Happy (Music) Friday

The Lumineers just make me happy when I hear them - dirty hipsters. (wink)


Toy Shopping with Toddlers

It should really be a reality show.

Our girls were given $10 Toys'R'Us giftcards by their grandparents as stocking stuffers back in December. We hold onto a lot of things likes this. Generally, because our kids are already suffering from uncontrollable body tremors as they bounce from one Christmas present to the next...like hummingbirds on acid.

So, we tucked said cards away for a "rainy day."

That rainy day came this past weekend. It's cold here in WY . There's lots of snow and 'windy' would be an understatement. I've seen the iconic images of Marilyn from The Seven Year Itch and let's be honest, if you even attempt to wear a dress in this weather, your skirt is over your head and you have second degree frost bite. Not to mention that the wind chill makes a balmy 17 fell like a rather crisp -20.

Needless to say, we don't get to play outside for a good portion of the calendar year and my toddlers get restless, stir crazy, grumpy...they basically start to hate life. And in all honesty, the hubs and I aren't far behind.

So, we head down to Colorado any chance we can get. Whether it is with the sole purpose of perusing the Whole Foods or wanting to try a new pub...we pretty much reserve all "fun" funds to be spent out of state.

So, with toddler-life-hating rearing it's ugly head, we planned a day of play cafes, book stores, toy shops, yummy lunches, and Whole Foods meandering.

We started off at Whole Foods. Meandering complete in 10 minutes. Micro brews purchased in about 20 minutes. Tots losing their stuff all over the place in less than five minutes.

So, with the natives restless, we headed to the play-cafe...because Tots must be appeased to make the rest of this crazy plan work. This place is awesome. Granted, we have to drive 45 minutes to get to it, but it offers yummy food, good coffee, and endless indoor play for your kiddos. The hubs and I switched-off watching kids and using the free WiFi. As an aside: I was amazed at the number of parents who chose to completely ignore their children. I'm all for giving my kids "room," but when your kid is begging me to watch them slide and you don't even look up...you're doing something wrong.

After an hour of the girls losing their minds (in a good way), we head out for lunch. Which started with french fries and ended in a dessert that our 3-year-old shamelessly and unreservedly inhaled.

Now comes the toy store...or Dante's seventh circle...

Has anyone else ventured in on this madness? Allowing your young children to choose their own toy? It is right up their with eye-gouging.

We looked at EVERY aisle. Did not utter one opinion on toy selection...just clarified price and actual purchasing "ability." We held our breath as the girls walked down aisles of Barbies and Bratz. We used time-honored parental guerilla warfare tactics of distraction.

"Yes, that Barbie is interesting....LOOK A STUFFED HORSE!"

"Oh, that is Calliou....HEY IS THAT A ROCKET SHIP!?"

Our girls finally landed on a miniature stuffed monkey and two little Olivia play sets. We were pretty happy with those choices.

Our girls don't actually own (m)any licensed character toys.  Clara had somehow come to obtain a small Dora doll that was quickly lost and now, of course, they own a family of plastic pigs (Olivia and her family).

However, I love Olivia as a character and I love the original Olivia books (those written by Ian Falconer...not the books published under the Nickelodeon banner). They make me smile. Falconer works in a bit of sophisticated wit and humor, while presenting a strong, interesting, curious girl.

We tend to stray away from pre-made character toys (Disney princesses, cartoon characters, etc) because it seems to stifle imagination. All of the sudden - that toy can only be named ONE name and only participates in a series of pre-fabricated scenes and interactions. When we purchase toys that are pretty vague an generic the toys become ANYTHING our girls want them to be...and that's really fun thought process to watch.

The girls were so excited about their new goodies that they fell sound asleep on the way home (SCORE!) and 45 minutes later dove into making the pig family at home in our house. They haven't stopped playing with them since - especially our littlest.  She basically hoards them all in a little people school bus and takes them with her wherever she goes.

So, what kid toys do you love (or not so much love)?


Less Words Wednesday

“Life is short. Never miss an opportunity to perfect your own humanity.  Love is simple.  In fact it is all that we truly have.  It binds us.  It makes us who we are.  It is not the coat that keeps us warm, it is love.  Give what you can.  Do what you must. Be more human.”


Why I am the worst...

To talk to when it comes to miscarriage.

This is gonna be heavy. As a warning, many people responded positively to this article. I did not. I have my updates to further clarify my position in red.


This is my reaction to an article that has been floating along the inter-tubes. It talks of WHY someone who calls themselves "Pro-Life" should view miscarriage with the same gravity and mourning as they would abortion. It offers a few examples of how pro-lifers tend to send mixed messages about the worth of life in these two very different losses.

Specifically, that when babies are aborted people tend to count the loss as "greater" than that of a baby who has been lost via miscarriage. The evidence that she gives is that people she knows said "unfeeling" or "stupid" things after her miscarriage. From here she really does take GIANT LEAPS in assuming the general opinion of all pro-lifers when faced with miscarriage. Perhaps, she is writing a very pointed blog post to specific people who have hurt her. This is dangerous...because in essence her article berates an entire advocacy group.

Let's get a few things out there before I dive into this subject.  I have had two miscarriages. They occurred within months of one another. I actually miscarried our second pregnancy on the due date of our first...which I miscarried days before my birthday. Miscarriage is a reality in our family.

I miscarried our first baby in full knowledge of our social circle - surrounded by friends and family. I miscarried my second babies completely isolated from friends and family, thousands of miles away - no one knew we were pregnant to begin with, so sharing the loss with those we love was even more painful.

