On Frothing, Retribution, and Our Better Nature

MaryOliverThePoetCompares

I like to start each morning and end each day with a spot of wisdom or poetry. I cannot consume massive tomes to ruminate or meditate on all day or night long, so pieces like the poem above are perfect. They impart deep meaning or ask thoughtful questions that leave me appropriately pondering the stuff that matters–even when my answers fall short.

I posted the above poem on Instagram with the following caption: “When will we choose our better nature? Why are we so quick to do craziness, toss havoc, froth, and withhold?”

In the current cultural climate, these are apt questions. Yet, I cannot seem to find satisfactory answers. I am not innocent of these crimes against my better nature. I, too, froth. I, too, do craziness. I, too, have withheld and tossed havoc. I try to be gentle, but I also attempt, at least, not to mince words. What I say may not always be popular, but I genuinely work to use my words–written or spoken–to foster and spread love, kindness, hope, and faith.

Sometimes that means making unpopular appeals or saying the “wrong” thing. If it appears I am tossing havoc or trying to provoke, it may be true, but it comes from a desire to teach. If it seems I seek to “stir it up,” I do not do so in vain. I do it to teach, provoke thought, and appeal to our better nature.

So when I look around at our world and the chaos that has occurred among various populations in these recent months, I wonder. I wonder if the masses are capable of finding their better nature, or if they are so blinded by pain, fear, and hate that they cannot see clear to it.

When one of my children hits his brother, I don’t tell him to hit back.  Jesus of Nazareth specifically admonishes retributive behavior, instructing, rather, that when we are struck on one cheek, we should “turn the other.” If it isn’t appropriate for the disciples and isn’t something we teach our children to do, why then, do we think retribution is appropriate conflict resolution for twenty-first century adults?

It’s strange to see among a certain contingent of American Christians who espouse the virtues of God’s salvation, forgiveness, and grace–who claim to follow Christ with questions of WWJD, who shout about religious freedom even if it denies basic rights to others–a deep-seeded strain of angry rhetoric that overrides common decency and the Biblical commands of love and hospitality. It’s a constant refrain that President Obama is somehow unamerican or that all of Islam is in somehow extremist, terroristic, or incompatible with American values. Yet, if I’m being honest, I can’t think of anything less compatible with the idea of the American “melting-pot” than excluding people solely on the basis of their religious beliefs or ethnicity. We excoriate the horrors committed by those who excluded and then committed genocide against the Jewish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the disabled, and others in WWII, but refuse to acknowledge the genocides and exclusions committed in our own country against Native Americans, Africans, and even Japanese-Americans during the same time in history. Somehow that’s different. Our intentions were good. We had to protect the homeland. It was about national security.

But there’s a reason we don’t talk about these attitudes, behaviors, and injustices: it’s a national embarrassment. It’s a dark stain on our shared history. It’s a shameful memory of time we hope is long past. Textbooks are attempting to white-wash over these stains by leaving them out or painting them with rosier language. But the truth cannot be painted over. In 70 years, when we look back on the national sentiment in 2015, will we be proud or ashamed? If you are called one day before God to account for this time in your life, will your words, attitudes, and behaviors bring God joy or sorrow? 

I said during the gay marriage debate that if my greatest sin is that I loved and accepted too many, I feel comfortable standing before God with that track record. When I read the gospels, the biggest lesson I take away is the unparalleled love and compassion of Christ. Yes, he admonished sin, but he did not withhold mercy based on the worthiness of the person suffering. He helped the poor people of his own ethnic background as freely as he did the foreigner. He told his disciples to put down their swords when the authorities came to arrest and crucify him saying that his kingdom is not of this world.

We are so quick to point out the parts of the scriptures that agree with our worldview, even using it to exclude the other. We are slow to accept the literal words and overarching message of Christ: love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

If we’re going to brag about God’s grace, expounding on how freely it has been given to us even though we are “worthless sinners,” then we ought to at least extend that same grace to our fellow human beings whether we see them as “worthy” or not.

