Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
School is back in session as of yesterday. I had a day without both kids, but full of doctor's appointments and meeting with Katie's principal to resolve some bus ride issues. (NOT fun.) But don't you worry; it wasn't her fault and it's all been handled now. Very well, I might add. I'm pleased with the way the school took a proactive stance. Rather than go into the personal details, suffice it to say that I learned how quickly a child's innocence can be harmed.
So now I'm busy preparing for Jackson's big birthday this Saturday (and watching Dan FREAK OUT as he watches the Mizzou Tigers during March Madness - but I don't blame him!). Back to the birthday boy... I'm going to try to make these yummy little treats for him (thanks for the idea, Jodie!), but I'm a bit nervous how they'll turn out. And, no, they won't be pink!
I realized today that I have way too many projects on the back burner, and need to commit one day to wading through them. I need to catch up on my digital scrapbooking (I got waylaid and stalled in mid-July 2008), paint some frames for displaying the kids' artwork, plus write for my friend Danielle's wonderful website. (Yes, I write a little "column" for her. Betcha can't find my articles!) Oh, I also need to get an oil change and tire rotation. And get comfortable with my new camera. And finish a homemade book for my nephew. And Ryan's Star Wars figurine book. Ugh! Have you noticed how scatterbrained I am as a result?!
Lest this become a blog that exists solely to regurgitate my To Do List, I'll leave you with some photos of my Bubbers today at the park.
This was his first time on a "big kid" swing. I think he liked it!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
- "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
- "'Come, follow me,' Jesus said." (Matthew 4:19)
- "Over time you've healed so much in me/And I am living proof/That although my darkest hour had come/Your light could still shine through/And though at times it's just enough to cast/A shadow on the wall./Well, I am grateful that you shine your light on me at all." (Who Am I by Watermark)
I am Yours. Let Your light shine through me, Lord.
EDIT: My friend Mary found out a little bit of news that is mildly alarming to me. It turns out the words that I quoted above were not written by Nelson Mandela. Humph! They have been often incorrectly attributed to him, but were actually written by Marianne Williamson. Here's a link to the explanation. I apologize for the misinformation and for not crediting the correct person. But no matter who spoke them, the words are still beautiful and God-inspired. Thanks for the info, Mary!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Jackson will turn two in sixteen days. He is a lot more fun lately. I think one major factor in that is his growing ability to communicate. Yes, he still has screaming fits when he doesn't get what he wants or when he can't express it to me, but he's learning to communicate so well. He talks in full sentences. After dinner he told Dan, "I wan go Costco." We told him we were going to Target instead. He said, "I wan Mommy go too" and stalked me until I got my shoes on. And just now, he looked out the window and said, "It dark outside." He is lots more fun too because he likes to be silly. He does this little dance of shaking his body side to side. Maybe one day I'll be able to catch it on video. Jackson also LOVES shoes right now. He often walks over to the shoe rack by the back door and steals someone's shoes to wear through the house. He especially loves wearing Katie's shoes. I caught him in her boots the other day.
It also helps that Jackson is sleeping much better these days. He still has night time wakings a few times each week, but they are usually short-lived. He's taking gloriously long naps from about 1:00 until 3:30 or 4:00 each day. Hallelujah! The only worry I have is that we plan to get rid of the pacifier in a few weeks. I'm afraid it's going to throw our little piece of heaven into a tizzy. Anyone have good pacifier removal tips? Jackson also loves to help around the house. He loves to help me take the dirty clothes to the laundry room and put them in the washer. He loves it so much that we usually have a tantrum when I try to get him to leave the laundry room. Jackson also likes to Dustbuster the floor, and he helped me with the trash the other night - even dragging it to the garage!
Jackson is definitely on the move lately. I picked him up at Parents Day Out one day and was getting ready to carry him to the car. One of his teachers asked me why I don't just let him walk, and I explained that I can't keep him close to me because he moves too fast. She commented that he does really well with them when they go from outdoor play or playing in the church sanctuary. He is usually the line leader and leads the kids from their room to the play area. And he doesn't bolt. Wow! Unfortunately, I can't get him to do that for me. And inside the house, he is a wild man too. His new favorite thing to do this week is throw the couch pillows on the floor and jump from the couch onto the pillows. He has no fear. But, thankfully, he has gained depth perception. He no longer looks clueless when he's up high and ready to step off. The difference is that now he knows how high it is but wants to jump off it for the thrill. We went to a playground last week and he wasn't as bad as I expected, and pretty good about jumping off things and landing on both feet. He continually amazes me in his ability to survive these daredevil feats unscathed.
Now, on to our Katie. Oh, she's a firecracker. I am dreading the day when the two kids realize they can join forces and conquer me. Because I know it will happen. They are both so strong-willed and almost kill me separately. But add them together? Be. Very. Afraid.
