Friday, November 30, 2007

fun

We had a wonderful date night tonight.

After dinner, my husband obliged me by going to the craft store, K-Mart, Marshalls, and Borders. You know your man loves you when he stands there holding your wallet, your coat, and your Hello Kitty keys while you try on coat after coat. (The last winter coat I bought was 10 years ago!) I fell in love with a too-expensive coat that he decided I need for Christmas.

Like I said, I heart him.

more

I'm an open person. So open to the point sometimes that I need to pull the reins back in a bit. That's alwys been the struggle in blogging: at what point are you sharing too much? If I were like Scott you would know that we had 2 kids in our family. You might know the genders. You'd know our hair color. That's just how Scott operates. He is a pretty private person. Me? No. Not so much. I'm private where it counts, I suppose. When I'm ticked off at him (which is actually pretty rare), I don't write about it here. That's the kiss of death for a relationship. I probably do share too much about my kids - which is alot of the reason I started a private site for Lucy.

But I still hold on to the tenet that most Christians, if they really think about all of this stuff, have just the same questions that I do. And I will probably spend the rest of my life feeling close to God one day and not close to God the next. But Arwen makes an excellent point: should my feelings really be a measure of my relationship with God?

Let's see:
I have a tendency toward depression (have since I was 7 years old, so if you sit there and try to tell me I am posessed by demons or some spirit is having its way with me, I might strangle you through the computer screen. If you have never experienced depression? Please, don't speak. Because you really do NOT know.). Anyway, the tendencey toward depression. It would be easy for me to say that God is distant some days because I feel that he is. Or that he's punishing me for something by causing me to be depressed. But really, my depression is a result of living in a crappy world where bad things can and do happen. I was born with crappy brain chemistry. That can taint the hue of the relationship I think I should have with God. There is also the crazy reality that many people think they are close to God but they are trusting their own emotion instead of trusting what God himself says about it. I don't know of anywhere in the Bible where I am told I will always feel close to God.

Kiki, you make an excellent and eloquent point about having to work at it. We definitely think that we should just feel "close" to God and not have to put any work into it. So, really, not BEING close to God is a direct result of not spending time with Him. And just because I read the Bible and feel nothing one day does not mean that nothing was spoken to me. It just means my emotion wasn't there.

Arwen and Jess, I love the Mother Theresa example. Here is someone who, by all accounts, led a life of selflessness and piety. And still she probably struggled with some pretty heavy depression and feelings of inadequacy. The way she felt about her relationship with God and the way it actually was are two completely separate things. I know this is true for my own life. If I am ever at a point where I believe my relationship with God is wonderful, is it really? Can we ever be at that place? And if we say that, are we being honest with ourselves, or is it pride getting in the way?

One other thing I've been mulling over is how people say this was or that was God's will for their lives. That they FEEL this or that is God's will. Well, how can you really know? Yes, some things are crystal clear. We aren't supposed to have se*x outside of marriage, we aren't supposed to stab our neighbor in the back, we aren't supposed to tick our kids off just because we can. But there are other things that the Bible doesn't talk about; gray areas. Areas where we are just supposed to go by signs and feelings. This is, I suppose, where the Catholic church makes SO much logical/spiritual sense to me.

My favorite passage of all time continues to be Job 38...it's this thing where God is giving Job his response to Job's questions about everything. Basically saying, "You're not God, so don't ask." I don't know why, but I like to read it. It is comforting to me. And it helps me to know that others have struggled with these same questions; I am not alone. Jess and I got together and it was wonderful to be with someone who was saying that it's ok to have questions. It's ok to have things you are unsure about. That's part of being human!

I had more I wanted to say but it will have to wait. I have a son and a daughter sleeping so I must as well!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

clarity, then not so much.

Let me add that I am still confused about a lot of things. I get snippets of breakthroughs. I am becoming more comfortable with admitting that I am confused - jotting down my breakthroughs when I have them, and moving on. This whole process is so fluid. I love the conversations we can have on here. They are good for a variety of reasons. Believing that we have all the answers gives us comfort. For whatever reason, it does. I will always be pretty damn sure that I never have many of the answers. But you know what? That is ok. Because that is me admitting that I just don't know about alot of things. And I think alot of people are too afraid to admit that - because then where does it leave them?

caution: rambling

Do you know that just last night I dreamt that I was at a seminar at MIT with the people in my Bible Study? It was in a little cave and a funny little man led us to the room where it was held. Scott said he wanted to go get popcorn so I missed Steven Hawking's speech. That's my man - always sabotaging this or that. :)

The string theory question came as a result of a conversation I had with Seraphim. Dare I tell you that I do believe Seraphim and I are more alike than previously thought? And that after his eloquent defense of the Protestant stance (he was actually surprised at the compliment), I have mucho respect for him? And he did apologize for coming on too strong at first. It takes a big person to do that. And I didn't handle the situation well either. So.

Anyway. I was talking about how it is frustrating to me that I strive for God and I never seem to find him. But then I haven't touched my Bible in awhile. I wonder why it is easier to write here or watch 6 Feet Under or paint my cat, but I know the answer. Because I don't know what God will ask of me (faith), and I do not think I am ready to get on that boat. But if you held a knife to my carotid and told me if I believe Jesus was the son of God I would have to die, I would tell you that indeed He was. Because the more and more I look the more and more it falls into place. I know it. I do. It's still working its way into my being like never before.

I get frustrated that I can't be like my close friends who don't have these questions. They just trust. And it's that simple. And it's harder for me to do that, but if I want to get anywhere, I HAVE to. God is not going to come to me until I come to Him. For the first time in my life I am realizing that he is not forceful. He will not force me into a relationship with him. This wouldn't be love, would it? S was talking about how there is a new theory of everything (yes, that's really what it's called) out there that says that there are really 10 dimensions to reality and we are only living in 3. From what I gather it's a growing thought that heaven is the 10 dimensions; and in our fallen state we have only 3 dimensions. Everything around us is made up of a vibrating string, at its aboriginal level. So basically what it means is that there seems to be a reality beyond our own that is more "real" than our own. Kind of like "so now we see through a glass; so then we will see face to face". A state of perfection; heaven. That is fascinating to me. Biological proof of heaven? Sure. Who's going to prove it? You can't biologically prove the spiritual. And that's not what the scientists are after proving, anyway, but it still fascinates me.

