Tuesday, February 12, 2013
So, what in the world am I doing observing Lent? (Heck, I can't even decide whether it ought to be capitalized.) What is this hand-raising, church-dancing, tongues-praying girl doing giving up something for Lent?
I'll tell you: I find it good for my soul.
Having gone to a catholic high school, I have seen Lent observed in many forms. To be honest, most of the Catholics I went to school with were not exactly bastions of spirituality. There were a few who seemed to genuinely love Jesus, but for the most part, I saw people going through the motions of a ritual without giving it any spiritual meaning at all.
Can't have soda with lunch . . . it's Lent. No Now & Laters for me . . . I gave up candy for Lent. No chocolate, no fast food, no swearing . . . everyone seemed ready to sacrifice something for Lent. But why?
It seemed to me like most of them were doing it because they thought it would earn them favor with God. I believe strongly that I need not do anything to earn favor with God because Jesus Christ purchased that for me on the cross, and it is mine forever.
So why sacrifice for Lent?
David and I spent the past few years in a semi-liturgical church (PCA) after having both grown up non-denominational. While I certainly missed the freedom I find in musical worship at non-denominational churches, I felt like I experienced a spiritual grounding in my soul when observing a liturgical calendar.
There is something to be said for corporately acknowledging spiritual seasons. Together we turn our hearts toward celebrating the coming of the Messiah during Advent, and together we turn our hearts toward the anticipation of His resurrection at Easter. And we are reminded of the suffering that preceded it during Lent.
Christ did not reach the point of resurrection easily or without pain. He suffered in the desert. He suffered on the cross. How much sweeter is the victory of His resurrection after remembering the pain He endured to achieve it? How much more can I share in His suffering if I prayerfully make one small sacrifice, one exercise of physical discipline with the prayer that God will use it to minister to my soul.
Lent is observed during the forty days (excluding Sundays) prior to Easter and is meant to mirror the forty days Christ fasted in the wilderness. The Bible says we are called to "share in His sufferings," and I find Lent to be a tangible way to reflect on that.
I wanted to address this because I know that most of my friends and family - who constitute the majority of my readers - do not observe Lent. Some have asked me why I do, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject, elementary as they may be. Like I said, I'm not catholic, so I am not a Lenten expert, and if I've misstated anything I apologize to the Catholics whom I do know read my blog. This is my take on it, that's all.
My final thoughts: do I think observing Lent is necessary to know Christ? No. Do I think it will gain me favor with God? Not at all. Do I think it makes me a better Christian than someone else? Absolutely not.
Do I think God uses it to speak to my charismatic soul? Yes, yes, He does.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
He saw the size of the gelcap, took a long, deep breath, and said, "Alright, mom . . . this is man vs. pill. I gotta tell you the truth . . . I'm a little scared."
He put it in his mouth and promptly spit it down the drain. There went a dollar.
The worst part is Lauren told me that she went to the nurse's office twice today at school complaining about her stomach. I know it must be hard for the nurses/teachers to know the right solution when I'm sure at least 100 kids a day complain of tummy aches, but seriously?! The day after you kept my son sitting in the nurse's office for two hours because you forgot about him, you're going to keep sending my daughter back to class when she clearly felt horrible? (She said she laid on the bottom of a slide during the entire recess because her stomach hurt too much to play and that she didn't eat her snack for the same reason.) The school will be hearing from this momma soon.
It's a banana cake with lemon cream cheese frosting and raspberry filling. Just thought I'd leave you with a happy thought. You're welcome.
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Tuesday, April 3, 2012
There is no such thing as a “woman’s issue.” There are just issues. If the media or anyone else were to characterize something as a “men’s issue,” women would have a conniption. Imagine if we called war a “men’s issue.” Or the stock market. Or firefighter safety. Anything that men do, or historically have, participated in more often than women. We would be outraged, and rightly so. Those things affect all of us, and we should all be entitled to have an opinion and a say regarding them.
The same is true of contraception. Abortion. Rape shield laws. All of the things that feminists tout as “women’s issues” affect us all. A woman may be the only one who can have an abortion, but a man fathered the child. The child would have grown up to be a man or a woman; we don’t know which. The woman who has the abortion has a father, perhaps a brother. Does it not affect them? What about the rest of the unnamed, unknown individuals whose lives may have been changed by the existence of the child who was never born? How about the husband whose wife can’t have children because of a complication from an abortion she had years before?
