Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why I Love Giraffes

There are some areas of life that most men have difficulty dealing with. That is presumptuous though, I can’t speak for “most men”; I do, however, know my man pretty well and there are certain things he has trouble dealing with. So I will address these. 

Lowell has a hard time with PMS, dirty diapers, crying, bad drivers, inconsiderate people, Tide detergent and the heat. Unfortunately, in our little world, we have two daughters rapidly coming up on puberty to add to his already PMSing wife; an infant who seems to like to poo as soon as I leave the house; a very emotional woman (that’s me); about 2 million inconsiderate, bad drivers; and more than 50% of our days each year top 100 degrees. The only thing he is successfully avoiding is Tide.
That being said, he’s coping quite well. He is learning to deal with the heat; he avoids the poo whenever possible; he works a ton of hours which allows him to escape his emotional wife; and, well, he still hates inconsiderate people and bad drivers.

I do have to give him credit. My husband is very supportive, even when he doesn’t understand  a fraction of the craziness that’s my existence. I have abandonment issues, a shopping list of fears, abuse issues, insecurities, control issues… I cry at the drop of a hat, I can’t remember sh…. Stuff…
Anyway, my point is that my husband tries. He found a support group for some of my issues. Its an hour long twice a week on Tuesday night. We’ll have to get a babysitter and its in Goodyear, but I think I just might try it. And if my pride gets in the way, I can reassure myself that its an educational venture; I’m merely researching support groups for my clients.  Sure.  
On the other hand, that would be complete denial. Because I do need help. I know I need someone to talk to because every time I get together with a friend I find myself drowning in words. I can’t seem to get them out of my mouth quickly enough. I have to consciously choose to ask other people about themselves, about their interests, their lives, because I am so pressured to talk about everything that is flipping around in my brain. My lack of self-expression is part of the reason I blog. But it isn’t enough. I still have to filter my blog. I yearn for a place of expression where I don’t have to censor myself, where I can be completely myself and completely open.
I believe it is a universal human desire to be completely known, to be understood and to be accepted for who we are. It is what makes us seek relationships, what pushes us, again and again, to reach out to those in our life, to share our experiences, to feel relief when we find similiarities with another person, and to gravitate to those who share our experiences, beliefs and values. John Milton said, "Lonliness is the first thing which God's eye nam'd not good." Right after God created man, He said it was not good for man to be alone, and thus we have woman; created to be his partner.

There is one major caveat to the whole "being known" thing... It requires honesty. If I want someone to know who I am and love me, I have to let them know me. The real me. Like, the "I can't believe my children actually want to eat three times EVERY DAY" me. The "I have sinned so many times today I just want to crawl into my bed and hide" me. And the, "I struggle with not allowing money to become a god" me.

In order to be known and to feel that sense of connectedness that we all crave, we must first force ourselves to be honest. To admit that we are scared, guilty, ashamed, selfish, arrogant, doubtful, hoping, caring, lonely individuals then opens the door for connections to be made on a real level. One that can nourish and feed the soul.

Why am I writing this? Well, for starters because I'm lonely, but also because so many of the people I see each week are suffering with lonliness and when they learn that honesty is the answer, they are so fearful of letting the world see their true selves, they choose to remain alone and unhappy rather than face rejection. When did we ever learn that beauty and worth exsist only in perfection? God says that in our weakness, He is strong. That we are His masterpieces.

Instead of being free to show the brushstrokes of our Creator, we are deterimed to show a Photoshopped face of blandness and togetherness, of fake perfection and homogeny. We rail against laws that restrict our freedom and yet we are too ashamed to have curly hair in a flat-iron world. We are ashamed of freckles in a land of concealer. We cringe because God painted our masterpiece using cool colors when red is all the craze.....

