Archives for April 2012

On guilt, conviction and Angelina Jolie

Ever have one of those days? You know, the kind of day that you text your husband at 3:45 and say something to the effect of, “I’m losing my mind. Tell me you’ll be home soon.” You probably follow up said text with a little yellow emoticon that looks something like this: ūüėõ

I mean, this is a hypothetical example of the kind of text one MIGHT send, of course. *nervous laughter*

On one of those hypothetical days, your husband might reply, “6:00.” That’s it. Just some numbers. No sad faced emoticon to show how deeply he might commiserate with your impending breakdown. ūüôĀ

I mean, if we want to take this “hypothetical” exchange of texts a step further,¬† you MIGHT reply with something like, “Ack! Um…okay.” Followed by another grimicing emoticon.

Really, how did any of us ever communicate without emoticons?!

If your husband is valiant and grand, he will likely respond with, “I will try to make it home earlier. I can be there by 5:15.”

To which you will (hypothetically) respond, “We’ll be alright. Don’t rush.” You will send this text while secretly hoping that he does, indeed, rush.

When your hypothetical husband walks through the hypothetical door at 4:45, you will hypothetically find him to be more handsome than ever he was before. He might as well be riding a hypothetical white horse and wearing a shield of valor.

So this may come as a bit of a surprise to you all, but this situation isn’t really hypothetical. That was my day today and my valiant husband actually DID walk through the door at 4:45 and promptly took the children to the park when he saw that desperate deer-caught-in-headlights look of mine that says, Sweet Jesus be near ’cause Mama’s gonna lose her mind.

After he announced the impending trip to the park, one of the children (who shall remain unnamed) (the one bearing the X-Chromosome) replied something to the effect of, “No thanks. I want to stay here with Mom.”

“Nope.” My response was immediate and firm. And maybe a little loud?

“Why?!” she cried, her face falling.

And before I could stop the words from spilling out of my mouth I replied, “Because Mommy needs a break from you guys. I need to be alone and I don’t want to be needed for a minimum of thirty minutes.”

And then her face fell and I immediately felt a flood of guilt because what a horrible thing to say. But of course I tried to brush off said guilt under the guise of my firm belief that “God does not operate out of guilt and therefore I will not operate in guilt either.”

But you know what umbrella¬†God does operate under? Conviction. And there is a paper thin line between guilt and conviction that sometimes gets blurred and if we’re not tuned in to what’s happening around ¬†us we may get the two confused. I could assume genuine conviction to be nothing more than self-imposed guilt and brush it off since, you know, I REFUSE TO OPERATE IN GUILT. Ah, but I can likewise so often mistake guilt as conviction, thereby indeed OPERATING IN GUILT without even really realizing it.

Today what I experienced was conviction, though I tried with all my might dismiss it as “Mommy Guilt.”

The thing is, the sentiment I expressed to my child was true. I DID need a break and there’s nothing wrong with that. My kids possessed an extra measure of neediness today and on top of my massive to-do list and a house that seemed to have thrown up over night I was feeling wildly overwhelmed and caged. I needed to breathe.

I just wish I wouldn’t have made her feel like she pushed me to that point. Because she didn’t. It’s just the nature of motherhood and I don’t ever want my children to feel as though they are too much for me to handle. I don’t want them thinking I need a break from them so much as maybe every once in awhile I just need some time to clear my head.

When they returned, I fed everyone dinner, then closed myself in my office to continue said alone time. But not for long. Tia walked in shortly after just needing to talk. For as much as I seemed to need some time to myself, she seemed to need time alone with me.

And so we sat and talked and I learned a few things about my daughter in the process. She wants to have six kids, but she only wants to carry three of them in her tummy. The other three she wants to adopt from Africa and Asia. She wants three girls and three boys and she wants the doctor to cut the babies out of her tummy because some time ago I told her how babies are born and she’s been horrified ever since.

We talked for an hour, we snuggled, we read a book and I realized that I didn’t really need that time alone after all. Because honestly? It feels really dang good to be needed.

So to recap:

– My husband is my knight in shining armor.

– Guilt and conviction look an awful lot alike so try not to mix them up.

– And I am apparently raising a tiny Angelina Jolie.

The End.

Dear 5:00 AM…

I set my alarm for 5:00 AM this morning. Go ahead. You can laugh. It’s funny.

