Surviving Nap Deprived Twins and Toddlers

The Joys of Twins

One of the many joys of having twin toddlers is that each of my girls has another child to play with.  Not that they always play together, but they are never alone.  My girls are 20 months and they play together just as often as they play apart–though sometimes I wish they would just play apart.  I must recognize here that there are many advantages to my girls never being alone.  This is an advantage when I am late picking them up from the nursery at church: neither of them will ever be “the last kid” in the nursery (that was meant in good humor –of course I am never late to pick them up, ehh hhmm).  It is also an advantage that they learn from one another.  Both of our girls have now figured out how to do somersaults, Callie first and then a few days later Bella jumped on the band wagon.  The girls took their first steps on the same day, Bella first then Callie.  They have twice as many outfits to choose from each day.  I am more likely to take them to the park to play than I think I would be if I just had one.  They never have to sleep in their room alone; now, as nice as that may seem (here is where I have to address the downside) that also means they share a room.

The Challenges of Naptime

Today this sharing of a room was the downfall of my afternoon.  We went out for a walk with the girls’ grandmother, then we went back to her house to play.  I knew they would fall asleep on the way home, and they did.  The trouble is, they both woke up in the transfer.  My husband is a graphic designer and works from home.  We came in right as he was eating lunch and he helped bring in Bella while I carried Callie.  As we laid them down, they opened their eyes.  We didn’t say a word, the trouble is they saw each other awake.  And that was it: nap time was over.

Tired Twins

So I spent my afternoon navigating tired twins.  My girls are real sweethearts, unless they are teething or sleep deprived. In which case they get aggressive and bite or pinch one another.  Today it just happens that they were both: sleep deprived and teething.  I managed to get through the afternoon by trying to stay ahead of them; but every time I left them to play with one another, within minutes one was crying. Then I would find myself giving one a time-out while consoling the other.  I have realized a big key to the way a nap-deprived afternoon turns out depends a lot more on me than on them.

My Perspective

Let’s face it, just the prospect of an afternoon with a set of 20 month-old twins that haven’t napped is enough to rattle the nerves.  But, I am realizing I can’t let it get to me.  This isn’t the first time they missed a nap and it won’t be the last.  I can’t let the idea of losing a small window of a break disappoint me.  I can’t let this little change of plans become a monkey wrench in my day.  There is a saying, “If mama’s happy, everybody is happy; if mamma isn’t happy, no one is happy” and it is true.  It’s not their fault that they are so excited to see each other and me that they would rather play than sleep. As far as they are concerned, that short nap was their regular two hour long nap. It may seem silly but when I am in the middle of losing my “break,” it is really hard for me to remember this stuff.  So I have come up with a few tips and tricks to get through a sleep-deprived afternoon.  Here is how I got through the afternoon:

Tips and Tricks

Stay Ahead of Them

Stay ahead of your tired toddlers.  When my girls are perfectly well rested, they have a hard enough time understanding boundaries and why they can’t do certain things. Take away their nap, and I lose any hope of them following directions well. They are speaking pretty well, but they still don’t posses the language skills or social skills to really pull off playing together well on their own.  However, because they are twins they are playing together anyway.  If I am watching (and watching closely) I can anticipate when one of them is about to do something that will spark a negative response or reaction from the other.  I can generally stop it–if I am really watching.  I have to be on top of this, because when they are tired their fuses are so much shorter.  I don’t have the same lee-way time that I have when they are well rested; my response time has to be quick and short.  Remember: get ahead of your tired toddlers, and keep an eye out for those things that will trigger an aggressive response.

Get A Grip: On Yourself

The easiest way to make a difficult afternoon more difficult is to add your own bad attitude to it. You can’t change your nap-deprived toddlers inability to control him or herself.  But you can control yourself and you can make a choice to face the next few hours with a positive and hopeful attitude. I often find that if I am bummed out about how my afternoon is going to go, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It can only be as good as I allow it to be and if I have already decided it is going to be difficult and hard then that is all it can be.  However, if I have a “play it by ear” attitude and allow myself to be flexible and adjust according to what their actual needs are it goes much better for them and for me.

