Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I see you.

Yesterday, I cleaned out my refrigerator. As I was cleaning, I wrestled with the idea that no one, absolutely not another soul, would notice my work. I began thinking about how many of my efforts seemed this way. Often times, no one sees what I do throughout the day. There are no pats on the back, no medals, not even a thank you. I have always assumed that my efforts seem to go unnoticed, until my heart realized that He sees them. He sees me working on speech therapy with my son, He sees me organize the craft bins so the kids can find their glue sticks when it's time to create, He sees me sweep up crumbs that will only reappear an hour later, and He sees me clean the refrigerator. He cares about these tasks. and He wants me to care about these (seemingly monotonous) tasks because they all add up to my ministry: making a home and raising a family. 
He whispers to the mama who folds laundry late at night, I see you. 
He whispers to the mama who rocks her baby in the early morning, I see you. 
He whispers to the mama who spends hours waiting in pick up lines, cheering on the sidelines, and mopping up milk, I see you. 
And you know what mamas? I see you too. I see you. I see you in me. I see you in my friends. I see that sometimes you wonder how you got here. I see you  practicing spelling words, listening to slow and steady piano keys, and packing lunches. But more importantly, the MOST important, is the fact that He sees you. He wants you to know that you aren't alone. He wants you to feel that your work is beautiful. He wants you to know that the time you spend worrying if their coats were warm enough at recess, worrying when you leave them so that you can provide even though it hurts, worrying what day the school pictures are on, worrying if you've taught them enough about compassion, and worrying about the refrigerator is not wasted. He understands you. He knows your worried heart. He wants you to know that we are moved as mamas to do these things because they DO matter. They add up to honoring Him in a way that says thank you. We worry and do and cheer and clean and practice and wait as a thank you. We say thank you for the babies or the man or the home and this life by taking care of the tasks that would otherwise go undone, unnoticed, and unappreciated. He sees you, all of you... And so do I. I know you worry and work and love in a way that hurts. So, today, as you carry on, know that He and I... We feel you. We know it's sometimes no fun, not very glamorous, and exhaustingly lonely, but so, so worth it. He is honored in your work. He understands. And so do I......You didn't think I was NOT going to show you the fridge right? Now where's my medal? :)
 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Snow and desperation.






Perhaps you've heard about the "Polar Vortex"..."Blizzard of 2014"....or we can just call it what it really is... "Giant Crap-Ton of Snow that trapped us in the house for a zillion days." It really was like nothing I've seen. I hope the kids remember the 13 inches of snow and negative 40 temperatures that forced us to slow down and be together. The storm gave us some wonderful memories together. 














As the days wore on, we watched movies, played with new Christmas toys, and certainly loved being in the snow with friends. That is, until we officially went bat- sh!t crazy. We did some of the dumbest, most desperate things ever, proving we needed out. 



Case in point....
 


"Hey, Tyler. I need you to feed the cat. There's a measuring cup in the cat food. Just fill it up, and put it in her dish."

And that's EXACTLY what he did. 







I tried to clean behind and under my range yesterday. Check! Nice and clean... Only problem was that honker would NOT go back in. Once again, my antics had to remain unsolved until Mike got home. 









In a desperate attempt to actually use my brain, Regan and I took up sewing with her new machine. (I made that bracelet which made me feel like Einstein Stewart.) 







We painted snow. I mean, who does that? Here kids, I saw this on Pinterest. Looks fun, right?!? Blank stare... It took some convincing.









We tried to throw boiling water in the air to make snow. Instead, it looked like we killed someone because a) It didn't work and b) I decided to add food coloring to make it "extra cool." 







We made snow ice cream because nothing screams "I'm having a blast" like eating a bunch of pollution. 








We pretended to buy a bunch of fake groceries because we couldn't go to the real store. 



Today we are venturing out with a bunch of other desperate and weird moms/kids to go to Chuck E Cheese for a play date so that we can all roll around in some strep throat and listen to a mouse sing "Put a Ring on It." This actually sounds fun, so I KNOW I've officially lost it. 


The moral of the stir crazy story is "snow storms that cancel school for 4+days after being on break for 2 weeks can make you both thankful and a little weird. 




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You've been called.

