Friday, February 27, 2009

You Know You're a Mom When

Anyone remember this?

That was me this afternoon.

I looked up and Boo was standing there with her pants off. I asked her what she was doing, and then it occurred to me, helloooooo we're potty training, use the opportunity. So I took her to the potty, she sat down.....and she pottied. And her pull-up was dry. Dry, I say.


I immediately high-fived my precious girl and thought of Balki and the dance of joy.

I guess if you've never tried to potty train a stubborn little person who does not want to be trained, this probably has no relevance to your life. But, if you have, well, then.

I'm easily amused. The dance of joy was not stifled by the fact that she had pottied through several pairs of panties and I had cleaned a bunch of spots on the carpet earlier today. Still. at this point I celebrate every small step in the right direction. Maybe there is hope of this child giving up diapers in the foreseeable future after all.

Really, I do have more on my mind than potty training these days, not that you could necessarily tell it from recent blog posts.

I guess the blogging obsession has finally settled into a hobby of more manageable portions. I just don't seem to have the time to blog as much as I'd like since this move. I haven't been able to figure out what exactly is keeping me so busy, but taking my two-year old potty often and pleading with her to keep Dora dry probably is part of it. I finally got my Google reader down to zero today, but to do it I had to sadly just mark all as read for more of my favorites than I wanted to. Anyway, maybe one of these days this blog will resemble thoughtful blogging again. I hope so. I bet you do, too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wading Through the Bookstore

The other day we were out shopping, and while Drew and the boys were at Circuit City looking for deals from their store closing sale, Boo and I walked on down a few shops to a Christian bookstore. It has been a very long time since I have visited a Christian bookstore, and can I just tell you that, rightly or wrongly, I was really sad after my visit?

It is not that there weren’t some good things there. There were. I even bought a few things, most notably this:

It’s a modern day retelling of the Pilgrim’s Progress, and it generated some good thinking and discussion with the boys. We’ll be watching it with them again and discussing more, I am sure. So don’t hear me saying that Christian bookstores have nothing to offer. I’m not saying that.

What I am saying is that I walked away from that store a little depressed. What I am saying is that you have to wade through a lot of junk and a lot of questionable stuff before finding a gem among the rubble. So much of what is on display is just not what we are to be about. And so much of what was on display was stuff that I hope people will be discerning enough to just stay away from. There is an awful lot of self-help and financial success and body image and other kinds of things that seem to focus too much on thinly veiled worldly thought and worldly lusts. That’s the bulk of the things I saw. Plus a lot of charismatic emphasis and a lot of big names you would recognize who are either shallow or downright dangerous in their teaching. And a lot of emergent/emerging/ etc. type stuff, too. Pretty much anything with a Christian label is there. Whether it is biblically sound or not. But it’s in the Christian bookstore, so it must be okay, right?

And I won’t even start on the kids’ stuff. Ugh. It’s depressing. Sometimes I wonder if the marketers are laughing at what an easy market we are as they offer us ‘Jesus Junk’ and we gobble it up without realizing that it is actually offensive when you start thinking about the glory and the wonder of who Jesus really is. I used to like the whole Christian subculture, was steeped in it you might say, but I have come to be very, very wary of it. So much of it is just not good.

When complaining about the goofy children’s stuff, Drew told me I should write something good and see what happens. His complete confidence in my ability is sweet and so affirming, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have what it takes to write something anyone would want to read. Maybe I should try it anyway, huh? We’ll see.

And the other day we found a Christian station that was not TBN and we were watching some kids’ show with our children, and Drew made an interesting observation about the commercials. Almost every ad had something to do with exercise, body image, or financial success. Not necessarily bad in and of themselves, but pretty revealing about what the advertisers think the target audience of that station is most interested in, don’t you think? And, no, I’m not saying it is wrong to want to take care of our bodies and to eat right and exercise, nor is it wrong to want to be wise with the finances God has provided. We should be good stewards of all that He gives us. I just think that our main focus shouldn’t be on the externals. And that’s the impression I walked away with, just judging from the sheer volume of the books on the shelves and the ads on the TV station, that we are preoccupied with things that are temporal. There is so much on those shelves that either feed our worldly desires or address our anxieties, hurts, self-esteem using worldly psychological models with a veneer of Christianese painted over them that I found it really depressing.

