Saturday, March 31, 2012

Heaven

On Tuesday I noticed a nasty, puss-filled pimple-looking thing on Brooklyn's fever. On Wednesday she had a fever that got up to 102. Being the Web-MD-reliant mom that I am, I began listing her symptoms in order to see what kind of trauma my child had. Of course, I decided she had a Staph infection and that she was going to die.

See, I have a problem with expecting the worst. Brandon thinks I'm horribly morbid for this, but to me it's the relief I feel when it's anything but my expectations that make me happy. Ignorance is not bliss to me- I want to know, and if I can't or don't know, I will make up the most horrid scenario possible so I am pleasantly surprised later. Ask my husband how many times I have assumed he was in a car accident when he didn't answer his phone. He won't be able to count them all.

I took Brooklyn to the doctor on Thursday, listening to KSBJ while I drove. "Hallelujah", by Heather Williams began playing.  I'd never thought much about that song either way, but in that moment, I finally felt the force behind the words that were sung.

Jesus, please come, please come today
Heal me, hear me, be near me I pray

One of my favorite hymns (#712 in the old school songbook) is "Jesus is Coming Soon". Such a triumphant, rocking song about the ultimate victory. We're always supposed to be looking up, hoping and praying that Jesus comes soon. I'm not good at this. At all.

I love my life. I have a fabulous husband and a precious daughter, wonderful friends, a job I enjoy and am generally very happy with where I am. I've never had a huge trauma such as losing a family member or close friend and am and always have been in excellent health. My life has had its trouble, its drama, its depression and sadness, but overall I love my life.

And, I'm terrified of Heaven. It's true. It's one of the silliest things for a Christian to think and admit, but there it is, and it's got its roots in a very basic theory: we fear what we do not know. I can't understand eternity. I love the people around me now and want to know that I will be able to recognize them and keep loving them when we're all dead. So despite the fact that I sing "Jesus is Coming Soon", that thought scares the bajezus outta me. (How does one spell that word, anyway?)

On the way to Brooklyn's doctor appointment it hit me: if she were in any kind of serious pain or chronic ill condition, I would be praying FERVENTLY for Jesus to come back as soon as possible. Who wants to see their child hurting? Who wants to see their child die? No one on this Earth wants that. No one.

I smiled to myself. Yes, how easy it would be to pray for Jesus to come again to save my child from suffering. All of a sudden I understood: God sent his child TO suffer, and we enjoy our pleasures on Earth without giving Him a second thought. He looks down at us and says, "What are you thinking? Why do you love your life on Earth? Don't you know what I've done for you? Don't you know what I have in store?" And we all continue to live as if we're going to be the first person in history to live forever.

The doctor said Brooklyn's fever was an after effect of a cold/teething, and the pimple-thing on her finger was a fire ant bite. Whew! Yay for a mostly healthy child! How easy it was to hear that news and go back to picturing her growing up, going to school, playing sports and the like. An hour before I was asking Jesus to come, but now that my child is healthy, no thank you, Lord. Keep your son. What kind of a response is that?

This isn't going to be easy. It never has been, and me understanding one of my failings doesn't mean it goes away with the push of a button. It's going to take me a long time, and probably some epic turn of events, for me to want Heaven more than I want Earth. I can't help it... I love my family SO much. But I know what I need to do. I need to trust, and pray the words to the song that I heard 100 times before I ever understood:

Jesus, please come, please come today
Heal me, hear me, be near me I pray
I have fallen so far, flat on my face
I’m in need of Your grace today
I stumble and fall, but in spite of it all
Your love always stays the same
Hallelujah

Jesus, please come, please come today
Break me, mold me, use me I pray
But don’t give up on me now, I’m so close to you now
I’m in need of your grace today
Wipe the dirt off my face, hold me in Your embrace
Your love always saves the day
Hallelujah

On my knees, here I fall, in spite of it all
Hallelujah

And though it seems hard, I still trust in your love
Hallelujah

I have fallen so far, flat on my face
I’m in need of your grace today
Hallelujah

Sing hallelujah, amen


"Hallelujah"
Heather Williams

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kids. Gotta love 'em.

Brooklyn is learning to do new things everyday. Funny, interesting things that make me go, "huh?"

