Thursday, September 29, 2011

Right, Wrong, or just Different

Kyle and I were having an argument last night.  You know the kind where you get off topic and weave and wind till nothing anyone is saying makes much since, we were arguing for the sake of arguing.  But at one point during it I said, the problem is instead of just thinking that you and I are different, you think your right and I'm wrong.  Exactly, he said, finally something we could agree on.

Once upon a time our arguments included yelling and insulting and anger so big it couldn't fit in the room with us.  Over the years God has worked on our hearts and our marriage till we've both reached the place of desiring a loving marriage more than we desire to be right.  So there was not really any anger last night as much as there was frustration as we tried to find a middle ground.

It begin over whether or not to invite someone to accompany our family to an activity, he was in the yes category, I was in the no.  This is a common place we find ourselves, having become so similar in most of our thinking, it's surprising to me just how far apart we stand on this issue.

Kyle loves people, I love people too but in a different way.  Kyle enjoys inviting anyone and everyone to do, well anything with us.  It doesn't matter to him if he has just met the person or if we're long friends, they are equal opportunity to invite along on a family vacation, an impromptu lunch at our messy house, an outing to the local park.  Kyle has very few what I would call close friends, but the man is friends with just about everyone in this town and if it were up to him he would love to have each one of them here day after day till we reached the end, and then start all over again.

I am, at my core, the opposite.  I enjoy spending time with my family and just my family.  For some reason in my head the event is less significant if it involves other people.  I realize that, at least in part, this is not the way that God has asked me to live my life, so I have over the years moved slowly, step by step, over to Kyle's camp.

We now have people in our home for a meal a couple times a week, I don't yell when Kyle invites someone over without warning me first, I have come to accept the fact that people do not care whether or not my house is clean, and I truly enjoy the sound of my home filled with a large number of people fellowshipping together.

But, oh yes here it is, the "but" I was trying to get him to understand.  I believe that there is something that is different and important about family time.  That there is something to be said for spending time together with just your family.  Something special about being alone with just your spouse or just your child.

Or at least that was how I felt last night, while we argued in circles about nothing, me not quite able to get my footing in my argument, because frankly, I was treading on shaky ground.  While there is something unique and even necessary about spending time alone with members of your family, to imply that we don't get enough of it, that we need to turn away lonely friends, to carve out some more "family time" was plain selfishness.

When I allow myself and my home to be used by God I am able to love my neighbor, to love the least of these.  When we bring along people into our lives, into our activities, and our meals, they become part of our family.  They remind me a family is not people who share a last name but those who share a Father God.  Me and Kyle, we are different, sure, but this time I was also wrong.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Linking it up

While I love to write here on this blog, I love reading other people's blogs even more.  Here are some of the best posts I've read in the past couple of weeks.  Click on the titles to read the entire post.

And you, what did you love reading this week, leave me the link, I'm always looking for a great blog to read!

Christ the Church and Pat Robertson on Moore to the Point

Sadly, many of our neighbors assume that when they hear the parade of cartoon characters we allow to speak for us, that they are hearing the gospel. They assume that when they see the giggling evangelist on the television screen, that they see Jesus. They assume that when they see the stadium political rallies to “take back America for Christ,” that they see Jesus. But Jesus isn’t there.

Jesus tells us he is present in the weak, the vulnerable, the useless. He is there in the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46). Somewhere out there right now, a man is wiping the drool from an 85 year-old woman who flinches because she think he’s a stranger. No television cameras are around. No politicians are seeking a meeting with them.

But the gospel is there. Jesus is there.

So no thanks, Mark Driscoll.  Peddle that bike parable somewhere else please.  Ride it around in front of people stronger and more mature in their faith than I am, because when I read your post I'm tempted to think that God gave me my beautiful, giant house in one of the safest neighborhoods with the nicest schools.  I'm tempted to believe that God gave me my Expedition.  I'm tempted to believe that God gave me my clothes from Ann Taylor Loft.  I'm tempted to believe that my stuff fell straight from heaven, so why not enjoy it instead of owning the fact that I used my own brain to decide what house to buy.  The truth is, God provided the money and I picked out my car.  I picked out my clothing.  I decided how much to spend on me and how much I'd give to my neighbors who have nothing.  God gave me the money and I decided whether or not I needed a bike and if it should be top of the line or one I bought at a garage sale for $20.

God gave the money.  I made the decisions.

After the Airport  on Jen

I followed a God into this story who heals and redeems, who restores wasted years and mends broken places. This God specializes in the Destroyed. I've seen it. I've been a part of it. I have His ancient Word that tells of it. I love a Jesus who made reconciliation his whole mission. My children will not remain broken. They are loved by too good a Savior. I will not remain exhausted and spent. I am loved by too merciful a Father.