I really thought I could handle it. I even went to bed at 9:45 last night. I felt very responsible when I turned the lamp off before the 10:00 hour. How grown up of me, right? But what seemed like mere moments after closing my eyes, the alarm on my phone start screaming in my ear.

5:00 AM?!

I don’t know what I was thinking.

Incidentally, I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect alarm sound to wake me up. I listened to every option provided on my phone and I painstakingly chose the sound that was least offensive. It sounded like little fairies ringing bells, gentle and serene. When I chose it, I pictured myself leaping out of bed in song. Like a musical.

Good Mornin’. Good Moooornin’.

In this vision I tap danced through the house, happy and free as a lark. I don’t know how to tap dance, although I did take lessons a few years ago and had the time of my life. I should do that again…

But, oddly enough, when my alarm went off this morning, it didn’t sound like fairies ringing bells any more. IT SOUNDED LIKE THE DEVIL HIMSELF CLANGING SYMBOLS IN MY EAR.

It was angry and harsh and I wanted to punch someone, not sing.

Then I got back in bed.

“Is that your alarm to get up and work?” Lee asked. He wasn’t really interested in the answer so much as he just wanted to acknowledge the offensiveness of being awakened by evil bells at 5 in the morning.

I grunted in reply and promptly closed my eyes. For the next 37 minutes, my brain and my body warred against the morning. It went down something like this:

BRAIN: “Get up. You have a lot to do this week. If you don’t get up now you won’t have time to get anything done this morning.”

BODY: “Shut up.”

BRAIN: “Seriously, just get up. You will be fine if you get up and move around. You can have coffee. You won’t regret it, but you will regret staying in bed and not getting anything done.”

BODY: “Shut. Up.”

BRAIN: “Alright that’s it you lazy BEEP. Get up! Get up! GET! UP!”

BODY: *sitting up at squinting at the clock that reads 5:24* “Ten more minutes. Now shut up.”

BRAIN: “Check the clock. I think it’s been ten minutes. Check the clock. Seriously. Your window of peace and productivity is shrinking exponentially. Check the clock. CHECK IT!”

5:37.

Sighing, I rolled out of bed and landed with a thud on the floor. Stumbling to the kitchen, I noticed how beautiful and serene the house felt. Dark and quiet, patiently waiting for the hustle of energy to roar to life. I liked it. The peace of the moment made me happy.

It did not make me feel like singing, though. Or dancing.

If any of you need me later, I’ll be on the couch taking a nap…

While I’ve got you all captivated here with my amazing and deep words of wisdom and grace, I might as well show you a few pictures from our Easter weekend, don’t you think? Wouldn’t that make your day? You’re welcome.

We spent the weekend with my cousin, Sean (whose book I hope you all purchased and are impatiently awaiting its arrival) and his wife, Addie, and their two cuties. The huge waves at the beach Friday made for three hours of crazy fun for the kids.

Glow in the Dark Easter Egg Hunt. Too much fun.

Sloan and his pet fox...I mean, dog.

I hope you all had a Happy and Blessed Easter filled with love, laughter and lots of chocolate.

People Who Sing Jesus

I will preface this book review by telling you that I am unashamedly biased toward the author. Sean is my cousin and I’ve always thought he was the Bee’s Knees. When we were younger, I was fairly certain that Sean hung the moon in the sky. He was quiet and kind and you should have seen him play Frogger on the Atari.

It was nothing short of awe inspiring.

So yes, I’m biased, but here’s the deal. If I didn’t genuinely find this book to be amazing and fascinating and thought provoking, I wouldn’t review it. So while I have an obvious bias to Sean himself, I certainly didn’t have any thoughts on the book until I read it.

And then I had to read it again and, honestly, I think I need to read it a third time.

This is coming from a girl who doesn’t like to read non-fiction.

People Who Sing Jesus has given me pause for thought these last few weeks. It’s no secret that this move has been a difficult one for our family. In nearly twelve years of marriage, Lee and I have rarely struggled, but this move has made us work harder in a lot of areas.

We’ve had to work harder as husband and wife.

We’ve had to work harder at parenting.

We’ve had to work harder at seeking Jesus.

