Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Traveller's Tree: the yearly tradition of hanging our ornaments

When I was a kid, I collected teddy bears.  Once family got wind of it, I was the lucky recipient of stuffed teddy bears, teddy bear blankets, teddy bear figurines, teddy bear mugs.  When I left for college I had a lot of bears to pack up.  I think I gave most of them away, save for a few select bears that are stored away for my grandkids.

In High School, I collected Goofy (from Disney) items.  Goofy baseball hat, Goofy t-shirt, Goofy slippers, Goofy telephone.  I still have the slippers.

Collections can be fun, they can give a person a sort of "mission" in which they are always on the hunt for something to add.  They can also be expensive, take up too much room, and give too many well-meaning relatives a reason to add less-desirable items to your shelves.

As a family who like to travel, we notice a lot of traveller collector items.  Early in our marriage, Ryan and I needed to make the important decision..."what do we collect on our travels?"  In every airport and gift shop in the world, there are plenty of options - sweatshirts, hats, silver spoons, snow globes, and little figures.  There is local handiwork, wines, jewelry, patches, pins, foodstuffs.  And of course, the shot glass.  What to do?  After retiring my bear and Goofy collections for good, I really wasn't ready for anything big or clutter-adding.  So we came up with the idea of collecting Christmas tree ornaments.

This has become one of my most favorite traditions of the season.  Ornaments are small, get packed up for eleven months a year, and serve a very practical purpose for the month of December.  Everyone needs something to hang on their tree, and these ornaments provide a large amount of nostalgia to go with their practicality.

Every year, as we decorate our tree, Ryan, the boys and I talk about the stories that go along with each ornament we hang.

We have an ornament from San Francisco Ry and I got on our first anniversary trip.  We have Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons, one from a lodge we stayed at in Washington State.  Leavenworth, the Grand Canyon, Washington DC, Durango, and the Redwood Forest.  We have a glass bell from Petra, Jordan and a beautiful camel ornament from Cairo.  Florida was ba-humbug the year we were there, so we have a giant sand-dollar we found on the beach, tied up with ribbon and hung on the tree each year.

When Ryan travels alone he brings home ornaments so we can somehow relive his memories with him.  Places like Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Bosnia.  In Greece, the first time there we couldn't find an ornament so we bought a little clay pot to hang.  Our second time, we were there in November and found a hand-painted ornament to add to our collection.  Of course we have our olive wood ornaments bought in Bethlehem (we love cliches in our family).

No town or trip is too small or too big for us.  We pick up ornaments on road trips as well as missions trips, anniversary trips, and bigger family vacations (like Maui).  We are a blessed family to be sure.  Ryan and I made the decision early on to value travel and experience over stuff, and we have been lucky enough to have those experiences on a fairly modest income (by US standards, large by the rest of the world).

Christmas is such a fun time to celebrate memories and traditions.  Some of our ornaments are not from our travels, but are still meaningful - the photo ornaments of the kids with Santa over the years, the ornament Ryan gave me on one of our first ever "dates" back in college.  The first year of marriage ornaments and the "baby's first Christmas" ornaments.  No one can ever accuse me of NOT being sentimental.  Every December we get to remember the experiences and the places we have been blessed to see and to experience.  In a little collection of memories, snapshots of times and places, all hung on our tree.  I look forward to future travels and opportunities to add to our collection (Lord willing!).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In a dark field I wait

Living in the land of Jesus's birth, life, death and resurrection can spoil a person.  It can ruin one's perspective and make living out the Christian life anywhere else seem a bit mundane at times.  It can also change a person, and create memories and experiences that will stay with them forever.

On Christmas Eve 2007, our family of five spent time across the Separation Wall, on the West Bank of Israel, singing songs about Jesus and praying for peace with other believers.  We did not go to where the party was, in Bethlehem, where the light first dawned and Jesus was first placed in an animal's trough.  We were in Beit Sahour, or "Shepherd's Field," where it was believed the nomadic sheepherders tended their sheep.

From where we stood, singing in Hebrew, in Arabic and in English, we could see the lights of Bethlehem, but we stood nearly completely in the dark, excepting one fire, in the middle of our little circle.

There are people who happily embrace God's grace and forgiveness.  Who are easily able to shed the "sinner" and walk as a "saint" made possible of course only by God.  I don't mean self-righteous people, I just mean those lucky people who see God's outstretched hand and gift and say "hey, cool..thanks!"    I, on the other hand, have a hard time with the free gift of God's love and grace.  I see myself as fallen, and imperfect, and it pains me.  I know I can never earn God's favor, and there are days when I struggle to accept it.  I know I cannot walk into heaven on my own two feet, but only on the back of the one who bore my sin on a cross.  But that humbles me to my knees and if God were to come today I wonder if I wouldn't hide from Him.  This is my confession.

In the days that God became man and dwelt among His people, shepherds were a despised profession.  In the caste system of the day, they were considered right "up" there with tax collectors and dung sweepers.  They were called "untrustworthy" and unclean.  The bottom of the heap.  They were not allowed into the temple to pray.  Today I thought of Shepherd's Field, and thought "this is where I belong."  This is where we all deserve to be - outside of Bethlehem, looking in.

On Friday, 20 small children, most of them 6 years old, were brutally killed.  In Sudan, and in Syria, in many regions in our world, parents watch their children suffer and die.  Children watch as their parents are murdered.  There is war, famine, child soldiers, genocide, school shootings, domestic violence.  It is heartbreaking, sickening, horrifying.  This world has a lot of darkness and pain, none of it is easy to accept or to explain.  What amazes me is that the bible says that Jesus came not despite the darkness here, but because of it.  He sees those of us, like me, who some days want to sit in the dark where we feel we belong, and God says "no."

He sent a host of angels to reveal to the outcasts of society, those shepherds in the darkness, that God was here.  That He was born to us, to save us from ourselves.  He said "come to Bethlehem and see for yourselves!"  He invited them to join in the party and to rejoice and find hope. I wouldn't have traded that time in Beit Sahour for anything, and modern-day Bethlehem on December 24 resembles Mardi Gras more than the simple, first celebration of a baby's birth.  However, this season I want to accept the fact that though we don't deserve it, though we humans are all unclean, we are all outcasts, God has announced His presence to us.  He invites us into the story, to come to Him.  Although I put my trust in God 20 years ago, I still have days when I wake up and have to say, "I will go and see.  I will accept that You love more than I can fathom. "  How long will we wait in the field before we go down to Bethlehem?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Merry Macgyver Christmas: the yearly tradition of making something from nothing

I adore the Christmas season.  I love the softer, more golden shade of sunlight in the afternoon, cool nights (I live in So Cal after all), carols playing on pandora radio, balsam scented candles burning and peppermint tea in my favorite mug.  As a believer in Christ the season is a great celebration of "God with us" or God coming down to meet us here on earth and to walk with us.  I love all the traditions that come with the season as well.  Decorating the tree with ornaments we have picked up on all our travels, remembering each trip as we hang them.  Putting my churches on top of the bookcase, hanging our stockings and setting out our olivewood nativity, purchased in Jerusalem while we were living there.

