being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Read the title of this post like you would if you were talking to a dog.
I’m just gonna be honest with you.
Today was one of those days.
There were beads in the ears. There was arguing. There was ungratefulness (from the grownup as well as the children). There was one dress-up princess crown (out of the six or seven that we have in our dress up box) that the girls couldn’t seem to share. And there was this:
Today I wondered to myself, “Why did I decide to be a stay at home mom?” Today I started reminiscing about my working days, before I had children, when I could fit into my cute business-casual clothes. I don’t even think I have any of my suits anymore. And even if I did, none of them would fit. Some days, I wonder, if I ever decide to go back to work, what will I put on my resume?
- Proficient at cleaning urine, feces (human and canine), and vomit, while suppressing gag reflex
- Supplier of magic kisses; they make pain and tears disappear instantly
- Well-versed at the art of breastfeeding and swaddling.
- Multi-tasker extraordinaire – can email, tweet, facebook, prepare a meal, write a check, and change a diaper simultaneously
- Fluent in sarcasm, but not the good kind.
Would you hire me?
Even as I write this, the tension in my shoulders persists, my head’s starting to ache, and I still want to throw myself on the ground and have a mommy meltdown. I want to run out the doors kicking and screaming just to get a few moments to myself where I don’t have to think about where someone’s shoe is or if they’re climbing something they’re not supposed to climb or if they’re writing on the walls in blue sharpie.
But, this is MY life.
And it isn’t always like this.
And even when it is, it’s still a good life.
Because I’m raising two little girls who decided to this without prompting (even though it was the wrong cleaner and even though they actually made it a little worse):
Because they needed to clean up their little sister’s mess. Because they wanted to make mom happy. Because mom works so hard. Because, “we want to show mom that we love her.”
Hmmmmmm . . .
Maybe I’m not so bad at my job.
Or maybe, just maybe, in my failings as a parent, as a wife, as a human being, God’s grace still shines through. Somewhere in this mess of a woman is a dim reflection of Christ who reaches out to my children, who loves them, who teaches them, who nurtures their tender little souls.
So, here I’ll stay. It may be a dirty mirror, but somehow, it’s enough. Somehow, it’s sufficient.
I’ve lived a fairly sheltered life.
No one has ever really given me a hard time about my faith. Or my beliefs.
But I realized something tonight.
Persecution of Christians is alive and well my friends. And I let it into my home tonight.
Tonight I joined a Twitter party (if you’re not sure what that is, read this). During the party, hosted by Christian publishers, the Creation Museum, and Homeschooling Moms, the attendees were to discuss and answer questions about the book The Creation Story for Children in order to win prizes. The prizes were the book itself, other Creation-themed books, and the grand prize of four tickets to The Creation Museum in Kentucky. The hashtag for the party was #TeachtheTruth (feel free to click on the link to see the entire feed – top posts will be displayed first; you’ll have to click the option at the bottom to see the entire feed).
However, a few minutes after the party started, evolution proponents and atheists began flooding the twitter stream. Few had anything informative and enlightening to say. Most of it was pointed at making fun, showing disgust, and outright harassment of those attending the party.
While I don’t like repeating their hate, I also feel it’s necessary that we – who believe evolution to be false, who believe that Intelligent Design (a.k.a. Creation) is truth, who are people of faith – know what lies behind the computer screen.
It’s important to know what our opposition says about us. Should it deter us from truth? Of course not! However, I believe a day is coming when these people will no longer feel the need to hide behind their twitter accounts (most of them did not have actual pictures of themselves). Tonight, it was an assault of cowards, under the veil called anonymity of Twitter, hurling false accusations and slanderous words at a group of people who were meeting peaceably. Tomorrow, they may come out of their homes with stones in their hands, demanding that we denounce our faith or die a martyr’s death.
This is what they think of us. This is what they say:
“if i was that crazy i wouldn’t broadcast about what a child abuser i was all over twitter-where is social svcs?”
