Friday, November 20, 2009

The Flintstone Dilemma

A big change happened in our family, not too long ago. My little girl went from getting the vitamin drops I’ve given her since she was an infant to getting a daily, big girl, chewable vitamin!

Standing in Costco (alone, of course, which allowed the following-), I perused the children’s vitamins and weighed the various pros and cons of each. Sugar content? Gummy versus chewable? Mommy-guilt levels (because as all good mommies know, mommy-guilt is the secret ingredient hidden in just about everything)...

Mommie Guilt:  It's not overt - but it's there.  For instance, see where it says for children 2 & 3 years of age to "chew one-half tablet daily"?  Yep, you guessed it - she's been getting 'em whole.
...By the way, we're really expected to guillotine these things?  Really?

Finally the choice was made: Flintstone’s Vitamins!

I made my purchase and left, feeling very excited to be taking this next step of the Big Girl Journey with my little girl.

Aw, hi there, Fwed and Bawney.

I couldn’t then foresee several problems. The first being, my 3-year-old doesn’t have a clue who the Flintstones are. I think this is an issue with most contemporary toddlers, unless their parents hunt through random cable channels that run ancient cartoons at odd hours and can then DVR said cartoons. Or possibly the parents find them on YouTube and commence education thataway.

But not having that foresight here in our home, I’ve managed thus far to circumvent the issue by, every morning, telling her the name of the lucky character who tumbles out of the vitamin jar and into her chubby, outstretched hand.

Which brings us to the second problem. When something’s so cute and has a fun name, “Barney Rubble,” “Dino,” “Pebbles” or “Bam Bam” – how can the kid be expected to NOT play with it? Once named, our Flintstone vitamins began taking all sorts of side adventures on the way to their proper destination. Only this morning I had to assure Siennalee that her little purple guy - this time it was the alien… was there an alien on the Flintstones? - that he definitely would not do well venturing down into the bread machine as it hummed and bumped along with dough.

See?  Aliens.

And the third and last dilemma, which is perhaps the most disturbing: Am I the only parent who finds it disconcerting to announce a cutesie name and character to a wide-eyed toddler holding the wee stamped vitamin and then follow it up with, “Now eat him”?

I really should’ve gone with the gummies.

Monday, November 16, 2009


“How’s your house going?”  A friend asked me at our last MOPS.

“Stalled,” I returned, then added frankly, “In fact, everything feels stalled right now.”

And it does.  House.  Baby.  Body.  Moving.  Church.  It’s all stalled.  Waiting for something?  A jump start?  New spark plugs?  Just more time?  I don’t know, and it’s a tough place to live.

Suddenly here comes November.  November:  The season we remind ourselves to remember to be thankful.  Allow me to be painfully honest when I state that this season of life may very well be one of my hardest seasons ever in which to remember to be thankful.

There you go.

I said it.

It’s out there.

I’ll say it again:  Life right now makes being thankful very, very hard.

I won’t run down a list detailing the current and past hardships that have visited us this past year; those close to us know them all too well.  Those who don’t know might possibly begin searching old posts or calling me - or instead begin warming up to send me a well-intentioned message exhorting me on to thankfulness.  And yes, all my training and upbringing shout at me and quote scriptures and teachings as to why, in spite of everything, I should still be thankful. Be thankful in EVERYTHING!  In EVERYTHING give thanks!

But here’s where I live:

Sometimes the cloud of a heavy heart can turn the natural sunshine of thankfulness to cold shadow. 

Sometimes thankfulness can feel like a mockery to a heart that has days of burning sorrow. 

Sometimes when I remember to be thankful, it turns on me; at some unknown point – today, tomorrow, months from now – everything will change, and these things for which I’m thankful now will then undergo a profound adjustment.  Some will stretch.  Some will break.  Some will simply go away.  But all will be changed.

It can be very hard to be thankful; to purely and simply “give thanks.”

But yet somehow, deep inside, I acknowledge that it’s still important.  I still push myself to do it.  Why?

