Monthly Archives: February 2010

This time I mean it . . .

I’m just writing to write.  Really.  Really really.  I would not be doing it except I really have committed to doing it every day.  Maybe I need a funny story.  What happened to all my funny stories?  What happened to all the coffee?  I’m a full-fledged addict now, I’ll have you know.  I neeeeed it.  Every morning and sometimes again later.  Now, it’s all about the dance between Ry and me to see which one of us can convince the other one to make it.  I’ve used my womanly ways.  I admit it.  I’m not above it.  And he’ll generally bribe me with childcare.  Like potty duty.

Speaking of potty duty . . . (not to be confused with potty dooty, though, you know, sometimes there’s not much difference.)  Ruthie is driving me batty with the whole potty thing.  I mean, sure, yeah yeah, I’ve earned it.  Because my first two were relatively easy.  The second one was super easy, taking it upon herself to master the skill when she was precisely 2.5.  Isaac took a bizarre and, at times, disgusting week to accomplish that milestone at 3.5.  And, true to her split-the-difference form, Ruthie’s coming into her potty mastery at the age of 3.  I hope she’ll be all done in the next two months, anyway.

Meanwhile . . . good grief!  Varying levels of commitment to say the least.  Really, yesterday it was more like she was just wearing cloth diapers instead of the super thick gotchies she had on.  She doesn’t pee all the way through them, but she pees in every one of them.  By the end of the day, she was just squealing, “Oo!  I peed in my diapah!” as she kicked her undies off her foot, watching it flip through the air.  Lovely, really.

But, all in all, as long as I take her to the bathroom like every 45 minutes, she’s OK.  Yes, I know that makes me the one who is “trained,” but it also makes me the one who, after nearly 8 years, is completely diaper free during the day.  Yes, it is every bit my milestone as Ruthie’s so I’m fine that I’m the one who’s trained.

So, there ya have it.  My funny story.  Except tonight it wasn’t funny.  Tonight we went to a community Lenten service, all five of us.  Ry was preaching and I was hanging out with the kids.  I took Ruthie to the restroom before the service began.  You know, to empty out and minimize the risk of wet drawers.  And then the child declared she had to use the bathroom at least 4 more times during the 40 minute service.  I kid you not.  But, you know, she’s at that stage . . . where sometimes she doesn’t truly take the time to empty her bladder, so she’s doing it in installments, or, possibly she’s got some other issues going on.  So, really, you feel like you must take her.  Even though most of you knows that she’s just discovered an ingenious way to get up and walk around for a while and use the really cool soap dispenser with a blinky light (who knew?!).  But still.  You go.  Because a big gross mess is at stake.

So, sadly I missed my husband’s second sermon for the day and I really think it was a good one.  Maybe he’ll read it to me later.  Or maybe we’ll collapse on the couch in a heap and split the rest of the bottle of Riesling.  Tough choice.

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Filed under being The Mommy, Family Life, milestones, Ruth, silliness

the longest Saturday . . .

possibly ever.

The problem is, I’m spoiled.

I mean, my husband works every day.  And by every day, I pretty much mean every day.  But it’s all spread out and more flexible than not.  But mostly, I’m spoiled because when he is home, he is home taking good care of me and the other three people we live with.  Yesterday he baked bread for us.  He takes toddlers to the potty, he cooks dinner, breakfast, and lunch–not every meal, but at least as often as I do if we were to get into a contest.  He does laundry, he does pick-up duty, he periodically finds and vacuums the dining room floor.  Other than that last one, he does everything I would do at home.  We share all this stuff, this day-to-day work.  I’m spoiled.  And grateful.

But today . . . today my being spoiled is biting me.  Today he left at 5 AM to drive 3 hours for a training event for chaplains.  And he won’t be home till 6.  And I was already worn out going into today.  And now all I want to do is whine.  Cuz I’m awl awone in the tasks of this day.  Boo-hoo.

