Saturday, January 23, 2010

Our home

Yesterday was a tough day. I woke up just pissed. More than angry. So I had to get my mind on more productive things. I started doing dishes, which led to cleaning the kitchen... which led to REALLY cleaning the kitchen... which led to going through the Picklebean's closet. There's something about sorting through your baby's clothes that no longer fit that just brings out a certain sadness. I love seeing him grow, but I just loved him so much when he was little... I still am amazed at how every day you can love a person more and more, and how seeing those little pants or tiny socks or a special sweater makes you hold dearly to the past.

So that was the beginning of what would become an emotional rollercoaster of a day.

Later in the morning, Jeffrey just decided to tuck himself in for a nap. He grabbed his binky (and he knows if he wants it, he has to be in bed) and off to bed he went. I figured he'd be out within a couple of minutes. That's usually the way it goes. But several minutes passed... and several more... until finally I paid him a visit. He looked so cute all snuggled into the corner of his bed with the covers pulled up just past his chin. His blue eyes still wide awake, but he just laid there quietly.

I sat down next to him and he immediately popped up and said, "Jeffrey's all done!" (He always refers to himself in the third person. Cracks me up.) But he crawled into my lap. I asked him if he
wanted me to rock him for a while. He (of course) said yes - he loves to rock and snuggle. So I asked if he wanted to stay in his room or rock in the living room. He said, "Stay here." I stood up
holding him tightly, cleared all the stuffed animals, blankets and other stuff from the rocking chair, sat down, laid his legs across my lap, covered us up with his froggy blanket and started to rock.

And as I looked around his dimly lit room, all the memories started to flood back. Special moments. Conversations. Laughter. Tears. Everything.

Jeffrey's bedroom is the cornerstone of our home. It has signified every important change in our life since we bought this home.

It was where we sat on the floor with our realtor to discuss if this would be our home - where we decided that we'd like to make an offer and how having a home would completely change our lives.

It was where we set up a cozy guest room and had many out-of-state (and a few in-state) friends
stay with us for a night... a long weekend.

It was often where one of us would nap, or just read to get away from everything and everyone.

It became Scott's mom's room when she made the decision to uproot herself from Illinois and join us in Oregon. She lived with us for 8 months - 3 of those where spent not working but just resting. SO many hilarious stories about Mamasan living with us... Like, how she'd get up before God, sit in the dark drinking coffee so to not wake anyone - occasionally do dishes (somehow managing to never make a noise), think of crazy things (like eating hamburgers or ribs and "sweet snacks") until one of us woke up. And then as soon as one of us was up, she'd tell us everything she thought about in the last 4 hours. Hilarious.

When she moved out, it went back to a guest room, but only for a short while because soon after that we learned I was pregnant. It became our nursery. That little blue rocker was where I rocked
Jeffrey in the middle of night to comfort him back to sleep when he was up nursing or sick or sad... Many a sleepless night was spent in that rocker.

It's where Jeffrey had his first "big boy bed"... and now that room is shared with his little baby sister.

Jeffrey is much bigger now. He doesn't fit so easily into my arms. He once was so tiny that his entire body could snuggle against my chest. Now his head was buried in my neck, arms completely around my shoulders, sitting on my lap with his legs dangling over mine. He's grown so much.

I just rocked, held my son, and cried.

And if this doesn't sum up the sweetness of my little boy. He just looked at me, stroked my face with his soft little hand, looked into my eyes and never said a word. He just knew I was sad and that was ok.

I look around this home and see all the wonderful things that have been weaved into the fabric of our lives - the ministry that happened here... the friends that came and went... the way a couple became a family... The furniture, the paint, the pictures, the details....

This is where we started our first Bible Study, discovered new hobbies and dreamed of life in the future. This is where I discovered a joy of gardening and Scott learned the art of cooking.

We built our yard by ourselves... Grew every blade of grass, every
tree, every shrub, every flower...

It's where we celebrated sunny days and breath...

Where we played frisbee and chased our son with water balloons...

We enjoyed countless sunrises - with an incredible view of the mountains as nothing but farmland is behind us.

We enjoyed (for a short time) a wonderful neighbor - who would just show up and talk to us through an open window and tell us that there's a chicken in our yard.

We closed on this house on our first anniversary. We spent our happiest years together in this home.

