Friday, August 31, 2012

Trying to Follow Jesus

I spent the last two days reading Carl Medearis' Speaking of Jesus: the Art of Not-Evangelism, the last two days minus (of course) the time I've spent hanging out with my currently visiting parents, taking care of the boys, doing laundry, snatching the occasional moment with my husband, and verbally abusing the dog (in love). It has helped that Tiny has been having trouble sleeping so I've been getting in a lot of five a.m. reading while he reconciles himself to the fact that he IS going to sleep, so help me... Back to the subject: Carl Medearis. Speaking of Jesus.

Blew. My. Mind. In such a good way. I'm not saying that there aren't controversial inclusions in his writing, I'm just saying read it all the way through before you make up your mind and open your heart to hear what Jesus really wants to say to you through it. For me, I was reminded that the purpose is knowing Christ and making him known, that everything else is just not really that important. There are so many nit picky ideologies that I can get hung up on, there are so many sins in others and myself that I can focus in on and try to fix, there are so many distractions, even good ones, that keep me from fixing my eyes on Jesus. I needed the reminder that, in Christ, there is no Us versus Them. I needed the reminder that while there is absolute Truth that doesn't mean we have to hit people over the head with it. And I needed the reminder that if Jesus was walking on earth with us right now, he wouldn't necessarily be in a church or a small group or even visiting the home of a Super-Christian, but would most likely be seeking out the ones who need and want Him the most: the people we usual brand as hopeless sinners.

There are so many more things I could say about this book but at the end of the day I came away with this: I am trying to follow Jesus. I don't do a very good job of it most days, and I will probably always struggle as I strive to figure out who He is and to really know Him. And if you ever want to talk about Jesus with me, I'd really love to hear your thoughts on Him and share mine with you and I hope you'll be patient with me as I learn and grow too.

Green Goblet

Okay, I look like a goose in this picture,
but look at the glass, alright? That's the point.
This week my parents brought me a set of green goblets that were formerly my grandparents'. Mom and Dad spent the last few weeks going through my grandparents' house, cleaning stuff up and out, setting up a garage sale, and parcelling out to the family members certain items that we wanted to keep for ourselves. Mama J. and B. Daddy have moved into a smaller place where B. Daddy can receive the care he needs right now, and among the things they left behind was this set of green goblets. There were thirty six of them. I only asked for twelve. Considering that our dining room table sits four regular people and two with no elbows or knees, I don't see the point in having thirty six of anything right now.

Those of you who know me know that I love the colour green. There is a vibrancy and nuance to it that appeals to me. And it makes me happy. Unless it's growing in my shower or on my homemade bread in the form of nasty mold. In which case: shame on it! So the idea of having a set of green glasses to go with my plain white dinner plates made me do a little happy dance on the inside. I admit that I bought boring plain white dinner plates on purpose so that I could do things like this: buy funky glasswear to go with them. Except that I didn't have to buy anything and the glasses came with a memory (which makes everything better). Now when I set the table with them, I will remember how they graced my grandmother's dining table (her favourite colour is also green, incidentally), especially at Christmas when the tiny twinkle lights reflected off of each glass's multiple facets making the dining room glow. And I will think especially of how my grandfather would shake the ice in his empty glass and look imperiously at my grandmother for a refill. His face is always so funny when he is being bossy. Let me rephrase: his face is always funny. I love my grandparents very much, and I'm so glad to have something in my home to remind me of them. Now I'm getting sappy.

I am doubly blessed because I now have a memory of my own to go with the glasses. When I told the Man I'd asked Mom and Dad to bring them for us, he paused, half grinned at me, and then said, "Well, I've never really liked those glasses but if you like them and they make you happy, that makes me happy." And for us, that's a big deal, considering it took us a full year to agree on pictures for the house because we are both overly opinionated and stubborn in our vastly different tastes. And now I'm done being sappy.

But how 'bout them glasses?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Little Engine That Could: A Scathing Indictment

Oh, Watty Piper, how you have scarred me...

This is how I feel about TLETC.
It also deserves the backwards treatment.
My son, the one who is capable of talking, is obsessed with The Little Engine That Could (henceforth to be referred to as TLETC or That Book). He asks to read it at least three times a week. I don't get it. I have bought him some great books, but whoever gave us That Book owes me big time. I will be honest and say I'm pretty sure it was one of the sweet old ladies from our church in D.C. but somehow that doesn't make it any better. I imagine her snickering to herself and saying, "Teehee, teehee, I really pulled one over on that young filly." All old ladies should refer to me as a filly.

Anyway, I dislike this book because my mother once made an off the cuff remark about how TLETC's message is not really based on good theology, and now that's all I can think about when I read it. Okay, to be honest, that's not the only reason. The reasons I dislike That Book are Legion. And that's what this blog is all about. TLETC, how have I been scarred by you? Let me count the ways.

One, clowns scare me. And "the funniest little toy clown you ever saw" is just absolutely terrifying to me. Seriously creeptastic. I can't look at it without getting little cold chills running down to my belly button. And my child asks me to read this book how many times a week? Is this punishment for all the times I've put him in time out? IS IT?

