Photographs

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I have never been very good at taking pictures. I look at those “other” Mommy bloggers and I see their gorgeous pictures taken with their expensive cameras, and I think that I must need a $1,000 camera so that I can take good pictures too. They apologize for their iPhone photos-that’s as good a camera as I’ve got. Except for my mom. My mom has one of those expensive cameras-she even has an expensive, expensive camera. When she’s around, I forget to even pick up the iPhone to take inferior pictures. Why is this bothering me?

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Jordyn’s 10th birthday party was last Saturday. One of the things I wanted to do for her was to put together a slideshow of her life. So, I started searching through my computer’s photographs and gradually it became clear that I don’t take pictures of my children. When we were living with my mom or very close to my mom, I could see many pictures taken of my precious firstborn. But, there were very few pictures that were taken from my old point-and-shoot, or even my iPhone once I had it. In fact, there were entire holes in my child’s life (such as year 5) where I had only a handful (literally, like 10) of photographs from the entire year! Why????

I have been following this mom whose daughter, Jennifer, passed away from cancer at the ripe ol’ age of 6, and the grief she exposes is truly heart-wrenching. Isn’t that every parent’s worst nightmare? That a beast will come in and steal your child from your arms and leave you powerless to prevent it from happening? Well, she posts pictures, lots of pictures of her forever 6 year old and her other three children. Most of the pictures are your classic photograph, with smiling faces, looking at the camera, in focus types of things. But there are some, and it’s these ones that haunt me, that are less impressive. They are out of focus, or the clothes aren’t on, or she’s not looking at the camera. The “bad” photographs. They are precious to her. I’ve been deleting them for years. Even worse, knowing that I can’t compose a “good” photograph because the floor is messy or my kids are (still) undressed, I don’t even pick up the camera (or phone). And once that moment is gone, its gone forever.

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So, I’m going to try to take more of these “candid” photos, in the hopes that when it comes time to put together Bekah’s slideshow, I have ample material to choose from, for every year of her life.

Even if the floor is dirty.

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Even if the kids aren’t dressed.

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Because that is a moment from their life, and that makes it extremely valuable to me.

Failure to Thrive

Are you familiar with those useless, boring, obligatory doctor visits? I always hated them and felt that they were a complete waste of time. For the most part with the previous two children the visit was basically about getting vaccinations. Since I’m not especially thrilled with the vaccination process, but go along with it anyway, doctor visits take on somewhat of a negative view. I know that the idea is that if you see a doctor when you’re well, he might actually catch something BEFORE it becomes a big deal. I know that they aren’t there to evaluate my parenting style and choices and judge me. I know that it can be valuable, but in my experience, it’s been nothing but a waste of several hours waiting in a waiting room, then stripping your child bare to measure them, more waiting in a cold office (with your now undressed baby), and then a visit with a nurse, and a quick minute or two with the doctor, and the shots.

I have to say though, Andrew’s doctor has been completely pleasant. It’s still largely about waiting around, but I can easily blame that on our modern medical system rather than the doctor himself. Dr. Davidson is a soft-spoken man and, unlike other doctors I’ve seen, not prone to overly alarmist speeches. He makes a funny face when I’ve said something I think he disagrees with, but he calmly states his counterpoint or ignores it. I like that. He has reassured me a number of times that Andrew seems to be progressing fine developmentally, but starting around the six month mark, he began to express some concern about the lack of growth for both height and weight in Andrew. Still, he reassured me that he looked completely healthy. He brought us back in for a 7 month weight check and ran some standard lead tests seeing as we lived in an older home that had verifiable amounts of lead. Andrew made some progress for his weight check and the lead test came back normal.

Which is why I understood that he was really concerned when we discussed failure-to-thrive at Andrew’s 12 month check-up. Andrew still hasn’t gained weight. What used to be a healthy 50-75% baby has now dropped to 1%. He’s energetic and healthy, not prone to diarrhea or vomiting, has a good appetite, sleeps fine, walks, and screams to communicate a point. But he’s small and that is a concern. Really, seeing his growth chart really does it. So here it is:

Of course, like any parent, they begin to do research the minute they’re out of the doctor’s office. What I found is that failure to thrive (FTT) is really a symptom, not a disease. The causes are usually obvious: you’ve got a sick baby. In Andrew’s case that doesn’t apply which means that the odds are that his FTT is caused by… me. At least, that’s what the research seems to indicate to me. Sure, there are rare issues of growth hormone disorders and other endocrinological issues. There are many things that can still be causing it, but the research says that the odds are high that some “inorganic” reasons are to blame. As in, the parents are putting their child on a diet or some other form of abuse. Now I know that I’m not abusing my child nor withholding food from him. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking that the doctor might be thinking it.

