Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Football and Misc.

So many things to write about and so little time... I wasn't feeling very well yesterday so my weekly cleaning and laundry didn't get done.  And in the real world, those things don't just go away.  The baby is down for a nap, two loads of laundry are already in the washer and dryer, and I've made a pot of coffee.  The floor is strewn with toys, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and there's a fair number of dirty dishes in the sink.  I have to make pork pie for supper and cookies for the New Years Eve bash at Kevin and Deanna's tonight.  But I suppose those things can wait.  The coffee must be enjoyed and the writing must get done.

First things first, the Packers-Bears game on Sunday was a nail-biter.  Unlike the game that followed it that evening (Cowboys-Eagles), our game was exciting because it was two good teams that really battled it out.  We managed to pull out a win (tho it wasn't very pretty) and won the NFC North.  We're going on to play the 49ers next week.  It's at Lambeau Field and the temps are supposed to be around 10 (with a possibility of snow) and those are always good things when you're playing a team from Cali.  But the 49ers knocked us out of the playoffs last year and went on to be defeated in the SuperBowl so it's going to be a tough game.  The best news is that Aaron Rodgers is back and, if Sunday was any indication, in great shape.  He was criticized for throwing an interception and fumbling but you have to expect a couple mistakes after being on the sidelines for 7 weeks.  The one interception was in the endzone so it didn't hurt us too much and the fumble was recovered by us and we ran it in for a touchdown.  In the last few minutes of the game, we had three 4th downs that we converted on.  The last one, a 4th and 8, was magnificent.  Rodgers was almost tackled but he broke away, running to his left.  He looked downfield and saw what the Bears evidently couldn't see.  Randall Cobb (first time back since a week 6 broken leg) was wide open and headed for the endzone.  Rodgers airs it out to him, Cobb makes the catch, and we're up by a touchdown.  There were a few seconds left but our defense managed to come through and the Bears couldn't score and the game was over.  It was a thing to see.
In other football news, Rony Romo was declared out for the season earlier this week (injury to his back).  If the Cowboys could've beaten the Eagles, they would've advanced to the playoffs.  But in typical Romo fashion, Kyle Orton (the backup) threw an interception in the last few minutes of the game, and that was that.  Eli Manning, who has had 27 interceptions this season, was hit during the game against the Redskins and suffered a sprained ankle.  He stayed in for one more play and, what do you know, threw an interception.  It only seems fitting that the Cowboys would be eliminated from the playoffs on an interception (although it would've been better if Romo himself threw it) and Eli Manning's last throw of the season would be an interception.  The Giants backup was put in and they went on to win the game against the Redskins. Also ironic.

There are also exciting goings-on in the family.  My little sister Bridget is pregnant and the baby is due July 26th.  Also, Daniel's cousin Nicole had her second baby (Connor) right before Christmas.  If we end up staying here in Wichita, Josiah is going to have many cousins to play with as he's growing up.  I know some people were expecting news of wedding bells from another member of the family but that doesn't seem likely now.  I love being married and I'm always sad when I see someone struggling in a relationship and I know they want to be married.  But marrying the wrong person is a horrifying prospect and it's better to struggle and end the relationship than to get married for marriage's sake. 

Well, my cup is running low and I only have another hour and a half before the baby wakes up.  I can usually still get things done when he's up and around but he's gotten more clingly the last few weeks and sometimes he just wants me to play with him.  But that's not a bad thing. :)   

