Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Submission and The Walk To Emmaus

Tomorrow I leave for my Walk To Emmaus. Because every "spiritual" person I know in Stephenville has done it, I thought I needed to do it, too. So I could be more spiritual. Earlier in the month, I think I realized that may have been the reason (although I couldn't put a name to it) and so I procrastinated and procrastinated getting the paperwork done thinking that maybe I would lose my spot and I wouldn't have to go to this thing that was guaranteed to bring me closer to God. But here I am. Instead of facing it with dread and wondering if I was going to have to play nice-nice or share personal information with people I didn't like or didn't know, I am looking forward to it. I am looking forward to God meeting me there. God has been moving and working in my life for a while now. He has taught me some incredible truths about Himself that have completely changed the way I do business everyday, not just when I think someone is watching.

I know a few things about The Walk:

"It's awesome."

"You really need to go."

"You can't understand it unless you've been there."

There are no watches and no cell phones. No watches! (Side note: I am obsessed with knowing the time. Ask about my wisdom teeth removal sometime or having both my children. Absolutely obsessed with knowing the time.)I know that I'm supposed to get letters. I know this because I was asked to write a letter to someone who recently completed her Walk. I was honored to be asked to do it, but a little disappointed because that aspect of it wouldn't be a surprise when my turn came around. I think Brian has tried to do a good job of being mysterious and I have tried to do a good job to not ruin any surprises.

My attitude has changed about a lot of things lately. Since coming into the full realization of who God really is and the role He's anxious to play in my life...a lot of things became a lot easier.

Submitting to Brian's authority, for one, became easier. I thought that being submissive meant obeying...and clearly, that's a part of it. But not the only part. My problem was that when he and I disagreed, instead of accepting his answer and going on, I was like a dog with a bone. Brian, worn down with all my "reasons", would relent and we'd go on our merry way. Except I'd just shown him that I will only submit myself to him as long as he leads my way. And I also proved to Brian that I didn't respect him. Of course, right off the bat when I stopped arguing with him and finally started accepting what he said (knowing in my heart that whatever he said or did, he thought was for the benefit of our family...because Brian always thinks about our welfare before his) anyway, it threw him for a loop. The whole time we've been together, I've made no qualms about my opinion on any topic and if I didn't agree with something, I was loud about it. If I couldn't get him to come to my side, I would get mad, pout and say he was narrow-minded. So when I stopped doing all those things, he thought I was mad (because for once in my life...I was silent). I am learning that I don't have to be nor am I responsible for telling Brian what we (read: he) should be doing. It's up to God to tell Brian what to do in a way that Brian can understand. God doesn't need a translator named Georgia. Not that He can't use me...but I think my use is better served in being quiet so Brian can hear. It's fairly interesting...Brian can concentrate deeply only when it is very quiet. So how can he hear what God's telling him to do with me loudly going on and on about what I think? Who cares what I think? I would hate to think that I was the one keeping us from God's best for our lives because I was inundating Brian with my opinion instead of allowing him to listen for God's very small, quiet voice. The more I think about it, the more I realize how important it is for me to listen. Clearly, I'm not trusting God to instruct Brian if I'm right there telling Brian what the right course of action should be. Whose job am I trying to do here?

I think I'm finally learning my place. And it's not nearly as bad as I thought.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

No More Spanking In California?

I guess it's only a matter of time before they make doing what's right illegal everywhere.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Book You MUST Read

Ladies, in case you didn't get the email:

I'm at a loss as to how to start this, so I'm just gonna jump right in....

I have just finished the most amazing book written by a Christian author who has her thumb on the pulse of woman...Do You Think I'm Beautiful? by Angela Thomas. You must read it. You must read it.

You must read it if ever in your life you wondered if someone (anyone) could think you were beautiful (yes, in the physical sense). I struggle with this every day of my weight, the fact that I'm not a foo-foo type girl, did I mention my weight? I never thought brown eyes were beautiful...I never thought anything about me was beautiful. I was constantly comparing myself to everyone else...and not measuring up. I never accepted myself for who God made me to be...until now. I thought that God thought I was beautiful in the cosmic sense like He thinks tarantulas are beautiful...not that I was beautiful to Him. Beautiful for me. There is only one standard for me: The Georgia Standard. I learned that God likes brown eyes. He loves them on me.

