Thursday, February 23, 2012


I put them to bed twenty minutes ago. Still their voices carry down the hall to my bedroom. Not soft whispering-in-the-night voices. Angry, arguing voices.

"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

Ash Wednesday Thoughts - Repent and Believe in the Gospel

"Repent and believe in the Gospel."

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

Doing Hard Things

(This post was originally published in December, 2009. I'm recycling it because it seems to be a lesson God's still teaching me.)
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.

Loving unconditionally.

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

The great thing about Pinterest on a Saturday afternoon

Is that now when my kids say they don't have anything to do, I have a solution.

Just get some muffin pans, milk, and food coloring.

Create a rainbow of colors.

Stir carefully with toothpicks

And paint some marshmallows.

If you're a girl, you might choose light purple

A boy may choose army green

His brother may abandon the paintbrush altogether and opt to dunk

At any rate, a good time will be had by all.

Friday, February 3, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Wow . . . long time since I did quick takes! I haven't done them since I got this laptop, so I don't have the little button logo saved on here. And I'm too lazy to fix that at the moment. So, without all the fancy fixins, here are some brief and mostly insignificant snippets of my life these days.

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.