Sunday, January 12, 2014

An open letter to my village

Why are there so many articles written about parenting, so many mom bloggers, so many shares on social media of articles that point to the poop-moments of parenting young children? Well, BECAUSE IT'S FRIGGIN HARD PEOPLE. And if you read that last "sentence" and can't relate, you either fall into two categories: you have not had children, or your children are now "grown" (translation: they are no longer insane little monsters with instant gratification needs) and you have conveniently forgotten what it was like to live in the trenches.

Today I witnessed and was held responsible for by The People of Many Stares and Glares, the complete and utter typical two-year-old public meltdown of my son. Of course I've dealt with the public tantrums before but NOT on a Sunday afternoon in a completely PACKED OUT Trader Joe's with 2 very tired and very hungry kids. It was a recipe for disaster.

I'll spare you the details suffice to say that it was bad. Really bad. So bad that this one older woman followed us around shaking her head at us. As if the People of Many Stares and Glares weren't bad enough of a reminder that I was utterly "failing" at keeping my child tame in public (tame because let's face it, they really are wild animals until age 6), I had this woman following me shaking her head in disapproval. Thanks lady. It's in these moments that a kind word uttered from a stranger such as "I remember those days, hang in there" or "can I help you?" mean a world of difference.

Instead I just stood there in the storm with the onlookers casting their judgement on me. It felt horrible. That's what you can't understand about being a parent beforehand. The feelings of failure and shame that wash over you in the moments of despair. Just as you cannot control your friends, your spouse, your family, you cannot control your children. Because they are people too. There's a difference between trying to control your kids and disciplining them out of love. I hate that phrase "he's out of control" (which was probably muttered today in my direction). We are all "out of control". I'm "out of control" and I proved it well after my daughter asked me in the most annoying tone "Mo-ooom, what are we DOING?!" as we abandoned ship and headed for the door, leaving our cart full of food in the middle of the store, son dangling from my side under my arm, flailing and smacking me with his balled up fists. After about 14 of the "Mo-oom what are we DOING?!" questions coupled with the violent ceaseless screams I snapped at her in the parking lot. "Stop. Asking. Me. Questions!" It was ugly. She cried. I cried. More waves of shame and guilt. MAN THIS IS HARD!!!

And then there are the people that look at you and say "just wait till they're teenagers." I mean really, did you just say that to me? I want to look at them and tell them they must have amnesia because this is insanely hard. Why can't it just be hard and we leave it at that? After the total devastation we caused at Trader Joe's we headed to Chipotle so I could feed the crew because we had no food at home which is why we were at the grocery to begin with. After waiting in a long line for food with 2 grumpy kids who can't stand still and a full restaurant with no tables in which to eat the food that I was barely able to hold in my arms because I had a hand on my son, the Bolter, we finally were seated and eating. Well, they were eating. I was of course up and down, getting napkins for the messy one, replacing a dropped fork, blowing on bites of food that were too hot. In my fast paced world of anxiously trying to meet every need at the table, an odd thing occurred to me as I glanced around. It was the people who had no young kids (which was everyone else there excluding me) and how they casually walked from the counter with their steaming food, to the forks, got their drink and then leisurely sat down to eat their food. They looked so foreign to me. What would that be like? The simple act of dining and feeding only yourself? At any moment my delicate ship could go down in flames and it was up to me to put out all small fires that popped up. A banged elbow, a bitten tongue, a dropped quesadilla could all cause the eruption that would shake the whole restaurant. I watched The Others as in slow motion as they gracefully and blissfully fed themselves while my food sat before me untouched and my stomach growled. But there were pieces of rice stuck to the side of a bean and I MUST get it off because someone looked like their eyes were welling up with possible tears.

I guess sometimes it baffles me how truly hard parenting is. That's why there's so much written about it, so much chatter from those in the trenches. Unlike an older generation, we have not developed PTSD and blocked out the bad parts. We are living them daily! And we are the "let's talk about it" generation. Look, I love my kids. They are my precious gems, my treasure. I guard them with my life and feel their every need as if it were my own but more intensely. That's the other thing you can't imagine about being a parent. The unbelievable love you feel towards these little people and the lengths you will go to protect them, to rescue them, to keep them from harm. But it's hard work, sometimes extraordinarily hard. I've experienced nothing like it. Not one thing could have prepared me for this which is why I need support. It takes a village. I love it when people come along side and offer to open the door when I'm pushing a stroller and obviously cannot do it myself. It's like a warm blanket on a cold day. When someone gives me a nod and says "I've been there".

I know they are going to turn into teenagers and that an entirely different set of problems and challenges will happen. Just as I couldn't prepare myself for parenting in general I cannot prepare myself for that either. I just know that moms of young kids NEED YOUR HELP people. So turn that frown upside down and the next time you want to mutter under your breath "that child is out of control", offer to help or give an encouraging word. You have no idea how much a simple smile or word can lift someone out of a pit of shame.

And to the super sweet employees of Trader Joes: thank you. You have never made me feel bad, you give me free food on the way out, and you give looks of sympathy and offer words of kindness with stickers. If your kid is going to have a meltdown, TJ's is the place to be!

To the other parents in the trenches - I'll see you around. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. I'm making mental notes for when I'm in my 60s to check this blog so I can be reminded and offer to carry a tray of food, heck PAY FOR IT, get some napkins or even just give a sympathetic smile to a mom in the trenches. I surely won't ever look at them and say "Enjoy it, it goes by fast!" will I??

And to my children: I love you. You are wonderful. You aren't monsters but instead little people trying to grow and figure out the world around you. I'm saving for therapy for you one day. Love, Mom.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Days Like This

Well hello people of the interwebs. I know you have all been DYING for me to blog again, so here I am for your viewing pleasure. But why would I want to read your blog? What's in it for me? Absolutely nothing. Except of course a cheap laugh at my expense. At any rate since last I wrote on this silly thing, I've birthed a second child who is now 2. Yeah, it's been a while.

So, I found this draft I wrote a year and a half ago. It was fun for me to read it and be reminded of this dreadful day. My kids are now 2 and 7 so things are a little different, but not much. And to date, we haven't had a day like this since, and hopefully won't ever again! Enjoy...

Phew. What a day I had yesterday. It was one for the books, that's for sure.

