Count It All Joy

I put this post up on WORLDMag today.

=====

A couple of nights ago I had trouble sleeping. The next morning, I woke up and began praying that God would allow me to find joy in all the things that normally drive me crazy. When my kids ran screaming through the house five minutes later, I mustered up some joy that I have kids with functioning lungs.

When I tripped over the five-loads’ worth of laundry waiting to be folded, I said a little prayer of thanks for all the clothes, the people in my house who wear them, and a working washing machine and dryer.

When I called our previous pediatrician’s office two hours later to inquire as to why they haven’t sent over my kids’ medical records to our family practice doctor (whom we’ve been seeing for more than a year now) despite three attempts to get them to do so and they informed me it would cost $15 per record and they didn’t know when they could get it done, well, I ran out of joy.

When Apple announced its newest gadget yesterday and how it will save lives, change diapers, and solve world hunger, I got excited. But, when I saw the price tag (and more unfortunately, the name—does Apple really have NO women on their product marketing team?), I had no joy for that.

While listening to the president’s State of the Union address last night, I found myself throwing out snide little one-line remarks in response. Our kids were in the room and our 11-year-old started doing the same thing, which is not exactly what I want to teach her about politics. It isn’t exactly what my husband wants me to teach her about politics, either, and he said as much in a way that made me stop with the one-liners. For the speech and the hiatus of my own personal punditry last night, I had no joy for that.

While lamenting over various and sundry of these joy-less situations on Facebook, an old college friend popped in to remind me to count it all joy anyway. After all, there are plenty of places in the world where medical records are the last things on people’s minds—they would just like access to doctors.

And the iPad? Do I seriously need one more digital distraction in my daily life? Thank you God, that, no, I don’t have one more way to check the wonderful World Wide Web.

And the State of the Union? There is that free speech thing in that we’re able to respond with our thoughts without being arrested for them (and seeing as how my husband, Craig, live-blogged the speech last night, I take great joy in the fact that he will not be arrested, though I would be surprised if he didn’t get himself flagged on some FBI watch list). I’m glad for our freedoms.

Counting it all joy—the laundry, the administrative hassles, the political disagreements—is what I learned about yesterday. How about you?

More Thoughts on Haiti

Here at WORLDMag.com.

=====

We discovered Regina Spektor in December during one of Amazon’s $5 CD deals. I was listening to her album Far one night as background music when the song “Laughing With” came on. Something about the song captured me instantly. I had to stop working and give it my full attention. I found the video on YouTube and watched it over and over. It made me cry.

Speaking of crying, I started hearing about the devastation in Haiti sometime late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning (I had a daughter with a stomach virus and we were up all night long as she continued to wake and heave—Haiti could wait, I thought). In my lack-of-sleep state Wednesday morning, we slugged our way through the school day with the youngest recovering on the couch, but I kept hearing more about Haiti.

Finally, I couldn’t put it off any longer—I searched online to find out what had happened. My 11-year-old was standing near me when she heard me say, “Oh, my God,” in an audible, non-blasphemous, serious question to the Lord. Tears stung my eyes as I began reading. Concern in her voice, she wondered what I was finding out. I started reading out loud. She had tears in her eyes, too.

We feel so helpless. What can we do? We can pray. We can give. We can distance ourselves from Pat Robertson (we were never that close anyway). And we can listen to Regina—after all, sometimes it takes a skeptic to convey truth in a more honest way than on airways “safe for the whole family”:

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war

No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving

or freezing or so very poor

One thing’s for sure: No one’s laughing at God in Haiti right now.

And despite what some wrongly presume, God’s not laughing either.

 

Hope for Haiti

I sit by and watch.

I weep inside.

I do not have any idea of what is really going on.

I see pictures.

They make me cry.

I will eat breakfast in the morning like I usually do.

My kids have no concept of 100,000.

One said, “Oh, so more than 10?”

Another one said, “No, silly, it was 100,000,000.”

More than 10, less than 100,000,000.

Still devastating.

I want to do something.

What?

It isn’t much, but it is something.

What are your plans?

January 4, 2010

That's how I used to begin journal entries. It's how I've been beginning them this year, too. I'm four-for-four so far on reading through the Old Testament backwards. Why backwards? If you hold the needle just right it says something totally new and different.

Ahem. Not really. Here's why I'm reading through the Old Testament backwards: I've read Genesis through mid-Leviticus so many times I've lost count. I know myself well enough to know that eventually this will drop off and I will be desperately wishing for routine again. But as long as I'm in the middle of a good streak, I thought I'd mix it up a little to give myself a fighting chance.

I think I've only actually made it all the way through the entire Bible one time. I usually camp out in the Psalms, Proverbs, and New Testament letters. That is to say, I haven't spent that much time with the minor prophets. So I started with the last book of the OT and am now in the next-to-last book of the OT. The variety is really working for me right now, so I'm going with it.

In keeping with other attempts to shame myself later, we went to the gym today for the first time in, well, a long time. We found out our membership expires on February 3rd, so we're taking the month of January to decide if we should renew it. If we can't get our collective hineys in gear by February 3rd, then we'll probably let the membership go. If we can continue to go more than today, we'll consider it.

I'm giving the Couch to 5K plan a shaky start. I had no idea Day 1 would be as hard for me as it was, but that's what happens when you only get on a treadmill once each year. I didn't do this on a treadmill, though; I did it on the track in the gym. I think I like the track better – there is less time to over-analyze what everyone else might or might not be thinking as I slug my way around. There are people way better than me and also people way worse, as I'm your lower middle class track user. I'm trying to avoid what will inevitably put me in a class I don't even want to name by going, because if I don't so something more consistently than once/year, unfortunate things are going to happen to me.

