Archive | February 2011

Tailor-made troubles and hand-picked kids

Do you know who Joni Erikson Tada is? My mom made us watch her bio video when we were kids, and quite honestly it freaked me out a bit. At age seventeen she dove in a shallow pool and became paralyzed. That whole scene is still in my head like 20 years later. But anyway, she is a crazy inspirational person. Despite being a quadriplegic, she is married, paints (with her teeth!!), gives speeches on how good God is (!!!!), writes books, goes on talk shows, and has an entire business (or two) running.

One time I heard a blurb she did on the radio. It was titled “Tailor-made trials” or something like that. In it she talked about how God hand-picks every single trouble for us. Every trouble is individually selected as something that each one of us needs, or would benefit from. I had never thought about God carefully picking my problems, out of love, out of kindness, out of really knowing who I am.

I have often thought since about how God also hand-picks our children for us. Of all the mommies in the world, Sam got me. God thought that I would make the best mom for him. It’s crazy! So I have Sam. Sam, who had colic. Sam, who is allergic to everything. Sam, who loves to learn, who is addicted to golf, who has a soft heart, who has asthma, who soaks up everything like a sponge, who takes forever to climb down the stairs, who likes to rock and be held when he wakes up, who loves books and who only naps for one hour and fifteen minutes before waking up with a poopy diaper, every, single, TIME.

And then I think about Ty. I’m dying to know if he’ll be blond like Sam or will love reading as much or will light up too the first time he notices the giraffe on the mobile. I think if I’m honest with myself I’m halfway expecting him to have most of Sam’s good qualities and none of his struggles. I should probably work through that unrealistic expectation over the next 11 days or we are in for a bit of a disappointment, now that I think about it.

But one thing I know. Whoever he is, whatever he is allergic to or afraid of, or however he is the most wonderful or challenging kid I can ever imagine having – he is mine. God chose him for me. There is a lot of comfort in that I think!

Now, not to second-guess God’s arrangements or anything but if Ty could just stop kicking me in the kidney (or whatever organ that is) for the next bit, we would ALL be happier. Really, we would.

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my favorite song

Isn’t it funny some of the moments that you remember exactly? For the life of us neither Todd nor I can remember his proposal speech. Honestly, not even a sentence. And it was a good five minutes long. Isn’t that horrible? Speaking of, neither of us can remember meeting each other, or any of our first twenty or so conversations. Kind of “love at first sight,” but not really at all.

Yet somehow I have vivid memories of my mom telling me I used too much Soft Scrub to clean the bathroom sink when I was like ten, and the red sweater and gold earrings the girl wore when she sold us our townhome in May 2007 (sidenote #1: the exact WORST time to buy a townhome. sidenote #2: does anyone want a townhome???? recently reduced:)

Anyway, along those lines, while most of my wedding day is unfortunately a blur, I can tell you exactly where I was standing, what I was wearing, and the dinner I had the night Todd and I discovered the song to be sung at our wedding. I still have to stop what I’m doing to listen to the words whenever I hear it. The song is called “The Love of Christ is Rich and Free.” It was written by a Baptist pastor in 18-something, and the words are old and horribly out of date. I’m still not sure what one line means, and I’m an English major. Nevertheless, one stanza grabbed me the first time I heard it. We printed it on the front of our wedding program:

His loving heart engaged to be
Their everlasting Surety;
’Twas love that took their cause in hand,
And love maintains it to the end.

At the time I think I thought it was cute that it said the word “engaged” (get it? engaged, wedding?? haha). But there was probably more…those last two lines, about God taking “their cause in hand,” and “maintaining it to the end…” I think even as a giddy engaged 26-year old who was preoccupied with dress necklines and honeymoon shopping and dish patterns – even then part of me realized that this marriage thing was going to be difficult – bigger than us – and on some level I knew we would need some help.

Now I am no old person rocking on my front porch with my partner of fifty years. Actually, we have only made it four. Okay we are not even at four yet. (And if I am honest there were times I wasn’t even sure we’d be here.)

But now when I listen to those words (like last week at church while Sam and I were singing them) they are more than a hope or a vague promise you hope someone will keep. To me now, they are fact. These days I worry about asthma attacks and H1N1 and paying maternity bills and whether or not traces of peanuts find their way into chocolate chips. And of course I worry about whether I’m a good enough wife or mom or Christian or neighbor or – basically – whether I can hold it all together. But how silly. This same God who melded two selfish, bratty, completely opposite people (one of whom had a bad habit of throwing the car keys during first-year arguments), this God who time and again provided jobs and patience and sleep and cures from coughs and colic and toothaches, this God who never once let us go or let us down, He is still holding us. He must get impatient with me and my worries. I really should make myself listen to old William Gadsby’s “The Love of Christ” every morning while I’m brushing my teeth. I really should. God is holding onto us and our little family! Remember, Jessica, remember!!

