Snippets of Life

I’ve been reading Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional. Thoughts on yesterday’s text…

I was rereading yesterday’s morning and evening paragraphs (I went to bed exhausted, so I didn’t absorb it as well as I would like), and I was really struck by a quote in the morning paragraph.
“We are too apt to forget that while there are distinctions as to the persons in the Trinity, there are no distinctions in honor.”
I wasn’t quite sure what that meant at first. How does one honor the three persons of the trinity in the same way?
But then, the rest of the paragraph made it more clear what Spurgeon was talking about: all three persons were equally present and invested in every part and human of redemption, from “Bethlehem to Gethsemene to Calvary”.
I’m not sure how this effects my daily life, but it really blew my mind away for the day. I spent a lot of time (while changing diapers and singing “the itsy bits spider” for the millionth time) thinking about how closely God the Father and Son and Holy Spirit are to each other and to everything else in history.
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Baby Bear is taking his first steps. In the past, he has made his giant developmental milestones in the space of a week. He got up on all fours on a Sunday, and by the next Sunday he was a champion crawler. So, I’m slightly nervous (read “outlandishly petrified”) about what the next two weeks will hold for this Baby Bear and our family.
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Fuzzy Bear eats a ton, has rolls around his legs, and smiles like a cherub at anyone who will make eye-contact. He coos and talks and squeaks, which charms anyone in hearing distance. Unfortunately, he has absolutely no desire to crawl or roll over, apparently. If I place him on his tummy, he holds his head up high and watches the world, and then sets it down and sleeps. To be clear, it is dangerous for babies to sleep on their tummies for the first few months, until they can roll over on their own. This makes for a slightly stressed out Mama Bear.
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I’m already counting down the days till Spring Break. We are hoping that Thomas can get all of his papers done before break happens, so we can have a full week off together as a family. I’m not sure it will happen with all that is going on, but we are hoping and praying for it!
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Our church particularizes (becomes a church, not a home mission) this Friday, and Thomas will become an official elder in the church. I feel like his name should have been Timothy, not Thomas, with how quickly he is usually called upon to lead in his areas of life. I’m so proud of him, and humbled to stand alongside such a godly young man with such a godly old head on his shoulders.
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We closed on a house on Friday, and are now in the throws of getting it ready to be moved into. We have two project lists going: Immediately and Eventually. The difficulty comes when we can’t agree which list the project should be on. (For example, I think the ceiling of the kitchen should NOT be the same berry pink color of the walls as close to IMMEDIATELY as possible. Thomas is of the opposite opinion.)
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Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him, all creatures here below!
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts!
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Anger and Pride vs. Wild and Good: Rather rambly thoughts of a frazzled but forgiven mama-bear

Confession time: I don’t like to lose control of anything. I like plans, and sticking to them. I like recipes that work. I like buying things with my hard-earned money, especially after several weeks of careful research to know exactly what I want. And when I do something well, I want it to be acknowledged. No, I’m not the rooftop shouting person. I prefer the quiet and cool, “Oh, you did that? Brilliant!” 

I dread messed up plans, days with no schedules, failed recipes, and being told that I failed. 

And I don’t forget. I learn quickly how to adjust my grip to avoid that mistake again. 

Sometimes, this is good. In a professional world, people look kindly on others who make a mistake once, and never again. We call it learning from our mistakes. 

But children have an uncanny ability to turn every compliment-earning trait, skill, or mindset into a trap for anger and injured pride. 

Baby won’t stop crying. And there is NOTHING I can do about it. 

Baby won’t eat, because of teething. And there is NOTHING I can do about it. 

Baby will only sleep if mom carries him while walking around… when there are quizzes to grade and floors to clean. And there is NOTHING I can do about it. 

Add to this some other issues that have been causing some anxiety in our house (moving, friendships changing, financial issues (because buying a house requires the value of TWO houses), increased responsibilities at church and school, etc.), and I finally became a mess this week.

This fight for control must end!

But how?

Here is the best answer I can figure out at the moment.

Pray a lot. Do something incredibly active for a significant amount of time every day. Pray some more. Eat at least two real meals a day. Pray again. Clean one room of the house. Pray. When babies are screaming, and you have tried everything, go sit on the porch for a few minutes. Count the cars that go by. Pray while you sit. Begin and end the day in at least one verse of Scripture, and pray.