Back Up Games: Set them up for Success

Keep a list of back up games or activities.  We have a few games that I can bring out that I know the girls love to play.  We have a set of bowling pins and two bowling balls–for twins I wouldn’t introduce games that you don’t have two sets of all the components; sharing is not high on the ability list of tired toddlers. For my twins, coloring is a good quiet activity that can be done as they play side by side and not necessarily together. Coloring is also a good activity because it takes little instruction and direction from me for them to do it.  I just make sure that they are coloring in their high chairs–this way I don’t have to spend a lot of time redirecting tired children to their color table. Set them up for success.  If they have a hard time doing something when they are well rested, they definitely can’t be expected to do it when they are tired.

These are just a few things that help me get through an afternoon of nap deprivation.  What are some things that you find work with your nap deprived toddler(s)?

Surviving Play Time: A Simple Box

The Box

I don’t know about you, but I have found that we tend to go through boxes and boxes of diapers.  I have been told by many mothers that a cardboard box is an amazing thing.  A box can provide hours of entertainment.  I didn’t know that it was literally true until we brought home an apple juice box from Costco.  As we unpacked boxes in the kitchen we set them aside on the floor to go out to the trash.  One of my daughters toddled over, found the box and began driving it all over the house, squealing and giggling with delight.  As a new appreciator of the card board box, I began trying to envision diaper boxes as something else.

The Idea

One day as my girls were eating their afternoon snack, I grabbed a box from the garage, brought it into the dining room, (the girls were eating in their high chairs) and set it on the table.  I took one of our breakfast bowls and used it as a template to draw two circles.  Then I cut out the circles with a box cutter.  My girls watched as I cut, they kept saying things like “box!” and “cut?”

Success

As soon as they had finished their snack they were ready for whatever mommy was going to do with that box.  For the next 30 minutes they were thrilled and totally engaged in putting a toy ball through the holes in the box.  After they put a ball in, I would throw it or roll it across the room, they would run and get it and put it in again.  All the fun a box can provide!!!

 

What are some activities you have created for an old box?

 

Surviving Play Time: Finding My Style

Do you ever find yourself staring at your child(ren) in the morning and asking the question: “What am I going to do with you today?”

About Me

Lately, I have had more fun being a stay at home mom than I have had in a long time.  The reason: I spent time planning activities everyday for my girls. I even uploaded a video of how much fun we had.  The twins are 20 months old and they keep me on my feet.  They are counting to ten, can recognize a few letters, and talk non-stop.  Most of the time all of their energy and abilities leave me exhausted.  You see, I have a background in early childhood education, I hold a Master of Arts in Christian Education Youth Ministry, I have experience working with Youth (teens), school age kids (elementary age), and preschoolers.  So, I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way for teaching infants through…well college actually. What I have learned from all of this: is that regardless of education and experience, it is important to learn your strengths as a mom and use them when trying to plan a day with your kids.

My Style

I find that it is easy to lose my focus as a stay at home mom.  It is easy to spend more time on the laundry, or cooking, or cleaning, or catching up with a friend.  I like to be intentional with my time, and purposeful in the activities I do with my girls. So, I try to use my education and experience to create learning opportunities for them.  I try to stay away from my computer during the day and for the most part the TV stays off, unless it is after five and my husband is working late (on those nights a select few DVDs are the only way dinner gets made).  When you don’t turn on the TV and you aren’t spending all your time cleaning, you find there is a lot of time to fill for a set of toddlers.

Many people assume that because they are twins they entertain each other.  This implies that it must be a little easier to take care of them.  Actually, it is not always beneficial to me to “just let them play together.”  I often end up breaking up fights or aggressive displays when they are left to their own devices.  In any event, I find the day goes much more smoothly and much faster if I take the time to come up with some activities.  So I try to face the day prepared with ideas; which includes doing a little research (if I don’t have any ideas) and maybe a little prep so those activities go smoothly.  That is my style.  It works for me, and for them.

Our Day:

A friend asked me the other day, “So, what do you do during the day with your girls?”  I found myself wondering that same question when my girls started to become more active and want more of my attention.  Click here for a glimpse of what we do (PDF opens in new window).

