Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Stuffed.

You know that feeling when you eat too much pasta? Or crusty garlic bread? Especially the cheesy kind... so, so good as each gooey bite goes down but then you're left with the inevitable carbohydrate hangover; heavy, sleepy, and a tiny bit sick... I can't help but think of the very hungry caterpillar who had eaten too much and then had a stomachache. I think it's this icky feeling that makes those paleo crossfit people feel so pretentious about their dietary choices. I could get on board with that if not for my waffle affinity. I digress.

Anyway, that heavy stomach feeling? How does that translate when you have too much input of information? I feel emotionally hungover. It's my tendency to input input input when anything major happens in the world... if there's a terrorist attack or natural disaster, I obsessively check CNN, NPR, BBC (and any other conglomeration of letters representing news) for the latest updates... sad, pacing, praying, fretting. It's not that I necessarily feel any fear for myself or my family so much as a heaviness, a weariness. A reminder, once again, that things are not as they should be. A reminder, once again, that our only hope is in Christ returning to set all things right again.

I don't mean to be uber spiritual. I just really want to empty my brain from the heavy, carby input... to process in a way that isn't alienating, demeaning, contentious. It's in these times that I wonder, what would a nonreligious person do (WWANPD)? How does the nontheist handle this emotional hangover? Is their hope built on nothing less than the next political leader? Or the next G7 summit? Maybe there's an avoidance? Hiding? Abdication of personal responsibility? None of these a hope that is living. All made of dust. All here today, gone tomorrow.

I am grateful to serve a God that is in control. I am grateful that, at the end of the day, when my brain hurts from earthquakes, mass shootings, bombings, sex trafficking, I can rest in his sovereignty and his justice. I can honestly close my eyes and remember that things are not spinning out of control, like they feel, but rather falling into place. I can do my best to live peaceably with all in my small world and still pray for the world at large. I can be sorrowful yet still rejoice. I can kiss my kids, wipe their noses, change their diapers and cook dinner, knowing that Jesus is still on the throne and that what He has for me in this moment is for His glory and my good.

I just need to be reminded sometimes.




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I'd like to introduce...

There are a multitude of reasons for my silence lately... the most time-consuming and physically smallest being...

sweet Wren Chloe... my third child and first daughter.

I can safely say there is a significantly higher amount of spitting up happening around here these days... which is unfortunate because there is a significantly lower amount of mopping happening. 

Although I am staying quiet on the interwebs, things are still happening over here. All the things. We are processing the recent events over the past few weeks, scratching our heads at the election drama, washing lots of dishes and folding tons of laundry. I am definitely seeing why someone would opt for a nudist colony... except for the whole modesty thing. Can you imagine never having to do laundry? Ever?

Wren is a joy. Someday I will get some sleep again and have time to remove the chipped nail polish from my fingers. Someday I will be able to go for runs on a regular basis... I am thinking the stress headaches might go away... but I have a feeling that may not be true..

We are all still in desperate need of Jesus and fighting the illusion of control. Every day, I beg God for this: 

Psalm 143:8English Standard Version (ESV)

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.


Hopefully I can write again soon.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

When nothing is delivering...

I am tired. I am sure it has something to do with being 34 weeks pregnant with two toddlers, but I still somehow think I can beat it. I am internally blaming my thyroid or my diet or lack of exercise. But maybe I just need to call it what it is... my body is exhausted and there's not much I can do about it besides wait for this baby to arrive.

Being the fixer that I am, I have been seeking solutions to my fatigue issue. I have prayed for supernatural energy, pored over blogs seeking some sort of inspiration, read parenting books (my parenting isn't so great as of late), taken naps, guzzled coffee... all of the above. I want a quick fix for this problem and nothing is delivering.

At what point do we tap out? At what point do we kind of say, "well, this is my life right now. It's not ideal, but it is what it is." Not in a lazy way... I think more so in a, "this is my situation. I can't change it. What is God wanting to do with this?"

Maybe I need to drop some things... I already feel like I don't do much... but then there are things that really just  need to get done (dishes, laundry, dinner, etc.) I don't exactly know where to draw the line on what my boys need from me. Are they really content with endless sitting on the couch and reading stories? Are they happy enough with doing stickers every single day? (Notice I choose activities where I can do a lot of sitting).

I chose the word "faithfulness" for this year and I definitely believe "faithfulness" is a word that is fluid, changing with the seasons of life. What faithfulness looks like as a 34-week-pregnant mom with two toddlers is a lot different from what faithfulness will look like three months from now, or three years from now. Knowing that it is fluid, I can only trust God to show me... I have been praying Psalm 143:8- Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

God... let me hear... Lord... make me know. Because I clearly do not. None of my usual fixes are helping. I am tired. You know this. You have given me my situation- my boys, my pregnancy, my home. You are real and present. I don't know which way to go, but I trust you.

Here's to hoping in the future that this is the first place I turn- Lord, show me what faithfulness looks like today. Rather than after I have exhausted every other worldly resource.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Running for Presents

This morning, on our way to the grocery store, I drove by the church where I vote to see if there was much of a line. Thankfully, there were only two cars in the parking lot so we were able to pop in and out in less than three minutes. I did my civic duty with both boys in tow and all were rewarded with stickers.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot, Chief (my almost-four-year-old) proudly declared (or so I thought), "Mama, I want to run for president someday!"

To which I responded, "that is a very important goal! I think you can do it. It will take some hard work and important choices, but you can do it."

His ever so confident reply? "Yes. I know I can. I am very fast. I will run for the present and be first so no one else can have it. I will win."

So, we have confidence down. Generosity? We are working on it. As far as how democracy is conducted in our country? Maybe by the time he is 18.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Just so I will remember...

That is an entire tube of my favorite shade of coral lipstick. 

This comes shortly after my (almost) four-year-old was sitting in my lap and peed on me.

Some days this life feels a little surreal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The downward spiral...

So often I catch myself defining my entire day by a single moment. I often joked when I was teaching that whether or not I said my day was good or bad depended entirely on how my last class of the day went. As if those 50 minutes somehow negated the previous seven hours.

I have learned since staying home with the boys that my days are filled with moments of joy and frustration, ups and downs, laughter and tears (sometimes mine, sometimes theirs). It's nearly impossible to sum up a day with one succinct word. Not to mention I am currently getting next to no sleep (being 31 weeks pregnant comes with a slew of challenges to tackle) which doesn't help me to respond reasonably to otherwise normal situations.

I recently read Gretchen Rubin's book on Habits and she devoted a great deal of time to the common belief that we all think one simple mistake ruins the day, so we might as well call it a wash. For instance, if you're trying to eat healthy and show up to work only to see that someone has oh so kindly decided to supply the entire office (or teacher's lounge) with a box of donuts, the temptation would be to eat a donut and then eat whatever you want the rest of the day, since you've already screwed it up.

I think I do that with my attitude... I've already started the day on a downer, so my tendency is to call the day a wash and switch to survival mode, rather than allowing myself a "reset."

Calling the day a wash and defining the day by a single moment is definitely not the kind of message I want to send to my kids... and it is far from biblical. We trip and fall and stumble millions and millions of times, only to be assured that we are still loved, still forgiven, and still fully equipped for every good work. God's mercies are new every morning and it's always morning somewhere.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What doesn't kill you makes you hopeful...

I am aware that the phrasing of this post's title isn't correct... at least not if you're a Kelly Clarkson fan or even if you're into cutesy magnets or bumper stickers. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's the line.

There are analogies for this... when you break a bone, for instance, that part of the bone heals and the site of the break is stronger. I could go into the biological details of this... throwing out terms like "osteocyte" to show how smart I am and that, hey, I went to college. But I might just ask you to trust me and that I know what I'm talkin' 'bout. Mk? Also, ask successful married couples about what makes their marriage work, and they will most likely reference a difficult season in their marriage. A "breaking point" that they chose to endure, rather than (for the sake of analogy) "killing" the marriage.

But I don't know that this is the end goal. At least not for Christians. Romans 5 says that suffering produces endurance. I get this. We learn to endure by pressing into Jesus and our community, pouring over scripture, praying, whatever. It doesn't stop there, however. Paul goes on to say that endurance then produces character. I think this where we, and Miss Clarkson, choose to stop. It makes us stronger. It makes us better people. This is the secular view of justifying suffering. Although I have known people who have came out of suffering for the worse (embittered, angry, calloused) there are numerous stories of people coming out "stronger" or more gracious, understanding, patient. So, in a sense, they come out "stronger." But Jesus doesn't want to stop with our character. The passage says that "character produces HOPE and hope does not put us to shame."

This is a little confusing. We start with suffering and along the way learn to endure and develop better character... and the end result is hope. Hope in what?

Jesus. His return. His dependability. His unchanging nature. We hope in the fact that, despite all of the chaos and confusion in the world, He is still who He says He is and He is still for our good. And we surrender in our suffering by accepting it as being allowed by God so that we can become more like Jesus... even if we never know the reason for our suffering. We can respond like Job- who ended up still praising God despite NEVER know the origins of his suffering... or like Job's wife- cursing God and begging her husband to turn his back on his Creator. Because when Paul says in Romans 8:28 that God works all things together for our good... he goes on in verse 29 to say that this "good" is that we be conformed to the image of Jesus. That is our hope. That is why we do not become untethered and emotional by the state of the world or the small disruptions throughout our day. Because all suffering is for our good... which is making us more like Jesus, giving us more hope, reminding us of our good, good Father.

This is how I can go through my day with open hands... knowing that interrupted naps, unplanned stomach bugs, family drama and a tight budget are all for my good- which ultimately is making me more hopeful and more Christlike. Because God says it is... and everything He says is true.