Monday, October 31, 2005

God is a God of balance.....maybe, sorta, kinda....not like we normally think of it, anyhow

In the comments from the Elusive Balance post I was reminded of something. The belief that God is a God of balance was mentioned. Another very common way that I hear this is the old "God is a God of order" which I believe is a catch-phrase pseudo belief that we now have thanks to the Ezzos and their parenting philosophy masquerading as God's best plan for parents. Not to belittle the beliefs of the commenter, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts about this.

Just a couple weeks ago my small group was discussing some info from a book called Get a Grip, which is all about getting your crazy, out-of-balance life under control. One of the questions was something like, "If God is a God of order, how should we then live our life?" I found myself having to dissent from the proper answer in order to say, "Who says that God is a God of order?"

IS God a God of order? And if God is orderly, is He more orderly than any of His other attributes? Just because God created the world in an orderly way, does this mean that He is orderly, or that He is logical? And, just because we notice an order, is that more important than, say, His amazing creativity and artistic excellence? The universe may have been created in 7 days and in a logical order, but let's not forget the wild imagination that went crazy with passion for beauty, form, function, and humor!

To focus on the idea that God is a God of order is an insult to God. God is SO MUCH BIGGER than order. How dare we try to put God's personality into a box for our own convenience or to try to convince others that our ways are backed up by God's own style. What a bunch of pathetic baloney. (And it's even more pathetic when people all the world over buy into this garbage so easily. Why is it that so few people know how to think critically about things?) God's attributes should not be neatly isolated and boxed up to service our own need for perfect answers.

God is such a passionate being that He describes His love for His children as that of a shepherd with 100 sheep in His care. When He realizes that 1 is missing, He risks the well-being of the remaining 99, all to go on a daring hunt to find His one missing sheep. A shepherd of this time would not only be risking the 99 sheep He already had with Him, but would be risking His own health and safety as He traveled over rocky or dangerous terrain, where wild animals could attack Him. Does this sound like an orderly guy to you? To me, it sounds like someone that is so passionate in His love for the one missing charge that He would risk everything to bring it back to safety.

To me, to say that God is a God of order says that God's behavior is safe, sterile, predictable, and unemotional. This is not the God I know.

God ordered His people to war against pagan tribes and to kill every man, woman, child, and beast and not even to take a single bit of pillage, because He didn't want any of His people taking any sort of benefit or practice from a culture that was against Him. This is the heart of a God that seems passionate, emotional, calculated, and jealous. This God gets dirty and is fierce.

Jesus was the guy who went to the Temple and when He saw business people set up to take unfair advantage of those coming to worship and sacrifice, took out a whip, overturned their tables, and ran them out in a wild, frenzied display of righteous anger. Doesn't sound like He was especially orderly to me. Sounds more like passionate, impulsive, indignant, and judgemental to me.

Jesus' death by crucifixion is an example of the most radical, passionate expression of love and sacrifice that the world will ever know. Jesus was willing to suffer immensely because He didn't want to have to live through eternity without YOU. Balanced? Nope. Extreme? Yes.

Within The Big Picture, I believe God does ultimately come to a balance. But it's a balance that comes from many extremes on either side of the scale. Almost seems like more extremes than not.....

It's time to think about balance differently.

Images of a Hometown

I was blessed to grow up in a particularly gorgeous town. In fact, I have never been to a place more consistenly gorgeous both naturally and in the man-made realm, than Skaneateles, New York. Skaneateles is the smallest lake of the NY Fingerlakes. The town that grew up around it is breathtaking. Stately mansions, a picturesque downtown area, and rolling green lawns are some of the things I most miss. I have not lived in Skaneateles for over 14 years now, but I still miss the beauty of it, sometimes so much that it aches. None of my family lives there any more, so we never go back. In the past 14 years I have only gotten to drive past my town on my way to my husband's parent's home. I think that maybe once we did get out and walk around a little bit. It's not enough. Although you will only get a small idea of how beautiful it is, here are some photos of my hometown.

