Monday, May 28, 2012

Waiting for Madagascar 3

Every once in a while, a movie comes out that out kids are super excited for. Okay, I admit it,sometimes it is Richie and me that are excited.  Right now the buzz is about Madagascar 3. The first two movies have some of our favorite lines:

"We lost two Captain."   -  "And that's a number I can live with."
"I hope to be a professional whistler. I'm pretty good right now but I want to be even better."
"Remember that time when you bit my butt?"

 And so on. So when I got invited by Crowdtap to host a Madagascar 3 party, I was ready. The kids were excited about the circus theme. Although we had a kit with decorations from the movie, they decided to make their own. Nothing says circus (or makes my daughter more happy) than streamers. Add in some silly string, a guy juggling baseballs, and live performances from five kids under the age of 8, and we had our own circus.

The kids took turns wearing Alex, Gloria, and Marty masks, which they enjoyed most while they were eating their zebra ice cream cake. While the masks, part of the digital party kit sent by Crowdtap were a hit, they were designed for a string to be put through two holes and then tied onto the wearer.  If we were to do this again, I would print the masks on card stock and then glue a Popsicle stick to the bottom to let the kids (and adults) hold the masks in front of their face.  I think that would make it far more user friendly.

Memorial Day provided the perfect setting to kick off summer and to start thinking about lazy summer days at the movies. I'm guessing Madagascar 3 will be one of the first ones we see.  I'm also pretty sure the kids will be ready to put on more circuses for us after they see the movie.

If any of you want to join the fun and have your own Madagascar 3 party, let me know and I will send you the kit. Or check out Crowdtap It was an inexpensive way to entertain the kids, and more importantly to let them entertain us.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Waiting for rain

Last week I posted a blog about God's provison. It was based on a sermon series our church is doing called "running on empty" based on the life of Elijah. I would encourage you to check it out, but if you don't have time, here are the high points.

- God tells Elijah, this guy from the middle of nowhere, to go tell the king that they are about to face a big old drought.

- God then tells Elijah to run and hide by a brook, where God sends him daily breakfast and dinner via a raven.

- The brook dries up.

It is no secret to any of you who know our family, follow us on FB, or read this blog that our family has been in a drought. It started with medical problems, then financial difficulties, topped off with family health problems. We have been in the drought for what seems like a very long time. But looking back, we can honestly say that God has continued to provide for us, day by day. We get enough in the morning to make it through the day. And we have become completely reliant on God to give us enough for tomorrow. 

And every time we feel like we can't take another step, God sends enough.

Today, the brook dried up.

Richie's grandparents have been in and out of the hospital for the last several years. It seems that when one gets healthy, another gets sick. In the last two weeks, both grandfathers have been in the hospital.  Today, the journey ended for one of his grandfathers.  His dad's dad (well, really his stepdad, but the man who raised him) ended his journey through this life and moved to his journey through eternity.

Losing a family member at any time is difficult, but when you are already completely drained, worn out, and just plain weary, it is unbearable.  It is looking at that little brook, your only source of refreshment and the only small hope you have for survival, and watching it dry up in front of your eyes. Praying for rain and finding only dust.

That is exactly how I felt when I got the news of Richie's grandpa's passing. Inside I was screaming at God, "How does this make any sense? How is this fair? We just got a report that he was out of the woods and you take him.  Can't you give us just a little break? Where are you, because if you were here you would know we are desperate. We are angry. We are barely making it. We are scared. We are thirsty and the brook is dry."

Where is the rain? 

I didn't hear a James Earl Jonesish voice (what I imagine God's voice to sound like) telling me it was all going to be okay. In fact if I knew anything for certain, it was that things were not going to be okay.

But when I stopped yelling at God, I was reminded of that same story of Elijah. When his brook dried up, God told him, it was time to move.

As I looked at our metaphorical dried up brook, I got the same answer. It was time to move. Not literally (who would buy our house with all the crazy construction going on behind it). But time to move out of the season where we wondered *if* God would provide for us every day to a place where we *know* He will.

Time for us to move from a place where we feel angry and resentful for what we have lost to a place where we feel blessed for what we have.

Time for us to move to a place where we not only tell our kids that God will provide, but where *we* believe it.

It isn't going to be an easy move. Moving is never easy. When Elijah moved from his brook he faced a hundred mile walk through enemy territory. I imagine our journey will be similar.

