Thursday, February 26, 2009

Breaking News Story

We interrupt not posting to bring you news about your friendly Pretty Funny for a Girl authoress, Abby Edema. Abby is currently entering into day four of hospitalization for pneumonia. Abby feels like hell, even after three days of antibiotics. Abby's doctor says this is a really really bad case. Abby recalls being hospitalized after a head on collision in high school and thinks that lasted much shorter and was all around much more fun. Abby cannot speak without massive coughing attacks, so do not try to call Abby. Also, do not visit Abby as you don't want this crap. (And because Abby will not be able to talk.) Abby likes to spend her days coughing, sleeping, feeling nauseated, coughing, blowing her nose, wearing ice packs to bring her fever down, coughing, and today's favorite pastime- "where the bleep is my medicine?" and "could someone please bring me the yogurt the doctor ordered me for breakfast that is supposed to keep my stomach from churning and bubbling all day?" It is currently ten till ten, so that is a sensational 15 hour return if it arrives in the next few minutes. Enjoyable nighttime activities are more or less the same except for the delightful creepiness that is that three of the patients on our hall have "night confusion." I am not sure what night confusion really is, but I can tell you that it manifests itself with loud shrieking and wailing. It's nice when they all get going together. 

Well, I'm having just  wonderful time, too bad you can't all join in on the fun. And it looks like the fun is going to last right into (if not through) the weekend. Gotta go 24 hours without a fever and I'm currently sporting a lovely 101.9 (not nearly so exciting as the 104.9 from before). I know what you're thinking, you're thinking of that old song where it says "anyone could see the road that they walked on was paved in gold. It's always sunny; they'll never get cold. They'll never get hungry; they'll never get old and grey."  I know, I know, some gals have all the luck. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Things We Think And Do Not Say- or My Version of Such

I have thought a little more about my problem with horn tooters and have something to say; then I promise I won't mention it again. Can you tell I am often misunderstood? I feel the need to clarify. I promise I am really not the world's biggest jerk. I think I am going to move on to just generally more shallow subject matter. It's not me really, and I don't really see the point of me blogging about nothing- lots of people have way more interesting things to say about nothing than me- but I just can't take the criticism. No, I don't think I'm perfect. I just think when I mean things in a light hearted, joking sort of way, they are sometimes read with a mean tone. And when I mean to be vulnerable about my own struggles and my own sin as an encouragement to others that we all struggle and we all sin, sometimes it is perceived as "airing dirty laundry" or making light of it in an irreverent sort of way. Obviously, people have all different senses of humor and degrees of openness, and I can't expect everyone to "get" me. But to what end are there a whole bunch of people out there thinking that I am some kind of someone I'm not? I tend to think you just wouldn't read if you don't know me or like me, but then I hear about all these people who read that don't know me. I really don't mind that. I have nothing to hide. But is it all coming out wrong? Are people reading just because it's like a train wreck and they just can't look away? I thought about disabling the comments at one point, but it clearly isn't anyone commenting that's having a problem with me; it's the off-screen conversations that are taking place. Maybe I should have thicker skin, but at the place I am, at least for right now, I am just really sensitive and really don't need the added level of stress that comes from people making this or that judgement about me. So do I just shut down the whole thing? We'll see. I am reevaluating everything right now. That's what happens in the hard times isn't it? We start to rethink what we're about, what we're called to, who we want to be. Everything is on the table, everything is at a crossroads. 

Ugh. I sound so dramatic. I am so dramatic. I'm okay with that. It's a little embarrassing sometimes, and a little frustrating because no one is as riled up as I am about whatever I'm riled up about, but it has its up side. Sort of. Well, it's just who I am. Anyway, I think I want to clarify what I don't like about some other blogs because it helps me think about what kind of blog I want to have, should I continue. I want to have the kind of blog I would want to read. And the thought that keeps coming to me is Micah 6:8 "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" I think that's what bugs me in other people, when I don't see that justice and mercy and humility. No, not that I'm perfect. It bugs me in myself too; it just sometimes takes me a while to see it. I guess it's just the posts that sound like they're bragging about how many really important things a person is involved with or the ultra healthy way they eat or basically any post where it seems like the author is telling you why you should be like she is, and she has illustrations to drive it home. Do I do that? Probably. I don't mean to. Heaven knows I am one mess of a person. Sometimes I say I do things to sound normal. I think everyone exercises every day and reads every day so I try to talk about exercising and reading to make sure people know that I am normal. I'm really not normal anyway. Is "normal" even real? NO! But there's the idea of it out there, and it is oppressive. And it is perpetuated by people who preach it. It's like Dr. Chapell's comments on parenting, only it reaches so much further into every part of life- there is an emphasis on Biblical living in Scripture, but not a precise list of right and wrong answers. But somehow the world, and often the Church, tells us there is a "normal" for the way we should feel, the way we should look, the way we should spend our time, the way we should spend our money, the food we should eat, etc. etc. And the idea I'm getting is not true to the way I feel or look or spend my time or my money or what I eat. And I really do love mercy. 

