August 21, 2008

Peace

I don’t know what’s going to happen today.  Duh.  But I’m unexpectedly at peace right now, inside. 

The scripture that came to my mind was from Philippians 4:6 and 7:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. 

That’s beautiful!  And it’s true for me today.  And hopefully tomorrow, as well.

A friend from college found my blog.  He sent me a note and part of it read “…Keep in mind that God is currently behind the scenes putting things back together better than they were before you entered this mess.  Remember Jeremiah 29:11.” 

See, I love that verse.  I love the promise that God knows the plans that he has for me, plans to give me a hope and a future.  And when you read the verse in context, it’s all about how the nation of Israel is going into exile, but encouraging them to have hope because God has planned a beautiful future for them. 

Hello, I can relate to going into exile (even though I don’t know what will happen today).  And I can embrace the promise of God to give me hope and a future.

Last night I was putting Wild Thing to bed, and was snuggling him.  Something that I said made him giggle, and he repeated it and started laughing.  We laughed and laughed together, with him snuggled into my shoulder, my forehead nestled against his warm neck.  It wasn’t planned or anticipated, but it was a very sweet moment with my son.  When I put Ladybug to bed I held her, and looked into her eyes, and told her how much I love her and that I will always love her.  I was solemn.  She giggled and replied, “Oh, I had a very quiet burp.”  Some moments just don’t work out.  Some do.  These are my children, and I love them, giggles, burps, and all. 

I was reminded today through this post of how much God loves us as his children, and that “the heart of a mother reflects the heart of God.”  I believe it’s even more than that.  I believe that God loves me and delights in me even more than I love and delight in my children.  Unfathomable, but true.  But the best way for me to understand how much he loves me, is by understanding my own depths of love for my children. 

I would do anything for them.  And God has done everything for me.  No matter what my future holds, my future in Christ is assured. 

August 19, 2008

Being together

Wild Thing has “graduated” from his highchair. He has his own chair at the table now, just like his sister. He fed himself breakfast and dinner yesterday, and ate all his oatmeal from his chair this morning. He talks. He makes his wishes known (“atch ’ooie, see Meemo fish”). I sneezed and he said “Bess do, bear.” (Everything is “bear” right now. “Sorry, bear.” “Hi, bear.” “Beeg bite, bear.”) He sings. He can follow directions. He swings in a “big kid” swing. And he says words that Ladybug never said at this age, such as “mine” and “my turn” and “NOW!!”

I can’t figure out when he changed from a homely little blueberry (yes, I said homely – he wasn’t a cute infant. I loved him, but he wasn’t a very cute or pretty infant. And he was really bruised when he was born, and bore the nickname “Blueberry” for a while) into the adorable, smart, busy little boy that he is today. Somehow, in the middle of all the circumstances that have been so all-consuming for me, he’s been growing up and getting bigger.

It seems a little bit wrong that while my life is seemingly at a standstill and my future is a vast empty space, his life has gone on. And it’s good – when I think about it sensibly, I know that I wouldn’t want Wild Thing or Ladybug to stop or regress or be delayed in any way. But at an emotional level, it’s gone by without me. Yes, I have been HERE. Yes, I have been present. And I have even been aware of it. Obviously I’ve dressed him in bigger clothes and helped him learn to walk and taught him words and intervened when the “NOW!” and the “MINE!” were conflicting with the shouts of “NO!!” from his sister.

But I want my life to go on, along with theirs. I want to get out of suspension mode, and continue with them. I want to be able to make plans for my sister’s 30th birthday. I want to create an amazing a Thanksgiving menu for my family. I want to decorate Christmas cookies with my daughter. I want to celebrate the new year with my husband. I want to live with them, and live fully with them.

It’s just hard. And I feel the clock counting down to Thursday at 3 o’clock. And I don’t want to leave them. For any length of time. Ever.

August 17, 2008

To Love, Honor, and Cherish

My husband and I are celebrating the seventh anniversary of our marriage this week. Seven years!

Every anniversary I listen to the recording of our wedding ceremony. We were married in the church my dad pastored for 30 years. My dad did the ceremony, so it’s mostly his voice on the recording. You can kind of hear my voice replying “I will” and “I do” and you can definitely hear my husband’s voice as he responds with his “I dos” and “I wills.”

The vows always make me think. We went with traditional vows. There was something special to me about repeating the same words that others have said for generations. I love the solemnity of the vows, and the covenant we made together, before God and before family and friends, is something that we both hold sacred. We made a commitment to love, honor, and cherish one another. To be faithful to the other as long as we both shall live. To live together through better or worse, sickness and health.

When I think about those vows, and now looking back over our marriage, I think the most difficult promise to keep has been our commitment to love, honor, and cherish. It’s the “squishy” part of the vows. Staying faithful is pretty clear cut. Remaining committed to the person through better or worse, sickness and health is easy to understand (not always easy to do, but easy to understand). But learning how to love someone, honoring them every day, and cherishing a person through those easy and hard, sick and healthy times, isn’t so easy.

We’ve talked, my husband and I, about what it means to love. What it means to show love, express love, in a such a way that it resonates with the other person. It has been an ongoing conversation for us over the years, as we have both changed as people and as our life together has changed. There are things that he has done for me, and I for him, over the years that were expressions of love and affection, but it doesn’t really “work” because it doesn’t mean “love” to the other person.

For instance, I don’t like florist flowers. And grocery store flowers are, in my book, the worst. I would much rather have my husband show his affection toward me by cutting a couple roses from the bushes in our garden, and bringing them to me. I’ve shared this with him on several occasions. He didn’t understand it for the longest time. He thought it was too easy, that it was some kind of Jedi mind trick I was trying to pull on him. Until one day he did it. I was delighted. He’s done it consistently for me ever since, and I am always thrilled to have the fresh flowers in the house.

He has, since then, asked me for a list of things to do that will help him show his love toward me in a way that I understand. But I don’t think love, let alone marriage, can be reduced down to a list. It is far too complex and nuanced to rely on a list of do’s and don’ts. And our preferences, expectations, and likes and dislikes change too much as people (and as women!) for a list to stay current. But if I were to make such a list, here’s what it would say:

1. Love first. Not only be the first to express love, but let love be your first response in every situation.

2. Love more. When you think you can’t love more, do. When you think you can’t keep going, take another step. When you think the other person doesn’t care, show how much you care.

3. Love consistently. Show love, and be loving, every day.

I’m fairly certain that if we both keep these three things in mind, our marriage will not only last for another 60 years, but will also flourish.

August 14, 2008

Bits and Pieces

I was going to write a lighthearted something about summer, and even share some pictures. Then I woke up this morning, hemorrhaging. Badly. Spent 4 hours in the emergency room. Got IVs and ultrasounds. Turns out that there was some “product of conception” that was overlooked when they vacuumed out my uterus last weekend. (It was a BABY, people, IT WAS A BABY!) Got some drugs that are supposed to make everything better. The side effects include cramping, nausea, and vomiting. Get this. The little paper that comes with the prescription says: If these symptoms are bothersome, check with your doctor. “Bothersome”? “IF”??? You mean most people don’t find those things to be “bothersome”?

My cousin said to me a couple months ago, “Mercy, you know, it’s ok to say ‘My life sucks and I hate everything about it.’” I guess I’m feeling a little bit like that today. Except I can’t really say that I hate everything about it. I’m too pragmatic. Even when I’m emotional. I keep thinking that there ARE things that are good about my life. Ladybug. Wild Thing. My husband. My family and friends. My God. I don’t really hate everything about it. Just, well, a lot of the stuff.

I used to be a fan of crying in the shower, but it felt so self-indulgent today. That, and I am conscious of the fact that my parents don’t have unlimited hot water, like we did at our old place, and crying in the shower and having the water go cold on you is just adding insult to injury.

You know what I really hate? I hate it when Christians aren’t real about the struggles they go through. I hate when you get the pat answer, the “God’s grace has really sustained us” answer that doesn’t really reveal anything that’s going on. What about the anger that I feel? What about the questions of “WHERE ARE YOU GOD, IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL THIS?” What about dealing with the emotions, every day? What about working through shame and guilt and feelings of inadequacy?

I thought I could do it. I thought I could be all poised and assured and full of faith and oh-so-Christian about all this. I thought I could deal with everything with a calm assurance, be hopeful, respond in faith, you know, talk myself through it, remain positive.