To say that abortion is a “woman’s issue” is absurd. All issues affect all people. Not to mention the fact that even if they don’t directly affect me, I can still have an opinion about them. My personal life is not affected very much by the child-trafficking industry in southeast Asia, but I certainly have an opinion about it.
You can come down on either side of an issue. Maybe you believe more strongly in a woman’s right to have an abortion. Maybe you believe more strongly in a child’s right to be born. Regardless of what gender you are, you get to choose which opinion to have. Don’t tell me I have to support abortion rights or that I must support a mandate for health care or contraception just because I am a woman.
The same is true of “race issues.” How dare we try to make all black people fit into a mold? A black man may be conservative; he may be liberal. A black woman may choose to send her child to public school; she may homeschool. She may support affirmative action; she may believe it is unconstitutional. Give her the option to use her God-given brain and form an opinion.
How would I reconcile being a woman and a conservative? Easy. I’m a person with an intellect, and I have used it to draw conclusions about what I support and what I do not. It’s called freedom, and I'm a fan of it.
Monday, April 2, 2012
1. On the Today show, whenever they go to commercial, they always say that such and such is coming up after the break, "But first, This is Today on NBC." What does that mean? I do not get it. I mean, it would make sense if they said "Taylor Swift after the break, but first here are some commercials" or "but first, a word from our sponsors." However, "But first, this is the name of our show" I don't get. This is one reason I watch Good Morning America instead. That and I hate the sound of Ann Curry's voice. She always sounds so serious and pensive. "So you found the summer's hottest new designer swimsuits for 1/220th of the cost," she says in her deep, I'm-reporting-something-very-intense voice, "What must that be like for you emotionally?" Um, Ann, if you're reporting fluff, be light-hearted, and don't use the same tone you used to interview parents whose six children just died in a freak pop rocks accident.
However, even if Ann Curry was fired (not that I'm wishing that on her), I don't think I could bear hearing them say, "But first, this is Today on NBC." Can't take it.
2. The warm weather has been teasing us off and on for about a month now. And in northern PA, warm weather means road work. I can understand this; there is usually a limited number of months to get it done before the snow and ice return. But, every. single. day of spring and summer? This has been going on since we moved here, and I just don't get it. We only have like three roads! How can they all need work done on them every sunny day of every year? Hmmm.
3. I was watching Dr. Oz this morning while putting on my makeup because our cable company couldn't get its contracting act together at the beginning of the year, and I no longer get "Live with Kelly." This makes me sad because, while Dr. Oz can manage to fill an hour every day telling you THE most important five changes you can make to your diet (and not the same ones he told you yesterday), he's just not that funny and entertaining. And if there's anything I require in the morning, and in life in general to be honest, it's that someone at least amuse and entertain me. Sooooo, this morning Dr. Oz made this statement: "Blood Pressure is the number one cause of aging in America."
I suppose that's technically true, because if I had no blood pressure, I would die and therefore not continue to age. However, the segment was on the dangers of high blood pressure, so I really don't think that's what he meant. And so I say simply . . . hmmm?
4. "That person really knows how to pray!" I've heard this countless times during my time in the pentecostal world. I just don't quite get what it means. It appears to have a correlation to the pray-er's volume, intensity, and number of times he/she can say "My God" during the prayer. I honestly don't mean this one to be disrespectful or sacrilegious (sacre bleu!), but I don't get it. And so I say again . . . Hmmm.
There are many, many more, but I feel the need for sleep. Unlike my husband who complains every morning that he is exhausted but refuses to go to bed before midnight. Hmmm.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Josh came tearing into my room last night right after he got in bed, hollering that something in his bed had bitten him. Sure enough, I could see a small red dot with a bite mark in the center. After only two or three minutes, the redness had spread to the diameter of a golf, and the whole thing was very swollen. I searched his bed but couldn't find the culprit, so being the sensible mom that I am, I promptly sent everyone out of the room lest the vicious creature strike again. Ethan slept in Lauren's room, and Josh slept in ours. And I closed the door to the boys' room so, you know, it wouldn't wander into any other beds. The bright side is the boys have fresh clean linens on their beds today.
Sometimes I think Matt Lauer wears glasses just to look smart. I don't know why I suspect he doesn't really need them; I just do.
I loved the Hunger Games books and highly recommend reading them before seeing the movie. It leaves out soooo much. (This snippet brought to you by the fact that I just hear Ryan Seacrest say to the American Idol contestants, "May the odds be ever in your favor." Seriously.)