That's why I say "hey, all I ate today was half a 14 oz. bag of M&M's" (not actually today, February 19th, but plenty of days) or "I drank six cups of coffee today. Six!" or "we went to McDonald's the past three Fridays." (which may actually be true) or (and this one is true) "Last week, I fed my family cheesy baked potatoes one night, pasta with alfredo (cheese and butter) sauce the next night, and cheese quesadillas the next night. That's it for three days, cheese." or "I accidentally threw an envelope with eighty dollars in it away." Yes, I did. Sort of. I thought I did for three weeks, but then, only because God is merciful, I found it.  "My children have been wearing the wadded up contents of the clean clothes basket for a week." Or how about, "I haven't cleaned the bathroom in two weeks. Stubble from George's razor, a splatter from when my little boy "missed" (nice!), and several other gross things that I'll spare you from, they're all there." (true at this moment) and finally, "I walked into a bathroom where my little boy had tracked mud all over and had his muddied shirt half off soaking in the cold water that was splashing out all over the floor and reached out to grab the splashing arm and screamed out 'what are you doing?!' nearly breaking his heart." (and mine, I wept) Am I saying these are wonderful things that I hope you all will join me in? No. I hope no one read that that way. I am saying that these things happen. Some are out and out sin (like yelling at August) and some are just being human. But for goodness sake, we all do both! Do we glory in that? Well, in humanity, yes. I have thought often about if I had a digital camera, posting pictures of the dirty dishes overflowing out of the sink onto my counter the morning after! What a relief that would be to me to check someone else's blog and see the very same thing on their front page that is sitting in my own kitchen! And as for the sinfulness, no, we don't need to glamorize it or call it something it's not. We don't make light of it or "sin that grace may abound." But can we have an honest assessment of who we are? If we can be humble enough to confess our sins before the Lord, surely we can confess it before fellow sinners? Or maybe I'm wrong. George reads all my posts like this before I publish so I am sure he will tell me if I am. 

On the other hand, there is something to be said for the lack of tone and annunciation that comes with this medium of communication, even the skill of the writer, and the comprehension level of the reader. I used to love the Encyclopedia Brown books as a kid. There was a whole episode that was built around this very subject. There was a quarrel between two characters that resulted from a mispunctuated  phone message taken by a third party. It was poorly written and consequently misinterpreted by the reader and chaos ensued. Take this exchange with my sister in law from earlier tonight. I hope I can utilize the proper punctuation and italics to communicate her tone and mine:

How it actually happened:
Abby "I have been wearing a sports bra every day for two weeks almost but I can't get the energy to run with all these sick people around. And now I have the virus and can't run anyway!"
sister-in-law is merciful "I know! I have a 5 mile race coming up next month and I haven't started training yet because we have been sick!"
Abby "Oh no. Well, then you understand."
sister-in-law is just "Yeah. And it's just so cold too. But I have been doing a pilates video."
Abby "Oh, well that's great! I haven't ever done pilates. Is it hard?"
sister-in-law is humble "It's really good. It is just 20 minutes long; it's all I really have time for in the mornings." 

Emphasis changed to make sister-in-law sound like Jetta from Clifford (it did not happen this way!):
Abby "I have been wearing a sports bra every day for two weeks almost but I can't get the energy to run with all these sick people around. And now I have the virus and can't run anyway!" 
sister-in-law is not merciful "I know, I have a 5 mile race coming up next month and I haven't started training because we have been sick!"
Abby "Oh no... Well, then you understand?"
sister-in-law us not just "Yeah, and it's just so cold too, but I have been doing a pilates video."
Abby "Oh, well, that's great... I haven't ever done pilates. Is it hard?"
sister-in-law is not humble "It's really good! It is just 20 minutes long- it's all I really have time for in the mornings." 

Well, I'm not sure how well I did that. But, if you have ever seen Clifford on PBS, that will help. I think you probably get the idea. 

One other thing I have considered is the intended audience. If you are a perfect person, then we will not likely get along that well. I am a mess, and I am all about the working of that mess into something lovely by the Lord throughout the entirety of my life. If you don't like messes, then you won't like me. I am not really writing for people who hate messes. And if I go to your blog and see all the prettiness of life and every ugly thing carefully concealed as if nothing were ever messy or askew, then I will feel sad. However, if you can be merciful to messy people and just about your own self and others in light of God's law, and humble about your own messiness, then we will get along splendidly! This does not mean that I expect everyone's blog to be as absurdly transparent as mine. I do recognize that my blog is all very opening scenes of Jerry Maguire, overgrown emo kid turned homeschool mom (they didn't have emo when I was a kid, but I would have fit in nicely), Marianne Dashwoodesque whoa! But you know, I just hope that my readers are the kind of people who are at least pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. And likewise, I hope to pursue that if I continue- or in life, at least, should I choose to stop blogging. And I believe that is important for me as a reader and a writer. So I cancelled my subscription to that other blog. I never did find mercy or humility there. And if you don't find it here, I want to know! But please read with that in mind as well (provided there is more to read)! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Other Blogs

