March 30, 2008

Keeping It Real

That's a phrase I've come to detest. People throw it around like confetti. "Hey, this is the way I am. I'm just keepin' it real." My question is, do we ever "keep it real" even when we say we are?
In a strange twist and twirl of blog dancing I stumbled onto a blog called: Stuff Christians Like.
Here's the link if you want to go check it out: http://stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com/.
It's a great site; very amusing and very convicting.

I didn't read every post at that site yet, but what I have read showed me that I haven't kept it real over here at all.
For instance, did you know:
-There is one person in my life I have not been able to forgive? I can't even pray and ask for the willingness to be willing yet. Every time I think about that man I shrivel up in anger inside.

-And I bet you don't know that I sometimes doubt God loves me. I sometimes think He's like Zeus and I want to hide from the next lighting bolt He throws down from the heavens. That's when I have to go back to the whole of my life and the whole of the bible and remind myself that
God IS love. He does love me.....It saddens me that after being a Christian for nearly 34 years I have to do that.

-I have also never told you that Fear is ever present in my life. You'd be shocked if you knew how many things I'm afraid of. Stress and worry practically live on my shoulders.

-One other thing I've never mentioned is that at one time in my life I thought I was going crazy. Literally. I had panic attacks over it. Granted, I was pregnant, and sleep deprived, but I'd been a Christian a long time and should've known better. What's that verse about God giving us a Spirit of power, and love and a SOUND mind? Why couldn't I cling to that when I needed it? And to be really real, I'm still afraid of ending up back in that place of "losing it".

-After all these years I still struggle with making a daily commitment to bible reading and prayer. I know. I know. I just thought you should know....
Hmmmm-I think I see a connection between this last one and all the others.....

Anyway, I could go on and on.
Keepin' it real.....
I haven't "kept it real" for several reasons, but pride is probably at the root. Do I want others to see my Uglies? No Way.
Another thing I've noticed is it's hard to "be real" with other Christians and it's hard to handle it when they are "real" with us. No one likes to hear about another's struggles, doubts, angers, etc. It makes us uncomfortable. We don't know what to say. How to help. So, by being "real" we know we're making others feel uncomfortable and who wants to do that? And, when others are "real" with us it makes us feel uncomfortable and who wants to feel like that?

I'm not sure how to end this post. These are just some of the thoughts I had after visiting Stuff Christians Like....

March 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, James! (Yes,We're Having Another Birthday Around Here)

Happy Birthday to my first middle child! The little one who came into the world with a bang and has never really stopped since. You were in such a hurry to be out in the light that you were born with 2 black eyes and 10 bruised knuckles.

Once the bruises were gone we noticed something else about your face. The twinkle in those green eyes could light up a room and melt our hearts. Oh what a funny stinker you were. (And still are) You love to tease and taunt. Your surprising sense of humor keeps us on our toes!

You've been independent since the git-go. You wouldn't nurse to sleep. You'd nurse, then squirm and fuss, or even cry until I put you in your crib. Once I put you down you'd sigh, like you were happily melting into your mattress; then, and only then, would you go to sleep. You hardly ever wanted to cuddle. Before you could walk or talk you preferred to sit with a pile of toys in a corner rather than being held, kissed, or cuddled.

You were such a happy, busy little person. As soon you were up on two feet you never walked anywhere. You trotted-I think you loved the feeling of freedom you had when you ran. The most adorable part of it was that you always had to have a tiny toy gripped tightly in each sweaty little hand.

When you were about 4 grandma bought a tricycle for you. We lived in an apartment at the time and everyone but "yours truly" worked. That meant you and your brothers had the entire parking lot of our apartment building to yourselves all day. Roller skating, bike riding, playing chase.......one day I put a jump rope down in a line to show you where your tricycle-riding -boundary was. You sweetly rode your bike within that area until I had to run inside for the phone. As I came back out, there you were, skooching the jump rope over with your little foot. You knew better than to cross the line, but you sure didn't have a problem with moving it. At the time I was just a tad bit concerned. Would this boy try skooching the lines the Lord had laid out for him? Would he sneakily try and challenge the Lord's authority all his life? Over time I was relieved and happy to see you turn to the Lord and love Him and allow Him to become the Love of your heart.