As I stand in each room, I can recall conversations, laughter, sadness, joy, grief... I hear the sound of tiny little feet tearing down the hall way and Jeffrey's giggles filling the house.

This home has been our respite. It has been the one place we felt completely at peace, welcome and accepted. The first 2 1/2 years of commuting to Portland, coming home and stripping off our work clothes and putting on our jammies signified the end of a long, stressful work day, and the beginning of a relaxing evening with my beloved. And the last 2 1/2 years when we slowly began to feel isolated, this home was our retreat from a very lonely time in our lives. Sort of our oasis in the desert. (More realistically, it has been our safe haven in the ghetto. HA!)

We must let it go. It's no longer our home, but a product that needs to be sold. So, soon all the pictures will come off the wall, the little airplane and clouds that Scott hand-painted so lovingly on the wall in Jeffrey's room will be painted over, all the toys will be packed up, and everything that make our home "ours" will be whisked away and staged just so, so that perhaps when someone else walks through the front door, they will have the same emotional reaction to the home as we did 5 years ago. We just pray that whoever lives here is blessed deeply, and that God's presence would remain.

I took the crib apart, and set up the full size bed in it's place... Sometime this week, the office will be packed up and staged as another bedroom. Nothing will look the same.

This is the end of an era. The end of a beautifully written chapter.

And the beginning of another.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The period at the end of this week

If you don't like "too much information," stop reading NOW. I can tell you that you will not like this post.

This has been an interesting last 7 days.

Started with Eden not pooping for almost a week.

Then the kids caught colds.

Then, of course, I caught their cold. (See, moms cannot control the urge to kiss their children on their lips, even there is green snot all over them.)

Then Eden started farting some nasty stewed manure farts. She is totally breastfed, and I will tell you with all confidence that I have not eaten stewed manure...

Then Scott was told he was laid off.

And then Eden finally started to poop out all of the unpooped stewed up manure-smelling poop. (Seriously, child, what on earth happened to your colon???) She pooped 3 times in as many hours. There were green flakes in there. She does not eat solid food. Where did the green flakes come from?

Then Eden barfed in her sleep all over my neck.

And today I started my period.


Thursday, January 21, 2010


Scott just got the news yesterday that he will be laid off... His "position has been eliminated," to be exact. He'll "transition" for a couple of weeks, and then receive basically 3 weeks severance. This takes us to about the end of February - maybe early March before we lose another 50% of our income.

I honestly haven't even remotely sorted through all my thoughts on that subject. And, of course, it would be highly unprofessional of me to comment or speculate on an HR issue in this way. So, in the name of integrity, that's all I'll say about that. Besides, it doesn't make a difference anyway in the big picture.

What's most important is what God is calling out of Scott and I through this. I can't help but reflect on the last year, and, really, the 5 years we have spent in Salem.

As pretty much everyone knows by now, Salem isn't our favorite place. But, either way, we have been absolutely committed to being where God wants us. It was clear 3 years ago that God had called Scott, and eventually me, to Salem Alliance. I never told the story of how that all came about, but suffice it to say that God was working behind the scenes long before we ever knew and we just took step after step of faith - totally into an unknown and uncomfortable territory. Out of the heavens (pun intended), Scott's job landed in his lap.

And so it has been for the last 3 years... Blessing after blessing has been handed to us in ways we never expected. Then, starting this time last year we were faced with some suffering (when I became pregnant with Eden). You can read about it here. But God blessed us. Then came the uncertainty of our jobs... (You can read about that here and here.) But God blessed us. Time and time again, God came through for us in ways we would have NEVER imagined - budget cuts we
didn't think we could make... jobs that fit exactly Scott's giftedness (especially after his ministry was essentially cut)... on and on...

Then, after my darling Eden was born, we embarked on yet another 3 months of suffering, which I am not going to share the details of other than to say I didn't have the early weeks of Eden's life to just focus completely on getting to know her due to some work stuff. That seriously just killed me - but... only a few really knew about it. I have a really strong work ethic, and in some ways I like to think I'm super-woman-mom who can juggle it all. And maybe from the outside that's what it looks like. But on the inside I felt very different - angry, sad, robbed...

But... we barreled through... And we had big plans. Plans that only the two of us (and maybe 6 others) knew about.

But, once again, God had a different plan.

Which brings us to today.

