Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's been up

So, there's a lot of stuff going through my head recently, and a lot that I could blog about. Some of these topics include...

1. I am going completely 'poo free! No shampoo. Ever. Interested? Check out the Winnowing Woman (one of my favorite blogs)to see what I'm talking about.

2. In the past month, Maple has... been to the doctor 3 times, seen a specialist, scheduled a surgery, CANCELLED a surgery, and is now completely healthy. Expect more on this topic later...

3. I'm not losing weight. It's as simple as that. I'm not GAINING, but I'm not losing. I'm stuck. Blah.

4. It's Yard Sale Season!

And while all of that stuff would make for some decent reading, I need this post to be about my need to write. There's some stuff I've been learning recently that I need to get off my chest. Some lessons that have been (and continue to be) difficult, but are totally worth sharing. While I could probably write a book about some of this stuff, I'll try to limit this post to a blog-worthy brevity.

My main struggle since returning to the states has been in the simple act of knowing myself. I spent an entire year of my life striving to become just like the people around me, and once that habit is established, it's a hard one to break. As I have continued the effort to become "like" the people around me, I have become more and more miserable with myself.

I'm too loud. I'm too honest. I'm too passionate. My personality is too much for people. My wardrobe is too colorful. My sense of humor is weird. My opinions are alien.

I'm a weirdo, y'all.

Not only that, but I'm a sinful, self-absorbed, painfully blunt weirdo.

Scared yet?

When I first started feeling this way, I hid from the Lord. I have tried to think of a better way to present that on a blog. But the full truth of the matter is: I hid from the Lord. I couldn't take any more judgement. I didn't want to hear about any more of my shortcoming. And I certainly didn't want to know how to fix them and thereby confirm that they are, in fact, major problems. It was His fault anyways. He's the one who made me this way. He's the one who spoke to my heart so many years ago: Speak forth in boldness, for the harvest is plentiful while the laborers are few. So what right did He have to condemn who I am?

Because, you know, God's a vengeful, spiteful, holier-than-thou, condemning, cruel God who likes to point out my flaws and give me a 12-step program to fix who I am all on my own.

Except He isn't.

And that's the part I forgot.

...until He reminded me.

You see, there are days when I am too honest, when I should shut my mouth instead of speaking up, when I should be gentle instead of firm, when I should choose peace over being right.

But there are also days when God calls me to speak light to the darkness and truth to the lies.

There are days when my emotions get the best of me. I laugh when I should be angry. I am angry when I should be in tears. And I cry when I should be able to brush things off as no-big-deal. On these days, my emotions are too raw - too much - too apparent, and those emotions make people uncomfortable.

But there are days when I can sit in the gutter and weep with those who are broken, when I can laugh with someone else's joy, and I can stand alongside them in righteous anger when they have been wronged. On those days, my emotions are weapons against bitterness and loneliness .

There are days when my passions are misdirected. There are days I am passionate about coffee, or a TV show, or the temperature of my office at work. There are days when my passions become others's problems.

But there are also days (and I have to believe there will be more day) when my passion causes me to raise up and defend the oppressed, the suffering, and the poor. My passion gives voice to the voiceless. My passion will make a difference in this world. Of this I'm certain.

So I'm resting in the Lord and trusting that He will show me a balance. I pray that my uniqueness will be a blessing and not a curse, that I will appreciate the way he made me and not wish to be like someone else, that someday (even if it's in Heaven) I will see how each and every "weirdo" trait was part of a grand design to better our world and glorify His Kingdom.

And I'm relying on grace... a lot of grace.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

OK, Dave Ramsey, anwer me this...

So Brandon and I have taken to teaching our eldest about money. She has a list of chores that are *her* responsibility: cleaning her room, putting her toys away, throwing her dirty clothes in the hamper, brushing her teeth (and, yes, that is a chore for a three-year-old). But there are also a few chores for which she gets a quarter: setting the table, feather dusting, sweeping the patio (with mommy, of course), and throwing away diapers.

One of the thing I love about this process is that it gives me an "out" when she asks for a toy at the store. I don't have to say "no." I simply say, "Sure you can buy it, if you save enough quarters."

