Saturday, February 19, 2011

Packing up the Dreams God Planted

Ha! I couldn't resist a good Michael W. Smith lyric. I am indeed packing. Yes already. I only have 4 months til "Move Day" and we have a LARGE house full of STUFF! What's interesting is how much I'm giving away.

I come from a family of nearly diagnosable "hoarders". My father is certifiable. Not only does he hoard is own stuff on grounds of: it might be useful someday, I paid good money for it 20 years ago, what if I run out of ______ and need to use parts from this to fix it, hey it was on sale, and it was perfectly good still. You can imagine what a catastrophe my house was growing up. We had 2, two, sheds in our yard to hold all the junk we couldn't hold in our house. However, his hoarding doesn't stop there. He is also the last of his immediate and even mostly extended family. So he is now the designated hoarder of all of their stuff too. It may be true that you can't take it with you when you go, but you can certainly leave it to someone reliable who will put it in excellent cardboard boxes and keep it til Jesus comes back for it.

Why does this affect me? Two reasons: one, I'm related to him, so I have a hard time throwing anything away; two, he lives with us (til May 21st). So, I've been sorting, purging, dumping, giving and labeling. I'm proud to announce I have given away at least as much as I have kept which is a huge step for me. It's freeing to realize, if I don't love it enough to haul it to Madison, I don't love it. It's also freeing to realize that I can always buy another if I ever need it again.

I'm also employing a "Duggar" technique to my packing. I'm numbering every box, then on a likewise numbered index card, I'm listing the contents. That way, if between now and June, I need to read one of my 20 Stephen King books, I can easily find them.

What's been harder is sorting the books and clothes. I hold onto everything. I still have my college class notes. From. Every. Class. I'm just sure I'll need to see the number of vertebrae a sea otter has again at some point. I held onto them initially because, by George, they stood for a lot of work! A simply GPA on a transcript did not account for all the information I had systematically written down, taken in and regurgitated on countless tests. Later, I held on to them (and moved them to several different locales) because I intend on homeschooling. So they are a great resource, right? Maybe not. Maybe there's this little thing called the internet, and a big thing called a library where I can look up any info I happen to need. And most likely more accurate being that my college notes are now (ahem) over 10 years old. So, out with the notebooks.

Baby clothes have proven equally has difficult. I have 3 boys, and it has already been a blessing to keep clothes as hand-me-downs. I haven't had to buy hardly any clothes for any of boys. However, I do not want to move boxes and boxes of little boy clothes to Madison. So, I'm sorting. I'm purging what is not REALLY special, or in GREAT condition. And onesies don't count. I can buy a 10 pack at Walmart, so I give away, give away, give away. Pray for my purging~

However, in direct contrast to purging and packing, I went to the $5 bag sale at Salvation Army today. All the clothes that will fit in a bag for only $5! And guess what I found....SNOW PANTS!! I'm so excited! They are little big for Judah, but hey, he'll grow into them and have PLENTY of opportunity to wear them in the years to come. What a great find!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Becoming my Mother-In-Law; Or How the Master of the Universe taught me to Follow the Leader

So, I have a mother-in-law. I'm sure you figured that out by me being married. And for the most part, I don't necessarily want to emulate her. It's nothing personal; I don't want to emulate my own mother. If you know my background, that is no surprise, so let me say that I further do not want to emulate my Daddy or father-in-law, as great as they are. I really want to strive to only emulate Christ in my parenting (ironic, since He was never a parent, but you get the picture). There was plenty that my parents and my husband's parents did right: they loved me, they fed me, they clothed and educated me, they supported my dreams, set boundaries, took me to church. However, there was a lot left to be desired in their parenting approach as well. Let me explain.

I was born in 1981. Go ahead and laugh. I'm either "so young" or "so old" depending on which side of my facebook friends you are on. But those are the facts, ma'am. I'm an 80's baby. Which means, I was born into a very unique generation. We were essentially the first (of a long line) of babies raised by proxy. I was a daycare baby and my family was duel-income. Women's lib had won one for the team, though I feel like the only thing they really got liberated from was their kids. It was definitely a "ME" generation: Have babies to feel good about yourself, then stick them in daycare so you can go back to your career climbing to feel good about yourself. And there was born the daycare-latchkey generation. And really, that set the pace for women for the last 30 years because now, you nearly can't afford to NOT be duel income. There's very little choice left. The cost of living has sky-rocketed and now women who long to be home, have to go to work. So, I have very distinct memories of daycare (good and terrible) and very few memories of home.