People said stupid stuff. Because people are people and most of the time people are trying, but in the end are ill-equipped to say things that are not stupid. If you are looking for comfort from people, you will always be disappointed. Always. If you are looking for people to say wise things and understand how it feels, then you are setting yourself up to be offended and hurt. Because no one knows how YOU feel and very rarely can they say the "right" thing.

One person saying the wrong thing doesn't give the author the right to imply that all pro-lifers do not value the lives of miscarried babies as much as aborted babies. 

To note the obvious (again), most pro-lifers aren't saying that miscarried babies don't matter or that they matter less. A pro-lifer's very existence, however, is to fight against abortion and to stand up for aborted babies. That's kind of their thing.

Pro-lifers have talking points and statistics and a knowledge base to work with when it comes to talking about abortion. The general response when a baby is lost via miscarriage is (if we're honest) "That Sucks." We don't have talking points on miscarriage and therefore, unless having gone through it, the general populace has no source of information or understanding to pull comforting one-liners from.

I'm gonna go ahead and put this out there:

Abortion is more tragic than miscarriage. I'm fairly sure the original author would agree with me.

Namely, because if you are pro-life, you view abortion as a mother CHOOSING TO KILL her child. That is tragic. And if you think it is less tragic than miscarriage...then, I am sorry, you are wrong.

Child-sacrifice...to the god of  self and convenience is pretty much on ALL levels harder to swallow than miscarriage. The injustice of abortion leads many (including myself) to mourn murdered babies MORE...

Miscarriage isn't a cake walk. Please, do not misunderstand me. It's not easy. But there is a comfort in knowing that my babies passed away, were mourned, were wanted, and that yes, were NEVER going to be born. I am comforted knowing that they were loved, cared for, and fought for.

I didn't choose to abort a healthy fetus. I miscarried a baby...and God knew it was going to happen before I even came into being. I find comfort in that.

I'm not saying my babies' lives matter less...I'm saying they LIVED the life that God had laid out for them and that it was not brought to a premature end and that their lives were full of LOVE. Devil's Advocate could argue the same point for aborted babies and that could lead to an interesting discussion, but that's not my motive here today.

My motive in writing is to say:

Dear Momma's Who Have Never Gotten to See Your Babies,
It's okay for you to mourn. It is okay for you to grieve. You will never meet your babies in this realm and there is a sadness to that. Your loss (that of someone you loved and lost) should never be compared to the mass murdering of millions of babies every year. Never. Not by others and not by YOU. If you feel a need to do that, then you need to get over your bitterness. You are still struggling with some very strong (and misdirected) emotions if you feel the need to berate others who stand up as a voice for murdered babies. I'm sorry that miscarriage doesn't get more "air time" or "coverage" in the pro-life world, but there is a reason. One is natural loss and the other is murder. There is a difference and the latter is infinitely more tragic.


Let It Go

The web has been abuzz with everyone's take on Let It Go (sung by Idina Menzel, written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez) featured in Disney's surprisingly not-princess-crazed-animated-feature, Frozen.

I have issues with princesses. Specifically Disney Princesses. I think they are stupid poor role models. If you want to tell me that my little girls have something to learn from Ariel, I'm willing argue at length on EXACTLY what worldly and entirely incorrect LIE most Disney princesses are wanting you to believe. 

So...if you still think of yourself as a princess...just go ahead and stop reading now. 

Back to the point.

I've heard that Frozen has a surprisingly NOT Disney take on princess life. I have not watched it. My kids aren't so much into feature films yet (thank goodness), but friends I respect have enjoyed it and have good things to say...except when it comes to this song. 

I've listened to the song in question: Let It Go.

Here is my take. 

As a song writer - This song is darn catchy. It hits the emotional note necessary for the point in time that it is featured in the film.  It sends a broader message to the listener while moving the plot along which means that it will find commercial success outside of the movie. Songwriters like to get paid...and commercial success is equivalent to CHA-CHING!

This is why Phil Collins's You'll Be In My Heart (Tarzan) saw more radio play than I Just Can't Wait To Be King (Lion King). 

No offense folks, but Disney is trying to SELL things, not raise your kids. If it were up to Disney...every girl would let it all go and there would be no rules. Because rules mean self-control and discipline and credit limits. And people who have these things don't buy into the big 'ol lie that all us princesses get everything we want. Folks who have these things don't thoughtlessly and mindlessly spend money at Disney stores, parks, restaurants and at the box office. Lo siento for the bursting of THAT bubble. Disney is just out to create warm-fuzzies so that they will have a life long customer fan.

As a woman - There are aspects of this song that I respond to. I don't have to be ANYTHING that I don't want to be. I don't have to cow to anyone's expectations of what it is to be the "perfect girl." I don't need to hide who I am so that others can be happy. Some rules are stupid and should be broken - mainly referring to societal "rules," norms, and taboos. Why be someone I'm not and live miserably, just to make YOU happy? If my daughters walk away from society's expectations of them and cling to who they are...well, I'm not gonna lose a night's sleep over it. 

As a Christian - There are parts of this that when viewed in the right light...I think are fine. There are some lines about RULES not mattering. Well, some "rules" really do matter....and that's when you stop calling them "rules" and you claim them as beliefs. Hopefully, my girls will never come to the point where our family beliefs don't matter. These beliefs will hopefully be part of their formation as humans. 