We were done with our last activity around 4pm and It always surprises me to see what a little prep can do for an afternoon.  All that to say, I often try to come up with tomorrow’s activities the night before.  It keeps me from feeling like I am behind all day, and helps my day go smoothly. I know that, because I put in a little prep-time, I was able to spend quality time with my girls today.  I know I have spent time tending to their physical, social, and cognitive development. I know that they got enough of my attention today–more attention than social media, or laundry and other household chores, and more than my phone. They had me, my time, and my energy. As far as they were concerned: they had their mommy playing with them, and they were happy.

 Find Your Mom Style

Like I said, this is my style.  It works for me.  If you don’t already plan crafts and activities with your toddlers or kids, I recommend that you start by planning things that you will enjoy doing and preparing.  There is a great website packed full of toddler and preschool activities and ideas, take a look at it and see what appeals to you–if you don’t find an activity you like maybe there is one you can adapt to fit your style. If you are crafty, musical, mathematical, or into the arts or humanities, start with these areas.  If you feel like you are not creative or crafty, pick some things that sound interesting and do them exactly as they are written, (you can always adjust it to fit you better the next time). Then figure out what keeps your toddler’s interest as well as your own, and start with those things.  Everyone needs a win.  Start with something you enjoy, and you will be more likely to keep planning!  If you are looking for ideas, there are plenty of things on Pinterest, as well as preschool resource websites.  Some things may seem too advanced for your little one, if that’s the case but you still want to try it, just remember to do it with an open mind.  Each activity is about the experience and the journey, not whether your child can accomplish something perfectly.

What works for you?  Do you plan, or come up with activities and crafts on the spot?  I would love to hear about your experiences doing activities with your toddler!

 

Surviving Transitions: Baby to Toddler Keepsakes

Growing Fast

I am learning how fast babies grow.  Our twins are now 20 months. We have been blessed at every stage by friends and family members with clothing and toys both new and used for our girls. Because we have been blessed I have tried to donate as many things as I can to others.  But there are some items that I have wanted to keep; things I have wanted to save and hold on to as a reminder of my twins’ babyhood. I have kept a few keepsakes, baby bracelets with their names on them, silver cups with their names engraved, a few blankets. Other items such as clothing, various types of linens, including burp cloths and receiving blankets, I have given away.

Finding New Purpose

As I was setting aside things to donate I realized that half of the receiving blankets I had matched.  Now my girls and I go to the park often and we usually take an old blanket to sit on to eat lunch.  However, sometimes the ground has been wet and our blanket would soak all the way through if we tried to sit on it.  As I looked at all the receiving blankets, the quilter in me made a decision.  I decided to make a water proof park blanket.

A New Keepsake

I compiled all the receiving blankets that matched and cut them up, planned out my pattern, sewed them back together, and then sewed a shower curtain liner to the back….Presto!  A water-proof park blanket!  So perfect for playing on a day after it rains, which is generally a day when my girls need the park the most!

 

What keepsakes or creative ideas have you made and/or come up with for your child as they have transitioned from baby to toddler?

 

Surviving Dinner: Need a Win?

End of the Day

I found myself dreading 5pm.  I am a stay at home mom with twin toddlers.  I love them.  I am thankful that I have been able to stay at home with them.  However, there are days when five o’clock rolls in and I am almost biting my fingernails as I wait for the moment my husband is there and ready to take over.  I like cooking and I have always enjoyed it.  Before I had kids I cherished my time in the kitchen. I used to like it, because I found joy and a sense of accomplishment in being able to prepare something that tasted good.  I knew that no matter what kind of day I had, I could come home from work and putter around in the kitchen, experimenting with spices and herb s and trying new recipes.  I could succeed in something that I had put my hand to, even if it was the only success I had all day.  Everyone needs a win.

Kitchen or Break-room?

Now that I have children the experience is different.  I still enjoy puttering around.  However, over the last few months I have looked at it more as break time and less as a challenge to create something tasty–I am sure my husband has noticed the difference in the meals!  Nonetheless, I have been enjoying my escape to the kitchen and my new-found break from taking care of my children.  Well I was enjoying it, until my little toddlers started toddling into the kitchen, invading my break-room, curious as to what their mommy was doing, and wanting to help me.  At first this really unnerved me.  All kinds of thoughts went through my head, “They could get hurt.  They could burn themselves on the oven.  They are simply too little to help.  This is my time!’  It was difficult for my husband and I for a few weeks.