Here is The Krebs restaurant, which is quite famous in the region for serving it's traditional 7-course meal for the past 150 years or something. I slaved away here as a waitress for 2 years. The restaurant might be more aptly named "The Crabs" thanks to the horrible, mean spirited people that owned and operated the place during my tenure. It was amazing to see how charming they could be to their patrons, and how utterly wretched they would be to the workers.

Doug's Fish Fry is a local favorite as well. People will literally line up down the street and around the corner to stand in line under the "Good Food" awning for a fish sandwich from this local eatery. I've never been a fish sandwich fan, but they did have good ice cream. I used to take the little girl that I babysat for a walk and we'd get an ice cream cone from Doug's for a fun treat. I babysat for that girl and her brother for probably 5 years, and now they are both graduated from college, and one is married. Their parents still send me a Christmas card each year with a family picture in it that never fails to amaze me at how old I must be to have babysat them.

Sunset on the lake

This gorgeous church is right downtown and on the lakefront. Looking at it always made me wish I was Episcopal just so I could go to church there. Anytime there was a wedding and you happened to drive by as the bride was exiting the church, it was incredibly picturesque. The first picture up at the top of the gazebo is just a short walk from this church, and is a popular place for wedding photos.

The Sherwood Inn and Restaurant is directly across from the lakefront downtown.

Downtown shops along the lake. (This is a downtown that people actually do still shop in and stroll down the sidewalks. Thankfully, there are no malls or fast food restaurants in Skaneateles!)

Long shot of the lake.

Many homes (read: mansions) on the lake receive their mail via mail boat. You can take a mail boat cruise and see how the rich get their bills.

Some artwork featuring the parks and gardens by the lakefront.

Thanks for taking a walk through my hometown with me! Maybe I'll be a little less wistful today now that I have these.

( Sadly, it seems they are stuck in this teeny size, so you surely are not getting as good a view as you could be. Oh well. I've already spent all this time on it, and I can't figure out how to change it. Bummer.)

Sunday, October 30, 2005


I have another good post coming up soon, that is sort of a spin-off of my Elusive Balance post from a couple days ago. It's not ready to share yet, so you'll have to settle for this instead.

I'm feeling rather burnt-out today. It's not the cause of one thing, of course. It seems more like a build-up. It's things like

-having had headaches on a daily basis now for weeks or maybe even months (I am getting an eye exam on Tuesday as I think that my eyes may be the cause)

-not being able to sleep well for what seems like an extremely long time. I no longer have the interruptions of breastfeeding or kids in my bed (most of the time), and yet I sleep worse than I have in 14 years. Lack of adequate sleep is always a trigger for me to become an emotional mess.

-women in a new ladies' group that I am in, who want to fuss and fight and gripe about all manner of nonsense

-people who freak about about stuff that they don't understand, rather than try to understand before freaking out

-money stress

-things that are beyond my ability to change but I am stuck dealing with

-Halloween costume mania. While most of the local children will be out in their creativeless shiny store-bought costumes, my little urchins will be sporting costumes constructed of cast aside bathrobes, old karate uniforms, and guns and swords made of wood in the back yard. It's actually the way I prefer it to be, but I remember last year felt kind of humbling to be out amongst the shiny and new. Maybe this year we can trick or treat in the dark so as to avoid social stigma.

-feeling stuck

-needing a break and not being able to have one.

Church today was another multi-sensory worship experiences. I missed much of what the pastor said at the start, because I was having a real struggle to get my 2 year old to accept that he had to stay in his class. By the time I made it into the service I felt so tired, fragile, and burnt out.

We had 4 stations to go to. The first one I went to had unlit candles. We were asked to calm down with some deep breaths for a few moments, and then to focus on God and knowing that we are not alone. We could light a candle and watch it for awhile, as a representation of God being present with us. I found that I had a fairly strong belief that I was indeed very alone. And breathing and lighting a candle did not help.