So today, I'm writing for you who are somewhere "after the airport." The big moment is over and you are living in the aftermath when the collective grief or euphoria has passed. You lost a parent, a sibling, a friend, a child. The experience mobilized every single human being who loves you, and they rallied, gathered, carried you. And now it's three months later on a random Tuesday, and the sting has worn off for everyone else, and you are left in your sorrow.  

I love my husband very much. 

But sometimes I hate him, too. 

You see, I am married to a Perpetually Skinny. You know the type. They’re the ones who can eat whatever they want without gaining weight. They’re the ones whose metabolism never actually catches up as they age. They’re the ones who can order a pair of jeans online and be reasonably assured that they are going to look great when they put them on. 

Come with Me on Flower Patch Farmgirl 

But then I would think of what's ahead of us and I'd know it all again. We are going. We don't know where, exactly, but it's different from here, and that's exciting and it's also a little weepy, a little anxious-feeling. For a long time, I would have equated the butterflies with an absence of peace, but I know better this time around. I know that sometimes it's necessary to gather up some extra courage and jump with your eyes closed. Because what's faith without a little fear? How much do we really need to trust when what we're doing is our favorite thing, the easiest thing, the quietest thing? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Whatnot Wednesday

The day Chloe needed to go to the ER for her cut lip, Jack seemed to, at no point, be aware of what was going on.  Despite Kyle and I yelling and running around (yes we do not do well under stress), Jack kept repeating over and over, mommy I washed my hands, wanting me to praise him for doing this without being asked.  When Chloe came home I said, "look Jack Chloe is back and she's all better."  He came over to her and said, "oh Chloe your back is all better."  I ignored him not sure of what to say until later that afternoon when he came up to her again and rubbed her back and said, "I'm so glad your back is all better."  I couldn't resist speaking up, "no Jack remember Chloe cut her lip and it was bleeding, her lip is better!"  He gave me a confused look and just said, "oh."

So I found some fat in my budget after all and I've stopped using someone to clean my house.  There is good news, she only came once a month and had begun to do a pretty crummy job so really I feel glad to save the money and do a better job myself.  The problem is to clean my whole house in the small windows of time I have available will take about three months, more or less :).

I can't remember if I told y'all but I thought Chloe had ringworm for almost four months!  I had taken her to the pediatrician and she glanced at it and said, oh yeah keep treating it, it can take a long time to clear up.  Thankfully we have a friend who is a doctor who looked at it at church and said that it wasn't ringworm, but eczema.  Sure enough now that we're putting lotion on it instead of anti-fungal cream it looks great.  I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders I had begun to think that she would never be able to overcome this "ringworm" because the more I treated it the worse it looked, go figure!

Does anyone else hate getting their hair cut?  For me it has about as much appeal as going to a doctor's appointment.  I know it's supposed to be this relaxing thing I can do for myself and truly I wish it was.  For some reason haircuts have always made me anxious, the sitting in the chair for hours (if I'm having my hair colored) making small talk, the praying it turns out good, the trying to be bold enough to speak up if you don't like it.  I know I have issues, but hey I bet you've got some too :).

Jack consistently puts both his shirt and shorts on backwards, every single day.  You would think if it was an accident that at least some days, by chance, he would get at least one of them on right.  Every time I see him walking around with his backwards clothes (no I rarely bother to fix them) I think of Kriss Kross. In my middle school there were people who actually wore their clothes completely backwards just like Kriss Kross.  Even as a very impressionable pre-teenager, who knew that those were the cool kids, I couldn't help but think they looked stupid and uncomfortable.  But it is a catchy song....Kriss Kross will make you jump, jump....

Fellow bloggers does this ever happen to you?  When I go to parties and see friends of mine I haven't seen in a while, they often greet me with, "how are you, I'm sorry I haven't/I don't read your blog."  In case you are a friend of mind in the real world know this, it never even enters my mind to assume someone knows how I am because I have a blog and I definitely never assume anyone out there actually reads this stuff.  But I wouldn't mind new readers maybe next time someone asks me how I'm doing I'll just hand them a card with my blog address on it and say, "just go read about it."

ps- don't forget you can post your own Whatnot Wednesday post, just click the button to link up!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I miss nap time!

back in the good ol' days of napping
For a good five years once a day, most every day, I laid down my children one by one, after diapers and potty, putting on pajamas, reading books, for their daily nap.

