I’m already wondering when school starts.

It’s terrible, I know.

As were most parents, I was excited when Jayden went back to school in September. Around February, however, my mood was changing just a tad. I was tired of packing lunches, ironing uniform clothing, keeping track of permission slips, gym shoes, school shoes, textbooks, which medications needed refills,  and being a living schedule book that was expected to remember each project due date, each assignment, each special assembly, lunch balances (my son drank a carton of milk each day and it wasn’t free, so we had to remember to put money on his account for that), etc.

Jayden has only been out of school since the 16th and my patience ran short with him and his little sister today and I am pretty sure it will be a pattern I will deal with over the summer. I even actually checked the school calendar to see when the next semester starts so I could begin my countdown. It’s awful, I know. But if they could get along the entire time they were together, I wouldn’t be having these second thoughts.

My older sister’s birthday is today, and while I listened discreetly as my two older kids bickered about something absolutely ridiculous, I had to appreciate the fact that she and I never argued about anything as kids. Never. My kids have their own rooms, while my sister and I shared a room until I was ten and she was fifteen, so for the life of me I don’t understand why, when they get tired of each other, won’t they SEPARATE from each other and go to their rooms and chill out for a minute! No, instead, they stay in the living room or whoever’s bedroom they are in and make little dumb comments to each other. As I mentioned, on several occasions I’ve listened in “discreetly”. Why? Because they like to lie on each other. When I go investigate the cause of an argument, unbeknownst to them I already know who did what and who said what. I just wait to hear it, and wouldn’t you know it, they lie on each other a good 90% of the time. So in addition to their stupid arguments over stupid stuff, I get lied to about it as well. Usually they both end up in trouble.

Speaking of birthdays, my sweet baby is ONE now! Her first birthday was yesterday, and I don’t think she could have cared less. The night before, Jayden and I worked feverishly to put together several desserts (my husband’s idea. Of course he comes up with the idea and doesn’t have to put in any of the work)–a Snickers cheesecake cake, a strawberry cheesecake cake, and an Oreo Surprise. The day of her birthday she woke up in a bad mood, having teething pain, and was in a pretty bad mood most of the day. Even with her party guests, she was in full diva mode, howling when just about anyone looked like they might want to even speak to her. It was pretty hilarious.

The most action we got out of her was when it was cupcake time. She dove into her cupcake and came back with two fistfuls of yum and wasted no time shoving them in her mouth. We were prepared for such a mess, so after the cupcake she changed into her second outfit of the day. While we were opening her gifts, I attempted to read her birthday cards as she sat on my lap. She was not interested nor impressed. She snatched each card out of my hand and flung it across the room. Now, the actual gifts themselves, she was happy with those, but the cards… what does a 1-year-old care about cards, you know?

Exhausted, the Birthday Diva fell asleep before the party was even properly over, and stayed asleep while the rest of us went to Layla’s t-ball game. She was late starting, and is just getting the hang of it, but what I like about her and her other little teammates, all of whom are around her age (5) is their willingness to learn and give it a go. When they make mistakes, they recover quickly. They listen to their coaches. They hustle. My son’s team, on the other hand (he plays baseball–it’s his first time ever playing on a team since we just really got his asthma under control) sometimes swing the bat like they don’t expect it to connect and run bases like they really don’t care if they make it there or not. I jokingly said perhaps they should practice with Layla’s team LOL.

I guess my patience with my older two monsters is short too because I am tired and in a ton of pain. I took a pretty decent fall this morning, and much to my chagrin, my husband heard it, came into the room and had to pick me up off the floor. But yet, nothing is wrong according to the doctors… Go figure. Regardless of what they (or should I say their tests) say, there is no way in the world I should be in this much pain every day at the age of 35.

I’m sure it’ll get better as we start doing more things to actually enjoy the summer. We do have things we intend on doing. Picnics, museums,  water parks, splash pads, etc. This week is our rest and relaxation week, and hopefully next week we’ll be doing more to get out of the house. Maybe then they won’t get on my nerves as much.

