Monday, March 24, 2014

A Cranky Child

Today was one of those very, very rare days that I was in my pajamas until noon.  My little guy hasn't been feeling well.  I'm not sure if it was the vaccinations he got on friday or the tooth that's coming in or a combination of both but he's been unusually cranky and clingy.  He woke up during the night at least once the last three nights (which is very rare for him) and he's woken up and started crying at 6 AM the last three mornings.  By 8:30 this morning, he needed some consolation and a nap.  I had fed him and we had both eaten breakfast but nothing else had gotten done.  I sat down in the chair with him to rock for a little while and he promptly fell asleep.  I dozed off not long after him but woke up after awhile and had to content myself with perusing facebook and playing on my phone while he slept.  He needed the sleep and it was too risky to try to move him to his bed.  He woke up at 11:30 and we both had lunch before I was finally able to shower and get dressed.  I didn't mind though.  My little guy isn't a natural snuggler so a few hours with him sleeping in my arms is a rare luxury. 

We had some news this week that was rather disconcerting.  I don't really want to go into detail but needless to say, one of my siblings did something impulsive and unexpected and frankly a little stupid, and it's thrown the rest of us for a loop.  I grew up with them and I know them better than I know almost anybody else but some of their actions are still hard for me to comprehend. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another Generation Grew Up

I was reading the first few chapters of Judges last night and came across a verse that was rather curious to me.  Judges 2:10: "After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel."  The generation that passed away was the generation of Israelites who had marched across the Jordan and conquered the Promised Land.  They saw many miracles from God as God gave them the ability to conquer the land against overwhelming odds.  God dwelt in their midst and spoke to them often.  In Deuteronomy 6:6-12, God says "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you.... be careful that you do not forget the Lord..."

God tells them to read, talk about, meditate on, and teach the commandments He gave them but it's obvious from the verse in Judges that they didn't do it.  He specifically commanded them to teach their children and they didn't do it and a whole generation grew up who didn't know God.  This is just amazing to me (in a bad way).  All it took was one generation of people not doing what the Lord had commanded them to do and the next generation completely turned away from a God who they didn't know.  As a parent, this is pretty scary.  We have an awesome responsibility to introduce our children to the God who we serve.  And this can't just be a once a day devotional (although that's better than nothing).  God makes it clear in Deuteronomy that everything we do can and should be used to refocus ourselves on God and teach our children about Him.  It's true that the salvation of our children doesn't depend on us... we can't make them be saved.  But I truly believe that God uses parents to help get the Good News of His salvation to our children.   

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Kitties

I have been facing this question for some time now: when is it time to put down your pet?  How much do you do, how much do you put up with, how much expense do you bear before it's just not justifiable anymore?  I do believe that the answer to that question is different for every pet owner and very much dependent on the situation.  Here's my situation.  We have three cats.  You might think that's a lot but I grew up on a farm and we always had a dog or two and a cat or two in the house, in addition to the other dogs and cats (different quantities at various times) and farm animals in the barn.  I'm used to being surrounded by animals.  I've had my old kitty, Nibbles, for a long time.  She was one of the kittens of a litter that was born when I was 8 or 9 and for some reason, really took to me.  When I got married and moved here to Wichita, she came with me.  I'm not exactly sure how old she is but she's at least 15, possibly a couple years older.  My other two kitties, brothers, were acquired after we moved to our current house.  My husband and I were looking for a piano for him and we went to see one at the home of a lady who had two kittens left from a litter.  One was the runt (turns out he wasn't... he was just a short hair or medium hair and the others were long hairs) and she didn't want the runt to be by himself so we took both.  It was a good decision because Nib is too old to play with them so they have each other to play with.  They are now going on 4 years old. 