But maybe it is just me.

Is it Just Me....

Or is there something quite depressing about Christmas decorations during the last week of February?

That is what I think every time I drive by the house in our neighborhood that still has candy canes and Santa stuff in their front yard. Maybe they're just getting a jump start on next year?

Anyway, I think it's a little depressing. I'm so ready for spring....

Just sayin'.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Status Report - Nearing the End of February

Borrowing from Lisa again because I seem to be at close to an all time blogging low around here, I thought I’d try to jump start writing thought with this:

Sitting….on a chair. In my dining room, if you’re wondering, where we keep our computer.

Sipping….nothing. My diet Dr. Pepper is too far away over there on the dining room table, and now that I’m finally typing a blog post after a week (forever in blog time) without a coherent blog thought, I don’t feel like getting up again to go get it.

Pondering….hypocrisy. I’ve been percolating a post on it for a while now. Maybe soon I’ll corral my thoughts….

Thinking about….how lonely Leah must have been. I just finished reading and pondering Genesis 29-30. Sometimes when you read through those stories, you forget these were real people with real feelings. Not that feelings are the end all be all of who we are to be, but I couldn’t help thinking about how lonely she must have been to have been unloved by her husband and to have a relationship of rivalry with her sister. And I wonder what it was like for her after Rachel died. We aren’t told, are we?

Thankful….that God uses flawed people to bring about His gracious purposes. He used Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah and Rachel and Bilhah and Zilpah and all those boys (have you read about those boys?) to bring, ultimately, the promised Redeemer. It is absolutely amazing to read the Old Testament and see God’s mighty plan unfold and to witness His gracious love and kindness. Amazing.

Amazed….by God’s grace. Overwhelmed by His kindness to me. Grateful beyond words that He would save even me.

Currently reading….Loving God With All Your Mind by Elizabeth George (still, our women’s group at church is still working our way through this one). And World Without End by Ken Follett (the sequel is as good as the first, but, wow, it’s got some rough stuff in it – be cautioned if you’re thinking of reading it. It’s making me very thankful to not have been born in the 14th century.)

Next on the list to read….Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It’s sitting on my nightstand waiting for me to finish the current book.

Looking forward…to tonight. We have a babysitter coming so Drew and I can go out to dinner and shopping, and possibly even a movie – if we can find anything worth watching. At the mall. Can you believe what a good guy I’m married to that he will use a date night to go shopping for a new comforter and some other household things with me? How long has it been since we’ve done something like that? Not while living on the island, because we had no mall and crummy shopping.

Feeling guilty….about not starting the story my middle son keeps asking me to write for him. Problem is, I’ve gotten into this spiral where I feel guilty if I’m not cleaning something, so writing, all forms even including blogging, have recently fallen into a dark pit called writer’s block. Which means I’m all dried up for ideas for a story about parrots or pirates or something he will find entertaining.

Wading…into the search for a new dog. I think I’m ready. Now that we are having nicer days some of the time and we’re able to walk outside some, I keep finding myself thinking that it would be so nice to have a sweet little dog trotting along on a leash as we walk to pick up the boys from school. Though while looking at adoptable pet pictures on the internet today I ran across a little mini schnauzer and started crying. I still miss Oliver a lot. We all do. Boo keeps asking to go to Oliver’s house. She thinks we left him at our old house, I guess. Anyway, I saw some very cute beagle puppies that I want to visit, I think. Maybe soon….

Wondering… the little scale needle never manages to move to the left, no matter how I watch what I eat and how often I go to exercise. I must not be watching what I eat carefully enough, I suppose. At least it isn’t moving to the right, either….

Finishing….this post. I think that’s enough for now. Hoping to get back to blogging again soon. I miss it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

He Loves Me....

