30 December 2008

The Sin of Nadab and Abihu

I’ve heard the story before: Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, had offered “strange fire” to the Lord and had, themselves, been consumed by fire from the Lord.

However, while finally reading through the book of Leviticus, where this story is found, the true meaning of the actions of Nadab and Abihu became clearer to me.

The people of Israel were still in the desert. Moses was still climbing the mountain daily to hear from the Lord and relay His messages to the people. The Lord had recently spoken to Moses about consecrating Aaron and his sons as the ones, the only ones, to offer sacrifices of atonement to the Lord. The people would bring their sacrifices to Aaron and his sons and these men would offer the sacrifices of burnt offering.

To anyone who has read the book of Leviticus (or Numbers, or any books of the law specifically) it becomes evident that God has a certain way of wanting things to be done. He is not vague in his instructions. He did not simply tell Noah to build a boat, a really big boat, and leave it at that. He was precise – listing the exact measurements and materials to be used. There is no ambiguity, no questions; it’s His way or no way at all. The same is true in this story. Aaron and his sons were given precise instructions on how to present the burnt offering to the Lord – what animals to sacrifice, which parts to burn, which parts to keep for themselves, where the blood was to be smeared - everything was broken down for them. The only way God could have made this easier would be to send an instruction manual with pictures. There was no questioning of God’s will or what He wanted – they knew!

So on this particular day, Aaron and his sons perform the ritual set forth by God to make atonement for the people. They slaughtered the calf, spread it’s blood in the exact parts, offered up smoke, slaughtered the burnt offering, spread the blood, offered up smoke, slaughtered the goat for the people’s sins, presented the burnt offering, presented the grain offering, offered it up in smoke and so on until all was done and “Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (Leviticus 9:24).

It is directly after this time of sacrifice – the very next sentence in the book of Leviticus – at which point we see Nadab and Abihu – they “took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1). Every time I had heard this story previously, my mind automatically jumped to the words “strange fire”: What did that mean? What kind of incense did they use? Did it smell bad? Just because some sparks came out of their firepan they were consumed by a pillar of fire sent from God? Seems a bit harsh to me.

This time, however, I caught on. The “strange fire” they offered to God didn't smell funny, it didn’t emit green smoke, it wasn’t from evil spirits. It was strange to God because it was something He did not ask for. He told them exactly what He was looking for in this sacrifice and Nadab and Abihu gave Him something else, something that wasn’t on the list – and they paid the ultimate price. Upon realizing that, I discover that I am no stranger to Nadab and Abihu – I have been them myself – just call me Abi. I, too, have offered to God things He has not asked for. I have followed paths, made “sacrifices” and offered them up to my Lord when He has asked me to do none of it.

I am not alone. So many people today, in our rush to do everything and be everything to everyone, everywhere, we see or are offered an opportunity to serve and we pounce on it (or accept it grudgingly) thinking the more we offer to God the better off we are. Too often, though, we do not stop to seek His will in the matter. After all, what we want to do is “good”, right? Why wouldn’t God approve? However, these offerings, these “sacrifices” we make to God can become “strange fire” all too quickly. God is precise. He created each of us with a purpose – specific gifts and abilities that He plans to use in specific ways – and we (I especially) flounder about looking for where to go when God is ready and willing to let us know. He knows. He’s not vague.

The final point in this story is the motive behind the sacrifice – this is open to interpretation, but what I saw when reading this story was that Nad and Ab’s daddy, Aaron, offered some sacrifices to the Lord and people cheered. I may be reading too much into this, but what I see is Nad and Ab saying, “Hey, we can do that – we can burn some stuff. We need to keep these people shouting and bowing!” and so they did. They offered their “strange fire” not to please God, but to impress man. Isn’t that just so us?

“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22

10 December 2008

Wait, God, let me re-phrase that . . .

I tend to have a vision of God that's closer to resembling a maniacal, letter-of-the-law lawyer than a benevolent father. I've noticed when I pray, at times, I correct myself so as to clear up any ambiguity in my words - because, you know, it's not like God knows my heart (rolling my eyes at myself).

I can pinpoint a couple of different experiences in my life that have led to this image of a loophole-loving God. The first was in a church I have attended. The pastor of this church once mentioned in a sermon that he has learned to not pray for patience because it is not a magical fairy spell God simply grants. When we pray for patience, God will put us in situations that require patience. To this day I know people in that church that will quickly correct themselves when giving a prayer request for patience in a certain situation - "No, not patience - endurance!" I would find myself sneering inside when I heard that - and yet, I am not very different, am I? We tend to say we want to follow God and become more like Him, but not if that's going to cause any inconvenience or change for us, right? Why would we want to build patience? That requires waiting and, often, annoying situations that we would just rather not deal with. If that's what it takes, then nevermind, God, count us out on that one! (But sign me up for a bucket-ful of blessings, if you don't mind - please and thank you.)

I think, though, that the entire concept is mis-leading. God is not sitting up on His throne, just waiting for us to pray for patience so that He can cause us to be stuck in the slow checkout lane at Wal-Mart or behind that crazy old woman driver who doesn't understand that the gas pedal is what's needed to make the car go - at which point he will laugh and congratulate Himself on just how clever He is and how naive we are to pray such a prayer. He's not crafting unique ways to catch us on our requests. If He's going to work on building patience, we probably needed it. And, for the record, if we're asking for patience in a particular situation, He can and does grant it simply and quickly. I've experienced that, too.

I heard, also, a couple of years ago, a lecture from Steve Saint - the son of Nate Saint, one of five missionaries murdered by the Waodani tribe of Ecuador - wherein he discussed the sudden death of his daughter. While visiting home from college she had a horrible headache and so she asked her father to pray that her headache would go away. Steve did just that and hours later she died of a cerebral hemorrage. I do not think Steve's point was that his prayer caused his daughter to die, but that's what I took away from it anyway.

Thus, I find myself sitting with Baby Girl at 2 in the morning praying that she won't wake up again before 8 and then correcting my prayer to say that she will wake up next sometime between 8 and 9. I need to be more specific, you see, because somewhere deep inside I'm afraid God will take away my Baby Girl if I pray something that can at all be mis-interpreted.

It's a lesson, then, for me, to remember that God is not sitting on His throne waiting for the loophole in my prayer so he can say, "Haha, gotcha!" He's not that kind of God. He loves me and wants what's best, not just for me, but for all those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. So, yes, sometimes he doesn't answer my prayer in the way I expect, but that does not mean I worded something wrong or just wasn't being careful for what I wished. God has a plan and any ambiguity on my part cannot and will not mess it up.

Your good and perfect will be done, O Lord.

03 December 2008

Not Me Monday, er, Wednesday?