The 80's are also the "Self-Esteem" era. Our precious self views had to be protected at all costs. There was very little reprimand that addressed the person cause we might injure the psyche. So, I grew up being told constantly that I was wonderful, smart, beautiful and a treasure. Don't get me wrong. I tell my kids all the same stuff. But I don't cushion the blow when they have reveal their selfish ugly inner self and we have to deal with it. We keep a sharp perspective on their depravity and the fact that they can't clean themselves up or will themselves better. They need Jesus. But my parents both grew up in a Self-Righteousness Gospel background where you earn your way up, and God is lucky to have you on His team.

However, my mother-in-law was different. She was a nurse, but she worked nights and was at home during the day. And she had two "sets" of kids about 10 years apart. So my husband was never in daycare. Either his mom was there or he was working on the farm with his dad or his older brother and sister were there. And whatever might have come later, my mother-in-law was an excellent disciplinarian. Not only did she make them toe the line, but she was creative. One time my brother-in-law flipped her off, so she duct-taped his hands (both of them) to where the middle finger was the only one he could use for a whole day. I don't think my brother-in-law has ever given the bird again. Another time my husband and his little sister were fighting, so she duct-taped them together (she liked duct tape) and they had to learn to get along before they could be apart. Believe me, I'm taking notes!

But I think one my husbands most distinct memories is of watching Saturday morning cartoons, and his mother "ruining" them for him. He LOVED He-man! Loved Him. Had the Grayskull castle and all the action figures. When it came on, he and Michael (older brother) would race to the TV and chant the theme. "By the Power of Grayskull...He-man, and the Master of the Universe" And every time, without fail, his mother would holler from the kitchen, "Jonnie, who's the real Master of the Universe?" Jonathan would roll his little eyes and yell, "God, mom!" in an annoyed tone of voice.

I cannot tell you how many times we have laughed about that over the years. It's an inside joke for us and we have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then Jonathan found the Full Gospel and became a church planter. Part of having our eyes opened to the depth of our depravity and the greater depth of the Father's Love for us, by no merit of our own, is that the Bible has changed. It's not a bunch of individual stories that lead up to or away from a defining moment of Jesus. Every story is Jesus. Every story is the Redemption story. And not just in the Bible. Every story everywhere tells the Gospel. There is always a protagonist, an antagonist and something gone terribly awry that must be set right. It has made Bible reading way more fun, but it has also caused us to find whispers of Jesus everywhere. And our kids books, stories and movies are not exempt from this.

So, last night I was tucking my boys into bed, kissing, praying, and singing. The lights were out, final good-nights said, and I go back to my room. They of course were not asleep, but talking and singing still. Currently my boys are obsessed with Peter Pan. They discovered Hook and can't get enough. So they are signing, "We're Following the Leader, the leader, the leader, we're following the leader wherever he may go," from the Disney movie. At the top of their lungs. Non-stop. For Five Minutes. I finally went in there and called time. Judah says, "But mom! We're just singing Peter Pan Song: Following the Leader!" I told him, "I know, but it's time to go to sleep now. Besides, who is our real leader?" Judah and Gideon know this cue by now and say, "Jesus!" I said, "That's right, and we will follow Him wherever He may go! Goodnight!"

Then I turned around and laughed out-loud that I had turned into my mother-in-law. She may not have had all the theology books to back it up, but she knew how to Gospel her kids and protect them from false doctrine in TV shows. Bravo Mom!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Jonathan and I were standing in the kitchen the other night talking about selling our house. We are selling our house because we are moving in 4 months (4 months!!! Oh my goodness!) to Madison Wisconsin to plant a church. Now, if we'd known we were going to be church planters, we wouldn't have...well, we wouldn't have a lot of things: quit our job before raising support, bought a project house to only keep for 3 years, gotten so attached to this place! But alas, God uses the ordinary lives of his ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary purposes, and here we are.