The boys are downstairs wrestling with David as I'm typing this, and about a minute ago my phone rang. It was Joshua screaming and laughing into the phone, "Momma, come save me . . . Daddy's got us!!" Sometimes I regret the day that kid learned my cell number.
I do stupid stuff all the time. Yesterday was no exception. I left the house to drop David's car off at the shop, and I was a couple blocks from home when I realized I was driving mine.
I am on a crunchy peanut butter and jelly sandwich kick. I don't know why anyone would eat creamy peanut butter when they could have crunchy. It makes no sense.
Speaking of things to eat, I make these smoothies several times a week. The kids and I love them. This morning I poured the leftover (which existed only because I made mine after the kids were gone to school) into popsicle molds. The kids loved them as popsicles tonight! Here's what I use:
A little orange juice, a little carrot juice, a banana, some frozen pineapple (I drain a can and freeze the pieces), frozen peaches, frozen strawberries, a kiwi, and some spinach. Delicious.
There was no real need for the photos above. I just thought I'd share them because I apparently fancy myself a chef. Or a food photographer. Because that last picture looks so appetizing, right?
My moms coming to visit soon! And bringing two of my nieces! I haven't seen my mom since Christmas, so I'm very excited. I just wish my dad loved me enough to come visit me, too.
(In case you don't know my dad, that last sentence was not sincere. He loves me. I guess it's just that he doesn't want to see his grandkids or something.)
For the record, this is how happy his granddaughter would be to see him:
Friday, March 2, 2012
I do not envy full-time working mothers. I worked until 6:00 pm the past two nights, and I feel like the whole darn system is crashing down around me. (Which is pretty funny if you know me, because the "system" is rather precarious as it is.) But now . . . the laundry! The dishes! The homework! Oh my!
Today's late work day was not planned. I ordinarily leave work a few minutes before 3:00 so I can be home when the kids' bus gets here. Today, however, I got hired at 2:30 - just as I was about to leave - to represent someone at a 9 am hearing tomorrow. Obviously, I needed to stay and do some preparation, and since I couldn't find a last minute sitter easily, I said to David on a whim, "Wanna go home early today?" He never leaves work that early and usually has appointments until late afternoon. But to my surprise and delight, he said sure! Sometimes it's really nice to be law partners with one's spouse.
As he was leaving, we had the following conversation:
Me: Feel free to run to the grocery store and make some dinner while you're at it.
David: Sure, I'll put that on my to-do list. It will be somewhere between right now and hell freezing over.
Me: No, I'm pretty sure hell will freeze over first.
**I should note that my husband is not the jerk that this conversation may imply. He's wonderful. He just can't cook. He really can't cook.
Speaking of David and work, he has been putting together some short videos for our firm's website. To that end, he has turned our office workroom into a film studio complete with six giant photography lights, a big white backdrop, a microphone system, and a tripod. (If you know David, you know he never does anything halfway.)
His goal is to create dozens of 2 minute videos where he or I talk about different legal topics to help drive traffic to our website. He has made quite a few already, but I have heretofore insisted that I would not appear on camera until I shed this last pesky pound or forty. He finally talked me into doing one last week. BIG MISTAKE. (Pun intended) That whole "camera adds 10 pounds" thing? It's a total lie. It doesn't add; it multiplies!
In his research on ways to increase business, he came across the suggestion of having a firm newsletter. Apparently, the ideal law firm newsletter contains only 20% law related information; the rest is information that may be of interest or entertainment to anyone reading the newsletter, whether they have a legal need or not.
This sparked what I thought was a brilliant idea. Like many ideas I've had in our dozen years together, though, its brilliance was not unanimously agreed upon. So, I ask you: would you love to read a humor column in your law firm's monthly newsletter?
I've always wanted to write a humor column. Well, at least since I had the idea a few days ago. But since then, I've always wanted to.
I think it would be the perfect thing to keep people looking forward to our newsletter and to get them to actually read it instead of just throwing it in the trash. Of course, I suppose there is the slight possibility that some people might not want their attorney to be a stand-up comic. (Which is exactly why I would write it sitting down.)
The kids have no school tomorrow because it was built into the calendar as a make-up snow day. Since we have had zero, count 'em, zero, snow days this year, they just get the day off. They will be off again in two weeks as well unless we have a freak snowstorm between now and then. I find these days-off-for-no-real-reason helpful. I have been entertaining frequent thoughts of homeschooling lately, but whenever my kids have the day off from school, it works wonders toward shaking me back to my senses.