While I whine, I realize that most if not all of my friends are thinking, “Welcome to the real world, Sistah!”  Where we moms and wives just do all the kid and house stuff all day every day all the time.  So, today, I feel for you ladies, I do.  You’re much stronger and braver than I.  Because I can’t do it.  At least not today.

And I refuse to blame the snow, so don’t even go there (you know who you are 😉 ) I blame the fact that we moms are not built to do this job in isolation.  We’re just not.  We’re supposed to have extended family, a whole community (don’t worry, I won’t say village, though I will think it), to help us through these days.  To hold the baby when she won’t stop crying and nursing won’t do the trick, to keep the kids while we escape into a much more manageable menial task like using a toothbrush to clean the bathtub, to make sure we eat dinner on the days when the children require constant attention from no one but mama, to keep the kids while mama takes the 3 mile trek to town to buy whatever she can dream up to need to buy (OK.  Here I’m picturing the trek to Walnut Grove.  I can’t help myself).  Whatever.  Whatever it is, a mom is supposed to have other people around her to help her with this monumental, relentless task.  She just is.

So, today I lament the loss of communal homemaking.

Or that’s just my fancy way of saying I miss my husband and I want him to come home so I can flee and have some time in solitude.

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Filed under being The Mommy, Family Life, homekeeping, my husband, SAHM

This is what I was supposed to write yesterday . . .

There’s no rhyme or reason to my posting.  There just isn’t.  This is the land where my brain just spills out.  I stick something in the heading and then just start blabbing.  That’s what happened yesterday.  I started with “I’m just writing for the sake of writing,” and that’s precisely what I started out doing.  I started typing because I had determined to write every day, and it was time to write.  Then all this stuff just came spilling out.  So then I’m left with, “Do I change the tile to reflect the content?”  And then I decide Nah.  It’s already there.

So, what I really wanted to write yesterday were these thoughts I’d had earlier in the day and wrote down in my notebook (that’s with a pencil.  On paper.):

Here I am, sitting on the lid of a toilet, being soothed by the sound of water running into my toddler’s bath, reading Karl Barth.  Precisely where all would-be scholars envision themselves in their grandest of dreams.

That’s more evidence of my struggle to balance getting a new job without cutting back at my old one.  Being a stay-at-home-mom while working throughout the week.  Ruthie was antsy.  Isaac and Hannah were playing outside, but she gets cold faster, so she came inside.  Then she wanted a bath to play in, so I said, Sure.  Then I packed up my Bible and my notebook and my commentary and schlepped them upstairs so I could read and write notes and sermonize while Ruthie poured cups of “Ahce Keem Tea” for me and her polar bear companion.

It’s a good life I’ve got.  I really like it.  It’s a little crazy.  But so am I.

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Writing just to write today . . .

Because I said I would.

My brain has been saturated with the horrible situation where this little girl was killed by her parents’ use of someone else’s guide to parenting.  Many of my imaginary friends are writing all kinds of good stuff about it, if you click on some of the blogs of my imaginary friends, you can see what I’m talking about.  But I don’t feel like I have the audience that needs to hear about it.  I’d be preaching to the choir.  But still, my mind has been wrestling with it.  I’ll tell you what it’s made me grateful for though:

My Reformed understanding of how God operates leaves me with this enormous comfort:  My children’s eternal fate does not rest in my measly, broken, misguided hands.  Nor does it lie in their ability to make a wise decision.  My children’s eternal fate rests in the hands of the One who made them, who loves them more than I ever could, who loved them so much he sent  his own Son to die for them.  Now that is what I call Good News! I’m crying just thinking about it as my firstborn and I have been butting heads (and butt heads) with one another for the last couple of weeks.  Apparently a new developmental phase is dawning and we’re experiencing some relational growing pains.  I thank God that Isaac’s entrance into the Kingdom is dependent on my ability neither to keep him on the straight-and-narrow, nor to convince him of wisdom found in the Gospel that he might make some sort of commitment to it.