We decorate fairly simply, but every year I want to join in the thousands of men and women who dust off their crafting skills and make something cool.  Now that there is pinterest, we can share ideas online and it has most likely spurred a sort of craft "revival" even for those who might have not ventured into those uncharted waters before.  I laugh at some of the ideas that really take a whole lot of money to accomplish even with a stash of online Michael's 50% off coupons and maybe a friend who owns a lumber mill.  Of course I still like those ideas, I just don't have a budget for them and am secretly (or not so secretly) jealous that they have a friend who owns a lumber mill.

That said, there are many, many inexpensive ideas out there for someone like me on a tight budget.  When I was a kid, I loved to watch "Macgyver" on TV (no not a flat screen, no not on netflix).  The guy could take the simplest more random things and turn them into something amazing.  He makes Jason Bourne, and 007 look a little un-creative if you ask me.  Just two examples I found online: In the first ever episode, he plugs a sufuric acid leak with chocolate.  Later, he builds bombs out of swamp gas, bamboo shoots, and mud.  I am not saying I do, or do not condone bombs, but this guy is seriously cool.

Back to the point - the holidays seem to bring the Macgyver out of people, and definitely out of me.  I dig in the bottom of my Christmas bins to find broken berries, bits of string, and scraps of fabric and can decorate my lamp shade.  I can hang old dollar store ornaments from the chandalier and use a "seen better years" tablecloth as my tree skirt.  I love to hear about other people's resourcefulness and how they can create something cozy, beautiful and magical with very, very little.  My favorite "Macgyver Christmas" craft ever?  The following wreath, made from the simplest of items -

An ugly bush (really, really ugly)

A metal hanger...
Taken and pulled and squished and molded into a sort-of circle
Cut branches overlapped thick end under the thin end and tied with simple twine
= a wreath to hang!

Here it is in our livingroom

A better look - also some more of that bush made it's way into a vase wrapped in old ribbon
I love projects like these because they are easy enough even for an impatient and low budget gal like myself.  And they are so versatile - you could use any greenery you have in your backyard or in the greenbelt or in your neighbor's backyard (rosemary, holly, cyprus tree...hey those have to be good for something other than being a tall, unsightly 70's-esque filler tree).  And if you don't have twine, use wire, or cut strips of fabric, or yarn.  I hereby decree that everyone needs to make this wreath.  Yes, I am excited about this project.  And don't even get me started on what you can do with a 3 dollar can of chalkboard paint.  Pretty much anything can be turned into something cool if there is chalkboard paint on it (unless you are my five year old...or my favorite shirt).  I hope to hear of many more Macgyver Christmas projects this year - I guess words like "reclaimed" and "repurposed" would be the more cool hipster/pinterest/good blogger way to phrase it.  So, devoted reader (Mom? Grandma?)...do you have some good Macgyver Christmas stories to share?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Short Stanley:just your run of the mill 7th grade day plus one bully

My oldest son is a very nice kid.  In the fourth grade he was bullied.  The kids were sorting out the pecking order and anyone willing to pick on someone else was safe.  If someone refused to turn and be a pick-ee, then they remained a picked-on.  It was a terrible year for our family and I was heartbroken and angry at the same time.   After that year things settled down but he never really developed close friendships with anyone at his school.

This year, our move to San Diego County from the OC has been wonderful for him.  A fresh start that we were all praying for.  He has really great buddies from school and from church.  The boy has more than made up for his lackluster social life leading up to now.  We are thrilled for him.

But today he came home and told me that a kid at school threw him up against a fence and punched him in the stomach.  What???!

The story goes like this:  Kid borrows money from Isaac.  Kid doesn't pay Isaac back.  Isaac continues to ask for his money back.  Isaac gives Kid "the eye" and rubs his fingers together (symbolizing "you owe me money").  Kid says repeatedly that he will not pay Isaac back.  Turns out Kid borrows from everyone at the school and doesn't pay anyone back.  He cusses and isn't very nice.

Today the Kid finally got mad at Isaac for asking for his money back.  Kid pushed and punched Isaac.

Here was my mom response:  Isaac you have no idea what hurts are going through Kid's mind and in his life that make him mean.  Maybe Kid is poor and needs that two dollars he spent on a poweraid more than you need it.  Maybe Kid's mother doesn't love him like your mother loves you.   Just let it go and try to be nice to Kid because he is hurting inside.

This was my pastor husband's response:  Punch Kid in the nose if he ever pushes you again.  He won't expect it and he will get a reputation for being the kid who got punched in the nose and will never be a bully again.  And he deserves it.


This is what happened...Isaac said to Kid..."you better leave me alone or I will get my 8th grade friends to back me up." Eighth grade friends (Isaac is the only 7th grader in an 8th grade class) start walking towards Kid.  The shortest 8th grader (let's call him Stanley) makes threatening hand in fist gesture and says "you just messed with the wrong 7th grader..."  Another 8th grader tells short 8th grader, "You are sooo not intimidating, Stanley (again, the name has been changed to protect Stanley)." Kid runs away and later in the day Isaac is giving Kid the eye again. (You'd think he would be afraid of the guy).

 He was laughing while he told me the story today in the car.  Whether this happens again, or if he punches the kid in the nose or prays for him or becomes best friends with him, I am just so happy he is not feeling beat down by it.  I am not even going to make this profound...I just want to visualize short 8th grade Stanley (shorter than most 7th graders according to my son) doing the fist in hand motion..."you messed with the wrong 7th grader, Kid..."  

1 Corinthians 1:25

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Worship in the front row

It takes a certain type of person to sit in the front row at church.  Usually you need to have a good amount of self-confidence to sit up front.  Or you need to be a part of a bigger group of friends that all sit in the front, so you can still feel like you are not in the front row.  Maybe you are a more mature member of the church who knows that no one likes to sit in the front, so you sit there to open up room in the back.  Or maybe you never show up late to church or have your cell phone ring or have to sneak out early to take your kid to a sport's event.  So the front row makes good sense.     Or maybe you are friends with the pastor or you think you should be friends with the pastor.  Because everyone knows that the pastor sits in the front row.