Would that we all would pay less attention to the worthiness of others, and more attention to climbing down to the level of “the least of these,” returning grace for grace. Not because it is popular, but because it is just.

If my legacy to my children is one of not just tolerance, but of genuine hospitality and acceptance, then that’s a legacy I can live with. If my faith and ministry is controversial for the wideness of its love and the scope of its mercy, it is one I am grateful to offer in service of God and my fellow human beings. If I can impart even a small percentage of the love of Christ, helping to bring this world a little closer to the kingdom of God, then I will feel I have served some purpose.

Whether you’re Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, Buddhist, Agnostic, American, European, African, Asian, Male, Female, Transgender, Intersex, Conservative, Liberal, Moderate, White, Black, Green, or Purple: I invite you. I love you. Join me, won’t you?

 

 

Is Your God Big Enough?

Buechner speaks to my soul

Be careful who you associate with (2 Cor 6:14). Don’t listen to your itching ears (2 Tim 4:3). Don’t be one who goes against sound doctrine (1 Tim 1:10, among others).

In a nutshell, be careful what you read, who you hang with, and how you approach new ideas. I’ve been warned of this by many a well-meaning brother and sister in Christ.

This mentality has always puzzled me. It has also frustrated and angered me when it is behind attempts to convince new or curious Christians that there is only one way to follow Christ.

Yet, as a parent, I think I understand the inclination–you would want to help protect your children, not just in body, but in mind and spirit. You want to shield them from evil in whatever form it takes. Children are impressionable and their time hanging with the “wrong” crowd can influence them just as much as the time they spend around the “right” crowd. It’s good to know what is going on and who they hang with. I get it.

On the other hand, if my child were already partaking in misadventures with the “wrong” crowd, I’d be thankful to find someone from the more well-behaved end of the spectrum taking an interest in him.

Building relationships with people from a diversity of experiences, both shared and different than our own, makes for a more well-rounded life and a kinder, gentler world. It develops an understanding that it’s okay for people’s experiences, worldviews, and religious beliefs to differ. This understanding helps us to relate others in an increasingly diverse and connected world.

To wit: If spending time around people with varied life experience is important, why wouldn’t I also spend time with people of varied spiritual perspectives? How does my faith grow and deepen if I remain cloistered in the company of like-minds unwilling to engage with others in our increasingly pluralistic world? The idea that one ought to fear new or out-of-the-box thinking is insidious in nature and, I’d argue, a cancer on the church today. It happens outside of religion, too. Challenging the status quo is a difficult, painful idea to put forth, particularly when the very notion that change might be better and necessary is met with derision from some or all sides.

Working toward understanding by getting to know different people, religions, and ideas is a good thing. Asking questions not just of others, but of ourselves and of God is a good thing. Introducing and challenging our faith communities with radical ideas that allow for a more inclusive, accepting, loving church is a good thing.

Where would we be without such challenges to the norm? Well, religiously speaking–we’d be without Christianity. We’d certainly be without Protestantism. We’d be without 41,000 denominations. We’d all be practicing some strange, perhaps paleolithic form of religion, or perhaps we’d have none. And, I have to tell you, without these “new thinkers,” what we think of as “traditional” Christianity and “family values” would not exist. These are ideas that are relatively young in the history of humankind.

In science, we’d still insist the world was flat. We’d be without medicines to heal ourselves, we may all be clustered on one continent. We might even be without language. Without challenging the status quo, women wouldn’t be able to vote; in fact, no one would. We’d stay mired in patriarchal, monarchical societies subject to the whims of powerful rulers who care not for the poor and suffering of society. There would be no America. Enslaving our fellow human beings would still very much be en vogue and we wouldn’t question it. Our world would be left with little semblance of the justice we are called to do, and we would walk around blindly adhering to these injustices (and yes, I realize that even as I type this, in some ways, we still are).

