Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Husband's Best Friend

There is another man in my life.

When Paul and I married seven years ago (on Monday!), I knew that I was entering a double covenant of sorts. The other man? His name is Jimmy. And he came as a package deal.

I met Jimmy when I started going to Campus Crusade for Christ as a college student. I don't remember the exact meeting. Possibly it was also the first time I met Paul, when I group of us went to the midnight showing re-release of Grease in theaters. At least, that was probably the first memorable meeting of both of them. I was not impressed either way. Paul grew on me over was no love at first sight for either of us. He knows this. We're okay with it.

Paul and Jimmy, however, did not meet in college. They became instant friends while walking around the track in ninth grade. They were both fairly new to town, and they hit it off in all of their awkward early-teen glory. They have been the bestest of best-perfectly-besty friends ever since.

I like to compare them to a younger version of Grumpy Old Men. Paul would be Jack Lemmon's character. Jimmy would be Walter Matthau. Actually, personality-wise, I would probably picture them flipped, but Jimmy will totally look like Walter Matthau when he is eighty markmywordsbecauseGodisagoodGodfullofwisdomandhumor. They laugh. They eat. They argue. They wax poetically. They share. They really are pretty sweet to watch.

Here is the thing. Jimmy is like no one I have ever met. He is loud. He enters a room yelling, and has no volume control of his voice. He does not know how to whisper in movie theaters. He has no rhythm. He has a propensity of breaking up with or getting broken up by amazing girls. I think my heart gets broken every time, because I know that, should Jimmy ever marry, I will be hanging out with this girl mucho mucho while the boys watch baseball, go swimming, and play video games. I can't take the heartache anymore (two of the three girls read this blog...I love you more than you'll ever know). He eats popcorn on my couch and I am picking up popcorn between the cushions and off the carpet for days. He has a schedule that is more rigid than a two-by-four. He expects cookies to be made when he walks in the door.

Of course, here is the flip side. He is kind. He is a fiercely loyal friend to my husband. He is my friend as well. He loves my daughter. He loves my parents and has hung out there often. When he comes for special dinners like Christmas, he always brings a hostess gift. He writes thank-you cards. He can work a room like nobody's business. He loves elderly people. He will be a great elderly person someday. He calls his grandparents Mumu and Pampaw (they are real characters). He shows genuine interest in people during conversations. He does have a propensity to stumble upon amazing girlfriends (he just hasn't kept any of them, unfortunately). He loves Jesus. He is what he get exactly what you get.

I knew when I got Paul, I got Jimmy, too. He is part of the deal. Happy anniversary, Jimmy. It's been an interesting seven years of marriage.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

100 Posts

One hundred posts since last July. I feel like I should celebrate or post pictures of me wearing a shirt with a big "HUNDO" on the front. Or something. The problem is, I haven't really done, said, or experienced anything too "bloggable" in the last week...hence it has taken me a whole week to sit down a type a blog.

I guess I will look back over the last almost-year and hundred posts, and talk about what we've learned inside the parsonage.

1. I am now dipping my toe into the waters of publishing....anything. I don't mean a book or a devotional or editorial section. I'm not even contacting our tiny local newspaper to see what space they can provide me. But I did submit an article to Homelife magazine, just to see what happens. I can't explain it. I never thought myself a writer, per se. Just a mommy who really, really, really enjoys writing. I am learning that even here in our little town, with my little family, we have things worth sharing. Funny stories. God's lessons. Time management advice (kidding). We'll see...

2. My kid is funny. I don't know if you all think so, but she makes me laugh on a regular, daily basis. My mom has always told me, "Write it down!"...all of these funny stories, so I don't forget. I'm glad that I have, because I think she will enjoy reading them someday. You know, a day far, far in the future, when blogs no longer exist. And I'll wish I had written them down.

3. I'm a very normal mom. I don't have it all together. I throw fits. Sometimes, my kid drives me a little nuts. In fact, she is throwing a fit in her room right now. And she slammed the door (thanks again, Mom, for telling her I did that when I was little). We get through it, and by the time she wakes from her nap, we will be shiny, happy people. (I hope, I hope, I hope...)

4. God sees me exactly where I am. He sees me cry. He hears my pleas. He breaks me so He can heal me. These are all lessons I am in the process of learning, and forget all too often.

5. My husband is wonderful. God forbid that I would ever use this blog as an outlet to make fun of my husband, tear him down, or point out his flaws. If I ever slip and do that, call me out on it. We will celebrate seven years of marriage in one week (June 1st). I love my husband, I love our marriage, and I hope I am a good wife to him. He's pretty awesome.

