Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Santa Dilemma Revisted (& Resolved)

A year ago I wrote about our predicament in trying to figure out whether or not Jason & I will allow our kids to believe in Santa. We have come to the conclusion that we would rather our children not believe Santa is real.

My original reasons for this decision have remained the same. Sadly, Santa equates gifts, which often takes the focus off of Christ. We will DEFINITELY teach our kids about St. Nicholas, the real person, & explain that the Santa today is a representation of him; the spirit of Christmas, a symbol of hope (as Charles said), & a wonderful example of what it looks like to love as Christ loves us. I think my kids will still get excited about Santa & I plan to still do some fun things, such as taking them to sit on Santa's lap (didn't get around to that this year, unfortunately) & sing Santa songs throughout the season.

Last year I emailed our pastor at the time, Mike, for his opinion & asked how he handled it with his own family. Here is his response:

"We talk about Santa as a real person (St. Nicholas), but make it very clear that mommy and daddy give presents (and they give presents) to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We do the 12 days of Christmas (leading up to Christmas day) where we read the Christmas story (or act it out) and then open one present. We also don't do the 'naughty or nice' thing with our kids - we give presents b/c Jesus gave us the best present ever..."

I already had my mind made up regarding the Santa issue prior to his response, but his words did help solidify my stance.

This has been a (albeit silly) difficult decision for me. One that I have not taken lightly. And, honestly, I've felt really attacked recently by loved ones for my decision. As if we parents aren't critical enough of our own parenting, others put in their 2 cents, causing us to further doubt ourselves as parents. I've been accused of being a Santa-hater, a grinch & a joy thief. I was even "awarded" by my brother via his blog for being a cynic (interestingly, if you read his comment on my post from last year about the issue, he was very kind & sympathetic -- not so much this year). My bro says he was joking, & I believe him, but it is very hard to pick up on sarcasm in text sometimes. I have never once told anyone that they were wrong for their decision to allow their kids to believe in Santa, nor have I tried to win them over to my side. I merely answered the "whys" people tossed my way. In fact, I don't think those who choose for their kids to believe in Santa are wrong at all. They're doing what they can to make their kids' Christmases as amazing & memorable as possible & that is wonderful. I don't think anyone is wrong for how they handle Santa (unless he ends up overshadowing Jesus); it's a "to each his own" kinda thing, in my opinion. So it really hurts me when I'm not given the same understanding & respect. My kids are just that: MY kids. I AM their steward who will have to answer to God someday when he judges my earthly work. This decision & the reasons behind it are simply mine & I never intended for anyone to feel that I was pushing my opinions on them. I love you all & pray you have a Merry Christmas. :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm Kind of a Jerkface

A couple times today I snapped at Jason, unnecessarily. This morning I was frustrated because I was trying to get the kids ready to go to the "docker" to get "shops" (that's Solomon-ese for "doctor" & "shots") & Jason wasn't helping me at all. Nevermind that he felt like poo -- "I don't care if you're DYING, help me!!" I didn't really say that, but that's how I was acting.

Then he came home from a long day at work & only enough time to eat dinner before having to leave again for band practice for church. Plus, he was still feeling like poo. I again barked at him about things.

I too often talk disrespectfully to my husband, & that is the complete opposite of how God has instructed me to treat him. I am not as loving toward him as I should be. I'm thankful I serve a forgiving God & am married to a forgiving man.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gender Roles

For the past couple of weeks I've been thinking a lot about gender roles. It first came up when I was browsing toys for Christmas, thinking about what the kids might like. In a matter of minutes I realized I was only considering dolls & anything baby related for Charlotte. For Solomon, cars, dinosaurs & sports. Immediately upon this revelation I left the store, concluding I needed to think more about what this would tell my children.

I don't have a problem with girls wanting to play primarily with dolls, or with boys wanting to play primarily with cars. But I also don't want to have a problem with allowing my children to do the opposite. Of course I think gender identity is important. It's a part of who we are & how God made us. But should I subtly discourage my son from playing "daddy" & practicing affection with a "baby"? Or discourage my daughter from "being a football player" if that's what she wants to do? Would sticking to gender-specific toys contribute this discouragement?

This didn't sit well with me &, honestly, I still don't know how to find balance on this issue. As a parent it is my responsibility to help foster their identities. Part of finding identity involves gender. How am I supposed to do this??

(A blog I read this morning, which prompted me to blog about my dilemma, has a hilarious take on modern gender roles!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Loss, 3 Years Later

Tonight at life group I mentioned my baby brother Josh while explaining the number of siblings I have. I didn't go into detail, or even explain what happened. I simply said I had 4, now I have 3 as he passed away 3 years ago. Someone immediately said, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" In the moment, it didn't trigger anything. It's been 3 years. I've accepted it, coped with it. It is what it is. I didn't even acknowledge the sympathy & just continued talking. Well, on my way home it finally struck me that my brother's absence no longer really affects me. I've become desensitized. How did that happen? THAT realization crushed me.

Of course I still think of my brother. Very frequently, in fact. I still shed tears from time to time, too. I will always remember & love Josh. But I guess this is how it's supposed to be though. I mean, how can one go on living if they stay stuck on something that has happened in the past?

Right?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Priscilla

I had 2 best friends in high school. Jackie, who I affectionately call "mi negra," is still one of my BFF's to this day. Priscilla, who we called "Silla" (sometimes we'd call her "chair" too --we were in Spanish together -- "silla" is chair in Spanish), left this earth 10 years ago today.

At first I decided against blogging in her memory..... it was so long ago. But Priscilla had such a huge impact on my life. I don't know that I would've gone back to church if it weren't for her. God used her to lead me into my own relationship with Him. During this time of my life is when God became real to me. So, yeah. Priscilla really left a mark on me.

Thank you, God, for the 3 short years of friendship I got to share with Priscilla. I will continue to cherish what few memories I have of her & look forward to seeing her again when I come Home.

Christian vs. Christ-Follower

"So, what do you wear to display your Christianity?" Hahaha!!


Saw it here first (where you can find more of these vids).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bible In a Minute

This video is hilarious!


EARTH MADE, ADAM EVE
CAIN KILLS ABEL, HAS TO LEAVE
BORING GENEALOGY
GREAT FLOOD, OLIVE LEAF

TOWER BABEL, ABRAHAM
SODOM AND GOMORRAH AND
ISAAC, JACOB, JOSEPH, MOSES
TEN COMMANDS, PROMISED LAND

JUDGES, DAVID, SOLOMON
SENT AWAY TO BABYLON
JOB, THEN A BUNCH OF PSALMS
PROVERBS AND THE SONG OF SONGS

MAJOR PROPHETS, LION DEN
MINOR PROPHETS, BETHLEHEM
GOLD AND MYRRH AND FRANKINCENSE
SATAN AND SAMARITAN

CHOOSE DISCIPLES, OTHER CHEEK
WALK ON WATER, THOUSANDS EAT
LAZARUS, FIG TREE
LAST SUPPER, GETHSEMANE

BLOOD MONEY, THIRD DENIAL
PONTIUS PILATE, PUBLIC TRIAL
FORTY LASHES, TO THE TREE
WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?

THIRD DAY, EMPTY TOMB
REAPPEARS, FIVE WOUNDS
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES NEXT
EPISTLES AND APOCALYPSE

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Praise Music is Better Than Your Praise Music

I was thinking about my grandma yesterday, probably because I saw a reference to "In the Sweet By and By" somewhere, & remembered a conversation (read: yelling match) we had in my car once. I was driving her to the store, or bank, or Taco Bell (possibly all 3) & I had one of my Five Iron Frenzy cd's playing. For those who don't know, FIF was a Christian ska band once upon a time. My grandma referred to it as crap.

"But Grandma," I said, "they're singing about/to Jesus! How can it be crap?? It's praise music!"

