Thursday, July 14, 2016

Do NOT read this if you've never tried to sell a house. DO NOT.

Selling a house can be a quick, painless experience for many. This has not been our experience. No, not even a little bit. How do I put this...hmmm... Well, let's talk about "some people" that don't sell their house quickly. Yes, those unlucky souls. Let's talk about them. Because I hear that for some this experience can be like:

6 months earlier, look around and realize- "Hey, there's a child busting out of each of these seams! Some more room would be really helpful in raising our large family. Let's sell our house and buy a bigger one!" Sounds so easy. Deceptively easy. Safely-wrestle-a-bear-to-the-ground-while-covered-in-honey easy.

So 6 months are spent pouring every dollar ever earned in the WORLD as well as every minute from every day into fixing up a house that has been neglected for too long because you can't figure out how these babies keep appearing???? And that keeps you pretty busy.

After the 6 months of hard, hard work are over, you wipe the sweat off your brow, beg/borrow/steal a pair of clothes that doesn't have paint splattered them all over, and you list your house. You are nervous because you imagine the ENTIRE WORLD running to BUY your house and OH MY WORD can we handle the traffic???? LOOK how FANTASTIC it looks after we put one BILLION dollars into it!!! (sorry for the all caps. Selling my house makes me want to use all caps....errr I mean the story of "those unlucky souls" makes me want to use all caps.)

The first 10 showings are all the same. "We like it, but we just can't get over that ginormous stone statue of Abraham Lincoln attached to the floor in the front hallway." (or some big glaring thing about the house that you didn't think was that big a deal...because you LIKE Abraham Lincoln.)

You throw some pretty flowers on ol' Abe, but still hear fifty more times the exact same thing, "Yeah, we don't like that big statue. The rest of the house is GREAT!"

Um. OK. The people have spoken!

So then you pay another BILLION dollars to remove the statue.

The next dozen showings: "Wow. LOVE the house! What an awesome, gorgeous, amazing, did we say awesome? house!!!! But the volcano in the yard makes us a bit nervous." (or some big glaring thing #2 that is completely out of your control and you haven't thought of since day 1 when you first moved in as you realized it wasn't an issue.)

Um. ok.

So you lower the price a touch to make up for that volcano, and then you get another dozen showings with the exact same response. "That volcano is not so hot. LOVE the house though. LOVE IT. WOW GORGEOUS HOUSE. Gonna pass."

And then a few- "I don't mind the volcano, but I feel the vibe that a statue used to be here....a really big statue...not such a good vibe. Was there a statue right there? Deal breaker."

Um. OK.

Kids skip nap times as you sacrifice ALL to do these showings. Showing after showing for months and months as your non-napped kids drive around town eating bribed donuts and you feel the shame of your parenting game crumbling around you (not unlike those donuts...all over the car). The bar is lowered from "good parenting" to "yay I didn't accidentally leave any of them behind for this showing!"

Your days go from kid-themed learning activities to activities like, "OK everyone sit on this tiny rug with ONE toy and DO NOT MOVE while I mop the floors around you. If you are super still I will also turn on your music. The winners of this game gets A DONUT!" And then wonder what you did wrong in your past life when your two hours of frantic cleaning ends with a child taking off a poopy diaper and scattering the extremely smelly poop- minutes before you are about to walk out the door for a showing. FYI- there aren't enough candles in the world... (also...I don't recommended hanging a sign that says: "BEWARE MISSING POOP BALL" The prettiest font in the world won't class that bad boy up.)

Day after day is spent obsessing over sweeping every dropped crumb, sanitizing every surface that is even slightly breathed on wrong, decluttering and putting away every object that suddenly materializes, shining up appliances and sinks and doorknobs, and sanctification is lost over smudges and unfolded clothes and the wrong candle in the wrong room. A crushed pretzel in the living room requires a brown paper bag for deep breathing exercises, and a dinner-covered hand touching the white doorframe on the way to bath time involves hysterics and loud shrieks.

You are doing this for them- right? So why do you find yourself snapping at them every time they get within a foot of a pen/marker/pencil/anything that can possibly write on the walls? Why is your patience growing shorter and shorter every single showing as you do 110% and yet find yourself not only 1. in the space where children are busting out of the seams but 2. not able to actually LIVE in that space because it needs to be kept nice for showings. Your small living space suddenly shrinks to the perimeter of your car which somehow mysteriously fills with sand and snacks and crumbs and extra outfits and random shoes, and sticky remnants of good behavior that used to belong to your children.

After paying another BILLION dollars to have the volcano tested and inspected and stated "A-OK" you get a few showings of, "I really like the house! Don't love it though. I'm going to go buy a different volcano house that has a better view of the lava."

And also- "WOW this house knocks my SOCKS off! I really love it..."

Wait for it

"But...I noticed there was a child's handprint on the sliding glass double doors. A handprint!!!! I'm out."

Oh sure. Because- buying a house...no problem! But buying a bottle of windex...OH NO THAT'S JUST TOO MUCH!