Seriously tough news. Yes, it sucks. It's super scary when you think that in less than 8 months over 55% of our income is gone. Poof.

And with that... we lose our home, our health insurance, probably at least one car, any level of comfortable living.... Everything.

Or do we?

See, we live and serve a faithful, loving, AWESOME God. It has been our experience time and time again that He does not let us fall. Sure, we're faced with suffering. Suffering sucks any way you look at it, unless you look at it through His eyes.

All this to say that today leaves a lot of unknowns. Our house is going up for sale. We are (and have been) selling things to lighten our load. And things have been happening behind the scenes that seemingly didn't relate or even make sense, but have now become crystal clear. Ok, maybe "crystal" is a stretch.... Really more like slightly opaque. But the point is that now we understand what God has been doing. We are not worried. We are not angry. (Ok, again, I admit, I'm a little pissed, but again, for reasons that I will not go into here. Even though I was recently told, "There are no secrets here," I know better.) God has us right where He wants us, and we are FREE to let Him carry our burden.

Scott has quoted Dallas Willard a thousand times, at the very least. I will admit that much of what he talks about is so far beyond my understanding that 99% of it doesn't sink in... nor do I even really think about it. However, there is one quote that sums up perfectly where I am today. At a recent Renovare conference, Dallas was asked, "How do you know when God is near?" (Or maybe it was, "How do you know when you're a disciple?" Something like that. See? I don't totally soak it in... but the question isn't what matters. It's all in the answer. Listen to this.) Dallas responded, "Well, don't you know when someone is helping you carry a load?"

YES. And so it is with us. Jesus is abundantly present. The news, while difficult, has actually made room for Jesus to lift a heavy burden. We feel lighter. We feel affirmed. That decision actually confirms what we have been feeling about Scott's position for quite some time, so really it didn't
come as a shock.

Here is what we know. We know that God is with us. We know that, through our experience, we can trust Him fully. We know that He has called Scott to something special, and whether that plan is carried out at SAC or somewhere else, God will ensure that His will is accomplished. We know that we do not need to worry about our finances, as we know that God will provide - whether through multiplying our bank account like loaves and fishes, or through a job(s) opportunity, or through friends or family... or... or.... We know that He blesses His servants (see Job 42:10 for just one example - God reminded me of this last night). And we know that our suffering isn't eternal. Thank you, Jesus!

And so here we are. Completely surrendered. Completely submitted. Completely open to God's
voice. We are open handed ready to give and to receive.
We are open-armed, crucified with Christ.

We do have specific prayers that we are sharing with only a few. But if you want, feel free to pray with us. We simply ask, once again, that you pray that God's will be done - in us, through us, for HIS glory!!!

Amen!!!! AMEN!!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My main men

This is just one of the things that makes me very happy. I absolutely love to see my two favorite men in the whole world snuggle up in the morning. The irony of this is that while they seemingly are alike, you couldn't find two more different personalities. My little Picklebean is the spitting image of his daddy. Same beautiful blue eyes. Same fat heels. Same skinny legs. Same rockin' abs. (Ok... this is a stretch.) Same kissable lips. Same smile that lights up my world.

And yet, they are nothing alike in terms of their personalities. Jeffrey actually is just like me. This is Scott's worst nightmare. Two of us. In the same house. He calls this "The Battle of the Wills". (Sadly, I use this to my advantage quite a bit, and I've had to really pray against manipulating Jeffrey. Cuz, see, I know what makes him tick cuz I've had 37 years of practice on myself.)

Scott is so NOT a morning person. He's tried to be... I give him a very strong B for effort. But the truth is, Scott will NEVER be a morning person. No matter how hard he tries, it just ain't gonna happen. Jeffrey, on the other hand, is the quintessential morning person. He is ridiculously happy from the second he even thinks of opening his eyes. It's precious. There are few things more lovely than seeing my babies' smiles first thing in the morning. It can even make a grumpy daddy smile at the crack of dawn. THAT is a pretty big accomplishment!

And yet here they are. So alike and so different. I loves these two to pieces.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The age old debate...

And this is why I love Twinkie.... I found this message in my inbox this morning. I had to post it here just to continue the debate.

"...And while it is dark and gloomy outside, and lonely inside, and with my pain and opium and sleep deprived brain, that I’ve been taking the time to read all your postings on your website.