When you play Mommy all day at home with your kids, you have good days, bad days and mostly in between days. Yes, I said PLAY Mommy because that's what it always feels like to me - I keep waiting for that magical moment where suddenly it all clicks and I feel like Donna Reid with all my confident mom-wisdom, soft motherly touch, and neat sweater sets. But instead I'm blundering over my words, saving up for future therapy sessions for my kids, and struggling to keep up with the daily demands of a 5 year old and a baby. So most days it's a three ring circus to get people fed, dressed, napped, changed, entertained, cleaned, and put to bed. The days are eternal yet somehow the months fly by and what you have left in your mind is this foggy recollection of every day being eerily similar to the day before it (think Groundhog Day). But there are some days that stand out of that fog of daily madness. This was one of those days.

Lately the Hubs has had to travel A LOT for work. We all cry when he leaves (well, mostly just me). The first couple of days I feel energized and motivated to be the sole parent in the home but by day #3 I am completely zapped of my energy. Those first two days are like the first 10 minutes of the workout. Then everything starts to give out after that and the ship starts to go down. Yesterday was day #3, already destined for failure.

Like the previous two mornings, E woke at 5am. That's the middle of the night as far as I'm concerned. But my little guy was ready to begin his day bright and early. As soon as I could get the coffee going I began to get my bearings and I came to the realization that someone had woken up on the wrong side of the crib. "Fussy" doesn't do it justice, yet "inconsolable" would be a tad too harsh. You get the picture - he was miserable, snotty, clingy and puny. I knew something was wrong. They had both been sick with croup and I guessed it was another ear infection. So I waited 3 hours until the pediatrician's phone line opened up so I could make an appointment. 4 cups of coffee later I had everyone fed, a Dr.'s appointment set for later that morning and one baby who was refusing his morning nap with loud protest. That's when WK started complaining about her stomach hurting. She was coughing so pitifully I wondered if she too should be seen.

11:00 finally rolled around and I piled everyone into the car.

A quick note to everyone who drives a minivan: You are smart. My one and ONLY reason for not getting a minivan is because it felt like my last shred of dignity to hang on to a "normal" car. We already gave up our former lives and moved to the burbs for the sake of the children - the car was the last attempt to hang on to our former kid-less life. At any rate, getting in and out of the Volvo wagon is not easy. There are banged heads, scrunched up seats too close together and maneuvering like you wouldn't believe. Every SINGLE time I sweat getting them in and out of it. No magic doors that open at a click with everyone gleefully skipping inside the luxurious space. When WK's friends get in our car they always comment about how SMALL it is because they all have minivans. BECAUSE THEIR PARENTS ARE SMART. If we suddenly had a minivan a huge chunk of daily stress would be instantly shaved off my shoulders. Also, my children wouldn't be exposed to the foul words uttered under my breath as I huff and puff and bang my head.

ANYWAY, getting in and out of our car is no simple task. So, we get in and head off to the Dr. That's when the madness begins. "Mommy my tummy is REALLY hurting" comes from the back seat as soon as we pull out of the driveway. It is a 20 minute drive door to door. At the 10 minute mark, she announces to me that she thinks she might throw up. And just like that, it was everywhere. I watched it in my little mirror from the driver's seat. I can't think of a worse place to throw up than the car. Maybe an airplane. Okay, that could possibly be worse. But they are pretty comparable. At least in an airplane you could instantly get up and wash off. Not so in a car. Regardless, it was everywhere in a matter of a few horrifying seconds. When you see this happen in your automobile, there is first a wave of denial. Surely this is not happening. The proximity of everyone scrunched in the Volvo, the sounds, the disaster all while flying down the road at 55 mph. It's just too wrong. No, it can't really be happening. But after the wave of denial passes comes a very brief wave of hope; maybe she will catch it all neatly in a bucket. Yes! A bucket! Perfect! But this fantasy lasts a full tenth of a second as you remember there never has or will be a bucket in the car. Then the reality sets in as you pull over on the side of the road with a screech; 5 year old hands do a pitiful job of keeping vomit neatly contained.

Then there is the aftermath. The shaking child, the mess EVERYWHERE. Banging heads getting out then back into the tiny wagon. You don't keep a change of clothes handy for a five year old because potty training is long gone into the haze of yesteryear. So there is that to deal with. And nobody, NOBODY, of any age wants to hang out in clothes that have been barfed on.  I looked around my car. Towels? A hose? A shower? I did have an extra booster seat so we could at least exchange the wet one for the dry one but what about her body? Surely I had something to clean this up with. We've been here before. Surely I learned my lesson and made an emergency throw-up-in-the-car kit! But no. Nothing but 3 measly baby wipes and a couple of Chipotle napkins from the glove compartment. I do the best I can and then we are back in the car, windows down, everyone crying. Oh, the horror!

We arrive at the Dr. Next comes the Hall of Shame. I've also done this once before - shown up at the Doctor's with a kid who has barfed in the car so I know what to expect. And sure enough, it greets me. A large room full of parents and kids with disgusting faces as we bust through the door. It's all over me because I had to get her out of her seat which she STILL can't do herself. It's obviously all over her and my EXTREMELY grouchy baby is screaming pinned into his stroller. I get it. I've been one of the parents. You see a kid vomit and it's all you can do to clear out of the Chic-fil-A and cover your kids with hand sanitizer. Yet here I am walking into a small room full of people with a vomit-machine wearing a vomit-dress. Women clutch their babies. The receptionist grimaces and freezes. "Help me" I mutter. After instructions NOT to sit down and NOT to touch the pens that they will bill me, just DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING, we are escorted into a private waiting room where WK is given an adult size-large, puke-yellow t-shirt to change into and a towel to sit on.

We are waiting in the "safari room" to the relief of everyone in the main waiting room I'm sure. There is an adjacent bathroom and I now have her dirty clothes bagged and she is changed and washed. Now it is my turn. As I lather up my hands, E, still strapped into his stroller and still screaming, throws his bunny to the floor. The DISGUSTING doctor's office bathroom floor. Now, I struggle with germ-phobia. I do. And I've rationalized that one of the worst places to get germs is the bathroom of the doctor's office. This is a predetermined thought. And there is my son's lovie lying on the worst possible place for germs. This isn't some bunny he just plays with. No, he rubs it on his face while he sucks his thumb and gnaws on it when he hasn't got his thumb in. He sucks the ears of the bunny and it makes this really loud annoying noise and here is said bunny lying on possibly the filthiest floor in five states. So, with totally sudsy hands and a feeling of panic I grab the bunny up. He screams BLOODY MURDER. I can't not give it back to him. What to do?

