Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Would you like some cheese...to go with that whine?

It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given. One or the other becomes a habit of life. -Elisabeth Elliot

I read the following article a couple of years ago and it struck such a chord with me that I typed it up and had it on my desk where I could read it daily. Lately I've been noticing the impact that my facebook friends' attitudes have on mine. I've had to "hide" some people I love dearly because they are so negative and full of complaints and the attitude is contagious. I'm sure there is some statistic out there along the lines that you need to hear 10 positive things to counteract 1 negative...and I'm sure it's correct. Probably higher. I've only had to hide 3 or 4 friends and it has completely changed my attitude. I no longer feel like I'm fighting for joy...it's just there, most of the time. I'm not opposed to the occasional rant or venting session. Trust me. I need one at least once a month;)

I guess my question is, Who's attitude is affecting you? Are you aware of their impact on you? And are you happy with that impact? You can have joy every day despite your circumstances! We have that promise in Philippians 4: 12-13, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." And of course the follow up question, Who's attitude are you impacting? Are you encouraging and joyful to be around or are you dragging others down into your pit of mire and despair?

What if the only thing keeping you from the promised land is your attitude?

Where Will Complaining Get You?
When we were in Dallas for a visit, we were the guests of our dear friend Nina Jean Obel. As we sat one morning in her beautiful sunshiny yellow and pale-green kitchen, she reminded us of how, in the story in Deuteronomy 1, when the Israelites were within fourteen days of the Promised Land, they complained. Complaining was a habit which had angered Moses, their leader, to the point where he wished he were dead. "How can I bear unaided the heavy burden you are to me, and put up with your complaints?" he asked. They headed for Horeb, but when they reached the hill country of the Amorites they refused to believe the promises and insisted on sending spies to see what sort of a land it was. The spies came back with a glowing report, but the people didn't believe that either. Never mind the lovely fruit the land offered. There were giants in the land; they'd all be killed. There were huge fortifications towering to the sky. How would they ever conquer them? It was the neurotic's attitude. No answer would do. No solution offered was good enough. The promises of God, the direction of Moses, the report of the spies--all unacceptable. The people had already made up their minds that they didn't like anything God was doing. They "muttered treason." They said the Lord hated them. He brought them out only to have them wiped out by the Amorites. O God, what a fate. O God, why do you treat us this way? O God, how are we going to get out of this? It's your fault. You hate us. Moses hates us. Everything and everybody's against us.
Nina Jean said she made up her mind that if complaining was the reason God's people were denied the privilege of entering Canaan, she was going to quit it. She set herself a tough task: absolutely no complaining for fourteen days. It was a revelation to her--first, of how strong a habit it had become, and second, of how different the whole world looked when she did not complain. I get the impression when I'm around Nina Jean that the fourteen-day trial was enough to kick the habit. I've never heard her complain. It's not just the sunshine and the colors that make her kitchen a nice place to be. It's that Nina Jean is there. I'd like to create that sort of climate for the people I'm around. I've set myself the same task

COMPLAIN –verb (used without object)
1. to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault: He complained constantly about the noise in the corridor.
2. to tell of one's pains, ailments, etc.: to complain of a backache.
3. to make a formal accusation: If you think you've been swindled, complain to the police.
4. (formerly) a loud cry (or repeated cries) of pain or rage or sorrow
5. COMPLAIN, GRUMBLE, GROWL, WHINE are terms for expressing dissatisfaction or discomfort. TO COMPLAIN is to protest against or lament a wrong: to complain about high prices. To GRUMBLE is to utter ill-natured complaints half to oneself: to grumble about the service. GROWL may express more anger than GRUMBLE: to growl in reply to a question. TO WHINE is to complain in a meanspirited way, using a nasal tone: to whine like a coward, like a spoiled child.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Makenna Ruth

My sister is a mommy!! I'm an aunt! Griffin is a first cousin! Ryan is an Uncle!

Thank you Matt and Janae for allowing me to be a part of your birth experience. I hope the pictures make it worth having me in the O.R. I am so grateful you let me witness the arrival of Miss Makenna. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Your family is beautiful.