“are you a Catholic that believes in Creationism?that’s not church doctrine.”
“Your children deserve that you #teachthetruth so do NOT deceive them by presenting creation mythology as truth. Educate with education.”
“Evil = this willingness to shamelessly impair your child’s ability to comprehend the world on their own, without your bias. ”
“bible is inspiration 2 every child molestor & blueprint 4 infanticide. only deeply disturbed individual teaches that 2 kids”
“Bible stories for children are dumbed down versions of a hateful god.”
They are calling us ignorant. They say we abuse our children. They scream that our God doesn’t exist and that our Bible false. They say that we are evil.
Don’t be deceived. The comfortable life I’ve lived (that many of you also live) may cease to exist. True believers are becoming a minority. People like those who crashed the twitter party seem harmless enough. Most just blocked or ignored their comments. But should a day may come when they’re knocking down my door (or when they send social services to my door because I’m “abusing” my children with religious dogma), will I find them so harmless?
We can not turn a blind eye or deaf ear to what these people say. Anonymous verbal (tweeted) persecution may soon grow into real, personal, outright physical persecution. We may hear some of those tweeted accusations at our own trials someday.
Am I ready for that? Are you? All I can do is pray for the strength to stand firm when I am hated for the sake of Christ.
Be encouraged, though, friends. They may hurl insults, slander our reputations, hate us. But our savior says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:11-12, NIV)
Summer is here. It was a rough start. But yesterday was a wonderful reminder that even in the midst of trouble, life does go on and it’s still good.
My status on facebook yesterday read: “Signs that summer is here: little girls wearing flip flops and sundresses, a week of Vacation Bible School, swim lessons, enjoying a quarter of a humongo watermelon as a before bedtime snack, and watching fireflies in the backyard. Le sigh.”
I remember years ago (like two kids ago) perusing through Martha Stewart’s magazine and stumbling upon this recipe for Watermelon Pops. I have since considered making these whenever we have watermelon. However my kids are watermelon fiends and they rarely leave freshly cut watermelon uneaten.
But tonight, we cut open our first watermelon of the season. It was so sweet and juicy. And it was gargantuan.
They had a few wedges, took a bath and went to bed. There was still 3/4 of a watermelon left (it’s seriously huge).
Then I had the brilliant idea that I would be the cool mom in the morning if I offered watermelon popsicles (or ice lollies, as my daughter has named them) for breakfast.
Then I had an even brillianter idea (that would be two light bulbs instead of just one) to add in some strawberries to the mix.
And this was born. Frozen summertime bliss on a stick. Because everything is better on a stick.
Strawberry-Watermelon Ice Lollies
2 cups chopped watermelon
2 cups sliced strawberries
4 tablespoons sugar (or sweetener of your choice)
Water as needed (I put water enough to get to the 5-cup setting on my blender pitcher)
Blend in a blender to liquefy.
Spoon off the froth that forms on the top.
Pour into Popsicle Molds.
Although I used 4 tablespoons of sugar (the strawberries were a little tart, I might have been able to use less sugar had they been sweeter), I think this is a healthier and cheaper alternative to what’s in the stores. I anticipate that they will be gone by the end of the weekend. And I won’t feel guilty about that in the least.
My popsicle molds, the blue/green and pink/yellow I purchased at IKEA for something like $1.49 each. The others are Tupperware brand (and a super fun lead up to our upcoming trip to Disney).
Just a side note: Apparently, my family has misplaced a few of our molds. So, this recipe would have made 18 ice lollies. However, I only had 15 molds. What’s a girl to do? Pour the excess into a glass, add a small amount of Cointreau, and make herself an, ahem, adult beverage.
Second side note: These are a little watery. If you prefer a thicker fruit pop, work in batches (like good ol’ Martha suggests) and use a little less water. I may try that next time.
You may (or may not) have noticed I’ve been absent for a bit.
The girls and I took a 2 1/2 week trip to visit family and celebrate a graduation and a wedding.
