Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chaos and mayhem and pasta

Anyone had one of these days recently? Being a pastor’s wife, Sunday often has me outnumbered in the fight for a civilized world. 

I do my best to counteract it—lunch is hummus and picnic goods and dinner is always pasta and spaghetti sauce to keep my sanity afloat. 

Back in the dark ages (okay like 6 months ago) I used to slave away Sunday morning trying to scrounge up some form of after church meal Martha Stewart worthy until my husband finally knocked some sense into me and convinced me that while our children might not suffer too badly forgoing a weekly pot roast (and let’s be honest—three fourths of the time I’d forgotten to either grab the meat out of the freezer to thaw or to actually prepare the crockpot more than five minutes before we walked out the door) , they just might suffer from dangerously crabby mom syndrome. Can I please get an amen?

 So simple and repeated meals became the law of the land and I haven’t look back since. Except, maybe, when I see Isaline covered in red sauce despite all my best full body bib efforts. Alas. Sigh. Momma said there’ll be days like this. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On Lent

Before you think that I’m going to pull any holier than thou stuff on you, you should probably know that just last week while walking home from Livia’s school I discovered a spoon floating around in my blouse. Said spoon had somehow been dropped in by my one year old while I was holding her and getting ready to leave the house about an hour an a half prior. So yes, I had walked to her school, chatted in detail with her teacher and had managed to get about halfway home all before I realized that a spoon had accompanied me. And before you think that it’s an isolated incident, just know that I collect spoon incidents (not to be confused with the false rumor the I collect small spoons but I digress) about every other day. Clearly, I have issues. Clearly, I do not have my stuff altogether.
Now that confessional is over, lets move on to lent (I’m in a Catholic mood today, I guess). Recently my husband, Matt, and I decided to experiment with Lent this year. I know that Easter feels long behind us, but it’s taken me a little while to get my thoughts together on this (I blame mommy brain and sleep deprivation). As an evangelical protestant, I had never actually done Lent before now. For those of you not really familiar with it, Lent is the 40 day period leading up to Easter Sunday every year. The idea is to choose to take out something (or somethings) during that time that you feel is taking an unhealthy presence in your life and to replace it with more of what is supposed to be there, i.e. God. Not that the ‘something’ in and of itself is bad but the priority that it’s taking in your life is unhealthy.

For Matt and I, it was screens. Because let’s be honest here: with littles in the house, when bedtime has finally rolled around and passed, you have about all the leftover energy of a slug. I felt so often that I needed some screen time to ‘unwind’ because I didn’t have any oomph in me for anything else. I also knew that, when repeated night after night, I was starting to have the sneaky suspicion that there was more to life than blogs and netflix subscriptions. There was this after a junkfood binge type of feeling and it depressed me to look too closely at how often evenings slipped through my fingertips.

So I, alongside my husband, decided to do a lent experiment: eliminate all tv/netflix except for 2 nights a week. One was for me on a night when Matt had evening meetings (a frequent occurrence for a pastor) and one episode we would watch together. We also allowed for about a half hour of morning news before work everyday. Maybe this sounds like still a lot of tv to you but for us it was like moving to some remote part of the himalayas.  
Here’s what I learned:

    1)      It actually wasn’t as hard doing it as it was thinking about doing it. Like I thought it would be the techie equivalent of cutting out sugar from my diet but I didn’t go into extreme withdrawals like I thought I would. Sure at times it was hard, but mostly it was just a question of “well what do I do instead?”
    2)      Which leads me to point number two: I actually got bored. Which could seem confusing with what I just said about it not being as hard as I thought but bear with me. It actually wasn’t that bad to be bored. Because more often than not, I decided to just turn in and go to bed instead. It’s like all this time I’d been subconsciously needing to prove that I could hack sleep deprivation when really I could have actually—gasp—been getting a full night’s rest (or at least a darn good start...Isaline is currently teething after all). Low and behold, extra zzz’s gave me energy for other things, like tackling that closet project or reading a book that had been on my list since the beginning of time.
    3)      I rediscovered anticipation. Remember those tv nights back in the day? In college I and my roommates would all pile onto our hand me down couches to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls together. It was so much more than just tv; it was the chance to hang out, eat junk food and discuss in detail the inner workings of Rory’s latest love interest. Now I sit in front of my computer to watch Netflix on demand. And that 14 seconds before the next episode starts automatically? Killer…
   4)      Life got really slooow. Like super slow. Instead of my precious “the kids are finally in bed” time flying by, the evening suddenly felt twice as long. I realized that I (like a lot of folks out there) have gotten trained to equate fast with better. To think I needed constant entertainment or else I’d just fall to pieces. But slow felt really good. And really restful. It gave me margin on the edges of my sanity when previously mentioned one year old got ahold of her sister’s flower pot and turned it upside down. It made me feel like a better mom and a less cranky wife. It fed my soul.
   5)      This is the part where I’d love to tell you that God just popped into my living room one night and gave me this awesome lent epiphany. But if there’s one thing I learned throughout my screen binge, it’s that slow can be good. And though I didn’t hear the angels singing, I know that with his grace, I’m inching my way closer towards him. Clearing out the screen clutter has been like clearing out some of the clutter in my soul to make room for more of his voice, his love, his lavish grace in my life.

