Friday, May 23, 2014

7 QT: Team Awesome-o Edition

Inspiration was not striking me…until I thought of asking Allen to help me write this week's quick takes.  Here comes Team Awesome-o!  Allen's comments will be in blue, mine in black.
We are the best.  What does that even mean??

Hey, here's an old picture (ca. 2009, whilst engaged) of us being awesome:
If by "awesome" you mean "dorktastic"
Hey, here's a weird coincidence…I happen to be wearing that exact same tank top today and also having short hair!

You know what that means…
5 years later and we're still dorks
You chose the LEAST dorky one of yourself?
Well, it's the one that looks most like me from last time.
Okay, okay, fine, have it your way!
My eyes are huge and scary.  

What other embarrassing pictures should we put up?
[looks through iPhoto]
Wow, there are way too many embarrassing pictures of me.  Mostly from college.
I wouldn't say embarrassing; just funny.
Hmm, embarrassing is in the eye of the beholder.  Speaking of embarrassing, what is one of your most embarrassing moments that you can think of, Allen?
I've tried to block these from my memory…oh, oh geez. Remember at the staff party at Stephanie's house when I was playing with her puppy and I accidentally dropped it on its head in front of everybody?
Yeah…that was embarrassing for me, too.
In my defense, I thought that dogs were like cats and always landed on their feet.  Whenever I flipped our cats backwards they never landed on their heads…
Yep.  I am hoping that puppy turned out normal. I guess it was for the best that Stephanie ended up moving out of the country shortly after that.

Your turn.
Let me see.  Oh, yep, here's a good one.  So, in third grade at my elementary school the classrooms still had bathrooms built into them so we didn't have to walk all the way down the hall like the big kids (i.e. 5th graders) did.
Here we each were as 3rd graders…except I was a 3rd grader 4 years before Allen was. Cradle robber.

Anyway, one time I went into the class bathroom and was doing my usual dawdling chillax on the potty routine.  I was just looking around the bathroom and amused myself by making up a song about one of the posters on the wall.  It was a large poster of "Frogs and Toads of Missouri."  So I made up a song about it and sang it.  I would estimate that this was probably a five minute song.

After finishing my song and my business, I exited the bathroom to find the entire class staring at me and my teacher trying really hard to suppress a laugh and a smile.  I think everyone started giggling about it.  I had quite forgotten that my singing would be audible.  That was embarrassing.  The class clown/bully (Greg Vialton, still remember his name, of course) didn't let me live that one down for a while.
Do you still know the song?
No.  I don't remember anything about it because I don't remember any facts about frogs and toads of Missouri.  Interesting tidbit, though: because I was so mortified by this whole experience, I decided that the best way to "get back at" everyone for staring/laughing at me was TO NEVER SMILE AGAIN.
That's what did it?
Yes.  I made it my solemn project never to smile again.  And unfortunately I really succeeded at it for a while.  You know how moms say, "Your face will freeze like that?" Did your mom ever say that to you?
No, because my mom never says dumb things. 
Well, it's a classic mom line.  At any rate, I think my face did freeze like that; now most of the time when I'm concentrating on something people think I'm really mad.  I just look too serious.
Like right now?
Probably.  But I'm not mad.  I'm just concentrating. So let that be a lesson to you, kids.
Ask me a question now.
Like any question?
Something appropriate for a blog.

…does it have to be random?  Like, what kind of question?
Any kind!  Doesn't have to be random, just something that you think readers will find interesting about me.

Can't you think of a question?!
It's so nebulous!  Okay, do you think you're pretty?
For example, not this time. At all.  Eww.  
I know.  It was for a Drag Ball at college. Let us never speak of it again.  But seriously, sometimes I think I am pretty.  For example, I am really enjoying this haircut.  I think I look very cute in it.  

I think that I look cuter than Justin Bieber even though it is pretty much the same haircut as his.  But, are you distinguishing between pretty, cute, and beautiful?  Or are they all the same thing to you?
They're all different.  But that's because I'm precise and literal, so different words have different meanings.  
Oh yeah, like how you distinguish between "couple" "few" and "several"?  What are your definitions of those again?
Really?  A couple is two or three.  A few is three or four.  Several can be from five to ten, depending on context.
You are extremely concrete and definitive about everything.  Have you ever considered that you might be high-functioning autistic?  
Yes, developmentally.  And I'm not concrete about everything.  Just some things.  Like that statement.  