6. It's been a tough year. We've experienced two miscarriages in our process of trying to expand our family. It's been painful, and some days are normal, and some are not. Some days I barely think about it, and some days I cry. We've seen due dates come and go. We wonder if there was just something wrong with the pregnancy each time, or (oh, I fear), there is something wrong with me. We hope....and hope....and hope.
Paul's mom is still fighting stage 4 cancer, and often times, it feels like the cancer is winning (physically speaking). We feel we are too young for this, that she is too young for this. We have had scares that she was in her final moments, only to see her regain her strength. Every time I see her, I want to say over and over again..."You've done well, Jean. You've raised a beautiful family. You've raised a son who is an amazing husband and daddy. You have so much to be proud of." And we wait...and hope...and hope....and hope.
We are still in the process of selling our house that we moved out of two years ago. We are about half-way through our 18-month contract. It is stressful, and we swear we will either live in a parsonage (we hope) or rent for the rest of our lives.
It's been a tough year.

7. In light of it all, it's been a wonderful year. In the midst of praying to God so many times, "I don't I just not hearing you, or are you just not speaking?", I am also saying, "God, I love my life. I truly, honestly love this life you have given me." It is precious, and I am thankful.

And so, in a nutshell, that is 100 posts. Of course, I could talk about princesses, sparkly belts, being called names, festivals, weddings and babies, swimming and rain, and unhatched eggs. But I will just look forward to the next 100 posts, loving my life inside this ever-lovin' parsonage.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brides and Babies

Sometimes I look at my daughter, and I get an idea of how my mom felt when she looked at me at that age. It is almost spooky how Abigail relives some of the very stories that my mom has told me throughout my own life.

Like dating with babies.

My best friend when I was growing up, Angi, and I used to plan elaborate dates with our boyfriends (pretend boyfriends...not high school ones). We would get all dolled up and plan where we were going, and we usually had fake names. I chose different ones. Angi chose "Danielle" to be her name every single time. When we were finally ready for our dates, we would ask our moms to babysit our babies for us. Mom and Teri were always quite concerned about our glamorous lives of single motherhood, and wondered when would be an appropriate time to explain the order that these things should go.

On Saturday, Abigail spent the better part of the morning playing dressup. She came into the living room in her pink leotard, her purple fairy tutu, her veil, her flowers, and her jewelry. She looked....gorgeous. She informed me that she was getting ready for her wedding to marry Daddy. We've tried to explain to her numerous times that Daddy is already taken, but I guess I don't want her out searching for a husband at this age, so Daddy will do. She told me that I was going to be one of her bridesmaids. Then she told me that she already had enough bridesmaids and now I was the big sister and I would have to stay home from the wedding to babysit her baby, Terrence. Ouch...demoted. I told Paul that I couldn't attend their wedding because I was going to be babysitting Abigail's child. To which he replied, "Uh-oh."

I did get to watch the wedding, however, because all good things take place in the living room, where I was already holding Terrence on the couch. I watched her walk in with her veil and flowers and all, and almost got a tear imagining the scene in about 20 years. But hopefully her outfit will be a little more classy. And hopefully Daddy will be the one giving her away, not waiting to say, "I do."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mom Guilt


This is a great description of what too many moms do to each other, sometimes without even realizing it. I admit, I'm sure I have been on the giving and the receiving end of the guilt trip. My favorite line in this article is, "Such vixen-like behavior can be even worse among Christian moms, because our standards for ourselves and for other moms are often higher than God’s." How true that statement is....sadly.

Read the article. It only takes a minute. Promise. No guilt.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

True Confessions of a Desperate Housewife

There are days when I adore my daughter so much that my stomach does flips. Chirp, chirp. Heart, heart.

Then there are days like today. Days when fits abound. Days when she has to say eleventy-thousand words without stopping for a breath, but constantly saying my name. Days when she changes her clothes three times just because she feels like it, throwing her discarded ones on the floor as if the laundry fairy will come pick them up. Days when I feel like Momzilla.

These are the days that fill me with guilt. Guilt that my patience is too thin. Guilt that I snap too easily. Guilt that some days, well, my kid just gets on my nerves. Ugh, I feel like lightening will strike me just for typing that sentence.

I know all in all, she's pretty awesome. I know if I really sat down to ponder it, my stomach might actually do a flip. But the days like today....are enough to drive a mama up a wall.

*Any words of encouragement from Mamas who have gotten through it would be highly appreciated. Because I pretty much think I suck right now. And I pretty much think you are awesome.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Unhatched Eggs

Okay, I may be carrying this Sissy blogging thing a little far, now that this is #3 with mention of her. What can I say? I have a robin rockin' my blog, and I just can't stop with the comparing myself. I relate to the girl, and that's all there is to it. Too bad she can't read (I'm assuming).