I may or may not have binged on Netflix episodes the week after Easter. I plead the fifth. Now that lent is over I don’t want to just go back to my old ways. But neither do I feel like I need to be beaten down by a rigid system. Christianity is not about systems or rules or spiritual whips. So it’s going to be a bit of dance. Me, my tv, and the Holy Spirit. I can’t promise perfection but I’ll let you know what we figure out! 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter 2017

Happy belated Easter! I figured that since Easter is all about new life being breathed into dead and broken places that this ol’ blog wasn’t so beyond hope after all. I took a hiatus from blogging for quite a while, mainly because it just felt like one more thing on the long list of chores to juggle, but in recent months this urge to write again kept rearing its head and it seems it just won’t go away! So for better or worse, here I am J

     That being said, I am going to try and shoot for something a little more manageable for a part time working mom of 2 littles…probably something like 2-3 times a month will be my aim and I’ll give myself a congratulatory pat on the back if I’m able to come up with more. So here’s to a new start and a fresh beginning! May your week be full of those as well!  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Last Night I Had A Dream

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Last night I dreamed a telephone was ringing. Usually this turns out to be your alarm and you wake up and have this weird sort of urge to answer the phone convinced the president is calling you and oh by the way you're late for school even though you graduated years ago. Gotta love dreams, right? But it wasn't my alarm. It was a Friday night and it was my turn to sleep in the next morning. Matt was mumbling something about letting them leave a message but I still stumbled out of bed, groping for the telephone because it was, after all, midnight, and even the most dedicated of telemarketers in Paris usually give up around 9 pm and turn in.

I didn't even really have time to get worried. It figures that something as horrific as the multiple terrorist attacks last night would have first made it all the way across the big blue expanse and to my parents' tv set before I was even conscious that people were dying so horribly in my city. 2015, it seems, in the most awfully literal way, will have begun and ended with a bang. Last January, as many of you still remember, Paris was touched by terrorism when a couple of men raided the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and executed many of the employees who worked there. I remember feeling conflicted. I was shocked in the face of such violence and horrified that those men lost their lives in the name of God. And yet, I couldn't raise them up as heroes and martyrs as so many of those around me. There is nothing heroic about mocking the sacred. Belittling someone's faith whether Jew, Christian, or Muslim (and they regularly made fun of all three), does not take courage and freedom of speech does not eliminate the necessity of wisdom in our words and actions.

In the days to come the nightmare unfolded in new and scary ways. I remember going shopping the day after during the traditional January sales--normally a zoo of shopping bags, stressed out shoppers, and fought over shoes. In the place of the usual consumerist crazy marched uniform clad soldiers with big guns and a chill trailing behind their clipped steps. Every shop was talking about it. In Gap they were joking that they should probably shave their beards so as not to be confused with terrorists. I saw Je Suis Charlie badges everywhere.  The day after I was at work when my boss informed me of the hostage situation taking place in a Jewish grocery store across the city not far from where good friends of ours live. Without panicking the children we needed to get them inside the school as quickly as possible and stay inside until the hostage situation had been resolved. We took down the sign on the front door indicating that we're a school and the reign of Alerte Vigipirate began. No more parking outside of city halls, schools, prominent churches, or the police station. A heavily armed man was now posted outside of our local synagogue. On Monday we heard that there was another hostage situation, this time only minutes down the road from the school next to a grocery store that we go to weekly. Once again we were tense and on edge; some of our school children live in that neighborhood.

