Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Log in my Eye

Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenseses to gay couples, was recently released from jail. The social media frenzy surrounding her arrest and release has been filled with more hate and venom than anything I’ve read in recent memory, with much emphasis being placed on the fact that she has been married four times. But this post isn’t about Kim Davis. It’s about Jesus.

Guess who else has been married four times? 

Me.
Now I don’t know all of her story, but I do know mine. Without sharing all of the sordid details, let’s just say that for many, many years I was lost in the pit of sexual sin. All of my three previous marriages failed for one simple reason: they were not biblical, covenant marriages. 

And then I had encounter with the living God of the universe. He changed me. I could no longer stay in the same place I was in. I was crushed under the weight of my own sin and when I had no where else to go, Christ was ready for me with open arms. My life has never been the same. 

When Jesus pulls you into him, you walked away changed. Sometimes limping and stumbling, but changed for the better. You can’t be in Christ and stay the same. He loves you too much to leave you there.

There’s shame and guilt. There’s  loving discipline. There’s painful conviction.  There’s repentance. And then he holds your hand and carries you into freedom through his sanctifying, amazing grace.

God brought Kevin into my life after years of disgrace and my distrust of men. And I am so thankful for him everyday. I’m thankful that he saw in me the woman who God was forming and shaping. Kevin looked beyond my past and had faith in who I was becoming. 

Our marriage isn’t perfect. It’s made up of two sinners who love imperfectly. But because Jesus is at the center of it, there is so much grace and mercy covering us in our imperfections. And it is glorious.

Maybe these are a few of the things that Mrs. Davis has learned. Maybe this is the reason why she now understands the sanctity and holiness of marriage in ways that she never did before. And because of this new understanding, she can no longer treat a union as simply a matter of the state. I don’t know all of her reasons. I don’t know the full legal ramifications for her decisions, and I am not looking for a debate here regarding that. But what I do know that there was once a young man who held public office and defied the laws of his land by refusing to bow down to an idol, was tossed into a den of lions, and God spared his life. What I do know is that another man was a murderer of Christians and God blinded him and he became one of the most impactful evangelists of all time, defying laws again and again, being imprisoned and sentenced to death, and an angel released him and he was delivered from his captures. But what I do know is that Mrs Davis’ past marriages and divorces do not mean that she’s not a Christian. They mean she is a sinner. Just like me. 

For years I carried the weight of the shame of my divorces. I even hid my past from very dear friends I made when I started over my new life here in Temple. And withholding that cost me dearly in ways from which I may never fully recover. But now I can walk in victory over my past through Jesus. 

Oh make no mistake, I am still a sinner. Every single day. I am slothful, gluttonous, selfish, impatient, judgemental, elitist, arrogant, quick-tempered, and rebellious, just to name a few of my repeat offenders. Every day I fail in the Law. And every day, God lovingly shows me my faults and points me towards his Son.

Read Full Post »

In defense of Santa

If you do any reading of conservative Christian blogs, you may have noticed that Santa’s approval ratings are in the toilet. Lots of stuff about parents setting their children up for disappointment. Lots of stuff about reality. Lots of stuff about how the focus of Christmas should be on Christ. All of these things are true. However, I don’t agree with most of these viewpoints.

Santa gives gifts to children. Santa can travel the wold in one night, shimmying down chimneys and eating cookies. Santa can also get into the homes of people without chimneys by some clever means. Santa keeps a “naughty” list and a “nice” list. Of course none of these things are true. They are make-believe. But I think the key word is “believe.”

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Savior. About praising a God who chose to put on flesh and walk the Earth among us. About giving us THE only gift that ever matters.

So where does Santa fit in to the celebration? He fits in the land of imagination and the belief in something we can’t see, but that we see the evidence of. He lives not in the North Pole, but in the hearts of parents and children who want to hold on to the spirit of Christmas. He lives in the minds of kids who can’t wait to wake up on Christmas morning because they insist they heard sleigh bells and hoof steps on their roof. He lives in the magic and innocence of childhood.

Our world works so hard at exposing our children to reality. They get heavy doses of it when they go to schools secured by locked doors, video cameras, and metal detectors. They are shown so much of the world at younger and younger ages. They know too much, too young. All of this knowledge robs them of their childhoods in incremental ways every single day.