Because I like a good game, after reading MckMama's (whose name is remarkably similar to my url only by coincidence) blog for only a couple of weeks now, I decided to join in this week with "Not Me Monday". Now, don't bother informing me of the obvious: it's not Monday. But, in the spirit of the game, I will confess, I most definitely did not procrastinate in keeping up with my blog subscriptions over the past couple of days for the main reason that my NEW computer most certainly did not get it's own laptop version of the flu and die on me after only a month of ownership and since I, most certainly, do not usually check my blogs whilst lounging on the couch nursing Baby Girl rather than sit at the lonely desktop it was not a problem for me to check them daily, as is custom. As I write this I definitely do not have a squirming little worm wriggling in my lap, trying to help me type with her tiny, stockinged feet. Because, of course, I did not decide to participate in "Not Me Monday" whilst reading my blogs, lounging on the couch nursing Baby Girl. Of course not. Why would you even ask?

Speaking of Baby Girl and her stockinged feet, I certainly did not dress her in a white onesie with lime green gingham pants yesterday and then add purple and pink socks and a pastel green jacket to keep her warm in our home that I would never let get below 72 degrees farenheit. And it was not the most unattractive outfit I could imagine because I would never consider dressing my sweet Baby Girl in anything less than stunning, especially not on a day when neither of us were seeing anyone (and it's not like I was still wearing my pjs: pink and black argyle pants with a long sleeve black t-shirt, blue striped socks with Grumpy the Dwarf on them, all topped off with a red zip-up sweater and hair sticking out of my ponytail everywhere because I never re-did the ponytail I slept in - because I would never consider not getting dressed all day long just because I'm home by myself).

Hubby and I definitely did not decorate our home for Christmas the very day after Thanksgiving because I most certainly was not tempted to lug out the boxes of ornaments, wrapping and greenery right at the beginning of November because I just couldn't wait and, therefore, I did not feel the need to decorate nearly the very moment the Christmas season officially began. Another temptation to decorate could not have been the stocking I most certainly did not buy for Baby Girl on Black Friday, even though it wasn't a Black Friday deal (although it's not like it was 50% off anyway at Hobby Lobby, because it's not like Hobby Lobby has 50% off of almost all their Christmas stock nearly EVERY day leading up to Christmas). Speaking of which, I would never stand in line for an hour at Wal-Mart only to buy two movies at half price, and then another hour at Target and an hour and a half at Kohl's even though I was buying nothing there. I did not even consider waking up at 3:50am to go shopping with my sis- and mother-in-law just for the fun of it. Who would do a crazy thing like that?

And, finally, as a result of not even thinking about dragging out the Christmas decor on Friday, I definitely have not had a strand of garland greenery adorning the floor of our entire entryway for the past five days simply because Hubby and I were not too tired from setting up the tree to worry about anything else. Because I always clean up my messes the day I make them - and would never let a mess sit longer than a day - not at all. Not me.

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20 November 2008

What have we become?

I am saddened by my generation - a generation that pays lip-service to a God who is little more than a label for them to wear proudly on their chests - when it's convenient. I look around at the Youth Group culture I grew up in and see little evidence of lives changed. I find it difficult to differentiate among the muck and mire that crowds around me where the secular world ends and the "Christian" begins. I have been blessed by a great number of friends who have represented to me what it means to live a life void of self and completely devoted to Christ. Yet, at the same time, I look around myself at others I grew up with, attended church with - in various settings, and yet, seem to have completely melted into their surroundings - indistinguishable from the world.

It makes me sad and slightly disgusted to see those who "grew up in the church" proudly displaying photos of a night out on the town - including bar visits, a few shots, and a little bit of lewd dancing thrown in for "fun." I might be able to understand these actions if they were maybe justified with the excuse of "blending in" to "reach" non-Christian friends - we can't separate ourselves "too much", right? If we want to reach others - this is the only way. After all - our friends won't be our friends if we act too Christian -right? But even if this lame excuse were pulled out of the back pocket for some, the majority I've taken note of are outings such as these shared exclusively among a group of "Christian" friends.

See, I grew up in a "Christian" culture where the cool "Christian" thing to do was not be too "religious." Which is absolutely fine when you're distinguishing between a "religion" and a "relationship", but when you're attempting to determine which direction your actions need to take - working out your faith with fear and trembling should not be taken off the list. We should not have to blend in with the culture around us in order to be considered "cool" at church. Since when is it considered lame, boring or nerdy to actually go to church to worship God? To take your walk with Christ seriously? In the youth groups I grew up in, those who did such "radical" things were the ones who found themselves sitting alone. Youth Group was for hanging out with friends and church camp was for meeting cute members of the opposite sex and getting their phone numbers so you could have something to brag about when you got back to the youth group and a little something exciting to look forward to, at least through September. It's a little sad, isn't it?

If someone struggling through life finds the same types of attitudes at church that they find in school or the workplace - what's the point? They can be shunned just as easily there - they don't need to get up early on Sunday morning for that.

It is these same youth group members who are now growing up - going to college and doing the same things they've always done - in essence, the same thing everyone else is doing. They refer to each other, sisters in Christ, as "ho," "whore," or worse. They tease each other, making crude references to sex - which is cool as long as everyone knows you're not actually having any. If that makes you uncomfortable than you're just a little too prudish. Roll with the times, won't you?

How are we supposed to be Christ to others when they see no difference in us at all? When the non-Christian next to you at the bar sees nothing to distinguish between you and he besides that silly label (if you're even wearing it tonight - or have you hidden it? Just for now? No need to announce Who we're supposed to represent, right? Don't want to scare anyone off, now do we?). If your only source of a good time is at the bottom of the bottle or in sliding against the guy next to you on the dance floor - then that's the best anyone else has to hope for, too, right?

I do not say any of this from a soapbox or false, lofty, ivory tower. I am not perfect - I do not always proudly flash my label, either. And, yet, even without the Christian name tag - even if you are not shouting from the rooftops that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life - your life should shout it anyway - through actions - those speak louder than words, anyway, right?

"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: . . . to keep oneself unstained by the world." - James 1:27

13 November 2008

Keep the change!

As we near (or, according to the consumer world, are in) the holiday season, more and more charities are using this time of year to tap into the generous spirit the season evokes. I have no problem with those who solicit donations for charitable causes and I do, readily and regularly, give to a few of these organizations. Sadly, however, I do not have the funds to give to everyone who clutters my mailbox - which brings me to my point.

I do not enjoy the letters in the mail with which the sender encloses a nickel or a dime with the premise that "this coin could save a child's life". Then why did they send it to me! They might as well have kept it and saved that child's life, rather than send it all the way to me, costing someone, somewhere the gas money it takes to deliver this precious letter (for we all know that charities pay no postage, which means someone, somewhere, is picking up that slack - a concept which I understand, but don't think the charities should take for granted) and then, should I choose to send it back, costing me 42 cents in order to give them back their own dime. Does this make sense to anyone? I, obviously, understand that the idea is that, while sending back the dime, the generous giver will, rather, include it in a larger, grander donation, thus bringing back more than was sent out. However, if I'm going to donate $10 to a charity, I'll donate $10, whether or not they sent me a dime. If this were true of all those who donate - think about all the dimes wasted. Millions of letters sent out, hundreds of thousands of dollars frittered away!

