Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Whose Fault is This

I'm not thoroughly out to answer the question... but I am out to clear something up.

I've heard more times than I care to mention over the past few days statements such as:
"Where was God?" and...
"It's time we put God back in schools" and... I've seen these ridiculous ideas that imply that God did nothing because we've locked Him out.

It's people, rightfully, trying to place blame somewhere.  We do it to feel like we have control over the situation.  (Though it is quite obvious that we do not have control since such tragedies have occurred in our country.)  So, it's understandable as to why people would want to find an individual or idea as to where to place blame.

But, friends, let me petition you with this idea:  Contrary to our narcissistic belief that God obeys us, or that He dwells where and when we allow Him to, God is God.  He can and will be wherever He so chooses to be.  In our public schools, despite any 'laws' on the books, in prisons, in agnostic / atheists homes... etc.  Anywhere.  Anytime.  He is still in control. 

I think it is easier for us to claim God wasn't there that day at Sandy Hook Elementary... or in the movie theater in Aurora... or in Columbine so many years ago.  It's easy to place blame on law makers who have shoved Him out as if He were a human being capable of being bullied around.  It's easier, in our minds that have only a small bit of understanding, than to say that God was there... and to feel that He did not intervene.

I'm not going Westboro Baptist on you.  Trust me.  I'm not saying that God thought those innocent children deserved the lot they were handed that day, but ask me if I think God was in that school, and I'll answer 'yes' without wavering 

Had He not been in that school who knows how many more lives could have been taken.
Had He not been in that school, we wouldn't see the heroic stories of teachers sacrificing themselves.  Despite popular belief, the need to sacrifice yourself for another individual isn't exactly a trait we are born with.
He was there in the answered prayers of survivors.  Parents.  Administrators.

And whether we like it or not... even in situations like these... God is still in control.

Scripture tells us that God makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, the rain come on the just and the unjust.  (Matthew 5:45)  Jesus says that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18).  Even in a public school in the midst of evil. 

So - let's stop being ridiculous, acting as if we can point God in and out of where we may, and let's place blame where blame is due.

Thousands of years ago there was a garden.  God created one man and one woman who were perfect.  He gave them reign of the Garden with only one rule, do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And they blew it.  The evil that was passed on from that one act has entered the human race and is passed down, and passed down, and passed down.  It lives in us all, and it is only due to the love of God - who sacrificed His own Son, mind you - that we can be forgiven and live apart from the evil that, by birth, roots in us.

The blame isn't on God, by means of "you allowed this to happen!" or by means of "He passively exited the building."  The blame is on us... it's on our sinful nature.  It's on the evil that entered the world with one bite of fruit.  God is still the victor!  He is still in control!  And He still is offering us a way out, a way home.

Monday, December 17, 2012

In Light of the Tragedy...

My mind and heart have been broken over the recent tragedy in Connecticut.  It's sad I must say 'recent', as it seems like in the day and time we live within it's just a matter of time before a similar tragedy takes us all by storm and surprise.  That in itself is enough to overwhelm my soul with grief.  This time, specifically, has shattered my heart into tiny pieces.  For the lives of innocent children, unable to protect themselves, to be taken so hastily... so violently, quite frankly, well, it brings tears to my eyes and angers me.  What a coward this man was, can't even pick on someone his own size and then he takes his own life.  The cheap way out.  As I said.  I'm angry.  

I'm angry that surviving children will forever live with the events that happened that day.  I'm angry that first responders will never... never... be able to erase the images from their memories.  I'm angry that mothers and fathers got robbed of recitals, graduations, weddings... and in some cases, grandbabies.  These children had their entire lives ahead of them.  

In light of the recent event, and the anger, sadness, and utter grief I've felt, and the tears that I've wept for these children and these families, please proceed knowing that I, in no way, am trying to downplay what happened in Connecticut.  It is this Holy anger for righteousness, and our responsibility to protect our children, our own, and those of others, that has brought me here, to this place.  

As the tragedy continues to unfold before us we begin to see things from all angles.  

Just yesterday I saw on facebook people praising the first responders.  "Make sure you appreciate the police force," it screams.  And they're right. 

I saw another post about teachers.  How when you drop your kids into their care, they become 'their kids', kids they'd give their very lives for.  So when you drop your kids off and hug them good-bye, hug their teachers, too, for loving them well.  And it's right.

Then there is gun control.  I've heard, "Guns don't shoot people, people shoot people."  I've heard, "More gun control!  Make it harder to buy guns!"  I've heard, "If only the principal could conceal and carry!"  And, ironically enough, I've heard people talking about how wrong it is to talk about gun control right now.  

But I'm here to propose a completely different angle.  It fears me that my comparison may very well get me stoned, but I'm prepared for that.  

It's amazing to me how appalled our nation becomes over the death of 20 children in the safety of a school building, when every day 1,000's of children are killed within the safety of their mother's wombs... yet we don't blink an eye.  (One site says 9 abortions every FOUR minutes.  Yet we haven't seen that on the news...)

We don't yell for justice. 
We don't have vigils. 
We don't have prayer meetings. 
We don't arrest the doctors or storm into their offices prepared to take them out.

No, we pass laws making it the mother's choice.  

Cowards.  Folks, I'm angry.  I'm angry that the lives of 20 innocent children, with their entire lives ahead of them, have been stolen from them, and I'm equally as angry that thousands of children, who lived less life than these 20 had the opportunity, were robbed from theirs as well.  Yet, the President has never spoken on behalf of one of those children.  

And I'm not a circumstantial abortionist.  Raped?  I don't care, put the baby up for adoption.  Not his/her fault.  Mother's health at risk?  This one kills me.  Ask any mom if she'd take a bullet for one of her children and she'll answer "yes" before you're done asking.  If teachers can die for children who aren't theirs... I'm just saying.  

Maybe I seem cold-hearted, or dare I say narrow-minded, but if we're going to call murder 'murder', then let's do it appropriately.  

Again - I'm with everyone else, watching the news, weeping, praying and grieving about the lives that should not have been lost.  I just pray that as we take action against the murdering of children and adults, that it overflows into the places where it is deemed acceptable today.  Seems like a good place to start...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Would it Have Been Too Much?

This time of year has a tendency to be so busy.  Good busy, but busy still.

This year, in effort to combat the busy-ness and keep Jesus in it all, we've started a daily advent scripture reading and craft.  The material is great.  It only takes about 15 minutes out of the day, and our advent tree (where the 'craft ornaments' hang) is coming together nicely.

But somedays, that even seems too much.

And, yet, I have to believe that we don't understand what too much even is...

The Lord moved me many weeks ago to start from the beginning again in His word, so I've been reading nightly as the Lord leads.  I'm currently in Exodus, so in reality, I'm not even to the hard stuff yet.

Yet - it seems so hard.

As I began Exodus 25, when the Lord starts laying out all of the requirements for how things should be made, so detailed, so precise, no illustrated manual, I'll admit, not only did I find myself glancing across much of it (and to my frustration making myself go back and read it), it also occurred to me that had I been the one to whom the Lord had given the instruction... I just may have bailed.  

I'm ashamed to say it.  I really am.  But I know where the scripture is headed.  I know we've only begun to lay out the Law.  I know how doomed we all are under the weight of it.  I know that my life would be utterly consumed with the burden, only to be destined to fail.

And I really don't believe I could overlay gold the right way.  Seriously.

The whole revelation has really brought me to a new level of thankfulness of God's grace, but also to a new understanding of the relief of His mercy.

Not only does He offer grace and forgiveness and mercy... but He leads us to Himself, at the appropriate time, as He has put us in that time.  In other words, I may very well be right that I would have utterly bailed on the Lord's direction had I been alive in the time of Moses, yet, knowing me, before I even was, God ordained my timing as here and now to bring me to Himself.  He does it, not me.  Which brings me to the turn-around, that maybe, had I been in that time, God would have worked in my life to make me obedient.  Maybe not.

All in all - there's a great relief that has come with the debt that has been paid, out of my hands, apart from my understanding, outside of anything I could accomplish or do on my own.  He opened my eyes, He led me towards Him, and He removed the chains and the burden.

