Monday, February 24, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sometimes I Want to Quit

Right now, I am tired of being married. I would like to quit. I am tired of having to run all my decisions and plans by another human who sometimes shoots down what I would like to do. I am tired of spending all my money to pay for someone else's teeth to be fixed or textbooks or grad school classes. I was planning on spending what was left of my paycheck to build a bookcase. But instead all my money just went to a freaking crown. For someone who is basically willing his own teeth to jump ship. That isn't fair.

Our tax refund could go toward paying down our mortgage (on a house I didn't even want) or toward building a fence or fixing up the backyard, but instead it's going toward living expenses because I will be the only one with a job in a few months.

The other day he asked me which way I preferred the ironing board to face because his pants needed to be ironed. The feminist in me had a tiny aneurism at that one.

I can feel the tension creeping back into my shoulders and I'm suddenly thankful that I have a massage booked for tomorrow.

One that he bought me.
With his Christmas bonus.

And then I think about the whole year I spent in 2012 laid up in hospital beds and on the couch and how he put every spare dime of his toward too many hospital bills for too many months. I think about how he goes out to start my car in the freezing cold mornings, how he stays up late to take out the dog one last time so I can go to bed early, how he is generous with his time and how he works even on Saturdays because there are always bills.

And isn't this what I was asking for yesterday? The chance to be uncomfortable so I'm driven to my Savior?

Isn't this what love is? Waking up early to clean the house for the hundredth time, and pouring out your money and time and energy for the good of a family, and dying to yourself every.single.day? And if I'm asking for a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus, shouldn't it start in my own home?

Love is always a choice. Sometimes the choice is so easy. It's borne out of fluffy love that comes naturally and requires no sacrifice. Other times the choice is a hard fought battle that involves setting aside my own selfishness and sinful nature and it isn't nearly as simple. But I would say those are the days when the choice is worth more.

I'm choosing love today.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Uncomfortable Musings

This is a heavy post. Consider yourself warned. But it's what's on my heart right now and that's what this blog is for.

I have been reminded today that God doesn't desire for me to be comfortable. Or happy. Or well-read, or put together or well-rested. Ouch. God calls us to be like Him. Like Jesus. The same Jesus who humbled himself and came here to eat with sinners and hang out with diseased people. The one who stayed up all night praying that he wouldn't have to die for us, but who surrendered to his Father anyway and carried a cross and died with my sin on his shoulders.


If I'm supposed to be like Him, I'm doing something wrong. Because I work all day at a cushy job where I usually avoid getting my hands dirty if I can help it. I go home and sit in my recliner and lose myself in a book or a tv show that in light of eternity means nothing. And I comment on how lucky I feel that we have money and time and no kids to keep us up all night and only one dog who is semi-behaved most of the time.


I make stuff I see on Pinterest and I paint the house another color and I do dishes and laundry and days pass consistently. But there are days when my soul stirs up against all the busy work that I use to keep it quiet and it cries out that I'm missing something. I feel like I'm missing what I'm here for. Because if I'm supposed to be like Jesus, then my hands are too clean and I'm getting too much sleep and my house is too quiet. Where are the hungry I'm supposed to be feeding? The orphans and widows I'm supposed to be taking care of? The prisoners I'm supposed to be visiting? Clearly they are all out there. But why am I not doing it?

Somewhere along the way in the last year I bought into the great "Christian" lie that God wants us to be comfortable and happy. We ask God to bless us and what we really mean is for God to keep us safe and rich and to otherwise leave us alone. But God calls us to pour ourselves out for Him, even when it doesn't make sense. 


Foster care was hard. We had three kids in less than a month. Just long enough to love them but not long enough to get into any kind of routine or easy pace. It was hard and it was full of grief and problems and it stunk. But it was without a doubt what God was asking us to do. To learn to lean on Him when there was no possible way of making it out alive otherwise. We didn't have a lot of friends or family that understood. Most people were happy when we closed our home. But I've said it here before and I'll say it again, I can't shake the feeling that we quit because it was easy and comfortable and not because it was asked of us. 


