Friday, December 31, 2004

Tsunami Post

I deleted the last post. It just seemed so small next to the numbers that just won't stop climbing higher. Everything you could possibly say seems so small.

I haven't watched a lot of TV coverage. We have a a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old so we try to keep our news coverage to either or TV news after they're asleep. **NOTE: some of you may disagree with "sheltering" them from "reality". Liam was 2 1/2 on September 11, 1999. Of course, I had the TV on non-stop. But Liam noticed, and worried. Even at 2 1/2. He wanted to know why that airplane kept crashing into the building and was it broken and would they be able to fix it and were the people ok and why are you crying, Mom? I was due to have Sean two days later, I had a hormone rush going that made Niagra Falls look like a trickle and had been having contractions off and on for days. But that look of innocent concern on Liam's face will be etched into my brain forever. That's when I decided that he didn't need to see things like that until he was able to really think about the answers I was going to have to give him. I'm not sure, even at 5 years of age now, if I can give him good answers for this. I don't feel like I have anything to give him, good or bad.

Anyway, I haven't watched CNN on TV because of the kids. But last night, after they were in bed I turned it on. About halfway into a photo montage, I was crying. Rusty turned from the computer obviously worried about me, and hadn't seen the images that started it (the bodies of dead children, alone, waiting for someone to come claim them). I wanted to tell Rusty I was ok. But I wasn't. And I think he may have been wondering if he should turn the TV off and make me go to bed. But to his credit, he didn't. He let me be an adult and make my own decision. So I kept watching. I forced myself to watch image after image. I said this after the Belsan school tragedy, and it's still how I feel -- I feel that I owe it to someone, somewhere, to acknowledge that that child, that mother, that husband... those people were loved. They were something to someone. They are a loss to their families, their friends, their countries and the world. To look at those images is to acknowledge that something precious passed from this world. In all honesty, we know that many of those bodies are not going to be claimed. Whether it's because of the need to bury them quickly or because the rest of their families are gone as well. Some of those people will never be mourned individually. I guess it's the only way I feel like I can pay tribute to them, to the sorrow someone somewhere is feeling, as I sit here comfortably in my home with my two children sleeping peacefully and my husband sitting nearby.

Some people have complained to CNN that their photos are too graphic and stories are too sad. I say that life is too graphic and too sad sometimes. But that's what makes it life. Ignoring it isn't really living. Taking it in... feeling the anguish... and continuing on. That's life, isn't it?

I do want to post the links to the Red Cross site, if only because that's where we were able to donate. I also want to encourage you to check and see if your employer does charitable gift matching. Rusty's former employer would match charitable giving up to $500 per year.

Red Cross online donation form **Please designate the money to go to the International Response Fund:

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Off White

Do you have any idea how oppressive off-white can be? I know what you're thinking... "but off-white is so neutral... so basic...". No. Off-white sucks. Or more specifically, the off-white in this house sucks. It's more of a "non-white". It's not ambitious enough to be a true white. And it has too little character to be an interesting off-white like a nice "Antique" or even "Ecru". And just to make things feel that much more suffocating, this semi-gloss, non-white paint is on every wall, ceiling and piece of trim in this house. That is... it was. Until this past Tuesday. That's when the living room got shocked into the present day with a lovely organic shade of olive green on the walls (Olympic Brand "Willow Tree"). It's wonderful and actually quite dark and contrasts beautifully with our stark, crisp, clean real white fireplace and windows/window trim. And white sheer curtains that will soon with snazzed up with some kind of contrasting bands of color across the tops and bottoms.

I cannot believe how happy these last two days of painting has made me. When I sat back and looked at my couch with the olive paint behind it... I started to cry. I know, what a geek. But I did. It was the first time in a year and so many months that things started to feel like "ours" again. My mother-in-law may have a coronary, but it's going to be a far cry from the house she moved out of in September. Thank God.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Makeover TV

So do any of you watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? If not, you should. We're not reality TV watchers but this isn't really "reality TV" in the Survivor or The Apprentice sense. Seriously, you must see this show. It will make you cry like an idiot and you won't be embarrassed by your tears. I'm totally not kidding. You will bawl. Like a baby.

Anyway, the reason I bring this show up is because it is not a "Christian" show, but the it's just about the best example of the real love of Christ that I've ever seen. Showing God's love in a practical way, in other words (Go, Vineyard!). On each episode, the designers roll into town at the request of a family in need -- for example, Patricia Broadbent, who raised her own family then as a social worker and single mother adopted three young girls with HIV. Then she was diagnosed with cancer this past year. Or Stefan Varden, the teenager who wrote about his deaf parents raising him and his younger brother who is autistic and blind. His parents can't speak to his brother and his brother can't see his parents' sign language and this 14 year old boy takes care of them all and embraces his role as care giver... these are the things that make you cry initially. The stories that are brought to light. The looks on the faces of the families when they realize that someone is going to help them.

I don't care if the designers are "saved", or gay, whatever. They are part of something that is so uplifting in it's selflessness in regard to caring about people in need, and giving the very best and not just making something passable or livable (there is no budget on this show and it's amazing what these designers do for these families). What ends up making me get all teary even more than the tragic stories is watching the designers go all out designing a special bedroom for one of the children just because they know that kid will go crazy for it. Or building the special art room, or work out room just for the sake of making the family happy. It's not necessary stuff. It's wonderful, fun, impractical, spiritually and emotionally and mentally important stuff.

I also appreciate the fact that every time I watch this show it puts my every day stresses into perspective when compared to people living with much much greater problems. What a fabulous thing. A television program that doesn't leave me annoyed, wishing I had a nicer car, more money, or less body weight. These people, whether they know it or not, are doing God's work. I really hope this show hangs around for a while. It's on Sunday nights on ABC at 8:00. It's worth taking the time to sit and watch and get inspired.

**NOTE -- Now don't get me wrong. I'm not a moron, I know that all the companies involved are getting advertising, etc. But please. The premise of this show, overall, is so much better than a lot of what's out there.

Monday, December 13, 2004

In other news

That freak of a squirrel came back. Twice. It climbed to the top of the window ledge and tried to get in again. Maybe a dearly departed friend has been reincarnated. I have my suspicions.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Back from holiday

So it's been a long week. We left the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, drove to Cincinnati and stayed until Sunday. It was a pretty good trip but I hate it because it feels like it takes a week or so to recouperate afterwards. There was just no "down time". Our trip consisted of the following:

Leave Bowie around 3:00 p.m. after Rusty gets home from work. Coast along until we hit some rush hour traffic near Frederick. Stop for dinner at Breezewood - the neon jungle of the PA turnpike. Just barely order before bus-full of high school kids arrives. Ever seen the Spongebob where the five buses full of anchovies show up at the Krusty Krab and get all rowdy and such yelling "eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat... EAT!!!"? That was pretty much the scene.

Sean waved at every girl he saw. And what's up with 15-year-olds having tattoos spanning the entire width of their back just above the undie line? Arrive in Cincinnati sometime around 1:30 a.m. Boys decide to party it up with Grandma until around 3 am. Good times.

