Friday, August 29, 2008

This Mama not Sold on Obama

**Disclaimer ... this post is NOT telling you who I'm for in this election. It may seem like it as I'm speaking only about Obama. But remember, he's the one who gave a speech last night. When McCain gives his, I'll write mainly about him. Oh, and really, I'm hoping I'm in Ethiopia on Election Day so I don't have to make a choice. :))****

I actually watched Obama's acceptance speech last night. Aaron would have been proud. The reason he would have been proud, is because I don't like politics, and almost always steer away from them. This year, however, it has been a goal of mine to actually be sort of informed going into the election rather than just voting for the "safe" candidate (or, whoever Aaron tells me to vote for). It's not that I don't understand such things (well, it sort of is), or that I am an amazingly submissive wife (that I would just vote for whoever my husband tells me too). It's just that I don't care. But seeing how I'm noticing the effects of so many of the hot topics (gas, healthcare, housing market, recession, taxes, etc...) this year in my own life, I thought I'd try to care.

Last night's speech was a little strange to me. (Maybe b/c it's the first one I've ever watched, I don't know.) I think it was supposed to invoke some sort of emotion in me. It did do that, but perhaps not the one that he was shooting for. While I completely agree that it is time for change, I suppose that in my naiveness (I know, not a word) about politics, I don't understand why that HAS to mean a party change. Of course I understand that McCain was in agreement w/ 90% of the things that Bush has done. I also agree that 10% isn't much change. But then, maybe it is. I don't care who believes what about the choices Bush has made. I'd rather hear what they would have done in his shoes (which we then should be so kind as to remember that it is always easier said than done).

I know as it pertains to the war, candidates have said things here and there that they would have done different. But then I wish they'd expand on the story - what would the outcome have been if that was the decision made? Because that, in my opinion, is the real problem ESPECIALLY with the war. The outcome. Again, I'm not very bright on such issues, but I think if I remember, back when the war started ..... some high percentage rate of people (I wanna say in the 80's for some reason) were in favor of the war. Now that the outcome wasn't as hoped for, everyone blames Bush and wonders how he could have done such a thing. Well, back then, most of us would've done the same thing. Again, I don't know. One last thing as it pertains to the war though, is in as much as I would love to see it end as well, the one thing that we often don't think about (which Aaron is always quick to bring up in this conversation) is that we can't just "pull out". It will be a process. The war won't end the day after Obama begins. This sort of brings me to my next point about last night.

I felt a little bit like Obama was speaking to people like me - people who 1) don't know, and 2) don't care. He was trying to make me care (and again, I had already decided to try and care). But the danger comes in the words he speaks to those who don't know. It sounded all very wonderful. I honestly think he is "for change". But I was left without understanding HOW exactly change was going to happen. Okay, so fine ... tell me you were never for the war, and it will end under your reign. BUT HOW??? Tell me taxes are going to go down. BUT HOW? Tell me that cost of premiums (which made me laugh) will go down, and those who aren't insured will be insured. BUT HOW?? Tell me that while you are pro-choice, you will work to see the amount of unwanted pregnancies go down. BUT HOW? Tell me that college education will be affordable (side note ... he never stated "college of your choice" .... in which case, if it's any old college, I hear Metro is still pretty affordable), BUT HOW? Tell me there will be higher pay for our teachers so that quality early education is available to all. BUT HOW (especially on this one ... without raising taxes)? Hmmmm.