Feeling Brave

Then one Saturday, a day when my husband was home with me and available to help, I had an idea. I wanted to make tuna for the upcoming week’s sandwiches and I was tired of making it every time I wanted a sandwich.  So I had planned to make a big batch and stick it in the fridge, ready and available when I needed it.  Originally, I had planned to make it on a Saturday when my husband wasn’t working; that way the girls could play with daddy, and I would be free to cook in the kitchen undisturbed.  However my little twins had other plans.  So, feeling brave with the hubby there to back me up, I plunged head first into what has become a memorable, fun, and cherished activity every week for our family: Cooking with Toddlers.  We pulled out the extra-wide kitchen stool, set it up next to me, let the girls both climb up (my husband stood behind them ready to pick them up and carry them out if all went awry), and we began preparing a big bowl of tuna.  I made sure I cut celery and other add-ins on the side of the counter away from where the girls were standing, but I let them add in the ingredients.  We counted tuna cans, we counted whole ingredients, we mixed, we measured and added mayonnaise, we mixed, we tasted, we added mustard, we mixed, we tasted, and then we made sandwiches…and they ate them!!!!  Triumph! — and man it tasted good!  Like I said, everyone needs a win.

 Have you tried cooking with your toddler?  What works for you?

Set yourself up for a win: If you haven’t tried it, try it this week!  Pick a time when they are well rested and you are mentally prepared to enjoy a cooking project with them and go for it!

Surviving Toddlers: Avoiding Parental Burn Out

It’s Not About Me

Being a mother is a selfless job.  Since I have become a mother my entire world has flipped on edge.  I no longer focus as much on my goals and where my life is headed as I focus on becoming a good mother.  I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to parent in a way that lets my twin toddlers know how much I love them; and at the same time tends to their developmental, spiritual, and physical needs.

An Average Day with Twin Toddlers

I spend time each night trying to get ahead of my twins by planning out a loose or very structured plan for the next day.   My day goes by fast.  When they are awake, I tend to focus most of my time on my girls–trying to make sure that we are reading books, singing songs, playing games, using our music and rhythm toys as we sing songs, counting, exercising, learning animals, etc…  Don’t worry, I do realize that I am not capable of doing things this perfect everyday and I don’t expect anyone else to be.  They are good goals and I try to keep them there, as goals.  If we do everything on the list, hurray!  If not, at least I had some ideas as to what we could do that day.

Sometimes I spend all of the twins’ nap time making a meal, catching up on laundry, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or vacuuming.  (Other days, I nap with them and don’t get any of that done)  Then we have afternoon activities.  My husband is off work at 5pm and after he comes in we start making dinner.  Our evening routine goes quickly.  After dinner it is dishes, bath, pjs, teeth brushing and then bedtime.  By 8pm I am exhausted.  I have spent all day focused on other people: playing, making meals, and cleaning.  Does this sound familiar?

Taking Time Out

I found that if I didn’t make time for myself, no one else would.  Before I figured this out, there were days that I didn’t get a shower, that I didn’t eat till dinner time, and I felt completely run down.  No one can be super mom, and everyone needs to recharge.  If you have kids, you need to do it daily–especially if you are home with them.  Here are a few things I try to include in my week to recharge:

Prioritizing Me:

Morning Routine

Do a morning routine EVERY DAY!  Our morning routine begins first thing, the girls wake up, we take them downstairs, then dad feeds them breakfast while I get a shower, do my hair, brush my teeth and dress to leave the house.  I have a morning routine for my girls that gets them ready for their day.  I need to be doing at least as much for myself.  A morning routine helps you feel like a person, it helps your children know what to expect each day, and it helps you get out of the house (because everyone is dressed and ready)

Get Out

Get Out of the house:  If you are low on funds, take your toddler(s) out for a walk.  I used to get out everyday with the stroller and walk.  I took mommy time first by taking a longer walk through our neighborhood.  During this time I liked to pray, but you could also listen to music or a book on tape.  The second half of the outing always ended at the park.  That way the girls got to get out and use up some of their energy.  It makes the walk home much easier and being outside is a great way to chase away those indoor blues.

Play With Your Friends

Plan at least one (I personally feel the more the better) play date every week.  Get together with another mom, you need a friend.  If you don’t already do this, let me tell you it can be the most encouraging experience to spend time with another mom sharing and comparing stories.  With my twins I have found that play dates with moms who have older kids work really well so don’t discount moms who have older kids when you are thinking about making play dates.