Maybe.

19388475_1308473002595480_20839662060793837_o

(Never mind the lighter on the floor–we used it to light her little candle).

Isn’t she cute 🙂

The Divided States of America will continue to burn.

divided states of america

The “F” stands for “fiddlesticks”.

In all seriousness, today was a particularly disturbing and bloody day in America. As I’m sure you all have heard, there was a shooting in Virginia that resulted in Rep. Steve Scalise now being in critical condition and three other individuals wounded (not to mention the shooter is dead, but oh well); four people were killed and three injured at a UPS facility in San Francisco before the shooter turned the gun on himself (last I checked, no motive was given–I wonder if the shooter was a disgruntled employee, if he had beef with coworkers, or if problems at home had brought him to a breaking point. Not that any of those things are excuses); a man was shot in New York after some type of altercation; apparently the US is responsible for the deaths of countless civilians in Syria; and I am sure there are other instances of violence of which I am currently unaware.

You know what’s messed up about all of this? Twenty years ago, I think Americans would have been in some type of unanimous panic about the violence that has swept our nation. But now, we’re so divided among racial lines, along political lines, along socioeconomic lines, that we can’t even agree that there is a problem. As I perused the message boards associated with the miscellaneous articles about the chaos that was today, I was disheartened by the bickering taking place. The main theme involved conservatives blaming liberals and liberals blaming conservatives. I am beyond SICK of those two terms. To say I am SICK of them is actually an understatement. In most of the exchanges I could not tell if grown people were talking or if a couple of eleven-year-old boys were arguing. It was absolutely pathetic.

America was built on division. We haven’t yet overcome it, and we’re getting more and more divided. All throughout her painful history, in a struggle for power, there has always been one group pitted against another. I have not yet figured out all of the reasons why, but I can say the pursuit of power and money and this thing called capitalism are major players (honestly, would capitalism work as well if there wasn’t a single group of people that could be exploited??), but I can say the tone from our nation’s leadership has not helped.

In the Bible, we saw examples of how leadership affected the nation of Israel in particular. Each time Israel had a Godly leader, the nation enjoyed peace and prosperity. When they had an ungodly leader and fell back into idolatry and complacency, there was warfare, strife and suffering. See the parallels?

My mind is weary, so I’m going to attempt to watch something light-hearted and relax. I’ve got my feet propped up, as a new symptom has taken hold within the last few weeks–especially in the morning or when I’ve done a lot of walking, it feels like I am walking on broken glass. I don’t know what it is, but I am too fit to be tied with yet ANOTHER unexplainable symptom.

As I close for the night, I have to wonder how more people are not paying attention. The Word talks to us about this very thing. God has to be looking down upon us with major disappointment. I don’t think he is going to allow this humanity experiment to continue much longer. Second Timothy 3:1-5 tells us this:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

Am I the only one seeing this manifest? Or how about this one:

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…”  (Matt. 24:12).

Isn’t it obvious that these divisions arise because the love people used to have for others has grown cold?

I guess the question that I will ponder for the rest of the night is this:

How do we get it back?

America cannot continue on this path.

 

 

Love-Hate Relationship with Numbers

Not the book of the Bible… I actually like the book of Numbers, the fourth book written by Moses between the years 1440 and 1400 B.C. that documents the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites. What I am referring to is actual numbers.

Number one, I am not a math person. I don’t do well with mental calculations and I feel that makes me look stupid when I’m really not. I have always had a tendency to switch numbers in my head. I have never been tested nor diagnosed with dyscalculia (it’s like dyslexia but involves numbers), but I have always had a problem with number order. If I write a math problem out on paper, as long as I know what I’m doing I’m usually easily able to solve it. But I cannot do math in my head, and it’s gotten worse as I’ve battled this ever-present Mystery Illness (so the next time you’re in the store and you give a cashier more change than what they expected, perhaps you ought to consider the possibility of some type of learning disability before you berate them. I get sick and tired of older people assuming that folks are stupid because they can’t make fast mental calculations).

