Monday, December 17, 2007

Solomon gettin' down to Nelly

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Business of Busyness

So I've been incredible busy lately. Between the holiday season, shopping, home life/family, Church, shopping, friends, work, shopping - it never ends! In a previous blog, not too long ago, I explained that my company laid off about 40 people. Among them is Bret, another RAM (Regional Account Manager) in my department. They gave him until the end of the year, so he's currently still sitting in the cubicle directly across from me. Monday I was advised that Bret will be transitioning his territories over to me. I am now the RAM for 17 states (MN, IA, NE, WI, IL, IN, MI, KY, TN, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, LA, MS, AR). Yep. Seventeen.

To be honest, it sounds scarier than it actually is. They're all low maintenance, so combined I'd say it's a fair work load. Even so, the first couple of days were hectic; it really sucks not knowing anybody or what's going on where - I just have to figure it out as I go along. Bret keeps telling people, "Amanda will take care of you." To that, I turn & say to him, "Bret, don't lie to them." Man, I'm really gonna miss Bret. I don't know what Maria & I are going to do without him!! I guess we'll have to pick up the slack & be really sarcastic to each other.

The worst part about all of this though is that I inherited 2 field reps who I am not crazy about working with. I'll have to put them in their place early on. Secretly, I'm looking forward to the confrontations, hehe :) They tend to treat RAMs as their personal secretaries, & there is no way in hades that I am taking messages for either of them.

Well, maybe I would... if they each personally pay me additional dollars per hour.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Joshua Alan Martin

In the wee hours of that Wednesday morning, a year ago on November 29th, my dad & my brother Charles called me. "We just wanted to let you know that the hospital called & told us that the family should hurry & go up there," says my dad. I asked if I should get on the next plane out & he said not yet, Josh could be fine, so try to go back to sleep. He just wanted to let me know.

Of course, I couldn't sleep.

Soon, another call from my dad, "They don't think he's going to make it through the next 24 hours. You should come now."


Josh was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer, Ewing Sarcoma, about a year & a half earlier. At the time, the prognosis was good & we all thought he'd get through this & move on to live a normal, healthy life. Even Josh himself was very optimistic about the future; so much so that he proposed to his girlfriend, Michelle, on the Christmas Eve after he was diagnosed. We couldn't have been more mistaken. The following spring, we learned it had spread to his lungs & his health steadily declined over the next six months. You would think that the news would somehow be less devastating since the day approaches expectantly. This, however, is not the case.

I went into a frenzy & started packing a suitcase for Solomon & me to take the next flight out of the OC. Jason tried to calm me & said, "Just calm down, we don't know that he's going to die. We should just wait & see." I was very adamant about leaving immediately though. I needed to be there with my brother & my family.

Only a matter of minutes after I finished packing, about 4:20am, I heard the phone upstairs ring. My heart sank. I knew that sound was leading me into a conversation I didn't want to have. I answered & Jeremy's sobbing voice on the other end said, "He's gone." I dropped to my knees & began crying too.

I called Maria immediately & shared the news with her first. She did live with my family for 2 1/2 years, so Josh was much like a brother to her as well. I waited until 5 or so to call my boss. I still had to leave a message, it was so early.

We finally arrived at my parents house well after 9pm that night. It was so weird to be in the basement, in Josh's room, knowing that he'll never walk down those stairs again. The only thought that kept ringing in my head was that now I have to tell people I only have two brothers. God, I have a serious problem with that. How could You do this to me?

We had two funerals for Josh, one in MD & the second in IN, where his ashes remained. So many people loved him (even though he could be the biggest brat sometimes). There were so many people at the funeral in MD that there weren't enough chairs!

We decided to stick to our original vacation plans & still went to FL for a week, as that is what Josh would've wanted. Actually, even when he was admitted into the hospital a couple of days before he died, he was determined to go to FL for our vacation. It felt so weird being on vacation without him.

It was sort of a mixed blessing for me that we lived in Cali through the whole ordeal. It displaced me from the reality of my brother's illness so I didn't have to face it day in & day out as my family did. On the other hand, I was miserable that I couldn't be there with & for Josh & my family, to share in the pain.

I have a great Hope though, & am confident that Josh has only begun to really live. I look forward to our next meeting in forever.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Frustrated with God's Timing

I learned today that my hcg is now negative - yay! No more blood drawings!! I told the girl from my doctor's office that it's been a month since I lost the baby & I haven't had a menstrual cycle yet. She said it varies from person to person (of course); some women start menstruating regularly right away while for others it can take several months. "Well," I said, "we were told that we should wait 2-3 cycles before trying again. So this might take a while, huh?" Yes, she replied, "but don't worry. It'll happen when it happens:)" (I added the smile because I am certain she was doing so on the other end of the phone. More so out of sympathy than optimism, though.) Not only am I extremely frustrated that I should be entering my second trimester at this time, but now it could quite possibly be another entire year before I get pregnant again! God, I gotta tell ya', I'm not too crazy about Your schedule.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We put up our Christmas tree & decorations today. It was in the 70's. Does anyone else see something wrong with that picture?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Up until today, I've never been dumped by a friend. A couple of weeks ago, our communications came to an abrupt halt with no explanation. I've called numerous times during those weeks & she never called me back. Then I sent her an email last week, asking if I had done something to upset her. I went on to apologize for anything I may have done & told her that I value our friendship so if we needed to reconcile, then lets do it. Still, no reply. Finally I sent her text yesterday & that seemed to have done the trick. She replied back to my email which I got this morning. Reading it was very painful as she was such a good friend. There were a couple of statements she made that really hurt & offended me.

"As I have entered into new friendships, I have to take a look at how they are affecting my well-being."

How has our friendship been detrimental to her well-being?

"I have recently realized that I have tried to take on everyone's burdens as well as my own. I am learning that I am not able to do that anymore."

I never once forced my burdens on her. Not that we're perfect, but Jason & I are a couple of very stable people. If anything, our relationship would've required the least maintenance.

"I really need to have a group of friends that understands exactly what I'm going through and I feel like we are in different places at this time. I need space right now and it would be best for me emotionally if we didn't continue talk."

That's totally a break-up line. Based on this last comment, you would think that I was taking her to clubs & popping pills with her. Like I'm some sort of bad influence! I have many friends who are in different places in life & that does not affect my relationship with them. Why is it impossible to be there for someone who is going through a trial which you yourself have never been through? The truth is, it isn't! And again I ask, how has our friendship been detrimental to her well-being? I have been nothing but supportive & loving & I feel that it's been thrown back in my face.

I do not need this friendship, or any friendship as for that matter, to validate me. That isn't the point here, but doesn't make it less painful, that's for sure. I just feel sort of betrayed as I've poured so much into this friendship only to be rejected. (Oddly enough, that is one of the things this person struggles with - rejection. Kind of ironic that she rejected me, huh?)

Maybe I'm being completely selfish & insensitive. Maybe those are the reasons we can't be friends. Who knows? Anyway, I hope she finds whatever it is she's in such desperate need of.
Mike Huckabee should really re-think his celebrity support...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Solomon's teacher told me that he now loves Ring-Around-The-Rosie & he kept going up to other children & grabbing their hands in an effort to get them to join his dance but they all ran from him. When we got home we watched Elmo, which has become our daily ritual. As I sat there watching him dance alone, my heart broke a little, picturing him trying to play with other kids while they rejected him. I know it sounds ridiculous since they're only 1. I mean, they have no idea what rejection is yet, & I'm sure it didn't hurt Solomon's feelings. However, the thought brought to my attention the fact that I can't protect him from pain. I can't keep his feelings from being hurt or his heart from being broken. That makes me sad.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Party Affiliation?




