Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Novelists, Power Forwards and Thrones




My sister is a writer. I am not sure if she says this out loud. Rather she says things like: "I like to write", "I have a talent for writing", "I aspire to be a writer someday". These insecure statements cloaked in humility do not change the facts. Rylie is a writer. She is not a writer merely because she writes. There is some passion deep inside each of us and when it emerges from our beings it can be used to help define us. I picture words coursing through Rylie like blood. These words are as essential to her as breath. They flow out of her finger tips with each punch of her laptop keys. Apart from writing Rylie would cease to exist. She would still be present here, but in large part the essence of who she is would be missing. To me, she would no longer be "Rylie".


Why am I saying all of this? Well, this past weekend Rylie got to attend a gala where she met her favorite novelist, Ann Patchett. To say that Rylie was giddy would only begin to describe it. To say that she was awe-struck would not quite do it justice. To declare her inspired, motivated, and impassioned might scatch the surface. Rylie had what I am sure she considers one of the greatest opportunities of her life, thus far. She got to meet one of the single most inspiring people in her life and one of the people whose craft she most admires.

Talking with her about it I could see the lingering excitement in her eyes and I could even hear the difference in her voice. It got me thinking. How many of us get to have an opportunity to mingle with someone we typically have admired (stalked) from a distance, someone we only know through books or television? I got to have dinner with the Syracuse Men's Basketball team once, when I was in seventh grade. My souvenirs from that night are a signed Etan Thomas jersey,which my dad paid entirely too much for in a silent auction, and a photo of a gangly, pale pre-teen whose quivering body is being held up by two almost-seven-foot-tall -phenoms. My only advice to Rylie before she left for the gala the other night was to avoid nearly fainting in front of Ann Patchett and suffering a fate similar to mine.

As I was thinking, a Bible passage popped into my head: Hebrews 4:15-16. " For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weakness, but who has been tempted in every way, yet did not sin. So let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need". The part that I remembered as I was talking to Rylie was approaching the throne of grace with confidence. Certainly that was not Rylie's first inclination upon seeing Ann Patchett from across the room. It definitely was not mine when I saw Etan Thomas and the rest of the Syracuse team. As well as Ann can craft a sentence and as well as Etan can block shots, they pale in comparison to the God of the universe, the same God who invites us to approach him confidently.

As Rylie, or any other writer could tell you, authors choose their words with the utmost care, laboring over each one so that they can convey their message in the most precise way possible. Clearly God, from his throne, wants me not to falter, (or stammer, or feel like I am going to lose my lunch, or sweat, or almost pee myself,) as I come to Him in prayer. I can think of many ways that I have approached God, especially in the instance referred to here, where weakness is present and mercy and grace are required. I am not usually confident, more like worried, unsure, scared. Sometimes in moments like that I find myself not approaching His throne at all. It is pretty awesome though that God, the greatest celebrity and inspiration of all time, tells me to approach Him confidently, not confidence in myself, but confidence in who He is. The fact that I can approach Him at all is incredible. It is way cooler than meeting the Syracuse team. And to think that I can do this every day, whenever I want, to think that He longs to see me enter His throne room, well that makes my knees stop knocking a little.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Toddlers, Twenty-somethings and Temper tantrums


I have a two year old. I have crayon drawings covering my fridge and walls. I have Sesame Street songs ringing in my head. It is pretty hard to make it though my living room without stepping on a land mine (a piece of plastic food from her toy kitchen, a puzzle piece, her baby doll's countless accessories). There is play dough ground into our rug and I am pretty sure that we could repopulate any of the Great Lakes with the number of goldfish crackers that find their way into our couch. I hear "no Mommy" and "mine" more times a day than I care to admit. These assertions are often followed by whining, which turns into screaming, which finds its red faced way directly to timeout. Yes, I have a two year old.

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to how to deal with this relatively new phenomenon. I usually do this at night after my blood pressure has dropped back down to an acceptable level, I have had a chance to shower and wash off the poop and puke that my four month old has happily adorned me with, and my head has (somewhat)cleared. Somewhere between ripping my hair out and praying for wisdom and patience I had a bit of a humbling realization. (Okay, this epiphany probably came to me more as a result of my prayer than hair pulling.) I realized that in actuality there is not a whole lot of difference between Hayleigh's temper tantrums and some of my own attitude problems. No, I don't typically throw myself of the floor and scream when someone tells me "no". (And definitely not when someone tells me to take a nap. I would love someone to tell me that!) But is there really much of a difference between my temper tantrums and my daughter's? They both come from the same root sin of selfishness.

