Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Pregnant Virgin Mary

It is Christmas time once again. The "season" starts earlier and earlier every year. By the time my kids are parents, Black Friday sales will probably start some time after the fourth of July. I wont lie, I get a little wrapped up in it. I love this time of year and it is so hard not to get overly excited about it. I decorated much earlier this year. I started working on the gifts much earlier as well (partially because my idiot self decided to hand make every one's gifts this year... stupid... ) and I began planning our Christmas dinner menu earlier this year too. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the "fun" of it all and totally forget what we're really celebrating.

I've been trying this year to make sure the kids understand what Christmas is all about. It's Jesus' "birthday". That is what we're celebrating. Not Santa (although we do the whole Santa bit in our home), not gifts, not lights and toys and cheer. We are celebrating the birth of our Lord. It IS what Christmas is about. I realized today though that I wasn't doing a good enough job of getting through to the kids when a commercial came on and the music was fun and there was ribbon flying and people smiling and dancing and my three year old daughter screams and points, "Look, Mom! There's Christmas!"

Ugh. Fail.

I tried to explain to her what she was watching and reminded her that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus being born. I know she's young and that she'll get it eventually but if I don't start now, it may get lost along the way.

I started thinking though about the Christmas story. I have often read the story of Jesus' birth from the gospels in the Bible. I have often tried picturing what the stable looked like that night. What the town of Bethlehem looked like back them. Today though, my thoughts took an interesting turn. Maybe because I'm a mother now or maybe because one of my children is still a baby. I'm not sure.

I've wondered before about what Jesus was like as a baby. As an infant. Did he cry? Did he get fussy when he was teething? Did he get restless at night and keep Mary awake? My guess is yes. Although he was God come down, He was also human. And human babies cry and they get hungry and they stay awake at all the wrong times. I came to this assumption a long time ago.



However, today, my thoughts turned to Mary. May I just say that she had to have been one incredible woman! Not only was she seen by God as fit to carry his Son and raise Him (which in and of itself is the greatest honor any woman could receive) but she traveled and went through all kinds of emotional upheaval during her pregnancy.

We're told that Mary was a virgin and that she was engaged to Joseph, who I am assuming was also a righteous individual. Then, out of the blue, an angel shows up (which alone would have scared the life out of me) and tells her that she will be pregnant with and give birth to the prophesied Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind. Are you kidding me? My heart would have stopped right then and there. I'd have either keeled over out of shock or at least passed out. But there's the first of many differences between Mary and I. She had such faith in God, she had her heart so lined up with His will that she accepted what was told to her and went on. Can you imagine the emotions she must have went through? Her human body was going to give birth to a human baby. Virgin and all, she was pregnant. A woman's hormones go NUTS when she's pregnant. Ask my poor husband. He stays clear of me for the first 3 months and the final 2. But having to deal with the emotions of being a pregnant virgin, dealing with a society that scorned unwed mothers, having to attempt to explain being a pregnant virgin to her fiance and her friends and family. The tears she must have shed. Regardless of how righteous of a woman she was, this had to be hard for her. It couldn't have been easy to face. Down right scary.

Thankfully, God also came to Joseph and told him what was going on. That poor man must have been going crazy too. Even though he was most likely a righteous man himself, hearing that your fiance was pregnant with the child of God had to be pretty tough to swallow. He was planning on dumping her. Until God told him what he was to do.

So, poor Mary is going through all these emotions and a marriage and visiting family and then she and Joseph have to travel to partake in the census. I just did a little bit of quick research and they had to travel roughly 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Ok, today, that would have been about an hour and a half driving time. In all seriousness, in the final few weeks of this last pregnancy for me, I hardly left the house because I was so afraid of popping out the baby in the middle of the grocery store. There's no way I'd drive an hour and a half away. I missed my Dad's retirement ceremony and party because I was due about 2 weeks after it and was afraid to drive 10 hours away from home. I understand that they HAD to go but she had to know she was close to the end of her term and it had to be nerve racking. Let's say that they were going about 3 miles an hour. I'd be surprised if they were even going that quickly but let's just speculate here. It would have taken them almost 27 hours with out stopping. Any woman that's ever had a baby though knows that it wouldn't be without stopping. First, she wouldn't be walking if she was on her feet. She'd have been wobbling. And she'd have gotten tired and out of breath. If she was riding the donkey like is commonly depicted, she would have gotten sore really quickly. Not to mention trying to hold on if she had been having contractions. And don't get me started on having to pee every 5 minutes. Either God spared her of all this or it took them like 4 days or more of traveling. How frustrating would that be?

Now, upon arrival to Bethlehem, all of the inns were full. The poor woman had to go sleep in a stable. I've got no clue what beds were like back then or if they lived in a home with tiled floors or anything but I would imagine that their home was a lot cleaner than a barn. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the barn, with all the dirty animals pooping where they stood, was not anywhere close to being a sanitary environment. I don't know how long they were there before she went into labor but she had to be freaking out a little bit. Just a little. No woman wants to give birth to her baby in a barn. But she did. And she took care of Him and she survived the whole ordeal.
I know that this happened a long time ago but I can't help it. My heart goes out to her knowing that what she went through mentally, emotionally and physically to give birth to God's Son had to be difficult. This, obviously, is one of the reasons why God chose her though. She probably handled it gracefully with faith that could have moved mountains. She had the support of her husband who was in close communication with God as well as other family members who were also strong in their faith, strong enough to be worthy of parenting John the Baptist. I admire her strength. And I appreciate what she went through as a human woman to honor God's will and give birth to our Savior. 

The true meaning of Christmas:

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and they will call him Immanuel' which means, 'God with us.' When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." Matthew 1: 18-25

"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.' Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, May, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.' 'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin.' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.' 'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.' Then the angel left her." Luke 1: 26-38

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And every one went to his town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:1-7

May you all remember the real reason for this "season". I pray that you are able to accept and receive the most wonderful gift that will ever be offered to you. The gift of salvation through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. If you don't know what I'm talking about or would like to know more, please feel free to leave me your email address and I will gladly respond! Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Healthy Dose of Humility: A Real Live Supermom

This happens often. I don't plan on writing anything. In fact, I plan on NOT writing anything because I have so much stuff that I have to get to. But, as is often the case, something comes up that affects me to the point that I feel the need to share it. Tonight, such a thing has happened.

When I was in college, I started out studying journalism. I love to write and wanted to do it professionally. I wont lie, I'd still love to. It's actually a dream of mine. However, I had another dream too. So I changed my major to Women's Studies. I wanted to be able to council women somehow. In all honesty, while this is something that I still have a passion for, I am glad that certain things fell through and I never completed this course of study. I don't think I was ready for it and I'm not sure that even now that it would be the best thing. I still have a lot to learn about life. Like tonight. Tonight, I was humbled by one woman's incredible and touching story.