One afternoon when you were 3 we went for a walk in a nearby cemetery. You said something so funny! There was a 12" cross on one of the graves. You quietly studied the cross for a bit, then said, in your sweet, little Elmer Fudd voice, "Daddy, look at dat cwoss. Jesus wasn't vewy big, was He?"

Always laughing, giggling, teasing...And your smile! Sometimes I'd look at your twinkling eyes and those knee-deep dimples and my heart would almost stop beating because you were so cute and you were "mine"! You brought, and bring, so much joy to our family.

I do remember watching you as you spent hours and hours and hours on our little pond, in the row boat, alone, looking for turtles, fish, bugs, birds and anything else that moved. You were thrilled to be alone, in the quiet, dreaming and thinking James' things.


Sometimes I'd stand in our living room, looking out the window watching you as you rowed around, wondering, "What is he thinking about? Is he praying? Hoping to catch a turtle? Thinking about math?" I wished with all my heart I could sit next to you in that muddy, spidery boat and just let you chatter away at me. I wanted so badly to know more about you...

During the first few months of being your mother, when I finally figured out, "Hey, this baby is extremely independent..", my heart developed a tiny, quiet ache. I just couldn't believe how quickly I was "losing" you. But, over time I've come to see that I haven't lost you. I've had to run right alongside you, but you are one of my best friends. You love me and listen to me. You tease me and help me laugh when I feel like crying.

The thing that means the most to me about you, (other than the fact that the Lord truly is Lord in your life) is that you trust me. You talk to me. We don't sit in a row boat and talk, but you do tell me what your struggles are. You tell me what your fears are, and your hurts. And you listen to me when I tell you mine.

I am so incredibly proud of you James. You are compassionate. Strong. Sweet. Tenderhearted. Selfless. Willing to give up your time and energy to help others, even when you're running on fumes. It's wonderful to see your strengths being used to show Jesus' love to the hurting little boys you work with downtown....to see how much you love them and their families and how their hurts become your own.

I've learned so much from you... It's amazing to see the way you submit your will to the Lord when you know that is what He's asking you to do. You don't wrestle with Him. You don't argue with Him. You keep on keeping on no matter what He hands you. You're a good example to me James.

You also have a peace about you that is almost "touchable". It's a calming thing. A reassuring thing. An "I accept you" thing. You are very easy to just "be" with.

I said this to Benjamin last Friday, but I'm going to say it to you as well. Trust me. I mean it:

I absolutely can not imagine life without you and your brothers in it. The Lord has used all 4 of you, as well as your dad, to bring joy, healing, and wholeness to a heart that grew up with a shattered family.

I like you.

I love you.

I need you.

I enjoy watching you grow and mature and learn.

I respect you.

I'd like to say that most of all, I'm incredibly thankful for you and your brothers.

Happy 20th Birthday, Lovey!

(You may not be a teenager anymore, but you are still retarded. :-) )



(For an explanation of that comment, see my post from September 14th)

March 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Benjamin!

Your labor started at 3:00 P.M. and ended exactly twelve hours later.

At 3 months old you started going to sleep at 8:00P.M. and waking up exactly twelve hours later. Every day. For the next 14 years or more.

When you were about 4 months old we took you camping. You just sat in your little car seat and stared. You were happy. You were content. You listened to the birds. You studied the mountains. You sniffed at the pine trees towering over your head. Your tiny little face revealed a curious boy, even at that age. You were beautiful and quiet and sweet. You had a smile that could melt cement.

Later, as my first student in our little home school, you were quite the challenge. If I heard the following questions once, I heard them a thousand times:

"When are we going to start school, mom? I want to start school."

"Can we please have a schedule?"

"Look mom! I wrote out a schedule for school. Can we please follow it?"

" I don't like starting school at a different time every day. Can we do a schedule?"

"Would you please check some more books out at the library for me? I've read this stack."

"Why......?"

"How.....?"

"When......?"

"Who....?"

"Where.....?"

"I need more of a challenge in school. This stuff is too easy."