You must read it if you ever wondered if people notice you...see you. If you've wondered what in the world you're doing here (like I have as I change diaper after diaper after diaper or do load after load after load of laundry). Angela writes:

But God answers and says, "I see you. I see you stumble through the night to care for the sick and afraid. I see you day after day in the bleachers, on the sidelines, in the balcony, prayingand caring and cheering. I watched you prepare the food no one ate. I was with you when you worked past exhaustion. I knew the truth when you felt misunderstood. I cried with you in disappointment. I held you when you thought you were alone. I never take My eyes off you."

When I read that, I cried. I am moved even now. I have tried to take care of Lily only to be told that she wants her daddy. I have prepared food that my children have turned their nose up at. So many times I feel misunderstood. I have shed many tears in disappointment...upsets and heartbreak I couldn't share with anyone because I was pretending. And all along, God was with me. In my head, yes, I know this. But Angela Thomas, for some strange reason, finally made my heart understand it.

Pretending is no way to live. It keeps us from God's best, which according to Angela, are all the things we've been looking for. The things I've written about here...well, she covers this in the first chapter. (I am calling her Angela like I know her, but it's because she writes like she knows a trusted friend who knows all my ugly secrets and still loves me enough to tell me the truth...gently and in love....because she's been there.)

And if she could make me understand it...well, maybe I'm not the only one. I will say this...reading this book has changed my life because it has changed my view of God and the role He wants to play in my life. I am more at peace than I have ever been in my life with more joy than I ever thought possible. (My natural tendency is not to joy or peace.) Nothing has really changed either. I'm still changing diaper after diaper and doing much laundry. I am still cooking meals that don't appeal to toddlers and Lily still wants her daddy. But I have peace about it. Peace. I finally understand...with my heart...what that means. I can't even get into how this has affected me at home with my family It's not such a crazy thought that I have a quiet, gentle spirit now. I feel it. I don't feel like I'm pretending anymore. I want to read my Bible and pray not because I hope that God wants to hear from me...because I know He's sitting right there waiting for me.

I never have to worry if what I'm doing is going unnoticed. For once in my life...I know it's not. There is freedom there.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Death In The Family

This week I received an email that my father's mother had passed away. I'm wondering if I should be sad, but I don't feel anything. I had only met her once or twice. Bertha wasn't even on the outermost fringes of my life, much less in my life. My dad was raised by his grandmother in Iowa and considered Grandma to be his mother.

This topic of conversation about my dad going to Iowa for this funeral have been discussed many times over the years without an ending. Until now. In his words, "I won't be going. I realize all this might sound cold to you, but that's just the way it is and it's better left alone." I encouraged him to go, but this is the response that I got. I fear that he will regret his decision later, but it's too late now.

The obituary, easily found on the Internet, was very sad. No family listed, visitation to be held an hour before the service, memorials to be given to the Humane Society. At this writing, the funeral has been completed and she's either already buried or waiting for the ground to thaw...without anyone from her oldest son's family in attendance.

Why Did LifeWay Dissolve Its Homeschool Division Last Year?

This article claims to have all the answers:

What is going on in the Southern Baptist Convention? Especially the money-making portion known as LifeWay?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Adventures In Parenting

While staying with Brian's parents in Beaumont, Lily slept in the trundle portion of a day bed with few problems. Upon returning home, we thought it might be a good idea to turn her baby bed into a toddler bed...because she was so grown up.

Bad idea. No amount of consequences or positive reinforcement will keep that child in her bed. This week has been the worst. Usually, she does get up and down, but at some point she finally goes to sleep. Not only has she been getting up and down, but she's been keeping Darcy entertained, which keeps Darcy awake. So now I have two children who have not had naps and a husband that needs to work late. Did I mention that everyone is sick this week? Including me?

Lily's entertainment this week has resulted in removing all her clothes, baby lotion all over every stick of furniture and the carpet, a whole box of Kleenex emptied, a box of wipes emptied and Darcy being given a thermometer with Vaseline on the end. Darcy apparently thought was a comb and promptly put in her hair. Have you ever tried to get Vaseline out of hair? It takes more than a shampoo or two. It takes a miracle. After two consecutive days of Vaseline in the hair, I knew something had to be done. Way back in my pre-baby brain, I thought I recalled reading a trick in either Glamour or Cosmo about how to get rid of the "greasies" : baby powder. So this morning, I powdered Darcy's head. Now Darcy kind of looks like a 50 year old baby which is interesting. I am pleased to report: I think it's working. Of course, I'll know more when I give her a bath this afternoon. If it doesn't work, I don't think we'll be any worse off than we are now.