He gets it back and it goes on the floor 2 more times before I can finish washing my hands. I resigned in my germ battle. I was already defeated in the car. What's a dirty bathroom floor in a pediatrician's office got on throw-up just inches from your face?  5 minutes later he was sucking one of the bunny's ears as I watched in disgust.

The "safari room" became our temporary dwelling place over the course of the next hour and a half. All the while E screamed on and off. Did she just say "hour and a half"? Yes. Yes I did. WE WAITED LIKE THIS FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF.  My puny little puker donned in a giant T-shirt, my screaming baby gnawing on his possibly-contaminated-with-poop-bunny. Did I have snacks? Of course not. Because I've always been the mom who doesn't even have a diaper on her. Nevermind neatly organized snacks in containers. I marvel at the mothers who have all the accessories, the sun screen, the travel neosporin spray tucked away in orderly compartments in their stylish diaper bag. Oh I have the bag, there's just an empty wipes container inside. And a hairbrush.

I decided it was time to break protocol. I saw what I supposed to be a doctor walk by. How did I suppose? He was a dude and he had on normal clothes. Everyone else walking by was female and in those weird nurse shirts. Our pediatrician's office is a large practice and I figured he had to be one of them. Would he see me if we were scheduled to see our regular doctor? Shouldn't I go talk to one of the medical-shirt ladies first? I mean there are rules in these places! You can't just go around knocking on doors and asking to be seen. But it had been an hour and a half. AN HOUR AND A HALF and there was no sign of leaving the "safari room" soon. Just at that moment E began another round of horrible screaming and I just went for it. "Are you a doctor?!" I nearly grabbed the neck of his collared shirt as I panted in desperation. He glanced at my screaming baby, my doused with barf child, the vomit stains that had dried and crusted on my shirt. He eyed me carefully and tilted his head up in a look of suspicion. "Maybe..."

"Please, PLEASE can we see you? I have been stranded here going on two hours." He eyed me over with a strange smile in the corner of his mouth and a cocked eyebrow. The power this man held over us in that moment! Hungry desperate children screaming in illness, distraught mother, car waiting outside, vomit baking in the backseat (it was summer and likely 100 degrees). Drawing in a deep breath through his nose with a mingled air of irritation and delight, he agreed. "But wait here for a moment." A minute later a woman in a medical-shirt led us to a private room where we were instantly greeted by this wonderful savior of a doctor who diagnosed Elliot with an ear infection and WK with a sinus infection as he believed the barf was a one-time incident from coughing too much. He kindly wrote prescriptions, patted heads, and handed me a pink kidney-shaped barf bucket for the car ride home, "just in case" she threw up again, but he assured me that he didn't think that would happen. That this was not a stomach virus.

Relieved and ready to depart we boarded the Volvo. I can't say if there were any head bumpings as we entered but there likely were as it's a regular occurrence. I can say that the car was unbelievably unpleasant to enter thanks to the incident in the backseat and the temperature outside. However, we had to get home somehow so we managed. With firm instructions to hold the kidney-shaped barf bucket in her lap, I strapped in WK in her seat. To my pleasant surprise the screaming stopped and we made our way to the pharmacy drive-through. By the time the prescriptions were in hand, I noticed that both kids had nodded off to dreamland. For the first time all day there was not someone screaming or some crisis happening. It was my surprise Caribbean Vacation moment. I relished the silence. I drove around our neighborhood pleasantly listening to nothing but the soft snores from the backseat.

Just as my nerves began to calm I noticed a faint sound of distress. We were only moments from pulling into our own driveway where I had decided to wait out the car nap in peace. The sound was like a far off cry, a warning sound of sorts. It sounded again. This time it was louder and more apparent in nature. This was a grunt, a moan, a "hurl" if you will. I felt my blood run cold as I adjusted my tiny rear-view mirror with lightening-speed to see what was happening behind me. Her head hung forward in her sleep, gently swaying with the car and then I BORE WITNESS. I watched in utter horror as the force of what was coming jerked her head strait up! Her eyes popped open and the most horrible noise and sight came spewing from her mouth!!! "The bucket! The bucket!" I screamed as I jerked the car onto the side of the road. "Throw up in the bucket!!"

Where was the light pink kidney shaped bucket? Somewhere between the doctor's office and the pharmacy while she began her decent into sleep, it gracefully and silently slipped through her little fingers and made its way elegantly down to the depths of the floorboard. No one noticed its escape until it was too late.

How could this happen? He said it was a one time thing, not a stomach virus!! He was wrong! Oh, so wrong.

When I pulled into the driveway I left them screaming in the car while I turned the hose on. While baking the vomit in the car had been the negative side effect of hot summer weather, the positive effect was that I could strip my vomit-covered child and hose her off naked comfortably in 100 degree weather.

There were more throw ups that day. But none of the throw ups were in the car and this made a world of difference. E continued to scream over his raging ear infection and I realized at bedtime that my hair contained some remnants of dried vomit. Thankfully Matt decided to cut his trip a little short when I called, sobbing on the phone in little hysterical sorts of shrieks. Sometimes doctors can be wrong. She didn't have a "sinus infection" afterall, but hey, they are just people too with kids of their own who surprise vomit in the backseat TWICE IN ONE DAY.

By morning the next day both kids seemed completely improved. Another day began and I was reminded of something a lady told me years ago when WK was a newborn: "It's always a good day when nobody throws up".

Amen fellow-mommy. Amen. So tonight, when you tuck your rugrats into bed, say a prayer of thanks that no one threw up today. Unless of course, it was a day like this for you too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Food Inc.

Although I haven't blogged about it, our little family of three has recently made some changes in the way we eat. Namely buying local food, seasonal food, foods in their whole (real) form and foods high in fats. But come to think of it, I haven't blogged about ANYTHING in a very long time now. But I've been too busy in the kitchen. Cooking. You think I'm kidding...