"Can we please follow a schedule?"

"Look what I built!"

"Look what I made!"

"I just read this book-listen to what it's about!"

"Would you teach me how to.....?"

I guess you've always been an "exacting" person-precise, disciplined, curious, driven.

It was very hard trying to keep one step ahead of you and finally I gave up. I simply handed you your school books and said, "Here. Go for it."

And you know what? You did it. It wasn't always easy, but you thrived and learned and grew. The most wonderful part of being your mom was watching the Lord grow ever more important in your heart. If you would've had a face like cauliflower you could've melted my heart just because I saw Jesus becoming your Love. Your passion. Your Hero.

I am so incredibly proud of you. You are an amazing person...ever challenging yourself, your parents and the people who meet you or know you, to grow. Grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Learn. Think. Reason it out.

You've helped me become a less emotional/more logical thinker and have helped me learn to laugh at myself. You've listened to me share my struggles as I grow in the Lord alongside you. You've put up with my constant need to rearrange furniture and have patiently helped me hoist, lift, and even decorate.

The other day you said something that I think will be settled deep in my heart forever. You and I were talking about all kinds of things; I think some of it had to do with the things you've shared about the Lord at the athiests' meetings at school. I said something like, "Benjamin, do you ever wonder what it would be like to see an "It's a Wonderful Life" version of your life? Just to see how many lives you've touched and how many people you've led to the Lord?"

It was your reply that took me completely off guard. You said, "No. What I wonder about are the 2 babies you've lost. I wonder what our family would be like if they would've lived. I wonder what they were like. Were they boys or girls? I think about that at least once a month."

Of all the things you do-being a full-time college senior, working full time, sharing your faith, studying the bible, learning Greek, etc. etc. etc. that was the very last thing I would ever imagine you think about. That statement really touched my heart. I always think you're too busy to "notice" our family. That your life is "out there" now. When you said that it told me that you still feel, very much, like you are a part of our family. Does that make sense?

I absolutely can not imagine life without you and your brothers in it. The Lord has used all 4 of you, as well as your dad, to bring joy, healing, and wholeness to a heart that grew up with a shattered family.

I like you.

I love you.

I need you.

I enjoy watching you grow and mature and learn.

I respect you.

I'd like to say that most of all, I'm incredibly thankful for you and your brothers.

Happy 22nd Birthday, Sweetie!

March 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

For the last week or so I've been spending a lot of my time working on a baby gift for my nephew and niece; they just had their first baby. I'm almost done with the gift! Once it's in the mail I'll "be back".

In the meantime I wanted to post something. So, I've been sitting here for the last ten minutes looking through my list of quotes, trying to find a good quote for a rainy Tuesday. A funny one? A quote about home schooling? Being a wife? Maybe a quote on parenting?

Barrett just woke up and climbed onto my lap. He noticed that I was "blogging" and asked if he could write something on my blog-he only had 1 condition. I wasn't allowed to read what he was writing while he was writing it.

He knows how to make a mom's day. Here's the quote for today:

I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVE MOMMY

March 14, 2008

Barrett Again & Again

I'm here alone this morning with our 6yr. old little guy. I'm frantically trying to finish a baby gift for my niece-She just had her first baby 2 days ago and I need to get the gift in the mail! In my desperation to be "left alone" so I can sew, I decided to use The Plug In Drug. Barrett is watching an "educational video" about sea otters. The narrator just explained that sometimes the sea otters come to shore to rest and soak up some sun while nearby there are 10 story ice cliffs. I'm only half-way paying attention to Barrett and the TV when suddenly something Barrett says catches my attention.
"10 story ice cliffs. That's only 10 little books. That's not very big at all!"



Then there was last weekend. We were out running some errands when we drove past a car wash. Mike and I were talking about who-knows-what when we hear a little voice from the back seat:
"24 hour car wash?! I would never take my car there to get it cleaned! It would take tooooo long. You'd be there at night too when it was dark out! I'd just drive my car through really fast and then drive away with it all wet!!"