In steps Santa with his soft red coat and fur-lined hat. With his belly laugh and bag of goodies. And a bit of imagination comes back into their lives. We see our kids having tea parties with their stuffed animals. They have adventures with Buzz and Woody. They leap around the back yard as pirates, or ninjas, or cowboys. And they are children once again, with their innocence and hope in the world.

I think Santa helps teach children what generosity and grace looks like. No, he isn’t real. No, he isn’t the focus of Christmas. But to say that by putting a few gifts under the tree or a few goodies in a stocking takes the focus off of Jesus is to do a disservice to the loving parents who simply want to help their children stay children as long as possible. I think believing in Santa helps teach children in how to believe in other things they can’t see.

I know that there are parents who don’t practice an approach of moderation when it comes to Santa. They write letters and pay good money for someone to write then back with a postmark from the North Pole. They download reindeer watch apps. They spend crazy amounts of money on gifts and give Santa all the credit. And that’s ok, too. That works for them.

For the rest of us, we let out kids sit on the lap of a stranger dressed in a red suit. We nibble the cookies and take a sip of egg nog. We stay up until the wee hours of Christmas morning assembling toys. And even though our kids know in their hearts that they have, at times, been naughty, they still find gifts under the tree when they stumble into the living room, wiping the sleep from their eyes.

Because they got gifts that they didn’t deserve. Ones that they asked for but never earned.

And that, my friends, is grace. That is what I feel every time I think if that baby lying in the manger. When I think of our Blessed Mother Mary cradling the Savior of the world in that stable, knowing that he came to save her soul. And ours.

Read Full Post »

I had a fun conversation today with a friend. We were discussing trying to juggle our kids’ schedules, and she said that if I had a Time Turner, she would love to borrow it. Now for those of you who aren’t Harry Potter fans, stop reading now, as this post will make no sense to you. However, if you are an enlightened HP expert, read on and enjoy!

The world of Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic is filled with some amazing inventions and oddities that would simplify life. So here’s my list of things I would love to have, if I weren’t a muggle.

1. Time Turner- this little device would help me with all manner of scheduling conflicts like “should I lie on the bed and watch another episode of (fill in the Amazon or Netflix show of your choice), or should I do a creative and productive project from Pinterest?” With a Time Turner, I can do both! This device would also come in handy for daily puzzlements like “where did I set my glasses down” and for winning arguments like “I know that I told you this earlier, you must not have been listening.”

2. Light Put-Outer- while this may seem as if its not terribly useful, I disagree. Wouldn’t it be nice to leave all the lights on in the house, and just use the LPO when you get into bed? Then you would not be bumping into the coffee table or stepping on toys in the dark on the way to your room at night. It could also come in handy when you want to pretend no one is home, like on Halloween when you are out of candy, or when members of certain religious groups knock on the door.

3. A broom- more specifically, the Firebolt. In an age when most of us think we’ve gotten a great deal on gas if it costs us less than $3 a gallon to fill up, wouldn’t it be great to be able to simply hop on a broom and fly wherever we want. Of course, this has the added benefit of not dealing with TSA to travel. I’m not quite sure how a car seat could be strapped on to the back, but hey, we are imaging here! Surely the makers of the Firebolt must have side cars that could be purchased separately.

4. Mrs. Weasley’s homemaking enchantments- the automatic dish scrubber is a favorite of mine, as is the clock showing where all the family members are at any given time. Think of it as a low-tech, magical FourSquare. While there is certainly an argument to be made for a house-elf rather than Mrs. Weasley’s enchantments, I’m not quite sure how I would feel about a small elf living in my home wearing a pillowcase. And then there’s Hermione’s tireless pursuit of the emancipation of the poor house-elf that must be considered.

5. The Invisibility Cloak- do I really need to give an explanation?

6. The Room of Requirement- what I envision is a sort of a movable ROR. Need to mail a parcel? BAM- a post office. Want a latte? BAM- a coffee shop. Driving on a family trip with kids who have to pee? BAM- a clean, well-lit, non-creepy rest stop.

