Love in the Midst of Parenthood

Love in the Midst of Parenthood

Nine years and I still find myself, at times, sinking under the glorious weight of my adoration for him.

It is different than it used to be. I was so young and free, with nothing better to do than lie on my bed or curl up on the porch swing and daydream about him. My days were filled up with a yearning that he answered however he could, a love letter in the mail, a midnight e-mail, a two hour phone call, a stroll down our country road with hands intertwined…

he was my world and I was his.

From morning until night, my heart was gazing at him, feasting on the love that God had written for us.

The memory squeezes so hard, it hurts.

Today, however, there is little time for gazing and feasting. We are surrounded by a boisterous and spirited army of tiny noise-makers who are hungry, thirsty, dirty, tired, bored or have a desperate need to be tickled. When we whisper, they want to know what we’re talking about. When we have a conversation, they want to add to it. When we kiss, they giggle, and when we hug, they want to join in and make it a group affair.

They crawl into our bed at night.

They come downstairs during our evening free time.

And even when the world is dark and their voices are no longer heard, there is the baby across the room from us in his temporary crib. He may be sleeping, but he is present.

But you know what?

It’s okay.

Marital love is more resilient than I ever gave it credit for, bouncing back from interruptions and finding a way to grow through the cracks; our life may be more crowded, but our capacity for love has only multiplied with each new life that has joined our ranks.

There is no competition here for my affection.

This is no war for my heart.

We are a family.

And when I look at my children, I see their Papa.

When he treats them tenderly, I am wooed.

And though the love between us that was once a beam is now a zigzag, jumbled up in the four stairstep offspring who share our home, they all lead me back to him, anyway.

The romance comes in snatches now. When I am sweeping the crumbs into the dustpan and a random thought of him crosses my mind. When a sweet song plays over the radio. When I see a photo that captures who he is. When I am sitting in the living room and overhear his laughter from the upstairs nursery…

love washes over me just as surely as it did when our hands first met and when our lips first kissed.

I can see him, you know, over the tops of their heads.

And I don’t plan on ever taking my eyes off of him.

 

How to Iron Without Having to Iron

How to Iron

How many of you have little girls?

How many of you love to buy precious clothes for your little girls?

How many of you have been sad to realize that the most precious clothes usually need to be ironed?

And so how many of you let those precious clothes hang in the closet because you never have time to iron?

Yeah, me too.

Until my mom showed me this mind-numbingly simple tip that has completely changed all of the above.

It is so simple and so obvious, I just want to slap myself on the forehead everytime I realize that I never would have figured this out on my own, but would probably have kept hanging up those beautiful wrinkled-up dresses and looking at them forlornly every Saturday night when I laid out church clothes because I knew I didn’t have time to iron them.

“Next week…” I’d think.

But no longer!

Every single dress that hangs in my daughters’ closet is ready to wear and generally wrinkle-free, and in case you need a little boost like I did, here’s how that happens without ever plugging in the iron…

This is what a typical dress looks like when you pull it out of the dryer. Obviously, this is unacceptable.

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But ironing this tiny collar and bow just isn’t at the top of my priority list. Plus that’s a great way to burn my most important blogging fingers.

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That’s why my girls’ nice clothes (and some of my boys’ clothes!) never make it to the dryer anymore. Straight out of the washer, I place them on a thick, plastic hanger and, using my fingers, I smooth out the wrinkles and straighten out the collars and bows until they are ready to air dry.

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Here’s the bow before I “iron” it with my fingers…

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and here it is after…

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And, just like that, this sweet little sailor dress is basically ready to wear (minus the fact that it is still wet). Mind you, it isn’t perfectly pressed, but for this frazzled mama of four children, it’s like Proverbs 31 praiseworthy.

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Here’s another example of a tricky little girl’s romper that, if put in the dryer, would be a mess. Ruffles are the worst, are they not?

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But after hanging up the romper and smoothing out the ruffles with my fingers, they look tidy and spiffy!

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Here’s the bow on the romper’s pocket before I “ironed” it…

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and here it is after…

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Every little dress in our collection receives this exact same treatment, and believe me, it makes my laundry room very happy.

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I hope it makes your laundry room happy, too!

(But don’t thank me, thank my mom).

~

If you are like me and need to really have things spelled out for you, here are a few more tips, in detail:

  • Sometimes it helps to toss these clothes in the dryer for about five minutes on your lowest heat setting before you attack the wrinkles. It will get out a few of them for you!
  • Now, grab the top of the article of clothing with one hand and the bottom with the other and pull, firmly enough to beat the wrinkles, but gently enough to not rip anything. What are you, a backwoodsman? Do this all over the article of clothing, smoothing out all the fabric with your hand. Then, smooth out the bottom hem. Then, smooth out the panel and all buttoned areas, pull out pocket flaps and smooth them down, put your hand in the pockets to straighten them, smooth out any sashes and pull them taut, and fluff up any bows. Lastly, do the collars and, after placing your hanger on a hook or doorknob, give everything one last once-over. Basically, however the clothing looks when you walk away from it is how it will dry.
  • Don’t do all of your high-maintenance clothes in one load. I’ve done that a few times and it feels so overwhelming to see all of them lying in a heap that I have to “iron” before I can move on to another chore. I have instead started a habit of keeping these items in their own hamper and, with each load of laundry I wash, I throw in just a couple. Doing it this way is practically painless, and it ensures that clean dresses are being hung back in the closet almost every day.
  • And you know what that means, right? We are actually WEARING all the pretty clothes we have purchased instead of letting them go to waste! Hip hip hooray!!
  • If you aren’t too picky about perfectly ironed duds yourself, you can do this with your own clothes, as well. It gets the major wrinkles out around hems, collars, pockets and panels and allows you to look presentable enough. I do all of my button-ups this way, and it keeps me wearing them, even though they sort of look like I took a nap in them.
  • Go fix yourself a tall glass of sweet tea and congratulate yourself on being the QUEEN of the laundry room!!