With every post of yours that I read, so many things come to light about who you are and what you’re hoping to achieve in this world. And, with each one of your posts, I realize just how different you and I are. Here are a few examples:

You are deeply religious and have such heart felt beliefs in your faith – I am not religious and have little faith in anything.

You continually strive to be a better person – I am one who feels that if someone doesn’t like me, that’s their problem.

I am a FemiNazi – you are so not that way.

I tend to find fault with everything and everyone – you strive to find the goodness in everyone and everything.

I have a temper with a very short fuse – you are calm and understanding.

You have a fun loving wit – my humor tends to be more on the cutting side of things.

You tend to overlook (and accept) the vast differences of opinions of those around you – I tend to feel people who don’t share my opinions are ignorant.

You are a very fun loving person – I am a (too) serious person.

You are a Republican – I am a Democrat.

You’re a Bears fan, I’m a Favre fan (and he don’t play for da Bears!)

The list goes on and on, but those touch on some of the highlights concerning just how different we are; and the most amazing thing to me is that with all those (important) differences in who we are, that YOU could possibly like – and understand someone like ME…and for that, I will forever be grateful. I’ve attempted to learn from you, and have strived over the past few years to be a better person (like you) and I hope it is working.

HOWEVER…..and there’s always a ‘however’, isn’t there? In one of your postings, you mentioned that you HATE PEPSI, that you are a Coke chick. Now, with everything our friendship has endured over the years, this is one area, Kyra, that I just don’t know if we can overcome. I can’t believe that someone I hold in such high regard, someone who I strive to be more like, someone who is so true to herself…could actually drink that nasty stuff (Coke), for crying out loud! Have you no respect for yourself? Do you truly understand the (present and future) ramifications of your choice in this matter? Make no mistake, this is very serious.

Oh, did I mention that the one thing we DO share – the one thing that we DO have in common? It’s our PASSION…...

….and one of my many passions is PEPSI…..8-10 cans a day of the stuff, to be exact.

So, you see, it is extremely difficult for me to understand how such a warm, wonderful, compassionate, seemingly well educated person such as yourself could even THINK about drinking Coke – and hating PEPSI.

I’ll have to mull this one over for a while to see, if like you do with me (constantly), I can overcome this very large obstacle and understand that all folks have faults and that we should love them anyway and accept who they are in spite of some of the (terrible) choices they make and how they live their life (with Coke drink in hand). Like I mentioned earlier, I AM trying to be more like you in the understanding department. If I can succeed in that, we can still be friends, even though.……"

This is how I respond:

Here is why I don't like Pepsi. It's too sweet and not fizzy enough. Coke is less sweet and more fizzy. I like the fizz more than I like sweet. Every time I order Pepsi, it tastes flat (no fizz) and like it has at least 3 tablespoons more sugar than is necessary (far too sweet). I even ordered some with my lunch yesterday just to say I've given it another shot, but... no... it still sucked. Not fizzy enough. Too sweet. Yuck.

And that is why I like Coke over Pepsi.

Try the side by side taste test and you'll see what I mean. Scott likes Pepsi for those very reasons. He likes more sweet and less fizzy. I think I like fizzy because I like big, hefty, truck driver belches. (That sounds disgusting... But it seems cleansing for some reason.) Gross, yes, but true. Burps are funny, I don't care who ya are. And now with children, they're even funnier. When I burp, Jeffrey always says, "Mommy threw up." And that alone is worth it.

So, dear readers, what is your vote? Coke? Or Pepsi? (And why?)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Morning person

I love early mornings. There's just something about getting up long before anyone else, making a delicious mug of espresso, and enjoying some alone time before the hustle and bustle of the day gets started. I particularly love early mornings in the summer when I get to watch the sun come up at just after 5:00, but I also love winter mornings, especially when the clouds are low and there is a mysteriousness in the air. All is mostly silent, save the clickety-click of the keys as I type, the tick-tock of the clock in the kitchen and the traffic as people head off to their morning commutes... This is a great way to start the day.

I just made a huge quad latte (with the schnazzy espresso maker we purchased last year for an early Christmas present after we discovered that daily trips to Starbucks resulted in about a $300 (or more) per month habit), and I'm ready to put some thoughts to keyboard in a very random fashion.

The story of my life. All things are very random. But it keeps things interesting.