The good news is this has helped me view my parenting and habits from the outside in. You know how when you are having company come over, you suddenly see all the things that aren’t clean in your house that you’ve been living with anyway? (Please tell me that it’s not just me!) I decided to begin to track Andrew’s habits- everything from sleeping and eating, pooping and playing. Though I was almost done weaning him, I (thankfully) was able to get my milk supply going again and have been feeding him (more or less) on demand. He nurses three to five times a day and again once or twice at night. I began to weigh and measure his food intake and how he behaves after a meal. Just like using a food journal for yourself helps you to identify food patterns and weaknesses, tracking Andrew’s diet has helped me see where I’ve become lazy (from having older children) and respond accordingly.

The other good that has come of this is that I’ve had to look very carefully at what I’ve been eating. For one thing, Andrew almost always refuses food if we aren’t eating the same thing with him. The other big deal for me is that I feel judged because of my weight. I’m embarrassed by it and this leads me to feel like other people are judging me using my own yardstick. I feel like, in this case, the doctor must assume that Andrew eats nothing but junk, since clearly his mother has over-indulged regularly. Out of my deep desire to lose this weight (AGAIN!), I’m going back to my couch-to-5K workouts and then from there into a half-marathon training program (with an adjustment period to build my weekly mileage in between) Ideally, I’ll get pregnant in there somewhere (yes, we’re praying for more children), but developing good work-out habits is good for every pregnant woman. In addition, I’m planning on juicing/juice fasting to include some nutrients that I know I’m not eating enough of. I would really like to have some crazy-fast weight loss just so that I can look better and feel better right away but I know that I only have enough discipline for the minutest of changes.

I’m still praying that the doctor’s up at Children’s Hospital in Denver will find out that there’s nothing wrong with my little one, but I’m still determined to be thankful in all things. After all, Andrew was created in the image of the Father and is perfect just as he is.

Sanctification?

When I had originally decided to write this post I had just finished my morning reading of The Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It was February 8th and the title of the entry was “The Cost of Salvation”. Before I go much further, I will mention that if you click on the first link above, you will get to a homepage that has the original text and KJV scriptures. You can get “today’s reading” or you may browse whatever day you’d like. I did not know about this, so I purchased an “updated” version at my bookstore. It claims that it is “An Updated Edition in Today’s Language” and uses the NKJV; I didn’t think twice about purchasing it. Now I wished I had just purchased the original! Anyway, I wanted to quote what I had actually read, but I will just copy the original version (or what I should have read). Clear as mud?

February 8th
INSTANTANEOUS AND INSISTENT SANCTIFICATION

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

When we pray to be sanctified, are we prepared to face the standard of these verses? We take the term sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared for what sanctification will cost? It will cost an intense narrowing of all our interests on earth, and an immense broadening of all our interests in God. Sanctification means intense concentration on God’s point of view. It means every power of body, soul and spirit chained and kept for God’s purpose only. Are we prepared for God to do in us all that He separated us for? And then after His work is done in us, are we prepared to separate ourselves to God even as Jesus did? “For their sakes I sanctify Myself.”[John 17:19] The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God’s standpoint. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the disposition that ruled Him will rule us. Are we prepared for what that will cost? It will cost everything that is not of God in us.

Are we prepared to be caught up into the swing of this prayer of the apostle Paul’s? Are we prepared to say – “Lord, make me as holy as You can make a sinner saved by grace”? Jesus has prayed that we might be one with Him as He is one with the Father. The one and only characteristic of the Holy Ghost in a man is a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, and freedom from everything that is unlike Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s ministrations in us? [Emphasis added]

So there you have it. Need I even comment on it? When I read this the other day I just sat there, shocked. I want to go out on a limb and say that this process of sanctification is not taught anymore. I have been going to church all my life and though I hear rhetoric like, “become more like God” no one has really ever pointed me to a place where I can confront this issue. It is an unpopular one! Modern Christians are satisfied with grace by faith with the mistaken notion that we don’t have to do anything else! How else do we read Philippians 2:12, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

I have always been a little bit confused about what to do now that I am a Christian. I knew that I was supposed to do the right thing, but I have always heard it describes as something that just naturally happens, that now that you are saved, you suddenly begin to act like a Christian. I just could never understand why I didn’t. Am I not really saved? Did I get saved but not receive the Holy Spirit? Why can’t I do the right thing? I seriously tortured myself with these things thinking that I was a faulty Christian and that the process just didn’t work for me! Of course that’s not true!!! What has happened is that I’ve been sold a pack of lies, that the Christian life is a sudden, instant change and it’s not! Salvation might happen in an instant, but it is a constant struggle then to die to your flesh and actually become more like the God you now serve.

