Decaying to the Divine

After reading a blog post by Anna at http://justajesusfollower.com, I started praying for my pastor.

I’ve struggled a lot lately.  I don’t sit well under his authority for the time being.  At first, when I started attending the church, I would hang onto his every word.  He spoke with conviction and authority.  Then the more I attended the church, the more I became agitated at the constant berating of those in the prosperity gospel movement.  Now I understand that this movement is an incorrect interpretation of the life-saving gospel message, but I also want to love these individuals.  Aren’t there some aspects of my theology that are erroneous.  Can’t I extend some mercy to these people?  Surely I’d want the same grace bestowed upon me when I am flawed.  Yes, I want to be corrected, but I want to be loved at the same time.  If I want this, I need to love my pastor in a graceful and merciful manner too.  We are all sinners falling short of God’s glory.  I’m not better than him and vice versa.

[Which Daddy, I’m sorry I disrespected you the other day.  I was telling my boss about my interaction with you and he made some points I didn’t want to hear, but needed to.  I know I need to respect you even if I want to disregard your unwarranted advice and opinions.  I don’t need to lash out at you like a toddler, or rather an emotionally charged, hormonal pregnant lady (which I am, but doesn’t afford an excuse at the fact that mistreated you).  I know I need to do the same (i.e. treat respectfully) with my pastor in my thought life, discussions with others, and prayer life.]

Anyways, a disjointed poem came to mind:

Ashes, ashes we all fall down

Only to rise into beauty

when charcoal stained paths

are drenched with salted repentance

and ruby acceptance.

Now I grant you the throne of my heart; reign,

Make this prideful spirit into dust

and turn me to humble ascension

as you are glorified in and through this urn.

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The Nuances of Parental Love and Loving

I find my job dull, monotonous.  My neighbor’s children have simple logic that I wish finances permitted—to quit.  I can’t.  I never dreamed of working when I became a mother.  My desire was to be a stay at home mom.  However, since I have a college degree and Frank’s work is inconsistent (he is a carpenter in NJ), I’ve had to be the resource of a stable, reliable income.  I don’t do this because I enjoy it, I do it because I must.

Then I dream.  Late night conversations with my husband led to discussions about passionate work.  He said that if we can manage it, then I should pursue side work that interests me, work that makes me feel fulfilled.  Yes, I am a mother.  I love my children dearly.  I work this job for my husband, for my kids.  (Yes, unto God as well.  The church consistently tells me to focus on the fact that I work for God really and to make all tasks at this repetitious institution devoted to him.  I’m told to find contentment in the Lord.  I do, but that doesn’t change the fact that when you have to spend the majority of your life engrossed in something that you feel breaks your soul that you want to pursue something on the side that you can find a sliver of satisfaction in.)

In my excitement, I shared these dream aspirations with my parents.  Ah, my parents.  These people who raised me with goals.  To their chagrin, my goals and desires are different than theirs.  I’m a minimalist, born to individuals who think of wealth as a mark of success.

They say two incomes are needed.  Yes, it is difficult, especially nowadays, to live with one income.  You have to sacrifice American comforts (read:materialism) at times in order to pursue other priorities.  They also told me that I already have a full plate.  I have my current job, a home, and kids.  The thing with becoming a Bradley birthing instructor is that I can teach classes out of my home with my kids nearby.  I’m passionate about women’s health and educating women to be empowered by giving them choices, not just information spoon-fed to them by the medical world.

We live in a society that so often tells women they can’t do it, they are weak.  We are told to let men take charge.  Sadly, many obstetricians are male.  Males have never given birth and yet, they are the forerunners in the medical birthing world.  I want to bring birth back to the individuals who understand female anatomy and birth best, women.  As such, it made sense for me to consider the idea of becoming a Bradley birthing instructor as a side profession.  I would be doing work that satisfies me, aside from motherhood.  I am a mother, but I did not forsake my individuality when I made that choice.  Yes, I have made sacrifices.  I do not mind sacrificing sleep to attend the needs of my children.  I do not mind thinking about activities they would enjoy on the weekends rather than something I’d rather do.  If I need to financially provide for my family though, I’d like to do so knowing I felt fulfilled rather than drained.  If I can teach these classes out of my home, I can be near my children and empower women.  I’m not trying to be supermom.  I’m just trying to find fulfillment in areas outside of motherhood and monotonous lab work. Through this, I think I can be a better mother and employee at a job I detest.

My parents don’t see the validity in midwifery, being a doula, or teaching birthing classes.  They are strong proponents of a medical world.  They think doctors know better because they have lots of education.  However, you can spend years in school without learning much.  I’m a chemist and while I enjoy the subject material, it isn’t as strong a passion as my other interests like language, writing, education, and art. As such, I’m not as good as someone who finds intense satisfaction in this profession.  My parents would have no issue if I had to work 50-60 hours in this job at the expense of time with my family because they have said I’d be providing for my family.  As you can see, sacrificing family time can occur in so far as it is apparently a result of “needed work”, not “lesser” professions.