Sunday, November 11, 2007

My company laid off 40 people last week. Fortunately, I wasn't one of them; unfortunately, a few of them are close co-workers of mine. I'm not that concerned about my job at the moment as the CEO stated he doesn't anticipate another staff reduction. But that's what he said last year when they laid off an even larger number of people. If they do lay off more people, I don't think it'll happen before we move, so I think I'll be okay.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

This is totally me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

So I'm little P.O'd about this weekend. We paid about $30 per ticket to see mewithoutYou but we missed their set! We arrived in between their set & Thrice. I can't believe we paid $60 to go see bands we don't even really care about! I mean, Thrice & Brand New were good & all, but they just aren't mewithoutYou. Now I'm going to have to wait six months or more for another opportunity to see them. I wish I could get my money & my Sunday night back.

Monday, October 29, 2007


This has been a difficult couple of weeks, for sure, but I am in good spirit. Jason still feels bad physically; he said he thinks he may have relapsed with mono. I'm feeling okay, I just really want the bleeding to stop.

I am at perfect peace about the miscarriage. I still have brief moments when I feel like God kinda wrecked my plans & my desires, but hey, He's God & I'm not. Sometimes our desires for ourselves do not mesh well with God's desires for us. He knows what's best for us, so I trust Him in this. I'm definitely sad, but I know it's for God's glory.

I had a couple of realizations - actually a couple of reminders from God - while I was in the hospital on Wednesday. I was laying in the hospital bed & kept asking God to not take MY baby, over & over again. Then I remembered that nothing I have is mine, not even Solomon or this baby; it all belongs to God. I am merely a steward. In Psalm 50:12 God says to Israel, "If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it." The world is mine & all that is in it... that's a pretty inclusive statement which leaves nothing out, so yeah, this baby is not my baby, it's God's. My prayer then changed to, "God, I know this is Your baby, & as much as I want to keep it, I know that whatever You choose to do is for Your glory. I want this to glorify You." That is so hard to say to the God who can simply fix it. He has the power to do so! It took everything in me to say that & to surrender my desire.

While I was laying there praying, another thought came to mind: the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. When the king threatened to throw them into the furnace, they said to him, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18)

I grew up hearing this story, but have never considered the statement the 3 men made here. I don't think it's a coincidence that I heard it the Saturday prior to my bleeding on Wednesday - just a matter of days. God knew I was going to need that memory in following week. Just like the 3 men, I know & have faith that God can rescue me from my trouble, but if He chooses not to, it doesn't make Him any less God or any less powerful. The 3 men made it clear that they would not turn their backs on God. Ditto for me.

Those 2 reminders God gave me are what really pulled me through. People keep trying to comfort me, & I certainly appreciate it, but I feel completely comforted by God; I am overflowing with comfort, so I honestly don't emotionally or spiritually need the extra offers. Of course, I don't tell people that I don't need it though. I accept the offered comfort anyway.

I asked the doctor how long we should wait to try again & I was told about 3 months. I was assured that the miscarriage happened due to some genetic problem with the baby & it didn't have anything to do with me. The doctor at the ER on Saturday night said, "The plumbing obviously works - you have one kid already." I'm certain God placed him there with us on purpose to give me hope; the doctor told us that he & his wife went through the exact same scenario. Their first pregnancy went smoothly & they had a healthy baby. Then during the second pregnancy, they miscarried. They ended up with 4 children - the same number I want to have. (Well, actually I want more, but Jason said no more than 3, thus I settled for 4!)

Monday, October 22, 2007

I've never been so close to a wildfire before. It's crazy - all you can smell is smoke; like being right next to a bonfire. The smell is nauseating after a while. Last night I walked Ed & Jewel out to their car to help them carry stuff & ash kept flying into my eyes. My friend Natalie called & wanted us to evacuate since one of the fires was so close to us, but Jason decided it wasn't really something to worry about so we stayed. Jewel said you could see the fires from the freeway. I hope they will be contained soon. They've already ruined so many lives.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I've become very indifferent lately. This feeling isn't discriminatory either. I feel this way about everything except my family. I've suddenly lost interest in Church, Life Group, friendships. I don't know what's wrong with me. I simply don't care & don't want to use time or energy to make myself care.

Maybe it's because I know we're moving away soon & I don't want to invest anymore. Maybe it's a spiritual attack, since it's mostly Church related. Maybe it's solely my fault for allowing my life to become stagnant & not being responsible enough to maintain & grow in my relationship with God & my brothers & sisters in Him.

I'm just tired.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Tonight someone asked me how I met Jason.

My answer?

How I met Maria.

Well, she did play a key part in how I met Jason.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yesterday was the best day ever!

Monday, September 24, 2007

God is frickin' awesome. I kept praying that He would return Lucy safe & sound. I literally just walked in the door from the grocery store a minute ago & Jason said, "Guess who came back." Then he told me that he had just finished his quiet time & prayed that God would bring her back & no more than 30 seconds later someone called us to let us know where she was.

Could today possibly be better??

Thank You God! You rock!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm grieving something terrible right now. One of our cats, Lucy, managed to get of the house yesterday unnoticed - at least, we think that's what happened. We didn't really worry about her absence until today as she tends to hide for extended amounts of time. We made fliers & posted them in a few laundry rooms & near some mail boxes around our community. I called the local animal shelter to report her missing in case any one turned her in. I'm worried that she was either hit by a car or eaten by coyotes. What I'm most afraid of, though, is that she died while in hiding some place in the house & we won't discover her until, well, you know. I don't think I can handle finding my pet dead & decomposing. I highly doubt that's the case though; I figure that if she is dead in the house Gabe, our other cat, would hang around wherever she is. I feel so sick to my stomach right now. I feel like we're horrible pet owners for not seeing her escape. We're usually overly cautious about the sliding screen door being shut since we have a toddler & 2 cats who love to go outside. If she died in the house I'd feel like some sort of criminal. What if she dehydrated? Neither Jason or myself noticed their water bowl was dry as a bone yesterday (that's never happened in the 3 years we've had our cat). I killed my cat!! I should go to jail for negligent homicide or something. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. I keep praying that God will bring her back safely. I hope He obliges.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Today when I picked up my son from daycare, his teacher told me an interesting story. She said he gave a pink tutu to a teacher, wanting her to put it on him. Upon donning the frilly body suit he began prancing around; he jumped up & down & slapped the tutu repeatedly as it bounced with him.

Too bad I already bought his Halloween costume or he could've been a ballerina. Maybe next year. He's stuck as a voracious dragon this time.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I'm really aggravated with my child right now.

I don't understand him - he's fine 5 days a week when I drop him off at day care, but for the past 2 Sundays, he has had panic attacks when we leave him in the toddler room at church.

Last week Jason just pulled him out immediately & brought him to the over flow room where we were sitting. That is, until Solomon got restless - then Jason took him out to the foyer to run around so he missed the entire message. Today I went to church by myself since Jason's sick; I literally had just sat down in my chair the first time they paged me back. I went to the toddler room & just hung out & played for a while until he seemed to be distracted enough with the toys. I managed to sneak out without him seeing, thinking that he'd forget about me. Not so much. Again I had literally just sat down in my chair & they paged me a second time. Why can't they just let him cry it out?? Eventually he'll tire & stop. I appreciate the people who tolerated me crawling over them 3 times - such grace & patience! At that point I decided to just come home. I did take a quick walk through the over flow section, but that was packed too. Gotta love the fall when all the college students return.