Wednesday: cousin's wife calls at ungodly hour and we're all awake again by 8 am. Rusty leaves for lunch with a friend from work. I help my mom rearrange three of the tables set up for the 31 Thanksgiving dinner guests. Mom worries that Caitlin will beat her about the head and ears with the previously completed and now totally useless seating chart. I assure Mom that Caitlin only beats people for good reason. We do get a break and Mom and I eat lunch together at BW3 (must speak to someone about Mom's possible addiction to boneless wings). We then stop at mall on way to Lianne's house. Ahhhh. Lianne's house. The only relaxing hour of that day. So nice. We leave, and I lose track of time at this point. Oh yeah, Mom goes home and puts turkey number two out of three into the oven. We do more pre-Thanksgiving stuff and head out to Chipotle for dinner. Pick up Caitlin along the way (Yay, Cait!). So after all that, Cait, my mom and I head to Jungle Jim's because, really, where else do you want to go when you're exhausted and feel like passing out? Of course - the world's largest goofy grocery store. Seriously, I love the Jungle. But even more seriously, I love that they put in a Starbucks. I barely remember the rest of the night but I'm pretty sure I took off my boots in the parking lot.

Thursday. Just a blur of turkey (so yummy), family, loudness, more family, noodles and croutons and even more family. Good god, where DO these people keep coming from? My grandma, my parents and brother and two sisters with their families, one of my mom's sisters and her husband and nine of my twelve cousins (just on my mom's side, remember) plus my cousins' spouses, kids, etc. Good food, but man... very tired at this point. Rusty goes to play poker with my cousins and various other people, I get the boys to bed and pass out.

Friday... what the crap did we do Friday? Holy cow. Oh yeah, how could I forget? Mom took us to see the Spongebob movie. Rusty, Liam, Sean, my mom and I. It was Sean's first movie in a theater (he's a serious Spongebob fan) and the Springdale theaters are seriously very very nice. Huge screen. Good times again. Lunch then Rusty took the boys home while Mom and I and my cousin, Aimee, hit Archivers - a giganto and quite nice scrapbook store in Mason. Which is next door to a Borders. Which serves coffee. Bought Brian McLaren's new book since it was right next door at Borders and all. And they have coffee.

At this point, I'm pretty sure you're sick of reading this (and damned tired too, it's a lot to take in). But suck it up, you asked so this was my weekend.

Ummm... oh yeah, Saturday. Rusty and I get up and drag our tired butts to the storage unit that I have grown to hate. At our house right now, there are three states of being. Things are either in boxes somewhere in the house, in boxes somewhere in the attic or in boxes in the storage unit in Cincinnati. It's the not knowing which state something is in... that's the excitement that keeps me going. Anyway, we go through the rest of the stuff in storage in record time and get home. Mom takes us to the mall to get a new red fleece for Liam (seperate entry sometime later when my fingers are no longer numb from all the typing). No red fleece and it's raining making it a pain in the arse to try to pack the van at the storage place. We decide to stay until Sunday morning. Sunday morning at the storage unit, we pack the van (no, seriously... we pack that thing. The boys can barely move in the their seats) and head out. Have to stop in Mason because we left the diaper bag at Aunt Lynn and Uncle Carmine's house. Crap... when did we leave that? What day did we stop by there originally? I was there and I'm still confused. We did visit Aunt Lynn. Uncle Carmine made me drink Reisling. I think it's the first time I've had an alcoholic bev in front of my mom. I didn't really care and I'm not really a big wine drinker. Regardless, we left the bag and had to pick it up on our way out of town. Rolled into Bowie around midnight Sunday night.

SOOOOOOO. Aren't you glad you asked? Oh, yeah. Yesterday Sean was very sick - really high fever, throwing up, etc. No rest and he was up last night. So even though we're home from our Thanksgiving trip the magic of the holidays just keeps on giving [me a kick in the ass]. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Freaky squirrel

So this is a random post but there is a squirrel seriously determined to come in the back sliding glass door. I'm sitting in plain view, literally 6 feet away and this thing is looking right at me as it bangs its little squirrely fists against the door. It is freaking out in a very human way. It even looked like it was feeling along the edge of the door as if it could get a paw in and slide the door the rest of the way open. Remember that scene in Ghostbusters where Rick Moranis is running away from that devil dog thing and he's banging on the window of the restaurant but no one see anything but him? That's this squirrel. There is nothing else out there, I just checked. And the squirrel wasn't afraid of me, it just kept freaking and trying to get through the sliding door. Which is glass. And is closed. Funniest thing about this? When it first started, it almost sounded like knocking, to the point where I looked over expecting to see the guy who had been working on the gutters for us. But instead, I look over and it's a squirrel.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Facing question #2

Onward with those hard questions I asked a while back. I mentioned that the second thing I had been thinking on and dealing with was hard to talk about right now. It is. I feel terribly guilty about something, or more specifically, someone I feel I let down. I've been trying to push it back and not worry about it, but it won't go quietly. I just spent an hour writing about it and I'm about to start crying and it still doesn't make any sense. So I guess I need to get my act together and try this again some other time.

Let's change the subject. My church is super cool. Sherri is one of the very most incredible people ever (is "very most incredible" even a legitimate phrase?). I played a real bongo drum today. A big ass one. Huge. And I sounded pretty good. And Betsy sat next to me and she sounded even better. Betsy is cool too. And I got to paint. And got called an "artist" which still thrills me and throws me at the same time because I wrestle with the feeling that someone will pop in and say "She's not a real artist because no one has ever heard of her and she doesn't make money making art" and I'll have to slink back to the corner in embarrassment. It's a thing with me. I'm dealing. Anyway, I was "the artist" for Sherri today and it was so incredible to be allowed to take part in the seminar as well.

Betsy and Sherri (and Ashley, and Deedie, and Beth, and...) are the people that quietly call to me to come to Cedar Ridge. They don't say anything vocally. But they are so unique in themselves and their friendships with me -- some more personal, some still growing. I am drawn to them and the place where they gather to worship in the hopes that I can become more comfortable in a church setting because each of them are there doing their own thing and allowing me to take part in some way. I don't know if that makes any sense? It's the only way I can think to put it. There are women (and men too) that I look up to for various reasons and they have accepted me as a fellow pilgrim, fellow believer-in-training. It frees me to stop worrying about the people and thinking more about the worship. I don't worry that Sherri and Ashley will stop one day and say to each other "That Stacie girl is really weird." (though they may have already said that since they've both seen me break down and cry over Britney Spears. It was a spiritual thing, don't ask. Really. Don't.) Or that Betsy will look at me and think "what a moron" (though maybe I should worry if she ever sees my lack 'o mad knitting skills). But by now I've decided I'm keeping them, and Cedar Ridge, and it won't matter anyway. And that's not supposed to sound stalker-ish. I have little kids. I have no time to stalk. Not that I'd want to stalk. I don't. Really. But you know what I mean.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

And no, I don't like Kerry either.

**NOTE: for those of you who know me, I hope you remember that I'm not a raving lunatic. I'm not a liberal weiner or a right-wing nutjob. I'm a 32 year old mother trying to work through her faith and find the true ground of being as Christ-like as possible and leaving the rest of the "Christianity" and "Church" baggage behind to those who want to argue about the tiny little itty bitty rules.

