Friday, February 20, 2009

Thank You America's Funniest Home Videos!

We love America's Funniest Home Videos at our house. We try to watch it every week. I'm not sure why it's so funny when little kids fall off their bikes and hit their faces or get chased around by crazed animals but due to the show's success we aren't the only ones who think so.

Last week one of the clips was a High School health class watching a video of the birth of a baby. It didn't show the movie, just their reaction to it. They were horrified, screaming, and covering their faces. Actually, that's kind of how I felt after I watched the movies in our birthing class! My kids kind of wanted to laugh but didn't really get it.

So in the interest of openness, I decided I should explain a few things to Jenna and Abby. Mike wasn't home, but I filled him in and I figure he should be able to handle helping our ONE son through it while I deal with ALL the girls. While they were getting ready for bed and I was putting laundry away, I just casually started to tell them the nitty gritty about how a baby is born.

Reaction: Jenna started laughing hilariously. Abby started having a panic attack. She was saying, "Why are you telling us this?" while plugging her ears and crying. She couldn't breathe. I had to keep telling her to take deep breaths.

Mike walked down the hallway and with a smile said, "So it's going pretty well, huh?" I was getting pretty frustrated trying to reason with Abby and Mike swooped in to calm her down. That's usually how it goes, I do the dirty work then he saves the day. Jenna very maturely told me we could talk about it on our trip - referring to when we take our Passport 2 Purity get away.

So much for the grand visions of having heart to heart, meaningful dialogues with my girls, at least for now. I guess I learned that I better handle different personalities differently. But tell me, what is a good way to handle it? It is kind of weird and scary even after you've been through it 5 times!

This makes me a little anxious about my upcoming weekend "talk" with Jenna. I so want to be open with them! But I think my approach was off. Unfortunately using AFV as a springboard probably did not properly show God's creation and plan behind it all. God's plan is beautiful, not a horror show! So lesson learned, I will not use slapstick comedy shows to jump start very important conversations!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The God of All Comfort

I've been mulling things over in my mind over the past few days, or at least that's what my status on Facebook says I am doing. I am not a contemplative person usually so it makes me feel like I should go find a tree to sit under and wear something made of tweed. However, it's really cold and snowy outside so for now I will have to settle for a chair and a pair of jeans.

I am doing a Bible study on first and second Corinthians and have been trying to follow the life of Paul and figure out what he did and when. It would be a lot easier if I had been a better student at Northwestern College. But one thing is for sure, he had it rough: travel, shipwrecks, arrests, beatings, persecution, churches mad at him, accusations that he was not a "true" apostle plus a thorn in the flesh. Paul was not unfamiliar with suffering!

Over and over I am reminded and praying for the trials we face. And for some people it just doesn't seem to quit and I wonder how much they can take. It's hard to figure how we serve the God of all creation yet he lets his children wallow in suffering. In my mind, when we encounter difficulties we should pray and He should fix it. He says He wants what is best for us and that should be an easy and comfortable life - right?

In 2 Corinthains 1:3-7 Paul talks about God's comfort in suffering. And I am starting to realize that God wants to reach us through our suffering. When we suffer and receive comfort from Him, that comfort spills over from us and onto others and produces a patient endurance in us. This is a whole new idea to me and one that needs to be mulled over a lot more!

2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurace of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Walmart Wisdom

I've been very careful about my shopping and errands over the last year because Maren has been an absolute bear to take along. She is prone to screaming and crying fits, doesn't want to sit in the cart or stroller, and she also does not appreciate being strapped in her car seat. So I go do my stuff at night when I can go without her. It's better for everyone that way.

Last week, I had a whole days worth of errands to run. I had to bring the girls along, there was no way around it. We left at 9 a.m. and got home just before the kids got off the bus at 3:30. We went to the grocery store, we stopped to see Mike at his "remote office" which is his favorite coffee shop. From there we had books to return at the library and decided to stay for storytime. We had to pick up some papers at the doctor's office and get groceries. We went to Wendy's for lunch, then to Wal-Mart before stopping at the courthouse for more papers. I am happy to say we made it through all that with only one crying fit. And the picture shows what happened at Wal-Mart. She fell asleep in the cart. I was so happy!