Do you ever get the urge to pray for someone at the most random time? Do you respond? God wakes me up the oddest hours and tells me to pray for specific people. I didn't use to respond... Well, I did, but it was usually, "God, go back to sleep. It's early (or late). We'll talk in the morning," which is pretty much the response I'd give my 2 year old when he wakes up in the middle of the night wanting to cuddle. Lately, though, I've said, "Ok, God. What should I pray about?" much in the same way I now tell my son, "Ok, let's cuddle for a while..." Moments are precious. So is time. I can't say that I know the outcome of my prayers - usually I don't even mention it to people. But once in a while I do, and I'll ask, "So, what was happening at such-and-such time?" The answers are pretty cool... Never once have I heard, "Nothing. I was sleeping." It's usually something much bigger (and unfortunately much worse) than that. I'm honored to pray for them. And I'm honored that God would ask me to pray.

I love my life. Really, I do. Sure, our house is tiny, in the ghetto, right next to some of the worst neighbors in America, in a city we can't stand, BUT all that aside (because, really, in the grand scheme of things, all that makes hardly a difference anyway) I am incredibly blessed. First, I commune on a regular basis with the Creator of the universe! That's pretty wild. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around the meaning of this.

Second, God has provided me with the best possible match in my life's partner. Scott is exactly what I need and complements me (and I him). I am so, so, so grateful for the marriage that we have; the strength that it has, the passion that we have for one another and the fact that we both put Jesus first (at least that's our desire) so that we, in turn, can love one another mo'betta. When I look at many of the marriages I see (most of them, actually), I am all the more grateful. It isn't that we don't have our disagreements and struggles, it's just that we are absolutely unequivocally committed to desiring the best for the other person. Marriage just doesn't work if you're selfish and always seeking after your own needs. We always, almost without fail, put our own needs aside so that we can better meet the needs of one another. I find it incredibly ironic that in putting my needs aside, I actually get my needs met. Crazy concept. But that's how committed we are. And on top of it all, we have a great time together. We laugh all the time. I don't mean some laughs here and there and a few giggles. We regularly belly laugh - so hard that we cry. You may not know this, but we're very funny people. We're at our best when we're together. I love that we can tease each other about our shortcomings or about anything, really, without fear that it will offend or hurt the other. It took some time to get to this point, though. We know that our names are safe on the other's tongue (meaning that we know there will never, ever, EVER be a time when we badmouth one another to others), and that the safest place to fall is in each other's arms. We're always there to catch the other when we stumble. So all the name calling and game-play is endearing to us. It feels really good to know that even if we tease each other about our weight (like calling each other fatty or saying, "Your fat-ass pants are in the dryer...") we know we're beautiful to the other. We're each other's best friend. It's very fulfilling.

Side note: It takes WORK to get to this point. Scott and I have toiled over the years the make this marriage as good as it is. We've spent a lot of time on our knees begging for mercy and grace... and forgiveness... and perseverance... and... and... and... It isn't easy at first, especially if you feel like the other isn't responding in kind. We realize that we have no control over how the other responds, but our purpose, our calling, our JOB is to constantly look after the best interest of the other. If the other doesn't respond in kind, that's not our responsibility. That means that we can't then say, "Well, forget it then..." after a short while. So much to say about that, but... if you're curious about it, feel free to come chat with me/us. We're more than happy to come along side you as you work to make your marriage all that God intended it to be.

Speaking of my love, he just walked in all sleepy and grumbly. So not a morning person. But I love him this way. My heart just skips a beat when he's around me. After 6 years of marriage (and pretty close to 8 years together... and another 3 years of friendship before that), I still have butterflies.

Third, God has gifted and entrusted me with two beautiful children. First, a son. I am so pleased to have been given a son. I always wanted a boy to raise. I can't exactly say why without writing a book on the subject. I just love him so very much. I can't wait to see the man that he grows to be, and see all that God has for him unfold in his life. He is so tender and strong, hilarious and gentle, sweet and yet powerful... Second, a daughter. I was scared to death when I found out I was having a girl. I didn't feel worthy or capable to raise a girl. This all goes back to the relationship I have with my mother. It is my worst fear (aside from losing one of my children) to have either of my kids (or both, but especially my daughter) grow up and look at me the way that I look at my mother. But I don't want to over-compensate either. There is a fine balance between "fixing" what went wrong when my mother raised me and going to the other extreme. I mean, don't we all want to be a better parent than our parents were? My only remedy to that is falling on my knees daily... several times a day... asking (pleading, really) that God teach me, instruct me, show me (and keep me willing) to be the mom that each needs individually. I do not want to be the mom that I think they need. I want to be the mom that God knows they need.