She responded by telling me that if it wasn't a hymn then it wasn't true praise music. Then she burst into song & clapping, "I'LL FLY AWAY, OH GLORY! I'LL FLY AWAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!! THAT'S how you REALLY praise Jesus!"

Her normal voice was loud. I'm surprised her rendition didn't shatter my eardrums. There was more to the "conversation" but this is the only part permanently seared into my mind's eye.

This probably isn't funny to most people, but it is hilarious to me, picturing her in that moment. That batty old lady.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Solomon Doesn't Play by the Fashion Rules

Now that he's older, he usually has his own ideas regarding his appearance. My opinion no longer matters. For instance, yesterday he refused to take off his jacket. No matter where we were, inside or outside. All. Day. Long. He even took a nap in it. And if he's wearing something with a hood, the hood is always up.

We're currently potty training so he goes back & forth between diapers & underwear. I keep him in underwear except when he's sleeping. But now when he wears diapers he MUST wear underwear over them. Oh, & he will only wear his underwear backwards. Because he wants to see the cartoon characters.

There are a couple of items he would wear everyday if I didn't hide them from him to be washed: his Elmo socks & his Ravens jersey. Purple & red do not look good together.

He also likes to wear his shoes on the wrong feet. I think this is more a defiance thing than an enjoyment thing though.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Islam on Capitol Hill -- A Rant

I received the below email this morning & honestly, it got me a little riled up. (Pretty long, sorry.)

September 25, 2009
Islamic Day of Prayer at the White House

Dear Friends,

We received this email today and feel that it is important enough to pass along to you. We need to continue to pray for our nation like never before!


In June 2007, Presidential candidate Barack Obama declares the
USA no longer a Christian nation.

In 1952 President Truman established one day a year as a National Day of Prayer.

In 1988, President Reagan designated the first Thursday in May of each year as the National Day of Prayer. 

This year however, President Obama, decided to cancel the ceremony at the White House not wanting to offend anyone.

On September 25, 2009 from 4am until 7pm, a National Day of Prayer for the Muslim religion will be held on Capitol Hill, beside the White House. As a Christian, it makes me really wonder where the REAL direction of this country is headed. 

Whether you didn't vote for the man or you did, as Christians I would surely hope that this would stir your spirit. They are expecting over 50,000 muslims that day in DC. 

The website is:
www.islamoncapitolhill.com

Pay particular attention on the website to the bottom of the page where it states, "OUR TIME HAS COME."

2 Chronicles 7:14 says "if my people, who are called by my name,will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." becomes more important each day. 

Perhaps all the things going on now in this country and around the world could be solved if we would heed this scripture. 

 
If you feel that this is an important issue, please feel free to make your friends and family aware. If not, delete it. Just a few thoughts to ponder on.

God Bless 
 
~If this upsets you, we have no one to blame except the Christians who haven't prayed.

~I've heard many complaints about the direction that our country is taking, many people are upset with President Obama and our government officials, but the truth is the only people to blame are we Christians who haven't chased hard after our God.  This is a spiritual battle that will become a natural battle if we don't pray. 


My thoughts:
  • First of all, why can't the Muslims have their day of prayer? This is America. Freedom of religion. If I, as a Christian, am allowed to have a day of prayer to my God, why can't a Muslim?
  • This day of prayer isn't really "at the White House." It's at Capitol Hill. The event also hasn't in any way been organized or sanctioned by the government. It's totally independent & not really political, other than the fact that the aim is to pray for our nation.
  • Hassen Abdellah, the organizer, stated, "Most of the time, when Muslims go to Washington D.C., they go there to protest some type of event. This is not a protest. Never has the Islamic community prayed on Capitol Hill for the soul of America. We're Americans. We need to change the face of Islam so people don't feel every Muslim believes America is 'the great Satan,' because we love America." (via snopes.com -- I went there first to check the facts as I assumed some of what this email said was misleading/misguided. The link will take you to "Islam on Capitol Hill.") So, Muslims love America. Who woulda thunk it? Abdellah's words really hit home for me. I am guilty of rarely praying for our government & country. I can't say I've uttered "I love America" very often (I do love it, for the record).
  • I also can't say I completely disagree with Obama's statement that America is no longer a Christian nation. It's a melting pot, for sure, made up of such a vast variety of people, of which only a portion is Christian. What exactly makes a nation a "Christian" nation? If there really is a such thing as separation of church & state, then our nation shouldn't be labeled as any type of religious nation, in my opinion.
  • I think emails like this promote fear & hatred. And I'm not sure why we Christians often feel this way. What is so threatening about this day of prayer? It isn't jeopardizing my rights, freedoms or my faith. There is no reason to fear or to hate; consider Paul's words in Romans 8, verses 28-39. No follower of Christ is ever really in danger.
  • I'm not really sure what the beef with Obama is regarding all this either. I know he didn't have the annual Day of Prayer ceremony at the White House, but it isn't like everyone else couldn't observe it. I reiterate, Islam on Capitol Hill hasn't been endorsed or anything by the government. So I particularly have a real problem with this portion of the email: "As a Christian, it makes me really wonder where the REAL direction of this country is headed. Whether you didn't vote for the man or you did, as Christians I would surely hope that this would stir your spirit. They are expecting over 50,000 muslims that day in DC."
Let them have their day of prayer. Pushing our beliefs on others does not lead them to Christ.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Confession Booth

One of my favorite writers, Jason Boyett, has posted a couple of confession blogs in the past. It inspired me to give it a whirl, to see if my soul will feel any cleaner. Also, I don't blog much anymore because I don't really have much to say these days. I blame this on Twitter & Facebook as they enable me to keep everyone updated on my minute-by-minute, oh-so-exciting life. I promise my confessions won't be nearly as funny & entertaining as JB's, so I encourage you to head on over to his blog & look around.
  1. Let's start with the reason I wrote this blog: JB. Even though I refer to him as one of my favorite writers, I've never read a single book he's penned. I've only read his Relevant mag articles &, obviously, his blog & Tweets.
  2. I like iCarly. A lot. In fact, I DVR'd it last Saturday so I wouldn't miss "iThink They Kissed." There is no reason for me to like this show. My kids are ages 1 & 3; no teens or tweens in this household. I am at least twice the age of the targeted audience. Weird? Yes.
  3. I am incredibly lazy. I do nothing most of the day & then scramble at 3 o'clock, after the kids are up from their nap (totally stupid of me & inconvenient), to do a few chores before Jason (my husband -- not to be confused with the aforementioned) gets home. My house, amazingly, does stay clean though.
  4. I have commitment issues. Not relationally, I am an extremely loyal friend, but just in personal pursuits. I change my mind about things a lot. For instance, I'd love to go back to school & get a Bachelor's, but I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up! Sometimes I want to continue with early childhood ed. Then I think, it would be cool to be a nurse. Or how 'bout [fill in the blank]. Then there's FlyLady. Twice I've tried fluttering with her, but I can't stick with it. Well, I could, but I'm not self-disciplined enough to do so. Those are just a couple examples. I'm fickle.
  5. I lack self-discipline in general.
  6. I hate exercise & love to eat. At the moment, this isn't a problem. It may catch up with me eventually though.
  7. I am so judgmental & tend to be a little self-righteous, which, I imagine, is amusing to God. Or maybe more like disappointing.
  8. I know for certain that God has called me into some type of homeless ministry, but I have been successfully ignoring Him for, um, what? Like 2 years now? It's easy to drown Him out with the white noise of life. I like staying within my comfort zone. Anyone who thinks following Jesus is easy has never really tried.
  9. I am a wanna-be hipster. I love everything about them but I am just not cool enough to pull it off. That & I'd rather dress like an adult than a 19 year old again.
  10. This one's a doozy: I voted for Obama. And I don't regret it. There. I said it. Let the verbal abuse from my family begin. I'm probably gonna get cut out of Daddy's will for that confession.
Whew! Well, glad all that's outta the way. I do feel a little lighter. Maybe I'll do this again sometime.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday, Charlotte!