Two, what child wants fresh spinach for their dinners? And peppermint drops for dessert? This is propaganda, I tell you! Besides, the plight of the sad little train with no working engine would be that much more convincing if there was ice cream on board threatening to melt at any minute if they are not pulled over the mountain to the boys and girls on the other side. Also, why do the apples and oranges have faces on them and the milk bottles weird little stick legs and the lollypops ghoul eyes? I need to know!

Third, I am severely annoyed that while the train stays broken down and unable to pull itself over the mountain, the scenery in the background changes. I realize this shouldn't bother me when food has been personified and given feet (see above), but it does. It really, really does.

Fourth, it also bothers me that all the mean engines that won't help the train out are male and the Little Blue Engine is female. I realize that as a strong woman with feminist leanings this shouldn't bother me, but as a mother of boys it really, REALLY does. What kind of message does this teach my sons? That they will either be snooty and mean or too tired and old to be helpful whereas their female counterparts will be little angels in contrast? At least mix it up a little. Why couldn't the strong engine have been female (that too would've made my feminist tendencies happy)? I'm not against a female protagonist by any means, but casting all the villains as male is just unnecessary. Is this nit-picky? Maybe. But I'm always looking for more things to dislike about That Book.

At any rate, I diligently read this book to my child when he asks (because he's cute and I love him) and try to keep myself entertained by doing different voices for all the engines (which he sadly does not appreciate) and by reading as quickly as humanly possible (which for some reason doesn't bother him at all), but my favourite version of the story is the one that my middle sister told before Little Man was old enough to know she wasn't really reading him the book and really just wanted to look at the pictures of the trains. I am doing my best to find it since I put it in a very awesome status on facebook, but I'm not having any luck. So I just want you to know that it included nuclear explosions and purple sheep, I think, and was way more entertaining than what's actually included in the real book. And now I'm going to go eat my unhappiness over losing that masterpiece of hilarity by consuming a bag of chocolate chips, all because I facebooked about it instead of blogging!

Adventures in Not Getting Lost

Let me be honest: this blog deserves pictures. And I do not have any. The simple reason being that I forgot to bring my camera on our excursion, and my phone's memory is too full to take more pictures (and they won't download onto the computer anyway for some unknown reason), and the Man's phone is on the fritz, by which I mean, his screen has cracked into a gazillion pieces and we are spending extensive time praying over it every day because evidently we didn't get insurance on it and it can't be replaced 'til February. That was a run on sentence. Since I am a bad blogger with no actual photos and really bad grammar, I will have to ungrammatically paint you a picture with my words. But considering that I was up all night with Teething Tiny (this is now his never to be replaced nickname) and his Screeching Sibling (who threw a tantrum at midnight because he was out of water and then another at the crack of dawn because he had wet the bed--naturally), that may not go as well as we might hope.

I digress.

Here's where the story starts. The boys happily ensconced in their car seats, the Man and I up front, lunch plans to discover the "best burger in Oklahoma" which is supposed to be down one road out of base and then something-something-something a dirt road and then to a old, out of use gas station with a sign for peanuts. Yes. I do not exaggerate. This is how they give directions here. Thinking to ourselves that this couldn't be that hard, we blithely headed out under the sunny sky without a care in the world. We then proceeded to criss-cross the entire state of Oklahoma for an hour and a half without finding hide nor hair of Biddy's Burgers and Peanuts. Again, I do not exaggerate. Both boys fell asleep in their car seats; we went through half a tank of gas; we even called for directions (which would've been helpful had we been where we thought we were). We started recognizing cows that we had passed before, but still no Biddy's. The worst part of it is, since we were going to lunch (supposedly), we had not brought road trip snacks! It was a travesty.

Finally we decided to go back to the beginning (Vizzini would've approved) and regroup. And lo and behold, it worked. The hilariously annoying part of it is, we had been driving in circles around Biddy's the entire time. Again: I do not exaggerate. The result of all of this was that we were very hungry by the time we got our burgers and they really did taste like the best burgers in the state of Oklahoma (and possibly the history of mankind) although whether or not they really were is completely up in the air because our taste buds were most likely affected by the growling of our stomachs. Also, as a side note and in case I ever take up work as a food critic and need to prove my absolute, unbiased honesty, the buns did leave something to be desired.

And the point of the story (although really it's not a point and who needs one anyway?) is that although we couldn't find what we were looking for, we weren't really lost, and how does that possibly make any sense?

The End. And yes, you may have some fries with that.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Miracle Baby

I used to think Little Man was a miracle baby. For one, technically, my pregnancy shouldn't have happened. Don't ask. For two, his first year of life he almost died. They said if I'd waited one more day to bring him to the hospital, his lungs would've collapsed (we'd already done multiple ER visits before that point). We had an overnight hospital stay and came on home. He's already made it through two separate surgeries, tackled an inhaler and multiple breathing treatments, and figured out how to sleep comfortably when his feet are connected with a metal rod. This child has skill.

Now, however, I think Tiny is the miracle baby. As in, it will be a miracle if he makes it through his first year of life alive--that is, if his brother has anything to do with it. Don't get me wrong, Little loves Tiny. And most of the things he's done to him were accidents. I think. I hope? But so far, Little has sat on Tiny's head, laid bodily on top of him, elbowed him this way and that, covered his face with stuffed animals, and then yesterday, for the win, Little tipped over Tiny's stroller--with Tiny in it. Yes. That's right. With. Tiny. In. It. Every day that child survives his older brother's exuberant and accidental man-handling is a surprise to me. What doesn't kill him makes him stronger?

The funny thing, though, is that I really am married to a real miracle baby. The Man and his twin, by all accounts, shouldn't have survived. So even though I'm joking about my two silly boys (and I am so glad for their wonderful health--what a blessing), at the risk of sounding very, very cheesy, it's nice to rejoice in the fact that 27 years and some odd months ago, the incredible man I'm married to was born, a little early and not perhaps with ideal circumstances but alive. I love my boys. All three of them.

On that note, I came home last night after going for a quick drive in the rain to drop off some bread for a friend at a house that wasn't hers (again, don't ask--but her husband is a ninja and did some incredible under-cover bread retrieval), and I found that my littlest man had talked the biggest man into taking him out of the crib (ostensibly loudly and with tears). When I arrived, they were cuddling on the couch watching baseball together; Tiny's head was leaned up against the Man's chest and he was cooing happily to himself. The picture of contentment. I kind of loved it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ragged Claws

When I was in college I went to a reading where we were supposed to respond to T. S. Eliot's line "I should have been a pair of ragged claws/Scuttling across the floors of silent seas" from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". It was an optional assignment and I don't think I got very far with it, but I went to the reading and then forgot about it. Until tonight as I was walking home in the dusk with the Dog and all of a sudden I heard that pair of ragged claws scuttling after me. It was just leaves, dried hard in the summer oven of Oklahoma, bouncing and clattering against the basketball court, screeching across the sidewalks, tapping feverishly over the streets toward me. And, as silly as this is, I had to fight the urge not to break into a run because for the life of me it sounded as though there was an army of crabs advancing towards me or a skeleton dragging its bony fingers along the ground as it lurched in my direction. I was--honestly--creeped out.

I can't pin-point the reason behind my momentary terror except that I have always loved the sound of autumn leaves crunching cheerily beneath my feet and this was so like but then not. The otherness was unsettling. Autumn leaves fall in their time, dried and crinkled by age, not baked prematurely stiff by the sun. They are vivid and bright, each one unique in its spray of colour while these leaves were all the same yellowed brown. By the time autumn gets here, there won't be many leaves left to change colour and fall. But I don't think that's the point and purpose of Eliot's words. It's more about looking inside of ourselves and wondering if we too are nothing more or less than a din in the darkness, an unnamed fear, perhaps for me tonight a reminder of something that could have been but wasn't.

I love Eliot, have always loved "Alfred Prufrock", but will now probably never read the poem the same way again. Isn't it interesting how our reading affects our experience and vice-versa?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sleep--or Lack Thereof

People who say they sleep like a baby generally don't have one.
Leo J. Burke

Recently I have begun to measure the quality and quantity of my sleep by how much water I have left in my water bottle in the morning. Let me explain. Every night before bed I fill up my water bottle and place it on the bedside table. Then, each time I wake up to check on Tiny (or rather, each time Tiny wakes me up to demand a diaper change, a midnight snack, or just some moral support for his teething), I take a few sips of water. Which inevitably means that every time I get out of bed I'm also going to the bathroom--having two almost nine pound babies bounce around on my bladder for months on end did that to me. So, yes, when I wake up in the morning I can tell just how much or how little sleep I've gotten by how full my water bottle is.

Lately, it's been empty.

Interestingly enough, I can tell how well the Man has slept by how many random scraps of paper or old receipts or paper towels  covered in what I call "cop scrawl"are littering his bedside table. Because every night before bed the Man forgets to get a decent notebook and pen and put them on his bedside table for when he gets calls from the desk about whatever crazy thing has gone down on base. Instead, in the middle of the night, he scrounges around for whatever he can find and has been known to use important banking information or a receipt for some big ticket item that needs to be returned or some other not-so-blank surface to jot down the latest on-base crime. I love that he does this because the next day I get to be all Nancy Drewish and try to figure out what happened. I also love that I sleep through all of these phone calls but still get to hear all the best gossip when he gets home from taking care of what really did go down.

Anyway, lately, the Man's bedside table has been more than covered with papers of "cop scrawl".

All this means that we have been very tired. And I have been very crabby (the Man can subsist on significantly less sleep than I can--or maybe he's just a nicer person). And the fact that I'm still avoiding caffeine because I'm nursing doesn't help. But that's okay because when I don't get around to cleaning the house or exercising or doing anything else productive, I can just blame it on my lack of sleep instead of the fact that I just didn't feel like it. And then I can lounge around on the couch and be entertained by the Man.