Forth, I am blessed that I get to show my children what a strong marriage looks like. How many of us come from broken, dysfunctional, tragedy-ridden homes? Oh, the baggage we carry! Luckily for us, there is a God who understands our brokenness and desires to make us whole if we let Him. We don't have to carry the burden of the past. Thank you, Jesus.

Those are just the top 4. There are many other blessings, but I'll stop there for now.

Now here's a random story. We are in the process of potty-training the Picklebean. He's now 2 1/2, and a very strong-willed boy. He does not do anything he doesn't want to do, and only then if he either thinks it's a good idea, or it's an idea that originated with him. Therefore, the conventional methods of potty training have not worked in the slightest. This is a delicate process that only works if he wants it to. That being said, lately, he's doing a great job. He likes to use the potty. He doesn't really get that he needs to tell us before he needs to go, so often he'll tell us after he already went. (Thus the reason he is still in training diapers.) Last night, before dinner, I took him to the potty. As is the usual custom, he climbed up his little step stool and straddled the big potty. (He really isn't interested in using the little one anymore.) He smiles really big and pushes... He peed... I asked if he could poop, and he obediently (which is success in itself) obliges and tries to poop. He sat there for a little while pushing and pushing, when we finally heard a few little toots, which, of course, made him laugh. (What isn't funny about potty humor?) Then a few moments later a tiny little poop splashed, followed by another. Seriously, tiny. Hilarious. But he was all done, so I got him in a diaper and situated him in highchair for dinner.

Fast forward. Dinner now devoured and just in time for bed, Jeffrey said he needed to go poop. I was cleaning the kitchen, so Scott took him off to the bathroom. Seconds later I heard, "You already went!" pause "Kyra!!! I need help in here!" So, I wonder in to find Scott coming out with a very full, poopy diaper, and Jeffrey trying to climb up to the potty with poop smeared ALL over his butt, a huge pile of which has fallen onto the floor (**splat**). I grab him under his arms, saying, "No, no, no, no! Let's get you in the shower." Not realizing the poop had smooshed out of the diaper up his back and all over his shirt, I now have poop all over my arms. I opened the shower curtain, cleared out all the toys, etc., picked Jeffrey up and placed him in the shower, only to realize that now, somehow, he has poop all over his socks, too. Off his shirt goes, off his socks go, thrown both in to the sink, leaving poop all over the counter and sink... I grab the shower head (thank God for hand showers) and ask Jeffrey to bend over and touch his toes (so I can spray all the poop off his back, butt and legs). But the poop was so sticky, it wouldn't come off. So, I change the flow to massage so that the water is jetting out of the showerhead... That should do the trick, only now Jeffrey doesn't like it cuz it probably hurts a little on his tender skin, so he stands up and tries to move away. So I basically start chasing him all over the tub with the hand shower trying to get the poop off of him. After several minutes, the Picklebean is squeaky clean and the tub is clean and free of poop remnants.

Scott takes Jeffrey to the bedroom to get him in his jammies, leaving me to clean up the rest of the bathroom. (Scott was kind enough to wipe the poop off the floor.) I got all the poopy clothes in the washer, and wiped off the counters and sink with Clorox. I head into the dining room to wheel the highchair back to the kitchen, ya know, to finish up my original chore, only to find a HUGE pile of poop that had smooshed out the side of Jeffrey's diaper onto the seat of the highchair. Oh, the HUMANITY!

It's winter. It's cold. It's rainy. I'm not about to wheel this thing outside to spray it off with the hose. So... into the shower the highchair goes.

I'll just say this: Do you have any idea what a mess a hand shower makes when it's on "massage" and you spray it onto a highchair? Good times.

Poop everywhere.

It took me 30 minutes to clean the chair and my bathroom.

Seriously disgusting.

I can't wait until Jeffrey is potty trained once and for all. This messy poop business has got to go.

And that's my story for the day. The End.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The 8th annivesary of my 29th birthday

I turned 37. Nothing new to report there. Another year gone by... another year older... hopefully another year wiser. (Certainly, another year wider, as I originally tried to type "wiser".)