Then tragedy. Four hours after returning home, we received one of those late night phone calls that no one ever wants to receive.
A house fire at my grandparents’ house. Grandpa didn’t make it. Uncle is unconscious, but it’s not looking good.
Then an hour later. Uncle died due to smoke inhalation. He died trying to save Grandpa.
Two lives lost. A forty-some year old home gone, a total loss.
The rest of us, shocked to our core, not sure if we’re in the middle of a terrible nightmare from which we can’t rouse ourselves or living in a reality that no one should ever have to experience.
And just like that, we trek back across four states to help my family plan a double funeral.
How does one celebrate the lives lived (now at peace eternally with our Savior) in the midst of a grief-stricken tragedy?
How does one hold it together when everything seems to be falling apart?
How does one reconcile that she had expected to receive a phone call about Grandpa, but not like this, and not in tandem with her uncle’s death?
How does one wrap her arms around every grieving family member and still hold on to some semblance of sanity?
The short answer, the only answer, is to lean upon the everlasting arms.
I watched the body of Christ overwhelm my loved ones and me with love in the form of food, encouraging words, gifts to replace what was lost, and the prayers from all over the globe, prayed for/with/over us.
We experienced the hands, feet, shoulders and love of Christ in the most pure and practical way possible by way of this family God created – a group of sinful misfits, a people adopted through grace, a diverse hodgepodge of formally dead people.
We weren’t created for death. We weren’t created to live in this world, so broken, so full of sin, so full of pain. We weren’t created to have to deal with these tragedies that leave us wondering who is in charge and why bad things happen to good people.
While the emotions ebb and flow over my heart, the most overwhelming is that of gratitude for this family God has so perfectly crafted, this family into which I have been so graciously adopted, this family with open arms and generous hands.
Family of God, you helped and continue to help shoulder the weight of the circumstances created by living in a fallen world. One of the reasons we’ve been given each other is so that our frail humanity can bear these circumstances not intended for our eternal souls.
I will share more about my grandfather and uncle next time. I loved both of them so very much and the words to express that haven’t been given to me to share yet.
For now, I can only be thankful for you. Despite what the world may believe about this family, and its messiness and imperfections, these relationships are just small tastes of heaven in this bitter world. The human experience is marked by definitive moments during our short time on earth. When that time is over, if what is left is the overwhelming love of Christ exemplified in and through His people, then that human experience can only be classified as exemplary.
Since marrying my guy, our little family has been transient. As exciting as gypsy living is, it is also equally heart wrenching. Having lived many different places, we know many different people. This means that we’re always missing someone. It also means that we have to say goodbye, a lot.
Right now I’m on the road, mostly visiting family. But I had the lovely pleasure of visiting my good friend Renata for a few hours this afternoon. I haven’t seen her in at least two years (her blog is new, her Etsy shop darling, and her heart, amazing – take some time to check her out). I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take a picture of the two of us together today.
Over cups of coffee and tea, we shared the last two years’ history, discussed our struggles, laughted at the craziness of motherhood, and shed a few tears. We both commented at how different life looks and feels and tastes and is than we expected it might be years ago when we had more youth, more health, and freshly optimistic dreams (more on that later).
As I do whenever we visit, I left her home refreshed and encouraged. And while some of the things we discussed left both our hearts heavy, I also felt so grateful to have a friend like this in my life.
In fact, I am blessed to have many friends like this in my life, my eternal friends. Time can pass, years even, without communication. But it doesn’t matter. The friendship transcends time. An email, a phone call, an instant message session, or a face-to-face encounter is only an excuse to pick up the friendship and start right where we left off before. There is no awkwardness, no need for small talk, no weirdness. Just two friends reuniting in the love of Christ.
In these moments, I get a little taste of heaven. This fellowship in part makes me long for fellowship in its entirety.