We are finally going to do Christmas with the in-laws in a few days. My father-in-law had surgery back in October and has been unable to travel since then. We visited them in October and November but spent Christmas in Georgia and have not been able to make it down to see them until now. I feel terrible that it is March, and we have not managed to travel the four hours to do Christmas with them yet, but on the other hand . . . Christmas in March . . . yay! Right?
Back before Christmas my mother-in-law was trying to figure out what to get the kids for Christmas. I made a few suggestions, and we decided it would be easiest for me to order a couple specific items myself and just have her reimburse me. Well, I have had these items "hidden" in the laundry room for almost three months now. Really, my laundry room is the perfect place to hide a gift: No one besides me puts it to use, there is always plenty of dirty laundry to hide things behind, and if by some miraculous chance I go to the bottom of the dirty laundry baskets, there's still the Mt. Everest of socks to block a person's view.
Unfortunately, Joshua came across his gift about a month ago when he was looking for socks. He guessed that it was for him since it was something he had specifically asked for, but he was seriously disappointed that he had found it so it will no longer be a surprise when he opens it someday. I have since moved it to three different locations so he won't keep seeing it (he says he's trying to forget what it is), but he keeps finding it again! A couple of weeks ago, he said, "Mom you're the worst present hider in the history of the world."
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Thursday, February 23, 2012
"What's going on?" I yell from my just-got-comfortable spot on my bed. Apparently, Ethan has moved something and it's not right and I "have to come" see what it is. I gather that it involves a nightlight, and I bellow back that I don't want to hear anything else about it. I issue a warning that they are to close their eyes and go to sleep right now and that if I hear their voices again before morning, they will be on screen restriction tomorrow.
This is an enormous threat. Joshua has been working hard for quite some time to earn a Lord of the Rings wii game that he wants desperately. It costs $18.00, and I told him if he earned $10.00, I would pay the rest. (He has more money than that, but he can't bear to part with money he already possesses, so he asked if he could just work for credit toward the game instead of cash.) He finally finished earning his portion on Monday, so late Monday night I ordered the game. Which means it will arrive tomorrow.
He checked the mailbox first thing when he got home from school today justincase it came early. While home sick yesterday, he scoured youtube (under my supervision) for trailers of the game. Earlier tonight, he lamented that he could not will away the hours between waking and getting home from school tomorrow to obtain his new game.
Screen restriction tomorrow is no small threat.
Five minutes go by. I hear a thumping. A banging. I hope it's the cat, but as the noise persists and grows louder, I have to admit that it is coming from my sons' room. Again: "What's going on?" The response involves something about somebody sticking his tongue out and somebody kicking somebody's bed and somebody throwing a pillow at somebody. I am so stupefied by the fact that this is taking place after my warning that I don't pay very close attention to the details.
Instead of responding to the allegations, I issue a simple sentence: Screen restriction tomorrow.
A moment of silence. Then a gasp, a gulp, a sob. The consequence is real.
No, mom, please! The tears flow in earnest as I call him to my room for a discussion.
Were you warned? Yes.
Did you stick out your tongue? Yes.
Why? Because I was mad at Ethan for moving the nightlight.
Was this after I had warned you what would happen? Yes.
But you chose to start a fight instead of closing your eyes and being quiet? Yes.
What is it that makes us think we will be exempt from the consequences we know will stem from our actions? I can't point the finger at my 9 year-old without inculpating myself as well.
I know if I eat junk food I will gain weight.
I know if I procrastinate getting important things done, I will be stressed and become sick.
I know if I am unkind to my husband, my marriage will suffer.
I know that by the measure which I judge others, I will also be judged.
It's not like I haven't been warned. But, in my heart of hearts, I am just like Josh. When faced with the choice between believing that the consequence will follow or giving in to my fleshly desires and hoping I will somehow avert the foretold ending, I usually give in.
I explain to Josh that, as important as his wii game is to him, it means absolutely nothing to me compared to his obedience. That game, I say, is as important to me as a speck of dust compared to his character.
And, as I have come to expect after almost a decade of parenting, I hear God's voice echoing my own. He cares so much more about my character than about my comfort. When will I believe Him?