But my disdain for numbers comes from more than my poor mental math abilities. I’ve grown weary with how one’s success is measured by numbers. I’m sick of test scores, credit scores, income status, productivity measures, shoot I’m even tired of weight. All of these things mean nothing in the grand scheme of things but are taken to mean everything. And it’s stealing people’s joy.

With that being said, I understand WHY these things need to be measured, to an extent. I do not like all the testing that is done in schools; I do not feel that the tests measure children’s knowledge, since all schools in America do not have the same resources and all children do not learn or test the same. On the contrary, I can see the need for schools to do some type of testing in order that they may gauge a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses in order to craft them an appropriate learning plan based thereupon. I also understand that colleges and universities want to see some type of evidence that incoming students have achieved at least a basic understanding of the concepts upon which a college education is built. But I do not like this whole concept of credit in America and how it is used to keep lower-income people in the same bracket (can someone explain to me the point of charging someone who is already of lower means more interest? I understand they’re considered a higher risk, but does a one-size-fits-all approach to understanding one’s credit history truly appropriate? The only thing damaging on my credit report (in addition to the fraudulent charges associated with identity theft) are my ridiculous student loans. So I’m not creditworthy because I believed in the American dream as a naïve teen???). But I understand that one’s productivity at work is going to be measured. I understand that it IS important to maintain a healthy weight and BMI. But what I don’t like is how people have erased the concept of a person being a PERSON and hold people to numerical standards.

Personally, I don’t care if a person is 300 pounds (other than being concerned about their health), has a 500 credit score (other than the fact that that puts them at a financial disadvantage and to the extent that a Christian person IS supposed to pay his debts), or got an 800 on his SATs in high school. I care about who they are as a person and that their needs are being met. More importantly, God does not care about those things.  I know there are certain numbers that hang over my head every single day that give me pause–my weight, my credit score, that ever-increasing amount of student loans that I will probably never pay off. I know personally how these numbers weigh on my self-esteem. But at the end of the day, if I am doing something that benefits someone else, do they care about those things? Nope. Is God measuring my adherence to His commands with those numbers? Nah.

These kids are being impacted by numerical standards as well. They see tons upon TONS of information disseminated by social media on weight and body standards in particular. They are under tons of pressure to maintain a certain grade point average and achieve certain test scores knowing that their academic performance will make a difference on how much they may eventually end up paying for college (I just read that Congress is going to allow student loan interest to increase by 18%, and I was flipping furious).

Are we reminding them that development of their moral character is just as important? Are we focusing on their mental health as well? I suppose that is my major problem with these numerical standards–that people look at them instead of the person holistically.

Numerical deficiencies mean the world in today’s society, but in the kingdom of God, you are more than just the numbers that are associated with you. Regardless of whether you have the ideal body weight, the perfect credit score, the best grades, the highest productivity rate at your job, or the best test scores, God has given you some type of ability you can use to advance His kingdom. So don’t get bogged down by society’s measurements and standards. You are not mediocre in God’s eyes. And it’s okay to be average. All throughout the Bible we see God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things. That should give us all confidence and erase the self-doubt this world can bring.

numbers hatred

Beauty worth preserving.

People claim that science and religion, particularly Christianity, are often at odds.

In a way, they are, but only because people have decided to make it so. In my opinion, scientific knowledge proves even further that there definitely is a God.

It is absolutely amazing to me that this planet earth is laid out in a manner that has supported various life forms for centuries. It is absolutely amazing to me that God worked to form the earth and then formed humans so that everything that we need to survive and thrive can be gleaned from it. The majority of our body mass is comprised of water; water is absolutely essential for human life. About seventy percent of the earth is water. Coincidence? I think not. We need clean air to survive. Despite man’s deforestation and industrialization, trees are still in the business of filtering our air. If people really stopped to think, they would realize that it is absolutely amazing that there is enough water for all of us to drink, and that there are methods to keep it clean and drinkable, and that the air remains safe for us to breathe despite our best efforts to pollute it. If people really stopped to think, they would realize that it only takes very minor changes in the composition of our water or air to sicken or even kill us, and that there must be a very loving God who looks past the fact that we are ruining the planet that He made even before He made us and continues to sustain it.

