Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lily Faith

Had a mostly boring day today, but I got in an ANGRY funk after I picked the kids up from school. Was just one stupid thing after another, clingy baby yelling while I tried to cook, kids leaving their school bags and junk all over the floor of the breakfast room.... nothing major, just got me mad. But good little girl that I am, I called my sponsor to check in. She very astutely made the connection that I had been on a relaxing 'vacation' last week, and that since I've gotten home it's been non-stop responsibility and stuff going on. I hadn't thought of it that way, but she was right on the money. Had a birthday party for the Boy, had single-mom duty all day for Easter festivities since the Man was home sick as a dog, blah blah blah busy busy busy, and suddenly today I'm blowing a gasket over nothing major. This is why I love my sponsor, she has a gift for putting things into perspective.

At my meeting tonight I also thought of something else that was creeping up in the corners of my mind today..... tomorrow is the seventh anniversary of my miscarriage. It stirs up a variety of emotions, some bad, some actually good. Losing Lily was a catalyst for a lot of positive things in my life, the first being my sobriety. God used that loss to bring me to my knees, and I got sober two months later. The story is long, because I don't really know how to tell stories that are short. I won't try to tell it all now, as I've written it out many times before and don't feel the need to do that tonight. It was one of the most traumatic events of my life, and I know that anniversaries have a way of pulling things to the surface. But, God is SO good, and He has given me such peace and comfort over the years. I am so grateful, even in the face of loss. He always gives me beauty for ashes.

Clayton's Desk

It's a lovely morning and I'm sitting with my second cuppa whilst I dream of a room all my own. I can't remember if I've talked about my room or not, but I like to gabble about it. I have many hopes and dreams for that little room. Currently it is mostly the nursery, where the Barnacle and his mountains of clothes are housed. (I counted his pants at one point and he had like 39 pairs of pants. It's ridiculous.)(No, I don't shop too much, they are 99% hand-me-downs.) It is also where my desk is. And when you read the words 'my desk' you need to accompany them in your mind with trumpets and angelic voices. It is thee most fantastic desk and I love it.

It's old and worn and stained, and came from my step-grandfather, a man I only knew for a short time, but truly adored. I have great plans to write my novel at this desk. However, it being in the nursery presents the problem. I can really only write with some semblance of peace and quiet, and I can only get that semblance when the baby is asleep.... but of course he sleeps in that room. So for now I must write on my lap in the living room, which is hardly a romantic or quiet spot but will have to do until the Barnacle is old enough to share a room with his brother upstairs.

So for now the desk has piles of stuff on it, and laundry to be put away, and so forth. It will remain my great treasure for now, waiting to be used and adored. The room itself will develop around the desk when the time comes. My sister bought me thee cutest wallpaper border to use someday - red bandanas! Oh it makes a cowgirl's heart sing. I also have my sewing table in there, and some Rubbermaids full of fabrics and projects. When we were clearing out my grandmother's house last summer I found some quilting projects she had started, and I carefully saved every little vintage scrap of fabric she had cut out. I'll have to blog about that at some point, as the fabrics are really amazing.
I'm also giving thought to what I will call the room when it's all mine. It won't be the nursery anymore, but I don't want to be lame and just call it My Office. It will also be a Sewing Room, so an office title wouldn't work. I'll have to think about it. I certainly have the time!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Celebrating Resurrection Day

Oh prepare my dears, I was in a funk today. Feel free to stop reading now before I ruin your good mood.

The day started with a night of not-so-great-sleep for our household, with a fretful babe who had to cry it out, and a husband throwing up. I got the better end of the deal with the beginning of a head cold that has left me foggy and raw. My poor Man however, stayed pretty green for most of the day, so the Easter celebrations went on without him. The Princess & the Boy were up at 5am (according to the very sick Man) and came to ask me if they could look for eggs at 7am. And bad mother that I am today, I told them to go for it and put my pillow over my head and went back to sleep. I did finally pry myself loose though, and got up and even fed them, though I'm certain they were quite stuffed with chocolate by then. I took the kids and went to church, wanting to get there early to get seats before all the Chreasters take them. And yes, I called them Chreasters, and yes I am aware that it's rude and disrespectful and clearly I need to work on my attitude to the poor souls who only come to church on Christmas & Easter. But having to sit next to a teenage girl who huffed and sighed and snapped her gum and flipped her hair on me through the entire 60 minutes grated on my ever lovin' last nerve.