I appreciate my parent’s advice, but I think they have backwards ideas on things.  They’ve always been very work driven, as evidenced in the previous paragraph.  They also have an opinion on my sleeping arrangements (with Willow), my nursing choices, and my dwelling selection.

For a time, Frank and I bed-shared with Willow.  This wasn’t our choice.  Frank was a violent sleeper before having kids.  The first night we brought Willow home she didn’t stop fussing until I put her next to me on the bed.  Frank didn’t flail.  The choice stuck because we were trying to maximize our sleep.  We were advised (repeatedly by my parents) that this would spoil her, our intimacy would be impacted, and she would sleep better if she was in her own room.

As an infant, I never slept in the same room as my parents.  While medical professionals will usually advise, strongly, against bed-sharing, they will promote room sharing until a baby is at least 6 months of age.  Room sharing has been known to reduce the risk of SIDS.  On another note, but similar thought line, other cultures, a significant amount around the world, do bed-share.  Yes, bed-sharing is typically done out of necessity due to space and income, but these cultures have more children and seemingly more stable family ties than many Americans, including my parents.  My parents were never really intimate with each other.  Even today, my mother acts like marriage is more of a burden and obligation than a blessing.  My childhood sleeping arrangements had no bearing on my parents romantic life and the sleeping arrangements I have with Willow do not gravely impact my romantic life with my husband.  (Frank would agree.  We’ve discussed it before. FYI, I keep saying children throughout this post because I’m pregnant again.  Willow and this baby will be 16 months apart.  Bed-sharing doesn’t impact our intimacy as much as advice-givers like to think.)

*It should be noted that Willow has since transitioned to sleeping in her own room.  We knew she had to because the new baby is coming.  When nights are really rough for her (due to teething, sickness, or other troubles) we will bring her into bed with us and we all sleep.  She didn’t sleep better in her room initially.  It took time.  We also did not practice CIO methods to sleep train her.  She learned to sleep on her own.  This is recent.  You can say she started to “sleep through the night” around 14 months old.  Yes, it was exhausting and long and we were sleep deprived, but she got there without us “training” her so we could sleep.*

Bed-sharing also helped me to get more sleep since I am a nursing mother.  Yes, I still nurse.  I tried to wean Willow when she was a year because I was so drained with pregnancy and trying to nourish her.  It didn’t go well.  She would cry and scream and sleep worse.  Eventually, I just started praying for strength and decided to let her go until she is ready to be done.  It would be less traumatizing for us all.

(FYI, your body can produce enough breast-milk for two children.  Mothers of multiples have to figure this out all the time.  Also, tandem nursing can be done.  Toddler nursing is beneficial because it provides antibodies, quick comfort in times of distress, and great bonding time (which will be wanted and needed when a new baby stirs up life).  If at anytime my supply is insufficient for two, then I know Willow must be weaned for the safety of the baby, but I’ll address that situation if it arises.  I don’t need to let fear drive this decision before it needs to be made.)

Willow was recently diagnosed as being borderline anemic.  I was advised to decrease her cow’s milk intake.  She is to have her protein increased from other food sources.  When I told my father this, he said they were telling me to wean Willow.  My pediatrician is a strong proponent of breast-feeding.  She has never advised me to do this and thinks nursing a toddler is fine.  She also told me that if I did try to stop her, that Willow would reattach when Willow saw the new baby nursing.  I found it amusing that my father was telling me what the pediatrician thought because he was masking his opinions on the matter.  He thinks Willow is too old to be nursing.  I was switched to formula at an early age when I was an infant.

As I mentioned before, I’m a minimalist and my parents tend to be more materialistic.  They think a 2500 sq. foot home is the smallest size acceptable for a couple.  My family currently resides in a 700 sq. foot home.  We purchased what we could afford, without “breaking the bank”.  I love to travel.  I did not want a home that would deplete monies so I’d have to sacrifice the minimal amount of travel I’m able to do each year (I get two weeks of time off from my company).  I do enjoy entertaining friends and family so this is the only drawback to living in a “tiny” home.  (FYI, my parents do not like to entertain lots of people in their home.)

My mother frequently tells me what I should be doing in regards to parenting.  My father will state his opinion and then add, “but what you decide to do is your business”.  (As if that refrain softens his criticism.)  I love my parents and I know they mean well.  They want what they think is best for me.  I’m sure I will overstep boundaries and Willow’s desires at some point.  However, I keep praying that I will merely entrust my kids to God.  My only true hope is that they know Christ as Lord and Savior and use their talents for his glory.  I want them to be self-sufficient individuals, pursing their desires and passions, in so far as they live for God.  I don’t want to consistently insert my opinions into their choices, at least when they are adults, Lord willing.  I’d like to emulate more of Frank’s parents’ involvement in parenting affairs.  Frank’s parents are generally pretty good about not commenting on our decisions, even if their faces reveal a hint of disagreement about our choices.  (I guess a part of this stems from the fact that Frank’s parents are active Christians and my parents would label themselves Christians by mere affiliation with conservative political views; they aren’t active participants in the body of Christ and wanting to be transformed by him.  Work and Weight Watchers are their passions.)

