I know. I haven't blogged in awhile. You've probably deleted me from your RSS feed, or given up on ever hearing anything significant from me again. I attempted to get back into the swing last Monday with the first "Not Me!" in months. And then, I couldn't manage to find the time, the desire, or the words worth writing down, much less publishing on the blog. This is a long one; I guess I've had a lot to say that hasn't gotten out.

There's been a lot of re-prioritizing going on around here. Truth be told, I've been struggling. So many potential life changes swirling around me, and an equal dose of uncertainty to go with them. It's funny, because I also feel as though I've been more centered and consistent about reading my Bible and praying everyday. But like many people (read: females) I know, still I've had this nagging, deep-rooted need for control, and aching desire to force myself and my family into a routine so rigid the chaos won't have a millimeter to sneak in through. It's ridiculous, and I know it's ridiculous, but it's a struggle I deal with nearly every single day. And all this recently...well, probably because life was complicated enough before our house flooded and we moved in with my in-laws.

Our house. Ugh. I am beyond embarrassed every time someone asks us if we're back in our house and I have to answer "no," mustering as much positivity as I can manage and bracing myself for the inevitable "why" questions that follow. I feel as if that solitary syllable echoes for miles as the person calculates that this Halloween, in fact, marks the ninth month we have been living with Kyler's (amazingly gracious, unreasonably accommodating, and supernaturally patient) parents. Believe me when I say I've had more than a few ugly, emotional breakdowns over their graciousness and our inability to get our house completed and get out of their hair. I mean, it's seriously beyond sacrifice/mild inconvenience when the nasty stomach bug that started with your grandchildren makes its way through the house for the third time in three weeks. The kids are virtually dripping with Lysol, we've disinfected this house so many times. Essentially, the combination of haggling with our mortgage company (and needing their approval for every blessed thing we want to do as we remodel), reporting losses and repairs to our insurance company, finding replacement materials for our entire downstairs (some of which, like our lower cabinets, aren't sold anymore), and receiving only bits and pieces of the reimbursement money has all contributed to drawing this process out longer and longer. Add to that our own ridiculous schedules, the unpredictability of having three children four and under (read: unexpected puking, Elmer's glue all over the carpet 10 minutes before bedtime, refusal to nap/sleep/eat/drink/share), the difficulty of trying to sort out remodeling with home store specialists while wrangling said children, laziness/depression over this whole absurd situation and coping in unproductive ways, and here we are.

You may be expecting that this week it all came to a head, and I just completely lost it, hence the blogging. Not to disappoint you, but not exactly. More that I am slowly, surely learning to listen to that still, small voice inside my soul. I overslept Monday, and my dear, sweet husband let me. However, as happens frequently when I wake up with the kids (as opposed to before them), I was grumpy and had zero minutes to collect myself, my thoughts, or my hygiene routine, much less time for hot tea and quiet time with my Bible. The day went downhill from there. Callan was clingy. Kayden was obstinate. Cameron was just impossible. And I....I was absurdly impatient, mean, and ugly toward my children all morning. I chose to trudge through the morning on my own strength, and the result was hideous.

Upon getting all three boys to nap at the same time (which I don't see as a coincidence at all...) I promptly sat down to read and pray and spend some time with God. Keeping the baby monitor nearby, I plugged myself into my iPod and collapsed into a song that perfectly embodies my heart's cry right now. Click the link below to play the song on iLike. (Just do it. You need to hear it.)

But I know some of you will cheat. Or maybe the link will fail. 
So hear are the lyrics:


Let me be in love with what you love.
Let me be most satisfied in You.
Forsaking what this world has offered me,
I choose to be in love with You.
I will choose to be in love with You.

And let me know the peace that's mine in You,
And let me know the joy my heart can sing.
For I have nothing left apart from You;
I choose to call on Christ in me.
I will choose to call on Christ in me.

For in the fullness of who You are
I can rest in this place.
And giving over this my journey Lord,
I see nothing but your face.

And let me know that You have loved me first,
And let me know the weight of my response.
For you have long pursued my wandering heart;
I choose to glory in Your cross.
I will choose to glory in Your cross.

For in the fullness of who You are
I can rest in this place.
And giving over this my journey Lord,
I see nothing but your face.