The good news is that Katie is usually pretty concerned about pleasing us. The times she gets into trouble are for things she doesn't think through first. (Of course, that's typical for a five-year-old.) On Tuesday we went for a walk together and there was an elderly woman slowly creeping down her driveway to her mailbox. When we were about ten feet away, Katie said (in an old lady voice), "Oh, look at me. I can't walk." "WHAT did you say?!" I hissed back at her. She was fearful and immediately tried to say she was talking about herself because she knew it was wrong. But I told her I knew what she was doing, and we don't make fun of other people. She was immediately remorseful and said, "I wish I hadn't said that." I told her it was too late, and she lost all 12 marbles from her marble jar (she was only 8 away from a big treat). It was a rough lesson for her.
Usually, Katie is eager to please and loves to cuddle and read books together. She and Dan have lots of special time together. She acts like anything he does is a total blast, even mopping. She is a one-woman art show, and can spend hours writing in her notebooks and cutting and pasting creations at the kitchen table. The sheer volume of her artwork is mesmerizing. She is reading on her own now, and writing very well. Of course she still can't spell everything correctly, but she writes exactly like the words sound and it's easy to figure out what she's trying to communicate. This afternoon she practiced drawing flowers and wrote, "All cinds uv flowrs" beside it. [Translation: all kinds of flowers.] She got a great third quarter report from her teacher, whose only complaint was that Katie is afraid to try something new if she has any possibility of failure. (My dad is in heaven, chuckling at the payback.) When we're in the car, Katie loves to get her dry erase board out and color. She also loves it when we are at a stoplight and I write some simple addition problems for her. Sometimes she spouts out math quizzes for me from the back seat, yelling things like, "How much is 20 plus 20?" I so enjoy watching her little mind make sense of the world.
Katie has a giving heart and loves to make presents for people. She wraps things up in paper and straps it closed with Scotch tape. We go through rolls of that stuff because she uses enough to shellac the thing closed. Right now there's a package sitting on the counter for Jackson. I have no idea what's inside. I think we'll find out on his birthday. Katie is really into board games (we played about 8 rounds of Guess Who this afternoon) and also LOVES the I Spy books. (But I already blogged about that here.) She is so independent these days: dressing herself, setting the table, showering, brushing and flossing her teeth on her own, and entertaining herself when needed. It's such a weird feeling to have been needed and consumed by her so deeply the last few years, and all of a sudden realize the need has shifted to someone else (Jackson) and she's off on her own, beginning to spread her wings.
When the going has gotten tough in the past, Dan and I have often mumbled to each other, "Be the wall." We believe that sometimes kids just need something to push up against to learn their boundaries, and the parents need to be the strong wall that kids keep throwing themselves against. I'm now realizing that Katie isn't pushing as much (yes, she's still pushing but not as much), but have I stopped being rigid? I don't think so... and I think it's time to lighten up. Not stop altogether, but just dial it down a few degrees.
The big picture in our family is this: we are happy, blessed, and love each other without a doubt. We're imperfect and learning the ropes together. But, thankfully, we forgive each other and keep trying day in and day out. And we talk about that forgiveness too, which I think is important. We have some great times together, and really do enjoy each other.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Okay, enough hemming and hawing. Let's just get down to the nitty gritty, the thing I've been hesitant to discuss lately. Well, see... it's God. And, yes, you are correct in saying, "Elizabeth, you've blogged about God before. This isn't anything new." But I feel like the way I'm about to lay it on the line is new. For me at least.
Here's the deal. I can look back over my life and see all the times that I was lost in confusion or despair or anxiety or joy or happiness, and hindsight has given me the benefit of knowing it was All. For. A. Reason. Yes, even the worst of the worst - cancer and death and all those awful things that I've gone through or lost people to. I've been able to look back at so many of those things and maybe not know THE purpose, but know there is A purpose.
And now I find myself in a similar situation. I was granted a beautiful moment of clarity, when I was able to look back at my recent history (namely, since Jackson's birth) and see A purpose. God put me on a path I didn't even see until I was quite a ways down it. And that path is leading directly to Him. Now, hold the phone a moment. Yes, I think my life has always been on that path towards God. But now I'm finding it is so much more deliberate and intentional.
Need an example? How about this. I used to truly dislike (I'd use the word hate, but that's pretty strong) any contemporary worship music at church. Guitars and drums really turned me off. Ugh. And those people who clap to the music at church and raise their hands in praise? Uh, no way, dude. Not for me. I'll stick with my traditional hymns and passive church services, thankyouverymuch. And then Jackson came along. And our old church changed their service times. So my traditional service wasn't working with nap time. Darn it. That meant we had to start attending the late service, the (horrors!) contemporary service. Slowly, over about a year or so, I started to really like it. And I started to even (gasp!) download some praise music. AND THEN GUESS WHAT? I even clapped to the music. Egads! God was working internally on my heart, massaging it for growth. (But I'm still not ready to raise the hands just yet.)