Take a Time Out

Take time out for your own personal growth.  I am a Christian.  I attend a women’s bible study at my church.  I am finding it is one of the only times during my week that I use just for me.  Yes, it is time I am devoting to God, so technically it is for Him.  But it is time that I have designated away from my girls because my relationship with God is important and I want to focus on Him.  During our bible study we focus on books that address different areas of Christian living and we talk about life and our faith.  Whatever you do, remember you need to include time in your week to tend to your faith, you can’t keep going back to an empty well and expect there to be water.  Instead take time to make sure that the well has been replenished from the source.

Get a Hobby

I am a crafter.  I like to make things. I like to sew; and I like to figure out how things go together.  Once a week I spend time in the evening on a project.  I allow myself to stay up as long as I need to or want to in order to complete as much as I can or want of a project.  It is one of the only times during my week that I am completely focused on one thing.  I am not multitasking. I don’t have a million thoughts going through my head. I am focused and concentrating on the one task at hand.  I have a list of projects that I keep so I don’t get overwhelmed by the millions of ideas of crafts I want to start.  I am learning the joys of taking one task all the way through to completion.

Take Care of Your Marriage

Spend time with your spouse.  Have a game night.  Don’t get stuck in a rut watching TV.  People don’t really spend time together when they are watching TV.  Have a few nights a week that are just for the two of you.  Your marriage needs it.  I spoke with a mom of twins a while back who offered to babysit so we could go out.  She shared with me that her marriage didn’t make it through their twins’ childhood and encouraged us to make sure that we remember to spend time together and to put time into our marriage.  Whether you have twins, multiples, or singletons I have a feeling that this applies equally across the board.  Good marriages don’t just happen, they take an investment of time.

These are things that I try to do on a weekly basis, the important word there is “try.” No one is perfect. But its good to have goals.  What do you do as a mom to recharge? What do you think has been the most helpful thing that you take time out to do for yourself since you have had kids?

Surviving the Journey: Rediscovering My Voice

Confidence

I have been a stay at home mom now for a little over two years. Which is a funny statement since my twin daughters are only 19 months old. However, I haven’t worked since I found out I was pregnant and during that time a friend jokingly described my job as, “growing babies.” Which I think falls into the category of a stay at home mom; so I am claiming the job title for that time of my life as well. The last position I held (that I got paid for) was as a Children’s Pastor.  I loved it.  My life was busy and full. I got to make leadership decisions, I had an awesome team of paid staff and volunteers that I loved, I got to speak publicly, I got to hang out with people and kids, and I got to tell them how much God loves them. I was so confident in my gifts, talents, and abilities.

Confidence Fleeting

Its amazing what being at home can do to a person’s confidence. There are days when I question if I ever really did many of the things I used to do.  I wonder sometimes if I will ever speak publicly or preach again, and if I do I wonder: would I have anything worthwhile to share? My husband has been encouraging me to “find my voice” again.  So here I am, blogging and trying to rediscover my voice. It has been intimidating to begin blogging again. Which I find funny because there is a good chance that no one will ever read any of my posts.

Encouragement Found

Recently, I was reading in the book of Acts as part of my bible study.  I was reading Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin.  In his speech he gives a a summary of the exodus event including information about the life of Moses. Generally, when I think of Moses I remember that he wasn’t a good speaker.  But as I read today, I was surprised to realize that right there in the book of  Acts (7:22 NIV) it states that Moses was, “educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.” I realized that what I usually remember is his response when God tells him to go and speak to Pharoah.  He says,“Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4: 10 NIV) I realized something about Moses I had not considered before.  He makes this statement after he has spent forty years in the desert. Forty years of learning and preparation in the desert. Forty years of not speaking.  Before that 40years began Moses was brought up in Pharoah’s court.  He had been given and education and it says that he was a powerful speaker. After 40years in the desert learning and focusing in on other things that God was teaching him, he hadn’t needed that speaking ability. He forgot his gift and it was debilitating.

