is now serving in the Marines.  When I see that scar, I pray for him and his wife.  

When I catch glimpses of the stretch marks and the other "beauty marks of pregnancy", I remember and pray for the 3 beautiful girls I have been blessed with. 

I see the softball scars and I thank God that I have the ability to be physically active--even if I'm not the most coordinated at sports.  I think of all the girls on all my teams, and even though I don't remember all of their names, I pray for them.  

I pray for the friend whose coffee table I biffed on.  We have been separated by many years and I haven't had any contact with her since early early elementary school.  I still think about her and have started praying for her when I see the scars under my bottom lip.  

All of these scars have background stories.   They are all a part of my story and they are reminders of a few moments in my life of what God has done and how He works.  
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

As Long As She's Healthy

This is a post that piggybacks on my last post Trying for a Boy?  That post was already getting long, and with these being 2 separate thoughts--although related--I decided to write them as 2 separate posts.

As I was shopping one day for a few odds and ends, a dear old lady, whose intentions were only good {really--she was sweet as can be}, came up and started a conversation.  It's a familiar one. I was about 8 months pregnant and had both my girls with me.

"Your girls are beautiful. Oh, I see you're having another one? Now, what are we hoping for, dear?  I bet daddy wants a boy."

Kaylee was quick to reply, "Nope, God is giving us another girl.  Her name is Natalie.  This is my sister Kara and I'm Kaylee.  This is my mom, Cassie."

The lady smiled as she replied.  "Oh, I bet Dad wishes he had a boy."  {Again, I addressed why this statement bothers me in my last post.}

I tried to sound gracious as I responded to her, "Actually, we're all very excited to meet this little one and see who God has chosen to give us."

This little old lady, still with super sweet intentions said, "I love your perspective.  I'm sure you will love whoever you have, as long as she's healthy."

As long as she's healthy.  This statement hit me so much differently than it normally would have.

People really can say these things with good intentions.  And I am sure I have said so many of these same things before.  But the more I live life as a mom, the more I am stunned by these types of conversations. The thoughts of our society astound me.  The idea that I would love a boy-child more than a girl-child is hard to imagine as a mom.  The idea that I will only love my child as long as she's healthy, sickens me.  It places a condition on the child.  I will love you IF.  If you are healthy...  So, don't you even THINK about being born with a disease that is out of your control.  God, You wouldn't give ME a sick baby.

Again, I realize that, YES, it is easier to have healthy children.  Yes, we don't WISH for anyone to be sick, especially not our child. We pray for healthy babies.  We desire healthy babies.  But, in light of many things in the news recently, such as this story about a Dad refusing to give up his son with Down Syndrome, I am realizing that things like this shouldn't be said.  It's sad that these statements are actually becoming reality. People actually ARE rejecting their children because of a health condition that is outside of their control.  I am so thankful that this dad didn't reject his son because of his health condition. His value is still as great as my value and yours.  He is created in the image of God, Down Syndrome and all.

I have so many friends whose children have illnesses and special needs that are hard to diagnose or define.  Even if they are definable, they are difficult to manage and full of unknowns.  These parents haven't stopped loving their children.  Instead, I see hearts who grieve for their child over his or her illness--not because of the inconvenience that it causes them {and by all means, illness is not easy to deal with}--because they love their child so incredibly much that it causes them pain to see them in such a state.  They desire healthy bodies because they wish their child didn't suffer.  But at the same time, they are willing to go through this hard path because they couldn't imagine doing life without that child no matter the cost. They are willing to go through this hard time in life because it allows God to teach them things that they would otherwise miss.

In these parents, I see the love of God.  I am sick with sin, yet God the Father loves me.  He loves me and He sent His Son to die for me so that one day I can receive a body restored.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Trying for a boy?

As I sat awake holding my little 2-week-old joy throughout the night a couple nights ago, I couldn't help but stare down at her through the soft light that so gently caught all her beautifully perfect little features.  I can't imagine holding anyone different than who I have.   I experienced the same kind of overwhelmingly powerful rush of unconditional love with both of my other girls.  I simply cannot imagine my family any other way!  As I was sitting there staring at her, I started recalling the numerous times this pregnancy that I was asked, "So, what are you hoping for, dear?" or something along those lines.

Here are some of the actual things that were said to me while I was pregnant this 3rd time:

"What are you having?... Oh a girl?... Are you going to try for the boy or just give up and realize you're a girl family?"

"Oh you're having a girl?  We actually got our boy for the second one so we could stop trying at that point. Haha!  What are you going to do?"

"Oh, I bet your husband is really disappointed.  He still isn't getting his boy."
He looks pretty disappointed, huh?
Now, I fully realize that the intention behind most, if not all, of these statements was not to offend. They were not to make claims that only families with boys and girls are acceptable families.  They were not trying to say that boys are better than girls. They were simply people acknowledging that I was pregnant with #3, and already having 2 beautiful girls, they were curious about who would be joining us. They were simply making small talk.