I saw the majesty of God’s creation in a manner that is not typical for me this past week when my husband and I embarked upon a Carnival Cruise (the Victory ship) with my sister-in-law, her boyfriend and my mother-in-law. We had a short plane ride to Miami, where we stayed in a Doubletree Hotel (where we saw some of the biggest cockroaches we’ve ever seen in our lives–I’ve been to Alabama enough times to be more familiar with them than I’d like to be, but living in Michigan, we don’t see roaches, and if we do, they are NOT that big) before we boarded the ship. As we hung precariously in the air, I marveled at the sparse clouds that were suspended in the atmosphere; the layers of pastel-colored sky as the night fell; and the fact that people had ever gotten smart enough to create this beast of a machine that could conquer such a feat. At the airport there were hundreds of people who looked rather unimpressed by the fact that they were, in fact, about to board an airplane. Perhaps because it was only the second time in my life that I’ve had the opportunity, I was overcome with adoration for God. Scientific innovation was given to man by God for our benefit. Science doesn’t go against God. The only reason people act like it does is because they fail to give God the credit and glory for scientific discovery. What people fail to realize is that there is far more that we don’t know about this planet and the things in it than God has allowed. Man will never be able to fully explain or even understand the inner-workings of all of God’s creation. But God has allowed man to become brilliant enough to figure out altitude, to create the parts that eventually become a plane, and to figure out how to navigate it.

And let me interject this–God bless pilots and flight attendants. Our first flight to Miami was smooth, the one back, not so much. We encountered slight turbulence, but that pilot had that under control. As for me, there is no flipping way I would EVER want the responsibility of controlling a piece of machinery that weighs thousands of pounds and has hundreds of people, who are someone’s son, daughter, sister, brother, mother or father, on it. Especially not one that is in AIR. Too much pressure. And there were the flight attendants, walking around the plane like there was solid earth underneath handing people snacks and coffee. I’m sitting there with my seatbelt firmly buckled most of the time (admittedly because I missed the memo that I could take it off) and here they are calmly walking back and forth with pushcarts like they’re busboys in a restaurant.

But I digress.

We spent a day in Nassau in the Bahamas. If we go back in the future, I’d like to do more activities, but in the meantime we did have a great time at the beach and walking through Nassau and its shops. I was able to see creativity and skill firsthand as I watched an elderly man carve a wooden fish sculpture with hand tools and a woman weave my daughter’s name on a little coin purse within seconds. Everyone was very friendly. I’d love to go back.

As our ship cruised the seas, I often sat out on the balcony of our cozy stateroom in wonder. I wondered how many feet deep the waters beneath us were, what creatures made their home there, and whether or not there were any shipwrecks (perhaps I’ve watched too many movies where people find trunks of gold and treasure at the bottom of the sea). As the captain propelled the ship along, I was again amazed and even further convinced of God’s careful planning of this earth and thankful for His omniscience.

This planet has immeasurable beauty that is worth fighting for, worth preserving. Some Christians want to be blind to climate change, either denying the science behind it or denying that it could actually bring us harm. Christians who deny science are limiting God’s abilities and desire to impart a measure of His knowledge to us so that we might do better at taking care of this planet and each other. To deny that it could bring us harm, by saying that we should just pray and God will take care of the problem, is irresponsible Christianity right there. Just because we CAN and SHOULD pray for God to fix the earth does not mean that we shouldn’t also do OUR part to prevent continued damage. I was aghast when Trump made the reckless decision to pull the United States from the Paris Accord. In a time when cancer and respiratory illnesses are on the rise when they shouldn’t be, we should be doing all we can to explore whether or not those problems are related to environmental factors.

