Not the Same Old Same Old

IMG_20200117_074805_915Yesterday my alarm woke me up at 6 am. I laid in bed, not wanting to move. I tried to inspire myself to movement by thinking about everything I needed to get done in the next 50 minutes before I woke up the kids. Get dressed, cook breakfast, sign homework folders, write sick excuse notes for two kids, have my devotions. 

 

No. 

 

That was not inspiring me to get up. 

 

I tried to think about all the things I needed to do today, thinking maybe that will stir up a bit of excitement for the day. Hmm. Lets see. Clean house. Feed kids. Go grocery shopping. Take care of kids. Ad nauseam. Nope. That wasn’t inspiring either. Honestly, that just sounded like a repeat of all my days. Each day running into the next. Same old day. Nothing new under the sun. 

 

I finally managed to drag myself out of bed, cook the oatmeal, do the stuff. Get the kids up. Braid little girl’s hair. Everyone got your backpacks? Ok, let’s get moving. We all filed out to the van. It was still dark outside and I could tell that the whole sky was covered in clouds. But, right over there, on the horizon, there was a small break in the cloud bank and the sunrise was pouring through that hole. 

 

At first the clouds were just a dark purply-pink. It wasn’t drawing a lot of attention to itself. I had to point it out to the kids. Look! The sunrise is just starting! As I pulled the van out, I was once again thankful that my trip to the school takes me almost directly East. Every morning I get to drive into the sunrise. We all practiced our Bible verse for the week as we drove and then I started my daily out-loud prayer for the family. I was in the middle of a sentence when the van crested over a steep hill and suddenly we could see the entire valley and a glowing orange and pink sky….Oh my goodness! Look everyone! My spirits lifted a little more. 

 

I stopped at the first school then headed west to get to the next school, then finished the circle and pulled into my driveway. I kept the car running, sat in my seat and just watched the amazing show that was happening up in the heavens. I finally got out of the car, took a picture, then went back into the house…on with the day. 

 

I found out a couple hours later that a dear elderly woman in our church had passed away that morning. And I wonder now, if that sunrise was for her. 

 

And I am convicted once again, that there is no such thing as a normal, boring, ordinary day. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 118:24,This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

The only way to rejoice and be glad in a day, is to look carefully, purposefully, for all the things that we can be glad about. A beautiful sunrise. A three year old’s silly comments. A warm fire. Money to buy groceries. A home large enough to fit all my kids. Being part of a family. Laughing with friends. 

Yes. My boring, nothing-happening day was actually a good day. Full of wonder, if I just took the time to look. 

 

It’s Urgent!

My house is clean. Upstairs and Downstairs. I am running the last two loads of laundry and once those are folded, I will be completely caught up on my laundry. The dishes are washed too. I know what I’m cooking for supper tonight. All the pets are cared for, and even my front porch is picked up. 

 

You might be wondering why. It is only Tuesday after all. I’m not entertaining tonight.

 

Well, I would say it has a lot to do with the fact that I have three new children. Since they have moved in, I have felt a driving need to keep everything clean and organized. Way too many people here to have it be messy. But, aside from that, I have been feeling a sense of Urgency. I don’t have time to waste. The kids are at school. Lets get these chores done now, because when they get home, they are going to be wanting, and demanding my full attention. I need to spend this evening reading books aloud, not cleaning up my kitchen. I need to have a plan for supper because I’m going to be asked “What are you making for supper?” and the fact that I have an answer is going to bring a sense of security and safety. 

 

As I am realizing how tenuous foster situations are, I am feeling a sense of urgency. I don’t know how long I have. How much love and stability can I cram in the time that I do have? 

 

The sad thing is, why haven’t I had this sense of urgency all along? I only have a limited time with my own children after all. I know this is true as I have already launched two children from my home. Time is of the essence. 

 

It took a major life change to help me remember just how precious time is, and how little of it we actually have. And how I need to be using the time I have to the best of my abilities, instead of lagging around saying, I’ll finish that task tomorrow, there’s no rush, I’ve got time. 