7. The Quick Quotes Quill- for any student who has ever taken notes in a college class, wouldn’t this little pen have saved you hand cramps? What would be even better is if the QQQ could be used to take essay tests for English Literature when filling up a Blue Book in less than 2 hours was a necessity.

I was going to attempt a list of 10, but stopping at 7 seemed more fitting for the magical world of Harry Potter.

What would you add, if you weren’t a muggle?

Read Full Post »

What love looks like

Several of my former students are getting married or are newlyweds. Aside from making me feel extremely old, this fact also brings out the nurturing side of my personality. Translation: I want to give them advice.

Now at first glance, I might not seem like the best person to dish out wisdom about relationships. That’s because I’ve messed up. A lot. I’m right up there with Liz Taylor in the category of “I’ve really found true love this time… And another one bites the dust.” However, I would argue that it is precisely because of these ghosts of relationships past that I am someone who’s advice should be heeded.

About 3 years ago, I met my match. I mean that in every possible way you can take it. He is my match emotionally and intellectually. He guides the spiritual health of our family. He makes me laugh and understands me in ways I never thought possible. And he loves me better than I deserve.

What I want to focus on here is not the simple fact that he loves me. It’s how he loves me. I’ve learned so much during our time together. Probably the most important lesson that God has shown me, through my husband, is what love looks like.

When we first meet someone and become friends or date, it’s easy. We can’t wait to hear their voice on the phone. Or see them at the end of the day and share what’s happened to us. We love cuddling and holding hands and asking questions about the other person. Our culture does a great job of displaying the excitement of new love.

What it does a horrible job showing us is what happens after the first kiss… or wedding… or new baby.

After the excitement wears off, after we know each other’s secrets, some of us have bought into the lie that we aren’t “in love” anymore. And the truth is, for many of us, we aren’t. Because being “in love” is an emotion that has very little to do with loving someone. Being “in love” is a feeling that is wrapped up in us. Loving someone is about showing love to another.

I realize this isn’t a new concept. Many people, far wiser than me, have written about the active, verb form, of love. But now I know how to recognize it and hold on to it and cherish it for what it is.

Sometimes love looks like simple things: a bouquet of flowers, a love note, stopping at the store on the way home from work for desert. Or letting the other person choose the movie you’ll watch for your date night. Or making dinner when you know your partner has had a long day. However, as relationships develop and mature, love can look like unexpected things.

Sometimes it looks like waking up in the middle of the night to change the baby’s diaper. Or letting a child climb into bed between you and fall asleep after he’s had a bad dream. Sometimes it look like waking up early to take care of the infant so you can let your spouse sleep in.

Sometimes it looks like going out of your way for your partner’s family. Or encouraging your spouse to pursue a hobby that they love, even if it means less time that they will have to devote to you. Sometimes it looks like taking items off of their to-do list, even though you’ve already worked a 10- hour day, because it means that the housework will get done that much quicker.

It looks like holding hands through contractions and taking notes during a visit to the lactation consultant. It looks like taking second jobs to earn money for your children. It looks like admitting when you’re wrong and asking forgiveness. It looks like second, and third, and fourth chances.

Since we’ve been married, we haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day. This isn’t because we hate florists or greeting cards. Quite the contrary. It’s because we’ve made a conscious decision to recognize and be thankful for the true displays of love that we try to show each other every day through serving each other.

And that’s the biggest lesson… Love looks like service and sacrifice. After all, that’s the example of love that Christ displayed for us on the cross. That’s the example of love that we are compelled to show our children. We love because He first loved us.

Read Full Post »

June Snapshot

June Snapshot
June’s “Current Snapshot” blog, for those who are interested. I totally missed May. Oh well!
Currently…

Watching:
We just finished the last season of 24. What an amazing series. Although some seasons were better than others, I loved the way the characters and their relationships were developed. I know that I will be revisiting Jack and CTU again in the future.

Last night we watched the pilot of Justified. Really great writing. The main character is a US Marshall, a modern-day cross between Wyatt Earp and Malcolm Reynolds with a dash of John Wayne thrown in for good measure. It has a great cinematic feel. If the first episode is any indication, I think I’m going to love it.

