Monday, January 30, 2012

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

(This post is part of item 6 on my 2011-2012 Resolving Life post.)

We're reading a book about training children.  The premise is that we should train E for situations before they actually occur so that we're not disciplining and training at the same time...which is kind of frustrating and generally unfair to her.

The primary objectives in the upcoming months are learning the word "no" (that will be this week-ish, btw), and also learning (once she's mobile) to come when we call her the first time.  


I actually just sighed out loud thinking about the days ahead.  I have enjoyed being the mom of an infant for the last 7 months.  She's kind of like a live baby doll.  She does what I want her to do, she stays where I put her, and she smiles when I ask her to.  

Or, she did.  

That began changing around a few weeks ago.  (insert another sigh here)  She is still quite lovable, but she has her own little mind, and her own little personality doesn't always agree with me.  Shocking. 

Anyway, stay tuned for some delightful updates on the training front.  It promises to be quite exciting.

As I was saying, we're reading this book.  It discusses how children may make wrong decisions, but before they know the decisions are wrong and actively choose to disobey, they aren't held accountable for their sins.  

But, at some point, every person has their moment where they face their tree of good and evil, and (as the author points out), so far everyone except for Jesus has failed in that moment.

I burst into tears when I read that.  

As I sat with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, it made me wonder how God felt on the day He woke up in Heaven on the day Adam and Eve disobeyed.  

(yes...I know His time is different, and He doesn't sleep, etc., etc., etc., but whenever that moment was on the verge of occurring in God-time...)  

I wonder if Jesus prayed for them to make the right decision one last time before they sinned.  He prayed for Peter not to fall away, and that after he did, that Peter would come back.  (Lk. 22:31-32)  I hope Jesus will be praying for Emily in her moment, too.  I think he does.  He died for us for just that reason, and he always lives to intercede for us. (Heb. 7:25)


My baby girl, while born into sin as a human being, still hasn't had her moment to willfully flaunt her sinfulness in the face of God (or us), but the day will come.  When it does, she will fail.  There is nothing I can do to stop her.  I can't reason with her about why it's better to do things God's way, and how He knows best, and why life will just kind of go downhill once she chooses to be disobedient to Him.  I can't tell her that she will spend many hours with an aching emptiness, wondering if anyone (even her parents) love her, and that until she chooses to embrace God's gift of Jesus on the cross, she will never find true joy, or love, or peace, or any of the other fruits that come from a relationship with Him. 

I think even harder than that, though, is that I have to recognize that my baby girl doesn't ultimately belong to me, and I cannot make decisions for her.  I have to trust the One who has rescued me from the pit of despair to do the same for my child.  To make her His child, too.  We have been praying for this since before she was born.  Frankly, since long before I became pregnant.

What can I do, then?  My job is to simply trust God, serve Him, and wholly love Him.  Then, my secondary job is to be the best Mama I can.  I know so many people who've had parents whose lives pushed them further from God.  I've also been privileged to experience the fruit of second and third generations of godly parenting for myself and Matt, and I know that being a godly parent is possible.  I never want anything that I do to be a hindrance to her relationship with our Savior.

So...I will begin training Miss E very, very soon.  But, as I do, I will also be training myself.  I'll be working on my own discipline and example, because that will train her just as much as anything else.


Update:  I actually typed this a few weeks ago, but I forgot to post it till now.  We've begun working on "no" already.  She understands it most of the time and cries at me in frustration (a fake, annoyed cry...not a real, sad-baby cry) when I tell her no.  But, she has also begun to stop when I tell her no.  In fact, last week, I was at the other end of the room, and she obeyed me despite the distance.  We still need to work on it, but it's coming along.

The current issue we're having is that she is a screamer.  She SCREAMS when we go into her room, because she knows it'd time for a diaper change or a nap, and she doesn't like either option.  I'm not positive, but I think she's going to be a dramatic one.  :)  Oh!  And she wants to be held all the time, too.  By me. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sharing the Gospel Without An Argument?

I was once taught how to share the Gospel without an argument.  

It was a method where people would read the Scriptures as I pointed them out and then answer questions that could only be answered one way 
(thus, no argument).  
At the end, I asked if they believed what they had read.  
If yes, they could choose to be saved.  If not, then they couldn't.  
*I'm not sure I ever actually employed said method.

I actually haven't thought about it in a long time until today.