I started this post last week and am only now getting to it to finish. (This is the post I mentioned to Brit in the comments. Now she is found!) Anyway, I am leaving in the part about the Oprahesque blog with a post script at the end. Let me know what you think:

Have I mentioned that I really enjoy looking at my Gmail Reader recommendations? If you don't have Gmail, Reader is the service that sends new blog entries of your favorite blogs to your email so that you don't have to keep track and click all over the place checking for new posts. They also give you recommendations based on what you are already subscribed to. I subscribed to my friends' blogs first, and for weeks Reader kept telling me to subscribe to one of my friend's husband's blog. Well, his blog link is right next to my husband's blog link in our toolbar so I ignored the recommendation for a while, but I finally subscribed to it so they would quit suggesting it. Once I subscribed to his, my recommendations were all these hilarious Catholic news blogs, bird blogs, and sports blogs for a while. It was pretty funny because I am not the least bit interested in any of those. And it had me guessing that the new recommendations must be based on subscriptions of the other people who have the same subscriptions as me. He teaches at a Catholic university, so that's probably the deal with the Catholic blogs. Anyway, I am not sure which blog subscription it was that blew this whole thing wide open for me. But I have been getting tons of feeds for homeschool blogs and particularly Charlotte Mason homeschool blogs. It is a good time. I can really get behind the Charlotte Mason thing in theory, but I am so not an outdoorsy person or science person- not because I can't appreciate those things, just because I have such limited exposure to those things. I mean, yes, I have been outside every day of my life, but no one ever took me hiking or taught me to play ball or pitched a tent in the yard, or whatever it is people do. I just don't know what to do with myself outside. And therefore I don't often know what to do with my children outside. But I am getting some ideas.

I am also getting recommendations for some of the "spiritual blogs" that have anywhere from 140 to 850 subscriptions. Those can be interesting too. I like some of them. But I have subscribed to one that particularly irks me so that, of course, I can write about it on here Andy Rooney style. Man, I would be so good at Andy Rooney's job! I wonder if they have anyone in line to take his place when he retires? He's 90, y'all!  Anyway, about this one blog, the one that irks me, I'm trying to give it a few more days to turn it around. So far, I'm just getting more annoyed. Can 154 subscribers be wrong? Why yes, they can. Y'all know you're so intrigued now! Email me if you want the link. Join me in the glorious annoyance of a horn tooter who loves the pretty life (yick! what a combo!) and teaches it like it's the way every Christian should live. It's so tragically Oprah. Are people still watching Oprah? They are. I know they are. Ugh, I can't keep thinking about it. 

So what is wrong with me that I like the grumpiest person on TV and can't stand the "most likable" person on TV? I don't know. This is a theme in my life, I just march to the beat of a different drum. I'd like to think it's because I'm just so intuitive and intelligent. But don't let's be silly! Although, I am right about Oprah. Lest I sound like a horrible jerk, a list of people/blogs I like:

George's group blog- remember Mumblety-Peg? It's still around, but it is a little different than it was. George and Matt moved on and started up this new blog, Musing the Profundities, with a few new friends. 

Jon's blog- Barlow Farms. But if you subscribe, they will recommend all manner of Catholic and bird blogs- just so you know :) 

Annie's blog- simply, Annie Blog. Annie is Jon's wife (and my friend). She has the gift of using words with great economy- you can imagine how I envy such a gift :) Also, she is an amazing cook! Use the search option to find great recipes. 

Jennifer's blog- Chez Jennifer. Jennifer is one of those people that has been blogging since the dawn of blogging. She is not so much a frequent blogger, but from time to time she will let you know when she has read a particularly good book or has been thinking of something worth sharing.

Rebekah's blog- if you know me, you know it is confusing that I have two really close friends named Rebekah. One is a friend from high school and lives just outside Nashville. The other is a friend from Auburn and lives in Birmingham. I love them both, but only one of them has a blog. Rebekah Wright, formerly Anderson of CPA cross country and track fame (she placed in the state meet every year during high school. 21st her freshman year- because that was the year she trained with me and we mostly just talked- 5th her sophomore year, 3rd her junior year, and 3rd her senior year- Pretty cool eh? I looked it up, Rebekah!), has a blog that has the occasional humorous story, a preschool craft or teaching idea (Rebekah was a preschool teacher before she had her two sweet daughters), and  entries about the process of adoption as she and her husband walk through it for the first time. Rebekah also has the cutest etsy shop which she opened to help raise money for the adoption. 

My once neighbor Becky is one of those people that is amazingly good natured and lovable. I don't know her as well as I'd like, we almost missed each other at seminary housing completely. But I am getting to know her on her blog better. Too bad I'm a lurker! Why don't I just say hello? Maybe I will. You can too at The Blue Hutch

My good friend Jessie also has a blog, but it is only open to invited guests. And I guess you're just not invited! Just kidding! But seriously, you do have to be invited. So a link would be useless to y'all, or else you already have it. Most of my other friends who blog have stopped almost completely. Or I lost some people- Brit, Laura, etc. (If I lost you, but you're still around, post your link in the comments.) I think that is why I found the need to search for new material. As I glean from my new found homeschool blogs, I will try to pass along anything I find particularly helpful of useful. 