But back to Nibbles.  A couple years ago, I noticed that her health was deteriorating.  She had gotten thin, wasn't eating a lot, and drank lots of water.  I took her to the vet, expecting the worst.  The vet said she had diabetes which is treatable with insulin.  At the time, I wasn't really given the option to put her on insulin or have her put down.  The vet just assumed I'd treat her and since I wasn't mentally prepared to lose her yet, I went along with it.  Since that time, I give her two insulin shots a day.  She recovered her health, as much as an old cat can.  But she's only gotten older and I really wonder if I should be prolonging her life.  The insulin is rather expensive and although the doses are small, it still adds up.  But after this long, how do I say that I'm going to put down my kitty just for financial reasons?  Can we afford the insulin and syringes?  Yes, right now we can.  Do I want to afford them?  No, not really.  That money could be spent on other things or saved.  But since she hasn't had any health crisis since the diagnosis, there's not really any reason other than financial to make the ultimate decision.  She's old and I know it's just a matter of time before her body and internal organs start failing.  Do I just wait until she has cancer or some other disease that we definitely aren't going to treat? 

I've never had to make this type of decision before and it's definitely the hardest decision I've ever faced.  I love my kitty.  She's been with me for as long as I can remember.  But she's just not in good healthy anymore.  As far as I can tell, she's not suffering at all.  She seems quite content to sleep away most of the days and nights.  But I have to make that decision at some point.  Do I make it now or wait until she gets something incurable?  Sometimes I really wish I could hand over all the responsibilities of adulthood and go back to being a carefree child.  Wouldn't that be wonderful? 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

1 Year Old and College Accounts

My son is now 1 year old.  It's a hard transition to make in my mind but as he walks more, has more energy, gets more stubborn, and acts more like a toddler, it gets easier to "see" that he's 1.  When he was first born and in the first days and weeks of his life, there was a part of me that somehow didn't think we'd ever make it here.  I mean, he was so little!  How could he ever be 1 year old?  But he grew and grew and grew and now, here we are.  I have loved every stage so far and as much as I don't want him to grow up, I also can't wait to see what he'll be like next year and the year after. 

We had Josiah's birthday party on Saturday.  All of Daniel's family from Wichita was here and we had a good time.  Josiah got lots of toys and clothes and he definitely enjoys the toys he got.  He's transitioning to bigger kid toys now so he got things more suited to his age and more challenging for him which is good.  However, I think we're going to start something that my parents did for me and my siblings.  When we were growing up, we had 8 aunts and uncles (each of our parents had 4 siblings) plus two sets of grandparents.  That's a lot of toys at each birthday and Christmas.  My parents decided to instead set up a college fund for each of us.  The aunts and uncles and grandparents would contribute to those funds at birthdays and Christmas instead of sending or giving us presents.  We would still get a couple things from Mom and Dad, and Grandma and Grandpa (Dad's parents) who lived very close to us would take us shopping for a gift.  I remember not being too thrilled with the college fund thing as a child but that totally changed when I started looking at colleges as a high school student.  Setting up a college fund for each of us was one of the best things Mom and Dad ever did.  I've had two years of college and still have a chunk of money left in my account.  My sister has her RN and is only now starting to pay for school to get her bachelor's degree.  My older sister and one of my younger brother's probably won't use their money because they have the GI Bill.  My youngest brother is just starting school and he's using his money and my other brother used his to get a trade school degree (mechanic?).  My husband, on the other hand, has a master's degree and we have the value of our house's worth of school debt from that.  His only option was to take out loans but because of that debt that we now have, I especially want to make sure Josiah has at least a couple years of school paid for when he graduates from high school.  Whether he even goes to college is a different issue but I want that option available to him.  Too many young adults these days are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt when they graduate from college, and that's before even buying a house!  We already have a savings account set up for Josiah (which we'll roll over to a 529 account when we have enough money) and we contribute to it pretty regularly but I think in the future, we're going to cut out the mounds of presents and just ask for contributions to his college account instead.  I'm not sure how to broach this topic with the hubby's family... talking about money is always a bit awkward but we have to do what we think is best for our family.  Thankfully, Christmas is still 9 months away!  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Big God

A few days ago, my sister and bro-in-law were at the mall and were accosted by a group of Seventh Day Adventists.  My sister, not one to keep her mouth shut, got into it with them.  I'm proud of her for speaking up because they were telling lies and my sister knows the Bible well enough to refute some of what they were saying.  I was regaled with the tale after the fact and the one thing Bridget said they kept saying was that they understood the Bible and God.  They completely understood God.  I've been thinking about that for a couple days now and I've come to two conclusions. 

