Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why not bring it to Him?

Here is a not-so-great truth about me:

When I'm tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, or overworked, I can become very impatient and mean.  I know this about myself.
I know that whenever I feel this way I need to think long and hard before I speak, pay close attention to my body language, and be on guard for the thoughts that I allow myself to entertain.  But when I am in that moment, when I am overcome with any of the aforementioned emotions, it becomes so stinking difficult to maintain my composure, and many times I fail.  The times I do lose it, when I make that callous remark, when I roll my eyes and sigh with disdain, when I snap at those around me, I always (eventually) feel badly about it afterward.  I do my best to make amends, but the reality is the damage has been done.

I don't want to be this way.  I want to be type of person that is kind after a bad day, that is loving even when I'm exhausted.  I want to have a certain grace under fire, but even though I want all of that, I am very hesitant to pray about it.

You may wonder why that is. I've been asking myself why this is the case for some time now.  Why is it difficult for me to ask God to help me with this?  Don't I trust Him?  Hasn't He helped me before?  Why, silly woman, are you so unwilling bring this to God?

After much thought, I think I've finally figured out that the ugly truth is this:

I'm not afraid God won't answer my prayers, my true fear is that He will.

See in order to be kind after having a bad day, I have to have a bad day.  I have to have a day where the kiddo is being stubborn, things go wrong at work, and my hubby and I have a big argument. 
I have to allow myself to be placed in situations where I become tired, overwhelmed, or frustrated, so God can then give me the grace I need to overcome my flaws. It is essentially volunteering for discomfort, and I don't know about you, but I do NOT like discomfort.

I would much rather have a magic wand waved over me that instantly transforms me, and fills me with a knowing that I will be kind and patient in difficult circumstances, without actually going through difficult circumstances. But that doesn't seem to be the way life works, now does it?

Maturation is a process and sometimes there is discomfort.

A caterpillar doesn't become a butterfly instantaneously.  It takes a bit of a struggle and time.  A piece of coal is placed under intense heat and a lot of pressure in order to become a diamond,  and as much as I would like, I don't foresee any magic patience wands being waved over me in the near future. 

So what's a girl to do?  I don't know.  I don't have some succinct answer to my issue here, this post is merely me thinking aloud. 

I think for now, one thing I can do is start small and ask God to take away this fear I have of discomfort, and you know what?  I absolutely believe that He will.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Miracles Happen

If you haven't read my last post, please take a minute to do so and then take a moment to pray for baby Ryleigh.

Although I initially created this post as inspiration for the Cox family, it is really for anyone.  In what sometimes seems like a crazy world, my wish is that this post gives us faith and hope that miracles really do happen.

When Ian was born at 24 weeks gestation, he weighed in at a whopping 1lb 2oz and was 12.5 inches long
He had a grade 2 brain bleed a few days after birth, had to be resuscitated 3 times, had major surgery at 1 month old, was on a ventilator for 6 weeks, and stayed in the NICU for 3 and a half months.

That was then...

(click photo to enlarge)

This is now...

(click photo to enlarge)

Ian is now a healthy, happy, and active 2 (almost 3) year old.  He is strong-willed, curious, and affectionate.  He has the most contagious laugh you have ever heard, a smile that will warm your heart, and although I know I'm biased, I think he is pretty darn cute.

Yep, I'm a believer in miracles

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I don't know them, but I know how they feel

I'm asking whoever happens to stumble across this blog to take this moment -not 20 minutes from now, not later today, not tomorrow- but this very moment to say a prayer for the Cox Family

Recently their newest addition, Ryleigh, was born at 24 weeks gestation and is currently in the NICU.  As the title of the post states, I don't know this family personally.  I only know their story because they are a friend of a friend.  But while I may not know them, my goodness do I know how they feel. 