~

If you have any questions or just want to tell us how brilliant we are or how we’ve saved your life, feel free to comment below!

This and That and Lots of Nonsense

Greetings, bloglings.

This is Mrs Gore, coming to you LIVE today from, you guessed it, Panera Bread.

I can’t well remember the last time I spent a quiet hour at one of these tables, my husband sitting across from me with his Kindle and his juvenile drink (today he went with a smoothie, definitely a step up from the Horizon sippy milk he bought last time).

There is a steaming cup of Hazelnut situated a safe distance away from my new laptop, and…sighhhhhh…I feel so very relaxed.

I’m wearing REAL clothes.

I’m toting my beautiful, leather birthday purse that I never get to use because it is too tiny for diapers and wet wipes.

My make-up is on, and my hair is freshly washed, dried and curled, and I think I’ve already said this, but I’m sitting at a QUIET table. Very, very quiet.

Did I mention that there is coffee involved?

Yes, I think I did.

Anyhow, July is upon us and, as is usually the case, we are just now getting away to celebrate our June 11th wedding anniversary.

Because, you know, June 8th birthday parties always supercede June 11th wedding anniversaries; the day before our big day, we were celebrating Rebekah’s big day (5 years old? Are you kidding me??), and although we did pause for a few anniversary pictures at her party, we decided to table any observations of our marital union until a better time, i.e. when our babysitter wasn’t completely fried from the crazy schedules of her ten grandchildren, three of whom had birthday parties in the same week.

So. Here we are!

And if you didn’t know it already, you know it now. Me and Mr. Gore are, as the little girl in Sleepless in Seattle describes it, “mfeo”.

(Made for each other).

In our mind, nothing says “romantic” like sitting here in silence with our electronic devices. And after this, we’re going junk hunting at a few antique stores!

But before I sign off, I wanted to mention a few things…

1. It never dawned on me until this week that some of you who are subscribed here do not know about the “Mrs. Gore’s Diary FACEBOOK page“. I know, right? There’s MORE of me on the internet! If you haven’t joined us there yet, I do hope you will. It is without a doubt my happy place.

2. As such, many of you who are not following the Facebook page may not know why I’ve been blogging far less in the past couple of months: I’m writing a book! I have 76 completed pages thus far, and have been buckling down in hopes of finishing it before August, when my heart and mind really must be shifted back to homeschool. I am very excited about this project, although I really cannot objectively judge yet if it is the best book ever written or the absolute awfullest. 

3. I was so thrilled by your responses to “The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read on Child Safety“. Without a doubt, that post was emblazoned on my heart, so that I simply had to take a one-night break from book-writing to spit it out, staying up FAR too late for a mama of four. It seemed more like a cathartic exercise than anything, and so imagine my surprise when it began to take off and gather almost as many hits as “I Signed Up For This“. But what thrilled me the most about the entire thing is that the Word of the Lord landed upon so many hearts with that post and momentarily replaced fear with truth and peace. Incredible. Not to mention that I am super happy to welcome a new gaggle of readers. Welcome, new friends!

4. But wait! My week got even MORE exciting when I noticed I was getting an uprecedented number of comments on a blog post I wrote a month ago, titled “Refusing to Blink“. It had been fairly well-received when I first wrote it, but nothing spectacular, so I could not for the life of me figure out what in the corn-Sam-hill-heck was going on. But then my eyeballs fell out of my head when I saw the tweet from “Freshly Pressed” and realized I had received the great honor of being featured by WordPress in their Parenting section! So NOW, I have another new group of readers to welcome from the blogging community! Hi, guys!! I’m so excited to have you along and am waving at you very energetically in my mind. Can you see me?

5. Which leads me to my last point, made for all readers of Mrs. Gore’s Diary, whether you are from WordPress or Facebook or if you are my Mom or Aunt B. I read a blog post last week about “blogging etiquette” that actually gave me trouble sleeping. It was about the common courtesy of responding to your blog comments, and the writer made it clear that it is kind of rude to fail in this area. I understand what she is saying: if someone in real life said “hi” to you it would be rude to not say “hi” back. If someone said they liked something you said, you would say “thank you”. And if someone asked you a question, you would most certainly answer it. The article didn’t sway me, so much: I remain confident in my conviction that, as a homeschooling mama, I can spare no extra time on this computer with my back to my kids. BUT, as a hopeless people-pleaser, it did distress me very much to even think that I might come across as rude by failing to respond and interact with you who have been so kind to find a home here. Thus, I just had to take a minute to say “thank you!” to each and every one of you. I didn’t set out to blog for an audience outside of my immediate circle, but I’ve received one, anyway, and therefore, you are a GIFT to me. Seriously. You have no idea. Every comment, every ‘like’, every reblog, every facebook message, every kind word…it is noted and appreciated to the tippy-toe bottom of my heart. You guys are the best! Thank you for receiving me when I have so little to offer in return. And I promise, someday when I’m a little old lady with no tiny people running about my house, I’ll be the most interactive blogger you ever did see.

Phew! I guess that’s about it…

I’ll be back soon with some really fun birthday party posts, including a Kit Kittredge “penny pincher” party and a Nanny McPhee inspired picnic. Until then, I’ll be plugging away at the ol’ bookaroo and making almost-daily updates at facebook.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I need to get a refill of Hazelnut and smile adoringly at my husband over the top of my computer.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Gore!