Example: yesterday Brandon and I were excitedly discussing how awesome the Spurs are or when we're going to have time to watch "The African Queen" before it's taken off Netflix, and Brooklyn decided that we were talking much too loud. She, the big girl at the kitchen table, looked at me with her pointer finger over her mouth and said, "Sssssss". Excuse me, small child, I didn't realize I was breaking your concentration with my conversation. Once Brandon and I began talking quietly, she loudly proclaimed, "Bla nfyujknrfcsyasdbnfe myind7x\bng98". Way to go, hypocrite.

She also claimed me as her own for the first time the other day. In cradle roll (nursery Bible class), the teacher hands out small New Testament Bibles that the kids can hold and they sing "Pat the Bible". Brooklyn LOVES this song, so she grabs her own Bibles at home, pats them while saying "Bible". Then she pats the cat while saying "cat", daddy while saying "daddy", etc. Yesterday, very clearly, she put both her hands on me and said, "MY mommy!" As awful as this sounds, it felt good to be coveted.

Kids. Gotta love 'em.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kitchen Woes

I don't know what I'm doing in the kitchen. I get take out for friends when they have babies. I consider putting a pizza in the oven "cooking dinner". I make excuses like "it's hard to cook for just two people" (Brooklyn doesn't eat half of what we do anyway, so she doesn't count yet), or "Brandon's never home at dinner time anyway"... truth is I just don't know my way around a kitchen. This is especially sad since our kitchen is probably 50 square feet and has a combined total of 7 small cabinets.

I got a food processor for Christmas, and I was thrilled about it! Not that I was going to be making natural and organic baby food like some of my awesome mommy friends do, or that I'm going to be following Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook by putting pureed vegetables into regular meals... I would, you see, but we're cheap and veggies are expensive. Bad excuse, but it's the only one I've got.

Mainly, I was excited for my food processor to make sausage balls. Sausage balls were a breakfast staple in our house growing up. Special occasions, holidays, and Saturdays when my mom was in a good mood were given days to have something delicious like cinnamon rolls or sausage balls. Kirby loves sausage balls so much that he put them on his Christmas list one year. And when it comes to making these browned balls of goodness, one really needs a food processor or you can't make then round and perfectly even.

Of course, maybe if I am trying to be a good housewife I should stop acting like a man and read the directions of a kitchen appliance before I try to use it. Had I done that, I would not have discovered that you can use a food processor to also make whipped sausage. Yes, that's right. Imagine the consistency of the fluffiest frosting, and then add the taste of meat. Have you ever heard of anything so disgusting? Just another t*stro creation.

True, I fixed my mistake and enjoyed a delicious breakfast, but there are some NASTY dishes waiting to be cleaned in my sink that is too small to clean them in.

Being a wife can be hard. So can being a mom. I think being a cook is hardest of all.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hard to Love

Some people are really hard to love. I've been thinking a lot about how we as Christians are supposed to love our enemies, and this is really challenging in some ways. Namely, it's really hard to love people you just don't like. And the people you don't like are the people that you know. It seems to be a lot easier to love people you don't know.

I forgive Osama Bin Laden. I hated hearing Christians, God-fearing, God-loving people rejoicing and praising his death. That's terrible. God wants us all to be in Heaven with Him and he wept when Bin Laden was killed. He never learned to follow the truth, and that is extremely sad. He was a bad person who committed terrible crimes, but God was willing to give him a chance until the very end, and we should all be that way.

Why is it harder with the people who we see day in and day out? What if there were a law that said you had to name your children and pets after the people in this life you have the most bitterness towards, in an effort to teach you how to love them? What if you had to name your loved ones after the people who are the hardest to love? What names would you be surrounded with?

My friend Wendi has a little boy named Jake. I cringed when I first heard that's what they were naming their child. Then he was born, and he's so perfect and sweet and cuddly and I felt like that name no longer held any power, no longer had to remind me of a time I'd like to forget.

Put those names all over the place- remind yourself of the people who bother, hurt and hate you. Try to love someone who is hard to love. It feels impossible, until it isn't. Then it's just rewarding and weight-lifting.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Big Girl

I always thought that telling someone they were a "big girl" was a self-esteem booster (unless of course you're saying it patronizingly to an overweight teen, in which case you just made that someone's death list). I still think it is for the most part. We all grow up wanting to be bigger. It's like it's ingrained in us that bigger is better, and for those of us who grew up in Texas, we got that double. Every time I meet a new child in the nursery at church, I undoubtedly will ask them how old they are.