Ok, so why do I dislike, or even fear, church? Let me explain what I mean by "church" first and go from there. I love the Cedar Ridge Community Church here in Maryland. Its a great group of really good honest imperfect people. What I fear is church as an institution. I hate that Christians in American seem to be symbolized by George W. and Jerry Falwell. I really don't think it's fair that my faith in God comes into question because I don't back George Bush 100% no questions asked. I hate the blanket label of "Christian" right now because it only seems to apply to one side or the other in this election and there's no room for questioning. I guess this election has made me feel like I had to choose sides and I don't feel like I fit in anywhere. I would be really honored to meet someone, become friends, honestly help them through a hard time and have them say "Oh. I didn't know you were a Christian" because they didn't feel any judgement or disapproval from me. That would be so much greater than to have someone avoid me at all costs because they heard I was a Christian and didn't want to deal with my presumed judgement upon them.

As a "Christian", "Believer", whatever you want to call me... I have been taught that being homosexual is wrong according to the bible. Ok. That's enough for me. BUT -- and you'd better stop reading now if you have no room in your minds for working through this with me -- BUT I don't think that my convictions regarding homosexuality give me the right to hate homosexuals. Ok, I can hear it now, "I don't hate homosexuals. I just think it's wrong and don't want them to be able to be able to get married." Again, I believe in the sanctity of marriage between men and women. BUT -- again... get ready to either try to work through this or get out now -- BUT SO WHAT?! So what if I believe that? I really believe that I am called to be accountable in my life and be as Christ-like as I can. Isn't there a song or saying or something that says "You may be the only Christ some people will ever see"? Well... from all accounts of Christ, I don't remember ever reading about him being involved in politics even when the politics of the day had the Romans ruling the Jews with an iron fist, killing innocents, etc. Yes, the Romans were pretty bad. But Christ worked at a much lower level on the radar than that. He loved each person he came into contact with. Each really gross sinful person. And He was Lord of all, perfect and holy!

So I'm left with a dilema. Isn't it my job, as a Christian, to ignore the "Big Issues" and make day-to-day contact with the people around me? Do I really believe that picketing at an abortion clinic is going to do anything more than make that one desperate "sinner" (a.k.a. woman getting an abortion) is my picketing and guilt-tripping going to bring her closer to Christ? Is my rejection of gay people going to bring them -- as people, as individuals -- is it going to bring a gay person closer to Christ?

And here's where it gets hard for some people to open up and be honest about. Bush and the war. I know of at least two of you who have said you don't agree with the war but you're anti-abortion and Bush is anti-abortion. So I'm brought to a question I read a few weeks back -- "Is abortion the only pro-life issue that Christians are called to act upon?". I can't believe that it is. I hate abortion. I think it's a hideous thing. I think it's a sad thing for the women involved. I don't think it's an easy out. I think it's a hard thing for most people. Maybe not all, but most. BUT -- and here we go again with the "buts" -- BUT are unborn babies more precious to God than people who happen to not be American and/or living in America? Are Muslims not as loved as I am because I am a Christian American? Are Iraqi's lives automatically forfeit because they are Iraqi and not American?

I didn't really think much about it until our pastor told a story about an American he knew visiting Bagdad earlier on in the war. A bomb landed right next to his hotel and the hotel guests streamed out to see the crater that was left. Being the only American there, he noticed an Iraqi whom he knew to speak English standing nearby. He asked the man what he thought about the American actions, etc. The Iraqi man said that if the Americans had to come in and bomb the country to remove their president from office then it was understandable. But he then asked what the Americans would think if Iraqis decided to do the same thing. There are a lot of variables to that -- Bush vs. Hussein and the differences, etc. I'm not saying Bush is evil. I'm just saying... it's something to think about. **NOTE: don't send me email saying I'm anti-American, anti-troops, anti-whatever. I'm not. So don't. I'm just a person trying to make sense of stuff. No one asked you to read this and if you don't like it, please move along.

I guess the idea of this post is that I'm tired of having big Christian issues to "stand for" -- being against gay marriage, anti-abortion, pro-war in Iraq/Pro-George Bush, whatever. I'm tired of the big "Christian" issues driving a wedge in between us as followers of Christ and them as people needing love and support regardless of their sexual identity, whether they've aborted, practice Islam, etc. If Christ did in fact die for all people, where do I get off judging whether someone is ok?

I don't want it to sound like I'm condoning doing whatever the crap you want. I just want to make sure that my beliefs don't get in the way of someone else coming to know Christ. Because knowing Christ is the very basic bottom line of this. Being saved from our state of sinfulness and being free to live our lives in Him. I remember being taught that a sin is a sin is a sin. Abortion, drug addiction, being a big jerk to people - it's all sin. I certainly don't want someone picketing me, throwing bricks through my window, etc. because I lie, or am sometimes very rude to my husband and I don't have good money managing skills. Sin. Me = sinnner. Just like everyone else on earth. If Christ is is witholding judgement until we die, why can't we?

Monday, November 01, 2004


Rusty and I haven't been to church in two months. No. We're not heathens. We are parents. And we are still moving and unpacking. And we're human. But I will be honest. Rusty is a lot more willing to try to get to church than I am lately.

This morning, when we woke up, Rusty said "Let's try to get to church" and I felt this knot in my stomach. I don't want to go. And I've been trying to figure out why. This is what I'll be working out in my head and on here, so bear with me.

Good god. I just wrote eight very long paragraphs. Too much for me to read, let alone someone else. Summary? Born Catholic, divorced parents, mom remarried and we became Baptist. Baptists messed up a few years later, family migrated to Assembly of God church (next door to my Christian school) by default. Sent to Christian school for entire life except bizarre break from reality when attended Catholic school for first semester of second grade to appease my grandma. Tossed out of Catholic school when they found out we weren't, in fact, Catholic and would not be allowed to make first communion with rest of class. Yay, fun. Saw a lot of pretend Christians at school on weekdays and church on Sundays. I was a pretend Christian myself. "Became a Christian" at age 21 and have been evolving and learning what that means to my life ever since.

There are a few specific things I need to work out:

1. Why do I dislike church? I love our church here in Maryland (Go Cedar Ridge!). And I loved Vineyard in Cincinnati. But for some reason, I forget that in between Sundays and when I hear the word "church" I seize up.

2. I feel like I let someone down in a very serious way. Such a serious way that I'm not sure I can talk about it right now. We'll work on that and get back to you.

3. I have had thoughts about my faith and beliefs lately that seem like revelations but at the same time scare me because some of them don't seem particularly "Christian".

OK. So. That's about it for me.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Why I don't have dogs

A friend of mine asked me if we had a dog. It started me thinking about why we don't. I mean, I love dogs. Rusty loves dogs. What's up? Then I remembered why I don't have dogs. It's the same reason I don't have clean laundry, a full night's sleep or "nice things" (as in "this is why I can't have nice things around the house..."). It's because I have these instead.

the boys

Sure, they look cute enough (I was going to write "innocent enough" but that's hardly believable, even to the untrained eye). But these two... these two adorable little bundles of spaz... please watch, below, the gradual decline of "innocent enough" to "total goofiness".

the boys

Stage 1: Liam has a bright idea. You can almost hear him wondering whether I will notice if he starts something.

the boys

Stage 2: The unassuming "Whoops. I fell over" position. Could have been an accident. Doubt it.

the boys

Stage 3: I'm cute. You're going down (notice the innocent "I do so love my brother" look Liam is sporting in this one).

the boys

Stage 4

Sean: Ah ha ha ha ha...