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The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read on Child Safety

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Sorry about that title.

This article probably won’t help you much when it comes to child safety.

Because, frankly, for the past seven years, I have learned one important lesson from the internet and the news: children die out there.

There are the obvious fears that we face as parents: cancer, drowning, strangulation, suffocation, choking, car accidents, being ran over, accidental shootings, targeted shootings…

but in case we weren’t scared enough already, there’s also all of the obscure stuff out there that makes the rounds on Facebook and 24-hour news channels like wildfire: secondary drowning, sandhole collapsesbrain-eating amoebas in pond water, etc., etc., etc.

Every possible way in which a child was harmed or has died is cataloged and published and shared and you’re sitting there zoned out in front of your computer reading about it like a slumped-over toad (because isn’t that what we all look like while we’re on the computer?), but on the inside this scream of hysteria is building in your throatal regions because your greatest fear – losing this little piece of you that you love so fiercely – is being described in another harrowing tale, and even worse, in a new horrible way that you never even dreamed of!!!

Seriously?

A sandhole collapse on the beach?

The water and the sharks weren’t scary enough?

Or the pedophiles?

Now we’re dealing with sand, too?!

Please, please, PLEASE don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of being prepared, and I am so grateful to the brave mothers who shared their stories to inform us of potential dangers that might threaten our children.

But you know what I don’t love?

Adding fear to my fear.

Adding worry to my worry.

Adding terrifying tableaux to my suitcase of worst-case scenarios.

I had so many of those already.

And now, I’m not only a wreck as I watch my kids swim, paranoid that I won’t see the nearly undetectable signs of drowning

now I’m watching them for hours afterward to make sure they are not secondarily drowning… 

and my mama-sized panic is compounding and I’m thinking crazy little somethings like this...

You know, Rebekah got some water in her nose and choked for a while. I read that the symptoms of secondary drowning are lethargy and sluggishness. But…my kids just swam for seven hours and now they’re all sacked out like corpses in the living room…what if she is drowning right now??? Should I wake her up? I know I’m being crazy. But…what if I’m wrong and its too late?!..

Sometimes, when I’m not panicking in the midst of all these potential dangers, toils and snares, I can’t help but reminisce about my carefree childhood in Oklahoma where my best friend and I could go meandering down our remote gravel road, sticking our feet in the creek, playing alone in the barn, going swimming in the pond…

you know what?

My kids don’t know that life.

Because, six years ago, two girls were shot and killed while meandering down an Oklahoma country road very similar to the one that I used to frequent.

Gravel roads haven’t looked safe since.

And there are snakes in the creek.

And there could be deadly amoebas in the pond.

And there could be sex offenders near the barn.

And that’s just the beginning.

They can’t drink out of the waterhose. That’s toxic.

If the baby falls asleep in his carseat, we should wake him up after we bring him inside because nine babies died from sleeping in carseats this year (by the way, why is this article all over Facebook right now when it was written in 2006?!).

Oh! And speaking of Baby Shepherd, OH MY GOSH, there is a balloon next to him and it must be popped and discarded of because if a baby even touches a balloon, they could inhale it and choke to death!!!

And sorry, this is off the subject a bit, but did you know that having a child blow out the candles on a birthday cake is a great carrier for germs?

(not to mention their hair could catch on fire).

God?

I’m freaking out here.

Again, I sincerely don’t want to be misunderstood: my point is not that it is bad to be informed.

Information is good.

Warnings are great.

Education is a gift.

And you’d better believe that if something tragic happened to my child that I could help others to avoid, I would do everything I could to get the word out.

My point has nothing to do with the information, really…

and everything to do with what we DO with the information.

How do we respond when we read these warnings?

Do they make us paranoid?

Do they chew up our bellies with fear?

Do they cause us to imagine the worst?

Do they make us feel helpless?

These kinds of responses are red flags, and they are scarier than pond water, because they belie a problem that is deeply rooted within us, a problem that is as old as time and feels impossible to shake…

We don’t trust God.

We want to BE God.

And, deep down, we hope that if we do this and avoid that and plan for this that nothing bad will happen to our children, ever.

All of which point to a most unbiblical conclusion…

we think that the only hope for our children is us.

And that is how the simple act of reading internet articles can be a diving board that catapults us into very dangerous waters; cataloging every possible death trap and fearing every single worst-case scenario, we subconsciously trample upon every word the Bible says about God’s sovereignty, about His goodness, about His will, and about His calling.

Through our fear and helplessness, we discard the scriptures that we so vocally uphold, saying aloud “Yes, Lord! You are so good and ‘I surrender all’ and ‘have thine own way’ and all those Christiany things I’m supposed to say” while our hearts are kind of screaming “YOU AREN’T BIG ENOUGH, GOD, AND YOU DON’T CARE ENOUGH”.

If you think that sounds like an exaggeration, consider how the article about secondary drowning receives our rapt attention while God-breathed texts like Romans 8 gather dust on our bedside table…

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Did you hear that?

This is just one tiny excerpt from a book that is TEEMING with hope.

Hope for me.

Hope for my kids.

And while those ancient words may not contain step-by-step instructions for keeping my kids alive, they provide so much more, a bountiful feast of peace and truth for my fearful soul…

a wellspring of beautiful principles that my starving and terrified heart devours.

God is in control.

God is good.

God does everything for my good.

God created my kids.

God loves my kids more than I do.

God has a plan for me that will bring Him glory.

Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

I am in Christ, and my children can be trusted to Him.

There are greater things to fear than death.