Look at the surprise I got for Valentine's Day:

The funny thing is, we were driving somewhere the other day and talking, and somehow we got to talking about exercising at the Y and I said something about how I'd like to get a real iPod some time, but that it was really more of a want than a need, so I would just wait a while. Anyway, my treadmill time at the Y is some of the best reading time I have - I just plop a book up there and walk away the chapters, but there are times I'd like to listen, too.

Then, yesterday I was listening online to John MacArthur preaching and Drew and I were talking again about how it would be good to be able to download some of the sermons and be able to listen while I walked or worked around the house instead of having to sit in front of the computer because our local radio station plays Grace to You at 9 PM when I'm not listening to the radio rather than during the day like our old station did, but I didn't think anything else about it.

And this morning, he gave me this. Total surprise. We don't usually do much in the way of gifts for Valentine's Day, but Drew decided this was a good year to go against our norm. I asked him if he got it before or after our conversation in the car and he said before. He knows me so well, doesn't he?

Now I just have to figure out how to use it and look for some good music to buy for download. Any suggestions?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Government Holidays

So, I went to get my new driver’s license today. Drove up to the place, saw the hours posted – opens at 9 AM on weekdays, it was about one minute after 9, so all’s well, except that there were two men standing outside the door peering in hopefully. First clue that things were going to be more difficult than anticipated this morning. Serves me right for waiting so long to get this necessary chore done, I suppose.

I got Boo out of the car and into her stroller and started toward the building, and met one of the men who had been peering in the window coming back to the parking lot, and he said that there was a sign on the window stating that the office is closed today for Lincoln’s birthday. Ummmm, isn’t that what President’s Day is supposed to be for? So, I went to look at the sign for myself and it said they are closed today for Lincoln’s birthday and on Monday for Presidents’ Day. Interesting. Guess the Federal holiday on Monday wasn’t enough celebrating for the local license bureau.

And government people wonder why we measly citizens are often frustrated and cranky when we have to deal with them for anything.

Think nationalized, government run healthcare will be any more efficient? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. I laugh in your general direction if you are that optimistic. Or should I say, “Optomistic?”

Limited government…sounds good to me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More Conversations With a Two-Year-Old

Me: Did you have fun with your friends at church?

Boo: Friends! Bible Church!

Me: What did your teacher tell you about?

Boo: Teacher!

Me: Do you want peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese for lunch? (I know, I know, offering too many choices at this age is probably a mistake....)

Boo: Peanut butter! Ham cheese! No raisins!

Me: Let's read a book.

Boo: Read! Mickey Mouse, Lazy Dog, Pink Bear, Nemo fish...... (all of her stuffed animal friends.)

It's sort of like talking to a cute little parrot.

Lessons in Patience

Or: Conversations With a Two-Year-Old

In the van on the way home from the Y the other day, radio playing in the background, but I wasn’t really paying any attention to it, when suddenly:

Boo: “Go St. Louis! Wanna go St. Louis!”

Me: How cute! “We are in St. Louis, Boo.”

Boo: Growing more agitated, “Go St. Louis! Wanna go St. Louis!”

Me: “Honey, we are in St. Louis. That’s where we live.”

Boo: Tears have started and now she is yelling, “St. Louis! Go St. Louis!”

Me: If I bang my head on the window, will she stop? What does she want? What? And why am I even trying to reason with a two-year-old for goodness sake? “We’re already in St. Louis, we can’t go there, we are there!” Pulling up to the parking space in front of our house and wondering if maybe she’s wanting to ‘touch the rainbow arch,’ something else we hear from her a lot.

Boo: “No! Go St. Louis!”

Me: “Oh, look! We’re here. We made it to St. Louis,” and I took her out of her car seat, into the house and quickly distracted her as I scratched my head and wondered why she suddenly had this little melt down in the car, and wondered even more why I was arguing with a two-year-old like she’s going to be able to process reasoning thought or something.

Another day, also in the van on the way home, radio again playing in the background when I noticed this little jingle (sorry I can’t provide the musical clip, just imagine voices singing it joyfully) “The Joy FM, St. Louis!”:

Immediately, Boo said: “Go St. Louis! Wanna go St. Louis!”