Liam: I am just so cute. Make sure you get this on camera.

the boys

Stage 5: Sean lets Liam think he's won.

the boys

Stage 5: Liam does, indeed, believe he's won.

the boys

Stage 6: Sean strikes back. Otherwise known as "Don't try to take your brother down if he's heavier than you unless you want payback".

the boys

Stage 6b: Sean demostrates the proper technique for "Don't try to take your brother down if he's heavier than you unless you want payback". Notice the form. Also notice Liam's lack of a head or face.

Conclusion? You think I was lucky to catch all of this on camera? Ha. Think again. I have photos of the boys doing this in their jammies. Photos of them doing it outside. I have photos of them doing in their Easter clothes. Why would we need dogs when we have this? Pretty much any time you put them together -- in just about any environment -- you'll be treated to a great little show.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Random Advice

Tip 'O the Day:

Never wear your WEBN "Run Like Hell" 5K commemorative t-shirt into the Christian bookstore at the mall. You will get hideous, hideous stares and people will actually move away from you for fear of being charred by the fire that will surely rain down from heaven to punish you for your insolence.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Jon Stewart Love

I just wanted to state, for the record, that I really like Jon Stewart. I don't necessarily love his entire political agenda, but I like him. My affection for him has increased after his appearance on Crossfire recently. I saw it and am still all kinds of confused. If I understood the guy in the bowtie (Tucker I-can-never-remember-his-name), Jon Stewart is to be held to the same standards while hosting Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" as the journalists of CNN. This is just a mini-rant related to something I read on another site. Here's the link and you can watch the clip as well: One Good Thing. And thanks to Betsy to leaking the news about One Good Thing -- it's very good reading.

Be warned, I was unprepared for the discomfort I felt while watching it. I know Jon Stewart hates George Bush. I was prepared for that to come up (which it didn't, actually). But hearing Stewart give some great arguements for why the media has failed the American public and his blantant plea for them to stop... all to be totally ignored by Tucker whats-his-face as he spat out totally ridiculous come-backs that mostly started with "Oh, yeah?! Well you blah blah blah..." while missing the point... that was unsettling. Appalling. How can CNN not fire him? Or at least put him in time out until he understands that he just told a comedian that he, as a journalist for CNN, has no more responsibilty to the American public than Comedy Central? What?! Have you seen the commercials for Reno 911?

The oddest part? As bowtie-guy is telling Jon Stewart that he's a partisan hack as well, he's also telling him he's "not funny". He asks Stewart if he's like this with dinner guests, what a drag he is, etc. So. Let me get this straight. Stewart is supposed to ask "real" news questions and is held to the same level of civil responsibility in "reporting the news" as Crossfire is. But he's also supposed to be funny? What the crap? I'm confused in the worst way. From the back and forth applause from the audience, they were confused as well. But they apparently thought Stewart was funny. Lots of laughing, which I guess is a good sign. If the media is too ridiculous to be honest, at least the audience knows when they're being played. The Crossfire boys were being laughed at, not with. And Stewart started out calmly. Maybe not "nice" by some people's standards, but calm. I know, I saw it. I guess the summary is that I felt like Jon Stewart was being honest. And I liked that.

p.s. For anyone that wants to get all moral about it.. Yes. Stewart did call Bowtie Boy a "dick". But only after BB called Stewart Kerry's "Butt boy" (twice, in fact). Fair reponse if you ask me.

CNN Crossfire Transcript with Jon Stewart - October 15, 2004

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Working out salvation

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling..."

I stumbled onto this verse during small group last week. We were talking about Hebrews and this was a secondary "just to prove the point" kind of verse that was thrown in. That last line about "working out your salvation" slapped me in the face. "Working out"? Why, that leads one to believe that it can be entirely possible to be a believer but not know exactly what you're supposed to believe, or why, or what it means. Holy crap! The bible actually allows for loons like myself? How exciting!

I read a blog called "Ordinary Community" by Chris Marshall -- someone I've never met but he works at the same high school in Cincinnati as my sister and her husband and he also knows the pastor of our church here in Maryland. He asks some questions in his post from October 13. The ones that made me cringe were numbers 7-10, which are as follows:

7) Am I more American than I am Christian?
8) Is abortion the only pro-life issue Christ followers should care about?
9) Will I ever improve on the things that I am not good at?
10) Why does my heart feel sad?

These are things I discuss with my good friend Ashley while our boys play in her basement (or while they wrestle in a play area at Ikea). I try to discuss them with Rusty but truth be told, between work, coaching and trying to have family life he's often times not quite as philesophical. Plus, Rusty has this amazing faith -- God says it, he believes it and doesn't ever once look back.

I really want to think about and pray about these questions in my prayer times over the next few days and weeks. I'm hoping that if anyone actually reads this, that you'll bear with me and even add your comments to help me work through this. I feel like there is this big wall in front of me and if I just understand it's structure, I'll be able to move beyond it -- whether it be by knocking that wall down, going around it or finding a door and going through it.

Thanks for allowing the ramble-age, although, this is my blog so I can ramble at will, correct?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Good Day

Ok, people, simmer down. You're all getting unruly with your multiple emails and such. I do appreciate your concern, thank you. So it is with much fanfare and great relief that I am able to announce that our beloved furniture is finally here. It's in pretty good shape aside from a patch of mold on the recliner (yes, seriously) and a hole in the top of the antique wardrobe (something heavy must have been put on top of it and went through). The chair has been treated and is awaiting steam cleaning. The wardrobe will need major surgery. But I live for that kind of thing. It means more power tool action. Side note: I'm a sucker for the tools. If I had the luck to meet Ty Pennington, I'd be all about him and his tool-er-ific skills, who cares if he's cute (and slightly crazed at times).

So, please let me entertain you with a description of the house right now. The current population of the living room is as follows: two couches, one loveseat, one large armchair, video/DVD storage cabinet, Rusty's mom's hugeass entertainment center thing that is leaving as soon as we can tear it apart (Seriously. It's immense.) See, we're having carpet installed this week or next in the living room, family room and back bedroom. So all the furniture is crowded into one room so it is easier to move when the time comes. For the time being, you can nap on one couch, roll over, and find yourself on another couch. It's quite convenient, really. If we worked it right, you could probably get from the living room to the kitchen without once setting foot on the floor. I have a photo I took last night. I'll try to post it when I can so everyone can feel better about their own respective houses.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Our furniture called

We got a call from our furniture, cleverly disguised as someone named "Domingo". Supposedly coming home tomorrow, they'll call when they're an hour out. I don't mean to sound pessimistic (who, me?) but I'll believe it when I see it. These are, after all, the same movers who were 6.5 hours late for pick-up. I'm not counting the whole God/Wynetta thing out yet, though. So updates as they happen...