I find the term “give thanks” woven throughout the Bible.  Sometimes God’s people were told to request things of God in order that, once those requests were granted, they might then give thanks (1 Chronicles 16:35).  Sometimes God’s people first had to give thanks in order that God may then grant their requests (2 Chronicles 20:20-22).  Sometimes God’s people gave thanks spontaneously when things were good; sometimes they just gave thanks because they knew they should. 

Jonah gave thanks after the whale spit him back onto dry land.

Daniel still gave thanks, even when it meant the lions’ den awaited him.

Even David, throughout all of Psalms, gives thanks in all manners and circumstances –sometimes in joy, sometimes in tears.

In Romans, the Word also talks about those who do not give thanks – “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:21-22, emphasis added.)

All through His Word, God encourages, reminds, and requires us to give thanks because, to put it one way, that seems to be what’s best for us.

It’s easy to rattle off a list of the things in my life that I love.  I always love them, even when I’m crying for the things I still yearn for and the things lost in this life. 

But I think being thankful and giving thanks goes deeper than merely regurgitating happy lists.

I’m called to be thankful and to give thanks to God so my heart and life are released from my own desperate grip and God can move more freely.  I’m also called to be thankful so my thinking does not become futile; so my heart does not become foolish and darkened.  This can easily happen when I’m only focused on the shadowy, heartbreaking things of life.  When I do not make the choice to give thanks – to remember all the things God has done, all that He will do, and all that I continue to ask and believe Him to do –  I tighten my grip on my heart and my life, and I spiral down into futility, foolishness, and, ultimately, darkness.

This doesn’t mean that, even after making the difficult choice to give thanks, life is suddenly all sunshiny and rosy again.

God knows that.  It’s why the Word sometimes terms it to “sacrifice thank offerings” (Psalm 50:14, 50:23, 107:22, emphasis added).  Of course, this idea can get very theological and detailed – areas I tend to avoid – but what this tells me, very simply put, is that God knew that giving thanks wasn’t always going to be a joy.  Sometimes it would hurt.  Sometimes it would cost us.  Sometimes giving thanks would be a sacrifice. 

That’s where I live today.    

So here are a few of my thank offerings, a small list of goodness and blessings, which God has poured out onto this foolish heart:

My wonderful, beautiful little family – remarkable husband, marvelous daughter, the promise of children to come and those that await me in Heaven.

My loving, supportive, treasured-beyond-value mother and brothers; my closer-than-a-sister sister-in-law Anne and precious nieces and nephew and those that await me in Heaven.

My godly in-laws, aunts and uncles-in-laws, and fabulous cousins-in-law from whom Jason and I and our children are blessed with a beautiful heritage and who were very important reasons I said yes.

My beautiful home, for as long as it remains mine.  The adventure and promise of another wonderful home down the road.

The kindred spirits I’ve met and whose friendships continue to bloom and grow and bring beauty to my life; the promise of new ones in another plot of earth down the road.

The sweet friends of old who continue to mature and blossom and fill my life with spiritual fruit and loveliness and those who return from time away to bless my life now and then.

The small talents God placed in me that have found root and nourishment in this chapter of my life.  May they grow on!

This is just a small list which, when I read it, inspires more thankfulness and gratefulness than I can include in one already-sprawling blog post. 

I’ll likely read it again and again though, perhaps making another – a private – list to remind me that, though life may feel stalled right now, that's not all there is.  And I'm thankful for that.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sometimes You Just Can't Wait to Go Back...

Ahh, Cannon Beach... the crisp, cool, coastal morning of my 34th birthday, and a rockin' mug of  Thundermuck.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Clean Peace

And now - a tirade.

For several days now I have been attempting to clean our refigerator.  Noble cause, you say.  And I would agree.  Except for this fridge.

This fridge is a fridge like no other.  During our pre-child, apartment dwelling years, it was only a happy dream of which Jason and I hardly dared speak.  THE refrigerator - the one we would one day buy when we bought our first home.  Our hopes were high.