And while it would be really easy for me to reminisce and relive all of the emotions, the heartache, the pain, the joy, and ultimately the victory of my own 24 weeker's NICU stay, I really don't want this post to be about me or my family.  All I want to do is cover this family in prayer, ask that this time be used to strengthen them, not shake them, and pray that God grants them the faith to know that their baby girl will be completely healthy, completely happy, and completely beautiful.  Please join in prayer with me.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

On the subject of doubt

For a while now I've been silently stalking Redlefty's blog Megaloi -- "Great Things".  He recently wrote a great post on the subject of doubt.  I must admit, I've pondered (and continue to ponder) every single point he presented.  Here's a snippet:

..."If God exists, I'm not sure I'm worshipping the right one

Look at human history and notice how many different gods have been named, praised and defended. There are thousands (millions when you include Hinduism). Is it possible that Christianity has it right? Yes, but the odds aren't overwhelming in our favor.

Even within Christianity, there are so many different perceptions of God. Benevolent father, vengeful deity, distant superpower... some Christians think God is just a big pile of love and others think God intentionally leveled Haiti with an earthquake to punish them for sin. That's a wide, wide range."

Check out the rest of his post "What I'm not sure about". It's a good read and his honesty is refreshing

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Food for thought

One of the things Dan and I were forewarned about was that it is quite common for former preemies to have oral aversions as they grow older.  I guess being on a ventilator for 6 weeks, and having tubes shoved down your throat for the first 3 months of your life will do that to you.

Ian's oral issues are pretty mild.  He has some texture issues, and had to have some therapy early on because he had issues with chewing food, but he finally got the hang of it.  Perfect technique.  The thing is though, just because he knows HOW to chew, doesn't mean that he WANTS to chew.  It's just not his favorite thing, and sometimes he will forgo eating altogether if there is a lot of chewing involved.  That, my friends, is a habit we are trying to break.

On the menu for dinner last night was rosemary chicken, potatoes, and mixed veggies.  On the chewing scale, it ranks as moderate in my book.

As I prepared Ian's plate I said a a short, silent prayer:  "Please let Ian eat a good amount of food tonight".

I placed Ian's plate on the table, yelled out "Time for dinner", and without any fuss he got into his chair.  Dan said a prayer for the food, we all said Amen, and began to eat.

Ian picked up his fork and took a bite of chicken.  Sweet!
A few seconds later he scooped up some potatoes and shoveled those into his mouth.  Score!
It took a few minutes of intense chewing, but he successfully swallowed his food.  Yippee!

On to the second bite:  Ian did another chicken and potato combo, only this time he needed a lot more coaxing and cajoling get him to swallow his food.  He finally did it though.  Whew, what a relief.  Or so I thought.  Here is the abbreviated version of what happened next.

Ian: Done! Done!  Down please.
Me: Ian you need to eat some more food
Ian: No thank you.  Done.  Down please
Dan (putting more food on Ian's fork): Here Ian, take a bite
Ian (shrieking and crying): No!  Done.
Me (frustrated): Fine Ian, you can go to bed hungry

I helped him get out of the chair, told him to go pick out a book, and that I would be there to read it to him in a few minutes.


"Don't worry", Dan said.  "I'm telling you, there is going to come a day where we are going to worry about how to KEEP him fed.  When he'll be eating us out of a house and home."

"Yeah, yeah" I thought to myself. 

I was frustrated...

And tired...

And if we're being completely honest, annoyed.

It was obvious it was going to be one of those nights where the kid just didn't eat much.  I was simply going to have to shake it off.

I walked into the living room and Ian already had his book picked out.  I plopped down next to him on the couch, got comfortable, and we began to read.

Dan walked in a few moments later with a plate in hand  (don't worry, we eat in our living room, it's cool)  About halfway through the story, Dan stuck out a forkful of food.  "Hey Ian, you want to take a bite?"  Ian happily leaned over, devoured what was on the fork, and immediately got back into the story.  A couple of pages later, Dan gave him another forkful and again Ian gobbled it down.  Fast forward a couple of books and most of the food that was on the plate Dan brought in was gone.

Well what do ya know?  Looks like the kid ended up eating a good amount of food after all. 

