Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I am mary magdalene

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out of; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
{luke 8:1-3}

I don't know much about Scripture, or the study of it, or really what some of it is supposed to mean (Revelation????). So when people talk about Mary Magdalene, famed follower of Christ and one of the first people to realize that His tomb was empty (Matthew 28), my eyes kind of glaze over and my mind goes blank. What do I really know about her anyway, and why should I know anything about her at all?

From what I understand, the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are all first-hand accounts of what they saw and experienced with Christ. Each of them mentions Mary Magdalene, so I figure she must be a fairly important character, especially when talk of Jesus' Resurrection comes up (Easter happens to be a popular time to discuss this subject, as the Easter Bunny isn't the reason that we celebrate the holiday).

So as I was sitting in church, listening to an Easter message that I felt like I'd already heard a thousand times in one form or another, I found myself looking out the window and daydreaming about the dinner I still needed to prepare.

Until one small phrase caught my attention.

"He gave Mary Magdalene her life back."

It made me stop and think really hard. It's recorded that Mary Magdalene "had" seven demons, but I have never really identified with such a concept and have often dismissed it as something that only happened in Bible times.
___________________________________________________
Don't get too close.
It's dark inside.
It's where my demons hide.
It's where my demons hide.
{demons, imagine dragons}

Maybe I just don't recognize demons when they appear.

Such a comforting topic for a rainy Tuesday, yes?

I thought back to my life right around the time my mom died, and the years before and after that time. Depression, anxiety, and control issues ruled my life. I was shocked and bitter and resentful and enraged with the world. It definitely wasn't what I had planned for. A drug cocktail of Wellbutrin, Zoloft and Concerta could mask the symptoms, but there was still a gnawing black hole growing at the center of my soul.

My very own demons.

I've known about Jesus my whole life.

But when I found Him. When I found Him. When I reached up and grasped the Hand that had always been extended toward me. Then.

He gave me my life back.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Baby Steps

This morning I am absolutely overwhelmed by anxiety.

This hasn't happened in a while, and when it does, I hate it. I just hate it. Life is too good to be anxious over it.

Yet, my mind is racing, thinking about how much I can do before I teach my first class, my meeting after my last class, something my husband said to me yesterday, our summer plans, the welfare of my kids, and will I, for heavens sake, remember all the steps I need to today? And dangit, now that I'm sitting down to write this post, I won't have time to put any make-up on this pale and pasty face of mine.

Life has a way of just happening, whether I choose to wring my hangs and worry over it or not. But I think somewhere, somehow, way back in the recesses of my brain, I've somehow equated worry with caring. If I don't fret about it, then I must not care that much. But what a misguided notion I've been following all these years. It is possible to care deeply and still choose to not be anxious. Easier said than done, I know.

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
{Matthew 6:34}

I know it says clearly not to worry about tomorrow.

My mind goes there anyway.

This morning, I set my mind to only concern myself with the next step I need to take, and then the next, and then the next.  It's not that I don't need to plan for tomorrow, I just don't need to worry incessantly about it, and the plan for it, and the what-if-the-plan-doesn't-work-out,

Pray. Then step.
Pray. Then step.
Pray. Then step.

None of us were born knowing how to run.

Do not be anxious for anything, but in every situation, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, 
present your requests to God.
{philippians 4:6}

Thursday, April 24, 2014

hey

Hey.

I know it's been awhile since I posted anything, but you have to understand. My kids are on spring break, and I've had really, really good intentions. Monday I had a brain, obviously, because I was able to string more than one sentence together. Tuesday I couldn't think of anything to write other than maybe how annoying it is when my kids argue over absolutely inconsequential and trivial issues, so I decided to spare you the whining. Wednesday and today have been non-stop. Oh, yes. We are talking putt-putt and bowling, yard work and Mexican Train (dominoes, for those who want to know). And now, while my cute chef-in-training (Come on! I'm just teasing!) grills the burgers on the grill, I'm stealing a few precious minutes to let you know that I really, seriously, honestly have been thinking about you and intending to write.