So what does this mean for me? It is so easy to become me-centered. People have this defense mechanism that they use to ward off sanctification. They call it legalism. That somehow having to improve yourself or follow the letter of the Word is somehow adding to the gospel. In my computer’s dictionary it defines legalism as, “excessive adherence to law or formula; THEOLOGY- dependence on moral law rather than on personal religious faith.” Hmm, very interesting. I depend on moral law to live my life, I don’t just have faith that I am doing it all right. If that were all that was required, why do have a Bible with 66 books worth of information? Obviously, God has a plan and a way of doing things. However, I can’t take that Bible and do all the right things without any faith, for faith without works is dead, James 2: 14-26.

This has lately become so important to me as I read about headcover, modesty, staying at home…without these commands being from God I am wasting my time. If these commands are from God, then I am wasting every minute that I am not obeying them! I can see that my path of sanctification is going here: to learn to be a woman of God; to dress the way that God wants me to dress (even when it doesn’t follow current trends), to submit where He wants me to (even though its unpopular), to live my life in a way that is, at its very heart, different. I want to call attention to God to glorify Him and His perfect order of things. My flesh gets in the way and needs to be removed. The question remains now, am I prepared for the cost?

The Spider Saga

So this was a post that I wrote for my very first blog, when my daughter was still a baby. It was written in February of 2005, but I really like it, and I think you will too. So, here goes:

Ewww, yuck! For those of you who don’t know me, I hate spiders, scorpions, basically any form of bugs (or arachnid) that moves. I don’t know why I have this slight terror, maybe they are just misunderstood creatures, but to me, they are creepy! Anyway, so today starts like any other morning. Jordyn wakes me up at 7:30 (I had actually been somewhat ignoring her for the last two hours in order to get some more sleep; she was dozing in and out). She plays in her room a little, for some reason she is very cheerful and active when she gets up, she doesn’t get that from me! Anyway, I can smell the stinky diaper but know that I am going to have to change her clothes too, after all, it’s the beginning of a new day. That leads me to remember that I still have to clean out her closet of all her “oh, so cute, way too tiny” clothes. So, as I am progressing through this heartbreaking task…”that was so cute”… “I think Mom gave that to me”…. “She only wore this once”… anyway, I have moved onto doing her drawer too. Not too bad, just some old onesies to put away. Okay, we’re still good here, no creepy crawly things yet…until…

I lay back and look up at the ceiling and see this little black thing near Jordyn’s light. I think to myself, it has to be a fly, please let it be a fly…then it moves a little and I realize that this is no fly. Maybe a silverfish? Oh, no. It comes fully out from under the light and I see them…all eight of those terrible legs! Now, I have to mention that I have found a HUGE spider, we’re talking a half dollar size on the front door, Jordyn’s eye height when we were walking out. This spider, is not huge. It is small. Not quite baby spider material, maybe an adolescent (who wants them around anyway 🙂 ) So, we’re talking maybe nickel size…including legs. But this spider is invading on my child’s space. Just sitting there waiting for the opportune moment to launch an offensive. Well, Jordyn was going to have to go down for her nap soon, so I knew that I had to get this trespasser out of my daughter’s ceiling. I can just imagine him crawling over to the space above her crib and then slowly lowering himself…the last thing I want to see is a creepy crawly creation on my daughter. But all is good, we have a handy dandy can of spider killer, it will be over in a moment…as long as the deceased spider doesn’t fall on me, we will be able to move on. Right?