Okay, fast forward a week and here I am. I have still been keeping up with that one annoying blog, trying to know what to do with it. I mean, I'm torn. Because life is nothing like Real Simple magazine. It just isn't tidy and cute and flowery every second of every day. I feel like there are people out there pretending that either it is, or it should be. And sometimes it's Christians pretending that that is what the Christian life is all about. And well, I've said this before, Jesus said that in this world we will have many troubles. So this idea of a charmed life doesn't seem to be from the Son of Man who had no place to lay his head, certainly not on a matching set of $50 Rachel Ashwell pillow shams. On the other hand, I can totally get behind the loveliness of Rachel Ashwell pillow shams. As a wife and mother, I think it is important to make my home lovely for my family, with a cheerful and loving heart (try not to laugh), with good food (but lots of times with just cheesy scrambled eggs), and with nice things that make our home feel "homey." I have recognized the importance of the latter even more after having been without it for seven months (nine months since graduation, but only seven months since moving- sorry for the unintentional swapping, if I have done that). Anyway, I don't know. I don't have a problem with Rachel Ashwell or Real Simple or whatever, I just know that it doesn't seem to be something we should think of as necessary or imperative, and we should be careful where our time and money are spent. I think that if our focus is on those things, we have missed something really really big. But there is room for those things, of course. So, with this blog that has bugged me, does this person seem to be claiming that taking her vigorous walks and drinking her green tea and collecting driftwood on the beach is somehow related to piety? And could it be? I mean, I don't know what her life is like. If her life is really crappy and she is pouring herself out for others, and that is the way she chooses to make it more lovely, by taking the time for these things and really enjoying the good things God has given her (and all of us), then I think that's great. But if she is preaching it and thinking that those things alone make her some sort of role model, I am annoyed. By all means, take a walk with your dog and enjoy the beach, but tell me there is something going on outside of that where you are serving others and taking part in the Kingdom. And would I call that horn tooting? Maybe I would. I don't know. I need to figure out why some people don't come across as horn tooters and some do. I think it is the measure of vulnerability and humility and sincerity that comes across in their writing. But then again, aren't some people just bad writers? Well, do with this what you will. Remember, I am not talking about your blog (unless beach-y green tea lady reads, which I don't think she does)! And I am clearly not sure what I think, and am trying to reconcile it so that I understand these fellow saints that initially really rub me the wrong way. Any helpful thoughts? Am I rubbing y'all the wrong way. Well, I told you, I would be a great replacement for Andy Rooney. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

I am sick of trying to think of titles. Sorry.

I hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day. Everything in the last week at our house was slightly confounded by Amabel's week long 103 degree fever. She was in bed from Tuesday until Thursday afternoon when we finally went to the doctor. I never want to be the paranoid mom who rushes her kids to the doctor for every scratch, bruise, or tummy ache, but I never want to be negligent either. It turned out that she had an ear infection on top of whatever virus she was suffering from, so I am glad we went and got her an antibiotic for that. After that, she still hung onto her fever and more or less stayed in bed until Saturday evening, so all of our Valentine's crafts and baking, all last week's homeschooling, and even church was a no go (you know the 24 hour rule!) But George's mom graciously offered to give us a few hours on Sunday afternoon so that Valentine's Day was not completely lost on us, and more importantly, so that I might actually get out of my house for the first time in six days! When we came to pick the kids up, it was August who had the fever. So, it may be another six days' isolation this week! At the very least it has forced us to cancel our trip to Nashville and Birmingham. Boo! Didn't I just say something about us being thankful that at least we're not sick?!

Okay, I did manage to get out one or two times in the six days of Amabel's sickness. We had invited guests for dinner on Wednesday and then had been forced to cancel because of illness. My friend Sonja's kids were also unwell and we had been trying to get together since Christmas. I suddenly had the rare free night on my hands, so we decided we had nothing to lose as a pair of carrier monkeys, and met at Starbucks for a coffee and a chat. I had also worked out a babysitting swap for Valentine's with our good friends for Friday and Saturday nights. When the weekend came, I did not feel good about requesting their services in our germ infested home, but I did feel okay about sitting over there for them to get a night out, provided they have their children in bed so that I would not transmit germs to them. (As you can imagine, these were their thoughts as well.) I had a nice night just sitting on their couch with a book and a Coke Zero for a few quiet hours. That was Friday night. As I drove toward the interstate for home at 10:45, it occurred to me that I had not ever gotten Amabel that video I was wanting to get her for Valentine's Day, and that I had not gotten George anything. Luckily, the last thing I pass before getting on the interstate to come home is a Borders, and Borders is open until 11:00. 

