Pretty sure that God sent me an e-mail last night.

Yesterday was “one of those days.”  So was the day before.  So was today.

I know we all have them.  Some days your kids are just crazy, you’re just tired, there’s just too much to do, you’re just out of dairy-free groceries, you’re just sick of rice, she’s just having a really fussy day today, it’s just been a lot of church meetings this month, and you just need a break.  Really, it happens.  But lately (cue the melodramatic because “lately” = this week) I’ve felt like I’ve had more of “those” days than good days, which is not ok with me.  When I’m having one of “those” days I tend to get in one of “those” moods, and that is not at all how I want to respond.

I never thought I’d yell at my kids.  It’s not my go-to response, thankfully.  But lately (= this week) I’ve been yelling a lot more than necessary.  In my opinion the necessary times are 1) danger and 2) danger.  Any time I was yelled at as a kid I don’t even remember what was said, but I do remember how horrified I was.  So a “yelling mom” is not at all how I envisioned myself, and also not at all ok with me.  But this week OHMYWORD I’ve just been so frustrated.  Malachi must realize he’s turning 2 in five days and feel the need to live up to the stereotype because good. freaking. grief.  If he’s not jumping on the couch, booking it out the front door, or feeding his food to the dog he’s probably smacking his sister, opening pill bottles, or pouring sand on the floor.  Or whining.  Always whining.

But to be honest, sometimes he really is just playing with his toys or running around being 2 and doing nothing wrong.  I mean good grief – he was an only child for 22 months and what a HUGE adjustment.  But because I’ve been so frustrated with the defiant things he’s done, I tend to get frustrated with other normal things, and that’s not fair.

Last night I explained all of this to my husband and asked him to pray for me, which he did.  I sat and thought about how I couldn’t just have “one of those days” seven days in a row.  How I was responsible for my response and how much my response could affect my son’s behavior.  And also I thought about how overwhelmed I was getting with my ESL ministry starting back up and having two kids and trying to garden and planning birthdays and gifts and there was just too much going on and all I want to do is take a hot bath and read my magazine!

And then this came in my blog reader, and it was like God said, “I get it.  I hear every single thought you are thinking and I understand every single feeling you are feeling and it’s ok.  We’re gonna get through it.”

And today when Malachi repeated “cookie” 784798654 times in the grocery store until we got the free one, and then again until we left, and then when he kept sliding his plate across the table and I had to take him out of the restaurant for a time-out, and then when he screamed bloody murder and woke up his finally-asleep sister I handled it better.  Not great.  Not perfect.  But better.  And then when he and his sister both fell asleep on the way home I looked in my rear-view mirror and smiled because I am so. incredibly. blessed.

He just wants to be like his sister.

He just wants to be like his sister.

And tired.

[Insert Title Here]

I love to write.  I used to write poetry all the time.  I have about 10 notebooks full of poetry upstairs somewhere.  Sometimes I love to sit and read my past.  Sometimes I’m too afraid to open the cover.  Some of those poems bring back memories so strong I can taste it.  Not just memories of what was happening, but memories of what I was feeling.  That’s the difference between a journal entry and a poem – every poem I’ve written is a piece of my heart.

I haven’t written much poetry in the last 10 or so years.  It saddens me, because I love to write.  I guess the good thing about growing up and “settling down” is that there aren’t so many earth-shattering events and emotions to inspire me.  The emotions I have now are so much less violent, but also so much deeper.  I want to write poetry again, but I’m not even sure where to start.

About a year ago, however, I had a brief flash of “Write it down, write it down NOW!” that any poet could tell you they would understand.  But I always get stuck on titles.  So, if you have a suggestion on a title, leave it below.  I may or may not use it.  =)

Nostalgia is a dangerous game:
The seed of comparison that breeds discontent
Clinging to the heat of a dying flame,
a broken heart wonders where the pieces went

When what was is no longer, hope finds itself
dreaming instead of what could have been
Seeing the road to a deep, empty well
as a path untaken and Heaven-sent

Yet clear, true memory of a former time
is the anchor to hold to when doubting the now
The past should be hope, should be strength, should be life
Not an alter of memory on which to bow

Past futures are over, old seasons are gone
The moments once dreamed of are passing too fast
But what seems to have perished does, in us, live on
The future is shaped by the days we’ve amassed

And when tears and regrets, both of truth and of wish
threaten to bruise and to bloody the soul
One truth everlasting, despite all that’s missed
Says the future is promise, waiting and whole

7 Quick Takes

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.  Feel free to comment, critique, or snore below.

