Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Letter to my Alumni Magazine

Dear Alumni Magazine,
I very much enjoy reading about the triumphs of my classmates and all the other generations of successful people to come out of this fine institution. But I have a small suggestion. How about including the hundreds of parents who are using their education for a higher calling, being stay at home parents. I know it is not as sexy as CEO of some Fortune 500 company or a producer of a blockbuster movie, but since this is a Christian university it would make sense that a large number of your alumni have taken some time out of their careers to stay home with their kids. I know I would love to know how other people are using their education in their home workplace. 
For me I know that my theology classes have helped me answer some of the tough questions like why is the sky blue? My history classes have helped me explain the Fourth of July and the first Thanksgiving Day dinner. My Advanced Bowling class has gained me much respect from my sons as I dominate our Wii bowling nights. I developed strong critical thinking skills in my philosophy classes and history major classes and I can explain both sides of a political debate to my kids in their language though I am not sure my explanation that one candidate wants to use his words to solve problems while the other thinks it is okay to fight really is unbiased. I understand the importance of quarters though now they are not used for laundry but for allowances and chores. And spending all those hours in the dorms building relationships helped me learn the importance of friendships, some I hold close to me even now. My first phone call in a time of need often is to a fellow alumnus who lives across the country but is still one of my dearest advisors. 
So while some may say that I have not been using my education, I would argue that I am using the whole of my college experience. And my kids are the better for it. Oh and in case you are wondering why the sky is blue the answer that works for my 4 year old is simply because God made it that way.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

3 Kids - Or Why I Need God

A friend has been asking me over the last few months to remind her why having three kids is a challenge. She had been feeling the pressure of three being the new two in our society but was not sure if she really wanted three kids. I guess she trusted me to give her an honest perspective on having three kids because really I only know how to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

So I told her about the challenges that come with three kids. First off being pregnant a third time is really tiring because you are almost always having to deal with the needs of your other kids who are probably toddlers or preschoolers, so very needy. I also explained some of the financial burdens, two more years of preschool tuition, another person who needs swim lessons and ice skating class, a suite at hotels because most hotels will not allow a family of five in a traditional room, a bigger vehicle because in this day of car seats and boosters, try getting three across the back seat of a small car comfortably and without everyone constantly fighting over who is touching them. 

But here is what I really learned from having three kids instead of two.  I NEED God. Honestly when I had two kids, I loved God. I wanted to serve Him. I knew I needed Him for salvation but it was few days when I broke down pleading for His help in my daily life. Then I had my third baby. It is now a rare day when I don't cry out to God for patience, wisdom, peace, kindness and a host of other Godly attributes that I cannot do on my own. 

I felt comfortable with my parenting when I had two kids. I felt in control. But three kids has rocked me to the core. It has challenged me to grow in areas that I did not know I needed to grow. These little munchkins have helped me be a better person. A person who truly understands the grace that God has given me and can extend that grace to those around me. 

And any time I start to feel like I am getting this mothering thing down, I just need to go out to the garage and look in my minivan and be reminded again that I am not in control. But God is!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I am a history and politics junkie. Well I used to be before I had kids. I have watched every Inauguration since I started voting, even when my candidate did not win. There is something in the peaceful transition of power and the majesty of the events that I love. Similarly I also watch the Emmys and the Oscars every year even when I have not seen the nominated movies. I was supposed to be at our church's moms group this morning and had planned to go and watch the Inauguration on DVR but I just could not pull myself away from the television. I really wanted to watch the events live and more importantly I wanted to watch the swearing in of our new president with my three boys. They may never know the significance of today but today will change the world in which they grow up and become men. 

Today Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. It was amazing to watch him become the first African American President. I felt the significance of the moment, ever grateful that my boys will grow up with hopefully less racial divide than I. And thankful for the example he is to the young African American men of our country. As a mother I know how much this means to their mothers. He is also the first of my generation to be elected president which means I am either getting old or he is very young. Let's go with he is young. (This year I actually became old enough by Constitutional Standards to be President which was a weird thought I actually had on my birthday.) 

So today I made my boys sit on the couch with me and watch Barack Hussein Obama take the oath of office. They don't know it yet but they have seen history. I tried to watch the speech with the boys but that I think may be asking a bit much from a 2, 4, and 6 year old. So I let them run free and I sat and listened to the President talk about a new era of responsibility. 
"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."

And I am full of hope for our country and for the world. Optimism feels good. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Make a Joyful Noise

The last few days while driving in my minivan, I have heard the most delightful song. It was the sweet voice of my middle son singing along loudly with his favorite Jana Alayra song, "Jump, Jump into the Light". He loves to sing.  I have been told by all his teachers that he loves to sing and that he sings with gusto. He loves to do the hand motions and dance with the song. I usually do not get to see this side of him. But recently I bought a few Jana Alayra CDs because these are the songs the kids sing at church and since then I have had the privilege of hearing my son make a joyful noise. My favorite moments come though when he sings the lyrics wrong. He sings loudly Jesus races (reigns) and Shout Rosanna to the Lord (Hosanna). How sweet the sound!

Friday, January 16, 2009


I LOVE Facebook. I probably spend way too much time there especially since I can access it from my iPhone as well as my computer. I love reading my friends' status updates and trying to think of witty comments to make on their pages. I love knowing the little details of their lives. I especially love that I can feel close to my friends down the road, two states away or even across the oceans. 

I was just telling my beloved that it is sort of like communal living in the modern age. You know all the news as it happens. You know what people are making for dinner and can seek advice on any subject from a wide range of friends. You see a friend's status update about their new vitamix or favorite read and your world is bigger. 