But you know what they say about good intentions.

Before I sign off for the evening, I'll warn you now: I may or may not post something on Friday. I intend to. I do. Check back anyway, since you never know (clearly). And if we don't get to say hey tomorrow, I promise I'll be back on Monday.

This whole Spring Break thing has really thrown me off my game.

Monday, April 21, 2014

the ceo

You want to know my biggest issue?

I like to be in control. Of everything.

(Except planning vacations. I leave that to someone else, although sometimes the destination leaves me wishing I had taken the reins. Who am I kidding? I'm not a planner, I'm a controller. Ask me, and I will tell you/direct you.)

OK. So the other night, my husband walked into our room and switched two of the pillow cases. (Or at least I thought he was switching two of the pillow cases. As it turns out, he was just putting the zipper side of the pillow "protector" on the inside of the same case. Anyhow.)

I looked at him with a steady side-eye.


google images






And then I asked, "Ummm...what are you doing?'

I think he probably rolled his eyes at me. Because he knows.

I wasn't asking out of concern for his safety (one must guard against random zipper attacks in the night). I wanted to know exactly why he was messing with the pillow cases, plain and simple.

Have I ever told you how picky I am about the decor in my house? Right down to the pillow cases, it would appear.

(They have to match, otherwise the whole bed looks stupid.)

Some things I'd like to control: other people.

(I'd also like to control the color of the brick brick the builders in my neighborhood choose, but they refuse to ask my council. Very aggravating.)

You've heard that you can't control other people, right? So have I. This does not stop me from trying. I'm persistent in my endeavors, I'll give myself that much.

It's very exhausting to try to control other people. If I were smart about it, I'd let God do His job and just sit back and relax. Take a break. But no. I feel I am as good (or better?) at living other people's lives as they are, I suppose.

Sometimes I think that in my heart of hearts, way back there where thoughts occur that no one else is supposed to know about, I think this: that I would do a better job at being God than God does.

Oh. Now I've really said it. (Sorry.)

But honestly. Sometimes all that pride just bubbles up, and I think that I've got this. All of it.

Thank you very much.

Then life throws a few curve balls, and it is very obvious that I do NOT got anything. But in my human haze, I deal enough to move on, and then I'm right back where I started. Giving people the side-eye and asking them what the HECK they think they are doing with the pillow cases.

Would a country be well-run with two Presidents, or a company with two CEO's? Or would a plane be better flown with two pilots? Probably not. Invariably, the issue of power and control would arise, right?

The bigger question is this: can I trust God to run things in my life as smoothly and efficiently as I think I can...and have tried?

There is nothing smooth or efficient about controlling every morsel of food that touches my lips. That has issues written all over it, but I still try. Daily.

I'm tired.

Not working out so well for me. This CEO is failing miserably. I think I need Someone who knows what He is doing to take my place. Someone I can depend on. Someone who knows me better than I know myself.

My help and glory are in God
—granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
So trust him absolutely, people;
lay your lives on the line for him.
God is a safe place to be.
{psalm 62:7}

Friday, April 18, 2014

Yes, it was stupid

I'm just gonna be honest with you.  Yesterday, a certain girl and a certain boy were on my nerves.

Their constant back-and-forth arguments were driving me crazy. And the arguments were stupid. Some parents would say "We don't say words like stupid", and I'll admit, for a long time, my own children thought the s-word was stupid. (It's sweet now that they know what the actual s-word is.) But I'm over it. You know what? Stupid. That's right. Your argument. Stu-PID.

And annoying.

And they would not listen to reason. No amount of practicality or logic would sway them from arguing over who sat on the couch first.

The thing that bothers me the most about my kids is the fact that they have no problem retaliating word for word, hurt for hurt. My grandma AND my mom used to tell me that two wrongs don't make a right (do you know how long it was before I really understood what they meant?), so now I say it to my kids. All. The. Time.

"But she pushed ME first. So I pushed her back."