Today, I enjoyed my third visit with Jehovah's Witnesses.  There is always the same woman and then a different partner with her each time.  
I'm pretty sure I irritate my regular woman.  
Positive, in fact.
I don't mean to, I just kind of can't help it.  
She says, "The Bible says _(some random sentence)__ in verse such and such, so the Bible says ___(insert over-reaching-out-of-context-truth-here)____."  
I can't help it.  I stop her and disagree.  
I know it probably upsets her, and I try really hard to be respectful, but when someone tells me what the Bible says and they quote something out of context, I just have to speak up.

Today, I invited them in, and we sat around my very-messy kitchen table with some traces of leftover Christmas decorations floating around.  (Not very PC with the J.W.'s, but I couldn't help it...they knocked while I was putting them away.)  

**And for the Grinches out there who may be judging me:  We were gone for two weeks during Christmas, so we celebrated an extra two weeks here, and then we've been busy.  
If you still feel the need to judge, here you go:  First year of our marriage, we didn't actually know what to do with our live tree after Christmas, so we kind of left him up until Mother's Day.  Really.  Not making it up.  Feel free to judge me on that one.  His name was Clarence, and he was wonderful.

Anyway, we sat down, and they had me read from a book and then answer very detailed questions about what I had read that could only have one possible answer.  

They didn't leave room for dissent.  Or thinking.  Or anything.  
Just pre-scripted answers to uber-specific questions written by some Watchtower man in the paragraph I had just read.

Another side a teacher, I often did questions like this.  I see now that this wasn't actually asking the children to think at all.  
It's amazing how my students ever learned anything when I treated them in such a dumbed-down way sometimes.  
(Not always...but sometimes.)  
Higher-level thinking involves critique and questioning and reasoning.  NOT regurgitating.  (Which, is really just throwing up.  Throwing up answers I just fed them.  Ew.  Gross.)

So that's how I felt.  I felt like I was just vomiting out what they had force fed me.  I also felt uncomfortable and went on and shared my opinion anyway, 'cause I couldn't help it.

Anyway, the point of all of this, is that Christianity needs to be examined in light of it's claims.  What is it really?  On this side of today, I feel especially strongly that we do a great disservice to anyone upon whom we try to force the Gospel without an argument.

The Gospel is divisive.  It says that I'm not the center of my world, that I'm not good enough, that there is an absolute standard outside of my feelings and beliefs.  It says that if I choose to become a follower of Christ, then rough stuff is ahead.  The Gospel is the only solution to all of the major problems and questions we face, but accepting it forces us to do a radical about-face from the life we would prefer (usually.  Some people tend to want to do what God wants more than's probably a little easier for them initially, until they learn they are just as depraved as everyone else, then it's hard for them, too). It requires an argument with existing beliefs.

So, I'll keep today in mind the next time I try to tell someone about Christ.  They need the opportunity to clearly think through the pros and cons and count the cost on their own.  They need an argument.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Dirty Diaper Song

I made up a song in lieu of the holidays and lots of dirty diapers around here lately.

Said the mommy to the baby girl...

Do you smell what I smell?
Do you smell what I smell?

In your diaper, warm, baby girl.

Do you smell what I smell?
Do you smell what I smell?

A dump, a dump, fresh out of your rump, with a smell as strong as a skunk.
With a smell as strong as a skunk.

The end.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homemade Baby Food Pride

Hola!  I made baby food from scratch.

This is in reference to #3 in my New Year's Resolutions ListI thought we could do a lighter, brighter topic for today after the last few posts. 

FYI - Should you ever attempt this, you may want to know that you should only do one item at a time.  One squash will provide LOTS of baby food portions, and more than one will be overwhelming - but you will feel like a sacrificial wonderful mother while you learn how dumb you are.  :)

Alright, here are my BE-U-T-FUL pics!


Yes.  I really did plan to make all of these at one time.  I'm crazy.  I stopped short of the sweet potatoes, though. 

But...I did this on November 5, and we still haven't run out!

For how to make pumpkin puree, please visit my friend Hannah's post.

 1.  Wash the pumpkin.


2.  Cut off top.

3.  Scoop out the seeds. 

4.  Place seeds in a bowl to bake later
...or to neglect until they're moldy...ahem.


5.  Place in a baking dish and add water.  (Then bake as recommended on Hannah's blog.)

Squash is a lot like pumpkin, hence the similar photos.


Eventually, I realized that I was CRAZY and would never make it on my own, so I enlisted reinforcements. 
*Well, actually, just one reinforcement.


All baked!


Then we just had to scoop out the yummy insides and puree them.


