Tuesday, July 29, 2014

don't forget to breathe

I have approximately fifteen minutes to write, before I tackle that to-do list that has Tuesday written at the top of it in BIG BOLD LETTERS. Included on the list are : finish putting laundry away, call the dentist, put Lily down for a nap, email three people back, collect all the super-ripe plums off the tree in the back for the next batch of jam, and get the house ready for company tonight.

I have no make-up on, I'm in yesterday's exercise pants, my hair is a frizzy mess pulled back into a sloppy ponytail, and I don't know if I've brushed my teeth today or not.

On the outside I probably look like someone who most definitely does not have her act together today.

But I'll let you in on a little secret ...

... I could care less.

Because I spent two wonderful hours with my delicious grandbaby, Norah Jane, this morning. We snuggled, we played, we had conversations, I fed her green beans and cheerios, I changed her, I tickled her, I took a dozen pictures of her, and when my daughter-in-love came to pick her up, I swear she looked at me and said, "I love you, Nana."

Okay, maybe she didn't say those words out loud. But she smiled up at me and crinkled up her eyes and nose like she always does, and I promise you (because I really don't swear) that look on her face said she adores me.

And I could pretty much float on that feeling for a few days.

So while I was waving goodbye to that pint-sized little princess, I thought about what I wanted to say in today's post, which is actually about our impromptu trip to the coast last Friday. And the thoughts in my head, and the warm and fuzzy feelings in my heart, and the folder of photos on my computer desktop, all coincided nicely with the free advice I want to dole out here on A Perfect Lily today.

Are you ready for it ?

This is really deep.....

... don't forget to breathe.

As moms, we have so much on our plates every day.

We start each day with a mile-long to-do list, and whether that is typed out carefully and hung nicely on our fridge, or haphazardly scrawled on the back of a piece of junk mail ... or even written on a mental sticky note, tucked away in a corner of our overloaded brain ... there are a hundred tasks each day, just calling our name.

And I don't know about you, but no matter how many items I cross off that list each day, there are ten to twenty new items, just waiting to fill the void.

So Friday, when Sam called me spontaneously, and asked me if I wanted to drive with him out to the coast ... I immediately said no.

I really wanted to go with him - a break from household chores and laundry and responsibilities sounded like an answer to prayer. Although I realized he had business calls to make at the coast, I also knew there would be a few hours of driving time together, and I was feeling more than a little desperate for some adult conversation. The kind that didn't involve the words" because I said to, that's why" and "tell your brother you're sorry for sticking a lego up his nose." Not that I don't totally appreciate the conversations that take place here at The Rice Ranch on a daily basis. But sometimes I need a little more ...

About ten minutes after I hung up the phone with my husband, I asked Caleb to watch the younger kids, and I got in the shower.

This may be a bit too much information to share on a blog, but I'll go for it anyway.

I probably do my best praying in the shower.

I don't know why that is (because I do try to take time to pray alone first thing in the morning, while my kids are sleeping, and at many, many, many times throughout the day) but for some reason, my shower prayers often seem to be a time of real revelation. I've actually had God speak to me in the shower about someone I need to forgive, or how I need to address a certain issue with one of my children, or ... a host of other things. I have no idea why, but there's power in the shower, I'm telling' ya.

Sooooo, while I was praying and asking God for strength for the day, and mentally adding things to that sticky note to-do list in my brain ... I honestly almost heard the Lord say I needed to go with my husband to the coast.

 I mean, I did not hear a voice speak those words. But just like little Norah and her unspoken message to me with her sweet little eyes... I felt like God wanted me to call my husband back and tell him I wanted to go.

And as soon as I made that decision, and the phone call that followed, Mackenzie called and asked if our middle-littles (Abbi, Noah and Jackson) could come over to hang out with her at her babysitting job for the day. Jonathan and Caleb and Tyler had already made plans to play basketball at the athletic club down the street from our house, which only left Lily and Hayden to join Sam and me on our spur-of-the-moment field trip to Lincoln City.

I piled diapers and sweatshirts and snacks and changes of clothes into a big beach bag, threw some make up and flip flops on, and spent ten minutes blow drying my soggy hair.

