Monthly Archives: December 2007

The State of Things — toddlers, politics, illness, and football

Miscellany: 

  • Someone recently remarked to me, “Isn’t this phase of toddlerhood frustrating?  They’re just learning to talk, and can’t communicate very well.”  Well, no, actually, it hasn’t been frustrating.  Audrey is nearly 21 months and is speaking in… well, not usually “sentences,” but in understandable phrases.  Saturday at lunch it was, “Daddy a-lap a-Fweetos?”  “You mean you want to sit in Daddy’s lap and eat Fritos?”  Emphatically nodding her head, she confirmed, “Yes.”  Grant was my my first complex-talker amongst my three boys.  He wasn’t the first to utter a word, but the first to put words together and be able to hold conversation.  I told Grant the other day that Audrey blows doors off of his baby abilities.  Last week, I also heard for the first of surely many times, “Auda-rey do eet a-sef.”   
  • I am bummed out by the state of the developing Presedential primaries.  I am totally dismayed by the Democratic candidates:  Lord, save us from the ultra-scheming, untrustworthy Hillary.  And, of concern to me about Obama, the apple doesn’t usually fall from the tree, as they say, though it does, sometimes.  But, what is of more concern to me than his history is his lack of experience.  I just don’t think he has the experience needed to be a President.  I also sincerely mistrust his motives.  Not that I’m likely to vote Democratic, in any case.  But, I’m not really thrilled with the crop of Republican candidates, either.  I’m looking for an electable candidate with a solid political track record and an upright personal life.  The only one fits that bill, in my perspective, is John McCain.  I absoultely, positively adore McCain.  I’m not suggesting that I have agreed with 100% of his political decisions or current stances.  But, he is probably the most honest politician ever produced in recent memory, and that goes a long way with me.  I’d rather someone tell me, “Here is where I stand” and know that he’s telling the truth — even if I don’t completely agree with his position — than have that person try to spin their own platform into what he thinks I want to hear.  McCain is an open book.  However, he’s 71.  I’m sure he’s a “young” 71, but, still, I think the Presidency ages a person at at least twice the normal rate.  I think McCain would make a fantastic President, but I heartily wish he was a good 10 years younger.  I met him about 11 years ago at a state precinct meeting, which he just happened to attend, not as a scheduled speaker, though, of course, he was called up to say a few words.  I found him to be a very affable, sharp-witted man, with a lot of personal charisma.  He listens well, and responds to the actual questions, not just coming out with canned, practiced statements.  IOW, he thinks well on his feet.  He’s diplomatic, too, which I think is important, especially in foreign affairs.  It’s hard to find an honest, diplomatic politician, but McCain is it.
  • I have been ill since the 26th.  My lungs hurt, and I have been congested and coughing, and my body feels weighted down, internally, with extra gravity or something.  I wish I could just lay down and do nothing for a few days.  What with Christmas and illness, my house is a disaster.  So…  I’m taking a few days (maybe a week?) off of blogging.  Not that I’ve blogged much in the last couple of weeks, but there’ll be even less output from me.  I need to spend what little energy I have on getting my home whipped into shape.  I went to church yesterday, but mostly because I wanted to see the end-of-year video.  I told Martin, “I’ll stay for worship and the video, then I’m going home.”  Well, the video was about 40 minutes long, so with worship, that was most of the service right there.  Then, my father-in-law (who is moving back from Colorado — YAY!!) was at church, and he an my brother-in-law wanted to go out to lunch… then, our friends (it’s a particular treat having friends whom I enjoy who also have children whom my kids enjoy) wanted to join us, and I couldn’t resist.  We all went out to lunch, which I enjoyed immensely and hopefully, I didn’t infect anyone.  Eek. 
  • The Arizona Cardinals finished 8-8 for the season, with a fantastic home win over the Rams yesterday.  I heart coach Ken Whisenhunt.  No playoffs this year, but I’m very hopeful for our next season.  Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin rock, and Kurt Warner proved himself to be the best backup quarterback in the NFL.  It was the first year ever that my husband didn’t razz me for being a Cardinals fan.  (But then, as a lifelong Packers fan, he’s been on a Favre-induced high all year, which makes him favorably disposed to everyone else’s football proclivities;  all is basked in the glowing, grinning, grizzled light of Brett.)       
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Gluten-free baking ingredient tip!!!

