Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

November 27, 2011

Do whatcha can.

The holiday season is fun and beautiful and it’s also stressful and not without a certain pressure of its own. Because we’re Christians, we want our boys to take more from the holiday than just a list of toys they want and a sugar-soaked parade of treats.

Last year I saw this thing going around all the Christian mom-blogs called a Jesse Tree. It’s like an advent tree and has been around forever. It’s for counting down to Christmas with little stories connected to symbols you hang each day on a small tree. It’s called a Jesse Tree in reference to the tracing of the lineage of Jesus. Isaiah, 11:1 is: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”

Last year I tried to do a big, poetic, fancy version of the Jesse Tree. I collected little things. Stuffed camels, crowns, hearts, jewels and all kinds of gew-gaws. It got overwhelming before I even got started, and my boys were only flippin’ 2 and 4 at the time. The bag of stuff is still in the closet, so I suppose there is some chance that one day there will be a super fancy super mom super Christian tree.

This year I found a printable online of Jesse ornaments that the kids just color in each day. We’ll glue them on a square of cardstock with a hole for a string and call it good. Coloring with a very brief story & verse, this I can handle.

Silly Faces- these we can do.


So the short story long, I have come up with some advice for moms of young kids. Only read the blogs that inspire you because you can actually take something from them and only read them as long as they inspire you. I get like my boys in the Lego shop: I want to do everything artsy and deep to bring my boys closer to Christ. Then I realize I can’t do it and I decide not to start. Pretty soon I feel like each amazing mom post is making me feel like a short order chef next to Julia Childs.

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June 20, 2011

We’re off and running, right?

Here we are, filling out forms, taking numbers, kicking apps. Here are some things I’d advise that everybody else probably already figured out about applying to adopt a human being from somewhere in the greater United States area.

1. Get ready with a small office space stocked with the latest computers, printer and mailing supplies. Perhaps rent something modest with an inspiring view and a built-in childcare professional for the kids you will ignore while you fill out page 3 of form S.

If this is not possible or you are trying to go green and don’t want to support some nanny who might forget to recycle the kids juice boxes, at least get yourself an accordion file. Everyone feels smarter holding one of those things. And you’ll absolutely need a label-maker. One of those spinny round-topped ones with a squeeze mechanism for marking each letter will entertain your two other kids for at least half of an address and part of a social security number. An added bonus: Once you’ve labeled their shirt, glasses, sippy cup and each appendage you’ll have a handy reminder of their names. Believe me, when you reach that golden hour of paperwork where your last brain cell packs up and vacates the premises you’ll be grateful you don’t have to keep saying, “Hey, kid wearing blue shirt, please stop drawing robots on your certified original birth certificate.”

2. Make copies BEFORE you start filling out the forms. Because, duh, not like I already screwed up in the line for our names or anything.

3. Prepare to involve lots of other people in your inconvenience. Just get over it and assume they are darn near glowing with the honor of this duty. You’ll need people you actually know to swear they think you’re great parents, fantastic Christians, practically magical. You’ll meet new doctors and insurance officials you never knew existed. Even the postal workers can thank you for singlehandedly supporting your neck of the woods, just as soon as they recover from the last time you had to stand in line for thirty minutes with a three year old tornado who is going to be the perfect big brother (on paper anyway).

4. Prepare to write an autobiography that is sincere without sounding too braggy, too glamourous, too goofy, too suburban, too desperate, too open, too closed, too manipulative. And, GO!

5. Get a bunch of pictures of your current family ready. These should follow the general propriety guidelines as listed above and should additionally show the children always smiling but natural, the parents fit and friendly but natural, the friends numerous and close but natural. In summation: Look Awesome!, but natural.

Have fun with it! It can be a time of deep bonding and fodder for lengthy future therapy for all. Take notes, but keep it natural. Don’t be intimidated by the depth and breadth of our knowledge and experience. Soon you’ll be using Wite-Out like it’s 1999, too!

May 14, 2011

Mellowship

Today I attended a teacher training for a curriculum for teaching children to read. It’s primarily used for homeschool kids, and my fellow students today were Christian homeschooling parents from all varieties of life.

Huddled around the plastic tables were ten students, including a homeschooling 10 year-old dressed in gingham and braids, a couple who had themselves been homeschooled dressed in flannel and claiming to raise goats for a living and a couple of former teachers with whom I kept getting into trouble for chatting our way out of confusion. Then there was the trainer herself who told me all about her water barrels thoughtfully stockpiled in the backyard by her husband for the coming apocalypse. I found myself, as you can see by the details provided, fighting the urge to stereotype these fine folks as… well, as oh so many things.