The decision to make some changes in our diet was not in response to any research of our own or any conclusion we had drawn. It was simply because a couple of friends had agreed to test recipes for a local chef who values nutrition and whole foods. This particular chef is Shane Kelly and I highly recommend you check out her site. Basically, she's all about eating real food. No processed or genetically engineered CRAP. She's all about a diet that is rich in fat. YES - rich in fat. How odd that concept seems to us brainwashed fat-free crazed, calorie-counting, fat-a-phobics! She's all about buying locally and seasonally and cooking ourselves, which challenges our notion of "food should be quickly prepared" or in other words FAST FOOD. Example: We don't eat Ranch dressing from a bottle anymore. I make it. And not with a packet of seasonings. And it's surprisingly easy to make. And fats are surprisingly curbing my appetite, keeping me lean. But it's more than just the simple statements I'm making here about it. Again, you should visit her site.

So, back to WHY I did this... Because my friends were. Listen, I'm a person who values personal taste over popularity. I have never liked music or movies or clothing or what-have-you because it was liked by my friends or by the masses. It's something I've often prided myself on. Well, I'm eating humble pie now. Organic humble pie, I should say. And it's pretty darn good pie by the way.

So, yes, I followed my friends on my recent diet change. And before that I followed the mass of "thinking consumers" for years, mostly buying organic products, free range meats, cage free eggs. I ditched McDonalds and most fast food years ago. I became a loyal patron of the Whole Foods-type stores. But I didn't have too much information behind my decisions to buy and consume organic, environmentally friendly, healthy food.

But now I do.

And it's this little documentary called Food Inc. You've probably heard of it. You may have no interest in watching it, but LET ME TELL YOU, it is worth 2 hours of your time to EDUCATE YOURSELF on the CRAP you are cramming down your pie-hole each and every day. I mean, seriously. It's disturbing. And it's disturbing not just because of the poor quality of the food that is marketed to the majority of consumers, but because of the food industry's downright sinister practices. The food industry is evil, according to this film. Workers are treated like modern day slaves, local farmers are bullied down and it is practically illegal to question what the food industry is doing. Did you know that if you criticize the beef industry in Colorado, you can be thrown in jail? It's out of control! And so alarming.

But the thing I liked the most about this film is that it doesn't leave you hanging on the negative and horrifying truths about the food industry in America. The thing I like about this film, no - LOVE about this film, is that it offers you (me) alternatives to the CRAP the supermarkets sell. It empowers us, the consumers, to THINK about our choices in what we buy. To THINK about where our food is coming from. To read that HUGE list of ingredients on the box of Cheez-Its. To realize the impact our choices have not only on the environment but on the lives of the exploited workers and "farmers" of these massive food industries that are hardly treated any different than the unfortunate animals the food industry abuses daily.

This film will arm you with so much information and reasons to buy locally, seasonally, organically, etc., etc., etc.

So watch it. It's so, so good. And maybe I'll see you at the Farmer's Market this Saturday?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Man Of My Dreams and Requirements

It's my anniversary on Tuesday. My 8th wedding anniversary. Which makes this summer the 10th year I've been with Matt. That's nearly one-third of my life that I've been with this man. Well, I guess to be precise, I've been with him for for 30.3% of my life and married 24.2% of my life. Any way you slice it, that's a decently long portion life to be with someone. And you know what? That 30.3% of my life has most definitely been the BEST part of life.

I was thinking today, as I lay with my sick daughter in her bed to help her get to sleep for her nap, about those initial feelings I had when I first met my husband. It was unlike anything I had experienced before. I felt so at ease with him, like I had finally come home from a long lifetime away from him. It was that initial feeling that ignited my interest.

Shortly before I met him I had come up with a "future husband requirement list" with a good friend. During my last two years of college I did something I had never done before - I went on a lot of dates. This was actually something my Dad suggested, so that I could just get a feel for what was out there. So, if someone asked me out, I went out with them. Most of the dates were just first-dates as the majority of them were just complete failures. But it was such an educational experience for me. It helped me learn about myself and what I really wanted or needed in a future husband. I wasn't on a husband-search or anything, but it sure helped me see what it was that I really wanted for my future. For instance, I went "dancing" on one date. Dancing has never been something that interested me, but I thought I would give it a try. The guy ended up being this major cheese ball and I realized how unattractive dancing men were to me. So, I decided that my husband needed to be a non-dancer, like myself. Now, I know that dancing or not dancing should not be a priority on a "future husband requirement list" but my point is that I learned what I didn't like, no matter the pettiness of it. I mean, if you hate dancing, by all means, don't marry a male-ballerina or ballroom instructor.

But I learned way more important things to look for. I learned to detect the "red flags". The warning signs that shouted in big bright red letters: Run Away! I think it was a God thing too, as He was growing me in wisdom and maturity, showing me what I really needed. I saw red flags that said things like: Has The Maturity of a 13 Year Old, Glancing Around the Room at Other Women, Talks Too Much About his Mother, Has Too Many Friends That are Girls, HAS A POLICE RECORD... That was one date I was glad I drove separately too. That's right ladies of the dating world, you CAN refuse to be picked up and drive YOURSELF.

So, one night my girlfriend and I were goofing around and we came up with a list. Of course number one on my list was Must Love Christ. This was followed by the many attributes I knew I needed in a spouse - Loyal, Open and Honest, Integrity... Of course there were the "shallow" things like A Non-Dancer, Witty Sense of Humor, Similar Taste in Music... But I knew what I wanted and I had decided I would settle for nothing less. I was even told I would "never find someone who met all of those requirements". "Well, TOUGH!" I said. But as time went on and my list got longer, I began to doubt it too...

Until that hot July night when I met The Man Of My Dreams and Requirements. I was astounded by how well he matched up with my list. I remember grilling him one night: "Do you like to dance? Did you think Rushmore was a funny movie? What do you think about Ethic Food?"

Yes, Must Like Ethnic Food and Not Be a Picky Eater was on my list. And Matt fit that category. In fact, he fit them all. I found all this out on the second night I hung out with him. It wasn't even a date. It was after an outdoor concert with a bunch of friends - we were the only ones afterward who didn't yet feel like calling it a night. I remember getting home that night after our long talk and comparing my list with what I had just found out about him. Must Love Christ - check. Must be Open and Honest - check. Must Not be a Preppy Dresser - check. As I scanned through the list it was check after check after check. He met all of the "important" requirements as well as the petty ones! I was shocked by the complete match (and catch) that I found. This, paired with the feeling of nausea I had whenever I was with him (the fluttering butterflies/knots in my stomach-IN LOVE- kind of nausea) nearly knocked me on the floor that night. Oh boy. "This is it" I thought. "This is the guy."