Moral of the story: Just because things don't happen exactly the way you expect them to, doesn't mean you won't get the end result you were seeking and praying for.

In my mind, in order for Ian to eat a good amount of food, the family had to be gathered around the dinner table and he would eat bite after bite. When Ian only had two bites at the table, I figured the night was failure (food wise) and chalked it up to a lesson in patience.

I think I'm starting realize that it's my job to have faith, but that it is God's job to work out the details.

Oh, and the second moral of the story:  My husband is a freaking genius.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Happy Holiday of your choosing. Or not

I grew up in a religious tradition that didn't believe in Christmas. Oh don't get me wrong, my family and I exchanged gifts every year, we even put up a tree when I was a small child (at my mother's insistence, but even that didn't last too long), but it was made quite clear from early on that we were in no way celebrating Jesus' birth. You see that would be wrong.

Wrong, you ask? Why would celebrating the birth of Christ be wrong?

Well, the religious group I was reared in believed since Christ never explicitly asked us celebrate his birth as a religious holiday, if you chose to do so you would be participating in "unauthorized worship" of God; And we all remember what happened to Nadab and Abihu when they offered unauthorized fire (worship) to God, right?
What Christ DID ask us to remember, they argued, was his death and resurrection, and the way to do that was through Communion, not some trite holiday that Christ never even instituted. Combine all of that with the pagan origins of Christmas* and the Jeremiah 10:2-4 passage that obviously condemned Christmas trees, and what you had was an airtight case against Christmas.

So instead of saying "Merry Christmas", I was taught to say "Happy Holidays", not to give credence to any other religious celebration mind you, but to declare that we were not celebrating Christmas.

When searching for wrapping paper, we had to be sure to not pick anything that was overtly religious, and you didn't dare buy anything with a Santa Claus on it. Oh, and by the way, we weren't buying Christmas presents, we were buy presents for the holidays.

But there was a problem.


Christmas trees whether big or small, ornate or simple, I adore them.
Nothing thrills me more than to hear a beautiful choir or soloist sing Silent Night, Joy to the World, or Oh Holy Night.
Christmas Lights: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THEM. I used to beg my parents to take the long way home so that I could ooh and ahh at all of the elaborate decorations.
And even though my church never had a Candlelight Christmas Eve service, when I had the chance to watch them on TV, I thought they were absolutely beautiful.
Of course as a child I enjoyed waking up to presents, but honestly that was just the icing on an already delicious cake.

Over the years I began to notice a shift during the Christmas season. To be fair, I can't say that there was a definite change of mindset, it may be that I simply became more aware of what was going on, but people seemed to focus a little less on the birth of Christ (for those that celebrated it religiously), and more on presents. Instead of candlelight services being shown on television, there seemed to be more and more commercials advertising some super sale of the week.

And then the biggie:

People began to say "Happy Holidays", in an attempt to acknowledge other religious holidays *GASP*

It was official. The war had begun.

Nowadays it's commonplace to hear that we Christians should be on a mission to "take back Christmas". That instead of saying "Happy Holidays" to the sales clerk, you should look him or her square in the eye and say "Merry Christmas. Jesus loves you". And I have read many a blog post, email, leaflet, you name it, reminding me that "Jesus is the reason for the season."

Can I tell you a something? It's just between us right?

I really don't think Jesus gives a rat's you-know-what about whether we choose to celebrate his birth on December 25th.

There, I said it.

As much as I love Christmas and decided as an adult to take time to reflect on Jesus' birth, life, and death, I don't think he cares one way or another.
And while I may have issues with many aspects of my religious upbringing, it's true: Jesus never told us that we needed to celebrate his birth, so if you choose not to do so, I think that's perfectly acceptable.

What I DO believe matters each day of the year, not just during the holiday season, is that we all strive to be joyful, compassionate, and loving people.

So it is with that spirit that I say to anyone reading this

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

*note: If you have never heard of the pagan origins of Christmas and are interested, feel free to google that phrase for details. To be frank, I'm just not interested in linking to it.