Janae, you are AMAZING. You did so great! You tried so hard and your body just wouldn't cooperate. You are one of the strongest women I know and Makenna will be a strong woman because of you. I am so proud of you little sister!

And if you've never had or watched a c-section (or a vaginal bypass as the nurse called it), you have no idea what c-section survivors have gone through. Holy Moly. I'm glad I didn't go through that. They totally deserve our respect! That is one of the most brutal things I've seen. I would definitely pick my labor twice over as opposed to that.

Janae, you are a superstar!

And Makenna is BEAUTIFUL! Seriously, just stunning! I didn't know I would love my niece so much:)!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Missing

I don't particularly like the popular "thing". In fact, I often resist the popular thing until enough people that I trust tell me they like "it". Then I'll cave in, and usually the result is good. Harry Potter is just one example of me being late to the bandwagon. I also react to what I perceive as silly, ridiculous, or unnecessary norms. Like feeling fat when you're pregnant. Why would you feel fat you're pregnant silly, feel pregnant. Or so I thought until I hit the 18 (or so) week mark. I didn't look pregnant. I looked chubby. And I felt fat. Oh. I get it now.

I had another one of these moments Saturday. We were at a memorial service for Ryan's great-aunt Leila who died recently of pancreatic cancer. Griffin's great-great-aunt whom he was blessed to meet Christmas Eve. Of course we brought Griffin to the service. It was a celebration of life service. Leila's life was lived full and well and there was much to remember and celebrate. Griffin took a great nap in the morning, I was hopeful that he would calmly enjoy the service too. (You're laughing already, aren't you?). The ride down to Seattle wasn't long but it was about 3 minutes too long and I couldn't keep Griffin awake. Which means when I took him out of his carseat he woke up. And wouldn't go back to sleep.

So I missed all but the first 5 minutes of the service. Walking a grumpy baby up and down the walkway of Roosevelt High school. In the rain. Until I got blisters on my feet from my fancy shoes. Until my straightened hair got frizzy again. Until I lost my necklace, a gift from my husband on our first Valentine's Day, because said grumpy baby kept pulling on it. So I took it off and put it in my pocket. Or so I thought.

And there, in the rain, with a grumpy baby and blisters on my feet, I "got it". How a woman can feel like she loses her identity in motherhood. I was missing the service. And no one was missing me. I wanted someone to miss me, to come out and say, "I miss you Sarah. Come inside." But no one missed Sarah. Because I'm not just Sarah anymore. I'm "Mommy". And mommy was walking a grumpy baby back and forth, back and forth. I was just a little bit hurt. A little bit resentful of this leech who had stolen my identity. And quite a bit bitter.

Don't worry, I got over it. I have a fabulous husband who puts up with my feelings and mood swings and somehow loves me back from the edge. I think most of the extended family could tell something was wrong, for their sake I chalked it up to loosing a sentimental necklace. But inside I was having a full-fledged idenitity crisis and desperately needed a safe place to melt down. Have I mentioned I haven't slept in 7 months. Oh, well, I haven't. I'm a little unstable at times:)

So I'm a little bit more understanding now. Of mommies everywhere who are wondering how they balance "insert your name here" and "mommy" without short-changing the husband or leech, I mean baby. What can I say? I'm a work in progress...I'll figure it out:)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And so it goes...

We got our county assessment in the mail yesterday. Our house dropped in value, again! Not a surprise but not encouraging either. We've now "lost" $90,000+.

Ryan and I sometimes wonder if we did the right thing buying four years ago. Obviously, if we could have seen into the future we would have waited, but hind sight is 20/20 or something like that.

I simply have to rest on the Truth that God has a plan, he's been involved up to this point and won't be leaving me anytime soon (or ever, really). He has a purpose for us to be in this house. He has, is and will use it for his good.

But we didn't plan on living here forever. In fact, we were hoping to be able to sell in 3-5 years and make enough to buy a house with a bigger yard closer to Ryan's school. A great dream really.