 

A couple weeks ago I had a startling dream. In my dream Jesus came back. For those of you who aren’t overly familiar with the Christian Faith, Jesus coming back is the Grand Finale. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for since he returned to heaven 2,000 years ago. It’s what scripture has told us to be anticipating. In fact, I found this quote, “One out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament refers either to the rapture of the church or to Christ’s coming to reign over the world (cf. Jesse Forrest Silver, The Lords Return, p. 29).”

It’s pretty important. 

 

So, I had this dream. And I remember what stood out the most was this feeling of, “Ok. That’s it. Game over…Now what’s going to happen?”  I thought about the dream here and there, then about two days ago, there was this crazy loud noise, it sounded almost like a ram’s horn being blown and it was going on and on and on. And I was walking around my house, looking out windows, checking devices, trying to figure out where this sound was coming from. Again, my thoughts jumped to Second Coming…Is this it? Is Jesus about to show up? The sound eventually stopped, but I found it amusing that once again my thoughts were on Jesus coming back. Especially since this is not something I usually think about a whole lot. 

I don’t think that these dreams and thought patterns are supposed to mean that I am soon going to pin down a nearby date when Jesus is definitely going to return. But, I think having a spirit of expectancy, and even urgency about Jesus’ return is important. 

 

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” 

 

Jesus not only saves us from the debt of our sin, but he’s also got stuff laid out for us to do while we are here on earth. And we actually have a limited time to do it in. For most of us, that time will be cut short when we die, not with Jesus showing up in the clouds. But, no matter how it’s cut short, the fact remains, our time is limited. 

 

All those good ideas of how we can serve others, help the people around us…we need to get moving on them. Not just sit around thinking, there’s no rush, I’ll do it later, I’ve got plenty of time. 

 

May we all live our lives with a sense of urgency. Our time is short. 

 

My Family Isn’t as Weird as Yours!

The other day I saw a link online to a sensationalized article about a family somewhere in Scotland who had ten boys and one girl. (The 11th child was the girl!). Since I now currently have eleven children in my home, I was curious, and clicked on the article. It says that she washes forty-nine loads of laundry a week. What! I mentally counted in my head. I only wash eight to ten loads a week. Unless we have to wash bedding. Then it could be maybe fifteen, tops. Except, my older kids do their own laundry, so I would need to add on about four more loads to that number. And I have a really big washing machine. And it probably holds about three loads worth of some small European type washing machine. So, if you add that all up, say, I do twelve loads, plus four loads, equals sixteen loads, times three, equals forty-eight loads of laundry. Hmm. 

 

The article also says she vacuums her house seven times a day. Well, now that’s just weird. Must be a clean freak. 🙂 Unless her house is all carpeted and it’s small. I could see vacuuming a lot if that were the case. I don’t vacuum seven times a day, but I probably clean my toilet that many times. Too many little boys in the house. 

 

They didn’t mention how many times she washes dishes. I use paper plates. (Not environmentally friendly, not sure what to do about that…)The other day I ran out of paper plates and wasn’t going to be able to make it to the store for a bit. So, we used the regular plates. I washed 3 large dishwasher loads a day, as compared to one large dishwasher load a day, plus handwashing all the oversized pots and pans that don’t fit. Lots of fun. 

 

They also mentioned that she went grocery shopping twice a week!! I scoffed for a minute, then thought about it. Well, yes, I do go grocery shopping twice a week, but that’s not two GIANT shopping trips. I usually do a really big grocery shopping, then halfway through the week, I go and stock up on fruit, milk, bread and whatever random thing I’ve run out of. Because when I buy an entire weeks’ worth of fruit, my kitchen tends to fill up with fruit flies. Plus, it helps keep things fresh if I go twice a week. But, my second shopping really isn’t THAT big. Maybe just two trips walking from the car to get everything in the house. 