Rediscovery

God knew Moses: he knew what he had created Moses for and what he was capable of. He knew Moses could speak. He knew Moses would be able to sit as a judge for the people.  He knew Moses would speak to the people and to Pharoah and tell them what God had for them to hear.  I am realizing that I can’t let the fact that I have spent the last two years being home with my girls and not using my gifts the way I once did keep me from using them now. Please understand, I am not saying that God hasn’t been teaching me over the last two years.  I am also not saying that I haven’t learned anything about God, or about my relationship with him.  I have learned a lot and I still have a lot to learn.  But it seems so intimidating to put myself out there again. To subject myself to possible criticism. However, God is moving me to do something, to say something, or to respond to something, then I don’t have to worry about my capability, because He knows what I can handle.

Is there something that you have been wanting to try your hand at, but you have been lacking the confidence to tackle it?  Put yourself out there, if it is something that God wants you to do, it will succeed and if it doesn’t–at least you will have tried.

Surviving Perfectionism: A Successful Day Parenting Toddlers

11:45 PM

It’s 11:45pm and today was a successful day.  It isn’t successful because the kitchen is clean, or because all the kids’ toys are put away and I am listening to the hum of the washing machine as I type.  I mean come on it’s 11:45! Obviously, things didn’t go the way I would have planned.  Before I had kids, I thought being a stay at home mom would mean that I always had laundry done and put away, dishes in the dishwasher and not on the counter or in the sink, kids that were always in clean clothes, hair that was always done, and a clean car both inside and out.   Then I had twins and actually became a stay at home mom.  I find it funny that, when I pictured what I would do as a stay at home mom, none of it actually factored in the “having kids” part–it definitely didn’t factor in twins!

My Day with Toddlers

So this is actually how my day went: We woke up late because one of the girls was up all night in pain from cutting her molars.  The girls stayed in their pajamas until their nap (I swear: they are usually fed, dressed and presentable by 9am). Callie insisted on being held most of the day because she is the one cutting teeth. I didn’t get any dishes put into the dish washer, or wash any of the loads of laundry that are piling up on the landing (usually I do at least one a day…with twins you have to…and really I should do at least two)  We didn’t clean up a single toy we played with. Nap time was a fiasco and only lasted about an hour once they were finally asleep.  I did manage to complete a beanbag craft for the girls, but while I was working on it, I allowed them to play with dry beans next to me — which means there were beans EVERYWHERE.  We didn’t get out of the house to the park, and I didn’t have time to sit and read my bible or do my bible study (I will be completing it after this).

Lessons Learned

So, I’m guessing you are wondering how it was successful.  Almost a decade ago, I had the privilege to do an internship in Northern Ireland.  I remember one day I was so stressed out as I thought of all I had to accomplish that day.  I was talking with our Pastor’s wife (a very wise woman) about how worried and stressed I was.  I remember her telling me to just give God my list and let him decide what gets accomplished.  I kid you not, I really thought she couldn’t possibly understand all of the things that were depending on me accomplishing everything on my list.  I thought it was irresponsible of me to view it that way.  I am pretty sure I continued to plead my case to her that I had to do all of these things and all  of them that day.  I totally didn’t get it.  Really I didn’t get it at all; until recently.  You see, my error was that I felt I had to accomplish everything; that everything depended on me, because people were counting on me, and if I didn’t come through, then it would be a catastrophe!  I don’t know if you can hear the perfectionist in me talking here, but she is.  Everything had to get done, and it had to get done just so.

A Successful End

I get it now.  God is in control.  Not me.  It doesn’t matter how much I want my house to be clean, the dishes to be done, dinner not to be late, or the girls dressed and ready at the same time each day.  God had a plan for today.  Callie didn’t feel good.  I got to sit and hold my toddler today.  I got to do a craft with my twins.  We had so much fun playing with what we had made once they were finished.  Who cares if I am up late because it took longer to clean and I didn’t have as much time to work on other things?  Today, I let God be in control of my schedule.  Things didn’t go the way I would have planned, but my kids are happy and they know their mommy loves them.  And I am learning to give God my schedule. I am learning not to fight Him for it. I am learning to trust His judgment.  Yes.  Today was a success.

 

How are you measuring your day?  Is it by unreal expectations?  What do you do when things don’t go the way you planned?  I hope that you can remember to let go and let God direct your day, if you can I think you will find that every day is a success.