As for Lily, we were parenting outside of the funnel. We gave her a privilege that she was unable to handle which resulted in big trouble for her and us. We are now back to the crib. She didn't get up at all last night...imagine that. I guess she's not ready for a big girl bed yet. This is the second time we've tried this. I think she might be ready for it, but we are still trying to get back on track from our vacation. Somehow, Lily has forgotten her manners and that Mama and Daddy are in charge. Surely we'll get back on the straight and narrow before long.

The thing that hurts me the most is that I'm here with Lily all day and it's my responsibility to see that she minds and I have to be the one that administers discipline when Brian's not here. And everytime I spank her or make her do something that she doesn't want to do, she tells me "I want my daddy to come home." She's not kidding about that, either. It isn't as though when Brian spanks her she wants me. She wants him all the time. I run a very distant second. When we took her to the Emergency Room to have her head stitched up, we left the room while they did the work. The doctors and nurses told us that all she did was scream for her daddy. My mother and I have a strained relationship and always have, but even I wanted my mom when I was sick or hurt. I hope this isn't the way it's always going to be.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The New Year

Things are moving right along.

The two previous months before our visit to Beaumont found Darcy sick and at the doctor's office repeatedly. A week in Beaumont, she was right as rain. Now, sick again. Except this time, Lily and I have it, too. I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't something in the air up here that's making her sick. The doctor said that cedar is bad this time of year. Cedar? Who in the world is allergic to cedar?

I did not make any resolutions this year, just recommitments. Is that the same thing? We recommited to our budget and the first ten days of the year have gone pretty well. We had a problem that was affecting two areas of our life: money and eating habits. We were eating out too much. I mean scary, too much. I mean the wait staff knew the names of my kids, too much. And it was hurting our budget/bank account/waistlines. Stop eating out, kill two birds with one stone. The first ten days have gone well. We've only eaten out once and that was with money that was specifically set aside for that purpose. And it felt good in a way that I cannot describe to pay with the allotted cash. Of course, what didn't feel good was finding out that the trip to the doctor today cost nearly $200 instead of the $100 that was budgeted. My kids always need their shots in January, but it always helps the deductibles get met fast. But with a little "creative accounting" all is well again.

And since I am cooking more, I am personally eating less. I am actually thinking about what I'm eating. I'm not officially doing WeightWatchers or tracking Points, but I have a fairly good idea what I should be eating and I am mostly sticking to that. It's working a lot better than my usual method of eating everything in sight and wondering why I can't seem to lose any weight. In addition to "watching" what I eat, I am working out again. I didn't go tonight because there were multiple meltdowns going on and I intended to be in bed long before now. I should have just gone. However, I have lost 6.5 pounds in the first week which makes me feel good. My muscles are busting out. Now, if I could just tolerate enough cardio to slim down so the muscles didn't have anywhere to hide. All in good time, I think.

And FlyLady. Can't forget her. I am actually shining my sink. I did it a couple of times in Beaumont, but I never did it here. Now, I'm doing it here. FlyLady wrote a big long thing about not "skating" by. She said that if I wasn't going to shine my sink then I shouldn't even be a member at all!! Well, I couldn't stand for that. So, I started shining my sink. I've even got Brian doing it, too. If I could just get him to wipe the cabinets and the table, but housework done incorrectly still blesses.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

And now a word from our sponsor...

...or "What I Did On My Christmas Vacation" by Brian, age 34 (but still younger'n summa you!)

While we were driving to Beaumont, Georgia and I discussed that we were likely to be invited to visit the "Church of What's Happening Now" (as we had come to refer to it -- long story and not intended to be derogatory) when we had dinner with Scott and Carrie.For several reasons, we had reservations about this, and were equally sure we would decline the invite. After 6 1/2 hours of driving, we got to my parents' house at 2 am on December 18th.

Monday, we spent recovering from the drive. We went to Carmela's for lunch, despite their obvious support of the so-called "Day Without Immigrants" last May (let me be clear: I derive from immigrants, and some of my favorite people are first-generation Americans; but they, like my ancestors, came here legally) and my subsequent boycotting of them. We have no decent Tex-Mex places within 60 miles, so I gave in to Georgia on this one. Greg and Shanon brought the girls over for a big family get-together. Macie (my Granny's name) Jeanette (my Grandma's name) is so much bigger than the first and only time I saw her before we moved, and cute! Despite the fact that she's the spittting image of my big bro'.