It didn't matter that they began to protest this need for sleep, or that they reached the age where friends were allowed to go nap free.  Here's the thing, nap time has always been a little bit more about my need for them to nap, than it is about their need to nap.

Over the years it has evolved into "rest time" a time where they don't have to sleep but they do have to rest quietly in their rooms for a period of time, followed by a time of quiet playing.

This concept worked great with Kylynn when she finally outgrew naps (only about a year ago), she was happy to play with her dollhouse, look at books, or "read" in her room making not a peep.  This allowed for nap time to continue without change, the other kiddos could nap without being disturbed and I could have some time to myself to break up my day.

Then Jack reached the magical, I'm not tired age, and unlike his sister he wasn't kidding.  That boy would not fall asleep, not ever, no matter how evident his need for a nap was.  So I of course implemented "rest time" with him.  He would have to stay in his bed and look at books for 20 minutes (he knows when he can get out based on the hands of the clock) and then he could play quietly in his room.

The problem is Jack is not interested in anything that is quiet, anything that involves rest, or spending anytime at all in his bed.  So every. single. day.  I go into his room countless times to deal with the fact that he has gotten out of bed before the set time.  Then when, yippee, play time has come he has this compulsion to open and close his door over and over again, very loudly.  He knows he's not supposed to do it, but I swear sometimes I think he can't help it.

If by chance I decide to lay down and take a nap, I am usually awakened very suddenly after a very short nap by a slamming door, if I manage to fall back asleep the whole scene will repeat itself in 90 seconds.  Needless to say this makes me rather angry and puts a damper on my afternoon.  If I decide to stay up and get somethings accomplished I spend so much time going up and down the stairs dealing with Jack, that I get nothing accomplished and again end up angry and in a foul mood for the afternoon.

Either way, I lose, nap time is no longer something I look forward to.  Instead of being a nice time of quiet around the house for us all to rest and prepare for the rest of our day, nap time has become a time to see if we can make mommy lose her mind.

And it's working, there is not much left to this mind of mine....I miss nap time!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A good weekend, even when it wasn't

We had an eventful weekend this past week.  Friday night we went to an ice cream party to say goodbye to our family (ok our friends but y'all get it, right?).  I couldn't sleep that night because I kept writing and re-writing one of my friends a "goodbye letter."  She had planted the seed in my mind and my mind was trying hard to not be devastated, so it wrote letters, over and over.

Saturday morning we had our six month, and final, home visit for Chloe's adoption.  Once the paperwork is complete we can finalize it!  It was bittersweet to say goodbye to our social worker, she has been visiting our family for four and half years, since we applied to begin Jack's adoption up until the finalization of Chloe's.  The whole time she was there I kept thinking, we can't be done here, nope, no way we're done.  Kyle looked at me like a crazy person when I told him that, so alas we might be done, but I've got a feeling that God can work on Kyle's heart if I'm right.

We then went on to run several shopping errands, eat some frozen yogurt at lunch time in order to get in two more stores, and came home to eat late lunches and take long late naps!  This was a happy accident because that night we had a wedding to go to.  Yes that's right, these people actually invited our three small children to their wedding as well :).  It was such a lovely wedding, outside in the country, we ate yummy Mexican food, and the kids were amazing little munchkins.

Sunday after church we decided to go on a bike ride.  We very much want to get back into this habit, but I feel a bit like I'm starting all over again, maybe not square one, but definitely square two.  I have to pull the trailer behind me in order for us all to be able to go on "big" rides again.  So we packed up some water and snacks and headed out.  I hadn't been feeling great that morning so I didn't eat a snack and for some unknown reason didn't drink any water either.  Sunday was much hotter than it had been all week and I am terribly out of shape, so it was a hard ride.

We took a break in the park and Kyle played with all the kids, everyone was having the best time.  It was really truly the perfect day, for awhile at least.  When we got home I was feeling like I needed  to go lay down under the ceiling fan, I had pushed myself hard, so I made the mistake of going in and leaving Chloe outside, with my bike up on it's kickstand.

Next thing I know I hear Kyle run in with Chloe screaming a horrible cry and see blood everywhere.  She had pulled my bike down on her and her teeth had gone through her lip.  It took a while to figure out where she was bleeding from, once we got a look at the cut we decided she needed stitches.  I gave her a popsicle, something I had once read on Vitafamiliae's blog (see blog reading is useful!), to help stop the bleeding in her mouth and Kyle set off for the hospital which is less than a mile from our home.

