Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Basics

One of the many things all children must eventually memorize is their address and telephone number. I vividly remember my own parents helping me memorize our address on Newton Ave. It had a beat. We practiced a lot.

Our current address isn't so rhythmic so I was delighted when I heard the "My Name and Address" song on our Wee Sing cd. Sung to the tune of "Rain Rain Go Away," children are encouraged to learn their full names and addresses as follows:
My name is Jane Smith
This is my address
1234 Main Street
Somewhere, California
As we were practicing, in an effort to really drive the point home, I sang the song 5 times each time naming a different person in our family. All three kids seemed to be enjoying it. Elise likes it when anyone is singing anything. Wes likes what Jack likes and Jack seemed to be catching on a little bit. Or so I thought. As soon as I'd finished the 5th verse he piped up with "That's a silly song. Boys don't wear dresses."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Strategy

"Strategic" has become one of those business buzz words that most people in the office are guilty of using on a too frequent basis: "If we want to strategically position our strategy in our strategic market, we need to align our strategists to support the strategy." We identify strategic partners, strategic accounts, strategic markets, strategic investments, strategic acquisitions, strategic blah, blah, blah. When it comes to business strategy most people just hear "blah, blah, blah."

But what about God's strategy? I know, "strategy," right? I recently finished a study on a book called The Monday Morning Church in which the author tries to help the readers see their current circumstances as God's strategic positioning for them. Huh. You mean I have this job in this city with these people for a reason other than making money and the reason isn't so I can be happy? A perspective the world doesn't understand? Yep. A perspective that was a mere concept until recently for yours truly? Yes, ma'am.

Although some people may think I'm radical (okay, only one person has ever called me radical and I happen to think that person is wrong since I'm about as radical as George Washington), it may surprise you to find out that I'm really rather reserved. Especially about my faith. Especially at work. So when someone came to my office looking for some practical help (a "luxury" I'm often afforded in HR) and I felt prompted to pray for the person right then and there, you can imagine my response:
Seriously, God? You want me to cry with this person right now? You want me to offer to pray for this person? Don't you know I'm at work? Don't you know I'm supposed to remain professional at all times?
And then I remembered that God put me in this job in this city so I could respond with His love to this person right then and there. So I did. And it wasn't the "big bad scary thing" I thought it would be. And the next time it happens, maybe my response won't be: Seriously, God?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let the Journey Begin

The journey actually began about a month ago, but I'm just getting around to writing about it now. Three pregnancies in four years has left me a little...well..."thick" if you know what I mean. Oh how I love delivery and the first two months following when the pounds just melt away with no effort (well, I guess there's a little effort for the delivery part). I don't know of any other "diet" plan that let's you drop 20+ pounds in a matter of days. But then reality hits and I actually have to work to get rid of the rest of the baby weight. Obviously I wasn't working hard enough because I hadn't "dropped" anything in a long time. For the record, that includes children.

Well things needed to change. And thanks to a few incredible, amazing, inspiring, supportive friends I am now on the way to a not-so-thick me. A little friendly competition encouraged me to join Weight Watchers again and after a month of some pretty major changes in my eating habits I'm happy to report that I have lost 13% of my total weight loss goal...only 87% more to go! Only? Focus on the bright side: it's not 100%.

One of the fun things about making these changes is exploring new recipes and ideas to help me balance my own nutritional needs to meet my weight loss goals with my family's nutritional needs to meet their growing-into-healthy-children goals. Sometimes they overlap, but we often have two versions of items in our pantry and refigerator: fat free cottage cheese and 2% cottage cheese, baked chips and regular chips, light bread and regular bread...you get the picture. Most of the time the kids don't notice a difference. Yesterday I made a light version of a bundt cake (not bad results for my first bundt attempt). Jack got some, but Wes and Elise were in bed by the time we cut into it. Of course it was the first thing Wesley spotted as he was coming downstairs this morning and he started repeating "dae-dae-dae" over and over again. To which Jack replies, "Mommy made a bent cake, Wesley." Does it make me a terrible mother that I didn't correct him because I thought his "bent" mistake was adorably funny and hope that he calls it a "bent" cake forever?

