Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Lot Can Happen At An Altar

A lot can happen at an altar.

You lay something down.

You pick something up.

You feel pressed down on every side.

You keep coming back.

And one day, that thing that drove you to your knees, it gets turned around.

You see it redeemed.

I have come to the altar many times.  Sometimes I just kneel at my seat, and sometimes, I've stood on my chair, hopped off the back (and tripped ever so elegantly) to run there.

There's no casualness at the altar.

You are all in.

When my son was an infant, I came to the altar, and laid down my pride.  I knew I wasn't up to the task if I had any doubts about my relationship to the One about whom I would be teaching my child.  After almost two decades of fear, I went up to the altar, and later that night, I was immersed again in the baptismal waters--not saved by them-- but freed, finally, from any niggling doubts about my obedience to the Lord. I was not saved that day-- I do believe it happened at age 10-- but I was free.  Absolutely assured. Done and done.

Once again, I came to God's altar, just a few carpeted stairs, when my second child was a few months old.  She was being dedicated that day and the extended family was gathered around to witness this happy day.  I smiled, posed for pictures, and even hosted a party.  On the inside, I was hanging on by a thin thread.  A very thin one.

Looking back now, I see that I was smack dab in the middle of my own personal sifting, which is church talk for going through a really, really hard time all the while believing/hoping/wondering if it is being used for a greater purpose. For your benefit even. And for God's glory.

 I was drowning in anxiety.

I said the right things, and I did the right things, but I was petrified.

Take postpartum anxiety, coupled with what I absolutely believe to be spiritual warfare; two children under two, plus your child's undiagnosed autism and increased work responsibilities for your spouse and you are well on you way to either a breakdown or a breakthrough.  But something's breaking.

I think I did both.

My pride broke, again.

Who I thought I was broke.

Who I hoped I could be, for a time, broke.

I daily questioned if my mind broke.

Even my joy broke.

The only thing that remained constant was my unshakable faith in a personal and constant God.


I talked to my doctor, and a Christian counselor.  That was probably the hardest and scariest thing I'd ever done.

I wasn't impervious to life, and I needed help.

Life is hard and everyone needs help.  Even and especially people who've had it pretty easy their whole life.  That'd be me.

Bit by bit, I came out of that hard time.  I sloughed it out. I wore out my little book of helpful bible verses.  I treated them like the lifeline they were. I prayed and prayed. And it got worse before if got better. But it did get better.

I emerged from the fog, stronger and with a faith and family intact.

That second child, and that hard time, continue to teach me.

God turned it around.


My daughter Sarah, who was dedicated at the altar on May 29, 2010 walked the aisle to it again and proudly announced her belief in Jesus and was baptized a few weeks later on Mother's Day, May 8, 2016.

God turned it around.  

This child that I fought for, did battle for, in my spirit and my mind, that I still worry I don't give a full and fair share of my attention to--- God chose her. He saved her. He called her little six year old heart to His.

Without any help from me. 

God turned it around.

Big time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Revolutionary Boys With The Way They Talk...

I'm late to the party, but I've caught up to the zeitgeist and discovered the musical Hamilton that was just awarded the Pulitzer prize in drama.  And by discovered, I mean waking up to it on loop in my brain, watching all related Charlie Rose interviews and having my kids bop along in the car as I turn it down on those tricky PG-13 parts.

It is amazing.

It's the story of the American Revolution, centered on the character of Alexander Hamilton, and never has a founding father seemed so real and relevant.  It has all the big themes-- love, loyalty, legacy, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness.  It's told through the language of hip hop and I LOVE IT.  It's not my lane of music typically, but it's weirdly perfect to re-imagine the founding of our country.

If you are curious, dial up Amazon or Apple streaming music and listen to "My Shot", "Ten Duel Commandments" and "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story" and I promise you'll want to listen to all 44 songs.  And if you feel the need to deep dive into the story further (I did), here's a link with lots of related video clips.

Secondly, the AMC series Turn  (Mondays at 10 PM) began its third season last night.  We've been invested in the series from the start.  It is based on the book Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy ring. What I like most about the series is that it shows there are people of integrity and of dishonor on both sides of the fight. I actually feel pretty ambivalent about main character, Abe Woodhall, because his personal life seems like a soap opera and he can't make his up about to whom he will be devoted.  I admire the British leaders John Andre and Major Hewlett as they are honest in their dealings and respectful of women and servants under their command.  I appreciate how it shows that there is good and bad on any two sides of a debate, and only winning casts one side as righteous.

