Friday, December 14, 2007

Crazy Weeks

Life has hit the fast lane again... We are wrapping up school for the holidays, so the kids are nutty. My fellow teachers are all in turmoil. One is out because her mother is dying of Alzheimer's. She's been hanging on with no water or food for 5 days. Another teacher is dealing with extreme back pain from ruptured vertabra that didn't respond as expected to some epidural cortizone stuff. Two others have some seriously disturbed kids in their room who aren't responding well to simple directions. And I'm team leader.

Needless to say, I'm a tired team leader from putting out fires of problems, juggling administrative duties, keeping morale up, and trying to teach my darlings something. Yes, I'm whining, but where else can you whine, if not your blog?? Right??

Home is good. The boys are SO into Christmas this year. We are working on the concept of "it's not about the stuff you see on TV, but what do you want Santa to bring you? No, he's not bringing SpongeBob Operation because I told him not to. How about some Transformers??"

I know, I know, mixed messages stink. Our family has chosen to share the story of Santa with our kids. They believe he is real. We don't discourage the idea. They'll catch on soon enough. Most likely because Mommy will spill the beans by accident. When I'm tired, I'm not too sneaky. I'm sure they'll be scarred for life. At least we can differentiate for them. Jesus loves you always, good or bad, you are loved. Santa likes you always, unless you are bad. Then you don't get toys. Just lumps of coal. But not really. Have you ever known anyone that Santa didn't come for just because they were bad?? I guess that goes into my book titled Lies We Tell Our Children. It'll come right after the chapeter called "Your Permanent School Record."

But the point I'm making is... Santa is a chance to teach the concept of consequences versus love. My kids don't get stuff because I love them. Stuff is not love. I'm so glad that neither of them has the "gifts" love language. They get stuff because we are rich in so many ways. My love and their stuff don't really go together. Getting stuff can be the consequence of doing good in school, behaving in the right place, having a special something to celebrate. But it's not love.

Love is unconditional on how they act, what they do, or where they go. God loves us even if we are poor, choosing a wrong life path, or not getting the "blessings" we want. His choice to bless or not has nothing to do with his love for us. He loves us either way.

How depressing to think that God doesn't love me because I don't have what I want. But do we know people who think that way? Maybe I have too. Yep, pretty sure I've thought that. "If God really loved me, He'd ________." You fill it in for you. I've already been there and done that. He loves me regardless of my circumstance. He loves us no matter what is going on. We have consequences for our actions. There are Proverbs about good things coming to hard workers. There are gifts given in love. But, it's merely an expression.

I hope I can teach my boys that real love isn't like Santa. He's not giving gifts because he loves us. He's just doing a job. But God, he loves us, naughty or nice. And instead of coal when we were naughty, we got Jesus.... hmmm... now that's love. Not a gift, but a person.. God himself in human form..

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Forgot the Turkey Day pictures

Oops, I forgot to post the cool pictures of the holiday at my parent's house.

Josh and Selah with Patrick, the Irish Wolfhound. Getting two 3 year olds to sit still long enough to snap a photo that looked good is hard!

That's Mom and me in the kitchen where we spent most of the holiday. I love cooking with my mom. I forgot how fun it was.

Josh finally fell asleep in Chris's arms. Poor kid was SO tired.

That's Katie and Mom, the two most elusive picture subjects in the family. I think I just got lucky this time.

Christmas is Coming,So Why Don't I feel Ready??

The Advent Season is upon us. Stores are full of stuff that glitters and sings. Church is a litany of holiday events designed to remind us of the reason for the season. School is a patchwork of special events, benchmark testing, some actual teaching time and lots of cool art projects. So, why don't I feel ready to celebrate my Savior's birth this year?

I know in whom I have my faith. There is so much to celebrate in Christ. I love the story of the baby born in Bethlehem that came to save the world from sin. I have two great kids who will really get it this year. More than just the presents and food, I mean. Ryan gets to celebrate his Savior's birth for the first time with a true understanding of what Christmas is all about. Josh is curious enough to follow his brother's lead and listen to the story for the first time. So why don't I feel ready to celebrate my Savior's birth this year?

Maybe it's because I'm so ready to tell 2007 good bye. It has not been a kind year to my family in some ways. Maybe it's because I'm tired of the commercialism. I don't want to think about the list of gifts left to be bought out of duty. Maybe it's because I'm not where I need to be with the Lord. It's hard to celebrate someone's birthday when the relationship is strained. Or maybe I'm just being to anal and critical of life in general and need to "let it go". Or maybe, and here's the one I'm leaning toward, maybe I don't want a 25 day party. Maybe the season is so envasive that I just want to live life and celebrate Christmas when it's time.

