Stepping on Cheerios: Finding God in the Chaos and Clutter of Life

Stepping on Cheerios: Finding God in the Chaos and Clutter of Life

by Betsy Singleton Snyder

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Overview

Being a mother isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s hard to experience a personal connection with God and community when you are caught up in the chaos of just “doing family”.



Independent and self-sufficient, author
Betsy Singleton Snyder lived a full and busy life as a pastor,
missionary, and wife to a husband who served in the U.S. House of Representatives. She had her first child at age 44, then at 47, she found out she was carrying triplets.
Suddenly finding herself overwhelmed is an understatement.



Stepping on Cheerios
is a collection of funny, warm, and charming tales from the frontlines of parenthood, written for women who are juggling to accomplish everyday feats of work, motherhood, marriage, church, and more. It’s a comical story of one woman’s realization that her crazy life is a gift and how she found the grace in it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501827259
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 586,868
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Betsy Singleton Snyder, author of Stepping on Cheerios, is a pastor, a former missionary to the arts community, writer, and blogger. She and her husband, Dr. Vic Snyder who formerly served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years, live in Arkansas with their four sons, Penn (10), and triplets Wyatt, Sullivan, and Aubrey (8). Visit her online at WomenadeStand.com.

Read an Excerpt

Stepping On Cheerios

Finding God in the Chaos and Clutter of Life


By Betsy Singleton Snyder

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2017 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5018-2726-6



CHAPTER 1

A Hail Mary


Then Mary said, "I am the Lord's servant. Let it be with me just as you have said." Then the angel left her. — Luke 1:38


When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me — "Let It Be," The Beatles


I love football because it's so unpredictable. The weirdest things can happen, right? Such as lateral trick plays in which the chaos of the moment unfolds and the way a running back's smooth dodge can suddenly bring a team ahead on the scoreboard in the final minutes of a game. And there's that famous last-ditch effort when the quarterback drops back, his offensive line holds, and he launches that oblong ball spiraling through the air in a lovely, long arc. Wait for it; wait for it as it becomes clear. The ball is finally caught by a young man whose body is hanging in midair. It is a moment worthy of the ballet, when his feet touch down in the end zone. It is a Hail Mary. It appears both crazy and divine.

I've met divinely crazy. I caught a Hail Mary and then three more — ahem — quite late in life. I became a mother of four boys, including triplets, in two and a half years when I was forty-sevenish. I didn't dare drop the extras God had so gloriously and unpredictably thrown my way. I had expected ordinary, and I got extraordinary. Isn't that just like God and the insanity of football? You may not know what's coming in life, but it wouldn't be any fun if you did. Plus, you might refuse to participate because what if you got hurt or couldn't control most of life, which you can't? So let's face it. Authentic, no-holds-barred living creates risk, and there's no decent spiritual growth without these untamed ingredients. No one grows into mommyhood without her complimentary set of bruises and a strong need for a good age-defying hair-care regimen.

If we bracket the football motif, there are other reasons I'm not your typical mommy, as if any woman's story is cut out like a cookie. No, we women must have a few flashy sprinkles on top of our own lives. Still, my story is, at times, one of biblical proportions. Genesis unplugged, if you will. Thank you, Jesus, for the drama, truly.

For one thing, my perspective on parenthood has been shaped by my marrying someone who is older than me and who waited a long time to get married. Before we met, Victor had done everything, it seemed, except tie the knot and have kids. He'd been a marine, been a hospital orderly, worked with troubled kids, operated a gas station, become a doctor and practiced medicine, served in medical missions overseas, gotten a law degree at night, served in the state legislature, and run for Congress and won. Low achiever, huh?

We met while Victor was representing Arkansas' Second District. We dated for two years, and after extensive negotiations, I coaxed him into a family adventure. (I was about as subtle as my bird dog is when she drops a squirrel on the floor, all earnest in her pleasing look, not knowing she's blown it for the cute little mammal.)

I hadn't misrepresented myself. On our first date, I told him, in response to his question of what I wanted in life, that I wanted to get pregnant, have a baby, and dodge Legos. I didn't realize when I said it aloud that it would turn into such a whopper of an adventure.