Does this stop the anger or stem the pride? I’m not sure. But God has already forgiven my sins, so the battle I fight every day isn’t actually for my soul. The devil would love to turn these struggles of mine into just that. But God has won. I don’t have to fight my anger and pride alone. But it means I have to let go of all control. That is the Battle. It’s not between me and the devil. It’s my natural mistrust against my utter need to fall on Him. If I insist on maintaining control, then God will throw everything at me to make me see what I really need to hold on to. At least, it seems that was His strategy this past week. 

Afterall, as Lewis says, “Tame? Tame! Who said anything about tame? Of course He isn’t tame! But he is Good!”

Why I foster: a challenge to the pro-life movement

First, let me say that I have been planning and contemplating this post for several months now. Its posting coincides with the uproar from the Women’s Marches. It is purely coincidence.

Let’s be very clear. I am not a “Marching” person. I prefer to make a difference in the lives immediately around me, rather than try to change the political agendas of people I have never met. This post is NOT a response of any kind to ANY march.

Ok, got that out of the way.

I’m pro-life. I’m a practical problem-solver. I’m a foster-mom. These three choices can cause some very tangled view points, and I’m writing to offer a challenge to my fellow pro-life supporters.

Foster-care is Plan B for all children. In an ideal world, men and women would love each other, promise to love each other’s children till death do them part, and children would grow in the loving, nurturing homes they were born into. But, that is not the case. My fellow foster-parents will describe situations completely opposite.

These two children were found tied to a post in a backyard, with no food or water or any adults around anywhere. They need a safe home. Will you take them?

This little boy has multiple siblings that we know of spread across the US, and probably many more that we don’t know of. Mom and Dad aren’t interested in caring for them. Will you take him?

This 2 month-old girl has just been released from the hospital. She was born addicted to multiple drugs. Mom and Dad haven’t visited once. Will you take her?

This little boy hasn’t had a stable home in 5 years, because mom keeps moving in with new boyfriends, many of whom have been abusive. Will you take him?

These twin girls were exposed to multiple drugs in utero, and this is the 7th pregnancy for mom. She doesn’t know the identity of the father. She has never tried to keep any of her children, because she can’t break her lifestyle habits. Will you take them?

Let me outline the philosophical struggle. As a pro-life woman, I believe that women should not have access to abortions, and specifically that abortions should not be paid for by the state. (I understand that some abortions are deemed medically necessary to save the life of the mother. I’m not going to discuss that argument here, because it does not apply to the case I’m trying to make. I am not trying to prove anything about whether abortion is a good or evil, but rather what steps are required of people who agree with my pro-life stance already.) I believe that these two statements are pretty common among the pro-life community, so I’m going to move on from it.

This means that the biological parents who choose drugs over their child, their abusive partner over their child, their Merry-Go-Round of a sex life over their child, should NOT have access to abortions.

As a foster-mom and a practical problem solver, it seems like contraception is the natural answer. Stop parents who can’t seem to care for their children after YEARS of opportunities so they are not be able to have children anymore. This sounds reasonable at first, especially when you describe various methods of contraception that can be removed after certain periods of time. Perhaps a law should be in place that allows the government to place long-term but temporary contraceptive measures in the bodies of women or men who cannot or will not work to keep their children until the parents can get their lives under control. Why should the parents be allowed to reproduce, forcing small children into horrible circumstances or Plan B’s?

But there are so many ways that solution could go wrong. What if the government decides to extend its rule of reproduction to more and more of the population? Will removing the consequence actually help the parents improve their actions and habits? What if the contraceptive measures don’t work and damage a child? What if this becomes yet another resource battle in an already exhausted branch?

And, there are theological issues as well. I won’t go into those as deeply, since I’m not a theologian myself. We can just accept that many branches of various theologies and many families believe that contraception as contraception is wrong.

So, where does that leave us? If irresponsible or irresponsive parents cannot have access to abortions, and we will not allow permanent contraceptive devices… what about the children?

If you are pro-life, this is my challenge for you.

What have you done, what are you doing, for those children?

Foster parents across the country have had the experience where another adult says, “Oh wow, you are so brave! I could never do that! I would be too afraid of having my heart broken when the children leave!”

I challenge you, my pro-life friend, to rethink your stance. To rethink your fear. Especially if you are a Christian.

This does not mean that every Christian or pro-life family is in a position to bring in children. I understand that. But I do ask you to carefully consider the reason WHY you cannot do so. Is it because your job requires countless hours? Is it because of major health problems in your family? Is it because your job requires you to move often? Is it because you are caring for the ailing health of another? Or, is it simply because you are afraid of the pain bringing in foster children might introduce to your life? I can’t decide for you, but I do ask that you think about it.