Whatever the reason, I refuse to be a Scrooge, bah-humbug, hermit. I will honor the One who came to save the world. I won't take the Christ out of Christmas, even if I do abbreviate it occasionally. I will decorate the house and go to the parties and give the gifts with love and a prayer. I won't let my little "funk" color the season for those around me. It just won't be easy. But good things seldom are.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Sense of Accomplishment

We've started rearranging our house. 1 space at a time. But it's kind of like a Chinese Slide Puzzle. In order to do thing A, we have to make room in place B. But to make that room we'll have to shift item C to position D.... Get it? So yesterday, we were working on my Mother in Law's room. She was replacing some furniture. And we were putting a desk that was in her room downstairs. Well, to do that, we had to put the 1970's wood and glass hexagonal table (the one your parents gave you when you got married) in the garage. For those familiar with our downstairs, this is a momentous occasion. It has been no small feat to get this beloved piece of antiquity to it's rightful home among the garage detritis. But it happened. That day was Nov 17. I will remember it well. :)

What a sense of accomplishment when things finally start happening. Yesterday, it was the physical features of our house. Recently, "things" started happening spiritually with Ryan. The sense of well being and comfort that comes when we get something done is a wonderful thing to feel. Now, if I can just get Mt. Laundry under control, I'll feel like I really got something done....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Think Times are Changing???

We have no idea how times are changing. Take a peek. It's worth the time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving Count Down

Thanksgiving is week away. I can't believe it! I've started the annual "food prep" e-mails with my mom. she tells me what she's planning to serve and asks for input. I tell her how much I like what she has planned and what our travel schedule is. She e-mails back requesting my thoughts on her food plan and I return with the list of likes and dislikes my family has.

Thanksgiving is a great holiday partially because it also encompasses the November Birthday Convention. My son, mother, father, and sister all have birthdays in November, with Dad and Katie's being right around Thanksgiving. So we always get to squash in a birthday party, too. (See previous post on cakes for birthday celebrations.)

Now, if we can get the car working well enough to make the 200 mile trip, we'll be in good shape. Chris is out tonight with our automobile inclined friend to fix the brake pads, AC fan, and see why the tires keep going flat. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, November 9, 2007

"Will science eventually solve all of our problems?"

Chris shared the following with our Sunday School leaders this week. It's worth the read.

I found that question laughable as I reflected on the just the last 24 hours. We were awakened last night by a screaming 3 year old. Josh woke up with one of those ear aches that for an adult would be unbearable. So we proceeded to use the wonders of modern chemistry to sooth his pain. Nothing seemed to work accept the embrace of mommy's arms.
As morning dawned we were out the door to avail ourselves of modern
medicine with a run to our favorite doctor (he's like family, ever since we put
his kids through college). More medicine was prescribed and all were
happy. On the way back I decided to stop for some fuel and the modern convenience
of a quick carwash. Halfway through the rinse cycle, I heard a pop. It was
then that I noticed that our modern miracle had ripped the sided mirror from
my car and was now using it as a battering ram on my paint job. After an
hour of paperwork, with double ear infection three year old in tow, I headed
home. Approaching our neighborhood I received a call from my frantic
mother that something was "hissing in the garage and there is a strange
smell". Arriving moments later in my driveway I immediately surmised the
problem. It was the tell tale river of water pouring from our garage that was
the major clue. The great luxury of heated water had backfired and was now
laying waste to my seriously disorganized garage. On the plus side our
ceiling got a great steam cleaning.

I told you all that to tell you this. The answer to the
question is NO! Technology and science are great and personally I like
medication, automated car washes and hot water anytime my heart desires, but the
issues we face aren't technology issues. The most powerful agents for change
in our society and our personal lives are the relationships that we are
given. There is no medicine that takes the place of mommy's touch; no car is
worth chewing out a gas station attendant, and no amount of household
breakdowns worth throwing a wrench at your family. A new house can't give you
happiness; a new car can't give us self-worth. They can give you a
warmer,dryer, easier life because that's what they are designed to do. Jesus
made it clear concerning the pursuit of happiness. Love the Lord your God
and love others.

............From Chris

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What we've been up to

So, we've been busy around here. Here are some picture highlights of the last week.

Halloween was fun. Spidey and Buzz Lightyear plotted the take over of the Woodlands, promising to promote truth as they see it, school yard justice, and the Willingham Way.