I realize I’m being over-critical of my parents, more than likely.  I so often wish that they’d see validity in my passions, not in the desires they have for me.  This is something I should be bringing before the altar of God rather than relaying these wounds on social media platforms.  I’m a work in progress.  Sometimes I write because it is therapeutic.  Maybe if they come across it, my parents will have a chance to hear the cry of this heart yearning for their approval.

I know my true identity is from Christ, not in approval from my parents or peers.  I’m slowly learning to break free of the mold my parents want for me and live more according to who I believe Christ has called me to be according to his purposes for my passions and desires.  I also know that this life is a lesson in learning to love my parents as Christ loves them.  I need to extend them the grace, mercy, and acceptance I long to receive from them, without expecting it in return.  I’m slowly learning to implement understanding with peers, I know I need to do this ever more so with my family.  This process is longer with family because there is a deeper history.  Please help me to be more gracious, kind, compassionate towards my parents (and my sister…who I don’t discuss much because there is so much drama and pain associated with that relationship).  I want to speak well of my parents and sister, especially in front of my children.  I hope my children wouldn’t speak ill of me and as such, I must be a model of righteous speech.  Pray for me in regards to this dear friends.

I also pray others would do the same.

May we, as Christians, be characterized by love and forgiveness because Christ first loved us and has forgiven us by his sacrificial death on the cross.

The Image Idol

It is touted that America is the land of the free

but what if our chains were a different bondage,

a prison in the mind by media voices?

Fat, skinny, short, tall,

alert and agitated,

worked and weary

and a cycle of words stamping stereotypes on placid faces.

Inadequate.

Pregnancy glow, or so it is glorified,

but the stark reality rings a different tune.

Everyday a person is commenting on your growth, the baby’s (babies) growth.

Your body is a red carpet seemingly beckoning commentary.

When silence or excitement is most appreciated

there seems to be a running wheel of unsolicited advice,

care schematics,

and opinions regarding dress to behaviors, as pregnant women and new mothers.

Forgive me for my part in the haughty, judgemental roles.

The bigger I get and the longer I’m parenting,

I’m learning that the fool opens the mouth and spews uninformed critiques.

I’m taking a lesson from my introverted spouse

and finding freedom from fatuous fallacy.

Now if only I can find safe haven from the constant analysis of my ever increasing rotund bodice.

My pregnancy did not issue a license to study my body.

Why the sudden interest?

You didn’t care to notice this petite girl before, why now?

So please, go back to your own affairs

and let my belly grow without your constant comments, however seemingly innocent they may appear to you.

*It seems that we aren’t supposed to comment on people’s shapes unless a woman is pregnant and then it is fair game, even permissible, to study and critique her body everyday.  Perhaps maybe the constant analysis of a woman’s body, sadly sexualizing it, is a daily occurrence here.  Apparently, vanity/ physical aesthetics is a sin enshroud with acceptance and admiration in this country and we don’t even realize that this sin, this idol, is holding us captive.*

—So often I write unscripted (read: unedited) here.  As such, the flow isn’t always the best.  I do welcome criticisms on how to write better.  I find I can edit better when I receive input on how to do so from my audience.

A “Nice” Rant

Please excuse the venting.  I know it seems that I’ve been doing a lot of complaining.  I have.  Pregnancy hormones and the heat have not mixed well for me as of late.  I know my behavior isn’t Christ-like.  It is ugly.  However, as I continue to remain silent regarding this pet peeve, I notice myself getting increasingly frustrated and callous.  I figured it would be better to bemoan a little here so that I might act more pleasant in reality.  I realize that words are documented forever and this is what I’m remembered for.  Anyways, I’m going to stop apologizing before I even begin.  [Ah the nasty apology habit I need to break.  Apologies are fine in so far as they are legitimate.  I need to stop apologizing for my mere existence and offending people, if it is not intentional.]

Summer began on June 20th.  Most people love summer.  They enjoy trips to the beach, warm, sunny days, and leisure.  I like leisure too.  I don’t mind the beach, but I much prefer the forest or mountains (which is highly influenced by my husband’s discord with water).  I like sunshine, but humidity and high temperatures cause me to become agitated.  I don’t know if it is my heritage, but I sweat, a lot, on hot, humid days.  Perspiration is normal, but I feel like I’m swimming in my own body secretions.  Yeah, disgusting. I know.

[The A/C was the greatest invention for summer.  I am so grateful God made the individual who invented this device.  I could not imagine surviving this summer without it.  I know it is a comfort and not a necessity.  If I didn’t have it, I could get by.  I’m still forever grateful for this device and that it is used commonly in America.  I guess my internal temperature runs higher and so increased temperatures outside cause an imbalance and I’m uncomfortable in the heat.]