I prayed about it at my seat for awhile. I went to a couple of the other stations. I found that although it was lovely, I was so drained that I did not feel like I could be reached by any of it.

Periodically I go through times when I feel desperate for a break when everything can stop and I can have enough time to get a grip on what's going on, to catch up on things that are fallen behind, and get some quiet time to get calm, and then have a chance to move forward in a way that might be better. But, it doesn't seem like that opportunity ever comes.

When I grew up there was a beautiful retreat center run by nuns in the town where I lived. I have never been inside and know very little about what happens there. But I can tell you that many times I have wished for a quiet place of beauty where I could go all by myself, speak to nobody, and have the space to think, pray, sleep, dream, plan, and breathe for awhile. By the time I can go, I probably won't need it any more. (and if I do, it'll probably be as a resident of The Shady Acres Home for the Mentally Deranged...)

How is a woman supposed to get what she needs when there are so many things preventing it from happening?

I was at the library yesterday for a few minutes and picked up a magazine to read for a few minutes. I made the mistake of reading what Dr. Phil wanted to tell me about how I could change my life and make it better. I haven't appreciated his advice before, and I didn't appreciate it yesterday. It seems to me that Dr. Phil's advice is lacking the logical conclusion of what practicing it might look like.

For instance, if a wife does not like it that her husband spends money as he does, Dr. Phil says she should calmly tell him how she feels, and that this is important to her. If the husband also follows Dr. Phil, he will change his ways. If he does not follow Dr. Phil, he will probably continue to do what he has always done. Dr. Phil says that then the wife needs to say to the husband, that has continued to leave his dirty socks on the floor, "Hey, dear, I told you that I did not want you to do that and that it was important to me for you to change your ways." For the husband who follows Dr. Phil, he apologises profusely for forgetting and swiftly picks up his socks. For the other husband, he shrugs his shoulders and gets a beer and goes to watch a football game. Dr. Phil advises the wife to not let this slide, and that there must be CONSEQUENCES for her husband's actions. Uh huh. Just what do you recommend now, Dr. Phil? This is what I have never seen him tell. Is the wife supposed to come up with consequences like "no more sex" or "I am no longer going to cook for you" or "I am leaving you if you do not start picking up your own socks and start living the way I want you to"? All I can see is that Dr. Phil has the completely nonsensical idea that all of these husbands are going to change their behavior because their wife now "values herself" enough to tell him what she wants him to change, and then is willing to nag him about it for the rest of his life or until he decides to see things her way. Frankly, I think guys can ignore nagging very well, and that there are plenty of other women to cook, clean, and warm their bed for them in the world. Unless you have a very compliant husband, this does not seem like wise advice to me.

Sorry, Dr. Phil, but nagging and ragging about one's rights does not a happy marriage make, and a smart woman does not let petty issues encourage her to tear down her own house. Cooking up "consequences" to try to twist the arm of your mate is no kind of marriage that I am interested in. Sometimes I get results with a nice talk. Sometimes I get results by continuing to be as good a wife as possible, and pray like crazy for changes. And sometimes I choose to pick up the slack and be thankful that I have a faithful husband that works hard and comes home to us, who loves his kids and thinks I'm still hot. (sort of like how my husband chooses to ignore most of my glaring faults) That's a heck of a lot better than many women have, and I'll keep mine even if he's not perfect, thank you. I value myself enough to know when I've got a good thing, even if I have to spend 3 seconds per day picking up socks for the rest of my life.

For the cherry on top of tonite's psycho babble, I will share that I have found myself feeling very sad for good times of my past that are long gone and never coming back. I have had dreams that feature me in tears because I can't be in high school any more. I am really, really missing my best friends from high school. That is probably one of the most pitiful admissions I've made here, but there you have it.

I cry in my dreams about my dear friend that is on the other side of the world living as a missionary. She has been gone for over 4 years, except for a brief 6 month break, and she won't be back for probably 3 more years. She doesn't have regular internet access, so although I miss her presence in my life, it's like our friendship mostly goes into suspended animation while she's gone. It's like I don't have a friend in her any more.