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Anticipation

Christmas is over with for another year. I do believe that December 26th is the saddest day of the year.  All the anticipation and excitement, the presents and stockings, the Christmas Eve service and Christmas carols, reading the Christmas story on Christmas morning, the Christmas lights and decorations, the snow.  And suddenly, it's all done.  Family and friends go home.  Work resumes.  Presents are put away, or used, as the case may be.  The snow melts.  Our decorations and tree are still up but I'm already starting to feel the itch to take them down.  It just doesn't feel right to still have them up when Christmas has passed. 
But the little baby who was laid in a manger 2,000 years ago lives on.  That tiny baby, the Messiah, the Savior, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Because of Him, we have another anticipation that's greater and stronger than waiting for Christmas.
The people of Israel longed for the birth of their Messiah.  Throughout the times of the Old Testament, prophets would speak God's words and promise that He was coming.  After Malachi, there was silence for 400 years.  And then an angel appeared to a young woman, telling her of the baby that she was to carry.  Shepherds in the hills outside Bethlehem were the first to hear the good news.  And then a star appeared, promising to show the Magi a great thing, if they would only follow it.  The young child grew into a young man.  He worked beside His earthly father, learning carpentry and waiting for the time that His heavenly Father had appointed for Him to start His ministry.  That time came.  For 3 years, He taught and loved and healed and rebuked and cried.  And then He was crucified, making the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. Three days later, He rose.  And 40 days after that, He ascended back into heaven.  But that is not the end of the story. 
The anticipation that we have is that He's going to be coming back.  Someday, we will get to see Him face to face.  I think that day will feel like a million Christmas morning's put together.  And we will have that feeling forever. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

The In-Laws

Saturday evening was the somewhat annual Crockpot Supper and Family Christmas Sing.  Daniel's Wichita family got together for a crockpot supper and afterward, we had a time of singing, playing, and reading.  Those who were musically talented played or sang, there were a couple readings, and several regular Christmas carols sung by all.  It was a really fun time. 
The part I liked the best was being able to look around the room and see a family gathered, worshipping God and celebrating the birth of His Son, Jesus.  It makes me sad that I would never see my family do something like that.  Mom and Dad both have 4 siblings and among them and their children, there's one, maybe two, couples that are Christians.  The rest espouse scientology, eastern religion, nothing at all (athiests/agnostics), or some perverted form of Christianity. 
My mother-in-law has 5 siblings.  Two of them (and their families: children and grandchildren) were with us that evening and another two (if not all three) of the others would have joined us if they lived closer.  I was incredibly blessed to marry into a family with strongly held Christian beliefs.  This family argues, laughs, shares, and loves.  They take care of each other, they stand by each other through tough times, they celebrate blessings and accomplishments, and they discuss and debate to sharpen each other.  A high priority is placed on family, marriage is kept sacred, and children are incredible blessings.  They are not perfect by any means but they understand the love and grace that has been extended to them and they try hard to extend that same love and grace to others. 

One of the songs we sang was my favorite Christmas song and I will leave you with the words.
I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Colds and Teething and the Packers

Yesterday I had a cold.  My nose was runny, I had a terrible sinus headache, and my throat was sore.  Today, the cold has all but vanished.  This never happens to me so I'm very thankful.  My kid, on the other hand, is still suffering from something.  Late last week, he started to exhibit the signs of teething.  His eating habits started to change.  He would wake up crying at night.  His nose started to run (clear, not the greenish color of a cold).  And his dirty diapers... let's just say things changed in that department as well.  The only thing he wasn't doing was drooling but I know that some babies swallow most of their drool (which then effects their dirty diapers).  But now that I seem to have gotten a touch of a cold, I wonder if he's just suffering from a cold as well.  If so, this'll be the third one in his short life.  If it is teething, I hope he hurries up and pushes those teeth out because I'm doing a lot more of his laundry than I'm used to.  The change in the dirty diaper department has caused a blow out and an impromptu bath almost every day.  Whatever it is, he's handling it like a trooper.  I didn't do much more than lay on the couch and watch movies yesterday and he played with his toys and the kitties all day with nary a whine. 

In other news, the Packers won on Sunday.  Our beloved quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is still not playing but somehow, Matt Flynn managed to get us a win.  My little brother Cal was at the game and he said it sure wasn't pretty but a win is a win, no matter how you get it.  We still have a small amount of hope of getting into the playoffs but we're heading to AT&T stadium to take on the Cowboys this Sunday.  They just lost to the Bears so hopefully Tony Romo is entering his annual December slump.  If not, it's going to be a tough game.  Rodgers is to be evaluated by his doctor today and will either be given clearance to play on Sunday or he'll be benched for another week.  Even if he does come back, I still don't hold out much hope that we'll make it to the playoffs.  When a quarterback of Aaron Rodgers caliber is injured and out for two months, there's usually not much hope of that team doing anything great that year.  The Patriots would be nothing without Tom Brady.  The Broncos would be done without Peyton Manning.  Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, Drew Brees and the Saints, Andy Dalton and the Chargers.  These teams are nothing without their quarterback.  I'm always sad when the Packers are struggling.  But there's always next year!   