The next step on my journey is the addition of some...um...encouragement (?) from Jillian Michaels in the world of at-home fitness dvds. I am not, I repeat not, an exerciser, but to really be successful I know I need to become one. I'm committed to spending 20 minutes with Jillian on a regular basis. Surely I can find 20 minutes here and there for some "encouragement."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Those Silly Homonyms

Children like to explore. I get that. But sometimes their exploration goes a little too far. Like yesterday afternoon. The kids had peas for lunch. While they were finishing up, I headed out to the office to complete a quick task. While I was out there I heard Wes say "pee" so, completely forgetting he had peas on his plate, I asked him if he needed to go potty. Of course he didn't. It happened again so I asked again and again got the same "No pee. Dry" answer.

Then he finished lunch and I wiped him up. While wiping is cute little face lately I've had to pay special attention to the area just under his nose. This particular afternoon I noticed something greener than normal in his nose. A pea! I was able to squeeze it out and all was fixed until I saw another one up there. This time I was only able to get half of it out. So he had to blow. Out came the second half. All the blowing made him sneeze. When he did, a THIRD PEA came shooting out onto his lip!

After making sure I had recovered the last pea I asked him why he put peas up his nose. He said "eat!". I then explained to our two-year-old that the only thing we use to eat food is our mouth and that he should never put things in his nose again.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I now know he wasn't saying "pee," but "pea."

What I (Sean) Did Sunday Night

video
You know how funny and witty I am already so I won't waste your time with one liners. This is 5 minutes of how I spent over 4 hours Sunday evening. I look forward to your comments and questions and raise a challenge to the readers: whoever can find the most absurd thing gets 1 rupee.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Divine Intervention

Stories abound about God's physical intervention in our lives. God healed this man or woman or protected that girl or boy. I even have my own story to share about how God physically intervened for Elise. But I've started to notice lately that God intervenes in smaller ways as well. Out of a desire to have a more authentic relationship with God, I've been trying to see God in the details of the "everyday." I wish I could say that I've come right out and asked Him to reveal how He wants me to serve Him each day, but I'm afraid I'm too afraid to actually do that. What if He asks me to do something I don't want to do? What if I have to get out of my comfort zone? But how will I ever have a real, daily, true relationship with Him if I don't? Hmm... I'm so glad that God meets our needs without us ever asking or, frankly, even knowing what they are.

This morning during worship at church, Jack asked to be held. Now over the last four years my upper body strength has greatly (and necessarily) improved due to all the babies I've been hauling around, but holding a 40 pound 4-year-old still has its challenges. Given recent circumstances, I obliged and was blessed beyond measure. Just as he settled in, head down, snuggled against my neck, our worship leader told us to think about one thing God has done for us and then to praise Him for it. It was as if God put Jack in my arms and my mind at that very moment to remind me what an indescribable blessing he is. As I worshiped God, our oldest child in my arms, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all the things I've learned since becoming a mother. The challenges and frustrations of parenting have helped me understand and relate to God as my Heavenly Father. Then the guilt over how I've sometimes responded to those challenges washed over me and I was again overwhelmed by God's perfect design in Jack. Our oldest son handles our bumps in the road with grace, patience and forgiveness. God equipped Jack with the personality to be our firstborn and I'm so thankful. As I continued to worship, Jack picked up his head, put his hands on my cheeks, looked me square in the eye and kissed me smack on the lips. Again, I'm so thankful.

I'm probably not the first mother who has ever failed at reflecting God's patience, gentleness and love to her children. But understanding that teaching our children to love God is my most important job has helped me control my "human" reactions more often. And while my own efforts to be consistently patient, gentle and loving fail, God reminded me today that with His help I can actually reflect His character this way. In one of the songs this morning we sang "King of all days." I've always interpreted this as "King of ALL days;" from beginning to end. Today I heard, "King of all DAYS" and I was reminded that God is the God of details, the God of each individual day. Each day I get to spend with our children is a gift, an opportunity I've been afforded, a responsibility I've been given to teach them about God. I had better make the most of each day because, really, it belongs to the Lord. He entrusted it to me to use for His purpose and He will show me what that is and how to do it if I ask.

To be clear, I don't think that God controls our thoughts. I wouldn't exactly call that free will. But I do believe He can speak to us, in a way, through what we're thinking. He can intervene in the private conversations we have with ourselves (we all have those right?...right?) to help us better understand His truths, His purpose, His nature. I'm so grateful for the way God has been intervening lately, small as it may be. Or maybe it hasn't been any more than normal, maybe I'm just noticing. Either way, I'm grateful.