Saturday, October 22, 2011

playing cars

Benji loves to play with cars. I mean LOVES. He's loved them for a good year and a half. Pretty much every time we go to any store, even the grocery store, he asks, "Are we going to buy a car there?" It makes him really happy when I play cars with him. And I do it, even though it's not my favorite thing. Because it makes him this happy:
Look at that face. What a funny dude. When we play with cars, sometimes it's only 10 minutes, and sometimes it's an hour. There are so many exciting things you can do with cars. We play "car match," where we match them up by color:
Notice how they are in rainbow order; that was me being type-A.
Then we put them on the train table in a line...
...all really close together.
Sometimes we spice it up and place the cars on this nifty fire truck display case thing hanging on his wall.
Then of course, there's "parking garage" to play. We slide them down the twirly part, make them go up the elevator, all kinds of exciting things.
Sometimes we make a "car maze," which means I line up the cars in a maze shape, and then he makes one car go through the maze before destroying it. He also likes to add "dead ends" to the maze, making it impossible to get through it. No problem though; you just jump the car out of the maze to escape it. Didn't you know that all cars can fly if necessary?
There's also lining up some books on the floor to make a road and driving the cars on the road.

And one of his new favorites is "mechanic." That means I take some little guys from our train track set and they own a mechanic shop. Then Benji brings me cars to fix. Here's how it might sound...
Mechanic: Hello, sir. Is your car broken?
Benji: Um, yeah.
Mechanic: Oh, what's wrong with it?
Benji: I dunno. It's just bwoken.
Mechanic: Okay. I'll have it fixed up for you by tomorrow at 3:00. And it'll be $1,430.
Benji: Okay, here you go.
The mechanic turns the car over, bangs on it a few times, says "Hey, Joe, do we have any more fan belts in the supply closet? Oh, good, bring one out," hits the car a few more times, turns it back over, test drives it, then it's done.
Like I said, super exciting. It's definitely an act of love.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm so irritated, I don't even know what to title this blog post

Dear whoever wrote the paragraph below,
Well, hurrah for you. You obviously know the value of hard work and motivation; those are excellent traits to have, and they have worked well for you. But your view is short-sighted and not compassionate. It is simple truth that hard work and motivation are not always enough. Lots of people make better than "decent grades" in high school, but still don't get scholarships. Sometimes scholarships are just given for football skills. And perhaps your degree is in something that is very marketable, and you'll have no problem getting a job upon graduation. If that's the case, how lucky you are that your talents and training are in something marketable. You should have compassion towards those whose talents are not in a field with an easy job market. (For example, academics trying to get professorial positions: about 50 of the jobs for which my husband applied last year also had 150-300 other job applicants).
Consider the man who has 6 children while he had a great job. Then he lost his job due to company failure, cannot find another job, spends 60 hours a week working manual labor, and still can't feed his family. Are you saying he's at fault for making poor choices?
We don't have iphones, netflix, or even tv channels. We eat cheaply, my kids share a room, we keep the a/c off when it's not miserably stuffy, but we still are stretched. We almost never buy clothes that are not on sale. We too, "work our asses off" as you say, but we're not going to be able to make it past next May if things stay the same. Are you saying this is our fault because of our "own bad decisions?"
You say you're in college; I'm assuming you don't have a family yet. Since you are still in college, you haven't yet experienced real life. Try having a spouse and children to support, experience the failed market economy, and go through losing a job before you sound so judgmental against people who struggle to make it month to month.

“I am a college senior, about to graduate completely debt free. I pay for all of my living expenses by working 30+ hrs a week making barely above minimum wage. I chose a moderately priced, in – state public university & started saving $ for school at age 17. I got decent grades in high school & received 2 scholarships which cover 90% of my tuition. I currently have 3.8 GPA. I live comfortably in a cheap apt., knowing I can’t have everything I want. I don’t eat out every day, or even once a month. I have no credit card, new car, iPad or smart phone-and I’m perfectly OK with that. If I did have debt, I would not blame Wall St. or the government for my own bad decisions. I live below my means to continue saving for the future. I expect nothing to be handed to me, and I will continue to work my @$$ off for everything I have. That’s how it’s supposed to work. I am NOT the 99% and whether or not you are is YOUR decision.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Tragedy From Which I Could Never Be the Same