Recently, in a trip to my local Asian food market, I picked up a bag of Jawar Flour (Laxmi brand).  I had no idea what it was, but I did know that an assortment of bean flours are used in Indian cooking.  And, it was only $1.99 for a 2 lb bag, so it was worth an experiment.  The ingredients say “jawar beans.”

Yesterday, I decided to Google jawar flour to see what it was, and how I could use it.  Well, much to my amazement, I found many sources that proclaim that jawar flour is sorghum flour!!!  Now, sorghum is a grain, not a “bean,” so there’s still a little skepticism in me, but maybe it’s just a translation issue. 

I also found that it is more commonly spelled “jowar.”  I also found it as “juvar.” 

 sorghum flour = jowar flour = jowari flour = juwar flour = cholam flour  Notes:    This is widely used in India and Africa, especially by poor farmers who can’t afford wheat flour.  It’s somewhat bland but very nutritious and gluten-free.  You can sometimes find it in health foods stores, but you can get it for less in an Indian market.

from The Cook’s Thesaurus page of Non-Wheat Flours

This really makes me happy, because I use a lot of sorghum flour, Bob’s Red Mill brand, at $3.45 a pop for a 24 oz bag.  Buying it at the Asian market is going to save me 50%!!  Woo-hoo!

I tried making some flatbread with it last night (mixed with white rice flour and masa), and while it was tasty, it wasn’t very “bready” and didn’t hold together very well.  I still need to experiment with that.  In the meantime, I found a very simple, well-written, nicely illustrated “recipe” for making flatbread from just the sorghum/jowar flour and water.  I’m going to try it.  Here’s another recipe that sounds really good, though I had to chuckle at anything deep fried that’s called “very healthy.”

I seem to have a hard time finding it online for purchase… but it could be, again, a translation issue.  I found it here for $2.99 for 2 lbs.  You might be better off hitting the Indian aisle of your local Asian grocery, if you are in a big enough city to have one.     

The Semi-Obligatory After-Christmas Post

Well, like 29 billion other bloggers out there, this is my After-Christmas Post.

Our family’s Thanksgiving celebrations were marked by a bit of lonesomeness.  Such cannot be said for Christmas, where the house was teeming with family (and a friend).

My Dad flew in on the 23rd, and I picked him up from the airport.  We have a somewhat up-and-down relationship, but I’m very happy to report that all went very smoothly.

My younger brother, Brian, whom I hadn’t seen in four years, flew in on the 21st, but spent some time with my Mom & Stepdad, then with some friends, and came over on the 24th. 

For Christmas Eve dinner, my husband Martin’s Dad and Stepmom came over, to join the six of us plus my Dad and Brian.

My Dad & Brian stayed overnight;  Martin’s parents did not….

Martin’s parents are reliable sources for GIGANTIC stuffed animals.  Bigger is better, apparently!!  I had to bite my tongue;  the doll they got for Audrey, I thought, was somewhat… uh… hideous.  But, Audrey adores it.  “Big Girl Dolly” gets a “giggyback” from her — her idea:

DSC05590.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

I always tell myself that I’m going to get more wrapping done ahead of time and not spend a marathon long-nighter on the 24th buried in unwrapped gifts, wrapping paper and ribbons.  Well…  again, it didn’t work this year.  I’m glad my Dad and Brian had some things to discuss (work-related!), and didn’t really need any “hosting” because that enabled me to wrap.  And wrap.  And wrap. 

As an aside, I found it hilarious that my Dad, the tech-geek inventor and computer hardware and software designer had just purchased his first digital camera the weekend previous to his visit.  Also, we were having a conversation and I can’t remember why, but I mentioned RSS feeds.  “What is RSS?” he asked.  I stared at him, flabberghasted.  “I mean, I understand the technology, but what is it used for?”  I found it really amusing to be explaining feed aggregators and the like to my computer-genius father.

Thankfully, the children slept in until 7:30, on the next morning, Christmas, so I did get some sleep.  Martin read the Christmas story out of Luke for us, and we all opened presents.  We do it one at a time, everyone watching the person who is doing the opening.

Is it just my children, or do anyone else’s always climb into toyboxes??

