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 -