Heather Von St James is a Mesothelioma survivor. I read her story tonight at http://www.mesothelioma.com/. I can't get over her attitude about all of it. While reading her articles, I was moved to tears more than once. Years ago, as a brand new mother, she was diagnosed with cancer. At the young age of 36, her whole world, and the world of her loved ones really, was turned upside down. However, she had an incredibly positive attitude about it. I almost never have a positive attitude. She gets cancer months after giving birth to her first child and later has a lung removed and she's upbeat and optimistic. She is sharing her intimate story.

Talk about being put in my place. How often I take life for granted. I grumble at the fact that my husband has to work on a project far from home. He doesn't have cancer though. I get annoyed at the small medical bills we have to pay. I don't have to pay for CT scans and plane trips to special hospitals and surgeries and whatever else health insurance doesn't cover. I get to spend all day every day with my beautiful children. This poor woman missed crucial months of her daughter's life due to her own illness. We're so quick to forget that there are people out there with real problems. People who are sick or who's entire universes are shattering with small sentences like "You have cancer."

God tells us that He wont allow us to be tempted with more than we can handle resisting. God must see women like Heather or my grandmother as real Superwomen. Heather didn't let any of what she went through hold her back. My grandmother, who still had to go through radiation and chemo regardless of the fact that surgery removed her cancer since she had an aggressive protein in her body, still works and takes care of her herd of dogs and her horse and a ridiculous amount of other things. I know another young woman, not much older than me, who has cancer... again... and is going to school and working and taking care of her son and volunteering. These women blow my mind. And humble me. I can't say that I would be able to handle what they've been through and are going through. Which may be the reason why I'm not in their shoes. God knows how strong they are and that they can handle this trial with His help. I think He knows that I am not as strong or as courageous. I think He knows that I would have a hard time sharing my story, unlike Heather who is using her experience to help and encourage others.

Whether or not these women will read this, I wanted to thank them for being a great example. For putting me in my place. For being strong. Women like them make a difference. Women like Heather, who's optimism and cheerful attitude in spite of what she went through, will help other women find their potential. Help them find their inner Superwoman.

Tonight, I stand in awe of a true Supermom: Heather Von St James.


On a really random side note, I had two articles published on http://www.wikimommy.com/. They are featured on the front page (scroll down, under "Motherhood"): Keys for Becoming a Successful Supermom and Ways for a Mother to Maintain a Positive Attitude. Actually, now they seem a little silly considering I am standing in the shadow of a truly positive Supermom but there they are. The site is fun and informative for all mothers. Check it out!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tossing Traditions

It is amazing how different the years can be. How one year can be so totally opposite from the last. This is the case for us this year.

 Last year at this time, my husband was working on a project states away but he was able to come home every weekend, sometimes for really long weekends. I only had two kids but was pregnant with the third. We were spending ridiculous amounts of money on the kid's Christmas presents (something we later regretted mostly because they got tired of opening gifts and we spent HOURS opening their gifts FOR them... spoiling kids is a stupid idea). I shed some sweat and tears while trying to get the kids to hold still for their photos at the studio. We decked the house out with decorations, inside and out. Our house looked like some of Santa's elves were smoking some special stuff and were let loose on our property.

This year, my poor husband is on a very demanding project even further away than the last and went over 2 months with out being able to come home. He was home for a few days and had to go back. We decided to be wiser and not get outrageous amounts of gifts for the kids this year. We even did some Black Friday shopping. I am not taking the kids to get their pictures taken this year. It'd be a nightmare. So I'm doing it myself. Should be interesting but in all seriousness, I'll get exactly what I want instead of the cheesy stuff that hundreds of other people will be getting as well. We decorated this year but since my poor hunny is out of town again, I'd have to put up all our yard decorations by myself. Those things are such a pain in the butt. No bueno. Plus, I'd have to wait until all three of the kids were in bed, which would mean that it'd be dark out and have I ever mentioned that I'm afraid of the dark? Really, I am but I'm just using that as an excuse not to do it.

It's hard to keep traditions when nothing stays the same. This year, I've decided to make it a tradition to not be traditional. We'll do somethings the same but I think it'll be fun if every year, something different takes place. I'm still trying to figure out what to do to make this Christmas season unique that we wont do again but that's a work in progress.

The traditions that we WILL keep are:

Making cookies for the neighbors
Going to church on Christmas Eve
Eating McDonald's chicken nuggets after the Christmas Eve service
Opening one present on Christmas Eve before bed
Doing the candy Advent calendars with the kids
Buying a new Christmas ornament
New outfits for the Christmas Eve service
Watching A Christmas Story and White Christmas
Reading the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas morning before anything else
Driving around at night looking at people's houses all decorated with lights

I feel like I'm missing something but I can't put my finger on it right now. I'm sure that my husband will let me know once he reads this.

I'm hoping and praying it snows on Christmas night again this year like it did last year (snow in Atlanta on Christmas... who'd have guessed?). I'm looking forward to starting new traditions and maybe ignoring some old ones but what I'm looking forward to the most is spending time with my happy little family. Nothing makes me more content deep in my soul.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Today I was watching TruTV's "Top 20 Most Shocking". Some of the things on that show are SO outrageous. The kind of stuff that is so startling and disturbing that it's almost impossible to look away. Many times while watching this afternoon, I would gasp and either cover my eyes or cover my mouth or say something like, "Oh my gosh!" "No Way!" "Oh no!". It hadn't even occurred to me that I was doing it until I hear some one else gasp and then squeal. I look over and my 2 year old son is staring at the tv with his hands over his mouth. I just stared. Another clip of some stunt gone wrong plays out on the TV screen. I watch my son. He again gasps, squeals and covers his mouth. He was totally mimicking me. I cracked up. Mostly because of how cute it was but also because I know he really had no idea what he was watching. It got me thinking though. What else do my kids see and hear me do that they copy?

My 3 year old daughter recently entered the tattle tale stage. It's honestly annoying. I'm so tired of hearing, "Mommy! Anthony is looking out the window!" "Mommy! Anthony is sitting on the dog's bed!" "Mommy! Anthony hurt me!" "Mommy! Anthony stole my toy!" I'm considering changing my name to something long and difficult to pronounce. Anyway. Half the stuff she tattles about isn't a big deal or it's an accident. So I'll often end up saying, "It's ok. It happens." Well, the other day, my son did something that upset himself and I heard my daughter say, "It's ok. It happens."

Anyone who's ever been around kids knows that they copy the things they see and hear. I remember working at my school's 'after school' day care program. One day, while supervising 3 year olds on the playground, I bent over to pick something up. My low rise pants must have shown a little too much (hey, I was a teenager and we all do dumb things when we're teens) because I hear a little boy behind me say, "Look, Miss Abby! I see the moon!" referring to my rear end. I was mortified. Looking back, I'm pretty sure it's one of the funniest things I've ever heard. But something like that, he learned at home or from some one else. He didn't come up with it all on his own.

Years ago, while I was living in Pittsburgh, there was a story that was played over and over on the radio about an 8 year old little boy who stole his grandmother's car, drove it around a parking lot with a 13 year old boy in the passenger seat, smoking cigarettes and crashing into other vehicles. When interviewed about it, the little boy said, "I like being bad. I like doing that hood rat {stuff}..." How sad is that? An eight year old boy using the words "hood rat" and thinking it's cool. Shame on the people who are supposed to be taking care of him for teaching him that it's good and funny to be destructive and foolish. But kids learn from what they're taught.