He is so good.

Monday, November 5, 2012

We Do Christmas

I promised you pictures, and pictures you shall receive! 

October was crazy, folks.  Crazy.  There were birthday parties and activities, halloween parties and activities, there was all of the prep for what I always tend to make a crazy holiday season (we had a Thanksgiving tree to prepare for and advent crafts and fun things to do to plan!).  And thus - I allow myself to get a little stressed.  Did I mention we had t-ball three times a week?  Add that in too.  Oh, and we sold a car and bought a new to us car.  

Phew.  So this week, I'm breathing a little.  (Although, I menu planned yesterday only to realize that my two week menu plan puts us right smack at the week before Thanksgiving - actually, days before Thanksgiving.  I don't even know what to say about that.)  

Anyway - it's not secret to those of you who have been around here for long that I love this time of year.  Yes, I have already (and unashamedly) listened to Christmas music.  Yes, I am currently (as I type) watching Elf for the second time today.  (There was nothing else on tv, and I deserved a relax naptime today, don't judge.)   I have also tricked out the blog in red and green.  You're welcome. 

So - before I go hopping, skipping, riding and flying into the *insert jovial voice* holidays, let me grace you with a few pics from last month.  Beware, there's more Christmas coming... it just comes out without me knowing.  

Here's B as our little Zebra for his preschool's fall fest.  It's called black clothing and duct tape, ya'll.  No shame.  No shame.  (Oh, and a small bit of craft foam, too.)

And here are exhibit A and exhibit B (or, rather, B and A) dressed for Preschool fall fest.  We do Noah's Arc animals.  Not everyday you see a Zebra and cow together.  Oh wait, we have a Zebra who lives with some cows near our church.  True story. 

Apparently, all of October was dress up for B.  We did a collaborated birthday party with one of B's good friends, and both boys had asked for a Toy Story theme, thus, B was Buzz, and the other little Partner was, you guessed it, Woody!  It was quite cute, and the kids had a great time.  It was a 'jumpin' party', can't beat that.

Have I mentioned how this birthday has devastated me a little?  It has.  For real.  I think it's because I know that next year will be the real devastating year, and it's only a year away.  Next year I'll be looking ahead to kindergarten.  How is this possible?!

And somehow we have reached the age of little boyhood.  Look at that smile.  I'm not sure what to do with myself sometimes.  

And finally - without any further adieu - I promised you Christmas, I warned that it was coming.  The one thing B wanted to be for Halloween this year?  The conductor to the Polar Express, so that's what we did.  I must admit - I laughed a bit, that in his little life, half of his Halloween's have had Christmas themes.  Last time daddy was Elf, momma was Jovi, and B was Santa.  (A was in the belly at this point.)  I'm good with this, always :)

 Checking the watch.  It actually has a train on the front (it's a real watch, folks... we went all out on this here costume.)

And here's a herd of children that were too cute not to photograph :) 

It's great love.  Lots of Christmas coming! 


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Me No Bloggy

Blogger warning:  This blog contains no pictures.  (I know, I'm slacking.  No pictures isn't even the half of it.)

So. I'm going to try to keep it short.

But, behold, the next blog will probably be a good deal of pictures.  I'm just sayin'.


So here's the low-down on the last, geesh, five weeks?  (How does time sneak away like that?)

I finally got back into the classroom teaching after a week off for much needed vaca.

Little did I know that I'd contract some kind of utter awfulness while at school that week and spend the entire (and I do mean entire) next week in bed, on the couch, or in urgent care.

It was awful, friends.  Awful.  A dear friend of mine stated, "Momma's don't often get sick, but when we do, it takes us out of the game for good," and that was exactly where I found myself.

I went from happy and feeling good to nauseous and feeling *bad* (which can't even begin to describe it) within a matter of a few short hours.  In the hours and days that followed I experienced back pains that could be compared to nothing more than awful, exhausting back labor, more nauseousness, awful headaches, sinus congestion and runny nose issues, along with a sore throat, a body aches, chills and hot flashes and every kind of miserableness known to (wo)man.  Fo' real.  When I finally broke down and visited urgent care, a blood draw said "viral" and a urine specimen said "probable urinary tract infection."  Two days later they called to say that two of the three medications they had prescribed me "should not be utilized together" (why, thank you), and then another two days after that they called to say they didn't really know what was wrong with me, all the signs came back as urinary tract infection, but the culture itself did not.  To quote, "visit your primary care physician immediately."  Hmmm, still don't have one of those.  So I finished the antibiotic and have moved on with life.

It's on my to-do list, I promise.

SO - after missing a week of work and a week of life, I had to come back with a vengeance   (Folks, there were halloween costumes to be made, traditions to uphold, lesson plans to be made, and a birthday party to plan... there wasn't time for one week of sickness.  Not one.)

And that's what we've been doing since:  making halloween costumes, catching up at school, planning birthday activities for the oldest (who will be FOUR, mind you... FOUR.  Waaaah!), getting Thanksgiving plans and advent plans in the works, thinking about Christmas gifts, and attending t-ball practice, games and planning the end of the season activities for that as well.

This momma's tired.

BUT, as promised, I have been taking a lot of pictures of the aforementioned activities, and will grace you with pictures when I find within myself the motivation to upload them on the computer.  (Because, friends, then I must upload the share site and the ongoing family scrapbook with said pictures.  Yawn.)

So there it is.  There's an 'almost four' birthday party tomorrow.  I'm stoked and sad at the same time.  He'll be my baby boy always, but golly he's getting big :(


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Virgin Cruiser No More

I am the keeper of an unwritten bucket list.  It's more like a 'fly by the seat of my pants' bucket list.  The only items that have been in any way consistent on that list have been the following:  write a book (and it's number one), run a marathon (I may kick the bucket if I ever attempt this one), and go on a cruise.

Though I set out to do number one and number two this year on my 2012 goals, as I was seeing them not come to fruition (though I do have about 12 chapters of said book completed, but a long way to go), the cruise seemed like a must do.

To understand my 'cruise' desire, you have to understand my drive.  I love the ocean.  As flippantly as we use the word love, it feels like it's not good enough.  I don't love the ocean like I love God or like I love my family, but as much as you can love something that doesn't love you back, boy do I love the ocean.

I love the ocean because I can't measure God.  For real.  I love the ocean because it's huge, and I can stand myself up against it, the waves can lap over my toes, I can look outward and to my peripheral and all I can see is water.  Vast, mysterious, deep water.

The ocean always reminds me of God.  It's the closest large thing I can compare Him to.  It's my getting a handle on His width and girth and height.  I can stare at the ocean and think, "He is immensely bigger than this."  Standing at the edge of the ocean makes me stand at awe of an almighty, all powerful, amazingly big God.  (Cue my three year old singing, "My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God can not do... for you!)


Thus - my cruise on the bucket list came to be when I considered being able to look at the ocean from  the ocean... where there is no land in sight... only water, water and more water.

And so we did, and folks, let me tell you, our God is so big.  Not only is He bigger than that water that stretches and stretches past every horizon, He created it and everything in it.  Many times I said to the hubs, "I wish I knew what was under us right now.  The draw of fish and whales and sharks and the unknown is great and mysterious and wonderful.  After posing the question I'd think, 'It is so cool that God knows.'  I imagine Him whispering to me, "If only you could see it, Alicia!"  Amazing.

So - to lighten up some of the spiritually heavy that I just verbally exploded, here's my top ten things I learned while cruising (in no particular order):

1.)  Throw the diet off the ship.  Seriously.  If there's a time to try new foods and eat to your heart's content, it's now.  Nearly all of your food is included.  The dining room fare was amazing, and though it's classy and great quality, it has an underlying 'all you can eat' quality.  Can't decide on a starter? Order two.  Can't decide between mahi mahi (which I tried, by golly!) or the steak?  Get both.  (A gentleman next to us ordered three, count them, three entrees one night, and the waiter didn't blink an eye.)  Two desserts?  Go for it.  One night we tried, accumulatively, five of the desserts off the menu and tasted all of them.  Not to be obsessive, but because this is the time for trying new things.  I can proudly say I tried Lobster tail, mahi mahi, a clam cake, baked Alaska, a souffle, and several other items I would never order any other time for fear of wasting money and hating them.  And I liked more of them than I would have expected! (Not to mention the 24 hour pizza place, ice cream and room service, all free.)