I so wanted to enjoy the service this morning, and celebrate the resurrection of my Savior. I had quite the internal dialogue going for most of the morning, wanting to rejoice, but wanting to stew, and confessing and repenting of my grumpy attitude at least 17 times. I knew I was being childish and I'm sorry for it. I just need to get over it, I know! I just was bummed that the Man was sick and I felt like crap. And I realized at one point that I had not had ANY coffee this morning and that I had set myself up for disaster! I won't make that mistake again! The music was very lovely, with the children's choirs, senior choir and signing choir all performing their pieces. The Hallelujah Chorus always makes me tear up, as did the final hymn, 'Because He Lives'. When we sing that final line about one day crossing the river and meeting Jesus.... well, I just about can't stand that we have to wait a lifetime to do it. How blessed we are in Him.

The second half of the day was (yet another) egg hunt and then dinner with the Man's family. I was sad he couldn't come with us, but I did pack up a HUGE plate of food to bring home to him. Hopefully he can eat it tomorrow once he stops praying for death. I enjoy visiting with my in-laws and the cousins had a fine time tearing around the house together and bowling on the Wii. The Barnacle really liked the hors d'oeuvres, daintily sampling each one and then carefully placing the warm and chewed food back in the dish. He is simply beyond charming no matter what he does really.

Rejoice! He is risen!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Home again home again jiggity jig

Or is it jiggity jog? I can't remember. Well either way, I'm glad to be home! I had a lovely week at my sister's home in Virginia. It's quite odd to see the baby of the family as a grown woman with her own home.

The drive is over 400 miles but can take 8-10 hours depending on traffic, since you have to go past some major cities. (We chose a different way home that added more miles but avoided the cities, and it was definitely the right choice for the Friday of a holiday weekend!) The initial trip was mostly uneventful, save one very hilarious moment. As we were passing by Philadelphia we came upon some small traffic cones. There were two of them laying in the road, and one was unavoidable. I hit it and we heard it rumble through under us. I could see it in my mirrors and was thankful that it hadn't caused damage or an accident. Over an hour later we stopped at a rest area in Maryland. When we were ready to leave, I backed out of my parking space and heard a thumping noise. I paused to look but couldn't see anything, so I put the van in drive and moved forward, whereupon what should I see in my mirror but the sad little traffic cone, kidnapped from his hometown and left forlorn in the parking lot in Maryland. We don't know where exactly he was stowed away for those 70 or 80 miles, but we certainly had a good laugh over it.

The one year olds were beyond entertaining, and at all hours nonetheless. We all bid farewell to sleep at the beginning of the week, as one or the other got up screeching every night. That's the silver lining of ending a trip with family. As hard as it was to kiss my sister goodbye, I did look forward to sleeping in my own bed again, with the Barnacle tucked away in his own crib in a separate room. Of course, he protested this greatly last night, so he wasn't quite as thrilled as I to be back home I suppose. His big brother also joined in, having a bad dream and needing consolation in the wee hours. I gave up sleep for Lent though, so it worked out just fine.

My sister and I stayed up late talking or playing Rummikub with our father. We ate too much food and laughed over too many ridiculous things and just enjoyed each other's company as intensely as we could in our little visit. I am so glad I was able to go, and thanked God repeatedly for our safe travel. The journey is a long one but the children tolerated it well. The Barnacle didn't revolt against it until the final hour of the drive home, during which he wailed nearly without interruption. But overall it couldn't have gone much more smoothly.