Why am I so bothered with most people’s infatuation with summer?  Well, I have less of a problem with people’s affinity towards summer and more of an issue with people saying, “It is nice outside.”  When did warm, sunny weather equate with character actions?  Why do individuals bemoan rain or snow?  Without precipitation we would have droughts and increased famine.  I know other countries where people are grateful for rain because it means their crops can grow and they can eat.  I guess I’m just a product of a country that seems to never be satisfied.  Many people will discuss their love of summer, but state that yes, it is hot and they need to be close to water in order to be cooled off.

Here is my attempt to state some positives of weather besides warm, sunny days.  (Now I can appreciate the warm, sunny days, mind you.  I want to be grateful for that.  There are benefits to summer too and I’ll be sure to include these too so that when I’m groaning in July as I enter my 9th month of pregnancy, I’ll look back and remind myself of the benefits of this season.)

FALL

(At least on the East Coast)  Changing leaf colors, painting skylines in hues of orange, red, and yellow.

Crisp morning air

Fall flavors—the best season for food.  Pumpkin is incorporated into so many dishes and well, pumpkin is delicious.  (At least in my opinion.)

Jumping in leaf piles.

Vegetable picking.

Hayrides.

Thanksgiving—an enjoyable feast (for Americans anyways).

WINTER

Snow angels, igloos, and forts

Fires (in wood stoves or fireplaces)

Venison (mmm….deer, all natural meat from hunters)

Winter vegetables.

The Holidays- lights, giving, and fellowship

Night skies with the stars (better viewing/more constellations in winter than in summer)

Sweaters, scarves, and hats

Ice skating

Skiing and snowboarding

SPRING

Creatures stirring (arising from hibernation)

Flowers blooming

Birds chirping (Thankfully I’ve grown grateful for the morning bird sounds.  As a teenager, I would grumble because they woke me up.  Now I’m just grateful if I hear a bird chirp before my precious, but early rising baby screams.)

Easter celebrations (Oh how Great is our God that he would die for us.  We get to remember his resurrection.  Lent is also a time of reflection and repentance.  This is one of my favorite holidays and periods of spiritual study.)

Trees greenery

Rain (Jumping in puddles and mud-sliding)

SUMMER (My least favorite season, but I can still be grateful for it.  I need to be.)

Campfires and s’mores

Beach trips

BBQs and fruit

longer daylight hours

peels of laughter permeating thick air as children run around playing

Drive-In Movie Theatres

The curiosity of many kids towards insects

Vitamin D

Swimming (Now this is one of the times I get frustrated.  We want to discuss modesty and yet so many people are scantily clad during this time.)

Hiking

 

As you can see, there are many benefits to all seasons.  We just have to search for them.  May we seek gratitude and be thankful rather than criticize and complain.  Let us fight our human inclinations to find problems with every pain, things which aren’t immediately satisfying, or don’t conform to our ideas of happiness.  May we stop arguing with people where opinion and personal preference is perfectly acceptable.

Also, may we realize that without dissatisfaction, we would never understand things which please us.  There is also an importance for rain and snow.  Without precipitation, crops wouldn’t grow.  We’d have famines.  Without rain, we’d have more forest fires.  Homes and lives would be destroyed.  You can’t have the benefits of sun without the benefits of rain or snow.  Each season is “nice”.  Every season affords opportunities for learning and growth.  May we learn to appreciate all weather patterns and reduce our grumbling.  Let kids play and learn in all seasons (not just outside in summer and in front of screens when it is colder).  [I understand there are times when it is dangerous for children (and even adults) to play outside due to wind chills and ice.  However, even summer has times where it is unsafe for people to be outside for long periods because they could experience heat stroke or be burned severely without prior precautions.]

I pray we’d all have hearts of gratitude, myself included.  Won’t you join me and stop the flippant use of “nice” towards weather seasons?  Please do.

 

Alligators and Gorillas

Mothers mortified.

One bereft, her toddler taken and dead by snapping jaws.

Another receives accusations of negligence while holding her frightened boy.

The world posts,

criticizing venues and parental monitoring.

Everyone becomes an expert.

“If it was me, this wouldn’t have happened.  I’d watch my child better.”

Yet we stand aloof, unable to place ourselves in the circumstance

because in honesty, we weren’t there.

Children run in the blink of an eye.

You can wrap your kids, shelter them, and still in an instant, lose them.

We can grieve the loss of ancient creatures too,

but a rally to persecute a woman whose son lived, all because he jumped (she didn’t push),

is a sad affair indeed.

Most mothers and fathers fumble in a dark uncertainty,

attempting to do their best,

never intentionally meaning their children harm.

Instead of reckless words, tearing down already broken parents,

may we extend the grace we’d hope others would extend to us when we make mistakes, miss a quick infraction by our child, or worse yet, grieve the loss of our beloved child.

 

A Belated Father’s Day Letter

The carpet’s worn,

feet scuffing as you shuffled the little one to bed.