In fact, if you are new to a church and wonder who the pastor is...just look in the front row. He's (or she's) probably there. 

Ryan sits in the front left row of our church.  If I wasn't married to him I think I would sit in the back row.  It would be so much easier for me to relax.  Namely, because I figure people are paying way more attention to me that they really are.  And I am a goofball clutz that embarrassing things happen to, and in the back row those things are less noticeable.  

While sitting or standing in the front row of church, these are the general types of things that go through my head... "is my bra strap showing? " "Is my skirt tucked into my tights? " "Is my tag sticking out?"  Will my chair break? (this has happened)  "will people notice that I am not putting something into the offering basket?" There is also always the hazard of getting spit on or having the pastor make eye contact with you...which of course if your spouse is the teaching pastor for the day you have to just grin and bear that one...(or you can throw a spit wad...which only very immature pastor's wives or front-row sitters would ever do).

Last week I came in a few minutes late due to some unforeseen drama with the boys that morning.  I came in, walked up to the front, turned off my cell phone, set down my purse and water, then knocked my water and purse over, spilling out my collections of gum wrappers, to-do lists, pens and wadded up dollar bills that I keep in my not-so tidy purse.  Disruptive maybe?  Then I realized that I didn't have a bulletin and I always take notes so I excused myself to go to the back again to grab a bulletin.  Once the sermon started, someone came to sit by me and whisper that they thought Ryan's truck lights were on.  I left again to go check.  It was another white, giant hemi-engined man-truck (ok that is sexist...but that is how I see it) with it's lights on...not Ryan's.  So I had to go back to the front row again.  All the while I am wondering if people are asking "can't she just sit still?"

This week, during musical worship, I struggled again.  In the back row I feel the freedom to sing and praise God without thinking about anyone else other than me and God.  If I need to let things go, I may lift my hands up.  If I am happy I might clap or move with the music in my white-girl way.  I might sit if I feel the need to posture myself in a show of humility.  In the back row, I might even kneel.  In the front row I wonder...if I stand while most everyone is sitting what will others think?  People often watch the pastor to see what he is up to - if he sits, they sit, if he claps, they clap.  If he stands, they stand.  I personally don't like that practice because I think it is important for people to do what they feel led to do during that time.  Worship isn't a choreographed sing-along.  Worship (in music)  is one way believers express to God their gratitude and praise.  It is often done in a large group setting, but it is the heart God is hearing and not the outward expression that matters.  

Do I do my best in the front row to do back-row worship?  Yes I try.  But my request to worship leaders and to pastors is this - please teach those of us in every row what worship needs to be.  Remind us that we can express ourselves however we feel we need to - without judgement or ridicule (although if you dance around the church we might giggle a tiny bit...).  

I know I will continue to sit in the front row (except for those days Ryan is out of town...). I know I need to learn once again in one more way that I don't live my life for those around me, but rather for the God who made me. Today I sat when others were standing.  I felt like that made the most sense but it was hard for me to do.  After church someone came to me and said "I really wanted to sit before God during worship but no one was sitting...I saw you sitting and it gave me the courage to sit."  It sounds so silly but if you are a part of church you probably know what I am talking about.  It was a good reminder to me once again to let God dictate what I do and not the opinion of others.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fear Behind the Mask:How the church handles honesty

Today I found Ben hiding behind the couch with his flip flops and a roll of tape.  He was taping the sandals back together and it was obvious he had cut them.  Of course, in my mother way I simply asked, "Ben, did you cut your sandals?"

He said no.  I asked again, and he reminded me how Ian's sandals had broken once without being cut.  I showed him on the sandal where the seam was and how the straight cut didn't match up.  I asked again.  "Ben, did you cut this sandal?"

Instead of saying yes, Ben started to sob.  He ran back behind the couch to hide, and I had a choice to make.

I could yell at him for cutting his sandal and do exactly the thing that he feared enough to lie in the first place.  Or I could go to him, hug him and let him know I love him and I am disappointed when he lies to me.  I did the latter.  Of course I made sure to explain that cutting flip flops is not a good idea because now he doesn't have any.

As Christians we are terrified of honesty.  Even though God may know our hearts we still lie to Him, to ourselves, and to everyone else.  We are much more afraid of the consequences of our mistakes than we are of hiding them.  People who confess of hating their spouse, stealing from their work, or skipping quiet time for years at a time are rarely met with a "good job!  thanks for being honest!"  Those of us in leadership talk about Integrity and taking off our masks and being vulnerable.  We tell people that God wants us to be honest and to confess our sins "and he is faithful and just and will forgive us."  We tell people that if they have an issue with another believer that they need to go to that person and deal with it in order to have a richer worship experience.

What is wrong with us that we just can't tell the truth?  For one, the church says with its lips that we are all sinners, but real sinners are uncomfortable and we don't know how to deal with them.  What if the truth is that someone confesses a sin and says "I don't have the strength to stop it?"  What then do we do?  If they pretend to be alright and repentant and they do all the right things, then there is a better chance the church can handle them. (I also believe people can be honestly doing and saying the "right" things as well..)  But if they continue to be honest in their struggles, then the church can't seem to come to a consensus on how to walk with honest people, pray with honest people and help to restore honest people.

Truth is, we should not be so shocked when it comes out that people have blown it big time.  God promises us that we are fallen, that we are sinful, and that we will mess up.  Even the heroes of the faith in the bible mess up often and sometimes big time.

One thing that God consistently takes issue with in the bible is lying.  He calls the pharasees "white-washed tombs" meaning they look clean and perfect on the outside but they are full of decay and death on the inside.  He gets angry at those who did all sorts of great things on the outside for God, but on the inside their hearts were far from Him.  In fact He even at one point tells those people "I don't know you."

Honesty in church seems rare.  We tell people to tell the truth but do we mean it?  We ask people to confess their sins but will we confess ours?  The man hanging next to Jesus on the cross, condemned for a grievous crime, found himself in heaven that very night and yet those who pretended to be so good and yet were so far, were cast away from Him.  I am not saying we need to do away with consequences, but those will come on their own.  I am saying that I believe we need to remember that fake righteousness (lying) should make us more afraid than admitting our failures.  We may never know when someone is lying - they may live out a beautifully godly life all their days but on the inside, be far from God.  But we can sometimes know when someone is being honest and we need to treat them with at the very least, as much respect and care that we treat those who hide from the truth.   

Sunday, November 4, 2012

You know you are a mom of boys when...

In case you aren't sure whether you fit into this category, I am referring to mothers of ALL boys although some of the list may pertain to mothers with at least one boy.  Not sure.  I wouldn't know.

