Monday, May 21, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I didn't know what to say, so I mumbled something like, "Well, when he is big enough, he will just come out."
"Oh," he said, looking thoughtful, "Well, how will we fix up the hole in her stomach when he comes out?"
I didn't expect to have conversations like this with my 3 year old!
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
When Ethan turned 1, Dave and I went to Ixtapa, Mexico, with his twin brother Doug and his wife Sonja. Just a little time away to reconnect. I loved Mexico -- the laid back lifestyle, the balmy afternoons lying under an umbrella on the beach, the quiet dinners, uninterrupted by sweet, childish chatter. We even did a few *active* things to appease my athletic husband. How he ever convinced me to go para-sailing, I will never know. But I did, and a little body surfing too. Ahhhh, it was the most fabulous vacation.
On July 6th, Dave and I will have been married for 5 years, and we have considered going away together again. We're not really sure for how long or where we'd even like to go, but life has gotten extremely busy around here. I shouldn't really be surprised or anything, since spring is always busy for architectural engineers. But for some reason it always takes me by surprise, and leaves me feeling a little blue. A little pick-me-up is in order, a little something to look forward to together.
Dave asked me to do a little research tonight and start planning a trip, but I am at a loss. To be honest, a few days at the Marriott down the street sounds like a dream come true! But I know that Dave has been looking forward to this, and that will probably not cut it. :) So I thought I'd ask, does anyone have any advice on where to go?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Okay, I have to apologize in advance for this huge post. I got this Elizabeth Elliott devotional in my inbox this morning, and the whole thing is so good, I couldn't cut and paste any of it. I so appreciate this woman. She is one who knows something about sacrifice, and the story of her missionary travels to the very people who murdered her husband...well, it really had an impact on me when I was in high school. Her writing always seems to speak to me too, and this excerpt from her book Love Has a Price Tag is no exception. It's on motherhood and the value of laying down one's life for others.
"OK now, which one of you clowns put that bag of M 'n' Ms in the grocery cart?" The mother looks harried.
Two boys, maybe five and seven, eye each other and race away toward the gumball machine near the supermarket door. There is an infant strapped to a plastic board on top of the groceries, and a two year old occupying the built-in child seat in the cart. The mother picks up the M 'n' M candy bag and starts toward the aisle to return it. The two year old screams and she relents, throws the bag in with the rest of her purchases, patiently waits her turn at the check-out, fishes five ten-dollar bills from her purse, receives her small change, and pushing the cart with the babies in it, herds the two boys through the rain to the station wagon in the parking lot.
I go with her in my mind's eye. Jump out in the rain. Open the garage door. Drive in. Close door. Babies, boys, bags into the house in how many trips? Phone rings. Answer phone, change baby, wipe muddy tracks from kitchen floor. Feed baby, put groceries away, hide M 'n' Ms, start peeling vegetables, take clothes out of dryer, stop fight between two older children, feed two year old, answer phone again, fold clothes, change baby, get boys to:
1) hang up coats,
2) stop teasing two year old,
3) set table.
Light oven, put baby to bed, stop fight, mop up two year old, put chicken in oven, answer phone, put away clothes, finish peeling vegetables, look peaceful and radiant--husband will be home soon.
I see this implacable succession of exigencies in my mind's eye. They come with being a mother. I also see the dreams she dreams sometimes--write a novel, agents call, reviews come in. TV interviews, autograph parties, promotional traveling, a movie contract--preposterous dreams. Try something a little more realistic. Cool modern office, beautiful clothes, make-up and hairdo that stay done all day. A secretarial job perhaps, nothing spectacular, but it's work that actually produces something that doesn't have to be done over at once. It's work that ends at five o'clock. It means something.
I know how it is. I have a mother. I am a mother. I've produced a mother (my daughter, Valerie, has a two year old and expects another child soon). I watched my own mother cope valiantly and efficiently with a brood of six. ("If one child takes all your time," she used to say, "six can't take any more.") We were--we still are--her life. I understand that. Of all the gifts of my life surely those of being somebody's wife and somebody's mother are among the greatest.