Okay, class, that's your viewing and listening assignment for the week.  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

It Didn't Lose My Mind, Just My Pride. I'm Doing the Whole 30.

The only thing new and noteworthy going on right now for me is that I've started a new eating plan, and I've resisted documenting it here because it feels like, so done, that I'm rolling my eyes right now at how cliche it is.

However, I'm on day 15 of a clean eating plan called The Whole 30  that calls for a complete elimination of dairy, grain, legumes, any added sugars (real or artificial), alcohol and tobacco.  

So in my terms, no mac n' cheese, no heavenly bread basket, no whipped, creamy goodness of any sort, no crackers (pause for solemn regret), or chips or pretzels or CHOCOLATE AT ALL.  No holy shiitake mushroom pizza at Mellow Mushroom.  No Sonic drinks. No post bedtime carb gorge. Nope, none, NADA.

I'm completely serious.

I decided to do this wacky thing called nutrition after being gently asked one too many times if perhaps I had reason to be congratulated-- albeit while wearing Spanx underneath my leggings and dress.  It was the last moment in a line of gentle humiliations that broke the camel's (middle-aged mama's) back.  And when I wore a sweater that tied at my midsection and a kindly great-grandmother asked if I knew if I was having a boy or girl.

All the bless-my-hearts.

I gamely enthused, "It'll be a surprise!" and kept on my way. 

(My other go-to response for phantom baby inquiries is, "No!  But I'd be glad to receive a word of prophesy!" Big smile and keep on goin'.)

So, I'm eating well.

I went home a few weeks ago after the Spanx incident (an undergarment can only do so much) and bought the first of the Whole 30 books, It Starts With Food, and made my grocery list to start working in Paleo-style dinner meals.

Two weeks later,  I ripped off the band-aid, made some clarified butter and homemade mayo, and started the eating plan.

The funny thing about the plan is that it's pretty strict and tough-lovey.  Fighting cancer is hard, the authors declare, and drinking your coffee black is just not.   Though for the record, I'm putting unsweetened coconut or cashew milk in mine and it's a little mind-game I'm happy to play.

In terms of changes, I've noticed that just intellectually telling myself all junk food is off limits (and even some fairly good foods like quinoa and beans) was enough. In the last two weeks, I haven't cried myself to sleep over my lack of comfort foods (the book calls these SWYPO-- Sex With Your Pants On-- which is hilarious and true).  

My main meals are bananas with almond or cashew butter (surprisingly delicious), eggs and sausage, homemade curried chicken salad over lettuce, roasted vegetables (asparagus, brussel sprouts, potatoes with Italian spices--excellent) and simple skillet chicken and ground beef dishes with a variety of spices and vegetables.  I'll snack on dates with nut butter or a Lara bar (still high in natural sugars-- but c'mon-- you know what they say about how long it took to build Rome).  Today I ate leftover vegetable beef soup with sweet potatoes and butter lettuce with tomatoes and homemade avacado dressing.  

It sounds a smidge prideful, but once I stocked up on sea salt, cracked peppper, nut butters, a few natural treats and pulled out my magic bullet, I've gotten the basics down.  I still make my kids spaghetti every week, and just eat in leftovers or a substitute for myself.

I ate my salad without the dressing  the first time I went to a restaurant.  I only smelled the fresh bread.  I bought doughnuts for my Sunday School class with nary a care.  I resisted pizza.  I ate the ham off the Publix sub at a picnic and left the rest uneaten.

In summary, I am a bit tickled with myself.

I still very much enjoy all those vices, and may decide to extend my total elimination phase to 60 days to give me a bit more practice with true nutrition.  The plan does not expect for you to never eat these foods again, but to understand how they affect your body and which ones should and should not be reintroduced to your diet,

And obviously, I'm hoping to start shedding a few pounds.  I appreciate that this plan does not require calorie counting on top of all the food restrictions or I'd never have tried it.  It extols healthy fats at each meal, with lots of animal protein and vegetables.

I can do that. 

The only negative effects I've had were on the first night, where I woke up very sick to my stomach and afraid I had a stomach bug.  I think my system was just shocked and freaking out.  

The average amount of weight lost on Whole30 is said to be around 6-15 pounds for most people, and I have a feeling I'll probably only lose a few, but I'm pleased with myself for making the effort.

I didn't get around to taking a "before" picture to chart my progress, but I notice that I'm sleeping extremely well.  I have terrible allergies and am struggling through the pollen, but I'd love to think that eating better might help if I keep at it.

I'll report back in a few weeks.