And THEN the day comes when a blessed soul says- "I don't mind the volcano. I think it gives really nice ambiance to the property. And a statue right there? I adore statues!!! This house is perfect!"

YAY!

"I'll give you 1 dollar for it."

Wait. What?

And then it feels like you are negotiating with terrorists.

"Yes, 1 dollar- and we are going to need .75 cents of that back so that we can build our large bomb-building shed over by the garage. Oh, and we don't want to close until 2020 to give us lots of time to get the troops- I mean our family- ready to move in."

Um.

You find yourself curved in a fetal position in a room that you used to think was GORGEOUS because of the sleek, brand new wood floors, light and airy gray walls, and huge, new picture window and now you're like "IS IT?" Will we have to PAY someone to take the house that we built with our SOULS? You limp into the brand new kitchen that is still shouting "DREAM KITCHEN", see a tiny purple crayon mark scarring one of the shiny new white cabinets and the next thing you know you are waking up in solitary confinement in some sort of padded white cell and not really sure how you got there.

Hypothetical situation, of course. Side bar and totally unrelated: straight jackets are super comfy.

As you sit there in the blessed peace and quiet, you think "We could add on to the house! We can build a fence! We can add some chlorine to the volcano and call it a pool! Why are we doing this to ourselves? Why just why?"

............... (every high emotion emoji in the world).............

I am going to break a rule and ask you all wonderful people for something (once you get past the point that this is not, in fact, a hypothetical situation, but a hugely, HUGELY exaggerated version of real life).

Could you please pray that our house sells? That just the right buyer who would be blessed by this space just as we have been (up until the point that we had 1 million children) would come and be able to enjoy all of the work that we have put into it? Or- pray that if we are supposed to stay here and call our contractor back to build on some more room...and a fence for our bolter (Addison)...that we will just KNOW so that we can get right on that and stop this madness. We would prefer to sell. Really, really prefer.

So could you please pray? I'm not going to include our house link here, because of privacy reasons (it's nothing personal, but I just don't know all of you in real life and hello-this is our address). But rest assured, we have a FANTASTIC realtor who is doing above and beyond to get this info into the hands of the right buyers. Really, I have been so humbled by the gracious help and encouragement of our realtor through all of this.

And if your first response is to comment with "I sold my house in SEVEN HOURS! How blessed am I!" or "Here's what you're doing wrong!" or "If only you did it the way WE did it...you too would have sold much faster and avoided all of this" Or any version of patting your quick sale on the back at our expense. Please don't. Just DON'T.

My mental state is a little fragile right now, and it wouldn't take much to push me right over the edge.

It's easy to be smug about how dry your shoes are standing on dry land when you're not the one swimming...across the ocean...in a violent downpour.

Just pray that we have wisdom to know what to do. And if a sell is in our cards- that it happens quickly.

Feel free to comment that this made you laugh. (as opposed to those other comments that we already discussed). Because I laughed while writing it. Because I prefer to laugh rather than cry and if you know me in person, you know that the thing I want MOST in the world (beside a sold house) is a sarcasm font. Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to go for a swim in our lovely volcano while the kids are napping. Because....volcano perks....



Friday, July 1, 2016

In The Chaos Of Adding Another Baby

I hope you will allow me a different sort of post today. I gave a little talk at a friend's baby shower last night, and I had a number of requests for me to email out copies, so I decided just to post it here so it could be easily accessed by those who requested it.

This talk was written for my friend who is a fantastic Mommy (I've removed all names for posting purposes)- who just added her second little one. I am super excited for her and her beautiful family. When I was asked to lead the share time- I decided to just jot down a bit of what God has been teaching me in this season of life.

So here you go. In The Chaos Of Adding Another Baby:

I remember the year I went from 1 kids to 2....oh wait...I actually can't remember anything from that year. There's a fuzzy black hole where those memories should be.

When you add a second baby, suddenly you have two little people who need two completely different things from you- at the exact same time.

The baby needs to nurse at the EXACT moment the toddler needs potty help.

The baby needs to be changed with a huge blowout at the EXACT moment your toddler needs to get to her swim class.

The baby is STARVING just as you are trying to get through the toddler's bedtime routine.

The toddler MUST EAT BREAKFAST NOW just as the baby is screaming to be nursed oh and by the way they both need drastic diaper help and possibly baths all around.

 (These are hypothetical situations...of course. They absolutely did NOT all happen to me...yesterday.)

This transition is tough because there are two of them. And one of you.

As the baby grows and grows, there will come a day when they both need similar things at the same time- for example- it's much easier to pour two bowls of cereal than to pour one bowl of cereal while simultaneously nursing a baby. Ask me how I know. (-;

So it does get better. I promise.

But for now, you might find yourself surrounded by a lot of chaos. A lot of chaos that cannot be structured or organized or willed away. Chaos that sometimes shows itself through baby screams blending with toddler cries blending perhaps with tears of your own. It can be so tough to navigate through this chaos at times.