Granted, the Bible makes no promise that all of my safety- and wellness-centered prayers for my children will be answered; in fact, most passages of comfort in the Word were written to a people who were enduring suffering like many of us have never seen.

It is inevitable: every person dies and no one is exempt from pain and sadness.

But when I read the Word, it helps me to breathe.

It realigns my heart with a truth that I cannot inwardly deny.

It stamps a purpose and a hope upon even my worst-case scenarios.

And it reminds me that this life isn’t even the one I’m supposed to be living for, anyway, and that, if God would be so gracious, I have eternity to spend with each of my most-beloved children.

Eternity!

So yes, let’s read and share all the articles and take the precautions as we slather on the suncreen and zip up the sleepsacks and fasten the safety helmets and cut up the grapes and mince the hot dogs and AVOID ALL WATER, PERIOD…

but let’s also stop living as if there is no God.

After all, there is really nothing more toxic, hazardous, poisonous or dangerous than that.

 ~

Want to keep up with Mrs. Gore’s Diary? Find us on facebook! I promise not to share scary articles there. :)

Refusing to Blink: savoring the season of childhood

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If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.

“Enjoy every minute.”

“They’ll be grown before you know it.”

“It goes by so fast.”

In my pre-motherhood days, I thought these were just the sentimental musings of people who were either being dramatic or who couldn’t think of anything else to say and so they just made the token grandparent statements they’d heard other people make.

At one time, it even frustrated me. After being encouraged yet again not to get in a tizzy about dishes and housekeeping because I’d have plenty of time for those things when the kids grew up, I thought to myself “Lady, I am cherishing my children, okay, but I can’t just sit and look at them all day long! At some point, I HAVE to do the dishes…”

But that was just my hormones talking; if I was being more honest with myself and less prideful, I knew what she meant and that her intentions were only to help me.

And now?

Well…now, I’m the one making these statements.

Because, while I’m far from being a grandparent, I totally “get” it.

Babies don’t keep” isn’t some figurative thought that sounds good in a poem.

It is literal.

Childhood is literally short.

A year used to be the amount of time it took me to get from one Christmas to the next.

Now, it means that my infant has gone through at least three sizes of clothing and has grown teeth, a personality and the ability to communicate.

It means that my toddler has gone from eating markers to making works of art with them.

It means that my preschooler has gone from talking super cute to talking super normal, perfectly pronouncing “r’s” and “l’s” and correctly using pronouns.

It means that my 1st grader has gone from sincerely asking if we could go to Little Bear’s house for a visit to requesting anything other than “Little Bear” when we turn on the television.

A year in a child’s life might be 365 days, but those 365 days are crammed full of growing and shifting and changing.

And what about four years?

Four years used to measure the amount of time it took to get through high school.

Now, four years means I can go from a world completely immersed in “all things baby” to a world completely devoid of cribs, playpens, highchairs, bottles, diapers, onesies, and strollers.

If that thought is one part wonderful, it is three parts terrible!

So you see what I mean?

The cliches make perfect sense…

blink, and you really might miss it.

And that’s why I am feeling this urgency in my spirit, one that is reorienting my goals to cradle this season of my life like it will be over tomorrow, because…

it will.

I can see it everytime I look at Gideon’s big-kid front teeth…

everytime Rebekah laughs at a joke that I thought would be over her head…

everytime Betsie sings a song and gets the lyrics right…

everytime Shepherd eats a more solid food than he ate the day before…

everytime I look at a picture from last year and feel the floor drop out from under my feet because they’ve changed SO much and I didn’t even see it happen.

Motherhood, itself, is so full of change and growth and bewilderment, and it can be exceedingly difficult to grasp these things in the moment; young pups like us are sadly gifted at getting everything flipped upside down.

We have to shuttle the kids around like this because we have to get “this” done because “this” is so important.

We have to feel the burden of the mess and the clutter and we can’t rest until it is cleaned up!

We need to get this project – that we voluntarily invented – completed NOW. Today. Without delay. Before we run out of time!

But I’m looking around at my life, and the only thing that truly has a deadline around here are these four little humans that are getting taller every minute.

If childhood is literally short, there comes with it an expiration date.

A ticking clock.

And I have lots of stuff to squeeze in before the buzzer goes off…

Nursery rhymes. I want to read them every day until we can recite them in our sleep.

Silly songs and lullabies. I used to dream of the day when I could enjoy my favorite vintage kid songs with my children, but now that I’m in the midst of the perfect season, I’m too busy sometimes to even pull up the playlists.

Looking at the stars. Night after night, the sun goes down and a masterpiece lights up the sky, and all I want to do is put them to bed and watch a stupid TV show.

Cuddles. I want to curl up to them as often as they want me to, and then for ten minutes more.

Flower picking.

Flower smelling.

Rainy puddles.

Forts and flashlights.

Cookie baking.

Dress-up.

Puzzles.

Swings and slides.

Jokes and riddles.

Toys.

Coloring.

Painting.

Creating.

Playing catch.

Playing chase.

Teaching.

Pretending.

Tucking them in.

I want to feast on ALL of it while my table is brimming with childhood.

And I want to read to them every day until my throat hurts.

My house…my plans…my dreams…my projects…my money-making endeavors…

Lord willing, they’ll all still be here when the “blink” is over, and I can pursue them until my face is rosy.

But for now, I have some advice to heed.

“Don’t blink or you’ll miss it”?

I refuse to blink.

~

I am so honored to be among the “freshly pressed” with this blog post! Thank you for all of the kind words, reblogs and likes. As I am “refusing to blink” and can spare no extra time with my back to these precious kids of mine, I am unable to respond to comments during this season of my life. But your words are dear to me. Thank you so much!

