Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Actions speak louder than words

Relationships and all that they offer have made a huge impact on who I am today. I am one who thrives on relationships. I want nothing more than to spend time with friends. I am constantly checking my e-mail. I rarely resist the urge to answer a phone call. Facebook is one of my many addictions.

Facebook allows me to reconnect with many of these past relationships from so many different seasons of my life. These connections leave me in a whirlwind of thoughts. Thoughts about chapters of my life I thought I had closed. Moments I thought I had put behind me. Relationships I had worked so hard to come to accept had just grown apart. I enjoy catching up. Seeing where people are in life today is something that intrigues me. And yet Facebook takes me out of the comfort zone I had created. I want to believe myself when I say I've put the past behind me. But have I? Really?

These reconnections have given me a lot to think about. Conversations have occurred that have left me examining my life. Do I simply talk the talk? Being brought up in a home where I was taught how to pray, read and memorize the Bible and brought to church every week, it's easy for me to say the right thing. Right v. wrong is pretty clear in my mind. Still, I'm left wondering... do I walk the walk?

#1 - LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. When I love someone, I want to spend as much time with them as I possibly can. I want to know them and I want them to know me. I think about them day in and day out. I want them involved in every aspect of my life. I want them to know my family and my friends. I want to be able to tell them all the little details of my life and feel somewhat empty until I do. So am I really loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength if my day does not include Him? If I am not inviting Him to share life with me?

#2 - LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. Do I put others needs on the list anywhere near where I place my own? Can I look away when someone in my life is hurting? Can I make excuses for being too busy when people around me are in need of help? Am I able to be consumed with myself when the Bible clearly tells me that a Christ-follower will live as Jesus did?

These are the two greatest commandments and the rest of the law is summed up in them. If I am loving God and loving others, I am living as Jesus did. And yet, am I? Am I doing this? Truly loving God and loving others?

People around me are making me aware of how much lip service I give for a life I don't live. [sigh] I believe what I'm saying. I don't think of myself as a hypocrite. And yet, I don't make God my priority. I can go through most days without taking the time to talk to or listen to the Lord my God. How can I then say that I love Him?

I just excuse it away with being too busy. And as for loving others? I too easily write off not helping them to a life that is just too full.

Actions speak louder than words. Actions speak louder than words.

"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." - 1 John 2:3-6

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hot topics and Love

Stay-at-home or go to work? Bottlefeed or breasfeed? Cry it out or console? To spank or not to spank? These are the questions.

I have friends that are stay-at-home moms. I also have friends who make a living outside of the home. Some of my friends visit with a bottle in hand while others don't need to worry about that item in their diaper bag. Some run to console. Some let their kids cry it out. And to be totally honest, spanking is rarely a topic of conversation although it can still be a hot topic.

As I gave some unsolicited parenting advice on my friend's facebook page, I thought about how dedicated we can become to a "cause" that is really nothing more than a matter of personal choice. I read others' comments and thought about my own. Seriously, why do we feel the need to choose sides? Why can't we just accept the fact that people parent differently? It doesn't make one mom neglectful because they choose to allow their baby to "cry it out" any more than another mom is lazy because they choose to stay-at-home full time.

There are some issues we may disagree on. Can we agree on this, however? People are more important. Good relationships take work, tough conversations and a lot of grace. Let's be willing to disagree with love. It's so easy to get caught up in a "cause".

I'm hopeful that I will remember to be intentional in valuing the relationship more than the topic as I encounter the inevitable differences in opinion.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Facing the Day

Our pastor shared this video with us at church the other day. It really fits my life (not that my mom talks a lot). I do NOT manage my time wisely. Sure, I think about the best way to accomlish everything that needs to be done. I just never seem to actually rise up to the task.

The other day as I was faced with another unending to-do list, I picked up a book entitled "Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight" by Karen Scalf Linnamen. In the book, she talks about procrastination. Now, I've never really thought I was one to procrastinate - until now. Karen talks about the real reason why I avoid all of my surmounting projects. It's not that I don't want to complete anything, I simply don't want to deal with all the feelings that go along with it.

For example, after gathering groceries at the store yesterday, the cashier feels the need to state the obvious to me (with a smile, of course). "It looks like you were out of just about everything." Well, duh! I put off grocery shopping until the very last possible moment (like when I realize I have only two diapers left for the baby) because I always spend too much money. It doesn't matter how much planning I do, I cannot figure out how to save money like so many frugal moms out there (my sister). It is downright frustrating and I feel like a huge failure. Therefore, I don't go grocery shopping until I absolutely have to.

I avoid dishes and laundry because I hate feeling overwhelmed and the lack of accomplishment that goes along with these neverending chores. I never seem to be able to complete either one because we are always eating and wearing clothes!

As for exercising, I've put that off, too. I injured myself when I was training for the full marathon two years ago. While I have taken the step forward to attend physical therapy and work towards some healing, I quit running. I kept telling the therapist that I just didn't have time to work it in to my schedule. Although there is a tidbit of truth in that statement, I think the main reason I didn't want to tie up my running shoes was because I did not want to face the discouragement involved in feeling the pain in my leg and foot again.