Love at First Sight? Well, yeah, sort of. Instant attraction, requirements all checked off. I couldn't sleep that night.

The next night I went to my parent's house for dinner. They asked me what had been going on lately. I told them a few mundane things, then I nonchalantly added "Oh, and I met the man I'm going to marry". I remember my Dad, who was serving his plate, paused and slowly looked at me with a curious and suprised look. "Who?" he said. "His name is Matt", I replied. My Dad resumed piling the noodles on his plate and asked in that very interested way that parents thinly veil in an attitude of ambivalence, "Are you dating this Matt guy?" "Nope!" I replied. "At least, not yet..." My Dad became a little concerned at this point. "Jenny, you shouldn't be saying that sort of thing, you're setting yourself up to get hurt." But I paid no attention. I just repeated "I know he's the one."

And he was. Though he didn't know it as soon as I did. That was a long process and took a lot of patience on my part. To be in love with someone who.... wasn't there yet. We did end up dating not too long after I realized the gem he was, but his "falling in love with me" was not an instant thing. But it all worked out in the end. And the relief I felt when he finally told me "I love you" ONE ENTIRE YEAR LATER was immense.

So here we are today, The Man Of My Dreams and Requirements, and myself - married for 8 years. We've learned a lot about each other over the past 10 years. I've learned a lot about myself since then. Like how eating ethnic food isn't that important in the whole scheme of things when it comes to a mate. But I will say, it's nice not having someone beg you dance with them at a wedding, sitting there together enjoying each others company while all the dancers are out there looking like fools. But it's even nicer having a husband who has been the greatest blessing of my life who is a man of his word, a man of integrity. A man with a forgiving heart. Because that's what I never knew I needed when I was making that list. Because I never knew how truly awful I was until I got married. Marriage brings out the best and worst in you. And The Man of My Dreams and Requirements has exceeded what I thought I needed in a husband. Because he's seen the real me - the me that I don't like to acknowledge exists - and he STILL loves me. Now that's romantic.

Marriage takes work. My man works on my marriage. I do too of course. But it's in that work that we grow and love each other more and more. And that's REAL LOVE, if you ask me. Looking back on my list of requirements sometimes makes me laugh. But you know what? It was a good thing in the end. God used it to show me that He was bigger than any list I could devise - any plan for my future. God gave me someone who exceeded my list, someone who would bless me more than I could have ever imagined. And He proved my doubts wrong - that I wouldn't be able to find someone who met so many requirements.

Matt, I love you. Happy 8 years.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Random Thoughts and Comments (but mostly complaints)

Debit or Credick?
Paying with a debit card. Oh my goodness. First of all, I don't like to touch the key pad because I am slightly germaphobic. Think of ALL THOSE FINGERS that touch that key pad daily. Yuck. But you HAVE to touch it. And use that little "computer pen". Then it asks you a billion questions; "Debit or Credit?" I begrudgingly grip the filthy pen (which most likely is NEVER washed) and hit the debit button. "Key in pin". Then after I key in the pin number, "Do you want it all on the card?" Yes, stupid machine. Can I please put the grimy pen down now before I contract Asian Bird Flu and Strep Throat? But noooo! the machine is not done with it's billion questions. "Cash back?" No. Finally. I release the filthy pen from my grip. And there is the total price of my purchase - always over what I estimate it will be - followed by the FINAL question "Is this amount correct?" Oh my lands. Seriously? By this time I've already sanitized my hands with my little bottle of hand sanitizer that took me a ridiculously long amount of time to find in my huge purse. So, I pick the dreaded computer pen back up in my clean fingers and re-contaminate my hands as I hit "yes" on the key pad. Gross. Why all the questions? Half the time I expect it to say "Are you sure?" followed by "Are you REALLY sure?" followed by "Have you checked with your husband?" The only thing I like about swiping my card is the occasional question "Debit or crediCK?" Credick? What the heck is credick?

It's a bird! It's a plane! Nope, it's a bow.

What is the deal with huge, gigantic bows on little girl's heads? I'm talking about the bows that are absolutely massive. The ones that look like hats and sit on the head like a puffy football helmet. I'm not anti-bow. I'm just a tad fearful of these things that look like wild perched birds resting on nests of soft toddler hair. Their clownish appearance sends me into faint giggles when I spot them from afar. I just don't get it...

Nashville Hair
What is up with men's hair in Nashville? I have seen more mullets on tall skinny men, paired with skinny jeans and pointy shoes than I've ever seen IN MY LIFE. Though, come to think of it, I don't know if I've ever seen this skinny man, pointy boot, styled combo before. And, oh, THE HAIR. Guys (here) spend more time styling their locks than women. I'm talking color, cut, styling creme, THE WORKS! Matt and I call it "Nashville hair" but it's not just the hair. It's the jeans these men are wearing. How do they get them on? And how do they all have such skinny little waists and legs? What's going on with men in Nashville?

Mary Kay
If you sell skin products, makeup, cooking products, women's clothing, or WHATEVER it is you sell, PLEASE don't be offended by this - but I just can't come to your trunk show or your Pampered Chef party or WHATEVER. And here's why: This woman once tried to recruit me to sell Mary Kay products. I mean, can you HONESTLY see me selling Mary Kay? Much less wearing it? (though I love their eye makeup remover) Anyway, she tried so hard for so long and was SO ANNOYING about it that it nearly drove me crazy. She went as far as showing up where I was parked at work and leaving Mary Kay tapes (yes, cassette tapes) on the windshield of my car. I couldn't play the tapes because I had no tape player and she left me thousands of messages about "getting the tapes back" but what she really wanted to was to corner me AGAIN about selling Mary Kay makeup. I ended up tossing the tapes off the side of the road and leaving her a message to STOP CONTACTING ME. It was crazy. I've also been to those Pampered Chef/Southern Living/WHATEVER "parties". Party? No. No party. It's free food and drink used to subtly guilt you into buying something you DO NOT NEED. It's a sales pitch under the guise of a "party". And the absolute worst kind of "party" is the kind where they try to recruit you to sell underneath them like the Mary Kay woman who stalked me for two months. Sheesh. I mean, seriously. I'm over it. I'll come to something that sells something I REALLY like that I can't buy in a store (cute kids clothes, local art, handmade stuff). But no more "parties". No more gimmicks. It's just a personal policy.