We had our first child when Victor was fifty-eight. For perspective, he was born when Harry Truman was president, and I was born when JFK was president. George W. Bush was president when our first child arrived. That's some history and frame of reference. But don't be fooled. No matter how old you are, children keep you culturally relevant. Victor buys indie CDs (yep, he still buys CDs), and I download music by Katy Perry and Adele, which exists comfortably next to the music of The Wiggles and Les Misérables and Hamilton. In seminary, I had a word processor, and there was no e-mail, let alone texting and Tweeting. Cell phones were ginormous and few people carried one. My spouse and I lived through segregation to the Civil Rights Act and the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage. We're really old, and sometimes people think we're the grandparents.

That's not all bad. God has a knack for picking older parents. Take Sarah and Abraham. God promised them children — as many as the stars in the night sky — in a conversation that spans about ten chapters of Genesis. It seemed to take forever, and there were a few twists and turns before they had Isaac, which — get this — means "laughter." I suspect that the name Isaac was chosen not only because Sarah laughed at the prospect of having a child at her age but also because in the grand scheme of life at any stage, faith is a big laughable leap, like a Hail Mary or, for some of us, a Hail Sarah. I discovered the shocking and glorious truth of funny faith when the doctor told me that my twins had turned into triplets. By the way, I didn't laugh when I got the news. In fact, I sobbed every night for a week. I'm glad I didn't know about the pending heart failure that I would have after they were born. I might have held a teeny grudge, but once in my arms, they were just so puppy-breath adorable.

Every future momma is stepping into uncharted waters. I think that's why I fell in love with Mary, the mother of Jesus, especially after the mission trips I made to Russia. The images or icons that hang throughout Orthodox churches there are painted, carved, and even made of metal. Each icon recalls a story, almost like an old family album kept from before you were born, to show you later, after you've matured, who you are. Your story seems minuscule, but God usually works with small, seemingly unimportant humans to change the world.

Why is that?

I think God cares less about obedience and more about imagination. God wants us to have a vision that's bigger than we are. After all, you can't get much more modest and less showy than an unmarried teenage peasant girl prepared to live the quiet life in Bethlehem. Mary is a model for pondering what big surprises God may be up to in our lives. She's a testament to an engaged relationship with the Divine Wrestler, involving the hard and profound work of listening for preposterous whispers from angels (Luke 1:26-38). That's what Mary did. She listened, pondered, and then let it fly.

And the next thing Mary did was run and tell her much older relative Elizabeth, who was also expecting a boy, this startling good news. Luke says their get-together was like a party, or maybe that's just how I read the story. They hugged, a baby kicked, and Mary sang a powerful anthem about the ways God lifts up the lowly and struggling. Then, maybe they went to shop for swaddling clothes and have a latte. Maybe that me-time let them know how important they would be to each other. Moms need one another, God knows.

Luke doesn't give us another story about them together, but we know these two mommas — and their sons — had a special bond. How else could they have made it through parenthood, but for support, faith, and coffee? Through the diapers, the Legos (I feel sure Jesus built with Legos and gave everybody his snack), the splashing in dirty river water (which was John's favorite activity; along with judging people a little too harshly), and the way those boys brought home just about anybody for supper.

We grown-ups sometimes forget how much childhood matters. It's filled with the sacred and is not to be missed when it comes around again during parenthood. And parenthood is the time of spirit formation in which we don't realize until later that everything kid-drenched around us was and is a gift.

Let that Hail Mary of momma-ness sail from your fingertips because blessed are those of us who savor the sacred moments of this beautiful, challenging work known as motherhood, both the boringly simple and the show-stoppingly profound.

CHAPTER 2

My Big Fat Anxiety Attack


So, brothers and sisters, because of God's mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service.

— Romans 12:1


Pay mind to your own life, your own health, and wholeness. A bleeding heart is of no help to anyone if it bleeds to death.