Sometimes she'll ask me how many quarters something costs, and if it's a number outside of her comprehension (like 23), she responds, "Woah... that's too many monies for me." End of discussion. No weeping, wailing, or gnashing of teeth. No begging, pleading, or puddles of disappointment. It's too many quarters, and that's that.

We're quite proud of this system, her father and I, as we feel it is setting her up to manage her finances for life.


Tonight we went to the store because she decided that the money in her bank was burning a hole in her pocket... or something like that. She chose five shiny quarters (about half of her supply) and clamored into the car, chattering away about all the many toys she would buy with her five quarters.

Of course, by the time we got to the store, I had explained that she probably could only get one small toy with five quarters, but she was undeterred.

Off to the dollar section of the local Target, and right to the small basket of balls. She picked out a sparkly purple ball - the kind that's filled with air and looks like a porcupine. She carried it around the store, happily taunting her sister with it for about 45 minutes.

We checked out, and she paid the cashier herself. She was thrilled to get a few "golden" coins back right before we headed to the car.

In the car. Seat belts snapped. Last-minute decision to stop and get ice cream on our way home. The perfect outing.

POW! Pshhhhhhhh...

I looked in my rear view mirror to find a purple, sparkly, porcupiney - completely deflated - former ball.

I braced myself and prepared for the wailing that would soon ensue.

No such thing.

"Aw, mooommmmmm," she said. "What happened to it?"

After a round of questions, we concluded that, in an attempt to help her sister get the toy she dropped, Chloe had put the ball between her teeth in order to free her hands. She bit a hole in the ball.

We were already halfway home, and Dave Ramsey said that kids have to learn tough lessons like these.

"Can we go back and get another one?"

What would you do, moms?

*In that moment - due to the sprinkling rain, and the fact that bed time was approaching fast - we did not turn around and get her another ball. After discussing it with my Sweet Hubby last night, we decided not to get her another one - yet. We are in the final stages of potty training, which means (cue dramatic music) no pull-ups at night! She has been doing great, but we still have some work to do. So... we have told her that if she can go two weeks without an accident, she will get a secret surprise. Guess what it will be?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ain't no stoppin' me now....

Ohhhhh bloggity blog blog bloggity blog.... whatever am I going to do with you?

Lots of surface-y things are going on 'round these parts. My friend Superstarr is headed into town this weekend on her way back from visiting kin. Work is going pretty well - I moved offices today. Maple is crawling like her diaper is on fire. Chloe has learned the meaning of a "secret spot" and has taken to hiding her most prized possessions. Sweet Hubby is off at basketball having a guys night.

And me? I'm sitting between the arms of my green comfy chair, listening to the grumble of distant thunder, watching my favorite scene of Julie and Julia (for the ka-jillionth time)... all the while thinking... I should be blogging.

So... here I am... trying to blog it out on the surface. But you know what? That's just not cuttin' it. Because on the surface, life is sweeeeeeeeet. I'm slowly but surely losing weight. My house, while always bombarded by toys and dishes and that one sock that never has a mate, is fairly orderly. My job is improving by leaps and bounds every week. My kids are happy. My husband is enjoying our life here.

It seems I'm the only one who's out of place in this picture.

Waa waa... poor me.


You see, I came to a realization a few weeks back. And since arriving at said realization, it has latched onto me sumthin' fierce and just won't let go.

What I realized was this: I'm not perfect.

I know, I know. I was just as surprised as you are.

(You are surprised, right?)

But that's not all... it gets worse...

I am sometimes so far away from perfect - so far away from what I am supposed to be, from what want to be, from what I am called to be - that I don't even recognize myself.

And I could tell you a million reasons why this particular realization has hit so hard during this season of life.

But the bottom line is this: my very best... everything I have to give... talents. giftings. boldness. sass. organizational skills. parenting skills. cooking. teaching. encouraging. hope. faith. ability to love fiercely. work ethic. quirky style.
...everything that makes me who I am.
...everything that defines me.
...every little thing to which I cling... the things that give me confidence and hope... all those things that set me up for a successful life...

They. Are. Rags.









And that, my friends, is a hard lesson to learn.

To be continued....

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood