Category Archives: Mama Musings

What’s in a Name?

Since last writing, a little more joy has entered my life.

Our darling little girl is soon entering her second month out and about.  She’s growing, changing, sleeping (some), eating (some), and being smothered with love by her brothers.

I never thought I’d be a mother, much less to a daughter.  There’s something different about parenting your own gender:  so much more baggage that can be brought into the situation.  But, as I’m finding out, so much redemption as well.

Not that I’m placing the responsibility on her of bringing about healing or changing in my life, but that she’s a means of experiencing God’s grace in my life.  Or not.  Depends on if I choose to act on the offer:  and sometimes being cranky or impatient seems so much more satisfying … for the moment.

On Sunday someone asked about her name:  “Your boys have such Biblical names, and she doesn’t.”  But oh:  she does.

Josephine Annabelle.  Not the name we thought about, honestly.  I had a list of names at the hospital, Jason had pretty much no ideas but knew he didn’t resonate with mine, so we scrapped most everything, I pleaded a quick prayer because I knew I needed to call my mom and Boo *had* to have a name at that point, and this is what happened.  Really, it’s not the name I would’ve chosen for her:  but it’s *her* name.  How do I know?  Like when I tried on a certain wedding dress some seven years ago and burst into tears because it was the one, I got all weepy when thinking of her name.  And we all know:  when the Spirit moves around Aj, Aj cries.  At least it’s a fairly accurate barometer.  And I can blame God when she’s seventeen and having to fill out all those bubbles on the SAT score card (you know they’ll still have the bubbles).

Josephine:  Biblical – like Joseph in the Bible.  Also after my father and an incredibly influential woman in my life and one of my favorite literary characters.

Annabelle:  My mother, Jason’s mother, Jason, and I all have a variation of “Ann” in our middle names.  My middle name is  a combination of my parents, and now so is their granddaughter.  Anna is a character in the Bible who means a great deal to me:  instead of becoming a bitter widow, she used her position to worship and glorify God, and she got to see Christ.  Jason’s sister and her sister-in-law (a good friend) have had daughters within the past year – EllaMae and Stella – so the “belle” part goes with that.

And her initials are a combination of her brothers – JJ & AA.

As a child I was raised to “pray in Jesus’ name”, but I didn’t know what that meant for quite some time.  “Name” in the Bible is equal with character:  it seems to embody all of what a person stands for, their history, their story.  I figure her brothers will come up with the perfect nickname because Josephine Annabelle is an awfully long name for such a little person.  But I hope that she will feel we have named her character well.

Covenants

Today a friend and I were talking about The State of Young Adults, which makes me feel so old that I actually care and talk about things like that, and retirement plans, and how much milk costs.  Soon I’ll be staying up for my Friday night viewing of Wall Street Week in Review with my high-fiber, non-fat, low-sodium rice cakes, living into the party animal that I am.

At one point my friend referred to us as “bridges” between young adults and adults – able to speak to both, existing in both worlds, trying to help understanding on both sides.  Young adults seem to want to be adults, but different than the adults who exist; existing adults want to think that they’re still “hip” with young adults, and yet they don’t “get” why young adults do what they do (or don’t do what they don’t do).  I wondered when I would move from being a bridge to being firmly planted on the adult side of the fence:  I feel I’m getting closer day by day, sometimes pushed, as I find myself saying things I *swore* I’d never say, like “use your words”, “not so fast”, and “what is that crap on the radio?”

I wondered who will be the bridge between me and my kids when they reach young adults.  Will they be segregated into a removed-from-the-larger-body youth group experience?  Will their peers and youth leaders be as influential in their spiritual formation as mine were?  Will they drift off and find Church Life irrelevant?  Or will they lead me and our family/community to a new place to experience where God is already moving?

I got a bit angry.  Many of my friends who grew up in my faith community were dedicated to Christ in that very building.  Their parents dressed them up, brought them to the congregation, and on a blessed Sunday made a commitment in front of the community to raise this child in the ways of Christ.  The family entered into a covenant with the community and with God – sacred, holy, blessed.  In return the community covenanted to walk alongside the family, to train and equip them to raise this child into the ways of Christ.  And yet my friends and the community no longer walk together.  I wondered:  how long was that covenant called to last?

Yes, we live in a transitional society.  We also live in a very nuclear-family-oriented and busy society.  It’s easy for me to lose track of others because I’m focused on a) my family and 2) the things I want to do.  I think we’re called to do things as a larger congregation, but I so often hear, “We’re already so involved doing so many good things!”  Individually.  When am I called to lay things aside, even if they’re good things, because I’ve made a covenant to the larger community?

I want the covenant that I made before God and before Newberg Friends to last as long as God will allow.  If we happen to move, I hope that interest and love will still remain, even though the day-to-day walk will be transferred to a different faith community.  I don’t want this covenant to be passed off to the middle school pastor, and then the high school pastor, and then … ?  The slow fade into nothing, that is, until my boys get married and have children of their own, maybe still being involved in a faith community and now able to reenter as an Adult Parent, the “role” that seems most functional/understood in the evangelical Christian faith community.

My friend talked about a gal she connected with, a young single mother who is simply trying to get through one day at a time.  When my friend asked what her goals or dreams or gifts were, she had no answer.  She had no one walking alongside her, speaking that into her life; she felt completely disconnected to those in the faith community, the place where she was dedicated.  How has it reached this point?  Do we need to cast blame, or simply state it for what it is and then ask, “What is God calling us to do about it?”

How long do covenants last?  Do these covenants mean anything practical, or are they simply a ritual and a Sunday morning family photo opportunity?  What covenants is God asking us to renew, reclaim?  If they are called to last, I feel anger, remorse, and motivation to *do* something about it:  I don’t want my words to be meaningless, which they are until lived out in action.  I expect the same of my faith community.

Perhaps we need to talk as a community about what that means – define expectations.  Perhaps we need to evaluate where these practicalities are to be lived out – small groups versus larger congregation, etc.  And perhaps we need to repent, to apologize, to take a posture of humility and hospitality.  Or we can just let the slow fade continue, and our words can continue to lose their power; but this Mama Bear won’t live that way with her boys (not like they’re easy to ignore anyway; just *try* and forget about them :)).

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Blog silence.  Pretty buy cialis 5mg typical on this little WordPress blogaroo.  Other blogs seem so prolific:  so much to say, so much to say, so much to say, so much to say (okay, so I’m listening to DMB right now:  make my hubby proud).  When I started blogging, I found myself attracted to two types of posts:  informational and formational.  Informational:  giving terms and naming concepts to my experience of wandering post-college.  Formational:  sharing stories of their own orientation, disorientation, and surprising reorientation in which I could relate or find myself in their journey.

But lately?  So.Much.Information.  Answers:  so many answers.  Or critiques.  Or slams.  Or “I’m in the Emergent/Missional/Converging/Reformata/Baby-Wearing/Attachment Parenting/Babywise/Dave Ramsey/Fox News/CNBC/Obama Hopeful/Obama Critical” bandcamp.  As more and more people connect or input on the internet, the more polarized I see it becoming.  And I get sad.

I don’t feel I have answers:  just my journey.  And lately I’ve been hesitent of sharing that story because of the way people treat me:  “Keep your head up!”, “Boy, it must be tough!”, “You’ll get through this!”  Perhaps that’s the eternal plight of a melancholy who allows folks into the inner sanctum:  I didn’t think I made it sound “that bad” – it’s just the way I see things.  Folks from a different generation would probably say that censoring my thoughts or being more selective in the means of how I share would be prudent.  And it probably would:  but goodness, I don’t think my wiring has anything labeled “prudent” in there – believe me, I’ve looked.

This past weekend I got to participate in a gathering called Kaleo:  both energizing and discouraging.  Energizing in that I realized how much I adore being in situations like that:  with people eager to listen and contribute and discern the presence of God for the betterment of the world and the adoration of Christ.  Discouraging in that the next day while I was having a really rough time of parenting (Jason went snowboarding at the last minute with a friend), I wondered what could possibly be the purpose of going out to a conference, getting excited, and then coming home to fold laundry and put away dishes and deal with fairly crabby children with little to no thanks.

This is where I should input some sort of take away:  “But I realized that Christ was really inconvenienced when he came to earth.  Whatever I do to the least of these, I do unto him.  I realized I should find joy in all circumstances.  I found peace in realizing that these days will pass, and I need to keep my eyes on the future.”

Excuse me while I try to stop rolling my eyes and making my “thooey” face.  I didn’t realize those things.  I realized I needed to dance.  To Really Bad Pop Music.  So I did:  Ipod blasting while the boys were confined to their rooms, I rocked out to boy bands and Brit pop and a little Ms. Spears.  It didn’t provide answers, but it tired out The Furies, and now my butt hurts (getting so old).

Something that stood out to me at Kaleo, or perhaps it was the Recalibrating Church conference, was the idea of takeaways.  Somebody somewhere said that in Olden Church the priests did not exposit on the Scriptures:  no takeaways.  They allowed their congregants to enter into the story, to participate, to be formed and transformed by the Spirit through the Word.

Sometimes I wish I had answers or take-aways.  Maybe that would make my blogging more directed, prolific, marketable.  But then I’d probably skim it just like I do so many other sites.  Our society seems to be moving beyond “just the facts, ma’am” — but to what?  And how do we meet them there?

Maybe the answer, or rather the experience, is simply in the dance.  Which won’t always be bad pop music:  I’ve also been known to blast Mr. Sinatra as well as Mr. Diamond.  🙂

The Post-Modern Quaker Mother’s Dilemna

My book group has chosen to read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemna for next month’s selection.  As with many of the choices, someone asks, “Have you read it?” My response:  “Yeah . . . well . . . I started it, and then [insert some excuse which I find very valid in my head, but sounds a bit weak when is verbalized].”  This time the excuse was my profound sense of melancholy that descended over me within engaging the first few chapters.  That, and I had just given birth, so there might have been some hormonal issues.  And sleep issues.  But I digress.

My remembrance of what I felt at the time was Doom.  Doom, because there were no good answers.  Doom, because no matter what I did, as the Manager of Consumption in my household, I would be making some wrong, or hurtful, choice.  Doom, because I come from a long line of people with blood sugar issues, and my children MUST be fed Frequently (as with the Mama:  I’ve been told that discussions will be continued only once I’ve eaten some string cheese), and I didn’t think it would be feasible to say, “Well, kids, we’re abstaining from food until I can find local, organic, healthy, low-carbon-footprint food sources.  Oh, and affordable.  And don’t take up all of my time, because those important activities in my day must be maintained:  Facebook can’t just surf itself, you know.”

My friend Jenn finished the book (I can’t tell you how many times we read the same books, but she finishes where I poop out).  She said that it got more hopeful towards the end, that the author didn’t necessarily find “the right answer”, but at least he had some options for moving in a healthier yet doable direction.  And he still seemed a bit confused, which is always nice not to be the only one.

Today I found another picture of what may be a healthier, doable direction.  A woman wrote an article about the Boise Vineyard Church, which I’ve already been interested in, but this just seals the deal.  They have a Garden o’ Feed’in at their location in Garden City.  Sounds like an ideal spot, right?  A garden in Garden City:  so picturesque.  Except if you’ve been to this area, you know it’s like the armpit of the Treasure Valley.  The history of the church location involves being on a site that had contaimated water (GREAT story – pastor gets a word to sprinkle salt in the water and pray like one of the OT prophets – next thing you know, clean water).   Hello:  story of redemption!  Gives me chills.

Looking at the author’s website I came across a link to God’s Gardens in Boise:  “Proclaiming the love of Christ through benevolence, stewardship and community.”  Ah, joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.  These pictures give me something to move towards, something to look forward for, something to share with and promote in my community, something that gives me an option other than spending all my time rolling my homemade tortillas (that’s for you, Jenn :)) or all my money buying a four-pound free-range organic grass-fed fryer chicken.  My dilemna is still present, but at perhaps it’s forcing me to move towards a healthier, doable option.

[HT:  Evangelical Ecologist]

Is Motherhood on the 3G Network?

When my husband and I last upgraded our phones, he was very excited to see a certain icon:  3G.

“What’s that?”

“For third generation.  It’s the latest network.”

“So we can hear better?”

“Ideally, yes.  Of course, they don’t have phone towers with the right technology everywhere yet.”

“So, I can only hear well some of the time and in certain areas.”

“Yeah. . . . But isn’t it cool?”

I love being married to a tech head.

My friend Carla (well, she’s a friend of a friend, but I’d prefer to adopt her as one of my own) has written a post titled “Is Motherhood a calling?” that’s created space for some quality conversation.  My friend Kim has extended her thoughts over at her own space.  I’ve recently been wondering about my role in my childrens’ lives lately.  It started from seeing a posting for a job that a) I would love to do and 2) I could actually do really well.  Those two things don’t often collide for me.  I’ve since let it past:  I couldn’t figure out how I would “do it all”.  Which I wouldn’t:  the time committment to both tasks (in the home and out of the home) are too great at this juncture in my life.  And, the job will always be there:  my kids, not so much.

But thinking of the job did make me realize how much of my identity is tied up in my current work, and how would my identity change with this adoption of new activities?  How do I balance the conservative voices I hear in my life that talk about the functions of gender roles as they see it biblically (and honestly, I see some wisdom in their words) with the more liberal voices that desire to break away from those rolls completely due to the abuse that has stemmed from them?  My friend Robin has more than once reminded me that early Quaker women would hear a calling from the Spirit and up and leave their families to spread the Good News about the Light of Christ within us.

Sometimes it feels like motherhood is a cell phone within changing networks:  if you’re in the right place and the right time, it’s all so clear; othertimes, you’re hollering at anybody within range:  “Can you hear me now?”

Next Steps: Stepping into Fast

So, I last left you with the question of what it would be like for a faith community to sabbath for a year:

  • What would that look like?
  • What could be revealed during that time?
  • Where could God take a group who was willing to lay it all out on the table, let God gets His mits all over everything, and wait to receive?
  • Do we really believe that all we do as a church is God’s and for God? Or is it for us and of our own power?

During December I read the book of Isaiah. While everyone else seems to be immersed in Luke, I felt called to look at the “primary resources” behind our Advent readings and meditations. Each day I would read a chapter, trying to figure out what life in Israel and the world at that time really looked like, hoping that would give me insight into how Isaiah’s words might have impacted the Israelites in their day-to-day living. Over my bowl of Bob’s Red Mills high fiber hot cereal with almonds, flaxseed, cinnamon, and blueberries, I’d read and ponder and move on with my day.

Until one day: the day I hit Isaiah 58. The title of the section was “True Worship”. I thought, ‘How applicable to my situation where I’m on a task force discerning the next steps for worship in our community!’ And I ate my gruel and moved on with my day.

Until the next day. When I sat down, gruel in front of my, along with my happy light, and I opened up to Isaiah 59. Except that my eyes went back to Isaiah 58. I tried to move them back down the page: they did not want to budge. It was like that moment in Friends when Chandler proposes to Monica the first time, simply because they had had a fight and he didn’t know how to apologize or make up: everyone was in the room and groaned and turned away except for Rachel who sat at the kitchen table with her hands pressed against the side of her face staring and muttering, “Oh, oh, I can’t not look at it!”

I couldn’t not look at it.

Same thing happened the next day. And the next. And then one of those days happened to be a Sunday, and so I read it during most of church, wondering if I was meant to share it in service.

But no: I was meant to share it during that afternoon’s Next Steps meeting, when I sat silently stewing most of the meeting until finally someone asked if I had something to say (sigh: seriously – don’t they know better?) and the floodgates opened. I can’t remember all I babbled about – it was a bit of a roundabout (shocking, I know). But I do know that at some point I read Isaiah 58 to the group. Actually, I sobbed it out, having to pause because I couldn’t read through the tears (I remember shaking my head to try and get the tears out so I could move on because, dang it, Holy Spirit, couldn’t you move me in some other way so that I’m still functional and understandable? And not quite so soggy? :)).

Isaiah 58

Fasting that Pleases God

1 “Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
3 ‘ Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

“ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the LORD?
6Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.

“ If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
13 “ If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

What I didn’t know until after I shared is that another church in our area has been praying this scripture over NFC for almost two years, specifically verse 12 (which stood out to me on my initial reading as well as another person in our group).

A member of the task force suggested we sit with this scripture as a group. We did. As we prepare for our upcoming fast, I wonder if others would be willing to think on Isaiah 58 as well, holding up Newberg Friends as well as your own faith gathering if it’s different. What stands out to you? What strikes you? What convinces you? What does true fasting mean to you?

Celebrate! With Babies!

I’m slowly decompressing from the Holiday Parties Programs Shopping Swirling Whirlwind Visiting Relatives Traveling With Tykes Being Awake For 21 Hours On Two Separate Days Extravaganza 2007:  it’s taking a bit.

One highlight of this season came on the Sunday before Christmas.  A few months earlier I had asked the pastoral staff if they would be willing to do a baby dedication that Sunday:  the in-laws and the ‘rents could all be in town, so shouldn’t the church schedule revolve around *my* needs?  😀  They graciously said ‘yes’.

And I’m so glad that they did!  On a beautiful (at least to me) Sunday morning we stood in front of our faith community and pledged to bring Abel Anders up in the way of a Christ follower.  Our community affirmed our desire and gathered around to pray prayers of blessing and affirmation.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

And one of the best things — it’s now online.  So you can listen!  Cause you know you want to.  And yes, that is Abel babbling through most of it:  he never would’ve made it through the Quaker Quietest Period.  😀

Weary

So last night looked like:

  • Put Abel down for bed around 9:00ish.
  • Nursed him in his sleep before I went to bed because the “dreamtime feeding” is supposed to help him sleep longer.
  • He woke up at 12:15 – patted him to sleep for 20 minutes.
  • He woke up at 1:30 – nursed him and patted him to sleep for 30 minutes.
  • Judah woke up at 2:30 and had had an accident – mostly our fault because a) he was sleeping hard due to not having a nap that day and 2) we forgot to have him go to the bathroom before bed.
  • Got to bed at 2:50 after having started a load of laundry and feeding the cat, lest he pace on top of me for the rest of the night.  Jokingly told Jason,  “The sad thing is that Abel will be up in an hour.”  Couldn’t fall asleep.
  • Guess who woke up at 3:52?  Nursing.  Patting.  Back to bed at 4:30.
  • At 5:30 Abel joined us in bed because he has a thing for memory foam (does anyone know if they make it cradle-sized?).
  • And at 7:30am he was up.

Now,  we’re supposed to learn a lot about God – our relationship with Him, etc. – through parenting.  He’s our “Heavenly Parent.”  So, what would be His version of nighttime wakings and feedings?  And what’s there to learn in the midst of the weariness?  Because God doesn’t get weary, but boy howdy:  I sure am.

In my Bible Study homework it says “To become ‘weary’ doing good means ‘to give in to trouble; to become exasperated by difficulty, be defeated in spirit, discouraged, or faint-hearted; to despair, lose heart’ (New Testament Lexical Aids).  The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the NT adds this definition: ‘to turn out to be a coward, to lose one’s courage.'”

The answer apparently is to “spend myself” – but right now I’m wondering if there’s much of me to spend.  I know this is just a season and that it will pass, but my how the season seems to last forever when I’m in the midst of it.

My Combat Gear is an Ergo and Organic Elmo Snack Crackers

Life has changed, obviously.

Sleep is elusive.
Personal space is non-existent.
Things that are amusing generally consist of watching scrunchy baby faces and hearing the toddler instruct the infant to “take a nap” so he can play Chutes & Ladders with mama.
“How the morning went” is measured by how many times diapers have been changedandchangedagain because we now live with a two diaper pooper.

Jason went back to work last week. After he left and I realized I was alone with the four boys who aren’t able to carry on higher level conversations or rent a car (Judah, Abel, Orley, Jacks), I opened my Bible to Psalms: I read one every morning. This happened to be the psalm of the day. Verse 1 made me laugh a little bit, although I could also hear the foreboding “dun dun dun DUN” movie music: Lord help us all.