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
These are the words the priest uttered as he placed the ashes on my forehead during mass this morning. ** He alternated between those words and "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return" as he marked the cross on the foreheads of myself and my fellow worshipers.
Both statements are powerful reminders, but my heart has stayed fixed today on the words I received: Repent and believe in the Gospel.
Repent. Why? Because we are hopeless, helpless beings. We know the right thing, and we choose the wrong. As Paul said, we do what we don't want to do, and what we want to do, we don't do. If we say we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves. We must acknowledge our state of absolute inadequacy and our immeasurable need for redemption. We must repent.
Believe. What a deceptively simple word this is. Believing is defined as "having confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so." That is no easy task. Though God has surrounded us with evidence of Himself, His love, and the truth of His lordship, we are also bombarded with doubts and lies. It is no simple thing to stand firm in a belief when what we see, hear, and often feel, tells us we are wrong to do so. But believe we must.
In the Gospel. Believing is important, but what we believe in is paramount. Most people will tell you they believe in God. Or a Higher Being. That is not the Gospel. The Gospel is our only hope. It is Christ's atonement. We can believe in a god of our own making, but ultimately, the object of our belief determines the result, not the belief itself. As Bill D. always said, you can believe that a pond is frozen solid or not. It doesn't really matter how strongly you believe it is frozen; if it's not, you will fall through. Conversely, even if you don't really believe it will hold you, if it it frozen, it will. We must believe in the right thing.
The Gospel: Christ crucified. Christ resurrected. People redeemed.
Let us beginning this season of Lent, the remembrance of our Savior's sacrifice, with one goal always in mind. Repent. And believe. In the Gospel.
**No I have not become a Catholic. I do, however, attend Mass on most holy days, because the church I attend does not observe many of them nor does it follow a liturgical calendar. I personally find that my spirit is fed through the observation of liturgical seasons, so I have made them part of my journey.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Last year I came across a book entitled, Do Hard Things. I didn't read it, but I liked the title.
What a simple idea.
At the time I was preparing to do something I had dreaded for years: pack up my family and leave my motherland for the frozen tundra. Such an endeavor definitely seemed worthy of "hard things" status. In fact, maybe it was one of the hardest things anyone had ever done. I was pretty sure I should have been awarded some kind of "hard things" medal of honor.
I've realized recently, though, that it's not the grand, momentous things in life that are truly hard. Sure, it's difficult to move to a faraway land or, I imagine, to risk one's life as a missionary or to take a leap of faith in taking a new job or embarking on a new, scary endeavor.
But, you know what's harder?
Forgiving someone who's hurt you.
Humbly submitting to your spouse.
They're not gradiose or attention-grabbing. There's nothing sexy about the packaging of these challenges, so it's not likely that they'll garner you any applause or pats on the back. At least not by men.
Nevertheless, God honors them and counts them among the greatest acts to which a person can attain.
I'm struggling with a couple of these things right now. There's a person in my life whom I've felt hurt by and am pretty angry at, and I would like to just wallow in my self-pity, wrap up in my hurt feelings, and snuggle up to my righteous indignation. I am right, after all.
Unfortunately, God doesn't seem to care.
"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Mat. 5:44)
Um, sorry, God, that's a verse I like to apply to big things like Muslim/Christian relations. Or maybe even to how Christians are discriminated against by the government . . . but not to my friend who's hurt me.
And, so my conversation with God goes something like this:
"Pray for her."
"But, she hurt me and hasn't apologized.
"Reach out to her."
"But, SHE is wrong and I am right."
"But, I tell you . . . love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6:2-28)
"I don't want to. It's hard."
Do hard things. Why doesn't anyone ever mention that it's harder to pray for someone who's hurt you than it is to give an extra tithe or to spend a summer doing mission work?
Love one another. Now that's hard.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Friday, February 3, 2012
2. The boys are wrestling. Ethan likes it; Josh hates it. I'm with Josh. They've been practicing since before Christmas, so David decided we should take advantage of a novice tournament about 1/2 hr away last weekend. (Many of them are much farther.) Ugh. Misery. I truly hate wrestling. I hate the spandex singlets. I hate the siting for hours waiting for your match. I hate the crowded gym and the noise and the chaos. I really hate seeing my 7 year-old's face pressed into a mat as he struggles to overcome his opponent. I hate everything about it. Unfortunately, David loves it. Sometimes it's inconvenient not to have everything my way. How's that for profound?