In the meantime, here's a little photo to get us all through until we are once again reunited with the most "lovely-to-sit-upon-and-fall-asleep" furniture ever. Don't believe me, check out what's hiding going on under the pillow in the chair. I'm also extrememly fond of my vintage red cabinet to the right. I adopted it from a large Salvation Army warehouse for the low, low price of only $15. Love it.

Liam sleepinging in big plaid squishy chair

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A break from the stupidity

Someone sent this to me today and I have to say, it made me smile. I don't know if it's all the colors or the reflection of the faces of the children but it's a great visual all the way around.

Colorful fish and great kids' faces

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Wynetta Rocks

It's ok, everyone. I've recovered from my astonishment at hearing such vulgar language from "Moving Man A". Technically, it's no worse that what I hear on Dead Like Me but that seems so removed when it's on TV. It's a totally different experience to have someone hollering in your ear.

Alright, so you're probably wondering who is Wynetta and does she rock? Wynetta is the USAA representative I spoke with this morning. And she does indeed rock big time. USAA is our insurance agency. They're mainly government and military so they're not as well known by name though they're a very large company. We have had such a great experience with them ever since setting up our first policies back when we got married (Rusty has been a USAA member since birth because of his mom and dad working at NASA and being eligible for coverage).

Anyway, before the move I called USAA to check and see if the renter's policy on the storage unit covered the move itself, or if we could set something up, or if we had to buy the mover's insurance (I was picturing the pressure you get when you rent a car). USAA said that the rental policy covered the move until all the items reached our doorstep. Yay for USAA! So out of desperation, I called back this morning. I asked to speak to someone in claims and after essentially telling the rep that we didn't know if we needed to file a claim as property "missing" and if we did need to, how long we should wait until we do it. She took the info and gave it to a supervisor. Enter Wynetta.

Wynetta got on the line and asked for the details. When I told her exactly what you read below, she said, "He did not say that!" in a "I-am-seriously-going-
to-have-fun-with-this-guy" kind of way. She got the info and asked me to hold. She was calling North Star and would be recording the whole conversation on tape. She came back and said he wasn't in the office and would call back. In the meantime, I told her to be ready because the guy was very offensive. She said he could be offensive all he wants, she works for me. I was so relieved I almost started to cry (Note to self: ask doctor about hormone levels. Too much crying.) She told me that she was taking the info but wouldn't file an actual claim yet as if it didn't end up going that far she didn't want us to get a rate hike for filing. Again... Wynetta rocks. Then the jerk from North Star called her back. I go on hold again while she talks to him.

When Wynetta came back to the line, she relayed the following:

- Guy claimed that I called and just started randomly yelling and cussing at him (?!??)
- Even after being advised that he was being taped, he got rude with her (I'm shocked)
- He refused to tell her where the stuff was.
- She told him that we weren't demanding access to the warehouse but demanding disclosure on where our items were.
- He finally told her that the items are in a warehouse in Illinois. Yes, that does say "Illinois" . For those of you following along at home, you'll remember that this was supposed to be a non-stop move from Ohio to Maryland. Illinois is two states in the wrong direction.
- He said - on tape - that we will not be charged for above mentioned storage.
- She then informed him that if the items were not delivered within the two to ten business day window (ending this Friday) that we would file a claim. That claim would be with USAA. It would involve us filing a federal claim with law enforcement because the items were considered stolen, and taken across state lines. Anything over $300 is also considered a bigger deal (I can't remember the exact words - a felony maybe?).
- She told Mr. Dispatcher from North Star that if we filed a claim, USAA would compensate us for our loss. If USAA compensated for our loss, they would then own the property being held hostage. She said she told him that if USAA then owned the property that he'd better believe that they will do everthing in their power to either retrieve that property or file charges.
- Mr. Mean Dispatcher Guy (a.k.a. Mover Man A from previous post) told her, "Don't threaten me!" plus threw in some spicy sentence enhancers.
- Wynetta ended by saying she would threaten him if it was warranted and it seemed that it was.

One more reason Wynetta rocks is because she told me that I didn't have to talk to that thug anymore. If he calls, tell him (or anyone else from that company) that I've been advised to tell them to talk to USAA from here on out. She also suggested that we could have a police officer at our house when the things are delivered (see link regarding same company verbally abusing customers: - found only after we realized who we were dealing with).

So. As of right now, we'll have our things by next Friday, or a verbal agreement by next Friday that everything will be delivered by the following Wednesday (not sure what that was about, but it's still a date to work with). If not, we'll have someone else to do the yelling for us because Wynetta ROCKS!

Oh, yeah... the main reason Wynetta rocks? I didn't say anything to her about my beliefs, etc. I just relayed the facts. But last night I was unable to sleep, totally at a loss and just praying about what to pray for in this situation, I was that confused over it all. Anyway, Wynetta knew none of this. But as she's telling me that she doesn't care if this guy gets abusive with her she says, "I've got the LORD behind me! None of that 'turn-the-other-cheek' stuff when people are breaking the law." I'm not usually one for "Go-get'um-gospel" but this woman was so nice to me, and frankly took over the whole burden of dealing with these people so I wouldn't have to. And her answer to my "thank you" was that it was her job and she was happy to do it. That is exactly what I was praying for last night, I just didn't know it at the time.

In conclusion, Wynetta rocks. And God's not so bad himself.

p.s. Still not feeling so great, thank you for asking (you know who you are). Follow-up appointment on Monday.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Opening in their customer service department

Oh, wait. That's right. They don't have customer service.

We haven't heard from our furniture lately. It was picked up in Ohio, wrapped with 24 rolls of packing tape, then moved somewhere. I would tell you where, but I'm at a loss. We were told it would delivered in "2 - 10 days". Now, being Day 8 and not having heard anything from our furniture, I decided to call the movers to see if they could give me a clue. This is a literal retelling of my epic phone call:

Mover Man A: Hello, ********* Vanlines, who do you need to talk to? (man with heavy accent, which I usually actually quite enjoy)

Me: May I speak to **** ******, please? (listen to me... all nice. Little did I know the stupidity that was about to ensue).

Mover Man A: Who is this? Ok, let me see if **** is here.

Mover Girl B (yes... I realize she's a girl and therefore should be an "A" but I didn't want to confuse with the letters and she was pretty jerky so she's getting a "B". Deal with it.) : Hello, this is ****.

Me: Hi, yeah, this is Stacie ******. You called on Sunday (Note:she called on SUNDAY) and left a message on my cell phone? Blah blah blah... by the way, we are trying to find out when we'll be able to expect our things to be delivered?

**NOTICE** No freaking out about things not being here yet, just wondering if someone would tell us when it'll be here ** Back to the program...

Mover Girl B: Blah blah blah... I can't help you, you'll have to speak to the dispatcher.

Mover Man A(who is apparently also said "Dispatcher"): Hello? What is wrong? What do you need?! (Already, a hint of the customer service that's about to blindside me).

Me: Hi, yeah, we're trying to find out where our stuff is currently? We were told it was in storage??

Mover Man A: You're stuff? I don't have to tell you where it is. It's in storage. It's fine.