Me: Light bulb appears over my head. “Oh, you like the little song?” Sigh. I had no idea she was paying such close attention to the radio. Now I cringe whenever that little jingle plays, but I have learned not to argue with her about it.

Another entirely different scenario on any given day around our house:

Me: “Boo, need to go potty?”

Boo: “No, I dry.”

Me: “Yes, and we want you to stay dry, so let’s go potty.”

Boo: “No, I play.”

Me: “After potty, let’s go.”

And this happens over and over. Or there is this variation:

Me: “Boo, let’s go potty.”

Boo, in an obviously wet pull-up: “No, I dry.”

Me: “Nope. Not dry, let’s go.”

Boo: “No, I play.”

Me: “Here we go, potty’s this way.”

She’s nothing, if not consistent. And, by the way, spending time with a two-year-old ought to be enough proof for anyone that we are born sinners. I don’t have to teach her to say, “No,” or to have a temper tantrum, or to run away from me when I call her – and boy do I have stories about that. But training her to obey and to come to me when called and not run screaming through the grocery store displaying her independent stubborn streak is a constant exercise in patient discipline. Well, being honest here, sometimes I’m not so patient. But it is constant. And it has to be, because I love her and want the best for her, and the best for her is not allowing her to run screaming through the grocery store defying authority. And while training her, I’m learning that the best for me is to practice patience and consistency, too.

So Funny

I saw this last night and thought it was hysterical. Anyone else tired of the soul patch, postmodern, truth is relative, metanarrative story telling emerging lingo huh????, I'm so intellectually superior and emotionally tuned in you 'modern' behind the times thinkers just don't get it, wannabe cool and unique but really they just look like every other wannabe "look"? So funny.....

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I Wonder.....

Why no matter how much or how little I put in my sons’ milk glasses, they never finish that last swallow. Do they think something terrible might happen if they drink the last mouthful?

Why it never occurs to anyone in my house to throw away a box when they take the last item. Do they think only Mom’s hands can throw away an empty granola bar box, cereal box, etc.?

Why everyone else in the house will walk past the same piece of trash on the floor for days. It's true. I've tested my theory by watching to see, and until I pick it up, it will stay there forever. I call it "trash blindness."

Why every kid in my house will go out of his or her way to walk in a mud puddle. Well, I guess that’s a given, isn’t it? Squishy mud is just fun to walk in. Not so fun to clean off of their only pair of clean tennis shoes or the carpeted stairs, but fun to walk in.

Why ‘they’ say girls are so much easier to potty train. Or is my girl just stubborn? And who are ‘they’ exactly, and why do we listen to them? Or maybe I just don’t remember what it was like with the boys? It is a relatively short time in life, all things considered. But I’m sure the gray hair I found this morning is directly related to the trials of potty training our girl.

Why anyone would want to be famous. Have you seen all the gossip ink spilled over the past week or so about a certain singer’s supposed weight gain? Everytime I pull up my e-mail, there’s another blurb about it. And if it isn’t her, it will be some other star tomorrow. Why would anyone want to have their every little struggle with weight or bad hair days or bad clothes days or whatever else discussed ad nauseum by the media which seemingly does not have enough to do. And even if they are just flat-out beautiful, the media which does not have enough to do will find some unflattering picture to post everywhere. Why is some singer’s weight or melt-down on stage worthy of days and days and days of news coverage?? I cannot imagine the pressure of having my every up and down with the scale scrutinized by people who don’t know me or care anything about me. This is why I say it would be misfortune to be famous. I relish my obscurity, truly. We have such a warped view of what matters in this country.

Just a few unimportant things I’ve been wondering about lately.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Book I Really Enjoyed

I’ve said on here before that I haven’t found a lot of Christian fiction that I like. Well, obviously I had not read this:

Ya’ll. This is a GOOD book! Read it! Seriously. I loved this book. I definitely want to read more from Francine Rivers. The writing was beautiful, the story so engrossing that I was drawn in and crying by page fourteen. No lie. I loved the characterization and she has the “show, don’t tell” touch that made me forget I was even reading.