The same, by the way, is true of those mailing labels. Yes, I enjoy the fact that I do not have to invest in purchasing my own mailing labels, but how much, in the end does this cost the organization? And does it really increase the donations by that much? I, personally, don't recall having given extra money just because a particular request included mailing labels (okay, maybe once, but those were REALLY good labels!).

I think these organizations should save their money, write a simple letter detailing what they stand for and for what they intend to use the money and leave it up to our generous hearts (and, above all things, God) to meet their needs. Leave the gimmicks out of it.

12 November 2008

My heart condemns me

If you may recall, I had previously chosen to give up watching television, both on the real box and on the internet because it served no purpose other than to draw my attention from God. Yesterday I was convicted.

As I had earlier mentioned, my weakest TV moments are when feeding Micaiah. Generally I sit with nothing to do but hold daughter in my arms and wait for her to finish. Well, yesterday she finished and promptly fell asleep in my arms. So sweet! I love those moments, holding her close, her face resting on my chest. But, in the end, I kind of want some way to occupy myself while she slumbers. Enter temptation.

My favorite site for TV watching is CWTV - the website of The CW (formerly The WB). It earns points for its excellent player and the mindlessness of its shows. My only two weaknesses there being America's Next Top Model (please don't judge me) and Privileged - I lean away from the trashy teenage melodramas - thank you very much. I had decided that there should definitely be no further Top Model in my future because, as we've discussed, this only perpetuates my assumption that it is my right to judge others - most assuredly not true. However, as I sat there yesterday, daughter in arms, I rationalized to myself (we're so good at that, aren't we) - Privileged is not that bad of a show - yes, there was one episode I was somewhat disappointed in, but other than that, it's quality, mindless, girly fun.

So I gave in.

I revved up cwtv.com and headed to "Full Episodes", only to discover that my new laptop had not yet been initiated into this guilty pleasure and, therefore, had no player installed. - "This is your chance, Angela, turn away." - so I installed it. I pressed play on my episode and it started to play sound with no visual - "Just forget about it and find something else to do." - so I refreshed the page. Then windows and firefox clashed and created an error, thus forcing me to shut down firefox and reopen with the option to "Restore previous session" or not. - "Don't restore it. 'But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.' (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is your way out!" - Click on "Restore previous session". Press play again. It's working! Yay! Switch to full screen, wherein the sticky note widget I have installed, with Philippians 4:8 ("Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.") set to permanently be on top of all screens stares glaringly at me, covering part of the show - "What does that verse say? Why did you install it? Was it not for moments of temptation like this?" - Move sticky note so I can see the show better. Watch the first five minutes, then a break for one commercial before show resumes and the visual has stopped working again - "Don't you get it?! Give up!" - Click "Refresh". Watch rest of show. Seriously.

What's worse is that after the show, baby girl was still asleep and I was then tempted to sink into Top Model - at which point God grabbed me by the hair and woke me up via a screaming child who had awakened for no reason whatsoever and would not be easily consoled. Only then did I finally walk away from the laptop.

The thing is, during all of this, I thought to myself (rationalized to myself) how ridiculous all of this was. If anyone else knew how much I was toiling and sweating over the idea of watching a stupid, mindless TV show that anyone else would turn on without one single qualm, they would laugh at me. Others are out there fighting bitterly against temptations such as adultery, pornography, gambling - and I'm beating myself up over TV. Come on! And that's the argument I used to let it all go and give in.

The thing is, it doesn't matter how "little" of a deal a particular TV show is. It may not be a "bad" show - but is it pure? Is it edifying? Does it draw me closer to God? It does not matter what struggles others are having or how easily the family next door is turning on their television set - they are not my standard. God is my standard. And He has called me to give this up. If it is so tiny and insignificant, like I say - then I shouldn't have a problem leaving it behind . . . right?

"Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God" - 1 John 3:21

09 November 2008

Of marshroutes and armpits

One day, I’m going to write a book. Or, rather, I’m going to finish writing my book. It has taken me quite a long time to find my voice in writing and, now, to figure out exactly what needs to be said and how best to say it. The clearest way, I’m sure, to discover these answers, would be to actually sit down and get to it. Hey, I’m workin’ on it! In the meantime, I wanted to share a story with you that may someday make it into this book, which will somehow, in some way, cover my semester spent in Russia and the lessons learned there. Before I can share one story, however, I must first explain to you the idea of the Russian marshroute.

The marshroute is the primary source of public transportation in Nizhni Novgorod, the third largest city in Russia. There they do not own the grand fortune of their big brother and sister (Moscow and St. Petersburg) to lay claim to an intricate, underground metro system. Rather, they have only to rely on the scattered, hectic marshroute system.

The marshroute is a bus. A tiny bus, really, that fits somewhat into the size range of what some churches call a “People Mover”; others may refer to these sized vehicles as party buses; almost no person from the United States would ever picture this moving object as the primary source of public transportation, as the only common type of bus we know this length is typically referred to as the “short bus” and is generally used as more of an insult than a regular vehicle in which to travel.

Everyone in Russia rides the short bus.

The important thing to note, however, is that although the Russian bus is much smaller in size than the typical commuter bus in the United States, the number of passengers does not decrease proportionately, or at all – in fact I’m sure the Russian marshroute regularly carries about twice (or five times, whatever) the amount of human cargo as the typical city buses of our culture. In short, what I’ve heard to be the carrying capacity of a New York subway after a New Year’s celebration in Times Square is the typical load of one city marshroute. There is no such thing as a full bus. Ever.

Your face could be shoved into the armpit of the friendly, stone-faced Russian man next to you (who is, of course, pretending he is on an island paradise somewhere, without your face shoved in his armpit), held solidly in place by the carefully-skilled meat-packing that is surrounding you, with no handlebar or seat in sight (with really nothing, of course, in sight, but the fur of this large man’s coat) and the marshroute will still be finding passengers who will shove onto the step, expertly maneuvering their bodies around and behind the closing accordion door, when you didn’t even realize there was a cubic inch of airspace left on this speeding cattle car.

The most amazing part of all of this is that the dance of the marshroute riders occurs without a single word. No eye contact will be made between you and the girl breathing in your face (also sharing the space beneath the burly man’s armpit). No cute small talk. No awkward jokes. No arguing. No unnecessary shoving or complaining. It’s just the way of the marshroute.

Payment is done on somewhat of an honor system. The driver can, for the most part, tell who has boarded and, thus, needs to pay. The new passenger dutifully passes forward their seven kopecks. Every fellow-commuter along the way, when tapped on the shoulder, maneuvers a hand to take the money and pass it along to the next person until it reaches the driver or the assistant. Should change be due, the coins are then passed back to the original paying customer and all is well. No one fears that someone along the way will pocket his money and claim there was no payment. It’s just not the way it’s done.