 

The photos of the family in the article showed all the kids lined up in color-coordinated t-shirts. The mom is an exercise instructor and looks amazing despite having just given birth to her eleventh child. The children are all handsome and photogenic. Sigh. My children are beautiful, most of them are photogenic, but several of them have not mastered the art of the “real smile” and instead look sickly or constipated, because, for some reason, that’s what they think they’re supposed to do when someone points a camera at them. I have one child that has literally spent his entire life trying to mess up our family pictures. I won’t mention any names, but if you track down any family photos you’ll spot him. I think that color-coordinating is corny and refuse to participate in that particular form of child torture. Though, all my friends that do coordinate, do look very nice in their photos. 🙂  And, lastly, an exercise instructor I am not. Double sigh. 

 

In the end, I found it really funny to read this article that was trying to make having eleven kids sound like some kind of weird freak show. What? They even brought up the OctoMom. I especially found it funny that I spent the entire article comparing my family to theirs, trying to justify how my family was better. What was that all about? I went back and found another article, not so sensationalized, about the same family. They sounded like regular, interesting people. We’d probably get along pretty well if we ever met. When am I ever going to get over this comparison thing? It’s not a competition. 

 

I will keep reminding myself of this. 

 

Have Yourself a Very Hygge Christmas

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The other day “hygge” was my Word of the Day and I loved it. I thought, This is My word. A word I can get behind.  Then the next day, I saw this picture with the definition again. And suddenly it seems that I’m seeing it everywhere.  And I love it. It fits into the lifestyle that I try to have, noticing the small things and realizing that the small things are actually the big things.

 

Right now, as I sit in my chair I can look out a window and see the early sun slanting in on my neighbor’s house, and just seeing that sliver of sunlight makes me happy. It gives me a feeling of hygge. 

 

Sitting at the breakfast table this past Sunday morning with twelve children all gathered together, everyone chatting happily to each other. Hygge. 

 

Walking through the house last night, right before bed, turning off lights, checking locks on doors…I stopped and noticed all of our stockings hung on the mantle, waiting for Christmas morning. Hygge. 

 

Today I will spend the day baking a humongous pan of cinnamon rolls and a quadruple recipe of pumpkin bread. I’ll get various children to help me and the house will soon smell like a bakery, the smell of cinnamon and warm bread filling the air. Hygge. 

 

Tonight my husband and I will stay up till the wee hours wrapping presents and putting them under the tree. When we are finally done, we will sit on the couch in the dark, maybe with a hot cup of tea, and admire the twinkling lights of the tree and all the surprises waiting underneath. We’ll grin as we imagine the excitement of the kids in the morning when they see all these presents waiting. Hygge.

 

Tonight also, per tradition, all the kids will gather in one bedroom, snuggle in their blankets, and one of the older children will read aloud the book, “The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever”. The younger children will fall asleep halfway through the book, the older ones will squirm around, wishing that morning would hurry up and come. The anticipation will be thick in the air as one by one they drop off to sleep. Hygge. 

 

Life is so rich if you can just stop and take notice. May your Christmas be one that is full of hygge as you pause and enjoy the small moments that are all around you. 

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Keeper of the Stuff

It came home to me today that I have a Job Title that I didn’t even realize. I am the Keeper of the Stuff. 

 

My oldest son: Mom, I have to take a present to the party tonight…where can I find a gift bag?

Me: Either top shelf of the hall closet or the bottom corner of the hall closet.

 

My husband: Where did I put my wedding ring? (Construction and wedding rings don’t always go well together.)

Me: Check my dresser.

 

Younger daughter: Mom, I want to give my teacher a Christmas Card.

Me: Check the top white drawer, there’s a stack of cards you can pick from.

 

Son: WE’RE OUT OF MILK!!

Me: No, bottom shelf, behind the eggs, there’s another gallon.

 

Extra Toothbrush? Check the pantry, above the washing machine. Plastic silverware? Look under the brown buffet, in the basket. Butter dish? I think I saw it in the bottom of the Catch All Drawer. Lost paper? Check my stack of papers in my room. Hair clips? Sorry, you’re out of luck. 

 

I think every family probably has one person who is the Keeper of the Stuff. It doesn’t have to be the mom. But, I think it is usually the person who has taken on the role of Primary Housekeeper and Primary Caregiver. It’s one of the requirements of the job: knowing where everything is.