And I bow down.
(My beloved here I am.)
Humbly, I bow down.
(My beloved here I am.)
Humbly, I bow down.
(My beloved here I am.) 
I bow down.

Let me be in love with what you love.
Let me be most satisfied in You.
Forsaking what this world has offered me,
I choose to be in love with You.
I will choose to be in love with You.


Listening to those words was incredibly cathartic. After a good cry to God while the song was on repeat, I felt soooo much better. And I felt like writing. This blog is long already, but I've got so much on my heart to share with you. Please keep reading.

The past few months (and week, even) have held so much potential for change. Choices to make that would have an enormous impact on our family in so many ways. Choices where both decisions, either "for" or "against" yielded an equally long list of pros and cons. Choices that I have agonized over, not knowing which would be the "right" decision, leaving me so distraught I've been physically ill. Like a lot of women I know, I have a hard time with fear, self-doubt, and trust. Not surprisingly, improvement in any one of those areas would yield improvement in the others. Thankfully, they are all completely within the realm of my control (though they do, perhaps ironically, require giving up the control). And they all hinge on my ability to choose.

I love Jesus, believe He is my one and only Savior, and strive to live for His glory. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, I hope you've gathered that, at the very least. You've no doubt also gathered, merely from my existence as an imperfect person, that I don't always do an outstanding (or even a mediocre) job of representing my faith to the world. I fail. A lot. Like when I totally lose my temper with my children, or have a total emotional breakdown over the sink full of stinking dishes. Well, the latter might just be PMS, but I could still use some supernatural help there. Still, there's a choice to be made, like when I wake up grumpy and choose to stay that way the remainder of the day, determined to bring everyone else down with me. Or, I choose to make myself smile and I intentionally remind myself of - frequently listing them - the things I am grateful for, including if necessary, a much-needed kick in the pants to get me out of my self-centered pity party.

And for those times when I've spent every last ounce of patience, or sucked the reservoir of happy thoughts completely dry, I choose to call on Christ in me. When I don't have the strength to face my circumstances on my own, He is right there ready to carry me through. In fact, I believe He's been there all along, waiting for me to humble myself (or for my increasingly difficult circumstances to do the humbling for me), get past my stubborn streak and ask for His help. He wants to help me, before I've spent every last ounce of patience. He wants to be my first line of defense, not my last resort.

Asking for His help is an all-or-nothing sort of deal, though. I can't surrender to Christ and then expect to get an a-la-carte version of Him, picking and choosing the parts of Him that suit my own preferred lifestyle. I can't choose to call on Him only when it suits my purpose, or only when I feel I need that supernatural little boost, or when I just don't feel like putting in the extra effort. Either I choose Him - all of Him - or I don't.

Incidentally, God makes choices too. Mercy, for one, withholding the punishment we ought to have. Grace is another choice, His free gift of lovingly giving us that which we do not deserve. He chooses to make claims that demand a response: claims to be the Creator of the universe, all that we are, all that we see, all that we know and infinitely more. Claims that He came to die for the sins of all mankind, past, present, and future, that he rose again victorious over death and reigns in heaven.

My choice then, my response to these claims, is faith. Loving and trusting my Lord for who He is and accepting the promises He has made me. Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of things about this world that I don't like. Pain. Suffering. Injustice. Loneliness. Wasps. Ranch dressing. I jest with those last two, but seriously, some of the things I don't like are merely preferential. Most are tough, tough subjects. Things that provoke hard questions and cause me to really wrestle with my faith. But my trust that God is good and all-powerful doesn't mean my faith is blind or foolish, because I also believe that my Lord is all-knowing. If I truly believe He is omnicient, and I am not, then I must accept that there are an infinitely great number of things that I do not and likely will not ever know or understand. This doesn't mean I shouldn't seek to understand them, or understand Him to the extent that I am able. But it also doesn't mean that because I don't understand, He owes me an explanation of why he chooses to do things the way He does.  There's an old quote by Pastor J. Vernon McGee that I love:

"This is God's universe and He does things His way. 
You may have a better way, but you don't have a universe."