I was supposed to join him up there as soon as I managed to stop blacking out, remember I'm a fainter, and got something to eat and drink into me and the kids.  While I was running around grabbing things, I noticed Kylynn was sprawled on the arm of the couch moaning.  I went to check on her and she kept saying, it's going to hurt her so bad when they give her stitches.  Then she said, mommy I'm going to throw up.  She never did but as she was hanging out over the toilet, she started to pass out, I carried her over to the couch and got a wet washcloth on her head, and got her to come back around.  So I called Kyle to see what to do and luckily he said Chloe was fine and there was no reason for us to come.

In the end the doctor was able to glue her lip closed and she was not traumatized enough by the experience to stop trying to climb everything in her path.  We could see God's hand at work throughout the ordeal, she was happy to be comforted by Kyle (which is huge, when she was so upset) and he was back in only a couple of hours, so as to still be able to have a normal afternoon and evening.

It was a good weekend, a really good weekend, it reminded me that God is in control and that all things work together for the good to those who love the Lord.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Not room enough to store it

Money has been tight around here lately and to tell you the truth I have no idea why.  I suppose it's the combination of another family member to feed (one who looks like she hardly eats but eats as much as an adult), the crazy electricity bills due to the extreme heat, and the increase in the price of food.

In the month of August I spent twice my grocery budget, yeah that's right I spent double what I had allotted.  Obviously I need to actually live within my budget better, find areas to make sacrifices, and my grocery budget is too low.

I began to look at the budget to find some extra money to move over to groceries and there wasn't money anywhere to cut.  We long ago cut any real fat, no cable, cellphones from the 90's ;), eating out very little, own our cars, you get the picture there was nowhere to steal the money from.  Until I noticed one column that seemed like it had extra, the column containing God's money.

I mean surely God wouldn't mind if I took some money out of that column, it's not like I live an extravagant life or anything.  There are so many things I could buy to make our house nicer, to dress in clothes that would help me fit in better, to allow my children to see the world if I could just take some of the money God had asked for and give it back to me.

Luckily God has taught me time and again over the years that I can trust Him with my (ok His) money.  He has asked us to set aside that amount of money for Him, not because He needs my money, but because it teaches me to store up my treasures in heaven not here on this earth, because it causes me to have to trust Him, because it allows me to see Him work in great and tangible ways.

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
   “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
   “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. Malachi 3:8-12 (emphasis mine)
I love this verse, I feel like it is one of my life verses, every time I read it I get emotional.  It is so easy to think that God is not good, that if we give Him too much we will have less, but the truth I have seen in my life is the more I give Him the more I have.  And, yes, I actually mean in part, the more I have financially, but it is a cycle that keeps repeating.  More importantly the more faith I have, the more hope I have, the more I have been able to loosen my grip on the things of this world and pay attention to what really matters.  

I love this story that a college student in our home church shared with us one evening.  One summer he worked as a waiter making very little money, but felt God laying on his heart to give large amounts on Sunday morning.  Every Sunday morning he would give the amount God had laid on his heart and then the next day at work He would make exactly the amount he had given in tips, the exact amount, every Monday, all summer long.  I love the way God is not subtle!

So this month I'm waiting on the Lord to provide, I have been taught that His promises are true.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A real date to celebrate the first

We went out on our first really real date since Chloe came home, this weekend.  We hired a babysitter, left all three children behind, and only put Chloe to bed (so as to not know she was being left with a babysitter).  We took the night off to celebrate the anniversary of our first date.

September 1999 a few weeks after our first date at the Kolache Festival
A lot has changed in 12 years, the dorm I met him at is now an office building and the Bennigans we ate at is now an AT&T store.  We now have three kids to bathe before we can leave for the night and a budget with very small numbers in it when it comes to entertainment.

But a lot has stayed the same.  We're still here in Aggieland, what was supposed to be a stop to enjoy the best years of our lives, has turned into our home where we've learned that the years keep getting better.  We drove to our date in the same pick up truck we did 12 years ago, and I held the same hand and looked into the same blue eyes.

December 1999 about a week before we got engaged
The first time I met Kyle I knew that I had just met my husband, I knew that my future would include him, for some reason God saw it fit to show me that much of my future.  He didn't show me what the rest would include, not the days I thought that maybe I had just lived a perfect day nor the ones when I thought that surely we would never figure out becoming one flesh.  But he allowed me to experience each one, in order to mold me into the woman and wife he wants be to become.

And we're just getting started.  I wonder what it's like to when you get to fifty years, what it's like to no longer remember being anything except each other's.  To know how to submit to one another and put the other's needs before your own, everyday.  I have tried it both ways and it has taught me, a marriage without God at the center is impossible, a marriage with God at the center is still one of the hardest things you'll ever do, but absolutely worth every moment.