Ryan's Birthday was a blast. The final party was last night. I even made it through without completely hulking out on the rugrats whose parents didn't RSVP. So our party of 16 was actually 22, nobody counts until the pizza is all gone anyway. And we had enough cupcakes. It's all good.

And Sunday was the best. Having our friends come to share in Ryan's baptism was the highlight of the week. We all had fun. And so many thanks to Papaw and Mimi for letting us continue the party at their house. Now, the awesome responsibility of training Ryan up in his faith begins. I don't know that I've ever felt less worthy to teach someone something. And it's never mattered more. I guess this is where I really start to feel like a parent, instead of just a caregiver. Praise to the Father from whom ALL blessings flow! Chris and I sure can't do this on our own.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Birthday Cakes

Why did people stop making their kids' birthday cakes?? I ordered one for the kid party on Monday, but am making the cake for the family party tomorrow. MMMMM, the smell of butter cake throughout the house just screams "IT'S SOMEONE'S BIRTHDAY!" I remember that from my childhood. My mom always makes the best birthday cakes. They are unusual, creative, and never cease to amaze me with their yummy goodness. This last year, she made me a black forest cake from scratch. Who says food isn't love??

I hope my boys have happy memories of birthdays with homemade cake, their choice of dinner, and happiness.

I wonder what other people's traditions for birthdays are.

Love the Weekends!

I love weekends! This one, especially, will be great. Ryan is 7 years old today. Wow! Time really flies when you're having fun. Tomorrow he'll be baptized. Wow! Time is totally zipping by. He's already evangelizing his classmates. "Mom, I tried to tell Abigail about Jesus today. I don't think she got it." Yes, son, that's the way it goes, but keep trying.

I am so proud of my little man. He has a huge, kind heart and a wicked sense of humor. He plays with his little brother endlessly. And can make his own breakfast. His biggest want for this birthday---- an alarm clock, with Spiderman, because he wants to get himself up for school. Kinda sad, but I can see the benefits of having an older child already.

Ryan has always been outrageously punctual. He loves a routine. And he still has his "blue", a baby blanket he's had since birth. Thank you Jesus for such a sweet blessing to raise!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Family Parties Where You Don't Know Anyone

Chris's Grandfather's birthday party was today. Big fun at his Aunt Penney's House.... Have you ever been to a family get together where you know almost no one??? There had to have been 75 people there, who seemed to know each other, and we knew the guest of honor, Chris's parents, brother, a cousin, and a random aunt. The rest were faces I swear I had never seen before.

Please understand, I come from a small family. My mom's family lives in California. I don't have any contact with them because there was never anyone my age to keep in contact with. My dad's family is from Texas. He has 2 sisters and a brother, but they don't live anywhere near by and don't make a habit of regular contact. I only have 2 cousins (and they live in Arkansas). My grandparents generation hasn't kept in contact since before I was born. So that leaves my immediate family. I love them dearly. My brother and his wife and 6 kids are great. My sister and her daughter are wonderful. My parents are the best. But we all live a distance away from each other and we touch base 2 or 3 times a year in person. We're only a phone call away, but somehow we never seem to take the time.

It's taken years to learn the basics of my in law's family structure and who is related to who, yet they never cease to amaze me...Parties like this pop up once or twice a year. People are generally related through some great aunt or uncle. Everyone brings their spouse and kids. Many are in their 40's and 50's. More are 60++. My generation is the smallest represented, but we're a tight knit group, apparently. For today, the part I was most happy about was the jumpy castle for the kids to play on.... So we chatted with the odd cousin and aunt, gave our best wishes to the Grandpa (he's 90 by the way), watched the kids jump on the castle and enjoyed the good weather.

So I wonder who will come to my 90th birthday party?? Will my future family be more like my family of origin or my husband's vast network of step aunts, cousins, and the odd uncle?? I kinda hope it's like my in-laws. There is a lot to be said for getting together, even with people you don't know well or at all. It's an opportunity to pass on what's important to us and give our children a heritage to build on. It's time to chat and be social. It's a connection you can't find anywhere. And it's a chance to share our faith. Chris had some great conversation with his cousin today. Seems he's interested in finding his faith again. He's got an interesting theological mix of hard core Calvinism and New Age. It'll be interesting to see what that goes. Yeah, I hope my 90th birthday party is a place for in laws, out laws, cousins and friends to come together and celebrate life and connection.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This is a Test Blog

I just set up my blog and want to see how it all works out. I'm not sure If I'll keep this or not, but let's see what happens.