Sam pulled into the driveway with a tall Jamba Juice in his hand, we shoved carseats and kids into the back of his car, and we were on the road before any unforeseen emergencies could pop up and call us back to town.

We were like two teenagers sneaking out in the middle of the night, (minus the guilt). And if Sam's little Chevvy Aveo had a convertible top, we would have cranked that thing open, our hair (well, mine anyway) whipping in the wind and big goofy grins plastered across our faces for all the world to see.... all the while, singing at the top of our lungs : free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I'm free at last ....

Sam dropped me off at the outlets when we got to Lincoln City, where I spent a few hours browsing through shops, just enjoying time alone with Lily and Hayden .

After my husband made his business calls, we drove to a fabulous fish-n-chips place - a total mom-and-pop joint with the yummiest food at affordable prices - and ate to our hearts' content. The sun was just beginning to set, so we raced to the beach, where we spent forty-five glorious minutes enjoying the ocean, our babies, and each other's company.

It. was. amazing.

I compiled this little video collage (lasting all of fifteen seconds, because that's all you can post on Instagram) for your viewing pleasure. Grab a piece of popcorn, and enjoy...

We watched a beautiful sunset, talked about how blessed we feel to live where we do, and only called seven times to check on things back home. We stopped at Coldstone Creamery before heading back to Corvallis, and enjoyed an hour of Hayden screaming and Mommy getting carsick  a pleasant drive home. We pulled into our driveway at midnight, and walked in on our kids (Josiah and Mackenzie included) playing a wild game they made up, involving Apples to Apples and live music ... apparently we just missed Jason and Naomi and the kids, who had been hanging out all night as well.

And that mile-long to-do list was waiting patiently for me on Saturday, and nobody was the worse for wear because of it.

So all of that to say..... don't forget to breathe.

I've said it here before but it bears repeating :  mommy life is like flying on an airplane, where we always receive these safety instructions before taking off.

“In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop down. Put on your own oxygen mask first, then help those around you.”

If we neglect to take time for ourselves, if we always view that to-do list as something that absolutely must be attended to before we ever give any attention to our own personal needs or desires... if we forget to put our own oxygen mask on first... we really won't be any help to anybody.

My life as a mama requires a lot. Every single day there are a million little tasks calling my name.

But every now and then, I need - I NEED - some time to step away from it all, and just breathe.

Sometimes that means just half an hour alone in my bathroom, soaking in the tub. (Or on a hard day, five minutes in the shower. )

Sometimes that means a date night with my husband, or coffee with a friend.

Sometimes - not all the time, but sometimes - that means chucking that mental or physical to-do list in the trash can... or at least just putting it on the shelf... and making some time in my life for the spontaneous, the totally unplanned, but completely necessary adventures, that are oxygen to my soul. 

Are you feeling overwhelmed, or run-down, have you lost your zeal for the task at hand, does the daily grind of motherhood and all that it entails seem to be weighing you down with its endless list of chores and responsibilities ?

Don't forget to breathe.

Friday, July 25, 2014

because you asked...

Wow. That's all I can say about the comment section on my last post, Party in SOCal and how old are you, anyway ?

If you haven't taken part in my informal demographics survey on that post, please do. I LOVED LOVED LOVED reading each and every comment ...where you come from, what your background is, why you read, who you are, etc. !

Sometimes starting a blogpost is like walking up to a microphone and tapping it several times ..."Is this thing on??" I want to nervously ask. I do love blogging, but sometimes when there isn't a whole lot of feedback, I wonder if I should just keep my thoughts to myself ;) Posts like the one the other day sort of fuel me on, because I realize that most of you are just like me - you read often, but just don't comment all the time. I totally get that. I am perhaps the world's worst comment leaver. (Insert guilty sigh.)

So a humongous THANK YOU to all of you who left comments, and I so appreciate you taking the time to do so. I think one of my favorites was A Portland Granny. The fact that I have an octogenarian reading here thrills my soul. And will cause me to use spellcheck more frequently.

Moving on ... today's post is dedicated to all the pioneer pastor's wives who read my blog.

I have had a lot of feedback both here and on Instagram from women who would like to hear more about our pastoring experience here in Corvallis. I admit that I have shied away from this subject in the past... I (think) members of our congregation read here, and when I blog, I am typically sarcastic. And maybe at times a little snarky. It's hard to separate my writing style from my real-life experiences.