Cool Springs
I don't like Cool Springs. At all. Maybe you love it. Maybe you live there. I'm sorry, but it's just not my thang. If you don't know what Cool Springs is, it's a suburb area of Nashville that is mostly comprised of huge stores with huge parking lots, a mall, strip malls, and chain restaurants. Basically, you could be anywhere in America when you are in Cool Springs. There is nothing unique about it, nothing at all to separate it from the suburban jungles of Anywhere, U.S.A. Also, what is with the name "Cool Springs"? It bothers me. Where are the springs? It's like naming the mall "Galleria". The Cool Springs Galleria. Sounds like it should be an outdoor shopping center at the beach. Or at least by some springs somewhere. Nope! It's surrounded by lots of roads and parking lots and strip malls. Ugh.

Bosco's of Cool Springs
So Cool Springs has a Bosco's. Yes, the brewery/restaurant out of Memphis. That's right Nashvillians, Bosco's is not native to Nashville. It's a Memphis thing. But there's long been a Bosco's in the Hillsboro Village area of town, which is actually a fun Bosco's to go to - different than the real deal in Memphis - but good all the same. So we thought we would check out the Cool Springs Bosco's the other night for dinner. Should have known better... Now, the food was good - just as good as back in Memphis. But the atmosphere, which is a huge part of the dining out experience , was awful. The lighting was sooo bad. It was the fluorescent, office-type of lighting. It was like eating lunch at your cubicle, surrounded by loud people. There was absolutely NOTHING enjoyable about the environment. The acoustics were bad, the layout was bad, and the terrible lights were way too bright. Ugh. Don't bother with this location unless you LIKE wearing sunglasses indoors.

Fur Coat
If dog-hair coats or sweaters where in vogue, my floors, furniture and fleece blankets would be main distributors to the dog-hair garment industry. This is one reason not to have dogs, and especially collies or labs - THEY SHED. ALL YEAR LONG. Yes, all year long, hair is constantly falling off their bodies. And if I want to keep my floors, my black coats, any rugs, or the sides of the couches dog-hair free, I have to vacuum every single day. You know those tumble weeds that roll by the boot spurs of the good guys in Western films? Well, picture those tumble weeds, except instead of being composed of sticks and dust, they are made of black and white dog-hairs of various texture, rolling across the wood floors of a house in the suburbs every time a door opens or shuts. Can't you just hear the Western/Mexican music in the background every time I walk into my house? And it's all (no)thanks to my dogs - one huge yellow-whitish lab and one smallish black and white border collie mix. Together they create a mess of black and white hairs, some long, some short, some wavy and kinked. Some even float in the air. You see, the lab's hair is all the same - one or two inch long, strait, thick, white hairs that constantly shed themselves year round. The border collie has both black and white hairs, with long, thick, wavy ones on her back and tail and wispy, kinky, thin ones on her belly. These are the ones that literally float in the air and often land in your cereal bowl. Ugh. So, if you come to my house in a black sweater, you will leave sporting white hairs. If you come to my house in a white sweater, you will leave sporting black hairs. I've always been a dog person, but these days I'm wondering if it's even worth it. And it's not just the hair. It's the running off, the horrible breath, the constant whining, the feint smell of dog poop in the back yard, the occasional dog-barf on the rug (why do they ALWAYS barf on the rugs?) Then there's the scab on my toe from the other night when the border-line-mentally-challenged lab plummeted up the stairs and put all of her 70 lbs. directly on the top of my bare foot, one of her toe-claws pressing through my skin. All I can say is thank God for vacuums and those little sticky-rolling things I roll on my coats every time I leave my house. Otherwise, I'd be so drenched in dog hair, I'd look like one of those crazy cat ladies.

So, those are my random thoughts/complaints for the day. I have more. Just check back soon. It's sort of fun to bitch *complain.

*I have to remember to keep this blog "clean". I mean, old Sunday School teachers of mine read this thing! Though I assure you, people of the easily offended type, the b-word is a C-class "cuss word". I'm pretty darn clean, all things considering. But all the same, I'm glad you're out there reading what little ole' me has to say about things.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reluctant Suburbanite - or - The Plunge

So, we moved to the 'burbs. Yup, we took The Plunge. I said I'd never do it. I said I'd always be an Urbanite. But alas, the 'burbs have won the battle for my mind. Not my heart, mind you. My heart still belongs in a city.

So why did we take The Plunge? Well, I'll tell you.

First and foremost is our daughter. You see, she is this delicate creature, sensitive, petite, and amazingly innocent. And the idea of sending her off to school full time once kindergarten arrives is beyond terrifying for me. No, I'm not one of those moms who can never be apart from my child. I have no problem having wonderful "me time" or date nights or girls nights or whatever. But when it comes time to send her off Monday - Friday for 7 hours a day, it's going to be pretty darn hard on me. I've watched one of my best friends do it this year with her oldest who is in kindergarten. And watching that really got my wheels turning for the future.

I used to say I would never send my child to private school, that I didn't want my child growing up in a sheltered bubble like I did. But recently, my opinions have shifted. When I look at her - the delicate thing she is - and I watch friends sending their kids off to kindergarten, when I see the amount of time these kids are apart from their families, the picture becomes more in focus and reality sets in: I want my child in a sheltered environment! I want to protect her little innocence as long as humanly possible! Of course I know her life is really in God's hands, and that she is always in his protection, but I want to keep this little bird close to the nest as long as possible, so that her strength in character is more developed when it's really time to fly on her own. I know people reading this will disagree with me, but that's why we are all different. That's why we parent differently, have different jobs, live in different areas. And we live by our personal convictions. And lately, my personal conviction is to do exactly what I said I would never do - raise my child in a sheltered environment. Not a "bubble" mind you. I want her to experience life outside of these suburban boundaries. I want her to be a part of our diverse culture. But I also want her in a school where the test scores are phenomenal, where the teachers are excellent, where the atmosphere is familiar. I want a school that I know a lot about because other friends send their kids there. Is this kind of school even out there? Well, yeah. In Williamson County.