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving

Well, we survived another Thanksgiving.  I say "survived" not because Thanksgiving is a bad thing but because between all the visiting, the baking, the cleaning, the eating, and the overeating, those 4 days are pretty exhausting.  We had Thanksgiving with Daniel's immediate family on Thursday, we had our little Thanksgiving on Friday, and the big extended family Thanksgiving on Sunday.  I think I did pretty good on not eating too much but we now have a fridge full of dessert leftovers... not a good thing when I'm at home all day long! 

The last week has been gorgeous.  We've had sunny days with the temperature getting up to 60.  On Sunday, quite a few of us went for our annual Thanksgiving walk in the park.  We always seem to have nice weather for our Thanksgiving festivities.  On Saturday, Daniel and I were both outside in t-shirts.  Daniel put up our Christmas lights and I was doing some garden work.  But the nice weather is coming to an end.  On Friday, we're supposed to have a high of 25.  I don't mind since I love cold weather and snow.  Maybe we'll have some snow for Christmas this year!

And now we can all turn our attention to Christmas.  The next few weeks are going to be full.  We have some family birthdays coming up in addition to the usual Christmas-y things that we do.  I kind of wish there was more time between Thanksgiving and Christmas so that so much wouldn't be squished into 3 or 4 weeks but no one asked my opinion when the fourth Thursday in November was picked to be the national Thanksgiving Day.  I've already purchased a couple gifts but I still have the bulk of my Christmas shopping to do.  I think I'm going to have to ask my lil sister to babysit one of these days so I can go get it all done at once. 

Let's all keep in mind during this busy time of year that we're celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  It's not about Santa or presents or snow or lights or hot chocolate.  It's about the God-man who humbled Himself and came to earth to give us salvation.  We celebrate Him on Christmas Day.   

Monday, November 25, 2013

Birds

I love birds.  I currently have 11 feeders of differnt sorts hung outside my windows and around the yard.  Some people (my husband included) think I'm a bit of a fanatic.  But I'm not.  After all, I only have one bird book and I don't even have a pair of binoculars.  But I do love birds.  Something about watching them fly around and eat at the feeders is just amazing to me.  One of my feeders is hung right outside Josiah's bedroom window and when the birds are coming in to it to eat, we (I, Josiah, and the cats) will sit there and watch them.  And last week when I filled the feeders, I put some sunflowers on the top step of our back deck so we can watch them hop around on the deck from the sliding door.  It drives the cats crazy.

Of course, we also get lots of squirrels.  We put out corn cobs for them every few weeks and they get the bird feed that falls to the ground but I've managed to set up my feeders so the squirrels can only get to two of them (they're on a shepherds hook outside the kitchen window).  I have a jelly feeder for the Baltimore Orioles on one side and a finch feeder on the other.  The squirrels can't get to the finch feed because the feeding holes are too small and now that the Orioles are gone, I don't mind the squirrels eating the jelly.  Besides, when one climbs up the hook to the jelly feeder, we get to watch a squirrel up close.  There's been many a morning when Josiah was distracted from his breakfast by a squirrel right outside the window. 

We also get some not-so-desirable birds like crows, grackels, and starlings.  I always hate to see a flock of them come flying in.  They scare away the other little birds and empty the feeders in the yard, spilling a lot of the feed on the ground.  Last year they were pretty bad until I moved the suet feeder away from the other feeders.  Evidently those types of birds really like suet and they kept coming back for it and then eating everything else.  The suet is now in the far corner of the yard, hanging from the electric pole.  Hopefully it won't be such an issue this year but if it is, I'm going to try moving it to one of the trees.  Maybe the branches will keep it hidden enough that the bad birds won't find it. 

What kinds of birds do I see, you ask?  Well, this past summer, I finally got Orioles coming in to the nectar and jelly feeders.  But I have yet to see a hummingbird even though I put out a hummer feeder every summer.  Every week or so, I'll see blue jays and cardinals (cardinals are my favorite).  The birds I see most often are sparrows, purple and "regular" finches.  I see lots of robins in the summer and this past summer, I noticed some wrens playing in my garden.  I've also seen what I think is a veery and a thrush at different times.  And I've had some pigeons stop in at the feeders for a snack. 