Back when I started A Perfect Lily, my writing was perhaps a little more reflective and serious. But as I worked my way through things regarding Down syndrome, I slowly defaulted to my ... snarky ... self.

So again - I've hesitated to write about the ministry, because I have a tendency to insert sarcasm into my experiences. And I don't think discussing things church-related is the place to do that.

Being in the ministry is nothing short of an honor. While we experience things that are at times soul-stretching and character building and - let's face it- flat out exhausting ... we know that all things work together for the good.

I've spent 25 plus years in the ministry, and it took me a long time to get to the place where I am today. I spent many years wrestling through "what my role" should be, but today I can humbly and honestly say that I am both confident and comfortable with that role.

I'm not a put-together, polished pastor's wife. I'm a wife to Sam first, a mom to my kids second, and after that I am there to serve my church. Maybe there are women out there who see it as their role to disciple women or host Bible studies or speak at events or  (you fill in the blank) . I'm not going there. I have enough on my plate getting dinner on the table and homeschooling my kids and making sure we all get to church on time with clean underwear. My primary job as a pastor's wife is to release my husband to the ministry - not be dragged kicking and screaming along the way. If I can provide a happy atmosphere for him to come home to, and if I can maintain a cheerful and willing attitude when he has to be gone frequently for all things ministry related, then I've done my job.

Anything else is extra.

So having said ALL that, here is my post dedicated to those who have wondered about our church pioneering experience.

Warning : if you don't like reading long posts with lots of words and no pictures, this one aint for you.  I don't generally walk around church snapping pictures of people, and I don't have time to go back through my old hard drive searching for any random ones I've taken over the years. 

But just in case you came here hoping for a cute picture or two, here are some completely off-topic pictures just for you.

guess who got into big sissy's make up ??

blurry picture taken on my cell phone of  my tormented eleventh child

There ya go.

And now, for those who asked... here is My Big Fat Pioneering a Church Post.

Otherwise known as.... Because You Asked.


My husband and I started our church here in Corvallis over 16 years ago. We were sent out of our mother church in McMinnville, Oregon ...which sounds like they kicked us out, but if you are a part of our fellowship of churches, you know it actually means that they "ordained" us to pioneer a new church here. And when I say we started our church, I mean from the ground up. We came here to win souls to Jesus - not to try to get people from other churches to come to our church. I mean, if people do come from other churches, we aren't going to run them off... but our goal in starting a church was to reach unchurched people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Also, when I say "we" started the church, what I actually mean is my husband started the church, and I came along for the ride :) Okay, I did a little bit more. I played piano, and for two years I did nursery all by my lonesome. Every.single.church service.

I also hosted the 4 billion food fellowships we had at our house, annnnnnd put up with a lot of ...stuff. Meaning we had some very strange people coming to our church - and consequently house - for quite awhile. And I say that in the most lovingest of terms. (Is lovingest a word ? It is now. ) I can blog about them now, because it's been 16 years, and I don't think any of them read my blog ? If they do, they know I loved them. They know, because I fed them more dinners and desserts than I can remember . I babysat their children, sometimes did their laundry (?!), helped pick lice out of their hair (for reals), listened as they cried on my shoulder, drove them places when they didn't have a car, listened as my husband took their midnight phone calls for counseling, attended the births of their children, brought them meals afterwards, stood by their sides as they buried babies or loved ones, and rejoiced with them when they found true joy in Jesus.

I say all of that not to pat myself on the back, but to say that although I have not stood behind the pulpit, God was able to help me to do what I am called to do - love people. And love them in whatever state they come to us in.

Someone once described our fellowship of churches like this : we are a hospital. We are not a fellowship of cathedrals, with beautiful stained glass windows and tall steeples and padded pews. (Although we did break down and buy some nice padded chairs a few years ago and WHEW. What a difference those can make for pregnant ladies. Just sayin.) We are not the place to come if you have it all together and are looking for a church that has it all together too. We are not the place to come if you are looking for slick programs and real musicians and highly engineered children's ministries and  smooth-running anything. I mean, if you go to a church where all that is happening, cool beans.

