Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blogger Reflection

The reason for the title is because this award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy... of knowing them and being blessed by them.

I’ve been given this award by Gojira. Thank you for the kind award, it is nice to hear sometimes that my writing has meant something to someone else. I’ve appreciated your blog, as well. There are many others who I could also mention, but most have already received this award. Pretty much everyone on my blogroll has been an encouragement or impacted me in some way. I’ll just mention two who I’m not sure if they’ve received this award yet or not, but definitely they should: Elle at A Complete Thought and Lisa at Lisa Writes are consistently a blessing to me.

Visiting With Old Friends

We had a busy weekend around here. My husband’s best friend from his undergraduate days at Ball State University, who was also best man at our wedding, came to visit with his wife and four children. They were vacationing a few hours away and stopped in to see us at the end of their trip. We haven’t seen them in about 7 years since they live so far away. I wasn’t part of the original group of friends since I didn’t meet Drew (I just cannot keep calling my husband “D” on this blog) until he came to the University of Florida for graduate school, and though I’d met these friends some through the years, I don’t have all the history Drew has with them. But one very wonderful thing about the body of Christ is that we are family, and once they got here it was like I’d known them all along. We have a bond in Christ that is special, and this was such a fun visit.

Our kids got along very well, too, in spite of how crowded it is to sleep 11 (eleven!) people in our house. Their boys are about the same age as ours and there was very little arguing the whole time they were here. That is amazing, my friends, when you consider that my two can’t go an hour without arguing usually, it seems. And their little girls enjoyed playing with our little Boo and her toys. Because it was so late in the afternoon on Sunday when we got home, they stayed another night, and the kids were thrilled to have more time to play, and it was nice to have the time to take them down to the waterfront park downtown and see the historic part of town. We adults stayed up talking well past midnight both nights they were here, and that’s really something for me who is not a night person at all. But we figured if we’re only going to see them every 7 years, might as well make the most of it!

Here’s all the Little Rascals together on a bench swing at the park:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Food For Blogging Thought

Before Jules at Everyday Mommy took her blogging break, she left us this interesting post, and Kim at Hiraeth wrote some wonderful thoughts in response in a post called, “I Am Not My Blog.” This is my latest attempt at my own thoughts on this subject. I’ve tried several attempts at my own “I Am Not My Blog” post, but it always comes out too wordy and sharing too much, and this one probably suffers from the same problems. Anyway, both of these posts hit something of a nerve with me and they articulate well some of the reasons I sometimes feel extremely uneasy with this little hobby I’ve chosen.

There is a real sense of false relationship when we blog. We do feel like we know the bloggers we read, but really we only know as much as that blogger is willing to share out here on the internet, and we just assume those things are actually what the blogger believes and thinks. I got a little uneasy this summer when I realized my readership had increased a bit. Granted, let me just state right now that I don’t have a huge amount of readers and I’m not really trying to, though I wouldn’t blog if I didn’t want anyone to read it. But if I think about it too much, every once in a while it is still unnerving when I realize there are people I’ve never met and I don’t know what assumptions they are coming in with reading my thoughts. It makes me uneasy at times when I share some of my more personal thoughts. In fact, there are times I worry that I share too much about my kids, and I’m thinking a lot about that. This unease has been good for me, in a way, too, because it has helped me to be extra careful to be specific with my word choices and definitions when I write about Christianity and my faith and what I’m learning as I read and study the Bible.

I do want to be careful to be accurate and faithful to the Word when I write either devotional, serious, or even the light-hearted thoughts. No matter that this is just a hobby, even the most menial things I do should be done for God’s glory, and I don’t want to be careless with the words I type, either. While I’m fairly transparent when I share about my own journey through life, meaning I don’t want to hypocritically present myself as something I’m not, I also don’t share everything about me or the struggles and joys I face. That would be impossible and also foolish for a lot of reasons. Another thing, in this day and age internet security is something to be aware of, so I don’t always share a lot of names or details that a close friend would know, though I have to admit it’s really annoying to just type initials for names of my family. My husband laughs about it sometimes and says it reminds him of the movie Men in Black and how the agents’ names are all just letters. I also try not to embarrass my kids or anyone else with what I choose to share.