This morning, we had a real treat.  Josiah and I were sitting on the floor in front of the sliding doors, watching the birds on the back deck.  Suddenly a hawk or hawk-related bird came swooping into the yard and missed, by inches, the head of a squirrel that was sitting under the feeders in the yard.  In a nanosecond, every bird had disappeared and the squirrel retreated to the protection of a tree.  The hawk perched on the branch of one of the trees in our yard and kept looking around, hoping for a juicy meal to appear.  I watched him for a few minutes but decided finally that I'd better scare him away so that the other birds could come back and eat in safety.

And now it's naptime for my son and reluctantly, I'll give up watching the birds to feed him and put him down for his nap.  I have things to do today but as I go about my chores, I always keep one eye looking out the windows, hoping to catch sight of little birds flitting through the air.   

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Matthew 6:26

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trips, Family & Thanksgiving

Josiah and I got home from Wisconsin late last night.  My parents live north of Green Bay and since they live so far away, they don't get to see Josiah very often.  The last time they saw him was in September and, if it weren't for this trip, they wouldn't have seen him again until January.  Four months is a long time to miss in a baby's first year.  I want my son to have a close relationship with both sets of grandparents and that means making some sacrifices to ensure that he gets to see my parents at least a few times a year.  As he gets older and our family gets bigger, it'll get harder to travel that distance (either by plane or car) but family is very important to us and we'll do what we need to to make sure our kids see their grandparents.

Josiah also got to spend some time with two of his uncles and his great grandfather.  Both of my grandmothers are gone but my grandfathers are still living and in relatively good health.  Josiah has seen my dad's dad twice now and he'll get to meet my mom's dad next June when we all go down to Phoenix for his 90th birthday.  Lord willing, all five of Grandpa's great grandchildren will be at his birthday party. 
 
The day after returning from a trip is always weird.  I'm more tired than usual because I was up later than usual.  I have things to do today that I don't normally do on a Wednesday (laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning, etc.).  I want to spend some extra time with my kitties since it's obvious that they missed me.  Plus, Thanksgiving is a week away and I need to start thinking about the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner.  The first Thanksgiving Daniel and I were married, I went a little non-traditional and made Cornish game hens and a turkey breast for our Thanksgiving meal.  He loved them so much that of course it became a Thanksgiving tradition for us.  And, due to my father-in-law being forced to work at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving, the parents/siblings Thanksgiving has been moved to Friday so we'll be doing our own Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day.  The big extended family Thanksgiving is scheduled for Sunday.  Lots of good eating coming up next week!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Repentance

The Christian life is one of constant and frequent repentance.  Just when I think I'm starting to get it together, I'll read something or hear something and realize how wrong and sinful I've been.  An example: I have very strong opinions on the importance of Christians having kids.  Jesus had a heart for children.  One of the commands in the Bible is to go forth and multiply.  I believe Christians need to be adopting and being foster parents as well.  The world is in desperate need of Christian parents who raise godly kids who raise godly kids who raise godly kids for generations.  Our society is, instead, churning out people who are selfish and would rather have a new car or house or vacation home than kids.  It's a travesty and the church is buying into it.  It makes me angry and sad because I know it grieves the heart of God when we put our standard of living above children.  And I tend to judge couples who I know aren't having kids or are waiting because they want to accumulate a bunch of stuff first. 

And then I'll come across something like this.  A blog that I've started to follow has a weekly truth box where people can write "what everyone thinks is true" and "what actually is true."  I was reading through the post of 60 truths and read this one:
"What everyone thinks is true"  -  we're just waiting awhile to have kids
"What is actually true"  -  I've had four miscarriages that only my husband and I know about.  Just holding my friend's baby makes me want to cry.  I miss them so much even though I never knew them.

And just like that, I feel like God hit me right in the forehead with a 2x4.  "You think you know everyone's situation" He says to me "but you don't.  You judge and shout selfishness without knowing that this poor woman's heart has been smashed to pieces."  Repentance and tears follow. 