I hope the unpleasant phase comes to an end soon...
I haven't felt much like blogging lately. I'm getting a little bored with it. Well, that isn't entirely true. I just don't have anything to blog about. When there's a lot of drama going on it's nice to have a place to put my fleeting thoughts. Unfortunately, there has been zero drama at this time. Really boring. Yep.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

¡Felíz Cumpleaños, Me Negra!

QUELine Thomas & I met our freshman year at Connelly High School (Go Cadets!) in Wakko, TX. This makes her my "oldest" friend as she's the only one I've managed to stay close to for more than a decade. We had a couple of classes together, but the one where we really bonded was our Theater Arts class. Our teacher, Mr. Moore, was kinda weird & resembled a sausage link. I'm sure he's really a great person, & as an adult I'm sure I'd get along great with him, but when you're 14, you're sort of expected to be cruel.

Anyway, we only spent our first semester in Mr. Moore's class & seized the opportunity to jet out of there second semester. We decided to join Jr. ROTC (Air Force) in it's place. ROTC was fun, but to be honest, the class was a joke. There was a little store where we could buy junk food to eat during class; we watched a lot of videos; we talked about everything under the sun but airplanes, the military, & aerodynamics. Every Wednesday we wore these rad air force uniforms - everyone else only wished they looked as cool as we did. It was awesome.

Our friend Priscilla was very superstitious & Jackie & I would frequently walk on either side of her so she would be forced to split with one of us when we passed poles. You're supposed to say "Bread & Butter" to avoid the bad luck pole-splitting brings upon you, but we told her the saying was "Bread & Water." I know it sounds lame now, but it's was fantastically funny to do this to Priscilla. She often told us, "I hate y'all!" when we did it.

Jackie & I also had Spanish together with Mrs. Lopez, AKA Señorita Satan. Jackie couldn't roll her r's. A few of us would roll r's in front of her just to drive her crazy. I recall a conversation with her several years later, well after high school, when she told me on the phone that she could roll her r's now. She was so excited & made me listen to her achievement. Congratulations Crackie!

Lisa Ramirez & I would bite into popsicles with our front teeth around Jackie too. She hated that! It was hysterical to see her cringe each time - it never got old.

We were inseparable. Best friends. Then I moved away to Maryland the beginning of our junior year, but we kept in touch & remained close for long after that. Over time though, it seemed we grew distant, but at each visit, we just picked up where we left off. That's a good solid friendship :)

There were so many stories & memories made during the course of our friendship, but not enough hours in a day to share them all.

Well, Jackie, I've been so blessed to call you my friend & although we don't talk often, I'm glad to know you are always there. You will always be me negra & I will always be tu blanca. Happy birthday!


(P.S. You really need to move to Baltimore....)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Though It Was Fun, I'll Never Do It Again

It was pretty cool being at the Price Is Right set. It was even cooler not being at work & still getting paid.

First I stopped at my work to pick up my co-worker Ellen & from there we dropped Solomon off at daycare (the place doesn't open until 6:30am, so I couldn't take him before hand). Ellen & I drove about a half an hour north to Bellflower to pick up Norm & Maria. Maria had the pleasure of driving the rest of the way to LA - thank God.

We arrived sometime between 8:30 - 8:45am & stood around outside while the rest of our group slowly trickled in. We had a bunch of plastic horn rimmed glasses (like Drew Carey's) which Maria & I picked up at a costume store, courtesy of the VIP of Sales at our company, that were handed out to everyone. Unfortunately, they wouldn't allow us to wear them into the studio (Ellen only had hers on the top of her head, sort of serving the purpose of a headband, & they made her take them off). Party poopers.

Then we had to sit on metal benches & they handed out these cards to fill out with numbers on them. We had to stay in this order for the remainder of our visit.

Five grueling hours later, all of which were spent sitting in the heat (& even a good amount of humidity in the air, as surprising as it may sound), they led us into the glorious studio. Alternating curtains in pink, blue, orange, yellow, & green were covering the walls, adorned with these retro-style floral chain-like objects. Each plastic (or cardboard - it's hard to tell just by looking at them) flowery shape had a light bulb at it's center. We were instantly warped back in time to the 70's. The studio was much smaller than it looks on TV. I remember watching it growing up & it always looked so massive.

Finally the show began. There was sooo much clapping; near the end of the show I had to stop because my hands were stinging & sore from clapping for almost an entire hour. They make you clap for everything!

One guy from our group got called up there & managed to win a camping set & a picnic set. He didn't make it to the Showcase, but not too shabby. You don't have to take the prizes; you can opt for the cash value so if you don't want the crap you win, you can just take the money.

On the way out you have to give your little ticket stubs to the employees to retrieve your phones & other electronics. It was the most chaotic system I'd ever seen. You would think that CBS could think of a better method of distributing out phones. You hand them your ticket & they literally dig through a plastic bin of nearly 100 phones to find the matching ticket, which was earlier attached to your phone with a rubber band, prior to going in. All the while, the very large employee is wiping the sweat off of his face with his bare hands in between handing out phones. Gross.

Now I can tell people I've been to the Price Is Right, but I never want to go through that again.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I am going to The Price Is Right tomorrow! I am PUMPED!

Monday, August 13, 2007

This simple but convicting thought, that I've never considered before, crossed my mind recently: by me not acting as a servant at all times is the same as saying I am above Christ. Christ was the ultimate example of a perfect servant. He even said Himself that He came to serve, not to be served. He was interruptable; He would stop whatever He was doing to aid another brother in need.

Who am I to feel so entitled that I should be served & never take the time or energy to serve others? I see this attitude of entitlement in my daily life. I feel that I should never be wronged & that I should be considered & respected. Funny how I expect that from other imperfect human beings yet I don't pay the same homage to my Creator, the only One truly worthy of such admiration.

One of my favorite mewithoutYou songs (January 1979, which I've quoted before) says, "If I could become the servant of all; no lower place to fall." I love that line. If I could become the servant of all, then I would never have these false feelings of entitlement. I would place everyone above myself & my desires. Not to say that my desires are wrong to have; God places desires in our hearts Himself. It is just necessary that I consider others' desires over my own. I think if I could achieve this, then I would be disappointed far less. I would be filled with a greater Love for others. I would be a better example of Christ.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's Unavoidable

Yesterday my mom was talking to me about her shots she gets for her arthritis, as she just had some recently. While she was telling me about these injections, she showed me her hands & they looked awful! It took all I had in me not to look shocked or cry, staring at her swollen joints. My dad has told me once before that it is highly likely my mom's arthritis will make her hands cripple someday.

My mom just turned 50 this past May & I am well aware of the fact that my parents are aging, but for whatever reason, I still look at them as though they are 20 years younger. I don't like thinking that my parents won't be around someday.

I don't know why I am so sensitive about my parents getting old, as the thought of myself getting old doesn't bother me the least bit. I am not afraid to get wrinkles, gray hair, saggy boobs (well, okay, I'll admit it - the saggy boobs part does bother me slightly), etc. I noticed a couple of tiny varicose veins behind my knees a few weeks ago. After I got over the initial surprise of their existence, I hadn't thought of them again until now. Yeah. I still don't really care too much that they are there. The only thing that crossed my mind was concern for my health: Am a little overweight? Perhaps I should be eating better & exercising more...