2.)  True story, as we were leaving port on Monday, watching the dolphins jump in the bay, I said, "We have to make sure to wear sunscreen, this is like a gigantic reflecting pool out here."  The next day we hung out on the Lido deck for maybe an hour.  I, and my hasn't seen sun since before Ansley was conceived tummy', was roasted and toasted and burnt to a crisp upon returning back to our stateroom.  Moral of the story:  the ocean... it's like a big reflecting pool that draws in the sun.  Wear sunscreen.  (And yes, even with it on, you'll still get a tan.  50 spf got me tan the rest of our trip.)

3.)  Let's talk blow dryers.  Take your own.  You'll hear this whole, "nothing on the ship is more dangerous than fire," spill, which I'm sure is true, and the will steer you away from your heat related items like blowdryers and flat irons.  So they put this blow dryer like contraption in your state room bathroom.  Somehow, holding it, my hand would always feel as if it had caught fire, but 45 minutes later my hair was never dry.  (Input point: It usually takes 5 minutes to dry my hair.  Tops.)  Tip:  if you want dry hair, take your own blow dryer.  Otherwise, scrunch, curl or throw it up.  That's what I did... and flat ironed later ;)

4.)  Speaking of hair.  There's something about traveling at 23 knots and being in the middle of the ocean with nothing to block the wind that makes it, well, windy, when you're up on the top deck.  If your hair tangles easily, I suggest detangler.  If it doesn't, I still suggest detangler, because tangles there will be.  My hair on the lido deck was up... a lot.

5.)  Ok - so we were advised to take dramamine, just in case.  Better to have it than be without if we needed it.  So, like chickens, we took it the first two days on the cruise to 'prevent' motion sickness.  We found out later that neither one of us got nauseous, but dramamine or not, if the boat is 'arockin, you are going to feel it.  And 'arockin' it did on our second day out.  Granted, we heard long experienced cruisers say they'd 'never felt it like this before', telling us we'd been in rough seas that day.  None-the-less, it wasn't scary, and quite frankly, it was somewhat funny.  I don't know how the boat sold any alcohol that day.  You didn't need it to get the desired effect.  People were topsy turvy all over the place!

6.)  So - when you get on your ship, they give you a little time to get accustomed, but before you head out of port, you do a drill.  The drill should be pretty easy, and pretty short for that matter, but keep in mind that everyone in the ship (approximately 4000 on our ship) is required to be in a limited space on one deck.  Still not a huge deal for a short time.  However, add in the factors that it is hot and humid outside, you are layered about 10 people deep with little breeze, and that every state room has to be checked for those who think they are above the drill, thus, you stand there waving yourself profusely and watching those stragglers come moseying through like the drill has really put them out.  What should take 10 minutes immediately becomes 30.  Moral of the story, don't be there super early.  You'll be the closest to the ship, the hottest, and the last ones to leave.

7.)  So - we cruised with Carnival (aka - The 'Fun'ship), so I can only speak to their systems, but you'll be bombarded with entertainment options - many of them free - while you are on board.  Included will be karaoke shows, music options, comedy shows, and even broadway style shows.  The broadway style shows were listed with a rating in our daily news sheet.  After hearing the cruise director speak on the Las Vegas style show, "equipped with g-strings and feathers', we decided not to go to it.  It was rated PG-13 in our notes.  The next night was a PG rated show, that I probably would have taken my kids to see.  Thankfully, they were not in tow, or I would have been explaining to my four year old why there were so many women with no underwear on (lots and lots of g-strings).  Ratings don't mean much.

8.) Excursions?  To do or not to do?  Our opinion:  to do.  Unless all you plan to do is hang out on the boat or shop off the pier (which you can buy the same things at every pier it seems), an excursion is worth the time and money.  We took one at one port and didn't at the other, and we wish we would have.  Tip:  if you go to Cozumel, do the Buggy and Snorkel at Punta Sur.  You won't be disappointed.  (And we'll pray that Nacho is your tour guide.  He was great!)

9.)  Explore the boat.  Ok, so I'm going to be a little vague about this one.  But the views from the boat are all different.  From the back of the boat, you can watch your trail go off into the distance.  We found it difficult to get to the front of our boat, until we realized two things:  A.) The gym was at the very front of the boat and you had to walk through the spa to get to it.  (The spa that we weren't visiting.)  When we finally reached the courage to ask them where the gym was, we were pointed straight through, and sure enough, you can treadmill and elliptical your little rear off right there in the front of the ship.  Full length glass windows, all the way across.  Want to be on a deck?  Well, we discovered on deck ten of our ship, there was a door that led to the outside deck in the front that frequently said, "Closed due to high winds."  We may have snuck out there one night to get a view.   It was fantastic.

10.)  And lastly - as I mentioned previously... God is huge, and awesome, and mighty, and even out there in the midst of the ocean, He is there.  I'd venture to say He is especially there.  And it was awesome.

There's my novel.

Until next time.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Sometimes You Can't See the Forest for the Trees

I've been a Christian for fourteen years.  (That is just more than half my life, by the way.)  I've seen God move in my life and the lives of others around me.  I felt called into some sort of ministry when I was in High School.  God revealed to me, later, that ministry would be to my husband in ministry.  Thus, I became a 'pastor's wife.'

So I've been a 'Pastor's wife' for seven years now.  I've seen the ins and outs, the good, the bad and the ugly, of the church world.  I've prayed with people, over people, and even had the opportunity to be used by God to lead people unto Himself.

I was voted "most likely to change after high school' during my senior year.  People thought I wouldn't remain faithful to my call.

And to all outward appearances, nearly ten years later, I have.

Let me preface by saying, I have not forsaken my faith.  No.  That is not the concern what-so-ever.  Rather, God is starting a new work in me through a recent revelation.

I've been wrestling with God, sometimes exhaustingly and quite literally, over many basic truths.  "Are you good?" has been something I've been shouting at Him for many, many months.  You see, somewhere I've developed this vision of a God whose only mean of drawing us to Himself is through hurting us.  I'm afraid of the hurting.

I've been begging, "Why can't I see you?  Where have you gone?" and doubt has entered the innermost parts of my heart.  My prayer has since become, "Lord!" I shout at Him, as though He's a million miles away, "I believe, but help my unbelief!"  And I lie ashamed.

You see - to all who have seen me - I appear very faithful.  In fact, to look in the mirror, I have appeared to myself to be quite faithful.  "Fourteen years and counting, Lord," I profess, and I break my arm patting myself on the back.  "Good thing this is a race of endurance."

Rather, good thing He is faithful.  It has recently been brought to my attention that possibly - just maybe - my professing words and my church service and attendance may not be the faith God is referring to when He said, "without faith it is impossible to please God."  He doesn't say "without church attendance" or "without good works or service", He says "without faith."

And up until a few days ago, I really assumed I was fine in that department.  It wasn't even a department I would have explored.

But I have tragically learned that this area that I once found to come so easily, has, with each new blessing, become quite difficult.

The very night God brought this to light in my life, our son woke up at 12:30 with a blazing fever, mumbling about how the ambulance lights had woken him.  I couldn't believe it.  We'd just finished a round of antibiotics a week ago for ear infections.  Not again.  I did what most moms would do, stripped his shirt off of him, gave him a dose of tylenol, got a cold wash cloth for his head, and tucked him back in bed.  I prayed for him before going back to sleep myself, asking, specifically, for God to remove whatever sickness was lingering in his body.

B woke up the next morning with no sign of a fever, no symptoms, no complaints.  I convinced myself the tylenol was still lingering in his system, and we'd wait it out until the next dose.  The next dose never came, and the longer he went without a fever and the longer he begged to go play outside, the more I really began to question whether God had answered my prayer.

