Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Am Safety Driver

When I was pregnant with Benjamin, my friend Kelly gave me a car decal that had been translated from Japanese to English to say: Maternity in the car. I am safety driver. It had a symbol for a pregnant woman with a little heart in her womb area. Jon and I thought it was really funny and we enjoyed having it on the back windshield of our car for the final two months of my pregnancy.

I used to gently scold Jon for getting frustrated with other drivers on the road. I'd say things like, "Calm down. He's not necessarily a moron--everybody makes mistakes when they drive sometimes."

Becoming a mom changes everything. I now have road rage. I will yell at drivers even though I know they cannot hear me. I will pull up next to a driver who has just put my child in danger because of reckless behaviour and just glare at him until he looks at me uncomfortably. I will assign the title of moron, idiot, or igmo (a combination of idiot and moron coined by my uncle Tom several years ago) to a person I have never met.

Okay, obviously I'm going to need to work on this with God's help. But seriously, watch where you are going. Use your mirrors and check your blind spots. TURN OFF YOUR *&$# CELL PHONE. And slow down. Some of us are carrying very precious cargo. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Good Wife's Guide

Before I was married, someone gave me a copy of this article from a 1955 issue of Housekeeping Weekly. After we got married, I placed it on our refrigerator where I could see it every day. Obviously, there were some points in it that I disagreed with and one that I actually whited out ("Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night."), but I liked the overall idea of adhering to a more old-fashioned code. I desperately wanted to be a "good wife."

If you don't take the time to read the article, you won't understand the depth of my insanity, so please read it. In the intervening years, my eyes have been open to the deception that hung on my fridge for the first two years of our marriage. But in those years, I spent a lot of time breaking down in sobs because I just couldn't live up to "the good wife." I constantly wondered what was wrong with me, why I was so incapable of doing what every woman in the fifties apparently did. I acted like the perfect wife and housekeeper, but I never felt like I really was good enough, and I drove my husband to distraction. How many times did he find me in a heap of tears in the kitchen floor, apologizing for failing him? He always told me that he loved me, that I was exactly the kind of wife he wanted and needed, that I was doing a good job. He couldn't figure out who I was comparing myself to until one night when he saw the article on the fridge and it all became clear. That night he made me get rid of it.

I was so sick I didn't want to throw it away, so I hid it in a book. And that's where I found it recently. I wish I could say that I just laughed at my old self, but it's not funny. The night Jon made me take that deception off of the refrigerator marked a turning point for me. Shortly after that, our pastor's wife asked the women in our Tuesday night women's group to be honest with one another. She said, "Raise your hand if you have ever feared that you might be crazy." I will never forget how scared I was to raise my hand, until I saw with my peripheral vision that almost every woman in the room had her hand up. I thought I was the only one, but we were all struggling with unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations and it was causing us to think we had lost our minds. Somehow the Enemy had distorted our desire to do things well. I was trying so hard to be a good wife that I forgot to honor my husband.

I only bring this up now because I feel like God has recently opened my eyes to the pain in the eyes of other women all around me. They are working hard to be wives, mothers, employees, ministers, etc. and they are desperate for a standard that is unrealistic. They are not casting their cares and concerns on Christ, the only One who can measure up and bring rest. They are depressed, and feeling guilty that they're not happier. And some of the things that lead them on in their deception are disguised as good things. If this is you, I want you to have freedom from the bondage of this lie that you should be perfect, perky, and presentable at all times. So let me tell you what I found out recently. The article wasn't even real! It was created as a hoax, probably in the 1980s and has been widely circulated as an email since that time. The standard I was holding myself to wasn't even a true standard in the outdated time it was referring to!