So perhaps instead of chastising the new thinkers and holding court on the same old doctrinal stances–rigid in our inability to accept that God is still speaking, terrified of even considering the idea that God didn’t STOP communicating with humankind after the final book of the Protestant Bible was written (2 Peter, between 120 and 150 AD)–we might engage these new ideas prayerfully and respectfully. We might consider for a moment that the God who created the folks who concocted our “traditional” doctrine is the same God who created those who are now thinking outside of that box. Perhaps instead of approaching church with an us vs. them exclusivity, we might invite everyone to participate fully in the relational process of knowing God and each other through dialogue and ever growing community.

And yes, I mean everyone. Let’s invite the homeless persons in our communities. Let’s invite in our LGBTQ friends and neighbors. Let’s welcome the marginalized people of other faiths and of no faith. Let’s invite in the doubters and questioners. Let’s invite in people whose races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds differ from our own. Let’s invite in those younger than us and those older than us and those just like us. Let’s welcome them all. Let’s display the hospitality we are called to display and let us do so joyfully, with thanksgiving in our hearts and openness in our minds. Let us embrace them fully in the same way we God embraces us. Let us listen and try to relate, accepting that we do not have all the answers, but that a Power greater than us does.

Finally, I ask: what are we so afraid of?

Is it our God who is not big enough for our questions, changes, and diversity, or is it really our doctrine that is too small to embrace people and ideas in the same radical vein of Christ?

Autism, Life, and the Fear of the Unknown

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My little superhero happily covered in sandtable sand

 

This month marks the fourth birthday of my little superhero, Weston. Since he was diagnosed with autism just over a year ago, the flood of emotions I experience daily has intensified. Let me just note that, prior to this, I would not have thought that possible, given that I am already an intensely sensitive person. I mean, have you SEEN the title of this blog? Where Weston is concerned a typical hour can see me ranging from excited to see progress, to sad about repetitive behaviors that are flaring up, to proud of some new accomplishment or word, and then either remarkably confident or dramatically worried for his future. All children on the spectrum are different. The internet meme I come across often lately is, “If you’ve met one child with autism… you’ve met one child with autism.” In my experience, that is quite true. The spectrum is wide and no two people are alike (this goes for everyone, of course, not just people on the spectrum).

Perhaps most worrisome of all is the dreaded “fear of the unknown.” While everyone has opinions, no one can tell me what Weston’s future may or may not hold (but who can say that about any child?). I sometimes sit and hold on to willfully blind hope that he will have an active and engaged social life exactly like everyone else (nevermind that no one is “like everyone else” is and that he comes from two parents who are quite seriously introverted). I assume his intelligence will lead him to excel in academics and that he will at least participate in athletics or some extracurricular activity. I dream that he will fall in love one day and get married. I hold onto hope that he will have children (forgetting that even neurotypical people often decide *not* to get married or have kids for a variety of reasons). He shows such promise that I just expect that these typical life events are not just possible, but likely for him, regardless of his current diagnosis. He’s a bright, loving, happy child who is intensely sensitive and has succeeded in leaps and bounds over the six months that he has been in school and receiving consistent therapies.

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Isaac being a goof on the slide

The fear of the unknown also seeps in where my youngest child is concerned. Isaac presents as more or less typical. At this point, I have no reason to believe that he will be otherwise. At almost 17 months, he says some words and babbles with seeming purpose, understands most of what we say, makes great eye contact, interacts with people, points to things in what seems like a social way (and to indicate he wants something), and–though he doesn’t wave frequently–blows kisses almost on demand.

Yet, despite the evidence to the contrary, there is still a huge, looming, dark cloud of fear hulking in the back of my mind. Every time he does anything that might be even slightly neurologically unique, I hold my breath waiting for the next shoe to drop. I know Weston’s developmental doctor in Germany meant well, but his statement that Isaac would be watched closely (because of the high incidence of ASD appearing in siblings) puts me a little “on edge” at every well-check and every time we are around kids the same age as him. I ask copious questions of the doctors Isaac sees. I watch carefully to make sure he is keeping up with the other kids developmentally. I enjoy spending time with my friends socially, but sometimes I probe for their observations to make sure I’m not missing anything with Isaac.