Ashamedly, I was surprised.  I realized quickly that not even as the prayer was crossing my mind and exiting my lips did I really even believe that God would actually come through.  Prayer was more of a pleading with an invisible person that would just make me feel better momentarily.  There was no expectation, no drive, no urgency.

The Lord has driven home His point to me.  In praying, "Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief," He's revealing that my faith has decreased to almost nothing.  To help my unbelief, He must increase my faith.  I've become so attuned to living this humanly predictable life that I've missed the forest for the trees.  I've been praying without expectation. I've been missing His blessings because I'm so afraid to legitimately ask for them for fear of disappointment.

I think now at how I would have reacted had I prayed and believed urgently that B would have woken up well, and he hadn't.  What would my response had been then?  I pray it would be, "But God is still good," but somewhere along the way, I have forgotten that.

It's a time for me to step back from the trees and evaluate the forest.  I'm resigned to either change my expectations of the Lord, who says in His word that He loves us, provides for us, and hears our petitions, or to change my prayers until I'm ready to respect the Lord with the faith that He deserves.  He has never let me down.  He has never left me, and I intend to begin believing again, that He never will.

Until next time -

Have faith.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm Really a Competent Parent... Really

You ever have those days?  You know... those days.  I hope I'm not the only one who has days (or moments) that I feel like I should carry around a sign disclaiming (ahem - or warning) people of the day we've had or of the events that may lie ahead.

I had one of those evenings tonight.

So big bro had t-ball practice, as he does many nights, but Thursday nights are difficult.  Thursday nights I'm outnumbered two to one, and considering little sister has about an hour less of a nap than what she needs, I think, in reality, she counts as the equivalent of five children by herself.  Seriously - tag teaming ten in our two's class is easier.  I kid you not.  And that's with Big Bro behaving and acting in someone else's care.

And tonight - I decided to make a quick "non-cold" run into the grocery store to pick up a few essentials.  Dish soap and vinegar (for my handy dandy 'clean your shower while you're in it' contraptions), dish rags (because mine were rank, seriously), a loaf of bread (because we need bread, yo), and ice packs for the kiddos lunch boxes (since we were there and all).  Knowing we had 30 minutes and it was a ten minute drive, I figure we have all the time in the world.  Right?  Ahem.

So I'm clicking and buckling the kids back into the spaceship (I mean car, who invented all these snappys anyway?!) with 11 minutes to make it to t-ball practice.  Meaning, on the field.

So granted, we were in a bit of a hurry unsnapping all previously mentioned snappys and getting all the gear out of the car.  It wasn't until Coach called for first water break that I realized we'd forgotten Big Bro's hydration in the vehicle.  Grrr.

Now - two very important notes to include:

A.)  The field the kids practice on is the farthest from the parking lot.  As in - I can't even see the cars from there.

B.) One (of several) of the reasons we joined t-ball, is to make some friends outside of the church.

Okay - now that you know those things, I'll continue.

I reviewed our hydration problem in the few seconds I had to compute, "Ok, I don't know these people from anyone.  I can't just leave my kid here to go back to the car (with Little Sis) to get the water.  It's only like 60 degrees out today, the sun is not beating down.  Practice is only an hour.  He's not upset about it.  We're good."  To which I say to Big Bro, "I'm sorry, buddy, we forgot it in the car.  Can we wait until after practice this time?"  He's fine.  So we're good, right?

Well - coach calls for a lot of water breaks.  Which I'm thankful for, since we live in Texas now and all, but it was after the second one that the assistant coach brought Big Bro back over and shuffled through his own bag (near his wife, who I'd been chatting with), and said to Big Bro, "Here, B, let's see if I can help you."

Hello, Earth.  Open up and swallow me, please.

Out pops the little water bottle, with instructions, to me, to go fill it up at the water fountain.  I left Little Sister there with the people I didn't know. :/  Can I just get lost on the way to the water fountain, please?  The other's are probably more responsible for my kids than I am.


And so - a little humiliated - I try to brush it off and hydrate my kid with the best of them, when Little Sister decides - as she does so many other nights at practice (on an abbreviated nap from school) - that she's ready to join the boys playing t-ball.  And - of course - I restrain her and keep her from the beloved field she wants to frolic in, and she fits.  I mean high - speed come apart fits.  And nothing will make her happy.  And she's stomping her feet.  Then she's laying on the ground.  And - OMG - did I just tell these people I worked at our preschool!  Good grief!

I'm threatening time out.  "Yeah, right," she thinks.  "Put me down, I dare you."

I threaten a spanking, "Yeah, right," she thinks.  "They'll all turn you in.  You didn't even hydrate my brother."

Ouch, she's right again.

So what do I do (since, again, all of the parents and the boys are now staring at the screaming, crying, shrieking toddler that is flailing in my arms)?  I carry her as far out of earshot of the field as possible (where they can still hear - and clearly), where I stand with her for ten minutes before she finally gives up the ghost.  The demon, I mean.  Good gravy.

Jesus - if you'd like to come back now - I'm ready.

And the crying stops, and I walk back to the stroller, where she innocently goes back to trying to strap the strappies on her stroller.  Most of the parents don't even look at me.  Another gives me a look of some kind.  Is that a look of sympathy?  Or judgment?

Praise God, practice is over.

Can I have a minute, coach, I need to try to convince them all - it's not usually like this.  Really, I'm a good parent.  But my feet carry me quickly away, and as we are walking swiftly from the presence of the good parents, Little Sis, who rarely speaks, calls back to them, "Bye" with a big ole wave.

She's in on it.  She has to be.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Foul Homeruns and Dirty Cartwheels

Once upon a time I was a little girl, who played with baby dolls and dreamed of being a mom someday.  Even in my little girl dream I pictured myself sitting and watching my child(ren) play or participate in something they enjoyed.  I'll say it was a little surreal to sit during B's first t-ball practice, let me tell you.

We showed up early - B decked in baseball shirt (chosen by himself) and his Cardinals baseball hat (Go Cards!) - and B was introduced to Coach Ron.  It's amazing what this kid will do - without whining, may I add - when another person, specifically a person who is willing to play any kind of ball, asks him to do it. 

We - I mean, they - started off practice with some warm ups.  Don't want anyone on the DL list to start the season and all.  That's my little man there in the red hat holding his glove.  No sir, he wasn't putting it down!

Then - coach had the boys run the bases, calling out the name of each base as they stepped on it.  We don't want anyone running the wrong way in the heat of the moment, ya know.   (Though, my son did, later, run from first to third, straight across the pitcher's mound.  I kid you not.  This is a proud momma right here!)

And so - B had his shot playing first base, stopping and catching balls right and left and throwing them back in to coach.

He then got moved to shortstop, and later to third.  This little man of mine has an arm, let me tell you!  There's not a bit of sarcasm in that statement.  He's going to have his daddy's knack for all things sports.  I hope Ans' get's some of daddy's athleticism.  This momma has none.

And finally - the golden moment, the moment he'd been waiting for all night, the time to bat.  My son, yes, he loves to bat, and yes, he's good at it.  He's getting accustomed to batting off a tee, as he's used to being pitched to by the parentals, but he's hanging.  May I just mention, B just loves wearing his 'baseball shoes'.  Yes, he does.

And - after being coached multiple times to run to second when the ball was hit, alas, the ball was hit a short little hopping grounder right between first and second.  As if the pitcher and first baseman (who should have been on his base) weren't enough fielders for the ball, B thought he'd pile on and field the ball himself.  Ahem.

But no fear, folks, Coach picked him quickly from atop the pile and sent him onward to where 2nd base awaited his arrival.  

Unfortunately - my favorite moment of the evening was not captured in images, but B apparently had grown tired of waiting for the struggling little lad who was attempting to bat to make contact with the ball, and when I looked up for him when he should have been paying good attention on second, he was cartwheeling around the bag in the dirt.  I kid you not.  And you know, they were good cartwheels, too, I tell ya.  

At least he's not kicking dirt and picking flowers yet.  




Saturday, September 1, 2012

As Promised

So in my last post I told you a bit about our 21 day challenge to push into the Lord.  I believe I remember our pastor saying something to the effect of, "Be prepared, distractions will come your way if you make Jesus a priority."  Maybe he didn't.  Maybe I made that up.  Either way, they have. 