Seeing how private school is ridiculously expensive, I researched to find the best public school system in the Nashville area for my delicate little bird. And Williamson County Schools had by far the best test scores and the best parent reviews (you can find all of this info online). And most important to me, were the testimonies of friends who currently have children enrolled in WC schools and testimonies of teachers I know in the system. So, we decided on WC schools. But do you know where you have to live to attend these schools? You guessed it - Williamson County. In other words - The Suburbs.

So, we sucked up our poor attitude towards the 'burbs and made The Plunge. And CRAZILY we bought a house in the neighborhood where I lived from age 9 - 18. The same neighborhood my parents moved to when they took The Plunge back in the 80's. The same neighborhood I so longed to leave and never come back to when I was a kid. How's that for irony?

I said I'd never do it - live in the suburbs that is. Well, never say never, right?

So here we are, living life on a cul-da-sac, with our two car garage, our invisible fence for the dogs, surrounded by thousands of kids and play grounds galore. What's next? A minivan? I'd be lying if I told you I didn't want one. Yes, it's officially happened. We are the next generation of Reluctant Suburbanites.

Do I miss our urban life? Of course! I miss great restaurants around the corner, libraries within walking distance, being in the middle of all the action. I miss the diversity, the realness of living in the city. But I don't miss it enough to regret what we have done. Being in the city has its price tag. Where we are now is idealistic for my child and any future children, no - I'm not pregnant - SERIOUSLY, STOP ASKING).

Do I miss having my car stolen TWICE, having the car broken into, fearing a home invasion, and the sketchy foot traffic? NOT AT ALL. Now, some of that was living in Memphis, which has a higher crime rate (especially for auto theft) but nevertheless it was the price we paid to live "in the city". Do bad things happen in the 'burbs? Of course, but statistically crime happens A LOT less. In Memphis when we were considering a move to Germantown (Memphis burbs), I researched the crime on the Memphis Police Department website, which has a crime map, and Germantown was nearly crime free. Where we were living in the city, crime was pretty rampant. People will tell you "crime happens everywhere". And it does. But it happens much, much less where we are, statistically speaking.

I will say that moving the 'burbs wasn't a move we made out of fear. We didn't move out here because we feared sending our child to a school that was not as sheltered as we would have liked. And we didn't move out here because we were sick and tired of constantly looking over our shoulders when getting out of our cars in the driveway (we were by the way). We moved out here because we wanted our child(ren) to have the best education available. We moved out here because we wanted a neighborhood where our child(ren) could be surrounded with other kids. Because this neighborhood has a swim team, a pool, and tons of family activities. There is real community in this neighborhood. One of my best friends in the universe lives here, a college friend, and other various friends from times past. My parents live here. Our child(ren) will be able to ride a bike to visit FAMILY, which is HUGE. I would have killed to have been able to see my grandparents like that as a kid!

We moved out here mostly (if not entirely) for our daughter. And while it hurt a little to give up some of the things we loved about living in the city (living in the burbs has a price tag too), in the end, we knew we were making the best choice for us as a family.

I've learned a few things since taking The Plunge. First of all, The Plunge isn't so bad at all. In fact, it's pretty nice. I like my house. I love it. I LOVE the space - the space that we could not have had "in the city". People say it's so expensive to live in Williamson County. Um, well, no it's actually not. You save a TON in taxes in Williamson County. And you know what? It's beautiful out here. The drive to and from Matt's work is just breathtaking. There's something that happens to my frame of mind while I'm sitting in three lanes of traffic surrounded by shops and buildings. I become unglued. Out here, I gaze at horses prancing in fields, deer jumping across fences, and beautiful old trees set against a backdrop of soft hills. Driving here is relaxing (as long as I'm not being tailed by another car!). It's also nice to feel like I can leave my doors unlocked. To have neighbors who make an effort to befriend us, to have a Publix down the road. Have I mentioned how much I love Publix? It's heaven's version of a grocery store.

I've learned not to judge people. I used to snub the 'burbs. I used to think I was better than moving out and away from everything. I found some of my identity in being urban. Well, I've been through an identity crisis of sorts since moving out here. What I snubbed is what I have become. Serves me right I suppose. But at the end of my life am I really going to say "Gee, I wish I had lived closer to the art museum." ??? Or "Gosh Golly, I should have moved to the suburbs sooner!" Of course not! Because it doesn't really matter WHERE you are. It's WHO YOU ARE WITH. It's who you chose to do life with. And I'm thankful I've got a street where there are moms who are just a tad older than me, with older kids, who I can look to for guidance. I'm thankful that my dear friend from 3rd grade lives a minute's drive from my house. I'm thankful that my high school best friend is 7 minutes away and that new friendships are budding. Remember the old song "Make new friends but keep the old?" We've got some great friends here, some we are trying to talk into moving OUT HERE with us... (wink) And last but not least, I'm thankful that we have family in town, just down the street. And I actually live in the same town again with a sibling!

And one last thing about this neighborhood - Why we liked it - It's an "older" neighborhood in that it was built in the 70's. Of course, we laugh at that being thought of as "old", coming from a house built in 1925. But the fact that this neighborhood is 25 years old gives the houses a little more character than your typical suburban house. And what I found after living in an old home, and after looking at all kinds of houses while house hunting is that I'm not a big fan of "new construction". I can't tell you why exactly, but there's something about a house that's been "lived in" that appeals to me. And, I'm not a fan of HUGE OPEN FLOOR PLANS because it feels less like a house and more like a hotel or restaurant. But don't get your feelings hurt, because I'm just about the only person on the planet who doesn't like new construction/huge open floor plans. My Realtor was shocked by how much I don't like "what everyone else likes". Oh well, I'm a freak.

Well, that's why we moved where we are. And we don't regret it. My heart still belongs to the city. But I can visit it in twenty short minutes any time I like. Yes, there are sacrifices made. But that's just part of living life. So, I'm back not only in the town I grew up, but literally one street away from the house I grew up in. My neighbors consist of an old youth pastor of mine, my high school guidance counselor, and countless other people from my past. It's surreal, and at times a little unnerving. It's like I never left this place 15 years ago when I graduated high school. I go to the grocery store and run in to someone from my past EVERY SINGLE TIME. At times its like running into ghosts. But I'm not who I was when I left this part of the globe to venture off on my adult life years ago. I've got a man now, and a little girl, and two insane dogs.