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Engaging with Isaac at the Museum of Discovery

Stories sweep through my mind about children who did not present with any autism “symptoms” until they were three, so I will probably worry up to and maybe even after he hits that mark. But, if I am being honest, I may not be that different from parents of neurotypical (“typical”) kids. Do I worry *more* now than I did before Weston was diagnosed? Well, yes. But I worried before, too, just a little less frequently and about different things. Did I wait breathless at every well-check before Weston was diagnosed? No, but I still breathed a sigh of relief at any doctor visit wherein good health was the verdict.

At the beginning of this journey, I was told that I would lose friends and maybe family because of Weston’s diagnosis. I was told there would be typical families who would steer clear of us because of behaviors or even merely because of the word “autism.” So far, I am thankful to report this has not been the case. I have found nothing but love, acceptance, and attempts to understand. Some of the bonds I have with family members have strengthened. No one treats my son badly or, to my knowledge, stays away from us because of his “diagnosis.” I have not lost any friends because of the autism–in fact, I have made many more both because of the autism and just because I try to be a friendly person.

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Weston and his daddy in a canoe at the Museum of Discovery

Some people tell me they don’t know how I manage. Well, I have a wonderful support system, a patient, loving husband, and Weston’s a great kid who is relatively happy and high-functioning. But really, you don’t know what you are capable of until you have no choice but to equip yourself. I say the same thing to people when they remark on how “strong” I am to battle lupus or fibromyalgia for 17+ years. When you have to do it, you find a way. You find the strength. There are moments when being the parent of a child with special needs is probably more stressful and challenging than being the parent of a child without similar needs, but I do not feel I deserve a badge of honor for it.

I follow many autism blogs and Facebook pages and sometimes I have to just hide them when it begins to feel like it’s “us” (autism or special needs parents) vs. “them” (typical parents). I do not think that attitude helps spread acceptance, understanding, or love–and, quite frankly, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. For some people, maybe that is helpful, and that’s fine. I say, in most areas of life, do what works for you and steer clear of what is not helpful. Stay away from things and people that are hurtful or harmful and look for the good. Look for the good in and for you, your family, and the world. Look at the positive impact you can make and make it. As the inimitable Maya Angelou famously said:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

Be The Change?

Changing the world one step at a time.

Changing the world one step at a time.

I should probably be writing for my class, but that will happen soon. I might also write my top 10 lists of films and television from last year that my friend, Jordan, is desperately awaiting. But that, too, can wait. A few thoughts have been rattling around in my head for about a week now, and I feel compelled to get them out.

Having subscribed to and read many autism and special needs articles, blogs, and social media pages over the past six months, I am struck by their similarities, but even more so by their differences. For the most part, this community of caregivers is abundantly generous with their time and advice. I have found this to be the case locally, nationally, and within the military special needs community. Not all advice will work for all situations because autism spectrum disorder and other special needs children are, like all human beings, unique individuals who cannot be crammed into a one-size-fits all treatment plan.

I have seen a great many caregivers use their words as a way to vent publicly about the struggles of raising a child with special needs. They spout off about everything from the day-to-day personal battles at home, to the ongoing battle with schools and therapists, to their struggles navigating various local, state and federal programs meant to “help” our special kids, to the heartbreaking public moments of judgement, comment, and perceived condemnation. On my own Facebook page this year, which is as private as I can make it, I have vented about our initial forays into the world of special education and working to get our son the services he needs to be his best self. To watch our own child struggle with daily activities and interactions that come so naturally to the majority of the human race is heartbreaking. To be met with brick walls at nearly every turn as we search for what’s best for Weston and while trying to meet the steepest of learning curves after getting his diagnosis has sapped my body of energy and all but drained my mind of its sanity. To feel the stares and hear the whispers of those who witness Weston’s difficulties during some public outings is stressful and mind-numbingly frustrating.