 DSC05605.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

I was really pleased with my success in finding fun, useful, active, mostly non-plastic toys for my kids — wooden rubberband guns, a scooterboard for Grant, cool savings banks, the above toybox, etc.  And what does my hubby supply?  Among other things, a big plastic dollhouse for Audrey.  I am plastic-avoidant, and also unsure about the whole thing of forcing gender roles…  One one hand, it makes me sad that femininity was discouraged in my childhood, and I want Audrey to relish her girliness;  on the other hand, I think making girls play with “girl toys” isn’t the greatest idea, either.  Plus, the toy was for kids 2+, and Audrey is 20 months.  But, I need to repent of my skepticism to my hubby.  Because, guess what is her favorite toy.  The dollhouse.  Of course.  I should have known.  She is thrilled that there is a Daddy dolly, a Mommy dolly, and a baby dolly.  She makes them stand up, sit down, take a bath, greet each other at the front door… 

Around lunchtime, my older brother, T.J., and sister-in-law, Krystina, came with the cousins, Nick, Josh, and Marley.  My brother’s boys and my boys are all six very active and slightly nerdy, so they all get along great.  TJ’s boys are 17, 15 and 12, but the age gaps seem to mean nothing to cousin-love.  Along with my brother’s clan is their family friend, Fay, a student from China who is staying with them over the four weeks of Christmas break.  I was nervous, not because we had a stranger as a guest, but because I was already planning on the non-traditional Christmas dinner of a Thai dish, and Fay’s parents own a restaurant.  I was nervous about his critique of my cooking.  But, he liked it!  I think he had thirds.  Whew!

I remarked to my older brother that I thought it was fantastic that the cousins were more interested in playing with each other than in opening presents.  Indeed, we didn’t get the presents open until early evening, right before my Dad needed go go back to the airport.

It was mass craziness, until we put in Ratatouille, when Krys and I whipped out our cameras to document the quiet and stillness:

DSC05612.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

My older brother, “posing,” while Brian looks on and Krystina remarks something like, “This is what I live with every day.”

DSC05611.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

We love the cousins!!!  (My Wes and Grant with Josh and Nick):

DSC05617.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

Right before Nick and I left to bring my Dad back to the airport, I checked my camera and saw that I didn’t have ONE pic of my Dad’s visit.  So, we remedied that (L-R:  TJ, Thomas/Dad, me, Brian).

DadandSibs.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

While we were all in the airport, which is a good 45 minute drive, Martin called, asking frantically, “Are you almost home??”  Audrey was crying, and he was having difficulty managing her, the boys, and fixing dinner (leftovers) for the seven kids and four adults who were present.  Then, he called to say Audrey started throwing up, so he turned dinner prep over to Krystina.

I finally got home, and thankfully, everyone had eaten, but Audrey was still puking, which she continued through the night, and into yesterday.  Poor girl.  😦

I got a little worried, because TJ, Krystina, and Brian were going to spend the night at my Mom’s, and Martin was going to work on the 26th, leaving me alone with eight kids, one of whom was ill.  Eek.  On top of that, I was developing a very sore throat, congestion, and a cough.  But, I managed breakfast (Bob’s Red Mill g.f. hot cereal with cranberries and brown sugar mixed in), and then shipped them all off to the park, where they stayed until TJ and Krys came back home to fetch them.

I spent most of the afternoon and evening yesterday on the couch, resting and recovering.  I’m still a little ill, as is Audrey, but I think most of it was just my body rebelling and saying, “Enough late nights and early mornings!  Enough noise and craziness!”

Really, it was only three nights of houseguests, but I guess that’s the max for me, even when I adore everyone present, and am so thrilled to have them here for Christmas.

There’s so much more I could write here — about good food, long conversations, laughing at the kids, building relationships, creating memories…  But suffice it to say it was, indeed, a very merry Christmas, and more than made up for our too-peaceful Thanksgiving.

              

A new band I like!!

Well, they’re new to me.

They’re called the Robbie Seay Band, and no, I have no idea how to pronounce Robbie’s last name.  I hate MySpace, but the band has, of course, a MySpace site, which does have the redemptive feature of free, full-length songs on it. 

It’s funny:  A couple of months ago, I heard a song that not only I liked, but I knew would work really well for worship at church.  After 13 years of being married to a worship leader, my song-evaluating has shifted a bit.  I used to just think, “I LOVE this song!  We should do it at church!”  And I couldn’t understand why Martin almost never did the songs I suggested.  I’ve finally learned that it has to do with corporateness.  Meaning, it has to be something that the whole congregation can grab onto, both lyrically and melodically.  And hopefully, is speaking directly to God, a la classic Vineyard worship.  When I heard the song, not only did I like it, but I knew it was “corporate.”  But, I could barely remember even a snippet of lyric, and I never ended up Googling them or anything.