Happy 1st birthday princess! You turned one yesterday & I can't believe how quickly that day arrived. You have brought so much more joy into our lives than I thought possible & it's hard to remember life before you graced us with your presence.

You are such a Mommy's girl & I love it so much! When I hold you, you lay your head on my shoulder, wrap your tiny arms around my neck & squeeze tight. It's one of the best feelings in the world.

Knowing that I am your first role model as a woman of God, it strengthens my desire to be more godly. As you grow, I want you to know that you are so beautiful & your worth comes only from the LORD. I hope you never let society's standards convince you otherwise. I love you, my beautiful baby girl.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy (belated) 3rd Birthday, Solomon!

My Super Solomon,

Sorry I didn't get this post done on your actual birthday, but it's been hectic these past few weeks (especially the day of your birthday!). We settled on our very first house a week before your birthday so our time has been filled with new house business. Painting, cleaning, furniture, unpacking. Craziness! But, how many kids get to say they got a new house for their birthday? ;)

Daddy told you about 2 weeks earlier that your birthday was coming, so everyday, for 2 weeks, after you woke up from nap you would say to me, "Gonna go to birthday now??" And you would sing, "Happy birthday to Solomon!" Even for a couple of days after your birthday we had to keep explaining to you that it had come & gone & it is no longer your birthday. That must be really hard to accept at 3.

We had your party at Chuck E. Cheese's, which was your first time there. You had so much fun! You, Delilah & Larry were walking up the SkeeBall games & throwing balls in. As Aunt Erin said, "a foe sho way to win!" The pizza was awful, but I don't think you cared. We had a Lightening
McQueen cake, your favorite!

(I stole this pic from Aunt Erin's FB -- shhh, don't tell her!)

Thank you for being such a cool kid (most of the time.... when you aren't purposefully driving me crazy). You are so stubborn & undeterred. And I love those things about you (except those times I reaalllllly want you to listen to me). You never let anyone tell you what you can & can't do, & I pray you will always remember that you "can do everything through Him who gives [you] strength." [Phil 4:13] I know you will never let others define who you are, & I hope you will always find your identity & purpose in the Father alone. Things may be challenging for us during these early years of yours, but I wouldn't trade them for anything. I'm sorry I'm not the perfect mom, & I thank you for always being so forgiving of my parenting errors. God has definitely used you to reveal areas in my life where I struggle with selfishness, among other things. The LORD is using you to mold me into a better person, to better reflect His heart. So what a blessing these challenging years are! You are my Super Solomon, & I love you more than you could ever know.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Manly Man

I saw Bradley Hathaway several years ago at a show in a dirty venue in Pomona. This poem brings tears to my eyes -- especially the part about "each of my daughters will know that they are lovely & deserving of authentic romance." He also sings & looks a bit like a hippie now (I <3 hippies).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

He will NOT be ignored

I tried to spend a few minutes online, you know, just to have a short moment of "me" time.... but I can't. Because Solomon is having a wicked tantrum right now. He is pulling my chair away from the computer, he actually climbed on the desk to sit between me & the computer, & he's wailing. Maybe I should feel guilty about this.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Boundaries

Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately -- so much has been going on over the past month that I haven't really had time! I plan to do a "catch up" post soon.

Anyway, so I want to talk about boundaries today & how certain people disregard them sometimes. Okay, a certain PERSON, my FIL Ed.

Back in October when Jason was home for post doc interviews, he & Ed went driving around the Frederick area as that is where we would most likely be living if/when we return to MD. (Which we did, obviously.) While there they met Paul, who would later become our Realtor. So as you can see, Ed's sort of been involved in our first home buying process since the beginning. In fact, at first Paul was solely contacting Ed about all of this. Jason quickly put an end to that.

We did not ask Ed to help us with any of this. He took it upon himself to watch the market & scope out some areas & houses while we were still in CA. He even offered to buy a house for us which we would in turn buy from him, just in case a great deal came along that we weren't ready to purchase ourselves. I truly do appreciate his desire to help us, & I know he means well, but the truth is.... I hate it.

Jason & I are adults. We've been on our own, with little to no support from anyone, for the past 5 years. We do not need assistance in buying a house. We agreed that if we could not afford what we wanted on our own we would have to settle for less of a home. Our finances are our finances. Not Ed's. Not anyone's.

Ed's very impulsive. Once in a while he would call Jason -- while we were still in CA, 3,000 miles away! -- & tell him we had to act now! The market's picking back up & interest rates are climbing again! Jason would explain to him, "It doesn't matter what the market is doing. We don't have the money for a house right now & we are across the country."

Jason has flat out told his father that this is our experience & we want it to stay just between the two of us. We don't want anyone else involved. But this past Sunday Ed ignored our demand for him to mind his own business & went behind our backs to go look at the house we decided to make an offer on.

Jason had gone over to his parents' house & Ed wasn't there. He asked Jewel where he went & she told him the truth, that he had gone to Hagerstown to meet Paul & look at the house we chose. Jason immediately called Ed & tore him a new one. He had no business contacting our real estate agent to go look at the house we want for our family. Ed was pissed at Jewel for telling Jason what he was doing, but I'm glad she did. Not only did Ed butt in where he didn't belong, he tried to hide it from us! In a way I feel betrayed.

It sounds kinda silly, I'm sure, to be so upset over this. But it isn't about a house. It's about boundaries. Ed deliberately did exactly what we told him not to do. Then tried to hide it. I'm furious with Ed, & so is Jason, but Jason said all he could to Ed so there is no need to beat a dead horse. I think Ed got the message this time. He had better anyway.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gluttony Spelled Backwards

I swear I'm gonna gain about 50 lbs due to all this stress. It makes me want chocolate like nobody's business.

What a hectic day! Last minute we learned of a graduate yard sale where we could take our furniture to sell this morning. Yay for us! But the last minute part is what complicated things. We scrambled to take pictures of the furniture & make fliers, then Jason had to go to the lab to print them in color. Stupid Word took FOREVER & was all glitchy (stupid Microsoft - I hate you!), which caused Jason to get to the sale a half hour late. I also sent him in the opposite direction when I told him where it was being held. Oops.

He sold our couch & coffee table within the first hour, which is awesome, but it was removed from our apartment almost immediately after. I wasn't prepared for that -- I thought everything would stay put until after the sale, around 1 or so. Our friend Chris came over for lunch, as planned, but we didn't have anywhere to sit! So we had lunch on the floor, Japanese style (only with grilled cheese sandwiches & potato soup.... not so Japanese style). We still had a nice visit though! It was great catching up with him :) (We hadn't seen him in about 4 months as he went on a mission trip to Mexico.)

The downstairs area quickly became a ginormous mess as we started boxing more stuff. Then Jason had to go get his parents from the airport & take them to get their rental car, leaving me with a 2 yo who kept asking for Vóvó & Pop-pop. When they did finally get here, we just uncomfortably hung out here, due to having very little seating, & Jason & Ed continued with packing.

We met up with Jon & Molly for dinner & while we were there we learned that the timeshare my in-laws got didn't have a kitchen. Awesome. We found out earlier in the day that it was only a one bedroom, but we figured we could work around that (4 adults + 2 kids) as it has 2 double beds & a pull out sofa. No kitchen, on the other hand, is quite upsetting. I felt really bad for Ed because he did the best he could to find a place to stay here, but it's the summer & they're close to Disneyland.... the odds are against a person at this time of year & at that location. Everyone was kinda giving him grief about it & I just wish I could've told him it was alright. Maybe I can tell him tomorrow.