It doesn't mean we won't mourn the loss of loved ones or stop praying for miraculous healings.

It means that even in the midst of loss and sickness, we believe God is still good. It means we believe that even though today is hot, dusty, and dry, tomorrow it just might rain.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waiting for another dent

It is amazing how much I learn from watching Disney movies with my kids. Maybe because we do so much of it these days (go ahead and judge me). Or maybe it is because I am the one who loves Disney movies. As I type, I am watching Cars 2 and Little Man is no where to be found.

The Little Mermaid taught me how to flirt without saying a word (which is why I don't let the girl child watch it). Beauty and the Beast taught me that, regardless of what everything in middle school leads you to believe, smart girls sometimes do end up with the best looking guy in the room, (which is why I do let the girl child watch it).

I'm not sure if Cars taught me anything, except maybe that I should be proud of my small town heritage. And I was almost sure that the only thing Cars 2 was going to teach me was that some movies should not have sequels. And I would stand by that.

Except for one line, right in the middle of the movie. One line that I might not have paid any attention to. I don't want to spoil the movie for you, but Mater ends up being a spy (gasp). As they are fitting him for his disguise, his partner tries to fix a dent so the disguise will fit better. He stops her. 

He says (and I'm paraphrasing because Little Man is back in the room and won't let me rewind), "You can't fix that dent. I got everyone of these dents with my best friend and it is way to valuable."

There is something to be learned from Cars 2 after all!

My childhood wasn't, ummmm, safe. No car seats. No seat belts. No bike helmets. No net around the trampoline, which gave us a clear shot to jump off the roof. Head first. I won't say we actually lit the house on fire. Because I had nothing to do with that. That was all my brother. I did lite him on fire once, but only because he told me to.

So I guess you could say, I got a lot of dents, only we called them scars and broken bones.

Then came high school. And boys. More dents, only this time they weren't physical scars, but emotional ones.

But one thing didn't change. Everytime I got a new dent, I had a friend right there with me. Whether it was the boys across the street helping us make a roller coaster off the back deck, or my best friend in high school crying with me over my first broken heart. My college roommate, the sister I never had, helping get out of an abusive relationship. My best friend since third grade crying across the miles with me over trips to the ER and crazy health problems that only the two of us could possibly understand.

My husband, patiently waiting for me to come back from depression after we lost our first baby.

All these dents, each one made with a friend by my side. Each one special to me. And I wouldn't want any of them painted over or fixed. Because each dent reminds me who I am and how I got here. And more importantly, who I got here with.

Every scar, broken heart, wrinkle, and gray hair (okay, so maybe I do paint over the grey hair), made me exactly who I am. And I've been blessed to have a lot of amazing friends who got me here.

Cars 2 taught me not only to be proud of my dents, but to look forward to them. They are way too valuable to fix.

And also that they should not make a Cars 3.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Waiting for enough

I've often wondered if my husband has secret conferences with our pastor. Somewhere out of the way and quiet, or more likely somewhere with free WiFi, where Richie lays out all of my problems, shortcomings, and slight neuroces. Then, our pastor, sympathetic to Richie's plight, begins to formulate a sermon. Of course he won't personally call me out during the sermon, he has an entire congregation to serve and besides, I will only be in one of the services. But the sermon will drill directly into my heart. Everyone sitting around me will know that Richie requested this sermon because while trying to take notes, I will cry non-stop. Richie will keep his eyes planted firmly on the pastor, never daring to look at me, because he doesn't want me to know that he requested this sermon especially for me.

Yep, that is what I think.

This week was a perfect example. The sermon series is entitled "Running on empty." They were clever enough not to use my face on the bulletin, since the fact I go for days without makeup and sometimes realize at dinner time I haven't brushed my teeth, would likely scare people off. It scares me. But still, I knew as soon as I saw the title, it was directed at me.

I've been running near empty for somewhere around 7 years. That coincidentally is the age of our first child. For three years I was a full time working mom with a high stress job. Then came my son, with an even higher stress job, full time mommyhood.

That's when I hit empty.

And then about a year ago, I started running on fumes. Constant health battles, financial struggles, not to mention putting on an extra 30 pounds, meanvdays when making it from bed to the couch are taxing. Facing those days while caring for a four year old. Boy. With boundless energy. Fumes are not enough to carry me through those days (he washed his toys off in the toilet this morning, if that gives you any idea.)

