ROW80 Check-In: Week 3

First of all, let me say to all you who stopped by and left the sweetest, most encouraging words last week, THANK YOU.  I’ve gone back and re-read all your encouragement several times throughout the week – it’s meant so much to me.  If I could squeeze each and every one of you, I would.  Thanks, so much, from the bottom of my heart.

Last week’s check-in turned out to be the start of a week-long pit-stop for me.

With some carefully-worded guidance from my sweet, enduring husband (who knows full-well just how ugly my pregnancy listening filter can make any words, no matter how kind), I decided to all but cut myself off from the web, and focus on the most pressing issue at hand: our homeschool curriculum.

Thankfully, after two months of tears, tripping down the wrong paths, pulling out our hair, etc., I think we’ve finally got it figured out.  The week has been spent diving into this new curriculum, and I’m seeing all the signs that we’ve found one that works: the boys are happy and willing to do their work, sweetZ’s tickled to have her mommy-time back, and I’ve got a couple spare hours a day I can devote to writing/blogging/WANA-ing.  This coming week will really be the true test for all that, since I didn’t write a sentence – blogging or otherwise – last week.  Instead, I snuggled with my girl, napped when I was tired, and had fun helping my boys along.  I’ll add back in my writing responsibilities this week, and see how it goes.

Even though last week was less-than-stellar, goal wise (with the exception of the wholesome brekkie thing, and the reading thing), I’m satisfied.  Some problems, if you don’t stop everything to fix them, will grow into something wholly crippling.  This was one of those problems.  Any homeschooling parent lives with a constant nagging shadow following them around – the fear of somehow failing their kids in a way that will cripple their chances at becoming a successful adult.  It’s a powerful fear, one that will bring me to my knees faster than just about anything.  Last week was one of those weeks, but I’m finally feeling that burden beginning to lift.  Phew.

Hoping your week went well, sweet friendlies!  Sorry I’ve not been to any of your blogs over the past week, but I’ll get back into the swing of blog reading in the coming days.  Much love to you all!

Swelling Insanity

Something happens when a woman becomes pregnant.  Duh, right?  At first, the excitement over the miracle of new life can be beautifully overwhelming – the thought of feeling those little kicks inside your belly, the cutest little teeny-tiny booties you’ve ever seen, the anticipation of holding your newborn for the first time.  Oh my goodness…it’s euphoric.

But eventually reality kicks in.  Morning sickness.  All-day sickness.  Bizarre cravings.  Bizarre cravings that must be satisfied now.  Swollen ankles.  Swollen fingers.  Swollen…everything.  If it has a name, and is attached to a pregnant woman’s body, it can (and will) swell.

Maybe that swelling has something to do with the significant amount of crazy that accompanies pregnancy.  Maybe the little part of the brain where crazy is normally kept, heavily guarded and only released very occasionally for good behavior, swells, too.  I don’t know what, or how, or why it happens, but during those nine months, the crazy is unleashed.  Suddenly, what began as a euphoric journey into the magical kingdom of Giddy-Happy-I’m-Building-a-Freaking-Person-Here takes a sharp, un-signalled left turn into the third-world dystopian territory of How-Could-He-Eat-Cereal-In-Front-of-Me-When-He-Knows-I-Can’t-Stand-the-Smell-of-It-He-Must-Hate-Me-and-Our-Baby.

Some days are better than others.  Some days I’m able to keep the crazy contained, and do damage control for previous unsavory actions.  This usually involves apologizing for things that I know I’ve done in a hormonal stupor, but sound utterly foreign to my ears:  “I’m sorry I insisted I sleep with both your pillow and mine.  And that I wouldn’t let you have any blankets.  And that I made you stare at me, unblinking, until I finally fell asleep.  And that when you tried to gently pull your pillow out of my hands when you thought I was asleep that I clawed you with my fingernails.  And that now we’re in the ER waiting for you to get stitches.”

I’m a normally happy, sweet girl.  But the deeper I get into each pregnancy, the crazier I get.  And since we’re working on offspring number four, the crazy has spawned it’s own sort of crazy.

Examples:

*While at Barnes and Noble this weekend, I spotted a book about cupcakes.  A normal person would look at a book of cupcakes and think, “Huh.  Look.  A book about cupcakes.”  My thought was, “Huh.  Look.  A book about cupcakes.  I want a cupcake.”  I glanced over my shoulder at the good folks around me.  I swear on the slice of pepperoni pizza I’m eating right now that every single person in the store was holding a half-eaten cupcake, with frosting smeared on their upper lip, moaning in gastronomical pleasure over how good the cupcakes were.

“Why does everybody have a cupcake but me?” I asked Thomas, glaring at him, because obviously my cupcake-less status was all his fault.

“What are you talking about?” he asked, taking a huge bite out of a chocolate cupcake with white frosting.  My absolute favorite.

“Can I have a bite of that?” I asked.

“A bite of what?” he asked, licking frosting off his fingers with great relish.  Bastardo.

“Your cupcake!” I said impatiently, reaching for his cupcake and snatching it out of his hands.  He stared at me in shock, mouth gaping open as I crammed the rest of his half-eaten cupcake into my pie-hole.