I knew I needed to watch what I say and do in front of my children. It's one of the MANY reasons why I quit smoking. How am I supposed to be able to tell my kids not to do it when I was doing it? It all brings me back to my previous point of doing my best as a parent to make sure my children understand what is right and wrong. One day, I wont be with them 24/7. I wont be the only influence in their lives. One day, they will be mimicking some one or something else. The next Lady GaGa? The next 16 and Pregnant? The snobby kids at school? The pervert coworker? The teacher with a potty mouth? They will one day be surrounded by people and things that they will want to copy because its funny or pretty or popular. Well, "what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular." If I live my life in a way that is above reproach and my children mimic my actions and life until I have to "set them free" then hopefully they will continue to act out what they've learned.

I've got a lot of work to do. It's not going to be easy to consciously watch everything I do and say and watch and listen to. My daughter already tells me, "Mommy, turn off the TV. We watch too much (something I've been trying to explain to them when I turn it off). I want music. LOUD music. Rockin and rollin music." She is already being highly influenced by my own choices. It's past time I started making the right ones. Only God is going to be able to help me with this one. Only by His grace and mercy and faithfulness will my actions positively affect my children. Phew. Got a LOT of praying to do!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's Worse: A Noble Knight or a Romantic Vampire?

I wasn't planning on posting tonight because I'm so stinking tired but here I am again. If I don't make sense or you can't follow my train of thought, forgive me. My 5 month old and my 3 year old daughters are sharing a room now... No one sleeps. Me especially.

Anyway. For whatever reason, lately I've been wondering what kind of guys my daughters will date. My three year old has been saying for months now that "boys are yucky" and honestly, I'm hoping she feels that way until after she acquires her MD and stars her own practice. I just wonder though. Will they date some one like their dad? Will they not be able to date because of their over protective brother? Will they be influenced by society or be "free thinkers" and make their dating choices based on an awareness of themselves? It may seem silly to worry about this since they're so little but I think that there are certain things that kids need to be "taught" starting at a really young age or it'll be harder to help them understand as they get older. How they see themselves and others of the opposite sex is something that I want my girls (and son) to understand so that maybe they will have the knowledge that will help them avoid some really dumb decisions.

One of the things that pushed me to write this at this moment is that Twilight is on TV. Laugh at me if you want but I loved the books and think the movies are cute. Set aside the blood and the feuding and the vampires and werewolves and quarreling, its a pretty romantic story. Yup. I'm a grown women who likes reading about high school vampires falling in love with human girls and then arguing with werewolf teenagers about who gets to marry the girl. Don't tell any one.

I find it almost bizarre though how in a few days, when the next movie in the saga comes out, that there will be hoards of young girls swamping the movie theaters. Many of these girls will have been at the theater for days, camping out, waiting for their turn to get in and watch the silly story unfold even further. I know that part of it is the actual story from the books and that the other part is the good looking young men who play these characters (hey, they're over 18... its not weird for me to say they're good looking!) Maybe its weird to me because I was never a part of or even exposed to the craze of the boy bands or the Titanic or yeah, even The Notebook. I hated Backstreet Boys or... hahaha, I can't even remember any of the other names. It just wasn't my cup of tea. It is just a strange concept to me that these girls are SO obsessed with the characters in this story that it is all they can think about. They dream of meeting those idolized actors. They're consumed with it.

I had posters of Vin Diesel and Arnie on my wall as a teen so I understand physical attraction. But I wasn't crying myself to sleep or seeking these men out or dating guys that looked just like them. Well... I dated a couple bald guys but I don't think that had anything to do with my attraction to Vin Diesel.

I hear parents complain about how the Disney Princesses and their stories set up our daughters for unrealistic expectations in their "mate seeking" or their dating life. The rich, handsome prince on his gorgeous horse rescuing the fair maiden and whisking her away to his palace effects girls to the point that as they get older, having been "brainwashed", they feel that men are supposed to be dashing and that you're only supposed to seek out the handsome, rich guys with good jobs and posh houses and fly rides. I watched ALL the Disney princess movies and loved them and didn't grow up feeling this way. My parents taught me to be aware of myself and happy with who I am as a person and then, when ready, to find a man who was respectful and respectable and loving and who thought the world of me. I'm not about to pretend that I listened all the time but that's what I was taught.

When it comes down to it all, I'd prefer my daughters to fall in love with a dashing prince than a lonely vampire... or his buff werewolf counterpart. I need to figure out the best way to help them understand though, to not be pushed around and formed by society. I want them to figure out who they are as individuals before they start falling head over heals in love with some one. I know I'm saying "I want" a lot but I don't think it's wrong for me to say that as a mother. I've lived and fell and learned enough in my life to know a little bit about love. And the unrealistic expectations set up by our blood sucking hopeless romantic is, in my opinion, a little more dangerous than the ones built by our noble prince. The obsessively doting "undead" vs the honorable royal. Hmm... no brainer there.

My point is that it's up to me (and my husband) to make sure that my daughters understand what's really important when it comes to who they date. Society and their paranoia over Disney brainwashing my kids while their own children are forming vampire clans can kiss my... well, they can get a grip. If my daughters choose to date some one that's royalty and is classically handsome with a cool palace and job security instead of some guy that sneaks into her bedroom with freakish stealth and seduces her with his undead sensuality, I'm more than ok with that.

And now its time for this Wannabe Supermom to hit the hay.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'M a Real Housewife!

I'm going to embarrass myself here. I'm going to tell you what my secret  indulgence is. I hope my dad never reads this post because he'll tease me so bad because it's such an empty headed bubble gum guilty little pleasure. Ok. Here goes nothing.

I'm am obsessed with the Real Housewives shows on Bravo TV. I use the word "obsessed" loosely though. It wouldn't kill me if I had to stop watching and I'd never try to meet these women. I like to watch and I do DVR all the episodes of all the different "locations".

When I first started watching, I was totally flabbergasted that they would even make a show about housewives. But there's shows about EVERYTHING these days. I mean, come on, Storage Wars (which I'm not making fun of because I really like that one too but still...), Lady Hoggers, Hoarders (I can't watch that one because just the idea of it is really sad to me) or Fashion Hunters? I mean. Really. We are a bizarre society. Myself included. Back then though, I just didn't see the point in filming a bunch of housewives. What's to film? Changing diapers? Doing laundry? Loading and unloading the dishwasher? Picking up dog poop or taking the kid to soccer practice? Hmm... I quickly realized though that these women are not typical housewives. Shoot. Half of them aren't even wives!

