Just a Little Journal

Today, I got a glimpse of what it might be like to have a real job…you know, an office job or something. I was inside all day, which is quite contrary to my norm. You see, being a nanny allows me to spend most of my work hours out under the sun. I get to walk a lot, too. With walking the kids to and from school, I average four miles per day, but let’s be honest…pushing a stroller must make it count for six or seven. Once, I tried running while pushing said stroller. Wow, kudos to moms everywhere who can pull this off. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. My arms were like jelly after only a few blocks. I haven’t tried again.

I was inside all of today and most likely will be tomorrow, too. Sick kids are truly one of the most disheartening sights. You know a kid is not faking illness if she says watching television gives her a headache and denies the chance to watch The Incredibles. And you must believe it to be true when she won’t accept chocolate as a bribe for swallowing her grape Tylenol. I was under high demand re-filling sippy-cups, dousing surfaces in Clorox, doing loads of laundry with yack-splattered garments, giving baths, checking and re-checking temps, making toast and tea, reading stories, and of course……cuddling. Littles just want to be loved, especially in their most dire states. This afternoon, Sophie didn’t want anything except to lie next to me on the couch.This little girl who is constantly busy creating something with materials from her art box or hunting for nature objects in the backyard.

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It was after dark when I got off this evening. Craving some fresh air and a bit of exercise, I walked with no destination in mind through my quaint little town of Del Ray. The temperature was perfect. It was just cool enough for a sweater, but nothing more. The air smelled of fire the entire way. I did wind up having a destination. I went to a cafe and bought hot chocolate, mostly for nostalgic purposes. It was decadent, tasting like my mom’s. She used to make a colossal pot at every big snow. Chris, Lindsay, and I would invite all our neighborhood friends once we were too frozen to bear even another sled ride. The foyer was always filled to the brim with dripping, wet rubber boots and the large picnic table in our kitchen had bodies crammed on both benches.

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These memories flooded my brain as I walked on darling sidewalks, passing old houses with backyard pits and highly strung twinkly lights. The upbeat, girly music (Regina, Ingrid, etc.) coming through my left earbud was putting a pep in my step. Then, my phone vibrated in my pocket. It was my mom. She was texting me out of the blue, writing some things I needed to hear tonight. In short, she was telling me that she loves me.

I love learning about love and life through the seemingly insignificant and “unimportant” days. It’s days like these, the “in-between” ones that sometimes wind up bringing the most perspective, thanksgiving, and adoration. Today was a gift from Jesus and I recognized it multiple times throughout. I pray the same for tomorrow. Heck, I want to see Him more.

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Get Your Blood Pumping

Every morning, I curl op on the couch and read with two-year-old Amelia before her morning nap. I treasure these few moments. Not only do I get to memorize large segments of renowned classics such as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” but I am able to try out all of my “best” voices. Sometimes I even contribute additional sound effects. This usually depends on my morning coffee intake. My audience likes these complimentary add-ins, I think.

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This little girl is simply too adorably charming. She is captured by stories, the twists and turns. She always comprehends more than I think her young mind can handle. Her facial expressions when the wolf chomps up the Gingerbread Man or Cinderella marries Prince Charming are endearing. An aside: For the past few weeks, she’s been walking around saying, “I marry you, Rissa.” She scours for beaded necklaces in her toy bin (I’m not sure when they replaced rings) and requests that we dance. Then, we’re deemed “married.”

Before I tell a thousand more stories about this darling girl, I will write about one particular thing she has been doing. This one thing has got me thinking.

Yes, we still read “The Grinch” in the summertime. I would vouch to say it’s her favorite book. Recently, she’s also been pulling “Jack and the Beanstalk” off the shelf. Some of the current library books include “Edward in the Jungle” and “999 Tadpoles.” They’re all cute reads. Ah, ok… they “were” cute first few times we read them. Now, I have developed an aversion. Like I said, I’ve memorized much of Dr. Suess’ Christmas story. Too much is too much, but I continue to fake enthusiasm. We read these books time and again. And at the close of every story, Amelia does something peculiar. Thumbing backwards through the book with her little fingers, she asserts, “I want this page again.” These are the precise pages she chooses…

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-His little reindeer dog, Max, and the Grinch are on the verge of slipping off the snowy cliff in their ramshackle sleigh.

-The giant is chasing Jack down the beanstalk after Jack has obsconded the harp.

-Edward is about to be gobbled up by a crocodile in the make-believe jungle behind his family’s farm.

-A slew of the baby frogs have innocently hopped onto a sleeping snake. Father frog is wide-eyed in the distance, about to lose his marbles.

Are you sensing the theme? She chooses that particular point in the story where the conflict has hit its height. I suppose these are the conflicts. Maybe they are the climaxes. I used to have to make those story line plots in English classes. It’s been years and I probably need a refresher. Either way, Mia always wants to go to the page that makes her put her hands over her eyes. She peers through her fingers as I re-read.

Conflict. Conflict breeds excitement. Whether that excitement is pleasurable or detestable, it is sure to make life intriguing and the blood pumping.