So, we have begun the process of assimilating into my old stomping ground, as a new little family, with our own identity: Reluctant Suburbanites putting down roots in an area they never envisioned life taking them. Laughing at the irony, listening to the silence from the absence of city traffic. Trying not to drive into Cool Springs too often (the land of Best Buy, Costco and the mall). Always finding excuses to take a 20 min. drive back to the city. Feeling good about our choice, yet odd and a little out of place.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Tell All about my Faith and The Jesus Storybook Bible

I've been a "Christ-follower" for a long time. As long as I can remember. I was in diapers when I started memorizing little Bible verses in Sunday School. When I learned to read, I was reading Christian devotionals for little kids. And when I was in braces I was going on church youth group retreats. I was indoctrinated, involved and totally immersed in the Evangelical Christian world.

It wasn't until I left my small Bible-bubble world that I began to question, doubt and rethink what I believed. When I ventured off for my freshman year of college, I embarked on the Great Journey of My Adult Life, just as we all do when we leave the nest. And I was quite the over-confident baby bird out in the big world on my own. (weren't we all?) The world was black and white to me. Christianity was cut and dry. I did have a real faith that was rooted in truth. But I had much to learn (still do).

In a rather short period of time, all that I had believed about God, Jesus, the Bible, and the world was challenged. Challenged by differing opinions, religions, academics, relationships. I was now learning to fly outside of the Evangelical world in which I was molded in. Towards the end of my undergraduate experience I was in a cloud of confusion. Was there even a God? How could all that I had been taught as a child be true? I had major doubts about the whole concept of Christianity.

I was embarrassed by my doubts at first, but eventually became inflated in my "boldness" to seek truth outside of the box. When my doubts first surfaced, I was shameful. But in a slow and steady process, I began to get comfortable with doubt. And you know what, fellow Christians? This is actually not as horrible as it sounds! Though my mind was spiritually unsettled, I was working through my REAL thoughts and feelings. I was finally using my mind to try and understand the gospel instead of just believing what I was taught. And the Bible was just NOT making sense to me on so many levels. Eventually I embraced my doubts and proudly showed my true colors. I began talking about my doubt. The fear of being judged was over. I felt liberated. The pendulum had swung far in the other direction and I broadcast my message loud and clear: I don't know if this is true, I don't know if I can believe in the Bible anymore. It doesn't make sense to me.

I was loud and (probably) often obnoxious about my new boldness in questioning the truth of Christianity. I debated pastors, snubbed churches and certain denominations, and even looked into other religions. Are you shaking in your boots? Don't. Because through all of that, God never left me. - (Which has fully convinced me that I have NO PART in my own salvation) - Instead, do you know what happened? I ended up realizing some pretty amazing truths. Believe it or not, God can use doubt to teach you, shape you, bring your eyes back to him. Read my friend Lindsay's blog to read some amazing truth about doubt.

What I realized in trying to understand Christ with my mind is that my mind CANNOT grasp him. My mind cannot grasp his Love, his Glory, his Word. We know in part. One day we will know fully. This is not a cop-out. This is truth. God is WAY over my head. But on the same token, he gave me a mind for a reason. He wants me to use it. I believe he actually enjoys me asking him tough questions. Because when you ask the God of the Entire Universe "WHY?" - He's going to respond. And he wants to respond. When I, the tiny baby bird, shake my fists at the heavens and ask him where he is, he answers. Maybe it's only a gentle whisper. Sometimes it's a thunderous roar. But it's his PLEASURE, I truly believe, to respond to us. Because he's madly in love with us.

I'm still on this spiritual journey and I believe I will be until I die. I still question things about church in general, the Bible, about why God allowed this or that to happen, and whatnot. My faith has deepened tremendously since I first began to seek truth on my own, when I left that cozy Evangelical nest and flapped my wobbly wings around. I did find that you can't seek God "on your own". That community is ESSENTIAL. That church (in some form) is ESSENTIAL. I have found that the Bible is my compass and the Holy Spirit is my guide. Without the compass, I have no reference or direction. And without the guide I'm just as good as lost. I definitely don't fit in with that world that I grew up in. Or at least I feel that way now. I could be wrong though. But that's fine. It's not about fitting in. It's about seeking truth.

All that to say, I was reading The Jesus Storybook Bible today to my little girl and I was STRUCK with the introduction. It brought me to tears as I read it aloud to her because it explains why I believe what I believe. And I want to share it...

First there is this quote, which sums up my experience with Christ:

"Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
Hadst Thou not chosen me...

My heart owns none before Theee,
For Thy rich grace I thirst;
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first."

-Josiah Conder, 1836

Then there's the introduction, which is written for children, but rang clearly in my ears:

"God wrote, "I love you" - he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror - to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing.
The way a kitten chases her tail. The way red poppies grow wild. The way a dolphin swims. And God put it into words, too, and wrote in in a book called "the Bible."
Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what he has done.
Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you'll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren't heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.
No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne - everything - to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!
You see, the best thing about this Story is - it's true.
There are lots of stores in the Bible, but all the stories are telling on Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle - the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend. This is the Child who would one day - but wait. Our Story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning..."

I suppose this is really like two posts in one, but I couldn't post the bit from the children's Bible without first explaining where I'm coming from. Maybe I just wanted to sound "authentic" (is that the latest Christian buzz word or what??) Perhaps I just want attention (I mean, HELLO, I have a blog for Blog's Sake!) I often find this need to explain to others that I'm not the "typical Christian", that I've arrived at my state of belief through a lot of questioning and doubt. That I've been totally taken in by a God who won't leave me alone, or let me leave his presence. That I'm uncomfortable in Christian bookstores. That Christian music turns me off. That I feel more comfortable in an unchurched crowd. But does that even matter? And what's a "typical Christian" anyway? These are the current places my journey has led me. How's that for a Tell All about my spiritual life?

At any rate, this basic, simplistic, meant-for-children's-ears introduction to the Jesus Storybook Bible tells the truth of what I believe - what I often question - and what often seems to make little sense. But it's all true. And I still believe... And one day I will know fully. (I will know "WHY?") ... Just as I am fully known.

I end this diatribe with the words from a song by David Bazan, which so clearly illustrates my experience with the gospel:

I could buy you a drink.
I could tell you all about it.
I could tell you why I doubt it, and why I still believe it.
And why I need it.
And what the pharisees don't see.

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