**Ok. Let's pause once again and let that last comment sink in a bit. Lovely. Let's go on. **

Me: Huh?!

Mover Man A: I don't have to tell you where my warehouse is. No one has to tell you that. Your stuff is in storage.

Me: HUH??!

Mover Man A: You'll get your stuff when we call for delivery.

Me: What the...?! What?!! Where are our things??! Yes, you do have to tell us where our things are! They're... they're... OURS!

Mover Man A: No, I don't! (hatefully)

Me: Yes! Yes, you DO! (very pissed-off-edly)

Mover Man A: Why do I have to tell you? I don't have to tell you. You act like we came and stole it. Why does it matter?

**Let us pause yet again... Yes. He really said that. **

Me: Um... ooooooook. How about because it's insured and our insurance agency would like to know where it is (where did that come from? I don't know, but the whole conversation was crazy from the minute he spoke, so I went with it. And our things are insured.)

Mover Man A: (and this is where it gets really good - the customer service training really pays off for him): YOU CALL HERE TREAT ME LIKE AN ASSHOLE? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? I DON'T HAVE TO TELL YOU ANYTHING.

Me: What? (a bit bewildered by the strange turn of events and potty mouth)

Mover Man A: [repeat tyrade above]

Me: Look, it's our furniture. We tried calling all last week for information and now we're just really irritated. Where is it?

Mover Man A: You called last week? We were closed for Jewish holiday. We're a Jewish company.

Me: [squeak... not sure what to make of that because the only two guys we delt with in person were very Latino and spoke with heavy Hispanic accents. I'll be honest, though, and admit I've never met the guy on the phone so I don't know if it's true or an excuse. Even if he was out for holiday observance, he's still a big fat jerk.]

Mover Man A: We'll call you in 14 business days. We're a normal business, we go by business days.

Me: Um, you picked up on a Sunday. That's not a "business day", Dude. And the paperwork said 2-10 days. (yes, I called him "Dude". No, I don't know why.)

Mover Man A: We only deliver on business days. We'll call in fourteen business days. Blah blah blah... asshole again... blah blah. (He said "asshole" at least four times. I wish I was kidding.)

Me: [click]

What have we learned here today? Number one, when I'm angry, the F-word springs to mind a little more quickly than I'd care to admit though happily, I didn't use it. Number two, Don't move because there are bad people out there who will take your stuff and hide it from you then not feel at all badly when you start to cry and demand to know where is your beloved big squishy plaid chair that you shopped and shopped for weeks to finally find. These people truly bite.

Updates to follow, including any ransom notes we may possibly receive from our beloved furniture.

Thursday, September 30, 2004


So, did I disappear off the earth for a while? Why no, thank you for asking. But it would seem that way when you spend a day in the ER. Good times.

It started the night before last, Tuesday, after we got home from our nine-hour drive back from Cincinnati. I'll spare you the gory details but aside from other things I was having cramps and a backache from hell. If I wasn't using birth control, I'd have said I was pregnant and having a miscarriage. Yesterday, it wasn't better. Actually, it was worse. After a lovely conversation with my lovely friend Ashley (conversation having absolutely nothing to do with what's going on with me physically) I break down crying cause I feel like dookie and she says that "Yes" I should call the doctor.

I hate calling the doctor. I'm afraid they'll tell me I'm a whiner. Which is probably why I tend to get really sick then they tell me how stupid I was for waiting so long to call the doctor. But I digress... I called the doctor. Or I tried anyway. Apparently, in the metro DC area there are quite a few women needing to visit the GYN because my new doctor was booked solid until December. They gave me the number for "Ask a Nurse". The nurse was so nice, she made me cry. She essentially said go to the doctor or go to the ER. Well, my doctor's office couldn't help out on that one (Come on! They have five offices for pete sake... they couldn't give anyone the boot for a semi-emergency?) Anyway, Rusty came home from work, Ashley watched Sean and we headed off to the ER.

Funny thing, if you're under the age of 40 and having the symptoms I was having, even with birth control they assume you're pregnant. I didn't want to hear that. But not for the reasons you might think. Yes, it's true that Rusty and I have decided that we're good to go with two kids. We don't feel the need to "try for a girl". We're happy. Being pregnant would be a surprise, even a shock. But not "bad". No, I didn't want to hear that I was pregnant because the symptoms I was having indicated a miscarriage, not a healthy pregnancy. And if it were a miscarriage, it wasn't random. It would be caused by the fact that my birth control of choice is a hormonal IUD. In theory, you can't get pregnant. But if you do, the IUD prevents the pregnancy from progressing past a certain point. My GYN stressed that it never gets to that point, etc. when I had it put in but you know... if they tell you, then someone has gotten that far with it, right?

Anyway, I didn't want to hear that I was pregnant because I didn't want to hear that I was miscarrying because of the birth control method I had chosen. I felt selfish and evil. I don't necessarily feel like every woman who has an abortion is selfish and evil... but I felt selfish and evil. Right up until the time that my blood test came back and said big ol' "No" on the pregnancy. Then I just felt annoyed to have sit in the ER for so long feeling like crap.

The rest of the story ends with me still feeling like dookie but coming home with a prescription for the biggest pills I've ever seen for some unknown infection (they'll call me in 3 days when the test results are finished to make sure one of my kidneys isn't sleeping on the job). I have the most heinous backache ever. But I'm just sick and not a horribly, selfish person like I thought. But I'm rethinking my decisions. I don't want to go through this again.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Who am I?

I've been trading email with my friend Jodi, a fabulous person from Cincinnati and a fellow Vineyardian. She's had an emotional weekend. Not one of those obviously hard emotional periods -- she didn't lose a loved one, or a pet or a job, etc. It's one of those stealth emotional things, one that makes you feel silly for being upset and yet you're fighting with everything you have to keep your composure. I hate those.

Jodi has an interesting question posted over on her blogsite - Jodi's blog. "Am I who I want to be?". I started to post a reply to her question. But my three sentences turned into three paragraphs and I didn't want to hijack her space so I brought it over here instead.

So... AM I who I want to be? Hardly. And I don't mean I'm not the athletic, stylish, famous or rich person I wish I was. I mean that emotionally, spiritually I am not who I want to be. My inner life doesn't spill over into my daily life in a good way. Up until this past weekend, I would find myself too ashamed to pray as I look back and see that my selfishness, greed and unhappiness have caused me to miss so many opportunities to respond to the world around me rather than obsessing at the world within me. Then I got an email from Jodi about her stress and what was causing it. I shot off an email that sounded so unlike me lately -- it was actually selfless in that I didn't care that she may not like some of what I thought because I really felt like it was something I was being led to say. I didn't stop to think that she may hate me afterward or put the whole response off because my life was total chaos at that moment (it wasn't really chaos, but to my small selfish mind it was). This was the "me" that I wasn't sure existed much anymore.

Since we moved, I've had a hard time finding my identity again. For most of the last time I lived in Maryland I was an art student getting to exercise my creativity everyday, a volunteer YoungLife leader spending time with kids and focusing on them and their lives, and discovering who I was apart from family and friends back in Cincinnati I'd known literally almost all of my life. It was liberating. Even when Rusty and I first got married, we had a great time learning how to be married and being friends with each other and with other couples in the same places in their lives and their faith.