School is on the horizon, and when I say on the horizon, I mean we had two in-service days last week and meet the teacher, and school starts on Tuesday.  The proverbial 'horizon' may not even be close enough.  

So with the start of school, I personally have been busy trying to juggle housework now that I don't have any and every moment of every day to get around to it, I've been trying to get lesson plans squared away and prepared for (may I mention that I left all of my school material at school this weekend - doesn't exactly help get anything done), as well as get the kids packed up, prepared and ready for their first day.  

Those things I expected.  What I didn't expect is for my oldest to begin screaming and crying something fierce from his room on Thursday night, multiple times, after only complaining of a runny nose for maybe an hour prior to bed.  I was also not expecting him to be diagnosed with a pretty good ear infection less than 24 hours after the runny nose.  I then wasn't expecting the youngest child to wake up screaming from her nap majorly congested and with a gross runny nose when her brother was on his way home from the doctor.  Which means I wasn't expecting a trip to urgent care with her this morning.  (She's fine.)  

And aside from all of those 'non-expectations' - I also wasn't expecting three nights in a row (Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday) of horrible, vivid nightmares on my part causing me a severe lack of sleep, and then to wake up with an awful migraine this morning.  

Distractions.  Let's all say it together.  

But anyway - Brother is on medication (a lot of it), but after his dose of antibiotic today should no longer be contagious.  (May I mention he never ran a fever!  Crazy.)  A has started Claritin (since her diagnoses was, and I quote, "it's either the very tale end of an upper respiratory virus, and she shouldn't be contagious at this point (though symptoms just started yesterday, doubt it's the 'tale end' of anything), allergies, which is very possible, or, hey, look there, she's getting another canine or two in.  Could be that!"  Why, thank you, Captain Obvious.  I could have told you that.  Just glad her ears are clear.  And all of that being said, they both were healthy for their meet the teacher extravaganza the other night!  Which is where the 'as promised' title comes into play!  I have pictures!

B has the privilege of having Ms. Becca and Ms. Melissa as his teachers this year.  He's here with Ms. Becca.  She's a new teacher at our preschool this year, like I am, and she seems very sweet!  He's so excited to start!  He even has two of his very good church friends in his class!  (Que the old girl scout song, "Make new friends, but keep the old...")

And here A is with her sweet teachers, Ms. Kay and Ms. Margaret.  I've known these women for all of four days and they are sweet like honey, let me tell ya!  I don't think I could have hand-picked more patient, sweet women to be with our one year olds!  Ansley isn't stoked to be in school, as if she realizes that she will be, but she cries every time I leave her at this age.  Plus side:  she's easily distracted and happy after about two minutes.  This will be good for her.  (Keep telling yourself that, mom.)  My room is right between my two kids' rooms, and I love that.  Close if something happens!  Don't mind her sweaty hair here.  See that slide in the background?  She had just dominated it.  

Speaking of my room, I thought you may like to see it, too! (Ahem - our room, Ms. Heather - I could not have done it without her.  We have a tiny room and it takes forever to get it the way you want it!  New respect for you, teachers!  Ms. Heather spent two afternoons taking down very distracting frog and cattail border.  Yikes!)  

Above you can see a couple of things:  the red / green pattern you see is our alphabet, with the 'letter of the week' board above it (A is for 'almighty'!), with our color charts on either side (our color of the month is red).  Our numbers are above our "blackboard" (which is really paper with the kids names posted with a clothespin to hang their 'go home' work for the day.  Our memory verse is in the green square in the middle).  Their table with their assigned seats is obviously right there on the bottom.  (May I mention how long it takes to make paper chains?  That used to be fun to make as a kid, didn't they?  Anyway.)

In this above picture is our shape chart, weather chart and our gumball machine (to help us learn our colors!)  This is where circle time will take place, and to the right is our changer.  We are early twos, remember.  Ten kids makes for a lot of diapers.  

And lastly, our door, the kids cubbies, and an "I'm here" chart.  We're only missing their pictures of them holding a sign with their names for them to move from one wall to the next when they come in.  

We are really excited with how it has come together!  Now we're excited to see the kids utilize it!  

Well, until next time! 


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hot Wheels and Dishes in the Sink

We've had a challenge put on us by our pastor to really press into the Lord in the next 21 days.  It's a call to unplug from our busy lives and really seek after the face of God.

We started Sunday.

Can I share with you just what I've learned since then?

I've learned that God has been trying to press into me for sometime.  It's amazing how our busy-ness can cause us to push back from God, even without knowing.

I've learned that I've recently held a jaded view of the Lord.  I've held a view of punishment and wrath, but have overlooked the goodness He offers to those He loves.  I've done this, yet my life verse is Zephaniah 3:17:
For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

I'm learning just how much of my day He can absorb if I allow it.  By pressing into Him and praying for Him to open my eyes and burden my heart to desire Him more, He's showing up in places in my life that I'd ignored Him for sometime.  He's in the car, He's in the rain(bow), He's in the way I approach my kids, He's in the music I hear.  

I'm learning that I've missed the joy of the blessings for sometime, mostly because I've missed the blessings.  It's the whole you can't see the forest for the trees idea.  Can I explain to you how overwhelmed I was last night climbing into bed and realizing that our mattress was littered with Hot Wheels?  A week ago, I would have been overwhelmingly agitated that I'd need to get up and clear stuff out.  I know exactly what I'd think, "He shouldn't be in our room anyway!"  Not last night.  No, last night my very - first - thought was, "Praise God I have a little boy, one who is healthy enough to play with cars, we have the means for him to have these cars, and he feels safe enough to enjoy them in our home.  He likes being near us, with us, around us, and it won't always be this way.  There will be a day without Hot Wheels cars in my bed, and those will be the days I'd do anything for the opportunity to have to get up to clean them out."  

Perspective.  He's given me perspective.  

Today - Bryton had a hard time napping.  Hubs took away all of his snacks for the rest of the day.  B and I were on our way to church tonight when an idea struck me, knowing he normally gets a snack at church, "B, when they try to offer you a snack at church tonight, I want you to be honest and tell them that you can't have one because you were naughty and didn't nap."  We talked about it for just a couple of minutes, and I didn't have my hopes up that he would actually do it.  By the time I got him inside, I'd forgotten about it.  

Upon picking him up - Ms. Joy ran up to me immediately, "He was so sweet tonight.  When we tried to give him his snack he said he couldn't have it because he'd not taken his nap today."  He'd followed through.  Blessing. 

A - her and her 1 1/2 (almost) year old self has been putting her dishes away in the sink.  Consistently.  Little (ok, big for her age, but still little) girl can hardly reach the sink, but prides herself everytime that dish drops.  Blessing.  

So much of life and faith depend on perspective and attitude.  Things I fail at more often than I'd like to admit, but places that God is convicting and showing me there's a better way.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Minor Ramblings

I've got Cinnamon Cider and Pumpkin Roll burning upstairs in my Scentsy warmers.  My children are sleeping peacefully in their beds.  Outside, it's sunny, with just a few hanging cumulous clouds.  It's that perfect 'tricky weather'.  It could be 100 degrees outside (which it probably is), but it could be 60.  You just can't tell by the looks of it.

On my pinterest account, I've been salivating over some fall attire, fall decor, fall recipes.  You know it, everything fall.  I walked into my closet today and found my Du Quoin Indian football jersey.  Guess I need to find one for our school district here.  Football is football in Texas.  Huge stadiums, even in high schools, larger crowds than I've ever seen (yes, even in Du Quoin), bands that are 5 times the size I'm used to seeing, harder hits, and a real supercharged atmosphere.  Yet - there's something about the metal bleachers and the crackly speaker back home.

Either way - a college football game is on our radar sometime this year.  That should really refocus my football watching eyes.  Even the ticket prices to college football games in Texas - well, to put it nicely, rival those of the Rams.  Not that that is saying much.