Another crazy day is expected tomorrow! Church in the morning (last one with ROCKHARBOR... I'm probably gonna cry :*( ), lunch, then packing, packing, packing! At least the kids will be with Ed & Jewel so we can focus on things around here.

Please pray that Jason & I will survive this week! There is light at the end of the tunnel!!

In case you can't figure it out, gluttony spelled backwards is ynottulg. Exactly.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Stressed Spelled Backwards

Today was so frickin' stressful! And poor Solomon got the brunt of it because:

Stressed out mommy + a 2 yo = DISASTER

I mostly just screamed, but he did get a spankin' or two (only for dangerous stuff though, i.e. throwing his cup at his sister -- that thing is heavy!). I probably would've been way more patient with him if I wasn't freaking out over moving stuff. I hate myself for being a screamer. Sometimes I think of my mom friends & picture them all being way more calm & patient with their kids. Then mom guilt sets in.

Anyway, so about the moving issues. We had to cancel Mayflower, the moving company I hired, which quoted us around $2,000.00 & estimated about 2,100 lbs, as Jason's new job told us we had to use the moving company they're contracted with. Yesterday a surveyor came out & quoted more than double (over $5,000.00!) & estimated 5,100 lbs. Jason said he walked through the house with the guy & told him item by item what we were keeping & what we were leaving behind & yet he wrote on there that we were taking the refrigerator. Really? He really thought we were going to take a refrigerator out of a RENTED apartment?? Jason called the actual mover today & said, "That guy is either incompetent or completely ignored me." I'm guessing it's a combination of the two. Jason then went on to tell him that we could refurnish our whole house for less than that (we did, in fact, when we first moved here, thanks to IKEA!).

After that Jason & I had to rethink the furniture & decide again what we are keeping or getting rid of so we can meet the minimum weight requirement for the moving truck. The crappiest part of all this is that I only have 6 days to sell what we aren't keeping. If we can't sell it then it's off to the dumpster (since we won't have a way to haul it to Salvation Army :( ).

Not only is it crappy that the moving arrangements aren't being made until the week before, but it's Jason's last week at work & it's the most stressful time for him! His defense is Friday, so only a couple more days, but it's killing him. I just want all of this to be over. The next 11 days are going to be hell.

Well, I'm off to eat desserts now! Maybe a piece of chocolate with my tea....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Delicious Dandelion

I finally took the time to dump our videos onto the computer. This is one of my favorites. It makes me smile every time :)



(Clearly Jason dressed Solomon that day.... he doesn't match.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I am a Material Girl

Not really, but last night I was thinking of some things I really want. I like stuff. I like to spend money on stuff (I am my father's daughter). So here is my wish list, in no particular order:
  • TOMS shoes. A real possibility, but it will probably have to wait a while. At least Solomon has a pair.
  • iPhone. Yes, I am pining for an iPhone. Even if I wait until next year when Verizon carries them (assuming we stay with Verizon & the rumors of them carrying the iPhone are true), I don't think I can justify spending that kinda money on a stupid phone.
  • Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag. I've seen several moms at church with these awesome bags! Again, sadly, I can't justify spending so much money on a diaper bag. Even at their outlet bags are still $100+. *sigh*
  • Clothes. I love to buy new clothes, not just for me but for the kids too. They're fun to dress! Like life-size baby dolls (that eat & poop & cry & destroy things). The thing about clothes is that there's always something to buy. So it's sort of a never ending desire.
  • Books. There are several books that I want to get: Crazy Love by Francis Chan, The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, Churched by Matthew Paul Turner, & any Jason Boyett book. There are others, but here's where I'd like to start. (I did buy a copy of Mike Erre's Death by Church a couple weeks ago at church so I'm gonna focus on that for now.)
I always have mixed feelings about wanting unnecessary things -- does anyone else or am I alone on this?? I'm constantly battling with myself, going back & forth between wanting nonessential items & thinking about all the things I could do with that money for others instead (or simply thinking of the bills we need to pay... depends on what the credit card looks like at that moment).

I don't NEED a Petunia Pickle Bottom bag, there is nothing wrong with my $30 bag from Target. I don't NEED an iPhone, my current phone works just fine. I don't NEED new clothes, I have plenty in my closet.

I still think there is more than enough room for change in my present lifestyle, to live more simply. But why does living simply have to be so difficult? Why can't it just come naturally to me??

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Beloved

I am so very proud of my amazing husband! He has accomplished so much at only 26 years old & I know he will do so much more in the years to come. Three weeks from tomorrow he will graduate with his PhD in rocket science (really it's molecular biology, but it's all the same to me so it may as well be rocket science!). He has worked so hard on his studies & research here. He has solved 3 different protein structures & co-authored 6 publications, 3 of which he is the first author.

Not to mention he has managed to do this with a somewhat demanding, & at times pain-in-the-ass, wife & two children....

While thinking about what he was going to write in his acknowledgments for his dissertation he faced a dilemma that was pretty significant considering his field. Generally speaking, scientists are not people of faith (interesting side note: of the 4 people in Jason's lab, 3 are Christians) so he felt really uncomfortable about thanking the LORD in his acknowledgments. On the one side, he could be looked down upon for making this bold proclamation as a scientist, but on the other he would be surrendering to the expectations of men, sort of being ashamed of his God. I am happy to say he decided to thank God anyway! I am so proud of him for making this decision :)

Jason loves the LORD, & I love Jason even more for that. But he is also not afraid to ask difficult questions, another thing I admire him for. They are common questions, but not easy to wrestle with, such as: Why does God allow suffering in the world? How is it just for God to send people to hell? Is God evil or good -- He has raised up entire nations only to destroy them -- how is that loving? I love that he doesn't blindly "buy into" Christianity. This attribute drives me crazy at times because I'm usually the one he discusses these things with, & my brain just doesn't function as his does. So I get frustrated.

We have been together 7 years, the last 5 in marriage, & he has proved to be a wonderful husband & father. He shares in the responsibilities at home: cooking, cleaning, finances, child care, & more. Of course I typically manage the home most of the time because I am here much more than he is & he has been so overwhelmed lately at work that I've tried to ease the burdens of home life for him. I'm not always successful in this, but I do try. He is very affectionate with our children & I love that. His own father was never an affectionate person, so it is incredible for me to watch him cuddle & kiss the kids. He enjoys giving Solomon baths & playing with him (sadly, things that are a little lower on my "Fun Things To Do" list -- I'm just a bad mom). My heart melts when I watch him interact with Charlotte; she's totally stolen his heart. He tells me all the time that I'm hot & makes me feel so beautiful, so desirable.

We bicker sometimes (what married couple doesn't?) & there are days when we don't want to be married (sometimes it's more about commitment than how we feel). We are far from perfect, but we try to keep our marriage & our home centered on Christ. Five years of marriage isn't a lot (well, maybe it is by today's measures) & we have many more years to face, fighting for our marriage & each other. I am so thankful that we both want the LORD's will for our marriage & our lives so we will be fighting together, side by side.

Thank You, God, for my beloved husband. He isn't perfect but he is perfect for me.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Liberty & the Standards of Jesus

Jason showed me today's devotional on RBC Ministries' site & I found it so profound I had to share it. As Jason said, "Oswald Chambers was a genius.... like the Mike Erre of his day." (Although I think that statement should be reversed, since Chambers preceded Erre.)

Liberty and the Standards of Jesus
by Oswald Chambers
(Here's the link if you want to go to the actual page)

A spiritually-minded person will never come to you with the demand— "Believe this and that"; a spiritually-minded person will demand that you align your life with the standards of Jesus. We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One whom the Bible reveals (see John 5:39-40). We are called to present liberty for the conscience of others, not to bring them liberty for their thoughts and opinions. And if we ourselves are free with the liberty of Christ, others will be brought into that same liberty— the liberty that comes from realizing the absolute control and authority of Jesus Christ.