When I became pregnant, the hunt was on for a job and living space in Cincinnati so that I could be close to my family. After Liam was born, I didn't lose the weight I had gained and was very self conscious. Also, looking back, I think I was dealing with post-partum depression though I didn't recognize it at the time (I've had two friends here mention that they noticed it when we visited). My self image plunged to the very lowest it's ever been. What was worse than feeling fat and ugly? Knowing that even if I was fat and ugly, that wasn't what truly mattered. I had prided myself on not caring about that stuff then all of a sudden I couldn't shake it.

When Rusty was offered the job back here, we prayed about it and it was a hard decision to leave my family and our friends but we did it because we believed it was the right thing to do. I still believe that though I did doubt it for a few months last winter and spring. Things just weren't what I thought they'd be. I'd left with just myself, my husband and my expectations for my new life as a mother. I was returning with two children, an older and much wiser relationship with Rusty and a still damaged self image.

Rusty is now back at NASA, coaching a soccer team and spending time with Erik and Alwood and just being glad we're back. We're in a small group with the Hansen's, the Stuarts, Pete and Karen McLaren and Sherry and Bruce (oh crap, I can't remember their last name... actually, I remember it but can't beging to spell it). But personally, in the "just me" department, I'm not doing so great. Right now, I essentially stay home and take care of the boys. Things are looking up a bit because I get to ransack and totally redo another crapped out house. You know I live for tearing stuff up and redoing it. But there is this part of me saying "Isn't there more to me?". I totally believe that raising my kids to be good people is a big job. I'm the one doing it, I know how much energy it takes. But I'm talking about beyond that. Is there seriously not enough room for my kids and some sort of meaningful self expression for me, specifically some sort of expression that would bring in some cold hard cash in the process? (just teasing... sort of). We don't "need" the money as we're surviving without a second income right now. But I'd love to spend time away and feel like my family is benefiting from that time spent away as well.

I have no clue what I'm babbling about. See, Jodi. This is what happens when you make me think. GAH!!!!!

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Have you ever been up late while others are trying to sleep and either read or watched something so funny that you found yourself doing that silent, shaking kind of laugh? You're like kind of spitting and making a sputtering noise, and the more you watch/read, the more you laugh? Then you maybe hold your nose in a vain attempt to quiet yourself? And it never works? That's me.

I found this site called Snarkywood. It's one of the funniest things I've ever read. I'll tell you now, it's downright mean at times. But funny. My favorite post = We love Whitney Houston. Had me laughing so hard I had to give up the attempt at silence and I sounded like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins ("I Love to Laugh" song). So why is it that I, who wouldn't consider making fun of someone, can get so much hysterical pleasure from reading other people doing it? Do I justify it because the targets are famous and overexposed and therefore somehow deserve it? Does their insane income/lifestyle cover below-the-belt hits? I don't know. I really wish I could justify myself here and come up with some great hypothesis for how I can live with myself for laughing at Snarkywood. But I got nothin. It's just so stinkin funny. And that probably makes me a big jerk. At least I'm an amused jerk.

*Be warned, Snarkywood uses profanity (though it's just that much funnier... I really am going to hell)

Sunday, September 05, 2004

2:26 A.M.

It is wait...2:27 a.m. What am I doing awake? Well, a couple of things. On the surface, I'm sitting at the computer playing with every CD I can find and uploading them to itunes. In reality, I'm trying to tell myself that the news on the school attack in Russia isn't bothering me as much as it really is. My rational, American self is saying that it's half a world away and it could never happen here. But my emotional, spiritual side is saying screw that, who cares where it occurred and even if it never happens here, it still happened. I'm not one for seeing news stories and getting personally invested. Maybe this is bothering me more because Liam started kindergarten two weeks ago and we spent a morning in the cafeteria with all the other families taking part in the same beginning-of-school ritual. I'm finding myself more shaken by this story than I really care to admit.

Every time I see the photos or hear or read a news account, it's impossible to stop thinking that those women feel the same way about their children as I do about mine. That the crying woman waiting to see if her child is among the dead could easily be me, or Amy, or Ashley or Ailsa. We could be looking for our children, our sisters and brothers-in-law. I can't help but think that even those who did survive are not among the lucky. I can't imagine what that kind of violence does to a child. How they can possible see what they've seen and not lost their little minds altogether. My brain just can't get rid of the details - the woman who was released and brought her baby out then went back in to stay with her other three children who were not allowed to leave. And my brain knows how kids' minds work and I can't stop thinking "What if it had been Liam in there? If I hadn't been with him? Who would have comforted him and held him?". I'm not trying to be miserable over this. Somehow my "Mommy brain" just can't let go of it.

I just read a quote online regarding the new John Adams commission for the September 11th tribute. By all accounts it's almost paralyzing in it's power. Regarding the September 11th piece, someone wrote: "I guess for me, safe on the ground, I need to get as close to that kind of fear and suffering as I can, like I owe it to those people. Does that make sense?". I guess my anger tonight is my brains's way of paying my condolences to those involved in Russia. I want to be able to turn away from it, but that seems like it would diminish it in some way. I'm remembering back when Rusty and I saw "The Passion of the Christ" and thinking "maybe I don't want to see this". But seeing it seems to make more an impression to me than anything, my mind seems to take in and work on visuals more than any other medium. And I felt the same way about the movie. It was so uncomfortable to watch. But I felt I had to. If Christ went through it, I could at least make myself see what it may have really been like (as opposed to the totally clean, blond Christ-on-the-cross paintings I remember from the church nursery when I was little).

So here I am, uploading music and come across "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. How I wonder how totally wrong can that song be? I'm angry. Not just because of the children and adults that died over the last two days. I'm angry about the whole mess.

I'm the first to admit that some of this anger would probably dissapate if I stopped listening to Alanis Morissette as I write this ("Jagged Little Pill" is a wonderful screaming album. Love it. If that makes me a heathen, so be it.). I tried switching to my "God music" play list but couldn't get into it. I told myself I didn't have to "feel" it, but still. I wanted to scream and seeing as how it's the middle of the night, I just switched back to Alanis and let her do it for me. Yay, Alanis. I mean, really, what does Alanis have to scream about? Her boyfriend jilting her or possibly her lack of understanding the meaning of the word "ironic"? Maybe she's just now realizing she dated Dave Coulier? I dunno. I'm all for yelling like a maniac when you're hurting inside, and I'm sure it's done her a world of good to get it out (and make some money for it). But it's been almost fun to sit and listen to her yell and pretend I'm mad about something as normal and sane as a break-up.

I'm sure I'll be fine tomorrow. But that bothers me. I don't want to get to a place where I'm able to distance myself from the pain that others feel. In this situation, empathy has been a motivator for me to pray - both the ones who've been lost and those they left behind.

We'll see if I still need Alanis in the morning.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Motherhood (when it involves boys)

Ok, so my boys have discovered the joy of tooting. It usually starts with "Did you toot?" then a giggly little "yeah... 'scuse me" and a bunch of laughing. Then a big groan and "that's STING-KY!". We do this three or four times eating breakfast and then the whole thing gets repeated as the day goes on.