As it turned out, the third attack was mercifully uneventful and not terrorist related but for the first time, my confidence in the stability of my city was shaken. You didn't know where or when the next attack was coming from. The first had been targeted; this, more and more random... It felt as if every troubled and radical Muslim in the city was coming out of the woodwork in angry vengeance. For the first time in a relatively sheltered Western life, I felt truly unsafe.  As a Christian, it was hard to know how to position myself. I knew all the Sunday school answers but deep down in my core I knew I needed more than just a platitude. The truth is, I was scared then and I'm scared now. I won't deny it and hide behind a front of pretending that Christians don't ever feel threatened by the overwhelming presence of evil in this world.

And evil it was. Reports are rolling in revealing the massacre of the night before. Whole cafe terraces shot dead while enjoying an evening drink. Young people murdered as they were shot up and thrown grenades at during a rock concert. Bomb blasts during a French-German soccer game. One of my friends, holed up during bible study and unable to get back to her nursing baby for fear of going out in the streets. A fellow parent from church stuck in the soccer stadium with his two small boys trying to reassure them. My coworker, about a week away from her due date lives in the very neighborhood the hostage situation took place in. Thankfully she was actually sleeping when it all took place but not having heard from her, I and another coworker were concerned.  Another friend had both her brother, sister and their spouses that went out for dinner in the neighborhood that got shot up. They were just 300 meters away from the restaurant shooting when it happened, thanking God that they had changed their mind about having dinner in that very restaurant earlier. They found refuge with a hundred other people hiding in a hotel basement.

This attack hits even closer to home than last January. The multiple shootings occurred in our old neighborhood, just a couple of blocks away from our former apartment. I can picture the concert hall that was shot up. I can imagine the cafe and bar nightlife well, having walked those streets many a time while living over there. The truth is, I am scared. I live in a city where I might be blown up just taking the subway or having a drink in a restaurant. I knew that before and I am reminded in the most horrific way possible that my physical safety can crumble at any second. But if I stay focused on this chapter in history then I will lose sight of the big picture. God's bigger picture. You see, I believe in a big God. A God who is writing a large narrative; one in which there is heartbreaking conflict but overwhelming resolution. The most joyful of happy endings. I am as baffled as the next person by the ways God moves and the tragedies he allows to occur. The Bible, however, promises a time coming when there will be no more tears. No more suffering. Evil completely weeded out and eradicated. A God who is waiting for the maximum number of souls to find their freedom, peace, and joy in him. So yes, I'm scared. But I also know where to tell my emotions to get off at when they threaten to consume me. Because this isn't the end of the story.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

              It's so hard to know how to get something like this started. Thank you just falls short. Having started on the parental journey myself I'm just now getting a taste for what you and Mom did and continue to do for me (And I don't just mean that infamous blueberry filled diaper that you had to change). You have taught me, in few words, the value of hard work and becoming someone that people can count on. You're probably one of the most humble people I know. It was you who jogged alongside of me while I chugged and puffed and sputtered along, all with high hopes of not making a fool of myself on the cross country team. And it was still you, who got up at the crack of dawn to ferry me to those ridiculously early morning Friday runs. I'm sure I gave you way too much lip and attitude in those days and yet somehow we made it through without you disowning me ;)
 I still have the letters you wrote me and the memories of father-daughter dates that only become more special with time. Your steadiness and commitment to be there for the people you care about during good times and bad never ceases to amaze me.  I can't count the number of times that you have selflessly sacrificed time to help others with IT problems. You are a man of deep integrity and loyalty to which I aspire to be like (well, the female version, that is!). You have practiced what you preach and it has not fallen on deaf ears. So thank you. Thank you for all that and a million other things, big and small. Even though it falls short, know that you have a daughter who is grateful for all that you are.
                                                          Happy Father's Day



Friday, May 29, 2015

Toddler Turmoil

New posting coming soon but in the meantime here is my life these days...aka the trade off for 5 minutes uninterrupted peace...