 We had so many things that we had to store TONS of puree in ziplock bags until the first batch had frozen, because I ran out of containers to freeze in.

All I could think of once I hit the third and fourth hours of the night in my over-zealous cook-ahead-ness was Proverbs 31:15.

"She stays up into the night;
   she provides food for her family" 

I think it may actually say something about that blessed woman getting up while it's still dark, but I'm not a morning person, so I've adjusted the text a tiny bit.  ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dr Pepper - Part 2

For those who missed yesterday's post, Dr Pepper - Part 1, you may want to read it before this one.

For those who don't want the long version (which I ALWAYS give), skip to the part highlighted near the end.

For those who don't mind the long version:
Have you ever had that one thing that you just pray for deliverance for over and over?  For me, it's been a myriad of issues, mostly having to do with food.

Anyway, now that Dr Pepper isn't an option, life has been better.  I don't have the option to drink it (since I'm still fasting), so my poor over-caffeinated-prayer-life has become much more free to pray for other stuff.  It's kind of neat.  And...I've been able to notice some other problem areas in my life (sigh...stay tuned to the end of this super-long post).

The addiction is gone.  It makes me think of the verse:

Matthew 18:8-10 (NIV)

8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Now that the addiction is gone, I feel such freedom.  I cut that part out of my life, and I'm better off without it.  Plus, a lot of the crummy foods I eat only really taste good with high fructose corn syrup, carbonation, and caffeine.  So, I'm eating healthier, too.  Btw, I have substituted sweet tea when I eat pizza or hamburgers or stuff, but I'm DEFINITELY not addicted.  I just get sick of water after a while, and I'm really not a juice person (usually). 

**Disclaimer: Dr Pepper-drinking is not sinful.  My heart attitudes were.  You happy Pepper's out there, you keep on enjoying yourself.  Unless God has convicted you that you have issues, too.  I'm not condemning anyone here.
I did show some moderation during my pregnancy.  This is at Sea World.  I spent lots of time both in this T-Shirt and in bathrooms by this point in the pregnancy.  (3 wks. before she was born.)

Some reflections:

One issue for me was a lack of moderation.  Over-doing it was the primary sin.  Part of the reason why I would over-do it, though, was simply because I knew I shouldn't.  I was rebelling.  (More on that in a moment).  Rebellion and gluttony are both sins.  Oh, and I valued it above everything else.  It had become a stupid, sugary, delicious idol.

Since giving up Dr Pepper and also becoming a stay at home mom, I've removed a major addiction/idol in my life and replaced it with lots of free time.  Free time/space where there was once a stronghold invites a replacement.  Or a deep, internal-house cleaning.  Or both.

Luke 11:24-26 (NIV)

   24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

Fasting tends to help highlight issues.  This has been a really-long (but tiny) fast.  I'm discovering some serious issues.  I don't think my issues have moved in since Dr P. moved out (like in the verse above), because they've been there all along.  I do think, though, that if I'm not careful, something else could slide into that coveted spot in my heart.

I was always extremely busy before E was born.  I never stayed in one place long enough to reflect on my deeper-heart attitudes about anything.  Now, with more free time, I am finding quite a bit of time alone with myself and my thoughts.  I'm kind of a jerk.  

Here are the main issues I've discovered:

1.  I am rebellious.  If I argue with Matt (not that my feisty self would ever do that, but hypothetically, for the purpose of this post...), my immediate response is to act out.  I will eat fried food, pout, stamp my foot, etc.  

In fact, If you called me and asked me to do something crazy while I'm in this state, I'd probably do it - if it's not too expensive or painful - no tattoos or shopping sprees.  (Tantrums have their limits before my common tendencies take back over.) 

This is a little scary for me, because it's new.  The oldest, "perfect" child persona isn't usually prone to temper tantrums designed to make people I love angry.  Usually I want affirmation.  So, to want to go be a punk and start tossing all of my usual self out the window is mortifying.  Now, I know I have an anger problem, and none of this is really new, but I've always been too busy (or attributed flare ups to stress) to realize that I have a seriously corrupt heart going on!  Plus, I'm realizing that it's actually rebellion against Matt as my authority.  If I willingly rebel against Matt, when I can see and touch him, what would I do against God?  Hmm.  Plus, I'm not perfect.  

While everyone else - possibly even my younger sister - already knew this, it's still kind of shocking for me.  I had myself pegged as practically perfect with some quirks.  

