Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Let's Talk- Parenting Basics

So every few months I get into kid mode and answer some basic parenting questions.  This is actually the topic that the blog originated with for Tuesdays, mainly because it's the topic I get asked about the most.  I wonder why!

These are the most frequently asked questions not just of me, but also by me and by most parents!  I am in no way an expert, but I will do my best to throw out any ideas that I personally have found helpful.

1) How can I get my kids to behave??!
This is always asked with an air of frustration and urgency, and I totally get it.  The thing you need to keep in mind is this: you never "arrive" when it comes to parenting.  There is no finish line, Im sorry to say.  You may master one stage only to be greeted with another shortly thereafter.  But one very helpful tool that can be used across the board is consistency.  You need to decide how you want things to look in your house and what kinds of behaviors you want to see from your kids.  Then, you need to find a method or two that works best for you and your kids and stick to it like PB&J in your kids' hair.  My kids are not perfect, but they are pretty well behaved.  I do not typically have to say things more than once or twice, and when I ask them to do something they generally do it without complaint.  No, my kids certainly were not born this way- in fact, it took (and still sometimes takes) a lot of hard work.  I have about 2 or 3 weapons in my arsenal, and that's really all I need because I am consistent with them.  My kids have learned from experience that I say what I mean.  If I count to 3 and they have not done what I have asked, then they know they will get a consequence. Every. Single. Time.  I am confident you know a whole bunch of methods, so you don't need me to be redundant.  Just hang in there and be consistent- it takes a long time to see results but I assure you that you will.

2) How do you handle bedtime?
This is a big one for me, because bedtime has always been something I was very diligent about.  I NEED time to unwind- both as a woman and as husband and wife.  It really is crucial that there is a time where you can decompress and be with one another without any roles or work attached to it.  And nights have become even more important with my illness- I need to be laying down as soon as possible to avoid having issues.  So I have always been stringent about bedtime.  The main thing you need to figure out is what time works best for your kids.  People laugh when I tell them what time my kids go to bed (7pm) but in reality, kids this age really need a good 12 hours of sleep.  My kids are up around 7am, so this is perfect.  Some kids need more, some need less but it is completely reasonable for you to have a bedtime that is early enough to still give you some time to relax at night.  Bedtime is the same as any other area in my home- my children have been taught to respect me and Jeff.  Yes, they get up a bunch of times for a drink, or to pee, or because "you forgot to give me extra hugs", but all in all my house is pretty quiet by 7:30.  Same principle as the above question- pick a bedtime that WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR KIDS, and stick hard and fast to it.  Eventually your work will pay off and they will go to bed relatively easily.  I remember when my kids were younger, bedtime used to be a nightmare!  Anthony was a strong willed child and would leave his room or play all night.  It took time and it took me adjusting his bedtime and finding his inner sleep clock, but eventually- like most areas of child rearing- the hard, consistent work payed off and now things go very well at night for the most part. 

But I will say this- sometimes you really need to just do whatever the heck will get you through the night.  Sometimes I have brought kids into my bed, other times I put up baby gates and doused them with baby oil so they could not climb out.  What can I say?  Parenting is sometimes just about surviving...and I don't feel the least bit guilty.   :)

3) I can't get my kids to eat anything.
Yea, neither can I.  You just really have to make some house rules and then not let it occupy your mind, cause you really don't need to add undue stress to your life.  Here are my rules: 
-When you are served you say "thank you"- you do not comment on what you do not like
-If you want seconds of something, you have to eat all your firsts (so if they want more chicken, they must first finish the carrots)
-You do not have to eat anything you do not want to eat- but you also will only be given food at designated times- meal/snack time.  So you do not have to eat anything I ever serve you, but do not come whining to me an hour later saying you are hungry.  You will have to wait until the next meal or snack.

I made these rules because they were rules I knew I was willing to live with and enforce.  The key here is WHAT YOU ARE WILLING TO ENFORCE.  Don't make this parenting thing any harder than it already is.  Make rules that you are willing and able to follow...and then rest confidently in that.

4) Potty training?
I am pretty sure you probably remember that I am useless on this topic.  I get asked about potty training a lot, and I always give my advice with an apology, because I know the parent asking wants help and I offer none.  I have never potty trained any child of mine.  All my kids were potty trained between ages 3 and 4 on their own.  I have never had any tears or fights over the potty- when they were ready, they did it.  Sometimes they went back and forth, other times it was a one-and-done deal.  I just believe that no amount of training or cajoling is effective if the child is not ready or simply doesn't want to for whatever reason.  I am also not comfortable with making the potty a source of stress or a source of fighting.  Sure, maybe I have had to change diapers a little longer, but that is perfectly ok with me.  This is not a battle I ever wanted to wage for many reasons.  So I'm sorry, I do not have any real advice on the matter.  But if you are struggling, please remember that while it seems all consuming now, I promise you that your child will go pee pee and poo poo in the potty eventually. 

And while these have absolutely nothing to do with anything, they are some of my favs:

I hope you have a really awesome week, and I will see you Friday!!

Me and some of my little munchkins!

Friday, July 26, 2013

I Sing Because I'm Free

I have been singing a lot lately.  

I love to sing.  I never really used to sing, it is only in the last few years I really started using my voice.  And even so, I mainly stick to singing worship at church or doing special songs for church events.  It is a little weird to sing publicly since I am not a real singer, but it always feels amazing to lead others in worship of God.  I am becoming much more open to using my voice in any way that He wants me to.

But it's when I am alone that I really sing.  When it's just me and a piano- those are the moments where I get lost.  Singing takes me somewhere else- somewhere away from the here and the now.  I am not sick when I sing.  I am not scared, or hurting, or confused- I am so blissfully free.

At any given moment you can catch me walking around my house singing.  Doing dishes, folding laundry, tucking in the kids- it's all done with a song.  Yes, it's fun to sing all different kinds of songs, but it's the songs to God that are the ones where my soul comes alive.  When I sing I am passionate- I take all my feelings and pour it out into the music.  My voice becomes my emotions, and that is a wide range.

But to understand my passion you have to first understand why I sing.  Many years ago there was a ten year old girl who sat in a church watching a Christmas play.  At the end of the play a pastor got up and began to talk about Jesus.  I had no idea who Jesus was- yes I heard the name before but I did not know what it truly meant.  I did not know that He was the one who could fill that place inside that I knew was yearning for something.  That He was the one who gave His life so that my soul would find its.  And in that moment, nothing mattered.  It didn't matter that I was living in a broken home.  It didn't matter that I never went to church.  It didn't even matter that I was only ten years old, and what does a ten year old really know about life?  Oh I knew.  In that moment, I knew.  I still know.

I did not look to see if anyone was coming with me, because it really didn't matter.  I leapt up out of my seat and ran to the altar- I ran to give my life to Jesus.  I sang my first real song that day.  And I have never turned back.

That was the day I truly knew what life was all about.  I was awakened.  I am free from the weight of this world.  I am free from the ache of struggling in my own strength.  I am free from this prison of pain called my body, because I know this is not the end of the story.  I am free because I am His.  And you ask me why I sing?  I sing because my soul simply cannot be quiet.

I sing because I am free.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Let's Talk- In Sickness and In Health

We meet again...

I always love blogging days.  I am always thinking throughout the week about things I want to talk about, and pondering questions that I get asked.  In a time where there is not much I ma able to do physically, you give me something to do with my mind and I just love it!

While my illness is certainly not a new topic for you, it is something I get asked about quite frequently, so I will be talking about it today.  I do not mind at all- I realize that my condition is not well understood, and I also realize that there is an element of sheer curiosity that goes with it, which I am more than willing to oblige seeing as I myself would be curious as well!

So let's have at it, shall we?

1) What exactly is wrong with you?
I am going to be as to-the-point as possible.  4 years ago I had a reaction to medication and got something called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.  My body began literally burning itself- my eyes, my skin, my internal organs, my nervous system- all sustained some level of damage.  After 6 months I "recovered" and was left with the "new" me.  I learned to live with permanent eye damage, a weak immune system, chronic fatigue, and a very wrecked nervous system.  For the first 3 years we were able to manage it- I watched my level of physical activity and every few months I knew my body would "shut down" and I would have to rest for a week or so.  It fell into a pattern and we adjusted accordingly.  However, last year something changed and we are still not sure what or why.  My nervous system is firing off and I am in pain from my head to my toes every single day.  There are times when I am too weak to move without assistance.  I do not sleep well nor am I able to eat very well.  I am severely limited as to what I can do physically and I am just basically shutting down.  All tests are coming back normal and my doctor is working tirelessly to find out what is going on.  I am scheduled to see a neurologist in a couple of months as my doctor wants to get other specialists involved.   I realize this does not make much sense, trust me I know it's frustrating!  Above all else I really just want answers!  The main thing Jeff and I have to focus on now is pain management and working on restructuring our lives to accommodate my physical limitations.

2) Are you angry?
Umm...no, not really.  There are times where I get sad that I am inconveniencing so many people...my husband did not sign up for this, although he reminded me that our vows did include sickness.  But still, there are times where I feel like I am more trouble than I am worth- I don't meant for that to sound so depressing, but the honest fact is that I am not pulling my weight in this world and that bothers me.  But I am not angry.  I don't question why this happened to me- I could have died from the SJS but I didn't.  I am still here, and as long as I am still alive then there is something I can be doing for God.

3) What kinds of changes have you had to make on your life because of your illness?
A lot of things have changed these past few months.  I have had to pull out of a lot of the things I was involved in at church, simply because I do not have the physical stamina to always be there.  I rarely cook anymore, which is very hard because I absolutely love to cook and I hate serving my family basic, easy things just because I am unable to do better.  We use paper plates a lot to cut back on the dishes I have to do and Jeff is home a lot more.  Sometimes he has to take off of work if I am too weak, and other times he comes home from work only to basically take over while I rest.  It seems that life revolves around me physically.  It's tough for him but he does it all with so much love...I am so grateful for him!

4) Do you remember what it was like before you were sick?
Not really, lol.  I have a horrible memory which has only been exasperated by my illness so I really do not remember what it was like when I was "normal".  There are things I miss, not so much because I remember what it was like but just because I know I want to do them.  It would be nice to not be in pain all the time, but I don't really remember what that feels like.  I would like to be able to be more active and be able to do things without always having to consider if I am physically able to.  But I don't really compare much because I don't remember.

5) What can a person do to help someone who is ill?
Not that I am the spokesperson for all sick people, but I do know that certain things help more than others.  I am sure you have heard this before, but nevertheless it's true- don't tell someone to call you if they ever need anything.  They won't call you.  Trust me.  I hate asking for help and I hate inconveniencing people.  The best things people have done for me was when they simply told me what they would be doing.  My friend Erica came up to me one day and told me that she would be cooking dinner for my family once a week.  She did not ask me if I wanted her to (which I would have said no, because while it is such a blessing I would never want to be a burden), she simply told me she was doing it and made it very easy for me to accept without feeling guilty.  My other friend Jenn will call me randomly and ask if she can come over and help with the kids or take them out for a little while.  She almost makes me feel like I am doing her a favor by saying yes.  These are the things that truly help a person who is sick because it takes away that horrible feeling of being a burden or feeling guilty for having others help you.  The other thing is asking the person how they are feeling- I am still torn on this one.  On one hand, I think it is so sweet that people ask me that all the time- it really does make me feel loved.  On the other hand, it is very, very hard to answer that question.  Nobody wants to constantly tell people just how bad they are always doing, yet people know when you are giving them a fake "Im fine" answer.  So I don't really know how to advise you on this one!   I guess I would say this- don't ask every single time you see them.  A person's illness is just one part of who they are, and it doesn't always have to come up- we can talk about other things!  But if you are good friends, then maybe every once and a while pull them aside and ask them to sincerely tell you how they are doing and give them the opening to be honest.  One last thing- please resist the urge to bring up the article you read about the magic product that says it cures that illness.  I have heard countless things that are said to "heal" my pain and while I know people truly mean well, the fact is that these things take time and cost money- and I can tell you that I just do not have the time and energy for it all.  Surviving my day takes everything I have.  So unless you have first hand knowledge about it and KNOW it works and unless you are willing to buy it for them, please refrain from bringing it up.  It puts the person in the awkward position to have to smile and nod and then avoid it the next time they see you because they know they are not going to try it.  I hope that doesn't sound harsh- but there are a lot of things out there that claim to fix stuff, and they cost money and all claim to work.  It gets expensive and tiring and discouraging.

6) How do you manage the pain?
I decided to answer this question because I know it is very controversial in the Christian world.  I do not want to start any type of controversy, but I do feel that things should be talked about.  The more we talk about things the more understanding we get, and then hopefully the more we are able to help one another make the best possible choices.  I have taken everything from seizure medication, to antidepressants, to narcotics so I am speaking with some knowledge.  While I am not necessarily giving my opinion on it, I can say that I personally did not like any of the medication they gave me that had any relation to antidepressants.  I tried several kinds because pain is one of the things they are used for, but I did not like the way they altered my mind.  I felt like my personhood was being messed with in a way that I found unacceptable.  The anticonvulsants were a little different but they did not help anyway, so that was an easy no.  I have tried many many many natural things from diet, to epson salt baths, to herbs and vitamins.  I tried for a while to use worship music and prayer.  I am doing the very best that I can but I still use narcotics daily.  I have several different kinds that I switch around because my goal is to use the absolute lowest dose possible so that I can maintain mobility and have some level of relief.  When I do not use anything it only takes an hour or two for the pain to bring me to my knees- I try and go as long as possible but eventually I am rendered immobile from the pain.

No good answer here.  I hate narcotics.  There is a spiritual element attached to them and I feel my mind is opened and loosened more than I would like it to be.  I have done my best to find the right fit for me, and the medication I use now I am getting comfortable with.  I am being as prayerful as I can be while trying to navigate this, but like I said, there are no good answers right now.

I realize that you may be tempted to feel sorry for me, but please resist the urge.  I do not feel sorry for me.  Bad things happen- they have been happening to people long before it happened to me, and they will continue to happen because it's the world we live in.  But my spirit is whole.  I cannot stress this enough- my spirit lacks nothing and in the end, that is all that matters.  So I welcome your prayers but not your pity.  We all have our crosses to carry, lets join hands in prayer and walk the best we can together.

I look forward to seeing you Friday and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Friday, July 19, 2013

This is What it Means

Im not really in the mood to frill around, not that I ever really do.  I'm going to talk really, really straight with you today.

This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life.  No, I am not doing good physically.  And no, they do not know what is wrong with me.  Every test comes back normal, yet here I am- feeling like death.

But that's not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about God and where the heck is He?  And why is it that after I have lived most of my life in dedication to Him, He has not healed me?  Ever hear these questions asked before...ever asked them yourself?

I never have.  Not for one single second have I wondered where God was.  I have had times where I did not know how to approach Him, or times where He seemed distant, or even times where I was unsure if I really wanted to keep walking this path.  But questioning His faithfulness?  Never.

Is it because I am some super-human woman of faith?  haha- what a joke.  My faith is not strong enough to move mountains.  I am no pillar in the christian world nor an example for anyone to look up to.  I am nothing...but I know who He is.  And I know who I am in Him.  

Times of trials are often times where people lose their faith and turn away from God.  They are hard times where you feel like everything you ever knew was a lie, and God Himself a liar.  To that I would say this- consider that maybe you do not have a true understanding of who He is.  That the reason God failed you is because you set demands on Him that did not belong there.  That you changed who God is.  God did not fail you; you failed to really know God.

I was never promised health.  So when I got sick there really was no reason to blame God.  I was never promised an easy road.  So when things hit the fan, I do not feel betrayed.  What was I promised?  That neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate me from the love of God. 

He has kept His promise.

His love is what has sustained me.  His love is what kept me when all else was raging out of control...when I rage out of control.  His love has never wavered, nor has it failed me.  And if you are still confused about what love is, let me help you out:  Love is patient and kind...it isn't jealous, does not brag and is not arrogant.  Love is not rude and does not seek it's own advantage.  It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love always bears, always trusts, always hopes, always endures...love never ends.

Oh yes, He has kept His promise indeed.

I however, have not kept mine.  How many times over have I failed to truly love Him?  How many times have I thrown my hands in the air, along with everything I hold dear, only to turn around and expect God to still be there waiting for me.  The amazing thing is that He is. Always. There.

So no, I do not question God's goodness.  I do however question my own.  I may not know why this is happening and I may even be angry that it is happening.  But never for one second to I question the very essence of the One who is all things good in my life.

"This is what it is to be loved, and to know that the promise was when everything fell- we'd be held." -Held,  by Natalie Grant

**So Jeff read this yesterday and informed me that he felt like he was getting yelled at while reading this, lol.  Yes, it may be a little choppy and it may be a little edgy, but I assure you it was not my intent to be harsh.  In fact, I was not mad when I wrote this- but I was determined.  Determined to keep the record straight on who God is.  Not even for you- but for me.  These pages are the writings of what is deep inside me and sometimes I just need to say it.  Plainly.  Without literary wrappings or tied off phrases...and that's all this was.   

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Let's Talk- Belly Laughing

I think I starting to do this a little more frequently then I planned, but what can I say?  These days I just need to laugh a little more.  I am tired and I am in pain- but laughing is something that has a way of going past all of that.  So that's what I am going to do today!  I am going to laugh... join me?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Baby Steps

I got invited to a graduation party this weekend.  I was so excited to get invited, because I love this family and the son who is graduating high school is a wonderful young man and we are all very proud of him.  So the party is Saturday, and Sunday my husband is scheduled to preach in Albany at the church we ministered at for the 5 years we lived there.  I thought about the hour long drive it will take to get into Albany, followed by the church service and the time we will spend hanging out with our old church family afterwards- and I know it will be a very wonderful, but very long day.  And so, I decided to decline going to the graduation party so that I can conserve my strength for the trip to Albany and hopefully make next week not so bad.

It is the first time since my illness has taken this turn that I have, on my own volition, made a decision based on my health.

And I am not quite sure how I feel about it.

Instinctively I wanted to rebel against my own decision and refuse to let my health stop me from living.  But there is this other side of me that is slowly developing- that is maturing.  And that side feels proud of that decision. Not proud that it had to be made, but proud that there is a part of me that is growing up and coming to terms with what is happening.  I made the decision and then instantly there was this war inside of me- anger, sadness, frustration, resignation, contented, proud.  Several months ago I would not have even thought of missing it- and I would have paid for it physically.  But now, even though I had a war of emotions afterward, I made a wise decision.

Baby steps.

It takes time to move forward when you are walking into unplanned territory.  It takes time to learn how to cope and how to live WITH instead of against.  It takes time to sort through all the emotions and the changes that come with walking a different road then you set out to take.  But it is necessary.  You slowly need to put away the old map and learn how to get excited at the new one.  Am I excited that my health has gotten this bad?  Of course not.  But I am slowly getting excited at finding out what God's plan for me is in all of this.  I was walking on this path that I thought I would simply continue on, and when it changed, I realized that His plans changed for me too.  Better yet, that His plans never changed but I just thought I knew the whole road ahead...and I was mistaken.  God knew the road I would be walking.

I can dig my heels in and hang on to things that are no more, or I can embrace what is being given to me and find who He wants me to be in it.  I think I am finally starting to consider the ways that my life can still matter.  I don't know what He wants me to be yet.  I don't know how to be a useful person when I can barely move, but if I expand my mind an open it to other possibilities then I am sure He will lead me.  I am being given the chance to do things that if I had my health I would never consider doing.    I am being given the rare opportunity to quiet my body and my life and get in touch with a side of God I was always too busy to see.

There is nothing that takes God by surprise.  There is no fork in the road, no change of plans, and no act upon this earth that God has not foreseen.  The price we pay for living in a fallen world is that we have to live with imperfections.  With accidents.  With why-the-heck-did-this-happen-to-me situations.  But only you can decide to close the book on the meaningfulness of your life.  Only you can decide whether or not to put the pen down or start a new chapter.

I encourage you to turn the page...there is so much more for you to write.

"Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end."

-Be Still, My Soul

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Let's Talk- Your Health

Good morning!  Some of you may have seen this on Facebook, but I had a major health scare this week.  I was prescribed a new medication that my doctor wanted to try, to help with nerve pain and control.  We have tried many different kinds to no avail, but she wanted to give this last one a go before I see the neurologist.  So I picked up my medication but I put off taking it...I am in the habit of double checking all medication I am given, just in case.  I kept forgetting to look it up, and as the week went by it was nagging me that I hadn't started taking it yet, so I grabbed the bottle and was about to take the first dose dismissing the fact that I didn't research it yet.  But then in a rare move of patience, I put the bottle down and grabbed my computer to look it up real quick.

Had I not done that, I would be dead right now.

Turns out this medication has extreme SJS warnings all over it, and somehow it just slipped through the radar.  For the record my doctor is phenomenal- I have been to countless doctors and she has been the only one to stick with me and continue to dig in to my illness, vowing to never give up on me.  This was just a simple mistake that could have cost my life.

I was pretty shaken that night, and even a couple days after.  SJS is not the way I want to go out!  And to think of how close I came just kind of jarred me.  Don't get me wrong- I am ready to die.  Not in a cryptic, depressed way- just that I know Who I believe in and where I am going.  But even so, I was still taken aback by how quickly it almost happened.

I am not going to answer questions as much as I just want to give you a few tips as far as your health goes.  I have learned a lot over the past few years, this last year in particular and I want you to be confident in the area of your own healthcare.

Be informed.
This seems like a given, but in all honesty this society is rife with the "herd" mentality- if everyone else is doing it, then I will do it.  We take articles, commercials, and even doctors at face value.  I encourage you to always be your own advocate and take time to understand what is going on around you and to you.  You do not have to have a medical degree to have an understanding of your own body and how it works for you.

Be explicit
If you pull a muscle in your calf and you type your symptoms into WebMD, you are sure to come away thinking you have cancer and 6 months left to live.  This is the downside to easy access to information. Everyone googles their symptoms and waltzes into their doctors office convinced they need to see Dr. House, assuming they have a rare and fatal illness.  You have to know your body.  You have to be explicit in your descriptions when you feel changes in your body.  You can read all the textbooks in the world, but each person's body works and responds to different things in different ways.  Do not assume changes or pains mean something crazy...pay attention, document thoroughly, and be patient.  As annoying as it is, most of the time when the doctor tells you to take a Tylenol and rest, it's usually true.  But in the cases where it is not, you need to understand that things do not happen quickly, and the more detailed of an understanding you have of what feels wrong with you, the better you will be able to work WITH your doctor.

Be aware
Nobody knows what is normal for you except you.  If you do not pay attention to your health, then you may mistake something as being a problem when it is not- or vice versa.  For example, every since I got my gall bladder taken out I know that for me, if I eat a meal that is heavy on the grease and is mostly fried, then I will feel sick and maybe even throw up.  I have paid close attention over the years as to what it feels like and what makes it occur.  If I was not aware of how my body works, I would be running to the doctor thinking I have a stomach flu or food poisoning.  Be aware of what is "normal" for your body.

Be aggressive
While I think that many people are big babies and need to understand that there is nothing a doctor can do for a cold, there are those times where there really is something wrong.  When that is the case, you have to get aggressive if you feel you are not being responded to properly.  I have been through several doctors over the years and I have left a lot of them due to my dislike of the way they handled my condition.  I simply did not feel that they were doing their job and since I knew what was going on in my body, I knew how very off course they were at times.  After 3 years I finally found a doctor who I am satisfied with.  She is treating my illness in it's entirety rather than separating and isolating symptoms.  She has looked me dead in the eye and told me she will never give up on me and that she will keep digging.  I had to be aggressive and I had to walk away from doctors, but it was worth it to get to the place where I am getting treated.

I hope this helps a little.  It's not that I am fiercely into the whole health scene, it's just that I have taken off the rose-colored glasses when it comes to this country's medical practices and I want you to start to stand on your own two feet when it comes to YOUR bodies.

On a completely separate note, I am throwing an little advertisement out at you- If anyone is in the Saratoga, NY area and looking for a fabulous day care, there is one opening up this summer that I highly recommend!  Located in Ballston Spa (Saratoga County), Jumper Bean is a NY state licensed group family child daycare.   I personally know the owner, and she is an energetic, sweet woman who loves kids and animals and will make your child feel loved.  Aside from the fact that your child would be getting fresh air and a varied curriculum, my favorite thing about this day care is that not only do they provide breakfast, lunch, AND snack, but all the meals and snacks are ORGANIC!  Yes, you read that right.  This is a daycare that feels like home and has your child's best interest at heart.  Here is the website for more information:  www.jumperbean.com

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sacred Me

I had a wonderful fourth of July yesterday.  Jeff and I took the kids to my in-laws' house, where we hung out with family, went swimming, played bocci ball, ate BBQ food, talked, and watched the Mets lose after 15 innings.  It really was one of those days where everything was easy and enjoyable.  I had to stop and rest mid day, but I really did enjoy myself.  I laid in bed with that sun-induced fatigue and content feeling.

I always thought I was a very open person.  I mean, in many ways I am an open person.  I will socialize with complete strangers and will pretty much talk to my friends about any topic under the sun.  I don't shy away from personal conversations and have no problems airing out my flawed life for all of you to read.  But despite all that, there is a place in my heart that is immensely private.  It's where I go frequently to "be alone."  As honest and open as I am with others, this is a part of me that will never come out.  In it I hold things that are most dear to me...people, thoughts and feelings whose depth would be cheapened anywhere else but deep in my heart.

I think.  I think a LOT.  I can be in the middle of a loud gathering enjoying myself and yet will eventually find myself retreating to my depths, whether to think or simply enjoy the view from inside.  It is sacred space.

I have a couple of very dear friends from college that I have spoken to recently.  We kind of have this open door, revolving connection that I know will always be there.  Recently one of them came to visit me and we went out for lunch and I remember practically breaking out in a sweat at the thought of going out alone with her.  I realize how ridiculous this sounds, but hear me out.  I love people. I love big groups, and talking and laughing.  But being one-on-one with someone who occupies a place in my heart is terrifying.  I cannot hide behind my social self, because she knows me deeper.  Yet at the same time I could not just sit there staring at her, which is what I really wanted to do.  Not because I am a creeper, but because there are some situations where I do not want to speak- I just want to watch from my private little place and enjoy the sanctity of it.  It is not me withdrawing- it is me connecting in the deepest way I am able to.

Being the friend that she is, she allowed me to be weird.  She did not expect me to act normal.  These friends of mine tell me that they love me and I know they mean it because I know they are saying it under oath- they now the truth of who I am.  They know the me beyond me.

I will let anyone into my life- I truly love people.  But I can count the number of people on one hand who I have walked into my heart.  I love these people with a ferocity that goes beyond words...because there are no words that would ever capture it.  And maybe it makes me awkward at times.  Maybe I stare silently to the point of appearing completely absent, when in reality, I have never been more present.

I am not even sure why I am writing this.  I can't really find a way to turn this into something that could even remotely relate to you.  But I feel like it deserves to be written.  Even if only to give me one more way to properly respect it.  Sometimes we need to testify to the things that make us who we are- the things that really make us.  The things that set us apart and shape our thoughts and our lives.  I used to try and make something out of my inner sanctuary- try to express it and explore it and make sense of it. But time has brought wisdom and I no longer do those things.  Instead, I accept and appreciate what I have been given.  I do not see it as a fault or as something to be evaluated as to it's purpose.  I have it.  It is a part of who I am.

It is me.

So I embrace it.  I live it.  I understand and respect that it is a part of me and I use it to it's full advantage, storing up thoughts and feelings that deserve to be preserved in their original integrity.  I watch people and situations, watching and observing with intensity because that is what I am inclined to do and I don't want to change that simply to try and fit into a prettier version of what others think I should be like.

So be you.  Find your quirks and your strengths and your depths and do not be afraid of them.  Stand back and respect them, because they were given uniquely to you in order to help you be who God created you to be.

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.”  -Joseph Campbell 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Let's Talk- Controversial Questions

Good morning!  So I returned the laptop I was renting thinking that the one I ordered would be in by now, but no!  Still no laptop.  Right now I am at my mother-in-law's using her laptop...it was either that or attempt to type it all on my iPhone.  See how much I love you?

I have decided to take a plunge today and get into some of the more "controversial" decisions I have made for my family.  I am not writing this to argue or persuade- I am simply going to concisely explain the reasons behind some of my decisions.  These decisions were made with a lot of research and a lot of prayer.  I encourage you to do the same- if you are confident in the decisions you make for your family then there is no need to feel threatened when faced with differing opinions.  We all have unique circumstances and beliefs and that is great!  We do what we feel is best, and that is what it's all about.  For now, these are the decisions I have made, but who knows?  My heart is open to whatever the Lord might want to teach me or lead me in, and I pray I would be open to change should He direct it.

Ok, here goes.

1) Why do you homeschool?
I homeschool because I want my kids home with me.  I want them to be home learning with one another to encourage friendship and bonding.  I do not want our lives to be dictated by a school schedule.  But most of all, I do not want them being taught certain things by certain people.  I do not agree with a lot of things being taught and encouraged in today's society, and I do not want them being taught that certain things are right when I believe the Bible says they are wrong.  I want them to have a Biblical education and I want to know what they are learning.

2) Why don't you vaccinate?
In case you did not know, we do not vaccinate our children.  We vaccinated for a few years, but then I decided to dig in and do some research on them, and was simply unwilling to continue.  I could get into their "efficacy", the fact that their safety has not been tested for longevity, the lies perpetuated many time over many years by vaccine distributors...there really is so much I came across when really digging deep (as in going beyond Parenting magazine).  But even if all of that were to be put aside, reading the list of ingredients was enough to get me to quit.  I have educated myself and this is the very firm decision that Jeff and I have come to.  I am always open for discussion, but I will not engage in mindless rhetoric...I have done my research, and I encourage you to do yours and then you will be secure in whatever decision you choose to make.

3) Why didn't you circumcise your last son?
My first three boys were circumcised, and my last was not.  Learn better, do better.  I simply followed the herd and had my first three boys circumcised because "that's just what you do."  I never gave it a second thought.  But this time, I started thinking about it.  I am of Jewish blood, but am by no means a practicing Jew and even so, I follow Jesus Christ and the Word clearly states that circumcision is no longer part of the covenant.  So then I researched it's medical benefits, and came across absolutely nothing that would substantiate cutting of a part of my perfect newborn's body.  In fact, it would appear that there are many reasons why a male is born with a foreskin- I think it's best we leave things the way they were intended to be.  As far as social acceptance, believe it or not the statistics are currently about 50%-50% for circumcised versus uncircumcised, with the amount of uncircumcised baby boys increasing.  And lastly, as far as sibling uniformity goes- yes, they might compare themselves to each other, but I am pretty confident that 5 minutes later they won't notice or care.  

4) Are you purposely trying to be weird?
Yes, I wake up every day thinking of new ways I can be weird!  Unfortunately, this shows just how far we have come as a society when it is considered "weird" to do things that not too long ago were commonplace.  I do not live and die by what the media tells me I should be doing.  I have a brain and I like using it, and for me, these are the decisions that I have come to.  I do not answer to family, friends, or the media for how I raise my kids.  It is my job to do the best I can by them, and that is what I am doing.

I really hate disclaimers, but I will make an exception for this post.  I do not want to debate.  I did not write this to try and persuade you to change what you are doing.  I am simply telling you what I have chosen to do.  Please take a step back and do not read what I wrote as an attack on the way you do things should they differ from me.  Pray, research, and try things out until you find what you are most comfortable and confident doing.  We are all learning and growing and trying to do the best we can.  

I pray you have a wonderful, blessed week and I look forward to seeing you on Friday!