So before you hold yourself to some crazy standard, examine the source. Is it from God? Or is it just something some fool made up?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Katy Said

Hug your baby every day. Don't take anything for granted.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Friends, please pray for Katy and Scott who just lost their little one to SIDS. I don't even know what to is an impossible situation to imagine. Please pray for them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Haiku Crawl

Today I was reading haiku to Benjamin from the book Yum! MmMm! Que Rico! America's Sproutings by Pat Mora. I guess he just really liked the bright and colorful illustrations by Rafael Lopez because he started reaching for the book like crazy. I didn't want him to touch it because it's a library book (yucky!), so I pulled it a few inches out of reach. The next thing I knew,
he was crawling toward the book as I dragged it further and further away! Crawling! I can't believe he's such a big boy. Jon came in while he was still doing it, but we haven't been able to get him to do it again. At least we know he can!

Anyway, I wrote the following haiku for him:

On your hands and knees
Rock forward, push up, and crawl
Mommy is so proud!

Incidentally, is the plural of haiku still haiku? Or is it haikus?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Boy, oh boy!

One year ago tomorrow we found out our little one was a boy--isn't it funny how time flies?! In some ways it feels like yesterday that we were giddy with excitement in the doctor's office, video tape in hand (we still haven't even converted Benjamin's first home movie into digital form). We named him that same day. It was important to me to have his name, so we could pray for him by name and talk to him and about him by name. We always knew he'd be Benjamin, but we had debated for some time about his middle name. Once we knew he was a boy, we were sure: Benjamin (son of my right hand) Cole (victory of the people).

I must have watched that sonogram video a dozen two days! I just kept looking at his movements, watching his face, counting his fingers, listening to his heartbeat. And now, I really have him every day to watch in person. It's so much fun to see him roll all the way across the room to get to someone or something (no crawling yet). Now, when we tickle him he laughs out loud--a squealing, adorable, fairy-making baby laugh that is to live for. He is fascinated by the movements of his own hands and he sometimes sucks on his big toe as if it is a thumb (it's okay--it's not like he walks on his feet to get them dirty)! He sticks his tongue out and imitates our noises. He even gives kisses (sloppy little licks to the cheek while one hand rests on the other cheek). If he's upset, he'll reach for me and say, "muh-muh." Okay, I could go on and on, but I'll spare you and just say: IT IS SO MUCH MORE FUN THAN I EVER IMAGINED!!! I love my little BOY!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jonah Day

Anne of Green Gables would have called it a "Jonah Day." Jon is under the weather with allergies. I flooded the kitchen. Again. Second time in a month. And we left the groceries out too long, which caused the pizza dough to bust out of the can. So Jon had to make a second trip to the grocery store to get pizza ingredients so it wouldn't be wasted. We were going to have taco soup for dinner. I kind of felt like Lucille Ball all day.

But it was actually kind of fun in the end. The pizza was delicious--sausage, red and green bell pepper, mushrooms, cheese. Heather was able to watch Benjamin while I cleaned up the kitchen floor, and then we had a nice little chat when I went to pick him up. Benjamin and I took a nice, long, rainy day nap together this afternoon. We have the taco soup stuff all ready for tomorrow. And we laughed at ourselves a lot.

And, as Anne of Green Gables would say, tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it. Yet.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Two Years

Two years ago today, I started the day giddy with excitement and ended it in drenching sorrow. For so long I tried to see the silver lining to cloudy, gray days and nights. I wrestled with questions and fear and doubt. But God showed Himself in powerful ways. I remember so many times that He showed up for me in tangible ways. I wish I could tell you all about His goodness to me in my time of need, but words fail me. So I will just borrow from others.

Job, after he lost everything, said this to God: I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees you.

And, my favorite passage in all of Scripture: For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will com, when hehands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. Forhe must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Before I lost April Baby, I thought I knew God but it was only by the hearing of the ear. I had heard of the great things He did for others. But in my own grief, I got to see Him show up for me. My eye saw Him. For me, that is the greatest gift my little baby gave me--because of April Baby, I saw God for myself.

And because of God, through Jesus, I know I will see my baby again when the last enemy is destroyed. Some foolish, well-meaning people have told me that God must have had some reason, that it was in His plan for the baby to die. I do not accept this. I believe death is an enemy, and not part of God's perfect plan for His creation. But I also believe with everything that is in me that Jesus has overcome, that in the end, death will be swallowed up in Life Everlasting. And I believe that He works all things together for my good because I belong to Him, even things that were not meant to be.