And then, growth started coming from external means too. Our old church started going through some tumult, and I did too. Adapting to life with two kids took a toll on me. I lost touch with some friends, grew deeper with others, visited a new church, decided to lose some weight, and then the bomb was dropped last fall with my lupus diagnosis. I discovered a need to start prioritizing my life. If I was giving myself to something and not getting much in return, it was time to cut it out and let it go. I made the conscious decision to step down from some groups I was in, limit time with others, and start pursuing the things and places that made me feel most alive. I wanted to focus on a sense of calling and not a sense of obligation.
The place I felt most called to be was Windsor Crossing. The music was the first thing to grab me. Now isn't that funny? Remember, I disliked (okay, hated) praise music. And guess what this church has? ONLY a praise band. No choir, no hymnals, but a stinkin' praise band. Ha! (God is cracking up now.) The first time I visited the Crossing, I couldn't BELIEVE that people weren't jumping out of their seats and dancing to the music because it was so uplifting. Then I went back again and heard the lead pastor preach. And I couldn't BELIEVE that people weren't jumping out of their seats and... you get the picture. Seriously, the place moved me. Dan and I started visiting off and on last summer and early fall, but were still planning to stay at our old church and see it through (to help solve some of the issues there and not to abandon our commitment). But every time we visited the Crossing, I felt compelled to return. I was torn between two places. And then I got a swift kick in the butt: lupus. Ever heard that saying, "It's time to fish or cut bait." Well, I decided to start fishing. And, yes, Dan was in on it with me too.
I spoke to my old church and parted ways, and we started attending the Crossing and calling it home. And only then did things start to crystallize for me. As hokey as this sounds, God started calling me into something deeper with Him. How do I know that for sure? Well, every single time I attended the Crossing, I was crying and finding parts of my hidden heart exposed. Parts I thought were buried, and parts I didn't even remember I ever had. Lots of figurative talk, huh? Well, let me be specific: I no longer just wanted a life in God's presence. I NEEDED it. I also started to examine my beliefs about Jesus, and realized it's a hard concept for me to grasp. (There, I said it.) And I realized how very starved I am for depth and relationship and forgiveness and confidence.
I think back over the last few months of my blog, and realize there's not much there that would lead anyone to truly believe what I'm saying right here right now. I haven't let on much to any turmoil in my soul, have I? Not really. I've barely even discussed it with anyone, besides glimpses I've let a few select friends see. I was testing the waters. And then last night, I gave full disclosure to Dan for the first time. Turns out we're not as different as I used to think.
It's a scary thing to do - to admit that I am weak and unworthy and unlovable, and that I need something that seems so intangible and invisible to many people. It's countercultural, isn't it? We Americans are taught to stand on our own two feet. And my daddy didn't raise no wimp! He told me to buck up, little camper! My faith was just what I was taught to DO, not what I was taught to NEED. So it's kind of embarrassing, even now, to come clean about all of this. But I know it's necessary, and I know it's time.
Doesn't mean I'm going to hit the "publish post" button with lots of confidence though. I'm still afraid. Afraid to admit these changes publicly because I might be called to live it. I might be scrutinized. And what if I can't live it? Oh, but dear me... isn't that what it's all about anyway? I am not being called to live it. I am being called to surrender to it, and to let Someone Else live it through me. I have no idea how, other than to beg daily for help with it. And then to listen. Listen, Elizabeth. You'll hear what to do. You'll know.
I am trying to be more open as God talks to me through all of this. I know He uses my experiences, sights, sounds, and conversations to talk to me. For example, my Body Life class at church last week was all about conflict resolution. Something I didn't really think pertained to me very much. Well, maybe a little but not much. And within 36 hours of the end of class, I had my first of two conversations with people that called me on the carpet for my personal behavior. In the first conversation, my gut reaction was to defend and attack. I started to do that, and then pulled back and shut my mouth and listened. And I realized she was right. Ouch. I apologized, and we talked about ways to handle it in the future, and then I thanked her. Yeeow! Can you believe it? I actually said, "Thank you for helping me practice what I preach." That makes me crack up even now, just thinking that I could have that kind of response to an "attack." (If that ain't proof for you of God's existence, I don't know what is.) The second conversation happened about 36 hours after that. It wasn't quite the same and lacked the hostility, but it brought me up close and personal with some errors I've made in the past. Again, I acknowledged the mistakes and apologized for them and I took what she said to heart. Both conversations are God's way of speaking to me about living my life with more direction, more intention, and more depth.
The joke among my friends at church now is how many tissues we'll need for worship. Honestly, I have never left that building without some sort of moisture welling up in my eyes. Some days, I am drenched when I leave. I told one of the pastors that I'm going to start wearing a poncho to church. He said it's all part of the melting. That phrase has stuck with me, because it encapsulates all I'm experiencing in one word: melting. My preconceptions are melting, My grief is melting. My fears are melting. My independence is melting.
What will be left at the end of all of this, the lifelong journey? I am not sure. But I know that it will be truly, honestly me.