Each night you sit rocking,

reading her the Scriptures.

You pray.

One lost, who you mention briefly from time to time,

careful not to reveal the silent pain that wells from having to lose that precious babe.

Yet you cradle the life we were blessed with,

kissing her soft forehead,

and professing your love to care.

You even pause, before heading off to work,

to kiss the babe that currently grows within me.

At night, the grey screen sits in front of me

and I watch, in awe, your daily sacrifice.

When sleep is foreign and you are weary,

you never fail to press in and shower her with affection regardless.

 

My own father pats my head and pulls me in for hugs.

I’ll never know the heartache of a wandering father and neither will our children.

Prayers are ushered for the hurting, that they might know the unconditional and unending love of Jesus.

Thank you for all you do.

 

Too many women think their men are deadbeats, even if these men are weary after a long day’s work.

These women say their man should not get a day of rest, but demand a reprieve themselves on the woman’s Hallmark celebration.

I’m pleased to say that I don’t feel this way,

because no matter where I’m at, I have a helpmate by my side.

The two of us together, parenting.

You share these joys and struggles with me and for that, I’m forever grateful.

I’m sorry for the days I take you for granted.

May you always be assured that even when you receive words of angst and frustration, I appreciate you and your dedication.

I love you Francis Joseph Eisbacher.

Pulsing. Not.

Rainbows bright

flutter in the sparkling sky.

Peels of laughter

dance with the breeze.

Twisting and turning

until a twang cuts through the melodious chords.

Silver and copper splinter the glee as

shrieks morph to silence.

Merlot drapes scuffed tiles

and hole-blasted walls.

Meanwhile,

Screens flicker assumptions, accusations, assertions

while souls wander bewildered and abused.

An affront, the accost, few can make sense of.

Lips stutter for aide,

for hope, as nations go mad and the earth lays beaten, asunder.

Orlando Shootings

I’m trying to make sense of the mass shooting that occurred a few nights ago.

A man went into a gay bar and shot several people.  From what I understand, 50 or so innocent individuals lost their lives.  Another 50 or so are injured.  Facebook is plastered with polarizing views, demonizing liberals and conservatives alike.

I’m left here with a broken heart.  I know that if I were to make my sentiments known, I’d be misquoted and/or labeled.  Regardless, here it goes and hopefully I don’t receive too much static or hate myself.

I am a Christian.  I do believe the choice of acting on affections towards the same gender or altering your gender is sinful.  However, individuals who choose this lifestyle do not deserve to be hated or murdered on account of their choice.  Thinking their lifestyle is wrong does not mean you are a bigot and want these individuals eradicated based on a single decision in their life.  I have friends who are gay.  I love them dearly.  They know I don’t agree with this particular decision in their life, but they also know that I will stand by them in times of trouble or celebration.

The individual who shot these individuals erred tremendously.  What he did was wrong!  No one deserves to be murdered.  Some want to dismiss the fact that he was Islam.  His staunch interpretation of his religion influenced his decision to perform this mass killing.  By admitting this, I am not demonizing all Muslims.  I know Muslims who are kind and compassionate and don’t want violence.  Why do we get to say that the man who shot up the abortion clinic did so because his conservative, anti-abortion, Christian views influenced him, but we can’t say the same thing about a radical Muslim without being thought of as narrow-minded or a bigot?

There are radicals in every religion.  Individuals misinterpret their religious texts and use it as a basis for narrow-minded views and to rationalize hate.  This is not specific to Christians.  A devout Islamic man shot and killed several innocent people.  Individuals in the Middle East have been known to stone homosexuals.  Yes, we, Americans, are also guilty of ostracizing the gay community and hurting this marginalized group.  However, we must not forget that this life choice is far less tolerated in other countries than we’d like to assume. Please do not misread what I am saying.  I am not saying that all Muslims are hateful towards the gay community.  They aren’t.  Just as some Christians mistreat the LGBTQ community, some Muslims do.

I am tired of Christians being demonized for conservative leanings.  Radical Christians have done some terrible things that have stained the Christian community for centuries.  These individuals made a bad name for followers of Jesus.  For that, I am sorry if you have a negative view of Christians.  Please understand that as extremists in Islam are in no way a reflection of the Muslim majority, so too, the Christians extremists do not represent my faith properly.

I also disagree that this was a result of a man with an oppressive view towards women and a leaning towards “proper masculinity”.  Yes, this can play a part, but it is not representative of the man’s entire worldview.  Again, his interpretation of his faith plays a significant role in his view of women and the LGBTQ community.  Let us stop downplaying this.  We don’t hide it for a radical Christian, why do it for a radical Muslim?  (Note again: Radicals are a small minority that often give voice to a religion but are not representative of a larger, but sadly more silent, majority in that religion.  I am not making any intention of marginalizing my Muslim brothers and sisters and it is time we stop fostering hate towards them.  The gospel is intended for EVERYONE to hear, not just American-born Republicans.  Also, I say American-born Republican and I would most likely be placed into this category considering my moral worldviews. When I state this, however, I am more discussing the political Christians who have little to no understanding of Scripture or loving others as Jesus did.  These political Christians do not desire to live for Jesus faithfully day-in and day out, but merely associate a republican worldview to be synonymous with a “good Christian” and think that anyone with a view other than their own is damned.)

I have convictions as to what I think is right and wrong (based on personal interpretations of my religious text, the Bible), but that does not mean I automatically pigeon-hole individuals and hate them.  I’m not always the best at refraining from judgement, I’ll admit that, but I will say that just because I’m a Christian does not mean I want Muslims banned from our country, that I want gays to be kept from being teachers (because they influence children), or I want every American supplied with semi-automatic weapons.

I am not a gun happy, patriotic American.  I’ve shot a gun and I don’t get the same thrill from it that some do.  In fact, I felt scared and that I had too much power with such a device.  I trust my husband with this weapon and am fine if he wants to instruct our children on how to SAFELY wield this device.  Guns are an inanimate object.  They can be used for good (to supply food for people) or evil (as in the case of mass shootings).  We must not neglect the fact that humans make a choice to use this object wisely or foolishly.  For me, I would prefer not to have a gun in my home (I know my husband disagrees).  I know the power of this weapon can cause severe damage if used inappropriately or carelessly.  I’d rather it be left in a place where my toddler can’t find the components and misuse this device.  I have other passions and interests I’d like to pursue more rather than being educated on the proper use of a gun.  As such, it is best I not have a weapon in my proximity that I’m not well educated on.

This is an important note, education.  Literacy and education assist us in communicating with those who are different from us rather than tuning out the “other” and conveying hate.  People can and should disagree with each other.  We can learn and grow by being different.  Humans are beautifully complex.  Disagreements do not have to lend to division or hate crimes.  Let us rather celebrate our differences and learn from each other.  Also, may we set aside time for prayer, grief, and support when a tragedy strikes rather than making this into yet another political argument.  People lost their lives!

Does it matter if they were gay?  No!  Yes, they happened to be homosexual or transgender, but let us not merely define these people by sexual orientation or identity.  These individuals had wives, husbands, children, a mother, a father, aunts, uncles, or siblings.  They leave behind grieving families and friends.  These individuals were civilians working and contributing to our society.  Their orientation or identity was most likely the cause of this mass shooting, but it should not be turned into an argument about gay rights.  We can sit here arguing about homosexual equality or we can just grieve that lives were lost at the expense of another twisted individual.  This man was not a product of a mental illness that we are aware of (and yes, some murders DO happen because of a depressed person, contrary to what some might want to argue).  Although, I am tempted to believe that any radical is brainwashed and isn’t in a proper mental state.  Now, I do believe that these discussions need to occur, but do they need to happen so abruptly?  Let us give the families time to breathe, time to cry, time to scream.  Let us simply be there to give hugs and cry with those left behind.  After a time, then we can pick up the discussions, arguments, and political rallies.  I don’t know how much time is needed to grieve, but I know that a day or even a week wouldn’t be sufficient for me.

To those who lost their lives, thank you for the impact you had on this world while you were here.  You will be forever missed.

To those who continue to promote violence and terror in the name of faith, we pray for you.  We pray that you would realize your extremism is a vice and contrary to the cause of faith you wish to promote.  We know that you do not represent your larger faith community. We refuse to let you invoke fear in us towards others who claim your religion and in doing so, fuel your hope to lead more people to your cause in a desire to “fit in”.  (This applies to all radicals and religions, not just Muslims.)

To our society, may we stand united in love, always and forever!  May we not occupy the trenches of distrust, hate, division, misquoting, and violence, but may we be promoters of peace. May we seek to talk and understand others rather than lash out in accusation, assumption, conformity to similarity, and physical bashing.

Christ, let your kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.

Oh God, hear our prayer.

 

Happy Birthday Mom

Mom,

Happy 60th Birthday.

-Kelly

I wish I could think of a more heartfelt tribute.  My mother is a determined woman.  I admire her ability to negotiate contract terms.  She is Japanese and has some German in her.  The Japanese culture isn’t known for its warm, welcoming nature.  In fact, it is best known for its corporate, clean, and direct demeanor.  Could this be one of the reasons we are a bit estranged?  My mother is really close to my sister so I tend to think the issue is deeper.

You see, I’m very much like my father.  I’m academically inclined, especially towards the sciences.  My mother is not.  I thought we had a common interest in art history.  When I started talking about impressionism, post-impressionism, Renaissance, surrealism, pointillism, Mondrian, and Degas, and other art periods/artists though, she seemed bored and wanted to go back to playing candy crush, discuss shopping, or talk about celebrity updates.  I don’t care about these things.  I try to feign interest, but I just don’t want to know which celebrity is dating another celebrity.  Anyways, my mom and dad fight often.  I’m very similar to my father, which I’m reminded of by my mother frequently.  I admire my husband and so when I say this to my daughter, I mean it as a compliment.  I do not feel the same way when my mother says this.