"But HE kicked ME first. So I kicked him back."

"But HE told me he didn't like mmeeeeeeeeeeee first. So I told him that I didn't like him MORE."

"But SHE was mean to mmmmeeeeeeeeee first. So I was mean to her."

Two wrongs don't make a right, sweetie!! {insert fake smile and lots of sunshiny patience}

Our afternoon was a tad rushed because of a baseball game we had to get ready for, and I, determined NOT TO BE LATE (I was born late. True story.), kept on them to get ready, get ready, GET READY.

I was so proud of all of us when we rolled out of the driveway at 5:25. How awesome am I? I'll tell you. I rock.

Obviously.

Except.

Except that when I pulled into the parking lot at 5:40 (a full FIVE MINUTES before we actually had to be there), my husband made several astute observations:

1) we forgot my son's sports glasses (you kinda need those)
2) we forgot my son's water bottle
3) we forgot my son's baseball hat

And he wasn't friendly about it.

And seeing that HE wasn't being friendly with ME first, I decided to be unfriendly back. To show my displeasure, of course. Don't mess with me. I'm dangerous. Especially when it comes to trying to give someone a banana. (No, not everyone will understand what this means, but he will.)

Turn about is fair play. (Another grandma-ism. Talk about speaking out of both sides of your mouth!)

Sitting there watching the game a little later on, it suddenly struck me how much my kids learn from me. They both sat and watched as their parents got into a stupid argument over glasses and a banana. And if that weren't bad enough, they also witnessed their mother being rude to their father because their father was discourteous to their mother.

______________________________________________
Two wrongs don't make a right.
{grandma and mom}

So even though I was saying all the right things, all the most reasonable things, all the logical things when it came to my children's arguments, they were following the example already laid out for them.

Quick on the uptake, this one.

Kids will be kids. They will get into stupid arguments that get on my nerves and they'll keep arguing even when I tell them all the wise things I've ever been taught. But I don't see them changing their ways until I decide to change mine, which means that the actual adults in the house need to show them how it's done in a positive, constructive way.

It's going to happen. I'm going to have a bad day, I'm not going to feel like being nice, and I'll choose to be rude to my husband rather than choosing to put his feelings ahead of my own. And he's going to have a long, frustrating day, and he'll choose to be short rather than putting my feelings ahead of his. We know that we aren't perfect people, and we shouldn't try to be. But that doesn't mean that the cycle has to continue. As hard as it is, we all need to understand and respect our partner. Our friend for life.

And when we do, we lay out a beautiful example of respect, dignity and appreciation of others for future generations to follow.

Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but not everything encourages growth.
{1 corinthians 10:23}

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Worry

I am so ready for the cold to go away. (This has nothing to do with anything else, I just felt like complaining. I'll be glad when I can go outside without shivering. And I promise not to complain about the heat when it does finally arrive.)

Moving on.

I was looking back at what I've talked about this week and realized that I've only talked one time. Has it really been since Monday that I posted? So I started thinking about the things that have kept me from writing down my thoughts, because I'm busy, yes, but I'm not that busy.

A friend's birthday lunch at a fabulous restaurant. (Fun! Happy Birthday, Stacey!)

Trying out a Pure Barre class. (My body is complaining about that one today.)

Teaching classes. (Three more this week, I'll have to ignore the aforementioned soreness.)

Running errands. (Hello, Nike apparel for boys, you are pricey!)

Housework. (Just kidding, my house is a WRECK.)

Worry. (Oh, yes, now this one is where I've spent a majority of my time and energy.)

We recently confiscated a child's iPod (a child belonging to me, that is, not some random child, although I'd be very curious to know what's happening on these iPods that parents have zero clue about), and discovered some texts and other things that we weren't too pleased with. But what we were most displeased with was ourselves. How did we, fairly good parents in our own estimation (:)), allow our child to be texting at 10:30 PM (!) and know nothing about it? There are other issues for sure, but one thing remains clear: (1) this child is a sneaky little thing and (2) it's much easier to turn a blind eye to what you know could be going on than to deal with it directly. Especially when you know that dealing with it might mean the cold shoulder, insolence and a little cheek. Okay, that was two things, but you get the point.