But that aint us.

We are a hospital.

We provide an atmosphere where the Great Physician can work miracles for people.

Our church is a place where the lost and broken can come and find healing in Jesus.

In our church we have ex-drug users, ex-convicts and ex-alcoholics (yes, EX ! You don't have to remain an alcoholic for the rest of your life, contrary to AA. You can be set FREE.) We have ex-thieves and ex-liars, and we even have little ex-goodie-two-shoes like me... who might not have done a whole lot "on the outside", but who were sinners through and through nonetheless.

Our church is not a cathedral, our church is a hospital for the broken and the broken hearted.

And as such, we have seen it all. The whole messy, sin-sick, problem-ridden pile of humanity.

And we love it.

We started the church by meeting in the library of our kids' school (they used to go to public school, but that is a whole other topic.) I played piano, Jason and Josiah took turns being ushers and running the overheads for songs, and Mackenzie helped me in the nursery. Eventually all three of our older kids learned instruments and began playing in our worship service - but in the beginning it was just me clunking along, while my husband led songs. Tyler was a year and a half when we came to Corvallis, and Jonathan had just been born. Caleb came along just under two years after we came here... I was nine months pregnant and still doing nursery every service, and my husband asked for volunteers for nursery so that I could get a month long break. ( I still remember how refreshing it felt to come to church  after that and hear a sermon preached - even if it was "just" my husband preaching.  )

We met on Wednesday nights in our home for Bible study for the first year, and every Sunday night we had everyone over for a potluck. And I am not kidding when I say that there was probably a lot more pot at those fellowships than luck for awhile. We had teenagers coming over many many MANY months, and I am quite sure I smelled something other than patchouli oil on their clothes when I hugged them. I remember one Sunday night, when Mackenzie came to me whispering that two of the teens were "sitting really close" on a bean bag chair in our garage/playroom. Sam had to start asking the teens to please refrain from Public Displays of Affection in front of our small children  (it was getting a little more heated out there than hand holding) and we also had to tell more than a few people that the church parking lot was not the place to run drug deals.

You think I'm kidding.

Things looked pretty crazy during those first few years of pioneering the church here in Corvallis.


And those two little words changed the entire dynamic of what our church is today.

Because GOD took that little rag-tag band of broken hearted, messed up, sometimes strange, sometimes struggling, always-needy sinners - and HE transformed them into who they are today.

Because although we are all still sinners - saved by grace - today we have a group of lovely families, and a few equally lovely single people, who are kind, gracious, law-abiding citizens. (Well, pretty much, unless you count the Pastor, who still goes to traffic school occasionally for forgetting to wear his seatbelt).

Today we have nursery workers and people who sing and play instruments on the platform and women who help in the kitchen and soldiers for Jesus who go on outreach teams to other churches in our fellowship and people who clean the church and folks who do special music and couples who invest time and love and energy into young hurting and needy teenagers and old people alike . We have a church that is still imperfect, but is oh, so gloriously transformed, and continues to be transformed, into the image of Jesus Christ.

We are a hospital.

We eventually moved into our own church building - we've changed locations a few times, and have finally settled into a building in a fitness center complex (hey, we help people get spiritually fit;)).

We may be small in number, but the people who attend our church have some of the biggest hearts on the planet.

I'm still playing piano, and my kids (three of them all grown up now) still play instruments during our worship service. My oldest two sons and their wives run the children's church, and my oldest daughter now runs the nursery.

We are here to serve people, reach them with the good news that Jesus came to save them from sin, and help them grow and mature in the things of God.

We are still a hospital .

So there you have it. Our church is no great shakes in the eyes of the world, perhaps. Sam works a full time job to support our family, and thankfully, the church nows supports itself financially. We hope one day that our church will grow to the size that he could quit his job and become a full-time pastor... preaching three sermons a week and doing all that is required to run a church is a full-time job in and of itself... but we are privileged to labor here and give ourselves to the ministry of Jesus.

I think Paul says it best : I will gladly spend and be spent for souls. 2 Corinthians 12:15

Its is both a privilege and an honor to pioneer a church, and I wouldn't trade our experience for all the riches in the world.


P.S. If you have thoughts or questions about life in the ministry, I would love to read them in the comment section !