Again, it all sounded wonderful and motivating and left one desiring change. But I sorta had this glimpse (more of a fear really) about a wolf behind that sheep's clothing. His speech made me so aware of the human condition (which is at the front of my mind anyway as I battle my own condition). He stood up there saying, "This isn't about me, it's about YOU". Alright!!! What American doesn't want to believe it's about ME!!! Yet until that moment, he spent the majority of time stating how Washington needs to fix our problems. (I will give him props for the part where he said Washington can't make your child do their homework, and it can't make a dad be there for his kids ....) I say, lets run with the idea that it is about ME ... since that is what he said. What would it look like to have a government that called the American people (Me) to STEP IT UP. He said that McCain called American's "whiners". I laughed at that. WE ARE! Obama was able to name a few examples of folks who are not whiners. But let's face it, we are whiners. BECAUSE we think it's all about us, then daily we are rudely awakened to the reality that it isn't. We think the government should fix our lives. Really, let's have a someone stand up there telling us to STOP living beyond our means. House in forclosure??? Well, should you have bought that house in the first place? Probably not. But now it's the governments job to get me out. (And on this one friends, I'm speaking on personal experience... no, my house is not in "American Nightmare" posts.) It's NOT unfair to have one person who has it all while doing nothing to get it, and another person who has to work their tail off in life to still have very little. As Christians - we HAVE to remember that there is the Sovereignty of God at work here too. (In fact, the scriptures speak exactly to that particular issue.) I want someone to stand up there telling Americans who can't pay their credit card bills because the cost of living in ever other area has gone up - TO STOP USING CREDIT CARDS (and maybe even remind them that it was their human selfishness that brought them to those credit cards in the first place). I want a candidate to stand up there and say we, as Americans, are in the top 95% richest IN THE WORLD ... and we don't even know it. I want a candidate who will yes, make positive change in Washington that is actually under the governments control (and there is a lot they can do, don't get me wrong there). But I want them to call on us, the American's, to RECOGNIZE our part, and do something about it. I think that Obama is trying to do that, but I don't think he's doing very well. He'd lose serious votes if he did. :) But, in a world of "self-help" and "Secret" ways of making life be the way we want it to .... HE COMPLETELY played into that. He's a wonderful motivational speaker. I'm just not convinced that His motivation can/will "change" policies.

So, as we move into the grunt of this campaign ... remember that despite what Obama said, it isn't about us. Remember who it is about my friends. And with that in mind, look at both candidates and decide based on that, who you should vote for.

I'm sure many of you will have comments (those of you who care that is) to try and correct me and stand up for your belief ... which is good. Please share, as it will help me in my pursuit of knowledge in this election. I'm not at all embarrassed or ashamed here of my little knowledge, and possible mis-understandings. Because again, I think I've made it pretty clear that I haven't cared in the past. This was just my view after last night. More to come after McCain's acceptance speech. :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Playing House

Ahhhh, a favorite past time (especially for girls).... playing "house". What were we thinking girls?? If only it were as glamorous as our school girl imaginations made it out to be. Being on the other side of it now, where I see 1) what real "house" looks like, and 2) the interpretations that my kids come up with, are both funny and a little surreal.

This morning began our new venture of homeschooling. (As a child, I used to play "school" a lot too.) I can't even tell you how many times throughout my days, I look around and wonder whose life I'm living ... and when do I resume my own life??? Most days it feels like a dream (and every now and then, I'll admit, maybe even a bad dream). It never takes me very long to realize that it is in fact real, I won't be waking up, and yes - this is my life. Don't get me wrong ... a wonderful life it is. (Sorry, I just couldn't bring myself to write there that it's a wonderful life. haha)
I think I've moved away from my thoughts a bit, let me return ....

So we started homeschooling. I have been so scared the last few weeks about our new journey in life. Mostly I've been afraid of Providence's "classes". I really think they are going to make her re-do the 3rd grade. Only, this morning, it hits me ... Eden and Sam are going to be my challenge. I have no idea how to teach a child to read. In fact, it's one of those things (like potty-training) that I swear I never had to LEARN. Why are such things "learned behaviors"? And am I qualified to teach them to my children?? Well, they all use the bathroom on their own (mostly), so maybe I'll make it through this too.

It is just so funny to me though how many times I've felt like I'm "playing school" in the weeks leading up to today. I set up a cute little room just for school. I hung these beautiful, colorful pictures to help them learn their letters, measurements, telling time, dates, presidents, etc.... I was ready to go!!! Then the reality of playing house hit this morning for the first time. I pulled out the very real books and taught my very real 3rd grader, kindergartner, and pre-schooler. I was working with very real obstacles (like a 5 year old who can't sit still for longer than about 3 minutes), and very real time (of which all 3 kids want my time at the same time). Oh, and the very real laundry that I thought as a child was a fun easy part of being a mom, was unbalancing my washing machine and scaring the children as it began to growl loudly at them. (The monster basket of towels that are clean next to the washer is what was scaring me.)