But I’m just not that strong. I’m human. As evidenced not only by my human form, and my very human mistakes, but also by my human emotions. I love in Psalm 103 where it says in verses 13 and 14, “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are, he remembers that we are only dust.” Every now and then I bring that to God’s attention: Remember, Jesus, I’m only dust. This stuff is pretty hard for me to deal with. I need your breath of life in me to keep me alive, to keep me from crumbling.

My dear, sweet husband said to me the other day, as we were waiting in the hospital before the medical procedure, he said that this is the worst we’ll go through together. He wasn’t talking about just losing our baby, he was referring to the sum of our circumstances. He reasoned that this was probably the most difficult season of life we would go through, and it would give us a good reference point for the future, that if we think things are tough THEN, all we have to do is look back to NOW and realize that things, by comparison, aren’t quite so bad. I don’t know if that’s encouraging for the future or discouraging for the present.

I’m glad I pulled up Psalm 103 on my computer. The whole psalm is so lovely and inspiring. “Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” “He crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things.” I’m certainly glad that I don’t hate everything about my life. What a slap in the face that would be to God! You know, I think he could handle it though. After all, he understands that I’m just dirt, and as such am weak, fragile and vulnerable and prone to human emotions.

I’m not a big advocate of questioning God. I believe that he is sovereign and knows the beginning from the end. But I am grateful that I serve a God that isn’t going to squash me because I question him. Who isn’t going to disown me when I admit that I don’t have the faith to get through something and I really need his help. I love it when Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” I love that. I love it that God, whose very nature is goodness and mercy and kindness and compassion and love and commitment toward me, will always be true to his nature, no matter how much my faith falters. That verse has come back to me again and again these last months. Yes, if I disown God, then he will disown me too. But if my faith falters in my human dusty-ness, he isn’t going to be faithless toward me, because he can’t deny who he is by nature.

I will never disown him. No matter how difficult or how hard it is for me to understand or how sad and discouraged and disheartened I am by life’s circumstances and consequences. But I do have to admit that there are moments, hours, sometimes days, when my faith falters. When I can’t see the Master’s plan because of how clouded my perspective is, how limited my perspective is, how tied I am to my emotions and can’t see beyond them. And yes, I’d like to say, breezily and without a care, that the grace of God sustains me. And it’s true, it does. Boiled down to its very essence, I am sustained by the grace and kindness and new-every-morning mercies of God. But the experience is more than that. It’s more real, it is more raw. It is more human. And it’s grittier and dirtier than I thought it would be.

August 13, 2008

Oh my -- YUM!!


This is the reason that I still can’t fit into my Vera Wang size 2 wedding dress. Not the fact that I’ve birthed 2 children. The fact that I love food, good food, and love making it for my family.

Cherry Almond Cake

Streusel Topping

  • ¾ cup flour (I always use unbleached, all-purpose)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (5 oz) almond paste (I use Solo or Odense) (reserve remaining amount for cake)
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cold

Cake

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-3 ounces remaining almond paste (depends on what brand you buy, Solo comes in 8-oz cans, Odense in 7-oz tubes)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 2/3 cups sour cream

Filling

  • 21-ounce can cherry pie filling

Glaze

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1-3 tablespoons milk or cream
  • Toasted sliced almonds (optional)

To Prepare the Streusel Topping

Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Crumble in the almond paste, and add the almond extract. Work in the cold butter until the mixture becomes crumbly. Set aside.

To Prepare the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch pan. Beat together the butter, sugar, almond paste, salt, baking powder, and almond extract until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, about 30 seconds. Add the flour in thirds, alternately with the sour cream, blending well after each addition and scraping down the bowl, about 30 seconds. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Top with the cherry pie filling, and then the streusel mixture. Bake the cake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, with a few moist crumbs attached. While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract, and just enough of the milk or cream to make a pourable glaze. Drizzle it over the still-hot cake. Garnish with toasted sliced almonds, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 12 generous pieces.


August 12, 2008

Cleaning off my desk / Pilates

I have a big stack of CDs on my desk.  I don’t know what they are, so I get to stick them into my computer, one by one, to find out. 

WOW!

Here’s what I’ve found:

-          A backup of our financial software, from 2004

-          About 2 dozen CDs with unspecified music on them.  Probably belonging to the Man of the House, since I don’t recognize any of the music, other than as something vaguely reminiscent of things that he has on his iPod

-          My Winsor Pilates 20-Minute Workout DVD. Now THIS is something to celebrate!

I’ve been wanting to exercise.  Because carrying a 28-pound child up and down stairs, and running around the yard chasing my children all day just isn’t doing it for me.  I don’t know WHY.  Maybe it’s because I’m eating animal cookies and cake while I do so.  But still.  To be a little more toned would be great, right? And I’ve read really good things about Pilates.  Unfortunately, my entire experience with Pilates consists of reading, and I’m just not seeing the benefit.  Go figure.

 

 

So I tried the Pilates video.  I’m using “tried” in its loosest sense.  I put Ladybug down for her nap, and then Wild Thing and I popped in the DVD. 

I got down on my mat (that I’ve had for 3 years, and only used once—today) and discovered that I don’t have a powerhouse (apparently most people have a band of muscle around their middle, their belly button is the center of it).  And Wild Thing thought it was the perfect opportunity (with me down on the floor) to pull up my shirt and blow on my stomach (where my powerhouse should be).  Slobbery, flabby belly aside, I think I’m supposed to have muscles there.  But I couldn’t really tell, because I kept losing my concentration.  Something about having dolls and balls and toy dishes bonking on my head really messed me up.  And when I stuck my legs in the air and wrapped my arms around them, a 28-pound little boy came hurtling toward me and knocked me on my side.  I don’t think my powerhouse is supposed to let that happen.

Considering the interference from my son, I’m proud that I watched/tried the DVD – all 20 minutes of it.  Of course, other than having bodies that have obviously never borne children, and wearing ugly green outfits (who picked those out, anyway, and why that color green??) the women and the token man on the video are quite inspirational.  In a “we-do-this-all-the-time-and-have-the-bodies-to-prove-it-and-don’t-waste-our-time-doing-laundry-or-caring-for-children-and-I-always-smile-this-serene-smile-as-I-show-off-my-powerhouse-and-pretend-that-I’m-not-dying-of-pain-or-bored-out-of-my-mind” kind of way.  After all, we all have to start somewhere, and at least putting the DVD into the player and turning it on is something.  Right? My clothes will fit looser tomorrow, right?  And since I exercised, I deserve to eat that pint of Cherry Garcia.  I need to keep up my strength for later, when I chase my children around the yard again.

Oh look! It’s nap time for Wild Thing.  Time flies when you’re exercising and having fun aimlessly wasting time.

 

 

August 11, 2008

Sentencing Hearing, Take Five...

Yes, it was continued, again.  Ten days from now, to August 21.

Despite the fact that I’m living my life in 10-day increments, I’m ok with this.  I have more time with my family (as if any of us are guaranteed time with our families, but you know what I mean), and I get more time to pray about it.  What’s not to love?

Oh sure, the living my life in 10-day increments.  Yeah, that part’s a bummer.  I’m a planner, and as a planner I love to (duh) make plans… and it’s hard not being able to plan any farther than 10 days at a time.  But I can learn to live with that too, at least for a time.

I’ve come to the realization, or maybe it’s more than a realization, maybe it’s an assurance, that this entire process is out of my control, and though it feels like it’s out of control completely, I understand that it’s under God’s control.  There’s something very calming and peaceful in my heart that comes from that. 

So, for the next 10 days, I’ll enjoy the time with my babies, celebrate my 7th wedding anniversary, get together with friends, and continue to keep my hope in God. 

Why so downcast O my soul? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Hopefully I’ll be able to share some fun kid stories, maybe a couple pictures, and stay away from all this heavy stuff for a while!

 

August 10, 2008

My Redeemer Lives

This isn’t how I wanted to spend the weekend.  I didn’t want to spend 6 hours in the hospital yesterday.  I didn’t want doctors telling me not to lift my children.  I don’t want to feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.  I don’t want to contemplate tomorrow’s activities.  I don’t want to remember that we lost our baby. 

But we don’t get everything that we want.  Otherwise I’d never do laundry again and always get to take a nap when I felt like it. 

Last night I couldn’t sleep.  I kept thinking about the old song My Redeemer Lives.  Some may remember it:

My Redeemer lives, and I will see his glory as he works all things together for my good. Whatever things occur, of this I can be sure: I know my Redeemer lives. 

That song, and the one that goes

I will bless the Lord forever. I will trust him at all times. He has delivered me from all fear. He has set my feet upon a rock. And I will not be moved. And I’ll say of the Lord You are my Shield, my Strength, my Fortress, Deliverer, my Shelter, Strong Tower, my very present help in time of need.

Finally I quietly turned on the light and opened my Bible to Jeremiah.  My eyes fell on this verse:

I am the Sovereign Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27)

So simple, so true. 

Yes, there are lots of things about my life that I can be unhappy and fearful about.  Like I said to my husband yesterday, my life sucks right now.  But God never guaranteed us a perfect life.  He never said that everything would go well. He promised to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death.  He promised to always be with us and comfort us.  But he never said that we wouldn’t have problems, or grief, or sorrow and loss. 

My Redeemer DOES live.  And he is the Sovereign Lord, the God of all mankind.  There is nothing too hard for him.  Not the loss of a baby. Not the sentencing hearing tomorrow.  Not the rest of my life.  I can be confident of that, and take comfort in that. 

August 8, 2008

The Baby That Was

I had an appointment for an ultrasound today to hear the baby’s heartbeat and see tiny arms waving and tiny legs kicking.  There was none.  No heartbeat, no tiny hands waving to us, no tiny feet kicking out a rhythm.   Without having the chance to say hello or goodbye, our Baby Solace has gone home to be with our Father in heaven. 

August 6, 2008

Reach Out

I’ve been really touched by many of the comments and emails that you’ve shared with me. It’s been a balm to me, soothing and calming. Amid all the criticism and judgment and hatefulness, to be accepted by strangers – well, it’s amazing.

And I’ve realized how unhealthy it is for me to be so isolated. I’ve realized how distant we have become from our friends. I haven’t even really given them the opportunity to be friendly, we’ve just withdrawn.

So, I got back in touch with a couple that my husband and I are really close to. This is one of those couples that we both instantly connected with. You know how complex it is to form couple friendships. You both have to like both people, and the feelings have to be reciprocated. It’s complex, I tell ya! And in our quest to find friends that we can hang out with as a couple, we’ve met all kinds of people. There was the couple that bickered with each other the whole time. There’s the couple that can’t make conversation—at all, of any kind. There was the couple that only talked about Dungeons and Dragons. There was the couple whose wife flirted (heavily!) with my husband – in front of me! There was the couple who wanted to psychoanalyze us (he was studying to be a psychiatrist). There was the couple that I caught going through our bathroom cabinet (nothing juicy to find there – all the good stuff is in the nightstand). I could go on. The hardest was the couple that disappeared, inexplicably. We liked them, we got along well with them, we had a good time together. And then they just disappeared. We couldn’t get in touch with them, we tried calling, email, letters. We don’t know what happened.

I didn’t – I don’t – want to be that couple. So I got in touch with our friends. I wanted to at least give them the chance to still be our friends. I’m glad that I did. We’re having dinner together tomorrow night. It will be fun, I’m sure. They said that we don’t have to talk about anything, we can just hang out. They won’t ask questions, they just want to make sure we’re all right. They want to know what they can do to help. They want us to know that they love us, they love me, no matter what. They are our friends. I feel ashamed for shutting them out, and glad to be part of their lives again, for as long as I can be.

This afternoon, a friend from college gave me a call. She and I were so close in college; she was in our wedding. Our daughters are the same age. We have one of those ageless friendships where, no matter how long it has been since we’ve last talked, we can pick right back up. We hadn’t been in touch since last September, and only briefly. She had heard from someone that I “may be in a little trouble.” So she did a little research (yes, it’s all online, right there for people to read about), didn’t believe it, and called me up. She wanted to know if it was true. She said she was concerned, didn’t want me to feel like she was prying, but wanted to know how she could help. I briefly outlined the situation, and asked her to pray. She’s a good friend, and I know that both she and her husband will.

If strangers could accept and embrace me, then it’s not too farfetched to hope that people who love me will do the same.

It’s fear that keeps me from opening up. Fear of judgment, of their condemnation, of their criticism, of a self-righteous attitude.

Here’s the thing though: Our friends, the couple, said that they’ve been following the case via the court website. In the spirit of honesty and disclosure, they wanted us to know that they were fully aware of everything that was happening. And my college friend found all the information on the Internet. Nothing like having the most awful part of my life on display, there for anyone to look into it. And though I don’t mind that they saw it, I don’t like that it’s there. Because I don’t want people to know what I have done. I’m ashamed, and embarrassed. I want people to think that I’m a nice person. I want them to think that my life is all put together and lovely. I want them to think that life is candy bars and ice cream.

I don’t understand that part of me. As a Christian, as a person who has acknowledged my desperate need for a Savior, why do I want to appear as if I don’t need a Savior? To make it seem like I don’t really need Jesus, I just want him as a part of my life? So I can pretend to people that this Christianity thing is all about my desire to become a better person, a step up from the “good person” that I was, instead of acknowledging that I need a relationship with Jesus to help rescue me from the disgusting life that I led, and help me to become someone decent? Why do I want to hide my sin, instead of admit that it’s there and that I’ve been rescued and saved from being that person forever?

I hope, for many reasons, and in many ways, that I come through this situation. I pray that God works a righteous justice in this circumstance and that my family is preserved through it. I am asking God for a miraculous release of mercy and compassion, and to work his will in the heart of the judge. But what I hope for, most of all, is that I can become a more effective voice, able to share about a truth and a mercy and a love that accepted and forgave me, despite the rotten choices that I’ve made. Not to glamorize them, not to create a scintillating testimony, but to speak authentically about God’s love toward me. About his goodness. About his mercy and forgiveness. Not because of anything good that I’ve done. But because that’s his nature. And if I can share about the hope that I have through Jesus, hope for a future, hope for a life ahead, hope that things can turn out differently, hope that people can change, then maybe other people will see that hope in my life and make it their own.

Shhhh, don't tell anyone...

I occasionally plop my children in front of a video so that I can indulge in things that I want to do.  Things like playing with my new camera.

I got them all prettied up and lured them outside this morning under the pretext of playing… and I guess in my defense, we were playing.  They were playing in the yard, and I was playing with my new camera. 

Because we all know that you can read through that 300 page instruction manual and STILL not know how to use it effectively.  It’s all about learning the different camera functions and becoming familiar with them.  Learning how to switch settings for the best effect and stuff  like that.  You know, capturing the light and stuff like that.  I think the fact that I’ve used the phrase “stuff like that” twice has pretty much given me away for the novice photographer that I am.  Regardless, I’m enjoying the new camera.  And I think I got some good shots.  We’ll see.

That’s where the video comes in.  They’re watching it, and I’m downloading the pictures to my computer to play with them.  And stuff like that. 

Hang on.  Wild Thing just wandered into the office, and I gotta relocate him back to the TV before he “master of disasters” (i.e. destroys) anything in here…

No update to the other situation… still no word on the judge, and since I can’t control that I will try not to worry about it.  And hence the mental break to take pictures and play with the camera – because sometimes ya just need a break from all the serious things.

Aw, nuts.  Gotta run.  The Master of Disaster strikes in the kitchen, instead.  Climbed up to the breakfast table and got hold of the sugar bowl… sugar everywhere, fortunately there’s no broken glass.  More later, hopefully.  Like during his morning nap, maybe.

P.S.  Yes, we’re broke.  Yes, we live with my parents.  No, we can’t afford a fancy new camera.  However, I used to travel a lot (2 weeks a month or more) and really racked up the hotel reward points and frequent flier miles.  Did ya know that you can redeem them for more than overnight stays and free tickets?  That you can get things like cameras?  Now all that travel is finally paying off.

August 4, 2008

Rant, etc.

Warning: This may be somewhat of a rant…

I did a little research on Friday.  I wanted to know why the prosecutor was taking this case so personally, to try and find out more about this person who was making such vicious attacks on me as a person and as a mother.   So I typed the name into Google and what do you know!! This person sits on the board of a local children’s hospital.  A hospital that has received almost $3 million in donations from the “victim” of my mistake.  Hmmm, starting to make sense now…

If it was a judge, the judge would have to excuse him/herself on the basis that this constitutes a conflict of interest.  Why the prosecutor did not disclose this information is a mystery – it should have been disclosed.   It presents a possible ethical complaint against the prosecutor.  But what good will that do me?

The thing is, I know what I did was wrong.  I made a tremendous mistake, with far-reaching and long-term consequences.  But I think that everything that I have freely and willingly done right to correct that wrong also needs to be considered as well.  Justice is supposed to be blind.  And justice is supposed to be administered with impartiality.  I’m frustrated, and scared, and worried that I’m not going to receive an impartial and blind execution of justice. 

I think I’m done with any rant now.  I guess that was kind of tame, considering how I could go off…

My parents were out of town a this last weekend for a friend’s 60th birthday.  They spent a couple nights there, and when to church with them on Sunday.  My mom shared with me yesterday how a lady at their church came up to her and handed her a piece of paper, and said “God gave me these scriptures for your daughter.  Do you have a daughter?” and then gave her the paper and walked away.  She doesn’t even know the woman, and the woman isn’t aware of anything that is going on with me.  Check out what the verses are:

Isaiah 30:15, 18-19  This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.  For the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!  O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more.  How gracious he will be when you cry for help.  As soon as he hears, he will answer you.”

Wow.  So I’m thinking that I should take this to heart, and do a little less crying, and a little more crying out for help.

 

 

 

August 1, 2008

Another Delay

I don’t know if I should really call it a delay.  We went to court today, did a bunch of legal stuff, wrestled with calendars and court schedules, and finally were able to get the sentencing hearing reset for Monday, August 11.  Ten days from now. 

This herky-jerky stuff is wearing on me emotionally.  This is my FOURTH scheduled sentencing hearing.  This will be the fourth time I’ll go through all of the mental farewells.  I was a wreck last night putting my children to bed.  I don’t know how I’m going to get through all this.  Living in limbo, unsure of our future, unsure of how to make plans, is really a test of my faith.  And my husband’s faith, and my parents’ faith too, as we are living with them.  Aren’t we so good at planning things out, deciding on how things will be? Instead of making plans and saying, “If it’s the Lord’s will, then I’ll do this, or go there.”  I guess I just want to know if I’m going to be around for my son’s 2nd birthday, or my daughter’s first day of school, or first loose tooth, or next Christmas, or my next wedding anniversary! 

I need to go take a nap while my children are sleeping.  I have been sleeping so poorly lately and it isn’t helping anything.

I just thought of something: my new camera comes on August 6, so at least I’ll have an opportunity to play with it.  And, I can reschedule my doctor’s appointment from Monday the 11th to Friday the 8th and get to hear the heartbeat.  Not to mention that I have 10 days of time with my children and my husband to look forward to.  I still have many things for which to be thankful.

God In Whom I Trust

I just got a phone call with bad news.  I lost the judge that was assigned to the case, the good, fair, intelligent, reasonable judge.  Now it is a crapshoot as to who will be assigned, and even if my case will be heard today or if it will be rescheduled yet again.

I cannot tell you how this has shaken my heart.  How it has shaken my resolve and confidence and strength in facing this situation.  How scared I am, and how hard I am trembling.  Tears keep spilling out of my eyes and I can’t catch my breath.  I am so desperate for God to intervene on my behalf in a miraculous and powerful way.

Last night I felt compelled to read Psalm 118.  Now I understand why:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.”  In my anguish I cried to the lord, and he answered by setting me free.  The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper.  I will look in triumph on my enemies.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes [or judges].  All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them off.  They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them off.  The swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off.  The Lord is my strength and my son; he has become my salvation.  Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous:  “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things.!”  I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.  The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.  Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.  I will give You thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.  The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.  This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.  The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us.  You are my God, and I will you thanks; you are my God and I will exalt you.  Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever. 

Truly, the Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?  The Lord is my helper, even when I am overwhelmed and surrounded on every side.  And God can, and will, do mighty things on my behalf. 

July 31, 2008

24 Hours

I keep wondering where I’ll be 24-hours from now.

I just put Wild Thing and Ladybug to bed.  Ladybug was thinking up every stall she could.  I was happy to accommodate her.  Wild Thing refused to say his sweet “wuv oo” to me, preferring to blow raspberries at me instead.  I love them.  They are my life.

Oh great God, be close enough to hear my cry for mercy, strength, and compassion on me and those I love.

Hold On

Today is hard. I’m at loose ends. I’m not really sure what to do, how to act. So I’m trying to be normal. Get up, shower, get the kids up, make breakfast, get the kids dressed, read books, play with blocks, put them down for a morning rest/nap. The kids, not the books and blocks.

I’ve already gone through all the “This might be one of the last times I’ll ______.” Twice now. We’ve prepared for and had our “last weekend” as a family. Three times. I’ve visited with my grandparents, spent time with my aunts, laughed, talked, and cried with my sister. Hugged, kissed, snuggled, clung to my babies. Savored being with my husband. Enjoyed the company of my mom and dad. Now I’m just waiting. And hoping. And praying.

I really like the Christian songwriter and singer Nichole Nordeman. On her Brave album, there’s a song called Hold On. Some of the lines from the song that really speak to me right now are….

So baby don’t believe that it’s over/Maybe you can’t see ‘round the corner, so/Hold on, Love will find you/Hold on, He’s right behind you now/Just turn around, Love will find you /To hang between two thieves in the darkness/Love must believe you were worth it

Yeah, I definitely feel like I can’t see around the corner. I have no idea what lies ahead. But that’s ok. It has to be ok, because I can’t change that.

And yeah, Jesus must have believed that I am worth it, because He did it. Died, I mean. For me, too.

I’ve done everything that I can do. Right? I keep questioning that. But I don’t know what else I could have done. We’ve made full restitution. I’ve taken responsibility. We’ve prepared for the hearing, gone through the psychological evaluation, gotten letters of support from family, friends, and community members. We have prayed, and prayed, and prayed. I refuse to do the Christian guilt thing and question my level of faith. As if faith is like currency with God, and He gives us things based on our amount of faith. As if we can take our faith to the God ATM and trade it in for things we want or need. Maybe depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s hearing, I’ll change my stance. Maybe I’ll berate myself for not having enough faith and not believing God enough and if I’d prayed harder or fasted more or given more, then God would have done something different.

I need to shake myself out of this. I can’t begin questioning things, especially outcomes that I haven’t seen yet.

July 29, 2008

Master of Disaster

My son is living up to his new nickname. He hadn’t really earned it yet when we bestowed it upon him. He was just INTO everything. Today? We have had our unfair share of disasters.

For instance, when I was taking Ladybug to go potty, he pulled my camera off the counter. Not long after, I noticed that he was gone… and quiet, a dangerous combination. I discovered him in my bedroom, pulling clothes out of my dresser. A few minutes after that, he completely wrecked the blocks we had set up in hills and tunnels for Ladybug to play with her cars on. By this point you’d think I would have KNOWN what kind of day it was going to be and just resigned myself to closely monitored play time. But no. I figured as long as he was WITH me that it would be ok. So I sat him on the counter (my children are great counter-sitters. They’ve been doing it since they could sit up and haven’t fallen… yet!) while I measured the ingredients for bread into my standing mixer. I was warming the milk, honey, and butter in the microwave (just for a second!!) when I turned back to him and he was covered in flour. Eyeballs to toes. Somehow he missed getting it in his hair. Or maybe I just turned around in time to stop the migration from going any further. And he was having a blast, let me tell you!! I took pictures, and I wish I could post them. I really do have the most adorable children, even when covered in flour.

At THIS point I finally conceded defeat and finished mixing up the bread and got it rising, then turned on Toy Story (the one without Jessie, Ladybug insisted) and we played/watched the movie until lunch time, after which they both went down for naps. Isn’t naptime the most sacred time of your day? Don’t you love the peace and quiet? I love my kids, I really do, but I need a break.

The when-it’s-ok-to-cry victory lasted until 9:15 this morning. Considering that we had our chat last night around 7:15, that’s 14 hours. I’m feeling good about that. The tears were because Wild Thing took her blankie off the chair, or something, and were resolved quickly. The only other meltdown today was when she lost her spoon into her bowl of soup at lunch. Since she has no qualms about eating with her fingers, and usually has to be asked to use a spoon, I’m not sure why there were tears, but again, it was easily resolved. And then it was NAP TIME. Did I mention how much I love nap time?