But I watch my daughter and other mothers of her generation and I see they have some strikes against them that we didn't have. They have been told insistently and quite persuasively that motherhood is a drag, that tradition is nonsense, that what people have always regarded as "women's work" is meaningless, that "roles" (a word we never bothered much about until a decade or so ago) are changing, that femininity is a mere matter of social conditioning, that it's time to innovate. If the first-grade readers show a picture of a woman driving a hook-and-ladder and a man doing a nurse's job, see what happens to the conditioning. Abolish the stereotypes and we can abolish the myths of masculinity and femininity.
I hear this sort of claptrap, and young mothers often come to me troubled because they can't answer the arguments logically or theologically. They feel, deep in their bones, that there is something terribly twisted about the whole thing but they can't put their finger on what it is.
I think I know what it is. Profanity. Not swearing. I'm not talking about breaking the Third Commandment. I'm talking about treating as meaningless that which is freighted with meaning. Treating as common that which is hallowed. Regarding as a mere triviality what is really a divine design. Profanity is failure to see the inner mystery.
When women--sometimes well-meaning, earnest, truth seeking ones say "Get out of the house and do something creative, find something meaningful, something with more direct access to reality," it is a dead giveaway that they have missed the deepest definition of creation, of meaning, of reality. And when you start seeing the world as opaque, that is, as an end in itself instead of as transparent, when you ignore the Other World where this one ultimately finds its meaning, of course housekeeping (and any other kind of work if you do it long enough) becomes tedious and empty.
But what have buying groceries, changing diapers and peeling vegetables got to do with creativity? Aren't those the very things that keep us from it? Isn't it that kind of drudgery that keeps us in bondage? It's insipid and confining, it's what one conspicuous feminist called "a life of idiotic ritual, full of forebodings and failure." To her I would answer ritual, yes. Idiotic, no, not to the Christian--for although we do the same things anybody else does, and we do them over and over in the same way, the ordinary transactions of everyday life are the very means of transfiguration. It is the common stuff of this world which, because of the Word's having been "made flesh," is shot through with meaning, with charity, with the glory of God.
But this is what we so easily forget. Men as well as women have listened to those quasi-rational claims, have failed to see the fatal fallacy, and have capitulated. Words like personhood, liberation, fulfillment and equality have had a convincing ring and we have not questioned their popular definitions or turned on them the searchlight of Scripture or even of our common sense. We have meekly agreed that the kitchen sink is an obstacle instead of an altar, and we have obediently carried on our shoulders the chips these reductionists have told us to carry.
This is what I mean by profanity. We have forgotten the mystery, the dimension of glory. It was Mary herself who showed it to us so plainly. By the offering up of her physical body to become the God-bearer, she transfigured for all mothers, for all time, the meaning of motherhood. She cradled, fed and bathed her baby--who was very God of very God--so that when we cradle, feed and bathe ours we may see beyond that simple task to the God who in love and humility "dwelt among us and we beheld his glory."
Those who focus only on the drabness of the supermarket, or on the onions or the diapers themselves, haven't an inkling of the mystery that is at stake here, the mystery revealed in the birth of that Baby and consummated on the Cross: my life for yours.
The routines of housework and of mothering may be seen as a kind of death, and it is appropriate that they should be, for they offer the chance, day after day, to lay down one's life for others. Then they are no longer routines. By being done with love and offered up to God with praise, they are thereby hallowed as the vessels of the tabernacle were hallowed--not because they were different from other vessels in quality or function, but because they were offered to God. A mother's part in sustaining the life of her children and making it pleasant and comfortable is no triviality. It calls for self-sacrifice and humility, but it is the route, as was the humiliation of Jesus, to glory.
To modern mothers I would say "Let Christ himself be your example as to what your attitude should be. For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God's equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as a mortal man. And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal. That is why God has now lifted him so high. . ." (Phil. 2:5-11 Phillips).
It is a spiritual principle as far removed from what the world tells us as heaven is removed from hell: If you are willing to lose your life, you'll find it. It is the principle expressed by John Keble in 1822:
If on our daily course our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.