Well, it's final. I'm not playing house or school anymore. This is really my life. Life will never be the same. There will be no normal. There probably won't be a new normal even ... because it will always be changing. The verdict is in though after 8 years of the jury being out .... I love it ! This real life is better, even in all it's challenges, than the one I dreamed up as a little girl. It is full, it is filled with joy, it is hard but rewarding (or will be one day), it is messy, it stretches me to the limit, it is filled with responsibility, it is real. It's is all good. It's hard to imagine that God has entrusted me ... little old me ... with so much. But He decided I was ready for it. To whom much is given, much is expected. I just pray I can come close to some of the expectations!

So now, this very real mom who is still in her pajamas at 12:30 pm listening to her 4 year old throw a fit, should probably leave the computer now. Back to real life. Back to reality. (Someone should write a song about that. :) )

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A New Favorite

Shawn McDonald is an artist who's songs I've been adding to my iTunes list recently. He's got a few songs that have been pretty meaningful to me lately. This song, Free, has been particularly meaningful, as it NAILS how I've been feeling for a while now. It's not often that a song speaks so directly to my heart, but this one does. Check it out!

By Shawn McDonald

I feel like the weight of the world is all - crashing down on me
And some how I just don’t believe this how - it is suppose to be
And all this expectation on - the way I’m suppose to live
Becomes my minds distraction - with nothing left to give

You said your burden is light and your load - is no more
You said your ways are right and in you I would soar

I want to be free - free to dance and free to sing
Free to live and love and free
Oh, free to be me

I feel like my heart is being beat - down into the ground
In you I’m longing for some peace - to be found
I know the heaviness that’s - making me cold
Is stealing my youthful soul and - making me old

You said your burden is light and your load - is no more
You said your ways are right and in you I would soar

I want to be free - free to dance and free to sing
Free to live and love and free
Oh, free to be me

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Nightmare I Can't Wake Up From

Do you ever have those bad dreams you just can't wake up from??? I have them often. The most re-occurring ones are actually rather humorous, and I really should probably see a professional about. But this doesn't have much to do with what I'm about to write about.

One of my first posts on this blogsite was in regards to the American Dream/Nightmare. Well, some things have changed since that post. That being - the house is no longer for sale. Did it sell?? Nope. So why did this change then??? Lot's of reasons. All of which all fit together in some sort of small picture, but none of which I'm fully grasping when it comes to a bigger picture. Confused? Me too.

First, I'm fed up with keeping a clean house with 3 small kids. I'm tired of going into panic mode to clean my dark wood floors when someone gives us 25 minutes notice to see the house. I'm out of ideas on where to take the kids when we have a showing. I'm tired of the waste of time it seems to be to have over 20 showings, and no interest. We know we will be traveling to Ethiopia to get Malachi sometime around the end of October. Thus, if the house sold now, we would be closing and moving around that same time ... can you say self-torture??? We are starting to homeschool our kids for the first time ever next week. Plus I've started to watch our neighbors 2 year old one day a week. (It was really fun to have short notice showings w/ 4 small kids around!!) Blah blah blah. Like I said, all of these things make sense to me when I look at the window that is the next 2 or 3 months. And not only do they make sense, but wisdom just speaks to taking the house off the market right now.

What is hardest for me right now, is that I honestly felt that this was the direction that God was leading us. He was, I thought, ASKING me to give up my house (of which I'm rather fond of ... most days). I of course thought that once I surrendered it to Him, He would then take care of the details, which in my mind I guess I thought meant selling it in 2 days or something. The truth in all of that is that He is taking care of the details. The non-truth is what I thought the outcome would be. I'm trying to understand (and be okay with) the fact that sometimes God asks us to do things (okay a lot of times) REGARDLESS of what we think the outcome will be like if we follow. And really, most of the time, the outcome will look nothing like we think it should or would. Ugh....