 

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The Day Unknown

“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this:  if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. ” Matthew 24:42-44 NIV

This is my 35th week of pregnancy!!!  The end stretch is near, I can almost see my babies in my arms.  I even had a dream a few nights ago that they were born and each baby was beautiful and well formed.  I dreamt I was holding them.  It hasn’t been uncommon for me to dream about them, but this is the first time I got an image of a baby–not a preemie, and not some odd shape in my belly, actual babies.

Like many first time moms, I have been a dedicated reader during this pregnancy.  I have devoured anything I could find about being pregnant with twins my favorite being, “When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets and Quads”.  I have thumbed through “What to Expect When Your Expecting”, and read “YOU Pregnant”, and recently I have begun reading books on nursing and care for after the baby is born.   My husband and I have taken nearly every class that our health care provider offers on being pregnant including: “Have a Healthy Pregnancy”, “Baby Care Basics” just to name a few.  We even toured the maternity ward.  In addition to advice for the pregnancy itself, many of these classes and books offer advice and guidelines for when the babies actually come.  For example, many books tell you to pack your hospital bag in your third trimester. A friend of mine who had twins told us to pack our bags by 30 weeks because, well you just never know with twins.  Another piece of advice we have gotten was to make a twin chart for diapering and feeding.  Some people do this for singletons, but with twins every book and person who has done this  seems to have found it helpful in remembering which twin nursed, which twin was changed, and how many times.  Every thing I have read has screamed, “Organize, organize, organize!”

Now apparently it is very natural for pregnant women to “nest” in their last trimester.  Energy level increases (supposedly, again I have mostly been in bed) and the desire to prepare takes over.  So in the last few weeks I have been preparing and getting ready for these girls.  I have the changing table and diaper bag all stocked up and ready for their first use.  I even have the baby tub ready with a little basket filled with fresh towels, washcloths, baby soap, oil, and lotion all set and ready for use.  I have all of their linens, blankets and clothing laundered and folded.  My hospital bag is packed and ready.  I made my chart for keeping track of which twin I fed and diapered and when.  The bassinets are in our room just waiting for the babies to come home with us.

So, I feel like I have done everything possible to be totally prepared over the last few weeks.  In spite of all this, as I sat reflecting this morning and enjoying the feeling of the babies moving around, snuggling, and kicking inside me, I realized–I have no idea when they are actually coming.  There is  a whole set of circumstances that I am not ready for: water breaking, going into real labor, surgery.   If I was guaranteed to make it to our c-section date that would make this easier.  Just imagine, I could simply show up to my appointment, they would prep me for surgery and an hour or two later I would be recovering with my beautiful babies.   But that just isn’t guaranteed.  Yikes.  This is crazy.  I feel ready but here I am anticipating their arrival with a new sense of excitement and fear.  In fact the only guarantee I have is that, yes, they are coming and no, I can’t just keep them inside forever.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to keep them inside forever, this is a remarkably uncomfortable pregnancy and I am very tired of contractions by this point… but there are so many unknowns.

As I thought about all of these things  this morning, the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples about His return came to mind.  He said that the day and the hour are unknown.  Jesus said that before the flood came, people were walking around just as they always had, doing what they always did.  But Jesus tells the disciples be prepared for the coming of their Lord, be ready for the day He returns–even if you don’t know when or how that will be.  He will come.  I realized that in the same way I am ready for the twins, I also need to be ready for my Lord.  That means that I should take the time every day to be as prepared for His return as I have in preparing for the birth of the babies.  I should be reading my bible daily, I should be praying daily, I should be spending time seeking His heart and asking Him what He wants me to do today.  I should not wait to solve a conflict with a friend or anyone until tomorrow.  I should not wait to ask for forgiveness until tomorrow.  I should not wait to let people know how important and valuable they are to me until tomorrow.  I need to try living each day in a way that I know when He comes I am ready: heart, mind and soul.

The View From the Bench

In the last year my husband and I have made some rather large life changes.  We became pregnant with twins, I resigned my position as full-time Children’s Pastor.  My husband became a part-time youth Pastor at a new church.  We moved in with my grandparents.  All of these changes have occurred since January 2010.  It is now July and in addition to all of those changes, my pregnancy has put me in bed most of the time.  My life has gone from twelve-hour ministry days, to days in bed and often not even a trip to church on Sunday.  I am sitting on the bench, watching the game happen, a game I have been trained for, a game I was made to play.  I have been asking God in this down time what it is that He is teaching me.  What it is that He wants me to learn during this time.  The following blog is perhaps the biggest and hardest thing that he has been speaking to me.