But let's say my girls do run away from these beliefs and "rules" and live without regarding them. Well, Frozen still does a good job of showing the dire consequences of Elsa's rebellion. I mean, doesn't she end up causing some major damage to everything and everyone around her only finding healing of it all when LOVE enters the equation. I don't know about you...but I'm not bothered by a song that shows how the idea of rebellion can fill us with this crazy, narcissistic feeling of invincibility. I mean, that's how it feels. BUT...rebellion is sin, sin leads to hurt, hurts are only mended by love. And the movie as a whole seems to show the downsides of just "letting go."

Call me crazy, but it sounds like a GREAT jumping off point for some pretty deep conversations with your princesses, right? {I have a friend who has already ventured in on these discussions with her little girl and I think that is AMAZING} 

This is my take on the SONG...meaning the lyrics. The video of how it all goes down with a complete makeover for Elsa is another story. But, who is really surprised that Disney is teaching girls to let their hair down, dress flashy, show a little skin, and walk like hookers.

Not me.


This Woman's Life

Warning: The following post is incredibly honest, blunt, and I definitely hint at strong language. I don't use said language often, but feel like it is appropriate in an honest depiction of this part of my life.

Most people don't know this about me, but most days I want to kill myself.

I've thought about it a lot actually. More so, now that I am a mom - which seems totally messed up, but them's the breaks...so to speak.

Looking back on my life (hind sight is always so smug and self-satisfied in being 20/20) it is really easy to see cyclical depression - times of manic ups and really low lows; times of really inexplicable behavior and times of normalcy; times of self-harm and times of legitimate health.

I always look back on my life with regret - because none of these times of very scary un-health can be taken back and I and those around me, as well as relationships will remain forever marked. And while most people learn from the their mistakes, again, cyclical depression is just as it sounds and even when UP, I know the down is not far off and I have not yet learned how to keep it at bay.

I've come to think that all of this is really just the result of me somehow "missing out" on "my very special calling" or my life simply not being "fulfilling" enough.

And then I look myself in the mirror and say "Bull-$%#!"

I do think that I have cyclical depression (a very mild case, I might add) and I do look back on my life and see some CRAZY behavior - most of which can be traced directly back to an endocrinologist trying to play GOD and treat "infertility" with antidepressants and steroids, but most of the time...I seriously think that I suffer from a severe case of "Get over your self and quit your whining, you spoiled little brat." I don't think I am the only one either.

This very insightful & HILARIOUS article posted by Huffington Post circulated most social media sites a while back. I gotta say, I put off actually reading it until this morning. One, because I do not consider myself a "yuppy" and two, I've got two toddlers and I'd rather mindlessly surf Facebook and sip my coffee while it's hot.

If you take the time to read this article it essentially says that lots of people my age suffer from this affliction of what is essentially very real depression caused by us all viewing our reality through this fantastic lie that we were all told as children. We are special. We can do anything we want. Our careers should be fulfilling.

Well, enter the Great Recession...and the fact that the above statements are incredibly flawed and you get a bunch of young folks who were raised fairly well-off, haven't had to work too hard for much of anything, and believe (against all reason and well, reality) that they are the most specialist, most wonderful, cotton-candy-colored-rainbow of a human being to have every walked this lovely planet.

The disillusionment abounds.

Sometimes, life just stinks.

You work hard for very little, you don't get ahead, you're not considered special in any way...

Sadly, I think we should all be fairly well-equipped to handle real life and yet a lot of us aren't. We look at the "lives" created by Facebook of all of our friends and suddenly find we are wanting, discontented, needy, sad-bastards all around. I'm not going to lie, sometimes after reading Facebook updates, I am tempted to sing along to a lot of Tom Waits while drinking hard liquor and crying in the shower.

So, how do we fix it?

We grow up. We realize that we do have a purpose, but that we are not any more special than any other human being. We remind ourselves that life is not a game to be won, but a journey to be lived. We hope that "one day we will look back and laugh," but acknowledge that THAT day may be late or never come. We take the time to know who we are and LIKE that person.

We. Move. On.

Keep Going.


All that other stuff that we heard as children, but tuned-out while day dreaming about our super, awesome, special, unicorn-rainbow McMansions.


Spring 2014 LAUNCHES today {Noonday Collection}

Today is the Day that Noonday Collection launches their Spring 2014 line.

And it's gorgeous.

I just happen to be part of a 40 day BLOG train...which means 40 days of Noonday ambassadors blogging about why they LOVE Noonday AND 40 GIVEAWAYS!

Today we are hearing from Wynne at The Elder Adventurers...start us off right, girl.

I hope you all enjoy the next 40 days. of awesome.


What We Eat

I have a little group of ladies that I meet with every Tuesday evening. They are pretty great. We read and discuss books - in hopes that we can be better. It's a group of women, so let's face it, we are always looking to improve in SOME area...we also like to drink wine and eat white cheddar popcorn.

Our current book is Jen Hatmaker's 7: An Expiremental Mutiny Against Excess. In our LOVE for the book, we decided to take up the seven-month challenge. We are currently in Month 1: Food.

Do not mess with my food. I like food. I was hesitant at first to take part, but I go really excited as I read. And since Jen's (can I call you Jen?) read's like a blog (fast, easy, conversational, not super THICK), I decided to read a lot of the books that she read during her experiment with Food.

I chose to delve into The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Fast Food Nation. Full Disclosure: I have started all these books at some point in my life prior to now and found them to be incredibly boring.

