Saturday, June 28, 2014

Losing Stuff

We are on a vacation/seeing family/wedding in Dallas trip.

It's a bit on the epic side (for us) because my older brother and his family is here for a few weeks from Thailand. Yes, you read that right: Thai-land. Like as in on the other side of the world, opposite time zones and all that jazz. 

They flew back for my younger brother's marriage which will be happening in Austin on Saturday. We are so excited that Travis found the perfect match in Kailee, she is going to be a precious addition to our family. Our only regret is that he didn't find her sooner. :)

So after being in Chicago a couple of weeks, we are leaving for just a few more. 

It was going to be around 50 hours of driving with the kids, so we, having some amount of discernment, decided to bite the bullet and fly here. The McCall clan (my family) is converging in Dallas on a  friend's ranch before the wedding and then we will all head up to Little Rock to spend a few weeks with Evan and Emily before they go spend a few more weeks with her family in Tulsa. 

Yes, you read that correctly, we flew with three small children. It definitely beats infinite hours in the car, but after my story, I'm starting to have my doubts. 

Let's just say that the Lord is teaching me about patience and anger and being content in Him. 

I'm a firm believer that there are no accidents and that all things are under God's sovereign hand. I believe He brought yesterday's events about and I can trust Him … in all things. 

The cheapest direct flight from Chicago to dallas left at 5:55 am. We decided that it would be easiest to wake up the kids and bring them. It would put us in Dallas around 9, we would be good to go. This meant we needed to be at the airport by 5 and so we needed to leave the house at 4. Everything would be fine. 

Everything was not fine. 

We got to the airport around 5 and the lines for the ticket counters were totally backed up. Ben said, "I don't think we're gonna make it." I started to feel panic rise up in my chest. Hindsight, I should not have panicked. We all were going to live, we would all make it to Dallas eventually. Oh well, I'm not an experienced flyer, I don't know these things. 

The kids were still pretty groggy and I was carrying Aria and pushing Simeon in the stroller. We had Levi in charge of one of the carry on bags. In fact, we made it to where all of our bags could be carried on. We were flying home on Delta and didn't want to have to pay for the 30 dollar baggage fees. As we were looking at the line I told Ben we should just go check in at the kiosks, we could just take our bags with us. 

So He checked us in and we ran to the elevator and down to security. Thankfully they have a child/stroller line that we got in so we didn't have to wait as long. We got up to the checker and she said, "Where is your boarding pass for the infant? He's not on here." Ben had forgotten to put that on the check in kiosk. He looked at me and said, "can you run him back up there and see if they will let you get a pass for him?" We had no choice. I took Simeon and my pass and dashed upstairs to get a boarding pass (somehow). There was a lady at the counter and I immediately realized that I didn't have Simeon's birth certificate or my drivers license. 

When stuff like this happens I immediately blame Ben. This is part of my natural sin tendencies. I think, "Why didn't he give me my drivers license back? Why didn't he make sure I had Simeon's stupid birth certificate? What am I going to do? Why did I marry this idiot?" Upon later contemplation I was just as guilty of the stupidity in my just dashing off without anything. I will gladly and openly admit this. I have a good, wonderful husband who is about ten times more responsible than I am and I am thankful I married him. (most of the time:))

Thankfully there was this magical lady standing at the ticket kiosk and after uttering a word I won't repeat here under my breath I told her, "Hi, um, I have a baby and we checked in here because we are in a hurry and about to miss our flight and um, I don't have his birth certificate but here's my boarding pass, can you put him on it?" I'm not good at lying people, I cannot do it. So this angel from heaven just looked at me and asked for his name and his date of birth and MADE A NEW BOARDING PASS. No questions asked, just the sweetest, most wonderful angelic woman. 

In relief I made it back to the elevator, trying to be polite but still in a hurry. I mean, I should have been in mad-dash mode, but I just didn't think it was right to mow over people. I made it back to the security lady and she ushered me up to join Ben in line to get checked out. 

We started putting our mirads of bags and things onto the conveyer belt. The kids shoes, our shoes, taking out electronics. Later they counted and we had ten items that went through their little scanner. I had Simeon in my arms so they had to swab my hands. They also had these cute little chairs for the kids to sit in, but we didn't have time for that so I was yelling at my kids that no, we were not going to sit in the animal chairs, we are going to RUN to our gate. Aria was screaming that she wanted to sit in the chair. There was an older couple in front of us just sort of standing there, so I was trying not to bump into them, but we had to hurry. It was craziness. I might have looked at my watch and it was 5:50. Ben kept saying, we're not gonna make it. (Ben, you're not helping anything by saying that.)