I suppose I just don't want to lose my parents. Or any loved one for that matter. I don't fear my own inevitable fatal ending as I am excited to experience the crossing over from this life to the next. Not to mention the certainty of being in Christ's presence. I know my parents, & the majority of my loved ones, will be in Heaven too, but I don't want to have to endure much of my life past that. God forbid Jason or any of my children go before me.

In any case, we all die. Eventually. There's no sense in dwelling on it, really. Whenever God takes each of my loved ones, those prior to me of course, He will be there to carry & comfort me, just as He did when Josh went Home. It's always difficult at first, but it gets easier; He gives us many things to live for, so we'll be plenty busy. Until He returns, there will always be His Work to do.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Delilah Mae Stewart

Welcome home Delilah! I wish Uncle Jason, Solomon & I could be there to meet you. I saw the pictures your Mommy & Daddy posted; you are so beautiful! We love you so much & can't wait to see you (although that may be a while).

Aunt Amanda
Hallowed Be Your Name

This message was very convicting & sobering for me (if you want to listen to it, it's a little over 30 minutes long, so get comfortable). Too many times have I profaned the name of God. Every follower of Christ - scratch that - everyone should take this to heart. I do not hesitate to carelessly throw His Name around. If I physically hurt myself, it's His Name I cry out. But not in a prayerful way; more like a cursing way. When I'm driving it is by far the worst. I "damn" people in God's name when I'm behind the wheel. Our Father has every reason to damn me. I am not deserving of His Grace & Forgiveness He so freely gives. The Name that saved me is the Name I pervert. I am so disgusted with myself & feel so ashamed. Why should others, who don't know Him, revere Him when I, His own child, do not?

Thank God He has already covered these terrible sins I have committed & am bound to commit again.

God, I am terribly sorry for abusing & misusing Your Holy Name. I pray that You will fill me with the Forgiveness You give to me, so that I am more inclined to do the same for others (especially when I'm driving). I want to glorify Your Name, not just by my words, but my actions as well. Please forgive my poor reflection of You & my lack of consideration for you Holy Name.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Solomon Edward Stagno

I'm sure every new parent's story sounds the same, but to each new parent it is unique. For the past week I've been thinking about what to say about & to my little boy on his first birthday. I know it sounds cliché, but words really are not adequate. Here it goes...

Solomon, Daddy & I wanted you so badly & God saw it fit to fulfill that desire pretty quickly. For nine months I constantly thought about your well being & wouldn't stop worrying until you were safe in my arms. Now the worrying is worse. The moment I went into labor & you were well on your way, I felt a combination of excitement, anxiety, fear, & joy. Twenty hours later my tears of pain turned to tears of joy.

For the past 12 months you have grown & changed so much that it's hard to remember the Solomon we brought home from the hospital as the Solomon today keeps us very busy! You were always a strong boy. The day we came home from the hospital you could already hold your head up quite well, you were strong enough to push yourself onto your back when lying on your tummy, & you scooted across the floor a few feet by simply kicking your little legs erratically. All when you were only 2 days old! I remember your first smile; you were 6 weeks old & we were at Sea World. Your first laugh was in your sleep when you were 11 weeks old. When you first started crawling - poor Gabe! I remember your first steps (now there's no slowing you down). It crushed me the first week you were in day care. I cried everyday because I hated being apart from you for so long. When you cry, my heart breaks. When you smile, my heart melts.

There are many funny things that you do: you have to wrap your binky strap around the nipple between your lips & the plastic. You love to bounce/dance to music. You love musical instruments (you are your father's child). Any time you try a new food, you shiver. You love people & fear no one (I don't know if that's a good thing, or a bad thing...). Your favorite toys are Gabe & Lucy, although you can never catch Lucy. You use the remote & coasters to "talk" on the phone. Knocking ketchup bottles over at restaurants cracked you up to the point of tears. You love being in the water, but hate having your hair washed. You love anything on wheels & have even learned how to make motor sounds quickly. You only say 2 words at the moment - "dada" & "uh-oh." I'm not terribly offended that you don't say "mama" yet. At least you know who I am. Since the second you were born you have had so much beautiful hair & it is usually the first thing people comment on when meeting you. Everyone loves you; you are very popular at the day care & at the church nursery. Although you are quite distracting at Life Group, I know many people who would be upset if you weren't there each Thursday night. You've been in 12 different states already & have, so far, done very well on planes. You have been to both the Pacific & Atlantic oceans. You are very strong willed. You are already great at sharing.

These notations barely scratch the surface of all I hold in my heart & memory of you.

I love you so very much. Merely thinking about you stings my eyes & makes them watery as it's so hard to contain all of the emotion inside of me. Many a night have I stood over your crib, just marveling at you. I don't think I've ever felt love for another so unconditionally until God brought you into our lives. Having you has opened my eyes to a new aspect of our LORD & His abundant Love for us, & for that, I'm am so grateful.

Happy first birthday, little man. I love you.


Monday, August 06, 2007

I Miss My Little Boy

My parents, & my sister & her family, took Solomon to Palm Springs yesterday & are keeping him for another day or two. I am totally fine with him spending a few days with them; in fact, I am a little jealous as I badly wish I could be with them all as well. I've only ever spent one night away from my kid, so this is a long time for me. I remember when Maria came out to visit me for 6 days last summer & she talked about how much she missed her two sons, Holden & Larry (Pearly was here with her). I thought she was being ridiculous, but now I completely understand how she felt.

Jason's so cute. Last night when we were going to bed he said, "I miss him." We had only been apart from him for about an hour at that point. Seeing how much Jason loves that little boy makes my love for Jason grow even more. I am so overwhelmed with love for my two guys.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I Knew They Existed, But I Had Never Met One Before

Yesterday I experienced my first encounter with a real life cult. I went to Harvest Fest at the Angel's stadium with my friend Natalie. Harvest is sort of like a revival; it's 3 nights of different Christian bands/artists & Greg Laurie presenting the Gospel message. On our way in, there were these people standing outside the seating entrance with signs that said, "Laurie leads to Hell." I felt this tug on my heart to go talk to them. Of course, I decided to go listen to David Crowder first - I heart him - & enjoy the show. After their set, Greg Laurie began the Salvation message. At this point I felt an even stronger urge to go talk to these protesters outside the gates & decided it was more important to do so than listening to the message, seeing as how Natalie & I are both already saved. I leaned over to Natalie & said, "I feel like God wants me to go talk to those people outside. I don't know why, but I have to." She said, "Okay, I'm down," & off we went.

I approached this older lady & said, "Excuse me. We were just wondering about your signs. I'm very curious about why you're here." She then proceeded to bust out a Bible (I can't remember what translation it was) & said, "Greg Laurie is a false teacher; he wrote this Bible." Wrote a Bible? I think to myself. "What do you mean, 'he wrote this Bible?'" She opened it up to the first couple of pages where it read that Laurie was the editor - no where did it say, "By Greg Laurie." I asked her for some examples on Laurie's so-called false teachings & she turned to a verse in Mark (11:25), "But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too." Then she showed me one of Laurie's footnotes that read something to the effect that this verse is not implying that God will not forgive you if you don't forgive others & that God's forgiveness isn't dependent on whether or not you forgive; His forgiveness is wholly dependent upon what Christ did on the cross. I can't argue with that.