Most of my life is spent in a small bubble of experience mostly centered around my three boys. Talking on the phone is a huge treat because I have to do it when kids are sleeping or watching tv. Some days my only adult conversation is the few minutes I chat with parents at kindergarten drop off. But on Facebook I can chat with my friend in Poland or Oregon all in my pajamas and they can't hear the kids screaming and if I get interrupted, I just catch up after I referee the Wii battle.  

And don't get me started on all the games you can play. I have lost many hours of my life trying to beat someone's high score on Word Twist or Scramble. And if you like Scrabble I am always up for a game.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Taking Risks

Yesterday at my church's moms group the ice breaker question was about taking risks. What was a big risk you have taken in your life? How hard is it for you to take risks? I had a hard time thinking of a big risk I have taken in my life. This is not to say that I lead a boring life.  Well, it is boring at the moment. In our almost 12 years of marriage my husband and I have lived in 7 cities in 2 states, 1 foreign country and 1 US protectorate. We moved overseas for his job when I was pregnant with our first child to a country where neither of us spoke the language. We again moved to a Caribbean island when I was pregnant with our second son. And the biggest risk of all, we married each other after dating long distance at the ripe age of 23.  

But the thing is none of these things seemed risky. At the time, each of these decisions seemed like the obvious choice. We knew that God had prepared the path before us. Too many details had to fall perfectly into place, our hearts had to be readied, unexpected opportunities had to call to us. It felt like God had taken the laid out his plans like I lay out my sons' Thomas the Tank Engine Track. We were simply going on the track God laid before us. These choices that seemed risky to so many around us, many of whom thought we were crazy for leaving family when we were having babies or marrying people we really did not know, seemed so simple to us. Because in the big choices of life, we usually seek and find God. 

For me the biggest risks are in the smaller moments. Walking into a room full of moms trying to find a new friend. Being honest with my husband even when I know it might hurt his feelings. Taking a small step of faith when I feel the whisper of God to do something new. Being authentic is a world of presentation. These things are hard for me. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Secret Desire

I have told very few people, very few, that my secret desire is to be a writer. This is such a secret that I really have not done any writing, except in my own head. I never took a writing class in college or spent much time writing short stories. I wrote a few as a kid and they are funny to read now because they are pretty twisted. Somehow the prince kept getting eaten by a bear or some wild animal. Not just once but in more than one story that I have from my childhood.

I am not sure why I want to be a writer.  I have never been encouraged to be a writer. But it seems like a job I would like. I love sitting alone in a quiet room just writing down  my thoughts. So I guess I should clarify. I would love to be a columnist or an essayist who shares my thoughts on the world in hopefully funny ways that cause people to think and see the world from a different perspective. I love Donald Miller and Anne Lamont. They write about their faith, their foibles, their loves and their mistakes. Reading them often brings clarity to my experience even though our lives look nothing alike on the outside.

I don't want to change minds, just maybe open them a bit. And actually as I write this I realize I write to get things out of my mind and onto paper, or the computer screen in this case, not for people to read. Not that I don't like people reading. I would love to have people all over reading what I think and posting comments and starting dialogues. But I realize that is probably for real writers.

For now I will just write. Maybe people read my blog, maybe not. But either way, I will be clearing a few of my many inner dialogues out of my head, maybe even making room for me to remember the important stuff, like we need bananas. More likely new crazy ideas will take the place of the old ones.  

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Longest Week Ever

Some weeks just feel longer than others.  And then there is the longest week ever.  And not because anything in particular is happening but just because.   So while I have been away from blogging, my mind has been spinning.  I feel like I need to put a disclaimer at the top of this blog.  Not sure what it would say but I feel like I should warn people that my random thoughts are incomplete and possibly incoherent and possibly even inappropriate.  But I guess if you are reading my blog, you know all those things.  
Here are just a few of my random thoughts from last week....
1)  Why do my kids sleep well most nights, but on the nights I stay up late, more specifically the nights my husband and I stay up late together doing what adults do (not all adults but hopefully married adults do with some regularity), at least one of my kids, and not the baby, wake me up at 3 am with a nightmare or dry eyes?  I get the nightmares but dry eyes?
2)  I was taught to do what you love as your job.  To use your talents and gifts that God has given you.  And I definitely agree.  But I have also been wondering lately if there is a time in your life when you should seek the job that maybe has components you do not love but will help you grow, especially if that growth is in an area you desperately need but really don't want.  As a stay at home mom, I love being able to be there for my kids whenever they need me.  I love the parts of the job that use my talents and gifts.  But I am seeing the most growth in those areas that are a real challenge.  And if you read my previous post on patience, know that I am STILL working on that one.  Last week was NOT a good week but I every morning I get a chance to do better.  
3)  Grace...  What an amazing gift from God.  But also what a great gift we can give those around us.   As we go about our daily lives and make many of the same decisions as those who do not know God, I sometimes wonder where our faith plays a difference.  This week I saw grace in a few situations because the people involved love God and I also saw what happens when the person in charge does not know God or understand His grace and mercy.  
4)  I like doing laundry.  Not more than sitting and playing on my computer but I do find it a nice break in my day to just stop, stay in one place and do repetitive movements.  I think of it as Mommy meditation.  
So those are just a few of my thoughts. 
Which would have posted last night, except our power went down.  Loving my new laptop because I can still type, but it turns out the power being out turns off some piece of computer equipment that is the magic behind my being able to type this in bed while my kids are gorging themselves on Playhouse Disney.