This is an "in-process" post because there is no closure. This is just what I'm thinking today. I can't ask that our home be re-opened to foster because Robby doesn't feel the same way. I don't know what else God might be asking me to do in the meantime, except to pray for him and myself and look for other ways to serve while I wait.

I was reading over here this morning, which is what spurred this convicted post. There were two things I read that are sticking with me. 
1. It's a hard truth to face that the story God is weaving out for you is different than the one you always dreamed of. 2. We have heaven to be comfortable. If you're going to be tired here on earth anyway, you might as well be worn out for the sake of the gospel.

I'll leave you with that.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lola and Boston


This past weekend was an interesting one, to say the least. We got a call from Robby's aunt about a dog that was at the pound. She had no name, no one knew how old she was or what kind of dog she was, but her tag listed her as "sweet" and "dalmation mix". Because she was listed as a dalmation mix, her fees were paid by a rescue group out of Colorado, and she was set to go to a foster home in another state. However, the new foster family couldn't come get her for a few days because of a snow storm.

We were asked to take her for a day or two until the new family came. I even got to name her. :)

Meet Lola:


She was so scared when I first picked her up. To be honest, she didn't like me very much anyway because she got spayed right before I picked her up. I think she thought it was my fault haha. She was smelly and tiny and wouldn't look at you or let you touch her. It was pitiful. We got her a new collar and gave her a sponge bath as best we could (no real bath because of the stitches she had) and she perked up a little. This was her on the car ride home. Not quite as pitiful as the picture of her in her kennel at the pound.

Even though her card at the pound said dalmation, I think she's probably a pointer/jack russell mix. She has the body type of a small, muscular dog, but the mannerisms of a pointer. When I got her home, I took her out to the bathroom and she heard some birds in the bushes and immediately went on point. It was cute. I didn't think pointers came in black, but I googled it and the picture that came up looked a lot like Lola. I was even more convinced when I got a picture of her at her permanent foster home alongside the 2 dalmations the family already had. She looks nothing like them!


Boston was very interested in her kennel that she had while she was at our house. It was Boston's old kennel, and I didn't realize she had grown so much until I saw her try to squeeze her 55 lb self into a medium sized crate!


Boston was super excited at first, then quickly became jealous, then became a bully. I think by the end of the weekend they were friends, but they had a little bit of a rocky start. When I came in with Lola, Boston was so excited to have another dog in the house to play with.

Then, she realized Lola wasn't going to play back. Even though she was nice and didn't try to growl at Boston or anything, she didn't feel good enough to play. I don't blame her. Boston quickly got put in puppy jail in the other room so she wouldn't hurt Lola by jumping on her.


  I think this picture shows how they felt about each other toward the middle of the weekend. I guess the best word would be ambivalent. Neither one wanted the other one to come too close. They weren't fighting or anything like that, so that was good. Boston just decided that the whole house was hers and Lola wasn't going to be able to do anything. If Lola moved or whined or sat down or did anything, Boston would come push her out of the way to get to the spot or the toy or the food dish first. Lola was a champ though. Haha.



By the end of the weekend, they were able to lay down together and be ok in the same room. I think most of that was sheer exhaustion though. Lola was terrified of being left in a crate and she cried all night Saturday night.


All in all, I'm glad we did it. It was worth it to be able to see Lola go from a terrified little girl to one that would approach you with her tail wagging for a treat or to be petted. 

This is what she looked like when we first picked her up:



And this is after she had been with us for 2 days:

You can't tell a huge difference in the pictures, but she went from looking scared and defeated all the time to looking alert and pretty happy, even with another dog running her in circles all day.

This was a good experience for me as well, because I was utterly convinced that we needed another dog for Boston to play with. We both work full time so she spends about 40 plus hours a week home alone. However, I am inclined to think that Robby is right, adding another dog only multiplies those problems, it doesn't solve them. We would just have 2 dogs at home by themselves during the day. Plus with the amount of time we spent pulling Boston (literally) off of Lola, I don't think it would help Boston get her energy out to have someone to play with. If anything I think it made her more hyper to have another dog in the house because they were both on high alert all weekend. If one dog moved the other dog had to be right there. I know all that would probably get better with time, but for now we are a one dog family and that's ok with me. 