See, I was a fat kid growing up. Seriously. I remember breakfasts of Diet Coke Big Gulps and plastic wrapped cream cheese and cherry-flavored pastries...from our corner 7-11. I cringe now, but I was seriously disappointed if my day did NOT start off this way.  My lunches during this same period of my life (middle school) consisted of food from the vending machines. My dinners were either "homemade" in that they were prepared foods that required a can being opened or something being thawed OR if my parents were tired (because they both worked and were legitimately weary), we would pick something up on the way home.

I do not blame my parents for the way that I ate.

I do blame a lot of other people...namely, our screwy government or society...

I've learned a lot about the history of food and more importantly the Food & Nutrition industry in our country. I've become really wary of what my family eats. I mean, whether it's a story about yoga mat plastic being put into pretty much all fast food breads OR unfit meat being "washed" with dangerous chemicals...not much surprises me.

So, for the past year my family and I have been slowly shifting to a slow food-whole food way of life.

What does THAT look like?

Well, it "looks" hard and time-consuming (a lot like cloth diapers), but it's completely worth it and not that difficult when you get into the habit of it all.

We don't buy snack foods. Like crackers or cookies or anything that can be unwrapped. We snack on fruits and veggies and nuts. My kids seriously think that goldfish & gummy worms are luxury-items, but they wake up every morning asking for an apple (and I am just fine with that).

We don't buy pre-made foods. We make our own breads, muffins, brownies, cookies. We don't buy much that is pre-made, pre-prepared, pre-mixed. The only "prepared" foods that we purchase on a regular basis are peanut butter, jelly, jarred tomato products, flour, cheeses, yogurts, and pastas. We would happily make all of these things ourselves. But we got "lazy" this year and haven't canned any tomatoes (we did make 36 jars of apple butter). We want a grain mill and pasta press, but currently lack the kitchen storage or space to justify their purchase. We're working on cheese and yogurt (waiting for cheese cloth to ship).

We EAT fat. We eat REAL, full-fat everything. We think animal fat is good...and we eat it.

We have cut down on meat. We don't eat meat at every meal. Meat is expensive. We did purchase half of a pig that was grass-fed and raised locally. It was worth every penny. Knowing how and where and what went into our meat is a huge load off of our minds. Although, next time we will cure the meat ourselves.

We eat some sugar...but not a ton. We actually use sugar in most of the things we bake, but it's not a lot and it's not a sugar substitute.

And you know what?

We don't feel deprived. We end up eating less of everything because we are fuller more quickly. Our food is more satisfying. Everything seems a little more decadent...and it takes effort to make everything, so we don't just mindlessly consumer the fruits of that labor.

We've actually LOST weight. We are healthier. In the past 5 months, I have lost about 20 lbs.....and that is with only working out like 2-3 times a week TOPS. I don't get how it is working, but I will take it.

We still have bad habits... I LOVE COKE. I LOVE IT. I need to quit it. We also love the 24-hour Mexican dive down the street...but I justify our eating there knowing that I will find a bay leaf in my burrito (their big on cooking from scratch too).

What are your biggest concerns about the foods nowadays?


One of Those Weekends

My husband had a FOUR DAY weekend. What up?! Every girl's dream come true.

I'm not gonna lie. I was envisioning lots of sleep and a day at the spa and a family trip to "Anywhere but here."

I dreamed of leisurely cups of coffee while my husband and I perused the newspaper, nibbling on chocolate croissants (In my head I am totally pronouncing it in that annoyingly accurate French-way). Our children would talk to the other cafe-goers and play quietly in the kids' area.

Everyone just ignore that fact that NO place like that exists in Chey-oming and that I might have been unabashedly playing out this entire scenario as though we were in Portland, OR or Athens, GA.

In my more realistic expectations, I was planning on a massage (gift certificate) and then a visit to the local coffee shop. I need to work on a a talk that I will be giving to a group of ladies in Ft. Collins, CO on Thursday.

Then I woke up on Friday...Sick.As.A.Dog.

The common cold is a nuisance and really must be stopped.

So, gone were my croissant nibbles and quiet children...they were viciously murdered by cranky (probably sick) children and a coughing husband.

I spent the entirety of Saturday in my pajamas...which sounds like a good day, until you factor in the part where I ran out for an errand only changing my appearance by donning my down coat and boots.

My kids spent at least 2-3 hours of those days in front of our Kindles - playing games or watching Team Umi Zoomi.

My husband and I barely even talked as we trudged through the mundane efforts of caring for our little ones or trying not to fall over during our sporadic coughing fits.

We are on the mend today, but I cannot lie...I would have preferred a massage and a leisurely Chai.

So, what was your weekend like? 


Happy (Music) Friday

It's so good it makes you want to hit someone in the face with a banjo. Happy Friday.


You've never lived...

I used to think that you'd never really "lived" until you'd backpacked Europe or played to a crowd of 300 or (I dunno, you fill in the blank). For me it was always backpacking Europe.

By that definition, I have never lived.

I've lived in Europe, but not the young, carefree life that could easily fit into a rucksack and be chased with the best local alcoholic beverages. Nope. I lived there when I was seven, so less alcohol, more gummies. Oddly enough, LegoLand is indispensable in both of those scenarios.

Anyhow. That is how I USED to measure having "lived." Pre-babies.

Oh, what having babies teaches us.

I submit that you have never LIVED until...(pick any or all that apply)

- You have pushed a baby out of you. Or had one pulled from you. Or had one delivered into your arms via a long-term care giver. You have never LIVED until you've been smacked in the face with an undeniable love that comes in an instant after a long fought battle (be it physical, emotional, or legal).