Gratuitous picture of my niece, napping under the quilt that her favorite aunt made for her:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Palm Sunday

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the day we remember Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. I will be celebrating by making my own triumphant entrance into my sister's house! I am beyond excited, as she has lived about 9 hours away in Virginia for several years and I hadn't been able to get down there yet. I'm not stoked about the super long drive with three kids, but my pop is going with me which will make it a lot less stressful.

Some random stuff -- I have temporarily deep-sixed the steroid that the Barnacle has been on. In the past week he has become acquainted with a new emotion - RAGE. He turned into a very angry child since he started the Pulmicort. Yesterday I had to bear-hug him to restrain him while giving him a nebulizer treatment, during which he screamed bloody murder. He managed to get one arm free, turn and say "NO!" and slap me in the face. I was so stunned that I wasn't even able to get mad! But it was also upsetting because this is clearly not normal behavior for my little guy. So for now I'm stopping the steroid and just using the Albuterol, at least for my trip. The last thing I need on a long trip out of town is an insanely angry 17 month old with teeth.

Off to bed now as it'll be an early morning!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Repent ye sinners! The end draws nigh!

Ok, so maybe that's too dramatic, but really, the descent into mini-van ownership has not been my finest hour. The pain is two-fold. First off, I so loved my truck. It was big and phat and I could squish nearly anyone else on the road. It was such a great truck. The oil leak only bothered the Man, and who knows what heads and cams are anyways? I can't be bothered with such trivial things. So it was a sad and mournful day when I handed over the keys to my beloved SUV. I let the Man handle it as if we were putting down a beloved family pet. He left alone and we spoke very little about what was going to be happening while he was gone. When he came home I stayed in the house, not wanting to see the replacement pet - err, vehicle, in the driveway where my trusty friend should have been.

So now here I am, the owner of a MINI VAN. Oh it hurts to even type it. A reliable and practical vehicle that gets excellent gas mileage. Sigh. It has those automated sliding doors which although convenient, I find insanely pretentious. (How lazy are we that we can't open our own doors?) The kids are so excited; to them it's like we won the lottery. I will admit that it will be nice to have easier access to that third row of seating, so I don't have to have all three of my monkeys sitting right next to each other. Much less hair-pulling and eye-poking in the future will be a plus, especially for the Princess who was at the receiving end of most of that.

So onward and upward as they say.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Mr. Man!

Today is the Man's birthday! He requested brownies which are cooling on the counter right now, and I've got a steak on the grill for him. Let the gluttony begin!

I'm still praying about all my stuff. I'm asking for discernment, because I feel confused by the 'answers' that I've gotten so far. I don't want to be led the wrong way, following Ishmael when I should be waiting for Isaac. The very good thing about this confusing time is that I know that it will lead me closer to Him, and will teach me something really awesome! Isn't it so fab to know that everytime life gets nutty, He's up there saying, "Ok, just wait til she sees how I'm going to turn this into something amazing for her to learn!" He does rock like that.

"Our happiness rests on our knowledge of and obedience to the Word of God. The more we stray from it, the more our lives will be in disarray; and the more we cling to it, the more our lives, even if full of challenge and suffering, will be characterized by a contented happiness that only God can give." - Read that on the Making Home blog today and found it so true & so comforting.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Peter's Sin

The sermon this morning was very interesting....

Pastor talked about Peter, and his very public & vehement denial of Christ. We know the story, he cursed and swore that he did not know the man, and then realized as the cock crowed what he had done and was heartbroken over it. The sermon focused on the three things that Peter did that we must do when we feel guilt & shame over our sin.

1. Peter stayed in the fellowship. When we see our sin and those we hurt, we just want to go away and hide, away from those who remember. Judas made that choice. He left before the last supper was even finished, under the pretense to go buy bread. But they all knew why he left, and we certainly don't read that they waited around for him to get back before they went to the Garden of Gesthemane. He walked out into the night alone. They didn't care that he was going because he'd been stealing from them all along. He handled his guilt and shame alone, trying to give back the money and ultimately killing himself. But Peter not only went back to the fellowship, he confessed his sin and was welcomed back. That brings us to the second thing...