2.  I want my best interests over all else, and I don't really want to serve people.  I just want them to think I'm nice and like me.  This particular trait was demonstrated at a Christmas party white elephant exchange where I nearly sacrificed some friendships for a wallet.  Sigh.  No recovering there.  This issue was less surprising to me than the fact that I couldn't control it.  I was mortified.  (As was the poor hostess...)

3.  I have allowed disorganization and lack of discipline to prevent/ruin some pretty great relationships.  How?  

Well, thank you cards for one.  I immediately write a thank you card the moment I receive something.  Then, I set it aside until I find a stamp, or look up an address, or buy a thank you gift.  One particular thank you card was lost (twice) and mailed a year and a half late and I'm pretty sure the friend will never speak to me again (mainly because I told her repeatedly that I had a thank you card but couldn't find it - and she moved twice, so I had to ask for her address a ton and never got in in the mail until a few weeks ago.)

Our house is so crazy unorganized and generally messy, that we've not been entertaining new friends in our home for quite some time until recently.  God has given us the gift of hospitality, and our lack of discipline has squelched it.

All of these are issues keeping me from living like God wants me to.  All of these are slowly being dealt with.  Many of my friends have been on the receiving end of my issues.  I deeply apologize.

Here's what I would say to sum all of this up:
1.  I was addicted to Dr Pepper.  I prayed about it all the time, but I was an otherwise decent gal (I thought).
2.  I stopped drinking Dr Pepper as part of a fast.
3.  I began to spend more time just being quiet and still.
4. God answered many prayers as a result of the fast.
5.  Nearly 6.5 months later, God began to reveal other sins in my life.

Sabbath rests and fasting are HUGE tools God can use to really focus your prayer life and lend a new perspective to your situation before him.  

If you are constantly praying for something that is a stronghold, I'd recommend fasting from it for a time if at all possible.  
Satan is a master at distracting us from the real stuff.  

Here I have a self-centered, undisciplined, rebellious heart, and I've spent the last seven years praying for God to help me be disciplined with Dr Pepper.  It's definitely an issue, but it's not the only issue God wants to correct in my life, nor is it the biggest.  
It's just a straw-man argument, put in place by the enemy to keep me from serving God. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dr Pepper - Part 1

(This is part of item 5 on my 2011-2012 Resolving Life Posts)

I am was addicted. 

I especially love Sonic's Vanilla Dr Peppers with Extra Vanilla.  (Yes, it's capitalized like a title, because it is a title...the title of my most favorite drink ever! - A big shout out to Sarah S. for the introduction!)

I even had a neighbor once (Jen), who knew a Sonic manager in GA, and he mailed me some vanilla syrup!  Seriously.  (Sonic's is better than anywhere else.  Don't ever get vanilla syrup at McDonald's.  Just sayin'.)

Ok, so the addiction.  It is was real, people.  

I had gotten to the point where I would pray for God to help me be strong.  I'd also begun trying to sneak it in with my breakfast before Matt found out so I could also have it another time (or two.  or three.) during the day without being judged.  I did Weight Watchers in 2008, and I planned my daily points around my 8 oz. of Dr Pepper and splurged my extra points on refills.  Who does that?!?!?

Anyway, back in June last year - Father's Day, to be exact - there was an issue I was praying about.  I had prayed on and off for a LONG time (not sure how long, but at least 9 to 10 months, maybe more), and I just wasn't getting results.  I know God is sovereign over everything and He knows best, but really, by my calculations, there was no reason why the issue shouldn't have been in His will, and therefore answered favorably.

So anyway, I began bargaining.  Because that's what you do when you want your way with God.  You bargain.  Right?  How logical.

Moving on...I began bargaining.  I promised to pray about it every day (it was actually kind of a group of stuff, just to be clear, but one primary issue).  I even set my alarm to go off at the same time every day so I'd remember to pray.

I just didn't have a peace that God was going to go on and do His part in the situation, though, so I didn't feel like daily prayer was enough.  So...I made Him a deal.  (Are you laughing yet?  You TOTALLY should be!)

I told God I would give up Dr Pepper until he answered my prayer(s).  

(Please take a moment to reflect on the absurd things I posted at the beginning of this post.  This was a HUMONGOUS thing.  This was like the ULTIMATE sacrifice - daily - for me.)

In fact, I told God I wouldn't drink soda any more at all until things were resolved.  My only escape clause was if I had an awful stomach ache - then I would have Sprite or something - trust me...I have zero addiction to Sprite. 