Apparently I have just not picked the right Christian fiction with the selections I’ve read previously. I think maybe I should have been a little more careful when I slammed most Christian fiction, and I shouldn’t have made such a blanket statement earlier. Just because most of what I had come across to then wasn’t great doesn’t mean that none of it is worth reading. As with any genre of writing, there is some good, some very good and some bad and some very bad.

There are a few reasons I have tended to be turned off by certain types of Christian fiction in the past, and I’ve tried to blog about it before, but my thoughts always ended up being too long or too critical and I never posted them. For example, I read a book once that would probably be classified as a kind of Christian romance. First mistake. I don’t really like that formula-driven kind of book anyway – you now, girl meets boy, girl is angry at boy or they get off on the wrong foot for some reason, girl finally realizes she actually loves boy, etc. - so painting a thin veneer of Christianity over the top and cleaning it up a bit didn’t add to my liking that particular book. That and the writing was not very good. And I ought to know. I’m plagued with a real desire to write, but I’ve tossed out so many things I’ve tried to write because they suffer with just the kinds of shallow and bad writing that I’m describing. But The Last Sin Eater was very, very different from the kind of book I just described.

It is HARD to write a Christian fiction story without the dialogue about faith seeming either contrived or preachy. It is neither in The Last Sin Eater. I love how she wove in the discussions of faith so well and naturally, and the conversions were so believable. In that other book I mentioned, the character kind of had a moment where she all of a sudden said that she just realized she’d been trying to live for God out of duty but now she realized it was love that mattered. It was odd because there was no indication earlier in the book that she even thought she was living for God at all, and no real reason for her to change her thinking. It was almost like that little epiphany was just thrown in to make it a “Christian book” but her change of heart wasn’t really developed very well before or after at all. In Francine Rivers’ book that I just finished, she does a masterful job of portraying characters who are weighed down by the guilt of sin – their own and others’ - and the realization that there is no way they can save themselves, and their pain and searching are palpable as you read and grieve and cry with them. And the thing that turned their thinking around was the word of God. Whenever a character is sharing the faith in this book, they are quoting actual scripture, and doing it in such a way that it sounds conversational and natural and right, not contrived. I am so impressed with the way this book was written.

Another thing I have run across in other Christian fiction books is, for lack of a better term, bad theology. Ideas that just don’t line up with scripture and are passed off as Christian. That kind of thing doesn’t bother me so much in books that are secular because they are not trying to present a Christian worldview and no one is really expecting it and it is even pleasantly surprising when such a book accurately portrays the faith at all, but when a book is published as a “Christian” book, it really bothers me to have bad theology or weird spiritual speculations presented as Christian thinking. And there are lots of that kind of stuff out there that women, especially, seem to gobble up without any discernment at all, swallowing weird theology or bad thinking as orthodox because it is presented as ‘Christian.’ Kind of like assuming we can turn off our discernment if we found the book in the Christian bookstore. I find that disturbing. And the reason I find it disturbing is that we American Christians seem to be becoming increasingly biblically illiterate, developing most of our theology from books and TV personalities (Oprah, TBN, the current 'Christian' fad, etc.) and not necessarily testing what we read or hear by the plumb line of God’s word. And when we do not take the time to know the Word, we are ripe for deception masquerading as truth.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that I found The Last Sin Eater to be a book I could really enjoy on a lot of levels. Not only was the story itself engaging – engaging? I couldn’t put it down! - but the writing was good, too, and for the most part the spiritual theme was well-developed and didn’t make me squirm, either. I’m glad I read it, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Lost Shoe = Opportunity for Character Refinement

We had a frantic morning today. The boys were certainly acting out their boyishness, rowdy and loud, and with five minutes left before we had to walk out the door, I could only find one Boo shoe. It was right where Boo shoes usually live, but its partner was not to be seen anywhere. I corralled the energetic whirlwinds and asked them to help in the search, but, let’s just say that looking for lost items is not my sons’ expertise. We spent a lot of the five minutes searching under the stairs because a certain two-year-old in our house has a fascination with tossing things through the open stairs. Three levels of them. Most of her offerings end up in the mess of boxes under the stairs on the bottom floor. Those are the last of the boxes that will probably just stay there until some adult in the house is finally energetic enough to unpack them or maybe just throw them away. I don’t know what all is there at the moment. Not the point of this post.

