Surviving Jagger

May 29

There are seasons in life when you feel like all is well—you’re thriving. Yet often we don’t even realize we are thriving until something, or someone, forces us into survival mode. For me, that someone is my two-year old son Jagger.

Cutie PieDon’t let the adorable exterior fool you. Behind this pudgy, innocent smile lies a mastermind capable of orchestrating mommy meltdowns, sibling rivalries and household disasters that dwarf anything I’ve seen from all three of my other children combined. Jagger’s impressive portfolio includes ER visits; smuggling big sis’s makeup for his wall art creations; and let’s not forget his latest trick…the one where, after a little coxing from big brother, he rips off his diaper to mark his territory around the house.

Allow me to present to you exhibits A, B, and C.

Exhibit A - Wall ArtworkExhibit B - Toothpaste on CarpetExhibit C - StitichesOh, the joys of mothering a man-child! 

I can see how Jagger’s escapades might seem amusing to the average observer, given his cuddly complexion. But truly, his antics are constant! Like me, even his siblings look forward to the relief that comes when he naps and at bedtime. It’s not just me who is surviving Jagger; it’s the whole lot of us.

I shared my frustrations with my husband Steve, noting how Jagger’s behavior makes it nearly impossible for me to finish any of the blog entries I’ve started, let alone an entire thought. I joked that maybe I should start chronicling the trials of surviving life with Jagger. Although I was purely being sarcastic, Steve went on to encourage me in this idea, toting his usual yeah-but-you-got-to-admit-Jagger-is-so-cute response. I came away from our conversation slightly annoyed that he didn’t fully grasp the level of unrest we go through on a daily basis while he is away at work. I thought to myself, well there will be no writing about Jagger since cleaning up after Jagger leaves no time to write!

Of course it didn’t take long for the little lad to figure out how to bring Steve’s feelings in lock step with the rest of us. In fact, it was literally the next morning. I was finishing my pancakes while Steve started on the breakfast dishes, the two of us discussing our plans for the day. Jagger ran into the kitchen and started pulling on Steve’s pant leg to get his attention. We stopped our conversation (yet again) so that Steve could interpret Jagger’s broken English and respond to his needs. Apparently Steve wasn’t as quick to respond as Jagger would have liked; so with the full force of his frustration, Jagger chucked the sippy cup of milk he was holding right at Steve. The next thing I knew, Steve was lying on the floor, wailing in pain, both of his hands shielding his crotch.

Daddy Take Down - Ouch!To put this situation into proper perspective, you must know that we are not talking about just any sippy cup. This thing is like a thermos, fully insulated with duel-pane plastic siding. When filled with liquid, it weighs at least a pound or more. Imagine the pain my poor husband must have felt to have something of that size and density hurled at his manly parts, protected by nothing more than a little pajama paint material. Ouch! doesn’t even come close.

Daddy in PainWho knew that a two-year old could take down a full-grown man in one fell swoop? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Jagger can. 

Daddy Gives GraceAfter we determined that Steve was going to live despite receiving the worst kick in the pants he’d ever experienced, I grabbed my camera to take a few pictures for my blog. When he eventually looked up at me from the floor with an expression that questioned my sanity, I joked, “Hey look everyone, it’s Steve surviving Jagger. Say cheese!”  The irony of the moment was just funny enough to convert Steve’s groans into giggles…and giggles into grace.

Welcome to the club babe.

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Basketball Diaries

Apr 16

Basketball HoopIf you know my oldest daughter for the über girlie-girl that she is, it may come as a surprise to you that Lauren is playing on her school basketball team this year. Not that a girlie-girl can’t play ball. She is actually picking up the sport quite well. But given the strict wardrobe guidelines my self-proclaimed fashionista follows, I thought surely the team jersey would be an automatic disqualifier for her. Yet, something propelled her to move forward, even in the face of committing what she might otherwise consider a major fashion faux pa, that lead to an exchange between the two of us I will forever cherish.

Sitting in the bleachers at her first game, I figured my role was simply to encourage her to have fun. She had no experience playing basketball. She was on the B team. I mean, it’s not like anybody was expecting Michael Jordan to make an appearance. But in just her first few minutes of playtime, I started wondering if even having fun was too lofty a goal. It was almost painful to watch as she shuffled her feet up and down the court in such a constricted manner, she might as well have been wearing high heals and a micro-mini. My feelings alternated between amusement and compassion for my girl whose form was so awkward, the team jersey was clearly the least of her problems.