I tried to graciously respond to all of these statements (of which I got SO many more than the few mentioned above).  I would simply respond, "We're excited to meet who God is giving us."

Zach and I prepared our girls with this undeniable truth before we even found out the gender: we are not in control of who this baby is created to be.  God is.  He is the author of life.  However, the question is always asked (And I ask it too!), "What are you hoping for?" or "What do you think you're having?"  The girls both responded that they thought it would be a girl.  So in an attempt to prepare them to love a brother if that's what God gave us, we simply explained to them that we don't get to decide the gender.  God does.  If it was a boy, He wanted to give them a special gift of a little brother.  If it was a girl, He thought they needed a little sister.  We aren't in control.  He is.  We aren't the creators of life.  He is.  They caught on to that much stronger than I thought, so Kaylee would often speak up before I would and she would reply to those strangers in the store, "We don't get to choose and we'll just have to wait and see." Sometimes she'd quietly throw in, "But I want a sister." Once we KNEW it was a girl, she'd exclaim,"God chose a sister for us! Isn't that exciting?"  I loved hearing her say that.  I love that she knows that Natalie is a gift to our family from God.

To those who said that my husband would be disappointed, I always brought up how much he loved his 2 girls, so I was sure it wouldn't be any different this time around.  The last thing I wanted was for my 2 beautiful, sweet, innocent girls to think that they were anything less than what daddy was REALLY excited about.  He is so excited about all of his girls. Sure, it maybe took some getting used to.  He wasn't really very keen on wearing princess crowns and fake pearl necklaces until he had his girls.  Lip gloss and nail polish weren't things that he thought to spend his money on. But he still has his fun of building forts and showing off his soccer footwork, with the hope that his kids will fall in love with soccer.  He gets to still pass his appreciation of Star Wars on to the next generation. And I can't imagine that he would want anything different than a daughter who aspires to be a gymnast and then a ballerina when she's too old to be a gymnast.  Or our middle little who wants to be a gymnast and a football player.  We love our girls.

Are we done having kids? Maybe. Maybe not.  Are we trying for a boy?  No.  Would we love a boy? Yes!  Would we love another girl?  Yes!  We will love whoever ends up making up our family--all given to us by God.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Natalie: The Littlest Little

Today we celebrated 2 weeks of life for a precious girl, Natalie!  Here's a look at the last couple of weeks:

 BIRTH STORY (Trying to keep it PG, but be forewarned)

The last few days last week, Natalie seemed so comfy cozy inside me. I wasn't anticipating anything happening for another week or so. Friday night, we went to bed. I had mild back pain, which was nothing new, but nothing else. I had dreams throughout the night of power walking, squatting, and getting advice from people about how to get labor started, such as eating pineapple. Right about 3 a.m. I woke up to go to the bathroom--again, nothing out of the ordinary. But then I thought, "Hey, I think that might be a REAL contraction. I'll probably get a few and they'll go away like they did a few days ago." I went back to bed and as I was lying there, I felt another one. And another. I started timing them. 6-10 minutes apart and getting closer. I woke Zach up a little after 3:30 and had him help me time them. 3-5 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds to a minute. I finally decided this was real at about 4 and called my mom to let her know. She got to our house to watch the girls and we left at about 4:40--I was in no HUGE rush to get to the hospital, thinking we had quite a bit more time left. We got there at 5 and the lady at the desk asked if we needed to rush back and have someone meet us there right away, or if we could wait until someone got back to Triage and then head back. I decided to wait and let Zach park and come back. From 5:00-5:10, I had at least 4 contractions. The lady at the desk told me that as soon as Zach got back, we needed to head in. We checked into Triage at 5:15, 5 cm and 90% effaced. I was "probably going to be admitted." I told Zach that if I wasn't, I'd like to punch someone. This. Was. Real. Thankfully, I was admitted and got to my room about 6. I was 9 cm and 100% effaced. I said I didn't think it was quite time yet, but was starting to feel some pressure. They called in Dr. Hutchison, who was already at the hospital, and she came over 6:15-6:20 am. They got the station all ready and we waited. We chatted in between contractions. She asked if I'd like her to break my waters, and I declined... unless of course she had somewhere else to be. I'd rather her break them and be there than miss it. HA. She said she was fine and we kept visiting. Finally, right about 7:20 or just before I knew it was time to push.

Natalie Grace Jones arrived on February 07, 2015 at 7:24 a.m.
7 lb. 8 oz. ~ 19"

She is healthy and beautiful and the girls absolutely LOVE her.

Although we have had a few nights of less comfortable sleep, and just plain less sleep, this girl is the best addition to our family that I could have received.  I mean just look at her a few more times.

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