Anyway, in a fit of pique, I pulled out half the boxes under the stairs so I could get to the juice cup that J found (see, a blessing in the midst of the frantic rush!) and which had been hiding there for, well, I don’t rightly know how long, and in the process did not find the missing shoe.

Now it was really time to get out the door, it was nine degrees outside, so letting the toddler go barefoot clearly was not a responsible option, and I was frustrated. And, sadly, I let it show. A lot. Crying and everything. It wasn’t pretty. So, I pulled out Boo’s old shoes, steeled myself to her cries that her feet hurt and hustled everyone out the door and into the car.

And as I sat there in the front seat waiting for the brothers to buckle themselves in, I sensed the Holy Spirit gently reminding me that I had prayed just this morning that this day would be His and that I would be willing to follow Him today. And I confessed, out loud, my bad attitude and prayed for wisdom that I would find that shoe and that I would know where to look and that I needed help, Lord, to get my focus back where it needed to be – on Him. In the grand scheme of things, it was just a shoe. A shoe we had bought less than a week ago, a shoe I really needed to be where it was supposed to be this morning, though if I had done the right thing and made sure everything was out the night before I could have spared myself this frantic last minute frustration, but still, just a shoe. What I was modeling for my children was more important than finding the shoe. So, I prayed and I apologized to my boys for my temper, and I asked God for wisdom to find the shoe when I got home.

I think it is right to pray about the little things, don’t you? God is in the details of my life every bit as much as the ‘big stuff.’ In fact, the longer I walk with the Lord, I am finding that it is often in the small things where I find that I have the hardest time surrendering to His Lordship. It is much easier to admit I need Him, Oh, I need Him when a big trial comes along. It is in the little, everyday interruptions that I find that I tend to live like I can do this thing called life on my own and forget that even in those little every day things, in fact especially in those little everyday things, I must remember that Jesus Christ is absolutely Lord. And He is absolutely Lord in my life, today, right now, in the midst of feeling frustrated, in the midst of feeling I have it all together, in the midst of today, whatever today holds. It is in the small stuff that my character is revealed, and tested and purged, and refined and molded so that I will be ready for the ‘big stuff.’ Just like this morning. I’m so glad I did start my day with prayer, and that what I had read in my Bible and prayed was right there to be remembered and confessed when I felt my emotions spiral out of control. And it was amazing how quickly my frantic and frustrated attitude melted into one of surrender when I gave up my ‘right’ to vent and confessed my need for His peace and strength to guard my tongue and my temper.

And when I got home I was able to calmly look in all the places I reasonably thought it might be and finally found it under Boo’s bed. I have no idea how it came to be under Boo’s bed. But I can tell you that when I saw it there, after less than five minutes of searching calmly, that I stopped and thanked and blessed God for granting me the wisdom to look there. I pray that in the next ‘small thing’ that interrupts my agenda I will better remember today’s example and trust God to continue to refine my character, in the big and the small things of life. Because He is sovereign Lord over it all.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Finally a Picture to Share

Our seven-year-old son was baptized on December 7, and I finally have a picture from that day to share. It was a little while for it to be e-mailed from the church and then with all the upheaval of the move it took an even longer while for me to get around to filing it so I can get it on my blog, but I wanted to share it here and not bury it back on my original post.

Here it is!

Father, help us to continue to teach these children how great You are and to know and love and hide Your word in their hearts, and help us not to place stumbling blocks before them that would make it hard for their faith to grow. Thank You for moving in M's heart and in J's heart and drawing them to You. Please continue to lead them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior, and we trust You to please draw their sister to You, we pray, and help us to live faithful lives before them so they will see that their Mom and Dad really believe these truths we are teaching them. Help us to model in front of them an ironclad trust in our covenant-keeping God, and lead us to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, too. And when we stumble, help us to be honest and tenderhearted and confess to You and trust You to guard their hearts. These children are Yours, please help us to point them ever to You. Amen.