Basketball girlJust when I was almost certain that Lauren’s basketball career would end with her first game, she managed to intercept the ball, shoot, and score! It wasn’t graceful. It was probably an accident. But it counted. And while I cheered along with everyone else, truth be told, her scoring wasn’t the most exciting moment of the game for me. Rather, it was the moment just after she scored—the moment she scanned the crowded bleachers for her mom and, as our eyes met, she shot me a victorious smile and two thumbs up. The moment when, despite the very nature of her pre-teen tendency to be preoccupied with what everybody else thinks, she was only concerned with what her mom thinks. The moment our hearts celebrated as one.

Since making her first basket, Lauren has found her confidence and is looking more and more like a natural out on the court. Her coach has started her a few times and she even alternates as point guard. If things continue as well as they are going, I have to imagine that this basketball season will be the first of many. And who knows, maybe someday Lauren will actually convince the coach to let her add a little fashion flair to the team uniforms (Hey, a girl can dream!).

I admit; it is fun to see our kids score one for the team. But nothing compares to those moments of shared triumph with our children when what we feel must mirror the swelling of God’s heart anytime one of us here on Earth seeks His face to rejoice in our accomplishments with Him. Praise God for sharing such moments with us through our children, because without them, junior high sporting events just wouldn’t be the same.

What do you love most about your kids participating in sports? Feel free to share in the comments below.

A Special Invitation…

Mom Dot Bible StudyThis summer, you and your pre-teen daughter (ages 11-13) are invited to attend the MOM DOT Bible Study Summer Series. With our daughters learning right along with us, will be going through the book of Ruth and Esther over the course of eight weeks, starting Monday, June 10. The cost for materials is $10 per person, which includes your Engaging God’s Word workbook and supplemental materials. We will be meeting from 6:30pm to 9:00pm in North County San Diego, the exact location still yet to be determined. If you are interested in participating  (either in person, following along online, or by forming a group of your own), please leave a comment below or email me at dana@confessionsofabusymama.com for more information.

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Tit for Tat

Mar 24

“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

~ Jesus (John 8:7)

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. As I scrolled down my Facebook news feed, there it was for all to see—a status update from yet another person, using their Facebook platform as a sort of cyber whipping post for those with whom they disagree. In this case, it was a mother commenting on another mother’s parenting decisions.

The comments cascading below the assault were from like-minded individuals, either throwing salt on the wound with their own colorful commentary or taking just long enough to stop patting themselves on the back to type what wonderful mothers they were. All I could imagine was how the women being referred to in the status update would feel if she knew her private choices were being put on trial in the Facebook court of public opinion.

Tit for TatI so-o-o-o-o-o-o wanted to defend this women scorned, and everyone like her, who has been made to feel inadequate by other moms. I wanted to cross-examine her accusers, asking them if they had ever walked a minute in her shoes? Did they know her struggles? Had they felt her pain? Did they hear her prayers at night? I wanted to ask them why—if they were so concerned with the wellbeing of her children—had they not offered a helping hand instead of a sucker punch. To be completely honest, part of me wanted to publicly humiliate them for publicly humiliating her.

While crafting a rebuttal, my computer keypad bearing the wrath of my frustrations with every word I pounded out, I asked God to direct my raw emotions to serve Him. It was then that I was prompted with the knowledge that reacting with raw emotion rarely, if ever, serves God (James 1:19). As I slowed down to process my feelings, my own folly became abundantly clear. In being the standard bearer for what is right for the purpose of showing others where they are wrong, I am merely trading self-righteous indignation for self-righteous indignation. And whether or not I respond to the Facebook post for all to see, which I did not, the desire alone makes me just as guilty as those I thought to put in their place (Matthew 5:28).

Sure I could justify my actions. I might even appear noble in defending this women’s honor. But what I must always remember, whether referring to my own situation or someone else’s, is that the morality handed down to us through God’s word is intended to bless, not bind. It is suppose to convict the heart, not condemn the person. Had I used it to publicly shame someone for shaming someone, odds are pretty good I’d be perverting His purpose for my purpose.

PilloryNo matter how hard we try, none of us have cornered the market on parenting, the moral high ground, or any other thing we perch ourselves upon to look down on others in order to make ourselves feel better about who we are. No matter what tactics we use to deceive ourselves, whether it be inflating our egos or deflating someone else’s, at the end of the day we all fall short. This fact doesn’t point to our need to be better, or nicer or to do more for others. It simply points to our need to know Jesus (Hebrews 10:10). It is through Him, and nothing else, that we become the works of perfection we are all too often pretending to be on our own.