I am not making excuses for Hayleigh's behavior but at least she is two. I am a lot older than two and still find myself throwing my grown-up version of temper tantrums: when something changes suddenly in my schedule, when I don't get the down-time I want , when I don't have the money to go on a shopping spree so I can fill my closet and decorate my home exactly how I want, or someone says something that rubs me the wrong way, or I don't get a full night's sleep, or to go on vacation, or to eat fillet mignon for dinner at least once a week (okay, not really). I have a tendency to fall into that same self-pity, frustration and even anger as my toddler. Sometimes Peter and I say to ourselves, "what is so bad about Hayleigh's life? She doesn't know how good she has it!". I find myself sitting here wondering if God is saying the same thing about me. How many times has God watched me throw my temper tantrums, and even worse how many times have I prayed selfish prayers in the midst of one of those tantrums? Eeek.


The fact that my God sees the yuckiest parts of me and still not only puts up with me, but loves me unconditionally is pretty darn amazing. It is also pretty darn convicting. I love Hayleigh. I adore Hayleigh. I would do absolutely anything for my baby girl.



Maybe right now that "anything" is looking into my own heart and getting rid of some of that icky, selfish, immature nature that still resides in there. Maybe me cleaning up my own act would really be what is best not just for me but also for her in the long run too. Maybe this is the wisdom I prayed for. Maybe this perspective can motivate me to have a little more patience.


So when she is melting my heart hugging me and saying "I wuv you, Mommy", or whispering her bedtime prayers, or beaming with pride at her latest craft creation, or pretending to breast feed her baby, I will soak those moments in. And when she is yelling at me, or interrupting, or whining and nagging, I will soak in the grace of my Savior who was nailed to the cross for me. That same grace gave me the exhortation in Ephesians 5:1-2 and the encouragement in Proverbs 24:16 .




(I apologize for the horrible handwriting.)
This grace also gives me "everything I need for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3) which I am pretty sure includes being patient with a two year old.



Also, happy 4 month birthday to my Little Man today!!






Look at him sit up on his own!




And here is one more of his sweet and sassy sister!



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No sugar, better sugar, and celebrating my sweet husband

So this is my first post! I was not sure what to write about but since Peter is probably the only one reading this, and since this past weekend was both his 25th birthday and Father's Day, it seems fitting to write about that. Being that his birthday was on Friday he took a vacation day from work and we had a much needed family day. Hayleigh and I were going to make a Funfetti cake from scratch for him in the morning (yes, my husband is 25 going on 5), but after I got all the ingredients out and we were starting, I realized I did not have enough sugar, figures. (He ended up eating a much yummier dessert later on anyway.) Later in the day we went to a playground and also for a walk along the canal. It was a really beautiful day, made even more beautiful by the fact that the four of us got to spend it together.




This is the best we could get.




In the evening Peter and I had a take-out picnic with an Outback gift card. Since it was his 25th birthday I made him a list of 25 of my favorite memories involving the two of us. The list was really fun to make and even more fun to talk about over dinner. We have had some pretty great times together! We also used a gift card at Cheesecake factory for dessert which my mom had laying around. She gave it to us when I mentioned the birthday cake disaster from earlier in the day. ( I have a great Momma!) We got Lemon Raspberry, which was possibly one of the most delicious things I have ever had. Yay gift cards and yay for running out of sugar!

Sunday was Father's Day. This day has extra-special meaning for us because it was on Father's Day three years ago that we found out (surprise!) we were pregnant with Hayleigh. This year we spent it hanging out with both sides of our family on my parent's deck which was really nice. It is rare to get all the siblings together with work schedules but we were able to do it minus Peter's brother Matt and his wife Christina who live out of town. Hayleigh made Peter a hand print tree for Father's Day to hang in his cube at work. She also made a present in her class at church but is yet to give it to him because she insists it is hers because it says her name on it. Ay, two year olds.




Daddy kid picture take 2: also a fail.

Going along with what seems to be a theme of the weekend, cheesecake, I made a Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake. I had never made a full size cheesecake before so I was pretty nervous. But I must say it turned out pretty good. There was no sticking to the pan and it was not short on flavor. Considering I mixed it while holding a cranky Braxton in one arm it may not have been short on drool either (kidding). Here is the recipe. I made the crust a bit thicker and also added more Raspberries than it called for.

Here are some Grandfather and kid photos. I realized I did not have many of Hayleigh from the day and the ones I did have she was doing her best to run out of the frame. So, here is my drooly, chubby, lovable almost 4 month old boy with his Papa and his Pop, two great dads themselves!








What a wonderful weekend it was celebrating the man in our lives. I am so grateful to have a husband who never leaves me doubting his love, faithfulness and work ethic. He is a godly example of a man who desires to provide and care for his family. I can always count on him to be a help, encouragement and friend to me. He adores our kids and I love watching how he interacts with them. Happy Father's Day and Happy 25th birthday again, Peter. I am excited to see what the next 25 years bring! I love you.




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