 

Mrs. Gore’s Hearty and Unsolicited Endorsement of “Moms’ Night Out”

You guys know that I have hermit tendencies.

If it weren’t for a few good people in my life, I would be tempted to hole up and become buried under the rubble of puzzle pieces and mismatched socks and stray Cheerio’s that is my house.

One of those good people is my friend, Chrissy.

Since moving to our town, she has made a faithful effort to plan a ladies’ night once a month where a group of us meet up to do something…anything…different than the stuff we do the other 29 days of the month (i.e. putting the puzzles back together, matching the socks and sweeping up those Cheerio’s).

One time we went out to eat and gab and cackle like hens.

One night we met at my Mom’s house to play board games (and eat and gab and cackle like hens).

Last night, we decided to go see a movie…

and eat and gab…

And OH, did we ever cackle like hens!

The movie?

“Moms’ Night Out”.

Since I live in a black hole, I had heard only a few things about it. Someone shared the trailer on facebook, but I never got around to watching it. I heard rumors that it was shown at a ladies’ retreat at Falls Creek which really intrigued me. My mom heard someone talking about it on the radio…

but the only thing I really knew about the movie going in to it was that it was apparently clean and that it was resonating with women.

And what I was completely unaware of when I took my seat in the theatre, flanked by my friends, a small cup of Dr. Pepper to my right, a pile of buttery popcorn in my lap, is that I was about to be taken on a two hour journey cataloguing MY LIFE.

You guys, it was like watching my every day activities, my secret frustrations, my rarely-expressed fears and the chaos and hilarity of raising my little children play out on a giant screen in front of my face.

The main character was even a homeschooling mommy blogger! You can’t get much more relatable than that.

And sure, the story took twists and turns that my life probably (and hopefully) never will, but throughout the entire story was a thread of spot-on humor, a glorification of motherhood, and a wellspring of encouragement for the tired mommy heart.

I don’t want to give too much away, but by the time the movie was over, my life seemed so normal. So sweet. And most importantly…

so important.

And silly things that at one time tempted me to lose my cool were all of a sudden typical and funny, even…

the day Betsie left hot pink nail polish footprints in the living room…

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the day that I sold my soul for a sandwich (read the AWFUL story behind this picture here)…

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the list of things I “signed up for” (read the life-changing blog post here)…

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all of it.

Even this.

(God help me).

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I came home renewed, refreshed, and eager to embrace this season of my life with a healthy and biblical and light-hearted perspective.

And as I sit here on my stairs with my laptop, a naked toddler next to me begging for nail polish, a baby asleep in the next room, and two always-hungry kids in the kitchen, I’m seeing it all with fresh eyes.

This mess is beautiful, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

And so it is official: “ladies’ night out” watching “Moms’ Night Out” was a night well spent.

Go watch it!

And be sure to eat, gab and cackle like a hen while you’re at it.

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That

Guess what is sitting in my lap this very minute?

Surprisingly, it is not a child.

Not surprisingly, it is not a puppy. (I don’t like to hold animals).

Unfortunately, it is not a tray with a piece of apple pie and a cup of hot coffee.

Iiiiiiiiit’s…

myyyyyyy…

new laptop!

After a long year of probation in which I gathered funds while commiserating the mistake of drinking coffee next to my previous laptop, I was given the green light to start shopping for a new one.

And now it is finally here, and the timing could not be more perfect.

Shepherd is now almost nine months old…

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and while he is still frequently waking me up in the night, I am getting back into the groove of things, and the book project that I had to shelve before I gave birth to him is back in the forefront of my brain and heart, itching to be finished.

And, by golly, I’m gonna finish it, Lord willin’ the crick don’t rise.

May in its insanity is kind of filled up, but I have a month-long date with June, and my hope is to at least have a rough draft by July 1st. You will undoubtedly be hearing more about this in the future.

In the meantime, I’m just sitting smack dab in the middle of a season of spiritual growth, something that fills me with joy and expectation. I’m doing lots of listening, and am asking God to make lots of changes in my heart that I honestly feel only He can bring about.

Last Saturday was Ms. Annette’s memorial service, and oh my, I was so inspired.

The common theme concerning her contributions to her friends and family was that she lived for others; the consensus was that, when you went to her house to check on her, she had a way of turning the questions back on you and how you were doing.

It caused me to contemplate the things we really stress over in this life…things like our girlish (or not-so-girlish-anymore) figures, our houses, our possessions, the perceptions that other people have about us…we can kind of obsess over any or all of the above.

But, at the end of our days on earth, do we REALLY want the following things to be said about us at our funeral?…

“She had a rockin’ body”.

“Her house was so clean”.

“She had the cutest clothes”.

“She threw Pinterest-worthy birthday parties”.

“She had all her ducks in a row. Her children were perfectly behaved, groomed and coifed and she was so put-together”.

No!

No!

I say it again, No!

‘Twould be a life wasted, would it not? Yet those are the things we sometimes chase after with all of our beings.

As I sat on the edge of my seat during the memorial service, my heart was yearning for more, and I realized with certainty that, at the end of my life, I desperately want one thing to remain: Christ.

“She lived for others”.

“She was such a good listener, and even when someone asked about her, she ended up asking about them”.

“She was generous and would give even her best things to someone who needed them”.

“She never held a grudge, but forgave freely”.

“She died to herself daily”.

“She was so kind”.

“She was so joyful”.

“She was so wise; she had a biblical answer to every question”.

These are the things that I want to cultivate in my life, and if I “stress” about anything, I want it to be that I am not looking more like the Savior quickly enough and that I am not redeeming the time while the time is mine.