So… my hubby was out somewhere, and listening, apparently, to Christian radio (which, since The Effect went off the airwaves here in Phx, we almost never do), and he called me on his mobile, “Have you ever heard this song:  ‘la-la-la-la God of heaven come down’??  It’s a GREAT song, and it would be so perfect as a worship song!!”  Well, whaddya think?  It was the song that I’d been sort of telling him about for the last couple of months.

So, I’ll bet, come January, the team will be learning it.  😀

We found the chord chart online.  Even better! 

Anyways.  I like all the songs I’ve heard by them (which is just this evening, looking them up).  Robbie sounds like a cross between Bryan Adams and David Crowder.  The music is mostly guitar-driven, with a bit of electronica, not really poppy, but not really “alternative.”    

WOW!!! FANTASTIC!!! A major anti-evolution movie!!!

Notice the new banner on the right?

Have you ever seen any advertising banner EVER on my blog?

I have determined to keep this blog 100% non-commercial.

But… I just broke my own rule, after I learned about Ben Stein’s new movie, Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed.

I was *JUST* this morning talking with my two youngest sons about this issue:  How the current scientific community blackballs (though I didn’t use that term) scientists of any field who aren’t neo-Darwinists.  Lo and behold, Ben heard me talking and decided to make a movie about it, and about the rebellion against the “Don’t question the authority of Darwin” stance that is happening right now (thank God) in the schools of America. 

I am officially, completely excited.  Exhilarated.  I can’t wait for February.

PLEASE watch the “super-trailer” — it’s a good seven+ minutes, but it is SO very worthwhile.

(And if anyone wants me to help them make a banner on their WordPress blog, I’d be more than happy to.  E-mail me.)

Mothering. Part 20 billion in a series.

My Mom and Stepdad came over for dinner last night, as they do most Wednesdays.  We alternate weeks for cooking, and last night, it was her turn.  It’s always so lovely to think that once every two weeks, I can have a homecooked meal that I didn’t make.  😀  We had ham, braised veggies, corn, and fresh tropical fruit salad with honey and mint.  Mmmm.

After we played games — Yahtzee and Jenga, I put the kids in bed (Martin was out on unnamed-to-the-kids “errands” — our kids still think they’re getting virtually nothing for Christmas, and really did not put two and two together about evening “errands” on the 19th of December).  Then, my Mom and I started a Scrabble game while we watched the Suns lose 😦 .  Then, after 10:00, as they were about to leave, I thought I’d give them a little update.  What I meant to say was, “I’ve been having trouble with the kids, and I’m starting them all on a GFCF diet.”  But, we ended up talking for nearly two hours about the whole situation.  The whole time, in the back of my mind, I had the thought, “They must really love the kids and me” because I knew they were tired, and I kept giving them outs to excuse themselves and go home to bed, but they kept the conversation going, really going deep… 

We spent most of the time talking about 10yo Ethan, because when it comes down to it, though I’ve been having “issues” with all three of the boys, Ethan’s situation is, to me, the most problematic.

The best things I gleaned from the conversation:

  • My biggest heartache is that my children don’t act like mature Christians.  Well, duh.  They’re not.  I need to adjust my expecations — and even my hopes — in this, so that I’m not continually surprised/disappointed that they’re not more Christ-like. 
  • When I have a conversation with, and it gets to his heart, and he gets convicted and sheds some tears (which happens about once a week), instead of just leaving him convicted, I need to give him some steps of things he can do to not let that situation happen again.  Previously, I’ve thought, “Well, if he can just see what he’s doing, he’ll change.”  But, apparently, this isn’t the case.  He can see what he’s doing, but still feel/be powerless to change if he doesn’t have the tools with which to change.
  • The basics of the day — school and chores — I have no problem getting the boys to do.  Its the attitudes, hearts and relationships that are my concern.
  • Since Ethan abuses his power of authority when I leave him in charge of anything, I need to instead, leave Grant in charge for short periods of time.  This is like when I say, “OK, I’m going to take a shower.”  I’m not actually leaving the house or anything.  Eight year old Grant is actually a sensitive, fair, considerate leader;  Ethan is of the sort that says, “Bow to me.  Now.  Scum of the earth, obey my commands.”  Ethan will, someday, be a good leader, but his extreme power-tripping and lack of consideration of others is a hindrance to allowing him even the slightest bit of authority.
  • I need to be more intentional about having Ethan practice being empathetic/kind, instead of just being sad that he’s not.  For instance, “Today, you are purposefully going to say three genuinely nice things to Wesley, and report back to me what they were, how Wes responded, etc.”
  • I need to be more intentional about asking Martin for his fatherly input…  Ethan needs more one-on-one time with Martin. 