Allow the worry to set in.

Am I a good parent? Am I doing the right thing for my child? Are they headed down a path of destruction? Why won't they listen to me? Are they going to make bad choices? Is this a sign of things to come? Do I have reason to dread the next 5 years? Can I really raise this child? Do I have what it takes? How can we come through this with as few scrapes and bruises as possible?

Now that I've allowed you a peek into what's been going on in my head over the last 48 hours, I must point out to you an observation: God is completely absent from my thoughts.

He's not absent from me, mind you, because Romans 8:38 promises that nothing can separate us from His love. Not even worry. But. Even though He'll never turn away from me, I can certainly turn away from Him, which leaves me feeling sad and empty. And broken. And searching. And worrying.

Not that I don't have reason to worry. There is some scary, inappropriate and downright terrifying information that our children have access to, right at the tips of their fingertips. And I am the one that put it in my children's hands. Without an ongoing conversation about internet safety, rules and guidelines, we are basically expecting our kids to pick up their cues from those around them (their peers, mostly) and figure it out for themselves.

Have you looked at your kid's peers lately?

Not necessarily who I want guiding them my children.

My mind was distracted and emotional yesterday. I talked ad nauseum with friends. I turned up worship music in the car. I prayed. I repented. I prayed. I cried. I prayed. And in between it all, I worried about the next 25+ years of my child's life.

Worrying without God is scary. Worrying with God is silly. So when I read the Proverbs 31 devotion for the day, while I had trouble "laughing at the days to come", I tried really hard to turn that worry into worship.

____________________________________________________________
God knows my future as well as He knows me.
My job is to seek to know Him more as I place my future in His hands.
{karen ehman}

It's okay to be strict. (Who knows when the iPod will make a reappearance in this house. It will depend on the responsibility and maturity of the user.). Every generation needs rules and guidelines so that they can learn and succeed, and it just so happens that my kid's generation have access to a world that past generations have never experienced before. It's natural to not know exactly what to do. But we have to be smart. We cannot assume that the easy route is safest, because what we don't know can cause harm.

There will be pushback, and questioning, and "all the other kids think you're mean", and yes, it's hard. I hate it. But in the words of modern-day poet Kelly Clarkson:

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Stand a little taller...
What doesn't kill you makes a fighter.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Don't Quit

This morning has been a two-cup morning. Of tea, that is. (I Do Not Drink Coffee, remember?). After two nights of staying up past my bedtime (I'm not even going to tell you my bedtime because I'm embarrassed. 9:30.), and then forgetting to turn off my 5:20AM alarm this morning (see, I threw that in there because I'm not ashamed that I get up at 5:20. Right? Because I told you twice already that I get up at 5:20.), I'm tired. But it doesn't hit me right away. It waits until about 8AM, when I really need to be accomplishing things, and then I'm literally fighting to keep my eyelids from closing.

My sister and her husband were visiting this weekend, and I'm willing to forgo a little sleep to squeeze out as much time as I can with them. They are two of my favorite people on the entire planet, hands down, and they're totally worth it.

Because my sister and I are close and share everything with each other, I was expressing concern over the fact that even though I work out so hard and eat right, my stomach is still flabby. Ugh. And I would know, because I have a full length mirror in my closet that reveals all my flaws.

And she looked at me.

And looked at me some more.

"I think you need to be content with the body you have and not try all the time to always have the perfect body."

Oh, I am, I assured her. And then she looked at me with a look only she has, where she knits her eyebrows together and scrunches up her cute little nose, and then she said, "Hmmm, I don't think you are."

Hm.

Because I was expecting her to say...not that. Be content with not having perfection? But that's me. I'm a perfectionist. It's what I do. It's how I live. It's what I want. It's who I am.

And, well, I can't help who I am.