It's not the just the joy of bodily functions that I'm having to adjust to. It's the "boy-ness". I have two sisters and a brother. I am saying right now, in front of God and everyone, that my brother is THE most well behaved boy on the face of the earth (ok... aside from that time when Amy and I were trying to watch "Steel Magnolias" and Jason stood there with his boxers under his butt cheeks until we noticed). I had no clue what I was in for with these boys.

This afternoon, I was putting up shelves in my soon-to-be-completed scrapbook room. Out of the corner of my eye I see Liam tackling Sean. As I'm about to go in and tell Liam to get off, I see that Sean has taken the upper hand and is now on top. They're laughing hysterically and all I can think is that someone is going to lose an eye.

Liam won this old school paper monster mask (I think it's Frankenstein from one of the old monster movies) and they took turns wearing it and chasing each other around the house. Sean is shrieking (like a girl, I might add) and running into everything in the living room. It's just always chaos -- the good kind, the kind that makes you realize you're alive, I suppose. But chaos, nonetheless. And they're only 5 and 2 1/2 years old. How do I survive when they're 13 and 15 years old and giving each other atomic wedgies?!

I have these thoughts about God, and how far away He is. Then I look at Sean and Liam and think that maybe He's not as far as I think.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


So Rusty and I were talking over dinner tonight. I think part of my problem is that to me the word "good" is often very selfish. It really means "what's GOOD for me" and not necessarily what's good overall.

I've also been doing some thinking about "fearing God". I'm not sure I really "fear" God, or I didn't. I think along the way somewhere I lost a lot of my healty respect for God. I knew He was good, and kind, and kind of like a big Santa Claus in the sky. But I forgot He is the one who sent the Israelites into battle. He's a warrior. He's not a neat little God that I can be comfortable with on Sundays in church. He's an angry God sometimes, and a just God (which is really kind of scary if you think about it). C.S. Lewis, in his chronicles of Narnia, often had his characters referring to Aslan by stating , "He is not a tame lion". That's God. He is not a tame, white bread, Americanized God. He's more powerful and mysterious than anything we can imagine. That scares me and thrills me at the same time.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Writing to no one in particular

One good aspect of this blogging thing is that I haven't told anyone about it (at least not yet). So I feel totally uninhibited and can write whatever I want.

I'm having some God problems. I'm not "doubting" his existence, but I guess I'm becoming more aware that God isn't what I thought He was. He's not working the way I think He should and that bugs me. It's ok to write that, I'm pretty sure He's aware of my feelings at this point.

This whole situation with living with Rusty's mom's house for the past nine months has taken it's toll. I didn't sign on for this. Our house in Fairfield was supposed to sell, we'd find something here and have our own home again. I'm starting to feel like that's never going to happen. Like we will never have space to call our own. I haven't been alone in the house since last October when we got here. It's really starting to irritate me.

The first few times I felt this way, I pushed it back inside because we really believe that God provided the opportunity to move after some really specific prayers about Rusty's job. I felt like I was being selfish and ungrateful for the chance to stay here instead of having to rent somewhere until our house sold. Then I'd start to resent the situation because I felt guilty about something that was truly bothering me. It's a big ugly cycle.

I thought things were getting better because we had a closing date set for this house on July 30th. When that had to be pushed back, I lost it. I was crying at least every other day last week and the week before. I felt like my personality and desires don't matter to God. I feel like I lost a part of myself because I have little chance to be creative right now, there are few really creative places to get supplies around here and the one opportunity to teach has yet to happen even though everyone at the store "can't wait" for me to start. Hearing that makes it worse -- if you "can't wait", then why are you waiting?! Get yourself organized already and hire me! If God gave me the desire to create in the first place, why doesn't he give me an outlet so I can feel like my life has some kind of purpose again? (please, my husband and kids are definitely worth my time. I'm talking about a personal feeling here - aside from being a mom and wife). Even if I finally did get a teaching job, it'd be a joke because there is just total chaos going on in the rest of my life right now and I'd have to say no even though I desperately want to say yes!

So as I'm working through all of this, another "What the crap is God thinking" occurrence takes place. My mom tells me about Rachel Litton, a family friend from school. She's 27, has a heart problem and finds out she's pregnant. Her doctor wants her to abort and she and her husband don't. Assuming from what I've heard about Rachel, there was no question. So God should bless her and her husband for that decision, right? Rachel died, four months pregnant. How does that work? Where is the blessing for doing the right thing? Where is the miracle? Please, before anyone worries that I'm going to get struck by lightening, I am sorting through the big picture. Which I guess is what this whole post is about.
This post isn't really about me and my pity party, or even Rachel. It's about God and what I thought I understood about Him.

I'm thinking about this whole situation again. My piddly little "needs" and the bigger picture. And I realize I've got God all wrong. I've always thought "God is awesome". But my understanding of the word awesome is probably something along the lines of "really cool" or "He just cares so much". Rarely have I experience anything that's truly "awesome". We're always hearing "God is good". Do I still believe He is? I do. I just believe that my idea of "good" isn't on track. I've come to believe that what makes God so awesome in the real sense of the word is that His version of "good" isn't the same as ours. What's ultimately good isn't necessarily what we would consider "good" in the moment. If God is good, and only capable of doing good and Rachel died anyway... what does that mean?

I remember when I was in high school, we had a speaker at church. His son had been killed in a horrible car accident. The guy stood there and said he could believe God was good because only God knew what his son would have faced later in life. Maybe he would have faced a situation far worse than dying in a car accident and going to heaven. Maybe he would have had to go to war. Maybe he would have lost his faith for some reason. Maybe somehow God knew that he had to take him at the age of 16 to prevent something later on down the road. I never really understood what he was talking about. I think I'm starting to get it now.

I can't even begin to speculate on the Rachel's family and what they're going through. Thankfully, I haven't lost anyone that close to me in such a tragic way. But in my own little world, I know that there are probably reasons why God is putting me through all this (ok, "allowing me to be put through this" -- I know someone will read this and say "God doesn't do bad things", blah, blah, blah). Actually, to be brutally honest with myself, I know that this entire house situation really has nothing to do with me and I'm just taking it personally. I just want to be able to say that it doesn't feel good right now and please don't judge me because I'm not happy about going through it.

The one comfort I've drawn from all of this deep thinking is that God cannot be understood. That's a comfort to me because if someone as lame as myself could understand God, then He must not be all that great. But I can't, so He is. I'm working on my being able to see "awesome" as the powerful word it really is, even when it doesn't seem particularly "good" in an isolated situation. I'm also working on my feeling toward church at the moment. We have a great church full of great people. I don't feel like I want to be a part of that right now, and I'm not sure why or what to do about it. I hope you'll pray about some sort of resolution to that as I know it's a vital part of growing my faith and understanding deep thinking like this.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

First Time

So I'm trying to post a reply to Jodi's blog and it won't let me because I don't have a blog account. What do I have to blog about, and using "blog" as a verb is weird. Using "blog" at all is weird. I don't know that I have anything real to say. But at least now I can reply to Jodi's words of wisdom. Go Jodi!
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