I take Jordyn out of the room and put her in her Exersaucer (walker/bouncer type unit that has a bunch of toys attached to it…Jordyn loves it.) in the living room. Far removed from whatever fumes may ensue. I’m ready. I feel like I could use some more bouncing, spitting and butt-slapping, but I am prepared. I aim, shoot, and fire; unleashing this supposedly lethal blow to the enemy. Well, I obtained the element of surprise. Unfortuneately for me, I surprised the spider right onto the inside of the light fixture. Great…now I can’t even back up my first blow with a second blow. The spider is still alive. Dazed and confused his is, and tries to figure out how to get himself out of this ambush. He scoots to the edge of the glass where I am ready to fire another lethal blow. No luck, he sees my attack coming and ducks. Anyway, we play this cat and mouse game for awhile. I get a stool to stand on providing myself with a way to get inside the fixture, without getting too close, I spray, he curls up into a ball…getting my hopes up. Then, two seconds later, he’s back up and at ’em. By now, I assume that he’s ingested enough poison to knock him dead with just one more squirt. So, I let him think he’s got the advantage. I leave for a little bit and when I come back, Leggy there has gotten back onto my side of the glass and is toying with the thought of sliding down to the ground where he hopes freedom is waiting.

I see my chance and attack. No luck. This spider must have built up an immunity to this stuff! So, I realize that if he does decide to go to the floor I will be able to smash him. Not usually my favorite form of attack seeing as I have to get too close to the creature, but nothing else has worked. So, I see him test the waters (so to speak) by dangling a little. Feeling like all is well, he repels a little further. I am seeing my enemy’s weakness and pick up a piece of wood. (This wood had been left in Jordyn’s room by Eric because he was showing me something…I don’t know why I never removed it, but now I’m glad I didn’t). Leggy, seeing his potential escape begins to let loose and slide down even faster. But, I’m prepared. With a solid whack, I knocked him to the ground. Not knowing if he was dead or alive, I clobbered him again. This time, there was no doubt. He was curled into a nice little ball on the carpet. Victory!

Jordyn was getting cranky so I realized that I had no time for a proper burial (in the toilet) or even to play Taps. After all, he was a very worthy adversary. I leave him on the ground and get Jordyn. I feed in her preparation of her nap. Carefully I move my sleepy baby toward her crib, avoiding the fatal zone where Leggy lays. I kiss Jordyn “goodnight” and grab a tissue and dispose of this creature in the trash can.

All is well in la-la land now, Jordyn is sleeping and I keep jumping at every tickle or touch thinking that some of his friends or relatives saw my terrible behavior and are mounting an attack. Whoever said nature was a good thing?

Cute Movies…

Despite what I should be doing, I still spend a lot of time on the computer. I am trying to get my kids more involved, when they are misbehaving and need to come sit next to me or just want to cuddle, this movie is a cute one to pop on to YouTube. Its just the alphabet song, with simple magnets, but my kids loved it! They also loved the “monkeys on the bed” which was linked to after the ABC song. Try ’em out!

Labor Pains

Labor hurts. I think most (if not all) women approach labor and the impending delivery with mixed feelings; joy for the new life and fear of the unknown (and sometimes known) pain. At some point you feel like it just can’t be done, you can’t stand the pain any longer, can’t push anymore…and then they tell you the baby is crowning, you’re almost there, just a little more….with a little more effort, your hard work, blood, sweat and tears have resulted in a beautiful baby. The sound of that piercing cry announcing their presence makes it worth it, and you forget that you ever thought you couldn’t do it. I’m in labor right now, albeit a different variety. I won’t produce a crying baby from this labor, but I might just push through to find a happier, more content family.

We had a busy day today, all in different places, but we ended our days at Wal-Mart doing some grocery and random things shopping. By the time we brought in all the stuff, we were ready for a quick dinner and a nice relaxing evening. Noah, on the other hand, had other plans. He wanted to watch TV. My little 2 year old plopped himself on the couch and repeatedly said, “T-view” which is his version of “TV”. This isn’t abnormal and most of the time, he gets his way. Tonight, I told him no, but he kept repeating himself (he does that often). Then Eric stepped in and told Noah no. Eric has a louder voice than I do. Noah bust into tears. The tears didn’t dry up so Eric sent him to his bed (where are children are told to go if they feel the need to cry). Eric was so upset at Noah’s need to have the TV on that he removed the whole thing several minutes ago. Not only that, but he took out the DVD player (which wasn’t a whole lot of good without the TV, I must admit). I feel like Noah, ready to bust into tears.

The kids might enjoy watching TV and Noah really does seem to have a “need” to watch TV, at least it is the first thing he turns to for comfort and in boredom, but it’s really me that has the need. I love being able to “sleep in” on the couch when I have a bad morning. I love being able to shower during the day. I love being able to direct my children somewhere and have them go willingly and stay there so that I can get something done. I love sitting in front of it myself, watching brainless shows. I love being able to put it on even if it serves as only background noise. What don’t I like? I don’t like that I like those things! I want my children to grow up watching me doing the cooking and cleaning and be working right along side me. I want my kids to break out a game to play when they are bored. I want to have time to read to my children. I want my kids to learn at home, and actually learn! But it still hurts.