1.  You know that a nut cup is not something caterers use to display holiday chestnuts, walnuts and hazelnuts.

2.  You never yell at anyone in your house for leaving the toilet seat up.  In fact, after going pee, you yourself put the toilet seat up.  Otherwise, one of your boys will inevitably pee without lifting the seat and you will have sticky pee all over the seat.  It is just easier that way.

3. You often find yourself cleaning footprints off the wall at eye-height and hand prints off the ceiling.

4. You have a special camaraderie with other mothers with only boys.  People may think you are exclusive...but that's just how it is.  You need to feel you are special in some way because your boys and husband usually just think you are weird.

5.  No one uses plates on pizza night because it makes more sense to eat off of the box.  Boys are very efficient that way.

6.  I never understood the term "hoover" your food until I had all three boys at the table.  It's like magic the way they make the food disappear.

7.  You realize that the concept that a mom of all boys is like the "princess" in the family is a complete fallacy.  No one will treat you like a princess or see you that way because they don't know what a princess is, nor do they care.

8.  You spend more time cleaning urine off the floor than you do having tea parties.

9.  Boys without sisters don't see anything wrong with throwing snowballs at girl's faces or flashing their butts in public.

10.  Your children are honestly surprised when you mention to them to use soap in the shower and to change their clothes or at the very least, their boxers.

11.  If you can make it one week without someone breaking a bone, setting a fire, getting a black eye or getting a bloody nose sliding head first down the stairs on a piece of cardboard, it is a good week.

12.  If you can make it one week without any body slamming, double dipping, running in the house naked, ball-throwing, grunting, inappropriate gas-passing or burping, drinking out of the milk carton (again boys are efficient), or roll-down-the-window body oder...

Well...I wonder if you really have boys at all.

Let me know what I missed!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Halloween Party

Yesterday my husband posted on why we celebrate Halloween.  You can read his excellent post on the subject here and just know it receives a hearty "amen" from me.

Yesterday was one of those really fun days when I am happy that we are not seclusive Christians on Halloween night.  Ryan and I both believe that the best way to share the love of Jesus with the world is not by being one of the only darkened porches on the street with a sign that says "Jesus Loves You."

And so, we threw a party instead.

In the bible, the kingdom of heaven is described as a party (banquet) with lots of food.  

All day the boys and I prepared for the party - we made homemade salsa and carnitas, mummy cakepops and my favorite caramel apples.  First, we had to go foraging in the woods (or the empty lot behind the old abandoned bank down the street) for sticks.  I get giddy when I think about a party and as an introvert...I won't lie; the anticipation and preparation is my favorite part.

Jesus tells us...I will go and prepare a place for you...

We set out the food, lit some pumpkin spice candles, stuck some beer on ice, opened the door and in came our Halloween revelers.  First, it was some Junior High boys from my oldest's school.  They are new friends of his and are just learning about Jesus from my very verbal and not-ashamed son.  One was a vampire and one was a Civil War Veteran.  Next came the neighbors - every one of the houses we invited showed up as well as two extra families who don't even live on our street.  They were friends of neighbors.  Next came our friends from church.  We only invited one family from church because we wanted to really get to know the families on our street.

God invites everyone from every street corner.  

I love that our understanding of God not only allows, but compels us as a family to open our doors to anyone who will come.  And we don't invite people to convert them.  We invite them so we can know them and so they can know us.  It's a fun way to live.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Prayer and stoplights and parking spaces

This past week I had two different "opportunities" to talk about prayer with people.  I was the substitute bible study leader for our regular leader who was on a trip.  The topic: Prayer.  Later in the week I was helping Ryan teach a discipleship group at our church and this week happened to be on prayer as well.

I felt very unqualified to teach on prayer.

I talk to God a lot and I have heard from God a lot.  But I just don't have all the answers in regards to prayer.  I am not one of those "faith pray-ers" who claims the promises of God's word and banishes Satan from the room, and says Amen and Halleluiah a lot.  I love those people, but that is not me.  I also struggle with praying with the faith of a child.  I completely trust that God CAN do whatever he wants but it is hard for me to pray and trust that God WILL do what I am praying for.  I have friends who have complete trust in the goodness of God and pray knowing He will answer because He loves them.  I just can't do that.  I think I am a bit jaded.  

I do pray for the parking space sometimes...but I fully believe that God will answer me with a big fat NO because He cares more about my character than about my getting what I ask for.  And a parking space shouldn't be important to me when I live in this amazing country and I have food on my table each night.  But I have friends who see those little prayers as a way for God to bless and to gift you when you really don't deserve it.  I admit, when I pray what I consider to be a dumb and trivial or selfish prayer, and it actually is fulfilled in a "yes" from God, I feel pretty cared about.  And then humbled.  And often silly for asking but so happy that God heard.

 In fact, just this past weekend I was driving home and my car started breaking down.  Thinking of this blog post, I started to pray.  I asked God to "get me safely home."  And then I clarified..."home, meaning the house, not to heaven."  Then I prayed "and please get the car home, but not in a tow truck, rather on it's own wheels."  It was ridiculous and I was totally serious but also thinking God must seriously be rolling his eyes at me.  But then I got off the freeway, and for 10 stoplights in a row...the light was red, and just as my creaking and lurching car would come within a few feet of the light, it would turn green.  No kidding.  Every light from the freeway to my house.  Is that because I was clear with God?  I highly doubt it.  

A lady came up to me a while ago and told me a story of how she overheard me saying something to someone else at church, and she took it to heart.  She said it really impacted and challenged her.  Now, what she had recounted to me was a quick off-handed comment I made to someone and had not put any thought into whatsoever.  I laughed and said, "Gosh you shouldn't listen to everything I say!" And she replied "Yes I do...you are the pastor's wife."  Yikes!!  

Because of occasional conversations like that, I am very sensitive to the things that I don't have answers to.  Of course, I don't think I have entire answers for anything.  The bible says we will see "dimly" in this world but will one day see God "face to face."  I will strive to know God and His word each day, but my understanding of Him will be dim, at best.  I feel that my understanding of prayer is that way as well.  

People sometimes come to me and ask me how to pray.  There are so many examples of prayer in the Bible and they don't follow a perfect outline.  Yes the PRAY method is good: Praise God, Repent of your sins, Ask for what is on your heart, Yield to God's ultimate answer.  Yes the Lord's Prayer is a good model to follow.  And sometimes people yell at God, sometimes they sing to Him, praise Him, thank Him, sometimes they whine to God, sometimes they use simple words and the Bible even says that sometimes we can't come up with any words at all and the Holy Spirit in us will pray on our behalf.  Sometimes people hear from God in an audible voice, sometimes in the wind, sometimes a stirring in the heart, sometimes through a "prophet" and sometimes through the awesome-ness of Nature.  