I have these kindred spirits tucked away all over the country and world. Different in every way, God has used them to love, encourage, challenge and convict me. They’ve shared my joy, held my hands, prayed for and with me, seen me at my worst, rejoiced with me at my best. They know my secrets. They laugh at my lame jokes. They get me. They each hold a piece of my heart and play various roles in my life’s history. I can only hope that I have blessed them a fraction as much as they have blessed me. Without these people, I would not be who I am.
I am a procrastinator by nature. I don’t call nearly enough. I’m not the best at correspondence. I hope that these friends know how much I love them and care about them. I’m thankful for things like texting and iPhones and Facebook and email. Keeping up with everyone is a little easier. I don’t always do it well, but I try. And I’m never sorry when I do.
What about you? Who is that person who you need to call or email or text? Don’t wait. Shoot a message now. Set a date to have coffee, even if it has to be miles apart over skype or face time. Pick up your friendship, dust it off, and remember the joy of having a friend who knows you well.
I can’t believe that this is my 50th Post. It’s a little surreal.
I want to thank you for reading, commenting, sending messages and supporting me. I’ve been so blessed to connect with all of you in different ways.
In addition to reaching this milestone in my blog life, the Good Women Project gave me my first opportunity to guest post. It’s on What No One Told Me About Marriage. I’d love for you to check it out and then read some of the other posts by some amazing women (and men). Then go like them on facebook or follow on twitter.
Considering my halfway tendencies, I’m a little surprised that I actually made it to fifty. I’d like to take some time to revisit some of my favorite and more popular posts. But before I do that, I want to give you a little sneak peak into what you might find in the next fifty posts.
First of all, I think it’s time for a design change. I was playing around the other night and made up this header. I don’t know that it’s what I’ll use, but I really like it.
If you stop by and find that things look different, don’t be alarmed. It’s still me, just better looking. I’ve also been toying with the idea of buying the domain name. Which means the web address will change a little bit too.
As far as content goes, I’ll continue posting on the topics near and dear to my heart like, unity among Christian believers, living with depression, keeping it real (for real, and not just saying ‘I’m keeping it real’), parenthood, and marriage. I’m sure as life happens, new topics will surface. For now, one new topic I know will be covered is homeschooling, as we recently became a home-educating family. I hope to make the next fifty posts even better than the first fifty.
In revisiting past blog posts, I’m glad I never limited myself in the beginning. I’ve really enjoyed having the freedom to write about whatever is on my mind at any given time. Many posts have discussed my faith, my struggles, and my depression. Some were just pure fun. I’ve considered giving my blog a more directional path. We shall see where it takes us (because if you’re reading this, you’re on my journey with me, like it or not!). What I’ve discovered is that this blog is more about encouraging others than it is chronicling my life adventures like I had originally thought.
So, to celebrate my blog’s fiftieth post birthday, I present to you some of my most popular and most favorite posts:
My (two) personal favorite post(s) (because I can’t just pick one): What’s your Nekatla? a post creating a metaphor for letting go based on the “Sleeping Lady” mountains in Alaska (it’s a long one and should have been broken up into three or four posts) and Grace for This Moment; Grace for Eternity (and yes, the sign I made is still hanging up in my kitchen).
Most googled search term post: Santa’s Been Naughty!, a post about White Elephant/Yankee Swap/Dirty Santa gift exchanges. From the search terms, people need to know what to buy, how to play, and how to present it to a third grade class.
Most Shared Post (according to WordPress): An Otterbox Fairy Tale (a contest I entered to win an Otterbox Defender case for one of my girls’ iPod Touch 4g, a contest that I did win). However, I suspect that maybe Hug A Veteran’s Wife has actually been shared most (just from what I can tell on Facebook).
The Most Difficult to Write and Share: The Bottom. Beyond the Basement is the post I wrote to share what depression looks like in my life, in my mind. I also want to share that I don’t write about my depression as a cry for help or for people to feel sorry about me. I write about my depression to help those who do not suffer from it understand it better. I also write and share what I do because I know there are others out there who struggle with this ugly beast. I want them to know that they aren’t alone. I want them to know that there is help.