- You have spent 5 minutes to 7 hours in a moving vehicle with a screaming baby. The CIA has nothing on torture when compared to hearing a helpless thing that you love and would happily bribe cry at the top of its lungs for hours on end.

- You have pre-chewed your baby's food in a moment of weakness. They don't have teeth. You don't have baby food. Lemonade from lemons, folks.

- You have talked at length with friends about your kid's bowel movements. Leave all that snarky euro-philosophy to the river rats of Amsterdam...you're talking roughage.

- You have inexplicably licked something your child has just licked (and made a face at) to try and ascertain if it is lethal. I maintain my argument that childbirth causes all parties involved to lose common sense and a good number of brain cells.

- You have come to believe and espouse that "sleepiness is next to godliness only when followed by actual SLEEP."

- You have MacGyver'd How it that not a spell-checkable term? both a diaper and wet wipes using only items found in public restroom.

- You live in clothing that at any and all times can (and probably will) be used as a handkerchief by multiple members of your family.

- You have lost precious moments of sleep fixated on the thought that something terrible has befallen your child. The vicious cycle only continuing when you have to debate yourself as to the plausibility of a giant sinkhole forming ONLY underneath your children's bedroom...only feeling halfway reassured that all is well after sneaking into their room, unplugging all electrical devices, checking all wall anchors, and listening for breathing sounds.

- You have heard your baby say, "Momma" or "Dadda" and were quick to promise them all the ponies in all the land.

Okay...so, MAYBE I've never backpacked around Europe. Maybe I have never really LIVED. But this is pretty amazing too.

What about your kiddos makes you feel ALIVE?


Less Words Wednesday

This is one of the Noonday Collection artisans from India. His name is Sham. Noonday's own, Nicole Schumann, wrote a blog post about his life and his love entitled Sham: An Example of True Love. Hop on over and read it.


Leaving Church?

Last week, Donald Miller (a fairly well-known Christian author and speaker) wrote a blog post, as well as a follow-up post which announced that he really doesn't go to church that often...and in fact, he kind of has no intention to change that.

I only became aware of it via a very good response from Geoff Surratt (which I happened upon via a friend sharing it on Facebook). Believe me, people, I don't have a ton of time to read through a gagillion blogs that are written by seemingly wise people...so, I like to read a lot of the stuff that has already been vetted by those I know. I'm lazy.

Anyhow, I was incredibly taken aback by Miller's reasoning and it got me thinking.

I'm not gonna lie...finding a church home is hard and BEING in a church home is hard.

The hubs and I have had our struggles. We've lived in five different states...and it's never been easy to find community. It took us a year after we had been married to find the church that we know consider our "home" church. Did I mention that we had lived in that city separately for 5 years prior to getting married (and had been attending other churches). We lived in Maine for three months and never even tried to find a church. We lived in Portland, OR for two years and started regularly attending a church the first Sunday we were there. We moved to Alabama and spent nine months visiting churches, but never finding the "right fit." We arrived in Wyoming....

Here we have visited several churches on several occasions and even spent a month or two commuting an hour and a half (round-trip) to find a church that we even TRUSTED theologically.  Realizing that such a long commute was really silly and not community focused, we were lucky enough to happen upon our current church...a year after we moved here, but we never gave up on church.

The church we attend is not what we would envision as our "perfect church," but through all of these processes, we have been taught several truths about church and its purposes. Church is not about OUR needs...seriously. We attend a church that has one other young couple; everyone else is enjoying the twilight of life. We sing hymns lead by an organ player who has no sense of time. The fellowship hall looks like a historical site. Seriously.

BUT we have never stopped wanting to be part of a local church.

Here are a few things we have learned:

1) Starbucks can be bought prior to church. I love coffee stations in the foyer of a church. It's a kind of hospitality that resonates with me. Our churches in Athens and PDX did coffee/tea stations and it was nice and homey. However, it's not necessary...and if the focus is on the coffee and not the service, then your focus is wrong. Coffee is hospitality, not a substitute for the Word of God.

2) Smoke machines are unacceptable. If you walk in the door and feel like you are going to a rock concert instead of entering the presence of God - Problem. I think worship (music) is the first impression of most services. The hubs and I would have to confess that we are "snobs." We have played on the worship teams of all the churches we have regularly attended. We pay attention to things like sound and song choice. (Note: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen is in no way an acceptable worship song). If you walk in to smoke &mirrors and leave with a migraine, someone is looking to be in the spotlight...not in the presence of God.

3) If the church is trying to bring people in with anything other than the gospel, run away (Monty Python Voice). If your church offers a ton of SWAG to visitors or sends out fliers that offer the chance to win an ATV. - what are they really trying to sell? The gospel is enough. No fly-paper antics needed.

4) Beware the fancy church. If your church has just expanded, that is good. Church expansion is wonderful. But look at church finances. When they send out finance reports and have money meetings, pay attention to the bottom line. How much is your church spending on making things pretty and how much do they give away? In all honesty, we American Christians think churches need to be snazzy and all sorts of decked out, but other Christians in the world are DYING of hunger and disease. The two million dollar sound system or even the $300 comfy chair in the vestibule could have made a tangible difference to someone's LIFE.

Our Athens church has a  3-line-budget: pastor's salary, "running" the church, and giving. Giving was nearly 50% of the budget. Knowing that our tithe was serving the orphan, the widow, and the missionary was worth not having a brand new sound system or the flashiest set up.

