Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Musings - Murky Water

The weather cant seem to make up it's mind today- pouring rain to blustery wind to sunny skies. Back and forth, back and forth.
I cant make up my mind either.
What subject deserves the laborious task of inarticulately crafting words in my feeble attempt to communicate something? Let's see......
In the meantime, I cant help but share this analogy that has popped in my head over these last several weeks of trying to formulate something interesting for the few of you to read.
I am like a sponge.  When given the chance I will soak up any interesting thing I hear or read.  For example, I just devoured some legal criteria from the Department of Labor regarding the definition of an employee and a whole slew of commentaries on the ethics of unpaid internships.  I was fully engaged in the heated controversy when I looked up and noticed that an hour and a half had gone by since I first googled.  I listen to talk radio for 20 min. and before I know it I am fully sucked in and spend the next chance I get to search the web mulling over the content of related websites.  Too often my determination to follow what seems to be an interesting lead in my ever pressing quest for mental stimulation lands me in a place far off from where I originally set out to go and thus renders me quite unproductive.
Before you think I am complimenting myself here, let me continue with the analogy.  While I may be absorbent and able to wrap my mind tightly around the contents of my head, letting them out is another story.  When squeezed (like in the attempt to write a blog post), my brian simply spills forth, sometimes in excessive quantities, a murky, diluted and unclear product, much like the water that is disembogued from an overused sponge.
So here you have it, your murky waters for today:

Did you see Idol Gives Back?  Were you jealous of the judges and past contestants for the opportunity they had to do so much good and empower others to join them? I was. 
I tend to think big when it comes to the things I want to do.  I am often paralyzed by my inability to scale down my ideas to a conceivable size and in turn, do nothing.  Such a great quality! I am attempting to change that.  Starting here:
My MIL (yes! I love using the new vernacular of this generation - acronyms for everything.), who is an amazing woman of God, began a new ministry through our church.  It seeks to make the needs of the local community widely known to it's inhabitants within the church.  Being slightly technically challenged (bless her!) herself, she has turned to me for help with the electronic distribution of information.  I am very excited about partnering with her in this effort to become more involved in my community and taking some small steps toward doing some good in the world right around me.  I will be sure to keep you apprised of the happenings with this group as it takes off and hopefully gains some momentum. 
For now, I decided to do something else to help further a cause that I am starting to believe more and more strongly in - and what else does one do when they want to further a cause besides start a Facebook page!? Introducing Shop Local - Woodland, Ca. 
It is a commonly known fact among Woodlanders that there is VERY little in the way of shopping, restaurants and other businesses in our town.  This is so different from the land of a billion places to shop, eat and do anything you can image that is Orange County, my beloved place of birth.  While at times it can be frustrating, I can appreciate the simplicity of it.  The problem is that the poor retail climate in general is making it extremely hard for even the few businesses out there to survive.  Being a small business owner myself, although sadly not in my hometown (or maybe not so sadly) I have a new appreciation for the support of the local business and local economy.  Did you know that dollars spent in locally-owned business have up to three times the impact on the community as those spent at corporate chains?  This is just one of the many reasons to support your local economy by shopping locally.
There are actually some really neat neat place to shop in Woodland (I know because I am a shopper by nature and have the gifting to discover them) they are just a little unexpected and that is why I decided to start this page.  Its mission is to help increase the livelihood of the local business community here in Woodland by highlighting locally owned stores, services and other businesses.  Every week I will post about a different store, restaurant or other business that is well worth visiting.  So, the work involved is not just the postings but I also have to visit these places.  The first few dozen posts will be easy because, like I said, I already know of several little hole-in-the-wall spots that deserve some recognition besides their name in the phonebook (and that really is the extent of the advertising many of these places do!).  But there are a few already on my radar that I have not yet shopped and I am excited about this project of having to get out and visit them and hopefully encouraging you to as well.  The ultimate fulfillment would be if I spared just one person the remorseful experience of heading to target for just one or two things and dropping their whole months budget instead.  
I hope to gain at least a small following. So far, I have one 'liker'. How's that for starting small!? (Thanks, Angela!) So, if you live in or visit Woodland, be sure to check it out and join me on this little journey of discovering and supporting our community in this way. (There is a badge just to the left on this blog that will link yo to the page OR you can click on the logo above.)

Until next time.........