First, they are most definitely wrong.  How arrogant do you have to be to say that you, of ALL the people on the earth, have a complete understanding of the Bible and God?  The reason there's so many denominations is because different people interpret the Bible in different ways.  Some of the smartest people on earth have studied the Bible and can't figure out major parts of it.  It's very dangerous and, in my opinion, heretical to say that you've got it all figured out.  In Isaiah 55:8-9, God makes it clear that He is far above us in understanding: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  Besides that, if anyone was going to have it all figured out, it would be Solomon, the wisest man in all the world.  He never claimed to understand God or the Bible.

Second, I would not and could not worship a god that I could understand.  If I could understand God, He would be much too small to be worthy of worship.  Just as no human being can wrap their head around the vastness of the universe, so no human being can wrap their mind around God.  And for this I'm glad.  My soul longs to worship a big God.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Books and Slavery

About a week ago, I finished a book and started another one.  The one I finished was "No Life For A Lady," written by Agnus Morley Cleaveland about her experiences growing up on a New Mexico cattle ranch.  It was very humorous but included a lot of good information about what life was like at the end of the 19th century on a remote ranch in the rugged mountains of the southwest. 

I started "Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West."  I'm reading about Lewis' early life as a plantation owner (his father died when he was pretty young and his mother married again, only to lose another husband to the Revolutionary War so Lewis was saddled with the responsibility of managing the extensive Lewis holdings).  He was a wanderer at heart, though, and dearly wanted to put off his responsibilities and head west.  His mother, a strong woman who had already endured much hardship, was fairly capable of running the plantation and as his brothers got older, Lewis turned more and more toward the west.  Right now, he's an officer in the small standing army that America has, stationed in Ohio to help protect settlers from the Indians. 

As I was reading, I was struck again by how much the men of the Revolutionary War period were a mass of contradictions.  These two sentences from the book sum it up:
"No man did more for human liberty than Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and of Virginia's Statute of Religious Freedom, among other gifts to mankind. Few men profited more from human slavery than Jefferson."
"How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of negroes?"

The book contends, and is corroborated by Jefferson's own writings, that he hated slavery.  He considered it a curse on the states and wished to see it abolished... but not in his lifetime.  Is this not highly hypocritical?  He hated it... but he profited from it.  He wanted it abolished... but expected a future generation to do it.  Ahh, and a future generation would abolish slavery and it would end up tearing the country apart.  One wonders if it would not have been better to abolish slavery while the country was still young and resilient, not set in its ways and so dependent on the backs of slaves that a whole economy would collapse when it was finally done away with. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Politics

The older I get, the more I realize that our only hope is Jesus.  This might sound strange coming from someone who's been a Christian for more than half her life but it's something that I've only recently come to be absolutely convinced of.  You see, I love politics and history.  If I had gotten a bachelor's degree, it would've been a double major of poli sci and history or a major and a minor.  As it was, most of my classes were history and poli sci classes.  In my continued pursuit of education outside the classroom, I still read mostly history books with a few theological books tossed in for good measure.  And with my passions, I used to think that, if we just elected the right (read Christian) people and passed the right laws, we'd be headed down the right path as a country.  And this is not true. 