And then I show up Sunday and the pastor tells me I'm not alone. Not only are a lot of people around me running on empty, but one of the best known prophets in the Bible spent his life running on empty.

I'm sure it is no coincidence that the prophet he spoke of is named Elijah, my nephew's namesake. Probably something else Richie requested so I would be reminded of the sermon every time I see my nephew. Anyway, he said that Elijah came from the middle of nowhere during one of the darkest times in his people's history.  This no one, from nowhere, was sent to the king to tell him it wasn't going to rain until he (Elijah) said it would.

Then God told Elijah to run away and hide.

I've heard this story many times, and I always figured God told him to hide because he had just given the king some really bad news and the king would enjoy nothing more than killing him.

But no, our pastor said, God sent Elijah away to train him.

Weird training, sitting by a brook, in a new middle of nowhere.  A raven bringing him food in the morning and again in the evening. Watching the brook slowly dry up because of the very drought he prophecied. Every day, starting with nothing. Every night ending with nothing. Totally reliant on God for provision to keep him alive.

We aren't sure exactly how long Elijah was there, but it was long enough for the brook to dry up.

Picture me sitting in the pew, tears streaming down my face as I thought about my own sorry state, and imagining my brook, the only thing I had left, drying up.

Then it got worse. Basically God sent him on a hundred mile walk through enemy territory until he met a widow. But instead of finding provision, Elijah found that this woman and her son were preparing their literal last meal. She knew they would soon die.There was no more grain, no more oil, no water. More effects of the drought.

And then the pastor said something that caught my attention. He said, the widow's state didn't throw Elijah. Elijah had just been fed by a big nasty bird in the wilderness. He knew God would provide, and he also knew it wouldn't be in the way that the widow expected or wanted. Instead of dropping an HEB next door, God provided for the widow the same way He had provided for Elijah. Just enough every day for that day.

And for the next day, enough for that day.

God didn't set her up for life, but He sustained her.

*More tears, actually sobbing now.*

All these days when I thought the pain was too much for me to handle, God gave me strength enough for that day.

When the bank account and the pantry hit empty, God gave us enough for that day.

When my kids were sick, depression threatened to take over, or I almost killed the dog with chocolate, God gave me enough. For that day.

The problem, I realized, is that I don't want enouh for the day. I want enough for at least a week, preferably a year or two. I want to be able to look at the bank account, or the medicine cabinet, and know that tomorrow, I would be able to face whatever comes my way. And here was our pastor, telling us that God didn't work that way with Elijah, and He probably won't work that way for me either.

But He will give me enough. For today.

As usually happens after this kind of sermon, the one designed specifically for me, I got to practice this very thing the next day.

Already running on fumes, one of the kids got sick. Then the mail came and delivered us an unexpected medical bill that we are not prepared or equipped to pay. Opening the next bill, I realized I paid the wrong credit card, meaning I have a credit on one card we don't use and have made no payment for nearly two months on the card with a balance.

At that moment, I did not feel like I had enough. In fact, I felt like God was being just plain mean. Wasn't it enough that I was still sick and relying on Him every day for the strength to get out of bed? Wasn't it enough that we already had run up the credit card to pay medical bills. Wasn't it enough that both of my husband's grandfathers have serious health concerns and need multiple surgeries.  Wasn't it enough that my self esteem had hit an all time low.  I didn't feel like I could take one more thing. The fumes I had been running on were officially out and I was stranded by the side of the road. Or in this case on the bedroom floor crying.

And just then, at the very moment I couldn't move, God showed up.

He didn't magically pay off our debt, but He made a way for us to manage it.

He didn't heal me, but He gave me (and the kids)  a full night's sleep.

He gave me enough.

I still don't like it. I want more. More security, better health, one day when I don't feel certifiably crazy. But every time God shows up, it reminds me of His faithfulness. Because it is likely that I will be running on empty again, probably tomorrow.

But when I remember how He showed up today, it allows me to think He will show up again tomorrow. Not with enough for the rest of my life, or even the rest of the week.

But enough for the day.

If you are running on empty, check out the sermon on-line. And know that you aren't alone. Besides Elijah, there is a really cool, full-time mom in Fort Worth that is right there with you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Waiting for any given Sunday

Last year, on Mother's Day, I wrote a tribute to my mom.  It was touching.  I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.  Seriously, it was pretty good.  If you are still looking for something for your mom, you should totally steal it.  Although, unless at one point you lit the house on fire, you will have some editing to do.