So now we adjust the dream. Ryan works in a great school in a great district. His commute is longer than we would like but there is never any traffic. Our neighborhood is fantastic. We live in a cul-de-sac for Griffin to ride bikes in. The local schools are fabulous and Griffin will attend an elementary school within walking distance.

But I still wonder. At what point do you walk away from a sinking ship? Would God ever move us to walk away from a commitment/contract like our mortgage? Would the short term gain be worth it in the end?

I "guess" I'll just have to keep trusting God and my husband to lead our family in the right direction. The two of them do a pretty darn good job and this mommy has nothing to complain about.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”" Jeremiah 29:11-17

I love this passage. Verse 11 is the most popular and often cited. It's so full of hope. God, the Lord of the universe, has plans for us. And they are for our good! But I think verses 12-17 are even more amazing. It's the why behind the promise offered in 11. God is involved in our lives, SO THAT we will call on Him, pray to Him, seek Him, find Him and He can bring us from captivity to HOME. Ahhhh, now isn't that a promise!

Take that county assessor.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lilies

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worring can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you. O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:25-34

I'm claiming these promises today. That God is already and will continue to meet our needs. It's hard to trust in the face of so much financial adversity though. It just feels like we go two steps forward, three steps back. And it's so frustrating because we work so hard, spend so sparingly, and play so little. And yet, judged by the world's standards we are immensly wealthy. We have a warm and dry roof over our heads. Food on the table, every day. Cars that run and get us from point A to point B. We are clothed appropriately for the season.

Do NOT worry. Do NOT worry. Do NOT worry. This passage alone says it three times. But that's exactly what I find myself doing. What if something big and unexpected happens? We won't be able to survive a broken down car or an extended illness...deep breath, in and out. YES we will. We WILL survive. Maybe not in our current house. Maybe not without filing bakruptcy or moving in with our parents or... or... or. But we will still be a family. I will still love my husband who works SO HARD to teach, not just math but life, to middle school students and "bring home the bacon". I love him even more because all the good he's doing, all the hard work he's pouring into the next generation, is not only underappreciated and underpaid, it's being down right attacked in the political realm right now. And I don't care if we "lose everything" as long as I have him.

I don't want to lose everything. I don't even want to lose anything! I want extra! I want my house to stop going down in value. I want to put grass in my backyard and build a trellis that I can hang a swing from for Griffin. I want new floors in my house. I want a newer car for Ryan to commute in. I want to go on a couple of vacations to see long-time friends now spread all over the U.S. I want a new computer that moves faster than an elderly snail.

But did you catch the last part of that passage? "But seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well"

Am I seeking HIS kingdom first? HIS righteousness first?

I want a closer relationship with Christ. I want to wake up in the morning ready to listen to the quiet whisper of that still small voice. I want to rest at night knowing I moved where He moved and loved where He loved. More than all that other stuff, I want this for me. I want it for my family and friends. I want it for all the hurting and broken people I know and don't know. The deep abiding joy, in any and all circumstances, that comes from truly knowing, deep in your soul, that you are loved by The King.

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hats

Wife. Mother. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Employee. Volunteer.

All different hats I wear. I'm sure you wear more than one as well. What I've been thinking about and wondering about, is how do you prioritize them? What hat is the most important to you? Which one can you let slide? Which one if you make it more important helps all the others function smoothly? Are there any hats you need to take off/get rid of?

For me, I think the most important one has to be wife. If I can be a great wife, I think I will automatically be a better mother. And if I'm a great wife and mother, I think I'll be better at everything else I do. Which means I occasionally have to pick being a wife "over" being a mother. I have to put my husband ahead of my son, and in doing so actually show my son just how much I love him. I think loving my son's father is a invaluable gift I can give him, with lasting effects. I heard it put this way before, Our "'till death do us part" commitment is to our husbands. Our children are supposed to leave the home, it is a "temporary" relationship. If we've raised our children correctly, they will be independent, responsible adults who leave the nest. The relationship will and should change. But when the kids are gone, your spouse should still be there (assuming tragedy hasn't struck). So what are you doing to prioritize that hat? Since I'm such a new mom, I haven't had many opportunities yet to put these thoughts into practice, especially since I'm still tied to my son as his food source. But I'm getting excited to think about ways to show Griffin how awesome his dad is and how much his mom is in love with daddy. And I pray that this will help grow Griffin into an amazing husband someday, since I've already started praying for the woman who will become his wife!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Balance