It’s a funny thing being part of the family that is the church. People decide they know things about me, and I them, based on our doofy perceptions. We forget not only their status as image-bearers made for the glory of the creator, but our obligation to love them as members of a family. Without this membership, I see no way to reconcile myself to, let alone work with these people for the cause of Christ. I can barely imagine agreeing on a radio station or a take-out order.

I wish I could say I was able to encourage and learn from each of the folks at class. The truth is that even with all the break time in the world I’m sure I would have failed. I get busy thinking of my own agenda, my interests, my opinions, my image.

This opportunity to homeschool has already forced me to broaden my perception. I didn’t think of myself as a homeschooler, and had definite ideas about what “those people” were like. I’m excited to see what other developments come our way as we refuse to accept the assumptions we have held.

Here’s to phonograms and faux perceptions. May one take root even as the other dies with one more small layer of my immaturity.

May 10, 2011

Just tell me what you’ll do, then gimme what I want.

I read a good blog today about why it is God doesn’t just let us know what to do clearly at all the crucial junctures in life. Spinning from the thoughts there while the boys have their afternoon naps, I realized deep down I know exactly what I’d do with a God who revealed everything. Despite this post, I confess that I still want that god, just like our toddler still hated getting his immunization today despite our explanation that in the end it’s for the best. Childishness is right up there with my sense of entitlement and worship of personal comfort battling for Mimi’s Top Idol.

Why a transparent god is probably bad for me even though I think I want one:
1. I don’t actually want Him telling me “what to eat for lunch”. I’d like Him to be available, but not too close. If God were a genie, he’d be pretty confused right now as to exactly what part of my life plan he should let slip to me. This highlights the fact that my freedom is ultimately more important to me than my God, which means it is an idol in itself. Submission to an all-powerful creator is a foreign concept, making it appear to be a great internal fight and a struggle when ironically the Bible says again and again that true freedom is in Christ alone.
This pulls my mind back to our lives being lived well only from and not for the cross. More than just a nicely turned bit of Christianese, this phrase reflects the difference between a tiny god who would be manipulated by my mere human actions and a holy God, entirely different in his just-ness. By living every day in light of (love those words… maybe I’ll write more on that later) the way He has shown us His love despite ourselves we focus on the things that make life worthwhile and ultimately good (redemption). If I really believe God did xyz, how should I then go about my everyday life? It’s amazing what matters and what doesn’t when I try to peek through that lens.
So in short: Lunch-Menu God and only-reveal-stuff-just-when-I-need-you God are two sides of a fantasy false god coin. Both ultimately serve me.

2. I would instantly begin to worship the “plan”, the information, its method of conveyance, etc. The God of the Bible asks us to turn, to follow, to do, to work, and a whole raft of other verbs. With a listing of what is to come in my life I’d surely switch off as though at a conference where the speaker is only reading from Powerpoint slides. This knowledge itself would draw me away from rather than to Him. God the creator is no such being, stranger and more able than any analogy I can find.
I see this when my kids get gifts, too. They clamor at the gift itself, obsess about it. One of their grandmas showed the 5 year old a couple of toys she’ll bring him in a few weeks and he had not. stopped. asking for them. As parents we try to instill gratitude and a focus on the giver, but we see clearly that those are most certainly not our native state.

3. Glorifying God forever is a beautiful concept fraught with the concepts of striving and constantly turning back. This constant turning reminds me of the way string players (and any other non-fixed-pitch musicians) work their entire careers to have good intonation, to find just the right inflections of pitch for a phrase. It makes hearing a well-tuned performance that much more thrilling to witness. Did you know that you can improve the way you hear intonation? Training and listening carefully, methodically, regularly (“regular” being key as always) gives the human ear the ability to hear smaller and smaller differences in pitch. I find that amazing. I wonder if it’s the same with close study of color. I bet it is for flavors, judging by the way my palate changes depending on what I give it most often and by the fact that there are people out there who like liver. We ARE wonderfully made!

4. Most of the prophets were at least a little fried by their proximity to the creator and the glimpses he gave them of their future. As proof I give you Isaiah, laying on one side for more than a year, going around nekkid, and getting sawn up inside a tree. See also John the Baptist’s fantastic beard filthy with honey & locusts, and pretty much all the others… and they usually didn’t really get what it meant despite the revelations when it was close to their own lives.

The thing is, the way sickness and death were injected into this world, the fall itself, was played out in such a way that we cannot get back to “good” without fleeing to God’s ultimate strength. This set-up (that the consequence itself draws us in) is beautiful. If we were given the cheat-sheet, the crib notes to our lives, how would we be given the gift of struggle and even pain through which we grasp the depth of this love? We would run from it, or slouch away by inches. This gift of grace, and this alone makes the horror of this world meaningful.