I want my kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and beyond to be able to experience this. It is maddeningly selfish that a group of adults made a decision that will impact our most vulnerable.

sky view

 

There is no exclusivity in Christ Jesus!

gods compassion

Today in Sunday school my class and I wrapped up a set of lessons based on the book of Jonah. Certainly everyone knows the story of Jonah, particularly the part during which he was swallowed up by the big fish, but my charges were unaware of the REST of the story involving this Old Testament prophet. The book of Jonah is not typically preached from in most churches, I boldly say, but the lessons that can be taken from the book and applied to society today are INNUMERABLE.

There is so much in this wonderful short book. We see the consequences of anger, disobedience, and even racism. We see grace and mercy and an illustration of God’s compassion both on Jonah and on Nineveh. It is not a book to be ignored.

Since I am dealing with children, I always try to keep in mind that, although it is of extreme importance that they understand the background of each set of Scriptures we use in Sunday school, that they also are able to find some relevance within those Scriptures to their every day life. Certain approaches don’t work well with children. For each lesson, I give them a very brief background of the author of the Scriptures, for instance, and perhaps the setting and purpose of the book from which the Scriptures have come. Why brief? Because honestly, the kids get bored by too much detail. The bulk of class time is spent on dissecting the Scriptures themselves and what the kids can take away from the Scriptures.

Of course to those of us on the outside of the Bible, Jonah comes off as a cold-blooded guy. His unfounded hatred of the 120,000 people of Nineveh was so strong that he preferred to die than to go and deliver the message of God’s impending wrath and possibly afford the people the chance to repent from their sins and be saved. Jonah was selfish, and racism is a selfish attitude. It is racism that makes a person believe that they are superior to another person or group of people. The only Old Testament prophet charged with delivering a message to Gentiles, Jonah did not feel that the people of Nineveh, which was indeed a wicked city, deserved grace and mercy. Yet, he completely forgot that technically, NONE of us do.

Grace is when we are given a free gift that we do not deserve. In terms of Biblical principles, God gracefully gives us salvation. Mercy is when God withholds punishments that we do deserve. In order to further explain those concepts to the kids, I asked them about occasions in which their parents rewarded them with something they did not deserve, and if their parents had ever withhold consequences for bad behavior. I wanted them to think of how good that felt, and to be able to appreciate God’s immeasurable love for us that is manifest in the concepts of grace and mercy.

Jonah is also an example of anger handled incorrectly. The children were initially under the impression that anger itself is a sin. That was until we turned to Ephesians 4:26, and found out the anger on its own is not a sin, but the way we express anger has the potential to be sinful. Jonah’s anger toward the people of Nineveh led him to disobedience. I find it baffling that at no point in time did Jonah consider that among the 120,000 Ninevites there might be some decent people within the midst… Another calamity of racist thinking. This is why I did not support the proposed Muslim ban. Call it what you want, that’s what it was. We cannot lump all Muslims into one group. As a matter of fact, who do people think are the ones reported suspicious, potential terrorist actions to the police or Homeland Security?

Other Muslims. It was other Muslims who had reported the loser who bombed the concert.

To further drive the point home of how God’s compassion is not reserved for one group of people, we talked about the people who were involved with the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK (it’s messed up that we have to discuss things like that, but we do. They are aware). I asked them if they thought those individuals deserved God’s compassion. They honestly said no. That led to another discussion about how we should have compassion for them, because they know not what they do and know not where they may go. I’ve seen and heard people talk about hell as if it’s going to be this fantastic mishmash of illicit sex, drugs, alcohol, ungodly music–all of the things that people today think are FUN. But those of us who read our Word know that hell is not going to be fun at all, and it should disturb us to think of any human being, created lovingly by God, might end up in eternal darkness and torment.