For those families who are already taking care of these little ones, thank you. For those families who are working towards that goal, thank you. For everyone who thinks about it, prays about it, talks about it, thank you.

For anyone who wants to know how they can help, here is a little list that might help you in your efforts to help these children.

  1. Become a foster-family.
  2. Become a respite-care family. Find a local foster-agency and go through the training, the screenings, the background checks. Then offer rest and respite for those families fighting a hard fight. Respite usually lasts anywhere from 2-14 days, but it varies by state. Foster families use it when the parents need to travel for a funeral, but the foster-kids can’t miss a visit in town, or when parents want to take a child to college, or when mom and dad just need a break. Respite care families don’t get placements, but you directly support those families who do.
  3. Become an emergency placement family. Child Protective Services are often in need of temporary homes for children until a permanent foster-family can be found, or until biological family can step up to caring for the child. Usually, temporary placement can last anywhere from a night to 14 days. Emergency Placement families are just a safe place to take an emergency landing while authorities figure out what is best for the child.
  4. Become a baby-sitting family for a foster family. Any baby-sitters must meet certain criteria according to the state and the agency. This means that finding baby-sitters can be very difficult for foster-families. Ask the foster-family for the paperwork, file it, and then help those foster-parents out. Our family has an incredible baby-sitter family that I rely on all too often, especially when I have doctor appointments, major school tasks to complete, or all day foster-trainings to attend. I can attest that this step alone has been a life-saver.
  5. Give to the foster-families you know. When they take in an infant, keep an eye out for clothes for that child on sale. Make meals for those families, not just when the child arrives, but often. When that family is exhausted, offer to come to their house to watch the littles while mom cleans that bathroom. Or, offer to clean the bathroom yourself while parents take a nap. Offer to meet the mom or dad at a local park, to be an extra pair of eyes.
  6. Pray for the foster-families you know. Ask specifically how you can lift them up to God. You might be surprised at the answers you receive. I find that I lack patience with two littles so close in age, but so developmentally different. I find that I lose sight of my marriage when my boys are extra demanding. I find that I am afraid to lose them. Ask how to pray, and then keep them in your prayers.
  7. Support local foster-businesses. Many cities have thrift stores attached to foster-care agencies, and the money earned goes to those children served in that agency. Many cities will have 5K’s, 10K’s, and mini marathons to support foster services. Take part and support these agencies that seek to serve children in need.

This is not meant to guilt anyone into any actions they are not able to complete. My goal was simply to challenge the pro-life movement to look to the lives of the children in their communities, the ones whose very lives are often threatened in utero. I am so thankful for the communities who have surrounded my family with so much love and support, and I pray that every foster-family has found what we have.

2016, Anno Dominum: the year of our Lord

We weren’t able to make a Christmas card this year, so I thought I would share a post about our lives in 2016. It can only be described as the Year of Our Lord, as nothing that happened it would have been possible without Him.

There really isn’t any other way of describing it…

January: We passed our final foster paperwork, and my students were elated. Then, I had to tell them the sad news that I would no longer be their teacher. We were all a little sad, but Thomas and I were looking forward to getting the house ready for a little person. Thomas turned 26, and received a HUGE package of bacon from my parents. That was a bit of a highlight.

February: Thomas continued to teach and I remained home. I started running with friends in the mornings, and enjoyed reading, crocheting, and walking every chance I could get. I spent time writing letters to grandparents, parents, siblings, friends, while playing with our little dog and exploring walks and paths around the house.

March: A new neighbor moved in to the apartment next door, and the cigarette smoke was seeping into our apartment constantly. So, we found a new, apartment, with a great kitchen and two bedrooms. We were still waiting (impatiently) for our first little person, but God was waiting to answer our prayers. We had submitted our homestudy several times, but we always got “no” as our answer. So, we moved over Spring Break, and started to set up our little home.

April: The big news arrived: we had been approved to take in our first foster-child! We were beyond elated! We received the call on a Tuesday afternoon, and we picked up our little bundle on Wednesday, when Baby Bear was only 6 days old. Thomas took the rest of the week off as we adjusted to the sleepless nights and schedule of an infant. We spent so much time just holding our Baby Bear and looking at him. We could hardly believe how good and gracious our God is to give us such a precious child.