I'm not wrong about it being pure selfishness to put material comfort or the avoidance of inconvenience ahead of children.  In fact, I truly believe that many Christians will be answering to God on judgment day for that.  But to make an assumption about a couple when I don't know the situation is very wrong and one of the sins I tend to fall into rather frequently.  And that's why there must be constant and frequent repentance. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why Me?

Sometimes I can't help but wonder why I'm so blessed.  And at times, I even feel guilty about it.  I just got done reading another story on facebook of a couple that lost their 6 week old baby to a rare disease.  I look down at my almost 8 month old with tears in my eyes because I can feel, on a very small level, what that mother is feeling and I can't help but wonder why it was her baby that had the disease.  I have a wonderful, devoted, hard working, honest husband and a healthy, bright, energetic almost 8 month old baby who brings so much joy to my life.  I have a comfortable home, a freezer full of food, money in the bank, pets, and the opportunity to stay home with my baby.  And I can't help but wonder why.  Why am I not one of the people going to bed tonight, shivering in tattered blankets under a bridge with an empty stomach?  There's a young woman in our church who was asking me about the adoption process and how we got Josiah... she's had two miscarriages already and she just wants to be a mom.  I know that there's a part of her that feels pain every time she sees me holding my baby.  Why was our adoption so (relatively) easy?  Why were we basically just handed a baby when we weren't even looking for one yet?  Why did we get the baby of a young woman who was placing because she loved her child and therefore took good care of her child while she was pregnant (no drugs or alcohol, took prenatal vitamins, went to all her doctor's visits)?  We never had to worry about getting a crack baby or a baby with birth defects due to alcohol use.
 
And amazingly enough, I still whine.  I still gripe.  I still complain when things don't go the way I want them to.  I get impatient with the beautiful little baby boy that God gave me.  I get discouraged because my husband doesn't make as much money as I wish he did.  It's bad enough that the life I have is totally undeserved.  But I add to it by complaining about aspects of that life.  I'm a royal sinner, or, as Paul puts it, the worst of sinners.  Some people may look at my life and say that I probably deserve at least some of it.  I'm smart, I've had some education, I've made wise decisions, I've worked hard to get to where I am now.  But guess what.  All of those things are also a blessing because God was the one who made me smart, gave me the opportunity to be educated, gave me the ability to work hard.  Even the things that some might say got me to where I am today (which they didn't) are blessings that I don't deserve.  And that's why I wonder.  I'm a sinner deserving of hell and the wrath of God.  But I've been saved by His amazing grace and blessed beyond imagination.  Why?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lessons Learned

I'm beginning to believe that one of the hardest things about parenting is sitting back and watching.  As a parent, I want to always be there to catch my kid before he hits the ground (metaphorically speaking) but in my head, I know that's a horrible parenting technique.  Just this morning, I was sitting in the living room, watching my son playing with one of his toys.  He dragged it over to the coffee table, pulled himself up, and, while hanging on to the table with one hand, reached down to pick up the toy and put it on the table.  The toy is fairly large and unwieldy and heavier than most of his toys.  The first attempt resulted in the toy getting caught on the edge of the table and he dropped it.  He adjusted his footing to get a little more leverage, reached down, and managed to get the toy onto the table.  However, after a minute of playing with it, he accidently pushed it off and the process of getting it back onto the table started again.  I just sat and watched.  In that moment, I could've made his life easier and put the toy on the table for him and made sure it stayed there.  But I can't and won't be that mom. 

I want my kid to succeed and fail on his own.  When he succeeds, he'll be building confidence in himself and his abilities.  When he fails, he'll learn to keep trying until he does succeed.  I think lessons like these need to start being taught at a very young age (my son is 7.5 months old).  When my son is in a college classroom and can't figure out a problem or on the job site and can't resolve an issue, I want him to be able to look back at a lifetime of successes and have the confidence in his abilities to be able to solve the problem and fix the issue.  I want him to be able to think outside the box.  I want him to just try different things until something works.  He'll also have examples in his past of times he failed.  Those will serve to keep him grounded and humble, to realize that he may not get it the first time or he may need to ask for assistance from someone else.  Doing everything for our kids so they never get to experience failure or success is bad parenting.  Our kids need to succeed and our kids need to fail.  So for your child's sake, just sit back and watch.  If they need your help, they'll ask.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Where in the World is Ben Cartwright?