March 13, 2008

I Had A Dream

Because my parents divorced when I was quite young, I have very few pictures of them together as a couple. The few I do have I treasure. I found a picture of them at a company dinner that I wanted to include in their scrapbook. However, there were several other people in the picture and I had no idea who they were. I kept looking at the picture trying to think of some way to single my parents out. Should I put vellum over the page and just cut out a circle around my parents? Should I cut them out and just have a tiny picture of them alone? Finally I gave up and went to bed. During the night I dreamt about the picture and it was scrapbooked.Here's the picture I was thinking about:



My parents are the couple on the far right.

Here's the picture scrapbooked, using my "Dream Design" :
(The white scrap of paper hides the boring journaling I did.)



I really like the idea my subconscious came up with because it not only singles out my parents, but it's plain old fun. It looks like you're peeking at the diners through a large window.

Scrapbooking is normally very hard work for me. I have a hard time matching colors and coming up with creative ideas. If only I could dream about every page I want to do!

March 8, 2008

More on S.A.D.

The other day my nephew and I spent a few minutes emailing back and forth. We were talking about the gray Midwest winters and how they affect our emotions. My nephew told me that people of Mediterranean decent often can't make the vitamin D that is made by your skin with sunshine and since I'm half Italian that just may pose a problem for me. He also said that a lack of vitamin D has been linked to the flu.
He did say however that we are Italians. We (as Italians) have wine, leather, and sex appeal-who needs vitamins?
My reply:
"I don't like wine. I can't afford leather. I've never had sex appeal and I don't see it starting now at 3 years before 50. Now you tell me my body can't make vitamin D? I am in S.A.D. shape!"


(In all seriousness, I've had 2 people this week tell me they go to a tanning place during the winter because of S.A.D. and it really helps their outlook on life.)

An Encouraging Word

If you are a mother, or you plan on being a mother some day, please, please, please click on this link:http://itakejoy.wordpress.com/
(The post dated March 3rd, 2008)

If you're in a hurry and want to get the point quickly, just scroll down to the 2nd picture and start reading there. I'm not going to babble about it-Sally put into words so many things that I've tried to convey here but never could.....

March 7, 2008

I'm A Grandmother!

You know you're getting old when your new neighbor asks you if that little boy you're walking with is your son or your grandson.

March 5, 2008

A Fieldtrip to the Symphony

Over the course of 17 plus years of homeschooling, I had to establish some rules regarding field trips. There were the usual rules like, "Use your manners."
"Don't fight with your brothers."
"Don't run out into traffic."
"Don't pick your nose in public."
"Wear clean clothes." etc. etc.

We did have 1 rule that not too many other families had however. If the boys wanted the field trip to count for school in any way, shape or form, they had to tell me 3 things they had learned while on the field trip. (I'm not at all sure they retained what they "learned", but the rule at least helped them pay attention to the tour guide or the lecture or...... while we were there.)
In keeping with that tradition, I thought I'd tell you the things I learned during my recent field trip to the Symphony.

1. Pantyhose could be used as a substitute for torture-by-rack.

2. High heeled shoes could be used as a substitute for water torture.

3. I now know what a French Horn looks like.

4. I do not like modern classical music. (Thankfully they only played one piece of modern music.)

5. Pantyhose could be used as a substitute for being dunked in boiling oil.

6. Every person on earth should have the privilege of seeing/hearing Bolero by Ravel performed live. To me that was the highlight of the evening!

7. I'd rather be hung upside-down by my ankles in a dungeon than to have to ever, ever, wear pantyhose again.

8. In order to get a POW to talk, all they'd have to do is force him into a pair of pantyhose and high heels and not let him sit down. His tongue would start wagging in 34 seconds flat.


By the way, it seems that I was worried about the wrong end of things. While I was fretting over my ability to walk in high heels I completely forgot about my head. I had a Bad Hair Day on Saturday and was able to walk quite well in those heels. By the end of the evening I had even mastered stairs.

Seriously, we did have a wonderful evening and thoroughly enjoyed the music. I can see now why season tickets to the symphony were recommended as a way of "rekindling romance" in one marriage book I read.

One other by-the-way, I'm in the market for a pair of sequined Mukluks for our next date. Just name the price and I'll pay it.