If you didn't check out at "stomach bug", here's some non-diet items of interest:

Dave Barnes has new music out and it reminds me of the Eagles.

There is now a West Wing Weekly Podcast, so those power Netflix binges this winter will pay off.  One of the hosts is Joshua Malina, who joined the cast in the fourth season.

The West Wing Weekly

Check out the Jamie Ivey Podcast episode with Sally Lloyd Jones, author of the Jesus Storybook Bible.  She talks about excellence in the arts and not giving our leftover efforts to children.  Really enjoyed it.


Old Navy has some really cute spring clothes right now, especially the Pixie cut pant that tapers at the ankle and is just very flattering.  They also have 5 inch inseams for Maude (that's me) and I feel appropriate and summery.  And these great camisoles with wide straps that won't get shredded in my dryer.  I highly endorse the Spring '16 offerings of Old Navy.  The End.

I "taught" a wreath tutorial for a Moms group this week after throwing caution to the wind this Christmas and making 8 teacher wreaths for my kids' teachers, helpers, and therapists.  Me teaching a craft class is just hilarious.  All the ladies successfully made a wreath and fun was had by all.   Here's the tutorial I used. It's very user-friendly for those who don't see themselves as crafty.

Here's my first one from Christmas:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Downton Down Low: Hour Two

Tom and Henry (aka Hot Husband) are opening a car shop and it's so middle class. But Mary's so happy to be in the family way she gamely pronounces her pride in him.

Rose dropping some wisdom on Robert about marriage.

Daisy's gonna attempt a blow out to get Andrew's eye back on her.

Dinker needs a new hobby. She's hilarious.

Aughh! No! Daisy cutting her hair! By herself! Aww y'all. Poor Daisy.

Anna playin' beauty shop. Match number 3 is about to go down. Andy plus Daisy. "Let's not be out of step anymore." Sweet and understated.

And Tom! Flirting!

And Lord Merton's not at death's door. Happy Days!

Edith finally gets her moment in the sun. :) :) :)

Here comes Barrow to the rescue... Carson doesn't have to leave and we're all better people. Let's hold hands and pause for quiet reflection.

Baby's a comin! Baby's a comin! And Mary knows how to take off a shoe! Who knew!

Oh my. Even Mrs. Patamore's getting some action!!! The wish fulfillment is coming fast and furious as we have a  few remaining minutes.

And guess who catches Edith's bouquet?  Her editor! Tom finally gets to be interesting again!

Beautiful Anna has a son.

Cora and Violet have made up! It's a New Year. Edith's off on honeymoon! God Bless Us, Everyone.

And snow falling. Perfect note.

Cheers and Ta, Downton. Thanks a lot.

Downton Down Low: Hour One

I said NO DYING, Mr. Carson.

I think Dinker and Spratt should be under cover lovers. Though on second thought, maybe not. 

Hey now, Mr. Moseley! A new job offer and living situation! Lock Miss Baxter down.

Daisy. Clueless as always.

Hark! Is Mary planning to help Edith? She has an idea.

Prediction: Carson has hand tremors and Barrow will  realize his dream of becoming a full butler.

Oh, dang. Er'body gonna get married. Go on, Mrs. Crawley.

Daisy thrownin' shade at kind Andrew.

Oh! Set up! Edith's gonna get her man!!!!!!

And she's mad. Ooh, make him stew. Well played.

He's about to cry. Cmon, Edith.

Aww. He got me too.

"Edith's going to be happy. Hoorah." Yay!

Nice send off for Barrow.

One more grand house party for Downton gang as they meet Edith's future mother in law. 

Sad face. Mr. Carson seems to have Parkinson's.

Awkward mother-in-law exchange alert.  Classic piece of work trope.

 Wait. Nope. Lord Merton's daughter-in-law deserves that title. 

C'mon Papa Carson. Give Barrow a hug. 

Dang, Edith. You're a risk taker.

Nothing like a good looking lad swinging a hammer. Live a bit, Daisy. The writers are tying up each loose end in a pretty bow.

3 snaps, Bertie. Way to be a man.

New buddy cop team: Violet and Isobel! Down with uppity daughters-in-law!

Barrow snuffing out 3 sad candles at an empty table. Metaphor.  He must find his way back to the Crawley family.

Yay Bertie's mom. All's well that ends well. 

Here goes The Dynamic Duo!!! Springing Bertie out of the clink!

Hug it out, girls. Sisters gotta hug. 

A glittering gala of a wedding. You're a delight. And Rose's back!