Friday, July 29, 2011

Something that's okay to hate...

I saw the status update on Facebook.  The sermon title of what we would be hearing that night.

I squirmed in my chair.  Without even hearing the actual message, I felt convicted.  I knew that I needed to hear it, but it would be uncomfortable.

It was on anger.


They said there were three types of angry people - the spewer, the stuffer and the leaker.  The spewer explodes and is out of control.  The stuffer never lets anything out, and become a doormat of sorts.  And the leaker, the passive aggressive, way sarcastic sort of person who won't ever actually admit they are angry.

I am the spewer.


I've mentioned it on this blog a few times, my anger, wanting to be over it so badly - wanting it to not have a foothold in my life - wanting it to not affect my relationships.  And yet it lingers.

Usually at our church, we don't do raising of hands for decisions - if you want prayer, you go forward.  But tonight, they asked for people to raise hands if they were struggling with this.  I knew in that moment that if I didn't, I would be lying to myself...and purposefully not taking an opportunity to deal with it.

This whole thing has actually been something I've been wrestling with the last few weeks. 

I think that it is so easy to condone sin.  To make it alright.  To make it normal.  To make it so acceptable we don't actually notice it any longer as sin, but instead just a normal way of life.

I know I have...condoned, excused, justified my sin.

But a few weeks ago, reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan I was reminded that God doesn't condone, excuse or justify my sin.  He hates it. 

He hates my sin.

Therefore, if I love Him (which I do) I should hate my sin too.

But I don't really.  Although I know it's gross at times, I've grown quite comfortable with it.  Though the guilt lasts for a bit after I sin, the effort that goes into not sinning is overwhelming. 

My closest friend, a mom as well, and I laugh when we "confess" our screw ups to each other.  "Oh boy, what now?"  or "Just another day in paradise...."  I think that I need to make sure that my heart is in the right place.  There is a fine line between condoning sin and offering grace.  And as super spiritual as I would like to make myself sound, I definitely find myself condoning sin more than I find myself giving grace filled wisdom.

I'm so glad that God's love surpasses His hate of my sin.  I'm so thankful that Jesus died so that my nasty, disgusting mistakes that I make so frequently wouldn't be on my shoulders the day I stand before God.  But out of love and adoration to God, I should look on my sin the way He does...and stop accepting it, stop shrugging my shoulders and giving up my efforts to change - but instead, change, repent, be made new.

I don't want to ignore my sins any longer, because although it is messy when you take what's done in the darkness into the light - what could happen if it stays in the dark could be a catastrophe.  I'm not perfect, but Jesus loves me, God forgave me and I'm moving forward.

Do you have some "secret" sin that you are struggling with?  Do you have a struggle that you are condoning, justifying, reasoning with yourself about?  Do you need to have a heart change regarding your sin - and instead of accepting it, hating it and turning away from it? 

Are you ready to raise your hand?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My grocery store intervention

I should probably stop going to the grocery store.


No, really - I'm. Not. Joking.

9 out of 10 times I leave asking myself why I put myself through such grueling torture for a gallon of milk and maybe some apples. 

Yet, I continue going back.  Darn that whole eating to survive thing.

Anyway, my darling children have picked up on Mommy's and Daddy's newest eating habits...and they don't think I'm trying to get skinny, they know undeniably that Mommy is just trying to get HEALTHY. Which, let's be honest will take my entire life since I will almost always, hands down, go for the ice cream before the celery.  They also have taken mental notes regarding the foods that we have stated are bad and that we should really TRY to avoid.  Such as Coke...and yes, even Diet Coke.

Over the last month or so, Luke has become emphatic about us drinking soda.  He even wrote a note on our fridge that said,


I didn't realize the importance of this subject until the other the grocery store.  Apparently, two or three weeks ago I told Luke that I would only have soda on days that were celebrations, ie. my birthday.  I didn't think I was signing into a law abiding contract nor one that would have my integrity questioned if I didn't hold up my end of the bargain.

But the other was hot (our 4th hot day of the year) and I so badly wanted a drink.

So while we were at the store, I decided to indulge in a Diet Coke.  I know they are bad, but I really wanted one.  When Luke saw, he began to fall apart.

He decided that right then and there, I would have an intervention in the middle of the store.


Huge crocodile tears began streaming down his face.  He started to shake.  His face twisted and turned in ways I had never seen before.  His voice even reached tones I had never heard before.  And then like a shaken up soda can (pun very much intended) he began to explode.


Yes, it was Saturday.  Yes, the store was in fact completely packed.  And yes, it seemed as though everyone stopped to see what was going on.


No, I don't drink.  No, I don't do drugs.  No, I don't smoke cigarettes...but can you imagine if I did?  Oh boy...No, I don't do anything that could land me in jail but I drink an occasional diet coke and in that moment people were looking at me like I was the worst mom...the lush that I am.

So, I promptly held up my drink in the air, just so any bystanders could see that the drink in question was of the carbonated variety and I did my best to calm him down.  It didn't work.

I betrayed him.  I broke his confidence in me.  I lied to him....

So, we reached home and I apologized profusely and then proceeded to write on our calendar that we are not permitted to have any carbonated beverages until our anniversary (August 16th) and if we do we have to pay Luke three bucks.  THREE BUCKS! 

This kid is seriously the coke nazi.

I have abstained from drinking (COKE!) for the last week and a few days ago, after the kids went to bed, Dave went and got us take out...including drinks.  We sat there eating our food in silence, fearing the entire time that Luke would come down the stairs and catch us in the act...I didn't enjoy the diet coke.  In fact, I drank it so fast that I didn't even taste it because the overwhelming knowledge of what would happen if he found out scared me...and then as quickly as we took it down we got rid of the evidence in the outside trash just in case.

I'm pretty sure I won't be drinking a soda for a long time.  A long, long time.

And in case you need an intervention for someone in your life, you can get hold of Luke at my email.  He will kill any addiction.  Seriously.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Should your kid's behavior be rated B for brat?

They have taken the ratings off of video games.

Although this may not come as breaking news to those of you with gaming systems, I was totally unaware.

We don't have a game system.  We did for about two weeks and then we sold it, because I would much rather be outside playing tennis than playing on TV, but regardless...

Now the ratings are off.

So now that my husband is moonlighting as a manager of a media outlet/book/music store - we know what this translates to:

13 year old boy says, "Hey Mom - I'm going to go rent a video game." And his mom says, "Sure, just pick something appropriate."  13 year old boy walks into store, sees a cool title and maybe the disc itself looks cool and he rents it.  It may have been previously rated M for mature but there is no way he could know.  Since the video games are not in their original cases at the rental places, there isn't even a way you can tell what sort of content is in the game.

The rating system was apparently "unconstitutional."  Uh huh, ok.

Yesterday at work, a 13 year old boy came into the store ALONE, picked out a game and went to my husband, "Hey, what's this game rated?"  Dave informed him that games are no longer rated.  The boy looked very concerned and said, "Well, then how am I supposed to know if it's appropriate?"

Amazing.  Here was a young boy without a guardian choosing what was right.  Making choices that mattered.

A few minutes later another 13 year old boy walked in WITH his mom.  He saw a hat sitting behind a counter that had been special ordered for someone and was waiting for pick up.  He felt entitled to grab it, so he did and proudly, without any hesitation, put it on his head.  Dave walked over to the boy and said, "Hey bud, that hat is on hold for someone, can I please have it back?"  The mom interrupted and said, "My boy wants it, he's going to get it."  And a few minutes later, Dave saw the tag ripped out on the floor, the boy and his mom gone and the hat missing.

Amazing.  Here was a young boy with a guardian choosing what was wrong.  Making choices that mattered.

It's hard to parent, admittedly.  But may you never grow tired of instilling the power and importance of integrity and wisdom to your children.  May you never forget that you are your child's first example - and they take note of EVERYTHING.  And in response to your never ceasing instruction, may your child be like the first 13 year old who, without any adult forcing him, makes the right choice.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Red Light, Green Light

I decided to obey (finally) and then God told me, "Wait."

I decided to overcome my fear and my excuses and then God said, "Hold on."

I grew impatient at the journey and God reminded me, "Be patient."

I grew frustrated with the stubbornness of others and God said, "Be loving."

And today, today, today I am certain that I'm about to hear God say, "GO."

And I don't know what that will look like for me, my marriage, my family - but we will obey...

Monday, July 11, 2011

The first day of my new decade...

I screwed up today.

Today, I turned 30 and I wanted to feel special as I am beginning a decade that I hope and pray is amazing in so many ways.

But I didn't.

Instead, I was greeted with an early morning dose of tantrums, fighting, whining and the loving, "I DON'T LIKE YOU's" by my three year old and other kids.

When nap time came, I, as lovingly as I could, begged them/commanded them/threatened them to take a nap.  I so badly wanted to start the day over, and when we all awoke from our nap we could have a "do over" and maybe the second half of my day would be way better.  But nap time didn't happen.

Even my little one, who usually doesn't have a choice, figured how to climb out of his crib though it's on the lowest setting it can be on...and he proceeded to do this AT LEAST 20 times.

Nap didn't happen.  A do over didn't happen.  Instead, the children and I became monsters - screaming and yelling, crying (my tears) and saying words that will probably not soon be forgotten. 

I was so angry.  The first day of my new decade was ruined.