— Frederick Buechner


Think about the challenging task of becoming a spouse in the unexpected craziness of this world. When I've helped young adults who are preparing for marriage, many of them have been surprised that premarital discussions have brought them to tears. Of course they get weepy! We're talking about leaving behind single adulthood and the childhood mantle to launch into the "married people universe." Couples may be excited, even thrilled beyond their wildest dreams, but the unknown of a new, challenging role brings a feeling of loss as well. Whether marriage or motherhood, good and great changes may create not only feelings of sadness but also feelings of uncertainty, imbalance, and questions.

That is the path of this risky enterprise God has created called life. We get to experience and probe the full gamut of so much chaos and creativity, from the bugs my boys offer me for awe and inspection to the struggles I have about whether I'm breaking even on this mom path. It's a good thing God is so patient with self-obsessed me and my performance issues. I guess that makes me a good test case for how to lean into a motherhood anxiety attack.

My first long-awaited pregnancy was like a delicious drug. It could have been the hormones, but I think the whole experience was also embedded with a spiritual chip. I inhaled basically every minute of the anticipated "baby land," especially how I felt: thankful, creative, loving, joyful. I wasn't even sick, although I could not handle coffee — at all. My mom and sister warned me that roasted beans and their delicious aroma might become a smell and taste jettisoned, temporarily, for hot chocolate. They were right; this is a minor inconvenience that apparently runs in the family. Despite a long labor and C-section, after which I was handed a gorgeous, fat baby, I developed an almost immediate amnesia for the birthing discomfort and a new love — baby love — which almost made me forget how blue my husband's eyes are. Let's say they're a nice addition to the gene pool.

Pause the remote on this nearly perfect scene. Most of us know firsthand that life — marriage, pregnancy, children, family — never runs smoothly. As a pastor and a friend, I've known lots of expectant women who've had pregnancy problems arise, such as debilitating nausea, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. None of these complications are a joyride because they not only taint the pregnancy experience but also change your life forever. After getting off scot-free the first time, I made up for it the next round.

Being on bed rest may be the closest I'll ever come to any quiet, contemplative life in a religious order.

I'm not easily scared. I've been through political campaigns, including one during which my husband was likened to Pontius Pilate. People may not like him, but I'm the only one who can call him biblical names. (You big strong Samson, you!) Of course, I'm also a pastor — a woman pastor — which is not for the faint of heart either. Thank heavens my Bible has lots of women leaders in it and women whom Jesus loved — women who were accountants, masseuses, chefs, theologians, prophets, moms, wives, brides, widows, students, small-business owners, marketers, and evangelists. Thank heavens, too, for the many devoted Jesus followers who have not been snarky to me, continue to affirm my call, and never say my passionate voice sounds angry. I love y'all.

Politics and church work. I told you I'm not easily intimidated, but my second pregnancy was different, crazy different. Sisters, no one plans to have triplets. I promise that it never entered my realm of possibility. Multiples in threes seem mystical and curious. In my case, the whole event had the Ripley's Believe It or Not seal of approval because I'm also ancient, and being pregnant with triplets is called a high-risk pregnancy for all babies and moms. Anything can happen, and some very unpleasant things did happen.

First, I developed preeclampsia at twenty-nine weeks, six weeks before I delivered. During that six weeks I was on complete bed rest. To put this in perspective, I had worked outside the home in a busy profession for almost twenty years. Suddenly, I became a human incubator. The doctor ordered me to cease work communication with my church family of almost eight years and stay on my side all day, every day. I always pictured bed rest in cute pajamas, propped up on pillows, eating chocolate, and reading. That wasn't it. Sitting on the nest is physically and emotionally exhausting work. Go ask a hen.

I wasn't prepared for the boredom and confinement of bed rest either. Big adjustment. The only things I could do were sleep, eat a little (my stomach had relocated in my throat), and watch television, which, after a while, will drive you insane. This pregnancy was before the vast array of digital options available at our fingertips, but I don't think I could've Tweeted even if I'd wanted to. I did take some clumsy selfies of my Easter-egg belly and our toddler with my first iPhone. Hurray. Being on bed rest may be the closest I'll ever come to any quiet, contemplative life in a religious order. These changes in my daily routine may sound minor, but they weren't for me, since they were moving me closer to an epic identity crisis.

Here's the worst part.