Tuesday, Georgia got to spend the morning with her friends from our old church's women's bible study group, and I got to spend time with my beautiful daughters (much-needed: I had just gotten back from two weeks on the road before we left for Beaumont). Later, we had SUSHI :) with Aaron and Amanda, who we had missed so very much. I couldn't believe how much bigger Sammy was (or the fact that he slept through the entire meal) and then regrouped at Rao's. Let me explain: we do not live within 400 miles of open sea; and of the only two decent coffee shops in the area, one is only open until 6 pm on the days it's open, so I've never even been there, and the other is two towns away. So I don't get sushi, and I don't get good coffee served to me. I love sushi and good coffee... though not together. There is a Starbuck's here, but let's be serious. And I'm not sure but I think if you asked for Gellato around here, you might get shot.

Note: Every time I think of Aaron, I have to chuckle 'cuz I remember the book he said he wants to write about his walk with the Lord. He wants to call it "Half-Assed Christian" but doesn't think Lifeway, etc., would carry it if he did. I don't know about you, but I'd buy it. (Of course, if you know Aaron, you know it'd at least be interesting)

Wednesday was my oldest neice's THIRTEENTH birthday. I remember Greg holding her with her head in his palm and her bottom against the crook of his elbow like it was yesterday! How can she be a teenager??? We did get to visit with the "cast of thousands", excluding my baby brother and his girlfriend, who, by the way, is now our closest relative (geographically speaking) and the only close family we didn't see on this trip. Georgia's not used to big gatherings like that, because her family (who we visited that morning for the first time since the Suzie fiasco) never really got together with extended family. But I remember uncles, aunts and cousins coming to Granny and Grampa's (mostly just Granny's -- Grampa died when I was 5, and I have only a few fuzzy memories of him) house in RV's and packing tents so there would be enough room for everyone at their VERY SMALL 4-room (that's room, not bedroom) house.

Thursday, we went shopping for Darcy some new shoes, because now she's walking. Go figure... I leave, no walking. Two weeks later I come home, walking like a champ! We also had the aforementioned visit with Scott and Carrie, which we had both been looking forward to. We both had really missed them, too. And the kids seemed very excited to see each other. Scott and I talked about a great many things; I think Georgia and Carrie did, too (but I don't kow what... frankly, I'm doing good to remember what little I'm writing here) We talked about concrete construction, because I'd just returned from two weeks of training on the subject, and Scott had done some reading and/or research into concrete housing.

Just an aside: if you have a something to build, and you're going for durability and utility... or anything else, frankly, go concrete. This is an amazing and versatile material that is just phenomenal in virtually any application. Wow! They even used to build reactor vessels from concrete! ...of course they stopped, presumably due to structural decline under high neutron flux, but that's only a guess. And not too many houses fall under a high neutron flux.

But I digress...

Scott and I did talk a good while about the basis of the family integrated movement, often misnamed "home churches," which is not the same thing. they do meet in one of the members' homes, but that's not by design. I told him some of my reservations about it, which didn't really cover the main reservation, but I'll get to that later. In case you're wondering, this is not like that nut in Ohio who shot the family in his barn. A great resource, if you're interested, is , or any of a number of Google results. Anyway, they did invite us, and we didn't give a final answer. I did ask them to pray for guidance for us.

Friday, we went out with an old friend of Georgia's and her husband. We had a blast, but stayed out waaaay too late. We gave them a copy of Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover and tried to talk to them about it.. We have such a heart for Jenifer and Keny. Please pray for them.

Saturday, we hung out with my parents most of the day, I think -- no, that was the day we got to visit the ER at ST. E; Lily decided to take a header into my parents' coffee table and needed three stitches (you don't need an exercise regimen -- just watch how your heart rate soars when you see your two-year-old stand up screaming with so much blood running down her face that you can't tell if she still has both eyes) but that was one of the shortest ER visits in recorded history, under two hours. We went to Larry's French Market for dinner with the Welch Clan (minus one). I'm not really a fan of this place -- Votreau's is better and closer... and cheaper, too -- but Georgia loves it.

Sunday (Christmas Eve), the day I know you've all been waiting for. The previous day and night, we had spent long hours discussing what we were going to do with Scott's invitation. We talked about what we expected to find at our old church, which we would be expected to go to because my whole family still goes there. What we expected was the same thing that had caused us to seriously consider leaving the church before we moved out of town. We discussed what we might run into (heavily seasoned with what we had learned talking to Scott and Carrie) at the Family Bible Fellowship (not as colorful as "Church of What's Happening Now", but what can you do?) We discussed all the things we could come up with -- reasons both for and against -- and all the "cons" came down to one thing, really. So we went to the family integrated church. Something tells me that's what we would have done anyway, like we had to go. I gotta admit, the curiosity was pretty much driving me crazy, had been for months.