Reading:
This is still a huge gaping void in my life that is so uncharacteristic of me. It needs to change ASAP. I am beginning a new Bible study at church next week, so I will be reading that book and desperately need to find time for some fiction.

Listening:
Recently oldest son discovered the music of Michael Jackson. I’ve loved listening to some of the greats like “Thriller” and “Bad”, but we’ve also enjoyed oldies like “Rock with You” and the Jackson 5’s “I want you back.” My favorite part of listening to MJ is watching my sweet boy dance and sing along and make up words when no one has any idea what the lyrics are. One of the best observations came from my son while listening to “Smooth Criminal”. He said “mom, they should have titled this ‘Annie, are you ok?’ Because those are the only words you can understand and he sings them over and over again!”

When I’m not strolling down memory lane and creating new ones with my son, I’m still obsessed with hymns!!! (Yes, I do realize the irony)

Making:
I am working on a yarn-wrapped initial for our front door. I traced a giant H off our computer screen, then cut the letter from some cardboard and wrapped it with yarn. I still have to crochet some accent flowers to put on it. I can’t wait until it is finished and adorning our entry way.

I’ve also been making baby food for our little one. I steam the fruits or veggies, let them cool, then purée them in the fabulous food processor that my Dad gave us. I then pour the purée into ice cube trays to freeze. After frozen, I put the cubes into freezer bags. I tried using regular ice cube trays initially, but they quickly demonstrated that they were not up for the task. My best friend sent us some amazing silicone trays that have worked much better. I also purchased some re-fillable pouches that we use for on the go meals. Our little guy is loving his table food! I love that he is only eating food that I make with fresh ingredients and no preservatives. We are also enjoying the financial savings!

Feeling:
June is a tough month because my oldest son is with his dad. It is a daily struggle to combat the waves of sadness when I walk by his room or see pictures of friends doing fun summer activities with their children. I am looking forward to July when we have big plans for our family vacation and other fun things to do.

It has been one year since we left our old church. I am so grateful for the years that we spent there, and my “Foundation family” will always have a special place in my heart. However, I know that we made the right choice in leaving and Kevin and I both feel so blessed to be at Grace now. GBC has wrapped us in love and prayer and helped make the transition into a new church home so much easier than in could have been. The members at Grace have astounded me with their generosity.

I am also so incredibly grateful every day for our family and friends. When the storms of life have hit us, they have demonstrated their support through word and deed. There are no words to ever fully express the depths of our gratitude for all that they have done for our family.

Planning:
I’m looking forward to a month with my Bug and planning all kinds of cool activities. Science experiments, art projects, trips to see family and friends, and lots and lots of swimming!

Loving:
I got my car windows tinted this past week and WE ARE LOVING IT!!! Levi is glad he doesn’t have the sun beaming down on him through the back window, and I am enjoying that I don’t have to run my ac at full blast constantly anymore. I’ve decided that no one should ever buy a car in Texas without tinted windows. It was an amazing investment.

My dear friend Carol brought us a woven baby sling from Guatemala when they went on their mission trip. We love using it for quick trips into the store or out to hang laundry on the line. It is so beautiful and works amazingly well.

I learned about the camera+ app for the iPhone a couple of weeks ago while reading a photography blog, and I am in love with it!!! Hands down the best .99 I ever spent. It is easier to use and focus than the in-phone camera, allows some terrific edits, and has all of the fun filters of Instagram, but I think it is way easier to use. It also allows some lighting corrections and depth of field edits. If you take a lot of pictures with your iPhone, but don’t want them to look like they are pictures you took with your phone, you need to purchase this app! You won’t be sorry.

Stay tuned for next month’s snapshot…

Read Full Post »

Eat- Play- Sleep… Eat: check! Play: check! Sleep: But what if baby doesn’t want to sleep?

Here’s our back story. My oldest son was a horrible sleeper. Well, he slept fine as long as I held him, nursed him, rocked him, laid down next to him and rubbed his back, the stars were all aligned and God sent a miracle. The only sure-fire way to get him to sleep was to put him in the carseat. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time sitting in the carport with the car running, wasting gas.