It’s not.  Really.  For support of that assertion, see . . . oh, pretty much all of Scripture.  I’ll just give my favorite for a start:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; is is the gift of God–not the result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Whether or not my children come to faith is not my doing, it is God’s doing.  I can help him or hinder him, but I cannot thwart him, in either direction.

Now, as a Christian mother who loves her babies more than everything but the One who made them, my goal, my prayer, is to help God in his bringing my children to faith.  My comfort is that whether or not they arrive does not rest on my shoulders.  I teach them, I guide them, I hold them accountable to me and to their fellow humans. But their faith?  Their redemption?  Always and forever remains in the hands of the One who saves.

It is God’s job to hold my children accountable before himself.  Each of my children is an individual before God.  This might be the only context in which I will lift up individualism.  (Ironically enough, it might be the only context in which those against whom I argue do not sing the praises of individualism.)  My child stands before God on his own terms.  Should he be among the elect, he stands before God in Christ on his own two feet.  Again, my job is to make sure–at great risk to my own well being–I don’t cause them to stumble along the way.

I am Reformed and I am covenantal.  What does that mean?  This is where I step down from the Individualism Podium, and plop myself at the feet of God who, from the time of Abraham, dealt with a People.  A group of people.  Scripture assures me that the promise of the Gospel is for me and for my children.  Because God’s habit has been to deal in covenants with a people, including in those covenants, the children of the household, I have hope beyond hope, that my own children are included in God’s covenant of grace.  That they are, indeed, among his elect.  It is for this reason that when each one of them was 11 months old, I stood in the front of a congregation and handed each one over to their father whereupon he baptized them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  In claiming this promise on their behalf, I cannot help but assume that my child is among the elect, is indeed destined for salvation, until I have been proven otherwise.  And I cannot be proven otherwise until the coming of his Kingdom, when all things will be made known.

This fact.  This controversial little fact of theology, has an enormous impact on how I parent my children.  I see before me not simply wards of my household, under my authority until they reach some sort of (arbitrary) age of accountability at which point they stand before God on their own.  No.  I see before me Children of God.  Daughters and son of God, heirs to the promise, joint heirs with Christ.  My brother and sisters in Christ.  Not only that, as “the least of these,” the smallest, the weakest among us, I see before me Christ himself, commanding me to love him, commanding me to serve him, and warning of the gravity of my vocation along the way:  “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

Does this mean my children live a free-for-all?  Does this mean my children are never uncomfortable?  Are never told “No,” are allowed to run all over me?  Are they allowed to misbehave all the more so that grace can abound all the more?  By no means!  But it does mean that I take as my highest calling simply not getting in the way of God’s establishment of their faith.  My job is to make sure that I don’t send them running in the opposite direction of God so that he doesn’t have to spend their lifetime chasing them down.  It’s not that he can’t, it’s just that it would be a heck of a lot easier on them if he didn’t have to, if they could live their whole lives never in doubt of God’s love for them.

If I’m wandering around spouting all sorts of things about God and my faith in him–and you can be darn sure I am–I had better be representing him in a way that, first and foremost is faithful to who He is, and two, does not send them running away from him.  To do that I, for one, err on the side of his grace. After all, it was God’s grace that made a promise to Adam and Eve ten minutes after they screwed up the whole world that he would make things right.  It was God’s grace that led him to pick even one family out of the messy muck of early creation to rescue from a deluge.  It was God’s grace that extended a promise to that same man to never again wipe everyone out with a flood.  It was God’s grace, not his reward, that led him to pluck up a childless man of Ur and promise him a nation to bless all nations.  God’s grace pursued Israel in spite of their grumpies, their idolatries, their blasphemies.  It was God’s grace that sent his own Son to die because we should have so we wouldn’t have to.  And it is God’s grace that bestows on us–on me, on my children–the gift of faith, that instead of dying, we might rise with his Son to new and everlasting life!