And my mom still rocks.  But I'm pretty sure she knows that, so this year, I wanted to do something a little different.

Four generations
Between the ride to and from church and the service itself, I heard three, what I consider, "old school hymns."  Listening to them, I can't help but think about the one person I know who loved those hymns more than anyone, my grandmother.  Granted, when she learned them, they were probably new.  This morning as I sang "I need thee every hour," I could just see her sitting in the second pew on the left side of the pulpit holding her hymnal (red for Wednesday, green on Sunday), singing as loud as that little old lady voice could sing.  Any given Sunday, rain, snow, shine, 40 degrees below, broken hip . . . it didn't matter.  She was there, singing.

Growing up, I didn't really give it much thought.  Being a preacher's kid, church four or five times a week was the norm.  But as I look back now her singing it means something so different to me.

I guess when I was a kid, I kinda figured grandma had a pretty cushy life.  She had a great little house with a big yard that was just an ally away from an ice skating rink in the winter. Her stairs were always full of canned goods, so she was never out of food (although you often couldn't climb the stairs without endangering your life). She loved the Lord and would be the first to tell you that.  I guess I thought she sang songs like "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Jesus Paid it All" with joy because she didn't really have any worries.

In hindsight, I wasn't too bright.

She had kids, so right there I know she had worries.  She had my mom late in life and almost died in childbirth. A couple years later my mom almost died of appendicitis (apparently something that runs in my family).  My uncle was adopted and raised so much like a son that I had no idea he wasn't their blood son until my grandpa passed away.   Both her sister's and her niece's husbands died tragically and much too early. Her mother, my great grandmother, had Alzheimers (although in those days it went undiagnosed).  She and her sister cared for her day and and day out for years.  She cared for her until her mom no longer knew who she was. And then she cared for her longer.  And then, she sat right by her side as her mother died. My grandpa was a copper miner, a job that literally risked his life every day. Every day, I'm sure she worried for his safety.  Then, after decades of marriage,  her husband, my grandfather, passed away.  And she lived as a widow. 

She was hospitalized numerous times as her health and her body failed her.

Still she sang.

My grandma the first time she met her great granddaughter, Anna
It was only this morning that I realized when she sang "I need thee every hour," it was the cry of her heart.  She lived through enough tragedy and trials to know that without God providing for her, she wouldn't make it. 

But He did provide for her.  Every day.  Maybe not in that cushy way that I thought.  But no matter what she faced, He always showed up.  And she sang His praise, right up until her breath gave out.

My grandma was a true prayer warrior.  Something I have long admired.  If you are reading this and are family, or friends of our family, or someone she met one time, or someone she heard about that was in need, I guarantee she spent time on her knees for you. A naive 18 year old from small town Montana moving to big State college across the county who thought I knew it all, I often attribute my safety during those college years to the many, many, many hours she spent praying for me.  I also know she prayed that I would find a Godly spouse, as she and my mother before me did. I know that my life today was shaped by her prayers. Both the ones I know and the ones I can't imagine.

Every Sunday after church, from before I was born until I left for college, we sat around the table at her house and ate "Sunday Supper."  Our family was always there, but there was an open invitation to anyone who didn't have anywhere to go . Often we would be joined by a random cousin who was in town or a first time visitor to the church.  When she passed away, the only thing I wanted to inherit was that table, which now sits in my dining room. Although I've come to find out that table is really designed to seat 8, I'm sure we often had 14-16 people squeezed in. I aspire to be the hostess that she was, although her meatloaf will always taste better than mine.  I want people to feel as welcome in my house as they always did in hers. 

But most of all, I want to have the kind of faith she had.  For people to look at me and wonder how, in the midst of all of the pain and loss, I can still sing,"My faith is built on nothing less than Jesus' love and righteousness."  I want my children to hear me singing, "All to Jesus I surrender," and then I want them to see me actually surrender our darkest times to Him, knowing He won't ever leave us.  When my health is failing, when I'm betrayed by my family and friends, when the day comes that I lose my own mother or husband, or just on any given Sunday, I want to live with the kind of faith that knows for sure that God will provide.

So on this Mother's Day, I remember my Grandma Hegstad.  Every time I eat at her table, I will remember her heart, her joy, and her cooking. And every time I hear a hymn, I will remember her faith.

So grandma, I hope you enjoyed this, because I'm pretty sure they have Internet access in heaven.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mom's, grandmas, and great grandmas. In case you ever have any doubt, your impact reaches beyond the eternal.