Always measure your life solely by the standards of Jesus. Submit yourself to His yoke, and His alone; and always be careful never to place a yoke on others that is not of Jesus Christ. It takes God a long time to get us to stop thinking that unless everyone sees things exactly as we do, they must be wrong. That is never God’s view. There is only one true liberty— the liberty of Jesus at work in our conscience enabling us to do what is right.

Don’t get impatient with others. Remember how God dealt with you— with patience and with gentleness. But never water down the truth of God. Let it have its way and never apologize for it. Jesus said, "Go . . . and make disciples. . ." (Matthew 28:19), not, "Make converts to your own thoughts and opinions."

[Emphasis mine.]

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Can't Resist

This frickin' song is stuck in my head. I hope it gets stuck in yours too.

"At the Reeeeeed Hoooooouse!"



P.S. I <3 Rhett & Link.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Incident #4 of #2

Last night Solomon, for the fourth frickin' time, took off his poopy diaper & smeared it into the carpet, his door & his bed. He had already had 2 baths yesterday so he then needed a third. Jason, who is anti-spanking, smacked his bare little bottom twice over it. Solomon got really upset over the spanking, so maybe, hopefully, that was the last time.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The End is Nigh!

I found out the other day why it is that Jason doesn't want me to pack yet. He FINALLY gave me this reason: "It's just that things are so hectic at work & I need something normal in my life. When I come home to boxes everywhere it reminds me that I only have a month left to finish! I want home to be normal for me, but it isn't." *Sigh* This explanation made me feel like a horrible wife. I thought that by getting some of the packing done now I would be alleviating stress, but all I did was create NEW stress!

*****

I'm having a moving sale next Saturday. Never had a yard sale before, so I'm a little nervous about how it will all turn out. My good friends Caroline & her husband Gabe are coming down to help though, & they are experienced in this area, thank goodness! I'm not really out to make money; my main priority is to get rid of stuff, but if I can make a few bucks off it, why not? I got a phone call today about a t.v. we are selling. The only problem is, it isn't a t.v. It's a computer monitor. I felt a little bad for the guy, but it did say "Dell monitor" on it.

*****

The kids had their first bath together this morning. I was kinda worried about taking on this feat but I knew it was the only way (easiest way!) I could get them both bathed this morning. Solomon's pretty wild, especially when water is involved, so I was afraid he would hurt or scare Charlotte. But she loved it! She laughed & splashed right along with him. It was cute :)

*****

Now that our move date is just on the horizon, I gotta admit... I don't want to leave now. I thought I did for so long, but after 5 years of being on our own out here, this place feels like home. Alas, it doesn't matter now, our decision has been made & we are off to return to MD. Even though I'm torn about leaving SoCal, I know we made the right choice. We -- er, I mean I -- need to be closer to family during this phase of our life. With small babies at home, & probably more to come, I really need more support than what I have here. I guess I'm mostly to blame for my lack of community. I could've joined mom groups or something, but mom groups can't replace family. It is hard being so far away. Especially during difficult times: deaths, job loss, arrivals of new babies, etc.

*****

Well, I'm off to pack some more. (I've already started so might as well keep going. Besides, Jon & Molly just dropped off a ton of boxes yesterday. Gotta use 'em up!)

Shalom peeps!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Don't Let His Size Fool You. He's a Hard-ass.

We FINALLY got our car back today -- woo hoo!! It felt sooo good to drive a manual again. Jason & I met with the manager of the service & parts department over some charges we should not have had to pay. Long story short, if they had correctly diagnosed the problem the first time, the labor would've been covered by the warranty, amounting to about $700 (remember, we paid over $900 the first time we took the car in).

Some friends came over to watch the kids but we decided last minute to take Charlotte, because she doesn't usually do too well with people other than me & I wasn't sure how long we'd be gone. We had read some complaints on Edmunds' website several weeks ago, when things first went sour (actually, the only comments about this dealer on the site were complaints, one being eerily close to our situation). One person referred to the guy as a "loose cannon" & that the owner "hid behind [the manager's] skirt." So, needless to say, we were kinda nervous about meeting with him. On the way there Jason & I agreed that Charlotte & I would go into the meeting with Jason in hopes of softening the guy up. Jason also mentioned that research has shown people to be less aggressive when they are out numbered.

I pictured the manager as a grumpy old man, but found a very large, intimidating 40-something man. We were there for a long time, about an hour, & the guys office was like a sauna. A lot of the conversation was annoying because even though Jason was saying, "if it was done right the first time, we wouldn't have had to pay for labor, therefore I want a refund," they guy would reply with, "people make mistakes; nobody has a crystal ball," & "I promise you we are not unethical," etc. We weren't accusing anyone of being unethical. We understand people make mistakes, but that's not the issue. The issue is that they needed to own up to their mistake & compensate us for the inconvenience & refund the unnecessary charges. Jason said later that he thinks the guy was beating around the bush just to see how far Jason would go, trying to feel him out. My man does not back down when he thinks he's right.... which is about 98% of the time....

Toward the end of the conversation, the manager said he commended Jason for the way he handled the matter & appreciated him coming to talk it out. He was very sincere, gave us a card & told us that no matter where we were, if we felt we were getting screwed by someone else we were dealing with to just call him & ask him about it. We weren't given the whole $700 back, as we do have new brakes which would've had to been replaced eventually anyway, but we agreed to $614, which was all the labor costs from the first visit. If we were to stay in this area, I'd say that dealership would've have earned themselves some repeat customers. Jason told the manager that he would write a positive review on Edmunds for them. (They need it.)

The moral of the story: don't mess with my husband :P He's a stinkin' genius & it's near impossible to screw him over. Especially when it involves his hard-earned money. I <3 my Fred Mertz.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Everything

Last summer the youth at Dani & Will's church did this skit. I bawled during the whole thing... & I bawled through this whole video. There's just something that wrecks me, to the core of my soul, watching the dance which symbolizes God's fight for me. He's battling the world & the evil within it that vies for my devotion because He loves me so much. So much that He sacrificed Himself for me. I can't even fathom -- & then I see this skit. It shows me, in a very limited human way, what that looks like.

"How can I stand here with You & not be moved by You?"

I can't.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Resurrection Day!

Easter celebration was absolutely amazing yesterday! Always is, of course. But this year ROCKHARBOR decided to do baptisms during celebration! What better way to celebrate the resurrection of our LORD & Savior than to have baptisms?! I ALWAYS cry tears of pure joy during baptisms. I can't begin to explain the happiness I feel when I watch someone's public declaration of their faith in Christ & joining our family. There were a number of people who had come to celebration planning to be baptized, but it was open to anyone & everyone who wanted to do it spontaneously. Girls (& I'm talking the "epitome of Orange County" looking girls) were getting baptized in their Easter outfits with makeup & hair all done; guys who were dressed nicely too. Even when celebration was over people were still randomly coming up to be baptized! It was so beautiful! God is good!! Man, if i get this emotional over the baptisms of complete strangers, how am I gonna react if/when my own children make this decision??

We always sing this song at the end of Easter celebration & it is truly the perfect ending to the service. Everyone dancing & shouting, rejoicing in Christ's conquering of death!



Anyway, after church we went to Jon (Uncle Cookie) & Molly's, which is always so much fun. I love hanging out with them! They had an egg hunt for Solomon & then we dyed eggs. We ate dinner with them & hung out a bit longer before heading home.

What a great day!






