Monday, December 17, 2012

be the Light.

This morning, I dropped the big kids off at the bus stop.  And I gave them a kiss and a hug and told them to have a great day, just like I do every day.  And then I stood on the corner and waved as they drove by like I do every day.  And I blew them a kiss and held up the "I love you" sign like I do every day.  and they did it back to me.  Lillian right up next to the window and Josiah next to her popping his head up over the back of the seat so they can both see me for as long as possible.  like they do every day.

but today was actually very different than every other day.  Inside my heart was breaking, my pulse was racing.  because that could easily be how the 20 other mothers' mornings started on Friday.  (I'm sure you all had the exact same thoughts.)  and now their mornings will never again be the same as the "everyday" they experienced before.  So my heart was breaking for them.  weeping and wailing for them.

There's so much I don't understand.  and so many things I wonder about...

all the details, which are so sick to even think about, but I can't stop wondering.  details about Adam and what his thought process was, and what he saw, and why he stopped when he stopped.  and details about the parents, and how they found out, and how on earth didn't just run into the school to hold their babies' bodies that they knew were in there, just a little ways away.  and the poor little siblings.  the one photo of the older sister looking down, and the brother with his hands over his mouth.  that's the one that that makes me bawl uncontrollably.  it reminds me of Josiah and Lillian, and I just imagine them being reunited after such a traumatic event.

speaking of my kids, I wonder how they would react in a similar situation?  would they scream?  be silent?  try to console others?  it's haunting...

and what would I do in that situation?  as a teacher, as a parent.  would I scream?  be silent? would I EVER stop crying?  these weren't even my kids and I could barely get control of myself.

and what on earth is the solution?  I don't know, I'm not sure it's all about guns.  I mean yeah, something needs to be done about how easy it is for people to get ahold of guns.  That part I agree with.  Most people who have the idea to kill people would probably not act on it if was a huge pain in the butt to get a gun.  like when someone with too many DUIs has to have a breath sensor thing in their car before it can start.  there are ways to have a little more control, I think.  I know there are a few that would figure out other ways, like the Oklahoma City bombing, but that was a lot more work than just grabbing a gun and doing it.  and a lot less common, probably for a reason.  so I definitely think that we have a gun problem in our country.  but I don't think it's THE problem.

and yeah, the violent video games and such play a part in it I'm sure.  but that's not the source either.  and why are we blaming video games when kids can't just show up at Target and buy violent games on their own?  maybe teenagers can, but it starts younger than that these days.  and I think parents could take a lot more control over that area.  but banning video games is certainly not THE solution.

and so many people are blaming "the system" for not getting these people the help they need.  and let me just say this: THERE ARE TONS AND TONS OF PEOPLE IN "THE SYSTEM" BUSTING THIER BUTTS TO HELP THESE PEOPLE, ALL DAY EVERY DAY.  Can you imagine all the people with mental illness in the whole country?  imagine it.  go ahead.  and then think about how many of them are not shooting people.  that's a lot of people.  so don't blame the mental illness, and PLEASE don't blame "the system" because I think they're doing the best they can.

what it comes down to is just that our world is filled with sin and evil.  Since Adam and Eve we've had sin.  Since Cain and Abel we've had murder.  so as much as we want to blame the fact that God's not in schools and our society is is falling apart at the seams, well, it (almost) always has been.

It makes sense, in a nation that claims religious freedom, to not have God in the schools.  and it makes sense for a nation that claims equality to allow gay marriage.  (I still don't know why we would allow abortion, however.  that will just never make sense.)  I'm not saying it's BEST, I'm saying it makes sense.

but here's the thing:  this world, the world that's falling apart at the seams, the world where innocent children die, the world that's continuously in war, against people, against God, against ideas, against government, this world is NOT our home.

and because it's not our home, we have hope in the joy of Heaven.  God knew how horrible the world would be before he even made it.  But he still made it, for his own glory.  if SIN was supposed to rule this world, then why would He have even bothered?  God created the WHOLE WORLD, knowing exactly what would become of it, for his GLORY.

so if we are stuck here for now, let's be sure to do our part to show His GLORY.  Let's use experiences like this to show the world that in this darkness there is LIGHT.  there is A light.  be the light.  show the light.

I'm so disappointed in so many facebook posts (or whatever social media site you prefer, same diff...) and articles and news stories. it's so easy to add to the darkness, and cast blame, and call names, and to join in the sin slinging.  but how does that make us any different?

DO YOUR PART.   Christians need to look different than the rest of the world!!!!!  talk to your kids about how this kind of stuff starts.  talk about bullying, talk about love, talk about standing up for what you believe.  talk about being kind to the kids who don't have friends.   talk about sacrifice, talk about Jesus.  and most importantly, put your money where your mouth is.  If you think this world is sick and twisted, then do something to make it better, don't just fight sin with sin.

so many people are asking where God was in this whole situation.  easy answer, he was doing what he does, and drawing people closer to Him.  Don't put words in my mouth or read what I'm not writing.  I don't think this was "from God."  but I know that He will use this horrific experience to draw people to Him.  but how are people who are searching going to know where to go?  if we, as Christians are the ones saying these people need to be locked up or put in looney bins or whatever other negative things you have to say, and hunkering down in our safe little Christian homes and keeping our children safe, against the big bad world, then where's the trust in that?  where's the LIGHT in that?

This is turning into a huge rambling post, so let me just wrap it up here.

savor the little moments.  do you know how many parents have been just a little bit better at parenting these last couple days?  myself included.  let's not wait til the next school shooting to be better.  let's be better now.

Our world is going to continue down the path of destruction.  no matter who's president, no matter what else you want to blame.  so make a choice, today and every day, to be part of the Light.  Quit asking Jesus to come quickly, because guess what...he's here.  He's in you and he's in me.  and we're allowed in schools.  and we can be the Light.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

tv talk.

I'm about to go to the basement and work on the 39 pinkadink orders that await me.  and I'll probably catch up on my tv shows that I've missed this week while I do it.  so, that means Nashville and Parenthood for today, and old episodes of Brothers and Sisters from Netflix when I'm done with those.