People often question why I have a giraffe tattoo.  (This is not my tattoo) Especially one linked to a Bible verse. I like giraffes because they remind me of my own beauty, my own place in the Louvre. Giraffes are unlike any other animal but their differences serve a great purpose. They are created with long necks so they can reach the leaves left on acacia trees by the other animals. They have long legs for running, for height and for weapons of survival. When I start to feel uncomfortable in my own skin, I think of a giraffe because it reminds me that I was created differently for a purpose. God has a purpose for my pains, my hurts, my gifts and talents, my weaknesses, strengths, and for where he has placed me in the world. For my abandonment issues, shopping list of fears, abuse issues, insecurities, control issues and even my memory problems.

The trick now, is to live my life knowing that I am loved, accepted and created this way for a purpose instead of letting my fear stand in the way. It is a choice I have - to allow fear to rule, or to live embracing the freedom that is already mine in Christ. It is my prayer that more and more of us will choose to be honest, choose to embrace ourselves as we are and, in so doing, to give others the freedom to do the same.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lucky #7

Jillian turned 7 on the 15th of this month and that weekend, we had a little party with just our family. The kids were on spring break the week for her birthday so our party for all her friends is going to be this coming up Saturday, the 24th. I was not thinking ahead enough to plan to have her invitations ready for the class before spring break. Too much going on. Now that Lowell has weekends off though, we were able to pack up and head off to the zoo together and also to Tempe for a barbque with one of Lowell's old co-workers. The kids were excited because they've never been to a barbque. Such a grown-up experience!  I didn't know anyone and there weren't any other kids, but, as always, ours were totally well-behaved and had a blast playing on the lawn in the back yard.  Before we left home, we had cupcakes and gave Boogie her presents.  Nathan gave her a big stuffed duck and Chloe got her a TinkerBell Barbie and a wallet. Lowell and I got a big Littlest Pet Shop play house.   Jillian and her daddy... We still talk about how she used to say "Tick-o-me" begging Lowell to tickle her, over and over again. She couldn't get enough of it.      
Nathan and Chloe are at stages where I can see their burgeoning personalities. I know Nathan is an animal lover, sensitive, thoughtful, smart and competitive. He's really good at socceer, loves to draw, write stories and act and has a tendency to be passive-aggressive.  Chloe, I can already tell, is talented at all things athletic as well as with art. She loves music but can't sing a note and is a blossoming photographer. She loves to run and is really fast too. She is honest, sensitive, caring, a great "little mom" for Wyatt, and can be a little bratty. She has a really hard time when she isn't successful at something.                
 Jillian, on the other hand, hasn't quite grown into her identity yet... She is still testing the water to find out who she wants to be. She's definitely smart, but the "smart" role in the family might seem like its already taken. She's goofy and silly, but so is Chloe. She's creative and imaginative. But they all are... She doesn't love athletics like the other kids do but she does love to read and draw. She likes to play board games and watch movies. She is a "social butterfly" and loves to visit with her friends from school; she often hangs out the car window yelling "goodbye" to her friends as we leave the school parking lot. She has a very unique fashion sense and loves to create her own style. I've given up trying to teach her what matches and what doesn't because she has her own concept of what goes together - who am I to judge?? :)

For example, this is Boog in the zoo gift shop modeling some very attractive sunglasses we found. She didn't really like the lines in the middle of the glasses but loved the color! These glasses also came in yellow - and almost nothing is better than yellow in the mind of my little Boog. Unless its yellow with sparkles and glitter and sequins. Or Hello Kitty. Or Hello Kitty with sparkles and glitter and, well you get the point.       Almost anything is better with glitter, according to Jillie. Last weekend we had to make a model of one of the planets. Jillian choose Saturn. We got a styrofoam ball, painted it all up and then had to get creative to make the rings because she didn't want them to touch the planet... (We used bent paperclips and pipe cleaners. Turned out okay.) Once the rings were on, she wanted to add the letters "SATURN" to the rings - but not just any letters, they needed to be sparkly. And then, she reasoned, the rings themselves need to be sparkly as well because they are, after all, made of ice. And ice is sparkly.            Impressive.
In that one argument, she was able to use logic and show her knowledge of ice as well as her newly acquired information about Saturn. She was proud of herself, you could tell. I sensed a slippery-slope however and put the kibosh on the sparkles. We bought sparkly letter stickers so she could have some bling but so that Saturn didn't turn out looking like a Barbie planet. Everyone was happy.
In the zoo gift shop, Nathan also came across a bald eagle with a 10 foot wing span and a $125 price tag. He was in love. The gift shop was a veritable "giraffe paradise" and I was almost breathless with giddiness, but our time to shop was short and our money shorter. :)  We left without buying anything but the kids were anxious to tell each other what they had learned. Because of our short time at the zoo, we split up - Jillian and Wyatt with me, and Nathan and Chloe with Lowell. Jilly and I saw the giraffes (of course), babboons (seen here), zebras, lions, tigers, (no bears), African dogs, a huge tortise, ostriches, camels (being ridden), a rhino, flamingos, monkeys and antelope.  Splitting up wasn't my idea and I wasn't sure it was the best way to spend her birthday, but it turned out they had a lot more to talk about since they hadn't been together. Part of the fun was sharing their experiences with each other and trying to describe what they saw and learned. Good idea Daddy.
It was a busy day full of new experiences and lots of laughter to celebrate my beautiful 7 year old daughter. I am blessed by your presence in my life, Boog. I love being your mom and watching as you grow into the beautiful young lady you are becomming. I can't wait to see what God has in store for you and I pray that I can continue encouraging you to become that precious person you are - independent, spunky, creative, beautiful, sweet, smart ----- YOU.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dream Come True

Empire Caterpillar, Mesa AZ. Lowell's new place of employment! :) His LAST place of employment, most likely! There are five different departments at this shop and Lowell will be working in the Main Truck Shop. This huge monster in the picture is what he's going to be working on. This is a haul truck that is used in the mines around the southwest for bringing material out of the mines. The trucks get brought to the shop and serviced on a regular basis. The work can't be done in the field because the machines are so big, the mechanics have to use cranes for anything! Lowell's first 3 weeks of training will just be on cranes! The tires themselves are 10 feet tall!!
Lowell is like a little kid in on Christmas morning.. He's told me more than 60 times, "Ask me where I work," so that he can say "Caterpillar". :)  So funny. And I'm so excited for him. Excited for us, actually because I know that him being happy at work will make a huge difference in his mood. His schedule will also be changing - as of the 19th, he'll be working Monday through Friday from 2-10:30. This will give him Friday mornings and both Saturday and Sunday with the family. This will allow him to start going on bike rides with the kids again, coming to church with us, and sleep on a semi-normal schedule!! Because of his earlier shift, I've changed my schedule at work so that I can be home in time for him to leave. I'll be working from 8-12 on both Monday and friday at the office and then from 8-12 on Tuesday at the school.
I'm always nervous when things change, especially things as big as a new job, new schedules, the very likely possibility that we will be moving to the complete other side of town (75 miles away)....
But with all the unknowns, I am completely at peace with the fact that this job came straight from God and this is exactly what we need to be doing. I was at peace when Lowell was in his first interview - I knew he'd get the job and I knew it was a blessing from God. I knew it. And because God has given us this blessing, I am equally convinced that He will provide for our move, for the kids new school, for our schedule and timing as a family... I'm sure of it. God will not leave us hanging. I don't know all the details, and that's a yucky place for me to be, but I'm sure of His goodness and His provision. And I'm resting in that. And celebrating.
Where does my husband work?
Caterpillar. :) 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spectacular Love

My facebook status today:
Completely and totally spoiled by my wonderful husband yesterday and today... He took care of dinner last night, took care of the baby, helped the kids with their homework, and rubbed my feet --- all while I was instructed to sit on the couch and drink the strawberry margarita he made me - complete with a little strawberry on the rim of the glass. :)
Chloe's reaction -- Isn't it spectacular how much Daddy loves you???
Indeed it is, babe. Indeed it is.