Some will tell you, "Enjoy every minute! It goes so fast!"

I have 4 kids 6 and under and am still in this baby transition phase myself. As a result of my empathetic position, I am NOT going to tell you to enjoy every minute. No.

I firmly believe that some days are to be celebrated merely for surviving them. Trophies given. Days like "We all came down with the stomach flu at the same time and I had to nurse the baby while vomiting into a bowl above his head and then immediately get up to stumble to strip everybody's beds and wash everybody's sheets- while still carrying and using my own vomit bowl." Enjoy every minute? No. Celebrate survival. For sure.

But something I have been learning is that even in the midst of this chaotic time, never more has the verse "Be still, and know that I am God" rung true for me.

"Be still."  That's quite the popular saying for artists to paint onto decorative canvases- or even stitched on pillows for a nice couch throw. But where does that saying come from? It's part of a verse from Psalm 46, and to give you a bit of context, here is the chapter it comes from:

Psalm 46 (KJV to capture the wording of the "Be Still" verse)
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
3. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
4. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most high.
5. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breakest the bow and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Wars? Raging heathen? Earth being moved? Sounds like a lot of chaos to me. And not to be overly dramatic or to trivialize it at all, but it sounds very much like moments of my life of being surrounded by toddlers and babies and all of the chaos that comes with it.

Sometimes when I am struggling to maintain a bit of sanity with my crew of chaos surrounding me, I like to just get on the floor with them. Let them all climb onto my lap. Forget the dishes, forget the work, forget the schedule, and I am just still.

I silently pray a prayer of thankfulness. For the beautiful babies entrusted to me. I am still, and I know that he is God. I pray that he will be exalted among the little heathens surrounded me. I pray that he will be exalted in our little corner of the earth.

I am still, and I am sure. Because sometimes being in the midst of chaos is the very best place to be. When that is God's calling for you, he will hold you up. He will carry you through. He will provide the strength to survive the chaos. He is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.

And the good news is- you only have to do one day at a time.

And perhaps it's a bit like finding the eye of the tornado. Wind whipping all around you, objects whirling into space, and yet there is a place of utter stillness to be found right in the middle. Right in the midst of the chaos of it all.

Just this morning I was reminded of the importance of this.

This morning I left the kids alone for mere seconds, to do something completely selfish like go to the bathroom. Right as I was returning, I heard Carter say, "Mommy, you have to come see what Addison did." Running into the room, I was horrified to realize that there was milk. Everywhere. I didn't even think there was that much milk left in the gallon I left on the counter. There were rivers...no oceans of milk flooding the counter and the floor. I almost had to throw the kids in life jackets. I am sheepish to admit, my first response was to get rather steamed. I was grabbing paper towels and yelling. "I TOLD you not to touch the milk. You KNOW better. Who spilled this? Where did it all even come from?" I was sopping it up best I could, knowing I would probably miss some spots and it would get sticky and smell and I got even more ticked. There was chaos all around me. Milky chaos. And I was letting it control my response.

Just as I was opening my mouth to let out another real mommy winner- Carter very sweetly asked,

"Mommy, did God die on the cross?"

"And WHY- wait, what?" My demeanor softened.

"Did God die on the cross?" he asked again.

"He sent his son to die on the cross." I replied.

"Why?"

I slowed down the frantic paper towel attack on the poor floor to turn and answer him, "To forgive us for doing things like spilling milk all over the kitchen."

And I realized- I had forgotten to remember that God was God, still in the midst of the chaos. He lets things happen like huge milk spills if for nothing else than very important teachable moments. This moment of chaos gave me the perfect example to explain to Carter about God's son coming to die in our place, to take the burden of our sin upon his shoulders, to provide for us an eternity with him if we but trust Him. I asked the children for their forgiveness for yelling at them, and as three pairs of wide eyes stared at me with such absolute trust, I was struck with the responsibility and privilege of these teachable moments.

The same God who sent his son to die for our sins is the same God who is available in the midst of every chaos to carry us through. To teach us how to love these little people. Love them even through intense frustrations. Even through chaos.

I would be remiss if I didn't add in, that it isn't just chaotic. Adding another baby is a beautiful, wonderful, cuddle-happy thing. Another set of arms to reach for you- to wrap trustingly around your neck. Another head to rest against your shoulder, sighing and sinking into you. Another set of lips to curve into a world-changing smile. Another set of feet to run alongside and do life with you. Another set of ears to eagerly listen for your voice. Another voice to sweetly call you, "Mommy".

I'm sure you've already realized that for every chaotic moment there are 10 beautiful ones. God is in every one of these moments. He's saying- teach them. Teach them the life transforming power of the gospel. Teach them to trust. Teach them to be still- and know that I am God. Not only by the amazing Bible stories that you sit down and read together. But by showing them- in dealing with the chaos of adding a new baby. There is a stillness to be found in even the worst storm. Don't just survive the chaos. Use it. Use it to further hone your own faith, and to show- and not just tell- your children- the most important truths that they can ever learn.