This is what I now believe:  As a Christian and the citizen of a country, I believe we are called to participate in the political arena.  Whether that just means voting in every election or whether that means running for political office, campaigning for a politician, or championing an issue, I think we must be involved.  There are Christians that will disagree with me and say that we should just wash our hands of the whole political process but I think they're wrong.  The political process won't make us a "good" country and the political process definitely won't change the hearts and minds of people... but through the political process, we might be able to.  Through our fight for freedom of religion and speech, our pastors are able to keep preaching the truth.  Through our fight for freedom of assembly, we're able to keep meeting as a church.  Through our fight for lower taxes, we're able to use more of our money for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom.  Through the battles that we fight in the ballot box or on the podium, we're fighting to give ourselves the opportunity to continue to speak the truth and see people's lives changed.  Now, we will still speak the truth even if that is outlawed but freedom of speech sure makes it a whole lot easier. 

There's a second fight that we should also be waging in the political arena and that's the fight for justice.  This includes fighting for laws that protect the unborn, fighting for laws that protect women and children from sex trafficking, fighting for funding for foster care or safe houses for battered women.  We are specifically called to care for and protect those who can't defend themselves.  Part of that is opening one's wallet or donating time or resources but another and equally important part is using the political structure that's in place to help us in our fight for the defenseless. 

Politics has become such a dirty word in our country and rightfully so.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be involved.  Just keep in mind that laws don't change people.  The message of Jesus' love and forgiveness changes and saves people.  Bring that message with you wherever you go, even into the political arena. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Last Will and Testament

My husband and I just got done writing our will.  We started it soon after Josiah was adopted but, because of one thing or another, didn't finish it until now.  In the will, we specified what is to be done with our assets, how to pay our outstanding debts, who will execute our will, who gets what of our possessions and, most importantly, named two sets of guardians for Josiah.  I think it's very important for parents to have a will or, at the very least, have guardians named for their children.  Being a good parent includes planning for the "what if" scenarios.  The hubby and I both have fairly substantial (by our standards anyway) life insurance policies and that money will be used to care for Josiah in the unlikely event of our deaths, the remainder reverting to him when he turns 18. 

The conversations recently have been rather morbid.  We have to provide instructions for scenarios that we hope and pray never happen.  The thought of both of us dying and leaving our son an orphan is horrible.  We also had to provide instructions for what to do if all three of us should be killed.  Death and dying is not a subject that anyone enjoys but we're all going to face death and we need to make sure our earthly affairs are taken care of.  For those of us who have the assurance of heaven, our biggest concern is those who will be left behind.  There's a measure of peace knowing that we've done what we could to make sure our son is taken care of if we're not around to do it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dear Mother Of Your First Child

Dear Mother Of Your First Child,

There is something that you need to hear.  You need to hear this daily as you're confronted by comments, questions, articles, research, and sometimes even accusations.  Listen to me, and if you need to, say this over and over to yourself.

You love your child more than anyone else on the planet.  You know your child better than anyone else on the planet. 

The choices you make for your child will not be the same choices that other mother's make for their children... and that's okay.  You can't look to someone else for how to be the best mother for your child because every child is different and you were given the unique privilege of mothering this child.  Not her child.  Not his child.  This child.  The one you hold in your arms. 

If you don't want to use cloth diapers, don't use cloth diapers.  If you want to feed your baby jarred baby food, feed your baby jarred baby food.  If you don't want to co-sleep with your baby, don't co-sleep with your baby.  You make the decisions on everything from discipline to food to clothing to education.  And that's good!  Because you know your child better than anyone else does.  And because of how much you love your child, you will do the best you can for your child.  And yes, the best you can is good enough.  Despite what the media says, you don't have to be perfect.  In fact, you shouldn't want to be perfect!  If you were perfect, how do you teach your child how to apologize?  If you were perfect, how do you teach your child to have grace for those who mess up?  If you were perfect, how do you teach your imperfect child how to live in an imperfect world?

Be wise, dear mother who questions herself.  Don't make decisions out of ignorance or coercion or fear of other's opinions.  Do research.  Ask questions.  Get guidance from those who you trust and who have gone before you.  And then trust yourself.  You know what you're doing.