Child: "Four!"
Me: "Wow! What a big girl!"

^This is a commonplace conversation. You don't say "Wow! You are so old!" because 'old' is deemed negative. For example...

Child: "Four!"
Me: "Wow! You are so old!"
Child: "I'm not old! You're old!"
Me: *thinking* To this child, am I really old? I'm only 26... do I have wrinkles? Do I smell? What is it exactly that makes them think I'm old? I'm very short, so it can't be height, unless even 5 foot 1 seems towering to them... which is hard to understand...

^'Old' causes much more analyzing than 'big' does.

I tell Brooklyn she's a big girl because she is in a constant state of transition, and every new thing she does means she is just that much less a baby. I read on a parenting site the other day that you have a child their entire life, but you only have a baby for a year. According to them, I haven't had a baby since October. And in a way, they're right.

Brooklyn no longer uses a pacifier. Transition key? We told her it was only for naps and bedtime because "only babies need pacis all day long". Then when she was officially paci-free, it was "Yay! What a big girl! No more pacis!"... logical syllogism being the following: Pacifiers are for babies. Brooklyn does not use pacifiers. Therefore, Brooklyn is not a baby.

She outgrew her infant carseat, and she wasn't a big fan of the new one we bought for her. My instant commentary? "It's okay, Brooklyn. This is a big girl carseat! Only for big kids!" Ta-da! I reinforce the idea bigger is better once again.

I dare you not to do this. Is it possible? Isn't it natural for all of us as parents (or even aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents) to comment on how we change? And don't we always point out changes that we feel are positive? Most of us who are not socially awkward will not point out things like, "You have a really nasty pimple on the end of your nose", choosing rather to say things like "You are so much taller than you were last time I saw you!". We take comments like that as compliments, whereas would be very offended at the critical comments. How do you NOT point out how big your kids are getting? Sure, sometimes it's with a twinge of sadness because, as I pointed out before, babies are really only babies until they turn one. Then you've moved from infant to toddler in the blink of an eye. For the most part, you point out how big your kids are getting as a point of pride for yourself and a boost of self-esteem for them.

I think maybe I've overdone it. My big girl has decided she is now too big for her highchair (she had her dinner and breakfast in a regular chair at our table). She also decided to take off with an entire bucket of sidewalk chalk to her own little corner of the park the other day to play by herself. I guess it surprised me because she's apparently a big enough kid to 1)make her own decisions and 2)play by herself. Made me a little sad, but then I realized the cat's in the cradle... she's just like me. I always played alone and loved it. I think I was too imaginative and shy at the same time-I wanted to play my creative games with my toys but didn't want to be embarrassed by letting others watch or listen.

Is there any hope to revert what I've done? Can I just start calling her a baby over and over again and make it true? No, not really. In fact, I always told myself that the defining moment that made her officially not a baby was when she could say the word 'baby'. Once they can say 'baby', they start identifying babies, and they certainly do not identify themselves as babies once that happens. Well... Memphis Keyes got the honor of being the first baby Brooklyn recognized as a 'baby' on Thursday. Budeebudeebudee that's all folks.

When she gets older, if she ever gets called a baby, it'll be as an insult. Being a baby is really only positive if you are, in fact, an infant. If you're seven and someone says you're a baby, it's negative and causes tears. I wish it didn't. I wish she could say 'baby' and call herself one too. I wish she could not grin ear-to-ear when I call her a big kid. I wish she could always be my baby. But she won't. And yet, I  in a way, I guess she always will be.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When She Cries

Here are just a few things I think about when Brooklyn cries:

  • I relish the opportunity to nap. Why don't you?
  • Is that a real cry? Or do you just want attention?
  • Are you scared or hurt?
  • I heard a loud thump... is she crying because she hit her head or because she threw Elmo on the ground?
  • How long am I going to let this go on before I intervene?
  • Is this a stand up, sit up, or lay down kind of cry?
  • Is it teething's fault again?