While this woman & I were debating this verse & Laurie's note, Natalie was flipping out over a pamphlet they handed her (the front of it read "The Lord KILLS" - ???). In the pamphlet it said that people who commit suicide go to Hell. That was a sore subject for Natalie as she struggles with depression & has battled suicidal tendencies in the past. I backed Natalie up by saying to this woman that there is no way for her, or anyone else for that matter, to know what happens to a person's soul upon suicide. She said, "Suicide is murder, & the Bible teaches that murderers go the Hell." I argued with her that it's impossible to know as we wouldn't know that person's final thoughts & conversation with God. They can still be repentant, but see no other option. This pamphlet also stated that the following go to Hell as well: alcoholics, bulimics, anorexics, & it went on & on. It listed about 20 or so "false teachers" too: Charles Stanley, John MacArthur, Chuck Smith, Greg Laurie, etc. Natalie asked her who she thought qualified to teach the Word of God if none of these people did & the lady said, "No one." Next, Natalie asked her, "Well, who teaches at your church?" & the lady said, "We have a pastor, but he's repented from his false teachings." These people are off their rockers.

Another one of their handouts quoted one of Laurie's books on the Prodigal Son. Laurie stated that God would continue to forgive us again & again as he is the God of second chances & He loves us so much that His arms are always open for us to turn back to. They took this as, "It's okay to sin." That is not at all what Laurie said. The handout actually said that God is not a God of second chances. What?? The fact that the story of the Prodigal Son is in the Bible completely refutes that statement. After the son had wasted all of his inheritance & returned home, the return was his second chance; the first chance was his first time at home with his family. So obviously God is willing to take us back, even after we tell Him we wish He was dead.

Eventually Natalie had heard enough & walked off, telling me she'd meet me when I was finished conversing. I stuck around & debated a couple of other things with her & after she told me I was going to Hell, I turned to her & said, "I'm sorry. What was your name again?" "Deborah," she answered. "Nice to meet you Deborah, I'm Amanda. See you in Heaven." & walked off.

If I was a non-believer, I certainly wouldn't want anything to do with their god. He apparently doesn't love me or accept me. He doesn't forgive & all he does is damn people to Hell. Screw that.

I was furious that these people had so twisted the Word of MY God & are making an embarrassment of Him. He is MY God, who I love, & they were lying about Him! I was Righteously Angry about their false teachings.

When I got home, I showed Jason all of the handouts they gave us & told him all about what happened. He said they were Satanists. I told him that couldn't be as they really were teaching God's Word, they were just taking everything out of context. He said, "Amanda, if it isn't of God, then it's of Satan." I told him I really wanted to go back to talk to them, but he said it was pointless; if they are that adamant about their beliefs, then nothing I did would change that. I said, "But God wanted me to talk to them." "You did," he replied, "Now you only want to talk to them to try to convince them their wrong." He knows me so well.

Maybe God wanted me to talk to them for me. Not to convince them, but to stir that Fire deep within my soul again. To remind me to Love His Word & His Teachings. To help me realize how important it is that I know the Scriptures intimately so that I may know Him even more intimately, just as He knows me.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I Pay Too Much Money to Put Up With This

I am furious with Solomon's day care. For the past couple of weeks, I have heard from his teacher daily that his diaper rash is bad & bleeding. While it is true his bottom has been raw & sore, I do not think it is a coincidence that over the weekend it heals & by Tuesday we are right back where we started. I see my kid for about a half hour in the morning when I get him ready & take him to day care, & again in the afternoon from about 4:30pm until he goes to bed around 7. He's at day care from 6:30am to 4:30pm each day. Who would you think is at fault in this equation? You do the math. I cannot battle a diaper rash when I see my kid 3 hours a day. Perhaps, in their defense, it is because I use Butt Paste at home, whereas they have been using Aquaphor.

In addition to the diaper rash, he has developed a mild cough the past few days. Again, each day I hear about it, as though I am deaf & cannot hear it myself. I told the teacher once already that he has a doctor's appointment next week & we will address it then. A little cough is not grounds to rush him to the ER.

As though the comments aren't bad enough, this teacher feels the need to write it on his daily sheet. Today read, "Once again Solomon's bottom was bleeding & really red. Coughing is getting worse!" Could she be any more condescending? This is a prime example of her usual notes.

I think it's quite obvious I am a terrible parent & should not be allowed to have more children.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I'm reading this awsomely funny book called Flashbang how i got over myself by an awsomely funny guy named Mark Steele. Mark sometimes writes a column in Relevant Magazine which I absolutely love, so I decided to buy his book. This ranks right up there with David Crowder's book, Everybody Wants to go to Heaven But Nobody Wants to Die - another awsomely funny book by an awsomely funny guy. I highly recommend reading both.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Holden!!

Today Holden turned 3. I remember the day he was born pretty vividly. I wanted to be there for Holden's debut & demanded that Maria & Chad call me when she went into labor, so they did. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning on July 27, 2004. My phone started ringing & before we even looked to see who it was calling at such an absurd time Jason said, "Answer it - Maria's having the baby." "Okay," I replied, & opened my phone.

ME: Hello? [in the groggiest of voice imaginable]
CHAD: The baby's comin'.
ME: Okay.
CHAD: [chuckling a bit] You wanna go back to sleep?
ME: Yes.

Click. And just like that, I missed the birth.

I did make it to your Grammy's house later that day to see you. You were such a beautiful baby! I'm just relieved you decided to come out before Uncle Jason & I left for California. Holden, I honestly did want to be there for your birth & I'm terribly sorry I missed it. It's difficult to separate me from sleep - just ask Uncle Jason! Know that we love you very much & wish we could be around more to watch you grow. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My boss was incorrect. It wasn't good news. It was, in fact, the freakin' sweetest news I've heard all week!! My quarterly bonus is dependent on several different factors, one being "Terminations due to non-payment," or, dealers given the boot because they don't pay their bills. If you have 5 or more terms for this reason, it's an automatic 0% in that area (there are only, like, 4 parts, thus this would be a large chunk of my bonus.) I was unfortunate enough to have 6 total for Q2 - boo! Well, it turns out, 2 of the accounts won't be held against me because after the outstanding balances were resolved, the stores came back on our program - yay!!! So that brings me to a grand total of 4. I think this will give me a 100% for this quarter. Two more in a row, & it's "Amanda Stagno - SENIOR Regional Account Manager." Oh, & a raise too :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My boss approached me today shortly before I left & said, "I need to talk to you." Uh-oh. What'd I do now? Apparently she could see the fear plastered on my face as her next words were, "Don't worry - it's good, so don't give me The Look," & walked away. She didn't tell me before I left work, so now I'll probably be up all night thinking about it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thanks, But No Thanks
Formerly, "On Life, Babies, & Walking on Eggshells"

We went to the OC Fair with Jason's brother, Jon, & his wife, Molly, on Saturday. It was nice hanging out with them, as we don't usually see them much. Toward the end of our evening, I commented that we were seriously thinking about trying for baby #2 soon. Molly froze & gave me this shocked look - her eyes wide, eyebrows raised & jaw slightly ajar.
She, along with a handful of other people, have responded, "Again?!" or "You're crazy!" upon my mentioning of baby #2.

Another great example of this reaction occurred back in May; Jason's parents, Jon, Molly, Jason & I were having brunch before his parents left to go back to Maryland. Molly stated, "We [she & Jon] were thinking about this second baby - where do plan to put it? Your place is too small for another one." I replied that we'd make room for it. Ed, Jason's dad, said, "Don't have another baby yet. You don't have room. Jason's not done with school yet, let 'em finish & then you can have another baby."

One of my co-works (who has 2 of his own kids) has said to me a couple of times, "You think this is hard, wait until you have another one." Another co-worker, when the subject arises, usually tells me I'm crazy for wanting another baby now.