{Insert a shrug of the shoulders and a toss of the hair.}

It's a good excuse. I am who I am and I just can't change who I am. It's also incredibly stubborn and flimsy.

I looked to my husband to support my arguement. "But I've come a long way, haven't I?" He agreed. I've grown and matured and am no longer the person I was a year ago, or three years ago, or five. But is that a good enough excuse to just stop? To just say "I've come a long way and now I'm done"? To be content with where I am and fold my hands and say "this is it"?

It could be anything. It could be "I'm just an angry person", or "I'm just an over-emotional person", or "I'm just a control-freak", or "I'm just a perfectionist", or "I'm just a negative person", and even though you know it's not really working out so well for you, you think it's who you are so you simply cannot change.

I used to hate myself and I used to love/hate food. I loved food because it made me feel better and I hated it because of instead of representing nourishment and energy, it represented calories and weight gain. And I hated myself because I tried so hard to control everything that went into my mouth, and yet I couldn't control it all, and I became so obsessed with food and calories and body image that it would affect all the other areas of my life.

One step forward, two steps back.

I still have those tendancies. I do. Standing in my kitchen, talking to my sister. She could see it. And instead of ignoring it and agreeing with me, she called me out on it. That's what sisters do. They don't let their sisters sit in a pit, fold their hands and give in to their tendancies and bad habits.

They say "Hey! You are much more than the size of your tummy. You are made for more than worrying about a little paunch. Here's my hand. Let me help you up. Dust off your pants and get back in the game! Keep fighting. Don't stop growing and learning and maturing. Don't quit."

Sometimes, I'm willing to sit back and accept myself for the controlling perfectionist I don't want to be anymore. Sometimes I'm just tired of fighting against myself.

But the fight is not over until the day you draw your very last breath this side of Heaven.

So, friend to friend, let me tell you:

You were made for more than worrying about your weight, or the way you look in those jeans, or a bad haircut, or the weight on the scale, or crow's feet, or how many calories you ate yesterday. Your body is a machine. Look what you do in a day. Holding your child. Running. Jumping. Clapping. Laughing. Walking. Thinking. Breathing. Seeing. Hearing.

Have you gotten discouraged?

Here's my hand. Let me help you up. Dust off your pants and get back in the game. Keep fighting. Don't stop growing and learning and maturing.

Don't quit.

Friday, April 11, 2014

what are you scared of?

The words on the page stared up at me, asking me to consider some of the things that I fear that might be prohibiting me from recklessly living out my faith.

"Has your fear of people become greater than your fear of God?"

Um. Yes.

You know, I'm scared of lots of things. Scary movies, for one. (I hate them.) And you can add scary TV shows to that, too. (Criminal Minds. American Horror Story on FX. All that has to happen for me to be scared and freaked out is to watch a preview, especially of American Horror Story.) Let's see. I'm scared of rejection. I'm scared of being lonely. Of making mistakes. Of getting old and useless. Of death. And dying. Of getting sick, like with cancer or a disease. Of being depressed. That I won't meet other people's expectations. Violence and political unrest.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear
but of power and love and self-control.
{2 timothy 1:7}

Oh, yeah, and I'm scared to cut my hair.

But of God? Well, my fear of other things and of people pretty much outweighs any sort of fear of the Lord, so I don't have to wrestle with that one too often. I'm too busy being anxious about everything else.

I don't really know what God expects. Look at this world. I don't really need to explain why I might be scared. (Besides cutting my hair. That one is just silly.)

But all throughout the Bible it talks about a "fear" of the Lord. So of everything else that is on my plate, now I have to fear Him, too. Un. Believable.

But I'm learning that a fear of the Lord, as it says in Proverbs 1:7, isn't like being scared of Him. It's actually respecting Him for who He is: The King and the Maker of the whole entire flipping universe. When I tried to let that sink in, my respect meter went way up. God. He can do what He wants when He wants. He is not bound by time or space. He is limitless.

OK. I can respect that.

So what's holding me back from following Him completely and courageously and outrageously?

Um. Fear.