Have a great weekend!  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Disneying It Up

      Greetings! We are currently soaking in as much sunshine as we can get while overlooking the gorgeous Lake Geneva on the french border in the town of  Evian (yes like the bottled water). It's been quite the traveling whirlwind lately and I have to admit that it was a bit mind blowing the other day as I was doing an early morning jog while looking at the Swiss shore and realizing that less than a week ago I was doing my jog while on a Disney cruise ship overlooking the Grand Cayman shore. Did I say cruise ship? I did, didn't I. Yep, my parents super generously provided my sister and I and respective adopted family members with a week long cruise in the Caribbean. It was amazing. Although I have to admit, as a mom to a toddler and wife to a busy man in ministry, I'm not sure if the best part was the exotic setting or the fact that I didn't have to cook or clean for a whole week. (Can I get an amen? They even made my bed twice a day...heaven!)
          It was a 5 day cruise, starting in Miami and making it's way first to Grand Cayman island and then Castaway Cay before heading back to port in Miami. Castaway Cay is Disney's own private island in the Bahamas and I guess if anyone is going to have a private island, it would be Disney. Here are some of the highlights:

1. 24 hour beverage station: can we say free refills anyone? I'm sure I probably took a few years off my life with the amount of Diet Cokes I consumed. 

2. Tons of activities: we took a cooking class, there were toddler art activities for Livia, ping-pong and shuffle board galore, aka no reason to get bored aboard (pun intentional). 

3. Pirate night (see below).  Otherwise known as an excuse to get my husband to put an eye patch and a bandanna on. Too bad I couldn't get him to say 'arrrgh'. Not sure it would have been believable anyways considering his tee shirt says 'enjoy and smile today.' Just sayin'.... 


The cutest pirate in the room and with matching pacifier. 

4. The fireworks show after Captain Hook takes over the deck party and Mickey saves the day. 

5. This below. Enough said :)

6. Our awesome semi-submarine ride. Minus the last 20 min when seasickness kicked in. Who doesn't love seeing Nemo fish close up? And taking pics in super weird lighting?  



7. The running track that wraps around the ship deck and the completely free gym and fitness center. Basically no reason not to work off that all you can eat ice cream that I may or may not have indulged in. I also may or may not have banged my head on the fitness center ceiling when doing the elliptical machine...several times... #tallpersonproblems

Yeah the whole Livia watching me run by thing didn't last long since she thought I was abandoning her every time Mommy ran to the other side of the ship... 

8. Swimming in the ocean. I had no idea how hard it would be for me being on the sea and yet not being able to swim in it! Thank goodness for Disney and their private island. Livia whipped out her Minnie suit just for the occasion.


9. Biking around Castaway Cay with these crazy kids. I mean, seriously, who doesn't love a good cruise through a tropical island on a banana bike? 

From left to right: bro-in-law Ray, hubs Matt, sista from the same motha Natalie (DMS by those on the in)

                   Below: this is what happens when I attempt taking pictures while bike riding...

10. Massage cabanas....that I didn't get to use...sigh. Next time. ;) 

11. Ice cream. I scream. I scream for ice cream.

12. Not pictured but I would be remiss not to add the food. I'm talking about you, 3 course and deliciousness on a plate. 

And now for less than nice but equally memorable moments during the week: 

1. Attempting to wrangle a toddler with lots of exciting temptations around.

2.  Attempting to to take kodak moments of said toddler. 

3. While everyone else is attempting to do the exact same thing. 

4. Matt accidentally kicking me in the head Hitch-style as he swings his leg around to get up on the inner tube. I was holding it down so it made things very interesting for him when I was propelled off. No worries though folks; I came up laughing. He, however, came up sputtering.

5. There are a whole lot of things that can maim and kill you in that water according to Disney. Of course, the real danger lurking in those pristine waters was not the sharks, jellyfish, or even sea lice (seriously??). Who thought it would be the adult sized human excrement that floated past our inner tube while we were frolicking like dolphins in the water? Yes you heard me. One minute I'm contemplating ways to flip Matt off his inner tube and the next I'm running for my life from the log of poop lulling towards me. 

 The crappy times aside (once again, pun intended) on the whole it was a fabulous vacation and we are so thankful that we got to make fun memories with my family. And so it's back to reality now! (With a quick jaunt to the Swiss border to help with the transition of course!)