It's a mess. Since she was born, Brandon has had weekend duty. He gets her up on Saturday mornings and they get breakfast and cartoons, he gets her ready for church on Sundays, and when she was a little baby he would get up with her in the night and take care of her- feedings, diapers, etc. I don't even know why we bother sometimes, as she clings to me like Saran Wrap. When she cries, I can't sleep. I can't focus on anything else. Why would I make Brandon get up with her in the night if she was just going to cry and keep me awake in the next room? It's getting better, especially since she is, in general, a very good sleeper... but man. How on earth do you completely shut out screams and cries of "Mama" and "No no no!" from the other room? And how mad can I be when she just wants to be near me?

I guess I'll take the screams and cries if it gets me lots of hugs and kisses too.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thankfulness

As I sit here trying to decide which blessing to put as my Facebook status, I opt for a blog entry about them all instead.

Today I am thankful for...

1. Tylenol. Brooklyn must be getting her remaining 8 teeth all at once, because she has been whining like crazy, screaming, acting out, chewing on her fingers, getting a runny nose, not sleeping, wanting a pacifier again and nothing has been helping. I try not to give her Tylenol unless she's got a high fever but today I couldn't take it anymore. Thank you, Tylenol, for your ability to be given to children under two. She has been in a peaceful, pain-free sleep since noon. It is now 3:30 PM and she sleeps still. I went in about 1/2 an hour ago to make sure she was still breathing. You know, moms do that kind of thing.

2. My family. Growing up we used to have family reunions every or every other year. We would go to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach in Alabama (except for that one year that Uncle Jack decided we needed to go camping. Please. Don't get me started on my fear and loathing for scorpions because of it). It was the Allen reunion, so my Papa and his brothers and sister's kids, grandkids, and now even great grandkids. But we haven't had a reunion since... well, Brandon never got to go to one, so probably 2005 was the last summer we all got together. It's extremely hard now because there are so many of us and we're spread out from Texas to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina and who knows where else. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that those days of family reunions are over, which makes me sad, because I kind of made myself the children's activity planner (very fitting, considering my current job). Every time we were together, I'd get all the cousins on board for an outing of some sort: go-kart racing, putt putt golfing, carnival, laser tag, games of charades in our condos- you name it, we did it, and probably more than once. I'm thankful for all the memories I have of those summers, and I'm thankful that there is a possibility we have a small Allen reunion in the works for this year. Just Granny and Papa's family, which is still a lot of people to get together from four different states, but just talking about it makes me happy. So I'm thankful today for my Granny and Papa, Uncle Barry, Aunt Vicki, Josh, Anna Kate, Uncle Bill, Betsy, Rebecca, Steven, mom, dad, Lindsay, Cody, Pearl, Kirby, and all the spouses, soon to be spouses or children in the family that I haven't even met yet. I hope to do so soon :)

3. Lint rollers. This may seem silly, but lint rollers are the only thing that can even come remotely close to cleaning our couch. Normally I don't care about getting all the cat hair off the couch because let's face it: it's just going to get back on there again. But- Steve and Ruth Ann are coming in town tonight and if I don't try to get a hairball free apartment, no amount of Benadryl will keep Steve going this weekend!

4. Anna Peters and Mary Fink. If you don't know these ladies, meet them. They are two servants on the children's ministry team and are two of the most loving and cheerful people I've ever known. I just instantly become happy talking to them.

5. Books. I may have a Mac, I may know how to edit movies and music, but some pieces of technology are just not up my alley. I won't get a Smartphone because I can text faster than all of you on my flip phone, and I won't get a Kindle because I like paper. I started reading the original "Winnie the Pooh" book yesterday- my copy was published in 1968. So neat to feel something that old and nostalgic in my hands as I flip through it. I love the smell of aged paper, and I know seeing classic Pooh hanging as a rain cloud from his blue balloon just wouldn't look the same on a computer screen.

6. Trisha Clark and our Tuesday Ladies' Bible class. Since I work on Sundays, that's become my church time. And I thoroughly enjoy going to church on Tuesdays :) I may not be very good at living the life of a simple woman, but I do love learning about how to do it!

There are lots more things to be thankful for. In fact I could go on and make this post an infinite length, but I won't. I think I've written just enough to hopefully get you all thinking about a few things that you are thankful for today too!