I started praying the scary prayer not long after we came down here. “Lord, don’t let me know you for who I think you are. Help me know you for who you really are.” Each time I pray that prayer I try not to grimace and I force myself not to put several hundred caveat’s on the request.

Lord let me know you for who you truly are, but…

Don’t take away the people or things I love,

Don’t make the refining fire too hot,

Don’t let my vision shift be too painful.

I’ve had to learn again to sing Jesus and to understand WHY I sing His Name. And in the process I’ve been so deeply humbled that I’ve had a bit of vertigo.

This week, as the kids and I prepare for the sacred remembrance of Good Friday, we’ve been reading the story of Jesus’ walk to Calvary and it’s given me so much pause as I soak in His sacrifice wholly and fully. Why do I sing Jesus? Why do I stand in awe of Him?

Sean opens the first chapter with this paragraph: “You may find this hard to believe, but your life is significantly attached to the original score of music. The most ancient expression of creativity began not in notes and scales but in the formation of life. As the Creator set the cosmos in motion, the framework for melodies originated, and those early formations are linked to your story. God’s creative work binds together your life with your purpose to sing new songs that connect to the Creator’s original score. Your life continues adding notes to the original melody.”

The first time I read these words I went over them twice, tears pricking the corners of my eyes. To know that the Creator of the Universe, the One I so desire to know for who He truly is, created me with a purpose that links to His original score of Creation sets my heart trembling. And the resulting action toward which I feel compelled is to sing.

Creation already sings His praises. The thunder is His bass and the oceans provide the rhythm. The mountains are the strings that echo the harmonious chorus of the animals that grace their paths. The wind blows and whispers his name while the lightening provides the clanging symbol of His glory.

And inside that melodious track, we have been given the gift of words to put His Name to music, singing along with all of Creation. We, you and I, are all a part of the song and, as Sean explains, we have been since the very beginning of time when He set the melody in place. Knowing and understanding this not only gives cause for more praise, but also turns us more toward the One who released the first chord. The Conductor.

People Who¬†Sing Jesus is theology wrapped in¬†grace-filled prose. It’s a book that will cause you to stop and question – Who is¬†God and who are we?

There is so much more I want to tell you, and so many more quotes I want to pull from the book and share. But it would be better if you read the book yourself. Because in 800 words or less, I simply cannot do justice to the power of this beautiful book. All I know is when I finished it, I wanted to sing.

“God’s truth is revealed in every aspect of life: science, technology, health, economics, creation, politics, and all human interactivity. What you see and know is only a fraction of the picture. The Creator has much more in store for you than you can possibly imagine.” Sean Cooper, People Who Sing Jesus

You can purchase People Who Sing Jesus here.

Daddy’s Little Girl

“He’s handsome,” she said, then cut her eyes up devilishly at him. Lee looked down in surprise, eyes wide and a crooked smile on his face.

“You think he’s handsome?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Tia giggled, her hand over her mouth and cheeks flushed red.

Lee looked back at the television where yet another Disney Channel show full of awkward, over-acting teenagers flitted on and off the screen like electric chihuahua’s. The blonde boy with the mop of hair barked his line while Tia looked on admiringly.

“So what makes him handsome?” Lee asked.

“His hair is handsome,” she answered shyly. Then she giggled again. Is there any sound more innocent than that of a girlish six year old giggle?

“Yeah? And what else?”

“Well,” Tia looked at the screen thoughtfully. “His clothes are handsome, too,” she said finally. “I like how his shirt is tucked in and he has nice pants.”

Read that last line with a lisp and don’t say the ‘r’s’ and you’ll have a pretty good sense at how cute that came out.

Lee looked up at me in amazement. “You girls just have an inate sense of fashion that links to looks don’t you?”

I shrugged. We’ve lived together almost twelve years now and he’s JUST now figuring that out?!

“Okay Tia,” Lee said, jumping up off the couch. “Come with me.” Tia ran back to the bedroom with her dad, laughing hysterically.

Lee plopped her on the middle of the bed and went to his closet. “I’m going to put some clothes on and come out,” he called. “And you tell me if I’m handsome.” Tia threw her head back and laughed with delight.

“Okay, Daddy,” she called back.

A few minutes later Lee emerged in a pair of loose fitted jeans with holes in the knees and a form fitting white shirt that shows off his muscular frame. He’s been working hard. Oy vey…he is handsome.