Plus I'm not even going to go into Robby's allergies and how he almost died with all that dander floating through the air! Haha.
I thought it would be fine since we have Boston inside and he's pretty well adjusted to her, but apparently adding another shedding live animal to the mix was too much to handle.  

Boston and I were both pretty sad when Lola left, but I know she went to a really good home and there are lots of calmer, older animals for her to play with. Everything is pretty much back to normal at our house now, and we are all pretty happy about that. 









Friday, February 14, 2014

A Letter to My Parents

Dear Mom and Dad,

It's Valentine's Day, and I'm thinking of you guys. I'm thinking of love notes stuck in my lunch boxes and carnations delivered to my desk in eighth grade and heart shaped chocolates on the kitchen counter every year through high school. I'm thinking of letters in the mail when I was away at college, telling me I was smart and brave and that you were proud of me. I'm thankful for you both today.

 
Mom, I watched you raise one girl and four boys; five hearts that needed tending and mending, and you did it over twenty six years and counting. Over four moves and too many states to count when you add it all up, I watched you pour out unconditional love for all of us crazy kids. You made lesson plans and tied shoes and wiped runny noses and you did it all because you loved us. Your love and sacrifice is the glue that holds us together through the bad choices and the mistakes and the happy tears and the long drives home at Christmas and the uncertainty about where we will all even be when December rolls back around.





 
Dad, I watched you get up early and put on a suit and tie and sometimes a hard hat and earplugs. I watched you go to a plant and manage others and take on stress and bring home a steady paycheck every month for all my life. I saw you sign up to coach basketball and soccer and too many YMCA teams to even think about, and you showed up even on days when it would have been easier to sit home on the couch. And when we got too old or started sports you hadn't played, I watched you stand at the fence, sit in the bleachers, and stand and applaud whether we won or lost. I see you drive home on weekends and fix the sink or the shower or whatever seems to be falling apart, and I know four young men who forever will want to be like you. And I know one girl who is grateful for a dad who showed her love and then walked her down the aisle in front of God and everybody.




 I want you to know that we noticed. We noticed the sacrifices you both made. That you made your own drinks before date night because you had to come home and pay the babysitter what you could have spent on a fancier restaurant. That you had to make hard choices and fill moving boxes and leave friends behind time after time. We also noticed that you woke up early to spend time with Jesus and make breakfast and search for lost book bags and soccer cleats. We noticed that you have to spend weeks apart and see each other only on the weekends and that you've been doing hard stuff for too many years.




We noticed, and we are thankful.

Because even when things got messy and downright hard, you loved us and you loved each other. We are thankful that the words you said to each other 10,472 days ago are still the words that hold us as a family with two parents, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer.


Happy Valentine's Day Mom and Dad. 
We sure love you.






Love, 
All your crazy kids



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Busted


"What? It wasn't me I promise!  It was like this when I got here!!"

Love,
Boston, (11 month old destroyer of furniture)


 
Her new tactic is to freeze when she gets caught being naughty, which is how I was able to get this priceless photo. Haha!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

I don't know if you watched the debate last night between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, but we did. In fact, I was surprised when I mentioned it to Robby and he was almost more excited about it than I was! I'm still trying to get my thoughts about it in order, which is part of the reason for this post. Sometimes writing it out helps me clear out my mixed up thoughts.

The first thing I think I realized about the debate is that a TON of Christians I know who take a literal stance on Creation were watching the event. There was a lot of stuff flowing through my Facebook feed this morning related to the debate, but it was almost exclusively from people I knew from the bible college I went to, or people whose beliefs lined up with the Biblical creation account. I didn't hear anything from my friends who believe in evolution. This debate wasn't even on their radar. That is sad to me. It's sad that leading up to the debate there was so much backlash against Bill Nye for even agreeing to the debate. The whole idea in mainstream culture is that it's a waste of time for "real" scientists to even listen to the creation point of view.

I think that Ham did a great job of presenting "real" scientists that hold a Creationist view point and yet still contribute with scientific discoveries. Side note: one of those scientists was my science teacher in college, Andrew Fabich! Go Dr. Fabich!! (He was the one talking about microbiology if you were watching)


My second observation is that Ken Ham did an excellent job of presenting the gospel. I think there were at least two (maybe more) times where he succinctly laid out the problem of sin, our need for a Savior, and the death and resurrection of Jesus as our Savior. That was cool.