So when our latest bundle of joy arrived, I was prepared. I had done all of the research on creating a good sleep environment. We swaddled, used white noise machines, had a bedtime routine, yada yada yada. At 2 weeks old, our little guy was sleeping 6-8 hours at a stretch. Alleluia!!! I was convinced that I had paid my parental dues and this child would be easy; God had smiled on us and we were thankful.

Then he hit about 11 weeks old and the dreaded “4 month sleep regression” began. He woke every 2-3 hours at night. I had to rock him to sleep for naps and then hold my breath as I laid him down ever so gently in his crib, praying he would not wake. My husband helped when he could, but mostly our baby just wanted me. So I began doing what most desperate moms do- I scoured the Internet for help and information, I wore him in the wrap during the day, I let him sleep on my chest, I nursed him on the couch at night so we could both sleep. As a result, our quick-learning genius child got used to some really bad habits that had been formed out of necessity.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with nursing and rocking my baby. It is precious and beautiful and I adore it. But my husband and I are both of the opinion that at some point our baby has to learn to sleep somewhere other than in my arms.

So our little guy turned 5 months old and we felt that he was old enough to start ST. Since I was a researched expert, it should go smoothly, right? It turns out that when you have 2 parents who are as stubborn as the day is long, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Who knew?

We tried checks.
We tried extinction.
We tried sitting by the crib.
We unswaddled.
We moved up bedtime.
We made bedtime later.
And on and on.

Nothing seemed to work. After several weeks, we finally admitted defeat and went back to doing whatever was necessary, even if they were “sleep crutches” frowned upon by the ST experts.

Then our precious bundle of joy turned 7 months old. One day, in a full-blown “I’ve failed as a mother” pity party, as I was rocking Levi and he was screaming on my shoulder fighting sleep, I texted my best friend. She had successfully sleep trained both of her girls and I knew she could help. I didn’t have time to read books. I had already read so many things, much of which contradicted the others, and it was all garbled up in my sleep-deprived brain. I needed help!

She quickly shot back a reader’s digest version of the Ferber method. Put baby down awake but sleepy. Set timer and do checks and increase the amount of time between checks. Do not pick baby up or talk. Just pat a minute or so and leave. Rinse and repeat. She also linked some good articles that included concise explanations.

I shared her advice with Kevin. He was on board. Go Team! The next day I started with naps. Previously, a huge part of the problem was that I had been sending Levi mixed messages because I was inconsistent. Everything that I read claimed that if we focused on nights that naps would work themselves out. The opposite was true for Levi. Naps actually got worse and nights were touch and go at best. I would rock him during the day and hold him while he slept, but at night I expected him to be able to soothe himself? All we were doing was teaching him if he held out long enough, we would eventually come in, pick him up, and rock him back to sleep.

Now, armed with my new Ferber knowledge and a plan, I was ready. I would not veer from the plan unless I could tell something was wrong (diaper cry and hunger cry sound very different than his “I’m exhausted, please pick me up” cry). I set the sleeping stage, went through our nap routine, checked on him at increasing intervals… and he slept! And the next nap he slept. And that night he slept. And the next day, and the next. Each time resulting in less protest and quicker sleep.

It has now been 1 week since we began our true ST with the Ferber method. Now our little guy doesn’t even really cry- it is more of a fussy few minutes of whining, and then he is sound asleep. He is napping 2-3 hours during the day and sleeping 12 hours at night, with 1 night time feeding. He occasionally wakes up at night very briefly and puts himself back to sleep.

We know better than to claim victory and celebrate too soon. We know that teething, sickness, travel, growth spurts, and a host of other issues will invade our lives and we will have to hit the reset button. But this is what we’ve learned this far:
– Consistency is key. That pretty much applies to everything about parenting. It is good to have a reminder that ST is no different than any other form of discipline.
– In spite of what some people claim, I don’t believe that he is “giving up” when he stops fussing and falls asleep. I believe he fusses and unwinds and goes to sleep. He rocks his head back and forth. He tucks his arms underneath him. He rubs his lovey “Patches”. He makes a little tired sound and drifts off to sleep. I know that this is a hotly contested issue and I am certain I won’t settle the debate in my blog, I’m just sharing my opinion and observations.
– Parents have to be united on whatever ST method, or lack thereof, that they choose. If one parent wants baby to do CIO (cry it out) and the other can’t go 5 minutes of hearing baby cry without intervening, it will never work. If one parent is adamant about co-sleeping or bed-sharing and the other is determined the baby will sleep in a crib in the nursery, it will never work. Again, I think that being on the same page about parenting philosophies is essential to successfully raising your children and maintaining a healthy marriage.
– Flexibility is crucial. Sometimes we research and discuss ideas with other parents, and we decide exactly what we will do when our kids are born. Then we meet our sweet babies and our best laid plans go south. We have stubborn babies. We have babies who genuinely need to nurse more frequently than others. We have babies who have acid reflux. We have babies who hate the dark or who can’t sleep when it is light. You get the idea. I think we have to be willing to try other methods and be flexible and see what works best for our baby, rather than what we think will work best for us.