Then, we bought it.  THE one.  The shining, black beauty of a fridge with all the features that had danced like proverbial sugarplums in our heads.  We settled it carefully in our new home.  We were in love.

Things went well - until the drawers began to lose little slivers of white plastic.  Where were they coming from?  Could we glue them back on, somehow?  Then several small wheels appeared - apparently broken off from regions unknown.  Again, we could not find their home.  They were relegated to live, gypsy-like, in the back of the fridge; in the wilds behind the drawers.

I began to feel stirrings of concern.

Then, the fridge tried to kill us.

It was summertime; Jason was away at his two-weeks training with the Navy Reserves.  Siennalee and I had just gotten home from being out when - sniff sniff.  What was that disturbing odor?  I tracked it.  Unsettling memories were surfacing in me - memories from childhood when the spatula or random plastic cup would fall to the bottom of the dishwasher and melt on the heating element.  It was a burning stench that told one "something is very very wrong."  

I tracked the burning stench to the fridge.  Opened the doors.  HEAT resonated out!  STENCH of melting, burning plastic!  The fridge lights glared at me.  I closed the fridge doors quickly.  Opened them again.  GLARE!  STENCH!  Closed them again.  Ran back and forth in a frantic little line of panic.  Finally, I opened the doors again and now saw the light cover that was literallly dripping away from the burning lights.  The lights were not switching off.  

I ran to the garage and pulled the breaker, heart pounding in my ears.  Who would help?  Jason was away.  Sears!  They would know what to do. 

The Sears guy came out promptly.  "Good thing you came home," he threw over his shoulder as he looked over my fridge, "The whole thing coulda gone up in flames."  He stepped back, surveyed my fridge, scratched his head and said something in technician-speak.  What?  He repeated it.  

"You mean,"  I tried to interpret his words in easier-to-understand girl-language, "it's my fridge's motherboard?" 

"My fridge doesn't know to turn off its lights?"  The motherboard.  Somehow, my fridge was not listening to its motherboard and the lights were not shutting off.  My fridge was in rebellion.  My fridge was a teenager.  Great.  This was not the happy dream I'd dreamt with Jason throughout our years of enduring apartment refrigerators.

"But we bought a Kenmore,"  I said, helplessly, "Kenmore and Whirlpool - those are your best brands."

The Sears guy, after somewhat trying to conceal a smirk at my precious naivety, explained that those brands had long ago been bought out by the cheaper brands.  They were all the same now, he confided.

I was dumbfounded.  

Whenever we'd done any household appliance shopping, I'd been adamant to Jason that we would only buy Kenmore, Sears' best brand - at least, it had been Sears' best brand back in the college days that I 'd worked part-time for a small appliance repair shop.

But now, apparently, things had changed.

So, almost $500 later, my one-year-old fridge had a brand new "motherboard" and a new plastic light cover and two spanking new light bulbs.  Our beautiful, wonderful fridge.  The fridge that had cost more than my first car.  I was brokenhearted.

"Could this happen again?"  I asked the Sears guy, fearfully.

"Might."  He shrugged.

"So... what brands should we look for the next time we buy?"  I asked the Sears guy, weakly. 

"Doesn't really matter," He told me, matter-of-factly.  Apparently now buying appliances was going to be a crap shoot.

All this my fridge and I reminisce of as I clean the drawers, ignoring the shedding plastic splinters and wipe the walls, hoping the lights go back off after I shut the doors.  At several points as I clean, the lights randomly shut off - which I take to be a good thing - the fridge is listening to and obeying its motherboard.  I close the doors and let the fridge re-cool, reasoning that if I'm kind to the fridge, perhaps it will continue to be kind to me and my family.  No more attempts on our lives.  I appreciate this.

So now, after several times of closing the doors, grabbing a book and letting the fridge re-cool, ignoring the random plastic pieces being shed - now my fridge is clean.  We live in an uneasy peace.  But it's a clean peace... for now.