We did some big nest checking yesterday, and all we can see are two very alien-like little mouths grabbing at the air for any drop of food that should happen to fall from Sissy and Papi's beaks. They are a needy bunch. But with all the checking, all we see is two. Two babies. And we cannot see even an unhatched egg at this point. Paul said he read that only 50-60% of the eggs hatch, so she had some good odds with two-thirds. Unless the new little guys are on top of it, we do not see the egg in the nest any longer. It very well may be on the ground below the nest, but we cannot get close enough to see unless we are prepared for an air-assault from Papi.

My dear friend, Christianne, put this comment on my last blog:

It also made me think of that song, "His Eye is on the Sparrow." If Sissy's egg never hatches, it won't be because of some "accident" or some "mistake of nature." Our God knows what's going on inside of Sissy's unhatched egg, and he has a plan for Sissy. That sounds silly, but I believe it's only because we struggle to comprehend the depth and breadth of God's will and God's love. The God who cares about Sissy and her egg cares even more about what's going on inside of YOUR body and the sorrow you feel about what could have been.

What a perfect parallel. I needed that reminder that God cares just as much, even more, for me as He does for the birds.
Matthew 6:25-34
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In simplest terms, God cares about Sissy's unhatched egg, and He cares for me. His creation is beautiful. God is the Author of LIFE, of HOPE. Only through our falleness do we even have all of this mess of death and dying to deal with.

Let's all send a little robin love to Sissy today. She is working her little feathery tail off, feeding those two hungry mouths 35-40 times a day. A DAY! That has to be one tired new mama. I know I'm stretching here, giving emotions to the animal species that may just not be there, but I like to think there is a little part of Sissy that is hurting right now for the egg that didn't hatch. Thinking about what could have been, if there had been three little mouths to feed instead of two.

I've also decided that when the time comes, should God give us another egg of our own, I will be wearing this. You can get them with two, three, or four eggs. I figure four is best, for the two I would have, and the two that were unhatched.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Today Is the Day

Today is the day. I cannot believe it is here, and tomorrow we will be past that measuring stick of "If I were still pregnant, I would be _____ weeks along." Tomorrow, we just go back to "normal" as far as time goes, just continuing on in this waiting game.

Today I feel sad, yet not sad. I had a beautiful visit with my friend, Barb, my minister's wife from growing up. We talked about having joy in the midst of sorrow. We laughed a lot, and it was wonderful.

Today, as far as we can tell, Sissy has two baby birds in her nest and one egg still intact. The two babies hatched last Thursday. I was kind of disappointed at first (why couldn't they wait on MY timing?). This is just a continual lesson in it not being about my timing. Life continues, and I cannot be the author of it. And if that little egg that, by all appearances, is still unhatched, should hatch today, well, that would be a treat indeed. And if it doesn't, it doesn't. I guess there is always the possibility that something went wrong, and that it just won't, in which case I will send Sissy cards and flowers and bake her cookies, because I understand more than she realizes. But we won't wish that upon her.

Today I have received cards, emails, wall posts on facebook, and phone calls. Today I am reminded so clearly, just as I was last October, of how greatly loved we are.

I heard a song over the weekend that I had kind of forgotten about. Paul and I are huge fans of Andrew Peterson, and his music is so often just water to a dry soul. He sings words of God that I could never come up with in my own head. And they are beautiful. This song spoke to me this weekend:
Faith to Be Strong by Andrew Peterson

Give us faith to be strong
Father, we are so weak
Our bodies are fragile and weary
As we stagger and stumble to walk where you lead
Give us faith to be strong

Give us faith to be strong
Give us strength to be faithful
This life is not long, but it's hard
Give us grace to go on
Make us willing and able
Lord, give us faith to be strong

Give us peace when we're torn
Mend us up when we break
This flesh can be wounded and shaking
When there's much too much trouble for one heart to take
Give us peace when we're torn

Give us faith to be strong
Give us strength to be faithful
This life is not long, but it's hard
Give us grace to go on
Make us willing and able
Lord, give us faith to be strong

Give us hearts to find hope
Father, we cannot see
How the sorrow we feel can bring freedom
And as hard as we try, Lord, it's hard to believe
So, give us hearts to find hope

Give us faith to be strong
Give us strength to be faithful
This life is not long, but it's hard
Give us grace to go on
Make us willing and able
Lord, give us faith to be strong
Give us peace when we're torn
Give us faith, faith to be strong

He is doing just that today. On a day that has been circled on my calendar since last July, He is giving me faith to be strong today.