Eventually, yes, the marshroute does empty out some, as it travels to the further reaches of its route and it begins to pick up less than it drops off. As the man carrying his bag (for all Russians carry a bag – plastic, most likely, whether it came from Disneyland, a department store they visited once, or purchased in the market, it is what they carry everything in, from files to books to groceries – for they all know the grocery store will not provide its own bags – why should they? You always have yours), with the distinct fin of a raw fish sticking out of its handles, steps off and you finally take his vacant seat, you breathe a sigh of relief that, for this moment before your own stop, does not carry the pungent odor of armpit.

08 November 2008

Stop growing, Little One!

I was going to write a post filled with bitterness and extreme anger, all aimed directly at Snapfish's photo printing service. But rather than fill my blog with the toxic wastefulness of my disdain, I decided to let it go. If, however, you are ever considering using them, heed my warning: if anything should go wrong with your order they will not take responsibility for it and their customer service won't care. Just be warned. That is all.

Moving on.

I finally got to the task today that I've been meaning to do for the past two weeks: Re-organizing Baby Girl's clothing selection. When expecting, we were extremely blessed to freely be given quite the selection of baby clothing from various family and friends. We are infinitely grateful and, thus, have not had to purchase any clothing for her whatsoever (I will admit, I finally used some gift money to make a trip to the baby section of Old Navy yesterday because, let's face it, buying baby clothes IS fun and I really wanted the privilege of picking out some of her clothes on my own . . . but I digress). Before she was born, I took all of these wonderful gifts and hand-me-downs, dutifully washed them and then organized them as best I could. Not knowing babies or their sizes too well, I did happen to notice that the tags were not to be trusted. 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months - it's all entirely relative. I began to notice which company's CEO's had very FAT babies, and which ones must have had anorexic babies based on what they considered to be a normal 0-3 month old child - the differences were vast.

Therefore, I tried to eye it as far as my organization went and I gathered her 0-3 month (what I figured to be, anyway) clothing in one drawer, 3-6 month in another, and everything higher than that in boxes, labeled with Post-Its at the top of her closet (I really enjoy organizing - you wouldn't tell it by looking at my house - my theory is that I love to organize so much that I lose the organization quickly so as to sooner be able to re-organize - makes sense, huh?) So, anyway, I've noticed, now that Little Bit is growing out of some the clothes she's been wearing for the past two months (don't bring that up or I'll cry), she may be able to move up to some of the other pieces that have been set aside. Thus, I pulled out the 3-6 month drawer and quickly discovered something - I made a grave error in my organization. Not knowing babies, I judged sizes based on width, not height. Whoops.

Now I have discovered a VAST world of body-suits, footie pjs, and pants that baby girl probably should have been wearing earlier and some more that she is just now able to fit into, spilling over two drawers full - considering the size of baby clothes, that's a significant amount. And, considering the rapidity of her growth, I'm afraid she's going to grow out of some of these new discoveries before she gets the chance to wear them.

Now begins the clothing marathon - where I will be excited to see she has spit up all over her outfit again - all the quicker to get through some of these outfits so she can wear them at least once before she grows another inch by next week!

04 November 2008

God is in control!

In light of today's events, I would like to point out a passage mentioned in Beth Moore's study of Daniel:

"Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: . . . 'For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me.' " (Isaiah 45:1,4-5, emphasis added). I find this passage interesting because in it God declares that it is He who has put Cyrus in control and though Cyrus neither acknowledges nor fears God, God uses Cyrus for His own purposes.

 God can use any ruler, any person, anywhere, to accomplish His purposes.

So, yes, go vote. God can use our votes to put those in power He so chooses. At the same time, if the one we vote for is not chosen by the masses, God can still use the one who comes into office - whether we think they are a genuine, God-fearing, Bible-studying kind of guy or not.

God is ALWAYS in control! Do not fear! He knows our present, He knows our past, but most importantly, He knows our future. Trust Him with it.

"Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding." - Daniel 2:19-21

03 November 2008

I Choose Him

I confess: I waste time, a LOT. And my biggest enabler is the television - or rather TV shows - whether these be on the five stations we get through or antenna, or via the internet, I consume it - binge on it.

Okay, that may be a bit extreme. The truth is, I used to be that obsessive about television, especially while I was pregnant and didn't feel like moving. Watching TV was about the one thing I could do which required no movement whatsoever beyond the slight muscular reflex of pushing the volume button on the remote. I have, indeed, cut back a lot, but I was still finding this to be my go-to, time-"filling", brainless activity. When I fed Micaiah, I was watching TV. When I folded clothes, watching TV. Grading papers, watching TV. Cleaning the house, watching TV. See the trend? Most of the time I wasn't even paying attention to it. It was background noise. Something for me to listen to while I got something else done. Problem was: as a result, that something else got done a whole lot slower than necessary and time was wasting.

I was under the mistaken belief that time was the only issue at hand suffering from my addiction. Thus, when I made the decision two weeks ago to cut myself off, I faced temptation and came very near to compromising - telling myself that watching something while feeding Baby Girl wouldn't be that big of a deal, would it? After all, I'm just sitting here. I have nothing else to do. There's not much else I can do. So why not? Even though I was skeptical of the necessity to do so, I withstood temptation.

Then I realized, only yesterday, on top of the issue of time, my mind was being filled with junk. I found myself humming commercial jingles for "my local Check into Cash" and 1-800-SAFE-AUTO and agonizing over what would happen next on Heroes and whining about how ridiculous the Survivors were for voting off what's-her-name and gasping at how unbelievably horrible the photos were that the judges of Top Model thought were breath-taking. My mind was over-run with useless information and judgmental thoughts about anything and everything I was taking in - whether I was paying attention or not. When I watch reality TV, in particular, I find I assign myself to the task of judge. And when I feel free judging those I don't know but who choose to play out their lives on television, is it that hard to believe that this judgmental nature seeps its way into my real life?

So, I have quit. Cold-turkey. I'm done. Thing is: when you take something out of your life that has sucked up so much time in the past, you find yourself with a whole lot of free time and nothing with which to fill it. How do I replace my bad habit with a good one? The route I have taken most often is either reading or listening to music. Most recently I have begun to listen to the radio via the internet, allowing me to still be productive around the house, still have my background noise, and yet not be tethered to something I have to watch and at the same time allowing my mind to be filled with the uplifting sounds of praise music and the works of my favorite Christian artists. So, now instead of obnoxious, yet catchy jingles, I find myself humming the likes of Jars of Clay or Tree63. Slightly better, if I might say so.

"If everybody's worshiping something, I choose You" - Point of Grace

01 November 2008

Let's Pretend

I wanted to share with you the inspiration for my previous post, about our on-line selves representing more accurately who we feel we are. I had intended to include this story in the post yesterday, but the blog somewhat got away from me and by the time I realized my point, it sounded much better without the example, so I left it out. But I still want to share it, because, to me, it's an interesting story.