Naturally, I want to talk about the frustration. I need to vent about it. Anger sometimes reaches a boiling point as I trip over the various hurdles each day presents me (mixed metaphors much?). I wish I could change the hearts and minds of those who cannot and especially those who do not want to understand. I wish I could cut through all the bureaucratic red tape or take all the best doctors, teachers, and therapists and somehow clone them so that they can be available to all special kids no matter their geographical location or financial situation. I wish I could read Weston’s thoughts–or better yet, I wish he could tell me what he thinks and feels so that I could help him through it.

The fact is, however, I cannot do all of those things. I cannot snap my fingers and make these hurdles and brick walls disappear before my very eyes. I simply cannot. I am but one person; I am but one mom. The world can no more bend to my will than it can to any other human being’s. So what can I do?

I have given this considerable thought and, as I see it, the most important thing I can control is my own attitude and approach. I can control how I respond to brick walls and the injustices. I can choose to face those ignorant of ASD or of our situation with kindness and compassion. I can make the decision not to assume the worst of every person who stares or whispers while glancing in our direction. I can observe my son and respond to him lovingly, compassionately, and patiently. I can mindfully understand that he is struggling just as much to communicate with me as I am to help him. I can “kill ’em with kindness,” those bureaucrats, therapists, doctors, and others who seem unwilling or incapable of helping the way that we need or the way we want them to help. I can knock on doors, crawl through windows and duck under the really tall hurdles to get the answers to our questions and find the treatments my son needs and deserves. I can choose to never, ever give up hope on him, on those who are there to try to help us, or on myself.

I will fail sometimes. I will get angry. I will probably get a little snarky and a lot sarcastic when things are particularly trying. There will be really frustrating moments where I lose my patience with someone because, let’s face it, we all have our limits. We are all human. I know it is exceedingly difficult for any human being to be a beacon of sweetness and light at every moment of the day and in every harrowing situation. But I also know this: we are only about seven months into it, and if I move forward with a pessimistic outlook as we walk farther along this scary and ever unfolding journey, I will be of no help to anyone. I will not help myself. I will not help my husband or my youngest child. I will not help those who are genuinely trying to help us. And most importantly, I will not help Weston. That is something I cannot live with.

There’s a quote from Gandhi that has never resonated with me before as much as it does now:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Too often, I think we pull out a famous quote and fail to really ruminate on the meaning of the words. As I have battled lupus since the age of fifteen, I have faced horrors, especially as a teenager. I have gained friends, lost friends, and had people look at me with pity. I have been judged, insulted, and made to feel like my disability (if that’s what you want to call it) is not as real as others’ because it is not usually visible. Now Weston, my courageous, charismatic, intelligent, funny child, has an invisible disability that will make him see the world with a uniqueness that will challenge him at every turn. He will be judged. He will probably be insulted. And he will have people look upon him with pity. I cannot magically make these obstacles and heartaches disappear from his future. What I can do, however, is help instill in him (and in his brother) an optimism, an outlook that will allow him to face each day bravely with determination, joy, and hope. I can model for him the type of person I wish we could all be and hope that maybe, by example, my actions and my choices will make a difference. Maybe someone will see me or one of the boys handle some situation with a little more grace and compassion and face their next challenge with the same.

Maybe I can change the world simply by changing myself. Or perhaps that’s just a terribly narcissistic statement, I’m being horribly naive, and I should just shut up and go on about my day. Whatever the case, it’s a nice thought and one with which I will continue. I will attempt to “be the change.”

I know I will sometimes lose the battle. But as long as I keep moving forward and try harder next time, I cannot lose the war. (I realize that metaphor sounds terribly combative when I’m trying to be all sweetness and light, but I hope you get my meaning.)

Blessings to you all.