Also, I always feel like I’m competing with my sister for my mother’s affection.  My sister can make horrendously bad choices—dating a man in prison, drive herself into thousands of dollars in debt even though she makes more than me or my mother, getting evicted from her residences, and laid off multiple times.  I know, I shouldn’t judge and I should have grace towards my sister.  I just feel she manipulates my parents and they enable her.  Yes, she might need more help and she is bi-polar, but I wish I held my mother’s attention the way my sister does.

She denies it now, but my mother admitted Catherine was easier to get along with (probably because they are the same person for the most part).  My mom said that my sister was her favorite.

I want these wounds to heal.  I’m a Christian.  I should forgive.  I know individuals who have forgiven people who have murdered their families.  I want to forgive.

In my defensiveness, I sometimes initiate an argument with my mother.  I know I shouldn’t.  I should keep peace in so far as it depends on me.  I should respect my mother and father so that it might go well with me.

Sometimes though, I just want to say, “Mommy, you are sixty.  Forgive your sisters because you insist I forgive my sister…a sister who has told me she hates me, wants me to die, and ceased communication with me when I said I didn’t want my daughter to meet a man in prison.  Yes, your sisters have taken advantage of your generosity and hospitality, but my sister has “done far worse” if we want to talk about offensive actions.  Please, show me how to be an adult.  Don’t get so worked up over innocent things you see on Facebook.  Please don’t let celebrity deaths devastate you.  Yes, you can be grieved that a human soul will not contribute to this life anymore, but don’t talk about it like you knew them unless you did.  Please live for something greater than consistent devotion to work.  If you complain about it, why do you do it?”

Then she tells me I’m lecturing.  Which I probably am.

Do I “mother” because I just want someone to mother me?  I want a support system.  It feels like every decision I make is questioned, belittled, or counted inferior.  I don’t feel like I’m seen as an adult.  I feel like I am not seen as a good mother, that she could do better at raising her granddaughter than I can at raising my daughter.  She thinks she loves Willow more than me.  Gah, I’m so competitive with her.  Why?

I’m vying for her affections, attention, and approval.

I still feel like the little girl cradling the cracked portrait I painted for her, tears streaming down my cheeks, asking why it was discarded when my sister’s mother’s day gift sits prominently on the dresser.

I want to forgive.

I don’t want to drudge up history.

May the wounds that mar the chosen one heal the deep wounds I feel from my childhood and reconcile me to my mother.

I don’t want Willow to be writing a similar summary on my sixtieth birthday (Lord willing).

My mother had conflicts with her mother and then regrets when my Nana passed.  I don’t want the same between me and my mother or me and my daughter.

I am grieved.  I am grateful.

Grieved that you can’t see how grateful I am that you tucked me in each night.  I know it hasn’t always been easy between us.  I know that your history has marred you more than you care to confess.  You are strong.  I just wish you could admit vulnerability and pain.  True strength is found when we admit we don’t always have it together.  I never needed or wanted you to be super-mom.

I just want you here, sitting on the couch with me, eating popcorn, laughing and snorting.  I want to celebrate life with you.  You’ve had sixty rich years of life Mom.  I’m grateful I have gotten to spend 29 of those with you, even if they have been tumultuous at times.  Let me celebrate us, you, and prayerfully, more years together.

You are vivacious and determined.  May you never stop fighting for your dreams, but may you always surrender humbly to God, knowing he made you and me.  In that, may we reconcile and do more service for his kingdom in the years he has left for you.

I do love you Mommy, my mother who I know would fight for her family if any danger ensued.  If only you knew, I fight for you too.

Motherhood is no easy task and you stuck with it even if you preferred a career.  Thank you for not straying as your father did.  You are physically present and for that, thank you.  Thank you for being persistent.  Thank you for being silly, as I know you can be (barbie doll acting in a cross-country trip).  Thank you for sharing 29 years of your sixty with me.  I admire you more than you think, and sometimes more than I care to admit.

May you have a great day.

*If you ever find these it is going to be a long, hard discussion and Daddy will probably lecture me on being mature, private, and respectful.  Ah, how I should.  Pray for me as I do for you.

Other Parental Advice

A fellow mother asked yesterday if Willow was walking yet.  She isn’t.  I said that we’ll say, “Look you are standing.”  Then Willow plops down on the floor.  This mother said that she isn’t walking at 14 months because we are giving her too much attention in regards to this milestone.

We did the same acknowledgement with crawling and rolling over.  Willow did both of those early.

I’m trying so hard not to get aggravated by such an innocent remark.  This mom didn’t mean any harm in her comment.  She probably thought her comment was helpful.

This morning a friend posted a hilarious video of a dad trying to get his kid to sleep.  The video sharing itself would have been fine.  He prefaced the sharing with the statement, “I do the “go to sleep” method and it works every time.  I don’t know why some parents find it so hard.”  His blanket assumption caused frustration levels to rise.