As I confessed, I was, long ago, addicted to IMing. Once upon a snow day my freshman year of high school, I found myself with a free, unobstructed day for pursuing my hobby. While browsing profiles on MSN Messenger, I came across a boy from my area around my age (I will admit, sadly, that the opposite sex was my preferred specimen for on-line chatting - in fact, I formed quite a friendship with a boy named Duncan from England who had a penchant for staying up late to chat - but this is way off-topic - see how my blogs just get away from me?). Anyway, I started chatting the lad up (the one from my area), only to discover he went to my high school! Not only that, he was a freshman as well and turned out to be none other than the star of the freshman hockey team - a big deal to most freshman, but I wasn't a fan of hockey at the time and definitely thought this guy to be somewhat of an idiot - before that day anyway.

Before I go on, I must explain the dynamics of my high school. It was not quite the caricatured ensemble of stereotyical cliques found in most teen angst films. Yes we had jocks and, yes, most of them were cool. Yes, we had nerds - but contrary to popular belief, the nerds were not the smart kids. Or, not completely. We definitely had a smart-nerd group (ie, quiz bowl), I have a close friend in that group who is proud to be so, thus I'm insulting no one by establishing that. But then we had the group of the REALLY awkward, socially inept who were neither smart (at least not abnormally so) nor athletic. And then there were the Honors kids - the smart kids who weren't in the cool crowd, necessarily, but didn't really care to be, either. And we definitely weren't in the socially awkward group, either. Each of these groups (plus a smattering of others) happily coexisted next to each other, one not really bothering the other (the popular kids didn't even bother with the unpopular, not even to bully them - they didn't care), and sometimes offering the free-floaters who easily transitioned from one group to the next - popular and smart and a jock . . . you know who I mean.

So, anyway, back to the story. This guy I found on-line was definitely a member of the athletic crowd: popular, cool, with a head as big as a hot air balloon (and just as empty) - or so I believed. And as I said, I was smart, quiet, stayed out of the way of others and was glad to do so. Then one day we met on-line and talked for about two hours about all sorts of things - we watched the Ricki Lake show simultaneously and made fun of the melodrama unfolding on the talk show stage. This hockey jock thought I was funny and interesting, and I, surprisingly, found out he was, too, and he had depth - go figure.

My life not being Pretty in Pink, this alternate universe did not last long. In fact, when we saw each other in school the next day, it was back to life as usual. We stuck to our crowds, didn't acknowledge the other person in the halls - never spoke of the day again - never spoke at all again. And, yet, I will always remember that day when I discovered that even though I may think I'm so different, better than someone else - my prejudices are most likely so inaccurate that the person I'm judging is actually just like me when one whittles away all the stigmas, applied categories and social facades. Interesting.

I must also note that I was first attracted to my husband through his blog - by reading the inner-workings of his mind I found a man I could love. I'm not sure I would have ever seen this side of him prior to marriage had I not run across his on-line journal. And although we lived on the same campus together, the majority of our relationship unfolded on the internet. That's what makes this social networking era of the internet age so fascinating - the stripping down of our outer selves - the ones we work so hard and so long to build up - leaves us feeling much more free and open - and yet when we leave our seat in front of the computer screen, we feel the need to zip ourselves back up and continue to pretend. Fascinating. Just fascinating.

31 October 2008

Blogs can keep us together (Think of me, Babe, whenever . . .)

Embarrassing Confession of the Day: When I was in high school, I was addicted to IMing with strangers. I would have said addicted to chat rooms, but that wouldn't be true. I actually hated the chat room atmosphere - twelve conversations flowing at once and generally at least one of them being entirely inappropriate. My strategy was to go into the chat room, find one or two (or three or four) people who seemed interesting and chat with them privately. If that went well, we became AIM or MSN Messenger buddies. Once I had a pretty good store of buddies, I stopped the chat room visits. I would talk to my new "friends" about almost anything. Until my senior year of high school, I had VERY few (try one) close friends in real life, and so these on-line confidantes were the best thing I had. They were my escape. The ones who knew the real me that I kept hidden from everyone else. They didn't know me in real life, so I could be the funny, cool, interesting girl that I was too afraid to be in reality.
When I started gaining flesh and blood friends, I realized my need for digital chatter gave way to a longing for real human interaction - going to football games, sleepovers and late-night-Steak-n-Shake runs.
However, by my senior year of college blogging had become quite the fad and I, once again, became hooked - addicted. Once again, I could reveal little parts of my soul without feeling judged. And, as I've always been better at expressing myself in writing, rather than by spoken word, I relished in the ability to get my thoughts out there to the world. And something even more amazing - others felt the same way as me!
During this blogging era, we can connect to others through these digital journals, broadcast to the world and suddenly, by reading the thoughts of another on their biggest pet peeves, struggles and inner demons, we realize - we're not that different after all. Every one of us seems to be scrambling through life, trying to pull everything together while keeping up appearances that we already have everything together so that we're not the ONLY ones who have NOTHING together and now we can see, plain as day - we're not alone! NO ONE has everything together! And it is through these on-line forums that we feel free to confess this tiny fact. Isn't it interesting?
Perhaps this blunt honesty can transfer to our true lives and soon we'll have a whole lot less fake, a whole lot more genuine and a more relaxed, free body of human beings surviving together on this rock we call Earth.

29 October 2008

Once burned, twice shy

I am a vagrant, a wanderer. In this age of the information super-highway, I am a hitchhiker in a weary land. Through these days, weeks of computer-craziness, I have packed up all my digital belongings on an external harddrive, toting it to any computer who will let me in. Not wanting to overload my husband's machine with my excess baggage, I simply kept everything neatly in its place - saved all new documents, pictures and downloads on my harddrive and zipped it up neatly at the end of the day. Now that I have a "home" again, I am like the storm-battered exile - wary to believe this place is for real - permanent. I am afraid to unpack and make myself at home for fear that this, too, will vanish - be swept away by another tornado of computer-filled anguish. So, still, I tote my bags from place to place - where goes the laptop, there goes the external harddrive - constantly working off of it, saving to it and letting nothing touch the virginal harddrive of the new machine. And yet, I still fear. What if someone stole the harddrive? Where would I be then? I need a back up of my back up! Oh the simplicity of the digital age - the ability to keep everything stowed in one, compact location - and the ability to have it all swept away in an equally poetic simple manner.

"I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name."

27 October 2008

A Brief History of the Rowland Laptop

We got a new laptop! Woohoo! God is so good!

In order for you to understand the greatness of this story, you need a little history lesson:

Once upon a time I worked at a camp for an entire summer and decided I would save my meager (VERY meager) earnings to purchase a new laptop to replace the one I had for my first two years of college which had recently taken to crashing every month or so (I mean a total and utter CRASH). Unfortunately, being a teenage girl in outlet-ridden, beach-bordered, crab-shack lovin' Maine, my paychecks were not necessarily saved as they should have been. Fortunately, God saw my need and overlooked my irresponsibility and introduced me to a girl who desperately wanted to get rid of her one-year-old laptop. I desperately wanted a laptop - see where this is going? She gave me a remarkable deal and I was, once again, happy.