That gets me thinking about the whole "opposites attract" notion.  I don't think it is always true, but I think it is mostly true in our case.  Do you agree?
I think we've talked about this before.  It's true about superficial things, and false about core things.  You need to be on the same page about core things, but with differences in the superficial things, you can complement each other.
You know what I love about you? That even though I'm the one typing this, I know you would have used the right version of "complement" in that sentence.  You are very articulate. It WAS the first thing that attracted me to you, you know.  
I know.
What was the first thing that attracted you to me?
That you were either Israeli or Hispanic.
You sent me a photo via email before we met, and it was very misleading.
This was the photo, by the way.  Not bad for a selfie.
You really thought I was Hispanic or Israeli? I mean, I know it is in black and white, but I feel like my pasty Caucasian nature still comes through loud and clear.
It does now, but I didn't know what you looked like then.  And I wouldn't call you pasty.
You're so sweet. 
You know what's pasty?  Paste.  
That was a joke.

Well, here we are on the 7th take.  I wonder if anyone has made it this far.
Maybe people are wondering how you've made it this far being married to a clown.

You're not a clown.  You are a hard-working, good-looking, cute baby-making, critical-thinking, multi-tasking…
…black and white thinking hubberton.  And I love you.

I find that I love you as well.  <smooch> 

(Photograpic evidence of said smooch)

Also, I know I'm not a clown.  Not literally.

But I am!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Psalmody Psunday: Psalm 24


Psalm 24 contains some verses which always depressed me, to tell the truth.  Here they are:

Who may ascend to the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
and has not sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(Psalm 24:3-5)

Why should this depress me, you ask? Well, I am obviously not one with clean hands and a pure heart. I have lifted up my soul to falsehood: "Hmm, [influence] must be right…I guess [temptation du jour] is not such a big deal."  
I have sworn deceitfully.  "I promise, I won't do [that sin] again!"
Therefore, what right do I have to stand in the Lord's holy place, or to receive a blessing?

None, of course.  There's nothing to recommend me to God's holy presence, "nothing but the blood of Jesus" as the old gospel song goes.  By Jesus' death, I may claim his righteousness.  I am justified by Him.

But here's the burning question: is that righteousness imputed to me or infused in me?  I grew up in the doctrine that it was imputed and cloaked me, but my essence remained unchanged.  That is, I was still an unworthy wretch and would always be such, but as long as I remained in Christ, I could claim His righteousness as my garment.  I never questioned this idea, although it greatly saddened me.  Wretchedness was always to be my lot in life.  Anything good that I did was clearly not worth anything to God.  How could a wretch please Him?  Even a wretch cloaked in Christ's righteousness is just a well-dressed wretch.

But what if Christ's righteousness is infused into me and begins to transform me from the inside out?  What if it actually starts to make me into a new creation, a la 2 Corinthians 5:17?  What if I, myself, am becoming one who may ascend the hill of the Lord because Jesus is making me able to climb it?  Is it just that he drags me up the hill (or carries me on his back, if you think of it in a kinder, gentler way)?  Or is he teaching me and strengthening me to walk up it myself?

I think the idea of infusion makes sense with the idea that we are meant to grow in Christ's likeness and follow him, carrying our crosses.  And obviously, it is all his grace that strengthens us to grow in virtue and holiness at all.  It's not of ourselves, lest we should boast.

Another thought: when I read this Psalm from the imputation point of view, I understood that the only one with clean hands and a pure heart was Jesus, so only he could ascend to the hill of the Lord.  Well, that's true enough, but then it doesn't seem to hold with verse 5, "He shall receive a blessing from the Lord / and righteousness from the God of his salvation."  God is not the God of Jesus' salvation, because Jesus is the only person who did not need saving.  So it seems that this "he of clean hands and pure heart" is not referring to Jesus, or at least not solely. It seems to be referring to people of clean hands and pure heart.

How could David include himself in that category, I often wondered?  I mean, adultery! Plotting! Murder!  Hotheadedness!  David being a "man after God's own heart" is something I wish to ponder more.  I'd say he must have been one who trusted in God's infusion of transformative grace into his life.

Hmmm, lots to think on.

But in the meantime, here's the other thing that this psalm reminds me of:

We sang this song in my church growing up, but seeing Stephen Colbert dance to it is…well…inspiring.  Of laughter. I do like the song, though, and it is clearly based on Ps. 24.

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Answer Me This (with photos of beardless Allen!)

The questions for this week…

1. What's the scariest thing that's ever been in your yard?
Hmm.  That's a lot of yards to remember. I can't think of anything actually scary, but I can think of lots of gross things.  For example, the house I grew up in had a yard which was publicly owned (city property), yet we kids still thought of it as part of our yard most of the time. We also lived near a park and every so often there would be illicit activity happening there and we'd find a used condom on the ground.  Of course, for most of my childhood I had no idea what they were, and I wouldn't be surprised if I picked some of them up to inspect them further. Yecchhhhhhhhhh.