Saturday, April 11, 2009

Seek Week, Saturday

Quick story unrelated to Seek Week: After lunch I put Solomon to bed & then went to take a nap myself. Well, instead of sleeping he decided to try & change his own poopy diaper. Since I was asleep I didn't hear him calling for us to change his diaper, if he did at all. He opened all the packs of wipes that were in the diaper cabinet (needless to say, we no longer keep ANYTHING in there) & poop was smeared all over the carpet, his clothes & his bed. I did laugh for a few seconds, because it was funny that he tried to change himself, but once I had to start scrubbing crap off of everything, I was kinda pissed. Thank God for OxiClean & Febreeze.

The end.

READ
Mark 15:42-47

REFLECT
Within this story of death & resurrection, there is an invitation for all of humanity to experience both death of the egocentric self & the resurrection of a new life that is found in Christ. It is here that we are no longer able to see our lives as fragmented & isolated occurrences that are to be experienced in an independent manner.

This new way of being in Christ moves us from the haunting idea that we are in this alone to an awakening to the beautiful picture that we are all in this together. It is this shared experience of the death we are called to step into where we can together embrace our nothingness apart from God. Then this new resurrected life can become a reality we participate in together. In this new shared experience we are no longer competing, comparing, or attempting to get ahead of each other; rather we are together basking in the shared light of God's love that shines upon us for no other reason than the fact that we are.

PRAY
As we look toward resurrection Sunday, ask God if you need to surrender a need to compete, compare, & attempt to get ahead. What areas are you measuring yourself against others, wanting leverage over them? Ask God that you would be able to simply receive the gift of His love that is available to all.

Coincidentally (or is it?), I just talked to my friend Kelli about something that sort of relates to this. I was telling her about how I wanted to buy a shirt but after a while decided against it because I asked myself, & surprisingly answered honestly, "Do I really need this?" And of course, I did not. When I was working I would buy stuff all the time, unnecessarily, for the simple reason I could afford it. I LOVE spending money, especially on clothes. Probably too much. So this is definitely a heart issue for me. Some people may not have considered my shirt dilemma a big deal, but for me & my heart, it is. I never really considered my "need" to have new clothes all the time as a way of competing with others, but that's exactly what I was doing. This is just one example. I compare myself to others in countless ways: my physical appearance, being jobless/a SAHM, the kind of mother I am, my education, the kind of housekeeper I am, the kind of Christ follower I am, our financial situation, my kids, my husband.... the list goes on & on.

I should be thanking the LORD for putting us in a tight financial position. Although it isn't fun, it's forced me to really think about the difference between needs & wants. I hope & pray to God that even when do we have a roomier budget again that this lesson learned will keep my spending habits in check. (It doesn't hurt that I'm married to Fred Mertz either. God knew what He was doing when He paired me up with this tightwad.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Seek Week, Friday

Today's Good Friday service was amazing (as always) & very powerful. Every year they give out slips of paper & pens so you can write down things you want to be free from, then you nail them to a cross. For those of you who have never done this, or have never even heard of this, it symbolizes your sin & your old self dying on the cross with Christ. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." -- 2 Corinthians 5:21 (emphasis added). We are now new people because of this most loving act & are no longer slaves to sin. Sometimes, though, we still live as though we are in bondage.

On my little piece of paper I wrote a note to the LORD about, of course, my anger. I wept as I wrote & couldn't control the rush of emotion that came over me. I pretty much wrote on the piece of paper what I wrote in my blog last night. I kept trying to not cry, but the harder I fought, the more I cried. I hate myself because of my anger & I am ashamed of how I treat people -- especially my own family. First John 4:7-12 says:

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

That's a painful passage for me to read. "Whoever does not love does not know God." My heart is broken tonight.

READ
Mark 15:1-41

REFLECT
When the story of our lives is shaped by an egocentricity that seeks to establish & prove itself to the world, our decisions are made based on what is going to make us look best to those who happen to be around. In this story we have no real center, so we continuously have to protect the circumference of our lives.... leaving us exhausted, unfulfilled, & restless.

In Jesus, we find the greatest expression of what life looks like when it allows itself to be shaped by the story as opposed to our own selfish desires. When Jesus was mocked, ridiculed, falsely accused & beaten, Pilate was shocked that He did not defend Himself. Jesus knew what was happening was unjust, but from a vantage point that was able to see the panoramic view of God's story unfolding, He was able to absorb the moment of injustice & death because He saw & trusted in the life & resurrection that were to come.

PRAY
Ask God how you have made your life the point of the story. Ask God for a new perspective, one that views each moment of your life as part of God's larger redemptive story. Ask Him that this perspective would transform the way you live.

I'm a pretty self-centered person, so how have I NOT made my life the point of the Story? I need to be taken down a couple notches. Humbled. I really should get involved in serving again. I need to be reminded regularly that it's not all about me. I need to give myself away.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Seek Week, Thursday

I expected my week to get better as the days passed, but unfortunately it has just gotten crappier. I've had a really shitty day & I do not feel like doing this tonight. Spent some time venting to God about everything, & even blaming Him for some of it. Right now I don't feel my heart is any closer to being prepared for this weekend than it was a week ago.

Pressin' on.

READ
Mark 14:12-72

REFLECT
On the night that has come to be known as the Last Supper, Jesus extends an invitation to those present to participate in a story. What is this story? It's the story of death & resurrection. Jesus breaks the bread & shares the wine with his disciples symbolizing the breaking of His body & the pouring out of His blood for the healing of the world. With this act, Jesus' words, "Come follow me" just took on an entirely new & profound meaning.

The invitation to participate in this story begins with us dying. This is a concrete ego-death where we let go of our old self, & trust in this new resurrected life in Christ. All of us want to experience the freedom that comes in this new life but we are not first trusting in the death of the old life. But it is only when we first trust in the death that we are able to experience this radical re-orientation of our entire being in Christ.

PRAY
Consider what ways your old self is still present in your life. As these ways are revealed, acknowledge them. Ask God for peace to know these things don't define you. And ask Him for strength to move past them.

Hmm. My old self is still present in my life in almost every way. At least it affects me in almost every way. I cannot rid myself of this horrible anger. I've BEEN acknowledging my anger issue for so very long & have begged the LORD to heal me in this area, yet it continues to debilitate me & ruin my life. Unfortunately, my anger DOES define me & I since I've been struggling with it nonstop, I in turn struggle to trust that the LORD will heal me.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Seek Week, Wednesday

Today was not a good day for me. While I did steer clear of Twitter & FB, I let the t.v. run alllll daaaaay loooong. I have also been incredibly cranky & thus, incredibly impatient with Solomon. Poor kid. It's sad he got stuck with me as his mom. (I have a good reason to be cranky today -- in addition to Charlotte's nightly feedings, Solomon woke up around 2am & didn't go back to sleep until after 4. So, yeah. I'm tired.) I suck.

Seek Week....

READ
Mark 14:1-11

REFLECT
Jesus overhears some of those at Simon the Lepers' house rebuking the woman harshly for anointing Jesus' feet with an expensive perfume. Jesus tells them to "leave her alone. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial." Burial? Can you imagine what some of Jesus' disciples & those in attendance are thinking? "You're going to die soon? We thought you were going to help us overthrow Rome & now you're talking about your coming burial?"

This moment was the tipping point for one of the disciples.... Judas.

Verse 10 says, "Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them." When Judas sees the way Jesus interacts with this woman, he realizes his expectations of the Kingdom of God are far off from reality. He feels betrayed. He feels frustrated. And he's had enough. It's at this moment that Judas glimpses where this week is going to take Jesus & what this will mean for Christ's disciples. It will not be a life of luxury, but of death. So Judas opts out by heading to the chief priests & creating an alliance that in his mind will, unlike the Kingdom of God, protect & provide for him.

PRAY
Do you believe the way of Jesus is really the best way to live? Ask God if there are ways you have taken measures into your own hands to ensure you are protected & provided for. Ask God for a trust that will allow Him to show up on His terms.