2. Peter confessed what he had done. Mark's gospel was the first one written. He wrote down what Peter preached, which means that Peter told the story of his own sin. Mark's is the only account that mentions that Peter not only denied Christ, but that he swore (like a fisherman!) when he did so. We don't read that people remembered his sin - oh no, cover your ears, it's that cursing fisherman Peter! They didn't bring it up, Peter did.

3. He believed that his sin was forgiven by the death of Jesus on the cross. He was handpicked by Jesus and spent three years with Him. He knew the Truth.

When we feel guilt over our past sins, it is sometimes because God is warning us not to fall into that sin again. The Holy Spirit convicts us and makes us uncomfortable for that reason. In the end though, we must accept our forgiveness.

What a great sermon about moving past our own guilt, and living the life He has meant us to live!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Squidging About

I've been involved in a particular ministry for four years that I am currently praying about leaving. I've been squidging about in my mind the last week or two, not sure of what to do, and asking God to show me where I need to be. So please pardon the rampleyness of this blog, as I'm feeling very torn.

When I first became a mom 8ish years ago I had all kinds of grand plans for my mom job. I started a journal for the Princess before she was even conceived, and now have journals for each of my kids, including my heavenly little ones. I have little projects and big projects that I've started over the years but never finished, like quilts and scrapbooks and schtuff. I am an average and boring cook because I don't have time to learn new things. I have wanted to be a writer my whole life, but the book I started years ago still sits barely even begun. I want to go back to school, maybe for writing, maybe for Biblical studies, but can't see that happening until the Barnacle is a bit older and I'm not so insane.

I read my favorite blogs and it's like they are living the life that I was meant to, but somehow got sidetracked from. I'm creative and crafty, or I used to be, but my life does not reflect that. It's like I got sober, got involved in serving others, and somehow left myself out of the picture. I'm a Christian, I'm supposed to serve others, but somehow I have shortchanged myself all along without even realizing I was doing it. I haven't taken care of myself, and I think that my insanity of last week was a clear reflection of that. We went and put money down on a mini-van tonight, because I have to give up my truck (long story). I told the Man that I feel like I'm giving up the last little bit of me that was left. That I'm a woman who drives a truck, who wears jeans and cowboy hats and dirt, and I'm giving in to the soccer mom ponytail lifestyle, and losing yet another part of who I am. I know it's just a vehicle, but it means more than that to me. I don't know who I am anymore. When I was in college one of my professors told me that I was one of the most creative students he had ever encountered. What happened to that girl? I was drinking so much, yet I was so creative.... and now years later I'm sober, and my creativity has wilted. I used to read books all the time, but I never do anymore. There are so many books that I want to read. I want to be a writer, but I never make time to write anymore. I have lost myself in serving others. I don't know how to change this, but I can't keep going this way. I remember watching Wynonna Judd on Oprah once, and she said that as Christians we are so focused on DOING, and we don't know how to just BE.

I just feel torn, just so twisted up about what to do and who I am and what He wants of me. I don't know how to fix this. I keep praying and I just feel like I want to crawl inside myself and not come out. It's hard to let go of something that you felt called to do.

I know in the short-term what I need to do: Pray and pray more until He shows me what He needs me to see. The long-term remains to be seen I suppose.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lancaster County

I was reading Amy's blog today and trying not to be insanely jealous that she is in MY Lancaster County right now. I simply cannot wait for camping season to begin. We spend oodles of family time together when we camp, and there are so many things that I love out there. First off I get to devote time to hiking, which I need to do. I love it in an indescribable way. I love that quiet time under the trees, with only the noise of nature to accompany me. My folks took us camping a ton when we were kids, and I think I just grew up needing that woodsy air to sustain me.