So we went, as I said. Georgia was so nervous about our main reservation that she nearly got sick outside the hosting family's house. Inside, there were three families we knew -- Scott and Carrie, Jeff and Shannon, Aaron and Cathy -- two we didn't. First there was a round of hymns accompanied by Jon, Mark and Kathy's oldest, on the piano. Then Mark, the homeowner, gave the message.. not too bad, either, even for a mechanical engineer. Key was the fact that here, there ain't no nursery. Now, Lily and Darcy aren't used to sitting still for an hour plus, so that was a problem. I'm sorry Georgia missed most of the message due to Darcy's ill behavior. I missed the question-and-answer session, or whatever you want to call it, due to Lily's second spanking. Then there was a family prayer session, led by the fathers, in private. One of our friends explained this to me, saying this would be followed by communion. I told him I could not take communion until and unless I talked to him first.

And so now, for me, we arrive at the true crux of the matter. I already knew the mechanics of the family integrated thing. I had read about it and discussed it with Jeff extensively a year or more ago. For me, this was just seeing the theory put into practice, in this particular location. I think Georgia wanted to see what it was all about, but I was fairly certain I was there for a different reason.

After praying together, asking for God's hand in it, we sought reconciliation with our very dear friends. Suffice it to say, we had a very close relationship which was pretty much broken a while back, through miscommunication and lack of communication, and with God's grace and infinite love, it was healed that day. This was worth the whole trip. Of course, if it had been unsalvageable, I woud have had to leave at that point without communion. (Georgia was very surprised when I told her this)

Communion. I have heard it said of the writers of the Gospels that Matthew saw Christ as a king, Mark as a servant, Luke as a man, and John as very God. I think they're all four right. The only King I have ever sworn loyalty to lowered himself on his last day to not only serve a meal to his disciples, but also to wash their feet. This is the model the family integrated church follows. If Christ is our High Priest, and the head of man, then the husband/father is the high priest and head of the family. If Christ is a servant, how could a husband be otherwise? It was a very moving experience to serve my wife the elements of communion. I wish Lily had been a little older, because I had to sort of let a very ripe, teachable moment slip by when she asked very sweetly if she could have a "cracker" and some "juice". Conviction precedes repentance, and we haven't quite grasped "sin" yet. And she's two. (Later, at our old church, during the Christmas Eve candlelight service they had communion. I insisted that I serve Georgia there, too) This brought the servant-leader role I'm supposed to play into very sharp focus for me, in a way that no long discussion of the Biblical family ever has.

Then there was a meal -- three kinds of lasagna! -- followed by a few hours of conversation, men with the men, women with the women, as the kids all chased each other around the house (It was a cold, wet day). Most of us sat and got to know each other better, talked about what each of us do for a living, and more important stuff, like challenges with raising kids, being a father, homeschooling, etc. Jeff, of course, gave Mark's and Kathy's oldest sons a rundown on how to refine ethylene. (That's the word on the street, anyway) I really don't know why we've gotten so far from fellowship of this kind these days. Oh, wait, yes I do... because our Enemy is very crafty ("the serpent was subtil" -- two bucks to anyone who gets that reference)

In case you're wondering, there were no snakes, and no animal sacrifices.

The point is this: Family... Integration. Letting your kids see you come before God and worship Him. The point is this: nearly every night since then, my two-year-old has been asking to "read stories" before she goes to bed (i.e., the Bible) and asking pretty astute questions for her age, understanding and mastery of English.

But that was the longer-term bennie from this visit. I regained a brother. Praise God, I got to feel just a little of what the host of heaven and all the saints rejoice when a sinner is saved, what the father of the prodigal felt to have his son back. Jeff, I love you and I missed you.

Christmas Eve night, the fam came over to Mom and Dad's and chaos reigned as usual when you have three toddlers (or post-toddlers) in the same house. Plus, our two didn't really get naps.

Next morning, we woke up late, took too long getting ready to go to Georgia's family's house, and of course got into a big fight 'cuz we weren't packed and ready to go -- I mean GO; we were leaving to come home from their house -- on time. Both visits to this place this week were surreal. Georgia's mother was like a pod person. Nothing had ever happened. Nothing was wrong. Everybody was friends. After about three years of the most fun you can have with your boots on, we finally left her parents' house at 4 pm, about an hour ahead of schedule. Got home around 11. Lily fell asleep (finally) about half an hour from home.

And that's all I've got to say about that.