After I delivered the triplets — all healthy boys — I had trouble breathing, actually taking in air. I was soon back in the hospital with a cardiologist standing in front of me, wondering aloud if I should be intubated. He didn't just say that, did he? I was in cardiac failure, a result of a virus that attacked my heart during pregnancy. I might improve, stay the same, or get worse. No one could predict.

Carrying that reality with me, I lived between bouts of crying and pumping breast milk. Looking back, the pump needed to go; but for nine weeks, it was a way of controlling a situation beyond my belief and acceptance, as well as bonding with my preemies. One of my spiritual growing edges will always be letting go. And you will never hear me say, "Let go and let God," because I like to argue with God. I think God likes it too. Check out those conversations with Abraham or Moses or that sassy Canaanite woman who challenged Jesus to help her daughter. Just like a mom.

By the time I was home, little of my life seemed familiar to me. I had one toddler and three infants, no pastoral work, an unhealthy and rather wrecked body, and zero privacy because — guess what — I needed every hand on deck I could possibly get.

My motherhood story may be on the extreme end of personal dislocation and stress, but that very same experience became a way to examine the losses and change in the light of God's grace.


Identity Change Is Scary, but There Are Ways to Lean into It

As might be expected from a pastor type, I'm going to throw out some obvious reasons that new motherhood — and being a parent forever — forces us to look at ourselves realistically, check our needy boxes, and reduce the fear and trembling. Most of the great God-people relationships in the Bible are about this sort of reckoning. Grab a double-shot espresso or your favorite tea and gather round. It's confession and communion time.


Give in to This Time in Your Life

I know, I know! There are so many moments, when it's all new, that you can't imagine ever souring on motherhood or the precious lotion-slathered bundle in front of you. I felt the same way. Sisters, all it takes is lost sleep, a chemical imbalance, too much advice from anyone and everywhere, perfectionist tendencies, and the tedium — yes, tedium — of being with small children every day to question who you've become. Often, I spend more time worrying about what might happen. Isn't that just like a trusting Christian? No wonder Jesus spent a lot of time trying to tell us that worrying our brains out won't help one single bit and that God will offer us not what we want (our old body back), but what we need (Luke 12:22-31). Then there are the days that the whole shebang goes off the rails. Way beyond tedium.

By the time we got all the babies home, Victor needed to return to work in DC, with a new Congress in session and a new president. My timing has always been fantastic. Thankfully, I'm sister-blessed. It's a fact. All of my brothers did extremely well in the selection of spouses, and therefore I have stellar sisters-in-law, real keepers. Aunt Becky volunteered to spend the night the Sunday night before Victor caught his mid-morning flight back to DC. In the wee hours of Monday, we sat around the nursery on the twin bed and in rockers, arms full, occasionally whispering. Aunt Becky casually mentioned this was going to be a great birthday. What? My sister-in-law chose to celebrate her birthday in our chaos. I should probably say she gives great gifts, like that mini lava lamp for my church office.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Stepping On Cheerios by Betsy Singleton Snyder. Copyright © 2017 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 A Hail Mary 1