I know today is a bad day to ask for money. People work hard for it, and now is the time of year that we feel pulled in a million directions to spend and buy and donate. But, you guys, I need your help. Well, it's actually for a friend. You see, I chatted with this guy online last night and sensed a need. A need I couldn't meet alone. He was too proud at first. He wouldn't give me an inch, but because I would not let it go, he finally, hesitantly clued me in. He currently owns no items. No clothing. Nothing. The word "nothing" makes me uncomfortable, and I won't allow it.
He is a Christian. He has made a series of bad choices, but I think this could be any one of us. He is now sober, a Believer, and ready. However, after a long, honest conversation, he explained to me he feels trapped. He explained that everything he owned was in a storage unit, and now it's gone. He then stated,"It's pretty hard to do good things when you don't look the part." This is his truth, which means it is all of our truth. You see, this guy belongs to us. God created him the same way he did each of us. So we belong to him (our Earthly brother), just as we belong to Him (our Heavenly Father.). He is ours, and we are now his.We are in this together, and we are being called to help.

Now is our time. We can change this person's life so that he can begin to change his own life. We might not be able to fix every problem for every one, but we are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.  We absolutely can't allow the fact that we can’t do it all to keep us from doing something. Each and everyone of us has the power, the resources, and the capabilities to change a life right now. Here's your chance to live outside of yourself. I need you today, and so does he. With every single day we're given, and every word we utter, and every move we make or choose NOT to make- we are changing the world for better or worse. When we decide one day (today) to make a move of love, compassion, and a move outside of ourselves, we change what we know to be true. This life is not about me, or mine, it's about we and ours. When we move outside of ourselves and start touching others, we change our course of life... our way of thinking. We can inspire others to live in a way that blesses others. We can finally feel connected, encouraged, and moved to do more. When we decide today is the day to prove to other's that they deserve a chance.... we become the people we’ve always wanted to become, and we begin to live the way we’ve always wanted to live. We can show our children what it looks like to give, to rise up to the calling we've always known about. We can't imagine the power we've been given but rarely use. It's just so big and strong and can be used to show others that love wins.

Today I ask for your help. It will change a person's life which could end up changing your life. I need you to take a chance and prove that we can love bigger and better. 
Can you email me at rralstin@hotmail.com and ask for my home address? I will give it to you in exchange for a small donation to show a person he is worthy, he is loved, and that everyone deserves a chance to live better. $5, $10? Every single penny will be spent on clothing and essential items. This is urgent. My prayer is that if you've ever been blessed or wanted to bless another, that you will send a small check today. Do it without hesitation, without judgement, without a second thought other than it will be used for good.

Let's do this together. Show me whatcha got.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Random facts that will captivte and entertain the masses.

You've probably seen the "Things You May Not Know About Me" lists going around. Here's mine... because I know you've been waiting. Merp.


1. Scars totally gross me out.
2. I applied to one college. Only one. It was all or nothing.
3. I was in a sorority at Indiana University. It taught me a lot about girls which is weird since I am one.
4. I really don't like dolphin memorabilia- tattoos, t shirts, etc.
5. I don't like dogs, especially little ones that lick and jump.
6. I've never broken any bones besides my toes. I've broken six or seven of those though.
7. I HATE being pregnant.
8. If you snore while I'm trying to sleep, I want to punch your throat.
9. I am super impatient.
10. I failed skipping in Kindergarten.
11. I am a terrible speller.
12. I hate the smell of pee and ketchup.
13. I was a junior high school English teacher for five years and can barely remember any of it.
14. I never know what gifts to buy for people.
15. I worked at Wet Seal in high school.
16. I swear I've seen a UFO before. I was with my mom. She saw it too. (I know you don't believe me.)
17. I love Rebel Wilson.
18. I never feel organized. Or on time. Or like I'm doing enough.
19. I only drink beer when I'm hot, at a a sporting event, or when I'm eating pizza, wings, or nachos.
20. My fingers are super crooked.
21. There isn't ONE SINGLE SONG I know all the words to.
22. I go to sleep really late.
23. I would always rather go out to eat versus cooking.
24. Proper names for things weird me out. Calling a butt a behind, a shirt a blouse, a burp a belch, etc makes me feel uncomfortable.
25. I can be super awkward and talk too much when I feel like someone isn't having fun.
26. I never take my contacts out.
27. I have shopped on Black Friday for the past 20 years.
28. I had foot surgery eight years ago and still can't feel my second toe.
29. I know nothing about astrology and plan to keep it that way. When someone asks me about my sign or horoscope, I immediately know we don't have much in common.
30. I firmly believe Hot Box pizza has the best ranch dressing in the world.
31. When I was 16, I was riding in a car with my friend during a monsoon. Her car was swept completely underwater with both of us in it. We lived.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween.