 

Of course, I’m just human. I can’t keep up with everything. My oldest daughter used to help me with this. ANNA! HAVE YOU SEEN THE HANDMIXER??? And then she’d tell me where it was. Of course, she loved to cook and had her own organisation system so asking her where stuff was also had something to do with that old phrase, “Too many cooks in the kitchen.” But, Anna also tended to notice things around the house, so she was always my go-to person to help find something. Now that she lives in another state, I sometimes find myself looking for something  and think, “I should call Anna, maybe she knows where it is!?” Instead, I text my husband who is baffled as to why I am asking him. It just makes me feel better to pull one other person into my fruitless search for that one little attachment to the mixer that I haven’t used in two years. 

 

Hand-in-hand with KEEPER OF THE STUFF comes the job title FINDER OF THE STUFF. Now, this one, from my limited experience, does tend to be filled by the women of the house. 

 

Husband: I have looked everywhere, I can’t find that check I put on this shelf.. 

Me: (Walks over to the shelf, picks up check sitting on the shelf..) You mean this one? 

 

10 year old boy: I can’t find my shoes. I can’t go to school today because all of my shoes are gone.

Me: (Walks over to the shoe box, removes three pairs of shoes that belong to this child…) Put your shoes on, you’re going to school. 

 

Daughter, opens fridge: Mom! We’re out of salsa!!

Me: (Walks over to daughter, looks in the fridge, looks at the daughter…) The salsa is literally in front of your nose. If you walk forward about 6 inches, your nose will touch the salsa jar. 

 

Being the FINDER OF THE STUFF can be annoying. In fact, I have taken to warning my children, when they complain to me that they can’t find something. 

 

Me: If I come up there and find your shoes in less than One Minute….THERE IS GOING TO BE CONSEQUENCES! I don’t know what…But something. 

 

Anyway, I’ve held these job titles for years, I just hadn’t really thought of it till today. They are highly prestigious positions. I am sure they look good on my resume. 

 

I hate you…Merry Christmas!

So, I’ve decided every holiday season needs at least one blog to point out the underbelly of Season’s Greetings. Today is the day of the Heneise Family Christmas Party. If you didn’t get an invitation, consider yourself invited and come on over. I love this tradition. One of my girls asked me, rather annoyed because she is having to do a lot of cleaning today…Why do we always have a Christmas Party??? I said it’s because Christmas is about family, and since we don’t have a lot of family living close by, our friends are our family. And this is an opportunity to get together with them at least once during the Christmas Season. 

 

She harrumphed. 

 

If you can’t tell, attitudes haven’t been the best today. My kids love having a party, but they hate getting ready for a party. It involves cleaning, and deep cleaning, and decluttering, and picking up things that we usually ignore. Wiping down surfaces we usually leave for later. Then there is also the maintenance of the Said Cleaning. I JUST VACUUMED THAT COUCH!! GET OFF IT!!! 

 

The kids, already feeling put upon for having to clean, are taking it out on each other. I hate you! You’re stupid! I wish you weren’t here! And other horrible things that I don’t allow my children to say to each other, have been said today. I have had some rather uncomplimentary thoughts about some of my children as well, though at least I managed to keep it to myself. 

 

My husband told me yesterday that he was going to devote the whole day today to helping me get ready. I envisioned him washing some dishes and running a vacuum. This morning he announced he was going to clean the basement (???) and fix the two holes in my floors that have needed repairing for months. 

 

Ok.

 

Not exactly what I had in mind. 

 

But, the holes did need fixing, and apparently cleaning the basement was tied into fixing holes in the floor.

 

Ok. Give me a minute to readjust my expectations. 

 

Now, in a couple hours, people will start showing up and we’ll forget about cleaning the house and we’ll settle in to just having fun with friends. MERRY CHRISTMAS! PEACE ON EARTH! 

 

So, are we all raging hypocrites? Hateful one minute, sweet and nice the next? Or maybe being hypocritical is just part of human nature.  A human nature that we all need to be saved from. A human nature that was completely lost in it’s sinfulness and yet Jesus decided to give us value to the point that he was willing to come to earth and make the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be saved from this sinful human nature. 