5) The word of God doesn't need help. The word of God is powerful. So, if you find yourself watching twenty minute clips of Bill Cosby's stand-up routine OR the entirety of Kansas's "Dust in the Wind" music video on a big screen, something has gone terribly awry. If the teacher begins throwing candy from the stage, duck. If the scripture verse comes fives minutes before the close and is more of a footnote than the actual MEAT of the sermon, walk out. Theologically sound teaching is a must and should take precedent over number of programs, services, coffee selection, childcare, etc.

It would be great if church were about meeting MY needs. But, it's not. Church is for shared worship, fellowship, community, family, outreach to those in need, and teaching. It's not about programs, childcare, "good" worship music, flashy PowerPoints, or well-decorated surroundings.

If you enter a church and you are "auditioning" ANYTHING but the theological soundness of the teaching and the church's role in community, you're church shopping. Church shopping focuses on you (the individual consumer) and what the church can do for you. But being believers in Christ, the church body has always been other-serving...and not so much self-serving.

Church is about being around other believers...warts and all. Church is about being God's hands and feet to those in the community who are in spiritual and physical need. Church is not about you...it's about HIM.



Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Phillipians 4:8-9; ESV)

This past week has been really rough. There was a lot going on. I have struggled in a certain "relationship." This whole middle-school-type drama has been playing out for past few weeks. I like peace and resolve. I like to pursue it, but not at the cost of my honesty or integrity. I'm not going to lie to make someone feel all-rosy and holy. So, I have spent several days thinking on how any of it could be improved. But it can't. I reached out. I was bitten. I was honest. I was called a liar. I tried.

Then Saturday night, I received word that my sweet cousin, Roy, had passed. He had been battling an incredibly aggressive metastatic melanoma for the past several months. I hadn't been able to get a hold of him this last week. I confess, I tried a few times, but I spent more time thinking on this rather bleak (and in the end meaningless) social tension.  As I have had time to think, I have been convicted.

I am spending more time thinking on someone with whom I have no actual relationship than I am on the people that I love and hold close to my heart.

I normally don't mince words, nor do I waste my time.

I have wasted my time on trying to make a really ridiculous social situation "better"...when (in all honesty), this "thing" means nothing to me in comparison to what Roy meant. And I spent more energy trying to make life palatable to them, than I did trying to connect with one of the sweetest guys that has every walked this planet (this past week).

So, I'm walking away from things unworthy. I am going to think on things and spend my life & time & attention on those things worthy of praise.

Roy's beautiful life. Worthy of praise. His love for his son. worthy of praise. His return home. Worthy of Praise.


Happy (Music) Friday

I might be late to the party, but I totally heard this on the radio yesterday and "lost my mind." (sorry....really bad punn). Happy Friday. Enjoy.




 Oh, brother. Am I right? Mother-in-laws (insert large overly-dramatic sigh).

Why do some many women have issues with their husband's mothers? And mothers with their daughters-in-law for that matter? I understand that the navigation of such relationships can be fraught with miscommunications, unclear expectations, unreasonable expectations, etc...but sadly, I feel like this is looked upon as one of the most tense relationships on the planet, when it should be seen as a tremendous blessing.

Please, understand that I fully admit that we cannot all have perfect relationships...we are human and in being so, we are broken and bring baggage to every interaction. But I feel like 80% (a figure that I have completely made up and have no scientific basis for) of all mother-daughter (in-law) relationships can be (dare I say it?) GOOD.

I am blessed with a pretty amazing momma-in-law.

I'm not sure she she has always been crazy about me (I was 22 and Matt was 19 when we began dating), but she has always welcomed me, talked with me, prayed for me, and pursued relationship with me...and I hope that I have done the same with her. I love her.

Let me tell you about this lady.

She's up for (almost) anything:
She has taught every child in her family (nieces, nephews, etc) how to water ski. She even tried teaching me (which was an epic disaster). One of our first trips together was a weekend kayaking adventure...where only one person in our group had kayaked before and another was terrified of water. It was memorable.

She is caring.
Whether it's  was checking in on me when I got sick off of duck (true story) while staying at her house or flying out to stock my freezer full of meals as we expected our second baby, she's pretty much ready to help. And it's not just because it's me....she is that way to everybody.

She has the best laugh ever.
Her one quirk is that she laughs uncontrollably when people get hurt (minor hurts) or even when she imagines an incident when people have gotten comically injured (like my husband stubbing his toe - it happens a lot). It's pretty funny. Her laugh is really infectious and I would be lying if I said that I didn't feel the least bit proud the first time I got her signature laugh out of her with some off-hand comment. She loves to laugh and I think most people love hearing it.

She is a really great Canasta partner.
I don't think we have EVER won a single game as Canasta partners. But we relish in blatant "talking over the table," annoying our opponents with gospel hymns (the equivalent of canasta psychological warfare), and politely trash-talking Grandma...who never loses.

She loves.
She loves her family. She loves my husband. She loves my babies. She loves me...and we all know it. There is no doubt. Loves exudes from this lady when we are around and it is a comfort and overwhelming joy to us.

She is godly.
Ask anyone who has met her. That's the first thing they will say. Her sweet and gentle spirit is obvious and her faith in God is undeniable.

We are NOT exactly alike. But we definitely love each other. I think that's where a lot of the daughter/mother (in-law) relationships go askew.

My husband's mother is his mother...and I see the things I love about him in her. He didn't choose me to be his mother. He chose me to be his wife. Very different roles, but both incredibly necessary. So, don't try to be your mom-in-law. Just be you. BUT Respect and appreciate your second momma - because she did something right.

The power and support that can result from two women (three women if you count your momma/his mother-in-law) coming together and praying, lifting up, encouraging a man is AWESOME and something to be reckoned with.