I could go on and on with examples - like eating right. In my head (and all of its bizzare thoughts), it is easier to just eat junk all day and know I am going to get fat and be unhealthy than it is to actually eat healthy and go to way in at Weight Watchers only to be met with a surprising number that leaves me $12 poorer.

All in all, what this author had to say in her book impacted me. I need to face the emotions rather than avoid the tasks. I have used my unraveling, unreliable treadmill twice this week. I've pulled out a food journal every day (not that I've eaten healthy but at least the thought is there). And today, I have clean counters and laundry going. Not to mention I've released endorphins from accomplishing some tasks that leave me feeling energized (which is exactly what this book said would happen).

All in all, it's better to face my feelings and work through them. Putting them off is leaving me unhappy, unhealthy and potentially without any underwear! (I know, TMI but it fit the sentence.)

Now that I have some clean clothes, I will actually go take a shower and pick up my daughter from the bus stop. Hey, better late than never.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My preschooler

Jaycie started preschool last week. She had picked out her own backpack when we purchased school supplies for Nikelle. Jaycie attends Our Savior Lutheran Preschool just a short distance away from us. I love that I can walk her to school on days with nice weather.

Although she doesn't look very excited here, she was thrilled to go to preschool with her friend, Emily. Jaycie even told me today that seeing Emily at preschool was her "high" for the day. Her low was some little boy named Charlie who missed his Daddy at preschool.
I'm never in agreement with women who just can't imagine what they would do with themselves if they were stay-at-home moms. My to-do list is so never-ending that I don't even bother to write it down most days. Today I actually got on my unreliable treadmill and did some walk/run intervals for a half hour. It felt wonderful to actually do some exercise again!

Jaycie was very willing to sit and hold her baby sister, Andelise, while we waited for the classroom to open.

Jaycie chose her outfit to wear to school with the matching bandana.

At the end of class, the kids wait patiently for the teacher to call their name for them to go to their parent. Jaycie greeted me with a big smile and a huge monkey hug when I picked her up. She thoroughly enjoys going to school. The next morning she woke up asking if she was going to school that day. I'm so grateful that preschool is an exciting experience for her and not one where I have to drag her each time.

She also started Cubbies in AWANA with her cousin, Elena. She is excited to be doing this, too. No one would ever know how excited Jaycie is to be growing up. She pretends to be a little mute when she is in groups. I'm just thankful we've progressed to not yelling and screaming as I leave her.

It's hard to believe almost 4 years have passed since God gave Jaycie to us. Boy does time fly!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ande is One!

Our baby girl turned one-year-old last week. On one hand, I can't believe she is one already. On the other hand, she has been walking around for two months already. So it really is no great surprise that a year has gone by.

I've said that I wanted to treasure every moment of her first year. Easier said than done. That first year always seems to be in a bit of a fog. I'm glad I had more pictures than I thought I had so we could reminisce.

Andelise is our go-getter. She attempts everything without fear. She's known to climb on tables and chairs, climb up the slides, and attempt to walk on water (she thinks she can just walk right off the side of the pool and into the water without any help). She is good with her hands and seems to be very mechanically minded.

Recently, she has begun walking up to me while I am on the computer and pushes the keyboard in while she reaches up to be held. She is known to push her sisters out of her way when she wants to get to something. And she even left a nice abrasion of teeth marks on her sister's side out of frustration while we were on vacation.

Overall, though, Andelise's smile can light up a room. When Rod gets home from work, she tries to jump out of my arms toward him while doing her little laugh/cry until he takes her. She does the same laugh/cry in anticipation of her juice cup.

She will pick up a baby doll and pat its back and hug the toy tightly. Her little hands can't resist petting her blonde-headed friend who is five months younger. She likes to just be held after she wakes up. It's still amazing to me the ways this little one can warm our hearts.

When she is screaming in the van, we can often soothe her by playing music. And at home, she will turn on the CD player and wiggle her little bottom up and down to the music. She loves to dance and one of the dearest sounds to my ears these days is that of her babbling.

The hardest part for me in her turning one has hit me a few times in the last couple of weeks. As we watched the DVD I made of compiled pictures from her first year... While enjoying the company of our godson's family as they took generational pictures... and at "the farm" this weekend.

Andelise, Rod and Pup joined me for a walk while we were at the farm. Ande squirmed to get down as we reached our destination. There, in the quiet, all the while hearing the family play just down the street by the ponds, I watched as my baby got down and touched the stone.

I read the familiar words through eyes blurred with tears. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord - 1 Thessalonians 4:17" I couldn't hold back the tears as I watched my baby at the grave of a man she will never know in person.

These are the only tears in my baby's growth. It still physically hurts that she will never personally know her Papa or her Grandpa. These relationships are missing. And for me, I feel the void.

Although I long to keep the memories alive of those who have gone before us, I know in my heart there is only one death that is of the utmost importance to share. It is that of the one who did not remain in the grave. As long as our girls know Jesus as their personal Forgiver and Leader, they will have the only relationship they really need to carry them through this life.

The words to the song "Because He Lives" still hold so true. "How sweet to hold a newborn baby and feel the pride and joy (s)he gives. But greater still, the calm assurance. This child can face uncertain days because [Christ] lives."