Another of Jonah’s problems appears to be that he may have misunderstood the concept of sin. Yes, the sins of Nineveh were great, but that doesn’t take away the fact that he was sinful as well. As Christians, we cannot place ourselves on a pedestal. We can’t help people if we are looking down upon them. When I asked the kids if they thought there was any one sin that was greater than the other, I got two good answers. My son felt that killing another person was the greatest sin one can commit. Another very astute young lady said that denying Jesus after you’ve already accepted Him (she gave the example of being faced with death unless you denied Christ) was the worst sin.

Luckily for us God doesn’t operate that way. Sin is sin. Right is right and wrong is wrong. I doubt God has a chart that shows escalating sins and their corresponding punishments. That is why none of us have the right to act holier-than-thou. We have done things that are contrary to God’s will too. At some point in time, someone decided we needed to hear the Gospel. We heard it and received it. Now, of course, everyone is NOT going to receive the Gospel. Luckily for us, we don’t have to worry about that part. We just have to make sure there is enough compassion within us to be willing to talk to people, even those who we have decided don’t deserve grace and mercy, about the love of Jesus Christ. If the only people we talk to about Jesus are other Christians, we are sorely missing our purpose and being disobedient to the Great Commission.

Racism/prejudice, disobedience, anger… I couldn’t think of a more timely set of lessons.

Be blessed and have a wonderful rest of your day. I thank God for everyone who reads any part of my blog, even if you don’t respond.

 

Embracing my sparklers…

My in-laws are making their way here to my house. We are going to have our Memorial Day cookout today, and celebrate the May and June birthdays in the family as well.

I tried to fix myself up a bit today. I painted my toenails (which I hate doing because of how bad my hands shake), put on a new outfit (shorts, which I rarely wear but are actually pretty comfortable because I got them a size bigger than I normally wear), and attempted to array my poof (my hair). That’s when I noticed that I have several more gray strands than I remembered having.

Actually, gray is not the word. They are WHITE. I had to get a closer look at them, so I yanked one out. I looked at it, then yanked out another. And another, and another. Before I knew it, I was staring at about a dozen or so translucent strands. Then I had to laugh. My hair decided to skip the gray stage and go straight to white, huh? I mean, why waste time?

I’m not upset. I know some people freak out when they see gray hairs. I actually don’t mind aging. Mind you, I don’t attribute my aches and pains and brain fog to aging–I think those are symptoms of my mystery illness. I don’t mind the fact that I am getting older. We are faced with two choices in this life–get old or die young.  I’m not afraid to die, but if I have things my way I would like to see my kids grow up and start families. And I’m definitely not as young as I used to be. I don’t know why society abhors getting old.

Getting older to me has been positive. I have gotten more comfortable with myself, more stable, and of course, grown in the Lord. As I’ve gotten older and unfortunately had to deal with more stress, strife and tribulations, which are unavoidable aspects of becoming an adult, my faith in God has increased. I’m definitely in a better place mentally than I was in my early twenties.

There was a meme on Facebook that posed the following scenario:

red pill blue pill

The red pill means I would be TEN flipping years old. HECKY.NO. Not in this society, especially. When I was ten back in 1991, the world was just a friendlier place. There was no such thing as terrorist attacks. I had experienced racism by then unfortunately, but no one had levied that dreaded “N” word at me–that came years later. I could run around outside and ride my bike relatively free from stranger danger. Kids got into fights, but the bullying wasn’t bad enough to drive kids to depression or suicide (in general). There wasn’t as much pressure to look a certain way. Television was a lot better. It was cleaner. There wasn’t the influx of reality TV trash that there is now.

There are definitely some things I miss from childhood. Not having any financial responsibilities is the main one. But there were other things I remember fondly from 1991. That was the year that I said goodbye to Ann Arbor and hello to Ypsilanti (it’s not that big a leap. The two cities are right by each other, but it meant a change in school districts). My parents had just bought their first house, one of which I have precious, precious memories. That was also the year we went to Disneyworld as a family.