I have to believe that prayer is as diverse as the people who pray and that God will listen, regardless of how pious, or how goofy, or how angry those prayers may be.  And in looking for, and listening for His response, I hope ultimately what we can come to believe is that God is saying "I am here."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Wall: and when to cease praying.

I had a vision.

Yes, one of those crazy-christian-lady (as I like to call myself on occasion) visions.

I was standing in front of a wall, holding a piece of paper.  I was turning the piece of paper over and over, staring at it, worrying over it, thinking about it.  God said, "stick the paper in the wall, and walk away."  So I did.

This happened to me last week when I was very upset about something.  Heartbroken, in fact.  And I was doing just what the Bible tells me to do..I was praying without ceasing.  Yep, when I woke up and I thought about this burden on my heart, I would pray.  And then all day that burden was on my heart and I would pray some more.  And then as I was getting ready for bed, that burden was on my heart some more and I would pray.  In fact, at church last week we forced (ahem, gave the opportunity to...) our discipleship class to pray for 30 minutes on their own, in silence, without writing one grocery list or checking their fb status on their phones (not that I have ever done this at church..).  I took my 30 minutes and prayed without ceasing for this same burden that was on my heart.

In that 30 minutes, we were also supposed to listen for God to speak to us.  We made it clear that this was not a forced exercise and no one fails if they don't happen to hear God speak.  That's silly.  But I was praying so fervently without ceasing, that I doubt I gave God the chance to get in a word edgewise.  But literally, God threw one of those 11th hour, hail-mary (is God allowed to do that?) type God-is-speaking-now passes my way the very last minute of our 30 minutes.

And it was in a vision.

I was in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.  Which I have been there before many times.  The wailing wall is part of the ancient temple that once stood in Jerusalem, which was destroyed almost entirely by the Romans in AD 70.  The temple housed the "Holy of Holies" or basically, this is where God lived, where He was present.  The wall today stands as a reminder to the Jewish people that one day the temple will be rebuilt, but it also is the closest thing they have to coming into God's presence.  It is a Holy place for them.

I was holding a piece of paper.  Pilgrims come from all over to the wailing wall and bring their prayers, written on paper.  They roll the paper up into little wads and stuff them into the cracks of the wall.  It's as close as one can get to sticking a prayer into the hand of God.

I was turning the paper over and over.  I was praying without ceasing.  But I wasn't actually putting my concerns into God's hands.  And that is what He wanted me to do.

God's voice in my vision wasn't a gentle one.  It was an admonishment.  It was a bit annoyed.  (of course, that might have just been my take on it).  "Sara, stick the paper in the wall, and walk away."

So, in the vision I saw myself do just that.  I put my prayer into the hands of God and therefore put it out of my hands.  Then I turned and walked away, trusting that He cares more than me and is far more capable than me.  

The real me (not the vision-me) let go of my burden right then.  And I walked away from it.  Every once in a while I can look over at the wall just to check..."you still got this, right God?"  And He does.

1 Peter 5:7 "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you."

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Momnesia is a real thing.  I thought I was clever when I came up with the title of this post, but then decided to google it.  There are definitions online, books, blogs and even a USA Today article on Momnesia.  The basic premise of course, is that a mother, shortly after childbirth, suffers from a sort of mental "fuzziness." I didn't read much on the term, since I already had in my head what I thought it meant and I prefer to live in my bubble and use the term for my own devices.  Also, I am a bit annoyed that I am not as clever as I thought I was.

I always think of mommy amnesia as the condition that wipes away the true memory of childbearing so that we have more kids later.  I won't go into the gory details, but giving birth to my first-born was not pretty. And between the three kids, there was 6 weeks of bedrest, 31 days in NICU, 10 years of cholic (I won't name names), an emergency C-section and 150 pounds of weight gain.  Yet somehow I managed to forget each difficult experience and go for another round.

Other signs of Momnesia might be things like putting your purse in the fridge, leaving your bible on top of the car (I literally went through one bible per baby), forgetting your child's name, leaving your keys in the bathroom at McDonalds, becoming clutzy and bumping into things (I might have been born with Momnesia now that I think of it).

Here is where I have been hit the hardest though - I have these ideas in my head of what an idyllic family outing will look like.  Or what Christmas morning will look like.  Or for instance, what a nice family bike ride on the beach for my birthday will look like.  We all love each other, we laugh, we smile.  We are wearing normal, clean clothes and we are polite to all those around us.  We are grateful for life and for whatever experience we may be having together.  So lovely.  There are the ideas in my head, and then there is what is true.  Usually after an outing together or a family holiday, I am making plans to sell my children to the zoo.  And yet, I forget all this, and the very next week, am doing it all over again.  Momnesia.  

This past Friday we went to the Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch.  I was so excited to stroll the fields, watch the boys laugh and play, smell the cold, crisp fall air of...Escondido.  I knew right away that there was going to be trouble when we picked up my oldest from school and immediately the punching began.  And then they got along for five minutes because I told them the name of the pumpkin patch...Nut Farm.  And I have three boys, so they loved the idea of going to a nut farm, and giggled about going to get nuts for a good five minutes.  And then the punching resumed.  And Ben wiped boogers on Isaac's face.  And Ian threw a red rubber ball at Ben's face.  And then we got stuck in traffic.

At the pumpkin patch, the weather was significantly warmer than it had been at our house which is closer to the coast.  The boys were too hot.  They were hungry.  Could they get a giant pumpkin?  They picked up rotten pumpkins.  They made faces for the camera.  They grumbled.  And punched.  They found a poor fake mannequin cowboy sitting on a bench and picked his nose, pulled his ears and tickled his feet to make sure he was really fake.  Getting them to all three sit still for more than 20 seconds to get a photo of our day was like pulling teeth.  I told them that I was leaving them at the nut farm and they would have to forage for food and raise themselves.  Ben the five year old actually thought that sounded like a great idea.  Sigh.

This morning, I went for a run without the children.  It was cold and grey.  I had a thought in my head as I neared the house... "maybe they will all have cleaned the house for me while I was away.  Maybe the house will be cozy, clean and smelling of pumpkin candles and fresh-brewed coffee."  Momnesia.