So, again, thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad that you did. I can’t wait for the next fifty posts and how things will change between now and 100. I’m so thankful you’re along for the journey.
I put a lot out there.
Maybe that’s a dangerous thing to do in an age where identity theft is such a strong possibility.
Sometimes I worry about being so honest about myself.
But then I get the comments and the private messages. They’re thankful when I spill the private places of my heart onto this computer screen and out into the internet unknown.
I’m just a stay-at-home wife and mother. I haven’t lived a life that one would call extraordinary. I’ve traveled a bit, but not nearly as often or as far away as I’d like. I haven’t had a growing and prosperous career. I have a nice home, but it is no shape to be showcased in a magazine.
What I do have is a heart that longs for unity among broken believers.
I put myself out there because maybe if I do, someone else will be brave enough to come out from behind the mask.
Because I know that if I’m guilty of it, hiding behind a mask, that others are too.
We hide the ugly places because we fear rejection. We don’t want the condescension. We don’t want the blank stares.
But if we are to find intimacy with other human beings, then we need not be afraid to pull the broken parts of our lives from behind our backs, hold them in our open hands and say, “This is me.”
What I’ve found when I do this, when I lay these jagged shards of myself at the alter and let the whole world see how messed up I really am, other people do too. They may not do it as publicly as I do. It may just be a through private message to me. But they do, they let themselves be vulnerable and say, “I struggle with that too. I’m glad I’m not alone.”
We aren’t meant to be alone in our struggles. But so often we believe we should be. I hate that we believe that the way to muddle through our struggles is alone, sometimes with our Bible in hand, but never with another soul to walk alongside us. Sometimes, for those of us who are married, we don’t even let our spouses venture with us to those secret places.
Do you ever yearn like I do to have the kind of unity that the first church had? Yes, they were human. And yes they struggled. But they carried each others’ burdens. They gave as they had. And none of them needed. Did they carry more than physical burdens? Were they open enough to bare their emotional and spiritual burdens to one another in such a way that older women instructed the younger women, older men mentored younger men? Did they sharpen and hold each other accountable?
Why have we fallen so far from our first example? Many of us realize how desperately we need Christ and God’s grace. But do we realize how desperately we also need each other? I wonder when we will realize how important our relationships to each other are in God’s kingdom. I can only imagine what it will look like when we finally do.
Winter gripped my heart and held it in its grasp.
I found myself traveling down those dark roads in my mind, entertaining thoughts that most people don’t dare to venture.
There it was, staring me in the face again, my depression.
It steals so much life, so much humanity, so much joy from me. I wonder who else gets pulled in by its deathly clutches.
It’s why I’ve been absent. It’s why I’ve been distant. It’s why I’ve been hiding out in my house, begging those who drive by to please ignore the girl behind the curtain.
I don’t want people to see me. Or it. Or its effects.
I hate it, this depression.
I wonder who that person was, who this person is, what these motions I’ve been calling living have been all about. I feel like I’ve been out of my mind, out of my body, watching a poor woman struggle to just get out of bed each day. I’m watching a terrible movie with no plot, no direction, no storyline, no hope for getting better. But I can’t leave the theater because I’ve invested too much time and energy into it and I just have to see what the Great Author is going to do with this mess of a story.
So here I am, on the verge of a fresh, new Spring.
I have found myself rubbing my eyes at the sun’s first spring rays for the last few years. My ears open to the songs of the feathered northern travelers who’ve made their temporary home in my backyard. I’m waking up from a sleepwalking dream that seems so surreal. I feel all the promise that Spring brings, a breath of fresh air and the newness of life.
Yet, the devastation of the harsh winter that is my depression is very real and very present. It has affected me and the people close to me that I love so very much.
I know it’s been rough on them.