I began reading Genesis again, specifically the story of Jacob.  About the same time my husband, who always is listening to podcast sermons as he works, was listening to a pod cast by Francis Chan.  He referenced Jacob, and how Jacob had struggled with God and refused to let go of God until the Lord blessed him.  I asked my husband a simple question, “what does it mean to struggle with God the way Jacob did?”  It was a simple question, but one I could feel the Lord was getting ready to blow my mind with.

So I read the narrative in the bible.  I began reading about the Patriarchs, first Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob.  I found something as I read that I had not noticed before.  Most of us are familiar with the story.  Jacob had a twin brother, and the wrestled in the womb.  This caught my attention of course because my own twins seem to be playing pin ball with my organs.  But when Rachel, their mother sought God on why this was happening, the Lord told her that there are two nations at odds in her womb.  He also tells her that the younger will serve the older.  Now when Jacob is born, he comes out grasping the heel of his brother.  And for this reason is named Jacob.  Now this mortified me to think of the actual birth of two babies where one comes out of the birth canal grasping the heel of the other. (Again, I am having twins soon)  The name Jacob means “supplanter” or “held by the heel.”  At this point, God has already promised that Jacob will receive a great blessing, that he will become a great nation, and that he will rule over his brother.  However, he and his mother seem to think that they need to help God’s plan along.  First, Jacob tricks his brother into selling him his birthright for a bowl of stew.  Second, Rachel has Jacob trick his father into giving Jacob the blessing of the first-born, Esau’s blessing.  Now, how often in our lives do we feel that we know the calling, or direction that God has for us.  How often do we decide to make decisions based on what we think the Lord is going to do in our lives, instead of just waiting and allowing Him to do it?  I know I have made this mistake many times in my life.

After this, Rachel tells Jacob to run.  She tells him to run to his uncle’s house because she is afraid Esau will kill him.  So he leaves.  This is the part that really gets me.  On the road to Laban’s, Jacob has a dream.  God promises to prosper him, he gives him the same promise that he gave to Abraham and to Isaac.  When Jacob wakes up, he erects a monument to the Lord.  Here is what Genesis 28:20-22 says that Jacob did next:

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

Now, I have never noticed that Jacob makes an “if” and a “then” statement.  God has just promised to prosper him, to give him land, to give him numerous descendants, and to bless all nations through him, and he wakes up, and says ‘Ok, if you make sure I don’t die in this land, if you protect me, if you are with me on this journey, then you will be my God.’  How many times do we bargain with God saying things like, ‘okay God if you do this, then I will do this for you.’  When we do this we make our will and our desire more important than the thing that God wants to bless us with.

Jacob has the God of the universe promising him the great things, and he bargains with God.  What!?!  I am going to make an observation here: it shows me Jacob still doesn’t get it and it shows me that Jacob hasn’t made God his God yet.  So he goes into this land, and is there for something like 20 years.  He is deceived, he is tricked, but in the end, God does bless him.  When he finally decides to leave, that is when he meets God and wrestles with Him.  Who knows how much easier his time in the land could have been if he had made God his God after the vision.  If he had just trusted and not tried to make this promise come about in his time under his conditions.   How many times do we, knowing full well God is in control and has promised us something, go forward to make things happen on our own?  If only this were easy.  If only it was easy to sit and not try to make things happen in our time and in our way.

So here I am.  I have a calling on my life.  I have made many choices that have led me to this exact point in my time and in my walk with God.  I have learned a great many things, and have acted rashly in the past.  I have made decisions that have probably resulted in a much longer journey to this point.  Just as Jacob’s choices made his time in Laban’s house much longer than necessary.  I am struggling with God.  Not so much my faith or world view.  But I am struggling with not acting.  I am on the bench for a season and everything in me feels that I need to get a job, I need to make decisions.  If God has this incredible calling on my life, why am I not doing anything right now?  I should be out there making things happen.  But God is saying, “Wait.  I have you right where I want you, watching the game from the sidelines.   Be ready to go when I call you, until then…wait.”