Christmas…Emmanuel…God with us. 

 

I have believed in Jesus, decided to follow him. My sins are forgiven. But I still have this sinful human nature. I will spend my whole life learning how to be more like Jesus. Sometimes I’ll do really well. Like today! The meanest thing I said was, YOU GUYS STINK AT CLEANING! Which is mild compared to some of the verbiage that was being slung around. But then, there are days where I completely step out of grace and wallow in my sinful nature. 

 

So, really, I hate you…Merry Christmas… is completely appropriate for this time of year.  I hate you: I’m not the best person. I say and do bad things. Merry Christmas: that’s why Jesus came! We can devote an entire month to celebrate that we have a Savior now who wants to rescue us from ourselves. 

 

Self Care not Self Indulgence

I’ve been thinking a lot about Self-Care lately. I have been on a journey as I try to get to the root of my over-eating problems, food addictions, bad habits and life-style choices that have left me in a state of being overweight and unhealthy. I’ve been trying to figure out why I keep self-sabotaging all my attempts to be healthier, lose weight etc. What is wrong with me? 

 

Through this process, a couple stories from my childhood have come to mind. I wrote them down. I thought about them a lot. And slowly, a pattern revealed itself. I use food as a form of Being Kind to myself. In my mind, allowing myself to have that: extra helping, piece of chocolate, bakery delight, ice cream etc. is a way that I try to be kind to myself. I’m feeling depressed. I go eat something yummy. I’m stressed out. I buy myself a chocolate bar. I’m overwhelmed. I go eat fast food.  In all these situations I am feeling the need to be kind to myself and food has become the way that I do that. 

 

Obviously, this actually not being kind to myself. It has caused me to be overweight and unhealthy. That is not kindness. 

 

During these past weeks, I had a friend who was doing an “88 Days of Self-Care” where she described every day what she was doing to take care of herself. But I didn’t really grasp what she was doing until I read a post someone had shared about Self-Care by SORT THIS. It was exactly what I needed to hear. The main point that I carried away is that Self-Care is basically Self-Parenting. It’s not Self-Indulgence. I have definitely been completely into the self-indulgence thing. As a Parent of Many Children, hearing the term Self-Parent starts all kinds of bells ringing. I understand this concept. I know how to parent. I do this all day. No, you can’t have that candy. You don’t need to be eating sugar. Get your butts outside and play, you’ve been sitting around the house all day. Go get some sunshine, you’ve been cooped up in a dark room all day. Eat your vegetables! You need the nutrients! Take your vitamins, it will help you stay healthier. Have you had enough water today? Don’t forget you need to drink water all day! No, we’re not having dessert tonight, you don’t need to have dessert every day. 

 

I know all about parenting. 

 

This has been a paradigm shift for me. How to be Kind to Esther? Parent Esther. Don’t Indulge Esther. Stressed out? Go for a walk, get on the elliptical. Journal. Play the piano. Feeling Depressed? Repeat the above. Unhealthy? Talk to your doctor, find out what changes you need to make. Make the changes. 

 

In the past, my biggest hang up was that self-denial felt like being mean to myself. And after a while I would just get over it. Life is hard and I want someone to be kind to me. And not getting to eat dessert during the holidays while everyone else is, felt mean. Not getting that special treat when I was stressed did not feel kind at all. 

 

But now, I’m trying to see it through the lense of parenting. When I see a child walking around with an armful of junk food, stuffing their faces, I don’t think, “Oh what a lucky child! Someone was so nice to give them that!” I think, “Why is this kid’s parents letting him eat all that? It’s going to make them sick!” Parenting. Saying no because you’re looking at the Big Picture instead of the in-the-moment desires. I know you want to stay up all night watching tv, but you have school in the morning, so you need to get in bed on time. Saying No because you love this person and you want the best for them. And the best involves discipline. 

 

So, for the upcoming year, that is my goal. Start parenting myself.