After contemplating & praying on this for a bit, no instances are coming to mind in which I tried to protect myself rather than trusting God to do that for me. I'm sure there have been plenty of times but I can't really remember anything specific. Even after losing my incredibly well paying job, knowing it would be near impossible to find a new one in my condition (pregnant), I never stopped trusting that God would provide for us. And He has been, unceasingly, in various ways. For instance, we didn't have to buy diapers for Charlotte out of pocket until she was more than 6 months old.

But on the other hand....

The American lifestyle is exactly that: self-reliance. "Look out for #1!" And I am not immune to it. We are self-made people & proud of it. I don't worry about where my next meal is going to come from, or if I'm going to die from a preventable &/or treatable disease, or if my kids will be stolen from me & forced to join a rebel army. Maybe I can't think of specific instances where I tried to be my own provider/protector, but I probably do this in little ways everyday unknowingly. Because that's what middle-class Americans do.

After writing out these thoughts, I am reminded of a video I recently watched. Francis Chan is a pastor in Simi Valley, CA & has spoken at our church once or twice before (& he is amazing!).



To be honest, I am afraid to pray this prayer. It's scary to depend solely on someone else, even when that someone else is God. There are areas in my life where I certainly trust Him, but complete control over everything.... not so much. Well, I guess God has now given me the answers to the above questions.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Seek Week, Tuesday

The LORD gave me the strength & I stuck to my commitment & did not Tweet or goof off on Facebook at all today (I will admit I went on to FB briefly to get someone's email address, but that is it, I swear!). I only let Solomon watch t.v. during breakfast & lunch & then we watched FOX during dinner. The entire morning I played with the kids: Play-doh, Mr. Potato Head, blocks & just general silliness. We let iTunes play all morning so Solomon would sporadically break into song & dance throughout the morning. I was so tired this morning though.... & bored to tears (which I think exacerbated my tiredness). The afternoon was a little rough, but tomorrow is a new day.

Okay, on to Tuesday of Seek Week!

READ
Mark 11:20 - 13:37

REFLECT
As Jesus enters the temple area on Tuesday, He is immediately questioned about His authority by the chief priests & teachers of the law. Authority was a big thing to the Hebrew people because, in their minds, only a few teachers possessed it. If one had the authority, they would be free to make new interpretations of the Torah -- the first five books of the Bible. When you read through the gospels, you see many times that Jesus does this by saying, "you have heard it said; but I tell you..." When Jesus would do this, people often wondered where He received this authority.

It was customary during that day for a rabbi to receive this kind of authority by being blessed by two other teachers who already had it. In Matthew 3:13-17, you see John the Baptist baptizing Jesus & heaven immediately opening up as the Spirit of God descends down onto Jesus like a dove & a voice declares, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." At this moment, Jesus receives the authority to make new interpretations, to invite people to repent becuase the Kingdom of God is at hand, & to usher in a new way to view reality.

PRAY
Does Jesus have the authority to speak into every aspect of your life? Ask God if there are areas where you have not given Him authority. Ask for courage to release these areas to Him. Ask for faith to believe that God wants to bless you in new ways in these areas.

I am not in a praying mood tonight, but I half-heartedly offered up these questions/requests to the LORD anyway. Thank goodness His faithfulness is unwaivering, no matter how much I waiver.

Areas of my life I have not given the LORD authority over:
  1. Child rearing -- I depend on my own strengths way too much & rarely ask the LORD for help in this area. I just scream & spank.
  2. Time -- My time is MY time & I don't like to share it. I don't give God much of my time, devoted solely to Him (i.e devotionals/quiet times); I don't give my kids enough of my time (mostly because playing bores me to death); I don't volunteer my time for service. I don't allow God to dictate my schedule, which is kinda weird when you think about it, since, you know, HE is the one who gave me my time to begin with.
What would it look like for me to release these areas to the LORD?
  1. Child rearing -- Rather than just scream & spank, I can spend time explaining to Solomon why God does/doesn't want us to do certain things. How will Solomon reflect God's character if he doesn't know of God's attributes & His desires for His children?
  2. Time -- I've heard before, & I believe this to be true, that the cure for selfishness is service. Before having children I loved being involved in service activities, both in & outside of church. God has really put the homeless, specifically, on my heart. But I allow the fact that I have small children to excuse me from not participating in such activities any more. I believe this lack of action contributes greatly to my "stuck in a rut" feeling. I usually think of what a hassle it is to take the kids anywhere, & really, how much can I get done with them around? I also convince myself that's it's okay I'm so lazy about it right now since we're moving in 2 months. I need to give myself away in some serious ways....

Monday, April 06, 2009

Seek Week, Monday

So the week before Easter is "Seek Week" at ROCKHARBOR, during which we spend time preparing our hearts for Easter celebration. This year they distributed these handy-dandy packets with inserts for each day, Monday through Saturday. I have decided to blog my reflections each day this week, to share with you what God is doing with me, in me. (If you're only interested in reading my reflections, rather than the whole thing, skip on down to the bottom. I just thought it would be nice if people knew what I was reflecting upon.)

READ
Mark 11:12-19:

Jesus Clears the Temple
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written:

"'My house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

When evening came, they went out of the city.

REFLECT
There were four courts in the temple; one for the priests, one for the Jewish men, one for the Jewish women, & one for the Gentiles. People came from all over the ancient near east to offer up their sacrifices & prayers at the temple. Imagine taking your yearly pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem & not being able to get in because the Jewish men have turned it into a bizarre where you can purchase animals for sacrifice & exchange money.

When Jesus sees the leaders of His day creating barriers for those who truly want to worship, it breaks His heart & He responds by driving out those who are selling & buying in the temple. He reminds people of Isaiah 56:7, "for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations." By driving out those who had neglected this verse, Jesus removes the barriers in the temple so that all are free to come & worship God uninterrupted.

PRAY
We each have spoken or unspoken barriers that will attempt to hold us back from worshiping God this week. Ask God to reveal what these barriers are in your life. Ask God to meet you in the midst of them. And ask Him to be free to come & worship Him this week.

As I prayed to the LORD & asked Him to show the barriers in my life, two specific things were brought to my attention:
  1. Anger (the obvious one).
  2. Media/entertainment distractions (computer primarily); selfishness with my time.
After this revelation I asked Him what I can do to break down these barriers. I was none too thrilled with His response:
  1. Anger: I have no idea how to break down this barrier. This has been heavy on my heart for so long & "I'll just try harder next time" simply does not work. I didn't hear from the LORD so much on this issue during my prayer time, so I just asked, "LORD, how do I surrender this to You? You have already freed me from anger, so help me to act like it! BUT HOW??? So frustrating.
  2. Time-sucking media: God made it perfectly clear what He expected from me on this one. Fast. Fast from the computer & t.v. shows & videos. God, I just want You to know, I am not okay with this. But, I'll do it. (Please note I am only fasting from Twitter & Facebook. Email is not really a problem area for me & I want to blog, another not-so-problematic area, through Seek Week.) In place of the time I would normally spend on the computer, I will devote to my kids, showing them what it means to live a worshipful life. (I'm gonna do my best anyway.) I will only check email & blog during naps & after bedtime.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Update on the Car Situation

So it looks like Jason didn't have to raise hell to get a little compensation for the crap we went through -- thank the LORD! They explained that their mechanics/technicians are limited as far as what stuff they can do so they had to bring in a specialist of some sort to come on site & check it out. Tuns out a bearing came off & was rolling around, causing the clicking sound we were hearing. (I dunno what they're talking about, so if you don't know either, don't ask me. Also, if you DO know what they're talking about, don't explain it to me.) They had to order a part, which would take 3-5 business days to come in & then a day or two to fix it. So we were going to live without a car for a week & a half. But Hyundai was able to give a loaner, which they don't typically do, for 3 days. Better than nothing, but still not that convenient. At least they are trying to help us. I'm just happy I can do my grocery shopping without having to walk to the store with 2 babies & that we can go to church tomorrow. Yay church!! Hopefully we'll have it back in time for our Spiritual Parenting class on Tuesday.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Aim Lower

A friend of mine sent me this video & I thought it was interesting. I've never really considered the Great Commission this way. Maybe we make things way more complicated than they should be.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Fiasco (AKA Saturday Night)

The beginning of this nightmare actually happened the Saturday before when, on our way to Jon & Molly's house, our clutch started making this clicking sound as though a rock or something was stuck in there. You could feel it through the clutch as your foot rests on it. The next day Jason had a friend take him to drop it off at the dealership & thus we were car-less for 2 1/2 days.