  1. My husband gets told on a fairly regular basis (that’s an exaggeration) that he reminds people of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.  I’m not sure if it’s the off-beat t-shirts, fabulous haircut, or overall geekiness but I find it somewhat true and completely hilarious.
    Image

    I’m sure you’re thinking I should have been a graphic artist. Also, Jeremy also owns the shirt Sheldon is wearing.

    Last night Sheldon was bemoaning the cancellation of his favorite Sci-Fi show, Alphas.  This is the conversation that ensued:
    Jeremy:  That’s too bad, I didn’t know alphas was cancelled either.
    Allie:  Are you kidding me?
    Jeremy:  Nope.
    Allie:  I thought they just made up a show.
    Jeremy:  Nope.
    Allie:  That is going on the blog tomorrow.
    Jeremy:  I wonder if that’s true.  I’m gonna google it.
    Allie:  You are such a nerd!
    Jeremy:  Awwww, it is true.

    On second thought, I’m pretty sure it’s the geekiness.

  2. Malachi and Naomi have both done their fair share of crying this week.  Naomi over being tired, being hungry, or being bashed on the head by her brother.  Malachi over a plethora of ridiculousness with a couple stabbed-himself-in-the-mouth-with-his-toothbrush and fell-headfirst-off-the-beds thrown in.  When one of my children is crying (for a legitimate reason) I get really hyper-stressed out, and fast, but they usually don’t see it because I stay calm for their sake.  However, I’ve noticed that when both of my children are crying at the same time I sometimes (not always) respond by… laughing.  I’ll never forget the drive home from the hospital when Naomi was screaming because she was a newborn and hated the carseat and Malachi was crying because Naomi was coming with us (unexpected, apparently) and Jeremy looked slightly crazy-eyed like “uh…what now?” and I just started laughing.  Maybe because there was nothing we could do about it, maybe as a coping mechanism, maybe because two children simultaneously crying was about to sum up the next chapter of our life…probably that one.
  3. Speaking of crying, last night I belched so loud that it scare Naomi awake and she started crying.  I felt both guilty and completely amused at the same time.  I definitely did the same thing to Malachi when he was a baby.  More than once.
  4. Have you seen this video?  If not, you’re welcome.

    I just found out that one of the stars of that fine piece of cinema regularly attends my church.  I think that’s pretty cool.  I’m sure if those guys found out that I blogged about my claim to fame here, they would be equal parts flattered and creeped out.
  5. This has not been a banner week for me in the patience-with-my-son department.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with his new favorite game which I like to call “Take everything out of the toy box/cabinet/pantry/other toy box and put it in a big pile” or his other new favorite game called “jumping on the bed until I kick Naomi in the face” or his other new favorite game called “Say ‘deet’ over and over and get increasingly frustrated that Mom doesn’t know what I’m talking about.”  On the other hand, he’s still pretty adorable.No more toys in here! 
  6. Malachi has been out of my eyesight for approximately 15 minutes.  I hear the pantry door, an occasional “uh-oh,” and some tapping.  I have no clue what he’s doing.  I’m hoping for the best.
  7. Lastly but not leastly, we are headed to two different festivals tomorrow, then home for a nap, then an art show.  I’m super excited to take the kiddos to do something fun.  Have a spectacular weekend!  Update:  Just found out one of the festivals is cancelled and rescheduled to a weekend we already have plans.  Boo!!

There are two men in my city running from cops, and I’m writing a blog.

Tonight there are two criminals on the loose in Lynchburg.  It was an armed robbery and the cops put an entire section of town on lock down while they searched, escorting restaurant patrons to their cars, kids to school buses, and even cancelling church services.  There was a helicopter flying around and cop cars everywhere.  I know all this because of Facebook – tons of people posted photos and news stories and asked for prayer.  Then someone said this: “What is this world coming to?”

And I let out a frustrated breath and rolled my eyes.  Really?  Come on.  People say that all the time, and it never ceases to bring out the frustration in me.  After Newtown, after Boston, even after the election I heard so many people say things like “What is wrong with our world?” – Christians, believers, leaders in my church and I want to just put my hands on either side of their face and yell, “You’re asking the wrong question!”

I could go through the whole “The world is sinful, it will only get worse, etc. etc.” thing, but the truth is, the world has always been screwed up.  I’m not sure if it’s getting worse or not.  2,000 years ago the depravity was so bad that the disciples thought they were in the last days.  2 thousand years before that God destroyed an entire city of people because of their sinfulness.  And when the world was relatively young God flooded it and only spared one family.  So it seems like we’ve been real messed up for a looooong time, yet in every generation there are some who are simply aghast at this.  But to quote a wise author, I’d like to ask, Why are we surprised when sinners sin?

Why are we surprised when sinners sin?

Why are we appalled when the deceived make decisions based on a lie?

Why are we shocked when radical, committed, religious people blow up buildings because they believe they are obeying a higher calling?

I’m not numb.  I cried for days after the Newton tragedy trying to imagine those parents’ pain.  I struggle with my own convictions about the death penalty when I think about those who would take the life of children.  My heart aches to imagine the joy of finishing a marathon turning to the horror of the smell of smoke and a bloody sidewalk.  I am not numb.  But I’m also not surprised.

I know some would call me cynical.  In the wake of every tragedy there are those who point out that it was just two crazy people, one messed up man, one group of radicals.  But as Christians, we see entire cultures slowly eroding, slowly accepting sin as normal, slowly rejecting truth and embracing lies.  That’s not just one or two people.  That’s millions.

We are all made in the image of God.  I wish I could believe all people were good, but the Word tells us otherwise.  So when people ask “What is this world coming to?”, what I want to say in reply is, “No, what is the church coming to?”  If we are salt and light, why is the world so tasteless and dark?  If we are called to care for the needy, give to the poor, speak truth to the lost, and love the unlovable than why is so much of our world destitute, impoverished, deceived, and rejected?  If we are going to be shocked by something, I think we should probably be shocked by our own ineffectiveness.

And now on the other side of the coin, others would probably call me cynical, and I understand.  The church in its entirety is not dead, lazy, extinguished, scared…  I really do believe that.  But I would venture to say that the church in America, in general, is not what Jesus had in mind.

So the next time something terrible happens, instead of saying “What is wrong with the world?” let’s mourn with the hurting, rebuild with the fallen, and give to the devastated.  Instead of going on Facebook and saying “What is this world coming to?” let’s go out into the world and proclaim “There is hope!”  And then let’s be that hope, that “Christ in me, the hope of glory.”  He is the light of the world, and He lives in us.

7 Quick Takes

Linking up with Grace at Camp Patton for another dose of 7 completely useless pieces of information.

  1. Tonight while watching the press conference after the capture of the second Boston suspect, Jeremy and I had this gem of a conversation:
    Jeremy:  Does he have a lisp or something?
    Allie:  No, babe, that’s a Boston accent.
    Jeremy:  Oh.
  2. And on a similar note, we have a neighbor from Massachusetts.  After talking to her the first time, my mom and I had this conversation:
    Mom:  I met your neighbor.
    Allie:  Isn’t she great?  I love her accent.
    Mom:  What is she, German?
    Allie:  Mom.  She’s Northern.  She’s just from Boston.
    Mom:  Yeah, but she’s foreign.
    Allie:  No, Mom, she’s definitely not foreign.
    Mom:  Really?  (cue horrible impression of her accent):  “Oh, look at zee buh-bay!  I bet you love your new grand buh-bay”
    Allie:  Mom, she’s not foreign, she’s just from the north.
  3. The tearing up of drywall has not started in my children’s closet, and in fact may not need to occur, but in order to be honest with you all I went ahead and bought 100 dollars worth of clothes at Goodwill just to keep to my word.  I did it for you.  You’re welcome.
  4. After 1 and a half weeks of abstaining from dairy products and indulging in such delicacies as coconut milk coffee “creamer” and veggie cheese that melts without changing shape and has the texture of cold french fries, I had a total moment of brilliance today and ate a bowl of queso dip.  Because I forgot.  And I was eating it WHILE discussing with my sister that I couldn’t make my meatloaf with cheese in it anymore because of the dairy thing, and it still took us five minutes to realize I was sucking down the white melty lactose with out a second thought.  So that’s great.
  5. Malachi’s new favorite word is “buh,” said with the slightest of question-intonation.  He has used it to say “Help me take the lids out of this plastic bin so I can climb in it,” “Can I please play with the iPad,” and “I don’t want to change my diaper.”  So it’s very versatile, I suggest you start incorporating it into your daily life.
  6. Why do toddlers hate getting their nails cut so much?  Every time I cut Malachi’s it’s like WWIII, so I guess today was really more like WWCCLVII (I know you had to go look that up).  Do they have nerves in their fingernails?  Is there an emotional attachment I don’t understand?  Does he have psychological trauma from that time I cut his finger as a newborn?  Because for realz….  I wonder what would happen if I brought him into our local Nailtiques.
  7. I hope you’ve enjoyed this mediocre blog post.  I promise to do better next time.

Let’s talk about how sympathetic I’m not.

It’s pretty shameful, actually.  If my son is sick or hurt I stop everything, hold him, read him stories, drug him up so he can sleep, let him watch T.V. and  I am all about it baby boy!  My husband is sick – seriously, dude, can you PLEASE hack quieter so I can sleep?  Also, BLOW YOUR NOSE!  I hate sniffing, it’s so annoying.  

Although let’s get real – I DO bring him tea and soup and try to talk him into staying home from work so he can sleep.  But still.

Today the pollen count in Virginia is an 11.5 on a scale of 1-12 and Jeremy has recently begun to suffer from ridiculously horrible allergies.  When he came home from work his eyes were so red it looked like a chemical burn, and he literally never stopped rubbing them except when he was driving – no exaggeration.  But no, he would not use eye-drops because “it feels weird and I don’t like it” but apparently burning, itching, dry eyes feels way awesomer.  So while we were walking around Wal-mart and I was booking it at mom-with-two-kids-get-it-done-before-the-meltdown-speed Jeremy was stopping every .387 inches to rub his eyes and I was getting really, really annoyed.

So annoyed, in fact, that as soon as we got home my first stop after calming down screaming baby and showing Malachi how to climb into the new storage bins because he wouldn’t stop crying and saying “bub” which clearly was code for “Take the lids out of that awesome toy and help me in!” was to grab the eye drops and forcibly spray them into Jeremy’s eyes all while telling him how he was such a baby and PLEASE BE STILL AND STOP CLOSING YOUR EYES!  

And now he is outside digging up grass and dandelions and pollen and allergens for my garden and it’s 9:00 at night and I’m sitting here holding my baby and reading blogs and watching T.V.  So I’ll try to do better in the future, babe, because I love you.

Even when you are a wimp.

Maybe the doors aren’t opening because God knows we’re not ready to walk through them.

I’m supposed to be couponing but I don’t really care.  Who said I was “supposed” to be anyway?  Me.  So I have the right to change the rules.  And now I have successfully justified myself to myself.  Congratulations.

Six years ago our church sent out a couple to go plant a church in Massachusetts. I didn’t really know them that well though we had gone to their house once for dinner.  I remember discussing with my sister how adorable Sarah was as a pregnant woman and how I wanted to look like that one day.  When they left I wasn’t even married yet so we related in a completely different way then than we do now.  In a lot of ways I feel like I was still a kid back then, but I guess that’s a different subject.  

Anyways, ministry in Massachusetts didn’t go as expected and they went back to “normal life” for a while.  Then they read a book called Radical which turned their lives upside-down and loooooooong story way way way short they are now preparing to move overseas, and once again we are their commissioning church.  

Jeremy and I are on a totally different side this time – we are the missions leaders at our church, we are in charge of their accountability once they are on-field, we have two children and so do they, and we are pretty much bona-fied adults *snort*.  But seriously, we are both closer to 30 than 20 and wow – that puts things in perspective a bit.

This couple is taking their school-age kids, moving away from family, and making a five-year or more commitment to ministry in the area of human-trafficking.  They asked God what life would look like if they really surrendered their all to them, and when He told them they chose to obey.

When Jeremy and I were engaged we really thought we would move overseas as missionaries within five years.  I was going to get my master’s, then we would join Wycliffe and start support-raising, and then we’d move.  We even started the process and met with representatives and planned our jobs and choices around that plan.  Then God changed it.  

To take loooooong to way way way short once again, we do believe that we are where God wants us.  What we have been struggling with is WHY God wants us here, instead of “there.”  Why, when there are so few people willing to move overseas and do missions, does he put us “willing” people here in the States?  

But lately I feel like He’s been starting to show me the answer to that question, and I don’t like it.  I’m hearing something like, “Why would I send you overseas to do ‘there’ what you aren’t doing here?”  And…ouch.  

Yeah.  

That’s a good question.

I could make you a list of all the ministry we are doing here, and to be honest I almost did.  But really, do we go out of our way to build relationships with our neighbors?  And when we build relationships, do we turn them towards Christ?  Do I avoid conversations about faith with family members who believe differently, or do I look for them, start them, even embrace them?  Am I making sacrifices in my lifestyle to help the poor and lost in my own neighborhood?  Not comfortable sacrifices, but real, genuine sacrifices?

I know the answer to those questions.  

And now’s the time to change it.