If you know me at all you probably know about my little obsession with Friday Night Lights.  it was the very best show ever created. (like, ever.  and yes, that was a Taylor Swift reference.  also love me some T.Swift)  And Parenthood is made by the same creators as Friday Night Lights.  or producers, or something.  so anyway they occasionally use the same actors, and sometimes even the same story lines.  (ok, and SORRY Adam and Kristina, but but Coach and Tami's "we just found out we're going to have a baby when we weren't expecting it" scene was about a million times better than yours.  and trust me I know because I watched them both in the same day, and they were almost identical, except for the clear winners.)  so anyway, I do love Parenthood, even though it's no FNL.

and now Nashville is with the same actress (Connie Britton) who played Tami Taylor on FNL.  So i've been WAITING for this show to air for a really freaking long time.  I just love love love her and I knew I'd still love her in whatever role she played, even if it wasn't Tami Taylor. (I'm not sure that I could say the same about Kyle Chandler (aka coach taylor) in other roles, such as the Grey's Anatomy bomb guy. He just didn't really do it for me.  It's really just the character of Coach that I love...I think).

ok, so if you don't watch these shows then you probably already quit reading.

back to the point: I love Connie Britton.

But here's the thing...I'm trying really really hard to love Nashville.  and it's hard for me.  I've probably told some of you that I DO love the show, and that was all part of my plan to see if saying it out loud would help me to love it.  and I'm not sure if it's working!!!!  and here's why:

1. Hayden Panettiere really bugs me.  I don't think she's that good of an actress.  She's just not believable enough for me.  I feel like in every real life person there has to be some qualities to like, and her character just really doesn't have ANY.  so I can't buy it.

2. I can totally tell that when the producers saw the Stella sisters, they wanted to NAB them right away before anyone else got their paws on them.  These girls are freaky talented.  now, do NOT get me wrong.  I am a HUGE fan of Lennon and Maisy Stella.  HUGE.  I like to think I was on the early end of loving them.  I'm even one of the millions that taught myself the little cup thing with "call your girlfriend" and might be responsible for at least a quarter of their bazillion youtube hits.  BUT... I feel like they don't really even have a "real" role in the show.  They just appear in random school talent show scenes and singing on the way to school and stuff, to showcase their talent.  But it's just a little too random for me.  and maybe forced.

3. ok the other thing is the role of the druggie mom.  i mean seriously.  I'm sure shooting those scenes are really easy because all they have to do is say "do the scene" and she yells out "my baaaaaby!  my BAAAABY!"  and then Hayden says, "somebody get my mama outta here" and then they say CUT!  great!  now change your clothes and do the SAME THING AGAIN (and again and again, but this time with a slap!) for the next episode!  so yeah, that bugs me.

4.  and also, the whole love triangle thing with the waitress/niece and her boyfriend and the song writer is not really going anywhere.  it's the same thing, every episode.  and I hate it when shows make me root for someone who's not in the relationship.  I hate wishing that she'd break up with the jerk and date the sweet guy, because I want to be rooting for them to just work on their relationship!  which is why I love that the Rayna's husband isn't that much of a jerk, because I'm still rooting for their marriage.  I mean, if she's already cheating on Eric Taylor, then I want her to stick with her new husband.  but speaking of that guy, if they were going to pick a political type of guy that they want me to root for, then they should have cast Rob Lowe as the husband because I just so happen to love Robert McAllister from Brothers and Sisters.

ok, so do you get my point?  There are just a few things that I'm trying not to let get in the way of my love for this show.  But I just can't help it that I want Connie Britton to have another rockin show because she's just so awesome.  I know that nothing will compare, ever, to Friday Night Lights, though, so I'll just keep rewatching it over and over and over again on netflix, even though Steve thinks I"m really weird for doing that.  But seriously, can you ever get enough of this?????

...I think not.

(please tell me there's at least ONE person who followed along with that whole post and has watched all the same shows???  anyone???)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

helper/completer life lesson

It's election day, and everybody's talking about voting.  But all I can think about right now is my role as helper/completer, and I gotta get it out of my mind and onto the blog.  It was life lessons again in Bible study, where we all share what we've been learning on a personal level, having gone through chapters about how we were created, fallen, and redeemed in the helper/completer aspect of womanhood. 

I'll admit that when I first thought of this aspect, I thought it would be such a fun one to learn about, because I just love my husband and being with him, and certainly I would find out that I was a great helper and completer for him.  :)  Turns out God had different plans, as He often does. :)  and once again I'm going to do a really crap job of explaining all the things I learned, but bare with me here. 

Actually, I'm not even going to try.  I"m going to focus on one area I grew in a lot.

ok, ya know when Adam and Eve are in the garden and they sin, and God gives each of them a curse?  well, the curse he gives women starts with childbirth, which, okay, OBVIOUS.  But the second part says "Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." and well, desiring my husband never really seemed like all that much of a curse.  but maybe the whole "he will rule over you" is a curse which forces women to submit to their husbands, when clearly we'd rather just rule everything ourselves.

As it turns out, the desire for our husbands that is named in the curse of women, is the same grouping of words in Hebrew that is used when talking about Cain and his sin (his hate for his brother).  So the desire isn't a sexual desire at all, since Cain's sin could not have a sexual desire for Cain.  As our author put it, "What the sin had was a desire to master Cain in order to dictate his actions, to control what he did." 


ladies, did you read that?  read it again.  "What the sin had was a desire to master Cain in order to dictate his actions, to control what he did."  Our curse is the desire to master our husbands in order to dictate his actions and control what he does.  Turns out, if you look at almost ANY relationship between a man and a woman, particularly in a marriage, you'll see that this part of the curse too, is, well, OBVIOUS.  and we're SOOO good at it aren't we???  I think we even use manipulation when we aren't even aware of it!  It's just in our nature to "arrange" or "encourage" or "plan" things to go our way.  It sounds so innocent if we want it to.  But if you look a our hearts, at MY heart anyway, I realize that I want things to go my way because I think I know what's going on around here, or I've dealt with this before, or I have a "gifting" in that area.  But really, it might be sin.  It might be me taking advantage of my husband's sweet sweet personality and using it get my way.  and gosh, when I write it that way, I sound like either a 4 year old who has mastered manipulation, or a conniving little snotty wife, neither of which I want to be.