I have thought a lot about these things recently. Raising small boys seems to be made more of personal sacrifice and perseverance than warm fuzzies these days. We so love our messy boys, but life is...well, messy. The day to day keeping up with things around here and staying on top of attitudes and training little hearts--it requires more of me than I often want to give. I have been faced with my own selfishness, and it isn't the prettiest picture, let me tell you. :)
I am so thankful for women like Elizabeth Elliott though, women who will point us to the truth and remind us what the Lord desires for us. I need this message, don't you? I need to be reminded that by laying down my selfish desires to serve another, I am really serving my Master. That so takes the drudgery out of the mundane. It's for Him, after all, and living for His glory is what my life is all about!
So as a mother at home, I actually have the opportunity to make every action and thought count for Him, to bring joy to the heart of my Lord by choosing His way instead of my own. This is His lot for me, and I will rejoice in it!
Friday, May 11, 2007
Let's try this again, shall we? Here are the rules: Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their seven things, as well as these rules. You need to choose 7 people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them that they have been tagged and to read your blog!
- I like to sew. I even own my own machine. My mom taught me how to sew when I was pretty young, 8 or so, and I made my own Barbie clothes.
- My ideal vacation would be going to a tropical beach with my husband and dozing under an umbrella all, listening to the sound of the waves crash around me. Kinda like our Mexico trip a couple years ago. That was so incredible...
- I love to garden and work out in the yard. Yesterday Ethan and I planted petunias in our pots by the front door.
- I love anything that screams of organization. It's a compulsion, really. My hall closet shelves are labeled "light bulbs," "cleaning supplies," "medicine," etc...and I smile just looking at it. :)
- Dave and I will have been married 5 years this July! And we are going to plan a trip away together. I'm so excited!
- I love to swing at the park. Yes, still. :) When I was a kid, I would imagine that I was soaring up to meet the Lord in the air. When you look up at the clouds as you swing, it is an incredible feeling. I like to picture the Lord Jesus, standing in the clouds, calling me home. And I have to admit, this is something I still do. And I highly recommend it!
- And last, but not least, I am not a germ-o-phobe. Even though I am a nurse. It's terrible, I know, but my kids sometimes share toothbrushes and sippy cups with each other. And I don't even bat an eye.
- For Me to Live is Christ...
- Isaiah 25:1
- St. Louis Blooms
- Caleb and Anna
- He Who Believes on Him...
- The Daniel Den
- In Everything Give Thanks
To my Meme victims, you now must make your list of 7 and then tag 7 other unsuspecting bloggers!
Thursday, May 10, 2007
But let me catch you up to speed.
Shawna and I were shopping in a nearby city one day recently. We had driven about an hour to go to a children's resale store to sell some clothes. She had Camryn with her, and I had both my boys. And the day was going fairly well, actually.
We finished at the resale store, and decided to look for a place to have lunch. On our way to Chick-fila, we spotted Pei Wei, the fast food version of P.F. Chang's. So, so good, if you haven't tried it before. And Shawna was really thinking that their lettuce wraps sounded so good. I couldn't argue, so we decided to give it a try.
We walked into the dimly lit restaurant and stood in a line that was almost out the door. This place is really popular, and I noticed that a lot of the customers were in business attire, probably on their lunch break. My kids were doing well, waiting fairly patiently, even though the line was taking awhile. This, in itself, was no small miracle, mind you. I remember thinking to myself as I walked through the doors to that place, "I must be crazy to bring two small boys into a place like this." Famous last words, apparently.
Lining the wall where we were in line, they had bar chairs for people to sit in. Ethan asked me if he could sit on one, and without really thinking too much about it, I said that he could. About 5 minutes later, I heard Shawna gasp. I turned and saw that Ethan had pulled a fire alarm handle that was right next to his chair!
And the sirens and strobe lights started blarring. Oh my word, people. My heart just dropped.
Then the manager comes running out and says rather roughly, "You are going to have to come with me. I need your information."