Typically around New Year's and my birthday, I begin to contemplate the past year. What went well, what didn't. Did I meet the goals I set for myself? If I didn't, why not? Am I any different than I was a year prior? If so, is it for the better, or not so much?

There have been a few years that stood out for me in terms of major resolutions. (I actually hate to call them resolutions because according to my observations, few people actually keep them, so I don't want to set myself up for failure.) I remember one significant "goal" (I actually don't like that word any better than "resolution"... help me out here... What's a good word??) I made, gosh, probably 13 years ago now, when I decided I wanted to be a person who was truthful. Boy, I used to be a people pleaser. (I still am to a certain extent.) I would tell people whatever they wanted to hear because either I wanted them to be proud of me, or I didn't want to hurt their feelings, or I wanted to be accepted... (Wow... I see an interesting parallel between this and the whole community thing. Hmmm....) Whatever the reason was, I told a lot of lies. Stupid, insignificant lies. But they did a lot of damage in the end. So... I vowed to be more truthful. What I learned was that telling the truth wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Nor was anyone really angry with me for being truthful... Kind of an eye-opening experience.

Fast forward 11 years...

Over the course of the last couple of years, I've felt convicted of a few things. I've actually written about this in several past blog entries. The deeper issue was gossip. I hate gossip. But I will admit, I was probably pretty gossipy. I never meant to be. But what I learned was that sometimes when I was caught up in the moment, I'd either jump on the bandwagon when someone else was yapping about things, or out of my own irresponsible emotional reaction, I'd say things I shouldn't. Looking back, I have really said some horrible things about people, most of which was completely undeserving. Thankfully, I think God has been nudging me quite a bit about grace.

I confess that I continue to fail repeatedly. Although, I am much better than I was, I still have a long way to go. I want to be the kind of person who is quick to pray for others, quick to offer grace, quick to love, quick to understand... Basically, I want to love people the way Christ does. This is a pretty tall order. And I am a very fallen person. But I believe in bringing things into the light if I ever want to become the person I want to become; that is, a person who looks a little more like Jesus.

So I ask for your accountability. If you catch me speaking in a gossipy manner, please smack me. And if I walk away or don't participate in gossip, please just accept it. I typically don't share information that someone has shared with me in confidence (although I'm sure there are instances when I have). I think where I fail most is when I am emotionally charged over something or someone. (For example, if I 'm hurt or ticked off about something, or see what I perceive as a major injustice, I can go off. It isn't pretty. Nor is it biblical.)

I like to consider myself a teachable person. I'm going to just ask that, if you know me, help teach me what you have learned. I've always been the kind of person that learns from my own mistakes (after I've made them about a hundred thousand times). I see this in my son. And I want very badly to model what it means to learn from the mistakes of others (not just my own). So consider this an open invitation to offer insights and little (or big) wisdoms that you've learned over the years.

Maybe in another 37 years I'll be much closer to my goal.

I gave birth to Baby Jesus

Not really.

Little Eden was asked to play Jesus in the Christmas Eve services at our church. She did a great job, too. We didn't swaddle her because I wanted to allow her the room to move - really more for the people sitting near the back so they realized that, wow, that's a real baby! She did 4:00 pm and 11:00 pm services. I was a bit worried about the 11:00 pm service. She had been handled and shuffled all day, hardly without a nap, and by 11:00 pm she was ready to call it a day. I was just praying that the Holy Spirit would come over her and give her a peace and calmness to get through the dance. Sure enough, just as I passed her to the dancer who would hold her for 2 minutes or so, then pass her to another dancer who would dance her all around the stage, and hold her up to the light, etc., she just completely calmed down. She was wide-eyed and interested, but not fussy at all. Beautiful. (I didn't want my child to be the first colicky Jesus...)

I played the DVD for Jeffrey last weekend. Now he thinks his little sister is Baby Jesus. He points to her and says, "That's Baby Jesus." How do you explain to a 2 1/2 year old that it was just pretend? I mean, that'd be awesome, but I highly doubt that God would have ever chosen me to bear His son. I'm just not that holy. Shocking truth, I know.