That whole DESIRE thing is what's been eating at me for the past few weeks.  And this past weekend, on my way to Orange City, all by myself, I heard a song by Lee Brice (yay country music!!!) that really just melted my heart.  Here's the link.  Take a couple minutes to listen to it and then come back here. 
(i've never seen the music video and my computer is acting too slow for me to preview it for you, so if it's bad, just close your eyes and listen.) :)

so that song is playing and my heart is melting and I can't help but think to myself, I want Steve to need me!  I want him to feel like if he didn't have me he'd be a mess, and he'd be looking for a woman like me!

and, well, let's just say that I don't think he'd be looking for a woman who's nagging at him for not putting his clothes in the laundry basket instead of on the floor, or a woman who's whining about him being gone when he's off fulfilling his passions, or a woman who complains every single night about having to make dinner.  So it really inspired me to think about what I want to be for him.  I know I'm cursed.  I'll always have the desire to manipulate in order to get my way.  But what VERY SPECIFIC things can I keep in mind for Steve and men in general that can help me keep that desire at bay?

this is where it gets personal.... :)

I took the word DESIRE and chose one or two things specifically for each letter to keep in mind.  This is more than an "acrostic poem," people.  this is a very real list of things I'm going to be paying attention to in the future.  it's not everything.  but it's a start. so here we go:

D is for driving.  It's kind of turned into a joke of sorts that Steve always takes weird routes to get places.  Like, I REALLY don't understand why he goes the ways he goes.  We could CERTAINLY save at LEAST 23 seconds if we went the route that I had in my head.  Possibly even as much as 2 minutes.  but since, in the grand scheme of things, 23 seconds to 2 minutes is not a big deal, I'm done commenting on it!  I'm done stressing out about the waste of time! :)  I shall sit quietly, and perhaps even enjoy the extra two minutes I get sitting next to my man, because heaven knows that when we get home we won't be able to just sit next to each other.  :)

E is for emotions.  One of the things I love most about Steve is his sensitivity.  but it's that quality about him that's easiest to use for manipulation.  I can make this sweet man feel like total crap in about 2 seconds if I want to.  All I have to do is say something mean.  or not even that, just not use AS kind of words as I could and he'd feel bad.  horrible.  I've always known this, and always tried to be careful with the words I choose, but now that I'm aware of my curse, I really want to guard myself from manipulation in this way.

S is for sex and spirituality.  now, I love being in bed with my husband.  I do.  And I don't think that I struggle with using sex as a way to manipulate and get my way.  But...chances are, that at least once, maybe twice, :) I've felt like I was just soooo tired from all the work and all the dishes and all the parenting, etc, and if I'd only had a little more help I wouldn't feel this tired and so I better just SHOW HIM how tired I am from doing this all myself (which is probably not even true).  it's all about my heart really.  because I think sometimes I am allowed to be too tired for sex.  but what's really behind it all, that's what matters.  The spirituality part comes from my desire for him to be the spiritual leader of our family.  And I don't want to rule over him in that way.  My mom was all kinds of wonderful in all kinds of areas.  But when I look back at my life and my childhood, I realize that she was the spiritual leader in our family.  And I always thought it was so great that she had such a strong faith, which I am still SO VERY grateful for.  But there's a part of me, now, as a wife, that wants to make sure I don't take that roll away from my husband.  Even if there are times when I feel like he's too busy, or I'm more equipped, or whatever the case, it's still HIS ROLE.  and I want to honor that.

I is for ideas.  Steve is such a great, funny, smart, kind, hardworking, humble man, and I bet he has TONS of good ideas!  And I bet if I ask him a little more often what his ideas are, he'll share them and they'll be awesome!  When we arrived in Omaha at the airport for our honeymoon, we were on the shuttle and the driver gave Steve some marriage advice: happy wife, happy life.  And I thought that was so cute and probably so true.  But my sweet husband probably took that to heart, and from that day on, wanted me to be happy!  And I love him dearly for it.  But I'm starting to wonder if there's all these great ideas that never make their way to his mouth because he's so busy going along with my ideas because happy wife happy life.  So I'm gonna be aware of times when I should get HIS ideas.  and THEN...I'm going to USE them!  wish me luck! ;)

R is for respect, relationship, and respect relationships.  Respect is just honoring my husband at all times.  I recently read a really great blog post of a woman writing a letter to her friends who bash their husbands, saying that she was sorry but they couldnt' be friends anymore.  And it made me realize I am SO BLESSED to have women in my life who do NOT particiapte in that sick-o lifestyle.  we were made very differently, so of COURSE we're going to have a difference of opinions, but running to our friends and bashing our husbands is not God-honoring at all.  And I want to be sure that I guard myself from those friendships and focus on respecting my husband always.  The relationship part is just a reminder to grow our relationship with each other in whatever way I can.  and to go on dates.  and to make love. and to talk.  and to ask. and to listen.  and to grow.  The respect relationships part is more about my relationships with other men in my life.  I'm not going into detail becasue it's none of your business :) but I just want to make sure that the men in my life know that I respect their relationships with their wives.  pastors, friends, neighbors, everyone.  and that all leads me into the E.

The E is for education.  now listen, I love Orange City Iowa as much as the next person (if not more), but I think I really MISSED something growing up there.  I'm not sure if it's a community thing, or my parents, or my pastors, or what, but I missed out on the whole education thing about men and women, guys and girls.  I'm realizing things in my adult life that make me feel like, OH YEAH!  that makes sense!!!  For example: we've had babysitters that told us that Steve was not allowed to drive them home.  And at first I thought "that's WEIRD!" and then I realized that's REALLY smart.  I did a crazy amount of babysitting when i was growing up, and I have NO IDEA if I was ever brought home by the dad because it never would have crossed my mind that that would possibly be inappropriate.  And our youth pastor's wife asked us all to make sure that our teenage daugthers are not ever alone with her husband, not because she's concerned about her husband, but because teenage girls are emotional  and get attached and don't need to be feeling that way toward her husband!  and I was like ohmygosh!  have I ever been alone with a youth pastor?  BEATS ME!  because I wouldn't have thought it was inappropriate, and I don't think my parents would have either!  And as far as other men go?  I know some marriages take precaution and never allow themselves to be alone with someone of the opposite sex.  And that was another thing where I was like OH NO!  who have I offended???  And I'm not trying to be ridiculous about rules and such.  But in this world, where adultry and divorce are almost the NORM, it's something I want to be more conscious of.  And I am going to be intentional about educating my kids about the little things.  Because it's the little things that turn into big things.