So....let's put the whole myth of mother-in-law aside and just pursue what God has done and is doing.

Jane. I love you. Happy Birthday.

(Larry, you are also amazing and I will try to write something as equally uplifting on your birthday. I know you don't want to be left out of this gushing over the in-laws mess of mine)


When did "friendship" get so complicated?

Just kidding.

Friendship has never been complicated. Not true friendship. Sure, fights happen and disagreements arise, but at the heart of it all there is a mutual respect and love. There's this grand dance of not only speaking and listening, but of truly hearing and understanding one another. So, most hurts are forgiven and compromise comes quickly and relationships grow stronger as a result.

Friendship is beautiful.

Enter social media.

Which mucks it all up.

Do you remember when becoming someone's "friend" actually required something of you...like time, space, effort? I do. I still do.

I'm kind of anti-Facebook. Passively anti-facebook.  I certainly have to use it as a means to an end.

I've been nomadic my entire life - so, it's a great way to keep up with dear, old, friends. Many of the groups that I am involved in communicate via Facebook...so, I've just kind of trudged along. But I've always disliked it. It makes things convenient for sure, but not easy.

It all seems like a good Mumford and Sons song, too much too quick.

If you can look past the fact that I have been blogging about my life for some time now or that once you meet me, I seem very outgoing - I'm a pretty private person. I don't want most people knowing my business and I don't need to know yours. In my writing, I use parts if my life to illustrate larger points...not just to prattle on about my life. I prefer relationships cultivated over long cups of coffee and shared experiences...not so much over shared links and news articles.

So, sometimes, I'm a bit of a bipolar facebook person. I'll accept friend requests willy-nilly, but then when my home screen fills up with pictures and stories and comments of people that I don't KNOW in real life...I go through and "unfriend." For one, I feel weird looking at all those personal stories...and I should. It's unhealthy to LIKE staring into the life of someone you don't know. It's voyeurism (at best) and stalking (at worst).

And the Truth? I also don't like everyone getting more than a glimpse into my life.

Call me old-fashioned, but I fear that most of us have lost a sense of what it means to be a friend. The definition of friend in my book is not: we met once, you looked cool, let's share all our intimate life details on a semi-public forum.

I fear for daughters. My three-year-old says that everyone is her friend and I'm a bit of a debbie-downer when I respond, "Well, honey, you don't really even KNOW them." This happens on a regular basis and other moms just share at me in shock.

Do I want my daughter to be kind to everyone? To be loving? Absolutely. Do I want my daughter thinking EVERYONE is her friend. No.

She needs to be able to trust her friends. She needs to be able to recognize friend from foe or mere acquaintance. She needs to be able to protect her space, her boundaries, and her heart...and her privacy. When did acquaintance become a bad thing? Since when have we felt the need to be best friends it everyone? Is living online really worth it all?

I've had a couple of times where a few great folks have pointed out my unfriending them or that I have never responded to a friend request. I've had to take the hard road and be honest that I'd love to get to know them in real life, but that it feels really weird forming a relationship online. 

Facebook re-shaping our entire view and concept of friendship will do and has done its damage...and I'm afraid that I might just take a step back. I really don't want friends who let friendship be defined by the hot-right-now social media site.

So, if your my friend on Facebook, HUZZAH. At some point, we walked closely through life together. If you're not. I'm sorry. We are acquaintances...and I would be more than happy to share a cup of coffee with you.

So, what do you think about Facebook redefining friendship?



The Pipes

To say that my husband is a man of "phases" would somewhat be the under-exaggeration of the century.

Since I have met him....phases have included (but have not been limited to):
Kayaking, Camping, Hiking, Coffee Roasting, Espresso machines and Barista-ing, Motorcycles, Electric bass, Upright bass, Fly Fishing, Skiing, European board games, World of Warcraft, Card games, War Machine (minis), Comics, Graphic Novels, Reading War & Peace, Cigars & Pipes, the Rhodes, Surfing (a foray into it anyway), Camper living (living in a van down by the river), The Dobro, Lutherie, Beer brewing, Cooking (like a boss), Leather working, Homesteading...

.....the bagpipes.

No. I am not joking. The BAGPIPES.

Let that sink in for a wee minutes, lassie. No seriously, for real...bagpipes.

But here is the deal. I didn't marry a man who suffers from multiple personalities or from a severe case of ADHD. For better or worse, my guy is legitimately and sincerely interested in EACH of these things.

The hubs would like me to point out that he supports me in my interests...and that he is AWESOME. Although he has pursued all of these hobbies, he has almost always MADE money from each of them and never lost any cash-o-la.  He also feels like the title of this blog post should either be "My husband the Superhero" or "Lydia Loves Matt".

Back to the point.

My husband has a lot of interests. Granted, the intensity of these interests waxes and wanes with our budget (hobbies be expensive!) or our location (no surfing in Wyoming).

The bagpipes have so far been a great joy. Imagine waking up to the latest downloadable piece of bagpipe music. It is memorable, but a bit much before having your morning coffee.

Imagine too (if you will) your three-year-old yelling at her daddy "Stop your singing! Stop your singing," while the one-year-old yells, "[me] Too! [me] Too!," and blows into the chanter like it's a kazoo. The wonder and merriment, of course) completely escapes the dog who refuses to move a muscle, but strongly expresses his disapproval with a low-growl.

I've taken to drinking sitting back and enjoying the circus.

So, my husband is a "Renaissance man" and I think sometimes wives can quickly become overwhelmed with the shifting fancies of such a fella.