Obviously, in two hours of conversation, a lot more was discussed…  but that was the gist of it.  Good stuff.

Conclusions. For now. Sort of. I think.

So.  There are some “issues” in my house right now.  For the first time in six years of homeschooling, I’m feeling somewhat compelled to ship at least my oldest two (ages 10 and 8 ) off to “real” school.  That feeling, however, is really drastic and reactionary, and there’s a 98% chance that it will not happen, especially when my husband said a shocked, “No!  No way!” when I mentioned it to him.

Still.  That illustrates how drastically important it is to me to see some change happening in my kids and our relationship and our day-to-day lives.

I’m still not sure what’s at the core of the dilemma.  Are my expectations too high, or otherwise wrongly placed?  Have I prioritized something incorrectly, or otherwise led us down the wrong path?  Is my kids’ behavior normal?  Is it just that there’s a clash with all the noise and busyness of four active children and my own need for quiet and calm, being an intensely introverted person?

I don’t know.

Thankfully, though, my husband, Martin, is very supportive of me, and so are others who love me, and that means a lot to me.     

Here’s something my pastor’s wife, Nancy, said:

Don’t think you have the worst kids in town. They are charming and delightful, but wild. I have often wondered how your house stands.

That would be funny if it weren’t true.

I think where I despair is that my kids seem to be full of stuff not put in there by my hubby and me.  I really don’t think we have modeled the level of insolence, unkindness, selfishness, and apathy that we see in our kids.  We reap what we sow, right?  So, it seems to me, that after 10+ years of parenting, we should be seeing at least some good fruit, and I have a hard, hard time seeing good fruit right now.

Is the not seeing good fruit because I’m focusing too much on the problem, and not enough on the solution, and not enough on the good things in my children?  That seems to be a pattern with me.  I despair of becoming my father, in that, no matter how good we were, no matter what good we did, he only saw the negatives, and had nary an encouraging word, ever.  Have I become that?  Good Lord, please say I haven’t become that.

My parents, especially my Dad, were ALL law, and ALL obedience, and ALL “behavior.” There was little love, and no heart in it, no mercy.  Our needs were barely considered, and our wants were not considered at all.  After deciding that that’s not the way we wanted to parent, Martin and I have aimed to be balanced: to expect obedience, but to be loving and affectionate, and careful to value our children’s hearts, their thoughts, their emotions, their needs, and when we can, their wants.  So far, it doesn’t appear to be working.  Or, at the very least, it’s not having the blessed success we thought that it surely would reap. 

Also, what is achingly difficult for me to process is that my children don’t seem to trust my intentions.  At all.  It was really enlightening to me when I found out, a number of years back, that other Meyers-Briggs ISTJs also have a near-desparate need to be trusted.  It’s because our intentions are so pure.  Truly.  There’s no guile there, no underhandedness, nothing you need to read between the lines, no ulterior motives.  We’re telling you the truth, OK?  So, when I tell my children that I love them dearly and sincerely want the best for both them and for our family, so “X” needs to be done, it injures me to be met with a response that shows that either they don’t believe me, don’t trust me, or something, because they give virtually no credence to my instruction.

~sigh~

I’m really not trying to bag on my children.  Each of them are incredibly dear and have great worth to me.  I’m exceedingly proud of all of them.  But, there’s also heartbreak involved, too…

And I’m just trying to sort out

  • what I need to keep at without losing hope or faith or motivation
  • what I need to do differently
  • where I need to adjust my thinking and expectations