Time: So Little and So Much

I like time. There’s so little and so much of it.

– from “Angel”

My little family of three is less than three weeks away from becoming a family of four (and even more heavily testosterone laden). At moments during this pregnancy, it felt like these weeks would never arrive and now that they’re here, it seems as though they’ve come around quite suddenly. Pregnancy, like many things in life, feels at once blisteringly fast and painfully slow. I do not wish to wax poetic about the joys and struggles of carrying a child for nine months nor complain about the pleasures and stresses that come along with motherhood. I realize there are multiple perspectives and am fully aware that many do not get to experience these gifts.

As I sit here watching my son play, intermittently happy and then running to me upset when he becomes frustrated (which happens approximately every minute or so at two-and-a-half years of age), it occurs to me that time is an incredibly curious phenomenon. In many respects, it does seem as though it passes more rapidly as we age. It is true that a minute is a minute regardless of how old we get, and yet there’s a relativity to time that shifts dramatically in varying circumstances. Two minutes seem an eternity to a two year old stuck in a time out, but fly by for the student trying to squeeze a few more test answers before the professor announces, “Time’s up!” Waiting at a red light for sixty seconds is incredibly frustrating (especially when running late) and yet those same sixty seconds tick down ever so quickly to the football team desperately trying to score the winning goal at the end of the fourth quarter.

Time’s fleeting and seemingly bi-polar nature is something wholly out of our control. I suppose the moral of the story is to enjoy every moment of life and try not to worry about those things over which we have no control. My easily frustrated toddler who, at the moment, cannot get enough of Mama’s love and attention (especially at the most inopportune moments) will become a busy young boy soon enough and, let’s face it, I’ll miss these days and that “clingy-ness” that sometimes wears on a tired pregnant mother.

Yet another curious observation about time is how easily some seem to classify it as “wasted.” Priorities in life differ from one person to another. So, too, do our interests and hobbies. People occasionally deride those who spend their leisure time watching television or playing video games. Such time is clumsily classified as frivolous and wasted. It may be true in some cases. Some who enjoy nothing more than the “great-outdoors” find it “sad” that there are those of us who, for one reason or another, do not. Then there are those who enjoy spending their time with their nose in a book and laugh at those who stare “mindlessly” at the “idiot-box” for hours a day (I am a reader and would argue there are plenty of books out there that are doing absolutely nothing to contribute to one’s IQ or knowledge base).

Any number of comparisons can be made regarding what is and is not wasted time. This, I think, is a judgment that is largely relative and best left for each individual to evaluate alone. For my money, I agree with this sentiment:

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

-Marthe Troly-Curtin

I will leave you with one final thought from C.S. Lewis, as I seem to be turning to his wisdom with increasing frequency even when I do not, necessarily, agree:

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

– C.S. Lewis

Enjoy whatever time you have, however you choose to spend it.

Blessings!

Double Trouble

Greetings readers (however few of you there are)!

I know I promised to write more frequently, and I think I have, actually. Just not as frequently as I would like. Life has been busy in our little home. Between Aaron’s work and class, Weston’s busy-business, and my seminary classes and related activities (not to mention the fact that I’m growing a whole other person), we are full up!

The impetus for this particular blog is to announce that we’ve found out we’re having another boy! The ultrasound tech told us that there is absolutely NO doubt about it. Yes, double trouble is headed our way (or triple, if you count the husband… to return any sense of balance, we’ve got to get female pets, y’know, whenever we do get them).

I want to express my excitement at this turn of events. The ideal family is, in many minds, mother, father, son, and daughter–“one of each,” as they say. Aaron and I long ago determined that we probably “only” wanted two children (both of us were of the mind that, once they begin outnumbering you, you’re just begging for chaos). So we’re not going to have that “ideal” family in the sense of having both a son and a daughter. Funny thing is, I kept telling myself, I think we’re having a girl! Mostly because I thought I wanted a little girl. Sure, I liked the idea of having a “mini-me” and carrying on that strong female Cherokee heritage I’m so proud of. True, Aaron doesn’t get his “daddy’s girl.” And maybe my boys won’t be into watching the Disney films I’m most fond of (Hello, Sleeping Beauty).