And this is why a life hidden in Christ is so important; even in her death, Ms. Annette was inspiring the young women who followed behind her to lose themselves in the gospel just like she did. Every life counts, and the Kingdom is moving through every action, every word, and every remembrance of its inhabitants. MAN, that gets me fired up! God, be great in me! Change lives through mine! Don’t let me die worshipping the idol of ME!

And this is totally off-the-subject, but I can’t move on to the next thing without mentioning what Mr. J.L. said when a mic was handed to him at the service. In that rich, deliberate voice, he said (and go ahead and grab a hankie before you read this), “On May the 10th, 1940, 74 years ago, we went on our first date. And on May the 10th, 2014, we have our last date on this earth…”.

What a legacy. I also want to “stress” over protecting and cherishing my marriage in a world where it is so very easy and acceptable to throw marriages away.

You know you’ve lived a successful life when your memorial service changes futures; I pray that the things God convicted me of on Saturday will bear fruit in the days and years to come.

Later that day, I had the chance to take my kids to Mom and Dad’s house where we spent the afternoon and evening relaxing in the backyard and, before the night was up, I realized that I had received the best Mother’s Day gift I could ask for by being blessed with sweet, unplanned moments with each of my children.

Gideon and I got to talk about eternity and how God continues to fix his little heart.

Rebekah sat next to me drawing in the dirt while we had a lengthy and enjoyable discussion on true beauty and the fruit of the spirit.

Betsie and I had a tickle fight.

And Shepherd fell asleep on me in my favorite swing where we rocked for nearly an hour with a beautiful canopy of trees overhead.

What more could a Mama ask for?

Not a thing.

Except for maybe breakfast in bed and a $500 giftcard to Anthropologie.

And on Sunday, I was deeply moved and challenged by the preaching of the Word, and came home so eager to grow in the areas of evangelism and Christian unity and brotherhood.

I am realizing more and more that, though I have been driven my entire life to make much ado out of yours truly, the cry of my heart is no longer to become a household name. I understand now that, should God choose to allow my writings to spread and a book to eventually be published, it will not have anything to do with who I inherantly am, but rather about the assignment He has given me.

Isn’t that a beautiful thought? In God’s kingdom, there is no one more special and no one more annointed than someone else; we simply have different jobs to fulfill. I crave to fulfill mine in a way that brings glory and honor to God, no matter how big or small my task may be. If you want to hear more on this subject, take a listen to my husband’s sermon that so clearly laid out these truths.

And I hope it brings you comfort to know that, by the grace of God, I am not seeking to become the next Christian celebrity; that might have been a dream at one point in my life, but no longer, and with each day that passes, I just long more and more to be a voice of encouragement and truth and friendship in your ear. That’s why it means so much to me that you are here in the first place: you have received my offerings so graciously and with such enthusiasm that it quite knocks me over. Figuratively, of course.

Wow. In all honesty, I don’t really know where this rambling blog post came from, but thanks for listening all the same. I got to try out my new computer and jot down some thoughts that I really wanted to hold onto.

I’ll leave you now with my top 4 Mother’s Day photos. As usual, my kids were so obliging and photogenic. Good times.

Great(ish) memories.

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Now how about you? Do you have anything to share? How is God changing you? What is He teaching you? What was your best Mother’s Day moment? It’s your turn! Feel free to ramble as much as I did. :)

Dear Mama (an open letter to the woman who is considering abortion)

Dear Mama: an open letter to the woman who is considering abortion

I am not an earth-shaker.

I’m not a politician.

I’m not very opinionated.

I’m certainly not argumentative.

Most of my words center around the things I see every day. I write about what I love. I write about the ordinary. The simple. The quiet.

But today…

I can’t stop thinking about you.

I don’t know you, but your story is heavy on my heart.

And since I don’t know who you are or where you live, I want to give you my words today and pray that they will find you, wherever you are.

I don’t know what has happened in your life that has brought you to this decision you’re trying to make.

Were you hurt?

Were you taken advantage of?

Were you simply not planning this?

Are you just not ready?

I have no idea, and I will not pretend that I can understand the pain or fear that you are experiencing.

But there is one thing I do know.

Abortion is a lie.

It is a quick fix that tells you “we can just pretend like this never happened”, all while preying on the most innocent and voiceless victims on the planet.

We can’t hear their cries.

We can’t read their thoughts.

We can’t see their pain.

And in a guise of “women’s rights” we strip theirs completely away in the most epic display of bullying the world has ever known.

What blindness! We, who take so much pride in championing tolerance and in protecting freedom…

we throw our inconvenient children away.

And I just wonder if the people who would encourage you to discreetly dispose of your baby will be there for you during those moments days, months, years later when your heart is crying out for the flesh and blood that once resided within you?

Will the ones who proclaim and pamper your rights have anything to offer you after the job is done other than a pamphlet and a receipt?

Will the abortion clinic send someone to counsel you if you live to regret your decision?

Do they really care about you?

It sure doesn’t seem like it from my perch.

Their world looks awfully cold to me.

Lifeless.

Terrifying.

I’m not going to share all the pro-life arguments with you in this letter. You’ve heard them. And if you haven’t, you can read them all over the internet.

But here’s what it comes down to for me, today…

This was my first baby, Gideon, when he was hidden away inside of me…

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This is Gideon today.

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He is seven years old, with an imagination as big as the sky. He loves wearing costumes and drawing pencil sketches and playing tag. His eyes dance when he is happy and his soul is old and complex.

This was Rebekah…

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This is Rebekah today.

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She is four, and the world has been a better place since the day of her birth. She cares about people, and she brings light and love to everything she touches. When she grows up she wants to be a nurse and an artist and a farmer.