I Need Thee Every Hour
Words: An­nie S. Hawks, 1872.
Music: Ro­bert Low­ry

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou bless├Ęd Son.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Waiting to see "I do"

Every time I look at our refrigerator (which is quite frequently), I am faced with three wedding invitations.  This is evidence that wedding season is upon us. This week, with all of the Time magazine hub bub, I couldn't help asking myself if I was, in fact, mom enough to let my little man grow up.  Oh, we are way past nursing issues (and I won't even chime in my opinion).  We have even conquered potty training and pre-school.  But as my mind swirled with images of wedding invitations and my sweet little man,  tears filled my eyes.  I am incredibly overly dramatic, given that my little man is only four and surely his wedding is a couple of decades away.

Still, as I cuddled up with him in his Spiderman blanket watching him sleep, I began to think of all of the things I would like to tell his future wife.  Seeing as the web is forever, I thought I would just jot that list down here.

  • I will be able to tell the first time he brings you home that he adores you.  I may know before he does that you are "the one" because I will have seen that look of adoration hundreds of times, only all of those times it was directed at me.
  • I will be both relieved and devastated that he has found someone to adore. I have become quite accustomed to being the most important woman in his life.
  • My reluctance to let him go will have nothing to do with you.  It will be a mixture of sadness marking the official end of his childhood and the fear that he will never again need me.  Don't take my feelings personally.  I've been dreading this day since he was four.
  • I will teach him to pick up after himself, to do laundry, put away dishes, and vacuum.  This is a wedding gift 20 years in the making.  In return I ask that you make sure he calls home more often than my birthday and Mother's Day.
  •  Every time he was hurt or scared, I held him until he felt better. This is now your job.  He may never tell you that he needs it, but I need to know you will hold him when life beats him down.
  • When you look at him, you will see a grown, independent man.  I will see a toddler in a Spiderman costume, eating fruit snacks and building a Lego world.  You won't understand this until you have a son.  By then it will be too late for me to explain. Besides, there will be no need. You will get it the first time you hold him in your arms.
  • He adored me.  More than anything, at one time, this little man thought his mommy could do no wrong.  That position in his heart belongs to you now. Please live up to it, because it is precious and very hard for me to pass on.
  • He is perfect. Even though he is loud and stubborn, opinionated and messy. I couldn't change who he is at his core, and neither can you.  Your life will be easier and indefinitely more fantastic if you embrace all that he is.
  • You will walk down the aisle and your father will give you away.  I will sit not too far from there silently doing the same.  It will break my heart.
  • I will love you because my son loves you, and I will see it every time he looks at you. And when I see you look at him the same way, I will love you even more.
  • I will teach him how to love unconditionally.  Please do not ever abuse that privilege.
  • Please do not ever ask me to chose between you and him.  I will almost certainly chose him every time.  This does not have anything to do with you.  If he is ever in a position to chose between you and me, I expect him to chose you.  That doesn't mean I will like it.
  • I will make my best effort to remember what it was like to be young and so in love that nothing mattered but how much I loved my future husband.  In turn, please try to imagine what it is like to give away a piece of your heart, because that is what I'm doing.
  • I have been praying for you since the day he was born.  I know that God chose you for him. This is the one thing that will help me let him go.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Waiting for summer

A few things have changed since I moved to Texas a decade and a half ago.  The most obvious (besides my accent) are of course the husband and kids.  However, those are what I consider life changes.  If they didn't happen in Texas, they probably would have happened somewhere (although my husband may disagree).

One of the major changes in my life has simply to do with geography.

I hate summer.

No longer do I look forward to that three months of bliss,  No responsibilities. Sleeping in late.  Staying up later. Spending every day in the pool (since that requires a swim suit).

This is not a major revelation, but Texas is hot.

Really hot.

It is also humid. And hot.

This makes summer a miserable time of mapping out locations with AC that also allow kids to run off some energy.

But last week (as it was already 90 degrees), I watched my children squeal in delight as they ran through the sprinkler. Joy written on their little faces smeared with with water, grass, and a touch of mud.

As I sat in the shade with a cool beverage, I asked myself, when did running through the sprinkler stop being fun?  I guessed it was sometime around the same time as being tickled goes from delightful to horrid.

So with that in mind, here is a list of childhood joys that I am going to try this summer in hopes they bring back a small fraction of joy I see in my kids.