After about two years this laptop began to render itself useless by it's shoddy wireless ability (and that only with an external card - that picked up next to no signal) and some various other problems. I dealt with it for another year and a half before my wonderful in-laws offered us a deal - our shoddy laptop for their shoddy laptop - which had much better wireless capability and a brand new motherboard (being that the former one had been recently replaced by Dell - for a third time). We took the deal and I was once again happy until the new motherboard inexplicably died once again only five months later - was replaced and did so again last month (only four months later this time). Dell, avoiding our request that the warranty be honored and this time-proven lacky of a laptop be replaced, "fixed" it twice more, only the last time proved to be too much for our poor friend and it refused to be resuscitated. The in-laws stepped in once more and offered us back the previously shoddy, yet still functioning, original laptop. And then it, too, bit the dust.

Tired of having no convenient laptop, I finally wrote a strongly-worded, yet respectful e-mail to Dell demanding that they step up, stand behind their product, and replace it. And - here's the crazy part - they said OK! Finally! They were going to replace it with a refurbised "comparable" model.

Only what we received via DHL today was far from a "comparable" model. Rather, they replaced our piece of shiny junk with a model that is worth TWICE what the original was. It has shiny new features, such as a built-in webcam and a thumprint reader (which I will probably never use but will always think is cool). In short, it is everything I wanted in a laptop, but thought I'd have to wait a couple more years for, until we had our debt under control. And yet, God, in his infinite goodness, has provided it now.

Now whether to sing the praises of Dell, we shall wait and see. As you may have noticed, my happiness in the laptop situation is not always well-founded. I'll let you know.

26 October 2008

Remember When?

I realized yesterday: I actually miss being pregnant. Okay, maybe I don't really miss it, but I'm saddened by the realization that I've already forgotten what it felt like. In my head, I can remember everything, but I can no longer remember the feelings. I don't remember what it felt like to have her wiggle and squirm and kick. I hear her hiccups daily, but I don't remember how it felt when those same reflexes kept me awake at night. I don't remember how it felt to not be able to sleep in almost any position other than on my side - and thus not being able to sleep at all. I don't remember what it felt like to not be able to bend over to put the clothes in the dryer without getting winded. I don't remember what it felt like to not be able to lift my foot into Philip's lap when he was vying for the Best Husband of the Year award by giving me a pedicure. I don't remember any of it.

By the same token, I barely remember how it felt to be able to take care of things around the house without wondering how long Little Bit would stay asleep before she needed my attention again. I don't remember how it felt to leave the house without wondering if I would be out long enough that she would have to eat while we were gone. I don't remember how it felt to sit in her empty nursery longing for something to do, an excuse to be in there. I don't remember not having a tiny, warm, soft body to clutch and cuddle and hug or a tiny balded head to kiss.

It's amazing how quickly six and half weeks can wipe a memory clean.

25 October 2008

Best Buy - Mommy Style

As a mom of six and a half weeks, I have noticed there are some things I am SO grateful we invested in before Micaiah was born, even if I wasn't so sure at the time if they were necessary. There are plenty of baby things on the market that are not worth the money and sometimes it's hard to sift through the good things and the bad - especially when your baby budget is not so large (or rather non-existant). So, for those of you moms, new, old, soon-to-be, or someday, maybe - I wanted to share my favorites with you! Here they are, in no particular order - what I consider to be the top five investments for your baby (aside from the obvious - of course a place for your baby to sleep is really a number one priority and maybe a way to get her from here to there - I figure there are basics you can figure out on your own - these are some extras some people may not consider . . .).

1) Cloth Diapers - Now some people may just skip over this part, disgusted by the idea of poo-covered pieces of cloth that are not destined for the trash, or cringing at the thought of using pins near your tiny precious bundle. But fear not, the cloth diapers of our mothers' era have gone by the wayside. Today's cloth diapers offer many conveniences - such as snaps or velcro, microfiber inserts to increase absorption, thus basically eliminating diaper rash and fleece linings to bring comfort to that tiny bum. It's true that not all cloth diapers are created equal, so do your research first, and the initial cost may not be too appealing, but when you consider how much you would spend on disposables over time, not to mention the inconvenience of running out of diapers just when she's had that major blowout, thus creating frantic last minute Wal-Mart runs - you can see how these may not be such a bad idea!

2) Motion Sensor Baby Monitor - If you're one who is terrified of SIDS (and what mother isn't?) - after you have taken all of the stuffed toys out of your little one's crib, made sure to lay her quietly on her back while the temperature of the room stayed low and no smoking individual was allowed within ten miles of her - you will turn on this monitor and breathe a sigh of relief that you do not have to sit there and watch her chest rise and fall for the next three years of her life. This monitor, with a pad under the mattress, detects the slightest movement (ie breathing) and alerts you by beeping if there is no motion for twenty seconds. Yes there are false alarms, but I'll take them if I can have the security of knowing that something is making sure she's alive!

3) Baby Swing - I didn't really see the need to have one if we were going to have a bouncer, but after watching a video in our birthing class where the instructor swore by the ability of the swing to calm a baby who won't stop crying, dear hubby was convinced the swing would save our lives, if not the world. I didn't quite buy it, but I did buy the swing when I saw one at a garage sale for a quarter of market value - just to make him happy. MY HUSBAND IS SOOOO WISE! It may not necessarily calm her down, but it is a great place to lay her for naps during the day or while I'm trying to get things done - especially considering she's not such a fan of the bouncer yet!

4) Temporal Artery Thermometer - I've only used this occasionally thus far and really just for the fun of it, but it's the most amazing thermometer ever! You just push the button and swipe it quickly across her forehead (or yours when you really feel like playing with it - it can even tell you the temperature in the room - I'm telling you I have fun with this toy) to see her temperature accurately displayed. She could be squirmy as all get out and it doesn't matter! Sure beats holding a digital thermometer under a flailing armpit (or in, ahem, other places) for twenty seconds.

5) Nursing Pillow - I knew I needed one because everyone has one, but I honestly didn't use it for the first couple of weeks and found myself thinking - maye it wasn't necessary. And then I started using it. And now it follows me everywhere! It definitely gives the arms a break during feeding time! Also, I use this to prop her up while sleeping sometimes when she's suffering from gas or reflux. It has a warning right on its label not to do that - but I figure I have my motion-sensor monitor to alert me in the worst-case scenario ;) (And it really does help her!)

Runner-Up - Baby carrier - We used ours at my brother's wedding so we could dance the night away and keep an eye on her at the same time. She slept through everything! In fact, she ALWAYS falls asleep in it. Love it!

That's it. It's my advice to you. Actually - even better advice: don't buy any of this at market price, please! I got every one of the top five from either garage sales, ebay, craigslist, or when all else failed, through using gift cards (you'll get some, promise). Do your research and shop ahead and you'll find a bargain every time! I can't emphasize that enough! Your baby does not NEED to have everything brand new - there is no shame in secondhand as long as it's clean and still functions. Save the money for the hospital bill - trust me!

24 October 2008

Who am I to be?