I appreciate everyone's concern for our well being & I know their intentions are good, but it is a little frustrating that they so freely give their unsolicited advice. Thanks, but no thanks. Can't a girl get some support for a change?? I think my sister is the only one who is excited for us to have another baby now - thanks Danielle! - at least, she's the only one who has given us a sincere "Woohoo!"

What others often forget is that you're pregnant for 9 whole months - nearly an entire year. Not to mention the months it takes trying to actually get pregnant. By the time baby #2 gets here, Solomon would be around 2 years old, give or take a few months. I think 2 years is a good amount of time between children.
I'm young & I'm going to keep having babies for a little while. I will not put my life on hold or stifle my desires just because of others' opinions. I choose to have babies because my Beloved & I love each other so much that we desperately want to make something out of our abundant love with which we can share - our children. The only other person who could possibly affect how many children I bear & when is Jason. It's my life & I will spend it how I choose. Do me a favor, though - should I ever try to dictate, influence, or otherwise affect your decision on how you should spend your God ordained days, please stop me & remind me of this moment.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Apparently I'm not entitled to sick days at work.

On my way to drop Solomon off at daycare this morning, & we were nearly there, I suddenly got a whiff of a very foul aroma. It was beyond a dirty diaper. It was an explosive defecation. How could something so massive & rancid come from such a little person?? I would venture to say that this was the worst diaper I've ever had to change. When we arrived at the daycare, I took Solomon into the classroom & changed not only his diaper, but his entire outfit. He was only in those clothes for a half hour! Anyone who has a child in daycare knows that children are not permitted to stay if they: a) have a fever; b) have diarrhea; c) have a rash; d) are vomiting; or e) any combination of a-d. Nor are they allowed to go back until they've been symptom-free for 24 hours. So I loaded Solomon & his things back into the car & called my boss to let her know I wouldn't make it to work today. She didn't answer her phone so I left a message. Company policy states that when you call out you must physically talk to your supervisor; a voice message will not suffice. Thus, I called my sort-of-supervisor. (She is in the same position as I am, but a level above me, & next in line if my boss is unavailable.) I explained that Solomon had to stay home today & that I couldn't make it to work. Then she asked, "Have you talked to your husband? Is he able to stay home today?" WTF? He has a job too, ya' know. "Yes, & he really needs to go into work today. I already discussed it with him & since he's stayed home the past 2 or 3 times Solomon's been sick, it is my turn." I probably would've brushed off her questions if they didn't arise each time I've had to call out (which isn't that often - the last time I called out was 4 or 5 months ago). Work is a Catch-22 for me - I have to work to provide for my family, therefore work is very important. Without it, we couldn't survive. Especially in SoCal. My family absolutely comes first, but in order to keep my family first, my job must come first.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dancing with Dementors

We saw Harry Potter last night & it was fantastic! Yes, it was a bit shorter than the previous films, especially considering it's one of the longer books, but the main parts of the story were pretty accurate. Eeh, what do I know, though? It's been a few years since I actually read that book, so it was practically new to me. Jason tries to get me to re-read them with him, or to listen to the audio books, but I tend to fall asleep when listening to him or Jim Dale read.

I'm also very excited about the 7th & final installment of the HP series due to hit the shelves in 2 days. I reserved my copy back in March or April. I'm a dork. But I bet you are too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

First Steps!

Solomon walked to me for the first time yesterday when I picked him up from daycare - yay!! He was super cute. The teacher stood him up & let go of his hands & he waddled right to me like a little penguin (with an occasional fall on his bottom). He looked more as though he was dancing 'cause he was really bouncy & wobbly, with his arms sticking straight out at his sides for balance. His legs were really stiff as he wouldn't bend his knees much & he walked on his tip-toes. He just kept smiling, walking, & falling. I wish I could've caught that on tape. I tried when we got home but he wouldn't do it again & was getting kinda fussy. Hopefully I can catch some footage this weekend.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I want to move back to Maryland. Now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Grief & Relief

My mother-in-law's sister, Sandy, lost her battle with cancer yesterday evening. She's been sick for several years; she was diagnosed with colon cancer before Jason & I even got married. I am very attached to my mother-in-law's family & love Sandy very much. I felt really weird when Jason called to tell me. I felt a combination of grief & relief. I didn't cry much over her loss. I suppose because I saw her on Sunday &, knowing it would be the last time I'd see her, was able to say good-bye, bringing me closure. I'm grateful she isn't suffering any longer & find comfort in knowing she is with Christ now. Jason & I decided it isn't feasible for us to turn right back around & fly to Maryland again for the funeral. I looked at air fare last night & couldn't find anything less than $400 - that would be $1000 + for us to fly back home. My bereavement at work doesn't cover extended family & I'd only be allowed to take 2 unpaid days. So in addition to paying all that money in air fare I wouldn't be making any money. I think I'm still going to try to convince Jason to go; he should at least be there for his mom.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back To Work In Beautiful, Sunny Southern California

We just got back from Maryland yesterday & I have returned to work today. Boo! I always feel the most homesick right when I come back from MD. It was a short trip of a little more than a week & it was for my brother's wedding specifically so that consumed most of my waking hours (bachelorette party, running last minute errands, dress alterations, etc.). I love going home because I get to see my family & friends. I hate going home because I have to stretch myself so thin in an effort to visit with them all. It's bad enough splitting our time with 2 sets of families (not to mention various friends) but my mom came up from TX as well. I was very excited & happy to see my mom as I don't get to see her often, but it did cause me to have a bit of a melt down at the wedding as I felt so guilty for not spending adequate time with everyone. I'm sure everyone else just thought I was crying tears of joy for my brother & his beautiful bride.

Well, I gotta get back to work. I have much catching up to do. (I had about 400 emails in my inbox when I came in this morning!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A few of random thoughts....

1) We can't go diving this weekend:( I'm SO bummed! I have a bit of a cold this week & you can't dive if you're congested (you can't equalize when you're congested so it's very dangerous). We will reschedule for some time in July; I'll keep you posted.

2) I officially stopped pumping today. I plan to continue nursing in the mornings & evenings, but he can stick with formula over the next couple of months. I just can't pump enough during the day & I hate pumping anyway (I do love nursing though). He's about 10 1/2 months, that's a good run, so I'm okay with this decision. Besides, we're transitioning to table foods now so he'll probably become disinterested in breastmilk & formula soon anyway. Unfortunately, he's a late teether so the transition is taking a while.

3) Today two things happened to me at work. One reminds me what I hate about my job & the other why I love it. At about 10:15 this morning I had the unpleasant task of advising a car dealer (one of our customers) that he sent me the wrong backup for some invoices he shortpaid. He's a big jerk-face & said, "Look, you're bugging the hell out of me about this." I said, "I know, but I have to get this resolv -" & then he hung up on me. It was an upsetting conversation, but now I feel less bad for making the balances collectible since he's a complete ass. I sound like a 12 year old on the phone. Far from threatening. What the heck did I do to elicit such a response? I'm trying to help him out & was even prepared to credit balances he deserves to pay for. Well, now he's the Collector's problem. Sucks for him. The second event happened minutes later in my quarterly meeting with my boss. It went fantastic! She said she was very proud of me & I'm doing a great job. It's nice getting pats on the back. This is my first meeting since my promotion in April, so this is about the best news I can get at work. My goal is to get another promotion this time next year. More money equals more babies. I really do love my job, though.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm really angry right now. I don't feel comfortable talking about it here, though. I'd hate for those I'm pissed at to see it. Especially since I'll get over it soon enough, I'm sure. Really it would just cause an unecessary fued over stupid, petty things. There is something seriously wrong with my Heart. God, please free me from these negative feelings; I don't want to be angry. My identity lies in You & You alone. Help me to rest that fact.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I’m not convicted enough to stop buying Starbucks coffee

So I went to Long Beach with a few fellow Lifers on Saturday – there were 7 of us in all (plus Solomon, so I guess it was actually 8). I feel I don’t really have much to report this time. I was deeply touched by those we came in contact with. My heart broke for these people & I was so grateful to have an opportunity to reach out to them. We walked along this river, on a bike path, & it’s so crazy because there are SO many homeless people living here & all day long non-homeless people are riding bicycles back & forth, not even giving a second glance to the residents. Boy did we catch some attention though. Most of the bikers riding by would go right past us, jerk their heads back so they can watch us, all the while still moving forward & never slowing down. A few of these inhabitants are simply mentally unstable; some were heavy drug users; others were just “stuck” there due to poor living & financial situations.