Things just feel hard. I feel very isolated. I'm overtired. It's not surprising that I would wish for simpler times.

Alas, reality bites at times. And mine is that I have to get up in 6 hours. Goodnight.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Elusive Balance

So this week I've been trying to function with my New-and-Improved Schedule, wherein I have attempted to fit in every last item that I am supposed to do for homeschooling, housekeeping, business running, mothering, wife-ing, and Personal Burnout Shield. I made up this schedule over the weekend, since I felt too many things were falling through the cracks. Once it was made I spent the remainder of the weekend feeling like I was about to cry because I hate having every 15 minute increment of my life accounted for an owed to somebody or something. (sigh)

So, there hasn't been much time for blogging. But overall it hasn't been terrible. Mainly it just that I'm a free spirit sort, and so I don't like having so many important things to do that my life has to be so planned out in order to accomodate all of it. I have told myself that when the day comes that I am an empty nester or in some situation where I am alone, I am not going to cry over what I do not have. I will try to focus on what I can do that I haven't been able to before.

It seems to me that so often the human condition is to crave what we cannot have. Kids want to be teens and get their driver's license. College kids can't wait to get their first job and their own apartment. The single person may wish to be married. The childless may wish for children. The married may think of their single days. Parents may dream of the days when they did not have so much responsibility upon them. Empty nesters may cry "where did all the years go?" I try to focus on what I do have in life, and for the most part I think I do a good job of it. But, I guess any station in life can become tiring or need a boost.

This line of thinking brought me to the popular theme of Balance. In my own social circles, especially church contacts, striving for a balanced life seems to be a very important goal. While I was considering this, and what seems to be the impossibility of it, I had some very different thoughts come to mind.

Is a balanced life what we think it is? I find that people around me seem to feel that their life would ideally be balanced in the present all the time. To achieve this it would mean that
their house is always orderly
their children are always orderly, clean, free from unattractive stages or habits
they have anticipated parenting issues ahead of time and have a plan waiting to be used
marriage is never neglected
there is always time to carefully keep all the plates spinning: work, marriage, kids, church, friendships, hobbies/interests/money and so forth

and so far, although I hear a lot of this talk, I don't see that it's really possible, because just like my schedule, it seems that in order to achieve all of this balance, you have to sacrifice spontanaeity, creativity, and flexibility to a greater or lesser degree. At the very least, it seems to me that a very balanced present can only come when one is very mindful of balance.....which seems kind of out-of-balance to me. ;)

In our Parental Guidance required group this subject came up, and I made a comment that was the seed of what I am thinking about today. In the talk about balance, I pointed out that balance is often not possible in the moment. When you have a newborn baby, life is out of balance because that new baby and post partum mother need to rise to the priority list for rest, relaxation, feeding, nurture, and so forth. So, the husband may do more around the house than usual, or their meals may not be up to their ususal standards. There is no sex, there is little sleep. It is not balanced! But over the course of a does eventually balance out.

I have seen quite a few parents seem to fear life getting out of balance so much that they seem unable to live in the moment with their children. I've never been able to appreciate that approach.

Is balance worth the sacrifice that it takes?

Is our drive to achieve balance in our life reflecting an unrealistic ideal?

What can we learn about balance from nature, God, and traditions?

The Bible tells us that we can learn about God from nature. We have 4 seasons that I do not consider to be balanced. We have the extremes of summer and winter, and transitional times of spring and fall. We have agricultural rhythms of planting, tending, harvest and rest. Not balanced within each part, but balanced overall.

Our weather is full of extremes of heat, drought, winds, rains, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. It isn't balanced on a day-to-day basis, is it?

I was thinking of my friend Alana who is an Orthodox Christian, and about how her church practices the extremes and rhythms of the early church calendar. (I know I'll probably say this a little bit wrong, Alana. I hope you will comment. I would love to know how you think about balance within the context of church traditions.) Within these traditional practices we see great extremes of fasting and feasting, and all of the transitional times in between as hearts are prepared for the next coming extreme. Individual extremes--overall balance.