May: We decided to send Thomas to grad school… in Dallas… 5 hours away… for the whole summer… starting in June. So, May became the month of travel plans, visitors, and my new business. We started to notice little problems in our apartment (windows that didn’t seal, uneven floors, cockroaches…) but thought we could be ok for another year.

June: The school year ended, Thomas finished his evaluations, and packed up his life for grad school. I dropped him off and drove home alone. I spent a few days at home with Baby Bear, before heading off to northern Indiana to see my family for 10 days. We spent days on the water, and evenings in the cottage living room, with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and everything from my childhood summers. Afterwards, I spent a few days in my hometown and got to see some old family friends. I returned to Texas, looking forward to the coming visit from Thomas for the weekend, and preparing for my MIL’s visit at the end of the month.

July: We celebrated our 5th anniversary with a truly delicious dinner, with just the two of us. My MIL kindly watched Baby bear that evening, and we thoroughly enjoyed our first date since Baby Bear came home. We spent the remainder of the month living from weekend to weekend when Thomas would come back from Dallas with papers, lectures, notes, and so much to talk about.

August: The school year began for Thomas with a slightly new look: instead of teaching five classes, he taught four, and spent the extra prep period coaching teachers or working on grad school. I was prepared to volunteer whenever the school needed me, and had already begun to look forward to all of the walks to and from school with Baby Bear in the stroller. Then, the headmaster approached us about having me return to teaching part-time. With nearly 25 students who needed to take Latin I, but were not in the 6th grade, the school needed someone who could teach after school to get those students caught up. So, on the 31st, I began teaching Latin I to 24 students, from 7th grade through tenth grade.

September: We had figured out a routine of sorts, with naps, workouts, walks, meals, and teaching. Then, on the 12th, my grandfather went to be with Jesus. We were given permission to travel with Baby Bear to Dallas to be with the entire family who gathered to celebrate and mourn together. Soon after we returned, we found out that Baby Bear was going to be reunified. We then entered a period of grief and mourning, while also learning to cherish and celebrate the future given to our Baby Bear.

October: Visits increased, our teaching workloads continued, and we started to plan our Thanksgiving trip to NY to visit Thomas’ family. We were told that Baby Bear would be reunified by Thanksgiving, so we had to make multiple versions of the trip to prepare adequately. Scenario 1: We travel to NY alone. Scenario 2: We travel to NY with Baby Bear in case the reunification did not happen in time. Scenario 3: We travel to NY with another child who could be placed with us by that time. Scenario 4: We travel to NY with two babies. Since we were told Baby Bear would be leaving us, we told our agency to begin looking for another child on the morning of October 24th. Usually, the placement process takes 6-12 weeks. God had a different plan in mind. That very evening, we received the call to pick up the baby who would become our Fuzzy Bear. We brought our newest addition to the family home, and began adjusting to life with two under one. This child showed us very quickly what all parents of 2 know: every child is completely different. Thankfully, Baby Bear had begun sleeping through the night fairly consistently, so we faced sleepless nights with only one child, not both.

November: We continued to grow and adjust, and soon realized our little apartment, with all of its flaws, would not be a safe home for two growing boys, especially as Baby Bear had begun to crawl everywhere. We started discussing our finances to see if there was any way to could buy a house in San Antonio. We received permission to travel to NY with both boys the week before we were to set out, and had a fairly painless trip from San Antonio to Dallas to New York. Thanksgiving was filled with family, and giving the boys their first Thanksgiving with a big family. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and felt ready to tackle a few more weeks of school before Christmas.

December: We received news that Baby Bear was not going to be reunified as soon as we thought. We still don’t know if or when it will happen, so we just take every day as it comes as a blessing. We got back into our schedule at school, and I went back to working out regularly. We also started talking to a realtor, and eventually found the perfect house. We made an offer just before Christmas break, and will close at the beginning of February, 2017. We celebrated Christmas with my extended family in Dallas, and were thrilled to be able to see our boys through their first Christmas. Baby Bear thoroughly enjoyed playing with everyone of every age, and even learned how to eat from a spoon. Fuzzy Bear started to smile and coo around that time, which entertained everyone present, when he wasn’t being snuggled and cuddled. We spent New Year’s Eve back in San Antonio, finishing out a year of huge changes and incredible blessings by going to bed early.

We aren’t sure what 2017 will bring. Our government is going through some major changes, our family is preparing for major changes, and we are moving into our first home next month. We pray that God will give us peace, wisdom, and grace, and that we will be given many opportunities to show the depth of His love throughout the year.