The bread came out great; I love the recipe I use. It’s just a basic white sandwich loaf, but it’s easy, and homey, and delicious, and since it’s cool and rainy here today it was the perfect opportunity. We’ll eat it slathered with butter and jam, or toasted, or in nice thick sandwiches, and if there’s any left over to go stale then we’ll make French toast out of it.

Today marks 12 weeks, or 3 months. I guess the first trimester isn’t “officially” over until 14 weeks. I should know this after two pregnancies, right? But I always let my breath out a little when I pass the 12-week mark with no mishaps.

I remember being pregnant with Ladybug, and I thought about it all the time. I was consumed with thoughts of pregnancy, and getting ready for her, and making sure I had a dozen of every essential item, and getting her room ready, reading books, thinking about taking classes (we ended up only taking an Infant CPR class, never made it to a birthing class… but we watched a cheesy DVD, if that counts?). I scrutinized my body for signs of pregnancy and couldn’t wait to wear maternity clothes.

With Wild Thing, I casually read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, often having to catch up if I was a month (or two, or three) behind. I skimmed Baby Wise again, glanced at the pamphlets my doctor sent home with me. I reluctantly put away all the cute new clothes I’d gotten to fit my new, postnatal figure, and reluctantly dragged out the maternity clothes. Then discovered I couldn’t stomach the thought of wearing them all again and bought new maternity clothes. The luxury! Being able to buy new clothes just because I didn’t want to wear the old ones!!

Now, with Baby #3, it’s been so shockingly unexpected (even though I really want 4 children, we weren’t planning on a baby right now, not with all the unresolved complexity in our lives) and I have to actually remind myself that I’m pregnant. I don’t feel pregnant. I don’t look pregnant. The only pregnancy symptom I have (besides the positive pregnancy test and the ultrasound in my doctor’s office a week ago) is that I’m excessively tired all the time. And what mother of two little children isn’t?? I’m one of those annoying women who has really healthy, easy pregnancies. I don’t feel nauseated, I don’t gain a lot of weight, I don’t have any complications, I have fast, easy labor (I think I do, I had an epidural both times, and couldn’t feel any pain. I’m assuming it was easy?), and my babies are all delivered healthy and on time. The biggest complications we’ve had with the kids is heavy jaundice, due to blood-type incompatibility. So with Baby #3 I’m expecting to look pregnant immediately. Isn’t that what you hear? After one or two kids, as soon as you get the positive pregnancy test, then your belly automatically pops out and you have to drag out the maternity clothes? And I expect to at least THINK about being pregnant, sometimes. And I guess I do – when I remember to take my prenatal vitamins, or stay away from the caffeinated tea, or steer clear of sushi.

Maybe I just have other things on my mind. And maybe I have other things to keep me occupied. During the last two pregnancies, I worked in an office, in a job that had a lot of down-time. There was lots of time to think about being pregnant, and read online about pregnancy and shop online for baby things. Now, life is a little different. And it’s good, too, in a lot of ways. I just worry about bonding with this baby. Having enough love to spread around between three children. Being able to adequately care for and nurture all three of them, in the way that each one needs.

And I guess it’s kind of silly for me to be worried about that. Thinking back, it was usually after I felt the baby start moving that it actually became real to me. And then the “big” ultrasound at 20 weeks and finding out the gender, and also having the physical manifestations of pregnancy to go along with the practical knowledge. I’m probably worrying needlessly. I may even be redirecting my apprehension regarding Friday to this area of my life. That’s probably what my psychologist would say.

Oh, I didn’t mention that I have a psychologist? How remiss! Another layer of this whole story… and don’t worry, I’m not crazy, it’s simply part of the whole process. But it is interesting, and I’ll share it another time.

July 28, 2008

Ladybug

Why did I think that having a 2 year old was so bad? When she was 2, Ladybug was generally cheerful, endlessly articulate, delightful to be around, entertaining and amusing, and seldom disobedient. Oh wait. There was the week where she decided that she was going to climb out of her crib seventeen times during her nap, but that was easily remedied by me standing outside her door, watching her, and disciplining her every time she tried to climb out. And there have been the issues connected with learning to share her parents’ (and grandparents’ attention) with an intruder, otherwise known as her brother. So I guess it hasn’t all been easy. She’s not near perfect, but she’s pretty good. No tantrums, no sleep issues, no major contentions with her brother, no big disobedience battles.

I guess it just wasn’t as easy as when she was one. Or when there WAS just one.

But then again, that’s when I was working full-time and then some, and I saw her in the morning for an hour, and then saw her in the evening for a couple hours, and we did fun things like play, and have bath time, and read stories, and then she was in bed and that was it.

So ok, parenting is hard. Every stage and every age has its delights and its downfalls. And full-time stay-at-home motherhood is difficult. It is constant and unrelenting, really, and maybe that’s the toughest part.

And yes, there are tensions in our house right now that have nothing to do with raising little kids. So maybe I should cut myself, and my kids, some slack.

But the whining.

And the crying over everything. EVERYTHING.

And she’s not over-tired. She’s not hungry. She’s not under or over-stimulated. She’s not anything. She’s just THREE. And she can’t get her doll’s arm in the clothes. Or she can’t keep the blanket over the doll. Or the ball didn’t roll toward HER. Or she didn’t get pushed high enough in the swing. Or she needs a Kleenex. Tears. Instant and copious amounts of tears.

So I thought, hey, I’ve tried correction, I’ve tried discipline, I’ve tried threats, I’ve tried it all – maybe I should give it a last ditch effort and try reasoning with her. So I scooped her up, and went into her bedroom where we snuggled on the bed for a few minutes until she calmed down (and I calmed down too). And then we talked. About when it’s ok to cry, and when it isn’t ok to cry. It’s ok to cry if you’re sad. It’s ok to cry if you’re hurt. It’s ok to cry if you miss someone. It’s ok to cry if you’re scared. But it’s not ok to cry if you’re frustrated. Or if Mama tells you no. Or if you don’t get a Kleenex right away.

Then we practiced. I asked her, “Ladybug, is it ok to cry if you fall off the slide?” and in her cute answer-everything-in-full-sentences way, she said “Why, of course it is.” “What about if I tell you that you may not watch Finding Nemo tonight, is it ok to cry then?” “No, I don’t think it’s ok to cry then.” “Is it ok to cry if you have a sliver?” “Yes, it certainly is ok to cry if I have a sliver.” Et cetera.

I totally know that there are some readers who are thinking “Reason with a 3 year old? Yeah right.” And I agree, it wasn’t my first plan of attack. I don’t think it would work for Wild Thing. (It’s true what the experts say about having to parent each child differently. What a challenge!)

So anyway, we finished our conversation and she picked out some books to read, and after we read them she wanted to play with her kitchen. When I told her that it was time to go to bed, (I love how, at this age, their feelings and thoughts are so transparent on their faces!) her face started to crumple into the telltale teary mask, and then she caught herself, and said to me with a little quaver in her voice, “Oh, I won’t cry about that.”

I was pleased. And so proud. And feeling like the smartest mother in the whole world. I am so totally patting myself on the back now. We’ll probably start over again from square one tomorrow. But she’s in bed now, and I can savor this for the whole night. TWELVE. WHOLE. HOURS. It’s almost enough to keep me from sleeping, just so I can enjoy the feeling… Almost.

July 27, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

Titles. Who is good at coming up with short, clever lines to sum up a post? (Hint: NOT ME.)

Thanks to all the wonderful people who have left comments on my site. And thank you, Emily, for reaching out to me, in response to a random comment I left on your blog. It has been really amazing, actually, and well, to be candid, people who do not know me have responded much differently than people who do. Perhaps it’s because we all have expectations (for better or for worse) of those we know and love, while many people don’t have expectations of strangers, who therefore cannot fail us in those expectations. Regardless of the reason why, I thank you for your thoughts, your prayers, and your well-wishes for me and my family.

I’ve stated before my desire (need!) to be anonymous, and that’s one reason why I haven’t given the details of what it is that I did. But I can clarify for those who are curious, it is considered a property crime: no people, no families, no children, no animals, no living, breathing, being was injured, or taken advantage of, or compromised in any way. Because it was a property crime, we (my husband and I) were able to take extreme steps in our personal financial life to provide full restitution. Hence the fact that we now have one car and are living with my parents temporarily, have zero investments and retirement, and are essentially broke. I know many people live like this, and I’m not trying to solicit your sympathy. Like I’ve said before, I can handle being broke. It is the idea of being away from my family, on top of giving everything else up, that is difficult to contemplate.