So I've wrestled a lot the last few weeks. Maybe this seems like a funny thing to wrestle about, but it is still very real to me. I don't understand if we heard wrong, or if this is in fact part of His bigger picture. One thing that I do know, is that God asked me to surrender ... and surrender I did. Perhaps that is all He wanted of me ... to surrender. Perfect!!! I don't have to move again! But then, there is this small issue with the cost of living that I talked about in that first post. What are we to do then??? Well, when God begins to convict, He usually goes all the way. I kinda think that may be what He is doing with me here ... going all the way. (But I've learned to not say for sure that He's doing anything.) There are a lot more things in my life in the way of stuff that I KNOW I could surrender. And will they all add up enough for us to not feel such a pinch in the pocketbook??? Maybe, maybe not. But again, maybe the surrender is all He's asking for. So I will walk this road, and pray that I come out broken and humble and fully thankful in the end (and every day until then). It's a little scary for me to say that right now, seeings how I feel broken to the point of no repair most days lately. Hmmm... but now that I just said that, maybe I'm not supposed to be repaired....

We have a crazy fall in front of us. It's made a little more crazy by my fear that I'm messing it all up. Not just because of the house, but also some other decisions that Aaron and I have made that seem to have turned out to be the wrong ones over the last 2 years. Anyway, like I said, I will begin to homeschool our kids next week ... WHAT AM I THINKING??? I'm so overwhelmed at this decision (that again, I felt God was asking of me) and a little afraid that the state will make Providence re-do 3rd grade. I watch my neighbors daughter 1 1/2 days a week. And my newest venture is going back to Starbucks. I know, I said in that first post I wouldn't do that. Well, the kids won't be in daycare, so we've stuck to OUR conviction on that one. (Please notice the emphasis on OURS ... not what we think anyone else should do.) Instead I will get the pleasure of working 4:30 am to 9 a.m. Good times. I'm good with it though. I know that it is most likely only for a short season. Oh, and I have another child coming ... no big deal. :)

So I will move through my days trusting that the Lord is directing my steps. And while the plans I make may fail, His faithfulness won't. I will continue to ask Him to search me and know me, to see if there is any offensive way in me (cough cough ... $$ related) and lead me in the way everlasting. I will seek guidance and counsel and take the good with the bad knowing that He has a plan that I cannot thwart. And most importantly, I will pray for the breaking to be over with soon, and for His healing hands to make me feel whole and somewhat normal again. One of my biggest prayers through all of this, will still be for the example I lay before my children. May they still know that their memories have not much to do with STUFF, but with the joy that comes from belonging to our family and to our King.

So, I stay stuck in this American Nightmare for a while longer. I know that in all of my decisions, weather I feel they are right or wrong upon looking back on them, that they are STILL part of God's plan for my life, and that He knew long ago that I was going to make them. God is up to something ... I just know it. And my guess is, He probably won't clue me in on it until it is over. But He's God, so He can do that!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Baby Britton Blurb

Tonight was Eden's first "long" bike-ride (and by long, I mean about 2 miles). She did so good. It's moments like that that make you realize how big your babies are getting.....

Anyway, upon returning home, she gets off her bike and informs us all that her "underpants are sweating".

I love it!!! The things that every biker and/or runner wishes they could voice upon finishing. :)

What I want to be when I grow up

I have no idea, that's what.

How is it, that as a grown woman with 3 (almost 4) kids, I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. (Wait, didn't I just say I am grown up?)

Aaron had posted a sermon clip on his blog that I listened to yesterday. It covered a broad range of things that I've been thinking through lately. From God having a plan (that He most of the time does not intend to clue me in on until it is accomplished), to my life not being about me, to differences in marriage and how they are to strengthen the other person, to self-righteousness.... well, just listen to it.