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Party in SoCal and how old are you, anyway ?

We've been back for a week, and I still haven't blogged about our family trip to Southern California. And now it's Wednesday, which means church tonight.

So... I think I will just limit myself to a few small paragraphs about our trip, and then post the photos. Don't ask me WHY I always feel the need to write a novel when I post. I don't think the Instagram and Pinterest generation read words anyway, do they ?

Which leads me to a question, before I talk about our vacation. (There goes my ADHD disorder again, causing me to jump from topic to topic, no common thread required. Enjoy the ride !)

Where was I ?

Oh, yes - a question.

How old are you, anyway ?

A friend and I were discussing the demographics of our blogs a few weeks ago... we were wondering if anyone under 50 actually reads blogs anymore. It seems to me that most Instagram users are in the 20-40 something crowd. They use cell phones as mini computers, rather than actually using them as phones (meaning to call people - in case you're under 40 and wondered what I meant). And judging by the comment section here, it seems that most (not all) faithful blog readers are like me... they are over 40, and still know what a book is. (It's got a cover and pages in between, where the words are written. Just in case you're in the YOLO generation and have no idea what that last sentence just meant.)

SO my question for you all is... how old are you ? If you - like me - would rather not type out your actual age (I'm over forty, let's just not discuss how far over) , than just leave a comment telling me which age bracket you find yourself in :) I really wold love to know who still reads this little bloggy, and also what makes you come back to read.

Every time I think about shutting down the blog and just posting pictures on Instagram (over 6,000 followers there, and it takes less time to post !) I get a lovely email from someone saying they have benefited from reading here. And if google stats don't lie, almost 50,000 pages are read here each month ... that's still a lot of people reading WORDS, even if we do all have to use our reading glasses to see them !

Okay, moving on quickly - because laundry and dishes are calling my name frantically at the moment - we had a great vacation in SoCal. We took two days to drive down to San Diego for my niece's wedding, and we made the most of those two days. We stopped at our favorite-ever family restaurant when traveling - Black Bear Diner - and took 42 billion pictures for memory's sake.

We love Black Bear Diner for so many reasons : large portions, real home cooking, good prices, clean  bathrooms and friendly service, funny menus and cute decor, and they serve real bacon for the win. Can't say enough about this place !!

We then drove four hours to Fresno, and crashed at La Quinta Inn for the afternoon. Sammy slept (he had driven all night) while the kids and I swam all afternoon. We hosted a diving/jumping contest for any pool attendees, and Abigail won for best freestyle jump. Noah was a close second.

We then spent a lovely evening resting and eating pizza and snacks while piled in two queen sized beds.

The next day we spent eight agonizing hours in the van with eight children  drove to San Diego.

We stopped just before hitting The Grapevine, to let the kids get out and play.

...and also take the obligatory selfie.

We spent Saturday with relatives and attended a lovely rehearsal dinner at Mission Bay. I didn't take any pictures there, but here is a pre-dinner shot of our youngest .

And one Kenzie took with our little Duckie ...

And one from Saturday morning - yay for booking adjoining rooms with extra fold-out beds, and double yay for Priceline.

Sunday was the wedding - it was beautiful and sweet, and somehow I didn't forget any wardrobe essentials for any of us when I packed. Miracles do happen.

jo and mo and macie

kenzie and my nieces

We headed back home Monday morning, and almost threw Hayden out the window on the way.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

As much as I love family vacations, it is so nice to be back in Oregon - green trees, air I can actually breathe, and a baby who is not stuck in a carseat screaming his precious head off.


Oh yeah- don't forget to take part in my little age group survey via the comment section. All participants will be sent a virtual hug.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jude And Fi

Just dropping in this weekend ....

... to share one of my very favorite online shops. Those darling, hand embroidered hair clips you see Lily wearing so often here on A Perfect Lily, are from Jude&Fi on Etsy.

Jude&Fi is a simple hair clip company started by one of my fellow Down syndrome mamas, Shannon B. Her daughter Fiona shares Lily's extra chromosome, and she makes the sweetest model for Jude&Fi hair clips.

You can also find Jude&Fi on Instagram @judeandfi ...