I felt a need to do something immediately, so I figured that, even if this has absolutely no effect, it’s been something that I’ve wanted to try, but just haven’t had the gumption, and now’s a good time to start:  So, I’ve made all the kids, effective when the current gallon of milk runs out, gluten-free and casein-free (dairy-free).  You may be thinking, “What??  Why??”  but it has been shown that a GFCF diet has been useful in helping kids’ processing skills.  Wes is already GFCF (as is Audrey).  Our occupational therapist suggested long ago that I try Grant on a GFCF diet (his learning/life disorder — nonverbal learning disorder — is somewhat similar to autism, considered by some to actually be within the autism spectrum) and MANY an autistic child has seen miraculous improvement on a GFCF diet.  Also, allergies — specifically to milk — have been shown to be a cause of some children’s ADHD.  My oldest son, Ethan, does not have ADHD, but he has — since toddlerhood — shown some symptoms and behavioral similarities with ADHD… and since it is apparent that other children in our home have a severe allergy to milk, milk could be affecting Ethan, too.

Perhaps that sounds a bit far-fetched.  But, it’s worth a shot.

I figure that I might as well weed out as many biological issues as possible.  I remember before Grant was diagnosed with NLD, when he was nearly 5yo, so many of the issues we had been addressing simply as behavioral were actually tied to the way his brain was (incorrectly) functioning.  So, I don’t want to go there.  I mean, no matter the source of, say, a total lack of self-control, my children are still, when it comes down to it, responsible for their own self-control;  I’m not giving anyone carte blanche excusal pass for their poor behavior.  But, neither do I want to pound my head against the wall combatting something that, with a simple dietary application, could be eliminated, and not be an issue.

Last, though certainly not least, I need to become more diligent in my prayer for both my children, and for myself as a mother.  Every time I pray for myself, I fight thoughts of, “There are so many other things, other people out there that need prayer.  It’s selfish to be praying for yourself.”  But, bottom line is, I need help from God my Father.  I need help as a mother from the only true source of wisdom, energy, hope, joy, and love.

I’ve printed out the e-mails I received from my plea to Nancy and to Martin, and am going to use them as a basis for prayerful consideration.

So:  GFCF diet.  Prayer.

More to come out of the prayer, I’m sure.  But, that’s the focus for now.

Lastly, I leave anyone who needs a little encouragment with a word from my hubby:

Hang in there, my dear, and cry out to the best Father of all for energy and hope. His Spirit will come to you in your time of need. This is the time of year that anything and everything in this world and in the spirit realm that can break in and steal joy will come. However, God is sovereign, He sees and knows your need, and He knows that you want to love as He loves.        

A hard day ends well

I had a hard day on Tuesday.  (I want to say “today,” but as it is after midnight, it was, technically, yesterday.)

In short, it was regarding mothering issues.  Self-doubt, near-desparation, frustration.

I almost posted a great big long blog post detailing all my angst, but decided against it.

Instead, I e-mailed my friend Shellie, then my pastor’s wife, Nancy.  Normally, I wouldn’t trouble Nancy over fairly mundane issues like that, but we are daily prayer partners in preparation for a retreat we’re both attending in January, so we’ve been more involved in each other’s day-to-day life than usual. 

At the last minute, I decided to cc my husband on Nancy’s e-mail.  I was hesitant to, because Martin is the kind who likes to fix everything, as husbands are often wont to do, and his suggestions end up sounding to me like a list of all the multitude of things I could have/should have done differently, to which I normally wail, “You’re making it worse!”

Oddly, though, Martin and I communicate really well in written word.  I think that’s because, in person, we’re too often defensive, reactionary, and distracted by too many things that aren’t at the core of the issue at hand, whatever that issue might be.  Writing out our thoughts gives us time to reflect on what each other is saying, and carefully consider a reply.

Anyways.  I haven’t yet heard back from Nancy, but I received an absolutely lovely note of encouragement and support from my husband.  It made me cry some big tears.

I still have some residual sadness from the day, but not the overwhelming variety that I was experiencing earlier today…  I have much more peace;  I was able to enjoy the rest of the evening.  

(I can’t think of a good way to end this post.  So, I’ll just sign off.)   

The worst restaurant trip ever

So… yesterday, after church, we went — as we often do — to a place called Ajo Al’s.  They don’t have a gluten-free menu, but we’ve eaten there so much, we know what’s safe, and we have a favorite waitress who goes back to the kitchen to make sure things are prepared in a g.f. way.  Love her.  Libby, the best waitress EVER.  She’s the kind who remembers your drinks, and what you ordered last time, even if you haven’t been there for a couple of months.  She’s very pretty, too, and all the boys are smitten, and Audrey adores her.  (Libby at the Arrowhead location.  Tell her that the family with three cherry cokes, an Arnold Palmer, a Diet Pepsi, and an apple juice sent you.  😀 )

Since Arizona has no smoking anywhere now, we are free to sit in the lounge, where they have the TVs.  It’s football season, so, of course, we’re watching football.  Even Audrey can holler, “Touchdown!!” now.