I know, sounds a bit idealistic.  But here's the thing.  This stupid anger I struggle with, that I so badly wanted to have a hold on by this birthday, reared its little angry head.  This whole yelling thing, that I hate so vehemently, and wanted to be rid of by this day, presented itself bigger than ever.  Really, quite honestly, the whole sin thing that I so badly wanted to have surrendered to God and thrown so far into the sea of forgetfulness that I didn't even remember how to sin, was still there.

And this was how I was starting off my new decade...the one that everyone keeps telling me I am going to love.

I won't go into details about my failure today.  But it was sin.  It was ugly.  And the tears I was crying, when I think about it a little less emotionally, were more for my disgust at my behavior and not as much about the frustration with my children's behavior.  Today was rough.

But now, my kids have been asleep for two hours.  I ate dinner.  Dave reassured me that I was in fact NOT the worst mom on the planet.  And some of my favorite people called to tell me that they loved me.

And as I was about to head upstairs to bed, thinking about how tomorrow will begin with an apology to my kids for my horrible behavior today, I realized that today was a God send.  Today was a fantastic way to start out my new decade, because today served up a wonderful reminder (regardless of how painful it was) that I am in desperate need of God.

I forget that often.

I am in desperate need of God.

I used to think that God was there, God was cool, but really, it was about me.  What I had was based on my abilities, my efforts, my talents, my hard work.  My life and actions, although I loved God, came from a really arrogant heart.

Now though...oh now, I have realized that what I have and who I am is all because of who He is.  I touched on this in my last post, but let me say it again:

I am who I am because He is who He is.

I have four kids because He miraculously blessed me with four children.  I am married to a good man who loves the Lord, because God showed me grace.  We have a good marriage, because of Him...not because of us.  Dave has a job because God provided him one. 

And when I operate on my own accord, it almost always is a train wreck sooner or later - and today that train had wrecked quite early and kept piling up and up and up.

I need God...desperately.

So, here's to my 30's.  And here is to tomorrow, a day full of forgiveness and new beginnings...and a day of being mindful that I need God...desperately.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Imagine this...

Imagine this:

You woke up in the morning at 8 am after a full night of uninterrupted sleep.  When you awoke, the house was completely quiet and you were able to sit down at the table and drink a cup of coffee that was magically already made and have a quiet time with the Lord.  After this, you went and took a long, QUIET shower with complete privacy, picked clothes out that were fashionable and you were able to spend a good amount of time making yourself look presentable AND attractive.

Then you walked calmly, not tripping on any toys, to your children's rooms and woke them from their full night of slumber.  They woke up with smiles on their faces and the first words out of their mouths were, "Mommy, I love you."  Your children, without fighting or whining, got themselves dressed and ready for the day and the day proceeded to go on like that.  Perfectly.

Ok, so maybe this is how some of you live.  If so, what land do you live in, and can I move there?  But for the rest of us, most of us, I think this is a fantasy.

In my home, it generally goes like this:

Groggy after getting up multiple times in the night for various wonderful reasons, I roll out of bed at 6:30 and stumble downstairs to a flour covered kitchen where my son has decided to attempt another creation in the kitchen.  I reach for a coffee cup and some creamer as my other kids make their presence known by whining about being hungry before I even see their angelic little faces. 

Then, after being up for an extended amount of time I realize that perhaps I may need to use the bathroom and am greeted by the smiley face on the toilet seat that showed up about a month ago. 

As I walk through my living room back to the kitchen, I glance at my walls that are partially decorated by pictures of when we only had 2 kids with an occasional Lily picture thrown in there for good measure...poor Will isn't even documented on our walls...and my kids pictures hung willy nilly on the walls for more decor. 

Then I enter the kitchen to feed the monkeys, I slip on any given toy and practice my gymnastics ability (or lack thereof) as I escape near death and start the day by filling their bowls with cereal and maybe milk...if we didn't run out the night before.

Quiet time?  Uh huh.  Having a private shower with time to look presentable and attractive?  Right.  Children being respectful and obedient all the time?  Sure.

Not so much.

So, for a while now, I've had a bad attitude about my reality versus my expectations.  I suppose I thought that even though rationally I knew that I would have to live in tv land for that to even be close to my life, I wanted that to be my life.  I wanted my husband to not just be a provider and work a wonderfully extravagantly paid job, but I also wanted him to be one hundred percent there emotionally for me too, as well as being a handyman, mechanic and landscaper.  I wanted my kids to not only be respectful and obedient, but geniuses and prodigies and all the time perfect.  And me, well, I was more focused on my family not meeting their expectations, I couldn't really look at myself.

Besides, anything that I was lacking, any personality trait that needed to be tweeked was only an issue because the other people under my room made me that way....


How about you, what are your expectations?  Reality or fantasy?  Can you even objectively asses your expectations or are you still where I spent a lot of time, in angry blame mode?