I thought all of those things. And yet, immediately upon hearing, “That’s definitely a boy,” I felt a sense of relief. Yes, relief. Lifted is my annoyance with the idea of doing someone’s hair other than my own, gone are some of the teenaged-year concerns most associated with having daughters, and vanished is my trepidation at having to explain that unfortunate female “curse” to a severely bummed out daughter. While true that the trade-off is an insanely busy set of toddler years (boys are busy bees!) and a heightened sense of worry over their seeming lack of anything resembling sense or the slightest hint of fear when performing “death”-defying stunts, I have to be honest in saying that I am much more comfortable with the boy thing.

sI know what to do with boys. I was a tomboy growing up (I have since embraced both sides of my personality, however). The thought that I never have to have pink in my house is much more than just the slightest bit comforting (seriously, I need to blog about my hatred of the color pink, with the sole exceptions of the accents on my wedding dress and my WWBD t-shirt from a friend). No dresses, tutus, or complicated outfits. Boys wear pants, people, PANTS. They don’t care about their hair and they LOVE their mamas. I’m going to go ahead and call this a win for us.

Plus, I get to refer to my little family as “my boys” forever, which is something I am supremely excited about. Now, if my little brother could just have at least one daughter, that would be excellent. I’m going to have to do some praying about this because I NEED a niece. Then I can spoil the heck out of her, she’ll never get mad at me (because, let’s face it, I’m so clearly going to be the beloved “cool aunt”, like my Aunt Jen is to me), and I don’t have to deal daily with teenage girl hormones. Win-win 🙂

I have many friends with little girls and they’re super cute and I know their families love them to pieces. Kudos to those of you who have beautiful little ladies, raise them well 🙂 I have nothing against girls. But two boys for us? It is the right course for this mommy. When my family says they’ve always seen me with boys, I can understand that. I think I’ve always seen myself with sons as well. It just makes a perfect kind of sense.

So please pray for a continued healthy pregnancy and that little Isaac is as healthy as his big brother, Weston. So far, so good.

Blessings, all.

The Intimidation Proclamation

BooksAreIntimidating

Just a few of my seminary books this semester. Intimidated much?

Much of my time is spent in a persistent state of awe and intimidation. My husband’s computer brilliance, strength, and neat-freakyness are awesome and intimidate me. My son’s extreme cuteness and ease with people keeps me in a constant state of awe (and “Awwww!”) such that I often find myself marveling at his talents. The core three members of my family (mom, dad, brother) are so effortlessly cool and intelligent that I am, quite frankly, intimidated, feeling lame and geeky by comparison. I am awe-struck by the brilliance of and uniqueness by which many of my friends live, learn, and see the world. I often can’t believe how naturally motherhood and/or military life seems to come to my fellow moms and fellow military wives. My fellow pop-culture (and Whedon-y) obsessed folks are much brighter than I am with the heavy analysis and pick up on things so much faster than I do that I end up feeling pretty inarticulate and stoopid in the course of everyday Facebooking and Tweeting. I feel like everyone at seminary is much better equipped for this calling than I am and sometimes I ask God if he’s serious in calling me to this life. The ease with which most people exercise, play sports, run around with their kids, walk, write, sunbathe, and otherwise live their lives relatively healthily without a second thought toward how an action might affect their “chronic illness” is a source of constant intimidation and awe. The perfection of Jesus and the idea that I’m to “walk” with Him is an unrelentingly awesome and intimidating idea.

I am intimidated. I am in awe. Every. Single. Day.