For my friend Twinkie

I would like to publicly take a moment to thank you for a conversation that we had several years ago. We were discussing my relationship with my mother, and you shared your husband's story. Wow. That was powerful. I don't think you ever realized what that would do to me, but it completely changed how I relate to my mother.

One thing in particular gave me an "ah-ha" moment. It was when your mom-in-law passed away, and Joe was grieving... It wasn't that he was grieving for his mother, per se. It was that he was grieving the loss of the hope that he had that she could ever be the mom he needed her to be. The dream of having a mom the he needed was gone. That so struck a chord with me. I finally got it. I finally realized after my whole life thus far, why I was so destroyed by the relationship my mom and I had (up to that point). I kept trying to fit her in a little box. I wanted so badly for her to be what I needed her to be, but never realized that she most likely could never be "that" mom. This was a (long and painful and enlightening) process, but I finally accepted who she is and who she is not. I still have hope (I won't ever let go of hope), but I'm ok with the fact that she, outside of a complete miracle, will never be the mom I want or need.

I can't say that I don't still have wounds from this relationship, but I can say that I'm learning to love her for who she is. And I can easily keep my boundaries. (This drives her crazy... I don't think she knows how to deal with me now that she can't manipulate me. But that's for another post... If ever.) I can find joy in our times together now, as few and far between as those are.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your wisdom with me. I think it saved me a lot of years of useless heartache. You're a good friend to me. We've been through some stuff together - good and bad, personally and professionally. I appreciate you and love you more than you know.

Welcome Home

Wow... It's already January 6th. What happened to the time? Christmas has come and gone. Decorations are all packed away, gifts have all been incorporated with the rest of our belongings, New Year's Eve flashed past us, and my 37th birthday tip-toed by.

Lots to cover in a short period of time, but I'll start with this. I'm a little shocked (or maybe not so much) that my last post created quite the stir. I received private emails from several friends who have experienced much the same thing here in Salem (or in Oregon, in general). I figured that we couldn't be alone in feeling this way, but I'm just wondering why isn't anyone talking about this? It's like the forbidden topic. Maybe no one is talking about it because we don't want to cause hurt feelings or feel like we're pointing fingers. (And I suppose now is a good time to say that that is NOT why I wrote that entry. Certainly, I don't want to cause hurt feelings or make anyone feel guilty. Additionally, it isn't that we are completely without friends. Yes, we have friends... My point is simply that "community" is done differently here - and in a way that apparently isn't suited for who we are, in particular.) But I'm just curious how you (if you're one of these people) are dealing with this experience. I mean, if you also feel lonely, excluded, etc. - especially if you've tried to connect - how are you coping? I'd love to get a feel for what you are going through. Sometimes we just need to acknowledge those feelings before we can do anything about it. In some ways it feels as though this is a one-size-fits-all type of place, where, in fact, one size does not fit all. It's just that no one really says anything, so now we have a bunch of disconnected, sad and lonely people running around. It sort of feels like high school in the sense that you have to act a certain way, talk a certain way, live a certain way if you want to gain acceptance into the "popular group." I'll make no apologies for not having any desire whatsoever to be anything other than who I am, and "being popular" doesn't hold the slightest interest for me. It makes me wonder if more people don't also feel this way, but they have caved into the pressure to "be like them". Have you?

So... thank you to those of you who privately and/or publicly acknowledged my last post. I especially want to thank my friend who lovingly goes by Twinkie for the lovely email, and for affirming who I am and confirming that I'm not a complete freak. I remember very well when we first met and we drove each other nuts. But once we learned that we weren't that different, we became pretty darn good friends. Isn't that so often the case? Maybe that's a piece of wisdom we can take with us on this journey; that if you take a little time to get to know a person, maybe you'll find that they are quite lovable just as they are. Personally, I don't want anyone to change just to "fit in." It isn't worth it. Just be who you are, who you truly are; not who you think you should be.

Also, I'd like to acknowledge those of you who told me that my last post made you think. Maybe you agree... maybe you don't... Maybe you didn't know there were people who felt this way... I don't know. Again, I don't write to convict - but I suppose it's good if you feel convicted and motivated to do something about it.

This year is a new opportunity to be welcoming and hospitable. Regardless of how others respond, I will once again offer up our prayer that God would bless our home and make it a place of refuge, joy, acceptance and peace for all who enter in. You are welcome in my home, and I pray that my family and my home will be a blessing to you.