Please pray that God will bless his Children. If this means that either of our boys leave our care, that God will give Thomas and I strength to trust Him, and that He will protect these boys when we will not be there to watch them grow. If we are able to adopt them, then we ask that you pray for peace and patience for us to know how best to love and care for these two little boys.

How can we pray for you?

P.S. I didn’t include any pictures, because the most important part of our lives can’t be shared over digital media. If you would like a picture of our little family, send me a message, and I will be delighted to send you something in the mail. 😀

A Lutheran and a Mennonite Get Married…

And become Presbyterian… because the Middle Ground, folks, makes all the difference!

Christmas season is here. More specifically, Advent is upon the world, the season just before Christmas when the world holds its breath in anticipation for the great celebration of Christ’s birth, the Incarnation, and God’s amazing plan of Redemption.

And our family has not done anything.

But first, let me explain the title of this post.

I was raised LCMS Lutheran, and my husband was raised Mennonite. I believed in infant baptism, the real presence, and that liturgy and a liturgical calendar are very helpful to more-than-nominal Christians. (That doesn’t mean that all Christians NEED or OUGHT TO HAVE a liturgical calendar, but that there isn’t anything wrong with them.) My husband grew up believing in believer’s baptism (which means he can actually remember his baptism, which is pretty amazing), that Communion was “in remembrance”, and that most traditions can be decided upon by the individual, family, or church. When we were seriously dating, we were both attending an OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian) church that met on campus. Traditions are viewed with some skepticism, the liturgy is much simpler in form, and the liturgical calendar is almost completely thrown out the window. The OPC does preach infant baptism and a Spiritual presence in Communion. We both agreed with the vast majority of the doctrine usually taught in the OPC, but decided to wait to become formal members until we were married and in our new job situations, whatever those might be.

We moved to Phoenix, AZ to be teachers, and began attending an OPC church there. Originally, we were going to attend various churches, including LCMS, to see what the various communities were like, and if all OPCS and LCMS churches were like the ones we were already familiar with. But, God made it clear over time that the OPC community was our new home. We became members there, and have maintained a membership in the OPC in San Antonio as well.

Back to the present.

I have been thinking a lot about traditions, especially the religious sort, in the past couple weeks. Various pastors in the OPC will take different stands in their tradition-suspicious outlook, which means we have heard several different takes on the Christmas and Easter traditions. Some say, “Every Sunday is Christmas and Easter in the church, so there is no need to join in the materialistic traditions of the world.” Others say, “The carols are beautiful, and speak great truths about our faith. So we will sing one or two every Sunday leading up to Christmas.” Still others say, “The Christian world is celebrating a miraculous piece of God’s Redemptive Plan. Let’s join the party, the discussion, and really dive in to the story of Christ’s Birth.”