One of my all time favorite shows is Bonanza.  Reruns are aired everyday at 1 PM on a local station and if I'm at home, I usually try to watch while having lunch and cleaning the kitchen.  Bonanza was one of the TV shows that my parents allowed us to watch (on DVD) when we were younger and I've enjoyed getting to know Ben and Little Joe, Adam and Hoss all over again. 

Now, keeping in mind that these are fictional characters on a TV show, I can't help but ask, where in the world is Ben Cartwright?  Or more specifically, where is he on TV today?  Ben Cartwright is a man's man.  He carries a gun, herds cattle, fixes fences, breaks horses and commands his hired men.  He cares for his neighbors and friends.  He gives of his resources to help out others in need.  He defends those who are too weak or helpless to defend themselves.  He's always respectful of women.  He's kind to children.  He's tough and gentle with his sons who he has raised to manhood.  He's a man that others respect (except the lawless element of course).  He thinks before he speaks and rarely speaks rashly.  As far as I know, he didn't receive any formal education (college) but he reads a lot and is always improving his mind.  He's intelligent and wise and is able to solve problems using brains rather than guns.  However, in that time, sometimes guns were the only option and he knew when they had to be used but was careful and did not shoot unnecessarily.  He believed a man was innocent until proven guilty.  He believed in and trusted his sons.  He knew how to take a joke and could laugh at himself instead of getting defensive.  He was, in some sense, the ideal man.  To measure a flesh and blood man against him today would be, to a certain extent, unfair.  But to measure how men and fathers are portrayed on TV today against Ben Cartwright is not.  So again I must ask, where is he today?  There are a few modern TV shows that my husband and I watch - Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, The Office.  And I see previews of TV shows during football games so I have a fairly decent handle on what TV shows are like today.  Not once have I seen a man or father portrayed in a positive light, let alone coming close to Ben Cartwright.  Men act like spoiled children, fathers are stupid and the butt of the joke, women and children mock men and never give them any respect.  It amazes me that men are willing to play those roles for TV. 

Where are the men who are respectful of women and kind to children?  Where are the husbands and fathers who lead their families with love and kindness and a firm commitment to the right?  Where are the men that we, the viewers, can look up to?  It's frankly nauseating to see how men are portrayed and treated in TV shows.  Hopefully it sickens you too. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Weekend

I love the weekend.  I get a couple full days with my husband.  Usually we'll run a few errands on Saturday or do some work outside.   We go to church on Sunday morning and, during this time of year, watch football Sunday afternoon and evening.  This past weekend was especially fun.  We did some work around the house on Saturday morning and then went to Perfect Peace and Hobby Lobby on Saturday afternoon.  I was looking for some nice stationary at Perfect Peace (which I did not find) and the hubby wanted to see if he could find a puzzle at Hobby Lobby.  He got a pretty neat puzzle, we got a cross made from large nails or spikes to hang on the wall above the stairs, and we got Josiah a kids nativity (Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and a sheep).  After shopping, we stopped at Brahms to get some ice cream and then went over to Sedgwick County Park to walk for a little while.  It was a gorgeous afternoon.  The leaves are starting to turn and fall from the trees.  It was sunny and about 70 degrees.  Josiah was sleeping so we just put him in the stroller and enjoyed some time together, talking and walking. 

The sermon on Sunday morning was about being a learner.  As Christians, we're supposed to always be humbly learning from the Bible and from others.  No matter how long we've lived or how long we've been a Christian or how much we've studied, there's always more to learn.  It was a good sermon and I was able to pay attention since Josiah is now in the nursery.  We had lunch with the hubby's family and then came home to do a few chores and watch some football.  Most of the wins and losses weren't surprising.  The three teams who I care about won - Chiefs, Broncos, and Packers.  The Packers and Broncos games were nail biters in the beginning but both teams have good quarterbacks and receivers and beat the other teams handily.