My favorite quote is the CS Lewis one above. I just love it; because it so eloquently states how I feel most days. But feel is a very dangerous verb. Feel is nothing. Real is everything, right? I can feel sad one day because my dog bit the dust and the world is going to hell in a handbasket. But then the next day I am elated because I got a new puppy. The world is wonderful. Same world, but in "my reality" it's changed because of my view of events. I have no idea where I'm going with this but that's the beauty of a blog. Click on over to http://www.hellokitty.com/, you know you want to.

So anyway.

It's also fascinating to me that, when presented with the gospel message of Jesus Christ, people must make the choice to accept it or reject it. Sure, people can say they're ambivalent about it, but what is ambivalence, anyway, but neutered anger? And why would you be ambivalent about it if the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE is telling you, "Hey, I'm here; I'm real." I look at the trees and my children and the way the sun rises and the earth is exactly tilted on its axis at precisely 23.5 degrees and I feel like a fool for doubting any of it. I want God to tell me he's here. But if he came to me right now, would I believe it? Or would I need more Prozac for my delusional state of mind? At the end of the day, we have to decide, right? I have to decide if the God of the Bible is who he says he is or not. We can make up more postmodernistic drivel about how the only thing religion has ever done is divided people, and we need tolerance. But tolerance - what is it really? And can I really believe there is more than one way to God, when no one has definitively found Jesus' body or found a reason why hundreds of people would claim they loved Jesus when it required of them their lives? Why do the gospels all say the same thing (the only differences are personal storytelling-style differences between the authors)? People all throughout history have tried to refute Jesus' claim that He was God. He performed miracles in front of them. They called him a trickster and spit in his face.

Which leads me to something else that has me riveted. I didn't ever really come to the place where I believed this was true. But it is. People all throughout the ages have chosen to reject God. They've chosen to regret what He ultimately stands for; who He is. They will be in hell, not begging God for mercy, but cursing His name for putting them there. Will people really be doing this? Could it be true? How could you choose to reject the God of heaven and earth? The God who put life into your bones? How could you knowingly throw it all way just so you can do it on your own and end your life unfulfilled? Living your whole life going after everything that doesn't matter in the end?

And why are we so quick to say, "It isn't fair, God?" but in the same breath we believe it's fair that we got all the good things in our lives? Who programmed us that way? What causes that? Original sin, I suppose.

Humanity, on its own, will make a mess of things. We see it time and time again, and yet people still hold onto the belief that in this world there won't be trouble; in this world we can all get along in peace and harmony. It's not going to happen because our very nature forbids it. Isn't that the ultimate catch-22?

I'm tired.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

string theory

Lots to say, but Arg...can someone explain this to me in terms that don't sound like they were coined by the geeks at MIT?

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There is something endearing and slightly creepy about hearing a 2-year-old sing "Onward Christian Soldiers".

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I have felt like doing nothing but sitting around in my pajamas all week.

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My husband is wonderful. He scrapes the ice off my car and watches the kids so I can go to Panera Bread and puts the toothpaste on my toothbrush and a million other sweet things. The other day I was looking at him and was thinking that he is very handsome. I don't know why I was blessed with him. I will not question it.

*****************

Lucy woke up screaming at 5 am. "The man is gettin' my neck!" Asher woke up too, so we watched Jojo's Circus, then the Wiggles, then "This is Daniel Cook". The laundry is being done, Asher is in his Exersaucer, and Lucy is singing the Christian hits. I am tired.

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Lucy keeps breaking our Christmas ornaments. It frustrates me, but I also find it slightly funny. We'll hear glass breaking into shards and one of us will say, "Your turn!" meaning, your turn to clean it up. Maybe we should have kid-friendly ornaments, or no tree. Or maybe we should just leave the ornaments on there and let God sort it out.

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I have 2.5 more pounds to lose before I am at my goal. I feel like getting to my goal will be sort of anti-climactic. Any suggestions for a celebration?

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Asher is cute. He is finally up on all fours when I go in to get him out of his crib. He just graduated from the tiny infant nursery, at 10 months of age. :) He will stick one chubby finger on his enormous hands out to tentatively touch whatever it is he is exploring. Both kids are tentative when in new environs.

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Why is it that even when my house is clean I always feel that there is something else I should do before it is perfect, and that perfection is never achieved because there is always something else to do? When will I let that go?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

i absolutely must win this auction

She didn't really "get" it her first two Christmases. Now I understand why my parents had such fun getting us presents this time of year. I can't WAIT to see her face when she opens this:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Communion with God

Seraphim, I'm still waiting for your answer to the questions I posed in the comments section below.

Today, since I just feel generally drained and I need to order Christmas card photos and upload bajillions of photos and walk to Bath and Body Works and get a free lip gloss with purchse (THANKS JOY!), so I leave you with two amazing pieces of writing from two of my favorite blogs. You know, those pieces that just have you going, Yes, yes, that's IT!!!!!!!!

Communion with God

and

Stalker Emotions

The Parents as Teachers lady came this morning. She tested Lucy on a variety of things. When she asked Lucy what a cup is used for, Lucy said, "beega ooda ka!" or something to that effect. There I am opposite Lucy, gesturing and waving my hands like mad. Trying to get her to provide the correct answer. I tried convincing the PAT lady that her language was clearly understandable, and it was clear she said, "The cup is used for drinking milk." She didn't get a passing grade on that test.

Agh - I'm clearly one of those parents.

Anyway, read up. I am still digesting "Communion with God". Jen, how do you mother 3 under 3 and still have time to write such things?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

questions

I love your answers about what you look for in a church.

I have struggled with this quite a bit in the last few months or so. There will NEVER be the perfect church, outside of heaven. As long as humans are running the gig, something will be messed up. That said, I do think it's necessary to be at a church where you know you are meant to be.