So, my thoughts, as un-informed (and slightly emotional) as they are…

  • Human beings (especially my husband) are creatures of habit. This is a NEUTRAL fact. Philosophers, poets, kings, and peasants have known this fact for millennia. We like routines, plans, schedules, and to know what is going to happen next. This leads to habits, traditions, and expectations. This is where man can be easily led astray or to the truth. For example, in history, slavery is a “tradition” of sorts, whether decided by race, conquest, poverty, or class. But this “tradition” is wrong. In contrast, celebrating the anniversary of a marriage is good. In my mind, the question should not be, “Ought we to repeat this activity year after year“, but “Ought we to repeat this activity year after year”.
  • God made seasons in the world around us. It’s part of nature. Why can’t it be part of our nature spiritually speaking? Everyone loves a holiday, and I certainly don’t want to turn any events in the liturgical year into an excuse to give or expect gifts. But, why not celebrate the birth of our Lord at the same time every year, just like we celebrate each other’s birthdays? Why not sing praises to our God for the resurrection just as the dead of winter turns into the life of spring? In fact, to take the “seasons of the world” argument a little further, for thousands of years, human beings experienced anxiety if the seasons did not go as they are supposed to. Spring is supposed to be wet. If the rain does not come, however, if the season itself no longer follows its creational mandate, then man worries (and for good reason). Why is it that man throughout history relies on seasonal expectations for life, but man ought not to turn to these same expectations in his spiritual life?
  • At any point in time, we must be able to give up on traditions. They ought never to be the final line that holds us to our faith. If your family’s safety is compromised by a tradition, then do not be afraid to get rid of that tradition. For example, if it is tradition for the eldest member of the family to carve the turkey, but the eldest member has severe Parkinson’s and cannot wield a knife safely, then get rid of that tradition for a while. Traditions ought to be reminders of our inheritance, but if the only way for you to remember what you have inherited is through the traditions, then something has gone amiss. In essence, I should celebrate the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection every Sunday, by remembering WHY they even happened in the first place. Celebrating Christmas with an advent wreath helps to remind me in a more focused manner of these pillars of my faith. But if I only remember those pillars when the advent wreath comes out of the box, then I have a lot of growing to do. Even more severely, if I believe that I can think of those pillars ONLY when the advent wreath is out and in front of me, then the tradition is no longer serving as a reminder. It has become a stumbling block, and it ought to be removed and I ought to seek help from my pastor or other mature Christians.
  • Not everyone needs to have the same traditions. Personally, I am not such a huge fan of ALL of the Christmas music on the radio these days. Especially “Santa Baby”… it’s funny, it’s cute, but it gets old fast. I do love many other songs, however. Pentatonix does an amazing version of “Mary, Did You Know”. (Which, by the way, is a question I can’t wait to ask her when I get to heaven. How much of God’s redemptive plan did she know when the angel came to her? For my Catholic friends, please don’t be offended, but I don’t think she knew a lot of the details. That is what makes her trust, her submission, all the more beautiful, in my mind. But I still can’t wait to ask her someday.) I also love almost any version of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, especially if done in the original Latin. But, I can bet a bunch of people get pretty tired of the old Latin hymns pretty easily.
  • Be willing to try lots of different traditions. If a practice or habit reminds others of the pillars of faith, then be willing to take part, even if it is just once. My husband did not grow up with Advent Wreaths. I miss the dedicated and paced-out study of the Birth, so he has agreed to let me buy a wreath. (No, I don’t own one yet. I’m finally going to purchase one today or tomorrow.) Some families take Lent very seriously, and give up many luxuries and comforts to remind themselves of the sacrifices Christ made to save us. Don’t mock people who take part in these traditions, and consider going through a similar practice for a period of time to explore the same sacrifices Christ made for you.
  • If you don’t have the time, money, or energy to take part in a tradition, then don’t feel like you are less of a human being or Christian because of it. We have not yet gotten a tree (a German tradition that I have always thoroughly enjoyed), or put up lights, or made any holiday treats. Quite honestly, two babies under the age of one, a husband working all hours of the morning and evenings to keep up with grad school papers, grading, and lesson planning, and my own part-time teaching have just about taken all the time and energy we have. We plan on getting a tree this Saturday. We will only do lights and a few ornaments, and maybe a wreath with a red bow on our door. We will be doing an Advent wreath, as behind the times as we are. Because that is all we can really put into the traditions we love. Don’t let instagram photos, facebook status updates, or store decorations lead you into guilt. Traditions are NOT meant to bring guilt to anyone. Guilt is something decided by a judge and a jury. Shame is the closest you can come to guilt, and even that should be between you and God and always with confession and repentance. If a store window makes you feel shame that you are somehow not measuring up to the standards, then you are probably confessing in the wrong place.

Alright, that was a very long post, and there is a lot of background story that I’m not going to explore here or now. I hope I have not offended anyone, as traditions tend to be an area where people tend to believe you are insulting their family if you do not partake of a tradition. I love the quote from Mere Christianity, that pertains slightly to this post, and will also end it.

“Some people draw unwarranted conclusions from the fact that I never say more about the Blessed Virgin Mary than is involved in asserting the Virgin Birth of Christ. But surely my reason for not doing so is obvious? To say more would take me at once into highly controversial regions. And there is no controversy between Christians which needs to be so delicately touched as this. The Roman Catholic beliefs on that subject are held not only with the ordinary fervour that attaches to all sincere religious believe, but (very naturally) with the peculiar and, as it were, chivalrous sensibility that a man feels when the honour of his mother or his beloved are at stake. It is very difficult so to dissent from them that you will not appear to them as a cad as well as a heretic. And contrariwise, the opposed Protestant beliefs on this subject call forth feelings which go down to the very roots of all Monotheism whatever. To radical Protestants it seems that the distinction between Creator and creature (however holy) is imperilled; that Polytheism is risen again. Hence it is hard so to dissent from them that you will not appear something worse than a heretic – a Pagan. If any topic could be relied upon to wreck a book about “Mere Christianity” – if any topic makes utterly unprofitable reading for those who do not yet believe that the Virgin’s Son is God – surely this is it.”