What I got for them at Borders is not important. What I got for me, because I was just too in love not to, and I really had just written the last page in my old one that day, was this super cute owl journal. It's so much fun isn't it, y'all? The owls are winking! ("Wink at you?!"- who can name the movie with that quote?) They have a whole line of this stuff. But I was trying to be somewhat practical, so the journal was the obvious choice.  Sometimes I am not sure how to justify a purchase like this. I mean, yes, I did need a new journal, but would a fifty cent spiral notebook not have served just as well? I know that it isn't that big of a deal. But there is the matter of clothes for the kids and repairs for the cars, etc. I tend to think that $10 here or there is neither here nor there, but I know that that kind of thinking can get you into trouble. On the other hand, I figure the last thing I bought myself was the owl mug I bought almost two months ago, which I also posted about and truly has proved to be a very happy thing; plus, I never have used that Christmas money.... 

Anyway, weren't we supposed to be talking about Valentine's dates? We went to see He's Just Not That Into You. I liked it. I liked it a lot. But I can't necessarily recommend it. I have learned that for a Christian teenaged girl who was often regarded as something of a goody two shoes, I was actually quite worldly. I never felt like I had very many boyfriends compared to a lot of people I knew or that I made foolish choices (well, I did know a few were pretty bad), but now that I have grown up, I realize that I must have just known a lot of really rebellious kids or something. Anyway, I could have really used He's Just Not That Into You as a college student. My friends and I regularly "staged a run in" or "did a drive by." We jokingly called it "stalking." And well, that wasn't altogether far from the truth, albeit in an uncreepy sort of way. Or maybe it was creepy... Anyway, the movie sort of gets this about girls and makes fun of it. I had known the book existed, but as it came out past the time where it would have been helpful to me, I had never looked at it. But the movie was fun. The main character was adorable, and had a lot in common with unmarried Abby, right down to her favorite movie (well, who didn't love Some Kind of Wonderful in high school!). Instead of it telling me what to do on the dating scene, which I am clearly no longer part of, it helped me laugh at myself for what I was then, cheer up that maybe I am not the only girl who ever wasted a year thinking some guy liked me when all he wanted was someone to hang out with when he was bored, and be really grateful that in spite of a lot of misread signals and relationships gone really wrong, I ended up with a great guy. So, you might not like it if you are prone to thinking that silly girls who are strangely desperate to be paired off are sad or stupid, but if you, like me, remember that season of life, and maybe even need to laugh about it, then you might really like this movie too. 

Other thoughts on the movie: 1) There are quite a few gays. They are applauded inasmuch as they don't have the issues that all the straight people have. But because the movie is about the straight people, the gays don't come into it that much. I kind of feel like they are just going to be in movies, just like they are going to be in my world, and that is just how it is. In my world, I can befriend them and treat them like a human being with dignity, made in the image of God, and show them the love of Christ, as with anyone else in my world. As movie characters are not real people, it is a little more frustrating, at least to me, to know what to do with them, because it is usually that their flamboyant gayness and obnoxiously stereotypical wise, sensitive, and insightful nature is being crammed down my throat. At this point, I am fine to tolerate this except to the point of gross jokes. There were likely a few gross jokes, but after watching Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist on DVD the night before, I wouldn't have noticed them. 2) There is adultery. *spoiler alert* What I loved was that the two adulterers were the two that did not live happily ever after. It is so nice that even in Hollywood, there is still some understanding that adultery is unacceptable.

Okay, so those were my thoughts on the movie.  I feel compelled to comment more on Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, but as this post is already too long, I'm going to leave it where it is. Perhaps I shall revisit Nick and Norah in another post. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Something Helpful from Dr. Chapell

I just stopped reading Each for the Other, a book by President of Covenant Theological Seminary, Dr. Bryan Chapell,  mid-sentence to post this for you all. I don't know how relevant it will be for some of you. This book, even for me, has been a little too "easy" so far. While I think it would have been a fabulous resource to have had during premarital counseling (nice to know that the pastor who did our premarital counseling is now divorced...), I think it has mostly been discussing things we have already worked out in our nine years of marriage, at least on a large scale (not that I don't have my specific struggles with submission from time to time, but I at least am reconciled to and striving toward that end). However, I have just entered the parenting portion of the book, and I find getting a handle on the Biblical mindset of parenting a little more challenging, if for no other reason, because there are so so so many different teachings on the matter. I mean, it is not often that you run into the popular teaching of something other than the husband being the head of the home and called to love his wife who is called to submit to her husband. But, how many different emphatic teachers have you heard or read that say all kinds of nuanced things about child rearing? Exactly. Dozens. 

One thing I have heard myself saying to people who have not been a mom as long as me (with my whopping seven years of experience!) is that the only real advice I have is to take advice very lightly as there is always a ton of it, and much of it will conflict with the rest of it. Just think of your four or five best friends in regard to the first weeks of parenting- you probably have both a baby-wiser in there and a feed-on-demander in there. I do. So that runs the gamut from feed them any time they want to keeping them on a strict schedule, and we're just talking about two week olds! Now remember (or imagine) the advice on potty training, napping, manners, sharing, spanking etc. -that's just in the first two years! Next up is reading, schooling, aaaghh! It's out of control! I mean, yes, these decisions have to be made, and your friends are, or at least should be, pretty gracious about the idea that these things are choices and vary from parent to parent and child to child (not all children of the same parents will have the same experience because each child is different even if the parents are the same!). But for every "school of thought" you will find among your friends, there is probably some kind of (or, more likely, many) emphatic, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" book insisting that everything in Creation points to their philosophy on thumb sucking (or whatever). 