My in-service teaching days start this week, and I'm stoked.  It's another sign of fall, and I feel like it's a crossroads in my life.  This same level of excitement comes over me every time I teach, whether it be my precious 'early 2's' that I'm gaining, or middle school Lit and Language Arts.  It really has me heavily considering alternative certification here in Texas.  The Lord says 'do not fear', and I'm praying that He'd cast out the fears in me that accompany such a dream, and that He would then replace it with peace.

Speaking of school and Pre-K, B starts next week.  In technicality, so does Ansley, but she is, though at the same school as B and I, and in an educational program, more in a 'mother's day out' type of program.  At least that's what I'm telling myself so that I can grieve the growth of one of my babies and not two.  Needless to say, they'll both get their pictures taken next Tuesday morning with their little backpacks and lunchboxes.  (How did this happen?!)

B starts t-ball practice tomorrow.  (Wah!) He is now the proud (and I do mean proud) owner of cleats, baseball pants (the smallest size we can find that we have to roll once and are still huge on him), and equally size inappropriate red baseball socks.  His team - if you have not already guessed it, will be the Red Sox.  No Cardinals, but at least it's not the Rangers either.  I may have had to withdraw him ;)  And yes, I confess, I did reprimand my son for saying, "Go Rangers" the last time they were on tv.  My husband glared at me.  I can't help it.  It's in my blood.  

And can I just confess to you?  I'm planning my Christmas trees (yes, plural... anyone who knows me well knows that Christmas trees is always plural).  Two downstairs, one upstairs and one in each of the kids rooms.  (And maybe one in ours?) It will happen, I tell you, and as of now, I have burlap and blue in my sights, though not on the same tree.  I love Christmas, love it so dearly my heart just may grow three sizes upon thinking of it.

I think that's it for today's randomness.  I've told myself I'm going to start in with some pictures again, and so I will, but bear with me, it's been a busy crazy ride over the past two weeks!  The next pictures you may see may be t-ball games and pre-k starts :/  Oh boy howdy... time is flying!

Until next time -

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let Us Rejoice

Today is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I've heard that often on graduation days, birthdays, wedding days, and days of general happiness and good fair, but it's amazing that this verse doesn't present itself at the forefront of my mind on normal days or days of stress or sadness.  This hit me hard the other day.

God doesn't just make the good days.  He makes the stressful days, the sick days, the sad days, the bad days, the hard days and everything in between.  From that, we're still asked to rejoice and be glad in it.  

Try quoting that at a funeral and see the response.

But, as it sits, God has marked down the days of our lives, knows them one by one, and has ordained them.  In trusting that He is for us and loves and cares for us, there is room to rejoice.  There is room to be glad. 

Our lives are getting ready to change dramatically.  Three of the four of us will be at Preschool two days a week.  I'll be packing lunches and preparing lesson plans for the first time in my life.  B's T-ball schedule starts the same week, two practices a week at that.  The fall plans to flash before my eyes.  Of this I am sure. 

But despite the stress, despite the 'busy', and even despite all of the joy that will come with such events, I can be glad in them, as God brought them - and us - to this point in our lives. 

More soon on the classroom and big changes!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Let's Talk Body Image

And I mean let's really talk about it.

I'm in the midst of a battle, ya'll.  This is a battle that I've never fought before in my life, though it's been somewhat ongoing for the past year.  The battle is really threefold: to clean up my lifestyle, shed a few pounds (ahem, like 13 or so would be great), but most importantly, to regain control of my body image, both in the essence of possibly losing that thirteen pounds, but also in the essence of finding some contentment on what I see in the mirror now. 

I'm not going to lie to you, I spent half of my teenage years and some of my adult life fighting a completely different battle.  My diet consisted of Little Debbie's for breakfast, mozzerella sticks and soda from Sonic for lunch, whatever my madre collaborated for supper, and a big ole honker shake some nights before bed.  Throw in other 'snacks' in there - that weren't on the 'diet' plan.  I still couldn't get the scale to move from 105.  It was a time in my life that I had major insecurities about my body... no curves... high prominent cheekbones... and clothes just wouldn't fit right.  People talked, they were wrong, but I knew it and it hurt.  But I couldn't gain weight despite my efforts.

Somewhere around my Sophomore year of college, I gained about 15-20 pounds.  A lot of factors weighed in (no pun intended): birth control (helllllo marriage!), age, etc.  For the first, short period of my life, I really liked the girl looking back at me in the mirror.  Sure, I found other imperfections that irked me like my weight once had, but my shape was not part of my problem.

In 2008 B was born... 17 days early, and just over eight pounds.  He was a big ole hunk of love.  I'll never forget lying on that delivery table and being -ahem- repaired and hearing the nurse (who was so delightfully punching around on my stomach) say, "And look at that, dear, 20 minutes after delivery and your stomach is already flat!  Don't tell the other moms, they'll stone you."  She laughed and walked off.  I sighed in relief.  Body image haunts you forever.

Sure enough, she was dead on.  Sure it was a little deflated for awhile, but I left the hospital at my pre-pregnancy weight, and two weeks after delivery I was wearing my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.  All of it.  Luck?  Probably.  I did nothing to deserve it.

I spent the next two years in my happy little bubble and then Ansley was conceived.  Something in me knew it, though I hoped and wished it away.  This time around wouldn't be as easy.  And you know, when you deliver a 10+ child, maybe that's part of it.  Others have told me it's the second child, everything is already 'stretched out', it takes more work to 'put it all back'.  More work?  I didn't work at all the first time!?

But here I sit - almost a year and a half later - 13 pounds heavier than I 'should be' and I can't look at a cupcake without gaining three pounds.  My 1200 calories a day feels like a prison sentence.  And I still hate the way my clothes fit.

How did this change happen? Just like that?  The snap of the fingers?  Metabolism? Yikes!

And you want to know the crazy thing?  The crazy thing is I like the me in the mirror pre-dress.  Seriously.  I'd venture to say that I'd look better in a bikini (take my word for it, I'll spare you) than I would in 98% of the clothes in my closet.

So - maybe I'm fighting a loosing battle?  Maybe the problem is, I've never dressed this kind of body before!  Clothes shopping has been more and more depressing as time has worn on, because I don't know what to try on!  Nothing 'works'... nothing 'fits'.

So - I propose, as the lactation consultant comes in to help you get on with your new role in motherhood, a style consultant comes with them.  Someone who can show you how to downplay your middle and your hips, and even the other 'assets' I so desperately wanted at one point in my life.  What I'd do for that skinny little shape to dress!  I knew how to dress her!

So anyway - there's my vent, rant, thoughts and suggestions on this whole post  pregnancy body image topic.  From a girl who had baked tilapia last night and spinach tonight, in hopes of someday wearing the clothes in her closet again.  (And never eating a cupcake?  I still haven't decided if it's worth it...)


Monday, August 13, 2012

I Betcha Didn't Know

Check out this list 'o random (for my Irish followers a followering ;)

  • It took one octagonal baby gate and two bar height chairs to keep our once was lost but now has been found pup in his designated area while we were gone this evening.  (Did I mention he still has separation anxiety?  Some things never change.)

  • I bought spinach for the first time ever (well, for the first time on purpose) today at the store.  Our diets in this household are getting ready to change.  I'd be lying, though, if I said my husband didn't ask, "What do we do with that?" when I was unpacking it from the grocery sack.  Ey yi yi. 

  • We are finally back home, after 10, may I hear it, yes, TEN, hours in the car yesterday.  Many of those hours spent with a very cranky 17 month old whose nap was interrupted far too early from a certain 3 1/2 year old who decided he had to pee.  Ahem.  Glad to have that behind us. 

  • So - I spent $7, yes, friends, $7 on a pair of shoes for my beloved daughter.  (Total sparkly, black Toms knock offs, I may add!)  Said shoes were scheduled to arrive on the date of my departure to Illinois.  Beloved husband doesn't believe in opening boxes that come to our home, so it was not until today that I realized that A.) Not only were the shoes shipped to the wrong address, but B.) They were deemed undeliverable, and C.)  Supposedly have been shipped back to a large USPS warehouse for 'sorting'.  They have been lost in transit for approximately three weeks.  Yikes.  I'm not sure the $7 is worth it.  (But they were really cute shoes.) 