What throws me off however, is that today, as I entered the house, it was clean and the boys were upstairs playing quietly (they were drawing all over their faces...but they were quiet) and the house smelled of pumpkin and coffee.  Sometimes they actually surprise me and live up to my hopes for them.  And it makes my Momnesia feel justified.  Sometimes I want to sell them to the zoo, but I look back on those moments fondly.  Momnesia.  

peaceful pumpkin patch
Brother love

Saturday, October 20, 2012

To Be a Child

Yesterday I got a tetanus shot for the first time in over 10 years. She gave me my shot, and then I got one of those little round bandaids that my kids always get when they get immunizations.  The last few times I got shots of any kind, I passed out.  Therefore, the nurse had me lay back and wait 15 minutes before I could leave the office.

Today, my arm is a little sore, but I no longer need the bandaid on my arm.  It is a tiny little pin-prick.  However, I keep refusing to pull the bandaid off.  And just a bit ago, it hit me why not.  I associate those bandaids with being a kid.  Where someone else is in charge and you just go along with it.  You don't have to be responsible and you don't have to make any choices, you just sit there and get your shot.  And then, if you are lucky, your mom or dad will take you to the store and buy you a can of mandarin oranges in light syrup.  (ok, that was my treat of choice as a kid...).

I am 37 years old and have been married for 15 years.  I have three beautiful (albeit feisty) boys.  I am a grown up.  But some days, I really want to be a kid again.  To not be responsible for anything or anyone, to have no major expectations, to be oblivious to the laundry on the bathroom floor and the dishes in the sink.

It's funny how childhood is so often lost on kids.  They want to grow up, they know better than their parents.  They hate the boundaries and the "forced" family vacations. Us adults, we do know better.  Days like today I am grateful to be called a "child" of God.  It is days like this, that I am glad that the Bible tells me that God has a plan.  That He is in control.  That He loves me and considers me His kid.    And I don't always have to have it all figured out and I can mess up.  Days like today I say to God, "Okay - the day is yours...just pick me up and take me where you want me to go.  Provide what you know I need, not what I think I want.  Maybe then I can take a moment where I don't feel the need to "DO" but can simply "BE."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10-10-10: Battlepound

I had hoped to be one of those really awesome diet success stories - only a wimpy version.  Instead of 80 pounds, 10 pounds.  Instead of holding up the pair of jeans with a foot of extra waistband, I could show a victorious jean-buttoning photo with my elastic waste-band skirts still folded in my dresser drawer.  But I would have weekly success, and I would share really great recipes that ensure success, and in the end, I would smile, beaming, 10 pounds lighter and 10 dollars richer...oh and 10 weeks older of course.

I did lose 1 pound in the first calorie-counting, low -sugar eating week.  And then I moved on to "smarter" dieting where I ate more protein and didn't worry so much about calories - I just ate smaller portions and made my carrot cake-pumpkin mini cupcake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and ate it too.  As per my last post, life being what it is, I didn't write my week two update to tell you all that week two ended with a loss of exactly zero pounds.  I still am down one, and I won't know until Friday what the net for the last three weeks will be.
These actually are healthier than they look...

I am back to cutting out sugar and paying attention to calories.  Though I am sad thinking that the only way to lose weight especially when such a small amount of it, is to give up sugar.  I do a lot of sweets when I cater and I don't know how to not taste test things along the way.  Yesterday I asked every thin person I saw what their secret was, and every one of them said they didn't eat sugar.  Seriously, that doesn't sound fun.

I would also like to note, that my five year old son has an incredible skill.  Really.  He has the ability to actually will green boogers to come out of his nose the moment I start to get ready for the gym and him to the gym childcare center.  It doesn't matter if he has been perfectly healthy and clear-nosed all day.  I am curious if every child has this skill or if my child is particularly gifted.

You might be thinking right about now..."Sara, stop your whining and at least do some leg lifts while you write this blog post!"   And you are right.  I should be doing leg lifts.  I think I am in awe right now of every man and woman everywhere who sets their sights on weight loss and stick to a plan, and see success.  Even one pound is a battle.

 And then of course I think, how ridiculous we Americans must seem to so many of the world - that we have so much food available to us that one of our biggest national epidemics is obesity.  It makes me feel a little ashamed, really.

So as always, I approach dieting with the same basic principal I approach most of my life:  Read a book, analyze, get annoyed when it isn't easy, make jokes about it to keep things in perspective, but then see some underlying, deeper significance or challenge even in the midst of something that could be superficial to most everyone else.  I am doomed.  But I still have 7 1/2 weeks left and though all of the above are true, I am also pretty determined and goal oriented and that 10 dollars still has my name written all over it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Masochistic Faith

Sometimes life just doesn't have any answers left, and all we have is our pain.  I have found that pain heightens the senses and dials up the colors of my life.  I may be walking through my daily routine, and out of no where, something terrible and heartbreaking may hit me.  

And suddenly I am more aware.  

This past week, something like that hit us.  It isn't directly our pain and therefore I cannot share the details here.  Only that we are broken, and we are weeping for those who we love dearly.  I heard a godly woman speak today at a conference, and she made the comment "Because I had the peace of God, though I was taken from all I held dear, I didn't shed a single tear!"  And of course I wondered...does the peace of God = no tears?  Can't we experience God's comfort in the midst of our weeping?  Or once we feel His presence are we meant to take a deep breath and pick up again?  I know she didn't mean to make it sound so simple, but as Christians do we try to make grief and faith a formula?

A confession:  I don't know the answers to this - only that we can draw near to God.  And if we are on the floor too exhausted from our pain to even crawl to Him...well, the Bible says "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit..."

Pain makes me more aware of my need for God and His nearness.  

One of my all time favorite song-writers, Rich Mullins writes a song that has ministered to me time and again.  It goes like this...

Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul I swear there must be blisters on my heart

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something
I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees
And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

So hold me Jesus, cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

I don't enjoy feeling lonely to my core.  I don't enjoy feeling betrayed or lied to, or abandoned.  I don't like to feel fear for the future or the depths of heartwrenching loss. I don't like the way it feels when I have blown it big time.   But what I do enjoy is the comfort I feel and the peace that eventually comes even in the midst of pain.  I do enjoy the enhanced colors I see in the world around me and my increased awareness of God and of His goodness, in stark contrast to the times when this world and His people are not good.  

Don't get me wrong...another confession...I don't always go straight to God in prayer.  Sometimes I stew for a bit, get angry, shake my fist at the world and at God and at people, I hyperventilate, I worry, I wonder if I can fix it...But it wasn't until I caught myself and went to God that I felt any amount of peace at all.  