But here's what Dr. Chapell says, way better than I ever could:

"The Bible's emphases show that the daily context of Christian living is the most powerful tool of child rearing, rather than a precise set of right or wrong parental behaviors. A child's nurture is not determined by a list of rules that we mysteriously divine from Scripture's relatively few statements on specific parenting practices. This conclusion flies in the face of some handbooks on Christian parenting that teach there is only one correct way to affirm or show affection or discipline. Some have even claimed biblical proof for the proper feeding times of infants. Such instructions defy the liberties of Scripture and deny the dignity of individual differences. This kind of teaching also seems to imply that children are likely to be ruined if we make a single mistake in some particular moment or aspect of a child's upbringing. This is precisely what Scripture does not attest. ....
Scripture does not require me to believe that a momentary error will wreck my children. Were I to believe it could, then I would become paralyzed for fear of doing something that would forever ruin them; or I might refuse ever to examine my parenting patterns lest I have to confess that I had warped my children by past mistakes. ... The grace that a Christian heart embraces and that a Christian's marriage should foster allows Christian parents the privilege to fail, to seek forgiveness, and to try again."  (italics for "deny the dignity of individual differences" mine because I think that is HUGE!)

Thanks, Dr. Chapell. I feel much better now. 
A little later I read this (just in case the clarity is helpful). I am changing the time stamp so it will appear below the first post:

"I am not devaluing the many helpful things we can learn from Christian authors and other experienced parents. We simply must remember that the complexities of each child's nature and situations will not allow template responses. This uniqueness of each child should not frustrate of bewilder us. Rather we can take it as biological affirmation of the beautiful creativity God has applied to making each of our children special. Not only does the uniqueness of each child affirm his or her individual dignity, it has the additional benefit of driving each conscientious Christian parent back to the foundation of Christian living- a prudent application of scriptural principles discerned by a heart in tune with the Lord. A loving relationship with God is fundamental to Christian parenting. This is especially obvious when we are talking about discipline. For if we do not have a grip on grace, then we will not have the courage to discipline; but if grace has no grip on us, then there will be no constraint on our discipline."

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I'm too tired to think of a title. Seriously.

Well, first of all, I don't know why I said George was working 65 hours in the last post. That was a mistake. He is working more like 55. I guess I was trying to factor in the commute? Anyway, sorry for the unintentional exaggeration. And speaking of work, many of you know that we were back at the "country churches" interviewing again this weekend. We stayed in the home of a really dear family who fed us and helped us get around town and made us feel right at home. We arrived on Saturday night and went to the local school fundraiser, an amateur-hour-like event after the fashion of the old show Hee Haw. It was a lot of fun. There were also games and contests and a bake sale that took the form of an auction- one blackberry cobbler went for $85! This morning, George preached two sermons and led both worship services. The people of both congregations were warm and friendly. They had a huge spread laid out for all the folks from both churches after the second service with all manner of delicious homemade dishes. It was a really nice time to share a meal and get acquainted. And then George went in for a "formal interview" that I believe went fairly well. Afterwards, we went on back to our hosts' home to change clothes and pack up. But the children begged to stay a little longer and see some cows up close, so we all piled in our hosts' pickup and got a tour of their farm. The kids rode in back on bales of hay, bundled up in hats, coats, and blankets. It turns out that the cows really aren't that tame so they weren't able to get within a few yards of them, let alone pet one. Well, we're city slickers, we didn't know!  It was a really nice visit and we all really enjoyed ourselves. Amabel actually cried when we left! (I'm not sure it wasn't an "I'm seven and I'm exhausted" moment though.) I appreciate all of your prayers and I am sorry I forgot to announce the trip on here so some of you who I don't see at Bible study or know to put in the "mass email" to friends could have had a heads up. You are still welcome to pray though! I think both parties, the churches and our family, will need wisdom as both decide where to go from here. 

Well, it was a great weekend, but I am so tired right now I could cry. I couldn't say more if I wanted to, but I think this gives you a general idea. Okay, I can't write that sentence without recognizing that it is near verbatim from a Morrissey song. But then, I don't think any of y'all know Morrissey well enough to have caught it. Anyway, unintended plagiarism as well there. Although, can anyone really own the phrase "I could say more, but you get the general idea?" I think not. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

An ADD Moment

Well, I am not sure we're in the clear with the mice, but I have pulled everything of ours out of their favorite places and that helps cut down on the frantic disinfecting. In place of my pots, pans, and kitchen utensils, we set baited traps. Hurray for traps that keep you from having to look at dead mice! We had two full ones yesterday morning. We were going to get more, but Home Depot was completely sold out. I guess we aren't the only ones with an angry cat! 