One person asked how long I may be gone. Good question. I wish I knew. For many reasons, I did not accept a plea deal and therefore have no guarantee of knowing what my punishment could be. I know that standard sentencing ranges from 3.5 years to 4.5 years. The prosecutor, however, has made it clear that he intends to ask the judge for 11 years. Considering that there are several crimes that get LESS time than 11 years – rape of a child, leading organized crime, manslaughter first degree, incest, hit and run resulting in death, drive by shooting, to name a few – it seems the request is excessive. Not to mention disturbing. Of course, I’m a bit biased, and I’m not sure my opinion counts here.

Because I’ve been such a good girl prior to this offense, I qualify for something called the First Time Offender Waiver, in which the judge can sentence me to 0-90 days, and a year of community custody (the new-fangled term for parole). Counseling and other things may also be required. The judge has full discretion to grant first time offender waiver, or not. I have a very good attorney (have I mentioned that?) who is a kind, smart man, and willing to argue persuasively and aggressively for my cause at the sentencing hearing on Friday. There are many factors that help in this regard: willingness to take full responsibility, providing full restitution, plus the fact that I’m not at risk of reoffending. No, no, no, never again, I swear.

So that, in brief, is what I did, and how long I may be gone.

Wild Thing is sitting on my lap now as I type away. He’s holding the remote for my CD player to his ear saying, “Allo? Allo?” His new nickname around the house is Master of Disaster. He gets into EVERYTHING. Ladybug didn’t do this. Are boys just different that way? I need to get him into a bath to soften his skin up. It’s time to tackle the slivers in his feet and hands again. YIKES. Wish me luck.

July 25, 2008

The Saga Continues

First off, how in the world do people have time to blog? Especially mothers? I don’t get it. Right now, I’m peeking out the window as Ladybug plays happily on the swing set (which she told me is better than the neighbor’s swing set, because HERS has a TIRE SWING). Wild Thing is with the Man of the House, who took the day off today (in reality, he’s just working from home… one can never stray too far from work email and the laptop). I’m supposed to be filling up the wading pool and figuring out what to make for dinner. Instead, I’m surreptitiously typing away at my computer, hoping my husband doesn’t notice, trying to get this blog post done.

Anyway, I have to be quick, and fortunately there isn’t much to say. I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to make it stretch on for eternity though. Feel free to stop reading halfway through. Just don’t tell me so, or you may hurt my feelings.

I went to court today and got another continuance (rescheduling!) for next Friday. I have been granted (at least) 7 more days with my family. And 7 more days of waiting and wondering and hoping for the best and planning for the worst. I also got assigned to a new judge, one that I have seen before. I liked her. Hopefully she’ll like me, too, and have compassion on me and my situation.

I also gotta say this: Please, hear my heart through all that is on here. I made a terrible, awful mistake. A terrible, awful mistake that has very visible and far-reaching consequences. Before you judge me and my situation, before you decide that I am a terrible wife and mother, before you make an assessment of my character and condemn me as a hypocritical Christian… take a minute and contemplate the concept of mercy. I make no excuses for what I did, and will not seek to justify the bad choices that I made. And I live with the consequences every moment. I also live with the knowledge that, but for the mercy extended to me through Jesus and his forgiveness, I would be stuck in those bad choices for the rest of my life. Instead, that mercy has given me an opportunity to rebuild. To restore good where bad was. And maybe even given me a story to share, and a way to extend hope to other people, that the same mercy that I experience can be theirs as well.

Brief Update

Well, as brief as I can make it.

So lots of stuff has been happening here on the legal front… almost 7 weeks ago I entered a plea, and was supposed to have some sort of resolution on July 15th. That date was continued (legal-speak for rescheduled) to this afternoon. Yes, TODAY. However, this hearing will also be rescheduled because not all parties are available. So we are hoping to reschedule for next Wednesday or Thursday.

All these continuances (reschedulings!) have resulted in a roller-coaster of emotions. I mean, on one hand, I’m all emotionally prepared to accept whatever the judge rules, and eager for the endless waiting to be over. On the other hand, I’m so grateful for a few more days, one more weekend, three more bedtimes, one more trip to the playground, with my family.

We have had the serious, difficult conversations with each other and with my parents. What will happen if? What do you want to tell the children about that? How do you want to handle this? Where is this information if we need to take care of those things? We’ve employed “gallows humor” and made jokes about it. I’ve made my sister promise that she can’t get pregnant and have a baby until I’m “back” – if indeed I go “away.”

I’ve done everything that I want to do “one last time”, just in case I don’t have the opportunity when I return, or something happens to them while I’m away: lunch with my aging grandparents, letters to my aunts, hundreds of kisses and hugs on my tiny children, who will not be so very tiny when we’re reunited.

It has been hard. No, it has been excruciating. And I’m not one to use the big words. But this is hands down the most difficult situation I’ve ever been through. This is more difficult than my father getting a debilitating disease when I was an adolescent. This is more difficult than my very first grown-up relationship going sour (over and over again!). This is more difficult than suffering a miscarriage, and more difficult than all the angst my husband and I have experienced as a result of my actions.

But through it all, I have to be honest: there have been good moments. Things to treasure. Things I have learned to appreciate. Like the everyday moments that as a busy mother, I tend to hurry through, get it done, finish it and move on to the next thing. I have learned that people, relationships, are far more important and irreplaceable than things – houses, furnishings, artwork, vehicles, investment accounts, anything. I am appreciating the simple tasks I do for my family, like folding laundry, making cupcakes, sitting down and having breakfast together.

And I am learning, too. About what it means to sin. About what it means to be broken inside. About what it means to have a Father who loves me unconditionally. About grace, and mercy, and forgiveness. I am learning about what it means to be vulnerable, to let go of my rigid ideas of what is socially acceptable and “Christian” acceptable, and to be honest about my failings, about my weaknesses, about my faults. I am learning how to ask people for help. How to ask Jesus for help. How to depend on God’s goodness toward me, and to trust His mercy, that perhaps it won’t save me from the consequences of my actions, but it will certainly get me through them.

I cannot help but be grateful, and to echo the words of David in Psalm 116 when he sang:

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me, I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord, “O Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Beat rest once more, o my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?

Indeed. How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness toward me?

July 18, 2008

Baby's got green eyes...

Or she will, when she wakes up from her nap and looks across the street and gets slapped with a hard case of swingset envy.

The neighbors across from us just got a fancy dancy, super deluxe, really nice, already-put-together complete with a little fort and awning, swingset delivered to their house. And they put it in the front yard, of all places, to the left of their garage. Right there by the road, where there’s no fence. Literally like 4 feet away from a road. Yes, a dirt road, and not a particularly busy one, but a ROAD. And they have SMALL CHILDREN. Seems like a weird placement to me, but maybe the mom there really likes the idea of watching her kids every single second, and not just telling them to go outside and play, while getting other things done uninterrupted around the house, and glancing out at them every now and then to make sure that they aren’t hitting each other with sticks or dumping dirt on their brother’s head. Oh wait, that’s me, not her. I must be getting confused…

Man of the House suggested that we may have to jazz our swingset up a bit. But I’m thinking it may be a good time to learn the lesson of “Sometimes Other People Have Nicer Things Than We Do And That’s Ok.” Which is a hard lesson to learn, especially at the tender age of three. But then again, it’s never too early to learn this important lesson, right along with “I Don’t Get To Have Everything I Want” and “Isn’t This A Good Opportunity To Learn Contentment,” and of course not forgetting the all-important “What Doesn’t Kill You Helps You To Build Character.”

Hmmm, I’ll have to ponder those lessons myself….

July 11, 2008

Mine vs. Yours

Here’s a little poem I’ve had hanging around since I was a teenager. I just remembered it, and it struck me, considering the circumstances I find myself in. Many of my friends and family members are also going through difficult situations. I try to remain empathetic to their situation, but sometimes it’s hard, especially when the empathy doesn’t flow both ways. Money troubles, child troubles, relationship problems, work issues – everyone leads complex lives. And I understand that. And yet, I’m still most concerned with what is happening with, well, with me. So I post this poem, tongue in cheek. I wish I could remember who wrote it, because it is by no means original to me.

Oh, and I found my Belly Balm. It wasn’t in a box, thankfully. It was in a dresser drawer. Now hopefully I will be able to stick around and use it.