We start heading the wrong way after we FINALLY made it through security. Levi started asking, "Where's the orange bag?""I'm like, "What orange bag? We don't have an orange bag …" Wait, we are missing a bag. The one with the orange trim. The one we were borrowing from our friends. The one that had all of my clothes in it. And my Bible. And my essential oils. And Aria's flower girl dress and the boy's bow ties and suspenders. Or course, I didn't realize all this at the time, it was just one of our bags and Ben needed to go get it while I herded the kids in the right direction. 

The kids and I made it to the gate on time. The lady asked if I wanted to board without my husband. No, I needed to wait. And I waited. And waited. Eventually I heard on the loud speaker that there was a grey Nautica bag with orange trim that needed to be found. That was our bag. Oh dear… 

Ben eventually came back and said they couldn't find the bag. It had been taken off the conveyer belt but then mysteriously disappeared. Maybe it was stolen? Hopefully just mistaken for someone else's bag. 

We then flew standby to Oklahoma City and onto Dallas. 

Here's the other thing I lost: my phone. 

I'm an idiot. 

I was in a deep conversation, talking about childbirth with the lady next to me. I was nursing Simeon which made it hard to bend over and put my phone in the diaper bag, so I put it in the setback pocket in front of me.

And then I left it there.

It wasn't until we got on our next plane and I thought, "What am I going to do to entertain Aria while she sits next to me with Simeon in my arms?" then I remembered my phone. It was on its way to Houston.

Lord, help me to be patient. Help me not to give in to anger or self-pity. Help me not to complain. I keep asking myself, "am I being sifted? Am I being pruned?" What's the lesson in all of this?

It definitely feels like a sort of stripping away. I am super sad that the suitcase had my Bible and journal in it. The clothes can be replaced. In the end, it's all just a bunch of stuff.

Lord, I've been praying that You would loose me of my stuff, my things. Thank You for only taking a suitcase's worth. Thank You that I still have my children and my husband. Thank You that we still have money in the bank. Thank You that You are the ultimate provider. Thank You for a little sister who is willing to let me borrow her clothes. Thank You that clothes don't matter.

God, I pray that You would be the one desire in my life.

These scriptures have been coming to mind these past few days, so I will leave you with them.

 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13

Better a little with the fear of the Lord
    than great wealth with turmoil.
17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love
    than a fattened calf with hatred.
Proverbs chapter 15:16-17

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Life Lately

Time to answer the question that everyone is asking … (what a presumptuous statement, as if "everyone" is on the edge of their seats, checking their feeds to see if I've blogged or not, waiting on me… get over yourself Jody)

How's Chicago?

Technically it's Crystal Lake, we are about an hour outside of Chicago.

I love the weather.
The parks are awesome. Ben is taking the kids to them like every day on a huge scavenger hunt that the park administration office came up. He has to find out all kinds of questions and for every ten of them they get a prize. So far he's been to about 25 parks.
I'm loving the people too. I think I really like the Chicago accent, every time I hear it from people up here I'm always pleasantly surprised.

What else? I love the church. It's strange because a lot of times people move places and then they have to go looking for a church. In this case, we are doing the opposite, we found our church, now we just have to find everything else. I love the people of the church, it's been really cool to walk into open arms. They have been knowing that we are coming for a while. They often say "So good to finally meet you!" Who wouldn't love that kind of welcome?

Ben is still looking for a job. I'm praying that the Lord will give him somewhere close to work, that he would enjoy it and he would be able to have a ministry there. Right now it's as though he's on a  really extended vacation. I love it. He's always around and always helping. He's been doing all kinds of odd jobs around the house and it's been really cool to bless Gabriel and Debbie in that way.

Okay, the biggest change in our life right now is the fact that we are living in community. I mean like the same house. Six little kids, two sets of parents and a single guy. It's crazy. And I love it.

I mean, I really really do. My kids always have playmates. We have the boys room and the girls room. Ben and I have our own room, so do Gabriel and Debbie and Manuel lives in the basement. It's kind of a huge house and we all fit. I mean, we could probably even do another couple of people if anyone else wants to join … just kidding, I mean, maybe.

Debbie and I were talking one day about how maybe we need to write about living together. When your friend says that you should write about it, then you know they are okay with having you around.

I am tossing around a blog post with a list of rules for living with another family.