One lady we met, “Shorty,” spent the most time with us. She shared how she got stuck living there – she & her boyfriend/husband split up so she had to move out. She had a job & a home, but living in Southern California is really expensive, so it isn’t hard to fall behind your bills & lose everything when you’re on your own. (Especially when you don't have equal opportunities that, say, a middle class white girl has.) The two of them have 3 children together, but since she could’t support them & ended up living on the streets, she hasn’t seen them in a very long time. She told us she talked to her daughter on her birthday & she asked her daughter what she wanted. She told Shorty that what she wanted could’t be put in the mail; she just wants her mommy to come home & take care of her. She was very emotional when telling her story. Who can blame her? I was even feeling a little guilty for having my child with us as he could be a reminder to her of what she’s lost. Shorty told us that she used to be on dope but she hasn’t used in a long time. Her current boyfriend, James, along with her brother, Jesse (who are also homeless), are now in jail because they were wrongfully accused of robbery. It was reported that a couple of Hispanics just robbed a home & the two of them were looking for food in a nearby dumpster. Some police found them in the vicinity & saw that they were two Hispanic males so they took them into custody. So now Shorty is literally by herself on the streets. We asked her if we could pray for her so we gathered around, placed our hands on her, & prayed for her for quite a while.

The people who live along the river are very resourceful. They can seriously build homes out of trash – totally pimped out & everything, no joke! I wasn’t able to see the ones that were pimped out because we had to climb down these rocks, down to the water, but since I had the stroller, I stayed on the bike path. Jason told me about these homes, so it’s trust worthy second-hand information. One guy actually took wood & built a house against the cement wall, for him & his wife.

I was moved by the people we met & am excited to make this a regular part of my life. I still don’t feel convicted about drinking SBUX coffee everyday, though. God has blessed me immensely with my job, my family, & finances. I guess since we stretch ourselves to give financially on a regular basis, I don’t feel bad about enjoying one pleasure each day. Maybe I could give up coffee & give the money I save to someone who needs it more, but I think what would be more challenging, & more sacrificial for me, is to give up my time & energy. Anyone can write a check. But there’s a bigger calling here, which is what I feel God leading me into. I need to physically be the hands & feet of Jesus.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I'm super pissed about my last blog. The Grasshopper blog posted is not the original blog. I lost the original blog when I accidentally left the site, checking on a link I was adding. And it wasn't like I was at the beginning of the blog when this happened, or even in the middle. I was at the friggin' end of it. I was finished! It's moments like this when I hate Macs. You can't toggle on Macs, so had I been using my computer instead of Jason's, it probably wouldn't have happened. Damn it!

Friday, June 15, 2007

I Am A Grasshopper

Are you familiar with the fable about the Ant & the Grasshopper? If you aren't, then you should read it as the title of this blog will make much more sense.

Anyway, I really identify with the grasshopper. All he wants is to be carefree, & not worry about anything other than his own momentary pleasures. That is the core of me. I am a narcissist who wants what I want without consideration for anyone else. As mewithoutYou, in January 1979, puts it, "I've grown overfed, unconcerned, & comfortably numb." Well, God is now calling me out of my "comfortable" lifestyle (or at least now I'm listening), & quite frankly, I am not that okay with it. But we, as followers of Christ, are to be blessings to others in response to the blessings He has given us. I, for one, have been hoarding all the Goods.

Over the course of the past year, God has been working on my heart. I feel He is calling me to serve the homeless.
Looking back I can point to specific moments regarding this calling & confidently say, "Yep. That, there? That was God." If you know anything about me, you would be aware that I lived in the suburbs of Baltimore for many years. There, you see homeless people all the time, right outside your neighborhood, & you become desensitized toward them. I did not care about homeless people & never felt compassion for them in any way. I would think things such as, "Why can't they just get jobs?" or, worse yet, "Hey, sucks to be you, huh Buddy?!" I can't believe how terrible & uncaring I was toward them. It's a miracle I'm even recognizing God's direction on this now. This has been a very long, drawn-out process, but like I said, God's been working on my heart for (at least) the past year.

So, what am I doing about this? Glad you asked. I'm doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. I still spend $2 a day on my coffee at SBUX without batting an eye. That's more than $50 a month which could easily be used to support another child through World Vision, or perhaps increase the amount we give to our friend, Terri, as we've been supporting her through the Great Commission Ministry for several years now. But, no. I gotta have my fix. I can't believe SBUX is such a huge, spiritual issue for me. It seems I'm storing my riches in the kingdom of Howard Schultz.

I do have some good news though. I've successfully ignored God for quite some time, but I'm going to actually pick up the phone tomorrow, instead of asking Him to leave a message at the beep. Most Saturdays, a few people in our Life Group (our small group at church - going forward you may see me refer to them as either "groupies" or "lifers") go up to Long Beach to serve sack lunches & hang out with some homeless people. I will be joining them tomorrow. I must admit, I'm a little apprehensive about this. Yeah. Not really okay with this.

Well God, You called me into this, & You promise to show up when we obey, so You'd better be there tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We have 2 cats, Gabe & Lucy, that I dearly love.

However, we now have Solomon who I love more. We rescued Gabe & Lucy from a shelter in Irvine when we first moved to SoCal 3 years ago. They were already seniors when we got them - Gabe was 10 & Lucy was 9 - so it isn't like they have a lot of miles left on them at this point. Lately, for the past few months, it's felt more burdensome to care for the cats. Pretty much since Solomon has become mobile. They are low-maintenance cats & don't really require that much work, but Solomon is a handful so any additional work makes things stressful. (Although I would never admit that to Jason as I badly want to have another baby now!) On top of that, Gabe is Solomon's favorite toy. He can't catch Lucy; she's too spry. He pulls Gabe's fur & tail anytime he's within reach. I can't say I feel that sorry for Gabe though because he practically asks for the beatings. He always wants to be where we are, knowing full well that the child is there too, & he doesn't make an effort to get away once the abuse ensues. I have to give him an ounce of credit though - he doesn't retaliate. Another thing, that never bothered us prior to having a child, is the cat fur. It's everywhere. Anyone who owns a furry pet is well aware that there is nothing you can do about it. Everything goes in Solomon's mouth, thus he's probably eating a good amount of cat fur in the process. Yuck. I refuse to get rid of them though! I told Jason we will not get rid of the cats because we made a lifetime commitment to them. We did not invite them to be a part of our family conditionally. The only way I'd be okay with getting rid of them is if we found one or 2 friends (or friends of friends) who would be willing to take them. Someone we can trust, who will love them & care for them. They will never go back to a shelter.

Monday, June 11, 2007

When did we become so lame?