“Ugh!” I grunted, spitting it out.  It was disgusting.  Terrible.  Tasted like paper.

I looked at the half-masticated mess in my hands.  It wasn’t a cupcake at all.  It was a Nook brochure.  Confused, I looked around.  Nobody was eating cupcakes.  They were looking at books, talking quietly with each other, some sipping on coffee.  But no cupcakes.

Not.  A single.  One.

I still want my freaking cupcake.

*While I was making a salad last night, the hubster sat at the kitchen table to keep me company.  He cracked open a beer and continued chatting with me.  Now, a normal person would think, “That’s nice.  He’s having a beer.  Maybe I should offer to fetch him a coozie.”  My thought was, “I can’t believe he just opened a beer in front of me!!  Doesn’t he know that if I even smell alcohol, our child will be born with severe birth defects?”  I stabbed the head of lettuce with my knife, called him a jerk, burst into tears, and fled to the bathroom where I sequestered myself for 45 minutes.  Thirty of those minutes were spent sobbing over the fact that I’m the only one who cares about the health of our unborn child, five of those minutes were spent missing the cold, refreshing taste of beer, another ten were spent vengefully cleaning the toilet with the hubster’s toothbrush, and the last five were spent unconscious in an impromptu power nap.  Once I regained consciousness, I stumbled back into the hall, no memory of the incident at all, wondering why my husband and three children were staring at me like I was wearing a vest made of C4.

And guess what.  I still want my freaking cupcake.

Someday soon, our little bundle of joy will enter the world.  The crazy sector in my brain will shrink back to it’s normal size, and life will continue on.  And I (hopefully the hubster, too) can look back on that time fondly, knowing it was all in an effort to add a little more innocence, a little more sweetness, a little more hope to the world.  Because kids are, and always will be, one of the biggest reasons to have hope for the future.  They are absolutely one of the most beautiful blessings we can receive in this life.  The forays into Crazy-Town will have all been worth it for the sake of a new little life.

But if somebody doesn’t get me a cupcake, pronto, there will be blood.

 

Who’s That Guy?

I love Handel’s Messiah. Okay, dork that I am, I just love Handel. But this time of year especially, his Messiah can oftentimes be heard playing loudly on our hi-fi; even more frequently rolling around in the private spaces of my brain.

Christmastime is very near and dear to my sweet little family and I. Our kids know it as Jesus’ birthday, and they celebrate it with as much voracity as they do their own. Not for the sake of presents, or goodies, or fun (which, of course, are all lovely parts of any birthday celebration), but because they genuinely love their King Jesus. They have the kind of faith that puts mine to shame: strong in backbone, tender in heart.

Christmastime, for my family, and for so many Jesus-followers around the world, is a time to focus on the miracle of the Incarnation. God becoming man. Doing the unthinkable to save his stubborn, willful creation.

And that is as it should be.

But when I look at the nativity scenes people put in front of their houses, or on their mantels, there’s one figure who’s always there, but is often overlooked.

Joseph. Jesus’ adoptive dad.

Joseph was the living definition of a strong backbone and tender heart.

Really, he was a nobody. A laborer. A blue-collar worker with no decent family lineage to speak of (something that counted for a whole lot back in the first century), save for a very distant relative. The distance between him and King David was so great that it didn’t even count in minds of his counterparts.

Joseph was engaged to be married to this girl named Mary. Mary was a catch. She was pretty. She was good (understatment? Probably). They loved each other.

But then one day Mary came to Joseph. We need to talk, she said. He listened as she told him the news:

She was pregnant.

What a punch to the gut. Because Joseph knew that this was not his child. Humiliation. Shame. Embarrassment.

There were a lot of things Joseph could have done. He could have dragged her by the hair to the public square and told everybody in town that his fiancé was pregnant with another man’s child. Could have had her whipped. Stoned to death. All these were acceptable options for a man wronged in this way in the first century.

But Joseph wasn’t that kind of man. His heart was tender.

Instead, he chose to deal with it quietly. His first thought was to avoid bringing shame to the woman he loved – even though he believed she’d betrayed him in the worst possible way.

But then an angel of God came to him and told him who this child really was. What that child’s destiny was. He instructed Joseph to marry the woman he loved, keep her and protect her and her child, and to name the baby she would bear Jesus.

So Joseph did. Even though it would look like he’d gotten her pregnant before they were married. Even though it meant he would carry a burden of shame that had no grounds in truth for the rest of his life. Joseph followed God’s direction, without question.

His backbone was tempered steel.

When I look at Joseph, I see so much of what I’m not. So much of what I wish I could be. Someone who loves, even when it costs something. Someone who has fears, but doesn’t give those feelings enough credit to hinder doing the right thing. Someone who’s willing to believe that what I see in this moment – all the things that don’t make sense, all the loose ties that could never be wrapped neatly around any sort of package – that all that stuff doesn’t matter.

Because, when it comes down to it, two simple things are the bedrock of life, so well put by Joseph’s first-born son:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

I think Joseph understood this very well.  In fact, if it weren’t for the strength of his conviction, and his willingness to love – even through pain – the Christmas I celebrate would be very, very different.

Merry Christmas, dear readers.