So the next time we feel like sticking it to someone, let’s not forget that the trial for all trespasses ends in an acquittal for all who believe (1 Peter 3:18). Let’s live in that freedom and allow others to do the same. It certainly feels a whole lot better than the alternative…my computer keypad would agree.

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to everything there is a season

Feb 14

For lots of moms, sending their child to school for the first time is a sentimental and difficult milestone. Many even postpone the moment for as long as possible, dreading the hours they will be without their little one who is more than content cuddling up at home with mom. I’m just not that mom. And Jagger’s not that kid.

Photo by debbieimeankelly on Flicker

Photo by debbieimeankelly on Flicker

As the youngest of four children, Jagger is a bit of a pack animal by nature, which means being home alone with mom everyday has not been his idea of a good time. As soon as his siblings are out the door to school, Jagger becomes discontent, destructive and defiant. This is, of course, after I’ve chased him down the driveway as he tries smuggling himself in the car between his brother and sisters, kicking and screaming when I have to finally drag him back to the house. He just wants to be like the big kids.

You can imagine the little dude’s excitement when I told him first thing Tuesday morning, “We gotta get ready; you’re going to school today!” He immediately scouted the house for a backpack to hold his two travel companions—Nye-night and Puppy. Upon dropping him off at his preschool prep class, there were no tears, no clinging to my leg, and no second glances. He simply told me to “go!” (Again,…that’s who we are.) I was just happy to see him grinning from ear-to-ear as I told him good-bye.

Returning home, I intended to celebrate my newly found freedom by relaxing. But as I surveyed the chores that were piling up and writing projects I’d put off, I had this nagging feeling that something was missing. For a split second, I thought, maybe I am that mom that can’t stand to be without her child. Then it hit me. I wasn’t missing Jagger. I was missing my excuse.

Jagger goes to school

All packed and ready for school!

Now that my entire week won’t be consumed catering to Jagger’s every need, I have no excuse for not doing the things that need getting done, like chores, or the things I dream of doing, such as writing. I’m not only losing my baby to the desires of his heart, I’m losing my ability to say, “I can’t workout…can’t do laundry…can’t write…etc…etc…because of Jagger.” When any of these things don’t get done, it’s now a choice. I can’t hide behind Jagger. My choices are exposed for what they are—mine.

Good thing Jagger is only at school two days a week because this girl can only handle so much accountability at one time. And as far as the relationship with my little guy goes, I’m pleased to report that time spent apart does make the heart grow fonder, at least in this case. Jagger was so much more interested in me while home the next day; and to be honest, I was much more interested in him. Our experience really speaks to the fact that every kid has slightly different needs. I’m glad I’m figuring out his.

Feel free to share how your season of life is changing in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

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Our living legacy

Feb 5

Call me naive, but I thought watching the Super Bowl game was a family affair. I never would have guessed that I’d actually have to stand guard, ready to shield my kids’ eyes from the filth we apparently now call commercials. And when the entertainment chosen to represent one of America’s favorite pastimes during the halftime show seductively slid her finger down her tongue and across her lower lip while dancing around in dominatrix garb, my heart broke as my my nine year-old daughter was left to believe that such conduct is not only socially acceptable but highly-esteemed in our society.

Is this really who we’ve become as a nation?

Earlier that morning, my pastor gave a sermon on how the cost of sin is not only generational it’s exponential. While children often adopt their parents’ patterns of sinning through learning by example, they don’t necessarily institute their parents’ boundaries; thus why each generation tends to be more morally corrupt than the last. He also showed how the sins we commit have the potential to effect our children even before they are born. My pastor made his points using stories from the Bible; however, I didn’t realize just how relevant his message would prove to be come game time.

Lili Chami Photography

Photo by Lili Chami Photography

Looking back over the years, using the Super Bowl as a reference point, I can see how this biblical truth has played out in my life. When I was a young adult—single, watching the Super Bowl with friends, engaging in debauchery that lead to most of us calling in sick for work the next day—I was part of the force working against our country’s moral fiber in my own small way. And as a young mother busy entertaining Super Bowl party guests, my sensitivities were dulled to the increase in provocative messaging surrounding the game because of my own over indulgence of libations that day. It wasn’t until I was watching the game with my children, free from distraction, looking at it from their perspective that I recognized my contributions to our country’s moral decline (both active and passive) and how my children would be impacted.