“He loves through every changing scene…
Not all the wanderings of her heart
Can make His love for her depart.”

Bye Bye Milk

Poor little Ty. Not even out of the womb and his chances of enjoying a bite of an ice cream cone before kindergarten are bad to very bad, as two out of three of his closest relatives had/have severe milk allergies. (Allergies are highly genetic.) In preparation for his arrival I’m beginning to cut milk and eggs from my diet so if the allergies are there, the first few months are a little less, um, awful for everyone involved.
Thought I’d share these “recipes” I’ve utilized, not because I think there is more than .001% of the population who is also on such a weird annoying diet (although I know there are some of you out there!) but because I was surprised to find these little meals are actually GENUINELY good. I would choose to eat them even if I didn’t have to. Who couldn’t use a new meal idea or two? Just a heads up though…I’m bad at measuring when I don’t follow a recipe. So forgive me for the “smidge of that” and “glob of this” types of commands. We’re not talking souffle and prime rib here so you should be okay.
– REALLY GOOD PANCAKES. Okay. So I like pancakes on sunday morning. And I like them with Bisquick. Sue me. Ingredients: Bisquick, club soda, pinch of vanilla, pinch of sugar, splash of orange juice, and a dump of quick cooking oats. On top: blueberries and bananas. Note about the club soda, or seltzer water or whatever you call it. Club soda is like a push-up bra for pancakes. Your pancakes are lighter, more attractive, and with a pleasant little lift. Plus it keeps forever in your fridge, opened. Basically for this recipe you follow the general guidelines for pancakes on the box, adding no egg, and adding the extra things I mentioned. I use less Bisquick and some oats because oats are good for you and bisquick is not. They are really undetectable, and these pancakes are AWESOME!!
– Tuna salad. Mayonnaise was a casualty of the new diet. One of the most devastating, if I’m honest. But here’s a tuna salad that’s good and good for you: canned tuna, a few glugs of olive oil, dijon mustard, cut up grapes, and salt and pepper. Seriously. Yummy~
– Chicken salad. Same sort of thing – grilled chicken breast, olive oil, dijon, and here I like cut up apples with salt and pepper. You don’t even miss the mayo!
– Smoothie made with coconut milk. Coconut milk is so yummy! Thanks mom for this idea.
– Avocado mayonnaise – Smooshing up avocado with olive oil, salt and pepper is a VERY desirable substitute for mayo on a sandwich.
This recipe for homemade meatballs. I will never use another even if I can add egg or milk. So easy and so yummy!
So that’s all my tips for now. All of these I highly recommend, whatever diet you are or aren’t on!

a current events update, from someone very out of the loop

Confession. I am horrible with current events. Horrible. I told Todd it would be genius if someone would come up with a weekly show like “24” which told the world happenings of the week in a more palatable format. I realize I sound like a seventh grader not wanting to learn anything unless it’s fun, but I think it would help. At least then I would have another source for news other than the three lead stories that pop up in the sidebar when I’m checking my gmail, or the links people post on facebook to stories. Because unfortunately, my friends, those are the primary sources of my news.
It’s deplorable. But this year I have been getting “World Magazine” (courtesy of course, of my mother-in-law) so things have improved a tad. This week I forced myself to read an article on Haiti. I say “forced” not only because, as I mentioned, news is boring, but also because the pictures made me feel like this would not be an article I would be able to read while eating my raspberry sorbet and then forget about. And I was right. What I read was shocking and unforgettable. I’m sure some of you are actually somewhat informed of world events, but I am going to assume for a second you all are like me and completely ignorant. Here are the things I learned.
– Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, before the 7.1
quake came and demolished everything.
– Six months after the quake, the country was flooded by rain. This destroyed a lot of the work that had already been done on repairs, and many people got cholera (which is still rampant).
– Haiti’s government is horrible, and most of foreign aid (which there has been a LOT Of) has been squandered, wasted, abused, or who knows what.
– It’s been a year since the quake, and the general consensus is that about TWO PERCENT of the rubble has been cleared. (2%! CRAZY!)
– A large portion of the population is infected with diseased water, unemployed, homeless, widowed or orphaned, with nothing to eat. That is not an exaggeration – it’s factual.