Yesterday, our oldest two boys, Ethan and Grant, went over to friends’ houses after church, so it was just Martin, 6yo Wesley, and 20 month-old Audrey.  We thought, “Fantastic!  This’ll be a snap!  A peaceful meal, watching football.”

Um, no.

It was the worst restaurant trip ever.  Audrey became the baby you NEVER hope to be seated near when you go into a restaurant.  She screamed with ear-piercing pitch and volume.  She cried, spewing snot everywhere.  She threw food.  She grabbed everything and everyone within arm’s length.  She wiggled out of her high chair.  It was hellish.  Thankfully, I was close to the exit door and took her out on the patio a couple of times to get her to calm down.  Audrey can be loud sometimes, but usually, it’s very brief, and we’ve never had to leave a restaurant due to our child’s behavior.  But, there’s always a first time.  Finally, I told my hubby, “That’s it.  I’m outta here.”

We were in separate vehicles, so I left with Audrey, leaving Martin and Wes to finish up and pay.  Well, Martin to pay.  Not Wes.

I was embarrassed at the scene Audrey caused.  I was agitated.  I was frustrated.  All those lovely emotions that make one so very pleasant.

As I drove to the gas station, I started grousing to myself about my hubby, who hadn’t really done anything to be of any assistance as I was struggling with our daughter.  Grr… 

So, there I was, at Costco, irritated with my little girl, irrititated with my husband, and generally feeling crabby, pumping gas.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see my husband’s truck, edging its way carefully between the rows of vehicles.  “Babe!” he hollers, holding a soda out the window, a wide smile on his handsome face.

I immediately started repenting for my attitude towards my husband, and for my general, “Woe is me” state.

My hubby doesn’t even like me to drink soda; in the regular stuff, the corn syrup is bad for you, and in the diet stuff, the aspartame is highly questionable.  Yet, he had noticed that in my hasty exit, I had left a full glass of Diet Pepsi on the table.  He had the waiter put it in a to-go cup, and delivered to to me at the gas station.

God is gentle with me, even when I’m irrationally grumpy, and have let what’s a fairly normal event in the lives of most everyone with a toddler become something that hangs, black-cloud-style, over my life and attitude.

And, He knows how to get me out of it.  Soda in hand, love in my heart, I drove back home.  Audrey fell asleep on the way.  And she stayed asleep when I put her into bed.

And I went to watch some more football, do the crossword, and take a nap.

It was a good day, after all.     

OK. Great. I’m healed. Now what?

Most Sunday mornings, I sing tenor (sometimes alto) on our church‘s worship team/band.  I haven’t sung in church for a month.  I think that’s the longest ever.  Frankly, I’ve enjoyed simply being a participant in worship, part of the congregation.  I do enjoy participating on the worship team;  it’s hard to imagine permanently not doing it.  But, the break has been nice.  I was actually supposed to sing last week, but with Ethan running a fever, Audrey had a runny nose, and Wesley was asthmatic, so I stayed home with the mildly ill kids, and that was a nice morning, too, especially after a busy week.  It was a day of rest;  we played games, and read the fantastic book The Christmas Sky, which is a picture book investigating the possible sources of the Star of Bethlehem when Jesus was born.

But, I digress. 

I think the thing I enjoy most about not singing up front is that I feel a lot more freer to worship as I feel compelled to — for me, that means singing as loudly as I want to (I usually sit on the front row so as to not blast out anyone’s ears, nor attract unwanted attention), sing any part I want to, not sing, whatever.

Yesterday, I felt an overwhelming awe and thankfulness for our Father, and spent a good portion of the 30-something minutes of worship on my knees, something that just wouldn’t be appropriate on stage.  I’ve kneeled on stage before, but at some point, I start thinking, “I’m supposed to be singing my part in the mic” and I get up.  Actually, if I would have been just a little bolder, I think I would have spent the whole time totally prone yesterday morning.  There’s a fine line, sometimes (for me, anyways), between worshiping freely and doing something attention-getting, and I think laying out there before the altar would have attracted attention, which was not my goal.