So are we chasing an impossible dream when we expect ourselves to keep all the plates spinning? Now, I'm not talking about neglecting important responsibilities here. I know that to some extent we do have a lot of plates to spin. But, have we made a false idol of our goal to be balanced? Have we gotten it wrong? Have we stopped seeing our life as an overall journey that will reflect extreme valleys and mountains, with a lot of flat land and gently rolling hills in between?

Also, is my love of extremes a bad thing? I would greatly enjoy the ability to sometimes read all day long or late into the night, sometimes sleep in very late, watch a bunch of movies all in one weekend, do a lot of really fun activities with my kids in one big burst, pack a bunch of thrilling activities into a weekend getaway with my husband, do a whole big burst of house cleaning or decorating, go on a wild binge to help with a community food bank or to help at my child's school? If a person seems to thrive on bursts of extreme behavior, might we be able to consider that this is a tendency worthy of respect, and able to be put to worthy use within one's life?

Of course, then we're back to the original problem, which is: With my love of extremes, how am I going to keep all these plates spinning?!

ugh. Where did I put that stinkin' schedule?

Monday, October 24, 2005


Today I watched Kingdom of Heaven starring Orlando Bloom. My short version of my review is :


The slightly longer version is:

If you are a Crusades enthusiast, you may like this movie. For the rest of us, you can find better things to do with 144 minutes of your life.

If you are looking for an epic battle movie, try The Four Feathers, which I think is an awesome movie despite some bad reviews. It's not hard to understand (or at least not if you're me and have watched it a dozen times), plus it stars one of my favorites---Heath Ledger!

The other day I watched Beauty Shop, starring Queen Latifa. It's a fun flick with a lot of good elements in it. Watching Kevin Bacon trying to play Jorge the hair dresser was painful, though. I'm sorry, Kevin, but all I can see is the Footloose guy trying hard to pretend to be someone else. Alicia Silverstone's role as Georgia peach was fairly annoying too, but somehow it worked.

I like watching Queen Latifa because she's sexy and pretty without being a size 2. :)

Awhile back I watched Spanglish, and forgot to mention it to you all. Tia Leone does a fabulous job playing the neurotic, oobsessive, spaz, control-freak rich wife. The character was very annoying, but she pulled it off so convincingly! Adam Sandler, however, seemed like the wrong guy to play his role. He doesn't come across as smart or capable enough to be a famous chef, the wife's husband, the kid's dad, or the love interest of the Hispanic maid. Nope, nope, nope. He's too shmucky for anything other than a silly, shmucky role.

I watched most of Crash again last night. That movie is AMAZING! I just love how it puts all sorts of racial attitudes out for the viewer to sort through, reject, identify with, and wrestle through. It's a top-notch, richly layered story that is not to be missed by those who enjoy such!

I would like to point out that the Crash I am recommending is the one that stars such people as Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillipe, and Sandra Bullock. I have never seen the movie by the same name with Holly Hunter in it.

What movies are you watching?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Waking Up On The Wrong Side of the Bed

This morning as I was trying to squeak a few more minutes of sleep in, I was awakened by a small voice standing next to me: "Mom, look at this!!"

So I opened my bleary eyes to find my 5 year old son holding a beany bear, sliding a plastic pirate knife back and forth across the bear's neck. With a big smile across his face he sweetly whispers, "Look! I'm cutting off my bear's head!"

That's nice honey. No go play quietly so mommy can sleep some more.......

Friday, October 21, 2005

OK, Down With the Downer Posts!

Boy, that last one was a bummer, eh? Well, it just ain't fittin' with a perty new blog design like this one, to sully it up with the previous post at the top. Right? right. Being sleep deprived and having a internal crisis about all the stuff I have to do in life didn't do much for my state of mind yesterday. Thankfully, I did get to sleep last night (haven't you missed all of my "I couldn't sleep last night" posts? I told you I was quitting with that!) and can say to you today what I usually say:

Despite the things I do not have, my life is full and blessed.