I know. I know. The name of the show is more a play on words, a gimmick. And I know I watch it, all of it, but the title still bugs me. I can only think of a couple of women on the show that's an actual housewife. At least not in the way that it really means. These women, if they're even married thus earning the title of "wife", are, with the exception of a couple, are career women. They have oodles of money and don't do any of the normal "housewife" duties. They are able to hire some one to do it for them. I'm not going to lie, if I was making oodles of money, or my husband, I'd hire help in a heart beat. Are you kidding me? My house isn't gigantic but its not small by any means either. I have a hard time keeping up with it. Not to mention all the extra stuff I'd like to be doing with and for my kids, the errands I wish I had help running or the lawn care or the cooking or the accounting. You name it, I'd hire some one to do it for me if I had the money so that I could pursue other things. Like a career or charity work or continuing my education or any number of other things. These "Real Housewives" are anything but. And I'm not knocking them. They're, for the most part, seriously, not all of them, successful, hardworking, driven women. I actually respect a few of them. The rest of them though, make me gasp and frown and shake my head.

This got me to thinking, if a major TV network can call a group of women "housewives" who are very obviously NOT, then what really is the definition of "housewife"? I googled it. According to Google, a housewife is "a married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework." Ok. Spot on. That's exactly what I thought. I asked people on my facebook page what they thought defined a woman as a housewife. I got some interesting answers. Every one had a different response and not all felt the same way about the housewife. I was more impacted though by the feelings between the generations. The younger women felt that the word "housewife" was like being put in a box. The older generations either understood the simplicity AND intricacy of the meaning and didn't seem to mind the term. I once had a man tell me that I wasn't a housewife or a home maker. I was a Domestic Engineer. I thought it was cute and it bore with it a sense of pride. The word "housewife" though, doesn't really bother me. But I feel that, being a mom, I'm a little more than just a housewife, I'm a stay-at-home-mom (quite an upgrade... stated sarcastically).

Long story short, here's how I feel. I'M A REAL HOUSEWIFE! I do not work outside of my home. I work IN and FOR my home. I take care of my husband and all his needs. I take care of my children and all their needs. I take care of my dogs and all their needs. I clean my home (or try to). I do the cooking and the shopping and the organizing, the laundry, the dishes, the socializing. I'm not trying to tally up all the things I do to try to make my role in the home stand out more. I am blessed to be a housewife because my husband goes out and works his butt off. He works long, hard hours with people that he may not always get along with doing work that is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. He gave up his own comfort so that the kids and I are able to enjoy being comfortable. He's a good man. And I am his housewife. Which I think brings him a sense of pride as well. Any way. I'm the woman of the home who stays in our house working on anything and everything under the sun that has to do with our home and family.

Bravo TV can keep their loosely coined term and I will continue to watch as I fold 5 baskets of laundry after I've put all three of my kids to sleep. I know its a silly show and these women are all over the top but I'm hooked. However, I will enjoy knowing that I am more of a housewife than they are (not downplaying the fact that at one point in time, unless their husbands were crazy rich when they married them... or they're not even married... that they at one point in time may have been in my shoes).

This Wannabe Supermom is a NOT a wannabe in the housewife department. And I'm proud of that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Loosing the Weight: All About Self Control

Alright, the holidays are coming up and I'm terrified. I'm terrified of all the yummy things to eat that I'm going to have to ignore. The smells, the colors, the taste... I LOVE holiday food!

I'm working on loosing the baby weight from my latest baby. With my first child, I gained over 50 pounds. I was "over protective" because I'd lost a baby before that and was nervous about being pregnant again, especially since I have no idea what went wrong the first time. It wasn't THAT hard to loose the baby weight though. I didn't even give it an honest try and lost almost all of it. Almost being the operative word there. With my second child, which I got pregnant with only about 7 or 8 months later, I gained about 30. It took me MUCH longer to loose weight. I'm pretty sure that the only way I lost ANY of it was by smoking. A lot. I quit smoking and about a month later, I was pregnant again. With this last pregnancy, I only gained about 20. Not too bad. However, because I never recovered my original pre baby weight, that's 20 pounds ON TOP OF all my other baggage.

My hunny has been gone for a while on a long project. I've been trying to at least look better than when he left. Which I do. However, I've still got a long way to go. I've been doing yoga with my Denise Austin videos. They work great for building muscles and helping you break a light sweat. I need boot camp though. But squeezing it in while taking care of three young kids, three dogs and everything that goes along with them and the house by myself is killing me.

I have been really trying to figure out what my problem is. I'm only 5' 3". I shouldn't be packing this kind of weight. I mean, I'm not HUGE but I'm sagging in places a 26 year old shouldn't be. I've got some jiggle where it should be firm and lets just face it, having three kids this close ages you... and what happens as you age if you don't take care of things? Gravity some how has a greater effect and pulls a lot harder and faster. I mean, I'm not going to complain about having a larger cup size than I did when I got married but having a couple of deflated balloons strapped to my chest... No bueno.

With a lot of pondering and self examination, I've realized that my biggest problem is self control. I don't have a whole lot of it. Much less than I even realized, actually. Just little things that add up. How much sugar did I just put in my coffee? Did I really just eat a while bunch of cheese balls while making the kids lunches or did I imagine that? You HAVE to taste the cookie dough to make sure your cookies aren't funky. I've been canning and pickling too. I have to make sure my recipes are turning out just right. The kids are having popcorn during "movie time" so I think I will too. Oooo, it's fall. Gotta break out the hot chocolate. Why not add a marshmallow. Its all been adding up with out me even realizing it.

Ever since it dawned on me that self control is my problem, that its why I've got more rolls than a bakery, it's been constantly on my mind. If I can't control myself with food, what else can't I control myself with? It was a startling and embarrassing revelation.

The holidays make me nervous. I'm trying to loose weight. I'm trying to be healthier in my body and in my mind. I'm trying to get back to my pre baby weight because it's a healthier weight, and I know that if I don't tackle this issue now, its only going to get bigger. Pun intended. I'm tired of not fitting into my clothes properly. I'm tired of the kids poking my muffin top. And I'm praying I don't get work out gear for Christmas this year.

As sad as it is, I think that self confidence has a lot to do with how we feel about our appearance. I envy the women who are able to be comfortable with their flaws. I'm not. I'm not ok with how I look and it has turned me into a timid, paranoid, frumpy person. Not at all who I used to be.

I think that at times like these, I understand the importance of "everything in moderation". I am going to be making some yummy desserts and snacks for the holidays. And then of course there's thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. And leftovers. I just have to be conscious of how much I'm eating, what I'm eating and how often I'm exercising.

This is going to be an interesting and sometimes difficult adventure for me. However, this Wannabe Supermom is tired of battling my bulge and is ready to fit back into that spandex superhero suit!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicken Pox Parties: Sick Kids or Sick Parents

The Today show from the other day really got to me. First the Duggar family and now this whole Chicken Pox stuff.

I am pro-vaccinating. I have and always will vaccinate my children. I know that I'm ruffling feathers here but it really bothers me when parents DON'T vaccinate their kids. I don't understand the rationalizations that I have heard. When I hear arguments from parents that don't, at the end, all I ended up getting from their soap box rantings is that they don't have enough information but just feel like getting all huffy and puffy about something. I know some one that has worked at the FDA for many years and I spoke with her regarding the studies on things like vaccinations and autism. According to her, health risks with vaccinations usually (not always) occur when a child is already sick or has a fever at the time of vaccination. With this knowledge, I HAVE rescheduled doctor's appointments so as to not risk anything. I do understand that there ARE certain risks with the very point of vaccinating your child. However, those risks are much smaller than the repercussions of my child getting the diseases I try to protect them from.