Anyway, toward the end the pastor hit a cord for me. He talked about his wife feeling like she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life. (I need to actually listen to the message again, b/c I somehow don't remember WHY he was talking about this. I think I started to drift to my own thoughts of, yeah - that's me!) This is possibly a common feeling amongst stay-at-home mom's ... but especially a pastor's wife (which obviously the man giving the sermon was a pastor, thus talking about his wife ... the pastor's wife) ... of which I happen to be both. But I still don't get how 10 years later, 3 kids later ... I still don't know. Yes, I'm living out what I'm supposed to be doing TODAY. I have a HUGE job, I get that. As for my passions in life, the things that reach to the core of my soul ... what do I do with those things? (And is it at all possible that I could make a few bucks doing it? Wouldn't that be stupendous?!?!)

I guess this takes me back to my "Quest for More". Hmmmmm.......

Any ideas? What should I be when I grow up??? Suggestions accepted (but most likely thrown out).

Monday, August 11, 2008

On a lighter note

In the midst of my heavy thoughts and drama filled normalcy, I will do things every now and then that are just plain normal. Imagine that. It isn't always easy, and it is usually purely for the sake of the children.

Today's example. We went to the park. It was hot, we came home. We had a call for a showing, so I jumped into my drama mode ... cleaned the house ... left the house. We drove. We came home. We did a craft. Oh yes, a craft. We made princess crowns (still trying to convince Sam that his is NOT a princess crown, but that of a King's). Then it was on to a game of hide-and-go-seek. This is one of those games that is not so much enjoyable for me ... but the babes love it. So we played. I kept wondering if it would be bad for me to hide in a locked room curled up with a good book. I decided it would be. So instead, I hid in the "scary closet" (that would be the closet that houses the furnace and water heater ... it makes scary noises you know). As I stood there holding the handle as they tried to break in to find me ... I found a bit of humor in it. Sick and twisted, I know. But it was enough humor for me to pursue the rest of the game with a child like thrill (who cares that the thrill started out so cruel). So, on we went. I won the good mom award today in their eyes. Until they went to bed and I wouldn't let Provi sleep in my bed. Then she cried at me and made me feel like a bad mom again for not buying her a temperpedic mattress. So, now that all is right in the world - I will go to sleep and look forward to what tomorrow may bring.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Colorado Way

Last week, I climbed/hiked/slowly crawled my first 14er! (For those of you who live in the flatlands of the US and may not know - a "14er" is a mountain that reaches over 14,000 feet in elevation.) As a good friend responded upon hearing my news ... "well, that's the Colorado way I guess". Grrr... So for this post and my own ego, I will try to go back to the excitement I felt the day I did it.

My Daddio turned the big 70 last week. (Why is it "the big", why not "huge", or "enormous"?) Something he had never done in his life was climb a mountain. He decided it was a good task to pursue at the ripe old age of 70. And while he wanted to tackle Longs Peak, we were advised by a good climbing friend that if he wanted to continue to ripen, Longs was probably not a good idea. He suggested Grays Peak instead. It is supposed to be one of the easiest in CO. We took his advice.

My brother, Christopher, my Dad and myself headed out last Wed (7.30.08) at 5 a.m. (yes, I did get up at 5 a.m.) We were staying in Breckenridge, so it wasn't too far of a drive to Grays Peak. We were supposed to drive up about 3 miles off the interstate to the trailhead. Only problem once we got to the road leading to the trailhead, was realizing that my brothers SUV was a pansy of an SUV (sorry Chris). We couldn't get up the mountain. While Dad and Chris wanted to call it quits already, I urged them to give it a chance. So we parked the car and began hiking ... 3 miles before neccessary. It was pretty discouraging. It sort of felt like a slow jaunt up hill through a lame forest, rather than a beautiful picturesc mountain climb. After about an hour of that nonsense, and 3 cars driving by without as much stopping to see if we were intentionally walking the road, Dad and I stood in the middle of the road for the next car hoping they would understand we wanted a ride to the trailhead. They got the picture, and had just enough room for the 3 of us. (Well, not really enough room, but we made it work anyway.) We peacefully road the remainder of the way. Thanks to them, we again had a fighting chance at this mountain we were on.