Because this morning, my almost six year-old was surprised to find me in a good mood when she woke up, like it’s only on the most rare occasion that mommy should could would ever be in a good mood.
Because my husband is doing everything he knows to do to help me (because he loves me), but he still feels helpless.
Because several members of my family, who live far away, are making treks to visit me, even if they know it will only lift my spirits for a time.
I can’t explain it. All I know is that the people who love me, who care about me, are all saying the same thing, “I’m worried about you.”
I am so thankful for all of them. Because they know me. They can tell when life isn’t life to me. And they pray.
I am so thankful that I’m not alone. They may not get it. They may not understand it. They don’t know how to help me. But they love me just the same. They haven’t given up on me just because loving me is difficult. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. Without them, I’d be just another buried soul that had given up before her measure of living had been complete.
So thank you, old friends and new, in real life and online, for not letting me give up. For calling and pestering and emailing and facebooking and twittering and caring.
Thank you Lord, for putting all of them in my life.
My coffee mug speaks more words of life than I know.
There are two women in my head.
There’s the Woman-I-Think-I-Want-To-Be and there’s the Woman-I-Think-I-Am.
Sometimes, I feel them warring inside of me, the Woman-I-Think-I-Want-To-Be wagging her finger at me wondering where I am and why I haven’t caught up to her yet. The Woman-I-Think-I-Am sticks out her tongue, shrugs her shoulders, throws her hands up in disgust and storms out of the room (sometimes giving the Woman-I-Think-I-Want-To-Be the finger).
However, the Woman-That-I-Really-Am, she’s stuck somewhere in the middle.
These two women in my head are why I have spurts of energy in which I can conquer 15 loads of laundry in one day, but it never all gets put away. Or why I post several times in one week, and then go a couple without posting. Or why my kids have days where they tell me over and over that I’m the best cook/teacher/mom in the whole world, and others when they go to the opposite part of the house and play instead of wanting to work/play alongside me. Or why I stay up until 2 a.m. every night because it’s the only time I feel a small grip on sanity.
They (the two women in my head) are why I have weeks like this one, when I ask myself, “What the heck happened to the girl I was and when is she going to come back?”
But I know the answer. She’s not coming back. Too much has happened. Too much has changed.
That girl, the one who had aspirations (though looking back on it, I don’t know that they were ever my own), the one who had passion, the one who thought she might could change her small corner of the world, she no longer exists.
That girl, who stood almost eleven years ago on a large field outside of Memphis with thousands of other college students, who cried out to God, “Whatever it is you want, whatever you desire from me, wherever you want me to go, whatever you want me to do, I will Lord. Make me your hands and your feet. I am your vessel. Fill me up. Pour me out. I give you my life.” I wonder what happened to her.
And even as I type this, I find it silly. I find it silly to think that she disappeared. She didn’t. She just grew up. That girl had barely gotten her toes wet in the pool of life. Then when she dove in from the high dive, and the deep end felt too deep and she spent so much time trying to keep her head above water, gasping for air, she forgot that the life preserver is always within reach.
She failed to see that he has indeed answered that prayer cried out from a heart raw with promise.
Woman-That-I-Really-Am, don’t you remember where he’s taken you? Don’t you know why he’s taken you there?
For his glory.
Oh Woman-I-Think-I-Want-To-Be, you’ll never exist. And that is quite, quite alright.
Woman-That-I-Really-Am, you are so forgetful. You may have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. But he HAS taken you to green pastures and beside still waters. He HAS restored your soul. For HIS name’s sake.
His blessing are new every day, his mercies, overabundant.
Then there’s that grace thing. You know, the one that overwhelms you from time to time. You’re always covered by it. Always.
The world’s false illusion of perfection will devour you if you let it.
So take heart, Woman-That-I-Really-Am. Your worth has been measured. The wage, paid.
Remember? On a rugged, blood-stained tree, with a thorn-pierced brow, from three words whispered in utter agony “It is finished.”
He made you perfect.
For His name’s sake.