Basically, I heard about the quake a year ago and forgot about it. I assumed that things were better, because let’s face it – you are always hearing about this or that catastrophe and things eventually just improve. But in Haiti, they aren’t, and most of the big-money aid from other countries is not helping because of the corrupt government.

So, the obvious questions are, what CAN help, and what should I do (if anything). I’ll tell you what we have done. It’s always hard to know, I think, whether your money to aid organizations is paying for unnecessary 30-page color flyers or some CEO’s plush salary, and how much of it actually goes to rice or bottled water. I was happy to learn that Compassion International ranks in the top 1% of charity organizations for its financial integrity. And I like their vision. They find kids who are hungry, and bring them to a clean, safe center every day for a good meal, basic health care, schooling/vocational help, and to hear that Jesus loves them. If your Compassion kid ends up really becoming a leader, they can attend a Compassion college of sorts to become an adult volunteer in their country.

There are currently 1600 Haitian kids who need sponsorship. It is hard for me think about grieving the loss of $38 a month when the need is so great. I feel it’s a good way to help. Here is the link – you can even pick your own child from pictures. My next step is to actually write this poor kid back when he sends letters so I don’t feel guilty everytime I get one. But let’s not get too ambitious all at once I guess 🙂

Love and Lysol

God speaks to us in different ways. In the old days God spoke through donkeys and whispers and thunder. These days we have the Bible and pastors and things like that. But this week, God talked to me through the stomach flu.

I learned a lot of things. I learned it’s silly to worry about all the horrible things that can happen, because most don’t, and then others you never even imagined (like puking so much while you’re eight months pregnant you start having contractions and have to go to the hospital for fluids and meds…twice) – some things like these will happen whether you dreadfully anticipate them or not. But also I learned some things you fear aren’t actually all that horrible when they happen. Like the whole time I was sick I kept praying and worrying and hoping that Sam would NOT get my horrible sickness. And of course, he did, but unlike me, who in between pukes was shaking, and moaning, and confessing my last sins, and asking my husband for an ambulance, Sam was smiling, and congratulating me (with cheers and claps) for peeing in the potty. So, see, not as bad as I thought. I also learned that whoever those people were who invented that boring “BRAT” diet for recovering intestional victims, well, what they lacked for in creativity they probably made up for in wisdom. In other words, if three days after a stomach bug you want Chick-fil-a and Dairy Queen, just wait on that craving. You may be sorry. I will leave it at that.

But mostly during the Great Stomach Bug of ’11, I learned about love. And germs. Love and germs. See I had gotten it wrong. All this time I have been thinking that love HATES germs. Love protects right? Love cares for your family by washing the sheets frequently, by staying away from sick people, by santizing and chloroxing and pumping up with vitamin C. And, sometimes, I maintain, (especially in the face of people like my husband who so frequently remind me that we need germs and should be licking doorknobs and things like that) sometimes, love does do those things.

But to a point. This week, I was really pathetic. On top of needing someone to bring me ice chips and make me plain rice and help me up the stairs, I also needed help with Sam, a very big and very energetic almost two-year-old. And boy let me tell you. I am thankful for people who helped. I am thankful for a husband who slept on a hospital recliner and got up every time I was sick when all he could do was watch, and who still looked at me like I was his beautiful wife when I was eight months pregnant, with the stomach bug and hadn’t showered.

And I am thankful for my parents. Sam and I were both sick (proof that it was contagious) and both welcomed, loved, hugged, and cared for in their home. Not once did someone ask me if I washed my hands before grabbing those crackers, or switch out the nice living room blanket for an old one easier to wash, or go around after me with wipes and disinfecting spray. We were loved. Period. I know if it’s your family it’s easier, but I have to think at some point I would be tempted to invent an errand to get some fresh air, or get rid of the nice pillows off the couch, or subtly start wiping all hard surfaces with vinegar. But I never felt anything but loved and welcome. Simply put, I was treated like Jesus would have treated me. Which brings me to the lesson.

I don’t want to be sick. Worse, I don’t want Sam to be sick. I don’t want him to be around flu germs or cold germs or gross people or dirty people or people who aren’t clean and normal and un-needy and safe. But there are people out there who need me. Like a girl this week needed some help: the incapable, flu-carrying, can’t-even-get-her-own water eight months pregnant girl with a VERY energetic kid. Someone will need me like that, and I don’t want fear or selfishness to make me say no.

And now, God, since it’s clear that all of us here have learned all of our lessons, feel free to go ahead and let this be the fourth and final time I will wash germs out of our sheets and towels and off of our counters. You can feel free to go ahead and give us seasonal immunity from here on out. Just sayin.