Right now @judeandfi is looking for four brand reps on Instagram . You can read more details by following @judeandfi on IG - Shannon is looking for all ages, abilities and hair types to model her popular hair clips. And when she reaches 500 followers, she has a giveaway going on for a set of clips as well !

I can't say enough about our favorite hair clips, or the sweet mama behind them. Everywhere we go I get asked where I got Lily's clips - they are just that cute.

my adorable grand baby, Norah Jane loves her Jude&Fi clips !

While these hair clips are unique and fun and exceptionally made, the best part about them is their functionality. Because they are made with special wig clips that comb right into the hair, they stay precisely where you clip them in. Lily has even gone to sleep at night with a clip in, and woken up with it in the exact same place.  I love every style available, including the ones I ordered today ...

Right now Jude&Fi is offering Lily's readers a ten percent discount on all orders placed through the month of July, by using code aperfectlily at checkout ... go check them out today !

Happy weekend :)


Friday, July 18, 2014

houston, we have a walker

I had a vacation post ready to publish this morning, but exciting events at The Rice Ranch have forced that blogpost to the back burner for now. This little video deserves a post all by itself.

 Clarification : I say "exciting events" in the very loosest sense of the phrase. Depending on who is watching the video, exciting could mean "cause for a party" ... or "cause for deep mourning and days of nostalgic tears".

Because our last baby just took his first steps, and we will not see a crawling baby at The Rice Ranch EVER AGAIN, unless it's our grand baby.

Which, I mean, is probably going to be happening for another twenty years or so, given that my kids will keep having kids and bringing them over to my house ...

But still.

I was in the "exciting" means "emotional" camp last night, and I may or may not have duct taped Hayden's legs together this morning.

If you need me this week, I'll be buried in baby photos and consuming large amounts of chocolate (my drug of choice), with a mountain of tear-soaked tissues beside me.

And if you even MENTION the words wean and Hayden together in one sentence, I might just chop your head off.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

ADHD Mommies Unite

Currently, I am packing a small army to go out of state for a wedding this weekend. We're road tripping it, and I am ankle deep in over 100 outfits for the whole gang. This kind of thing is not for the faint of heart, lemme tell ya. It's a four-cups-of-tea kind of a day.

So naturally, when my back is against the wall on a deadline... I am blogging. It's my little rebellious heart at work I'm sure, denying that I have five hundred billion things to do right now, and doing the least important thing instead. 

Not that y'all aren't important, but...

You know what I mean.

So here's a happy photo from our fourth ...

... Hayden actually had a wonderful day being outside, but he did not want to be taken away from his happy place (sitting in dirt) to pose for a family photo. That's my little Macie girl on the left, our youngest granddaughter, wearing Lily's first fourth of July outfit. Next to her is the birthday boy - Koa turned three on July 6th, and Naomi and Jason threw him a big party on the fourth to celebrate. Norah Jane is her happy smiling self, and then there's Lily, sporting her new Wagon HelloMoccs . And then there's Hayden. My babies and my grand babies, all together in one accord. 

Mackenzie took this picture before we left for the party ...

See that genuinely pleased look on Hayden's face ? Its because he has five rocks in his chubby little fists, ready to hurl at the camera woman. Rocks, dirt, balls, and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of, dontcha know ? And ball point pens ..

 And little sister's shoes ...

Ignore the saggy diaper, he just woke up and went straight for the shoes. He's type A like that.

One more from the fourth of July (because my brain is going in five hundred billion directions, remember ? And I'm type B personality like that. And maybe a little ADHD thrown in there as well. Blame it on my non-paleo diet.)

Photo credit to my lovely daughter, Mackenzie.

A few more pictures to reduce my packing anxiety for the day (denial is a WONDERFUL antidote to stress, seriously, you should try it sometime.) (so is chocolate.)

Let's call this little series of photos Popsicle Wars.

Season One  ...

Season Two ...

and Season Three ...

Season Four is rated R, not intended for a family blog like this.

Okay, one more picture, and then it's back to the trenches for me.

If you love those Mommy's Make-up Moccs that Lily is rockin' like a boss, head over to Hello Moccs  and snag a pair.

If only these came in my size ...

...Wonder Woman Powers - ACTIVATE !!!

Peace out.