In walks the Chicken Pox. I had it. I don't remember it being that big of a deal. I think it was probably more of a big deal for my parents who had to take care of me and my sister when we caught it. I remember being in elementary school when one of my classmate's dad got it. I remember him being VERY sick from it. I know another family who lost their very young (like not even toddler young) daughter to it. While many, like myself, just got covered in itchy red bumps with a fever to go along with it, it is a very serious illness for others. I am happy that there is now a vaccination for it. My daughter got the vaccine and I'm pretty sure my son got at least the first part of it and my youngest will too when she's old enough.

I heard on the Today show that parents are having Chicken Pox "parties" where they expose a group of kids to another child who has the disease so that their own children will contract it and therefore rule out the need for the vaccination. I also heard that there's a lolly pop deal where a contaminated child licks it and it is then passed around to non contaminated children with the hopes that they'll get the germ and thus not need the shot. I think this is sick. I feel very strongly that the parents that do this are harming their children. If you don't like having your child vaccinated, whatever. I think its silly but its your decision as a parent and me thinking its silly is my opinion. However, trying to expose your child to another sick child just so that they wont get a shot that has the same germ in it is ludicrous. When a person "gets" chicken pox, their body then builds up an immunity to it. Some very rare individuals do get it multiple times but it is the norm to get it just the one time. So parents are placing their own child in the presence of another sick kid hoping that they'll get sick too. Instead of getting a shot that will take care of all of this. Or the Lolly pop thing. What? Do parents realize that their child may not get the pox from licking something that was licked by an ill child but they're sure to catch other germs? And maybe get illnesses that you weren't expecting?

The whole thing just bugs the heck out of me. Putting your child in a situation hoping they'll get sick? Who hopes their kid gets sick, let alone put them in the presence of sickness on purpose? My job as a mother is to protect my children from anything that hurts them. It blows my mind that others say that they're doing the same thing by getting their kids on sick on purpose. Purposefully putting them in harms way. This is no bueno. Not good. Very bad. I think that the parents who participate in these "parties" are sick. Somethings not connecting upstairs. Sick.

I hear people say things like, "Oh, but vaccinations aren't natural." Here's what I have to say to that: I believe in the God who created man and the rest of the universe. I believe, according to the Bible, that it is man's job to take care of the earth and whats in it. I know that God gave us brains that He expected us to use. In walks the doctor, the chemist, the pharmacist, the biologist and who ever else it took to invent the vaccinations. He gave them all the intelligence to protect and prevent and help. All good things. I don't see what's unnatural about human beings preserving life. I think it IS natural for mankind to do what they have the power to do to stop harm from happening. To reduce the possibilities of children getting debilitating diseases. For mothers and fathers to take hold of the opportunity to give their children healthy happy lives. THAT'S natural. Not taking your kid to a party in hopes that they'll get freaking chicken pox just so you don't have to watch them get a flipping shot. Ugh. It really bothers me. I think its irresponsible parenting.

Ok. Now I'LL get off my soap box. I will go to bed tonight knowing that my children don't ever have to get chicken pox and that they don't have any weird ailments from receiving the vaccination. I will go to bed knowing that they will live lives as healthy as my husband and I can provide for them. And I will go to bed knowing I've done the right thing for them.

This Wannabe Supermom is proud to have had her kids vaccinated and will go to battle with any goofy Chicken Pox Partying Parents any day!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Those Crazy Duggars...

So, I'm watching the Today show yesterday and the large Duggar family has filled up the screen. As soon as I heard that they were making a big announcement, I knew Michelle had to be pregnant again. What else would they be on the Today show to announce? That she was finally going through menopause? Hmm... after being in the presence of some menopausal women, I highly doubt that it would be something that she'd be in the mood to tell the whole world on live TV. And sure enough, she proudly exclaimed that they were expecting their 20th baby. The WHOLE family was smiles from ear to ear. You could tell that there was an overall contentment and joy about the prospect of another addition to one of the largest immediate families in the world.

When I first heard of the show, I thought they were some super weird hippy crazy people who didn't believe in birth control and were into all natural, tree hugging, granola munching, burlap wearing... individuals. I thought the show would portray a dysfunctional, kinda sad home environment filled with feral children who were forgotten by their parents and ultimately unloved. I really did. I wasn't expecting good things. And I was curious why such a lifestyle would be exploited as entertainment... and I was sucked in.

I don't watch the show very much but I have to say that when I saw my first episode, I was blown away with how completely wrong I was. Here was a family that was MORE functional than my tiny one. There was more love in that home than in most homes I have ever been in with just a few family members. Not a single child looked like they'd been living in a cave. The house was clean. The kids didn't look abused or emaciated. They were well behaved and Michelle and Jim Bob CONSTANTLY had smiles on their faces. THEN I thought, Ok. These people are just CRAZY! How do you have that many kids and still have a smile on your face? How does Michelle still have hair? Jim Bob still comes home after work and not to the bar for hours first? There has got to be something severely wrong with these people! Again. Not the case.

The more I see the Duggar family on TV, the more I respect them. Here is a man and wife who love God first. And they obeyed His will for them to be fruitful and multiply. And then they appreciated His words when He said that children are a blessing. Not only do they love God and they very obviously love and respect each other, but they love each and every one of their children. Not only do they love them, they run a successful, happy home. They have been able to enjoy the making and having of these kids AND accept the responsibility for their actions. They aren't just popping out kids and letting the chips lay where they fall, so to speak. But these kids are smart. They are well behaved. They respect their parents. They respect each other. They grow up and get married to people who love and respect them. The kids are responsible. They are charitable. They work well as a team and they know that its just what needs to be done. They don't resent each other. They're not trouble makers and they take joy in each other's company. Its amazing.

I have three kids. My house is almost never clean. My kids fight often. I start stupid fights with my husband sometimes. When things get messy or crazy or loud, I am NOT smiling. I have so much respect for this husband and wife who have a great marriage and a happy, functioning family. I don't think they're crazy at all. I think that every other household can take tips from them. I think that they should be role models for other homes. That doesn't mean that I feel the need to pop out 17 more kids. (Are you kidding me? How does she look that good after all those kids? I've only had 3 and look terrible!) But I think that we can learn how to love and respect others and God the way the Duggar family does.

Some people may look at them and mock. I think, though, that they do a great job though of living above reproach. Its not like they're Octo-mom, having children they can't take care of for selfish reasons. They are a loving family that is just enjoying the blessings that God continues to bestow on them. To all the nay-sayers, I say, "Stop judging and start learning." And to the Duggar family, I say, "Congratulations!!!!"




***If you'd like to get to know this amazing family better, check out their website: http://www.duggarfamily.com/***

Monday, November 7, 2011

Where's the Mute Button?