phew!  so there they are!  The not-so-few things that I want on the FRONT of my mind at all times, til they become habitual.  I want to have the gentle and quiet spirit that is mentioned in 1st Peter 3:4.  so when I'm choosing to not comment on Steve's odd driving route, or taking HIS idea instead of mine, or allowing him to lead a spiritual discussion with our kids, I have a GENTLE and QUIET spirit.  It might start out with me taping my mouth shut while I keep my words in my head, but eventually, I want the gentle quiet spirit, living in submission to my husband, honoring and respecting him, knowing that it will grow his love for me. and, it's what Christian women are called to do.  it's how we can honor God. 

am I BRAVE or what to put all this out here in blogland?!?!?!?!  maybe it was too personal for some of you, but hey, it's my life.  it's my marriage.  it's my dream come true.  so I want you to all keep me accountable.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

it's not babysitting when it's your own kids

Friday Night Lights is my all time favorite show.  ever.  and one of my favorite scenes is this: Tami's sister moves in with them to help take care of the baby while she gets her real estate license, but she has class at night.  So, on a night when both parents have other plans, they have to figure out who is going to take care of the baby.

Coach:  What’s the purpose of your sister even being here if she can’t babysit anyway.
  Honey… what part of the fact that she has class tonight do you not understand. 
  Well, you know what… I have to work tonight, but I’m babysittin’, aren’t I?
  Well, it’s not babysitting when it’s your own child, Sweetheart.

I love Coach and Tami.  They're my second favorite married couple in the whole world.  :)  And I love that they had that conversation, because I think it's an idea that brings out the little spiny things on every mother's back.  I don't even know if Steve has referred to taking care of our kids as babysitting, but I've heard other people say it about their own kids and it 'bout made me crazy.

But this weekend I had change of heart.

I might be wrong, but the last time I remember being a "real" babysitter was when my long-time babysitting family, the Jacobsmas, went to the hospital to have their third baby, which just so happens to be this very weekend, 9 years ago.  And I say "real" babysitter because I'm talking about going to someone else's house for the night to take care of their kids while the parents are away.  I've done lots of babysitting since that day, as a daycare provider, in various different types of situations.  But this weekend, I went to my sister's house, all by myself, while she and her husband went on a date.  I was the babysitter. :)

and, ok, so maybe I was boring and dinked around on my ipad while they watched their little LeapFrog movie, because I just can't handle 35 straight minutes of Tad and Lily.  I try, but I fail. But besides those 35 minutes, I'd like to think I was a pretty darn good babysitter.

Until last weekend, when I was in OC by myself again, without my kids, I don't think that I had ever actually PLAYED with my niece and nephew.  But last weekend, after the craft show, I played with them, and it was fun!  And then this weekend, I played with them a lot, as the babysitter, and it was REALLY fun. and it reminded me of when I went all by myself to Ohio to be there when my sister had her 2nd baby.  I missed the birth by a day, but that's beside the point.  That trip was when I bonded with Elliot.  There I was, without my own kid, totally and completely available to focus on someone else's kid.  and I remember that he just laughed and laughed playing a "yucky coffee" game we made up. He just wanted to see me being silly!

There are very few kids who have seen me at my silliest.  And thankfully, most of them are now young adults and probably don't even remember how dorky I was, because all they've known me as for the last many many years is the very mature and boring adult that most of you know me as. :)  But let me just say that I'm a really good book reader, and can build a fort like nobody's business, and can provide hours of entertainment by dancing, as long as there are no adults in sight.  My own children have seen this side of me on occasion, but they always try to tell Daddy, and then he wants to see what they're talking about and YEAH RIGHT.  I don't do repeat performances.

But something was triggered in me this weekend as I performed my dramatic interpretation of Llama Llama Misses Mama.

WHY is this so fun?  WHY do I feel like it's been forever loving long since I've been super silly?  WHY do I not treasure this time alone with my own kids like I do with my sister's kids?  (and, also, WHY did I clean up the whole supper mess in her house but I never do in my own house?)

and that's when the whole "it's not babysitting when it's your own kids" idea fell apart for me.  because I'm pretty sure that I need to be the "babysitter" a little more, and the "mom" a little less.  I need to read more books with my kids, and do silly dances, and play games, and NOT CARE.  I'm sad to say it, but this lovely little thing called the pinkadink makes me a BORING MOM!  It always feels like there's so much to do, so why on earth would I read TWO books for each kid?  and why would I read to a kid who can read on their own?  and why would get the point.  In my own home there's just so much to do.  all the time.  but in someone else's house, when you're removed from your list and your piles and your bazillion things you should be doing, you have FUN!

and that's what this house is missing.

So I'm gonna be the babysitter a little more often.  I'm gonna be silly, and take time, and read books, and dance.  and I'm gonna forget about the lists, the piles, the orders, just for a little while.  Because it's fun! and that's what my kids deserve.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

created, fallen, redeemed

Today at my Bible study we had the dreaded "life lessons" class.  It's the pause in our study where we stop and share what we've learned.  The book we're doing is called 5 Aspects of Women.  The first aspect we are studied is called "mistress of the domain."

There are 3 parts of "mistress of the domain," created, fallen, redeemed.  and we spent one week on each part.  and now today, after all three parts, we had to share in a "creative" way what we had learned.  so in true Andrea form, I waited til last night to write down a few chicken scratches on the back of a random piece of paper.  and today I shared my thoughts.

(prepare yourselves, this will be a long one...)

I'm not going to go into all the details, because you should really just read the book, but during that first part of learning about how we were created, I felt really....confused.  I guess that's a way to describe it.  we talked about how we were to "rule and subdue" and how we were created in God's image.  some of it made perfect sense, and some of it really made me get down on myself.  (do you know what subdue means?  it means: to bring under control by conquest and to keep under control by diligent maintenance. yowza....that one of God's primary commands for us.)

Most of you would call me a "creative" person, or maybe "artistic."  But what it looks like in real life is that my whole world is in a mild state of chaos.  My brain is unorganized, my house is unorganized, I'm always flying by the seat of my pants, and anything resembling a schedule or a timeline is a miracle from God Himself. So as it ends up, things are just messy.  Sometimes it's because I don't even see the mess.  and sometimes it's because I prioritize other things.  And sometimes I just don't feel like I have the time, and it doesn't bother me that much anyway (until someone pops over unannounced!!!).

so why, if God created women to rule and subdue and bring order, why oh why am I the way I am????  I feel like my little messy life is not in the image of God.  God's not messy.  And he's not unorganized.  and on and on and on.  and I was really struggling.  ask steve.  he's said on more than one occasion in the last few weeks, "wait....WHY are you doing this bible study????"  because I was really struggling.

and the following week we talked about the fall, and the curse, and sin.  so I had a few days of really wondering if the way I felt like I was created, and my personality traits, and everything about ME was a result of sin.  and finally something (likely my therapist (aka my sister) or a good friend or just a realization of the truths I've always known) snapped me out of that.  I made a decision right then to give myself a little grace.  because there are some things about me, even the ones I was struggling with, that are, in fact, in the image of God.  after all, if he created the whole world (and he did), I'd say he has a bit of a creative streak.

so, GRACE.  I turned from "why was I created this way" to "what can I do to be better?"  (not a very good example of grace, I realize, but it's part of the growth, right?)  so in the whole mindset of "what can I do better" I had a moment.  I didn't want to use my "creative brain" as a crutch for not being everything that I CAN be!  I don't want to live like a slob and just say that's the way I was created.  I didn't mention it before, but "domain" is not just your home, work, family.  It's everything that you have the ability to rule over.  your thoughts, your actions, your relationships (NOT the people, just your part of the relationship), etc.  So there were certainly areas in my different domains that I felt like I could use a little shaping up, or "tidying," if you will.  and that was the week to do it.

I had wanted to start running again on a regular basis, and for some reason, just hadn't.  And I also hadn't been on a date with my husband in a VERY long time.  And I knew that in order to increase my peace about the LOATHED cooking, I had to make a meal plan and grocery list.

so i set off to do those things.  and let me say, it was quite the week to be studying how we are "fallen."   Because all those things I was trying to "be better" at just turned right around and discouraged me.  major.  I went running, like probably less than a mile, and for the rest of the week I was SO MAD that my muscles were so sore and it was totally ruining my productivity during a time of year where I just can't afford it.  And the date I planned with my husband turned into him going to a funeral and me having a pity party with a WHOLE BAG OF TWIX CANDY BARS and then having to talk out all my issues with him the next day.  and the meal plan I made?  wonderful, until you lose the grocery list before you've purchased all the groceries, so you never actually know if you're going to have all the ingredients you need to make the meals you planned anyway.

see?  not a good week.   apparently God didn't want me to believe that if I just do better, I'll feel better.  no no.  that was not the lesson.

but thankfully, we were about to study REDEMPTION!  I was expecting this chapter of the book to really ZAP me full of self confidence and fill me up and get me out of my rut of confusion and self destruction.  and it wasn't really that. Instead, it was a very basic lesson on what Christ did for me.  and justification.  and sanctification.  and the story of the Shunnamite woman who was an example of the mistress of the domain.  now, I know the story of what Christ did for me.  I get it.  I believe it.  But if I"m honest, I don't like to think about it.  I fully know that it's not very "Christian" of me to have this little issue, but I do.  the thing is, I can believe it for every other person I know.  I'm good at teaching my kids what our awesome God did for THEM.  and for YOU.  but when I think about the fact that he did it for ME?  for ANDREA?  I can hardly handle it.  I feel so unworthy.  I feel like I surely let him down so often, after such a sacrifice was made for me.  so it's hard.  and it actually sparks a works-based faith in me, that isn't truth.  So I wanted to take something out of this lesson that wasn't just about how much God loves me and what He did for me.  Because I don't like to go there.  But the thing I really needed, it came from the Shunnamite woman, someone I had never really even though twice about after reading her story.

she's the one who built the little room onto her house for Elisha to stay in, so that when he was in the area, he could have a place to stay.  but, she was barren.  and she was devastated about it.  She was actually to the point where she won't even let herself think about ever having a child.  BUT...she does not let what she does NOT have keep her from doing what she can with what she DOES have.  I think so often I get stuck in mentality of being unorganized, and hating to cook, and all these little things that I feel like define me.  These skills that I lack.  And that's where I stay.

But if I live my life like the Shunnamite woman, and just decide to figure out how I can glorify God with what I DO have, and what I CAN do, then THAT'S where the joy comes.  That's what's worshipping God is.

So I can look at my life and know that maybe the "rule and subdue" and the "order" and all that is just going to look a little differently in my messy life.  maybe to me, a big pile on the counter is actually AWESOME because that means it's in a PILE instead of all over the counter!  and maybe me just actually cooking food, no matter how it turns out, or how fancy it is, or how many people like it, is an act of worshipping God by serving my family.  and maybe the dishes in the sink just mean that I chose to glorify God at my sewing machine instead of at the kitchen sink for that night.  and it's all ok!  it's all part of me.  I know, it all sounds so easy and DUH.  but when you've got insecurities you're working through, it doesn't matter what you "should" know.  it all has to work itself out.

so you're probably wondering what part of spilling my guts like that to all these women was the "creative presentation."  well, after I spewed it all out, and ugly cried for a few minutes while they stared at me, I gave this little analogy.

the day before we discussed the redeemed portion, but the week we were working on it at home, I had LENTIL LOAF on the meal plan.  I was dreading it for a week, and it was here.  staring me in the face.  now, if you're not familiar with lentil loafs, they're kinda known for being crumbly and dry.  or maybe it's just the vegan versions.   anyway, I knew that the lady from the blog I got the recipe from had tired MANY MANY recipes before finally tweaking them into her own wonderful recipe.  So I was really nervous just because I knew that lots of people (who love cooking and find joy in the process) struggled with this dish, so why on earth was the culinarily dis-inclined ME going to try it?

anyway, as I was looking at the lovely picture of it, I realized that it was the "created" version of lentil loaf.  it was beautiful and perfect and exactly what the creator intended it to be!  and ok, so maybe I wouldn't be able to make mine EXACTLY like that, but I was going to give it a try.