I follow him to the front of the restaurant, still holding Simon, and Ethan clutching onto my leg by this point, and the manager starts in on this big tirade. Here are his main points: this has apparently happened 3 times within the last week, that some kid pulled the fire alarm. Every time it happens they charge him a $250 fine. It comes out of his paycheck, and he is going to make me pay for part of the fine.
Meanwhile, the fire department is there, and cannot figure out how to silence the stupid alarm. Everyone in the restaurant is just staring, totally annoyed that their quiet business lunch was just interrupted by some mom who apparently cannot watch her kids carefully enough. The lady in line behind us sighed and said, "This is the kind of day I'm having!"
I just stared at the manager. Surely he could not be serious! I came to eat at his restaurant and because my 3 year old (who has never seen a fire alarm before or ever previously been warned not to pull it) was curious about a handle, we are going to have to pay out the wazzoo to cover some fine? I held it together for awhile, but after several minutes of him hounding me, I just got really teary-eyed.
So he says to us, "Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. You can have lunch on me. Just relax, pick out whatever you like, and have a nice lunch."
Are you kidding me? How can I eat in your restaurant after you have chosen to publically humiliate me? I do not need your free food!
So obviously I am not that frugal. Saving money does not trump saving face, for me anyway. Shawna remarked later that we should have asked him for gift cards. :)
Well, long story short, we left the restaurant and I called Dave to see what he thought. He took control of the situation immediately. He called the manager and told him that he needs to have a cover on any fire alarm within reach of a child, and that he had no legal right to charge us for their mistake. I was so proud of him, and so thankful for a husband who is level headed in situations like these. And it does not look like we will be paying any sort of fine, thankfully.
But I have to say, this whole situation scares me. I mean, this is only the beginning, right? And I'm sure this situation is only a small taste of the humility that motherhood requires. I am going to need a lot of the Lord's grace to get through the rest of these growing up years!
"My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26
Oh, and by the way, I talked to Ethan afterwards about why we don't pull fire alarms when there is no fire. He was very sorry and said, "Mom, if I pull the handle, it's like telling the fire trucks a lie, right?" So hopefully we won't have any more of that. One can only hope. And pray. :)
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I have been meditating on 2 Peter 3 this morning, and just thought I'd share some of these verses with you.
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God..." 2 Peter 3:10-12
The Lord gently reminded me this morning that the things of this world have very little significance in the grand scheme of things. Things like flooded basements. Or humiliating restaurant situations. Oh yeah, I haven't told you about that yet! That will be my NEXT post.
But, you know, He is coming! And as the verse before these says, He is not slack concerning His promise. He WILL come soon. It could even be today! And when He does, all these *troubles* we have been dwelling on, well, they will be gone!
So as the Word of God exhorts, I want to live today in the light of that.
Lord, help me to look up from my temporary things in life and look for Your coming today.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Our town has had some pretty heavy rain and severe weather this past week and weekend. We were at my brother's graduation over the weekend and didn't get home until late. But when we woke up this morning and made it downstairs, we had a little surprise waiting for us!
Yep. Water. Everyone's favorite basement surprise. :)
Dave spent all morning pulling up the carpet and cutting out the wet pad underneath. Hopefully we can salvage the carpet, as it was new a little over a year ago.
We called our friend Jeremy who is in the disaster restoration business, and he hooked us up with a dehumidifier and a couple of fans. This was after I had been all over town, only to find out that everyone is SOLD OUT of dehumidifiers already. Thank the Lord for Jeremy!
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
But a moment ago I was reminded that he is not such a baby anymore. We had a little snack together, a strip of dehydrated fruit, and when he was finished, he held out the wrapper to me.
"Okay, go put that in the trash!" I said.
He cocked his head, looked at me quizzically for a moment, and then toddled around the kitchen table, past the kitchen island and around the corner to the trash can. And every so sweetly threw his wrapper in the trash.
And he is only 14 months old!
Then he peeked his head around the kitchen island and gave me his famous *Simon* grin, so proud of himself for obeying!