Here's a few:
1. Do as much as you can around the house. Try to out serve the other. If everyone does as much as they can, so much will get done. Don't try to keep track of what the other is doing, just serve each other. It's beautiful.
2. Give the other person alone time. Whether it's a shower or just some time alone in their room. It's always good to tell the other person, hey, you look tired, I can watch the kids by myself for a bit while you go and hang out with Jesus for a while.
3. Divide and conquer. If one person makes the meal, the others should clean it up. One person take care of cleaning the kitchen while the other gets to sweep all the floors.

Those are just a few things. Debbie could probably add to the list. She has honestly been a joy to live alongside. She's a hard worker and she's the real deal, she doesn't turn on or turn off her love for Jesus and her passion for others. She's a good mom and for sure a wife of noble character.

I've also been a fan of "team parenting" in that we as moms decide to instigate things and then when we are tempted to give in to the children, the other mom can be like, "um, didn't we agree to this?" (just ask us about the issues with kids and them insisting on a certain color of plate) there is strength in numbers. There's also the fact that we both have glorious two year olds. There's something about the two year old phase/age that is just plain humbling as a parent. No matter how much you spank them, try to reason with them, anything, they are still going to test you. It's always going to be frustrating. They are going to have whiny little voices and you just have to keep in mind, "this won't last forever."

Aria story: at 3 am this morning I woke up to see a light under our door. I walked out and found Aria had gotten the first aid kit down from the third shelf up (this means she had to climb up the other shelves) and was trying to get a band aid. I tried to calmly tell her no, she screamed that she wanted a "ban-iad" and that she could do it herself. I did my best to settle her down, thankfully we didn't wake the whole house. It was just one of those two year old moments.

I felt a little better when Debbie had to spank Deacon during breakfast (didn't even make it through) this morning. Something about seeing someone else struggle as you do is just a little more heartening. Something in you says, "I'm not alone, everyone struggles."

Lord, thank You for leading us here. Thank You for the things you are teaching us about trust and surrender. Thank You for the rest You have given us. Thank You for the good work that you've had us to do these past few weeks. I'm amazed that we are here. It's been a beautiful time so far. Help me to be humble and to serve. Thank You for community and the gift that it is. I don't even know what else to say, only that I'm thankful for where we are and I'm looking forward to what You have next.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Life Lately

Dear blog,

I don't have time for you. I'm taking care of a whole bunch of littles. It's pretty tiring, but it's good. Okay, fine, it's nap time and I will blog. Fine.

Welp, we're in Crystal Lake. We made it. This week has been somewhat easier than last week. Last week it was all about moving in and getting kids used to each other. Everything was pretty busy and in upheaval. Things have settled a lot this week. I am so thankful that Ben doesn't have a job and that he's not one of those guys who just sits around. Every time he would finish something he would always ask me what else I needed. Then he would do it. I have an amazing husband people. Just so you know.

He fixed my broken drawer, he set up the garage door opener with our van (I don't even know the term for that, but now we can open their garage door with our van) He's run errands, he's returned things that I've been needing to return for weeks (yes, I even dragged those things to a different city, knowing Target was here too) He's helped with laundry and cleaning … it's just amazing. I have an amazing, servant leader husband and I am seriously in awe of his strength and his heart.

Right now we are taking care of six kids. Our three plus three more. Two of them two year olds… need I say more?

The interesting part is that it's not all that hard. I mean, honestly, our kids have been the most difficult. Aria has been the most difficult. I'm realizing more and more that she is strong willed and that I need to watch her because she has a tendency to manipulate me. I mean, there's nothing like realizing that your two year old is manipulating you. It's embarrassing, frustrating and enraging all at the same time. Lord, help me to control my anger. Help me to communicate to her that she is not in charge. Also, please help her to stop hitting.

Where are these children's parents? In Mexico. They drove down there. 18 hours (through the night) to Houston and then another 7 hours into Madamoris (I have no idea how to spell it, so I probably maimed it.) to go help build (like construction) a church building and minister to the people living in the slums down there. They will arrive back sometime Monday morning.

One thing I know about this church is that they don't do things half heartedly. It's going to be all or nothing, in or out, hot or cold, there's not lukewarm about this little church up here. So Ben and I are pulling our weight by taking care of the littles. Wiping bottoms, cleaning messes, feeding children, settling squabbles, rising early and being dead tired at night. It's good. It's kingdom work here. The other day I was reading in Mark 10 where Jesus says, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for such is the kingdom of heaven. If you do not receive the kingdom of God as one of these you will by no means enter it." Wow.

It made me think about how so many times I get tired of children and taking care of them, but if I despise the privilege then I'm despising the gifts that Jesus has give us. These six little kids would be the ones that the disciples got tired of and rebuked but Jesus would want them to come up and tell him those endless stories and He would see them with their snotty little noses … He might even wipe their nose with his shirt sleeve, hey, if He washed the disciples stinky feet, a snotty nose would be small potatoes.