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Musings - Work and Rest

I heard an interesting sermon the other day by Tim Keller on Work.  He titled it stewardship but for all intents and purposes, work fits just fine. (I suppose that wouldn't be a suitable title for any sermon no matter the content considering its lack of appeal so I completely understand his choice of euphemisms).  He had some very interesting insight on the philosophy of work as it has evolved throughout time and culture.  But what really resonated with me was the apparent tendency in our culture to define ourselves by our work. Keller called it 'the work under the work'.
A Biblical perspective on work is set apart from other ancient cultures' views in the fact that the Bible validates labor of all kinds.  Ancient philosophers thought of all laborious work as demeaning, defiling and to be avoided.  Yet, as bearers of the image of God himself who worked tirelessly for six days at creating; bringing forth existence out of nothing, we too are inclined to create; making something out of something, be it a work of art, a business, a crop or a family. There is something deep within us that compels us to do something with ourselves and all of this is well within God's intention for his creation in His likeness. Yet, we must also imitate God in what is often difficult for us to do - rest.  It is interesting that God rested at all -  none the less that He took a whole day to do it.  (That is more than most of us can say for ourselves.)  God needed no recuperation, rejuvenation or revitalization yet He still rested.  Too often we miss the true meaning of rest, which is to provide for ourselves a healthy rhythm of doing and being, and focus merely on its restorative nature.  Recuperation is of course, an important part of rest but not its only purpose.  This rhythm of doing and being is so perfectly demonstrated by Christ.  The book of Hebrews tells of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, the ultimate demonstration that his work is finished, yet we are also told that he in continually interceding for us - a very laborious work indeed!  The contrast is stark yet the balance is perfect and finding that balance in our own lives can be so difficult sometimes.  Why is that so?
The Bible also speaks of another kind of rest that is accessible to us.  We (hopefully) rest from our earthly labor but we also share in the rest that was allowed by the finished work of Christ.  We are complete in Him, not lacking anything - our identity is sealed in His.  This, friends, is true REST for our souls.
How obvious is it that our culture today does not know rest for it's soul! It is this lack of understanding that drives us to work with the kind of relentlessness and insatiability we see around us today. When we must work to bring meaning to our existence, purpose for our lives and definition to our being, we are working harder than God ever intended us to.  This is the 'work under the work'.

I often get mixed up in my work.  At home, I set out to do my job well for the glory of God and then before I know it I find myself caring so much and working so hard in order to feel a certain way about myself - organized, competent, neat, compassionate, what have you.  Then when my work is interrupted, incomplete or undermined (this NEVER happens!) I am left with more than just undone responsibilities.  My soul is wounded at its core and that can manifest itself in a variety of not-so-pretty ways.  If only I could continue my whole day steady in the rest God provides for my soul.  At Bellybou' I can occasionally loose myself in an eagerness to appear as a fashion savvy boutique owner when that was in no way my desire behind wanting to tackle such a beast as owning a store.  Nor was wanting to have a family driven by a need to feel organized - yet, like I said, I get mixed up.....

God, let me continue my whole day steady in the rest you provide for my soul.

Do you ever get mixed up in your work?  Why do you think that is?
How do you help ensure that you get the true rest you need in your life?
Any other thought son the matter?

Here is a link to the site where you can download the sermon I mentioned by Tim Keller:

Until next time.....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Book - Bringing Up Girls - Who knew?

Well, you may have but I did not know that there is actually a new book entitled 'Bringing Up Girls' by Dr. James Dobson.  I gave my last post this title (having meant to italicize the word 'Girls' but blogger doesn't let you edit the text on the post's title) to highlight the fact that after spending so much time and energy seeking advice on the raising of boys, including poring over Dobson's book 'Bringing Up Boys', it is time for me to shift my attention to the outnumbering sex in my home.
This morning I had the pleasure of learning about the recent release of this long anticipated book by happening upon the Focus on the Family broadcast in the car on my way to the dentist. Coincidence? I think not.  I suppose I should read it.  Has anyone read it already? Let me know what you think if so......

Just thought I would let you know.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Musings - Bring Up Girls