Right now, my house is nice and quiet with the exception of the rhythmic sound of the the drying turning. Its the first quiet I've had all day. And it sounds SO good!

My three year old daughter has entered the wonderful stage of non stop talking. She'll talk about anything. And heaven forbid that she hear you say something you didn't mean to say. I'm not talking about cussing or something. Here, for example, I made a comment about dieting a few weeks ago. I've been cutting certain foods out, specifically sweets. I'll eat them sometimes but not like I used to. Well, Halloween night, when the kids were digging through their buckets to pick out their 2 pieces for the night, my daughter says to me, "I'd share with you but you can't eat candy because you'll get fatter." Thanks kid. I guess its the thought that counts, right? Or I made a comment about one of my neighbors who isn't very nice. Every time we see this person drive by, my daughter says, "I don't like them. They're mean." Great. I really hope she never sees them face to face. Recently, she was getting bloody noses from picking her nose so much. Yeah, I know. Gross but she's a little kid and they do stupid things sometimes. Well, she will randomly come up to me and say, "I don't pick my boogers out any more because they make my nose bleed."

More:

At dinner, when I finally sit down to eat after serving the kids, feeding the baby and letting the next dog in the room to eat, "Mom, can I have some of your chicken? I ate all mine." Me: "Can I eat my own dinner, please?" Her: "Mom, you said to share." Awesome.

Regarding almost anything, whether my husband really got it for her or not... even the things that I was excited about picking out for her: "Mom, daddy got this for me because I'M his #1 girl!"

Now... on to my son. I love this kid but holy cow. He is all boy. He is a handful and he's the one that puts me through the hoop more than the other two combined. The other day, we went to McDonald's. When we got there, we were the only people in there and so I just let them go play on the playground while I set up their food at the table. My son climbed up to the top, right at the entrance of the slide and planted himself there. For two hours. I couldn't see him. I could only hear him screech his defiant shrill scream when I'd call his name. I even had to tell my daughter that I'd buy her ice cream if she'd just go up there and push him down the slide. She tried. He just kept screaming. It got to the point that as other kids came in, they learned his name and would go up to him say, "Its ok. You can come down now. You're mom says so." He'd just scream at them. Finally, after pleading with him to come down for over an hour, a kind old lady offered to watch my purse and the baby so that I could climb up there and get him. I'm pretty sure he was extremely surprised to see me. The expression on his face said enough. And lucky for him, he didn't scream. It would not have been good.

He only says a few words that I can make out right now. I get car, "I'm mad!", Sissy, me, cup, eat, "I'm ok", and "POOP!!!" which is his universal word for "change my diaper" whether he did #1 or #2. Sometimes, I can't handle his noise level. He screams at a high pitch than a flippin fire alarm. Wanna get me to crack through some form of torture? Sit me in a room with him screaming non stop. The frequency will drive me mad in minutes and then I'm all yours. When ever I'm on the phone or trying to skype with my parents, he's constantly yelling or having a meltdown about something. Anything. He cracks me up sometimes though. Today, he tripped and fell flat on his face. He jumps up with remarkable speed and says, "I'M OK!!!" and runs away. The other day, he and I were goofing around on the floor and I'm pretty sure he managed to accidentally stick his whole finger right in my eyeball. Of course I reacted with the, "Hey kid! Whats your problem?" (Yeah, Yeah, I know. It was an accident. I'm only human though.) He then turns to me, strokes my cheek and says, "Ok, Mah?" Its the cutest. He recently started verbally responding when I say, "I love you." His response is, "Mah. Too." Just being able to hear him say SOMETHING in response to those three powerful words makes me cry.

And the baby... She's into making the most adorable noises lately. On the way home from church yesterday, she and her older sister were "talking" to each other. My oldest would say something and the baby would coo in response. It was adorable. However, she's my crier. Neither of my older two cried half as much as she does. And she gets herself so worked up that it takes forever for her to calm down. She's been napping so poorly lately and I honestly feel that a good part of it is just that she wants to be a part of what every one else is doing. So by the end of the day, she's pooped and not happy about it. Oh man. She's SO loud! And I tell ya, that desperate, frustrated cry of a baby is nearly impossible to ignore. Trust me. I tried. I've tried letting her cry it out but it ends up driving me so insane with the noise from the other two that I give in within minutes.

Right now though, the house is quiet. The drier isn't even going any more. Totally quiet. Ok, one of the dogs are snoring but I'll take that over screaming babies right now. I think that I need to invent something that can turn your hearing on and off. You know, like you just push a button or flip a switch and it mutes all the outside noise. Maybe it could hook up to MP3 players. Not like headphones. You wouldn't need to wear  anything or still be able to hear surrounding sounds behind your music. I mean something that just tunes it all out. I'd love to know what the voices in my head sound like again. I'm starting to miss them ;)

I know what its like to not be able to hear your baby make a sound. I know that its like to stare at your child and BEG that they open their mouth and make some kind of noise. To spend days in the presence of my baby who was hooked up to a breathing tube and so sedated that he wasn't physically able to utter a cry. However, I also know what its like to have three kids crying and screaming all at once. I think I've earned the right to appreciate the quiet that comes when they are all sleeping peacefully.

I'm going to shut this down now and I'm going to just sit for a while and enjoy it. And maybe hit up a bubble bath and book.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

Around this time of year, I have a tendency to "reflect". I think its because big things, things that have affected the course of my life happen around this time of year. Things happen that evoke powerful emotional responses. Usually, this time period lasts between September until roughly mid February.

2001: I was about to get my driver's license. I was weaning out of my back brace and attempting to figure out guys. None of those things may sound like a big deal to any one reading this, but for me, it was an awkward, frustrating, odd time.

2004: I was finishing my first semester of my second year of college. I was getting dumped, which sucked then but was actually one of the best things that happened to me. But after that, I went through another weird phase of getting my heart broken even more, being introduced to a guy by my grandmother and attempting to change my major in the midst of having no clue as to who I was as an individual.

2005: I did a nose dive off the deep end, dropped out of college, quit one of my jobs with out telling any one and moved out of my parents house. I have to admit that it was a little bit fun. What kid doesn't like living on their own? And my rent was stinking cheap. But it was just the beginning of a sad time in my life where I'd turned my back on my family and was engaging in a lot of wreckless behavior.

2006: A LOT of bizarre things happened this year but it hit a high note at the end of it. Around this time, I got engaged and was traveling to New York and then to Pittsburgh (the city that stole my heart). My then fiance bought me a puppy who would turn out to be the most headstrong crazy female dog I've ever encountered.

2007: More craziness and moving to Charlotte. Then, during my beloved time frame, I got married to the insane man that thought it was a bright idea to make me his bride. About a month later, we discovered we were pregnant. Hubs got a new job and we were quickly on our way back to Pittsburgh.

2008: Towards the end of this year, my husband's grandmother got diagnosed with and survived breast cancer. I finally met my husband's brother who had been living over seas and toward the VERY end of the year, we made another baby.

2009: During the last few months, we had that baby boy, spent some time with him in the ICU during the weeks following his birth and dealt with the emotions that followed.