All of that, taken together, makes it appear as though I live my life in a state of fear — a desperate feeling of inferiority — and is enough to make some never leave the house (it has contributed to my lupus-predictive, depressive bouts in the past). If I mentioned all of that to a psychiatrist, I might well be highly medicated. These sorts of feelings could surely cripple me and it might be perfectly understandable.

But it isn’t a negative; it is inspiring.

For me, all of that – every piece of it – is positive. This persistent awe and intimidation inspires me to be better, work harder, push further, and think deeper than I might do otherwise. That these people exhibit the best qualities that I want to see in myself doesn’t cripple me with envy and make me angry at them. It makes me try to be better.

I am reminded of a deceptively simple Dollhouse quote,

I try to be my best.

These words (and actions) are something programmed into the Actives, but it doesn’t make it any more genuine nor any less something to strive after. They really do try to be their best. And why not? Why shouldn’t we all try to be our best every day? What’s so wrong with that? When did we become so cynical and lazy that optimism and happily eager attitudes began to be looked at as negative? When did we become “too cool” to do our best? When did the inspiring qualities in others become something to refer to as intimidating? They’re *not* intimidating. They’re inspiring. By merely changing our phraseology, we can change our entire outlook. It is not easy, but it is possible.

I didn’t set out to write something else so shamefully optimistic, but there you have it.

What intimidates or strikes a feeling of awe in you?

I challenge you to turn that object, quality, or person into an inspiration and see where it takes you.

Supposed Former Disorganization Junkie

Another day, another blog post.

I’m searching my brain for something interesting to write. So far, all I’ve got is that I succeeded in cooking new dishes two nights in a row now. Lemon-herbed chicken yesterday and pork loin and sauerkraut in the crockpot today. Both were resounding successes, though I think I’ll put a little less seasoning than called for on the chicken next time I make it. I’m not entirely sure which meal I will be cooking up tomorrow. Last night I sat down and planned meals for the week, but did not decide which day would be which meal. Today’s commissary run was successful (if long, who knew they’d be so understaffed the day after a holiday?). I’ve always found it difficult to determine tomorrow’s meal the day before–how will I know what I’m “in the mood for” a whole 24+ hours in advance? Now, with a family to think about, I have forced myself to plan things out a little bit more so than in the past.

Speaking of planning and organization, throughout the spring/summer of 2011, I’d been periodically reading/referencing a book by Maria Menounos called, The Everygirl’s Guide to Life. I’d heard about it on some news show I was watching on its release day back during hubby’s BMT or tech school phases. You know, it was that time when I was doing the single-mom thing and trying to keep myself busy, while planning ahead for military life. I didn’t know much about Menounos before reading it other than seeing her everywhere on television shows interviewing people. She seemed busy and interested in what was going on with Hollywood, which is a much loved a preoccupation of mine (big-time film and TV geek that I am). So, I picked up here book and used it to find great ideas about organization that might help us as a military family (but really, they could help ANY family or person get it together).

I quickly realized during the whole “packing to PCS overseas process” that I was woefully disorganized. As a result, I’m making every effort to set up our new home in the most organized fashion possible. This brings me around to Menounos’ book and the need to revisit it. We are still buried under boxes here in our bedroom, hallway, and livingroom area. I’m desperately feeling the need to get rid of these boxes and get organized, but finding it difficult to really dive in because the task seems just *so* intimidatingly big. It would seem that revisiting her organization tips might help provide the necessary motivation and direction to get this place where I want it. The biggest problem area is the bedroom/closet issue. Getting that sorted out would make a world of difference, so I think that’s where I’ll begin tomorrow.

Another topic she discusses in her book regards being charitable and giving of one’s time to help out those less fortunate (in whatever way). We made an effort to contribute how we could to charities last year, but I think we could do better this year. My husband and I have discussed volunteering our time in various capacities, and I think that’s a real family goal of ours in the coming year. It’s always a challenge to work in time like that when you have a busy little toddler, but I’m sure we can squeeze it in. After all, what better example to set for children than to model charitable behaviors?

What ways have you gotten involved with helping those in need?