I do not trust God. I want to trust God. But I do not. I don't trust that He has my best interests in His plan. So I say I believe in Him while I chase down other things that seem like they might make life a little more stable. Like money. Or relationships. Or a good job. The list goes on and on. And I do good things for God, but I have a divided heart.

Trust in the character of God is foundational to obedience.
{jennie allen, chase}

I think my good behavior will please Him, He will be so happy--joyful, even--that I've tried so hard, and I'll go to Heaven. The End.

But, as Jennie Allen points out in her study chase, morality-doing good things for the sake of doing good things-has never won God's favor. Morality is something we achieve, while righteousness is something we receive. (chase, pg. 71). Faith in God has always been and will always be what makes us right before God. (pg. 72)

Fear steals hope. Peace. Time. Thoughts.

Trust creates courage. Endurance. Determination. Faith.

So. Jennie Allen asks us one question: What if we became insanely courageous and began to live the stories God has written for us?

What if we actually trusted and respected Him?

What if our respect of Him showed us to be brave and through that we began to show the evidence of Him? What if we truly began to glorify Him?

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
{psalm 27:1}

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Meany Pants

Several months (or more) ago, my husband and I received an invitation to join one of the most exclusive and expensive clubs in town. While we debated the cost and weighed the pros and cons, we ultimately decided that joining the club was good for us and our family.

Not everyone can get in. I don't know if it's by invitation only or if you can apply, and maybe they have secret meetings where they discuss potential members and if they should blackball people or not. All I know is, now that I'm in, I'm a lifetime member.

Welcome to "The Mean Parents" Society.

Or Mob. I guess it depends on who you ask.

I didn't really intend on becoming a Mean Parent, and the first time I was informed that I was such, I heartily disagreed. I feel like I am a fairly nice, mostly agreeable, person, and would never be mean on purpose. Thoughtless, yes. Insensitive...absolutely. One may even call me somewhat phlegmatic, which I get. I don't like to cry at movies. But mean? Really?

The Scene: Doorbell rings at my house. Daughter's younger friend (who she likes to pretend she is babysitting) is at the door, asking to play. Daughter invites friend in, even though she knows that she has other things to do. The queue is too long. She's backed up. And a friend who you are pretending to babysit is a distraction, not a help. So daughter is firmly instructed to tell friend to go home. Friend was witness to the interaction.

Conversation as follows:

Me: C cannot stay here while you clean your room. I've told you that you have to do (fill in list of things) before you can play.
Sassy Daughter: But...(fill in with sauciness)

Friend goes home.

Sassy: You are forbidden from babysitting!! And I mean it!
Me: OK. I don't like babysitting anyway.
Sassy (dramatically): I mean you can't be around kids! Because you're SO MEAN!! They'll be afraid of you!! They won't want to come to our house anymore!!!!!
Me: Good. I don't like kids.
Sassy: BUT YOU'RE AROUND KIDS RIGHT NOW!!

The Scene: Dinnertime. Family around the table. Son holds nose up at the Lemon Goat Cheese Pasta with Kale. I get it. Not necessarily kid-friendly fare, but still tasty. You don't like kale? Fine. Try it, then push it aside, and you basically have pasta with cheese. He chooses not to eat dinner but, once everyone gets up from table, to get a box of Life cereal from the cabinet and chow.

Conversation as follows:

Me (yanking hand from box): I do not appreciate what you are doing. I told you to eat your dinner, and the fact that you chose get a box of cereal even though you know you were supposed to eat is, to me, disrepectful.
The Kale-Hater: I don't like dinner. And IIIIIIII'm huuuuuuuuungry.{insert pout, then scowl}
Me: If you are hungry, then dinner is what you need to eat.
The Kale-Hater (scowling at me): I'm. Not. Eating. Dinner.
Me: Do you want to have it for breakfast?
Kale-Hater: That's MEAN, MOM.

I can show you mean. Just open up the newpaper and read how people treat each other. The world can be a mean place, full of hate and darkness.