3. So I was ordering flowers for my niece's birthday the other day, and I couldn't remember my address. I said 315 P__ Ave, and as I was saying it I thought it didn't sound right, but I couldn't think of anything else. While I was on the phone I went in the kitchen and dug out a piece of mail with my address on it, and sure enough, it's 415 P___ Ave. In my defense, I've only lived at this address for almost 3 years.
4. Still sick. Yuck. I keep thinking of going to the dr for an antibiotic, but I just have a bad cold. I've had it since Monday, and it's no better, but my face doesn't hurt when I tap it, so I'm sure I don't have a sinus infection. (That's me putting my imaginary medical degree to work.) My ears don't hurt, etc. I fear they would just send me home the same way I came. So I wait. And suffer. Without complaint of course. Clearly, I'm one to suffer in silence.
5. So my cat has decided that it wants to pee on our bed (twice since Christmas) and our LEATHER SOFA! Why? Why? I ask you! He has a litter box, and, well, he's a cat. David's been saying the couch smells like pee, but I haven't been able to smell all week, so I could neither confirm nor deny. Yesterday, however, I caught the cat red handed. Or yellow weinered. Or something. He was scraping around with his paw like he was trying to bury the pee . . . on the leather sofa. He has no claws, so scratching is not a problem, but really, what does he think he is accomplishing?! I'm baffled and annoyed. Baffloyed.
6. I am coaching the local high school mock trial team for the third year. I love it. However, out of 12 team members, only 2 are returning. (Everyone else graduated on me!) The first round of competition is on Feb 16, and we are sooooooooo far from ready. I have little hope that we will advance this year but great hope that after they get some experience under their collective belts, we will do better next year. Let's hope none of them reads this and learns that I have no confidence in them this year!
7. As much as I would love to stay here on my bed with my furry blanket, hot tea, and laptop, I must go. Work awaits. Hope you all have a great weekend and head over to Conversion Diary for more quick takes. You'll be glad you did.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Now, not so much.
See that picture of my kids at the top of the page? It's from almost three years ago. I would change it, but the truth is, I don't even remember how I created that header in the first place.
In the past I would have considered this a failure. Now? I've moved the goal post. I can't make it 100 yards. I can try, but I will fail. So I move the goal post closer. Fifty yards? That may be too far still. I think I'll put it at the 30 yard line, and if I pass it, all the better.
It's not just in blogging; I've moved the goal posts on pretty much every field. Work. Housekeeping. Parenting.
For example, a former goal may have looked something like this: We will have a fun and exciting family game night wherein we will all love being together and during which my children will realize how lucky they are to have each other.
My new goal: We will have a family game night, and no one will die.
Former goal: Keep a clean house with a place for everything and everything in its place.
New goal: Keep the kitchen clean and never use the same bathroom my sons use.
Former goal: Do several loads of laundry each day so it doesn't pile up. Have children help fold and put away all of their own clothes.
New goal: Find two socks of the same size for each person every morning. Matching not required. Cleanliness merely preferred.
Former goal: Cook healthy meals for my family every night, preferably assisted by sweet little hands that can reach the counter only by using a step-stool. Lovingly watch my adorable offspring pour and stir and mix.
New goal: We will not eat pizza every night. My children are allowed back in the kitchen when they turn fifteen.
Former goal: I will read to or with my children every night, and they will develop a lifelong love of reading just like I did as a kid.
New goal: Ask them to recite the alphabet from time to time to make sure they haven't forgotten it.
See? It's all about setting attainable goals. Now excuse me while I go see if those socks my kids threw in the general directi0n of their clothes hamper are really all that dirty.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
What, I wonder, is there that's obvious to love about me? I imagine myself at my worst. Hair unwashed, breath in need of improvement, pajamas with holes and stains in them, and no makeup on the blemished and wrinkled skin of my face. Not much to look at.
Maybe that's not where the value lies. If I look deeper at her, the other girl, beyond the physical appearance, what do I see? Poor choices. A history of drug and alcohol use. One child taken away by social services years ago, another in her care struggling, lagging far behind his peers. An abusive husband. Public assistance.
What if I look deeper at myself? I must look pretty good. My children may wear wrinkled clothes, but I'm in no danger of being declared unfit. I've never been addicted to a substance, and I chose wisely when saying "I do."
But, is that what's really there? I may look good on paper, but if the invisible deeds of the heart were brought to light, I know what you would see. What He can see. Selfishness, laziness, pride, deceit, obstinance, vanity. If you were a fly on my walls, you would see me speak too harshly to my children, put my own desires above those of my husband, lack gratitude, and be overly critical.
Really, what is there to love about me? I dare say not much more than there is to love about her.
I've prayed for the past year or two for God teach me how to love. He has been teaching me that He is love. Given that He said those exact words in the scripture, this should not be a revelation, but it has been. God is love. God elevated two commandments above all others: love Him and love each other. So what, He asks, if you love those who are nice and clean and smart and educated like you? Even the sinners do that.
Through praying, studying, and even reading a particular blog**, He began to make me understand that if I want to experience God more, I need to love more. That's where He can be found.
And that's where she comes in. About a year ago God told me to love her. Not just to tolerate her or be nice to her. To love her. It's taken many forms over the past year from providing transportation since she has no car, to inviting her and her son to come over and play with our dog, to helping her with groceries. I've talked to her about God, and she's made it clear that she does not believe. She does not care for God or Christians or anything about the church. That's okay, I told her; God loves her anyway.
A few days ago she was at my house needing help again. To her credit, she filed for divorce and got a protective order against her abusive husband. But now she couldn't pay her rent, and she was about to be evicted. She was told that day that the check she received from SSI the week before, a mere $350, was all she would receive for the entire month. There would be no second check. She was expecting a second check. Unable to pay the rent or buy any Christmas presents for her five year-old son, she was understandably distraught.
In keeping with what I believe God has asked of me, I helped her, with my husband's blessing. But, as I've done several times before, I also prayed for her. I closed my nose to the lingering smell of cigarettes and probably pot, and I hugged her, told her God loved her so much, and I prayed that He would show Himself to her and give her strength. She did not welcome it, but wanting the financial help, she tolerated it.
Today she came over again. You won't believe it, she said. The day after you prayed for me I got a call, and I'm getting a second check after all. I can buy Christmas gifts for my son. I can't believe it. They told me the day before that there would be no check, and then right after you prayed, they said they are sending me a check. Keep praying, she said.
And I will. Because we are really not that different, she and I. We are both flawed and blemished souls greatly in need of help. And, thankfully, mercifully, loved by a great, great God.
(**Jennifer Fulwieler, at Conversion Diary, wrote an amazing post about this subject a couple of years ago, but I could not find it to link to. So, I just linked to her blog. Pick a few posts to read; you won't be disappointed.)
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Their teeth have been brushed. Covers have been tucked, heads kissed, and quiet prayers whispered. They lie sleeping now on soft mattresses under plush comforters in a warm house.
I'm tempted to write about how blessed I am. How blessed we are. And I feel blessed, I do. But I pause. I hesitate because I'm just not sure that's how this whole thing works. Am I more "blessed" than another because I live in comfort? I've never been comfortable using my level of comfort or contentment as a gauge of my level of blessedness.
So maybe instead of writing about how blessed I am, I'll just write about how grateful I am.
Grateful. It seems far too simple a word to convey the well of unspeakable, bursting-from-my-soul thanks for these precious gifts I could never deserve. I'm grateful for food on the table. I'm grateful for a roof over my head and favors from friends and a job I enjoy.
That can't possibly be the same word I use to convey how I feel about the little pieces of my heart that live and sleep and love and laugh (and argue and whine) here. The lives - the souls - that have been entrusted to me.
Maybe there really aren't words. I tuck them, I kiss them, I stroke their hair, and breathe in the scent of them.
And I thank God that He knows my heart and doesn't need my words.
Because I'm speechless.
Monday, September 26, 2011
2. I love shopping for all of my kids, but girls clothes . . . they're just cuter. Plus the reaction when I give them something new is so much better from a girl. For instance, I went to Elmira, New York on Saturday to do some shopping and brought home a shirt for Josh and some hair clips for Lauren. Joshua's response: "Cool." Lauren's response: "Ohmigosh! They're adorable!!"
3. When Ethan came down with a 103.2 fever tonight, I asked Lauren to go upstairs and get his pillow so he could lie down on the couch. When she brought it down, she said, "Mom, anytime someone is sick, you should send me to get their pillow because I bring them something special, too." She had brought him a stuffed animal. Once I got him all set up with his pillow and blanket and movie, Lauren sat on the end of the sofa and said, "I'm gonna sit here so I can see the movie and so I'll be close by if Ethan needs me."
There are not words for how thankful I am that God blessed me with a girl.