I was especially impressed with my Packers.  We've had terrible injuries this season and Aaron Rodgers was down to one veteran receiver.  The others were rookies who started in the last couple weeks.  However, if you have a good quarterback (which we do), he'll put the ball right into the hands of the receivers.  He was a little more careful with the new guys and didn't give them any risky throws.  But his one veteran receiver, Jordy Nelson (a K-Stater), can catch anything and when Rodgers couldn't find an open receiver, the ball went to Jordy.  One reason I really like Rodgers is because he does include the younger, less experienced receivers.  You look at other teams and the QB always seems to have a favorite receiver.  Tom Brady has Gronkowski (when he's not injured), Christian Ponder has Adrian Peterson, Peyton Manning has Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas, etc.  But part of having a good team is bringing rookies on board and letting them get some confidence and experience on the field.  And it seems to be working for us. 

The one surprise/not surprise was the Chiefs.  They're the only undefeated team in the league (every time an announcer says that, it's always coupled with a "I just can't believe it!").  Last year, they were the worst team in the league.  I think all fans and people who are interested in the Chiefs are holding their breath and waiting for the other shoe to fall.  It just seems too good to be true.  They do have a new QB and I think they have a new coach but still... it's almost impossible to revamp a team in one year.  You have to have a good foundation and build on that and when you're the worst team in the league, you don't have a good foundation and you don't build that in a year.  Some of their wins have been easy and some have been hard fought, but the teams they've beaten all have more loses than wins right now (except the Cowboys who are 4-4).  I just don't think they can stack up against the really good teams - Patriots, Bengals, Colts, Broncos, Saints, Seahawks, 49ers, even the Packers or Lions.  But, only time will tell.  The rest of the season should prove to be exciting.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Christmas Giving

It's that time of year to start thinking about the holidays.  Thanksgiving will be upon us in another month and Christmas will follow on Thanksgiving's heels.  As I contemplate this time of year, there are several thoughts I'd like to share with you.

First, I'm saddened by the number of stores that are deciding to open on Thanksgiving to start the Black Friday rush.  I don't hate Black Friday as some people seem to but I do hate what it seems to do to people.  The selfishness and greed and hatred of others that dominates on that day is a sad way to end our day of national thankfulness.  Here we are, a nation that God has blessed beyond imagination, and we're willing to trample someone to death if it means we get the "toy" that we have our eye on.  It must truly grieve God to see us on that day, and I hope it grieves all of us as well.  As Christians, I don't think we should necessarily avoid Black Friday shopping.  Stores do have some good deals and on a grander scheme, it does give a boost to our flagging economy but please, keep in mind that we are to love people and use things, rather than love things and use people.
 
Second, and related to the first, as you're picking out gifts for your friends and family this year, keep in mind that there are people in our country and around the world who are desperately in need.  Spend some time praying about what organizations you'll support this year.  Christmas is not about us.  God gave us the incredible gift of His Son and out of His love for us and our love for Him, we are to love and serve others.  Practically this means giving to organizations that send food and clothing and medical supplies to people living in poverty.  Or perhaps your church does a coat drive at Christmas.  Buy a coat and throw it in the bin.  Maybe you know of a single mom who's struggling to make ends meet and doesn't have the money to get gifts for her children.  Buy a gift for the kids and maybe even one for the mom. 

Third, it's important to be an example for your kids when it comes to gift giving at Christmas.  As a kid growing up in a family of eight, I remember my parents being generous even though we didn't have a lot of money.  I remember them giving to Angel Tree, an organization that's part of Prison Fellowship and that purchases gifts for children who's parent(s) are in prison.  That made an impression on me and my husband and I now give to that organization at Christmas.  My parents and siblings and I would also do a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.  At the time, I was conflicted.  Here were children that I didn't even know getting new things or things that I didn't even have.  But I was also happy that we were giving to children in poverty at Christmas.  Again, that made an impression on me.  For the last few years, my husband and I have put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.  We also support this really awesome organization (Samaritans Purse) that puts out a catalog of different things you can purchase for people in poverty.  We always like to buy a goat or some chickens that will be given to people so they can have a sustainable food source.  I don't say all this to brag about what we do but to brag on my parents.  I had a good example of what it means to love and serve and give to others and because of that, my family will continue that legacy.  I will teach my son the importance of giving by being an example to him as my parents were an example to me.   