Whether at a Super Bowl party or anywhere else in our lives, we can’t play both sides of the moral equation without consequence. We can’t behave one way in front of our children and another when they are not around, expecting that the hypocrisy illustrated in our actions, what we watch, and where we spend our money won’t catch up with us somewhere down the road.  It does—if not within the family unit, then within society at large. And if we don’t recognize our mistakes and pivot toward what is true and what is right, we may find some day that the commercials and entertainment surrounding this year’s Super Bowl game are tame in comparison to what lies ahead.

Yes, it would be easy to blame the advertisers and point fingers at the entertainers for the spectacle we saw on TV Sunday. It might even feel good to take out our frustrations on them. But before we do, maybe we should take a good hard look at ourselves. After all, they are only appealing to their audience.

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A battle of the heart

Jan 23
Photo source:  Unknown

Photo source: Unknown

For many Conservatives, it was difficult to watch President Obama being sworn into office for his second term on Monday. The pomp and circumstance only served as a reminder of the elections we’ve lost, our eroding freedoms, and the deterioration of the Judeo-Christian values this country was founded upon. I have to imagine, I’m not the only one who out of frustration declared the American electorate deserving of every unfortunate outcome that results from their poor choice in a President (as if some sort of satisfaction can be obtained by seeing our country suffer consequences worthy of an “I-told-you-so”).

While these feelings are typical of our human nature, I have to admit, they are not very Christ-like. So many of us who lean to the right politically are concerned with the left’s total disregard for God’s law; yet, what does it say about our own faith when we find even a scintilla of gratification in the suffering of others? Desiring that the darkness in this world gets a little darker, not only makes us worse than our opponents (many of whom don’t know any better), it makes us no better than Satan himself.

Obedience to God’s law is proof of faith. If the majority of Americans are not living by faith, then we have our work cut out for us. And I’m not talking about more rallies, calls to our congressmen, or financial backing of a particular candidate. I’m talking about prayer—petitioning God to forgive those who know not what they do, just as Jesus did for all of us. I’m talking about loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Of course we must fight against evil in this world. But we should never do so by repaying evil for evil (1 Peter 3:9). So as we continue forward in our political pursuits, standing guard over all things we hold most dear in this world, let us not forget to also guard something so much more important—our hearts.

Related Blog Posts:  Saving America Requires a Savior

Research Sources:  Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis:  1941Standing in the Gap, Larry Osborn; North Coast Church:  2013

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A little growth and a whole lot of gratitude

Jan 16

 And the Lord answered me:

“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. ~Habakkuk 2:2 (ESV)

While reviewing my blog archives for a project I’m working on, I noticed that my first blog entry was dated January 16. That’s one year ago today!

I know this factoid doesn’t mean much to anyone. I didn’t think it would mean much to me either. It was not a milestone I was tracking—it was a milestone I stubbled upon. But I’m so glad I did because it illustrated that progress isn’t measured by how far we have to go but rather how far we’ve come. My pastor calls it, looking through the rear-view mirror of life.

Last year, I launched Confessions of a Busy Mama with a hope and a prayer that blogging would allow me to be more intentional about writing while creating a platform to encourage others through shared life experiences. I knew writing with any consistency would be challenging, given the demands of raising four children. Still, it was my personal goal to complete at least one blog entry a month. As I scrolled through the archives, I was both surprised and delighted to see the progress I’ve made in completing this objective.

Photo Credit: KisforCalligraphy

Photo Credit: KisforCalligraphy

My goals for blogging have evolved since that first day, staring at a blank computer screen and blinking cursor. I’ve learned a lot about blogging and recognize there are a ton of things I can do better. Quite frankly, I still have a lot more to learn. But if I don’t take a moment to acknowledge what’s been achieved before pressing forward toward these new goals, I might become disillusioned into believing that nothing much has been accomplished, and more importantly, miss the opportunity to acknowledge all of those who have supported me along the way. YOU!

So thank you! To those who visit. To those who encourage. To those who comment. And, to those who share. A writer needs her readers—and if you don’t already know it, I appreciate every single one of you.

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Tripping Over Expectations

Dec 28

“…Expectations kill relationships. And I’ve known expectations as a disease, silent killer heaping her burdens on the shoulders of a relationship until a soul bursts a pulmonary and dies.” ~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

photo-9Whoever coined the phrase “family vacation,” clearly never checked-in at the airline counter with eight bags of luggage and two car seats. They probably never guided four children through post-911 airport security. And I’m pretty certain they never had to prevent their almost two-year-old from repeatedly slapping the bald spot on the head of the passenger seated in front of them as they flew an hour-and-a-half to their travel destination.