Without the bitter we might not appreciate the sweet.


Nobody likes a complainer. :)


This morning I had my third and final parent-teacher conference, featuring checklists full of things that my child either cannot or will not do. Entire sections of this list say "refused" as is typical of my preschooler and some of his older siblings. Apparently I have a knack for rearing children who are distinctively uncooperative to tests of motor skills, balance, and such. (sigh) I've never been one to tow the line without good reason, so it's not exactly surprising that my kids have picked up on this. It's a good trait, once it gets leveled out. But not exactly the most attractive one in childhood.


Know how babies sometimes do a suck-suck-suck thing in their sleep? I guess they are sucking on their own tongues or something. Little babies tend to do it a lot. But today my 2.5 year old was doing that! It was very very sweet, and possibly one of the last baby things he will do. This kid is totally potty trained, speaks in full sentences, and is off the boob. I don't have a baby any more. Which is really weird for me.


We went to the library today. After checking out our books the library worker said, "Thank you!" and I guess my 2 year old misunderstood, because he loudly and cheerfully replied, "Love you too!!!!!!!!" Gave that library worker a reason to smile. :)


Thursday, October 20, 2005

All About Poor

Traipsing through the blogosphere today I came across this post about being poor. Often people think that they are poor, yet have no clue what poor really is. I can remember a woman I knew over a decade ago that often bemoaned how poor they were, and to her what meant they were poor was that they could not afford to take a fancy vacation each year. Yet she only bought brand-name everything (from food to clothes to baby items). At that time, poor for us was getting the phone shut off and living off of the cheapest kind of mac and cheese.

This is the year that my husband and I have really, really felt the pinch of me staying home with the kids, and the expense of homeschooling. We always feel it, but I think this year has felt like the one with the fewest options. For the first time since we've had kids, we have serious conversations about me possibly getting a full time job. Of course, once you add in the need for decent work clothes, additional gas expense, and child care costs for a 2 year old, a half-day preschooler, and 2 kids that are homeschooled....well, it's hard to figure how it would all work out to be profitable. I can barely get done what I need to get done right now--how would it happen if I was gone for 40+ hours a week?

My husband is also looking for a second job, but those are hard to find when they have to work around his every-third-day shift at the fire dept. (sigh)

Some of you may be wondering what I'm fussing about since I just bought a new blog design. My general disclaimer on that is that it was only $25, I have wanted one for a long time, and I had some Supermom sales and decided to cheer myself up with this one little splurge. There haven't been many lately, I assure you. ("Poor is feeling like you have to justify yourself for every non-essential thing you do.")

There is a list (added to by commenters and myself) of things that poor people go through. I was going to highlight the ones I've experienced, but you know what? It's too hard.

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they're what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there's not an $800 car in America that's worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get free lunch" when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last.

Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn't mind when you ask for help.

Being poor is off-brand toys.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

Being poor is knowing you can't leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around.

Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt.

Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn't have make dinner tonight because you're not hungry anyway.

Being poor is Goodwill underwear.

Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.

Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.

Being poor is your kid's school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

Being poor is relying on people who don't give a damn about you.

Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights.

Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support.

Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger's trash.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.

Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.

Being poor is not taking the job because you can't find someone you trust to watch your kids.

Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.

Being poor is not talking to that girl because she'll probably just laugh at your clothes.

Being poor is hoping you'll be invited for dinner.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is your kid's teacher assuming you don't have any books in your home.

Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.

Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually stupid.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually lazy.

Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.

Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first.

Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that's two extra packages for every dollar.

Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't know you made when you were 14 years old.

Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.

Being poor is knowing you're being judged.

Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.

Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.

Being poor is deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter.

Being poor is knowing you really shouldn't spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.

Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.

Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won't listen to you beg them against doing so.

Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away.

Being poor is making sure you don't spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.

Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.

Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.

Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing how few options you have.

Being poor is running in place.

Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.

Being poor is racking your brain for a way to make a meal for your children out of bread, chocolate sprinkles, and assorted spices.

Being poor is buying Christmas presents for your children with a $50 gift certificate from a friend.

Being poor is HAVING to breastfeed since you can't afford formula (yet you make too much money to qualify for WIC *rolling eyes*).

Being poor is "Thanksgiving dinner" made with some chicken breasts that happened to be on sale.

Being poor is just not even going to church because you don't have any decent clothes to wear.

Being poor is thinking you have made a decision to dig yourself out of the hole only to realize that you're in quicksand and are now in even more debt because of that decision.

Being poor is putting on another layer of clothing rather than turning the heat up a degree.

Being poor is watering down Kool-Aid to make it last longer.

Being poor is thinking long and hard about whether or not you can afford to attend church or anything else, because of the cost of gas.

Being poor is trying to figure out how long you can put off getting some clothes, when you only have 2 pair of pants that fit.

Being poor is keeping the kids so busy that you hope they forget that they missed lunch, and you just feed them an early dinner to make up for it.

Being poor is knowing that you cannot get one single thing that is not on your grocery list, and knowing that you have to use each thing you bought very carefully.

Being poor is feeling angry because the kids made a Christmas Wish List and you know there is no way you can get them any of it.

Being poor is knowing which of your bills you can get away with paying late, which have late fees, and which must be paid first. You know all the tricks to robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Being poor is having a strategy for how you will survive if the electricity gets shut off.

Being poor is not being able to pay your kid's room fee or snack fee at school for 3 months because that's how tight the money is right now.

Being poor is knowing that if one little thing goes wrong, you will be up a creek without a paddle until payday.

Being poor is having no margin.

Monday, October 17, 2005

It's Coming!

Are you all as excited as I am? Tomorrow should be the Big Day for the unveiling of my new blog design. I am so thrilled I could bounce up and down on my bed for at least 10 minutes! (It'd probably break something, though, so I won't.)

I will tell you in advance that I know I will probably need to redo all of my posts to change them to black font. it'll take awhile, so try not to nag me about it, ok?

Today the kids went back to school (except for the ones that stay home for school!), and the hubby back to work. I have been looking forward to this day mainly because I have so much stuff to catch up on. I started jotting a list of things to do so that I could stop worrying about holding everything in my head, and it ended up being quite a lengthy list indeed. I feel like I have toiled away on it all day, and yet there is still a lot left to do. I guess that's normal for most women, but it would be nice if I felt like I had made more progress.

For those of you that love lists as much as I do, I wonder, do you all do that trick where you even add things to your list that you already did, just so that you can see it crossed off? :) I love doing that. Go to bathroom. Check! Take shower. Check! Get dressed. Check! Eat breakfast. Check! Inhale. Check! Exhale. Check! See how productive I have been??? See?! See?!

My internet connection was not working all weekend, so you have surely suffered without my daily blather about what I've been up to. I'll give you some highlights lest you miss out on something important:

On Friday night my daughter was recognized for an academic achievement at the local high school football game. It was just one child per grade that got this recognition, so that was pretty cool. We took all 6 of the kids since they have never been to a game with bleachers and lights and so forth. They were very excited, but we only managed to stay for an hour before leaving. Unfortunately (or not, since I truly dislike watching football) that meant we only saw 15 minutes of the actual game. Only one of our kids seemed to care, but his dad made it up to him by taking him off to Walmart so that he could buy his hunting license in preparation for the next day's hunting trip he had planned with our 7 year old son.