At 6:30 a.m., we began the real thing. We started out at the base at an elevation of 11,280 feet. Our goal was to reach 14,270 at the tippy top. And while this may sound like less than a mile when comparing how many feet are in a mile ... the hike itself was actually about 7.5 miles rountrip (I know, it blows my mind and I don't even like math). I was pumped ... excited ... ready to go. I also sort of felt like Richard Simmons as I tried to encourage the same enthusiasm in my 70 year old father and big man brother (haha Topher). We kept a pace of about ... well ... slow and steady. We stopped frequently to remind Dad to drink, take drinks ourself, remove rocks from shoes, and of course ... visit the outhouse of all outhouses. (Yes, I actually did it. For those of you who know that I'm not much for camping or anything that keeps me away from a real potty for longer than 4 hours ... I successfully became friends with the great outdoor restroom. And even though at one point I was fearing for my tooshie due the bumble bee flying near by (see last post about my fear of stinging creatures)- it all worked out. TMI, huh???)

Well, we reached about 13,000 feet and Dad was feeling it. (So were we, and we aren't even 70. Go Dad !!! We are still so proud of you !!) Dad didn't want to make Chris and I stop though since we only had about 1200 feet left. Again, for those of you who know math - 1200 doesn't seem like much. But oh, let me tell you, to us non athletic folk - 1200 feet at a 45 degree incline (like I know what 45 degrees is Dad just told me that was it) is stinking HARD! Not only hard, but 1 1/2 hours of hard. Chris and I would trade roles on being the motivational speaker while the other would try and call it quits. We did both know that we couldn't give up though. We were too close.

Then finally, we reached it. We made it to the top. As we stood just a few feet away, we looked over to the joining peak (Torreys) and wondered if we were at the top of Grays, or if we had to continue going up. A few short steps later though, we realized we were there. We had arrived. We were on top of a mountain !!! First, we were greated by a family of Mountain Goat. We were amazed at how they didn't care at all that we were staning 10 feet from them. Then we turned and sensed what amazement really was. Everywhere we looked we saw mountain top after mountain top. And no lie, I reached the top only for my iPod to flip to a song that sings, "I will lift my eyes, to the Maker, of the mountains I can't climb". At first I thought - haha were wrong, I climbed it! But then it dawned on me as I looked across all the other peaks, that it was true - I indeed can not climb the mountainS ... just this one (and maybe a few more in my life), but never all. My heart was suddenly struck to the deepest level with the realization that God is SO SO Big, and I am SO SO small. I've always thought the mountains were beautiful because of how small they make me feel.... but this took it to a whole new level. It shouldn't take something as grand as a mountain top to realize I'm not God, but I guess sometimes it just does. Anyway, we hung out at the top for a bit, took lots of pictures that won't do our experience justice, signed our name in the Grays Peak Book of Life, and headed back down. Then stopped because the mountain goats were blocking the trail. Then started again.

It took another 1 1/2 hours to get back to my dad. (Poor guy had to huddle up in a cave for 3 hours while Chris and I had our experience.) It was SO worth it (for us, maybe not so much him). From there it only took another hour to get the rest of the way down. (Total time on trail ... 8 hours.) And wouldn't you know it, the guys who were kind enough to not run over us on the road, but rather give us a lift - they were ending at the same time as us. While panting, we were able to ask if they would be kind enough to cart us back down hill. We just didn't have anything left for 3 more miles. They did. God bless them.

So after my long story, there are a few take aways for me. One, as with every mountain top experience ... it comes to an end (usually quicker than we'd like). The joy of climbing that mountain was sorta crushed by my "Colorado Way" mocking friend. (Only I must say, I'm still pretty darn proud of myself.) And the emotion of how huge God is and how small I am has already been called into question about a million times since returning home. ...... "Really, God, let's try it my way - cuz I really can see the span of eternity and I think I know better what I need right now." haha. So in the words of Bebo Norman - I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the Mountains I can't climb ... both here in Colorado and in my heart. (Yes, yes I did have to relate my hiking experience to my crazy extreme heart.) Below are some photo's, that like my story - do not do that day any justice. You should go climb one for yourself!