Last Wednesday Jason & I went to see my favorite band, mewithoutYou. I was really excited to see them again, but at the same time, I was dreading driving all the way to Pomona & being around kids who were nearly 10 years younger than me. I barely look old enough to drive, myself. Maybe that's why I dislike hanging around kids who really are barely old enough to drive. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind looking so young. I just don't want people to think I really am that young. Maybe I'll sing a different tune 10 years from now. Who knows?

Anyway, on the way to the show I turned & asked Jason, "When did we become so lame?" I used to LOVE going to shows & seeing different bands perform. Now, I hate being in crowds. I'd rather stay in the comforts of my home & watch Court TV or TBS all evening. Now, I hate staying up past 10 o'clock. I get up at 5 every morning to get Solomon & myself ready for daycare & work. Now, as I mentioned above, I hate hanging around teenagers. It wasn't really that long ago when I was one myself. Now, Jason & I are tired all the time. We're too young to feel this way!

I feel like I'm in a weird place in life. You know? I'm still really young, but I'm too old for the "childish" things I love to do. I guess by marrying & having children early in life you forfeit those freedoms (that is NOT a complaint, by the way). A good example of this issue, that validates my feelings, is our church's college group. They categorize the college age group as "18 - 26 year olds." Jason & I have been in that category since we moved out here 3 years ago, but we've never felt a part of that group. Being married & having a kid greatly widens the gap between you & your single peers. We've been very fortunate with our close friends; the fact that we're married with a child doesn't hinder those relationships much. We just don't go out much anymore. Like I said though, we're lame.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Maria is officially old today.

Maria Stewart turned 25 today. Although, she's probably been telling people she's 25 for the past 5 or 6 months now. She likes to round up. Each year she shares her birthday with her husband, Chad, who turned 27 today. So maybe it's Chad who's sharing his birthday since his came first. In any case, as of this year, not only does she share this day with Chad, but now her oldest sister, Shani, will have her wedding anniversary on this day from here on out.

Let me tell you a little story about how I came to dedicate an entire blog about this girl...

Maria & I have been friends since the summer of our senior year of high school, right after graduation (we went to different schools). We knew of each other for many years prior to that though, thanks to Davey Brickman. Maria loathed me & I was indifferent toward her up until that fateful week of church camp. We rode in separate vans the whole way to Centrifuge at North Greenville College & Maria trash-talked me the entire trip. Then she decided the only way she was going to like me is if she forced herself to love me & asked me to room with her. At first I told her no, but eventually she won me over. The first couple of days were really awkward & we didn't talk much. Then one night, we ended up staying awake nearly all night talking about Davey Brickman (he was my best friend at the time & Maria was his on-again-off-again flame - apparently this is part of the reason she hated me). Who knew there was enough to be said regarding Dave that would necessitate an entire night of conversation?

Later that summer Maria moved into my parents house & I shared my bedroom with her (we even had bunkbeds at one point!) for 2 1/2 years. Most of the time it was great, but at others, not so much. As is the case for any 2 people sharing one room every single day for 2 1/2 years. She became my best friend & a sister to me.

Then she & Chad started dating in December '02 & shortly thereafter moved out & got married. During this time we stopped talking to each other. I'm still, to this day, not completely sure why we grew apart. Fortunately, this didn't last long & we got over whatever it was that came between us.

Now we live 3000 miles apart as Jason & I moved to SoCal for his PhD program. We still talk quite frequently. I'd say, about once a week. I think I talk to her more often than my entire family combined - that's a whole freakin' lot of people. If you've ever read Maria's blog or either of our myspace comments, you would know we tell one another that we miss the other all the time. Maria says we're totally gay. I'm okay with that. So Maria, if you read this blog, Happy 25th & I miss you.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Our 3 year anniversary is just a few weeks away. I told Jason I really want to go diving. I haven't been diving in 2 years! I suggested we go to Catalina Island since beach diving sucks (unless, of course, you're on some tropical island). The last time I went diving was at Grand Cayman Island. It was the best place I'd ever been diving. The water was so warm, I just wore a rash guard. You could see about 80 to 100 feet away. Perfectly blue water. We saw a wide variety of colorful tropical fish, barracudas, lobsters, sting rays, eels. Breathtaking. Diving gives me this complete euphoric feeling like nothing else does. I feel so special, like I'm a part of a club or something. I know that sounds ridiculous until you understand the context of that statement. Not many people get to enjoy this part of God's creation. I get to see & be immersed in a place most people can only experience through pictures in books. If you ever have a chance to go SCUBA diving, do it.

Alas, we do not have the time or the money to go to a place such as the Caymans this year. I will have to dive in cold, murky water, in a thick 7mm full body suit. I will probably only see Garibaldis (Cali's state fish), an underwater field of sea cucumbers, & a plethora of other fish I can't identify. Maybe if I'm lucky I will spot a sea lion or two. (We had the pleasure of diving with a handful of sea lions in Monterrey Bay for our first anniversary.) I should probably just be grateful to have an opportunity to dive at all. I can't wait to get back in the water! I will tell you all about it after the trip!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May 30, 2006

One year ago today. That was the last time I saw my youngest brother, Josh. I thought about him a lot today. I think of him everyday, but much more today. I had flown home to Maryland for a few days to visit my family & friends. Josh was in Ocean City until the night before I went back to Cali, so I didn't get to spend much time with him. He came home to my parents house & shared with me that the previous night he sat up, alone, & drank 17 beers. Seventeen? By yourself? My heart broke for him. I can't imagine what it must feel like to live with a disease like Ewing Sarcoma, knowing that my days are numbered. He was diagnosed in May of 2005. Sometimes I think about how I would live if I knew I was going to die soon. I believe I would be one to do everything in my power to keep myself as healthy as possible in order to maximize my time here. Josh fell in the other catagory. You know, the your-days-are-numbered-enjoy-it-while-you-can catagory.

He always kept to himself. Our family was tight-knit, but no one was close to Josh. He wasn't home much - usually across the street at the Lutman's house. If he was home, he was in his bedroom playing World of Warcraft, or some other computer game. Quite the hermit, really.

Anyway, so the following day, May 30th, I was due at BWI mid-afternoon. My whole family - mom, dad, my sister & her family, all 3 of my brothers & their significant others - went to lunch at Red Robin in Columbia. We didn't know it at the time, but it was our final family meal together. The Last Lunch, if you will. We did the usual - talk, laugh, belch, fart. Good times. I didn't think about this at the time, but looking back, I remember no one bickered or yelled, which was not the usual. (Hey, bickering & yelling comes with the territory of having a large family. It's utter chaos.) On our way out, we stopped & chatted for a few more minutes & I turned to Josh & said, "I love you. See you in December," & gave him a big hug & a kiss on the cheek. He replied, "I love you too," & hugged me even bigger. (He was a massive guy - bigger hugs are his normal hugs.) Then we parted ways. Me on my way back to Cali, preparing for the newest addition to my family who was due to arrive 10 weeks later. Josh on his way back home to my parents house, to finish what would be the last 6 months of his too short life.

Well, I did see Josh in December. Just like I told him I would. Only, we weren't at Disney World as we had planned. Instead, I was gazing down on his empty shell of a body, asking God, "Why?" I would like to dedicate a separate blog, detailing the emotional roller coaster my family & I rode when Josh went Home, so you will have to read about that another time.

Joshy, I love you & miss you so very much, baby brother. I look forward to our next reunion. A reunion in which we will never have to agonize over possible separation again. A reunion of the eternal kind. Until then...