We see it in movies and read about it in books. We observe it in our communities. We, ourselves live through it.

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Without conflict, our world would be dull. Our lives would now breed great boredom.

Much conflict is wished and prayed away, rightfully so. Most of it is harder than hard. Sickness, financial instability, and relationship dilemmas are never sought after.

I wish conflict away. I avoid it at all costs. In the second grade, my teacher named me the peace maker of the class. This is a seemingly honorable quality. In the same respect, it’s gotten me into a bit of trouble. Throughout my life, I’ve seen a pattern. Since my note-passing days in elementary school, keeping peace has still been high on my daily agenda. And it’s more than keeping peace with my girlfriends. I admit that I do my best to avoid conflict. When it somehow finds its way into my life…in whatever fashion, I dismiss it. I pretend it’s not there. I walk out the door, purchase a cup of coffee, and force myself to be side-tracked by indulging in a new book. I wish it away…

Problems come and go. The good Lord gives and takes away. And He urges us to remain thankful through it all. Even so, my thankful state has become a guise for avoidance.

The devil sneaks in, but we ought to remain strong in faith. Even if we must put our hands over our faces, we need to turn to that page, reading through the scary predicaments. He has things to teach us. What if we “truly lived” through conflict? What if we truly dealt with it in the way He would have us? What if we sucked every morsel of knowledge and truth, unafraid of disturbing the littlest remaining peace?

I am going to out out on a limb and a branch and say that it could bring immeasurably more peace. In sweeping the problems in my life under the rug, I miss out on a lot.

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I want to face them and live a meaningful, rich story…even better than those in the story books. I’m not saying I want to particularly love hard times. I just want to tackle them well. Conflict produces refinement.

And we know the truth. In all things, we take heart. He has indeed overcome the world. We can do all things THROUGH HIM who strengthens us, who never leaves or forsakes us.

Beer, Squirrels, & Bubble Tea

I’m a nanny and I absolutely love it. If I’m honest, I’ve always wanted to be one. Living in an awesome city. Hanging out with adorable kids. Free room and board. A family who takes me out to eat, adds me to their climbing gym membership, and introduces me to a new craft beer just about every night are sweet perks as well. If all of this isn’t enough, I get to read Where The Wild Things Are three times each day. So, yes, this is my dream job – definitely not forever, but for now, it’s perfect.
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It may be glorious, but like any other job, it comes with challenges. And these challenges are more than pushing a stroller up hills or getting a kid to eat their carrots. It’s impossible to measure my current trials against those of my previous jobs, for they’re simply so different. They’re different in that they’re molding my character. As I strive to be a good example and lavish love upon these little girls, I am being challenged in more ways than I thought possible. Patience, consistency, creativity, wisdom, and sacrifice are my prevailing run-ins.

Patience is a given with kids, right? Let’s just say that little people talke longer to put on their shoes and brush their teeth. These girls are teaching me to stop, to embrace the time I have with them, to bask in overlooked gifts that are simply beautiful. When we take walks, we stand under the same massive oak tree for five straight minutes to gaze up at the feisty squirrels scurrying from branch to telephone line to fence. Extensive giggles are a given.
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I am learning even more to stand by my word and be consistent. I absolutely have to administer a consequence when it is called for. Just the same, I must have that tea party on Thursday afternoon if I’ve already suggested. Falty lines in either situation result in chaos and confusion.

Oh, how I’m pulling from my creative juices…the small amounts that I actually have! I have to be ready for an eight-hour rainy day inside or a quiet activity while the younger one is napping. I’ve never had to have so much “excitement” up my sleeve. Today is a prime example of keeping on my toes. We took a walk to “storytime” at the library this morning, but it was cancelled. Instead, we headed to the massive playground around the corner, but it was closed for school hours. I then excitedly asked, “Do you guys want to go to St. Elmo’s for hot chocolate?!” Sophie responded, “No, how about bubble tea from Thai Peppers?” Onward. I had somehow forgotten that it was only 10:45 a.m. We waited 15 minutes for the place to open only to find that they had no tapioca pearls. There was a long, cold walk home. More patience ensued with all parties. After lunch, Sophie helped me do some laundry and was more than happy. Thank you, LORD. Maybe I don’t have to be ingenius all the time…
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If you’ve ever spent even a few minutes with a kid, you understand that they ask questions…about everything. Sometimes the answers are simple. Other times, they require a bit of consideration. Kids take words to heart! I haven’t yet been presented with, “Where do babies come from?” Still, there are things that catch me off guard. These are good – for their minds and my own. I hope and pray for the wisdom to answer them with grace and truth.

At the end of my day, I reflect upon the questions. I think about what I could have done differently. I wonder how firm and loving I was when they acted out of order. And I realize again through these little girls that He is the only one that can carry me through. He is the one who grants me the fruits of the Spirit, gives me wisdom, and loves through me. Without Him, I could not find satisfaction in this job. I am realizing just how massive His heart really is for His children…both the kids I take care of and myself.
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Sophie and Mia -such a joy.

Thanking Him for teaching me in this season and using me to teach these little people who will one day be influencing others.