This was Betsie…

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This is Betsie today.

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At the age of two, she is full of joy and energy, and when she laughs, your heart can’t help but smile. I feel like the luckiest person alive to watch her grow up, and I can’t imagine a day when she didn’t exist.

This was Shepherd…

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This is Shepherd today.

Six months old! (and way too big for his bassinet…)

He is 8 months old, and is the softest and sweetest baby I’ve ever held. And when he looks at me, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more loved in my entire life.

Each one was just a fuzzy picture on a sonogram machine…

a “fetus”.

They were hidden in my stomach.

They were nameless and faceless.

They felt like a cramp.

And now, here they are, changing my life and changing the world.

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I know you’re scared…

I was scared, too.

I know you don’t feel ready…

I honestly wasn’t ready, either.

You might be afraid of what you’re going to lose…

I was terrified to “lose myself”.

And you might simply be ambivalent.

But, regardless of what brought you to this point, you have a baby in your tummy.

A baby that deserves to live.

A baby that will someday be a swaddled-up newborn, then a precious toddler, then an imaginative preschooler, then a beautiful big kid who is discovering the world…

a baby who will someday have the voice and the ability to show you that he or she has rights, too.

Until then, you are the only one who can protect your child.

Please, don’t believe the lie. There are so many options for you that do not include aborting your baby.

You’re a mama now.

Choose life.

~

Because this is such a controversial subject, all comments will be closed. You can leave a comment, but I’ll be the only one to read it.

If this blog post angers you or gets you all fired up about politics or causes you to think I’m an idiot, I invite you to mull that over on your own and discuss it with your friends. Please don’t waste your time with silly ol’ Mrs. Gore.

But, please, if you are pregnant and need help or direction to a crisis pregnancy center or a church in your area, message me at my Facebook page and we’ll do whatever we can to help you. You are not alone, and that’s a promise.

 

Annette.

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A dear friend left us on Saturday.

She smiled serenely at her husband when he told her “Good morning, sweetheart”, and the next time he came into the room, she was gone.

Here one moment.

With the Lord the next.

And while I am truly happy that she has left behind the body that has suffered through rheumatoid arthritis for years, my heart is crying out for her to come back.

Just one more conversation.

Just one more time to clasp her hands in friendship.

Just one more time to watch her interact with her husband, the love of her life.

Just one more chance to convey my appreciation for everything she taught me…

You would have loved Annette.

I can say that with certainty because everyone loved Annette.

It was impossible not to.

She was a tiny little spitfire of a woman, the epitome of a Southern belle, and anytime I had the pleasure of sitting beside her in conversation, I marveled at her ability to navigate truth, humor, and grace as she included and entertained everyone, somehow commanding the room and offering hospitality even when she was too frail to rise up from her chair.

She was like a queen, transforming by her presence a simple room in a senior living center into a palace, her nondescript chair into a throne.

And her husband was her king.

A true gentleman, Mr. J.L’s voice is kindness itself, full of rich tones that cover you with comfort and love when he speaks…

and, oh my. Together, he and Ms. Annette painted a breathtaking picture of Christ and His church, and it was a gift to learn from them as they effortlessly loved one another with every word they spoke and every glance they shared. Their home, free of malice and negativity, was an oasis, and you would be hard-pressed to leave their presence with a frown on your face.

When it comes to Ms. Annette, I don’t even know where to start…

I loved so many things about her. She was as sharp as a tack, and could hang with the best of wits and the cleverest of tongues; it is not everyday that my husband finds a worthy verbal opponent, and Ms. Annette always managed to drop the last joke. How I loved to observe their discourse, a veritable tennis match between two comedians, and my only job was to laugh and enjoy.

I’ll never forget the “bazinga” she dropped on me when I was pregnant with Rebekah. My church had been praying for me concerning some strange heart palpitations I was experiencing; after weeks of panic and worry wherein I mourned the fact that some other woman (the hussy Mr. Gore was sure to replace me with once I was dead) would be planning Gideon’s birthday parties, it was finally discovered that I was simply experiencing acid reflux, and, as we left the clinic that day, my beloved doctor prayed with us that “we would learn to trust you, God, even when we’re being a little bit crazy”.

Well, when Ms. Annette called my mom to check on me and heard the report that I had been diagnosed with acid reflux and a little bit of craziness, she clucked her tongue and said, “Well, you tell her she should get a second opinion!…”

After a pregnant pause, she dropped the punchline: “He’s right. She IS crazy”.

Ms. Annette was not only hilarious, she was beautiful. I still can’t quite believe that Hollywood never discovered her, but their loss was completely our gain. Whether she was in a wheelchair or a sickbed or sitting on her throne in the living room, she carried herself with dignity and poise.

Oh and…jewelry. Lots and lots of jewelry. Rings on her fingers, bracelets on her wrist, earbobs in her ears, dainty shoes on her tiny, little feet…

she fairly sparkled with gems and she sparkled with life, even as hers was coming to an end.

But it was her soul that shone the brightest.

We hit it off, the two of us, from the very first time we met. She watched me grow up, she saw me get married, and she held my babies. And through it all, she loved me.

Her love was pure.

Her love was faithful.

And in a church age where friends so easily come and go, that is no small contribution. It is a remarkable thing to have someone in your corner for life. Someone who checks on you. Who thinks about you. Who prays for you.

And even though Ms. Annette was too sick to attend our church for the past four years, she was for us.

I doubt that she ever realized how much that meant to two young kids just starting out in the ministry.

And so, as I thought about her life today, I mourned…

for the loss of another friend…

for her husband who had to go to bed without her Saturday night for the first time in 72 years…

for her daughter and best friend, Mary, who loved her as much as I love my own mom…

and for this broken and fallen world where death is a grave reality.