Troubles

If you say you’ve got troubles as big as my own

I’ll have to believe it’s true.

But consider that my problems happen to me,

While yours merely happen to you.

July 7, 2008

Somewhere in a box...

Is my Belly Balm. And all of a sudden it’s imperative that I find it.

Out of all the urgent and necessary things to be taken care of, that doesn’t even make the list.

And yet it’s on my mind.

Ah, the joy of those pregnancy hormones.

Believing Impossible Things

“There is no use trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Lewis Carroll

I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. – Psalm 26:1

Abraham believed the lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. – Genesis 15:6

The first quote is from a magnet on my refrigerator. I don’t know where it came from or who gave it to me, but I like it. And I see it every day, though I don’t often read it. But it’s there, and it reminds me, in the charming way of Alice and the Queen, that one can believe the impossible.

Then I was reading my Bible the other day, and came across Psalm 26. It’s a psalm that King David wrote, and as I read it, I mentally screeched to a halt. Wait a minute, a blameless life? This is King David talking. The guy that saw a married woman bathing on her roof. Then committed adultery with her. When she got pregnant, he sent her husband off to the front lines of war to get killed. This is the man who wasn’t a perfect parent (I only know of one perfect parent, and His kids mess up all the time, but that’s not the point here). This is the youngest son of many, who watched the sheep, killed a bear and a lion, great soldier and warrior, became the king, yeah, a great guy, but a person. A person who still makes mistakes and really couldn’t be classified as “blameless.” But it goes on to clarify: I trusted in the Lord without wavering.

Immediately I thought of the verse in Genesis where Abraham believes what God tells him about how his life is going to be, and God considers Abraham righteous (blameless) because of his faith.

Both David and Abraham had some pretty specific things to believe God about. David was anointed as a teenage boy as the future king. And Abraham was told that he was going to have a son and be the father of many nations, with descendants too numerous to keep sorted out.

But I have promises from God, too. There is a plan and a future for my life that will be good for me. God uses everything in my life for my good. God will complete the work that He began in my life. He’ll never leave me or forsake me or even disown me. It’s not super easy to keep them at the front of my mind, but it’s even harder to trust in Jesus without wavering. THAT’S the hard part.

But, (how many sentences/paragraphs have I begun with “but”??) can I do like the Queen and believe impossible things? Why not? I have a God who specializes in the impossible.

Always be joyful.

Pray continually.

Be thankful in all circumstances.

Believe the impossible. Without wavering.

That’s quite the list.

June 25, 2008

The prayer that never fails

It’s a hard one to pray. But I guess it’s worth the hardship. Lord, Your will be done. Simple. Hard to mean. But freeing.

Trust me… at this point, I’m practically an expert on this!

On the lighter side of things… Ladybug and Wild Thing were out in the yard today, playing and doing things that kids do in a big yard with lots of grass, dirt, sticks, and rocks. They found a couple of sticks and started poking them in the dirt. Then Ladybug found a shovel and started digging. I think Wild Thing must have used the stick, ah, let’s say "inappropriately", (he smacked her with it) and was rewarded with a scoop of dirt on his head. I can predict that there’s a bath in his near future…

June 24, 2008

Simple Instructions

I was reading today and came across these verses in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Now how direct and to the point is THAT? There’s no beating around the bush there. No hemming and hawing. No soft-shoeing those orders. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances. Why? Because I belong to Christ Jesus and that’s what God wants me to do.

The trouble is, those are three things that are really difficult to do. Especially in hard times. Or tired times. Or sad times. Or busy times. Can’t be thankful for THAT hard situation. I’m too TIRED to be joyful. Pray? I hardly have time to do the laundry, let alone pray. Ya know?

But it’s so direct. It’s so to the point. It’s so, well, so black and white. There’s no arguing with it. There’s no way to reinterpret it so that it reads “Be joyful when you feel like it. Pray when it crosses your mind to do so. Be thankful for the good times, because God suggests that it’s maybe a good idea if you get around to these things.”

I guess it could be worse. Right? I mean, it could say something like “Always sleep on the floor. Never take a shower. Be full of glee every time you clean the bathroom.”

So really, how hard is it to always be joyful, never stop praying, and be thankful in every situation? I don’t know. Yet. I’m going to try it. Because darned if I’ll spend the next three weeks with my family in a petrified haze, worried about what’s going to happen, unable to appreciate the time I do have with them.

The bald fact of the matter is that the instructions are simple, direct, and crystal clear. And disobedience isn’t an option.

June 21, 2008

A Positive Sign

Literally.

I’m pregnant. Surprisingly, delightfully, nauseatingly pregnant. And I’m thrilled.

I see this as a swift, reassuring act of mercy. There are those that will disagree, but I don’t really care. Because all of a sudden, there is some certainty for me in a very uncertain future. And if that isn’t solace for my soul, then I don’t know what is.

June 10, 2008

I wish my name was Jane Doe

I’m anonymous. I admit that. I don’t want people to know my name, or my children’s names, or where we live, or what I do. The situation that I’m in right now is very sensitive and creates in me an intense need for privacy. The only reason I’m writing a blog is because, by satisfying my need for privacy, I have created a place of isolation. And isolation is awful. At least by writing anonymously I can feel like I’m telling my story, sharing my feelings, and I can be candid --- or at least try to be candid, while still preserving that privacy.

But now? I really do wish my name was Jane Doe. I wish I didn’t have a distinctive, unusual first name. I wish my parents didn’t have such a distinctive last name. I mean, the only people in the United States with our last name are all closely related to us. Cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I wish I hadn’t lived in this community my whole life. I wish I could be as anonymous in real life as I am in this blog.

Why? Because yesterday I did something – something big. I pled guilty to all the charges they have leveled against me. I stood there, next to my attorney, and gave up my right to a jury trial. I gave up the right to testify on my own behalf. The right to appeal. The right to be presumed innocent. The right to bear arms, to vote, to participate in society. Because in all likelihood, I will be incarcerated. Go to jail. Live in the slammer.

And yes, I’m being flippant because this is such a huge, weighty thing that I’m afraid it may crush me. It’s not a laugh or cry situation, it’s a laugh or have a nervous breakdown situation.

Ever heard the superchick song Beauty From Pain? There’s a line in the song that says “The lights go out all around me/One last candle to keep out the night/And then the darkness surrounds me/I know I’m alive but I feel like I’ve died.” I feel like I’m dying a slow death, counting down the 35 days, just five weeks, before I face sentencing. And will probably disappear from the lives of my children for years. YEARS. “And all that’s left is to accept that it’s over/My dreams ran like sand through the fist that I’ve made.”

Ok, in my mind I know that someday I’ll be able to look back, see how I’ve been changed, become better, by this situation. But now? Oh boy.

After all this has passed, I still will remain/After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain/Though it won’t be today, someday I’ll hope again/And there’ll be beauty from pain/You will bring beauty from my pain.

Here I am at the end of me/Trying to hold to what I can’t see/I forgot how to hope/This night’s been so long/I cling to Your promise there will be a dawn

And we know that IN ALL T HINGS God works for the GOOD of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plan to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE.”

June 5, 2008

Welcome to Opposite World

Or should I say farewell, thanks for coming?

Welcome to the land of the three year old. Ladybug has always been a, well, how shall I put this? She’s always been a spirited little thing. She’s busy, full of energy, and great at articulating what she wants. Even from when she was first talking, she’d use full sentences – “I want a cookie” versus just “cookie.” Like any child, manners aren’t included, and you can’t even pay more for an upgrade, so we have said our fair share of “I didn’t hear any polite words” or “Can you think of a kind way to ask for that?”

Lately, she has gone from mere “spirited” to downright contrary. As in, thanks for stopping by here in Opposite World. Don’t eat your applesauce. Don’t kiss Papa goodnight. Don’t give Wild Thing a hug. Don’t drink your milk.

What’s especially wearing in all of this is that on Monday, I get to, how to put this? Face the music? Only that sounds a little too cheerful. Maybe that’s fitting for here in Opposite World.