Tonight I was talking to a lady I've known for a little while. I look to her as an amazing Christian. I was telling her about some of my questions, and she said this was like an answered prayer! Her husband adores apologetics and the study of the early Christian Church, etc. I told her I had questions like, "Why does our church think Catholics are wrong when they hold councils on which things are considered sins and which are not, when these exact same type of councils were held on whether or not we should include the current books of the Bible in the Bible? Why do we trust the "books of the Bible" councils but not any Catholic councils since? What's the difference? We've chosen to trust a council of men on which books go in the Bible but not on anything past that? It is intellectually dishonest, at best. No one seems to be able to answer this question for me. She said her husband LOVES to talk about this stuff. I've heard he has an amazing mind and loves to talk about all of this stuff. I am so excited to talk to him! I feel that this is a direct answer to prayer.

She was also saying (without any of my prompting; I had just asked her some of the questions I had) that alot of these questions are a sign that someone is maturing in the faith; wanting to understand more and more about Christianity instead of just being satisfied with not knowing the foundations of the Bible, etc. I found her answer refreshing and it helped reaffirm a prayer that I had, that God would let me know if I was on the right path.

I have started Lucy's page. Email me if you would like to be kept up to date. Please understand that if I don't know you, I'm not comfortable adding you. I want to be able to talk about what dates we are doing which things and what some of our concerns are without fearing that someone we don't know is getting all of this information. Sometimes the internet tends to be a bit sketchy in these matters!

church

What did you look for in finding your church?
Have you found it?
I have my own thoughts on this but wanted to hear from you first.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We have quite a journey ahead of us. I am afraid. More than that, though, I am hopeful. I am thinking I will start a password-protected website for Lucy's medical stuff (and keep this one here) so you all know specifically how to pray. There are things I am just not comfortable sharing on here. In thinking about all the decisions to be made next month, I am thankful that I live in a country where my daughter's birth defects did not equal a death sentence. And no, I'm not being dramatic. Babies born in 3rd world countries with her issues simply do not live. Last night after I put her to bed I looked at her Diego shoes with pen marks all over them and got all teary.

I am thankful that I got to hear her say today, "I'm thankful fer YOU, Mom!", after she was asked the proverbial Thanksgiving Day question. Scott got a big kick out of that.

She is now talking incessantly and pushing an Indigo Girls cd around in her stroller. Her shoes are on backwards and she just ran into the wall. This little kitty cat is ready for some turkey:

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope you have as much gratitude in your heart today as I have in mine. If you do, you are blessed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

more on God

warning - I just typed and typed and typed in this post - lots of random thoughts.

Ah, it was a great time this morning.

I went to SL (my shrink). We had a great conversation, per usual. I talked with her about being firm with others who care only for their own interests, and I see that I am pretty spot on with those issues.

Then I got a massage. HEAVEN. The woman doing it is 34 and has an 18 year old illegal immigrant boyfriend. She was quite a card, and an EXCELLENT masseuse.

My mother watched the children and decreed that it's time to get Asher a high chair. She told me to pick one out and she's buying it for Christmas. High chair suggestions?

My copy of the Koran came today. I am excited to dive in; cross reference with the Bible, write out my questions. My mom read the Koran when I was growing up. I remember being shocked to find it on her night stand (my parents are amazing devout Christians). She explained to me that one of her best friends is Muslim, and how could she possibly answer her friends' questions about Christianity if she knew nothing about her friends' faith? That was pretty intresting to see. Amazing, even.

SL was saying today that when people have a black/white view of everything and everyone in the world, this shows that they are usually emotionally underdeveloped. Even if you are a staunch Christian, there are so many things we just don't know. There are so many things God doesn't explain about himself. And for those Bible-verse quoters out there, I can quote quite a few of my own that contradict. I can also show you gospels that weren't included in the canonization of religious texts because they were a. written by women or b. directly contradicted the 4 major gospels (for those of you living under a rock, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.) It's incredibly convenient to lift Bible verses straight from the text for my own purposes.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." Acts 16:31

Jesus answered,"I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. John 3:5

Which one is it? Do I need to be baptized or not? You actually DO need context before you just quote for the sake of quoting. And even when you have context, it is often still not clear.

I am leery indeed of anyone who tells me that God is speaking through him or her to me. If they have to tell me that God is speaking through them, they are either incredibly narcisisstic or convincing themselves that it really is God's voice they are channeling. And when the scriptures they are repeating are scriptures they have repeated over and over and over again to me, that makes me doubly leery.

And to anonymous who commented on the "love must win out" post, God DID bless people who questioned him. Um, Job? Job questioned and questioned. And yes, he finally relented... but he could not have gotten to where he got in his relationship with God without asking some of those questions and resolving them in his own mind. You can stop worrying about my mortal soul. I believe that I am a sinner and that Jesus Christ died for my sins to cover the gap of unholiness so I can live with him forever in heaven. Unless I am missing something, I am assured that were I to die tonight I would be in heaven with him. However, there are many many different denominations of Christianity - pentecostal, methodist, catholic, lutheran, 'non-denominational', etc.! To be curious why some sects believe that women should have long hair and cover their heads while in prayer and others don't or why some believe that you must believe AND be baptized to gain entrance to heaven is interesting to me, and I want to know more.

I love challenges to these questions/thoughts. I really do. So challenge away. It's the only way I'll grow.

Anyway, SL was saying that maturity in a person dictates that the world is quite a few shades of gray. The older I get the more I see that. The more I see there is humility in saying, "Hey, I don't know!" And the more I DO just have to trust God and believe that what he says in his word is true... this does not mean, once again, that using my mind to encourage the truth to come out of its hidey-hole is a bad thing. Unless you're of the mind that it's 1854 and women have too many liberties in our society and shouldn't vote. Then I guess I should just believe it because my dad believes it.

There's also the perennial question of the religions of the nations. If I were born in Iraq, Japan, China, I would most assuredly be raised in a different world religion. We are genetically programmed for a lot, and we also have powerful environmental influence. However, we still have LOTS of choice in the matter.

The Bible presents us conflicts and in doing so demands our questioning, our working out of salvation with fear and trembling. Why else would it contradict itself so often? Why else did God give me this brain? Why else did God give me choice?

Finding God is in the journey.

Let us begin.

Monday, November 19, 2007

some compelling reasons for online shopping


I met a friend at the mall today. It's fun to hang out with her because she has two kids pretty much the same ages but opposite genders. We had a great time! Lucy wasn't particularly fond of Santa, and Asher and I had to eat her cookie because she's not fond of sweets.



The fun truly began when we were getting ready to leave and Lucy threw a tantrum. This is the beginning:






Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Share Photos - Free Video Hosting






An old lady gave me a look like, "control your kid!" and as we walked by I said, "She's 2!" I was getting annoyed at this point of people giving me dirty looks. Is this some sort of karmic payback for doing the same thing myself before I had children? The thoughts in my head went something like this: "Geez, what's wrong with those parents? It's called rules. Set some!"



My friend had given me a coupon before she had left. (She's smart; she knows to call it quits when nap time approaches.) I have been on a crusade to find the perfect pair of jeans since the dawn of time. I wasn't going to pay $40.99 for a pair I had my eye on at the Gap, even though the salesman dressed like a clown told me it was a great deal.



Anyway, the jeans. After 9 years of deliberation with only people whose idol is Elmo to look to for advice, I chose a pair of Levi's. "I'm sorry, Levi's are excluded from coupon use!" the saleslady said. By this time Lucy was banging her head against a shelf of Christmas ornaments and Asher was crying just because it seemed to be the thing to do. I went back and grab a different pair of jeans. "Sorry, those aren't included, either." Lucy is pushing the stroller as I carry Asher (we've given up on the Ergo), and Lucy manages to almost mow over a sweet little old lady probably just looking for a pair of salmon-colored clip on earrings.



I am close to considering asking the saleslady if the security guard carries a service revolver when I spot some pants I think look ok. I buy them, then Lucy tells me she has to go play in the "mountains" (the dirt in the curb by the car). I tell her we're not playing around today; she needs to get in the car. She refuses, so I grab her by the arm and put her in the seat. An elderly lady walks by and says loudly, "Oh, my!"



They are both sleeping and I am going to try my pants on. Ten bucks says they don't fit!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

relief

Let me tell you how to get some relief: tell people what you really want, not what they want to hear. Stick with your decision, even if there is passive aggressive anger and resistance. Repeat, repeat, repeat unto the point of exhaustion. Don't back down

Scott called his mom and told her we weren't comfortable with Lucy spending the night. It was just silence on her end but we did it! I've realized I have been feeling so much less depressed! I mean, "letting the druggie across the street clean our gutters for ten dollars less depressed!" (Yes, he really did ask. Hey, at least he's not selling drugs any more! Who knew gutter cleaning was more lucrative? Shouldn't we take this knowledge to Compton and Watts?)

I realize this will be a process, but one well worth it. Telling others "no" and setting limits will ultimately result in healthier relationships; a happier me. A happier me leads to happier husband and children, and a me who can give to others without feeling resentful or giving for any reason other than feeling like I HAVE to.

I'm also learning that there are just those people we come across in day to day interactions that need to be avoided. I always used to think this was ignoring the "least of these", a tenet I wasn't comfortable with, as Jesus didn't ignore them. But Jesus also put his foot down when He was feeling overwhelmed. Everyone cites Jesus taking time to pray in the garden, and I will cite it as well.

The only caveat (my new favorite word) here is that if I am going to say "NO" to others, I need to say "YES" more regularly to Bible reading and prayer. Jen over at Et Tu wrote a very compelling post today that I'm trying to process. I'll let you know when I've successfully done so.
I'm giving my testimony on Lucy's story in church next Sunday and I am SO excited about it. There will be a video online, so you will be able to see it! Pray it will be received the way it is supposed to be received in the hearts of those who witness it. While we were practicing it two ladies in the audience were crying. I sometimes forget what a cool story it is, and I'm so excited to share it.
Another lady who is giving her testimony is giving it on her pattern of trying to please others. We talked a bit afterward and she said, "With two little ones like that, you pretty much have to say no to everything!" It was nice to hear that from someone who has struggled with the same things.
So.
There we are.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

love must win out

I've learned so many things lately. They've been nuggets of wisdom decking me in the side of the head; hailing me from unexpected places. As I explore God's place in my life and my place in the lives of others, I long for a parallel.

I don't believe for one minute that my searching will end in vain. I also have no cause to believe that my questioning makes me unqualified to call myself a Christian or that it somehow creates a bad person out of me. It interests me to see others' insecurities come out when I voice my own doubts. Wasn't it Jacob who wrestled with God? In the end it was resolved and he was blessed. (His hip hurt like hell for the rest of his life, but he was blessed.)

There is a woman who reads my blog. She and I got into a philosophical debate on my old blog about whether or not an absolute truth exists. I told her AT existed; she contended there may be no such thing. I responded by telling her that the Bible says AT exists and so it does. It exists! I don't care what you say, it exists! **plugs ears and sings, 'lalalalalalalala!'**

She didn't respond to that and I haven't seen her leave many comments on my blog. I don't blame her. Another self-righteous Christian making the rounds.

I got a taste of my own medicine in an interaction with someone who spoke truth to me. However, because that person had a desperate hold on wanting to be right instead of coming from a place of love, I left the interaction feeling upset. Attacked. I had shared my heart and that information had been used for another's gain. The painfully obvious objective in this situation was for this person to score another "win" for the team of Christ. He or she totally missed the point, and as a result, there is no trust there. It is typical, in alot of ways, of how we as Christians view those who don't yet believe.

I look back on my almost 3 years of writing and 28 years of living and I do wonder how many people haven't seen Christ in me (that is the whole objective, no?), but saw someone so desperate to be right for her own gain. God did not use this person in the way he or she thought they would be used. Instead, after getting over the intial shock of getting over being treated in such a way when I had mustered up the courage to be vulnerable, I realized something:

How many times have others felt my misdirected piety as well? Who has it hurt?

My Catholic friends have amazed me in the past 2 years. I've known them for about that long and in them I see a compelling mixture of compassion and truth I have found nowhere else. You aren't going to attract others to the God you serve with anything but a caring heart. A heart that is pure in intention, abiding, joyful!

In my constant struggle to find a balance in my own life between truth and love, I have come to a conclusion: both are of utmost importance. But when it comes to the human heart, love must win out -

every time.


Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
- John 8:13

Friday, November 16, 2007

let the little ones

I led three 8 year old girls to Christ yesterday. "led them to Christ". That's what you do when you tell someone they're a sinner and they need God and all they must do is believe and they're saved.

I prayed the prayer, they repeated it.

The hair on their little heads shone; sweet voices lilting up toward the tiled ceiling like ribbons in flight. I said the words; they repeated. The moment was pregnant with tears; tears that flirted with my eyelashes and tucked themselves back.

I want what you have. I want what you have in this moment. You don't know how lucky you are.

"I don't understand it all now, but I'll understand it when I'm older, like your age, right, Ms. Rachel?"

a pause...the words march themselves up my throat and into my mouth; align themselves along my teeth:

"You could be 95 and you might not feel like you're any closer to the truth than you were when you were 8. It might be that way. But still, God is the same."

The words. They hang in the air. Me? I'm afraid to take them down. I can't claim them.

I sit and wait.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

life with a colostomy

When the doctor first told Scott Lulubeans would need a colostomy, I was recovering from having my stomach ripped open by the obstetrician we lovingly refer to as Dr. Death and waiting for Scott's phone call from the Children's Hospital. We cried as he explained to me they didn't have a way around the colostomy. For some odd reason I imagined her at her high school prom dancing the night away, attached to one of these, for some strange reason.

Everyone felt bad when we told them, due to her defects, she would have the bag for life. We felt bad, too. But what could we do?

I wondered if people were going to be able to hold her. Would she be able to swim, play, date? How would the girls in the locker room react when they saw the bag? I imagined a dark-haired 16-year-old her eating spaghetti at Fazoli's on her first date (come on, now, we're high class!). I imagined a fart leaking out, a pimple-faced boy running for the exit...consoling a crying Lucy as she buried her head in her now-tattered baby blanket.

Those first few days with a colostomy were hard. I cried and cried and cried, Scott just sat and tried to peel off sticky colostomy wafer from angry newborn skin. She screamed and I thought, "My gosh, 3 hours changing a colostomy bag that stays on for 6 hours? How are we going to live our lives this way? How is anything ever going to be ok again?"

I calculated in my head (ok, not really - I used the calculator on my computer) that I've changed approximately 529 colostomy bags so far. I am so used to it that I have actually been known to still be surprised when I see the rejected green beans and dust bunnies in Asher's diaper and not a bag.

The other day I was wondering how parents of children with mental handicaps do it. Then Scott reminded me that there are parents who wonder how we do it, and that thought struck me as strange.

You just do what you have to do, even if that means the planets have aligned and you get squirted in the face with turds when you're in the middle of a bag change and your kid sneezes. Growing up with 3 older brothers, I had my fair share of fart and turd talk. The term "Swanson fart" was legendary.

I really do think God has a killer sense of humor.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

make it fair

It's interesting to me that my search for God has led me in this direction - setting boundaries in my life. Whowouldathunk?

We had a great talk last night about what exactly ARE our expectations for our extended family. Scott made the comment, "Well, we need to make it fair for everyone, so we can keep the peace." See, that's our inherent problem. Feeling like it's all on us to make it fair. When we treat our parents like 5 year olds instead of adults, problems arise. I articulated to him that I am no longer interested in keeping things fair. Life is not fair, and I do not have time to make it so for everyone involved.

"Even if we wrote it out; had evidence for each set of parents that the other set was getting the same amount of time with the grandkids, you still think there'd be anger? You still think someone would feel hurt?" (My parents are exempt from this; they don't care.)

"Yes, someone would still feel hurt. It's not about us, honey, it's about them."

--silence--

Scott is stuck in this dance because it's all he's known since childhood. You pacify, assuage, coddle. You do everything in your power to make them happy. When he was a child and he did something wrong, he would go into his room and turn his picture around because he was mad at himself. I don't know many 7 year olds who did things like that (except, well, ME.)

I feel sorry for the middle-aged man on tv who sells siding because, well, that's just sort of SAD. I'm always feeling for other people. I think that's a good quality, but anything overdone is excess.

This morning Asher had a fever and I was supposed to take a pie to MOPs. I spent the morning freaking out about not being able to go; how they wouldn't have enough food because of me. I called the lady who coordinates it and explained the situation to her answering machine. I got a cold electronic hug. I still felt bad, thinking I was letting someone down and all.

When I was small I would make a list each day of the things I did that were hurtful or unkind throughout the day. I would then show the list to my mom at night. Now I know that's a symptom of scrupulosity, a cornerstone of OCD. A constant need to ask for forgiveness and an inability to forgive oneself. I still do struggle with that. I am constantly needing to seek affirmation from people who are needy themselves. I get stuck in an angry dance, trying to be everything for everyone.

As the moustachioed dousche bag Dr. Phil would ask, "How's that workin' for ya?"

Obviously not very well.

This is quite liberating. Now, for those conversations (which Scott will conduct)...

We are off this afternoon to collect my parents from the airport. They've been in Japan since the dawn of time. I will feign helplessness and tell them I lost the keys until they hand me the Hello Kitty paraphenalia straight from the source.

Pictures to follow!

Monday, November 12, 2007

moments

life is full of moments like these:

Walking down the aisle at Kohl's, hearing, "LOOK, Mom! Look at the old lady!" (as if she'd just discovered the oldest lady in the world, right there, applying purple lipstick to the outside of her lips while filling out her application for 'oldest known homo sapien'.) Now, come on, you should have SEEN the look that got us!

As a definite aside, do you think it's going to come back to bite us when Lucy says, "Quit fartin, ya sicko!" to her Sunday school teachers?

The man in the bra aisle (why was he in the bras, anyway?) looking at me all funny until I looked down and realized I had two wet spots where my nipples should be.

Going to the pharmacy last night, thinking I could pull of the silent fart. It didn't work, and I hastily made my retreat down the tampon aisle. I then realized I had to go back and face the pharmacist if I wanted my birth control pills. She was laughing!

Will you read this blog in 50 years when I'm crapping my pants?

January 16, 2007

4:05pm: held

Woke up at 2:20 this morning, absolutely petrified. I tossed and turned, ran my tired legs into my husband's back - he couldn't find the Sandman either.

We went to Target last night, I know he was nervous when he told me we should stay and wander around the aisles some more. He HATES shopping in any form. I stopped him in the socks..."Scott, what if we lose him? What if the same thing that happens last time happens again? What if this baby has a genetic problem, an undetected one? Are you worried about that?"

"Well, not until you brought it up..."

I must have taken an hour-long shower this morning. I repeated the words of "Come Thou Fount" over and over again - even though my heart couldn't grasp the words...

come thou fount of every blessing
tune my heart to sing thy praise
streams of mercy never ceasing
call for songs of loudest praise
teach me some melodious sonnet
sung by flaming tongues above
here's the mounti'm fixed upon it
mount of thy redeeming love

I watched Babies-Special Delivery (mistake), and then Chicago Hope. Wrote a letter, didn't want to mail it because what if I died during the section and my friend got my letter after the fact? Freaky...

...we crunched our way out to the car on the frozen snow and rode silently to the hospital.

I'll never forget the moon - a tiny sliver in an ink black sky. I noticed it right as we got there; for some reason it calmed me. The moon was there, constant as anything.

We arrived; I was prepped, the IV went into my hand and started spurting blood. I thought it was just a nice heating blanket they had put under me until I realized the other arm wasn't feeling warm. Scott started massaging my kitten-sock-clad feet after he had assisted the nurse in holding the tube in place (biology major for you). "Are you ok? Are you ok?" he kept asking. The worry was written all over his face.

I was wheeled in; they told Scott he couldn't come with until I had the epidural in place. I started to panic when I saw the metal table and the bright bright lights. People scrubbing in; the nursing student looking scared in the corner; my nurse telling me I'd be ok, "Just relax, sweetie, breathe. Breathe." She made me lean up against her as the anesthesiologist told me he thought I had scoliosis and it may be dificult to get the epidural in place. Next thing I know I'm numb; I breathe a sigh of relief when the OR door opens and I see my husband's warm brown eyes crinkle over his surgical mask. "I'm smiling, but I guess you can't tell, huh," he says, as he takes his seat.

He holds my hand, tightly. I tell him not to stop.

The anesthesiologist reports that my blood pressure is low; I'm given 3 vials of medication 3 different times to get it back up. Glad I didn't know until later how low it got.. I ask him every 20 seconds its status.. "Should I breathe more slowly?"

"Relax...there's nothing you can do at this point to get your blood pressure to go down. It's out of your control."

I watch the drip, feel the pressure of my abdominal muscles being separated.

It is then that the lesson comes, like the realization that the sliver-moon in the ink black sky is always there:

It's out of my control.

I tell Scott to take pictures of the c-section; he offers to show them to me right then. I smile and shake my head.

"Get ready, Dad, Do you have your camera ready? Here comes the baby!"

Pressure, pressure, a cry. A sweet cry, and the pronouncement, "Oh, he's beautiful!" I ask my doctor if he has a butthole. Scott laughs, the doctor answers yes; she's checked.
He's held up, still covered in vernix, blood, everything that connects him to me.

I don't cry, I just look. And I whisper, "hi, hi, hi..." it's all I can say in this moment that defies words. I stare at the blue of the sheet; listen to him cry. Scott runs to him; runs back to my side with a video - our boy peeing on the nurse and being jabbed in the leg with a vaccination. He's not happy.

"Thank you," I say."You're welcome," he says. "What is his name?"

"Asher. Asher Scott. Do you think?"
"Yeah, yes."
"You're not sure?"
"Asher is a good name."
"It's a strong name."

We look at him, agree that he screws his face up just like Lucy does when she's throwing a tantrum.

As I cried when the transport team clad in Star-Trek jumpsuits came once again to take my baby away, as I think of the same sliver of moon that will shine over him in his tiny bassinett on the opposite side of the city, the realization hits me again:

I have no control.

But Someone else does, and that's all the realization I need.

Happy Birthday, Asher Scott.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

not just a bad Britney song

One thing I love about blogging is that it allows me to be real - something I don't always get to be in real life.

If you know my mom at all you know she would do anything for you. She's an organizer and a type A personality. We don't always see eye to eye (more often than not we don't), but she's one of my best friends. You know what my mom's thinking, because she tells you. For the longest time, as I went from an adorable pixie-faced little girl to an awkward teenager with cheese stuck in her braces back to a somewhat confident college student, I always wondered what was hiding in the shadows. I wondered what my mom's TRUE feelings were. Surely she didn't wear herself on her sleeve as much as it seemed she did. She didn't replay conversations in her mind, hoping she hadn't offended this or that person. She didn't analyze and re-analyze a glance she got from someone after telling them this or that date on her calendar wouldn't work. She didn't burst into tears when her husband told her that we were $5 over the clothing budget this month, assuming he meant that she was overspending, when what he really meant was that she was doing a great job in managing said budget.

No, my mom has never been emotional. If I didn't see some similarities in pictures of us as children, if Scott hadn't told me even this morning that I had my mom's eyes, I wouldn't believe she were my mom. The restlessness, volatility, emotional outbursts? I get all that from my dad.

It's been mentioned once or twice by commenters (Tjimetje) that I'm a highly sensitive person. I am. Scott's family views me as someone who wears herself on her sleeve, who will tell them what she thinks instead of hiding her feelings under the rug. They're only partly right. Growing up, there were never a bunch of issues we had to sit down at the table and settle. There weren't slammed doors and hurt feelings. I've always thought this was because if one person in my family was offended by what another person said, that person would go directly to them and tell the offender that they were offended.

Really, this didn't really ever happen. Not that I can recall, at least. Why? Because 2/3 of my 6-person family is MALE. :) Speaking very generally: Men don't analyze things. Men don't cry if the 9-month-old watched 2 hours of Handy Manny this morning. Men don't feel terrible if the 2-year-old is running around in the play place with a dirty face, Shrek slime on her arm, and a cockamamie hairbow. Some days I'd trade a vagina for a penis in a minute.

This morning I woke up really nothing short of anxiety-ridden and short with everyone. I got frustrated when Scott was down working on the computer and HELLO I NEED ATTENTION DAMMIT. I started obsessing about what I would do if my parents' plane crashed into the ocean on their way back from Tokyo. I just felt depressed, and dark, and my whole body hurt.

Do you know why sometimes I write about my family on here? Because sometimes this is the only place I can get it out. And I have started to realize something - all of this emotion and volatility has alot to do with the holidays coming up, and everyone needing something. I've never been one of those to get annoyed with my children for crapping their pants (or bags) and wanting more than Cheez-Its for dinner. Hey, I signed up for that. I know that this is a busy time of life, I get it! That's ok!

What I am realizing, though, more and more, is that I have a fundamental inability to tell certain people "no". "No, that really doesn't work for me right now." No.

I have friends in this area who are so laid back and cool about things. I LOVE that. I don't feel pressure to call them by a certain date, or feel bad if my child has a cold and can't come over. I don't feel bad saying, "This day won't work to get together, because Lucy and Asher sleep from 12:30 - 2:30, and if they don't get that nap, things aren't pretty!" I have friends who are SO laid back, and don't care! They understand!

But then I have friends who don't understand. And I have family who doesn't undersatnd. And maybe this wouldn't bother the normal person, who says "No!" and doesn't think twice about it, but it sure as heck bothers me. I have this fundamental fear of people being angry with me, or not liking me. In some ways I'm very self-confident, in others, not so much. I was talking to a friend last week about not really being a phone person, and she agreed. If you have something to talk about, fine, but sometimes I feel like I might say the wrong thing on the phone or look dumb to the other person, or something. It stresses me out! (Told you I'm a nut case.)

When I look back on my life I can see patterns, and sometimes I wonder if all of this questioning God and bleak outlook and depression is more about my inability to handle stress in a healthy fashion than anything else. If you held a gun to my throat and told me I must decide what I believed, I would tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real, and alive, and, as far as I can tell, the God of the Bible makes the most sense to me. So yes, I believe everything He says. Maybe all of this questioning and groping around like frisky teenagers on a bad date is that I feel pressed in on all sides and I really just want a rest. I want to keep everyone happy, keep all the plates spinning, and I forget the fundamentals - relax, rest, rejuvenate. Tomorrow is another day chock-full of responsibilities!

I didn't want to go to Bible study last week because I sometimes get bored there and I didn't want to sit and listen. And I didn't want to open up to the ladies there that I just feel pressed in upon. I'm helping take care of the kids with disabilities every other week - there are planning meetings for that, then I have the lessons to prepare and teach every Thursday. I have to take the kids along, and they're less than happy being woken up from their naps,and then 3 hours of being taken care of by a stranger. I want to help with the group for people who have lost babies, but even there, I feel like I am opening myself up to people with some real needs. I want to help - don't get me wrong! But at this point in my life, I feel so overwhelmed and exhausted. The ladies at Bible study said at this point in my life I need to be very discerning and only engage in ministries, etc., that wouldn't take me away from my family. I feel like our family time is so precious, and if I'm busy from 5 - 9 on Saturday nights helping with the caretaking ministry at church, I don't get to see Scott or the kids. That makes me really sad. Add Bible study on Wednesday nights, Bible study Tuesday mornings and various playdates (I NEED THESE), and I'm just plain worn out.

I'm worn out!

Last night we were going to go out to dinner to a really cool place here in town. Well, Scott's mother in law called and I told her we were going, and she asked if they could come with. So, we met them there. She said to be honest if we wanted to be alone, but I knew if I really was honest there would be all of these hurt feelings and I just didn't want to deal with it. Next weekend Lucy is going over to their house on Saturday night, after I have 2 meetings for church-related ministries that day, and a potluck on Friday night. Scott's mom then called and asked if they could have Lucy overnight on Friday night. This would mean that I wouldn't see Lucy all weekend. She's my kid! Believe it or not, I actually really truly enjoy having her around! I called his mom and told her that this next weekend was going to be pretty full, and it wouldn't work for us. Then she asked me if a weekday this upcoming week would work. Honestly? EVERY NIGHT we have something. Every night. I told her that, and then told her that our next option was the week after that. "Well, that's Thanksgiving!" as if that wouldn't be acceptable. At this point I just wanted to tell her to stuff it. Nothing is easy with her and it is extremely frustrating. It is 70 minutes of driving time for us when we take Lucy out there, and honestly, I just don't feel like doing it. Why can't I just ask her if they would be willing to pick Lucy up and bring her back if they want to see her that badly? Scott heavily advised me against gently saying that, because he said it would annoy them. There's a big haffoo (a word I just made up) about who is going to do the birthday parties for the kids this year (my parents could care less), and I really just want to say, STUFF IT! Cupcakes at our house! You people don't understand how much drama there is. You really don't. Why am I feeling so paralyzed in telling people what my family needs? I am resenting his family more and more for not understanding.

His stepmom wants me to sell chocolate with her. In at-home parties. They've done so much for us and been so generous that I can hardly say no. But then that's more time away from my precious family. ARGH I'm doing this to myself, that's what you're going to say. I want everyone to be happy. And when people use that against you, you're plum out of luck.

When I was in high school I just attracted people who were needy. I attracted people who really needed a listening ear. I have always been that way. It's something I like about myself, but it's also something that drives me bonkers. Scott accidentally took my phone to work one day and he came home and said, "I thought you were just exaggerating when you said you got alot of calls! You're not kidding! 12 phone calls in one day?!" Ok, people, please know that I'm not talking about you. Honestly? These people wouldn't be reading my blog, because they don't care about me. I'm finally starting to get that. I'm not talking about a phone call a week. I'm talking about someone wanting me to talk to them 2 times a day, every day (Rachey D., NOT you!). I'm talking about people getting huffy and angry when we're playing phone tag, and leaving angry messages on my voice mail. A categorical inability to return some kindness and generosity. Then I feel guilty and all upset and it ruins my Friday night. Scott tells me just not to care. It's so hard for me not to care!

My mom and Scott (the two people who know me best) always say, "You need to say no." It's just so hard! How do I go about doing that?

Advice, people, please. I am dreading calling his mom back and telling her it will have to be the week of Thanksgiving. But at the same time, I don't want to not see Lucy for a whole weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

true?

I was looking up information on Catholic church and came across this post. My Catholic friends, is this in line with Catholic teaching?

Is God good?

Is God good when the leaves fall off the tree and rot?
Was He good when they buried my grandfather in the ground?
it would bring me solace to go to his grave and sit, remembering.

Was God good when they threw out as medical waste the baby I never got to hold?
Was He good?

Do I idly tell my daughter, "Yes, nod your head. God is good."
How do I teach these things to her, things that I don't know?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

tra la la

Some thoughts coming soon on why I am so interested in Catholicism, along with gratuitous pictures of my children, and an interesting exchange at Bible study.

If you ever see me in this, please shoot me.

Monday, November 5, 2007

posted via email

I had a scary experience tonight.

I was fixing dinner in the kitchen, Asher was in his booster, and Lucy
was playing with matches. I turned just in time to see Asher fall 2
feet and hit the floor with the top of his head. Panic ensued as I
envisioned major neurological damage, or worse.

How I hate that moment of panic when you're not sure if your child is all right.

I was instructed by the nurse to wake him every 2 hours. Might I admit
that I love the quiet night time with him?

Thank you, Father, for keeping him safe. I'm getting the idea that
being a son's mother requires much prayer.

--
I like lip gloss.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

the land in between

Today we went to our favorite restaurant replete with scandalous amounts of Pan-Asian (isn't that just another word for 'less salty Chinese'?) food. Scott had to take Lucy out to the car and spank her and was so upset (about having to spank her - he DETESTS it) that he locked his keys in the car. We had to call the locksmith, and $34.95 later, we were sitting pretty.

It was a good lunch. It was fun. I love going out; the 4 of us. It's so fun to remember how important it is to just be together. I love it!

I live most of my life in the land in between - the land in between good days and days where I feel panicky and sad. I hate that.

Last night I helped out at a thing at our church where people with children with disabilities can drop off said children for 3 hours and go out. I was assigned to Daniel, a little 3 year old with boundless energy. There was a 15 year old boy, Caedon, who seemed to have pretty severe cerebral palsy and mental retardation. He was in a wheelchair and was unable to communicate verbally.

It was facinating to watch him communicate nonetheless. The minute he saw Asher on my back, he made a beeline for the baby. He made guttural noises indicating that he would like to touch him. Of course Asher was just jumping up and down, giggling. I thought he'd be terrified, but it was actually pretty solidly the opposite. I kept running away from Caedon because his "light" touch is not light at all. All through the night I would be engaged in some activity with Daniel, only to hear some very excited breathing behind me (It's making me laugh, just recalling the scenario). Asher would hear it too and start jumping up and down in the Ergo. Once again I'd have to run away before Caedon could catch up to us. It was quite a game, and amusing to all.

Communication.

Caedon would take a white board marker in his hand and very conspicuously wheel over to someone. He'd ram into them, hand them the marker, then clap his hands and jerk his head in the direction of the marker board. He'd start wheeling furiously toward the board, giggling like Ren and Stimpy once his victim began writing. After a few seconds he'd get bored and find a new person to harass. During music time, he made sure no one was looking and headed in the direction of the music lady's $800 guitar. I nabbed it from him just as determined fist made impact with smooth, aged wood.

Watching him last night made me realize how much I appreciate people stripping the pretense - whether they have the ability to recognize it as such or not. I appreciate people communicating in such a way that I don't have to decipher what they're about. Perhaps this is the reason I adore blogging in the way that I do.

Just like callused knuckles on a white board, I'm communicating to you my heart.

I thank you from the bottom of it for listening.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

absolut

It is apparent that I am not a good NOBloPOMOStoToMO or whatever that is. I missed yesterday, and I apologize.

Will some gratuitous baby pictures help? I went with Asher this morning to Kohl's, where I drooled over the $4 camouflage pants. He got some. Lucy still doesn't have pants that fit her. We've discovered that jeans don't work for her because of her bag. Well, Baby Gap jeans would, because they have the adjustable waistband. But I'm a colossal tightwad.

So, anyway. Absolute truth. What's your say? Do you believe it exists? Is there absolutely an absolute truth? (Hardy Har Har). Joshua believed there was when he murdered every man, woman and newborn in Canaan. The 9-11 attackers believed there was when they pile-dived into buildings. Absolute Truth - it needs a trademark.

Does it exist?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween

Do you ever feel that certain moments need a soundtrack?

When I was feeding Asher purple cotton candy not-quickly-enough and Scott was wrangling Lucy and the gym lights were too bright, I felt a happiness sweep over me. I am so grateful for my never-perfect, always late little family. Ashy kept wiping his nose on my new coat, and Lucy's hair looks not-combed no matter how many times I whip out the brush. I never manage to pull it off - to make this living life thing seem effortless.

Sometimes, like last night, I loved that about myself - about us.

I swear I wasn't drunk when I painted his whiskers. Lucy was terrified I was going to put a nose on her, too. She was also terrified of everyone at our church wearing a costume. You can guess how well that went. I am not in the second picture because I Refuse with a capital R to post on my blog a photo of myself that I hate. Doesn't Scott look like a Mexican immigrant:




Such an interesting discussion on the last post. You crazy Catholics! You just may reform me yet. I am doing lots and lots of studying.

My husband is handsome. He is also quite se*xy unloading the dishwasher. I heart you Scottie!

I have started applying for writing jobs. It's always been a dream of mine; one I haven't pursued before because rejection has meant, to me, that what comes out of my fingertips is no good. That I'm no good. Wow, sounds like a problem destined for the shrink couch, no?