2 My Big Fat Anxiety Attack 9

3 The Prodigal Paci 25

4 Legos Are a Means of Grace 39

5 Whoever the Kids Are, They Are God's 55

6 Seine 71

7 The Skinification of Divine Love 87

8 The Annual Sibling Christmas Cocoon Cookie Bake-Off 99

9 The Wisdom of Albus Dumbledore 115

10 Dog Is God Spelled Backward 133

11 Womenade: So That Happened 147

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Stepping on Cheerios: Finding God in the Chaos and Clutter of Life 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
SeasonsofGrace More than 1 year ago
This book was a collection of stories about Betsy's life, with some thrown in encouragement for moms. Betsy become a mother late in life and ended up with triplets! Her life is a bit on the crazy side. Being a mom is hard enough, I can't imagine what it was like for her. She has some interesting tales to tell. Some of her stories made me laugh and others left me pondering. She shares Jesus in the messy every day life challenges. For me what I took from this book was the importance of relaxing and playing more, as well as, letting people help. My children are no longer toddlers, but asking for help has never been easy for me and neither is taking time to play, especially at home. I tend to be a bit of a work-a-holic, and it is hard for me to just stop and play when there is always work to do. It's a little easier when I am away from the house. I am still working on finding grace in the midst of it all. Although there were some parts of this book I liked, there were also some I wasn't in total accord with. Maybe it is because we come from differing religious backgrounds, but I couldn't agree with all her theological assumptions. I cannot honestly say I would recommend this book to my friends, although I did appreciate learning more about Betsy, her life, and her take on motherhood. I also agree that it is important to find God in the midst of our clutter and chaos when we are raising young children. I was blessed with a free copy of this book courtesy of Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity. I was not asked to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.
tmurrell2 More than 1 year ago
Being a mother can be messy, hard, difficult, discouraging, and lonely. But it's beautiful, rewarding, heartwarming, and the hugest blessing. As mother's we often long to have a deeper connection with God, but aren't sure where to start when everything is so busy and chaotic. The author pulls from her own messy, but beautiful life as a mother to write an encouraging book to all the mothers who yearn for God amidst the Legos, Cheerios, and mess that is parenthood. She's also a pastor and I felt the spiritual elements woven through everything she talked about. Her writing style is humorous, often tongue in cheek, but always points to Jesus. She shares honestly as she talks about her struggles with four tiny boys - three of them triplets and a heart condition. I loved the authenticity of her writing. She told stories, but also brought home some powerful truths about motherhood and how God fits into our lives. I will definitely be looking for more books by this author. I received a copy of this book from Litfuse. All thoughts expressed are my own.
Stacie Olson More than 1 year ago
I desperately needed this book. Can I just come right out and say that? I needed it. I am a mother of five children; 1 boy and 4 girls, ranging in age from 5 years old to 14 years old. On any given day, I am balancing My Little Pony toys, dress up time, tea parties, training bras, skateboards, Band practice, puberty, the chore list, picky eaters and sibling arguments. And somewhere along the way, I've heard that the "ideal" mom never raises her voice, never loses her patience, is supposed to be up before the sun, fully dressed and make-up'ed, creating perfect Elsa-shaped pancakes before the children even open their eyes to begin their day.  Um, I don't do mornings. And I sure as heck need some Stacie-time now and again. So, the end result is that I fall into bed exhausted at the end of each day, wishing that I had done better. Which is why, someday, I am going to hug Betsy Singleton Snyder breathless. She put her experience with motherhood out there for all to see. The great, the wonderful, the chaotic, the messy, the silly and the frustrating. And it was awesome. It was so freeing to read another mother's struggles, her desires and her experiences. I loved reading about the times that she just needed a break, and how every time she turned around, the toys in the room had exploded. This book was full of wisdom and encouragement that this mommy's heart needed to hear. I choked up in parts, and laughed outright in others. (Also, "finding your soul thing?" One of my very favorite parts of the book. You're going to love that part!) I did find that the writing style took some time to get used to; almost like it was slightly disorganized. But it was still a very enjoyable read. Bottom Line: Stepping on Cheerios gives mothers permission to admit that motherhood is hard, that we are not supposed to "have it all together," and that our best is perfect. **Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for the opportunity to read and review this book!
Debragg More than 1 year ago
"Stepping on Cheerios" by author Betsy Singleton Snyder is a breath of fresh air. It is the kind of book that a mother needs to keep and read whenever she needs a pick me up moment. You will find yourself smiling right along with the author because you know just how she feels. After all you have these kinds of days, too.  I really enjoyed reading every page. I give this book a 5/5. I was given this book for a review by Litfuse Publicity Company and all opinions are mine.
summer_no9 More than 1 year ago
This book was a wonderful writing and compelling to read with full of the real story that are happening in the real life and very inspire me in so many way to life our live or the way to looking forward of life to live and so many thing that can be happening. Being a " mom " this is a most important job in the world that God had been created a human like we all know and then God also giving this job to a woman to be a person the can giving birth. This will be a special gift forever for a woman and also come with the most important of that full of a lot of emotion and passion responsibility as well but with this book will guiding you to getting through with the help and believe in God that make you never give up easy in everyday life. God always with you all the time. I highly recommend to everyone not just only for a woman to read this book. " I received this book for complementary to review from lit fuse blog tour program "