Matthew 25:35-40
'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dear Martha

I'm a Martha.  I enjoy running my household.  I enjoy keeping my house clean, doing the laundry, cooking meals, gardening, and the many other things that housewives must do to maintain their home.  When I know that company is coming over, I go into overdrive and clean clean clean.  When I don't know that company is coming over and someone just shows up (which, thankfully, doesn't happen very often), I tend to panic and sometimes things get shoved into closets and drawers before the front door is opened. 
But you may notice from the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 that Martha was the one who was gently admonished by Jesus.  Now if you're a Mary, your tendency will probably be to look at the story and use it to justify your filthy house and the frozen pizza dinner for the tenth night in a row.  But I don't think that's the point of the story.  The point wasn't really what each sister was doing at that exact moment but what their priorities looked like.  After all, if Mary was always sitting on the floor doing nothing, Jesus would have admonished her for that as well. 
Ever since Josiah came into our lives, I've had to make conscious decisions every day to realign my priorities.  As I walk by my son for the fifth time and he still has his arms up, wanting to be picked up and held, I need to set down the load of laundry and pick him up.  I need to stop planning the perfect dinner and sit down and read him a book.  I need to stop worrying about sticking to a schedule or a list and spend time with my son.  My tendency will always be to keep house first.  But the house will always be there.  The dirty laundry will always be there.  The pots and pans in the sink will always be there.  My son won't always be with me and I need to reprioritize so I can spend lots of time playing with him, talking with him, reading to him, and rocking him to sleep.
A little caution for the Mary's whose tendency it is to always play with the kids and just watch their house fall down around their ears.  Part of being a good mother is teaching your child to work hard.  If you're always leaving the dirty dishes or laundry for tomorrow, your child might grow up thinking that work isn't important at all which will be very detrimental to him/her.  There are many warnings in the Bible about laziness.  Besides, always being at your child's beck and call is not a good thing to teach them.  They need to learn to entertain themselves and as they get older to eventually realize that sometimes mom can't just stop what she's doing to read a book or play in the yard.  The key is balance.  If I'm spending all my time cleaning and no time with my son, I need to scale back the cleaning and play with my son.  If there's only play, I need to wash a few dishes and vacuum the floor. 
But since I'm a Martha, I write specifically for you other Martha's because I know how you feel.  Don't miss out on your kids because your housekeeping got in the way.  Teach them good habits, yes, but also teach them that family is magnificently important and spending time with them is a wonderful thing.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Joys of Parenthood

It seems an eternity since I last wrote.  One of the biggest changes that can happen in a person's life happened for us 7 months ago yesterday when our baby boy was placed in our arms.  Our whole life changed.  Our priorities changed.  Our schedules changed.  The way we spend our time, how we spend our money, who we spend most of our time talking about, it all changed.  As any new parent will tell you, some of it sucks.  Getting up at night to feed him is not my favorite thing to do.  Changing a dirty diaper is even farther down on the list.  And getting peed or thrown up on?  I can definitely say that's the least favorite.  But to stop at that only tells a small sliver of the story.  And I think it does a great disservice to couples who are thinking about starting a family.  Most of what we heard from parents before we got our son was:  "You won't get any sleep.  The baby will be crying all the time.  You'll always be covered in pee, poo, and puke.  Your sex life will die.  You won't have any money.  Basically, your life will be over."  And truthfully, there are little parts of that (varying in percentages depending on the baby) that are true.  But do you know what?  Most of the time it's super awesome!  In fact, I'd say it's 95% awesome and 5% suck.  Being a parent is in the top three of the most amazing things that has happened to me.  I LOVE my kid.  I love seeing him smile and hearing him laugh.  I love watching him explore and learn new things.  I love giving him a bath and rocking him to sleep.  I love how he holds onto my leg with all the strength in his little arms and hands because after standing up, he can't figure out how to sit back down without falling down.  I love how, as soon as he catches sight of me in the morning, the biggest grin pops onto his face.  I love how, as he catches sight of Daddy coming home from work, the biggest grin pops onto his face.
I know the tendency is to talk about all the bad things about being a new parent.  But maybe parents should spend more time talking about all the good things.  I don't usually like to go the whole "what if he/she dies!" route but maybe that will add a little perspective here.  The way some parents talk makes it sound like they'd be happier if they hadn't had the child and that's really sad.  So, fellow parents, let's resolve to spend more time talking about the good things about being a parent.  The joys, the laughter, the love, the incredible blessing that we hold in our arms.