This. This is the God I proclaim to my kids.  This is the God I attempt to proclaim to my kids, in word and deed, all day every day.  And by God’s grace, they will recognize him as someone to whom they long to flee, to whom they long to cling, for whom they long to live a holy and pleasing life.  Not out of obligation, not out of fear, but out of pure, unadulterated love for him who first loved them.

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Grace and Peace

I’m preaching on a passage from Philippians this week, should be 3:17-4:1 but I’m open to that changing once I dig in deeper.  When I was getting started, I was happy to remember I actually have a commentary on Philippians on my bedroom bookshelf.  Usually Ry has to bring commentaries home from the church.  But this one’s mine, all mine.  And I found this in it this morning and I thought I’d share.  It’s commentary on Philipians 1:2 (obviously I’m just getting started), which reads, simply, “Grace be with you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  What separates me from the great, big theologians of the world?  (among other things, of course) If I were writing a commentary, I’d probably pretty much pass right over verse two.  It just wouldn’t register.  But Karl Barth?  He says this:

The first thing of which it is appropriate for him to remind them, since it is also the last and the whole, is grace and peace. Grace: the merciful “Nevertheless!” with which God steps out from the mystery of his majesty and holiness and turns to address man, the ratio (the point) of his covenant with his fallen and lost creation.  Peace: the same merciful “Nevertheless!” with which God, in realization of this covenant, enters into the life and existence of man in order there (but “surpassing all understanding” 4:7!) to exercise his law and his power.  Both are from God our Father, in whom we have our distant home and feel the absence of it, and–indeed there is no other God!–from the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom our home comes to us (in whom we here and now already call God “our Father”) in order that we may come home.

I liked that.  So I thought I’d share it.  It comes from Karl Barth’s Epistle to the Philippians, 40th Anniversary Edition, from 2002, Westminster John Knox Press and is found on page 12.

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This is what I woke up to this morning . . .

Not a ton.  But a lovely, lovely start.

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SNOW!

YAY!!  Yes, yes, I know.  Some of my friends have had more than their fill of snow this year, as their region has been hammered by snow, far more than their public resources can handle.  Some of them hate snow.  Some of them live in places that don’t normally get snow, but have had plenty this year.  (For some, both of those last two sentences apply.)  As February draws into its final days, most everyone I know is desperate for winter to come to an end.

But not me.

I feel totally gypped this year.  We’ve had very little snow this year.  Sure, we had some in October and that’s always fun.  But really, it’s been very light on the snow this year.  Lots of dustings, but no blizzards, no twelve to twenty-four inches.  A measly four or five a couple times.  Meanwhile, so many of my friends have been having snow.  My Philly and Jersey friends have been flattened.  More snow than can possibly fit in the city or in all of Central Jersey.  Then, DC friends.  Far, far too much snow for that poor city.  And there’s even been snow for my friends in South Carolina.  Come ON!  And now.  And NOW!  I read the facebook status of my friend in Austin, Texas, and she’s getting snow??!!!  Not fair!  She doesn’t even want it!

All these storms, I continue to say, “Where’s my snow?  Why don’t I have any snow??!”  I am not prepared to deal with that.

And now.  Today.  This week.  Snow.  Glorious, wet, snowman building, snowball chucking, looks like chicken feathers falling from the sky. . . snow! And I couldn’t be more excited.  I can’t even get a clear word on how much we’re supposed to get.  It seems to be several storms going through over the course of the week, I’ve heard as much as 18 inches all told.  I’ll take it.  Sure, I’d love three feet.  But I’ll take it.

And when my beloved husband grumped about the snow this morning, I grumped right back.  “It’s February! It’s still winter!! I am allowed to have snow in February without anyone subjecting me to their whining.  You can start whining in March, even though winter’s not officially over until the end of March.  I’m being generous.  Let me have my snow!!!”

I might have gotten carried away there.  A bit.

But it’s snowing, and I’m drunk on excitement.  I can’t be held responsible for my actions.

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