Bill Nye spent a great deal of time presenting facts about the fossil layers, the locations of different fossils (or lack thereof) and the age of the stars that show evolution to be "fact". He challenged Ham to show him just one piece of evidence to the contrary that would line up with the Biblical account of creation. 
Ken Ham spent his allotted time talking about the difference between science you can see and observe around you (observational science) and science that occurred in history that no one was around to see (historical science). I understand Ham's point. I know that there is a difference. I know that creation and evolution are both theories. That's the problem.

Creation is presented by most as an outdated theory based on an old book. Evolution is presented as fact because it lines up with majority opinion. Ken Ham spent much of his time trying to show that both theories are just that: THEORIES, because no one was there to actually observe it. Bill Nye didn't have to spend time arguing for evolution because it is presented as fact because it is the majority opinion.

I think that was my problem with the debate. Bill Nye was asking for facts to refute his specific examples. I know there are tons of facts that show fossils that are spread across multiple layers of rock, fossils that showed up where they weren't supposed to, and that carbon dating is unreliable. But there wasn't a lot of fact presented by Ham in response to the questions Nye was asking, and I think that was purposeful to keep the debate on topic. Don't get me wrong, Ham presented a ton of facts, and he did a great job of that. Ham gave several examples of carbon dating results that were inconsistent at best, and he did a good job of presenting new research that shows that dogs are descendents of one species instead of descendants of wolves or another animal. He showed research that humans are all descendants of one race, as discovered by the scientists who mapped out the human genome, instead of levels of races and different species of man as Darwin hypothesized. However, Nye was giving evidence and asking Ham to refute the exact examples he was giving. I feel like he was trying to bait Ham into a back and forth exchange about specific things like the reliability of carbon dating or the fact that there are no kangaroo fossils in Europe, when the point of the debate was to see if there was any place for the creationist viewpoint in the world of science. My fear is that the majority of people who haven't studied this or asked the questions for themselves would see that the creationist didn't rise to the challenge presented by the science guy, therefore creationism must be bunk.

What Nye didn't acknowledge was the fact that there were a ton of facts and pieces of evidence being presented by Ham, it just wasn't the specific answer to each question he asked. Tons of information is available at Ken Ham's website if you want more information for yourself. Lots of answers to the specific questions that Nye asked can be found over there.


Overall, the undertone of the whole debate was the future of America. The battle for what we teach our children. According to Ham, presenting both creation and evolution as theories and letting students ask questions and find facts is the way to go. According to Nye, the whole future of America being able to keep up with technology and innovations requires everyone to believe in evolution.

I will say, my favorite part of the debate (besides seeing Dr. Fabich on there as a total surprise) was the question and answer section at the end. I love that Ken Ham was unapologetic in his beliefs when asked if any amount of evidence would sway his belief in the Bible. I love that when asked where the matter came from that started the big bang, or where our consciousness comes from, Bill Nye admitted plainly, "I don't know, that's the big question". I love that Ken Ham came back with his rebuttal and said, "I know a book that tells where matter comes from and where consciousness comes from, and it starts, 'In the beginning God created...'". Do I think the debate was a waste of time? No. I think that both men were very courteous and calm throughout the whole thing. I liked that. Both men were passionate, both men were unwavering in their beliefs, but both men still listened to the other person's opinion and argument. Will mainstream culture still think the debate was a waste of time? Maybe. But maybe this will encourage Christians to have honest discussions without apology for their beliefs. Maybe this will encourage others to start asking questions and looking for answers. Isn't that the point of science? Asking questions and looking for factual evidence to back it up?

Again, if you missed the debate and want to watch it, you can here. I'm not sure how long the video will be up though, so go quickly if you want to see the whole thing.



Photo 1: screenshot of debate here. Photo 2 from flickr user Joanna Bourne and found here. Photo 3 from flickr user Sweetie187 and found here. All photos used under permission of the Creative Commons License and are copyrighted by their owners.