At that moment, I'm pretty sure I heard an audible laugh (kind of annoyed, too) from heaven.  

Seriously?  God sacrificed Himself.  His Only Son.  By DYING.  On a CROSS.  For me.  

And to get my way, I'm graciously fasting from SODA?  I have had issues!  God basically said, "That's fine.  You give up your Dr Pepper and all, but does it ever occur to you that if that's your ultimate sacrifice then you have serious problems?  My Son died on a cross so you could give up your Dr Pepper for me?  Why is your FIRST thought in the morning how to get a Dr Pepper into your system without your husband noticing?  Why isn't it praising me or meditating on Scripture, or ANYTHING else?  You're messed up.  Thanks for the offer.  Go ahead.  But you have issues."

*Cough.  (Again, feel free to judge.  I understand.  And laugh.  But, if you know me, you also know that the giving up Dr Pepper thing, as ridiculous as it was, was QUITE ginormous.  FYI.)

Anyway, fast forward a few months.  

The primary issue I had been praying for (as well as several others) have been resolved favorably.  I'm still waiting to hear on the last few.

As far as Dr Pepper...even when all the prayers are finally answered, I'm not sure I'll want to step back into that minefield too quickly.  As dumb as it was, it held serious sway over my life.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you what I've learned since then.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My new hair

This post is part of my New Year's Resolutions Post (#8, to be exact)
I cut my own hair today.  

You should know that this hasn't worked so well for me in the past...especially during middle school. Around Labor Day.  Just before family friends arrived for their yearly visit.  Two years in a row.  
Not one.  Two.  Sigh.
Sorry to say I don't have a photo on hand to show you.  Trust me.  It was bad.  
I never could get my bangs straight, so I just kept cutting.  
And cutting.  And cuttingAnd cutting.

Moving right along...This was how my hair looked today before I cut it.  Not bad, but not much shape either.  And long.  Very, very long.  I wanted to keep most of the length, but add layers, re-cut bangs, and thin it out some.
I vaguely remembered my college roommate, Katie, said something once about cutting layers with a pony tail.  So...I scoured YouTube for tutorials.

This is my pony tail.  
Note the little hair band on the strand by my shoulder.  
That's where I marked the shortest layer before I put everything on top of my head.  
Wouldn't want a repeat 7th or 8th grade bangs incident, now would we?

I kind of felt like I Dream of Jeannie with my ponytail on my head.

To keep everything neat, I put a ponytail in place where my little marker had been before.


Well, that was fast...and easy.  Hmm...

I can't believe I just did this!  Hope it works. 

I took out the ponytail holder, and...

Not bad!  
The layers are a tad choppy, but since my hair is normally curly, it's not a huge deal.

I cut off this much for my shorter layers!

(Not pictured...I thinned out two handfuls of hair and added bangs back in.)
This is the picture I sent Matt.  
Try not to be jealous of my mad romantic skills.

Here's the finished, non-flirtatious product.  Not bad, huh?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I've never really been one for New Year's Resolutions.

Perhaps that's because I only ever think of the usual stuff like: "journal more" or "eat veggies".  Ick (to the veggies, not the journaling).  As it turns out, I've been resolving several areas of life for the last six months or so, and therefore I didn't really have any new and improved resolutions for 2012, just a continuation plan.

I'm going to share what I've been working on for the latter part of 2011, and then I'll elaborate over the next few posts...which will actually happen soon, because I'm going to type them now and post a little at a time, thus outwitting myself.  Hopefully.

1.  Be intentional with my time.  Don't waste it and then complain that there's not enough time to get things done.

2.  Simplify our stuff.  (Remove clutter...ugh!)

3.  Save money.  (Make Emily's food, for starters.)

4.  Do my job.  (Make meals each night, do laundry, and generally have a presentable house.)

5.  Deal with the little stuff in my life that's keeping me from being who God wants me to be.  (Ahem...Dr. Pepper.  Don't underestimate the power of addictions!)

6.  Raise Emily as well as I possibly can to know and love God, His Word, and His ways.

7.  Create traditions for our family. 

8.  Look nice for Matt and Little Bit.

9.  Make cute stuff.  (Crafting is important.  I'm a recent convert.  I'm still working through this one, but I will post cute things as I steal ideas from other people and make them.  Thanks primarily to Tara and my in-laws for sucking me in with your adorable-ness and making me say, "I can do that."  Sigh.)

So, that's what we'll be discussing over the next few posts.  Stay tuned.