and during the process of making this dish, everything felt very "fallen." first of all, the lentil weren't cooking right.  there was all this water that wasn't soaking into them, or whatever is supposed to happen.  and I have had lots of very frustrating lentil experiences.  so this one just really got to me.  I finally decided I would just drain them, because seriously.  so while I'm draining the lentils, I have no idea how, (well, it might have somehting to do with all the dishes in the sink and trying to make one little space for the strainer) I SPILLED burning hot lentils all over my feet.  and THEN, while I was grating the apples and carrots, I destroyed my fingernails and finger tips with the grater!  and THEN I had a bunch of ingredient issues, like running out of balsamic vinegar, and not having apple butter. (seriously?  who just HAS apple butter.  they should have put a note at the top that you'd have to MAKE the apple butter first.)

so just when I'm about to throw in the towel and head to Chipotle, I have this sense of like, peace.  because not ALL lentil loaves have to be exactly the same!  and maybe mine has a few things missing, or a few extra things, but in the end it just might be ok!

so by golly, I baked that sucker.  and guess what.  it was wonderful.  it was delicious.  i loved it.  the kids loved it.  steve even loved the leftovers!  the big blob of mush came out of the oven REDEEMED.  and yeah, so it didn't look like the "created" version from pinterest.  but it served it's purpose.  and it served it well.

and for the first time in my life, I felt like a lentil loaf. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

penny pinching party

I remember turning 8.

It was the year that my dad took me and most of my siblings to do the bumper boats and then out for ice cream.  My mom was sick and so was one or two of my siblings, so she stayed home with them, and the rest of us went out.  We didn't grow up doing much for birthday parties, til you turned 10 and got a sleepover.  So to go do the bumper boats was a HUGE THING for us.

well, my bumper boat got stuck going in a circle, for a long time.  and I'm not sure if it was the spinning that made me feel sick, or the sick bug that was going through  my family that made me feel sick, or what.  But when we got to McDonalds for ice cream, I barely made it out of the van when I puked all over the parking lot.

It's a VERY clear memory for me.  So to realize that my kids are now at the point where they could have VERY clear memories about stuff kind of concerns me.  how are they going to remember me?  what are they going to say to their kids about what their mom did?  I think about that a lot.

So when things like birthdays come up, i never really know what to do.  We've always done the same thing for Lillian since she got into school. we hand out little invitations to everyone at the bus stop in the morning (so they don't feel like they have to go out and buy a gift) and invite them to pop in after school and get a cupcake.

That way we get a celebration, she feels special, I didn't spend tons of money, I don't have to entertain anybody, and everyone's happy!

but this year she really really really wanted a party where she could invite her friends.

now here's the thing about parties here.  We've been invited to parties at all sorts of places like the pizza machine, p.e. 101, bouncy places, the skating rink, all sorts of places.  So I kinda feel like that's what's expected when you throw a party around here!

well, guess what.  that's not how I roll.  So I talked to Lillian about how I'm not doing daycare anymore so we don't have any extra money to be doing fancy parties and such.  But I also don't want her growing up thinking that you have to spend tons of money in order to have fun.  SO, we decided together that we would throw a SUPER low budget party, but she could invite her friends.

It's kinda hard, ya know?  in a world with pinterest and blogs and facebook and such, to do something simple.  and be okay with it.  there's a quote floating around that I've seen a few times about how we are always comparing our own lives to other people's highlight reels.  and isn't that the truth.  The big fancy parties going on these days are more for the moms to feel good about themselves I think.  The kids couldn't care less.

so, the deal was: aldi pizzas for food ($5 each for a massive pizza.  i bought two.) I would make cute cupcakes, but we weren't going to get ice cream to go with them.  (and, ok, I spent probably like $25 on cupcake stuff, but it made LOTS of cupcakes, for the birthday party (2 parties actually) and the school bake sale, and some for the school secretaries, and I still have some supplies left from the butterflies, which will get used at a later date I'm sure.  that did end up being more expensive than I hoped, but it's because I wanted lots of colors of butterflies.) :)  and we were not going to send little gift baggies home with everyone, but I would let them each design a pinkadink headband, and that could be their little take home activity.  oh, and I photocopied a butterfly picture for everyone to color while they waited for their turn to design a headband.  oh, and because I"m a sucker for cute, I bought a set of paper lanterns, just to make it seem a LITTLE more party-ish.  but I bought green, so you better believe we'll get lots and lots of use out of them. :)

and that was the party!  it was only two hours long, we had 15 kids and one adult, and the kids loved it I think!  in fact, I know they did.  I didn't need to plan a big party to boost my self esteem, because inviting a bunch of 8 year olds over will do the trick.  I heard lots of conversations along the lines of "I wish Lillian's mom was my mom." "yeah, I wish Lillian's mom was my mom too!" "well, I wish I WAS Lillian's mom!  she can make dresses!!!"  and they all thought I was so pretty and so nice!  it was all very cute and sweet and hilarious.  you should try it sometime.  seriously. :)

But I was really proud of myself.  I resisted the urge to get all crafty and make decorations and such.  because I LOVE that type of thing, but it just adds up money-wise.  and someday I hope that the pinkadink is doing so well that we'll have extra money to throw a party like that.  I certainly don't think it's wrong for moms to do that.  trust me, I appreciate cuteness probably way more than the average person.

but for THIS party, and at THIS time in our life, I wanted to show Lillian (and myself) that simple can still be good.

***and you might be thinking that the cupcakes weren't simple.  but if you try it, you'll see that anyone can do it!  you can find the tutorial on my pinterest "treats" board.  it was EASY PEASY I'm telling you.  it just takes a lot of time.***

so anyway, here are some of the very few pictures I took, because when you have to make sure that 15 kids don't disappear or trample each other in your little house, it gets tricky to walk around with the camera. :)

my girl.  where has the time gone???

the butterflies. aren't they pretty?

the decor.  that was it. :)

the kids.  I love this picture. :)

so there you have it.  the freedom to throw a simple party.  no comparisons, no expectations, no lack of fun, that's for sure.  it felt good, it was fun, but I'm glad it's over. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

empty nester (for a couple hours)

last week on this day, it was the last day before Brielle started preschool.

I had many real friends and about a bazillion facebook friends go through the same thing-bringing their kids to preschool for the first time-in the couple of weeks before, and let me tell you...emotions were running HIGH.

only...not MY emotions.

I had decided at the beginning of the summer that B's goal MUST be to make it really easy on me to drop her off at preschool because she was driving. me. crazy.  like, bugging her siblings, hurting them just because, and whining all the time.  like, ALL the freaking time.  and I was READY for preschool to start.

and then sometime in the middle of the summer, when we were trying to work our new budget, and figure out how much pinkadink stuff I needed to make (and sell) each day in order to participate in the whole bill-paying thing that is so unfortunate in life, we decided it would be wise for Brielle to not only go to preschool 3 days a week, but ON her preschool days, to stay the other half of the day in the daycare too, just because then I'd have 3 whole days to work uninterrupted.  and at that point, just the THOUGHT of dropping her off somewhere for a whole day (and the fact that I'd have to make THREE lunches every morning, not two) brought be to tears every time.  I couldn't talk about, couldn't think about it.  tears.

And then sort of suddenly, I realized that I never actually signed her up for the daycare part, and good thing too, because I had spent most of the summer bumming around with my sisters instead of sewing, so we didn't really have the money to pay for her to have 'rest time' somewhere else.  so then I was back to being totally fine with her going to preschool 3 days a week for a couple hours.

and last Tuesday night Steve actually said to me that a friend might be calling me to talk about sending her little boy to preschool, and how hard it's been for her.  and I thought "WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME??????????"

Why is it so hard and so emotional for all these parents to send their kids to PRESCHOOL?  I mean,  yes, I cried when I sent Lillian, because that was my first time ever leaving any kid anywhere.  so I get it that your first one is hard.  And yes, I cried on when I dropped both big kids off at school this year, but only because it's all day and they're growing up, and it had NOTHING to do with the fact that I wanted them to be home with me.  but dropping my 3rd child off for a couple hours of interaction with other people at a place I already feel comfortable with?  no sad feelings.  at all.

now trust me.  I love my kids.  crazy love them.  But I have no desire to be with them all day every day.  homeschool moms, YOU ROCK.  you are way stronger than me.  I loved being home with my babies all day every day, and my toddlers, but once we get to this age where they can, like, talk like, um, like, valley girls and stuff?  yeah, still love you, but go talk like that with other 7 year olds who speak that language.  and go burn your excessive boy energy on a playgound instead of climbing (literally) up my hallway walls.  and when you get home, I'll be SO EXCITED to see you!

so I was trying to explain to Steve that the only comfort I could give anyone having a hard time is saying, "oh, I rememeber it was so hard with Lillian too."  and I told him about Missy who writes at It's Almost Naptime. she's my mom twin.  except she's way cooler and more hilarious than me. but everything she writes (that's not about adoption or the diet she has one of her children on) I TOTALLY relate to, and feel like she snuck into my head and wrote about my thoughts.  so when I read this post, I was thrilled to realized I'm not alone in my whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" idea.

so when the day came to drop Brielle off, I made sure my camera was charged and ready, and after a quick stop at Daddy's office, off we went to her school.  We had already been to her open house and she felt really confident and played so well by herself there. We were a bit early so we had a chance to meet some of the girls (Lyric and Anya) in her class before they acutally went in the room.  This is where things started to change for me emotionally.  Lyric was adorable and chatty and spinning in circles and going on and on and on about sisters and stuff.  Then Anya comes and she was adorable and singing and singing and singing and she never stopped til it was time to go in.  and the song?  girls just wanna have fun.  it was so awesome.  and during that time of talking with the other girls, Brielle shrunk down onto her haunches and stayed by my feet not saying a word to anyone.

and once I realized she might be nervous, I got emotional.

so we headed in to drop her off, and it was all a little awkward.  There are only 8 kids in her class, but it felt like the room was SO crowded, and parents were standing there, not really doing anything.  I took Brielle to hang up her backpack and move her little owl, and then took a few pictures. all the other parents were standing there, watching their kids play, but as I took the last picture, I felt it.

tears were coming, and coming HARD.

so I gave her a quick hug and a kiss and a "see you at 3!" and started to leave.  I asked the teacher if we could go because I just didn't understand why all the other parents were standing there and she said to go ahead and leave!  so I race to the door, which is RIGHT when she started talking to the parents about pick up procedures.  So I stifle the tears for 15 more seconds and then right when she's done I open the door....and the flood gates.

I started bawling.  like, weird faces and strange sounds bawling.  and I did NOT see it coming.  and I still to this day don't know what the emotions were that I was feeling.  the end of a stage of life maybe?  I'm not sure.  but it felt good.  it felt normal.  like I could view myself as a good mother again instead of a cold-hearted-kid-dropper-offer.

so yeah, I only cried the one day, and I guess I'm back to wondering what the big deal is.  I love it when she talks to me about stuff that I have no idea what she means. like the kangaroo who puts a book in her pouch. and the songs she tries to sing but I know she cannot possibly be singing the right words.  and the kids she talks about, with names she never remembers.  and the guinea pigs.  and the star in the apple that shows that Jesus loves her. it's all becoming part of what makes her HER.

so yeah, my baby is gone from me for a while.  but she told me not to worry, and that she'll always be my baby....even when she's a grown up. :)  and she's right.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

back at it

so, I decided to pick up the 'ol blog again.

I miss my stories.  I miss knowing what has happened in my life.  see, I have a HORRIBLE memory, and I wanted this to be a place where I could go back and remember moments in my life I wouldn't normally remember.  and as it turns out, I don't remember much of the last year.  the details anyway. because I didn't write them down.  or maybe they're lost in facebook statuses somewhere, I'm not sure. 

so here I am, back at it.

my little hiatus stemmed from a lot of things.  I made a major life change in the last year and people are critical, ya know?  so I didn't feel like I could totally ignore it in my blog, but I also didn't want everybody knowing stuff about me while I tried to figure it out either.  now I'm to the point that I believe in it and I don't so much care what other people think.  it's not even a big deal to me anymore, but it was then.  we cut meat and almost all dairy out of our diet.  see?  no big deal.  

it was really fun to watch the scale (which stayed the SAME after working out WITH A TRAINER for almost a year) drop almost 15 pounds in a few months time.  turns out what you eat really matters. :)  

now that I got that out there (I may have mentioned it before, I don't really know) and you all think I'm super healthy, I'd like to take the time to share a recent kitchen adventure.  some call it cooking, some call it baking, some call it making supper.  to me, it's always foreign and uncomfortable, no matter how many times I do it, so it's an adventure.  and this adventure was far from healthy.