“Am I handsome now?” he asked. Tia cocked her head to the side and studied for a minute, then shook her head no.

“You have holes in your pants,” she said disapprovingly. “That is NOT handsome.”

Lee disappeared into the closet again and came out a minute later with another pair of jeans, this one without the holes. “What about this?” he asked and did a little turn. Tia looked him up and down, her arms crossed over her chest.

“I think you need to tuck your shirt in,” she said with narrow eyes. “And you need a belt.”

Lee obliged and turned to face his only daughter. “Now?” he asked.

“Fix your hair,” she commanded and he straightened his hair. She smiled slowly, her crystal blue eyes sparkling. She nodded with approval. “Now, Daddy,” she said with a laugh. “Now you are handsome.”

It took me an hour and a half to scrape Lee’s gooey frame off the carpet.

There’s nothing like a Daddy’s little girl, eh?

Do you have a Daddy’s girl living in your house? Are you yourself a Daddy’s girl?

I am.

Love you, Dad!

Confessions of a chronic overachiever

Photo taken my my amazingly talented friend, Sarah, when she was here on Spring Break.

I have a confession to make. It’s not nearly as scandalous as my last confession, so please don’t be worried, but this confession is going to force me to make some changes, some of which might affect this little space I’ve created on the web.

The confession is two-pronged, because I don’t believe in doing anything small. Go big or don’t go at all, that’s how I roll.

First, I have a very nasty habit of biting off more than I can chew. I assume I can handle way more than I actually can and I convince myself that it’s fine, I don’t actually need sleep and Nutella for breakfast, lunch and dinner because I don’t have time to prepare a proper meal is perfectly acceptable.

Which, who am I kidding right? OF COURSE NUTELLA IS ACCEPTABLE AT EVERY MEAL!

Okay – so that’s the first part of the confession. I take on too much and assume I can handle it just fine.

The second part of my confession is I am terribly prone to laziness.¬†It’s true.¬†I¬†am the dog from the movie UP. I can be perfectly engaged in an activity then SQUIRREL!

That’s me. It’s not ADD, though I would LOVE to blame it on that. I’m just easily distracted and I have a hard time pulling myself back.

I’ve struggled with finishing the school year strong with the kids. I imagine every teacher the world over feels this spring time tug when the rigors of a daily schedule must wage battle against the¬†pull of a warm breeze and the call of the outdoors. The fact is, I’m tired. I want to be done and so do the kids. But we can’t, because learning¬†should never end.

I read this post by Ann Voskamp the other day and it reignited my desire to do this home schooling thing well. Whether this ends up being the only year we teach our children at home or we decide to do it again next year, I want it to count. This requires that I fight the laziness that threatens to invade and dig my heels in.

I’ve lost momentum on my book. It’s a lot, this business of home schooling, maintaining a blog, writing a book, trying to keep a household running smoothly, editing a new manuscript and getting into shape.

SQUIRELL!

I need to finish the book and finish it well. Do you see a theme here?

So first order of business РGET MORE SLEEP!

Do you know how fascinating squirells are when you’re tired? Stunning little creatures…

My goal is to be in bed no later than 10:00 every week night most week nights because the whole stay-up-till-midnight-pretending-to-be-working-but-really-reading-blogs-and-surfing-facebook thing isn’t working for me. I’m tired. I need to sleep. I’m not a night owl and never have been. I’m accepting¬†that and moving forward.

This means I need to be diligent with my time and get my butt out of bed early. In fact, I set up my alarm on my phone so that when it goes off, my screen lights up with the phrase “Get your butt out of bed you lazy A…!”

I firmly believe in tough love.

I am going to be kickin’ it on my book this month and I actually do have a book manuscript to finish editing. I will be here, too, but maybe not every day. And I’m going to add a third confession – that’s scary.

Shaun wrote about it last week. It’s sometimes difficult as a blogger to not blog because we fear the audience we’ve worked to build will go away. And honestly, I can’t afford to lose my audience right now. I’m counting on you guys to help me get the word out about Compassion International’s awesome work when I go to Tanzania next month. I want you right there with me!

So I won’t be far away this month, but I may not be here every day. Because I’ll be a little busier than normal trying to keep my head above —

SQUIRELL!