- Swing as high as I can and jumping from the highest point.

- Spin until I can't walk straight.

- Play in a fountain fully dressed in the middle of the day.

- Ride the grocery cart through the parking lot to the car.

- Start a game of tag with complete strangers.

- Be amazed by the moon. Every time I see it.

- Look at the pets in the petstore and squeal in delight every time a puppy puts his paw on the glass. (Disclaimer: I realize many people are against pet stores, and this is in no way an endorsement. But I can't take the kids to the shelter to look at puppies because we would come home with one every time. Besides, the shelter isn't in the mall.)

- Do a cannonball in the swimming pool and be proud instead of horrified at the size of the splash I make.

- Chase the ice cream truck through the neighborhood and taking five full minutes to decide which treat I want.

- Play in any body if water, no matter how small or large, including lakes, rivers, streams, mud puddles, bath tubs, and of course, sprinklers.

- Fish.

- Roll down a giant grassy hill.

- Enjoy doing the wave at a major league baseball game. In fact, I might even start it. (I realize this may be more controversial than the pet store. Don't care.)

- See as many fireworks shows as possible. Love all of them.

- Dance whenever I hear live music, including in the street, in a restaurant, at the mall, and in church.

- Eat popcorn at the movies without one thought to how many calories are in the "butter" or how long it has been sitting in the machine.

- Buy quarter toys.

- Make wishes on stars, eyelashes, coins thrown in fountains, and lawn gnomes. The last category is new, but I can't imagine why a lawn gnome wouldn't grant a wish.

- Make a sandcastle.

- Sing really loudly whether I know the words or not. Okay, so I already do this, but now I'm going to do it proudly and more often.

- Eat an ice cream cone outside without caring if it is dripping down my arm.

- Turn off the televison, phone, and computer and play tickle monster with my kids every single time they ask.

- Ask my friends to come over more often.

- Have a happy meal and make up a game using the toy and the box.

Your turn. What childhood joys do you miss most?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Waiting for the Force

Apparently May 4 has been declared by people who like science fiction and puns to be Star Wars Day.  May the 4th be with you.  Get it?  I know, fun right.

Since I married a Star Wars fan (I refuse to use the word geek since that word is reserved explicitly to describe how he feels about Twitter), I thought I would dedicate a post to all of you gals out there who married, or may someday marry, a Star Wars Fan.

Here are a few things I have learned.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
 - When you have a son, he will not be allowed to play with his dad's Millennium Falcon no matter how much he begs.  You will have to explain even though daddy never plays with his ship, he doesn't share it. Then you will have to explain why sometimes daddy doesn't have to share his toys when your children are always required to share theirs.

 - It is not okay for your daughter to make daddy's Hans Solo doll drive the pink Barbie VW, even if the top is down.

- Hans Solo is an action figure, not a doll. 

 - Apparently, it is not spelled O B 1 Kanobe.

 - Hans Solo was sealed in carbonite, not frozen in wax.  Continually saying that he was frozen in wax will drive your spouse crazy, so I encourage you to do so.

 - Every man has a fantasy about Princess Leia in the metal bikini.  Every man.  This applies to gay men, blind men, and men who have never seen the movie.  

 - Even though the first three Star Wars movies are horrible, you are not allowed to make fun of them, because they are, in the end, part of the entire series and therefore sacred.

 - Every time the trilogy (or now all six movies) are re-released for any reason, no matter how insignificant, your husband will need a new copy. Even if he hasn't taken the last copy out of the shrink wrap. 

 - At some point in time your toddler will say that Yoda built the ark, and your husband will be okay with it.

- When you are deep in the throws of an argument with your husband, and he is silently and intently staring at you, he is trying to use the force.  (These are not the dirty socks you are looking for).

 - He will buy new Star Wars the Clone Wars toys "for your kids."  These he has to share, which makes him incredibly happy since he can never play with his "new in the box" collectables.

- He can not hold a light saber (or anything that resembles one) without making the vrznnmmmm noise.

- He is irritated at how I just spelled the noise a light saber makes and will spend the next few minutes trying to determine the correct spelling. 

- Every time he gets a microphone (real or plastic), he will put his mouth over it and say "Luke, I am your father."

- Every time one of the movies (especially the original trilogy) is on tv, he will reminisce about the first time he saw it in the theater and how amazing the special effects were.

- He will not find it amusing if you make fun of either of those things.