Today I am thankful. Two years ago, I wouldn't have thought I could be. I am not thankful for the loss, just for the deepening of my faith that it occasioned. And tonight, I am praying for a young missionary who finds herself in the shoes I was in two years ago. If you pray tonight, pray for Olivia. Pray that God will comfort her in tangible ways, that she will have a deeper faith for walking through this, that God will make all of her future joys brighter because of this time of cloud.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Getting and Spending

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!"
--William Wordsworth

Yesterday afternoon I got in line behind at least one hundred people at the Taylor County Expo Center. Then a couple of hundred more people got in line behind me. When the doors were opened at 5:00, we all filed in and started loading up our baskets, strollers, wagons, and shopping carts with so much stuff. It is hard to describe the scene to those who have never seen the round building at the Expo Center. If you have seen it, imagine that whole space filled to the very walls with dozens of clothing racks, tables full of toys, a small sea of strollers, high chairs, nursery furniture, and back yard gear, tables covered in baby bathtubs, training toilets, and breastfeeding supplies, and more besides. I am not exaggerating when I say that this sale will surely outgrow this building and be forced to move to an even bigger space in the future. Those of us shopping for clothes were elbow to elbow. I thought of Wordsworth's sonnet all evening.

I think the huge bi-annual consignment sale is a wonderful thing for families who just want to save some money on kids' clothes, gear, and furniture and for those who want a good way to clear out clutter. For me, it's both. I can sell the things we no longer need and the things we never needed but thought we did; and I can get clothes for Benjamin for the next six months for WAY cheaper than retail. But looking around at all of the other stuff, mainly the vast sea of toys, made me think of Wordsworth. Why do we think our children need all of these toys? Are they supposed to make them happy? Newsflash: Kids are happy with the attention of their parents and the things they can create with crayons and a big cardboard box. Are they supposed to make them smart? May I remind you that the child Albert Einstein never had "Baby Einstein" dvds to boost his brain power? Some of these toys claim to provide good exercise for kids. Um, ever heard of crawling, climbing, walking, running, swimming, playing with mommy and daddy, rolling a ball you can get for 50 cents at Walmart?

I am seriously considering adding a "gift suggestion" note to Benjamin's first birthday invitation with things like empty paper towel rolls, cardboard boxes, empty plastic bottles, blank paper and a couple of crayons, etc. Benjamin has so many toys already, and he loves playing with them. I just don't feel the need to overstimulate him with so many more in the future that he can never remember them. Do you still remember the ones you loved? For me, they were the simple ones--a stuffed moose with rollerskates, a sock monkey, books--not the ones my parents and grandparents spent a small fortune on--like the Barbie waterpark that we played with maybe five times. But it is so hard, as parents, to resist the temptation when we see so many cute things so reasonably priced. They all promise so much to people who just want the very best for their kids, for their kids to have everything. I find myself browsing the Fisher Price toys online and just drooling over things like a toy lawnmower (how cute is that?!) or what can only be accurately described as a giant, plastic babysitter disguised as a "walker." I probably shouldn't admit this, but I seriously thought about getting a miniature ball pit for him (only $60!!).

But in the end, Wordsworth had it right. We need to learn from nature. I could get Benjamin a plastic lawnmower or I could take him outside to smell the freshly mown lawn. I could invest in a baby-sized barnyard, or I could take him to visit a real farm (or both--I do love those little barnyards!). I could buy so many plastic things and it still wouldn't be as much fun as watching a seven month old strain as hard as he can to pick up a pie pumpkin today. And later, when I cut up the pumpkin and make it into baby food, I will enjoy letting him watch from his high chair. I will tell him what I'm doing and let him smell the cinnamon (I have to add cinnamon) and know that mommy time is better than all the toys that are designed to make him a bilingual, early allstar athelete, sign-language proficient prodigy.

And I will still go to the consignment sale, probably every year.