2010: Last year this time, my own grandmother, who was dealing with the recent loss of her husband, was diagnosed with breast cancer. My poor dad was recovering from a really bad motorcycle accident and, sorry if I'm wrong here, but I'm pretty sure that we were starting to get wind that my grandfather, my mom's dad, was sick. I had just found out that I was pregnant with our third child and experiencing for the first time, all those horrid side effects of pregnancy like morning sickness... only mine came at night and I never threw up. I just felt so sick that all I could do was lay there and not eat... skinniest I've been in a while...

It is now 2011. So far, there has only been one significant upset and as it is incredibly personal, and people I actually know in real life may read this, it stays private until it isn't private. Hopefully though, that's all that happens. Unless something really wonderful wants to happen. I'll take that any time.

As I look ahead, I can't see a thing. I have NO clue what the future holds for my family and I. At this time next year, my oldest daughter will be almost 4 1/2, my son will have just turned 3 and my youngest daughter will be nearly 1 1/2. Prayerfully, I'll be back in school working on the degree that I so foolishly never got. I hope that the kids will be doing their own laundry and cooking breakfast for me. And I'm begging that my husband's job keeps him closer to home so that we can actually be a family together. I also hope that I'll have been able to visit my parents and taken a trip back to Pittsburgh and that the Steelers are undefeated. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

My point is that whether or not something big happens, no matter whether its good or bad, life keeps moving. I have no idea if my daughter will want to be in karate, piano lessons, soccer practice or ballet. I don't know if my son will be jumping off the balcony yet or if he'll have figured out how to drive our cars. And I'm praying that the baby has a beautiful full head of hair but with the girls in this family, there's no telling. Life keeps moving and I need to stop looking behind and focus on what lies ahead. I won't lie, I'm nervous about the future, considering everything that I've been through, especially in the last few years, since most of that was stuff that I had no control over but pressing on toward the goal of a life that glorifies God and is full of enjoying my family is something that I'm looking forward to.

Here's to the future.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Honing My Spiritual Gifts

When ever something is constantly on my mind, I feel the need to express it or let some one know about it so any one who reads this gets to listen to me rant from my heart.

I'm in a NewlyWed Sunday school class at church. I know, I know. I'm not exactly a newlywed. My husband and I have been married for 4 years. I feel though that one can never learn enough about how to improve your marriage no matter how great yours is. Plus, my classmates are wonderful and no one seems to mind that I'm there so I'll stay for a while.

This past Sunday, we have a "substitute" since our regular teacher was away. I'm pretty sure the man's name was Don and he may never know it but God sent him to our class that day if for no other reason than to help me clarify some things that have been bothering me for years.

He gave us a list of spiritual gifts along with instructions for an exercise. He told us to figure out what our own spiritual gift was and then see if we could figure out our spouse's gift. Then we discuss with our spouse and see if we were right. My hubby wasn't able to be there but I'm pretty sure I had him pegged anyway.

Having grown up in the church, spending 13 years in a private Christian school and then 2 years at a Christian college, spiritual gift tests were not a new concept to me. It wasn't the first time I'd taken one or seen the list. I already knew what mine was. Not only had I figured it out on my own years ago, but I've had more than a handful of people identify mine after spending time with me.

Before I go on, let me clarify what spiritual gifts are. In the Bible, we are made aware that Christians posses gifts or "different kinds of service... different kinds of working..." (1 Corinthians 12:5&6). Each Christian has something that they are particularly "good" at that God uses them through to promote and further His kingdom. There's a list. For really great explanation and answer to difficult questions concerning these gifts, go to this site: http://bible.org/seriespage/spiritual-gifts-1-corinthians-121-11. I found it very helpful.

The list that we were given in class (in a nutshell) included the following:

1)Administration-being able to understand and plan the immediate and long term goals of a specific unit of the body of Christ and to execute those plans according to God's will.
2)Apostle-a special ability that God gives to certain people that helps them take on the role of leadership over a number of churches in spiritual matters which is recognized by those churches.
3)Discernment-The ability to understand a person or situation for what it really is and recognize its true purpose or agenda. Also, being able to tell if something is of God or of Satan.
4)Evangelism-the gift to readily share the Word of God with nonbelievers in a manner that compels that person to become active Christians.
5)Exhortation-the gift of encouragement. Being able to comfort and counsel other Christians in such a manner that helps them feel consoled and helped.
6)Pastor/Teacher-the gift of being able to take on the role of leadership with a group of people and guide them in God's ways.
7)Prophecy- the ability to receive and communicate special messages from God in a way that is clearly understood by the listeners.
8)Service-the gift of being able to see what needs to be done in order to complete a task and to meet those needs with whatever means possible.
9) Teaching- the gift of being able to communicate and instruct information which is helpful and useful to other Christians.
10)Giving-having the gift of seeking to give with a happy heart to those in need.
11)Healing- the supernatural gift of being able to pray and reclaim health in an ill person through the Spirit of God.
12)Helps-the gift of being able to graciously and willingly drop all you're doing and assist others so that they are free to use their own gifts.
13)Hospitality- being of a mind and heart to always have your home open to others for things like food, lodging, events, etc.
14)Mercy-the gift of showing compassion or sympathy or empathy to others. Having a heart that bears the burden with those suffering from different afflictions, be they spiritual, mental, physical, etc.

Some people may laugh at this because they've very successfully pulled the wool over my eyes but I'll explain how in a little while, but my spiritual gift is Discernment. This gift has been a dangerous one for me. It has not been an easy one to 'weild'. And I'm sure that it never will be.

I've always been able to see things a little deeper or perhaps see behind the curtain, so to speak. I've always been able to see through people or see what drives them or been able to tell when something was wrong and usually, able to pinpoint very quickly what was going on. However, like with any spiritual gift, if you don't use it, you'll "loose" it or it will become dull and you wont be as strong with it as you should be. And I've come to realize lately that with any gift, prayer should come hand in hand.

Being able to see the "core" of people, because I wasn't praying or perhaps didn't even realize at the time that I was seeing something that no one else was, I let it overcome me. There were certain people in school or at work that I just could not figure out why every one adored because I was able to interpret their actions differently. I made friends with individuals that most avoided because I could enjoy why they were so different from others. I saw dark sides of pastors that congregations flocked to and it made me so sick and angry that it finally pushed me over an edge and I turned my back on God completely. That situation was just the straw on the camel's back though. It happened all throughout college and even back into high school and earlier. Instead of seeing and praying, I judged and criticized. I'm not saying at all that I was above every one else just because I could see all their flaws. Quite the opposite. I identified my own flaws even quicker. I knew my own heart even better and I hated the things I saw. I hated who I was. Which, ironically, only pushed me down that path even further. The anger grew and grew and the bitterness ate away at me. For years.

Recently, some one close to me totally pulled a fast one on me. Not just me but my whole family and apparently a friend or two. Its been a snowball slowly rolling downhill. Rolling so slowly that we didn't even realize what was happening until it hit us at the bottom of the hill and knocked the wind out of us. It is constantly on my mind. I have played the situation over and over again in my head trying to figure out when it started and how it started and why it started. And how I had no clue that I was being lied to.

After this past Sunday, I've been wondering even more, since I know what my spiritual gift is, how I was so in the dark about the whole thing. And then it dawned on me. It happened because I wasn't allowing God to show me. I hadn't been seeking His will in my life. I wasn't using my God given gift at all. I haven't "honed my skills" in years. I'm out of practice, so to speak. I didn't see this coming because I didn't have my "spiritual eyes" open. And I feel like a fool. If I had been seeking God's will in my life, maybe I'd have seen it coming and I could have helped save this person from themselves and from hurting the rest of us. Its so hard not to get angry about it and bitter and curse this person, especially since now I see how truly ugly they are inside. It hurts. Every day. And every once in a while, I want to punch this individual right in their face. Rub their nose in their mess. But I know it wont do any good. Being able to see now and to understand, having been praying about it for quite some time now, I am genuinely scared for this person. Because I know the dark road they're on and that its only going to get darker. This person really has no clue what's in store.

I have a lot of work to do. I don't want to misuse my gift again. God gave me a present. Something specifically for me, suited for my personality and mindset. Something that He believes that I can use for His glory. I've got a lot of praying to do and studying of His Word to do before I feel that I can properly use this gift. It scares me, honestly, because I know that damage that I will do to myself and ultimately to others if I use it improperly again. Plus, I need to have it honed and sharpened by the time my daughter starts bringing potential suitors home. I need to know which ones have a hidden agenda and which ones really do care about my daughter. I also need to know which group of guys are going to encourage my son's inevitable racing addiction. Something I'm going to do my best to hinder :)

It's almost amusing to me to have so quickly and randomly understood something that I've been asking for years. I have been wondering for a very long time now, "What went so terribly wrong in my life that caused me to turn my back on everything that I knew to be right and true? What was the catalyst?" I knew the answer all along but I guess I didn't realize that it was even a possibility. All it took was for my regular Sunday school teacher to go on a business trip and his substitute allow himself to be used by God (he even said at the opening of class that he had something else planned for our lesson for weeks but that God suddenly told him to teach on the gifts). Its amazing how God works and how strongly it will impact your life when you're able to acknowledge it.



*If you're interested in finding out what you're own spiritual gifts are, just google "spiritual gift tests" and take a few. Also, if you're interested in receiving more information on anything I've said, write something saying so in the comment box and I will be sure to communicate with your further on the matter.*

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Escape: Fiction

For as long as I can remember, reading has been a way for me to escape my life for a little while and indulge in the story of some one else. It's a way for me to relax, unwind and many times, refocus. Some people "sleep on it." I "read on it." When I need to step back or step out, I read. When I'm stressed and need to chill out for a while, I read. Or even when I'm already relaxed and just feel like relaxing even more, I read.

I remember when my husband and I were first dating. He was watching some movie that I had no interest in whatsoever but because I wanted to be with him, I sat on the couch and read a book. I think he thought I was mad at him. When we went to Hawaii last year, I brought three books with me. I remember turning 10 and my parents bought me The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I've read those books roughly 12 times. I finished the Twilight series in about 2 weeks (which was pretty good considering in that two week time period, I gave birth to a kid and then he went into the ICU). My most favorite book of all time is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. He wrote The Three Musketeers too, another great book. I've been trying to branch out and Michelle Moran writes fictional books about females in history such as Nefertiti and the daughter of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony. They're amazingly written. I bought, but haven't read yet, her newest one titled Madame Tussuad. In branching out, I've become a fan of Dan Brown, Nicholas Sparks and Jane Austen as well.

I've been reading a lot lately. The hubby has been out of town on a long project and being alone with the kids for so long has kinda wound me up a bit. Thankfully, I've got my book to keep me "grounded". I'm currently rereading "Emma" by Jane Austen. I love how all of her stories and characters are so complexly intertwined. You have to pay attention in order to understand what's going on. Which is what I've needed lately. At other times, when I'm looking for an easy read, I'll pick up a Nicholas Sparks book or when I'm looking for a science fiction version of (as my dad so appropriately worded it) bubble gum for the brain (meaning, its an easy, enjoyable read), I'll read "Storm Front" by James Butcher.

What made me think of all of this is that tonight, when putting my three year old daughter to bed, I had to remove a pile of books off her bed just to get her into it. When I went to turn off the light, she said, "Wait, Mommy, I can't sleep with out my books with me." I almost laughed only because I know how she feels. Right now, on the floor next to my bed, I have 5 books. I can promise that my own father has at least one book next to his bed. A book that he will be able to quickly finish and immediately replace with another. One of my favorite ways to relax in the evening when I was younger was to climb in bed with my dad and read while he read. I can remember the floor to ceiling book shelves that were in our basement growing up. I'd stand there and stare at all the books my dad had accumulated over the years and be amazed at how many there were (but then I'd run out of there as quickly as I possibly could... the basement scared the daylights out of me). In college, I'd skip class (don't act surprised) to go to Barnes and Noble, curl up in a big comfy chair and read for countless hours. My daughter loves to read and be read to. My son... well, lets just say that he's not allowed to roam the library because I don't feel like paying to replace every book he shreds up. I'm not at all saying that I'm disappointed that he isn't into books, but it secretly thrills me that my daughter shares my literary love, even at such a young age. I will do my best to keep encouraging this with her. She will have an incredible world of limitless possibilities opened up to her. And she will always have a way to escape when stressed and enjoy the creations that have swelled up from another human being's mind and heart.

Below I am listing my favorite books and then I'll have another that is a list of the books I want to read, which, if my husband has read down this far (and I now know that he really does read it since I got myself in trouble in a previous blog post mentioning that I hadn't started his car like he'd asked me to), he will take it as a hint since Christmas is quickly approaching and he will be soon asking for gift ideas.

My Favorite Books Ever:

The Count of Monte Cristo ~ Alexandre Dumas
The Lost Symbol ~ Dan Brown
Pride and Prejudice ~ Jane Austen
The Time Traveler's Wife ~ Audrey Niffenegger
The Guardian ~ Nicholas Sparks
The Heretic Queen ~ Michelle Moran
Dracula ~ Bram Stoker
To Kill A Mocking Bird ~ Harper Lee
Silmarilion ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
The Oath ~ Frank Peretti


My Wish List:

The Help
Angels and Demons
Madame Tussuad
Burn Notice
A Walk to Remember
The Man in the Iron Mask
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Lady Susan

The latter is small but always growing and I'm open to constant suggestions. I think that soon, I will begin reading The Chronicles of Narnia to the kids before bed. C.S. Lewis was so creative and the message is simple and obvious enough for a child to grasp. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was actually written by Tolkien as bedtime stories for his own children but I think that right now, those are a little scary for a three year old. Anyway... I'm thankful that my daughter shares my love for reading and I can only hope and pray that it rapidly increases with age.

*For any needed information on these listed books or if you would like to purchase them online yourself, click here for easy shopping access.*

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