I am the evil twin

I have a new blog: brownpaperpackaging.blogspot.com. It's more of a creative blog, an intentionally positive perspective from someone who often fails to see that side of life.

Hmm, an update.

I am enjoying my church. There are still issues to be worked through on that front, but I can't complain about the beautiful music that is sung by a mix of ethnicities. I am relieved not to have to keep up with the high-pitched squeals of an all white female worship team. (Ouch, I know that is not very nice of me.)

The sermons have met my expectations. I have found them challenging, comforting, and Biblical. Whew! Each time I go, I fear having to endure the opposite.

I suspect it will take a long time for me to trust a pastor or church again. I don't know. Mayhaps I should have always approached this endeavor with cautious cynicism.

Sigh, I don't know when my personality changed so much. I know this part of me has always existed, but it was more of an evil twin only coming out of the woodwork on occassional moments. Eed Eed has taken over. ;)

Nothing clever or unusual

Nothing clever or unusual, I am thankful for You.

You who considered me and formed me,

You knew me and made me anyway.

From my days as a chubby baby until now, this very moment

I have felt you, I have sensed your lure.

I have known your peace in the most painful & wicked human moments

Your strength has supported me when the world abused me.

Though every man be a liar, You are true.

Thank You.

Homeless

The stigma is now my own. Please pray for our family as we search for a home, and pray that our Faith would be strengthened rather than weakened by this ordeal.

Thank you.

English Only Pentecostals

Michael's paper proposal was accepted by the Society for Pentecostal Studies. He will be presenting it in March at Duke University. This is so amazing and intimidating. Please pray for him as he continues his research and raises the money for the trip. I am soooooooooooooooo proud of him. This is the sort of things that make our daily sacrifices worthwhile.

Red Flags

  1. Prosperity
  2. Special Revelation
  3. Armorbearer
  4. We should all get on board.
  5. Guardian Angel
  6. Community
  7. Leadership
  8. Success
  9. Reaching the people like us.

Unfortunately, there are many more. I hope I've conveyed the general idea. When someone is talking to me, I am hoping, praying, pleading with them not to raise these red flags. I know some of the words look so innocent. That's how they suck you in. Have you any to add?

You May Have Guessed

You May Have Guessed

A change is in order.

I need a place of worship that inspires reverence and a desperation to get this thing right.

Community that brings genuine caring, and depth in self-sacrifice.

I need a pastor that knows my name, knows my situation, and cares.

There is so much more I could say, but my utter contempt of church as I have known it will only discourage you.

I don't want to rant.

I don't want to criticize.

I just want to belong to a church that I am not disappointed with, and truly privately ashamed of.

Pray for me friends.

The not so friendly, previously untold, unwanted, naked Truth

The not so friendly, previously untold, unwanted, naked Truth

The truth is I hate my church.

It couldn't be said any plainer.

I love God. I love fellow believers. I love worshipping God. I love hearing the Bible preached. I love someone pushing me to be a better Christian, a better wife, and a better mother. I want to be vulnerable and accountable, and open to godly counsel and wisdom.

I want to share in Christ's sufferings, but why does it have to be at church? The thing I dread most in my week is going to my church. More than scrubbing toilets, putting gas in my car, or asking for assistance at Walmart. I hate it more than the feeling of biting my tongue to respect my mother, or some idiot boss. More than rush hour traffic and week long migraines.

Every time I go I die a little bit. Not in the die to yourself, be Christ's slave fashion. The put on my clown mask and big red shoes, and pretend to always smile and accept whatever bull is thrown at me kind of dying.

No, actually I don't like your big fancy facilities that robs us of the ability to pay our own bills and take care of the poor.

No, I thought the worship leader was a bit squeaky and full of herself, and the songs were so vague they could be about anybody.

No, I thought the sermon was plagarized faddish self-help crap best left in dusty Used Bookstores.

No, I don't want to come to your homegroup and have to pretend to be okay with your lack of preparation and cliqueish behavior.

No, I absolutely don't want the opportunity to minister alongside you ungrateful, unorganized charlatans with a Pharoah complex.

No, the truth is I HATE my church.

And it couldn't be any plainer than that.

Father's Day

Father's Day

One scorching hot summer day, I was riding home from the neighborhood carwash with my happy-go-lucky dad.

He was amused with my storytelling: loud, boisterous, and colorful as a only a 13-yr-old girl can be. I described our new neighbors, and how I'd made friends with their 2 daughters in the same grade as myself.

One had struck me as infintely stupid as she wasn't able to spell even basic words, and I recounted this adding that it wouldn't matter as she was pretty enough to one day marry rich if she never opened her mouth.

As I continued chirping away, I could feel the whole energy of the car change. Sitting up straighter in his seat, my darkly handsome father had become unusually solemn. Tentatively asking if something was wrong, my father responded to me "it doesn't sound like the neighbors made a very good friend."

I so clearly remember my whole body overheating with embarrassment. I don't think I had ever been truly ashamed before that moment.

Growing up in the 60's in Southern Alabama, my father attended first grade in a school reluctantly undergoing mandatory integration. The only time I'd ever seen my daddy (6'3" and all muscle) cry was when he described asking his teacher why he and his friends couldn't have textbooks like the white students. In all the years of enduring racism and persecution in the Deep South, he never learned to spell basic words.