Crazy Momma Bear: Long ramblings on Sanity, Sundays, Babies, Traveling, and Life in General

That word, “crazy” is the theme of my life right now.

We now have two littles in our house: an 8 month old and a not-even-2-month old. I get the oddest looks when I go walking, because I have Baby Bear in the stroller, and Fuzzy Bear in the carrier on my shoulders. Luckily, they don’t look a thing alike, so the potential for amazing story-telling to complete strangers when they ask impertinent questions is astronomical.

By the way, we call ourselves Momma Bear and Papa Bear to keep us separate from biological parents. So the Bear theme runs through their nicknames, too.

At this moment, Fuzzy Bear is fast asleep (though who knows how long that will last), and Baby Bear is pulling board books off of his bookshelf… for the twentieth time today. So, while they are all occupied, I thought I would grace the internet with thoughts and advice. How to Survive Crazy with Two Babies Under One.

*ahem*

  1.  If the oldest is capable of holding the bottle on their own, have them do so. When we first discovered this new ability, Thomas accurately stated, “Wow! It’s like having a kid who can drive themselves to school!” Why, you might ask, is it so important that babies feed themselves when able? Well, littlest Fuzzy Bear eats more often than older Baby Bear, but Baby Bear wants to eat every time he sees a bottle that has tasty-looking liquid inside it. I have not yet figured out how to hold and feed two babies at the same time (if squirming and burping weren’t obstacles, I could begin to imagine it, but who wants to actually do that?), so stemming off jealous-of-your-meal outbreaks saves my sanity.
  2. Baby Carriers. Holy cow, America, what hole have we been hiding in for the past few decades? I don’t remember anyone having these when my youngest sister or my cousins were born, so I assume that they weren’t all that popular. (I’m probably very wrong on this count, so my apologies if you have been on this trend for a while.) But Native Americans, Indians, Africans… they ALL figured it out. Babies have to be carried to be moved from place to place, and to be comforted. Mothers wish for independent use of their apendages. TA-DAAA! The baby carrier. We currently have two favorites: the KTan and the ErgoBaby 360. The KTan is incredibly portable, comfortable, and can be worn so many different ways to make sure baby and mom or dad are comfortable. You can certainly use the carrier for quite a while, but my husband prefers the ErgoBaby for our chunky Baby Bear, which leaves me with the KTan and Fuzzy Bear. One thing for sure, get the ErgoBaby that allows you to carry the baby on your front, facing forward or backward, and that also allows baby to ride on your back. Especially if you like to travel.
  3. Which leads to my next thought. Traveling with babies under 1 is surprisingly easy once you get started. It’s the planning and logistics that is the real pain. But, with the two carriers, and flying during nap times, and using layovers and such as crawling opportunities, we survived three flights, several bus rides, a subway ride, and many car trips. Now, expect naps to go out the window once you arrive at your destination, but the traveling part wasn’t too hard. I expect that we will get out of this easier stage pretty quickly, once naps become less of an option.
  4. One more travel thought that deserves it’s own paragraph. When you travel with babies, make sure to ALWAYS sit in the aisle seat. NEVER choose the window unless your child is old enough to entertain themselves. We made sure to get aisle seats, which allowed Thomas to walk up and down the plane throughout the flight, aiding in Baby Bear’s nap, and we were able to pass formula stuff, diapers, wipes, and everything back and forth. Some parents chose to have their child in their lap while also sitting next to the window. Which means that the child was trapped in a confined space with very little to do… And the poor neighbors were trapped as well. Now, those children were all closer to two, so keeping them happy for any length of time without a full sized playground will be difficult regardless. But I can’t help but feel that aisle seats are worth it when small children are traveling on your lap.
  5. Clothes for mama. Whenever I leave the house, if I will have both babies with me, then I always wear a skirt. Without going into too many details, it makes visiting the Ladies’ Room MUCH EASIER! Also, maxi skirts are basically pajamas that have reached the socially acceptable position of business casual. So, maxi skirt with t-shirt when I have the littles at home, and the same maxi skirt with a nice blouse and some jewelry at work. And, if baby spits up on either one, then it’s easy to change clothes. Jeans will become more of a staple once I lose some weight and once the weather gets cooler.
  6. Pretend that you have both littles, and you NEED to get out of the house, but don’t know where to go when the weather is nasty. I have the solution. Target. Seriously, I mean it. You don’t have to buy anything, but that store has EVERYTHING you need! Family-sized restrooms with changing tables, family-sized changing rooms, clothes, baby supplies, and EVERYTHING is decorated this season, which means brightly colored objects for oldest Baby Bear to enjoy looking at. They even have Starbucks in them!