 
These are our people day in and day out. On Halloween, for four years now, these are our Halloween people too. We've got a pretty perfect thing going. 

This year was extra special because we trick or treated in November! Thanks Mother Nature for that!

Hey look! It's matching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their embarrassing parents with matching hats because they've all but given up on trying to be stylish! Cute!

These kids will grow up with the most awesome memories of Halloween. They'll tell about the party at GG's house, and the scary house at the end of the street, and the amazing neighborhood they raced around, and how all of the neighbors had little bonfires and passed out awesome
candy, and how we were always, always together. Tradition wins.
Being together day after day, year after year wins. 







Sure, Regan cried because her "left cheek got too cold," Tyler wouldn't wear his mask because it kept pulling his lip so drool was getting in it, both of Nicholas' boots were lost, and I took off too fast with Ryan and Mike on the back of the truck and about broke their legs. I mean, has there ever really been a holiday without a few mishaps? What's wonderful is that the people you love let you be human. Even on Halloween.



Another night of family, and babies, and a borrowed neighborhood full of love has been written as a part of our story.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Project


 
My child has her very first school project due soon. How do I have a child old enough, wise enough, strong enough to face these kinds of things? How did we get here? 
She's a perfectionist. I'm learning that this is a very difficult characteristic to parent. Sometimes I just want to scream, "Hurry up already!?!? Just spell the word wrong for all I care. Color outside the lines.  Stop crying and asking for white out or erasers or wanting to redo it all. Just make mistakes and quit covering them up!!!!" But, she's just like me. I can't make her not be. She is who she is all on her own, and she's beautiful, and frustrating, and exhausting, and emotional. She works so hard. I just can't believe we're here... Both of us old enough to be working on school projects. My job is to let her do it the way she wants... even if it takes all week, and her job is to remind me that it's not my project, and it will be perfect. 
 
This really isn't about a school project, even. It's about the girl doing it. She's just so precious. Sometimes I feel bad that she's so grown up for seven. Sometimes I wish she were more carefree, more childlike, more of a free spirit only because I know how hard she is on herself.
 
This child who made me a mama also made me the proudest mama. We've grown up together learning how to do these kinds of things. We're learning our roles, not only for school projects, but in the bigger picture that God has designed for us.




She reminds me to be softer. She reminds me not to rush. She reminds me that my words aren't just mine, and that people are affected by them. She shows me how much good there is in the world, and she looks at me with so much hope. Her eyes tell me she needs me to be tender with her even though she's a force to be reckoned with. She's had to show me more grace than anyone ever has, but she's done it with a heart wide open. I'm pretty sure I'm the hardest project she'll forever work on. I'll never be complete. She's making me better though, and I love her for that.
 
 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fresh highlights and a cheering section.

I had a hair appointment tonight. My highlights were grown out three inches, and I had two sad, sad blobs of grown out bangs hanging off the sides of my head like puppy ears. (Why won't they just grow out already?!?!) But, back to my appointment. I didn't go alone. You see, I have some people. My team. My cheering section. They show up whenever I ask them to. So tonight when I asked my friend who is a busy mama with her own full plate to drop what she was doing to just come sit next to me while I got my hair done... well, you better damn well believe that's what she did. She sat there for almost three hours just to be with me. Nothing to gain, no expectations. She just showed up.

Some may think, "Geez, that's so needy and pathetic. Who needs a friend to go with them for a highlight?" Well, girls, I think the answer is clear. I think sometimes, we all do. We're all the girl who needs a friend by her side here and there. We're all the girl who just doesn't want to do life alone some days. So many times, I think a lot of women LOVE being asked for help. We are naturally born with servant's hearts and encouraging our friends blesses us just as much as it does the other person. (If you don't know who you'd ask to be a part of your cheering section, I would love to help with that. email me)

And you know what? I hope my babes will grow up to learn about both sides of this game we play. I hope they know how to one day ask a friend to come to an appointment with them just because. But more importantly, I hope they will be the friend that goes. I hope they are a part of someone's cheering section. I hope Regan and Tyler show up for a friend and say,"I'm here. You don't owe me a thing. I wanted to do it."

Can you imagine what this world would look like if we all played both of these roles more often? What if we asked for support in both little and big things AND showed up to cheer each other on... I imagine that would look beautiful.