  • Speaking of shipments, I received the fall Scentsy scent samples today.  Oh yum.  You know, though I've entered to the world of "Everyone and Their Sister Sells Scentsy" when moving to Texas (and, thus, have found it difficult to build a consumer base), I love this stuff.  It's a product I believe in and use daily! 

  • So I had the privilege of attending two, count them, two fun weddings in the past three weeks.  Though drastically different, it's reminded me how great and wonderful and fun marriage has been to me.  Sometimes you need a little refresher after seven years!  It was fun reconnecting, with the hubs and old friends!

  • As much as I love our new house and new lives in Texas (and I really do!)  I was disastrously spoiled by temperature highs of 86 and 89 plus low humidity.  Dear Jesus, do I miss a real fall?  Yes, yes I do.  It's give and take.  Just a few more months... 

  • I start my new job co-teaching a two's preschool class in just a couple weeks.  I'm so excited for this new chapter on several levels!  I'm excited to be in the classroom.  I'm also excited it's only two days a week.  I'm excited that my kids get to be a part of the preschool, in their respective classes.  I'm praying it's a blessing for all four of us, the husband included!

  • I have two more Nicholas Sparks books until I've read him dry.  I'm not sure how to feel about this.  A part of me rejoices because I may actually use the spare time I was using to read to exercise (boy, that needs to happen) or finish my own book that I started, but I'm sure I'll just peruse aimlessly until I find something else intriguing.  

Well, that's enough random for now.  I promise as we get resettled (into our own house... finally) I'll have deeper, more meaningful thoughts to air, but today, you get scattered, as my brain is scattered ;)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why I Hate the Word 'Tolerant'

Get the tar and feathers ready.  I'm just warning you, depending on your own personal opinions, experiences, or convictions, this may rub you in all the wrong ways.  Maybe it'll rub you in all the right ways.  Who knows?  I don't.  This post is more for myself, a vent, if I may.

It comes in response to the Chick Fil A fiasco.  Yes, that's exactly what it was: a fiasco.  I'm not going to get into logistics about the happenings with the company.  I'll be relatively vague and say just a few things regarding the subject, since the foolishness that happened with the company only prompted this blog, but is not intended to be the entire content.

1.  The first thing, I'm sure you all know, is that I support the company.  Period.

2.  The second thing is that the CEO of Chick - Fil - A at no point, cast any judgement (disagree? let's get honest about what judgement is) against people of a homosexual lifestyle, but rather, said that his convictions were of that of a Biblically based family during an interview in which he was asked specifically about such a topic.

3.  And lastly... Really?  Really?  Let's specifically ask a vegetarian whether they eat meat and then when they answer 'no' let's all act surprised and us meat eaters slam them and say they are 'hating' on us and discriminating against us.  Really.  Come on.

Ok.  Off my soap-box.  This isn't what this blog is about.  Rather, I'm actually going an entirely different direction.  My peeve comes from the word tolerance, mostly because the world tends to view Christians as 'intolerant' because we have different convictions regarding our lifestyles.  (Ahem, Chick Fil A CEO's and other Bible Believing Christians who support whatever Biblical truth.)  On the other end of the spectrum, I've heard too many preaching from the pulpit that tolerance is a bad trait. 

Let me first preface, I'm not referring to church discipline and addressing professing Christians who are blatantly living in sin.  I'm referring to those, mostly, who are non-Christians and don't claim to be.

Christians - there is a level of tolerance we are called to!  It may not look like the world's definition of tolerance.  It may not mean taking your alcoholic friend out to a bar.  It definitely doesn't mean putting yourself in a compromising situation with a friend who is struggling, but it may be calling you to be a friend. 

I'm. so. sick. of all these Christians who boycott companies (ahem, Oreos) trying to 'make a stance' about something Biblical in their own lifestyle.  Let me ask you, brothers, who are you making the stance against, because unless it is meant to affect your brothers and sisters in Christ, what good are we actually doing? 

I'm not saying bow down to culture and the world.  I'm saying live your life to a standard that you don't have to boycott a cookie company over the color of the filling, look like a jerk, and ruin any chance of having a relationship with a person that may bring them nearer to the God who loves them.  Soapbox. Get real. Let's use some common sense.  

And you know what else I'm sick of?  I'm sick of the idea that a man cannot even say, in a faith interview with The Baptist Press that he believes in core family values.  I feel that so many who have slandered the man and his faith haven't even seen the article in which he 'displayed such hate' towards a group of people.  I challenge you, go read it!

If not - and you'd just rather be mad - here's the synopsis, straight from the article (and you'd notice in reading the article, homosexuality was never even mentioned):

"Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.

"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."'

It's true.  The issue isn't with Cathy, or even with Chick Fil A.  It's with Jesus.  Period.  

Where is the tolerance for a Biblical world view?  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  Scripture tells us we will be hated for Him, and that we will be aliens and foreigners in this world.  

You know, I'll be very honest here.  I hope for those who know me, and I mean those that really know me, that there are people I know, respect, and have friendship with that live different lifestyles as myself.  Whether it be divorcees, those in homosexual relationships, those who drink, those who don't, those who are singles, those who live together before marriage, those who drive red cars, those who drive scooters... fill. in. the. blank.  I hope people would know, God has called me to love and serve each of those.  Jesus, Himself, set the example.  We may disagree.  We may live our lives differently, but, to quote scripture, " If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) What am I, really, if I do not love?  

Tolerance is not turning our heads away when our brothers and sisters are falling into sin.  That is sin in itself.  Tolerance is understanding that those who do not profess the faith that we profess cannot be expected to adhere to the tenants of that faith.  In fact, scripture would indicate that they cannot adhere to the tenants of our faith.  God must convict of sin, lead to salvation, and conquer sin in the life of those who have been led into salvation.  Why we expect anything different is foolish.  

I leave this whole experience aggravated.  I'm aggravated with those not of the faith who are claiming that this man discriminates against them and is narrow-minded.  I'd say his convictions are his business, and until a few days ago, they were.  Narrow-minded could very well apply to those on the other side who can see no other side themselves.  Just sayin'.  I'm also aggravated with the Christians who are either A.) the big boycotters and megaphone screamers that shout fire and brimstone down on people who have not love, and on the complete other spectrum, B.) those Christians who sink beneath the weight of society and culture jumping on whatever bandwagon is fresh at the moment.  God has called us as Christians to standards.  Quick reference to the Bible would prove that.  

I have a holy anger festering.  It's an anger that rips apart the innermost of myself, warring for the truth to win out, yet at the same time an anger that shakes violently and reverberates the strings of love, both for those boycotting the faith I love and serve (through the means of Chick-Fil-A) and those bowing beneath the pressures of society, yet professing that faith.  In the anger, there is love, and only God can do that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Some Things Don't "Just Happen"

This one's a doozy.  Let me tell you.  So I'm just going to jump right in. 

First you need some background.  I'll try to make it brief. 

Aaron and I 'officially' started dating June of 2003.  The first week of July, 2003, Aaron had been itching for a dog, and we packed up and went to a little pet store in a nearby mall.  Aaron had been looking for a dog for months, and when we walked into that little pet store, there were two little puppies sharing a kennel in the back.  One was lying peacefully in the crate.  The other was jumping over the peaceful one over and over again and barking.  I knew what was coming, I could see it in his eyes.

"I want that one," he said.  He was referring to the hyper one that wouldn't calm down. 

We walked the rest of the mall before he finally made the decision.  He rode on my lap the entire way home, and when we reached DeSoto we'd chosen a name: Ezekiel.

Zeke has been there from, quite literally, our beginning... and has been through everything with us.  He kept Aaron company while I did Wild Week Camps over the summer of '04.  He was a staple at the skating rink that Aaron owned. He had a squeaky boxing glove that he'd chase across the rink floor after hours.  When Aaron was serving under his first Pastor, Zeke frequented the office with him every day.  (And years after we'd left that church, and then come back, Zeke remembered exactly where his office was!)   He was in our lives when we got married... when we went on the road he lived with Aaron's parents (and with us whenever we were 'around'), he moved with us to Northern Illinois, and then back to Du Quoin with us.  He was there when we brought Bryton home.  He was there in every house we've ever owned.  He was there when Ansley came home. 