I know that our journey through sleep training is not over. I know that there will be times when we have to retrain or possibly even have a complete “do over”. But I know that if we’ve had even some small successes this week, that we now have a bit more confidence and the next time might not seem so bad. We might not feel quite so hopeless. And hopefully, by the Grace of God, we will all continue to enjoy more peace-filled nights of slumber.

Read Full Post »

April Snapshot

April’s “Current Snapshot” blog, for those who are interested.
Currently…

Watching:
We are watching the last season of 24 on Netflix. I really love this series. While some seasons have been better than others, I think it is up there with NYPD Blue for one of my all-time favorite, crime-fighting dramas. The world needs more Jack Bauers.

We are also watching Season 2 of Little House on the Prairie. I love that my 8 year old son adores it and that it is something we can enjoy together as a family. I am increasingly drawn to the simplicity of the Ingalls’ lifestyle, albeit with a few modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, modern medicine, and wifi added.

Reading:
I am not currently reading a book (gasp!!!). A situation that will be remedied, hopefully, this week by a trip to the library. Life has thrown us a few curveballs lately and my reading time has been otherwise occupied. I am enjoying the daily blogs I read when I have time though. I am also reading through the Gospels. It began as a Lenten observance and, although I got off track a bit, I am still planning on finishing them.

Listening:
Still enjoying my obsession with hymns this month. They are just so well-written with meaningful lyrics and timeless melodies. I truly can’t get enough of them. I love contemporary worship and praise music, but there is nothing like rocking my baby boy to sleep while singing “Blessed Assurance” in his ear.

Making:
This past month, I made 2 Jon Jon rompers for my 5 month old. 1 is a play romper and 1 is a bit dressier that he wore for church on Easter. I still have tons to learn about sewing, but I am enjoying it so much and, minus a couple of boo boos, I’m thrilled with how they turned out.

I promised my oldest son a new vest, so that’s the next sewing project in the queue.

I am about to start a name craft in the baby’s nursery (that I had hoped to have finished before he was born!). Oh well- it has been a lesson in not sweating the small stuff!

Feeling:
Lately I felt a bit overwhelmed with some of the challenges that life has thrown at us. I am feeling so grateful that I have a Savior to lean in to. Our pastor’s sermon this past Sunday was exactly what I needed to hear and be reminded of. I need to preach the Gospel to myself everyday!

Planning:
We are still working on the garden plan. We started our seeds inside about a week ago and they are doing really well. For the past 2 years, we have purchased plants from the nursery so this is the first time to begin our garden from seeds. We saved a ton of money! As an added bonus, I just love seeing the little sprigs shoot out of that soil and reach for the sun! I can’t wait to get them in the ground in the next few weeks! (That was an over-abundance of exclamation points in that paragraph- but it just makes me so happy!)

Loving:
I love my children at any age and stage, but their current ages are just so much fun! Our oldest son is full of his usual creative and imaginative exploration. He is old enough now to have some great conversations with and I just love seeing a glimpse of the man God is fashioning him to be. Our baby bundle is doing all sorts of nifty new tricks. He rolls both ways and genuinely plays with his toys now. He is also getting close to crawling and sitting up. While my Mama’s heart aches that those precious newborn days are so fleeting, I love seeing his discovery of the world around him.

My husband continues to amaze me with his capacity to live out his vows every single day. He is the perfect help-mate and partner for me and I give thanks for his love in new ways each day!

Stay tuned for next month’s snapshot…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »