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Togetherness

September 19, 2009

The boys have decided they’re buddies. It’s taken a while and it’s partly a product of the little guy finally being interactive enough to get into playing, but they love doing stuff together.

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It’s not perfect. The older one often doesn’t want to share…sometimes doesn’t want to share mom. But then there are the good times:
- They climb up the stairs and go rolling down…laughing the whole way.
- They have crawling races.
- If one is doing something, the other has to try it too. Including the older one making whatever noises the little guy makes and trying whatever food he gets to eat.
- The older one gives the little guy hugs.
- They love playing in the bath together.

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Sprinkled through the difficulties are lots of good times where I sit back and smile. I’m happy that my boys like each other (most of the time!).

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blessed be your name

September 12, 2009

I’m definitely still on the fence about a lot of things spiritually lately. I’m finding that right now I’m ok having lots of doubts and lots of questions…possibly that don’t have answers. I think it’s ok to wonder without pinning something down right now.

So, I was listening to Matt Redman’s song the other day “Blessed Be Your Name”:
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

And I’m sitting thinking about it a little more… We always want to assign responsibility somewhere. “Well, if something good happened it’s God and if something bad happened… God still ‘allowed’ it.” Somehow God is responsible either way. (Unless you’ve got a sin and then it’s your fault, obviously!)

What if it’s a little different then that. What if God is just slightly less personal than the “involved in every aspect of your life” way. What if a song or a verse of the Bible about that (“Blessed Be Your Name”) is more like: God is still the same when good things are happening or bad things are happening. We might feel differently towards ourselves or towards God during those times, but God’s still the same. Not even really mentioning whether God’s involved with the circumstance or not, because it’s us trying to place responsibility somewhere.

I honestly don’t know if God is involved or not with my everyday life. He certainly hasn’t answered lots of my prayers in the past (don’t even get me started on the “God must have said no”). Right now, I don’t even know if I can say I find comfort in difficult circumstances because God is there…I just don’t know.

But maybe that’s the point: God is still God no matter what we’re going through or what we’re feeling. And somehow we find that God is different from us and God just IS…no matter what. We may never be able to describe it or pin it down, but maybe even in that doubt and uncertainty it can still transform us.

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Of my two boys

September 9, 2009

I’ve got two great boys. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that. I’ve got a newly crawling, pulling up on everything baby and an almost 3-1/2 year old. I feel so exhausted and guilty most of the time. Exhausted because I’m not getting enough sleep: the baby wakes up 3+ times a night and the 3 year old has been waking up 2 times a night too. And everyone wants to play all day (i.e. have me keep them occupied). Guilty because I just can’t spend enough time with each of them. I need some time for me, I need time for each of them individually and it feels like there’s always someone feeling left out with not enough time from me.
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My heart breaks every night while DH takes the baby to rock him to sleep as he screams for me to hold him. The 3 year old gets cranky and nasty that I’m not playing with him enough. Right now it feels like no one wins. I get irritated that I could be comforting the one that wants to be with me and let someone else deal with the one that’s cranky…but I don’t. I know the cranky one needs me just as much and needs to know that I still care. As much as it pains me, I hope the little one is ok without me during that time, because I know it’s still important.

But we’re all growing up. Soon I’ll have a 1 year old and an almost 4 year old. We’re trying out co-op preschool this year. we’re going to have snow on the ground soon. I’ll have two children walking soon. I’ll have two children not napping soon (as opposed to the one not napping right now). I’ll have bigger decisions to make in the future.

I’m enjoying my kids, but life is still tough. Maybe it’ll always be tough. Maybe there’ll be a day where we all get taken care of enough too. Maybe there’ll be a night where I get to sleep all the way through.

Today we went shopping, watched Dinosaur Train, got dinner in the crockpot, had a picnic, painted, got frozen yogurt, tried to find a Halloween costume, read books, and just played (plus all of the routine stuff). Most days include painting or stickers or playdough or bike riding or chalk or who knows what else. I’m looking forward to the day when the little guy can understand “no you can’t eat it” instead of me having to pull him away from whatever his older brother is working on.

Today the baby tried frozen yogurt too and the face was “why would you eat this stuff?!?!”. The motion was “give me more now”. Of course, he also tried Chocolate Almond drink today and was just chugging it!
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Pregnancy, children and hope

January 10, 2009

So, I now have two children. I’m glad to not be pregnant anymore. This pregnancy was pretty rough for me. I always envisioned myself having three children, but then Attachment Parenting number one and being pregnant with number two (and now taking care of number two as well), I just can’t see how I’d manage with three.

My two year old still needs lots of hands-on attention. It can be very draining while pregnant and with a newborn. There’s quite a lot of time that I end up sandwiched between two kids at night.

I started thinking about things just after I got pregnant with number two and figured out that part of the reason I always saw myself with three children was just a desire to “prove myself better” than all those people who only have two. Not a very good reason to add an extra child into the mix. In fact, just after I determined this I told my husband “I think two’s it for us” and it was like a huge weight being lifted off of me. I feel very content with the thought of not being pregnant again, not having a baby again…just raising our two children. I think it’ll work really well for all of us. I don’t do overly well as a pregnant person and it’s pretty hard to fight off the depression sometimes while pregnant and I’m excited to be able to give my kids 100% again and be able to have something for me too.

Now even though I’m exhausted most of the time, not getting much sleep and still trying to recover from being pregnant/giving birth, I have a certain amount of hope each day that things are getting better. The hope started about a week or so after the baby was born – when my older son first came over and gave me a hug even when I was holding the baby still. It’s taken time for him to adjust to all of this as well. Now I’m excited for the days when life will feel “normal”. It took about 18 months with my first, I’m hoping for a year or less with the next one. Here’s to a year filled with hope!

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Fertility Awareness

January 8, 2009

Now that my second child has been born, it’s time to start thinking about birth control again. For the last 5+ years I’ve been practicing Fertility Awareness. I am not anti-birth control. But for me, I will not take anything hormonal (had a bad reaction) and I also don’t want to do something that might simply prevent implantation of an already fertilized egg. On top of the birth control/pregnancy attempts that Fertility Awareness grants you, it really is pretty amazing to see what your body does. I would recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility to everybody. I personally think these sorts of things should be taught to girls entering puberty. I think it’s important to know what your body is doing and you see things like sex and pregnancy in a totally different light.
For birth control, this is different than NFP (calendar method). You’re not looking at a day of your cycle, you’re watching your body for signs that you are fertile. Even while breastfeeding, I had no problem noticing when I was fertile again. And in fact, talked to my husband one night and said “if we have sex tonight, there’s a good chance I’ll get pregnant”. Nine months later, we have a second child.
Of course, even with this knowledge there’s still a God-factor to all of this. Even knowing when I was fertile, it took us 2-1/2 years to get pregnant with our first child. But now that we have two, I think that’s probably it for us.
Fertility Awareness is still important for birth control as well as pregnancy achievement. Since I began taking notice of my fertility signs, there’s never been a time when my period just “snuck up” on me or when it was specifically late (without me being pregnant). I can usually predict my period within a day or two, usually about 12 days ahead of time. Think about how empowering this would be for young girls. No more having to get upset about “I can’t believe my period started TODAY”. It doesn’t mean it’s an enjoyable thing necessarily, but you can plan for it a little better. It’s so nice to know that God made our bodies in a specific way and there’s so much more to our “cycles” than just bleeding.

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Announcing Baby #2

December 29, 2008

Baby #2 was born at home on December 20th after 6-1/2 hours of labor.  He weighed 8lbs 9oz.  We’re all adjusting to the new little person (including big brother).  I’m starting to feel more like myself after a week and hopefully the new year will bring a nice calm time for all of us.

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The purpose of church and the question of music

December 13, 2008

I’ve somewhat agonized over the question of church for quite a few years now.  I grew up going to church every Sunday pretty much no matter what, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.  But in my married life I’ve stayed away from church probably about half of the time.  I think one of my biggest issues is: What is the purpose of church?  There are lots of good answers, but somehow either the answer doesn’t play out in church or everyone else’s answer is so different from mine that I don’t know what to think.  Maybe some of it is the modern/post-modern difference, maybe some of it is just me.

Some background (ok, a really LONG background)…  I grew up in an 80′s white affluent church.  At the time, they didn’t have a word like mega-church and even if they did, there were lots of churches like ours in the area I grew up.  A couple thousand people, three services on Sunday, the service was broadcast on TV, professional looking singers, Sunday School for every age, Bible Studies during the week, church sports league, etc.  You could pretty much spend all of your time in a church sponsored activity and never have to interact with anyone outside the church.  My family was very involved and for us children (being homeschooled too) we pretty much didn’t have contact with non-Christians (except for extended family because well, you’re supposed to be a witness to them anyway).  I wouldn’t say I had friends at church – through various circumstances I was always different than the other kids, but after so many years at the church you do generally feel a part of things.  At that time, my parents belief was that right doctrine was most important in church.  At some point (around nine years old) I stopped going to Sunday School and sat in the main service and it didn’t matter if it was boring or if I truly understood it; I was being inundated with right doctrine and that was the important thing.

Then it came out that the pastor was having an affair.  The church split, got a new pastor and our family left that church soon after.  For my parents, right doctrine was still most important but they didn’t truly trust that church anymore.

Then came the wandering years.  We tried most of the churches in the area, never stayed for more than a year or so.  My parents were still looking for right doctrine/good preaching, but came home complaining every week about something in each church.  Even finding a good preacher, they could complain about the music, the people, the atmosphere or whatever else disturbed them that week.  During this time, I didn’t really interact with the kids at church my own age (it was mostly discouraged by my parents and when you don’t stay anywhere for long you don’t really have a chance to be a part of a community).  I’d watch my parents at church – my dad sitting stoically listening and my mom with her sunglasses on and eyes closed and wonder what the point was.  I was gaining knowledge I guess, but was that really making me closer to God?

Around 15, I was in college and was around outside influences for the first time.  I made a Christian friend at college and started going to the college Bible Study they went to.  Wow!  My first experience with a college band and people closer to my thoughts.  I was going without my parents too – except when my mom insisted on going to check it out; make sure the teaching is right and everything (yeah, 15 with your mom at a college bible study makes you feel really different than everyone else).  They even started an alternative worship service (candles and everything) and I loved it.  It felt holy, sacred and real…and I didn’t have my parents tearing it apart after each meeting.  Of course, being that my parents were so isolated, very fundamentalist and somewhat not right anyway it started being a struggle to keep going.  I’d get yelled at for going, told I wasn’t being a good Christian or a good daughter (all those “bad Christians” at the college group influencing me) and even pushed to distance myself from any friends I tried to make there.  Finally, everything fell apart – not only the church who didn’t think the alternative service was a good idea anymore but my friends and family situation was too bad to continue.

Eventually I found a pre-emergent, post-modern church that I was going to on my own and by that time my parents were so convinced I was a heathen or something that they were happy I was still going to church – life was difficult with them, but I didn’t have any friends at church anyway, so they didn’t complain too much about the church situation.  Obviously without friends or anything, I can’t say I was a part of a community at church, but for that church I felt like a member of the team.  That was the important part – we were all a team together.  Church worked because everyone had a part.  It was a pretty big church with probably an 80% “ministry” population because hey, even if you don’t have much time, just spend a few minutes after church helping to stack chairs so this thing called church can work.  At the time, I loved it.  They had great music, I felt spiritual there and like it was a sacred space – even if I sat by myself.  They didn’t preach the “normal” verse-by-verse that my parents thought was right, but it didn’t matter so much to me and I was a part of something.

When I started bringing my boyfriend/fiance, it started to fall apart a little bit.  Once again I had someone with me who would leave the service picking apart all of the things they didn’t like (the people, the message, the song, whatever).  When it became too complicated to have one of the pastors marry us (full time college, part time work, regular church, plus 2 or more times a week of “marriage preparation classes”) I agreed to leave and go to the church where the pastor we picked to marry us preached.  Once again I was in the right doctrine type of church.  Didn’t mean there weren’t things to pick apart, but somehow it wasn’t as holy to me – it was just more knowledge.  Once the picking apart got bad enough, we just started staying home and studying on our own.  With a good commentary at your fingertips, what’s the point of sitting somewhere you don’t like when you’re not a part of the community anyway.

After a big move, we tried some churches again and settled on a Calvary Chapel.  Same thing for me once again.  Right doctrine was most important and even serving in the children’s department didn’t leave me as part of the community.  After having a child and finding that I could stay in a little room with screaming kids or sit in the hallway trying to listen (but have people constantly walk by telling me I should go to the nursery), it became an exercise in going out not even being able to sit in the service and hear what the pastor had to say.  I wasn’t a part of the community and there was no feeling of holiness/sacredness, so it didn’t make sense to keep going.

Now it’s been two and a half years.  I’ve looked into Emergent and said “yes, that’s exactly it”.  I’ve looked into house churches and said “sounds great”.  But there’s nothing like that near where I live right now and besides that, there’s still the question, what is the purpose of church?  I know my husband would still be along the lines of right doctrine/knowledge, but why do I feel empty when I leave that sort of church?  If the purpose is community, why haven’t I found that in all my years of searching?  I think there’s something broken with me in that regard.  Maybe a house church would work with something like that, but since there isn’t one here I don’t have much of an option.  What about holiness/sacredness?  On the one hand, I love the idea of that.  But on the other (like when I read Frank Viola), shouldn’t that be a part of all of life?  Does the idea of “worship” at church leave us with the feeling that music/singing is the only thing that worships God and that you have to do it in church, on Sunday (even if the music leaders suck)?

For a while, I even stopped listening to Christian music because I wasn’t sure: what if I don’t believe the doctrine that they’re singing?  Is it now wrong to sing the song (especially if right doctrine is most important)?  What if the spiritual/holy feeling I get from listening to music is just an illusion that I need to purge from myself in order to have a holy/sacred life instead of a once a week “fill-up”?

A few weeks ago I started listening again.  I even turned on one of my old CDs while I was at home for a while.  And do you know what I found?  Music reaches me.  Music for me makes me feel more fully human, more fully expressive.  I think when you get down to it, that’s a part of my makeup.  I liked the church and the places with passionate, talented music – not because I’m a snob and you shouldn’t be playing if you’re not any good, but because that’s how God reaches you sometimes.  I think there must be other people like me who aren’t reached just by sitting and listening to a “good sermon”.  Maybe the community stuff will happen at some point, but for now maybe I can let God pull me out of myself and reach me through the music.  Not necessarily the words expressed, but even just the feeling and sacredness behind the music.  Now, finding a church that believes that – especially in the small area I live in – probably not going to happen anytime soon.  But maybe I can still find a certain sacredness in the music apart from that and while most people may not understand it (where’s the good doctrine or the community?) maybe it’s still ok.  Maybe that’s what makes me me instead of someone else and maybe that’s a part of being true to myself and the person God made me instead of caving to what everyone else says is right and true.  Maybe God truly does reach each of us in different ways and maybe this way is ok too.

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