I told him the comebacks I’m listing below:

1.)  Every kid is different and that might have worked for your one kid.

2.)  There are studies that indicate crying it out can cause increased cortisol levels which is the stress hormone, even when babies are quiet and sleeping “peacefully”.

3.)  Every parent has a “go to sleep” method so that isn’t really a proper term.  I let him know that the method he uses is cry it out or transitional cry it out.

4.)  Note:  I didn’t tell him this:  Even individuals who say cry it out is fine as a sleep training method would advise doing this practice for a baby under 6 months old.  (I know he started doing it when his daughter was brought home from the hospital.)

I get so irritated at these things.  Why?  It is irrational to do so.

When I first brought Willow home, I would post articles about parenting and say this was the “correct” method.  I had everything figured out.

Then a couple months passed.  After about 10 months I got pregnant with my second child.  After having a kid for a little while and then expecting a second, I began to learn that I don’t have it all figured out.  I’m figuring out this parenting thing day-to-day.  I’ll think something has worked one day and then try it the next day, only to have that method fail.  God is humbling me.

Now, I’ll still make comments about the way others do things.  I guess that is human nature.  It isn’t how I would do something and variance in decision making choices is always perplexing to a person not personally making the choice.  However, when it comes to parenting, I am slowly coming to realize that each child is different, even children in the same family with a similar upbringing.  Personalities vary greatly, in adults and even in children, even at birth.  We are designed with traits specific to us that are intended for our specific contribution to God’s kingdom.  Nature plays a role in development too.  Too often we want to blame nurture.  Don’t get me wrong, nurture plays a significant role, but nature is involved too.  Anyways, I say this to make the point that I have my child and other parents have theirs.  Methods that work to soothe my child might not work for their kid and vice versa.  I can give advice, but hopefully one day I’ll learn that parenting advice is often unwarranted and unwanted.  Fellow parents really just want support, to know that while we feel like failures, we are all, for the most part, just trying to do our best.  Only the parents of a kid are around the child enough to know what will work for their family and it is society’s job to mind its own business, unless of course there is an issue with neglect or abuse of the child.

Parental wars will cease when we are humble enough to admit that we aren’t experts.  Humanity is sinful.  Sadly, we are narrow-minded more often than not, even when we try not to be.  May we remember our short-sightedness and move ever closer to extending grace and mercy, especially in parenting, in spite of our perceptions and personal inclinations towards “child-rearing rightness”.  The important thing to remember is that most parents are trying to do their best.  Just because something worked for one particular child doesn’t mean it will work for another.  Admit you don’t have it all together, be willing to laugh at yourself, and find freedom in living humbly.  When we can do this, we’ll move closer to being less judgemental of others, especially their parenting styles, and perhaps maybe, even less critical of ourselves.  Maybe when we extend compassion to other parents, we might be able to do so with ourselves;  we will stop feeling like perpetual failures.  Our children would benefit from this.  Let’s try to be supportive in these murky, un-navigated waters rather than enemies storming already battered boats.

*Also, individuals who claim to be experts in these fields because they are psychologists, teachers, doctors, etc. have a wide array of opinions and studies to back up their claims.  Even these experts don’t have your kid.  Their methods weren’t applied to your child’s personality.  What worked in their studies might not work for you.  Pray and trust that God gave you instincts on how to best raise the children entrusted to you.  He did give you your child, not someone else’s (fyi, when you adopt, that is your kid even though genetics would state otherwise).  God will equip you to raise your child if you ask him for the wisdom to do so.  You and only you were entrusted with your kid, not anyone else.  No one is a better expert on your kid than you.  (As stated previously, this applies in most cases.  Most parents love their kids and are doing what they think best.  There are exceptions as in abuse and neglect, but for the most part, parents love their kids and aren’t trying to damage them.  Embarrass them, maybe, but harm, no.  (Let’s be honest, it is hilarious to try and embarrass your kid.  They will try and do the same to you.)

So as I’ve mentioned several times, cease the parental wars.  They are futile.  Let’s encourage one another, building each other up so that it will benefit us and most importantly, our children.

(And maybe one day I’ll stop being so sensitive and these comments/articles won’t bother me.  I know this won’t happen while I’m an emotionally and hormonally charged pregnant lady though.  I would ask for forgiveness, but I’m pregnant, it is summer, and I can’t get comfortable.  Perhaps I should complain less and be less argumentative or offended as a “good” Christian should, but I’d like to hear views from the pregnant women in the Bible, not Paul’s.  Heresy? Maybe.  Ah, I’ve digressed.  Scatter brained.  I’m going to play the pregnancy card again, to my husband and friends’ chagrin.  I know it is over-used and cliche, but it is applicable and why not use it while I can?  hehe.  Anyways, make peace, not war.  Yeah, I am a bit of a non-drugged up hippie.)