  7. Making time for just Thomas and I has become even more important than ever before. It has also become exponentially more difficult to claim. We have found that if I take all the day time feedings, and Thomas takes all the night-time feedings, our sanity can stretch a little bit longer. But, we have found that we near the breaking point every 7-10 days, especially if we don’t get a quiet weekend. Sometimes, our times are talking together as we clean the dishes while both babies are sleeping. Or Thomas will read aloud to me while I clean the kitchen. Or we watch a movie while folding laundry. Or we listen to lectures for Grad School together while I fold laundry. These little bits are what keep us sane in between real dates.
  8. Get a baby-sitter. Leave baby supplies at their house, so that you can drop off kiddos at a moments notice. Then, go out to dinner, go see a movie, or go shopping for whatever you need, without small children every now and again. Just to be completely real with you, Thomas and I had our first date (since becoming parents of two at the end of October) a few weeks ago. We went to Red Lobster, because we both wanted to people-watch, eat carby food, without needing to prep or clean anything. And who doesn’t like those Garlic Biscuits?! What did we talk about? School. Yes, that’s right. School. Latin, to be exact. Thomas and I spent about 20 minutes planning lessons for the next month while waiting for drinks and biscuits, and about 20 minutes composing practice sentences for my Latin students as we waited for our meals. And, guess what?! We had a thoroughly enjoyable time talking about two subjects we both love (teaching and Latin) without needing to trade off small children.
  9. Books on tape for car-rides. When babies are fussy, sometimes you just need to get your mind off of everything with a good book. Our current book in the car is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We work through all seven books every year or so, and Jim Dale is one of the BEST readers ever. Also, kindles are wonderful. Whenever I get a minute, I pull out my kindle and escape into worlds created by Jane Austen, Megan Whalen Turner, The Penderwicks, G. K. Chesterton, or anyone else that suits my fancy.
  10. Church. This one is a life-saver, folks, and I don’t just mean literally. Not only are there tons of adults and children who will gladly love all over your littles, but these are the very people that God calls to help you when you are out of your range. It’s my church family that I call when I just need a morning to myself, or when I want to get the littles out of the house and talk with an adult at the same time. And I can’t say how many meals people have provided for us when our nerves have been near frazzling. I’ve even asked a few people from church to come to my house and play with my littles so I could finally clean the bathroom and fold all of the laundry in one day, as opposed to spread out over several days. They find clothes and baby supplies for us, without us even asking for it. I can’t imagine going through this foster process without so many people at our church (and our school) who think of us all the time and watch over us throughout the week.
  11. This makes it sound like I love my church because of how they help me survive parenting. And it’s true, but not completely true. These people help me survive parenting, there’s no doubt about that. But, they do it because they love the Lord, because we all come together every week to understand the depth of our sin, and the even deeper love of our God and the equally deep sacrifice of our Lord. Throughout the week, I often find myself focusing on the daily tasks that keep our household together and semi-functioning. On Sundays, however, I learn even more about what my God did for me, my husband, Baby Bear, and Fuzzy Bear throughout every daily task of history. And, there are people surrounding me who love me and my family enough to do everything they can to make Sundays those beautiful reminder days, both in their actions and their examples on a daily basis.

Alright, that’s enough for now. Please forgive these long ramblings. I guess this is what happens when I post rarely, but keep pondering new posts in the meantime.

The Hunt for Red October

No, I’m not talking about my desire for a season that ACTUALLY looks life fall. I’ve lived in the South for going on six autumnal seasons now. I’ve given up on that one. I’ll just wait for Thanksgiving to hit.

The title is actually in reference to a phenomenal movie starring Sean Connery. It’s about the end of the Cold War, with a Soviet captain (played by Connery) of a nuclear submarine who is trying to defect to the United States. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

Probably my favorite part of the entire film is the soundtrack: they have a Russian choir singing throughout the film, and it’s stunning.

I also own Finding Forrester, also starring Connery. I’d love to get recommendations on other films that he stars in. Any recommendations?

(I watch movies while folding laundry, scrubbing floors, washing dishes, or grading, so new films are always appreciated!)