This is my life.  And yes, if you come to my home, the smiley face on the toilet seat will greet you as well.  As you walk to my front door, two muddy hand prints will be waving hello to you from the garage door and sidewalk chalk that has been there for over a month will remind you of your numbers and my children's names written over and over again.

There is never a clean, toy free floor and my house is NEVER quiet.  And quiet time with the Lord, as I can find a million excuses as to why I am too busy for it, God has been showing me a million and one reasons as to why I can't survive without it.

I'm learning, slowly but surely, that my life is my life because God has blessed me with my life.  And if my life was that perfect picture of quiet and perfection, I'm not so sure I would be so aware of my need for God in my life.

I'm aware.

Before kids, before marriage, before I was a real grown up even though I had a relationship with the Lord, it was about me.

Now, after kids and marriage and bills and sickness and everything in between, I realize that it is all about God, and if it weren't for Him, I wouldn't be.  I am who I am because He is who He is. 

He has abundant grace and mercy for me.  And now that I have started taking my eyes off the downfalls of my family not being perfect, I am able to fix my eyes on He who is perfect and then I have realized that my family, though not perfect, is wonderful.

When we accept our imperfection, and admit it to ourselves- we reveal the need we have for God and experience His grace and mercy.

Quite honestly, I think if my house was quiet I would be freaked out a bit.  I wouldn't know how to operate...I probably would be bored.  And if my kids were perfect, I would never be challenged and reminded of my relationship with the Lord as my father and His patience for me. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Leaving a Legacy

He was quiet, but I knew he was strong.

He was strong, but I could tell he was gentle.

When I first met him, I sat across from the table staring at his hands.  I always wondered about the stories he could tell, the things he had seen.  And though those stories were probably great, the thing I knew for sure was that this man, quiet and strong, was greatly loved.

He was Dad to my Father-In-Law and four brothers.  Grandpa to all his grand kids including my husband.  But in our home, we spent the last five years referring to him as Great Papa.
The first time that I saw a glimpse into who Great Papa was was when Grandma passed away.  I remember sitting in the hospital room on one side of the bed and as I watched him, I could see the love he had for her.  This big, strong, quiet man loved his wife.  And as I watched, my heart hurting for him, I was thankful that my husband came from a legacy of strong, honorable men.

Great Papa and Grandma had five sons and a daughter whom they lost when she was quite young.  When he would speak of Gloria his eyes would light up and the love for his little girl was made so obvious.  Six children, ten grandchildren, and thirteen grandchildren later - when he would talk to Dave and I about raising children, he would chuckle and tell me stories about when all his kids were little.  And often times, feeling overwhelmed with twins, he would encourage me with stories of when him and his brother were little.

Great Papa was a twin as well.  He would tell me stories about how his dad would tie him and his brother (Uncle Al) up to a clothesline and let them run around - but at least that way they were contained...and believe me, I considered it for my kiddos! I remember when we had our twins and they began to talk in their twin language, they would both come to him and stand at his knees and talk up a storm.  And Great Papa would just join in on their conversation, talking in twin language right with them - they seemed to understand each other.

When we had Lily, we were so excited to go over and see Great Papa and introduce him to the newest part of our family.  Dave loved his grandpa so much and I knew how much it meant to have Great Papa see him in the role of "dad" and be proud of him.

And then Will was born and we went over there shortly thereafter and Great Papa asked me with a smirk, "When's the next one coming?  You need a couple more to keep up with Joan and me."  I told him I was more than happy to let him keep the record.  He then let me know that big families were such a blessing, as they are, and then he blessed me with his next statement.

"My boys all married strong women.  They sure have minds of their own, but they are all such great women.  You fit right in."  I had been married into the family for six years, and with that statement, I felt like I was one of his.

This last week as we knew his time here was coming to an end, Dave went to see him.  He opened his eyes and upon seeing Dave asked, "How are those kids?  Are those kids good?"
Dave replied, "They are great.  They talk about Great Papa all the time and draw you pictures."  Great Papa smiled and closed his eyes again.  I know he was proud of Dave and who he has become, operating in the most important job of his life as father to our children...and his last words to Dave were about the legacy that he began, and that Dave will continue.

Great Papa passed away yesterday.  He went to heaven.  Right now I can only imagine the reunion that is happening between him, Grandma and Gloria.

We told our kids that Great Papa went to go be with Jesus in heaven.  They asked when he was coming back.  We told them that he wasn't, but when we went to heaven, we would get to see him again and that he would be healthy and so excited to see them and play with them. 

We will miss him here tremendously, yet I know his heart is thrilled to be with the ones he has so terribly missed...and in my heart I know we will see him again...strong, healthy and whole.

We love you Great Papa.