Out of the woods and into civilization, there are so many lovely places to visit near the campground. We usually make several trips to the outlets while we're out there. But beyond the joy of finding great sales on kids clothing, I really like spending time puttering about in the mom & pop type stores, the kind where there's random things piled everywhere. I love all those little dusty shops, full of marvelous junk that I don't really need. I like old antiquey stuff that I can hang in my kitchen, the kind of stuff that makes it seem like I don't really live in the burbs, but actually out in the country where I belong. My Hoosier cabinet falls into that category. And I just looked at the clock and realized I better hit send ready or not, cause it's time to pick the kids up from school!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Ooooo, I so love when the sermon is written for me! Ok, so maybe that's a bit narcissistic, as I'm sure that many people in church today were able to apply the sermon to their own lives too, but I have no doubt that God was speaking to me very clearly.

Our Pastor was talking about Nehemiah, and how he hears that the wall of Jerusalem has been broken down, and the gates burned. Nehemiah is heartbroken and leaving his entire life behind, he goes to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. He had a job of esteem as the king's cupbearer, and all the accoutrements, and he simply left, knowing that he had to do something to restore what had been lost in his home town. He encountered ridicule and obstacles, people who didn't understand why this man from another land had come to do this, and enemies who did not want to see Jerusalem restored.

Pastor said that Nehemiah did three things that we need to remember, and follow his lead.
First, he stepped out of his comfort zone. He had a good and safe life, but after fasting and prayer, he left it to do what no one else was willing to do.

Second, He asked for help. How many of us like to ask for help? I know that for me, this is a huge obstacle. Whether it be for the sake of pride, or not wanting to bother people, I have a history of not asking for help. My own pride aside, I know that part of my reluctance to ask for help is based on a history of not being able to count on people when I needed them. When you feel abandoned by those you thought would be there, you learn to do for yourself, rather than risk being let down again. Not a healthy way to live by any means. This is something that I have talked to my sponsor about quite a bit, as I know I need to work on it.

Third, Nehemiah didn't quit when people criticized him. The rebuilding process was harsh, and Nehemiah prayed 'Hear us, O God, for we are despised." What a gut-wrenching prayer from a man who was trying so hard to do what needed to be done, in the face of enemies who sought to destroy them. When his enemies told lies to try to get rid of him, he stood firm on his faith, and did not give up. He knew the Lord was on his side. The story of Nehemiah is so inspiring, and was just what I needed to hear today. Nehemiah surrendered all.

Pastor talked about how our own ministry must start the way that Nehemiah's did - with a broken heart. The most important line from today's sermon for me was this: If you can do it with no help, your dream is too small.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Beauty for Ashes

So, where to start, where to start.... I usually dread March 1st, thinking it will be painful and I'll spend the day sad and small. However, I don't think I had five minutes to spare to myself today in which to spend regretting the past. My day officially began at midnight when I thought about what it used to be like when I could go to bed and actually STAY THERE. The Boy couldn't sleep because of growing pains in his knees, so he was up several times before I got him settled with ice packs in the recliner. The Barnacle coughed most of the night, and I got him out of bed around 1am to give him a treatment. I went to sleep sometime after 1:30.

I had already known I would have to miss MOPS this morning since the Barnacle's eye funk has not cleared up and he's on the drops 3x a day yet again. (mental note: write a blog about the joys of putting drops into the eyes of an angry 17 month old who has octopus arms)(another mental note: buy a catcher's mask) So I was bummed about missing out on adult conversation and snacks. I didn't have time to really fuss much about it though, as I had a mountain of laundry to catch up on, cleaning, dishes, and the never-ending housewife list. I got the Princess and the Boy both to school (at 9 and 1) and the Barnacle down for a way-too-short-nap, grabbed a shower and then was out the door. The pediatrician confirmed that the Barnacle does indeed have junky lungs as I suspected, so he's back on the nebulizer yet again. Since he has been sick like this so much this winter, she has also now put him on a steroid. So he gets treatments four times a day, two of which have the steroid along with the Albuterol. Have I mentioned that the Barnacle hates these treatments? No? Well he hates them. A lot. And he has to be on the steroid for 1-2 months. Booyah.