Lord, help for me to care about my children and other children around me as You did. Help me to learn from them and the way they receive things freely so that I can receive the kingdom as they do. Thank You that You lead us tenderly as we care for the young. Thank You for the two year old age and how humbling it is and how often I have to cry out to You because I have no idea what to do.

Hard times:
- getting kids to stay in their bed
- kids waking up TOO EARLY.
- changing three diapers in a row, two of them poopy. It's a lovely way to start out the day.

Good times:
- when I was praying with my friend on the phone this morning Aria and Darby came into the room and just laid quietly on the bed with me this morning.
- going to the park with Ben and the littles this morning. We ALL played on the playground. I've determined that I need to play more.
- the kids playing on the play set in the backyard while I did dishes after lunch.
- the BEAUTIFUL weather. Seriously. It's a high of 72 today. I've been wearing a jacket all morning and it's June. ((I'm going to freeze this winter))

Lord, help me to focus on the good. 

PS, and thank You for naps. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Body Image

I should be blogging about our journey to Chicago. If I was a real blogger and good at blogging, that's what I'd be doing.

So far I just have one main thing to say about it thus far… it's been hard.

Moving, traveling, settling into someone else's house, three little kids and trying to sort out bedtimes and naps and just management … it might not be so hard if our kids weren't so small, or so many. Aria accounts for like 3 kids by herself. So really, we have been caring for more like 5 kids.

But God is faithful. He has given us mercies and they are new every morning.

No. I actually want to blog about … my favorite thing to write about: body image.

This seems to be something I deal with on a daily basis. It's something I just get to keep coming back to. I'm thinking, "Really? Didn't we already deal with this a while ago? Wasn't I freed from this or over this or something like that?" Well, yes and no. I'm in a much healthier place than I have been. I don't think dark thoughts all day that I hate my body (not ALL day) and I don't go days on end bingeing and then exercising like a crazy person to make up for all of it.

At the same time, I do struggle. I struggle with seeing my body as being good enough. I struggle with looking pretty enough. I struggle with what I would call "body envy" where you look at someone else and score them next to yourselves. I'm amazed at how quickly my brain just automatically calculates how I measure up against another woman. It's like everyone who would score "worse" than me, maybe she's pudgier or something, I have a tendency to like more or feel more comfortable around. But the ones who score "better" than me, I have a tendency to be uncomfortable around and think that I'm less valuable than they are. This. Is. Ridiculous.

The Lord would give me a super tiny friend who sees none of that, just so I can see through her eyes what she's really thinking when she sees me. Let's just say this: she's not "scoring" me based on how big or small I am. And maybe if some corner of her mind does score me, she doesn't let that affect what she thinks of me.

The weight of baby number three is not coming off too well for me this time. I worked hard and tried not to gain much during the pregnancy, but it seems like the pounds are not moving. I will say that I have struggled a lot with stress eating during this move. Many afternoons it was all I could do to keep myself packing boxes and not looking for the next thing to shove in my face.

I want to start waking up every morning and thanking God for my body.

That's what I want to do. I don't think it will solve all of my eating issues or secret thoughts about how I'm not pretty enough. But I do think it would start to shift my mind in a different direction about it.

I need to remember that my body is a good body. It does good things like rock my children when they are tired or need comfort. It allows me to kiss my husband and tell him he's awesome. My body allows me to clean the floors that my children and husband walk on. There are people in the world who would love to have a body like mine. It functions well. It even stores up extra fat for if there's ever a famine. It's a good body.

I want to start thinking differently about food. Let me enjoy it Lord. Levi asked me the other day why something was salty and the only thing I could think of was because God made it that way and isn't He good for giving us such an array of flavors? He gave us sweet and salty and spicy and all kinds of mixtures and flavors we've never even tasted because we don't live in that part of the world… and isn't God just good?

He is good. He created food for our good. I want to eat whole, real food, not because it's the latest craze, but because that's the way God made it. It's how He designed our bodies to filter it. He created us to feel good when we eat healthy things. If I eat too much junk then my body is more prone to illness and I just feel worse. Help me to remember these things as I sit down to eat a meal.

Lord, you are the author and perfecter of our faith. You are my strength in my weakness. You are the One who reminds me a shows me who I am. Help me to be thankful for this body You have given me. Thank You that it is a source of comfort for my family and even for others outside my family. Let me be a place of rest for those around me. Let me give life to others around me. Let me value people and not "score" them. Let me see them as You see them. Thank You for new eyes. Thank You for my body.