For me, this requires a great deal of pride-swallowing, accepting that I may never know the answers to some of my "why" or "how" questions. Questions that may not be within my power to figure out by my own intellect. Questions that if I let them, will tear me apart on the inside, insisting that because I can't understand why, God must not be who He says He is. Seriously?! How ridiculous (and, by the way, self-centered) that I would assert that the Creator of the universe must not be all-powerful or all-good (or just plain not the Creator) simply because I, having only my perspective to rely on, can't wrap my brain around the existence of something (or lack thereof). Something I would have done differently, you know, in the universe I created from nothing.

So we make a choice. We choose to take Him at His Word, believe He is who He says He is, and commit to following after Him, obeying his commands and seeking His will, or we do not. This isn't always an easy choice, and for me, it's a choice I make every day. I recently rediscovered an older Third Day song:

"Lord, take from me my life, 
when I don't have the strength to give it away to You."

It applies so perfectly to those days and seasons of my life when I know deep in my gut that I want faith, or I want to act on my faith (to reject who the world says I am and accept who my Father says I am), but my questions, doubt, pride, self-esteem, you-name-it are all getting in the way. I am getting in the way. So every day, every hour, every minute if need be, I choose. I choose whether I am going to believe God, believe His promises, and follow after Him, or I am not.

And when I choose Him, things change. Life's problems don't change. The chaos is still there, the questions are still there, and the giant pimple on my chin is still there. But I am different, and I am able to face the chaos and the questions (yep, even the zit) with a patience and perspective that I don't have on my own.

Do you remember my post on joy? Click here to read it. It's not a revolutionary concept, though it may be hard to implement at times. Choosing to allow Christ to revolutionize my perspective is no different; it's just that, a choice. So when my circumstances may scream impossible chaos, when I face difficult decisions, and when I find that attempting to control my life is consuming me, I can choose to turn my journey over to Christ.

I said at the beginning of this (absurdly long, hopefully not boring) blog post, I've recently been really wrestling with a huge decision (at least by my estimation, maybe not so much in the eternal scheme of things...) If I let myself, I obsess over the not knowing. The "what-ifs" consume me. The uncertainty of whether or not it is the "right" choice. And then God reminds me:

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, 
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—
this is your spiritual act of worship.  
2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

And there it is. I don't need to focus on the decision, the "what-ifs" or the not knowing. Instead, I should be calling on Christ and choosing to focus on becoming who He has intended me to be. When I finally turn over my journey to His leading, let Him orchestrate the details and the direction, I find the peace I've been desperately trying to manufacture on my own all along. And...I'm contented to rest in the fullness of who He is. There's no need to fret anxiously over what the world offers me; I can be satisfied in who I am in Christ. I long for that peace, joy, and contentment. Don't you?

I know what choice I'm making. Will you make it with me? I'd love to encourage you in your journey.


"Not Me!" Monday


Welcome! Are you feeling guilty for chewing your husband out over something completely inconsequential? Wondering if anyone noticed you sneaking bites of ice cream right out of the carton? Perhaps you just gave in and let your kids run willy-nilly through the backyard all afternoon, eating countless birthday cupcakes and without so much as a glimpse of a nap. No worries! "Not Me!" Monday was written just for you. It frees me up to admit my many imperfections and vent about the absolutely ridiculous things that are my everyday. Enjoy at my expense, and join in the fun by commenting below!


I have trained my youngest child impeccably well, so unlike his older brothers when they were babies, he does not routinely reject most of his breakfast and throw every last Cheerio off of his highchair tray. Nope. And after I remove him from his highchair and set him down to play, I do not routinely turn a blind eye as he eats breakfast off of the floor. Not me!


We're a little behind the household chores around here. Like 9 months behind. Anyway, when I finished carting the past two weeks' overflowing baskets of laundry downstairs, they did not create a massive pile that filled all of the available floor space in the laundry room, they did not spill out into the hallway and around the corner, and they did not stink to high heaven. Additionally, I absolutely did not let my kids go to town in said humongous, stinking piles, frolicking about as if they were in the world's most outstanding pile of autumn leaves.


Our house flooded on January 31st and we moved in with my husband's parents. Surely, we are not still living here.