I don't feel like I'm mean.

But if mean is how you describe us when we take away your iPod because you were texting after 8:45 (our iPod contract--which was signed by our kids--strictly prohibits texting after a certain time), or I made your friend leave because you had to do your homework, or no, you cannot download that song because it's inappropriate, or we told you that a sleepover was out of the question because you were disrepectful, well, then I guess we are.

We have to count the cost for every action we take, because good or bad, the choices my husband and I make have consequences. An aquaintance said something to me the other day that made me think. She said "My kids already know how to be kids. I'm raising adults." An interesting way to look at things, right?

Responsibility. Compassion. Self-control. Respect. Dignity. Courtesy. Kindness. Sympathy. Elegance. Chivalry. Graciousness. Politeness. Generosity. Wisdom.

All things we want to instill in our kids, who we are raising to be adults.

Mean Parents Society.

Now accepting new members.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Potter vs. Clay

In our house, some mornings are fraught with frustration, chaos, and general pandemonium. Did I say some?

I meant most.

When I could hear the wind over the sound of my fan (yes, I keep a fan going every night. I helps me sleep, and, as a bonus, it helps in hotel rooms of very cool but old hotels with very thin walls when the person right next door spends the entire night gagging and throwing up in their bathroom which sounds like it is in your room. You just turn that baby up on high and you are golden.), I knew right then and there that I was in an iffy mood. Iffy as in I-will-be-perfectly-pleasant-until-you-look-at-me-the-wrong-way. Anyway, I knew right away that this infernal wind, which I HATE, had most likely knocked over our trashcan and our recycling containers, spilling the contents all over the cul-de-sac, which would then blow all over our yard, our neighbor's yard, the street, and the next cul-de-sac. So even though I tried really hard to concentrate on my devotion, I kept hearing the wind and wondering if paper and boxes were all over the outside. That, and I kept picturing in my head a picture of Miranda Kerr's abs that I saw on Pinterest yesterday when I pinned "Miranda Kerr's Favorite Ballet Workout" to my Barre board. Why? I guess I'm jealous of her perfect abs and perfect smile and perfect everything else (except a perfect marriage, since I heard she got divorced from Orlando Bloom) and the image stuck with me. So even though I was reading about Samuel and Saul, I was thinking about trash and perfect abs. Which seems wrong somehow.

Anyway.

I finally went outside at 6AM to find my trash can and one of the four recycling containers knocked over and the boxes I had placed out the night before had performed a disappearing act. I suppose they are in someone elses yard, but they'll know exactly who they belong to as they have our name and address labels still on them. I put it all back together (sans the boxes, obviously. It'll be a treat to hunt for them later), but I was mad about it. Let me just tell you. A trash can has never received worse treatment for doing nothing but falling over in the wind, which it clearly cannot help.

I hate that thing.

Back inside, I opened up the Proverbs 31 website to read the devotion for the day, and who has written the devotion for today but Lisa-Jo Baker, a blogger with a huge following and a couple of books under her accomplished belt.

I almost didn't read it.

Jealousy. My mouth scowled. My heart hardened. And I looked at her cute little smile in her profile picture and almost rolled my eyes (but I didn't because I'm not 12, I'm 30-something, and 30-somethings do not roll their eyes). Of course. She gets to be accomplished. She gets to write a successful blog. She gets to write the devotion for the Proverbs 31 website. She probably got to meet Lysa TerKeurst, too. I narrowed my eyes and looked away. Then, with a sigh, I read the whole thing, and was secretly happy that she actually wrote the word "fart" in her devotion, because I don't even like that word and would never, ever use it in such a way. It's crass. So ha.

But as I put my books down and headed to take a shower, I knew my heart wasn't in a good place. Jealousy can make a person bitter and angry, and worse, vengeful and spiteful. I know I don't want to be that kind of person. (Most of the time.)

So I had to make myself pray for a changed heart.