In spite of the unease I sometimes feel and the inevitable slumps that sometimes leads to, I do enjoy writing my blog and reading and commenting at others’. It’s been a fun hobby, but I do wish, sometimes, that we could all remember that internet familiarity is different from real life familiarity. As much as I care about my blog friends, and I do, and I even pray for many of them often, I also know that I shouldn’t assume a closer friendship than is actually possible through just reading blogs. I do wonder if we all took that to heart if the comments on blogs would remain much more civil. On screen communication has certain limitations that face-to-face dialogue does not. Much is missing when you can’t judge tone of voice, facial expression, body language, etc., or clarify underlying assumptions and comments, and sometimes the dialogue in the comments can get heated or misunderstood when a joke or an offhand remark is taken the wrong way or when we get offended that the author holds different opinions from us on things that we think strongly about, though I’m thankful I haven’t really had much of that here. Let’s face it, there are fundamentals of the faith we should be willing to stand on and about which there is no room for opinion, and there are other things that are matters of opinion or conscience and on which we can freely differ even as fellow believers in Christ. Better not to get our noses out of joint on those nonessential things, especially when dealing with a blogger we don’t know personally. I’ve been guilty of misinterpreting tone before, and you see it often on more controversial blogs when the comments can get ugly. I wonder if that’s precisely because we can’t really dialogue in real time in this format and because we assume a more familiar friendship than we actually have a right to assume. It’s pseudo-dialogue rather than the real thing.

Anyway, that’s just my little rambling two cents. Those two posts are worth reading.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Just One More Reason I Love My Husband

Okay, there are lots of deep, important and serious reasons I truly love my husband. Here is one more: He reads my mind, and we’re on the same page even when he’s miles away from home.

He came home from his all-expense paid working vacation to Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin with a new CD from Casting Crowns that I had, unbeknownst to him, been looking all over town here to buy and couldn’t find. And, he brought home The Dangerous Book for Boys. I’ve been wanting to get that book for a while now. Both of us are excited about getting the boys excited about being outside and active and doing all kinds of boy things and getting off the computer and Playstation and TV!

So, my husband and I can talk about the things that matter, but we also agree on the fun things. What a great match.

How Did You Find Your Favorite Blogs?

I mentioned in the last post how addictive sitemeter can be. Being a somewhat new blogger, I find it fascinating to know how people stumble across my blog. Some are obvious, like from a site where I’ve left a comment or from my association with Sola Moms a while back. Some I’ve never known how they found me. The funniest sometimes, however, are the results of Google searches. It’s fun to see the interesting or strange things people type into a search. Even more funny is wondering how these searches led them to my blog.

I’ve been collecting some of the more interesting Google search lines that have brought people to my blog. I’m really not so sure I want to be known by some of these, but it’s funny that they brought up my blog and that someone actually clicked on the link and registered a hit.

no more james dobson, greg laurie, td jakes, eddie long – Okay, this one makes sense due to a post I wrote like a hundred years ago in blogtime. This e-mail must be fighting a slow death, for this one still shows up once in a while. Hint, check Snopes.com if you have questions about e-mail hoaxes.

joyce meyer rick warren fakes – Hmmmmm………not even going to touch that one.

devotional over tea and christian women tea party favor and Christian devotions on struggle & patience – I guess all of these could be because of the blog name and the “devotional” tag label I use for some posts. I also get several hits a week for various combinations of “sweet,” “tea,” or “lemon.”

christian "quit graduate school" OR "quitting graduate school" OR "quit grad school" OR "quitting grad school" Jesus testimony OR testimonies OR testimonial – this one made me laugh out loud. For one thing, I think it’s the longest search line I’ve ever seen, but also for the topic of quitting grad school. I suppose it’s because I mentioned in my 100th post that I quit graduate school and I am Christian. I imagine that post wasn’t quite what this person was looking for!

keeping rice krispie treats from getting hard and getting marshmallow brownies out of the pan – These two made me laugh, too. They are tributes to my trials with Rice Krispy treats.

fun things to do in walt disney world that many people don't know about – Now, that would be an interesting post to try to write……

things to do with an 8 year old and kindergartener attitude crabby – Another two that make me laugh out loud, every time I look at them. I started thinking about someone who was just at their wits’ end with an 8-year-old deciding to go to the internet in desperation and it made a funny mental picture. And what kindergartner do you know that isn’t crabby once in a while?

chipmanzee – I guess other people pronounce it the same way M does, or they have dyslexic typing fingers that, disappointingly I am sure, led them to this post when they really just wanted information about chimpanzees.

exploding sandwiches –I just can’t read those words without laughing. I’m sure it pulls up my blog because of a post I wrote about the boys’ school cafeteria, but why would some one google it?

sweet love words to say to a woman – This one showed up three times in the past week. I have no idea why it pulls up my blog, and I’m positive they aren’t finding what they want when they search my blog, but whoever it is has spent a little time searching it!

picture of boy sticking finger in socket – This was the number one funniest result. I think it’s because of a picture I had on here once, but why in the world would anyone be Googling it??

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The End of the Slump is in Sight

It’s proving to be an interesting summer around here. I think the reason I bumped along through a big blog slump, besides that sudden onset of insecurity I mentioned earlier, is just plain tiredness. I had to try very hard not to just give up the blog completely while feeling run down. I knew I’d have things I wanted to write about soon, and I think the worst of it is about over. I didn’t realize how much of my blogging I’d been doing while the boys were at school and Boo was napping. Corralling all my favorites into Google Reader and only checking that when I actually have enough time to sit and read for a bit has helped a great deal in curbing the obsession to be on the computer too much of the day. And I also have found that sitemeter is somewhat addictive. It’s fun to know where people are coming from to look at the blog, but it’s not a good idea to get too hung up on looking at it too much or worrying too much about how many (or how few) hits there are on any given day. It can be really intimidating to realize that there are more people reading now than when I first started, so sometimes it’s better just to not look at the sitemeter and write or not write as I have something to say. I also need to quit worrying that not every post is all that electrifying. As my husband tells me often, it’s my blog, I can write what I want to write about.

Anyway, with the boys home all day, I’m trying to still get up early before Boo does and have time to pray and read my Bible before the day starts. Otherwise, I don’t get to do much thinking in quiet until the boys are in bed at night, and by then most evenings I’m just too tired to try to think through anything more taxing than a chapter or two of the book I’m reading. I’ve been letting them stay up a little later than I would during the school year just because it’s summer and they are having fun. But I’m not a night owl, I’m usually very much a morning person. So once they’re in bed, I’m pretty much done thinking and writing, too. Time to just read and go on to sleep, because I know the next day will start early – Boo still gets up early, early and raring to go, and I really do better if I get most of what needs to be done for the day finished in the morning.

And the main, most pressing reason for the tiredness, general blue feeling and slump is this: D has been gone for 6 ½ of the past seven weeks. There have been quite a few times in our marriage when, due to D’s second career with the Army reserves, I’ve had to function as essentially a single parent for a while. We’ve had various separations that have lasted a year, six months, many scattered weekends, and many 2-3 week periods during our 13 ½ years of marriage. He has been to all kinds of places I’d rather he never have had to be and which I tried very hard not to think too much about while he was there. I try not to complain too very much about it because I knew when I married him that he was an Army reservist. However, at the time we got married, the world seemed fairly peaceful as far as we were concerned, 9-11 had not happened, and I pretty much assumed that D would be gone one weekend a month, two weeks a year and maybe, just maybe, would have to report for hurricane duty if a bad one hit. He was in the Reserves, after all, not a full-time Army man. Things are different now, and he is gone more often than that.

D was gone three weeks for training in June, and after being home less than a week, the Army decided they needed his services again for a while to help a unit get ready to deploy and he was gone again. Whenever I’ve gotten discouraged with him being gone so much over the past several weeks, I’ve had to remind myself that he gets to come home at the end of the month, the guys he’s been working with are just getting started on a long deployment to Iraq. But, being a single mom is exhausting. Emotionally and mentally, I’ve been just worn out recently. Hence the ongoing blog slump.

But, I’m finally feeling more like myself again. Blogging is a rewarding and enjoyable hobby, but I tend to be kind of intense when I have a hobby, so I have finally learned to cut myself some slack. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter how many or how few people ever look at my blog. I can write what I want to write, and that’s really okay, I don’t have to worry too very much what someone else is going to think about it, as long as I stay within the bounds of scripture when writing those serious things. I don’t have to post super important things every time I post. I don’t have to post something every day! Whew. That’s a relief. And, D is on his way home as I type this right now today. Hooray!!

And that’s enough rambling for today, too. I think the blog slump may be resolving itself, and I’m feeling much less self-imposed pressure to post every day. When something that should be just an enjoyable hobby becomes too time-consuming, out of proportion in importance or stressful, it’s time to re-evaluate. When put in perspective, it can be enjoyable again. And that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I've Got to Quit Procrastinating on This

I think I mentioned sometime back that it was time to start getting serious about losing the last of the baby weight and the other 10 pounds I had wanted to lose before finding out we were expecting that baby in the first place. Well, I’ve procrastinated, the baby is now 14 ½ months old and the scale has stayed resolutely on that number I don’t like, so on Monday I finally got serious for real and started to keep a food journal. I know how to eat healthy, but the problem is, if I don’t keep myself accountable, it’s way too easy to snack too much during the day. I end up, not gaining, but maintaining and I don’t want to maintain this weight I’m currently at. If I know I have to write that piece of chocolate or that praline that my mother-in-law gave me because she needed to get it out of her house before she ate it, thankyouverymuch, I will be much less likely to indulge than if I don’t have to write it down along with the 10,000 (give or take) calories it delivers to my hips.

And I’m trying to incorporate more walking into the weekly regimen, too. I was doing really well about that until the heat cranked up outside, but if I get moving early, Boo and I can stand a few laps around the neighborhood before the heat of the day settles over us. I know I usually don’t blog about this kind of stuff, but I’m hoping that by writing it out here on the old blog, maybe that will serve to induce enough guilt or accountability or whatever it is I’m needing to stay serious enough to drop the 20 pounds I’d like to see go away for good.

Hubby’s real job (as opposed to the Army which is rapidly overtaking our lives) is in cardiac and pulmonary rehab and wellness at the local hospital. So, I really know what I need to be doing, just need to stick with it. And if I’m sticking with it, my kiddos will have to eat healthier, too. Side benefit of Mom trying to be healthier. If the cook doesn’t fix the fattening stuff, no one can eat it! Of course, this is not happy news for the child who begs to go to Burger King every single day because he wants the Transformer piece of junk toy that is in their kids’ meals. There will be no BK days in the near future, I’m afraid. His comeback is always, “But, Mom, they have salads there.” Yeah, but they also have French fries and onion rings, and I do better if we just stay away. Very far away.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Brainy Blog Quiz

You Are 70% Left Brained, 30% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

I saw this over at Lisa’s and had to try it. I guess the results aren’t really all that surprising to me. I’m definitely more of a dog person, not so much a cat person (sorry to my brother and his wife on that one). Nothing against cats, I just like dogs better, though I’m not all that sure what that has to do with being left brained, but that’s what the little quiz said. Reading and quiet – you betcha. Absolutely.

And, while I would love to be a daringly intuitive and creative person, I’m really just not, though I suppose there are moments. Anything creative that happens to flow from my pen (keyboard) is with much sweat and effort. I do, however, have a novel I’ve been simmering since high school. It ought to be really, really good whenever (if ever) I finally get around to finishing it. I have a feeling the creative writing bug may hit again once the kids are older and I have a little more time to think again. Maybe then my left brain will loan a little energy to the right brain side for a limited time. But it probably will never be anywhere near good enough to show to anyone other than my family. So, there you have it.

Oh, and I think I am a little bit sense of humor impaired. Does that fit with the whole left brain thing? Or does that just mean I’m a little too serious sometimes? I just don’t always get the joke as quick as other people do. And I can almost never think of a clever and snappy comeback until about 2 hours later when I slap my forehead and think, “That would have been soooooo funny if only I’d said it 2 hours ago.” But sometimes I find everything funny, especially if I stay up too late. And when my husband first met me, he thought I was a “strange girl.” Long story behind that inside joke. Maybe I’ll share it some day. Maybe not. I’m rambling. Must be time to shut the computer down for the night and go read a book or watch the movie I rented and basically not think much for the rest of the night. It’s been Monday around here all day.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Need a Tissue, My Eyes Are Leaking

I must have blinked again. My first born is continually proving not to be a “little boy” anymore. I just realized that he doesn’t call me “Mommy” anymore. For the past several days, when he’s called for me, it’s been “Mom” he wants. One more passage from young childhood to older childhood, and it happened overnight with no discussion, as these things do. Part of me is saying it’s a good thing for him to mature and not need Mommy so very much, but a little part way down deep inside is screaming, “Please don’t grow up too fast! Where is the time going?” I want so much to enjoy these kids while I can. That’s one reason for my earlier post and how much I hate how easy it is to get lost in the moment and forget to take the time to just enjoy them. They are growing so fast it is scary sometimes.

At least he still needed me to take a picture of his domino tower.

Oh, To Tame The Tongue!

Proverbs 31:26
“She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.”

Proverbs 15:1
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I know I’ve posted these before, but I need to be reminded again. One of the hardest things about being Mom for me is to keep my cool when one of the boys is having a meltdown due to frustration or anger. Before I had children I was under the delusion that I was a calm, patient and rational person. Since having children I have realized much more fully that I am a sinner who is so incredibly grateful for God’s grace and mercy and so desperately in need of His indwelling Holy Spirit to get through each day and learn to demonstrate grace and mercy to others. It is hard, hard, hard not to lash out and spill my own frustration and anger over the situation when one of the boys is spiraling out of control. But that only makes it worse. Trust me. I know of what I’m speaking.

I spent much time on my face today in tears before the Lord asking once again for the wisdom and grace to tame my stupid tongue. The boys need me to model self-control and to love them unconditionally, not to react to their lack of maturity.

Please, oh Lord God, change my heart and help me keep my cool when childish tempers are rising! Let my answers be soft and full of wisdom and kindness, and help me to recognize in the heat of the moment when my own attitude is not pleasing to You.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Command to Repent and Believe

Acts 17:30-31
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

My dad sent me an e-mail the other day, and at the end he said this:

“By the way, in the course of yesterday's sermon, our associate pastor said that with Jesus seated on His throne, the gospel message is not an invitation to ask Jesus into one's heart but is instead a command to repent and believe. How often do you hear that in the pulpit these days?”

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about that ever since. I do believe it, but when you really start thinking about it, you realize that the focus is entirely, completely different from what it typically is in many churches I’ve been involved with. I don’t know if I had ever actually sat and thought about the implications of the fact that Jesus isn’t just sitting there anxiously hoping we will invite Him to be a part of our lives. And while I do not think that most of the pastors I’ve known intend to convey that, this is what comes across many times when we focus too much on felt needs and the typical “seeker sensitive” approach to preaching, or put too much emphasis on personal experience over and above the revealed Word of God.

Though I’ve thought a great deal about the fact that Jesus is on the throne, I don’t really recall taking the time to seriously think about all that that means in the context of how we present the gospel to people. He isn’t wringing His hands and saying, “Why don’t you let me come in?” to paraphrase a Baptist invitational hymn, but, because His atoning work is completed, He is issuing the command to repent and believe. And in His mercy and patience He continues to extend that call through the preaching of His Word and the working of the Holy Spirit during this time before the final judgment.

When the apostles went out and proclaimed the message of the gospel, their invitation was not raise your hand, pray this prayer and be really sure you mean it, sign a card, check a box, we don’t want to embarrass anyone so every head bowed and every eye closed no one looking around….. The answer they consistently gave to the question, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” was to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. And they called people to be baptized, a public sign of inward repentance and the new life God has given them and a proclamation of their unity with Christ.

This isn’t just a matter of approach or semantics. This is a matter of how we view Jesus Himself. Do we really, truly believe that He is Lord? If we truly get it into our thinking that He is on the throne now, shouldn’t that devastate us enough to revolutionize how we pray and live? All this talk, talk, talk going on about contemplative prayer and seeking to feel something when I pray and complaining about how boring it is to read the Bible and study and pray so why can’t we just have “practical application” and focus on our relationship with Jesus and forget all this doctrine stuff, pales into empty talk when you really start thinking about what it means that the Creator of the Universe, the Redeemer of men’s souls, is on His throne and commands our repentance and belief. It is not about me and my little self-centered felt needs. It is about His glory! You want to talk about revitalizing your prayer life? Think about the fact that when you kneel to pray and offer up your praise and petitions, He is Who you are addressing. And by His mercy and grace we who once were blinded in our sin are granted, by faith in Jesus Christ, an audience with the Most High God and a covenant relationship with Him. And He hears our prayers.

Too often we offer Jesus to people like the whole reason for asking Him into their hearts is to give them a better life or make them feel better about themselves and they end up thinking of Him as a kind of cosmic buddy or genie to fulfill their desires – the focus is all wrong, it’s all on us and our feelings or what we think we want to get out of all this. What we need to be teaching is that coming to Christ is a total surrender to His Lordship. It is a recognition of our spiritual poverty and inability to measure up to His holy standard and our desperate need for His salvation. It is repentance – turning from our sin and agreeing with God that we are sinners who need salvation. And the glorious truth is that Jesus came to earth, veiling His glory in human flesh, lived a sinless life completely fulfilling the Law of God, bore the full force of temptation and never yielded to sin, died on the cross and bore the full weight of our sin, atoning for our sin, was buried and raised to life on the third day, and ascended to be seated at the right hand of the Father, where He is ever interceding for us who repent and believe on His name. This is the gospel. Amazing grace!

The more I focus on Jesus as seated on the throne, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Almighty, Most Holy Lord, the less I am able to seek after my selfish desires. The joy of the Lord is my strength. It is the joy of knowing Him and His righteousness and it is the joy of knowing that I am made right with Him, forgiven, and at peace with Him by His grace and through His blood shed for me. Because of all of that, I can have a relationship, growing and vital, with Jesus. And, yes, my life is better because of this, but the world may not necessarily agree that I am successful according to its warped standard.

Without doctrine, the study of God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit bringing me to life, I wouldn’t have known this truth. Knowing this, believing this, resting my faith on this, and living for this, of course my emotions get involved. Of course I want to shout for joy and sing His praise and bow before this King of all kings, at times so undone that all I can do is weep before Him. He alone is worthy of our praise. This faith in Who He really is fills my soul. All the longing for a subjective mystical experience and emptying the mind and seeking our best life now by focusing on worldly, temporal pleasures and riches and all the other stuff that is masquerading as truth today, that’s just not what we’re to be about. We are to be about the business of knowing Him in spirit and in truth, loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, seeking His kingdom first, and being a willing and obedient witness of His grace to the ends of the earth.

And writing all that just now, I realize how far short I fall, and once again must confess that I know what I believe – Lord, help my unbelief! Help me live out what I know is true!

Oh, Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name! More love to Thee O Christ, more love to Thee, that is my humble cry. Let me learn to love You and worship You in spirit and truth and to live like I believe You are Lord. For You are Lord. You are the great I AM, and worthy of all praise.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


My sons typically get along pretty well and are well-behaved for the most part, even though they are rambunctious and all boy, too. However, recently they have been bickering and wrestling and generally having a hard time getting along more than usual, especially on the days we don’t have anywhere we need to go or anything much planned to do. (Note to self: plan more to do even though it’s hot, hot, hot outside!) They fight over extremely stupid things, too, as little boys are prone to do. And the eruptions of screaming, thumping, pushing, pulling, pinching, yelling, crying and ultimately fist fights inevitably happen while I’m changing the baby’s diaper or giving her a bath or some other equally pressing activity that I cannot immediately leave to stop the fisticuffs. This ends up in me yelling across the house for them to separate immediately until I can get there. That goes over well. I feel like I need the wisdom of Solomon to sort out the various “He said…,” “He started…,” “But it’s mine…,” “No, it’s mine….,” and so on that I hear at least a thousand times a day. Most of the time whatever the disagreement is over is not even important enough to sort out, but much more important is to get them calmed down and focused on something else. Sometimes the wisest intervention I can make is, “Go outside and ride your bikes around the block twice, boys!” Too much togetherness and not enough other kids to play with outside, I’m thinking.

But, just when I start thinking they will never get along and hoping they will at least be on speaking terms when they are adults, one of them will do something incredibly thoughtful for the other. Like one night a week or two ago. D was away on Army business, again, and after putting the boys to bed, I was in my room trying to get caught up on my Bible study for the next Wednesday, when I heard M coming down the stairs sniffling and crying and I heard J talking to him. I looked up as they came into my room, and M tearfully told me he was really scared. J said, “He’s scared for some reason. He wants to sleep in your room, Mom.” I realized then that J had walked his little brother across the house to my room in the dark because M was too scared to come by himself. It was so special to see that J had done something kind and unselfish for his little brother rather than just getting annoyed with him.

Of course I let M tell me all about what he was scared of and tried to reassure him and let him sleep in my room that night. But the next morning, I let J know how incredibly proud of him I am that he stuck up for his little brother like that. In spite of all the too much togetherness, when crisis comes (and being scared of the dark is a crisis when you’re a highly imaginative 6-year-old), it’s nice to be reminded that they really do love each other.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summer Fun

Here are some more pictures that help explain why I'm just too tired to blog some days! Just kidding, sort of. The kids really seem to be enjoying the summer, and I'm glad they get along so well. Most of the kids in our neighborhood have two working parents, so none of the kids are out during the day. This means they are having to get creative about entertaining themselves, but it's also leading to too much togetherness at times and testy tempers. But over all, they are having a good summer. Perhaps I'll get back to real blogging sometime......

The first attempt to get a good picture of all three kids. Boo wasn't having anything to do with it, and the boys were not in the mood, either.

Boo loves her new baby pool. Check out her feet - baby crocs are just so cute!

Boo likes to help big brother J practice the piano.

The final attempt at a good picture with all three kids. I won't tell you how many attempts there were between the first one and this one!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another Bumper Sticker Post

While running errands this afternoon I spotted a bumper sticker that caught my attention. The last time I wrote a post about a bumper sticker I had seen, it was to disagree with the sentiment it expressed. The one I saw today expressed a true and serious thought. The car driving along in front of me as I took the boys to their Gram and Grandad’s house to spend the night had this blazoned across its bumper in stark black and white:

“God said it
That settles it
Whether you believe it or not.”

That is certainly better than the more common one I’ve seen that says:

“God said it
I believe it
That settles it.”

When I’ve seen that more common one, I’ve often thought, “What God says is true, whether I believe it or not, it’s still settled. Get the ‘I’ out of there, it’s irrelevant to God’s word being settled.” (This is one of those things to which people will probably say, “Lighten up, Beck,” again, huh?) The sticker I saw today was apparently written by someone who also got irritated by that other one.

While I know I wouldn’t put that older, more common bumper sticker on my car, I’m not so sure I’d put the one I saw today, either. It somehow seems to trivialize great truths to see them puttering around town as a pithy phrase on the car in front of you. I’m not a huge fan of bumper sticker evangelism. That’s just my opinion, for what it’s worth. I’m also not at all comfortable with being flippant about or trivializing the concept of the sovereignty of God. To be fair, I’m pretty sure that was not the intention of the owner of that car and I appreciate the correction to the other kind of bumper sticker. But, the fact that there is, in fact, coming a day of accounting, a day when God will judge the earth, both the living and the dead, is an awesomely serious thing. It is most definitely true that this is a certainty, whether one believes it or not. It is also true that there is only one way to be reconciled to God, and that is through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. The Lord said that the way is narrow that leads to life and there are few that find it. He also said that there would be many in that day who would say, “Lord, Lord…” thinking they were okay, while all along they were deceived and He did not know them. This is a sobering thought that brings me to my knees often, praying for others, examining my own self to be sure my faith is in Christ, and praying for the boldness to be a faithful witness for Christ.

I can even see using that argument on the bumper sticker that the fact of God's word being true and settled doesn't depend on your belief that it is in a face-to-face, caring conversation with someone who is struggling with that kind of understanding. There is objective truth, whether our culture wants to accept it or not. But, somehow, it just comes across as smug and cliché and somehow dismissible on a car bumper. But, maybe that’s just me being too serious (too critical, even, perhaps) again. After all, that bumper sticker did what was intended – it got me thinking, right?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When Words Fail, Use a Funny Picture....

While looking for a good picture of the boys together, I ran across this one. It is so much not the look I was going for to use with the post I'm working on, but I started giggling and couldn't stop, so here it is. I hope I'm not the worst mom ever for sharing what will probably be a really embarrassing picture to J & M when they hit the teenage years. I really do try not to share things on the blog that would truly embarrass them, but the swim mask in the water sprinkler was just classic M, and that's why I'm laughing so hard right now I can hardly type. Thanks for the laugh, boys, Mommy needed it!

By the way, the heat index is reaching upwards of 100+ degrees these days around here. It is sweltering. We're having the kind of summer where you might as well not bother with much make-up in the morning - it just melts off anyway. We inflated two wading pools out back, which, along with the water sprinklers, are a mighty nice way for the kids to cool off this summer. (Plus, there's the added benefit that it gives the boys something they can do outside in this heat when they get too rowdy inside, and they almost never fight when they are playing in the water outside. Nice.) I'm thinking I'll be going to WalMart soon to look for some more water fun toys for the yard.

I'm really hoping to get back to more substantial blogging sometime soon. Still slumping a little, but I'm starting to feel better, finally. At least the boys are keeping me laughing!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

She Just Loves a Good Book....

Just like her mommy, Boo loves books. Well, it's in her genes!

"Wait a minute, Mom, I'm right at the most exciting part."

Boo highly recommends The Hair Book. Maybe a little wishful thinking on her part, but she's not as baldilocks as she used to be - you just can't see it in this picture!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Summer Slump

Psalm 63

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

I’m not sure if I really need a complete break from blogging or just a slower posting pace, but I’m in a real slump at the moment. Not only am I slumping on thoughtful posts, but I’m even having trouble coming up with fluff to write about. I don’t know how much of that may have to do with the fact that I’m still not feeling 100 per cent after this weird cold virus I’ve had, some other things that are going on in real life at the moment which are draining me emotionally and physically, or if I’ve just run out of things to say. Probably the first two, I know. But there’s a slump going on here anyway. For example, I’ve rewritten this post at least 15 times, twice almost published it and then deleted it. I had a long, reflective (okay, whiny) post I almost published. I’m glad I didn’t. Nobody needs to know all those thoughts. I’ve also attempted several posts that are sitting in a Word file on my computer because I just can’t get the thoughts out right.

I'm also all of a sudden experiencing a lack of confidence in what I try to post. As someone who is not the most outgoing person in the world (my husband is probably laughing over the understatement there), the publish button can be intimidating. It wasn't nearly as scary when it was just me, my husband and my parents reading my ramblings. I'm still amazed anyone who doesn't already know me would be interested in reading my scribbles, but there are a few of you who have kindly told me you do, and some of you may never know how you've blessed with your comments. But, it's still a little intimidating, and I struggle with a sense of hypocrisy at times. I write what I truly believe, but if you only knew how much I mess up in real life! Thank God that my hope rests in Christ's righteousness, not my own. What amazing grace!

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that there are times I’ve likened the 3+ years we’ve lived here to a desert wilderness time of my life. Like the Psalmist, at times I feel my soul is thirsting for God in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. I do have to share the joy that there have been a few hints of rain on the horizon recently, but it’s still quite dry here. But, oh what a joy to know that Jesus offers us Living Water! The point of the Psalm is that, though the land may be barren, God is the source of my joy! I have been reminding myself that I need to remember that I belong to God and He is the source of my joy, not the circumstances around me. In fact, He is sovereign over those circumstances, and He will not leave or forsake those who belong to Jesus. His lovingkindness is better than life. So, perhaps I need to take some more time away from the blog and get alone in the Word and in prayer to replenish the well.

I like that this Psalm says I will seek God early. I’m sure this means early in the morning, obviously, but it can also be applied as early in a situation. Rather than trying to handle things all on my own and drive myself to frustration and then going to God in prayer about something as a sort of last resort, I’m trying to learn to surrender everything to Him early. Even my desert. So, I’m trying to start the day in the Word and in prayer, and to keep that focus throughout the day. Some days that’s easier than others depending on how early the baby decides to start her day, but I very much want to be a woman who rejoices in God in everything, and in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, brings her requests to God, morning, noon and night – all day. And I want to make sure my focus is where it needs to be – on Christ, not on me.

So, I’m not sure if I need to continue my break for the rest of today, another day, or for several days, but it does appear that the tea may need a little more time to steep.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Needed Invention

I’ve caught bits and pieces of that show American Inventor. I’ve never made it all the way through one episode, but the concept is fairly interesting. I’m thinking of inventing some kind of computerized encyclopedia that would be installed in the steering wheel of the car/van. This is a must for any family with an 8-year-old. I don’t know if it is because he’s sitting back there with nothing to do but think or what, but these conversations always seem to happen when we’re driving somewhere. Since I don’t really like to drive, I am fairly distracted and not all that patient usually when he’s asking these questions, too. Anyway, here is something else I do not know while driving down the road:

Listening to the radio in the car, not really paying much attention to what the man is saying when he says something about Beethoven’s hymn Ode to Joy, when J pipes up from the back seat:

Beethoven wrote hymns?
Well, he wrote Ode to Joy. I know that. I wasn’t really listening to what they were saying about him just now.
Was he a Christian?
I don’t know. I’ve never heard anything about what he believed. That's a good question.
Well, if he wrote hymns....
I don't know, J. I just know he wrote that piece of music.
When was Beethoven born?
Not sure….
Where did he live?
Somewhere in Germany, I think, or maybe Austria, but I really just don’t know…..
Did he live at the same time as Mozart?
I don’t think so…
Who was first?
I think Mozart, but I’m really just not sure. I never thought about it or cared before…
Why not?
I don’t know, just wasn’t something I cared about….
But did they know each other?
Honey, let’s look it up on the internet when we get home, okay? I said I don’t know, asking 14 times won’t change that fact before we get to VBS tonight.

Shameful that I don’t know these things, I know. Apparently I wasn’t paying much attention in Humanities class when (if?) we learned this kind of vital music appreciation information, either. Who knew at the time that I’d have a son who needed to know this information one summer evening while driving over the bridge to church? Trust me, he is quite put out with me when I don’t know the answers, too. And D wonders why I’m a little frazzled at the end of the day.

See, if I had a steering wheel encyclopedia, I’d have the answers at my fingertips while the burning need to know is there. So what if it makes me a driving hazard, my son’s need to know would be appeased. What do you think? Would my invention be a winner?

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Tea Pitcher Needs a Refill

The Sweet Tea front porch might be a little quiet for a few days. Due to last week’s hectic schedule with VBS taxi overtime, my house looks like a minor squall has hit it. I’ve got to take care of the mess and spend some quality and quantity summer fun time with the kids, too. Now that Camp Invention and VBS are behind us, I want to get going with some of the fun activities I had been planning for them before the end of summer slips up on us.

Besides that, I’m out of coherent blog ideas for the moment. I think this cold I’ve had has sapped my energy, and I need some down time to refuel and to take care of Boo who now has the same cold. And on top of all of that, the Army has decided D needs to spend a few more days with them helping to get the part of his unit that is going “over there” ready to go in the next several days. Nothing like a Saturday morning e-mail notifying him he has orders to report to Ft. Who-Cares-Where-It-Is-It's-Not-Home early Monday morning!! He just got home for crying out loud! At least he’s not going with them where they are going this time.

So, I’ll take a few days to clean, play, breathe and so forth, and I’ll brew up a fresh pitcher of sweet tea while I’m at it. I’ll be back later this week, hopefully. Enjoy the summer!