Sunday, April 19, 2009

Real Women

I read a pretty standard women's magazine today. I was a tomboy growing up in a house full of girls and was never really into all that "girly stuff" like hair, clothes or makeup. But somehow along this life's journey I found myself in a house with three sons, a husband (who is male) and a dog (also male). And with this development I have gotten far more deeply in touch with my feminine side. One of the ways that I enjoy being "girly" is to look through women's magazines. I love to read up on the latest seasonal fashions, the hot new makeup colors, the best new diets and much to Ryans chagrin, celebrity gossip. Today I was sucked in to a magazine by the cover story entitled something like "a new and thinner you by summer!" I read every word and even took notes.

Now I am sure that for some women (maybe even many?) these magazines actually feel grounded in reality and hold practical truths for everyday life. I am not one of these women though. The following are just a few examples of how my attempts to take advice have worked out (or not):

Natural looking, beach waves with minimal effort! I have wavy hair which is supposedly perfect for this look. All I have to do is put in some product, blow dry and scrunch, then put in more product to get rid of the frizz, then use a curling iron to fix all the spots where my hair stands straight up on top of my head (naturally) or curls up in sort-of a Carol Brady way. Then I have to wait half the day for my puffy hair to go a little limp and voila! Naturally wavy and beautiful hair. The few times I have tried this I ended up dunking my head under the sink in frustration and blow drying my hair straight and calling it a day.

Heels are in! Peep toes, pumps, strappy heals and in particular bold colored heels worn with pencil skirts and expensive jeans! My problem is that I do read the fashion magazines and everyone always looks so pulled together and stylish and I actually start to think I could pull off a pair of pumps for kindergarten pick up, carpool with the third graders, walking the dog and chasing the one (almost two) year old around our muddy back yard. I even saw a great Banana Republic ad once last year of a woman in a silk dress and heels pushing her adorable little boy on the swings at the park. It seemed so natural, so right. What the photo forgot to show us is how the cute little boy then rubbed a sticky sucker all over the front of her silk dress which stained it forever (yeah this has happened to me) and then her heels got caught in the sand under the swingset causing her to trip and tear a muscle making her have to limp after her kids and dog for the next two weeks.

Favorite Family Recipes that EVERYONE will love!! I would love to find a recipe that is healthy and popular with all three of my boys. One who only likes things like seafood and Indian curry, the other who prefers pizza and chicken nuggets, and the other who will only eat it if there is sugar added. There is rarely a night in our house where I don't have to hear from one out of the four eaters in my house - "gross!!! this is disgusting!"

My last and most current "article disconnect" as I just decided to call it was the thin by summer article. It said really encouraging, optimistic things like, "just do exercise and the fat will melt off your body!" You will have endless energy and be on the beach in a bikini by June! At my age and after three children and with my unfortunate genes, I have been at the gym almost every day this year with minimal results. In fact I have only gained weight since joining the gym this year. The muffin top is still there and the skin that has been stretched beyond repair will never be gone save for winning a free trip to the plastic surgeon. I have never in my life seen fat melting off my body although things have started to sag which might be the closest thing.

Bottom line is, I wonder why there isn't a magazine out there on the stands selling tons of copies with articles that relate better to me and those like me? Articles that are more along the lines of "Best deals on earlobe surgery for mom's whose kids have pulled earrings out of their ears." And " Best exercises to do that will keep you from getting any worse (but no guarantees)" and "best new clothes that let you sit criss cross apple sauce on wet grass" or even "why all the organization in the world will never keep your house clean." My mom today gave her own examples from a working empty nester in her 50s. Something about "lucky you now you get hot flashes and there is nothing you can really do about it!" And " now that you need glasses for both far and near you find yourself picking up the wrong merchandise at the store and reading the price tags wrong and being too embarrassed to tell the cashier so you spend way too much for stuff." Those titles are so catchy, aren't they?

I will continue to read good ol women's magazines. They are entertaining and they continue to convince me, even if only for a short moment, that the tips inside them can be useful to me. I am seriously considering starting my own magazine though - so be on the lookout on stands near you!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

He is Alive and Well

Some could say that this year could feel like a bit of a letdown after last year. Last year at Christmas we were singing carols in Shepherds Field overlooking the town where Jesus was actually born. This year was our first Christmas ever spent with no extended family around. We each had a couple gifts under the tree and we shared a dinner with another family who had no one to spend the day with.

Last year on Palm Sunday, my sons and I carried palm branches and walked from the top of the Mt. of Olives down into the Old City of Jerusalem with thousands of other jubilant believers crying out and singing "Hosanna!!" We remembered the time when 2000 years ago Jesus entered the city by that same route and received a king's welcome. This year we celebrated "palm Friday" (our church meets on Friday nights) attending a wedding rehearsal and then in a small upstairs room with a handful of other believers -

Last year on Good Friday I went to the Old City and watched as a Middle Eastern Man carried a cross through the city to reenact Christ's own journey to Golgotha. On the way home I passed the Holy Sepulchre, the church on the site of what people believe to be Christ's tomb. I watched as pilgrims wept over the place where He died for them. This year on Good Friday we shared a potluck meal with other believers and worshipped and took communion together.

Last year on Easter Sunday we woke to a sunny Jerusalem morning and went to the Garden Tomb where we celebrated Christ's resurrection with singing along with people of many other languages and cultures. We finished the day with a barbeque with friends in a park overlooking the old city. We watched the sun set over Jerusalem and we watched the sun set on the day of all days - Tomorrow on Easter morning our boys will do a scavenger hunt for their Easter baskets. We will meet together with friends and worship, baptize some and share some good coffee and pastries. Then we will head out to the "country" to share a meal and to celebrate with some of our closest friends.

The experience of last year far exceeded my expectations and to spend Christian holidays in the place where they all began was incredible and life changing. But where does that leave the rest of believers? And where does that leave me now that I am just a normal American citizen celebrating the holidays in somewhat "normal" ways? Tonight it hit me, while I was stuffing little plastic eggs and chocolate bunnies into my boys (and Ryans) Easter baskets. I realized that while last year made a huge impact on me and I highly recommend to people that they travel to the Holy Land if possible, God was ever present with me before I went there. And he is with me now. All I really need to do is take just a single moment to reflect and just that moment is enough to make my heart swell. That the God of the Universe would come down to earth, live and then die in my place to save me and to show his great love for me - now that is over the top. That is true whether I am sitting in the town where he lived and died or if I am sitting in my living room in suburban America.

I am grateful for that. I am grateful to our great God who by His smallest gesture of love to His most outrageous creations makes life never boring and never without promise. Tomorrow I will celebrate with other believers and remember that God Almighty did write out a story with many twists and turns and one great cliff-hanger that ended in Jesus gaining victory over death and once again reigning over all things. Whether comes joy or sorrow, excitement or the mundane, God is alive and well and in each of our life's story.

Happy Easter and may you find great joy in knowing that Jesus is Alive!