It [allegedly] took the technician the first entire day, open to close, to get the car to do for him what it had been doing to us for the previous two days. We were told that it was because we needed new brakes & rotors. We were also due for some regular maintenance so after everything was said & done, we dropped nearly $1000 on repairs. Yikes! But we assumed we wouldn't need anymore major work done for a while, & we hadn't really up until this point, so we just sucked it up & rolled with the punches. It was finally done late Tuesday evening but we weren't able to pick it up until the next day.

Wednesday night, the first time I took the car out, I had gone to the grocery store & halfway home the clutch started doing the clicking thing again! Jason calls the dealership back Thursday morning & was told we could bring it back in "if we wanted to" but it past safety inspection & is "safe to drive." Alright. They're the experts, they should know. We had decided to wait out the weekend & take it back in on Monday. Except, the car didn't last until Monday....

Saturday we drove to Glendora, nearly an hour away, to a friend's "welcome back!" party as he had just returned from a 6 month missions trip with YWAM. The clutch noticibly worsened about 45 minutes into our trip. We were coming off the 60 onto the 57 where we came to a light. Immediately upon stopping at the light the car silently died. Awesome. A line of cars were stuck behind us, trying to get off the freeway. Horns were honked (though the person directly behind us didn't -- she understood what the flashing hazard lights meant). People were mad. Jason called Hyundai's roadside assistance & I called our friend to let him know what had happened. All the while Solomon was screaming this awful, high-pitched scream that he does & Charlotte was crying. More awesomeness. Finally, after we had been sitting there for about 10-15 minutes, this man & his son offered to push us around onto the road, off of the exit, & we happily accepted. At least we weren't blocking the exit anymore!

Two friends were able to leave the party & come to our rescue; Ramses took the kids & me to the party & Chris & Jason stayed with the car to wait for AAA to send a tow truck. Thank God for Chris, who had AAA, as Hyundai was going to charge us $100 to tow! Ramses, the kids & I safely made it to the party around 6 (it started at 5). After about an hour & a half I called Jason as they still hadn't shown up. Jason explains to me that they were still waiting for the tow truck as AAA apparently dispatched a tow truck in TEXAS! That poor truck driver in TX was driving around on a road by the same name, looking for our car. So then AAA had to cancel that tow truck & dispatch a new one. Chris & Jason finally got to the party at about 8:30, we stayed for another half hour & Ramses took us home. (What a sweetie! That's a 2 hour round trip for him!)

Unfortunately, the madness didn't quite end there. Since the kids didn't get to bed until about 10:30, & they both have colds, they were both tired & cranky all day long. It's been a terribly long weekend.

Well, Jason has a few choice words for the dealership tomorrow & wrote a letter for them today. He said he's going to wait to see how they handle the situation & if they're cooperative, we will put this all behind us. If not.... well, I'll keep you posted. It ain't gonna be pretty, I promise you that.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Graduating to Solids

We've been giving Charlotte rice cereal for a couple of months now. Inconsistently, though, because I'm too lazy to make a bowl. It's much easier to nurse her on the spot. At her 6 month check up I confessed I wasn't feeding her solids as often as I was supposed to be & the pediatrician said it's mostly to help babies gain weight & Charlotte certainly wasn't having any trouble in that department, so not to worry. He said we should go ahead & start giving her stage one foods though.

Well, transitioning to solids has proven to be both challenging & annoying. Charlotte simply has no interest in eating solids! She refuses to open her mouth & either purses her lips or sticks her tongue out, making it difficult to shove the spoon in there. All she wants to do is play with the spoon & chew on the rubber covering. While it is adorable to watch her do this, I don't want to spend a half hour trying to feed her a little bit of food. Especially when my two year old is running amok or throwing his own food.

I'm sure it'll get better with time. Just gotta keep on keepin' on.

Rice Cereal attempt #8. This pic cracks me up.

She stole the spoon from me.

Charlotte, before trying carrots for the first time.
(She has more bibs. It's just a coincident that she's wearing the same one.)

Other than the whole not opening her mouth part, it went alright.

She's a spoon thief.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Naptime Shenanigans

Solomon had been in his room for nearly an hour & still hadn't gone to sleep. As I was passing his room I saw him jumping up & down at his door, shouting at me, "I'm a bug! I'm a bug!" When I stopped to get a good look at what he was doing, I found he had Charlotte's ladybug swimsuit dangling from his neck & he was running around, in squatted position, arms sticking straight out behind him, going, "Bzzzzzzz! Bzzzzzz!" It's hard to be aggravated with him when he's so darn cute.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Holiest Birthday Gift Ever

One of the many reasons I heart Dave Khalif: he's the funniest, most creative person I know. Hmm. Maybe that was 2 reasons. Anyway, for my birthday he gave me the following:


The awesome Sponge Bob tin lunch pail contained: a Sweet Jesus Air Freshener, Virtuous Vanilla scent (doubles as an anti-theft device); Jesus Saves Your Breath mints, 12 wintergreen mints, one for each apostle; Pocket Jesus Saves (it's a little Pepto-pink, plastic Jesus figurine. And, yes, I do carry it in my purse. I like the pink Jesus better than the Suburban white Jesus with shiny, flowing hair & blue eyes. It also came with a bonus bumper sticker.); & finally, a tiny book entitled "The Monster That Ate Stars." Weird, weird little book. Doesn't make much sense really, but that's sorta the point.

Dave, if you read this, this is my official request for next year's birthday gift. I would like to see a comeback of "Gauche."

(P.S. Maria, do you think these things with Jesus' name slapped on them make Him cry? Or laugh hysterically?)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Charlotte's Baby Dedication, 1/25/09

I finally got the dedication pictures back this week! Yay!! We got to church a bit early so we could get the pics done & save our seats. Jon & Molly, Charlotte's Godparents/Jason's bro & his wife, were with us, along with Trevin, the Petersons & the Morenos! Some our closest family & friends :) We were able to have Trevin come up to pray with & over our family, which meant so much to us.

There's something so powerful about standing before your church family, committing your child to the LORD & promising to raise them up in His ways. And hearing your church family also committ to supporting you & RockHarbor's family ministry. It's a heavy burden & a huge responsibility to "Train a child in the way he should go" [Proverbs 22:6a], but it's also such a privilage that God entrusted us to help guide them in His ways. If my kids do only one thing right in choosing to be in relationship with Christ, then I have done my job & can die a happy woman. I don't want their faith to be something they "do" because that's how they were raised; I want it to be authentic. I want them to grow up & own their faith. Investigate & figure out on their own that the LORD is good, not just because Daddy & I said so. Their decision to follow Him is more important than anything. More important than education, financial success, even their personal happiness. Eternal freedom is better than a mesley 80 years of self-indulgence.

We had to choose a life verse for Charlotte, one we were to pray as a blessing upon her. We chose the same passage we selected for Solomon for his dedication 2 1/2 years ago & we will use it for any other children we may have:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. -- Ephesians 3:14-19

Here are a few pics from the dedication. For some reason, Solomon was abnormally cooperative that morning, thank God! :)