Which brings me back to Weight Watchers. I'm now on day 2 (again). The plan works for me. My problem is that every time I lose 10-15 pounds I stop and then I eat my way right back up to where I was again. And that's exactly where I am right now. Only 1.5 pounds less than where I started last June (I lost 10 last summer, then gained 8.5 back again).

Are you sensing a theme here? I could probably go back into the archives of this very blog and pull up early January posts that sound very similar to this one. Because I've done this before. But I don't want to give up because I know my normal zero-tolerance policy toward self-discipline. I don't want to give in to what is usually me. The year I don't try anymore? That will be one very sad year.

I'm seeing folks all over the blogosphere coin their "Blogging Goals of 2010." I'm noticing a lot of desire for their blog traffic to increase dramatically this year.

That's not on my list of goals. Honestly? I've been tempted to play the blog games. I think I know how to do it. I've never been interested in that, though. There was a part of me that wanted to join the ranks of the "conference" bloggers (you know, the ones who go to blog conferences to learn how to build better blogs). I considered trying to find a sponsor to pay for my ticket to the conference. And then I asked myself, "Why?" If I get one weekend away by myself, why in the world would I want to spend it at a blog conference? Truthfully? I don't. I'd rather go to L'Abri again (though even that isn't an option this year).

This blog is not what I want to devote my resources to.

Getting back into the Word again? Yes. Attempting, yet again, to shed this cursed 15-20 pounds? Yes. Focusing on the homeschool part of "homeschool parent" which I am? Yes.

Blog Queen? Not so much.

So, I hereby set not one single goal for my Half-Pint House. I will write when it seems good to do so; I will be glad when you come by and let me know you did.

And that's about it. The rest of my goals? Much more important to me and to my family.

Peace to you this year as you navigate the world of what best to give yourself to. May it be what draws you closer to the Lord, and keeps your heart in tune with the calling God has placed on your life.

Happy New Year.

Oh yes, I have another post

We’re in Oklahoma. We left at 5:45am yesterday morning thinking it would be a good idea and that most of us would sleep in the car most of the way here. In reality, I slept most of the way here.

We won’t make that mistake tomorrow when we go back home.

But while we were on our way, I did post something on WORLDMag.com. Something on marriage again. So it’s over there if you want to read it.

Happy New Year, everyone! I still want to call it two-thousand-ten. You can call it twenty-ten. Doesn’t matter to me.

=====

Ever heard of the show Wife Swap? My husband and I participated in a “role swap” this week, and while it wasn’t exactly intentional, it was good.

For the past year-and-a-half, in addition to his full-time teaching job and part-time seminary studies,Craig has worked part-time at Covenant Seminary’s bookstore. At the end of every December, the store closes down for a couple of days while owner Nick Gleason and his three part-timers account for every item in the store.

Thanks to Nick’s flexibility, I’ve occasionally covered Craig’s shift when his school schedule has been too tight. This week, as it’s the last of his school vacation, I asked Craig if I could help him out by taking his two full-day inventory shifts at the store while he stayed home with our kids. He was happy to make this arrangement work; thus, I’ve been a “working woman” for the past two days, while he’s been a “stay-at-home dad.”

At the end of the shifts, I came home exhausted, ready to be alone somewhere; he was ready for conversation about the day. I semi-expected the house to be in perfect shape (after all, what did he do all day while I was gone?); he expected me to contribute to the overall well-being of our family existence once I got home.

After making dinner (trust me: neither of us wants Craig to cook), I was checking my email on the computer when he came over, pulled up a stool next to my desk, and suggested we “spend the next few minutes justifying each other’s existence.” It seemed in our two-day “role swap,” we both gained some insight into what the other one does.

Despite—or perhaps because of—my exhaustion, I could better sympathize with Craig’s work at an extroverted job (teaching) from 7:30 to 3:30 every day, followed immediately by either a seminary class or a two-hour shift at the bookstore. When he finally makes it home to our often-disheveled house—complete with dishes piled in the sink, laundry in stacks all over the bedroom, and no place to lie down and rest—not to mention my hope and expectation that he will lend a hand with the girls, it’s a wonder he doesn’t turn right around and go sit in the car for another hour.

I can tell you this: The last thing I wanted to do today when I got home from the bookstore was fold laundry or make dinner; rather, I wanted to curl up into a ball and sleep for three hours. Somehow, though, he chooses to overcome that tendency most days, and I gained a new appreciation for him today as a result.

Based on what he said to me, he, too, could better sympathize with what I do everyday: juggling four girls, 400 pounds of laundry (including coats), bathroom cleaning, bedroom cleaning, and the whole play-in-the-snow/come-back-in-multiple-times/have-hot-chocolate/spill-hot-chocolate/clean-up-hot-chocolate scenario while I was gone. Craig said he didn’t have any problem getting all the work done and making sure the girls didn’t kill or maim each other, but he did wonder how in the world he would have fit in six hours of homeschool teaching and learning had he needed to do so. He said he gained a new appreciation for me and for what it takes to do more than just play referee.

I don’t think every married couple needs to experience a “role swap” to fully appreciate what the other does, but perhaps if we each gave a little more thought to what our spouses do on our behalf, we might live with them in a more understanding way. And, if we really want to get crazy, actually communicating our appreciation for the other’s role fulfillment might just be a great way to start 2010.