But I'll let you in on a secret.

I have benefited made out like a BANDIT from most all of these phases in some way, shape, or form.

Kayaking (Crying hysterically floating down a death serene river ),
Camping (Almost being eaten by bear),
Hiking (Beautiful views from all over the country),
Coffee Roasting (Freshly roasted coffee),
Espresso machines and Barista-ing (Espresso drinks and latte art),
Motorcycles (This one I didn't so much care for),
Electric bass (Dating a musician),
Upright bass (Engaged to a serious musician),
Fly Fishing (A River Runs Through it in real life...without the violence and death),
Skiing (Skiing with my best friend),
European board games (Learning how to play board games that require strategy),
World of Warcraft (Level 82 Troll Priest),
Card games (Entertainment when the power is out),
War Machine (2-4 hours, all to myself),
Comic books & Graphic Novels (Becoming a fan),
Reading War & Peace (My husband still hasn't finished it sounds well read),
Cigars & Pipes (Pipes look really pretty),
Steel Guitar (Married to a man who can play anything),
Surfing (I got to go surfing too),
Camper living (We seriously lived in a van for like 3 months),
the Dobro (I mean, really...the instruments are never ending),
Lutherie (Saving money on all these instruements),
Beer brewing (He can make the ones I like),
Cooking (need I say more?),
Leatherworking (Can you say "purse"),
Homesteading (One day we will be self-sustaining-ish).

Bagpipes... I will finally get to see my husband in a kilt...he's got the legs for it. 

Anyhow, what is the strangest thing you or your significant other have taken up?


Part 5: The Day....

Things I have learned about PTSD:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is most often viewed as a "veterans' disease" or something that victims of rape or violence suffer from. The general public thinks of it in terms of big "T" trauma.

However, it can happen to many of us...and can be the result of other types of trauma. Trauma that when viewed side-by-side with rape or mob violence seems kind of "puny" and "pathetic."

Women are considered more "at risk" to develop PTSD. Also, people who naturally have lower levels of cortisol in their bodies are more "at risk" to develop PTSD.

I fall into both of these categories. I am a woman and I've known that my body doesn't naturally make enough cortisol since I was 15.

Oh, AND I experienced trauma...when my daughter almost died.

I also experienced prolonged exposure to this traumatic stress during our three months of uncertainty concerning her enlarged noggin.'

I'm working through it. I'm seeing a therapist. After months of living with it, I finally decided that something was actually wrong.

I still jump up when I hear loud noises. I run (as in jump out of my chair and sprint) to my children when they have fallen. If my kids bump their heads, I do a basic neuro check...seriously.

I probably "check-in" on my children way more often than I would have - had we never experienced the fall. And my kids know that momma is NOT MESSIN' when I say "Hold onto the rail!" and "No playing on the stairs!"

I often experience uncontrollable shakes when I think about that day and I cry when I tell the story.

But I do NOT crumble into tears at the slightest event or noise...and that's an improvement.

This past Christmas, my now toddling, dare-devil of a baby climbed onto a toilet, lost her footing, and bonked her head on our iron sink. After I scooped her up....she threw up all over me. I admit, we ran her across the street. They checked her out, reassured us that we did the right thing by bringing her in, watched her for an hour, and then let us go home.

Trauma just leaves scars....and some are longer-lasting than others.

Most everyone around me understands and gives me room. There are some who don't.

The other evening a woman said rather pointedly in my general direction:
"I'm just more laid-back than some people. I'm not a fearful person. I mean, my kid fell 20 feet and I don't jump up every time he falls."
Well, I didn't respond at the time. Because I was raised to be a lady (and ladies don't pummel rude women in the head with flying objects).

But that is awesome that you are so incredibly laid back. It's also awesome that your child fell 20ft and suffered absolutely no physical injuries. My daughter wasn't that lucky.

I don't LIKE being this way. I certainly don't do it to get attention I'm hilarious and prefer to get my attention via inappropriate jokes and well-written blog posts. It is not generally in my character to be so neurotic. I wish I could have just moved along without being affected in any way. It doesn't make me less laid back or less faithful. It makes me broken.

Please, don't use your "well-adjustedness" to shame me into feeling like I am "lesser" or "wanting."

PTSD is a path I am walking (you know, the one that God laid out for me before any of us came into existence). I don't expect others to understand how it feels. However, I do expect that we all give one another GRACE. In the Bible I read, It's kind of a big deal.

PTSD doesn't result from a lack of faith. It is not the result of giving into fear. It's not a sin. It's not a mere side-effect of not praying hard enough or disbelief. It does not make me a lesser Christian.

I believe. My daughter was brought back from the brink of death. I BELIEVE.

My brain is just a bit broken right now...and I'm glad for it. It brings me to a place of understanding my own weakness and leaning on a God who is so much bigger than I am.

It helps me empathize with others who are walking the same road...or a different road...whether their trauma be "great" or "small."

It means my heart is turning more into a heart of flesh...and is not hardened to those around me.

It means, God is bringing me out of a pit...and I'm thankful that He is ABLE.

So, like I said....the title of this blog series could have been anything.

The Day My Daughter Almost Died - The Day Our God Answered Our Prayers - The Day I took a $37K Helicopter Ride for a Bad Cup of Coffee - The Day I Got PTSD....

Peace be with you all today.

If you have experienced trauma and suspect that you may be suffering from PTSD, I would encourage you whole-heartedly to seek help from a professional. If someone you know is suffering from PTSD, give grace, speak kindly, and pray that God will work.