Then I thought about the fact that if I were to go back to being ten again, that meant that I would have to do the following things over again:

  1. Middle school.
  2. Puberty and all the trash that comes along with it–acne, tender burgeoning boobs, the first period, which never comes at an opportune time, like when you’re at home by yourself wearing dark pants;
  3. Braces;
  4. High school;
  5. Crushes and dating (I would say first love but I didn’t have that opportunity in high school);
  6. SATs and ACTs;
  7. College. That’s an absolute no for me. I don’t want to do any of that over again.

And if I did go back and do it over, would I take the same path that led me to Matt? Would I end up with the exact same three kids? And who knows, maybe during a do-over Dad wouldn’t have even made it to 58… With that being said, no thanks. I’d take the blue pill.

The Bible speaks positively about growing old, namely because along with increased age comes wisdom (or at least, it should). My favorite Scripture regarding growing old is Proverbs 16:31: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life”. I think of some of the people in my family who have lived long lives, mainly my paternal grandmother. She lived 92 years, and only started to lose her independence during her last year of life. The entire time she was living, up until her very last breath, she had all of her mental faculties intact. I remember when she was in the hospital years ago, and she had developed painful bedsores. Now, mind you, Gramma Smith was a fiery Southern soul who used to drop four-lettered words left and right. It was a part of her charm, LOL… But I remember her saying, quite irritably (for good reason), “My a– hurts!” Then, the pain worsened, and she went a different route. I heard her mutter quietly to herself, “JesusJesusJesusJesus”… before I knew it, she was asleep. No, she hadn’t taken any pain meds. Something about the name Jesus…

I adored Gramma Smith. She wasn’t without her flaws, of course, but there was one thing she had under control–she loved the Lord. I miss seeing her at church. She loved getting dressed up–her outfits always consisted of a matching hat, heeled shoes and handbag, and she wasn’t afraid of color. I think of the invaluable time I spent with her as a child, snapping peas, washing greens, watching her make pies, dumplings, chicken, etc., and listening to her tell stories about her days as a youngin’ in Alabama.

(Now I’m in tears).

In the grand scheme of things, our time here on earth is short. When we think of the fact that our afterlife is for all eternity, that kind of puts things into perspective. Why get hung up on competing with younger people when they have to do the same thing we have to do–deal with the reality of getting old? Why waste time fretting over lines in your face and spending thousands of dollars on cremes and treatments that will only work for so long, or, even worse, have you out there looking like a mannequin??? (I’ve seen some SCARY looking plastic surgery). I’m not saying people should just let themselves go, but, there’s no point in fighting the inevitable or obsessing over it. I’m not as young as I was before. It’s to be expected that I’ll have some white hairs and, eventually, probably some wrinkles (unless I’m like my grandmothers. Neither of them had wrinkles–they had plenty of laugh lines–and my mom will be sixty this year and she has no wrinkles, either). That’s okay.

Matt and I laugh regularly about how we’re changing as we get older. Some of our personality changes are directly attributed to growing in the Lord, but there are other things that are vastly different from when we first started dating. When we met, we were working overnight at Target. We were both night owls by nature. When we started dating seriously, it didn’t mean anything for us to go to work, spend time together in the wee hours of the morning, maybe separate for a little while and rest for a few hours, only to get back up and do it again. On the rare weekend days when we didn’t have to work, we were literally out ALL night. And I don’t remember EVER being exhausted. That’s definitely not the case now. The last time we attended a party was before I was even pregnant with Jayla. At the end of the party, Matt and I dragged our weary, tired bodies to our car, feeling accomplished. It had been a long time since we’d hung out, and we just KNEW that it had to be about one-thirty or two in the morning. We got to the car, turned it on, and to our surprise–it was 10:34 p.m. LOLOLOLOL!!!! That’s when it hit us that we were old. We can’t hang like we used to. But, it is what it is.