He's been through everything with us. 

He was also there when we found out we'd be moving to Texas. 

Our living arrangements were up in the air when we moved, and it meant not taking one vital part of our family with us.  The one who'd been there through all of it with us.  We reluctantly gave him away.  That was about a year ago.

Four weeks ago I planned a spur of the moment trip to our old home town to attend a wedding.  Yesterday, my last day in our old hometown, as I was meandering through facebook a picture of a dog comes across my newsfeed.  He was lost.  I knew immediately it was him.

I commented on the picture immediatley.  I knew the dog.  I noticed Aaron had already commented on it, too, from Texas.  After a short conversation with the friend of mine who posted the picture, Aaron and I decided I should go see him.  If the picture wasn't enough confirmation that he was who we thought he was, so was the description of an active dog with a little pink spot on his nose. 

I made the drive over, and when he saw me he ran immediately to me, jumped on myself and Bryton, and then leaned against my leg while I petted him.  He hadn't been claimed... until then.

This morning we picked Zeke up to come home with us.  He still has the little white goatee, the little pink spot on his nose, and knows all of the tricks we'd taught him so many years ago.  He knew the turns to get to Aaron's parent's house.  He ran immediately to where he knew his water and food would be.  He peed on all of the same things ;)

And today is our anniversary.  What a gift to be given, than the only other living being that has been there with us through it all, and is now with us here again. 

People say they believe in luck, or chance, or even fate, but I don't.  I believe in God, and though he is 'just a dog', a lot of factors had to align to bring Zeke back into our lives in such a way.  I had to be at the right place, at precisely the right time, looking at facebook at the right time, and be in a position to be able to act.  To say God has incredibly blessed us would be an understatement.  Some have said that this makes it obvious that God cares about dogs too, and though that is true, I'd say in this situation He was thinking a lot about the family who has loved him from the beginning. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Going to Try to Be Back

It's difficult, this juggling act we maneuver as mommas.  Within me are all of these dreams and desires.  Desires for myself, desires for my kids, desires for my family, and there are only 24 hours in the day.  In learning about stewardship, often times we learn about how to steward our money. The truth is: money is important, but equally important is how we choose to steward our time, our precious moments, every day. 

I love to blog.  I love to write.  I also love to play with my kids, and though I don't love laundry and dishes and cleaning bathrooms, those too are responsibilities I endure as service to my kids and family. 

I've found myself so tired at the end of the day and so preoccupied during naptime (that happens somedays for B and somedays it doesn't), that blogging has fallen on the wayside. 

I'll admit, part of allowing this to happen has been an attitude of perfectionism.  I'll also admit, this isn't the only thing in my life I've let go for this reason.  I have an attitude of: if I can't do something exactly right and live up to my own expectations, then I shouldn't do it at all. 

What I miss, however, is dramatically more than what I gain.  There's something about blogging, or writing in general, that helps me to gather some thoughts, helps me to understand myself a little further. 

Which is why I'm going to try to be back.  I can't promise everyday.  In fact, I won't promise a time-frame at all, but I promise an effort, and it's just as much for me as it is for you all who read me.  I need this. 

Believe it or not - there's a lot to discuss and a great deal of new in our life, even more coming up in the next few months.  I'm excited to share that with you as it comes.

Until then -

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Favorite Room of the House

Okay - so it's time for some big reveal.  (Think maybe I'm hyping this up in my head some?  That's alright, I'm sure I am.)  I'm not sure why, because I really am loving several rooms in my home, but I think the reason that Bryton's stands so clearly out to me right now is because it has been a work in progress in my head for a very, very long time, and what has come together in his room, is actually what was in my head.  (Can I be very honest, from a writer's perspective, about how rarely that really happens?  I mean, let's be honest.)  So where all of the other rooms in the house (yes, literally, all) still need something here and there, his is only missing a small handful of things.  Small enough that I thought you'd get the idea of it all without them, so without further adiu - here's my toddler boy's little / big boy room.

Let me first remind you what it looked like to begin with.  The house was freshly painted an off white color.  Clean, but a little institutional like.  Bryton had his choice of which of the two rooms he wanted upstairs, this was the one he chose.  His room has a little zig when you walk in (Ansley's closet jets here into his room some), so I wasn't surprised that this 'character' drew him in.  

If you could see me taking this picture from the picture above, I'd be in the left corner, he has a window there.  These double doors are his closet. 

This would be the view from the doorway, like the first one above!  He has one striped yellow / white wall with the rest of the walls gray (which happens to be the same gray that is on all four walls of our bedroom!)  I wanted bright and fun for his room, with some little boy nostalgia.  (I'm feeling that word today, apparently!) 

This is the little zig I talked about when going through his doorway.  We've used this wall to hang Bryton's guitar.  Good for several reasons:  1.) Makes totally cute decor.  2.)  It's just high enough that he gets it when I want him to, under my conditions ;) 

I love that he has plenty of room for his stuff and he can still have the toys he loves kept out and set up. Notice the geo-trax train set (that I believe every little boy will love.)  

Under his bed we have set up a little fold out couch with some stuffed animals.  Sometimes he reads under here, sometimes he plays, but it's one of the things I'd talked about that isn't 'done' yet.  He will eventually have a curtain going across and white lights around the inside for a cool little tent area.  

This is the view from the second picture above, basically.  We've added a little bit of wall decor:  a piece done as a mission project by the kids in his Wednesday night 'small group', the letter B, and the collage I made for him of the words, scriptures etc. for when he was born.  Then he has a dresser, and his Easter bucket down next to it (which was too cute not to use as storage in the room!)

The prerequisites for his bed was that I didn't want everything all matchy matchy, and I didn't want something he could outgrow totally quick, so the bed was an awesome find from Ikea.  It's not the super high loft bed (I can still reach over it to give him a kiss good night), but it's off the ground enough it makes for play room underneath.  The comforter is from Ikea as well (it's actually a duvet cover, if I'm being specific), and it's just some random, green drawn animals.  I bought him some super cute toy story sheets (you can see Woody in his pillow) that actually match it better that I would have expected (you know, the not matchy matchy kind of match), and of course he sleeps with his Mickey, his Cardinal Fredbird pillow, and on this particular day, George, whom he received from Gaga.  

Also - this awesome 'pocket chart' (if you want to call it that - all I have are the teacher words for it) from Ikea is great for him to put books in to look at during his quiet time!  

This little shelving unit is AWESOME.  The tubs pull all the way out for when he's playing with something specific, you can indicate what size tubs and where you want them, and it's super sturdy!  Best of all, even with all of their toys, these tubs aren't even full yet!  Woot woot! 

I just love the little details of his room.  You can see this guy hanging above the storage piece above in one of the photos.  This is another toy he gets on a permission basis (poor guy just can't understand not to point it at someone), but every little boy needs a pop gun hung on his wall!  I still think he needs something like this to go with it! 

I also love that so many of his family and friends are represented in random places in his room.  Grandma Sandy and Papa Gary got him his Fredbird pillow.  Papa Bruce got him his pop gun. 

Gaga Marilyn got him his George.  And together they gifted him the geo-trax train.  In the corner above is his dancing Mickey from our dear friends Adam and Amber and his friend Reagan. 

This little fella was mine, made for me by a friend of my dads when I was little bitty.  It's even written on underneath.  The details of this little semi-truck are amazing, the back can even dump a load and the trailer of the truck detaches from the truck itself.  Bryton loves it now.  A great thing for me to pass on!

This little construction backhoe toy (you can see how up I am on the lingo) is a hand me down from our great friends the Files, and I believe he received this elephant from VBS last year.   (And yes, it is still blown up and still a part of his room.) 

It all works together as to why I love it so much.  

 Every little detail, conducive to little boy (ahem, and little tomgirl) fun!  

Besides the curtain and lights under the bed, I have a few more pictures of he and Ansley that will go on a wall of their 'superhero' pictures, with a little sign that says, "Sometimes, being a big brother is even better than being a superhero."  

Love it.  

More to come!

Until next time -