This is the labor pain; where I must endure something painful in order to give life to something completely new and wonderful. A woman rarely labors alone, she always has a support system in place, people to comfort and to encourage. She sometimes has a knowledgeable person present who can tell her how much further she has to go and to remind her about what she will gain from persevering through this trial. I find that comfort system in the blogs I read, my family, my husband, and mostly in my Lord. He is my Comforter, the one shouting at me in a mixture of excitement and angst, “you’re almost there, don’t stop yet!”

In many ways, labor is just like anything else in life. We go through the fire in our spiritual lives and come out sanctified and closer to God. We struggle to build up a marriage and end knowing each other better than we know ourselves. As a family, our goal is to be beacons to the world, to support and edify each other, to learn to serve and to unconditionally love each other. A family is a safe place to try new ideas, develop lasting friendships, to learn values and beliefs and bring glory to God. The television doesn’t help any of those things. It is a time waster. There is very little material benefit, and though there are good shows to watch (I personally like watching The Duggar’s show, 17 Kids and Counting), not watching them is just fine as well.

I was at my strongest over four years ago when, after having pushed for three and a half hours, my daughter was still unwilling to come out. They told me that I would need a C-Section and the doctor left to go prep the room. The last thing that I wanted was a C-Section. The nurse in front of me knew that and she told me that I didn’t need one, that I could do it. During the next 30 minutes I was pushing well and my daughter was crying on my stomach. Without that nurse, I might have given up. I knew better, I knew what I wanted but I didn’t think I could do it. I DID IT!!! I pray that I can go back to that moment when my will overcame my want.

Babysitting and Homeschooling?

I have been thinking more about homeschooling lately. Jordyn is getting close to school age and she is eager to go to school. We live across the street from a (bad) public school, but she is so excited about going. Awhile back, last spring, when it was still very cold and the dew still froze the grass every night, I was lazy in the morning. The kids were still in their “footie-style” jammies and I had (of course) turned on the TV. I was working on my computer which happened to be in the master bedroom, Jordyn came in at one point to tell me she was going to school, but I didn’t understand. Imagine my dread as I realized that I didn’t hear the usual whining and screaming. I quickly came around the corner and the front door was ajar. I ran out the door screaming my daughter’s name, still in my PJs too. It was then that I noticed the two little figures in the jammies crossing our frozen field of grass heading toward the school. She was 3 and holding her 2 year old brother’s hand sopping wet feet even in their little footies. Thankfully, they came when called and promised never to leave again without Mommy or Daddy. We installed a top bolt later that day.

This story breaks my heart twice; once, that she is so eager to go to school to learn and I am letting her and her brother watch countless hours of TV which brings me to number two, that I am just an awful, selfish parent. I didn’t even hear them go!!! I have spent the last four years pushing my kids aside with movies and TVs so that I don’t have to get involved with them, after all, I’m busy surfing the internet! I have a deep regret about the way I have been parenting. Today was one of those days. I kept getting up to do something, but sitting down again a minute later. I ran off on all sorts of non-productive tangents and ended up with an entire day wasted. It struck me that I wasn’t a mother, instead, I was a babysitter: waiting until the real authority showed up and I could go back to what I was doing. OHHHH, I love my kids, I want to teach them, I want to nurture them, I want to see them to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. HOW? How can I even come close to doing anything like that for my children? I am so self-absorbed 80% of the time that when I finally do pull myself together, I am so busy “catching up” that I can’t be bothered with my kids either! What a heartache this is… “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” -Proverbs 29:15. What a painful verse to read, but I must be made to see, I am forcing my children away.

Please pray for me, confronting this requires digging through years of personal baggage. I have been selfish from the get-go (just watch some of my childhood home-movies!) but I am a new creature in Christ and bound to sin no more, but that doesn’t mean it makes it easy, it just means I have a Rock to go to for strength. Praise God for that!!!

So often I feel like my kids deserve better than me. I think that is where I come back to homeschooling. I know in my heart that it is the best method, that it is the right thing to do, but then I think about how excited Jordyn is to go to school and I think to myself, that it might just be better that she go. She would get a better education…even if it’s a lousy one!!! As the pressure starts to build about what she should know or should be able to do or be doing, I begin to further doubt my abilities, despite what I know to be true.