As far as I understand it, taking a vacation assumes that the person vacationing gets a reprieve from work—a little rest and relaxation. Yet recounting just one-half-day of our family’s so-called “vacation,” while humorous at times, is exhausting in it of itself. Imagine living it for seven days strait! The obvious contradiction between what is expected from a vacation and what I experienced is so stark, I’m sure there are several weary parents of young children who will agree with me that a “family vacation” is as mythical an idea as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow—something we could use right about now, given that our trip to Tahoe this winter cost double what we anticipated. (Ouch!)

family photoDon’t get me wrong; I had a BLAST playing in the snow, skiing and riding snowmobiles with my husband and the kiddos. Our joy was multiplied by some of our extended family members joining us for part of the trip. And I am forever grateful for the collective memory we share (good, bad, or otherwise) because an adventure survived together is often what binds people together.

But as much fun as I had, there were times when my frustrations took center-stage because I harbored expectations that didn’t include continually consoling an overtired little boy who had too much fun and not enough sleep; scarfing down meals when our toddler frequently became too disruptive for the other restaurant patrons; or pulling out the credit card when the cash we brought didn’t quite foot the bill. By living for the moment, living in the moment became quite the challenge. Disappointment under such circumstances is almost certain.

Kendal and Mom Ironically, once we returned home I was able to get the rest I so desperately sought, relatively speaking of course. I guess when you’ve exponentially increased your domestic responsibilities with packing, setting up lodging, organizing activities, and traveling with little children, in comparison, going home is quite the vacation. But considering the expectations I assigned to our vacation versus expecting nothing special in returning home, maybe it’s not the absence of work that made coming home so peaceful—maybe it was simply the absence of expectations.

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Saving America requires a Savior

Nov 9

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12, NIV).”

Since Tuesday evening, I’ve been struggling to make sense of the election results. I’ve been trying to figure out what the appropriate “Christian” response is to such an upset. I know we are to rejoice in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18); but quite frankly, when the election results came in, all I wanted to do was cry.

For me, this election wasn’t about Republicans winning. I know the Republican Party has its fair share of warts. Rather, it was about American’s remembering what makes America unique. Despite what the politicians will tell you, America is not “the shining beacon on a hill” because of American ingenuity, a strong government, or its wealth—each of these things are blessings from God. What makes America a site among the nations is our obedience to God and the blessings that flow from that obedience (Deuteronomy 28:1-14)!

Yet the party that won such an important election—the party that Americans want more of—is the party that removed God from their party platform:  the party that yelled a resounding “No!” when party leaders kowtowed to political pressure by putting God back in the platform:  the party whose political strategy is to divide and conquer (John 10:10) and whose policies are in direct conflict with God’s commands:  the party’s whose leader says, “America is not a Christian nation.”

So, yes, I cried. Not because I don’t trust God’s plan, but because I know the fate of a nation that continues down a path of willful disobedience is ruin (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). I thought if America chose the “lesser of two evils” in this election, it would be an indication that our country was returning to God. But as often happens, my human logic failed me. I was wrong. Evil at any degree is still evil (James 2:10).

After much prayer and quiet time in God’s word—and after seeing some pretty ugly responses to the election results on both sides of the isle—I am able to recognize the blessing in the outcome of this election. Had the Republican Party won, many of us on the right might have been deceived into believing that God was on our side, leaving our own sins camouflaged under a cloak of self-righteousness while the infection continued to spread (1 Corinthians 5:6). We might have walked away from the fight feeling as though our job was done; that we saved the nation; that we just need to be better Christians, all the while continuing down the same path. By exalting the obvious rejection of God in our nation (because after all, isn’t that what sin is?), God reminded me that saving America requires a Savior.

It is in this same vein that I accept God’s will; I can be thankful; and, yes, I can even rejoice. I will probably always root for the political party that best champions the issues I think are important; but I must never forget that no national debt is too large for my Savior—He has paid our random in full. So I’ll stop pointing out each one who sins (because we all do) and start pointing out the One who saves. I will accept this election as my battle cry for God’s Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations, remembering that America needs Jesus too (Matthew 28:19-20).

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Duel Citizenship

Nov 4

For several years I’ve been on a journey to better understand how Christians honor God by participating in the American political process. While there is a lot to say on the subject, a sermon on Psalm 2 by Mark Lauterbach of Grace Church San Diego is one of the best I’ve heard in terms of answering this question from all sides of the equation in a relatively short amount of time. Whether you are a political junky like me or tend to sit on the sidelines, this message will both comfort and convict you as we go into Tuesday’s election. Please take the time to listen–and don’t forget to vote!

DOWNLOAD MP3 Vote Sermon

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