They got up at 3am in order to drive a couple hours to go sit in a tree for hours. Sadly, they saw no deer, so I imagine it was a rather disillusioning experience for my little boy. Good preparation for reality, though. Hunting and fishing seem to me to be 90% boredom for 10% excitement. They stumbled through the door at 11pm, although they had originally planned to stay overnight. My son was totally wiped out, and my husband missed me too much to stay away. :)

While the hunters were gone I went to my church's first annual appreciation dinner. It's basically a shin dig to recognize those that have helped out in doing things at the church. We enjoyed a lovely catered meal plus an entertaining program afterwards. There were some serious recognitions that featured funny gifts to go along with them, some photo and video montages from the year, plus a very special musical number. There is no way I can do it justice, but I'm going to try.

Our pastor is a nice guy, and comes across as very straight-laced, not anybody you would expect to be crazy, goofy, wild, or weird in any way. In fact, we went to church with him for over 10 years and I would never have guessed that there was any chance that he would do any of the nutty, hilarious things he has done this year. On Saturday night we were told that some of his relatives from the hills of Eastern Kentucky had come to sing for us. In walks our pastor and another guy from the church, dressed in overalls, white tank tops, bare feet, corn cob hats, and wearing long fake beards that make ZZ Top's look small. They spoke with a hick accent about their Great Aunt Jemima and how they were going to sing the song that was sung as she went forward and got saved. They proceeded to sing this song that speaks about needing to make a decision for Christ or else you'll burn in hell. It all rhymed and was very overdone so that it was quite funny. But the kicker was the chorus that featured the words, "Heaven, yes! Hell, no!" It was very, very funny. Or at least, for the type of people that go to my church it was.

Church on Sunday featured a sermon that was a great encouragement to me. The text from the Bible was:

1 Corinthians 9:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.
To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law--though not being myself under the law--that I might win those under the law.
To those outside the law I became as one outside the law--not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ--that I might win those outside the law.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

I actually have a pretty easy time appreciating where people are coming from, even when I don't have a lot in common with them. I'm very able to perceive other people's perspectives and to see things that I have in common with them, even when it might normally seem that there is too much different for there to be any common ground. At times I have wondered if I am too liberal minded or accepting because I can like people, appreciate people, even when they are so different from me. What this Bible passage and the talk that went with it did for me was let me know that what I have is a strength and that it has a really worthwhile purpose.

I love it when I found out that the way I am is not all a big mistake!

A lot of John Eldredge's books and the materials from Ransomed Heart ministries point this out, but it seems that for a lot of Christians, we are somehow conditioned to think that every urge that we have must be bad, and that what God wants from us is mainly stuff that we would rather not do. Eldredge would be more likely to say that God put your passions and desires in you to propell you toward the part you are to play in the bigger story of the world. I'm not sure that I understand or agree with everything in his books, but I think he has some important points that have been missed along the way.

Somewhere along the weekend I finished reading Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes....all 980 pages of it. What a fabulous book! I loved it. She's an amazing story teller. And now (sigh) I will wait along with all her other fans, for the next Claire and Jamie book.

if you haven't yet checked out the new addition to my blogroll, Audience of One, do go read. He is a great writer. A recent post talks about students he had that couldn't be turned around. It's really worth reading. I think this might be one of my favorite blogs ever.

Well, it's my bedtime so off I go, to dream sweet dreams of my fab-oo new look......giddy, giddy, giddy.....

It's fun to have something to be giddy about! (but it's almost killing me to have to post this in plain old black! gag!)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Movie Review: Crash

Wow! What a positively BRILLIANT movie! I LOVED it.

If you've seen Magnolia and loved it's coinciding storylines about love and family, you will love Crash. This film artfully and honestly looks at issues of race, stereotype, and prejudice in the setting of Los Angeles. Many different characters intersect throughout this movie, challenging our thoughts about these issues, and jarring us with ironic turns again and again.

I love stories that surprise me, and I love stories that make me think. I love to see moral dilemmas played out. This film has all of it. There wasn't a dud in the whole thing. It was excellent.

Usually when I ask my husband to pick up a movie and he comes home with something I wasn't expecting, it's not that great. This pick of his redeems all the former choices appauling choices such as Kavik the Wolfdog and that horrible The Life Aquatic with Steve Whatever.

(It does, however, solidly earn an R rating)