I'm in an amazing women's Bible study at our church. The name of the book and workbook we're using is You Can Become a Saint. It's about becoming holy in our everyday lives. The "theme verse" is Matthew 5:48 "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." If you're a Christian, you have no excuses not to strive for this. We are called to be as holy as we can be. I want to talk more about this study later, because it's really been incredible for me.
There are 18-20 women in our study. And there are five women who are (or who have gone) going through intense trials, physically and spiritually.
One woman (probably about 35 years old) had cervical cancer. She was treated, declared cancer free, then had a negative scan 2 weeks ago.
Another woman has a son who was born with a heart defect. He's never eaten in his life. He won't eat till he's 3 years old. He's been fed through a tube his entire life. He's 1 but looks more like a 5 month old. The mom talked about how the skin around his feeding tube gets irritated and infected. He's not able to crawl, and the mom is very busy with doctor appointments and therapy.
A third woman has a son who had a benign brain tumor the size of an orange. It caused brain damage and he wasn't able to walk, move his arms, talk, or swallow his own saliva. That was over a year ago. Now he can walk with a walker and has relearned talking and eating, but he still has a long way to go.
A fourth woman has a son who was in the hospital extensively. I don't know any more details than that it was something related to his cerebral palsy. For a long time, they didn't know if he was going to live or die. She said that she would pray, and beg God not to let him die, and when she finally was able to say "Thy will be done," she felt a huge burden lift. (He's currently healthy and not hospitalized).
The final woman isn't in our study, but two different people I know know her. She had a 2 month old baby that just died of SIDS. It's probably every mom's worst fear: you wake up in the morning, go to get your baby, and the baby's not breathing.
I'm on the verge of tears just thinking about these ladies. Here's what's scary to me. That out of a group of 20 women, 5 of them have experienced absolute tragedy! HOW BLESSED AM I THAT ALL THREE OF MY CHILDREN ARE COMPLETELY "NORMAL" AND HEALTHY? I've had three easy pregnancies, three complication-free vaginal deliveries, and three completely healthy babies. Already I am blessed beyond measure! But not only that, God has granted me almost 6 years as a mother: that's 6 years of immeasurable joy and indescribable love. There have been literally hundreds of moments that I've sighed a sigh of happiness and thought, "Man I'm lucky! These kids are hilarious/lovable/sweet/amazing."
For the past few weeks, I've been so fearful that something terrible, some tragedy, some test of faith, is around the corner for me. I think about all the terrible things that could happen: cancer, car accident, paralysis, brain aneurysm, and the worst of all:death of a child; anything could happen to us at any time. I've always worried about these things, but lately, I've been really worried. God has spared me from tragedy for so long, who's to say he'll spare me any longer?
The event I fear the most is the death of a child. That is the one tragedy from which I could never completely recover. I literally can't even imagine how dark, how lonely, how slow, how painful each movement would be, if a child died.
I've always been afraid of the process of being made holy. It's almost always a long, painful process. Because we must die to self in order to be holy. And dying to self ain't no picnic. What if God wants to make me more holy and chooses the route of a child's death to get me there?
Sound silly?
I know of at least one other mother who struggles with anxiety issues. She told me about one therapist session where she disclosed all these crazy worries, mostly ones involving her children or herself not being able to care for her children. The therapist told her that these sorts of worries are fairly common in women with young children. So at least there's a therapist out there who wouldn't think I'm crazy!
Very important to note: I ALREADY KNOW THAT GOD HAS CALLED US NOT TO WORRY, NOT TO BE ANXIOUS, TO TRUST IN HIM COMPLETELY. (I mainly wrote that for my mother's sake; otherwise she'd call me up and quote that verse to me. Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition, make known your requests to God" and Matt 6:25-34 where Jesus talks about how the lilies of the field and the birds of the air are cared for by God.). I'm just sayin' this has been a struggle for me lately.
Also very important to note: If I did suffer the incapacitation or death of a child, would I heal? Somewhat. Would I allow God's comfort to soothe me? Yes. Would I become despaired. No. I would grieve atrociously, don't get me wrong. But I would lean on my solid foundation, my true Savior, who knows a thing or two about suffering. But would I ever be the same? No. There would always be a little hole in my life, a scar that would never go away.
I read once in Operating Instructions: A Diary of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott (excellent read!) that she often prayed this simple prayer: "God, please let my son outlive me." I pray that all the time.

**Are there any fears that plague you, specifically involving your children? How do you deal with them?