Even if I wanted to hide my white hairs, I really can’t. I’ve had people make remarks about them, which in my opinion, is not only in poor taste, but also pretty stupid, if you don’t mind me saying. “Wow, you’re too young to have gray hair!” Ummm… well obviously I’m not, because I’m DEFINITELY my age–I have the birth certificate to prove it–and the gray hairs are DEFINITELY  there…

Only thing I can say is, “I’m not worried about my sparklers.”

LOL!

My guilty pleasure…

Hoarders.

I have to admit it. I find this show to be absolutely fascinating. Only because I think the human brain in a fascinating instrument, and this show illustrates that.

I must also admit that every time the show opens and I see the home of the hoarder, I am usually horrified and confused. It just seems baffling to me that there are people who see nothing wrong with living amidst piles of what most people can quickly and easily identify as trash, or people who don’t understand the problem with having 30+ cats, or the people who aren’t ready to burn their house to ashes due to roach and rat infestation. That to me shows how mentally deep the problem is, and as the psychologists on the show say, hoarding is not the problem, it’s a symptom of a problem.

I’ve noticed that in many of these cases the problem that has led to the hoarding has been unprocessed grief. That makes total sense to me. My grief over my dad has manifested in possibly unhealthy ways, so I can relate to those people. And why should it be stigmatized? I found myself thinking about physical versus mental pain. Hands down, the worst physical pain I have ever endured was natural childbirth. Sweet Jesus. THAT.HURT. But you know what? No one ridiculed me while I screamed, and no one judged me for asking for pain meds (I had an epidural with my son, and I didn’t like it and didn’t have one with either of my two girls).

I also remember when I chopped off the tip of my ring finger on my right hand in 2008. People could actually see the wound, so they understood my suffering and did not mock me for it. In terms of mental pain, people don’t often understand what they can’t see. In terms of the people hoarding, no one can look at their brain and figure out what wires may have crisscrossed, so to speak, and caused the dysfunction. There is no textbook method of processing grief, loss, failure, etc.  And whereas individuals can readily identify the source of their physical pain, sometimes it’s difficult to understand even your own mental processes. The depressed person might not even fully understand why he or she can’t just “snap out of it”. The person hearing voices might not even fully realize where those voices are coming from, and why they can’t control it. Imagine the frustration of the kid who is eager to learn but simply cannot pay attention in school and is labeled problematic when, in all essence, he actually has a measurable problem. I assume the hoarding person doesn’t completely understand why they hoard. For others, and myself included, when I’ve looked at the show, I’ve seen the people struggling and thought to myself, “just throw it away already!” In the cases of parents who are on the cusp of losing their children because of the condition of their home, I admit to having been especially judgmental–as I sit in my relatively neat (as neat as it can be with me being exhausted, spending several days outside of the house each week at my Mom’s, and having four people with varying levels of tidiness and sense of personal responsibility to get after), I wonder why, with such pressing urgency in their face, can’t they just clean it up? That lets me know that it is a mental problem. I have no doubt that those parents love their children. They have a problem and need help.

That is my spiel for right now I guess. The people on this program are often so ashamed.  The shame is because they know people will judge them. Yet people don’t judge others when they see a cast on their broken leg or a Band-aid covering a bloody open wound. In my humble opinion that is what makes mental illness doubly hard. Christianity hasn’t had the best track record in terms of dealing with mental illness. As I’ve stated before, yes we want to encourage our mentally ill brethren to pray and remind them of the love and hope they have in Christ Jesus, but we also want to direct them to other resources they may need. This world is a tough place, and we see depression in particular going up in groups of people where it shouldn’t be. That is sad, sad to see so many people not enjoying the time God has given them here simply due to the influences and pressures exerted upon them by other people. I just feel as Christians, the salt of the earth, we should provide the refuge from the world that people so desperately need right now. There are so many people out there who have no hope, who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Christians have a remarkable gift that we need to be sharing with other people, not holding our noses up at them. Let’s get out there and help.  In all things, in all ways, we are to show the love of Christ. Our most vibrant reflection of ourselves and our maturity as Christians shows in how we treat the most vulnerable. Each day we should strive to show less self and more Christ to the world.