June 3, 2008

Resolution

We kissed and made up. I know that I have a lot more changing to do, as does the Man of the House. We are both people who are far from perfect. So yes, things happen. Heck, why beat around the bush? He does things that are inconsiderate and thoughtless and it hurts my feelings. And being told that he “can’t” change feels like he is really saying “I don’t love you enough to try to change.” But God, the epitome of perfection, still puts up with me every day. So in the same way that I am loved and shown mercy, I will endeavor to love and show mercy. And yup, I’m definitely going to do things that make him mad and irritate him, somewhere down the road, no matter how hard I try. That’s not defeatist, that’s reality. But we’ll stick through it together. That’s what marriage and commitment and love are all about. Right?

SO. On to more interesting things.

I’m making a sausage bean soup and No Knead Bread for dinner tonight. YUM. Maybe you’re not a sausage bean soup person, and I’m not really either. But it’s good. Really. It has cilantro in it. And the broth is really great. Perfect for sopping up with some crusty bread.

There are many who would say that talking about bean soup and bread are not more interesting than, well, anything. If you were here to eat the bread and soup, I think you would disagree.

Here’s a picture of the bread:



And it’s so easy. Here’s the recipe:

3 cups flour (all-purpose, unbleached)

1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp water, room temp

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp mild-flavored beer (such as Budweiser, or I use mild-non-alcoholic lager like O’Doul’s)

1 Tbsp white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour form bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

2. Lay 12x18-sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

I can never keep my family out of it, so we end up cutting it and eating it warm. It’s best eaten the day it is baked, but can be wrapped in foil and stored in a cool place for up to 2 days. Just re-warm it in the oven. SO GOOD. And super easy. No mixer required!!

June 1, 2008

Spare Change

Speaking as a person who has changed a lot over the past four years, it is infuriating when I’m told by the Man of the House that “This is who I am. I just can’t change.”

Spare me.

May 31, 2008

What a difference a TV makes

So we moved, right? In with my parents? Did I mention that? And we finally got our TV all set up and hooked up in our room. And yes, TVs are not easy to set up anymore (wall mount, anyone?) and the hooking up part? Yikes. I had to wait for the Man of the House to figure out where all those cables and cords were supposed to be attached.

I cannot believe what a difference a TV makes. A TV with TiVo. I heart TiVo.

So ok, it’s not all great. We don’t talk as much before bed, and I don’t read myself to sleepiness. And ESPN is like ALWAYS ON. I can’t believe I just wrote “like.” So, like, there are, like, some downsides. But it gives us space. A window into the world. A place to retreat from the rest of the family. And something to do. Even with the four bazillion books in this house, sometimes I’m at a loss for reading material. And I can only read Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble so many times in one day.

But it’s better. It feels more like home now. Isn’t that really weird??

May 29, 2008

Good night, no more talking.

Ladybug and I have a routine when I put her to bed. Not the get-jammies-on-brush-your-teeth-go-potty-read-seven-books routine, although we do that also. It goes like this.

Me: Ladybug, it’s time go to bed now.

Her: Ok, let’s turn on my sleeping music.

Me: Let’s put you in bed now.

Her: I just want to snuggle for a minute.

We snuggle. She kisses me goodnight. I lay her in her bed.

Her: Don’t forget to put two blankets on me. Don’t forget to pray for me.

I pray for her.

Her: Pray for me two times.

I pray for her again.

As I’m walking out of her room, I say “Good-night Ladybug.”

Her: Goodnight

Me: Sleep tight.

Her: Ok.

Me: I love you.

Her: I love you.

Me: No more talking.

Her: Ok!

One night I forgot to say “No more talking.” She sat up in bed and said indignantly, “You forgot to say no more talking!” Then we had to start all over again from the snuggling part. Not that I’m complaining. I love snuggling with her. I love the weight and the warmth of her in my arms, and I love how her arms wrap around my neck and her head nestles against my shoulder and I can bury my nose in her sweet smelling hair. She is delicious. Is it clear how much I adore her?

I didn’t consciously make this a routine of ours. It just happened. And it makes me wonder how many other things I do that my children depend on? Besides the obvious – you know, taking care of them and loving them. Are routines good? Do they create security? Or are they rigid and create children who are inflexible to other ways of doing things? Should I write them down so that, if I’m not here, their dad can take over?

May 22, 2008

Catching Up

So I’m horribly lazy at this blog thing. I love reading what other people write. And I think to myself that oh, I should blog about such and such, or this and that, or anything even. But I’m lazy like that and only think about it.

The other day Ladybug and Wild Thing helped me make cupcakes. From scratch. From the best recipe in the entire world for cupcakes. Seriously. It’s even easy to boot. Here’s a picture.

See? Don’t those look mouthwatering? They were. And it was fun to spend the time with the kiddos. I’ll post the recipe. Nothing like some Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting to chase the blues away. And, the recipe makes 24 cupcakes, and the only thing that’s better than eating one cupcake is eating a dozen two cupcakes.

We’ve had great weather (notice the past tense) and the kiddos have been playing out in their wading pools (and yes, they have two, the spoiled things. One on the deck, and another in the grass at the bottom of their slide.). Why do they call them wading pools? My children are so small that they are practically swimming pools. If I put more than a couple inches of water in the bottom they would be able to swim. Or rather, Ladybug would flail and Wild Thing would bob. I can just picture him, floating on his back, bobbing up and down gently on the waves that his sister’s flailing arms and legs create. She’s a born swimmer, that one.

When I was in church on Sunday, we sang the song “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin. Know it? The lyrics are “How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God, and all will see how great, how great is our God.”

It got me to thinking. Do I know and accept the greatness of God, or do I expect him to prove it to me? Is my faith founded on who God IS, or what I expect him to DO for me? Am I in a state of suspended faith, waiting for God to prove his goodness, and his greatness, and see his power and his mercy work in my circumstances? Or is my faith rooted in who he IS, mercy and grace and greatness and power personified? How do I, as a Christian, balance my knowledge of who God IS with the knowledge of what he is able to DO? And if I do not see his mercy and power exercised in my circumstances, then is my belief in his mercy and power shattered?

Because the thing is, some things are true whether one believes in them or not. And the reverse is also true – one can believe in something wholeheartedly and it will not be true. Even if I don’t believe in gravity, my unbelief doesn’t nullify it. And I can always believe with my whole heart that my body that has borne two children will someday fit back into my size two Vera Wang wedding dress. But that will never happen. Unless I get a tape worm. That doesn’t sound nearly as appetizing as eating chocolate cupcakes.

So anyway, before I get distracted with Googling where to buy a tapeworm, or selling my wedding dress on Craig’s List, back to the dilemma that I faced on Sunday morning. Do I believe who God is based on who he IS, or do I believe who God is based on what he DOES for me? Here’s what I think: I need both. Because I don’t want to have a relationship with God that is only intellectual or theological, but a relationship that is also active, demonstrative, that has a daily freshness to it because of what God does in my life.

You know, like in 1 John chapter 1, “He was from the beginning, and this is the One we speak about. Our ears have heard, our own eyes have seen, and our hands have touched Him – the One who gives life appeared! We saw it happen!” Now wouldn’t you like to have that kind of excitement about God in your own life? Not only knowing ABOUT him, but also being able to say, “Hey! I know all about it, but I also saw it! I experienced it! In my own life!”

It’s what I really want. And it’s what I really need. Not only in the complex circumstances that I call my life right now, but in “normal” life. I need the knowledge of his goodness, his power, his mercy, his love. But that’s not enough for me. I would suffocate if I didn’t have the freshness that comes from seeing it, experiencing it, in my life every day. That, and hopefully a chocolate cupcake.

Devils Food Cupcakes

Makes 24

2/3 cup boiling water

2/3 cup natural cocoa powder

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons instant coffee

4 eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

16 tablespoons butter (2 sticks), softened, but still cool

1. Adjust racks to lower-middle oven position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Whisk boiling water, cocoa, chocolate, and instant coffee granules together in small bowl.

3. Whisk eggs, sour cream, and vanilla together in small bowl until well combined.

4. With electric mixer on low speed, combine flour, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in large bowl until blended. Add butter and mix on low until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add egg mixture in 2 additions, then beat at medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until combined, about 1 minute.

5. Add chocolate mixture and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Divide batter evenly among 24 cupcake liners.

6. Bake until skewer or toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 20 minutes.

7. Cool cupcakes in muffin tins for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

8. When completely cool, frost.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 lb powdered sugar

8 tbsp butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Mix all ingredients until combined, beating with an electric mixer. Add more milk or cream until desired consistency to frost cupcakes.

Sorry to be so vague with the frosting recipe… I just eyeball it and it comes out great every time. Frequent taste testing is required…