I feel I should state upfront how much I hate Wal-Mart. But as one of my friends says it's like a dirty addiction, you hate it but you can't stop. As I was checking out the cashier commented on Maren sleeping. I made some comment about how that's better for everyone because she is not a good shopper and likes to scream in stores. She proceeded to give me some unsolicited parenting advice about how she handles her two year old. She tells him on the way what she is going to expect of him and then if he starts to act up she pulls him out of the cart and takes him directly to the car. She didn't specify what happens when they get to the car, but he usually straightens out by then.

So there I was the married mother of five children getting a parenting lecture from my single mom cashier. Something about that was less than desirable to me. First of all, I had been out doing errands all day with two little kids so I was not in a real jovial mood. Secondly, she told me her life story about her boyfriend who does all the cooking and her other issues in life which I really could not have cared less about.

I tried to listen graciuosly but really wanted to say something like this: "You have no idea what you are talking about! You have ONE kid, just wait until you have one that doesn't take no for an answer! Take my money, pack my bags and shut up."

Thankfully I didn't say that because I am learning about how we are supposed to be the aroma of life to people we come in contact with. I am supposed to show people the love and compassion of Jesus, even in the check-out at wally world. I know that being judgmental of the probably well-meaning young lady is not the answer, but I honestly don't want to give her my phone number and invite her over for dinner.

So how do we show the love of Christ to people we may only have a few minutes with? That day I think it was by listening to her. Obviously she doesn't have a lot of people to talk to or she wouldn't have been telling me her life story. Jesus valued every person he came into contact with. He loves everyone enough to die for them. So I should be able to love them enough to listen and treat them with grace.

There's also a lesson in there for my kids. If we teach them about the love of Jesus and all his works, but those lessons don't translate into our real lives they are going to have a problem making sense of it all.

And there's a lesson for me. I tend to take poorly to judgments on my parenting. It's something I work really hard at and want to do right. But the only person I am accountable to is Jesus. He knows my heart and my shortcomings and my strengths. I don't need to take too seriously the comments of a stranger when I have the Savior of the world in my corner.

2 Corinthians 2:15-17
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Romance and All That Gushy Stuff!

We survived another Valentine's Weekend. I am not a syruppy romantic person and neither is Mike. A few years ago we were listening to the radio and they were reading entries from a contest detailing romantic stories of roses, candles and poems. I looked at Mike and did the '80's gag me sign. He replied, "I'm so glad I married you!" That's about as romantic as we get.

On top of not being a romantic, I have always hated feeling forced into "date nights". I think I've written about that before but lately I've been rethinking dating my spouse. I know it is not reality to have super special dates every week. We don't have the time or money for that. But at the same time I think it can be easy to let our marriage slip to the back of my mind, the last thing on the agenda, and the thing we never have the energy to work on.

As the years roll on, especially this year, I've realized that we need to date each other and even romance each other a little. It doesn't have to involved me in a flowered dress or anything dippy like that, but we need to make time together a priority and that is going to take sacrifice. It'll be a sacrifice of time, energy and money.

The problem is when we don't do anything together we drift apart. We are irritated with each other, put off by the other's needs and just generally disinterested. And it's so easy to get there! With jobs, kids, activities, church, errands, bills, pets, house repairs it just seems like there aren't enough hours in the day! And there aren't.

The next level after drifting is actually seeking other people and pleasures in place of my spouse. That would obviously lead down a destructive and dangerous path.

God's plan for marriage is for it to be a lifetime commitment but more importantly, a reflection of His Glory and His intimacy with His bride, the church. So, if it is that important to him, it better be important to me.

Maybe part of what annoys me about all this is when the dates seem selfish in nature. Some people call it "us time" or want to show others what a wonderful, happy couple they are. That kind of dating is in direct contradiction to God's design for marriage. We are supposed to serve and mutually edify one another as a reflection of God's glory. So if we approach our marriage selfishly, it's just as bad as me dancing in a flowered dress. Trust me, that is a sight NO ONE wants to see.

Last month we took a dance class, which was fun and unusual. It was an hour of face to face time each week that included touch (something I'm generally opposed to but realize we need) and a lot of laughter. For Valentine's Day I gave Mike a card and small box of chocolates which I also ate for him. He made me a card with glitter on it. On Sunday night when my Mom got here, we took advantage of the free babysitter and went out to dinner. The more time we spend together, the more I want to kick myself for letting it go.

1 Corinthians 7:5-6
Do no deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.