I’m not suggesting that anyone must get on their knees to hear from God, but, yesterday, it worked for me.

We were singing the song “Fire Fall Down” and there’s a part in the chorus that goes

and I know You’re alive,
You came to fix my broken life

Those lines always have the odd effect of both ministering to my heart and leaving me with a sense of incompleteness;  Jesus and His purpose on earth and His subsequent work in the life of believers and the Kingdom of God is about more than just fixing individuals.

So, as I was worshiping yesterday, I felt God rather laying something out in my heart.  In short, what He said to me was, “If the enemy can’t keep you from being healed, he’ll keep you impotent.”

Now, I’m not entirely free from damage;  I need some serious, continuing, ongoing repair work that finds me at the foot of the cross, submitting to the healing hand of Jesus, and His sweet work of ministry to my spirit and my mind and emotions.  But, for the most part, I feel I am largely healed from most of the muck of my history.  I have seen over and over and over how He’s taken the worst parts of my life and redeemed them into something whole and healthy and blessed.

Seeking healing is fantastic, and it’s not going to be found anywhere else;  no one else has the power for real, true healing.

However, God showed me that satan would be perfectly pleased for me to just remain there, whole and healed, but isolated, internalized, self-focused, powerless, with no effect for the Kingdom of God (the KoG being the rule and reign of Jesus, both in the eternal, and in the NOW, here on earth).

Backing up a bit, I saw it like this:

Death —-> Salvation —-> Healing —-> Power and Maturity

The Bible tells us the the enemy, satan, has come to steal and kill and destroy.  He wants you dead.  But, if he can’t kill your physical body, he’ll keep you dead spiritually, doing his best to keep you from salvation — from your spirit having life breathed into it by the work of Jesus by accepting your need for Him, and His ability to save you, to make you “born again.”  But, say you do get saved;  satan will then attempt to keep that event as an isolated incident, and have your Christianity be pretty much meaningless, so that you never reach a place of significant awareness of Jesus’ kind intentions towards you, and His willingness and power to heal.  BUT, say you do reach that place of personal healing by Him.  What, then?  Well, satan will attempt to make sure that your healing has no effect outside of your own self.  In other words, he’ll say, “Well, OK, she’s healed, but let’s make sure she has no impact.  Let’s make sure the message of Jesus, His power, love, and mercy doesn’t spread.”

The enemy doesn’t want us to experience or operate in the power of God.  He wants us wimpy Christians, who have little impact for the cause of Christ.  He wants us tossed about by every wave that comes our way, unanchored, not solid.  He doesn’t want the message of the Gospel to spread.  He wants us, if we’re going to be Christians, to have meaningless, purposeless, flaccid, isolated Christian lives.

I don’t want that.  I want the “life more abundantly” that Jesus promised in John 10:10 — and no, I’m not the sort that sees “life more abundantly” in the form of dollar signs.  I’m talking about a Christian life that has deep meaning — beyond just myself, one that has purpose, power, and is an integral part of the community known as the Body of Christ.  And, ultimately, that also means someone who reaches out more than I do.  Frankly, there just aren’t a whole lot of non-Christians in my life.  There was most certainly a time in my life when I was nigh-surrounded by non-Christians…  but the life in which I am now, a life for which I am profoundly grateful, is full of Christian family and friends and even neighbors, and there’s just not much I do that might be called evangelism, or even ministering in any form to those who don’t yet know Jesus.

So, I don’t know what all that will look like.  But, I feel like God is taking me outside of myself, outside of my own needs and wants, outside of my own life’s events.  Frankly, that’s a little scary;  I’m quite comfortable on my own world.  But, I can’t ignore the fact that Jesus didn’t come to keep saving the saved;  He came to seek and save the lost, and if I ignore that part of Christianity… well, I’m missing out on the major component of Jesus’ mission on the earth.  I don’t want to miss out;  I want to fully live.  I don’t want anything that God has given to me — healing, gifts, whatever — to die a death with me;  I want it to mean something, to be significant, to be part of a grander purpose, His grander purpose.

I am very much a part of my generation, Generation X, which is all about “live and let live,” apathy and independence.  Though those things are part of my tendencies, I think God is no longer letting me see them as a valid excuse for what basically amounts to fear of rejection, and not caring enough about the lives of others.

No one other than God can simultaneously minister deeply and profoundly convict.       

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