2.  Beards.  Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Well, my husband looks good with a beard.
Barely there beard (also when he was 21)
I prefer it when it is a fuller beard, like so

Without a beard, he appears to be about twelve.
To be fair, his actual age was 21 in this picture…but I'd say 12 is still pretty accurate
Beards are a thing in his family.  My side of the family is not so beardy, and I never had a "thing" for beards.  But it really suits him, and I can't really imagine not loving beards now (although I have not yet found a deep love for the Duck Dynasty type of beards on young guys.  To me, it's a look reserved for Santa!  But I'm sure if Allen ever was able to grow out a long fluffy beard, I'd come to love that too.)

So, thumbs up.

3.  If stuff breaks, can you fix it?

It depends on the stuff involved.  If it is automotive or mechanical in nature, chances are slim to none.  If it is something that can be glued or sewn, then yes.  Thankfully, Allen can fix a lot more things than I can.

And now I must channel my wonderful English teacher Ms. Richardson and remind you all that using the word "fix" to mean "repair" is not accurate.  "Fix" is short for "affix", or so she maintained.  I break the rule all the time, but I felt the need to point it out.

4.  What was your first car?

First cars I learned to drive: 1999 Honda Odyssey (automatic) and 1980something Honda Civic Hatchback (stick shift).

First car I ever owned (bought at the princely sum of $1 from a generous parent at the school I worked at): 1980something Saab, stick shift

First car I ever bought that cost more than $1: 2003 Toyota Echo, stick shift (which is is still the car we drive today)

The moral of the story: learn to drive stick.  You'll probably hate learning, but you'll be glad you know how.

5.  How often do you eat out?

Not very often.  Date nights have been coming fewer and further between these days.  We do have a gift cert to the Olive Garden that needs to be used, though, thanks to awesome coz Chandra.

This leads (in my mind) to a follow up question or two: when you go out to eat, do you usually go to places you've been before and like or do you always try new places?  And when you go to a place you've been before, do you always get the same thing that you like or do you always try new things?

Ask that one, Kendra!

As for me, I tend to agree with Frances when she says, "There are many different foods and they taste many different ways.  When I get bread and jam [or in this case, Pad Prik King], I always know what I am getting and I am always pleased."

6. Why is your hair like that?

This is timely, and I solemnly swear that I did NOT look up this week's questions before this morning.  Trust me, I'm not that organized.  For the answer, click here.

Also, my friend Lauren pointed out that it would be a fun linkup to have everyone show pix of their hair over the years. Sounds like a job for Grace Patton...

Friday, May 16, 2014

7 QT: Hair

It was time for a change.  Long overdue, actually. 

Here's my hairvolution over years 0-18.

I went off to college with the short hair I'd sported through most of high school, but after sophomore year decided it was time to try growing it out again.
Fall of 2002 with my roomie Tess

Oktoberfest 2004
Thus began the "awkard growing it out/experimenting with bangs/haircolor from a box" phase (which lasted for roughly all of junior year, as it turned out)
At times it was truly TRAGIC--like reindeer sweater level proportions, as some might say.
Bonus points to anyone who knows what the message on that pumpkin means!
 Oh, and apropos of yesterday's post, that above photo there of me and the pumpkin was always one that I looked at and thought, "Uggggggghhhhh FAT LEGS!"  And now I'm looking at it and thinking, "What was I so unhappy about?"  Time heals all neuroses, I suppose.

Note to self: Never those bangs again, ok? Thanks.

--- 5 ---
Eventually it settled down into a shoulder length look which had its good and bad moments.
Graduation with my friend and roomie Kat

Then I let it grow out and decided I'd wait to cut it until the ponytail was long enough to send away to Locks of Love.
Summer 2006, on the way out to Oregon!
After my first time getting it long enough to donate to Locks of Love…(and getting it cut at the uber Portlandia place, Bishops Barber Shop)
2007 or 2008?
It was short at my wedding...
August 8, 2009
And basically since 2004 or so I've just gone through the same cycle.  Cut it short, grow it out for a few years, cut it short, grow it out, etc. etc.  Usually I have a 3-6 month period where I can't stand it because it is growing out from a short haircut, and then I like it shoulder length, and then it just keeps going and eventually just gets too hot and heavy and unwieldy.
Here's the new version:

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Open Letter to my WUG

Hi WUG.  I see you there.  I bet everyone else does, too…they just don't know it because they don't know my name for you.

WUG is an acronym.  It stands for Weird Underarm Girth.  You know, the part of your body that kind of puffs out over the top of your bra band or tank tops.  I hear you're also known as "sideboob."

I came up with the nickname WUG in high school when out trying on clothes.  Tank tops are pretty standard summer fare in St. Louis because it's so darn hot, so I had lots of opportunity to see my WUG and to dislike it very much.  I had very little affection for you, WUG.

But now, that's different.  I guess I do have a certain affection for you. It's not because I suddenly love excess body fat distributed in seemingly random places.  It's just because, well, you're part of me.  Like it or not, there you are.

Same with the smile lines at the corners of my eyes and my exponentially increasing amount of gray hairs, and the muffin top pooking out over the top of my mom jeans, and the stretch marks, and the bugbite scar pitted up legs, and c-section scar, and varicose veins, and the dark, tough little hairs growing out of moles on my face, and my unruly eyebrows, and all the rest of it.  The imperfections.

I'd never make it as a supermodel unless there was liberal use of Photoshop (and as it turns out, pretty much nobody can make it without Photoshop these days, since we seem to be Photoshopping away our reasonable achievements of beauty into oblivion).  

Too many flaws.  This used to bother me quite a bit.  I never aspired to be a model, super or not, but every girl wants to know she is beautiful, and every guy wants to know he is attractive.  I spent most of my teen and college years in doubt of this and doing many of the various cultural prescriptions for beautifying.

Waxing, bleaching, dyeing, dieting, working out, Spanxing, push up braing, shaving, nail polishing, sucking it in, and most of all, despising.  That seems to be the unnamed prerequisite.  Despise something about yourself, and then buy/do whatever it takes to fix it.  

There was a rather embarrassingly long amount of time in which I assumed that the only reason I was single was because I didn't look a certain way.  It couldn't have had anything to do with my personality, my time in life, or Divine Providence. 

 No, no, it was clearly because I was a size Medium on top and a size XL on the bottom.  It was clearly because I have these weird little hair-growing moles that have a mind of their own.  It was the fat legs!  It was you, WUG, wasn't it! 

Wasn't it?

With time came perspective and lots of grace, grace to learn about myself and my insides mattering more than my outsides.  I began to accept myself more as I was instead of looking at myself with disgust.

Then came this guy, who married me at my top weight and has spent more time around me while I'm pregnant than while I'm not.  

And speaking of pregnant, this WUGalicious body has produced some rather adorable offspring (who have contributed to its further stretchy, pooky, squishy nature). 

WUG, I'm not even calling a truce, because that would imply that there's still a battle raging.  The battle's pretty much over.  I'm still working out, and I still need to eat healthily.  I'm still not always happy with how clothes fit me, and I don't know when--if ever--I'll be wearing clothes whose size label is considered acceptable by whatever cultural standard is prevailing these days.

But I'm not really fighting you and hating your existence anymore.  You just are.  Not even sure what I'd look like without you, really, and I don't think you really bother anyone else.  You're just a happy little WUG, occupying some really undesirable real estate come summer time.  Good on ya, WUG.

You just keep WUGging along, and I'll just keep remembering, a day at a time, that I am in fact living the life I always wanted.  I'm a wife and mommy.  My body is a gift from God, and to despise it or any part of it for even one more day is just another culturally-sanctioned blasphemy against my Creator.

Rock on, WUG.  I got your back.  Or…maybe you've got mine.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Talkin' bout parts!

The time has come.  Ruby is quite fascinated by all things anatomical, especially in the boys vs. girls department.  Since she has two younger brothers and sees many diaper changes in a day, she's begun to notice and comment on why they have different parts than she does.

I'm doing my best to make use of all the advice I've gotten and read:

  • be frank and calm; set the tone
  • use correct terminology, not cutesy words or slang
  • communicate the truth that all parts of our bodies are good
But it always helps to have a good book on the subject to read with your kiddo, I think.

Amazon Prime to the rescue!  I ordered this book and we read it tonight (after I previewed it, of course).

I like it.  It is written simply but without simpering.  It introduces anatomy and some very basic facts about the development of the baby in the womb and the birth process.  It also gives a short and effective message that your body is yours and some parts are private, and it is okay to say no to anyone's hug, kiss, or touch.

My favorite part is the illustration style.  I don't like when kids' books that are about serious topics (I'm looking at you, most kid bibles!) are illustrated in really cartoony ways, with wacky bug-eyed people. The illustrator, Joel Spector, draws with both realism and a certain wispy wonder.  Everything is tasteful and sweet.  It is very appropriate for young kids.  I did not mind that my 2 year old son was reading along with us.  Honestly, he just got up and ran around for most of it, but I don't mind that he overheard it.

However, I am sure that the book's explanation of how exactly the baby gets inside the mommy will not be detailed enough for Ruby's liking for long.  It merely says that "a tiny piece of Daddy's body and a tiny piece of Mommy's body come together and become a baby."  Yep, it won't be long before she's asking, "WHAT parts?  Fingernails?  Eyelashes?"

If you are wanting to have your child grow up with the understanding that bodies and sexuality are designed by God, this is probably going to be a resource that is to your liking. It is part of a series which becomes more and more in depth as it aims to higher age levels. I haven't read those yet but we'll cross that bridge when we come to  it…in a few weeks, probably!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Linking up with Answer Me This (It's like Truth or Dare minus the Dare)

Kendra's been doing a neat-o linkup on Sundays called "Answer Me This," wherein she poses some questions and we answer them.  Pretty simple concept, really.  Here are this week's questions.

1. Are you becoming your mother?

In some ways, yes.  I think I mentioned in a recent post that I did something she would have done while shopping for clothes: find something I liked and then bought it in multiple colors. She's a pretty remarkable lady so becoming like her would be a good accomplishment in many regards. 

2. Coffee or tea?

Coffee.  I never drank the stuff until fairly recently (the last two years or so) and only within the last six months have really begun to enjoy drinking fairly straight (i.e. not saying, "I like coffee" but really meaning "I like Frappuccinos")  

I feel like I should like tea.  It seems so much more refined and ladylike than coffee.  But…I just don't like it.  I don't even like fruity Celestial Seasonings type teas.  The only tea that I don't *mind* is Stash's Peach Black Tea, but given a choice between that and coffee, I'd choose coffee.

3. What foreign country would you like to visit?

Italy, again.  I've been lucky enough to visit twice already, but I would love to go again.  I'm not really a "travel the world" type of person, but I would go to Rome againand Capriand Naples.  And maybe try Northern Italy this time, too.  Perhaps for our 30th anniversary we'll be in a position to try to go!

4. Do you cry easily?

Yes. Crying is just sweating emotions out your eyes.

5. How often do you wear heels?

Rarely! I imagine that a real lady can wear heels gracefully all the time (while drinking tea daintily from her teacup with pinky extended, no doubt), but when I wear heels, I just walk awkwardly and always worry about falling.  Flats are much more my speed, but I love the way a classic pair of heels looks.  

6. Do you play an instrument?

I used to play the piano and the flute, and I sang in choir from middle school through part of college.  I taught myself to play guitar in college and can strum contentedly through most of your standard praise and worship songs.  I have dabbled in song writing and even won a prize for an original music composition (granted, I may have been the only person to enter a piece, but I'll never know).  But I don't really play or even sing much anymore.  Someday...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Small Success Thursday

Apparently there is a link up about small successes. Sounds like my life!  Here's my small success of the day: I went to work out, even though I felt like I had a million other things that I could get done during that hour (well, hour and half, once you figure in getting there, getting the kids checked in at the playroom, going home, etc.).

But honestly, I probably would have wasted a lot of that time doing the mindless internet two step.  Facebook, Gmail, Facebook, Gmail, Facebook, Gmail, etc.

It's so dumb.  But I just slip into it.  It truly is mindless.

Look, my love for Jazzercise is no secret.  I always feel better once I get there.  I never regret going, even on the days when I think I can't do one more rep of squats or plies or whatever.  In fact, I always feel much perkier and have a lot more pep in my step afterwards.

Why, then, is it so hard to get myself there most mornings?  Why is it hard to want to do things that I know are good for me, and why is it easy to make excuses that I'm too busy to do something I know will help me?  It's crazy, right?

Yep.  So am I.  I know the right answers but I still make the wrong choices.  Sounds suspiciously like St. Paul's dilemma (and everyone else's.)

What's the escape hatch from this crazy cycle?  Humbly admitting the problem and my own inability to fix it and asking God to take over.

C.S. Lewis wrote, "How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different all the saints."  Isn't that a fascinating thing to consider?  All tyrants and conquerors have in common their selfishness and their self-centeredness.  It's the very thing you think would cause them to be quite different from one another.  And all the saints have something in common: surrendering self to Christ.

Following your own desires ultimately makes you just like every other selfish person.  Following Christ's desires increases the good qualities that make you you.  Just the kind of paradox that God rejoices in.

Well, now that I've shared that oh so original deep thought with you, it's time to go wrangle the small ones.

Oh, and p.s. my other small success was getting my article for Real Housekeeping submitted more than one day in advance!  Baby steps, people, baby steps.  Thankfully Rhonda is a forgiving editor!