Sometimes I think these things happen to put the rest of life in perspective. I know I sound like a total whiney stress case as I lament the various frustrations of my life lately. I'm a venter. And maybe a blog is not the most appropriate place to vent. In real life, as opposed to cyber life, I think honesty and vulnerability is conducive to building better relationships. That's easy for me because I have to restrain myself to not be too open; my weakness, besides frequent TMI, is often not knowing how to ask other people questions that help them feel more comfortable sharing. No one has to ask me anything, I just blah blah blah. But again, is that appropriate for online? Some of you have said it helps you know me better. I'm all good with that- but consider that it is a rather one-sided relationship! Nah, I don't mind, but I am always glad to hear a lurker "'fess up." And anyway, I just tell myself that this kind of online openness has the potential to really comfort someone else who feels weary with the hardships in their own life and is not sure they aren't the craziest person in the world for feeling how they do. Although, isn't that just the worst when someone you don't want to be like is like "you're just like me!" So everyone is reading along and "Oh crap! I don't want to be like Abby!" Don't worry, I have super awesome friends with real feelings too, just think of yourself like them. So it could be comforting, but it also has potential to disgust people. I know it can be so disgusting when someone acts like their own problems are just the worst thing ever. You just want to scream at them to look around and see the rest of the world. 

My world is small. It is growing though. I remember how poor I thought I was when George made 45K at his job in Birmingham! Of course, it was less coming in than our friends without children who had the incomes of two people working full time. But it was so silly to complain about that when there are people in our country working for minimum wage. That's $6.55 an hour, y'all!  At forty hours a week, 52 weeks a year, that is an annual income of $13,624. I have heard people say, "this is America, anyone can get a job!" And when you challenge them, they clarify that they just mean anyone can get a job at a place like McDonald's. Just for the humor, I will remind everyone that George couldn't get a job at McDonald's. But even if "anyone" could get a job there, the starting wage, according to my brief internet search, is somewhere between $6.65 and $7.20 an hour. So optimistically, you're still coming home with just $14,976 for a year of hard work over hot fryers and grills. So, I wish I had done that math before I whined about our 65 hours a week at $10 an hour. But no need for the math when you have mice. How much easier is it to be grateful for work and the money you do have when you realize that you have been blessed with no mice! I am not sure that makes any sense, but I just feel I got a glimpse of how bad it could be. Not that it couldn't be so much worse than mice. Rebekah had a snake! Annie had rats at one point? 

In Auburn one year, there were nine of us girls living in this charming old house at the corner of Gay Street and Opelika Road. I was so excited that I found a picture for you on Google Maps, but every time I try the link, it just takes me to the satellite map of America. Boo. I can actually "walk" down the street, and all the way to class (seriously!) with my mouse (no, not that kind of mouse)! Google Maps is awesome! I am sad that Auburn has changed so much though. Walking down College Street was kind of strange. I barely recognized it. And what is up with the campus? It is all different. I actually emailed a librarian at Ralph Draughon to ask her what the deal was with the street changes. The street that runs between the library and the Quad is called Mell St. now. Huh? I can't remember what it used to be called, but not Mell St. Anyway, this has nothing to do with what I was saying. What I was saying was that we used to live in this great little old house. I was, as you might could guess, the night owl of the group and almost always up late. Usually I was out or up with at least one other person at home. But these were the days of what George's roommates dubbed "the Abby phone," so sometimes I would be up alone on the phone with George- which was dumb because he lived less than a mile away. Anyway, one night I may have actually been studying or else just off the phone with George when I heard a noise in the kitchen. I was a little spooked because there was no light on in the kitchen and everyone in the house was sound asleep. I cautiously and quietly stepped down the hallway and peeked around the kitchen doorway, and screamed bloody murder and woke up the whole house! It was a rat, y'all, a huge stinkin' rat the size of a rabbit! It was on our kitchen table eating cookies! We got a cat the next day. The end. Not of the post, just of the story.

So, a little bit of a tangent within the post, and then a tangent within a tangent, but I wanted to share my rat story. And I do realize that it could be far worse than rats or snakes or any other type of pest. For one thing, we are all healthy. I have talked to at least three friends this week with sick children. And even those children will get over their yicky flus. Okay, but so this also isn't like me. Of course it is totally miserable when all your kids are sick! Of course it can be stressful for a family of four to live on $45K in our society. And of course it is better than children with leukemia or making $20K, but it is still rough. I certainly don't want to be ambushingly preachy. No way! I am just sharing. I just felt like I needed some personal perspective. The Psalms are full of David's laments. Seeking comfort or encouragement from friends or from the Lord (hey, what about deliverance?!) is completely appropriate. But as we wait on his deliverance, as we receive the tender encouragements and comforts from loving friends, we can also be helped by a little perspective. I will say that I do not know how helpful it is to try to dump perspective on a hurting person. If I am living it up with my well children and my girlfriend is at the end of her rope over her three children with a stomach bug, it isn't very kind or compassionate to remind her that her children don't have a fatal disease. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15) Incidentally, another thing that is not helpful is comparing- "Oh, your have three kids who have the stomach bug? Well, my kid has a mosquito bite!" So annoying! But more than that, it clearly indicates that I don't understand as I am saying I do, and makes this person who needs understanding now extremely misunderstood and frustrated because I am pretending to understand but really just minimized her widespread household sickness by likening it to a mosquito bite. 