Pain brings me nearer to God and in that really wow-she-is-a-crazy-christian-lady way, I actually am sort-of grateful for it when it comes.  (but Dear God, please don't send it if unnecessary...thank you.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vintage Faith

I was born an old soul.  At least, I was born older.  I was always the responsible and serious one.  I listened to 70's music and the classical music station in Junior High (and it was the 80s).  I bossed my sisters around and asked my friends, "are you sure this is allowed??"  As a young adult I often heard people tell me that I was wise for my age.  (unfortunately now my age has far surpassed my wisdom!)

I also am a sentimental fool.  I love things with meaning, things with stories.  I think family traditions are one of the best things since sliced bread.  And by bread, I mean the kind with stone ground wheat cooked up on a real hearth.  

I love to see clothes up on the line.  I love homemade jam.  I love to find boxes in my Grandma's closet filled with treasures that once belonged to her grandmother.  I keep a journal and write down the stories of my life..I have since I was 10.  I love the smell of old books.  And records.  And old photos.  I love the wedding ring in my jewelry box that once belonged to my mother.  I love to see a church with a steeple.  And pews.  I LOVE pews.  

I have an active imagination and I imagine all the people who walked these roads before me.  And when there are pews, well, I imagine all those who have sat before me.  I imagine those who have worshipped before, struggled before, prayed before, failed and persevered before.  

There are those before these wooden churches.. who I read about in the Bible...Abraham and David, Elijah, Paul and Peter.. those truly human souls who often make the rest of us look good on the one hand and then shamefully apathetic and unbelieving on the other.  There is the Mother Theresa and the Billy Graham and William Wilberforce and Florence Nightingale and Elizabeth Elliot, who lived (and live!) with such faith and conviction that I feel humbled and challenged to trust in a God who can do great things with ordinary people.  

But my spiritual heritage is also made up of people like my Grandma.  Who one day, having nothing to eat, and no money in the bank, prayed to God and said "Lord, you own the cattle on a thousand hills, could you spare some food for us?" That same afternoon a neighbor came over with a side of beef for my grandparents, saying there was too much for their family and could they share?  My Grandfather kept a list of names in his bible, of those he prayed over every day...the names of my parents, my cousins, my name.  My Grandpa has passed on from this world, but I think often of the example he set, of the path he led, both the victories of faith and the failings that made him see his need for God.  

Today Ryan and I had the privilege of sharing a meal and some conversation with the WOW (Wiser, Older, Wittier...aka over 65) group at our church.  Afterwards, a 95 year old woman came up and gave me a hug and kissed me on the cheek.  I cannot express quite how much that simple action blessed my day.  This woman has seen more of the world, experienced more change, more loss, more Sundays on a pew, more moments on her knees.  I love that God has designed this life to not go it alone, and he provides people who can forge ahead and who we can learn from.  Oh the stories she can tell!  I am challenged in this "Me-generation" to listen and to appreciate.

What some may see as old and outdated, I see as "standing the test of time" and of lasting interest and importance; venerable; classic.  This was a definition I found for the word "Vintage."  In this pinterest-loving age, I think many of us are learning to love these things that have history, that have significance.  And yet, we don't always recognize how they also can shape us and teach us. And how it isn't just the vintage "things" (like Model T's and WWII memorabilia) and the vintage "experiences" (like keeping chickens in the backyard, or embroidering a handkerchief..).  It is the ideas and the people as well.  It is the faith.  

 I am also challenged to recognize my part in the continuum.  That the way I live out my faith will impact future generations for better or for worse.  Today though, I am thankful to share in the rich history of millions of Christ-followers before me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Not Pioneer Woman:Making Jam

Last Sunday I attempted to make jam for the first time!  In order to prepare for this, I of course got some books on jam-making at the library, and spent countless hours on pinterest and various blogs and websites getting ideas and inspiration.  In previous posts, I have mentioned my inability to post photos, but I obviously am getting the hang of it, even if my pictures aren't that pretty!  So, here is my photo journal of my maiden jam-making experience, and why I am not quite the standard to which you may desire to attain.  :)
I think the original point of canning was to use the produce that you have abundantly available to you on your family farm...or at least in your small backyard.  That is what makes sense and makes it economical as well.  My neighborhood grocery store supplied this year's crop for me though...at apprx. $10 (not on sale) for three bags of frozen fruit.

Lots of good bloggers find their cans on free sites online, garage sales, or from Grandma's attic.  I found my cans at the grocery store for $11, plus sugar and pectin at $4 and $5, respectively.  
This is my instagram photo of me in an anthropologie apron, ready to make jam for the first time...isn't that cute?
This is the ACTUAL apron I wore, an old, stained barista's apron from my pastor-husband's time in the retail world up until recently.  I mean, why would I actually wear the cute one...and get food on it?  Photo ops only people...
I think this is right...sterilizing the jars all whopping 8 of them.  
and the lids...
official canning tongs
mashing my fruit up...
cheating with an immersion blender when the fork thing was taking too long.
4 1/2 cups of healthy fruit...plus 7 1/2 cups of sugar...eek!  Brought this to a boil..
Then added this stuff...two packages of it.  Brought to a boil again for 3-4 minutes
Added 1/4 cup of this...the alcohol burns off and it makes the peaches and raspberries taste soooo good!  Cost for this...$5.
Poured jam into hot jars, 1/8 inch from the top, screwed on lids, and set upside down to um...suction?  I don't have a canner so this was a method I read about online.  

all done!
The instagram version...right before I freaked out that the jam wasn't really safe so I stuck the jars in the freezer anyways, even after "canning" them.  Only $35 to make 8 jars of Peach-Raspberry Amaretto jam.  Apprx. $4.50 a jar...not a good deal at all, but it was fun pretending for the day that I was one of those cool jam-making ladies!  

Friday, October 5, 2012

10-10-10 Week One, Getting Organized

Today marks the one week anniversary of my first real diet expedition since the 10th grade.  Don't get me wrong, every year my New Year's Resolution includes "Go on a diet."  Or at the very least "Eat Healthy."  But I have very little self-discipline in the area of dieting and I have never really taken that particular item on my to-do list seriously.  As a rule follower, I take great satisfaction in breaking the rules that don't really matter.  And Dieting rules don't really matter.

Unless of course, I actually need to lose some weight.  So this week, this is what I did:

Day one and two, I tried to keep track of my calories in my phone and keep them at 1300 calories a day.  I was mostly successful at this.  But I whined.  I cried.  I shook with low blood sugar.  I dreamt about cake (and I don't even like cake).  I dragged my feet and basically just took the whole thing NOT in stride and with an overabundance of drama...to the point that my sometimes-supportive husband was taking bets against my dieting success.  Thanks, hon.  

I quickly realized that simply counting calories was not going to work for me.  I am an over-thinker as it is, and calorie counting just made my head hurt and made me grumpy.  So, on day three, I decided to get organized, stop relying on the internet (which we all know isn't reliable) and go to the true source of undisputed knowledge...the library.  