So, back on track, we're chatting house presentation: let's paint the kitchen, but not worry about the bathroom; we should level the house, but not replace that terrible chandelier in the entryway, etc. We bought this house for its potential, potential that we will not realize fully before we sell it to someone else. I was glancing at the living room, thinking how lovely it will look when someone knocks out that extra wall, puts in an island, makes it into one large "multi-purpose" room and it hit me: WE ARE INSANE!!!

We own a home. We have friends. We have TWO life groups that we like. Our kids have friends. We like Judah's school. We have dreams for our house. Jonathan likes his job. I like staying home. We have struggled and striven to get where we are: the middle of the "American Dream" and now we are chucking it all to move to Madison Wisconsin and try to tell some people about Jesus. Ha! That's crazy talk! .

I laughed and told Jonathan we are crazy. He said, "Yes Ma'am. This is definitely for love of the Gospel. This makes no sense by earthly standards and we are going to get hit by the people who love us the most who are afraid that we are losing our minds or being reckless. We have to be all in!" I'm reminded of a (semi-cheesy) Steven Curtis Chapman song (I'm nearly always reminded of a song):

We will abandon it all
For the sake of the Call
No other reason at all
But the sake of the Call
Wholly devoted to live and to die
For the sake of the Call

The fact that I wrote that entirely from memory should be a good indication of how that has been impressed upon my brain.

So here we go: Burn the Ships!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lessons Learned in the Snow

So, we have snow here in Temple Texas. I know that shouldn't be headline news, but when "snow" and "Texas" come in the same sentence, it usually is. And I feel like God is giving us a little preview, "warming us up" if you'll allow the completely inappropriate use of that saying. And in the process, I have learned some very valuable lessons from these snow days.

1. Mittens prefer the single life. No matter how well you pack them away in pairs, they get divorced in the summer and one of them wanders away. So, in the flurry of getting everybody bundled up to go play in the one and only snow of the year, somebody ends up with mismatched mitten hands. Luckily Gideon didn't mind having one black and one blue mitten as long as he got to make snowballs and a snow man.

2. Mom should always put on her gloves LAST! Trying to zip zippers, tie ties, button buttons, evenly distribute tiny fingers inside of tiny gloves and buckle shoes on with gloves on is nearly impossible and will most likely result in some of your glove getting zipped into their coat. Much better to just wait until you are walking out the door to don your own hand warmers.

3. Those cute crocheted or knitted cotton mittens are only cute inside the house. Outside, in the snow, they morph from "mittens" into "moisture catchers". They are also magnetic to snow, where they accumulate it en mass and your hand actually becomes a snowball. They are slightly warmer than barehands in the snow, but perhaps less helpful than say, socks pulled over your hands. Thank heavens next year we will be in a place with a larger selection of water-proof hand coverings

4. Snow Play is a 1:3 ratio for energy output. Don't give in to cabin fever. Release the hounds to play in the snow. One hour of snow play in the back yard or driveway building a very sad, pathetic snowman, no taller than Gideon, was the same as spending 3 hours at a park or playground. Once we returned to the warm indoors all of my kids (and my husband) passed out on couches and had a good nap. As long as you are bundled up well enough, snow play is aerobic!

5. Stock up on Coffee Supplies!! This is an important one that goes overlooked I fear. Everyone knows to stock up on food and milk. But we often overlook the very necessary staple of caffeine for snow days. And remember that each child you have present will increase the amount of coffee needed exponentially. So, don't forget the beans, cream and honey before the next snowflake falls!

6. There's no shame in Movie Madness Day! When the weather is blustery and the natives get restless, there's nothing like some Peter Pan or Larry Boy to bring the energy down a notch and keep the house livable! I try not to plug my children in, but once I got tired of bundling them up only to take it all off for a bathroom break, I called upon the awesome power of Larry Boy and his super suction ears!

7. The beauty of my small children experiencing the wonder and magic of God's beauty takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes. EVERY TIME.

And of course, as I type this, it's mostly melted and we're back to soggy, Texas winter. But this day has been a blessing and a much needed rest for my over-worked Kindergartner and my overworked husband. Thank you God for snow!