This post is so weird and random. Sorry. All I really wanted to share was that, if we can reasonably look back at these things and guess, it would seem that God, with gentle providence, sent me mice to remind me that he is still withholding many very bad things. It doesn't mean that my sad feelings or frustrated feelings were/are illegitimate or even sinful. I think it just served as a reminder for me to take heart, that God is faithful and gracious even when things seem really super crappy. But then, if I had said just that, you wouldn't have gotten the rat story or the fun examples of jerky things you shouldn't say to your friends.  The end. This time of the post. 

Monday, February 02, 2009

Mice are Bad. Cats are Jerks.

Y'all, I just opened the cabinet, and saw the mouse! I actually turned into one of those shrieking lunatic ladies from cartoons. The mouse started running to and fro inside the cabinet in a panic- I have to say it is a cute little germ infested varmint. So I immediately began screaming out our cat's name. That's right, we already have a cat. I had attributed our mouse free home up until this point to his keen hunting skills. And therefore, I am attributing the newly discovered mouse population to the fact that he is very upset about this puppy. The cat was actually sitting in the yard looking at me as I called his name out the back door. He just stared at me. I went out into the yard and lovingly tried to coax him inside. He just stared at me. I have been nothing but extra nice to him since we got this puppy. I have even let him sit on my bed! And this is how he repays me?! He just sat in the yard looking at me. When I got too close, because I finally just decided to pick him up and bring him in and put him inside the cabinet, he moved away. When I backed off, he came right back to the spot he was sitting in- and just stared at me. Ten minutes later, he's still sitting there, presumably stewing over the puppy. I wonder how we will like it when we get another cat?! 

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Friends are Good. Mice are Bad.

So what I really didn't need was to find mouse droppings in my cabinets. Do you know what they had eaten? My pink Valentine's M&M's! I mean, it was kind of the last straw! I felt the need to send my children outside at that point, so that I could violently disinfect my entire kitchen whilst audibly recounting my woes to God. But I am not sure how much good it did me. I Peter 5:7 "Casting all your cares upon him for he cares for you." Right? It doesn't always feel that way to me lately, that "he cares for me." But the Lord is faithful. I do want to say that. I need to say that, to assert it and believe it and trust it. I mean, I am pretty much hanging on by a thread at this point. It seems like even the tiniest things, like tires blowing out after church and pink M&M's being consumed by mice (pointing to a bigger problem- MICE!), really are unnecessary as far as one needing to be humbled or taught a lesson. The whole 8 month unemployment, freeloading off others, stuck with three kids and no break while husband is away 65 hours a week not even making enough to support the family, two cars in need of multiple repairs thing wasn't enough? I just keep thinking that if I ever am a pastor's wife, there will be a whole lot more difficulties that the people in my husband's church may experience that I will be able to sympathize with. 

Compassion really is an invaluable lesson. I am not learning it only by what I am going through and recognizing how these things feel first hand, but also by seeing how it is modeled to me by loving friends. It is also an unfortunate side effect, that we see what not to do or not to say modeled to us. I mean, no one can expect everyone to do the right or helpful thing all of the time. And I am sure that years from now, someone will be in a circumstance very like my current one and I will manage to say a hurtful thing or even just neglect them in some way.  (Sin stinks!)  But I guess my point is something along the lines of what my RUF campus minister told me once (the one I worked for, not the one whose ministry I was part of at Auburn), "what we do in the hardest situations shows us who we really are."  Now, I don't entirely agree with that. I mean, I think we can find a strength or courage or faith we didn't know we had, but I don't think our failings under extreme stress mean that all we are is that sin or flaw. If your life is such that you find yourself more disorganized and anxious than usual, does that make you a definitively disorganized and anxious person? What a crappy way to look at people! On the other hand, I think the way people respond to you when you are under stress shows something about them as well. I have seen amazing generosity, patience, compassion, thoughtfulness, and love that I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to see apart from my crazy situation right now. What a blessing to see people's gifts really shine, and to grow in friendship as a side effect of suffering! In the same way, when one's good friend or family member is in the fight of their life and he does nothing, or worse, judges or makes demands, does this not also say something about the relationship, at the very least, or even about the person himself? 

It's all very revealing. And I regret that I have not been more active in seeking to encourage or aid the broken hearted in the past. And I thank those of you who have actively sought to encourage me- I hope you know that you have done so. It occurs to me that I may not have been expressive enough of my gratitude either (because ugh, I am the worst thank you note writer ever!- though I do realize there are other ways to express appreciation). I am reading a book about friendship right now which has me really reflecting on these things more- well, the book and the mouse invasion that brought me to angry and exhausted tears- and I may have some more to say about all of this (unless you use the comments section of this post as a petition against such). But for today, I am just grateful for friends; and I am inspired to be a better one. 

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