I want to be a writer. I don't think I ever quite realized that or allowed myself to dream for that. Growing up, I had decided I wanted to be a teacher. From the tender age of 7, when I started sitting my sister (who was four years older and thus not quite in need of my instruction) down so I could "teach" her to read from the discarded workbooks our elementary school sold for a dime at the book fair so as to be rid of them, I knew I wanted to do this for life. I meandered my way through school, knowing my goal - to go to college, live in a dorm, own a hamster (a girl can dream, can't she?), and major in teaching while minoring in veterinary (yes, that was a degree in my mind) so that I could work in the zoo nursery during the summers (what can I say? I was ambitious). There were a few times I allowed my mind to wander upon all the careers out there in the world, wondering how a person could ever truly settle on one - there were so many that sounded so fascinating - but knowing I would never have the guts to adjust my goal - it had been mine for so long! Meanwhile, I hoarded notebooks of writing - diaries, journals, thoughts that occurred to me during Bible study, poems, short stories, the beginnings of a novel or two (set to the style of Lurlene McDaniel - featuring a love story between two teenagers, one of whom was dying). In high school I took creative writing - loving the ability to express myself with words. But it never, not even once, occurred to me that this would be anything I would truly pursue outside of my own meanderings.

First of all, I lack the thick skin it takes to show someone else my writing and seek a response in return. I would not be able to stomach the words of critics. Second of all, writing, to me, wasn't a career! You couldn't simply go to school, earn a degree, interview for a job and go at it. No, you had to work HARD, taking rejections from all sides, all the while HOPING someone would find your writing, your own, personal self-expression worthy of the printed publication and then hoping beyond hope that someone, somewhere would actually WANT to read it. No, that wasn't something I considered an option for me. That was what other people did. I was going to be a teacher.

Something happened, though. During my first year of teaching. I liked it. I did. I enjoyed the students most of all. I liked helping them learn, bantering with them, and seeing them succeed (some of them, anyway). But it just didn't FEEL right. It wasn't where I was supposed to be.

Finally I realized. I want to be a writer. I WANT people to read what I wrote and be inspired by it. Touched, moved. I want to write something that means something - the words God wants me to relay. But I'm still scared. And I still avoid it. But I'm trying.

I once visited the website of my favorite author, Francine Rivers. Her writing is who I want to be as an author. Her books have a message and her characters touch you so deeply that I have found myself, on more than one occasion, wanting to pause to pray for them and the situations they are enduring - that they would turn back to God, or heal from their pain, or have the boldness to speak God's word - only to be reminded that this is fiction and prayer requests for fictional characters are somewhat of a moot point as their futures are already penned in the pages. But I want to have that kind of impact - have my reader get that involved in my writing. On her website, Ms. Rivers encourages would-be writers to write a little bit every day. It seems like folksy, bottle-fed advice, which is why I've ignored it for so long. I'll write what I feel like, whenever I feel like and I will not force myself to write without inspiration, thank you very much. The problem with this is I can go weeks or months without "inspiration" and then I feel dry, empty, as though I've lost my voice.

So, here I am, dear blog, using you for my daily meanderings, whatever they may be. You are my outlet for my daily purging of thoughts, feelings and rants on which I spend my days binging. Congratulations.

23 October 2008

Is God awake at 3:30am?

As a new mom, about one third of my day is spent feeding my precious tiny one (really it's down to about six times a day - God bless Micaiah for being down to one nightly feeding!). For most of the day, I find creative ways to occupy myself in this time that would otherwise be spent loafing, infant sprawled across the lap, staring off into space. Occasionally I turn on the television or a movie which can be paused and re-started at the next feeding (I'm eliminating these options from my repertoire, however, for the primary reason that I have been convicted about my obscene amounts of media in-take, but that's another story for another day). On my most spry of days, I feel talented enough to balance Micaiah on her Boppy on my lap at the dining room chair that has become our desk chair at the microwave cart that currently calls itself our office, using the side rails of the chair to prop my otherwise dangling feet because I snapped off the front foot rail in one overzealous jigsaw moment almost two years ago. Meanwhile, I attempt to keep this tiny girl from slipping with one hand while I use the free hand to maneuver the mouse and keyboard to get things done that I feel can't wait for the half-hour to forty-five minutes (to an hour! Thank you growth spurts!) it would take to fill her tiny belly. When not opting for one of the first two, however, I simply read - the Bible during my regular quiet time hour, teen novels from the 50's my mom passed down to me when I was twelve, but too cool to read books my MOM read when she was a girl (now I hope to pass them down to Micaiah, who will, of course, be totally above the cool factor), and most other times it's simply TIME magazine (I have a subscription, and if I fail to keep up, the weekly digests overwhelm my home and stress me out - because they can't be recycled until they've been read, of course). When I read, I generally do it aloud because I'm not good at making up random conversation to stimulate my child, and, thus, find my reading to her from Proverbs, or about Donna Parker in Hollywood, or (disturbingly enough) the horror of the tuberculosis epidemic in developing nations, to be the best amount of verbal intake she'll get for the timebeing.

All of these wonderful time-consuming endeavors, however, become obsolete at her middle of the night feeding (anywhere between the hours of 2 and 5, or both, but most recently at 3:30 on the dot - I should have known when she popped out right on her due date that she would excel in scheduling). During these wee morning hours, I choose not to confuse her system by turning on a light or making any unnecessary noises - thus leaving myself nothing to do while she guzzles down her midnight/3:30 snack, but to allow my eyes to meander across her toys, shelves, crib and changing table, all clothed in darkness, wondering when I will ever get those baskets for the changing table to hide the unsightly (even in the dark) clutter that has overtaken the shelves. However, it occurred to me last week (epipanies at 3:30am are, indeed, rare, but generally worth the effort when they choose to grace my presence) that there was definitely something much worthwhile with which to fill this half hour - I could pray.

In fact, as my waking hours tend to be so filled with my own personal worries - I am a very selfish being who is working on that - I am very much in the habit of sympthetically listening to a roomful of prayer requests on Sunday or Wednesday mornings and then going home, promptly forgetting to even think of these hurting and needing individuals throughout the week. No more! I now allow myself to approach the throne of God while my young daughter feasts. I approach Him with any and all prayer requests that come to my mind - and in earnestness, not idly, wishing this time would go by faster so I could return to slumber. I am finding myself feeling so blessed through this time alone with God in the dark. And I've even finally allowed myself to stop talking long enough to let Him speak to me. And, oh, the richness of hearing God's voice! I cannot help but to be humbled by His love for me, and His gentle admonishings. I will not venture to say I look forward to waking only four hours after resting my head - but if she's going to wake me up anyway, I could not think of a more fulfilling way to spend the hours between 2 and 5 in the morning.

Perhaps soon I will step aside enough to allow God to penetrate my daytime hours in the same way . . .