The boys came outside with me last week and helped me clean out our car. Upon finishing the clear-out, it did not look like we were having a yard sale in the driveway. In fact, when my mother-in-law came out for a break from work later that morning, she did not see all that we had removed from the car and jokingly remark that we had a room in the house and it really wasn't necessary for us to live in our car. Our car was not that messy. Nope


After a shower this week, I did not realize I had forgotten both a bath towel and clean clothes, and had to dash to the bedroom in one of my kids' miniscule hooded froggy towels. Not me!


Currently, our bedroom does not more closely resemble a closet than an actual bedroom.


One of our hot/cold microwave packs got soiled this week (I'll spare you the details), so I removed the bag, Lysol-ed it, and washed the cover. Obviously thinking through the situation, I did not then set it out on the porch rail to dry and bleach in the sun. Several hours later, it wasn't my mother-in-law who discovered that it had been torn apart by squirrels, who were beyond pleased that I had provided them with a new chew toy. Not me!


We've had a couple of cold snaps so far this fall, and I still haven't managed to get our closet turned over. But it wasn't me who sent Kayden, who now wears size 7, out in a 4T sweatshirt and flip flops. Nope, not me!!  

Aside: Yes, my four-year-old wears size 7. He's halfway up my rib cage, almost four feet tall. It's ridiculous. Donations welcome...clothing or food. Ha!!


Yes, my husband and I still occasionally have those saccharinely sweet little "I love you," "I love you more," "No, I love you more," type conversations. And as you know, (and as I've blogged here) my husband means well. He really does. So during this little exchange, when he said, "I love you," and I said, "I love you more," he did not respond with, "there's more of you to love." Not my husband!


The boys love reading Dr. Seuss' Would You Rather Be A Bullfrog? before bedtime. I love it, too. It gives us a great opportunity to guide them into higher level thinking by asking them to defend their choices in each "would you rather" question. (I can't help it, it's the teacher in me.) Anyway, Kyler read the story again the other night, and reported that the following conversation took place:

Kyler, reading from the book: "Would you rather be a skinny, or be a fat? It's time for you to think about important things like that."

Cameron: "I know, Daddy! You are the fat one, and I am the skinny one."

Upon hearing this, I consoled my husband with a kiss and hug. I definitely didn't nearly snort my tea out my nose. Payback, honey. Payback. :)


"Not Me!" Monday is an incredibly fun blogging carnival started by MckMama. In a nutshell, it's where we all can be open about the ridiculous things that happen in our everyday lives. Head on over to her blog, where you can read heaps of other great "Not Me!" stories. Or, join in the "Not Me!" fun and leave a comment about all of the things you didn't do this week!



I'm sorry. I'm running out of adjectives, so I have to just start using the same ones again.

Our last full day in Sydney was incredible. After breakfast, we just left the hotel and started walking. We had a general idea of what we wanted to see, but no definite plan. That, to me, is awesome.

I really appreciated that Sydney was looking out for us. I mean, the roads are so much more attractive without a bunch of Americans smashed flat right off the curb. Seriously though, although Kyler and I had pretty much mastered looking to the right for oncoming cars (so as to avoid imminent death), we did appreciate the reminder before every crosswalk. ::grin::

ps - NO, smart alecks, that is not the shadow of my head. It's a street sign. Geez.

A few blocks east landed us in Hyde Park, where we marveled at the gorgeous trees and view of St. Mary's Cathedral.

This is the ANZAC (Australia/New Zealand Army Corps) War Memorial.

St. Mary's Cathedral
We did go inside, and it was amazing. I wanted to take pictures, but they didn't allow them, and the security guards were watching like hawks, so I played by the rules. Sigh.

Spring was in full swing in Sydney, and the landscaping was gorgeous.

Entrance gate to the Royal Botanic Gardens.

We loved this sign. And we did what it said.

One of the first sections of the Gardens was the rare and endangered plants garden. Some cool stuff here, like the Wollemi Pine below:

Me: "What's that? Is it a bat?!":
Kyler: "Nah, it's some kind of seed pod or something."
Me: "Nooooo....."

".....it's a bat!"

And I - ahem - was right.
They were bats. 
Lots and lots and lots of enormous, furry, flying bats with at least a two-foot wingspan.