I imagine I will address the topic of balance frequently as it seems to be the thing most missing in my life right now. Tonight though I'm contemplating balancing a healthy body with the realities of breastfeeding, teething, and broken sleep. I'm fairly open about my experience with bulemia during college but the opportunity to talk about it doesn't present itself often. Because of my personal experience with it, and the experiences of other close to me with both bulemia and anorexia, I am very aware that our American culture puts a lot of pressure on everyone, but women especially, to look a certain way. I am very aware of chosing to want to be healthy not just skinny. So I try to use more than the scale to evaluate my body. With all of that said, I would still like to look like a model and still struggle with liking what I see in the mirror. And what I see in the mirror post-baby is even harder to like. So I'm trying, very hard, to maintain my mental balance. I need to 1) love me (my body) as a vessel of life and accept that it will never  look the same again and 2) I do need to lose weight and build back some muscle tone. The problem with this plan...his name is Griffin, he's about 20lbs, in the process of teething, and he still wakes up on average 3-5 times a night. Except lately, it's been every 30-90 minutes!

So now I'm struggling (read thinking about it all the time) with wanting to work out, wanting to start losing weight and getting back into shape and waiting patiently for the proper time to do so, without waiting too long of course. Balance, balance, balance. It's so easy, in theory. The plan for now, is to make wise choices with food. Sleep (nap) as often as possible. And make working out a higher priority. We have a treadmill in the garage, I own multiple workout dvds, and I have an assortment of strollers to choose from depending on the number of kids I have that day. And in theory, the weather should be getting nicer and warmer since its already mid-June!

I should probably start this new plan by saying goodnight! The baby's been sleeping for almost 2 hours and I've enjoyed some facebook time, a game of spider solitare, and a shower (all by myself!). Who knows? This could be the night he sleeps all night long. Or he'll wake me up just after I drift off again! But I love it and wouldn't change a thing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sisters

I really want another baby. I want Griffin to have siblings and I want them to play together, grow up together, and be friends for life. That said, my sister and I are just beginning our friendship. It is much desired and long awaited, I'm sure as much by her as by me. We have never shared much in common, except genetic material, and even then we don't look much alike. When I was just dating my husband he said he'd never met two siblings more different than the two of us, and he still stands by that statement. But now we do have things in common. We're both married. And she's about to join me as a mommy. Like maybe even tonight about to join me. And I am so, so, so excited.

Do you have something you've prayed for forever and you feel like God has ignored you. Is it something that you know God would want you to have (like a friendship with your sister). Keep praying! It's 31 and 27 years later but my parents' dream of having daughters who love (and like) each other has finally come true!

Janae, you are going to be an excellent mommy and I am so excited to be Makenna's aunt! I love you!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Comfort

This morning I was comforting my seven month old son who has been teething and in lots of pain the last couple of days. As I was snuggling him, he laid his head on my chest and "petted" me (he moves his hands up and down on my arms) and whimpered. That little whimper broke my heart and also got me thinking about the character of God. I imagine that when we are going through something hard and painful God comforts us in much the same way. He snuggles us closer and whispers in our ear, "I know. I know it hurts. It will all be over soon. I love you." Because you see, its a good thing Griffin is teething. All that pain is a sign that good things are happening just below the surface. Because Griffin is going through this pain now, he will soon be able to enjoy yummy, delicious FOOD. I felt like God was reminding me that he will make sure the hard and painful things we go through also have good, even delicious, outcomes. And that he will always hold us and comfort us in the midst of the pain...if we snuggle into him:)
Are you snuggling into God?