So off we go to the pharmacy, then run out of time because they have to call the pediatrician since they can't read her chicken scratch, so I leave and go pick up the kids from school. Back to the pharmacy yet again to pick up all three prescriptions since the Albuterol you mix with the Pulmicort is not the same as the regular Albuterol. Did you get all that? So now we're home again and kids need snacks and dinner needs to be started and the Barnacle is throwing matchbox cars at the cat. Oh, and called my father who is out of state visiting my sister, because his birthday is coming up.

And really, I could go on and on, but the point is -- I was so busy with my full and crazy life today, that I did not have time to spend my day moping about in my pajamas. I needed today to not be excruciatingly painful and it wasn't. I made the worst decision of my life 13 years ago today. I will never recover from it, I will bear the scars for the rest of my life. But the Lord continues to give me beauty for ashes, and today He blessed me with a bustling kind of day that left me smiling at my happy little life, and not filled with pain and grief. I lit two candles tonight, and thought about how far I have come since that day 13 years ago. I am thankful, so thankful that my heart is bursting, with the love and peace that He has given me. I do still have days where the pain overwhelms me, and I don't know how to cope with it. But today was not one of those days. He has given me beauty for ashes.

Say Anything

Anyone who knows me knows that Say Anything is my favorite movie for all time.

I won't lay out the whole story so if you haven't seen it, go rent it first and then come back. When Diane is laying in bed, sleepless, Lloyd is outside with the radio, holding it above his head, and we hear Peter Gabriel singing.... What is it about that scene that moves me so? I think Lloyd Dobbler represents a vulnerability that we can all relate to. I think his love for Diane was representative of the overall struggle we humans have, between love and life and responsibility. Wanting to follow our hearts, but torn when we must think of others first. When Diane finds the money and confronts her father, she says she doesn't want to leave anything out, because she knows she can say anything to him. She is hurting and betrayed, and returns to Lloyd, knowing he will be what she needs. Lloyd asks her if she is there because she needs him, or because she just needs someone. Before she can answer, he decides that he doesn't care.

Do we treat God this way? Do we wait to return to Him until we cannot handle our problems on our own? When we've been betrayed we run to Him, needing someone to comfort us. But He was there all along, we were just too busy with our own foolishness to see Him. I wonder if He chuckles as we scurry about...

Broken & Humbled

I have been sober for almost seven years. In those seven years the Lord has required me to make many changes, and I know that He will continue to do so. Some of those have been hard, some have been easy, but I know that I have to embrace them all as I continue to work to change and become more Christ-like every day.

I'm involved in a ministry for SAHMs. I see a lot that goes on that others don't. In the course of any job, you find people who annoy you, or situations that you are frustrated with and want to talk about. In the course of an internet job, you sometimes find people who are dishonest or deceitful and it's your job to protect the group from them. Along this line, I have become jaded and cynical. I have grown a hard shell around myself to protect me from those who would hurt me. I have lost the compassion that I need to have for even the people I do not care for.

I have talked about some members in ways that were unfair or demeaning. I let my impatience with some people turn into snotty remarks behind closed doors. I have judged those I had no right to judge. I know that I have a responsibility to take care of the members of the group and I failed.

I have been tested this past week in incredibly painful ways. I do believe that the Lord has allowed me to be tested this way because I would not obey Him. My program of recovery requires rigorous honesty even when it hurts, and it hurt very much to confess to them this week. And it blew me away when they offered forgiveness, understanding, compassion. Even those who said they felt hurt and their trust was broken, still offered their forgiveness. I am humbled. I mentally put on sackcloth and ashes for a day, keeping myself quiet and trying to listen so closely to Him.

The Lord has broken me because I needed to be broken and humbled. I cannot be an effective servant for Him if I do not change who I am to be more Christ-like. I had a hard time even asking Him for forgiveness because I was so ashamed of myself and didn't feel worthy to ask. Isn't that funny though - how can we ever be worthy? We cannot, and that is why His sacrifice means all the more. As painful as this has been, my sin is the same as any other sin - a black mark on my soul that only He can erase. And I am so thankful that He has.