Digression: I will never forget the moment when (in Spanish, mind you) I was told my firstborn child was a boy.  I was lying on a rickety old hospital bed staring at a very fuzzy ultrasound picture on a screen that strongly resembled the giant old computers from my elementary school's computer lab.  This was gender determination Peruvian style.  The tech, thinking he was very clever, said in broken English 'he is a porn star', apparently meaning his sex was very clear and he was not being shy.  I didn't laugh.
I did not think it possible that I could bear a male child.  I knew very little of the male species having not really lived with any growing up and only having lived with my new husband for just over a year.  Every single vision I had of myself as a mother involved little girls.  I would not know what on earth to do with a boy, would be sure to ruin him and thus God would surely spare us all the tragedy.  Yes, I admit, I was disappointed.  At least I didn't cry, although inside I kind of wanted to.  The only real thing holding me back (other than the fact that I thought it was silly to cry for not getting the gender of child you wanted...oh, the opinions we have about motherhood and parenting before we get there...) was the knowledge that Brian REALLY hoped it was a boy. I was truly happy for him.  But surprisingly, on the taxi ride home from the appointment his demeanor was not that of sheer excitement as I would have predicted.  Instead he was somber and seemed slightly stunned.  He was in awe.  A son.  It was like it validated his manhood.  I know now that he was just a big ball of messy emotions (and how else does a man deal with his emotions but to be very, very quiet..) involving thrilling joy and extreme anxiety, gratitude, humility and a strong sense of needed to fill a very tall order - to raise a boy to be a man of God.
Ever since then neither of us have taken this job lightly.  We have read books and sought advise and continue to try our damnedest to do right by this kid.  In the meantime, we have produced TWO beautiful girls and finally, now that the oldest is FOUR and really starting to come into her own (she has always been a bit of a late bloomer), am I starting to feel a little of that same sense of anxiety and insecurity about raising the girls the best I possibly can.  (It is too easy in parenting to not always do our best, amen? maybe its just me...)
Which brings me to this post which is more of an exposition of the sense of void I am currently feeling than anything else.  What am I doing with these girls to make sure they will not turn out to be a disastrous mess!?
The other day I was on the phone with a good friend who I haven't talked to in a while and Halle started to get fussy.  I almost unconsciously opened the cupboard, reached for the bag of chips and gave her a few in hopes that it would buy me a few more minutes to chat.  After I got off the phone I thought to myself, 'what was I thinking?!' (obviously I wasnt!) Its one thing to feed your baby or toddler cheerios or goldfish or other beloved snacks to keep them occupied for a while - that is totally normal in my book. But Halle is a child not a toddler and in that moment I was struck with the fear that without even knowing it she is well on her way to inheriting my emotional attachment to food and compulsive eating habits.  Hal is an extremely picky eater (a subject for another post!) and often becomes fussy because she hasn't had enough to eat.  It has been a long standing habit of ours to assume that when she is upset, she needs to eat.  All of the sudden it dawned on me that I need to be careful how much I attempt to console her with food lest she begin to associate all need for consolation with it.  I may seem overly concerned here but this issue is just the tip of the an ice berg that feels tremendously overwhelming to have to begin to breech - How to raise girls with health eating habits, a healthy body image and a healthy perspective on how to balance our concern with appearance..... when I don't even have it all quite figured out yet.
Lord, have mercy.
The sense having of a tall order to fill is really starting to set in for me now and this is a topic that will continue to deserve my attention over the next several years.  As for today, I would really love to hear from you about a few things on this matter including, but not limited to:
 - any good books/resources you have read on the subject of raising girls
 - what from your childhood experience contributed to your current state of health in regards to body image, eating habits and the like.
 - was there anything in particular your mom or dad did or said that helped you gain a level headed perspective on these issues that seem to permeate the lives of all young girls?
 - what other issues do you see as being equally in need of attention in the raising of our girls?
 - anything else you might be willing to share about the topic that is relevant to you as a woman or as a parent.
Some people have facebook messaged me responses to my posts as it seems easier (it wont cut you off) and more private - feel free to do so.  I really value hearing from all of you and appreciate all your thoughts - thanks again in advance for sharing with me.  And even if you don't comment, thanks for reading. I am somewhat of a non-commenter myself (i usually just get overwhelmed with trying to articulate my thoughts) so I understand.....
Until next time....

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Tuesday Musings - Easter/La Pascua

I like to refer to Easter by its name in Spanish, La Pascua.  I prefer any of the romantic languages' versions as they are derived from the Greek word, Pascha, which came from the Hebrew word for Passover.  Easter, on the other hand, was derived from the name of a pagan goddess of fertility.  Boo.  Regardless, it is my favorite holiday and this year was one of the best.
My whole Easter experience, which usually begins with Palm Sunday and then some sort of observance of Holy Week, was off to a crumby start.  I missed most of Palm Sunday's sermon and then was sick for most of the following week.  Good Friday was spent frantically packing up and preparing to leave town for the weekend.  As Sunday was quickly approaching I was feeling like all the spiritual significance of the day was going to pass me by completely.  Though the rest of our family had decided not to attend church in the morning, we were planning to go - until Brian came up with this brilliant idea:

Here is where we went to church on Easter morning - in the pasture behind the grandparents ranch  - and it was a great service.  Pastor Daddy, as the kids called him, read the Easter story from Hayden's Bible and expounded on the special meaning of the day, Halle prayed for us all and then frolicked merrily through the grass and cowpies.  We finished up with some oil pastel sketches of the creek.  Sweet family time and sure to be a lasting memory, for me anyway.  

These friends were the only others in attendance.  I am still not entirely comfortable with cows moving in such close proximity to me and don't think I ever will be.

Anyway, just before emerging from my bed Sunday morning I spent some time considering the deep significance of this day and I was quickly reminded of why I love it so much.  Lately, I have faced considerable discouragement about the areas of my life and self that just seem to difficult to change - the places inside of me that seem hopeless, lifeless.....dead.  Yet, Christ conquered death! (had I forgotten?) and if He can overcome the grave then He can surely overcome the deadness inside of me!  My soul is eased.
As I came downstairs I noticed Halle watching TV. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was on and I tuned in just in time to watch Aslan breathe on the the petrified Mr. Tumnas and bring him back to life. How desperately do I need the breath of new life to flow through me  -  to resurrect those parts of me that seem too far gone - and how faithfully does God do it!  All because of Christ's death is there such hope for LIFE in me.  I basked all morning in the sweet victory of life over death that God performed so many years ago.  What could be better?.....really.

What do you like about Easter or La Pascua?
Will you share with me one of your favorite Easter memories?
I would really like to know how you commemorated, observed and celebrated this past week, please tell me.
Thank you.

Dang. It is Wednesday. Oh well.
Until next time.....