See, I had just read that God changed Saul's heart in 1 Samuel 10:9, so I figured He can change my heart from a jealous, hostile heart shooting poison dart arrows at trash cans to one that is somewhat, and maybe even mostly, pleasant and agreeable. And when I read in Jeremiah 18 about Jeremiah visiting the potter's house, I knew that God could change me, too.

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:
“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 
 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.
But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands;
so the potter formed it into another pot,
shaping it as seemed best to him.
{Jeremiah 18:1-4}

Google images

Monday, April 7, 2014

Talk Dirty to Me

"Hey, Mom, can I download this song?"

I hate these conversations, because they usually end up with me saying no and my daughter getting frustrated over my perceived "over-protectiveness".

This time was no different.

As I looked over the lyrics to Jason Derulo's Talk Dirty, a song she has undoubtedly heard on the radio and on Pandora, I looked in horror at my daughter, knowing that her ears have already heard these disrespectful and thoughtless lyrics.

"What?" she asked. "Did you see the word p*n*s?"

Which lead to a conversation about some of the different words for a man's {ahem}...which she already knew, due to many a playground conversation, it would seem. 

And yet again, the fact that I am ill-equipped to be a good mother was glaringly obvious.

"Mom, if you're going to live in the 21rst century, you're going to have to hear these words."

Thank you, O Wise One. I am aware of some of the things I will be subjected to in, as you say, the 21rst century, even though I don't ever remember having discussions on the playground over the various monikers for the name of a man's appendage, or hearing a song that directly talks about oral sex. (Which, as an aside, I really didn't want to go over with her.) However, as I explained to her, I make choices. And my choices involve choosing my words and conversations carefully and surrounding myself with people who do not choose to speak in a disrespectful manner, a la Jason Derulo.

I get it. It's a catchy song. I understand why she wants to download it. And it would be so easy to just say yes and make her happy so we could move on.

There are many different definitions of what makes a "good" mom. I'm positive that what makes me think I'm a good parent is different than what makes you think you're a good parent, and that's okay. We learn from each other.

The one thing missing from my aforementioned "good mom" equation is God. I can will myself to be a good mom every single day of my life, but I'm woefully ill-equipped when it comes to motherhood. And wife-hood. And every other aspect of life, actually. I don't often know what to do, which path to take, how to deal with questions like "hey, mom, can I download this song?" because I know she knows that I actually like that song, too, disrespectful lyrics and all. (I don't actually like the lyrics, FYI, but have found that I'm pretty good at overlooking and ignoring the things I don't like in favor of the things I do, even when it's potentially destructive.)

Being a "good mom" to me means being in constant prayer with God, asking Him for wisdom and understanding and direction. I believe that when we ask and believe, He will equip us with what we need.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

Without Him, I'm ill-equipped, usually tempted and willing to take the easy route rather than the right one. But with Him, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

"Equipped Mom" title included.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hey, Ya'll

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Boys and Girls!

Children of all ages!

(Actually, scratch that "children of all ages" part, because I don't really like children of any ages right now, so I'll just leave it at "ladies and gentlemen". Don't ask me to babysit.)

I'm back!

After a long hiatus from blogging (I got a lot more housework done, FYI), I've had some time to settle into my new role as instructor extraordinaire, and I'm finally feeling confident enough to begin blogging again.

I've also had some time to contemplate what triggered the hiatus in the first place. And to be perfectly honest, it had everything and nothing to do with a busy schedule.

I was beginning to fear. Fear what people thought of me. Fear what people thought of my blog. Fear what the numbers said about the success of my blog. And fear that I didn't have what it takes to write. Anything. Much less a blog about insecurity. I started comparing myself to other people (there are some awesome bloggers out there, by the way), and, in the end, I used the excuse of a busy schedule to take a break and reassess.

I didn't think I'd come back.

And here I am. At the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Writing.

So.

Before I take off for my seventh class this week (yes, I had to throw that in there)--I was supposed to leave 3 minutes ago, actually--I'm sending out this quick message.

I'm here. And I'm writing.

Now it's your turn.

Read. Share.

Go.