After perusing the aisle of diet books, and feeling a bit like a dieting-deer-in-the-headlights, I chose a couple books that looked promising - a Jillian Michaels book and one written by two holistic doctors - and read them that night.
The absolute truth...every one of these.

Day four I wrote out my plan based loosely on what I read in the books (my fat-burning style apparently is mixed?  I like protein AND carbs?  I shouldn't eat sugar...I should exercise...okay.)

I did some sprints and lifted weights (which is sooo much better than running long, slow runs...trust me I know - I trained for a marathon last year and lost not one pound).

All week I ate the same salad for lunch just so I wouldn't have to think about it.  Then I went and bought the following:  Beef jerky, rotisserie chicken, broccoli and cabbage slaw, apples, high fiber wheat bread, stevia, almond milk for smoothies, protein powder, a carton of egg whites, salsa and tomatoes, low fat margarine (I had been eating butter on my toast every morning - all those calories!!), and a huge bag of frozen stir fry veggies.  Just having the right foods on hand makes such a difference!

I cut out my five-cups a day of coffee habit to one cup in the morning, and then switched to green tea in the afternoon.

I am getting 8 hours of sleep at night (no netflix for me...though the new JK Rowlings book may be a temptation to stay up).

Day five I woke up with energy!  I went to bed with energy!!  Honestly I was blaming my thyroid, but maybe it was the coffee, or the butter on my toast, or the sugar...

Day six I realized that pickles have zero calories.  If I pay no attention to water weight and hyper-tension, I could totally live off of pickles and vitamins, right?

Last night I ran into a challenge - I cook for my three growing boys and my metabolically blessed husband and I made them beef stroganoff with real beef, real sour cream and real egg noodles.  I hadn't planned ahead my own meal and didn't feel like eating one tablespoon of stroganoff,  which is about the serving size I could have had. So I stir fried some broccoli slaw and cabbage and chopped rotisserie chicken in a tablespoon of teriyaki.  It was yummy, but I had broccoli slaw and cabbage and chicken for lunch, only in salad form.  So it was a little redundant.  But slowly, but surely I am getting organized, I feel better, I am starting new habits.  9 weeks to go and my bet is on me! (for now)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

D is for Sock Doggies

Last week we studied the letter D, Benny and me.  We made some Dragon Feet out of tissue boxes that we got from the dollar store, emptied of tissue and shoved under the sink to use when we run out of toilet paper.  Ben painted them with glitter glue and we cut out the toes from toilet paper rolls.

Then we decided we wanted to make sock puppets, so in honor of the letter "D" we made sock Doggies which doesn't really have a nice ring to it, does it?  But at least it uses the letter "D".  We each made a sock doggie and then for good measure I made blue-haired Abigail...since I only own one color of yarn (blue) and I named her Abigail because it just sounded right in the bad southern accent I used when I started puppeting with her.

Then we decided to make a puppet theater, which doesn't have a "D" anywhere - not in the scarf I cut up to use for curtains, or the string I used to hold them back.  Not for the sun made out of cardboard and pipecleaners, or the clouds Ben glued cotton balls on.  Nor is there a "D" in the paper grass that Ben colored with marker and taped on by himself or the popsicle sticks he attached to the ceiling of the theater.  The apple tree with seed pods and leaves glued on does not teach the letter "D" either.  Oh well - we had fun with it.  F for Fun.  :)

We of course also practiced writing the letter "D" and walked around the house naming things that start with the letter "D" (which was conspicuously absent from our theater project).  We went to the library and got some books about Dinosaurs and Dragons and Dogs.  We opened doors, we danced, we ate donuts (he did), we drank (milk) which was delicious I daresay.

Dwayne the Sock Doggie

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sometimes they're true (stereotypes, that is)

Ryan asked me the other day why I blog...good question.

Since I have already established that I have no real niche - food?  crafts?  homeschool?  mom? wife? smart aleck?  - I decided that it is mostly an outlet for me to write and to analyze myself, the world, and everything (and everyone) in it.  Another reason, as per my blog title, is to hopefully set up a more realistic picture of what a pastor's wife may or may not look like.  

The bottom line is, in my real life ups and downs, moderate disfunctions and humanity, I hope to show that pastor's wives are pretty normal and will never live up to the stereotypes that we set for them.  

 But, sometimes, they're true.  

(And honestly, that feels like a confession of sorts, because being a messed-up wise-cracking pastor's wife seems so much cooler than being an iced tea drinking, Sunday-school teaching pastor's wife.)

I may not be called "sweet" by too many of my friends, but I have been called "loyal, thoughtful, and authentic."  I may write grocery lists sometimes on the church bulletin, but more often than not, I write out real notes and have been deeply convicted by things spoken from the pulpit.  

I don't go to every church potluck...but when I do, I really love to cook and will happily taste every dish in attendance and discuss recipes with the best of them.  

I crack jokes, I roll my eyes, I laugh at myself, I sit in the back row sometimes.  But I am a follower of Jesus and I happen to believe that the institution of  church and the community it provides is necessary to live out what God calls us to live out and I take that seriously.  

Sometimes I skip my bible study or cram the night before.  But I don't swear and I don't jay-walk, and I would probably self-combust if I thought I was breaking the law in any way (this was me BEFORE I was a pastor's wife or a Christian for that matter).  

I own a jean skirt.  And wear it.  (often at the moment since it is one of the things I can squeeze into).

I fight with my kids and my husband, I read books out of the young adults section of the library and Oprah picks, I listen to all genres of music (I like rap and RnB).  I hang out with people of different faiths and play hookie from church. I have an addictive personality and will chain-watch shows on netflix till 2 in the morning.   As stated in the blog title, I don't have big hair and I don't sing or play piano.  A break from stereotype.

But I drive a minivan, have fun doing crafts with my kids, am attempting to learn to make jam, wear an apron from 4pm-7pm pretty much every day (ok it's like a bib for clutzy and messy adults), go to bible study with the gals and love it, and trust that in everything I do, whether stereotypical "good Christian girl/pastor's wife" or not so much, that God is in it and He is working.  

So, whether jam-making, or home-schooling, diet-attempting, or running, church - attending or church-skipping, introspecting or others-analyzing, my purpose in blogging is to chronicle real life - and sometimes I will sound and look the way people think I should, and sometimes, I won't.  But it will always be (mostly) true and it will always be (mostly) real. And there are thousands of real bloggers out there and most are probably better than me, but maybe my real will connect with someone else's real which may end up helping us both.