Feeling spoiled even now... Lowell spent an hour early this morning heating up water for me to take a shower, then set up the bathroom with candles and classical music, and heaped bucket-fulls of water over the shower door so that I could take a warm shower to get ready for work. He also ran to the store before I woke up and picked up a muffin for breakfast as a treat. (I didn't have the heart to tell him that it was way too sweet -- I appreciate the gesture.)
All of this on top of my spoiled-ness last night makes a girl start to feel unworthy.

On the way to work I was reminded about my year-long pursuit of a view of myself that is in line with who the Bible says I am. I am loved, I am new, I am chosen and holy, I am in the process of being remade into the image of One so beautiful and perfect... And, better than all that, He already sees me that way! He sees me as pure, spotless, blameless and worthy of dying for.

When I think of God as a father, I can totally grasp this idea of loving a child so incredibly much and accepting them for exactly who they are, because I know this is how I feel about my children. For some reason however, the message gets lost in translation when I try to feel that way about who I see in the mirror. And to believe that God loves me even more than I love my children or my husband...And more than my husband loves me. That is spectacular love.

Wow. Spoiled and loved by the King of Heaven. Now I really feel unworthy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stories of Home

 I know I'm re-posting some of the same pictures -- I can. Its my blog. This is my dad with Wyatt. His namesake. Wyatt's middle name is Eric, after my dad. And this is the first time my dad saw his 4th grandchild. It was precious to say the least and brought me to tears more than once.
I cherish my daddy and wish he was closer. He is one of the few people I can feel comfortable being myself with - he loves me when I'm being emotional and needy, when I'm succeeding, when I'm being stupid and when I'm far away and haven't talked to him in weeks. He doesn't judge me by my mistakes and supports me in whatever I do. My children adore him and talk about him all them time. They love their grandpa and really miss him. He is so good with kids - his own and his grandkids. In fact, he was the first person during my trip home to make Wyatt laugh. Daddy played peek-a-boo with him and held him constantly. He carried Wyatt around proudly and it made my heart happy.
These are my daddy's other kids. My brothers, Justin and Jordan. They are also fantastic and also too far away. Actually, they live with my dad so I'm encouraging the whole family to move to Arizona. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with them growing up and I'd love to be more involved with their lives. There's only so much you can do over the phone -- especially with teenage boys. :) Both boys are working - Justin is a manager at Pizza Plus and Jordan is going to school to be a firefighter. He wants to fight wildfires and possibly even be a pilot.
My trip home was completely spur of the moment and wasn't even my idea -- it was completely funded by my dad's girlfriend. (Long story)  She wanted to fly me home so I could go to my dad's birthday party. He turned 48 on February 8th. It ended up being quite an ordeal with the last minute scheduling and other issues, but I wouldn't trade the time I spent with our family for anything. I was able to spend a day and a half with Mamie (my great-grandma) and Grammie, Pappy (grandpa and grandma) and my uncles and their families. Then I spent a day and a half with my dad and brothers and a few hours with Lowell's parents and grandma on my way to the airport. It was a very quick trip, but I feel so blessed to have been able to introduce the family to Wyatt and to spend some much needed time wrapped in the arms of some of my favorite people.
I got a huge hug from my daddy and I would've been content to stay there a few hours. We had dinner together, and sat up and visited until neither of us could keep our eyes open. There was no big party or major events - we just did life together for a few hours and it was precious.
 I sat and talked to Grammie in her living room like I haven't been able to in 3 years... I miss her encouragement, her understanding, her wisdom and the perspective she gives me. Just adore her. We didn't get a picture of the two of us together I just realized... must be rectified on my next trip!

I didn't miss "home" as much as I thought I would once I got there. What I mean is, I didn't miss the country, the towns, the places where I spent so much time growing up. It was the people - a few special people - that I want to kidnap and bring down into my life in Arizona. I miss them and I want them closer. I suppose for now I'll have to get by with phone calls and letters. But it made my heart happy to be close to them - if only for the weekend.