But in the midst of my mourning, I felt something else, something new, a reaction that I have always longed for but never mastered.

I rejoiced.

Death has taunted me my entire life, stealing joy from even the most beautiful moments; it has rarely visited my loved ones, but the fear of it has been a nearly constant companion, an enemy that never tires. It rains on my parades. It poops on my parties. It grips me. It mocks me.

And, in my childlike mentality, I’ve always considered it to be the worst thing that could happen, ever, to anyone.

And that it happens to everyone has been, until this point, inconceivable.

But in one last act of friendship on this earth, Ms. Annette, with her beautiful life and her peaceful passing, has given me a gift; for in her death, for the first time in my life, I am finding a hope that overshadows even my deepest fears. I’m starting to see it now…

this life really is just a vapor and a shadow.

It is a blink.

And in that discovery, I see a choice: I don’t have to be frustrated that my visits with Ms. Annette during her sickest days and my child-rearing days were too infrequent.

I don’t have to wish to see her just “one more time”.

I don’t have to mourn like all is lost for Mr. J.L. or Ms. Mary.

Because the beautiful, life-altering, Bible-based truth is this…

I will see her again.

I will clasp her hand.

I will chat with her.

I will see her smile serenely at the husband who loves her, their bodies free from the curse, their future eternal and perfect.

I will thank her.

And thank her.

And thank her.

This isn’t the life we were made for, but rather, the shortest prologue to our real story, and the friendship that I weep for today has really only barely begun.

What comfort! What joy!

What hope.

Ms. Annette and I always expressed our desire to live next door to one another in heaven…

and now that she has gone there before me, the thought grows fonder and dearer.

We meet to part…

we part to meet.

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Mrs. Gore Likes: Hearthsong’s Deluxe Platform Swing

This past weekend, we arrived at my parents house to find a surprise hanging from the trees.

Last year, my Mom had experienced one of these swings at my Aunt Susan’s house, and she just couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was and how amazing it was and how badly she wanted to find a couple…

so we sat down one afternoon last month and finally purchased them.

And now I finally get her enthusiasm.

Without further wordage, I present to you the Platform Swing from Hearthsong, the FUNNEST SWING I have ever…swung…swang?…swing-ded?…from.

For reals.

p.s. the following photographs are candid and genuine and were not taken for this blog post; rather, they inspired this blog post! Special thanks to my sister-in-law, Amy, for capturing the fun!

~

When you first load up, you have no idea how great it is…

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and then you find yourself screaming your face off in delight!!

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You can swing with your friends…

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or quite alone (and go REALLY high!)…

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you can swing if you’re young…

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you can swing if you’re old(er)…

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and, if you’re anything like us, you can swing all. day. long.

At some points, the kids were swinging high and laughing shrilly, and at others, they were lounging hammock-like, just staring at the trees.

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But just between you and me, I’m convinced no one loved the swings more than I did…

When I backed into one and laid down, I was expecting it to be fun, but I had no idea how awesome it would be. One of my quirks is that I react really loudly on amusement park rides and during those interactive 3-D rides; thus, when my Daddy pulled me back in this swing and let go, the following words came bellowing out of my mouth: “OH MY GOSH, I’M FLYING!! I’M FLYYYYYIIIIIIIINNNNGGGG!! I FEEL LIKE A GIANT BABY! I’M LIKE A GIANT BABY IN A CRADLE! THIS IS SO MUCH FUN! I LOOOOOOOVE IT!!! I COULD DO THIS ALL DAYYYY!!!!!”

Glad no one was around with a video camera.

And I can’t WAIT until I can cozy up on one of these with a good book and a long afternoon of nothin’. I’m convinced such a day is in my future!

Anyhow, by the end of our second day with the swings, my mom and I agreed that this must be the closest thing to flying that a kid (or an easily impressed adult) can ever feel.

They aren’t cheap, but if your summer budget allows, hurry! Buy one! And if it doesn’t, start saving up. You won’t be sorry!

Find yours by clicking on the picture below:


~

A few more things: Do your research before hanging. You need a very sturdy tree with big, sturdy limbs, or something very secure to hang it from, and hardware to hang it with. Also of note: We’ve only had ours for a weekend. I cannot attest to how long they will last, or how many injuries might come from them or how soon we’re going to stretch them out with our (my) postpartum girth. I’ll let you know…

~

About “Mrs. Gore Likes”: This blog is not a money-making endeavor, but since I enjoy sharing resources, I signed up to be an Amazon Associate, wherein I have the ability to share products and books and receive a small commission from anyone who shops at Amazon through my links (even if they don’t buy the actual product I shared). This outlet hasn’t allowed me to hire a cleaning lady or anything, but it has been fun to contribute to the family budget, even if it is only $10 a month. (The first month I made a whopping $3.47!!)

That said, I NEVER share anything that I don’t actually have in my home. And then I NEVER share anything that I don’t truly love and use. It is a matter of personal honor that I don’t dangle things in front of your eyes that will entice you to spend your hard-earned money; I want my blog to be a place where you come for rest and humor, not to find more stuff that you don’t really need.

But occasionally, I am so enthusiastic about a product that I feel it would be worth sharing. You’ll see those products and books show up in my Facebook news feed.

And then, even less occasionally, I come across something that just blows me away and I am so geeked out about it that I have to write a 600-word glowing review and share photographs of us enjoying it, whether it is from Amazon or not.

Enter “Mrs. Gore Likes”.

And if you hung in with me through that laborious explanation, Amazon should give YOU a commission!