After doing a bit of research here, I discovered that this species of bat is called a grey-headed flying fox bat. It is native only to Australia, is one of the largest species of bat (weighing one kilogram and having a wingspan of one meter). They eat fruit and nectar, and the Royal Botanic Gardens is a permanent roosting site. Cool, huh?

Can you see them all?


No sooner had we left this little portion of the Gardens in awe of all of the ginormous, furry bats, than we stumbled upon a huge grassy space full of grazing parrots. 


They. Were. Everywhere.
Like pigeons.
Kids were feeding them like we feed ducks.

I think if I hadn't been keenly aware that my odds of getting pooped on were probably 98%, my mouth would have been open in amazement the entire time.

Keep in mind, I didn't zoom for most of these shots. They were right. there.

Hang with the videography so you can hear the cockatoos calling near the end.

This tree, besides being just amazing in its own right, had at least 40 cockatoos in it while we were under it. (Daring, I know.) It was just beyond cool.

After our encounter with the cockatoos, we headed through the Gardens and out around the point of the peninsula to Mrs. Macquarie's Chair. There were so many beautiful views from this vantage point! We took so many pictures. So, so many pictures.

And of course, Kyler took photos of me in the Chair.

As we were rounding a corner, I heard kookaburras. How, you ask, do I know what kookaburras sound like? The short version is: growing up, some neighbors of mine in Texas had an exotic animal license. Among many weird and exciting animals like kangaroos and lemurs, they had kookaburras. We heard them "calling" day and night (read: they do not "chirp," they yell. Think Roseanne Barr, except a bird.) On several occasions, my boyfriend house-sat for these neighbors, and I went over to help him feed them. We had to feed the kookaburras thawed dead mice. It was not exciting....quite the contrary. They have super long, sharp beaks, and they're mean to boot. Luckily, we kept our fingers and the birds got their dinner. So, I know what a kookaburra sounds like, and when we heard them in Sydney, I knew what to look for. It took us awhile, but we found them in the trees overhead:

Just down the way, Kyler also spied some rainbow lorikeets. Aren't they lovely? They had a small nest above us and we could hear the babies chirping.

I decided I could live in Sydney....just for the Botanic Gardens.

And all of the crazy weird trees! 
Check these out:

I thought this one looked like it had hair....or something.

And this is a ficus. Really.

It had so many root systems it was dizzying. Part of the tree was even rooted on the other side of the walkway! See?

The birds were pretty incredible, too. This one is an ibis. A little creepy, but very friendly!

As in the Queenstown Gardens, the trees were big.
A little perspective:


This one was Kyler's favorite. Check out the sign on the fence around it!


From the Gardens we headed to the Opera House.

And from there we headed to lunch on the Quay. I can't tell you how thrilled we were to find restaurants offering a "Buy One Entree Get One Free" deal! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, for the low, low price of $34, we got two (very small) plates of fish and chips. However, the view was gorgeous, and I took a few shots of the grand Aussie flag atop the Harbour Bridge:

After lunch, we headed back around the Quay opposite the Opera House. We saw some kids taking "jump" shots, and I told Kyler I wanted to take one. He really didn't want to, but I pouted, so he gave in (yes!). And for all you naysayers who think we photoshopped it, here ya go:

Before the jump, where I basically just look really constipated. (For the record, that look is more "Good-golly-I-hope-I-don't-fall-into-the-harbour-jumping-off-of-this-deceivingly-skinny-concrete-railing!")

And after the jump, where I look like a really old, nervous-but-happy, and sleeping(?) cheerleader.

Whatever the case, I'm thrilled with the result:
I'm jumping over the Sydney Opera House!

So there.
Then, we hopped on a ferry headed all the way down the opposite side of Sydney Harbour to Manly.

The views from the ferry were, of course, spectacular.

Once in Manly, we walked down through the shops and restaurants to the beach, and went hiking out on the peninsula.

As you can tell, by the time we got to Manly, daylight was fading and we didn't have maps or flashlights (and yes, I was pretty much a chicken), so we got as far as we dared out onto the peninsula before we turned around and headed back. But we had heaps of fun exploring old castle walls and climbing up onto huge rocks overlooking the ocean.

Like I said, incredible!