- At one point in his life he wanted to name his first son Lando.

- At about that same time he wanted to be a bounty hunter when he grew up.

- He can not remember his mom's birthday, but can name all of the characters (including the monsters and robots), from the original trilogy. He can also tell you what year each movie was released and who took him to go see them.

- Whenever a competition is in full swing (especially if there is a tall or bearded competitor), he will say, "Let the wookie win."

And lastly,
 - He will ask to walk down the aisle to a song from Star Wars at your wedding.  You will say no, because people don't do that, and then at the very next wedding you go to, the couple will walk out to the exact song he wanted.  He will never let you live this down.  Unless you name your next kid Lando. 

Did I miss anything? 

Happy Star Wars Day!  May the 4th be with you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Waiting to hit my knees

Since today is the National Day of Prayer, it seems appropriate that I take time to jot down a few quick thoughts about prayer. Few and quick, because that is often how my prayer life goes. When I'm worried, I throw up a quick prayer for protection. When the bank account is close to zero, I throw up a quick prayer for provision. You get the idea.

I've joked that if I didn't eat, God would never hear from me.

Over the last few years my prayers have become more frequent. It certainly isn't that I'm more holy.  I've simply gotten more needy. Well, that probably isn't true either. I guess the real truth is that I've just realized how needy I am, and more importantly, that on my own, I can't meet all of those needs.

Any of you who haven't known me very long may not know (or believe) that I used to be an extremely independent, proud, and accomplished woman.  Not to brag, (well kind of to brag), I started in my field early (see last blog post for details), and quickly found success.  The work came easy to me, much like school always had. I won awards. People called me to ask my opinion. I was on my way up.  My marriage was the envy of my friends. Even house training our puppy came easily.

Looking back, even as I re-read what I just wrote, I attributed all of my success to, well, me. Sure, I might give God a shout out, along with my parents and my second-grade teacher, but I certainly didn't rely on him for my success. I didn't seek his counsel prior to making big life decisions (thankfully my parents and grandma frequently prayed I would choose a good spouse, because left to my own devices that would have been a disaster). But that is just how I lived. I knew what I was doing, and things generally went my way. There was really nothing to bring me to my knees.

Then I had a miscarriage. 

Then the difficult pregnancy of our first and second child.

Then the migraines started, which kicked off a string of health problems that compounded on each other until I finally had to resign from my job. 

For the first time in my life, I didn't feel like I was in control. That terrified me. And honestly I think it was that terror that brought me to my knees. If I couldn't control the situation around me, I needed to tell God exactly how He should control it. 

And so my prayer life went (and still frequently goes). I used God as a way to feel more in control. Sometimes the answers went my way (as in the case of our second child who tried to come at 20 weeks and miraculously stayed put for 15 more weeks).  Frequently, the answers have not gone my way, (as in God please take away this migraine and let me never have one again. Ever).

I'm learning (slowly) that my prayer life isn't really what it should be. And I'm not just talking about frequency.  I'm learning that my prayers should not be designed to tell God what He should do, but to ask Him to help me accept His will.  I think it is okay that it is a mixture of both. Even Jesus asked that this cup would be passed from him (my translation: if there is any other way to save the world, I would really like not to be beaten to a pulp and crucified). And then he prayed, but not my will but Yours be done.

It is the second part of that prayer I struggle with. To say I struggle with not being in control is so much of an understatement it is almost laughable.

And I am starting to understand this is why God continues to allow situations in my life over which I have no control. For me, it has been my health, but you may find different situations; the death of a parent, betrayal by friends, the loss of a job. It is in those moments, when we are afraid and have no control, that we hit our knees. Even people who don't believe in God will ask you to pray in a desperate situation, just in case.

And so I find myself on this Day of Prayer trying to balance my desires with God's will. Knowing that if my desires were granted (which would mean perfect health for me), I would likely go back to my former place of independence where seeking God's will wasn't part of my plan.

Believe me when I tell you that doesn't mean I want to stay sick. I also don't believe it means that God made me sick. I do believe he is using this time to teach me. One of those things he is teaching me is how to pray. How to listen. How to pray for others with the same intensity I pray for myself. To pray that my kids will also find amazing Godly spouses. To pray they will learn to pray without hitting rock bottom.

And to pray that once I learn these lessons, if control ever seems within my grasp again, I will resist the urge to stand up and grab it, and instead stay on my knees.