My sweet hubby turned 33 last week.  At his new job, you bring treats on your own bday so that nobody ever gets forgotten about. these are the things you don't learn about in marriage counseling.  the expectation that the wife brings some extravagant thing to make everybody in the office think they are so awesome.  

well his bday was on a saturday.  and the kids really wanted a surprise party for him, which is hard to do when he's with you all day on his bday.  So Friday we decided to do it, and i was going to make him a candy bar cake with brownies, bc the guy loves chocolate, and this girl doesn't so much love cake.  plus, I thought that it might be what I want to bring to his work the next week, so I better try it out first.

so I went to the store and got 2 boxes of brownie mix thinking that if I make two 8x8 pans of brownies, they'll stand up high enough that the kitkats on the outside of the cake will look good.  then Brielle and I went on a mission to find colorful candy coated chocolates to put on the top to add a little color.  but they couldn't be m&ms because they're all at risk of having peanuts in them.  the life of an allergy family.  

well it just so happens that my FAVORITE candy in the whole world is sixlets, which are not at risk of peanut contamination. AND they're colorful.  AND they're chocolate.  AND they're not sold in HyVee apparently.  it's a hard job to scour the candy aisles during Halloween season, and enough to make this mama go NUTS.

so we settled on little blue, brown, and cream almond joy bites.  I'll go ahead and skip detials of the part where I picked the kids up from the bus stop while the brownies were baking and FLEW to the dollar general AND Nobbies looking for sixlets, because we settled on the almond joys, even though we did find sixlets.  whatever.  

we got home with TWO minutes left on the timer for the brownies.  go team.


a) you can't use egg replacer for making brownies (even though I use it for other baking things), or 

b) you can't use Canola oil instead of vegetable oil (I thought they were the same.  but see?  it's all foreign to me...), or 

c) you can't bake 2 pans of brownies at the same time, or 

d) any combination of the above.  

because, folks, these were not brownies that came out of the pans.  they were oily, bubbling, flat slabs of TAR, in a shape that tried really hard to resemble a square.  so I cut them into circles, let them cool for not enough time bc steve would be home soon, slapped some leftover frosting on the edges so the candy would stick, and put the kitkats down (HORIZONTALLY, that's how flat TWO pans of brownies were), sprinkled the pretty cnadies that took me an like 2 hours to decide on, and stuck that baby in the deep freeze to try to keep some sort of shape and prevent the rest of the chocolate from melting off the kitkats.  

it was a total disaster, people.  a whole day wasted.  except for one thing: the photo.  

I love love love this picture, and nobody knows that we ate a total of one piece combined.  nobody knows the kitkats were supposed to be vertical.  nobody knows my husband doesn't even like almond joys.  the kids were hiding when he got home from work, they jumped out and said surprise, and he had "no idea" that there was a special dessert waiting for us, even though the whole house smelled like brownies and there were dirty dishes everywhere.  and I told him he better act surprised. :)

so this picture captures exactly what I wanted it to.  the kids were so excited, so proud, and they just love their daddy so much. 

but if it wasn't for the blog, I'd forget all about the brownie flop.  

oh, I got off track though.  so good thing I attempted the candy bar cake before the dreaded 'bring treats to work day.'  can you imagine?  I'd have gone to dairy queen for an ice cream cake or something I guess.  But ice cream cakes aren't really in our budget, so instead of risking another disaster, I went with cupcakes.  Steve loves butterfinger, and we can't ever really make that kind of stuff for here because of Lillian's allergy, so I though it'd be fun to bring some to work.  and easy.

so I made regular old cupcakes.  (have you SEEN what people do to their cupcakes?  thank you, pinterest, for making us feel like everything has to be totally freakin fancy.)  in order to make them "butterfinger" ones, I crushed up some butterfinger to add to the frosting, crushed a little more (without the chocolate, which was easy bc if you crush it in the wrapper, the chocolate sticks to the wrapper anyway) to sprinkle on top, and then found these adorable little butterfinger snacksters or something in the candy aisle and put one of those on the top.  they were really boring compared to pinterest, but they were EASY, and I used EGGS, and they were a huge hit.  so there, take that pinterest.  

so there you have it. I survived.  I threw a surprise party for my hubby (ha!) and successfully brought treats to his work.  AND, I blogged about it.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

the kidnapping talk

Have you seen the story in the news about some guy who tried to kidnap a girl in WalMart? Well, experts are saying that she was certainly trained in "stranger danger" and knew what to do. And that we should all make sure our kids know what to do.

Well, I knew it would probably freak them out, but I thought I better have a talk to the kids. We talked about how to wiggle and wiggle, and kick and scream. and bite and poke eyeballs and kick in the private area. and scream, and keep screaming and wiggling.

Lillian and Brielle thought it was hilarious that i was giving them permission to 'kick him where it counts.' But Josiah wasn't laughing (and it's not because he's a boy). He was thinking. hard. and I knew questions or comments would come later.

and they did.

things like, "mama, what if I wake up in the morning and I'm in jail because a bad guy took me?" and other questions that really made no sense, but he must have made connections somehow.

and then things like "what if a bad guy tries to take me?"

and my favorite: "well, what if a bad guy tries to take Brielle? then, maybe, I'll let the bad guy take me too, so then I can grab Brielle's arm and we can run away."

melt. my. heart.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

my little man

Today we were on the way to preschool (and that's AFTER chasing the bus a few blocks til he stopped to let Lillian on, and then being halfway to school and turning all the way around to try find the dog we spotted which we thought was our neighbor's and then turned out not to be our neghbor's) when Josiah filled me in on a little something. Here's how it went:

J: mama? I think I'm changing...because every morning my voice sounds different.
me: hm...really... Did someone tell you that your voice is going to change when your body changes?
J: huh? my BODY is gonna change?
me: yep.
J: WHEN????
me: oh, when you're older. when you're ready to become a man.
J: but mama, I AAAMMMM a man!

and I thought it was the sweetest conversation ever, until he added:

J: I'm just a man who picks my boogers!