22 October 2008

I'm sorry, Lord

I'm sorry Lord
I find myself inactive,
Day after day,
Week after week,
It's all the same
I say I want more
I want to serve you,
I want purpose
I want adventure
All in Your Name
I pray
I pray for Your guidance
That You would show me Your will for me
But I know Your will for me
I've known if for some time now
I avoid it
Find other things to do
Make excuses

Don't get me wrong
I want to do that
To reach for that future You have laid out for me
But I'm scared
I know what You want from me
But I don't know what You'll do with it
If I ever give You what You want
So I tell myself I'll do it
When I get around to it
But my mind wanders
And like Cinderella, I toil
I make lists
I find tasks
And it seems this ball
To which You have invited me
Is ever out of my reach
One more task away, one more day
I have made sure to keep it so
I do not want to dance alone
To be in the spotlight
Into which You may place me

So I lay in bed
I close my eyes
I tell myself
Tomorrow I'll do what God has asked
Sorry, Lord
Sorry I didn't get to that today
But tomorrow, Lord
Tomorrow I'll be Yours
You're only a day away
You're always a day away

14 October 2008

A slight correction

I must confess: my most wonderful, not-slacker-dad of a husband was quite appalled at the previous post wherein I implied he was unwilling to help between the hours of 11pm and 7am, so I must clarify. He is most obliging should I ask for help. However, as he has to be at work at 8 in the morning and I have the freedom to return to sleep after he heads to work, I do the middle of the night shifts by myself - so as to allow him to sleep. Having said that, he has now fed our precious baby girl at 5am both evenings this past weekend so his beautiful wife may have a slightly longer stretch of uninterrupted slumber - uninterrupted at this point in our lives only equating to the fact that I do not have to get out of bed when my body begs me not to move.

In addition to aiding with weekend morning feedings, my husband has, in other ways, proven to be a quite amazing father and husband all-around. He will, for example, offer to fix whatever I had planned for dinner if it is quite obvious I am not up to the task. He changes diapers whenever he is home from work (I figure between my night changings and all-day-long changings, it's a fair deal). He can pick out an adorable baby outfit - and change her into it. He's better at cuddling with her than I am, by far. He, in fact, loves to hold her and is quite her favorite playmate, even at only one-month-old (her, not him).

My husband is, I would have to say, from my most humbly biased opinion, the most natural-born father I have ever met. And I love him. And, yes, ladies, he is, most assuredly, MINE!

10 October 2008

Things I've Learned

Things I've learned as a Mommy . . .

  • Sleep is a lot more meaningful when it comes in increments longer than 4 hours (although, don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to get more than one hour at a time . . . I know I am blessed for this.)
  • I'm pretty much a single mom between the hours of 11pm and 7am.
  • Changing a diaper in the dark is not as hard as it sounds.
  • Poop isn't on one's hand somehow doesn't feel as gross when it comes from your own baby - who, let's face it, was swimming around in my bodily fluids for 9 months - I guess I owe it to her.
  • A baby's head won't fall off if you fail to support it with your hand. They don't even seem to get whiplash, surprisingly enough. (Although, for the record, I AM in favor of head support - I'm just saying failure to do so will not end the world or your baby's head.)
  • A baby on a schedule = the most blessed creation in the world
  • A baby asleep on your chest = the most precious feeling in all the world
  • Babies really are slippery when wet - it's not just an over-used warning.
  • Letting a baby fall asleep in her swing is not going to ruin her for the rest of your life . . . and she will still sleep in her crib at night.
I know there's more, but, let's face it . . . I'm a little too sleep-deprived to much more thought into it than this.

09 October 2008

Why didn't anyone tell me?

Have you ever felt like you're in "the club" (whatever that may be) on technicalities only - there's a whole lot of insider info you're missing out on and no one bothered to fill you in before you got there?

I felt that way at least once before. The summer after my sophomore year of college I was going to be a camp counselor! I was very excited as I always thought going away to summer camp would be the greatest experience, full of campfires and camp activities - such as swimming in the lake or making crafts out of found objects - leaves, starfish, rocks and whatnot - and, of course, lots and lots of yarn and glue, maybe telling ghost stories by flashlight or whatever things kids did at camp - those were the stories I read about in books, and I wanted them to be MY stories. Thus, as a counselor, I knew, vaguely, that I would be corralling kids from one activity to the next, enforcing lights out and, of course, falling in love with a hunky co-counselor . . . or wait, wrong book . . . this was an all-girls' camp.
However, as new-counselor training progressed, I found EVERY day to be filled with new information I never even considered and kind of felt duped into - I was supposed to go by a "bird name" (a nickname derived from any kind of bird I chose, there's meaning behind it that I can divulge should you truly care) for the REST of the summer, meaning I had all of 2 days to get used to responding to a name I had never before considered going by in my entire life (I chose Rae - the moniker granted to my silver Cavalier only nine months previous) AND I had all of 2 days to completely forget my given name as it was supposedly a game for campers NOT to know who I truly was. In addition to the name thing, there were campfires I was supposed to build by myself at least two times weekly (and somehow got away with never building one . . . ever), there were activities I had never excelled in (volleyball, anyone?) or even thought about participating in (kayaking - who kayaks in Oklahoma?) that I would be required to INSTRUCT. I was to lead Bible Studies, a new one every day, in addition to night time devotions, also new daily - and no, there would be no repeats for the SEVEN weeks of camp, because some of my campers would be there for multiple weeks. These are just a few of the unexpected glitches I found myself running into in pursuit of my All-American Summer Camp Dream . . . and all the while I found myself thinking, "Why didn't anyone TELL me about all of this before NOW?"

And here I am again - in a new club, the Mom Club - wondering why no one ever thought to clue me in before. Before she was born, I spent nine months catching up on "What to Expect When You're Expecting", registering for baby items I assumed I'd need, buying maternity clothes, picking out names, avoiding lunch meats, trying to get exercise in, taking Birthing Classes, considering pain relief methods for delivery and all-around preparing for the arrival of a precious new human being into our family - but hardly did I consider what on earth I would do with her once she was actually HERE. I forgot to get a head-start on What to Expect the First Year, and found myself, after cracking the spine three weeks into her life, saying, "Huh, THAT would have been good to know!" I didn't know there were complications with breastfeeding (which I, fortunately, did not encounter), I just thought they DID it. I didn't even consider there was an alternative to breastfeeding (doesn't everyone do that?); I didn't know there were different thought schools on WHEN to feed (demand or scheduled?); I didn't know how long I was supposed to allow her to exist on my milk - what about baby food? When does that come in? When am I supposed to start considering it? What about her sleep schedule? Soothe her or let her "cry it out"? (When she spent the first hour or so on her first night in our room crying her poor lungs out and her daddy asking me if he should pick her up or leave her there, I literally found myself responding, "I don't know, I haven't read that chapter yet!")

And NOW, now that I finally feel I may be getting a handle on what's going on - she'll be a month old tomorrow. She's not a newborn anymore. Which means all of these things I've finally finished learning about newborns - not important anymore. She's growing - she has new wants and needs, new abilities. She'll be sleeping less (is her being awake now normal or does she HAVE to take another nap?) and eating less often (and I don't know how often that's supposed to be) - I just feel so out of the loop, shocked at how much of a loop there really is. What the heck is going on?

And why didn't anyone TELL me about all of this before NOW?!