That day when I was 13 years old, my father taught me in so few words not to judge people because of what they can do or what they look like.

It's a lesson I've never forgot, and appreciate that I learned under his forgiving ears.

My dad has been absent for my life now for more years than I care to recall, but every Father's Day I find my heart stubbornly clinging to this memory of good parenting. Wherever you are, thank-you...

Displace Me

Displace Me

Last weekend we packed up our lives and ventured to Austin to show our support and outrage for the people of Northern Uganda.

Michael and I had a terrible day preparing for the trip:

Our check engine light came on our "reliable" car.

The rent-a-car place gave us a hassle.

My plans to bring home take out were foiled.

Michael got stuck in traffic.

The ATM machine ate my debit card.

We were late to the church meet-up.

We had to wait in line too long at the picture counter.

[I am embarrassed: spoiled AND selfish.]

Ten years ago, thousands of Ugandans were forcibly evicted from their homes with only 48 hours notice and transported to overcrowded camps due to the horrific war in the North against the Lord’s Resistance Army. Initially created as a temporary solution, the overcrowded camps now have thousands dying weekly due to the inhumane conditions. “Displace Me” is a symbol of hope for Northern Uganda’s generation that has never known peace.

When we walked a mile from our car to the campsite I thought of the war-torn families seeking the displaced camps in Uganda as a place safe from the murderous LRA. I tried to walk a mile in their shoes and I was already complaining that my belongings were too heavy.

My whole body warmed with shame and self-anger when we built our cardboard shelter. I couldn't help thinking of how often I complain of my three bedroom house wishing it were as nice as my friends houses.

When we waited for the girls between 18-23 to bring us our daily ration of water I was tired and irritated. I didn't feel like waiting to get our full ration because I had brought a secret stash of water for my family. I am so embarrassed I am crying as I write. I couldn't even bring myself to share in their insult for 24 hours.

When the men lined up to receive our ration of crackers I wept for the other nursing moms in Uganda who must hope their milk holds out for years so their children don't starve. That night when I nursed Sofie to sleep I thanked God for the abundance of milk my body produces and the food so readily available to my family at every grocery store. I cannot understand the injustice of our world, of my country, in my own heart.

When we spent 21 minutes in silence for the 21 years of war that has plagued Uganda I prayed. I interceded. I wept again. I even chatted a bit with Stacy. What is wrong with me? 21 minutes!

When we sat down to write our senators I was overcome with the despair at the apathy I know America brandishes. I dried my tears and tried to think of what I would say on judgment day.

When it was lights out I stared up into the sky and wondered how God chooses where we shall be born. I wondered why he chose me to be American. I begged him to tell me what to do with all this privelege. I felt sick with the muck of it.

The sky started to sprinkle and a heavy fog fell upon the camp, seeping all the way into the cardboard and destroying most of our temporary homes. And the Lord spoke to me: Give it up. Give it all up. For them. For Me.

I am not there yet. I don't know how to do it. I need help. Selfishness runs through my body more thickly than veins.

I am the rich young ruler who didn't want to sell everything he had for the gospel.

But I don't want to be.

I don't want to be this way the rest of my life.

I don't want to be this way next month.

I don't want to be this way tomorrow.

Help me not want to be this way today.


B is for budget


So I just sat down and resurrected our budget that we're supposed to be living on.

If you guessed I am depressed about it, you're right.

It seems no matter what I give up society swindles me into wanting something else.

I want. I want! I WANT! It's like being two all over again.

I don't like to live on a budget. I don't like to have my life scheduled.

I take no comfort in thinking of the bigger picture.

The truth is the bigger picture would show a heart diseased with selfishness, impatience, and immaturity.

God forgive me. I was so happy to know your will, and then mad at the road I must follow to get there.

I don't want my apetite to increase every time more is available to me.

Teach me to be satisfied with what I have.

You are enough.

Amen.

Displace Me Pics

Pics from Saturday

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Laying down in solidarity

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Our Weekend Getaway

Displace Me 029


The Neighbors

Displace Me 038

Liked this one

Displace Me 032

Shantytown

Displace Me 033

This one looked a lot more comfortable before the rain.

Displace Me 045

Mommy being serious for the camera

Displace Me 013

An activist in the making

shoulders 4


Relieving Daddy of his eye

shoulders 3

Daddy's shoulders

CAFU8JFP

Happiness


Easter Pics

Easter Pics

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My Easter Dress.

Wait, where are Mommy's glasses?

Is that a 1 year old running away with them?

04_11_2

A sweet moment or a lecture about temper tantrums. You decide.

04_11_1

Egg hunting. Second only to taking off one's diaper and running.

04_11_0

She's not saying "Ooooo." She's about to stuff that in her mouth.

Update

We are attending our old church. It is painful to me every time I go. Old friends have fallen away from the faith. Old wounds nag at me begging to be picked back up. I feel old, older every day. I see people doling out the same milk and cookies, starving people of deep spiritual nourishment and I just wonder where the energy and wisdom to fight this battle will come from. Is it even my battle?

We are having the worst time finding M. a job. It has been utterly miserable. Stress and worry consumed my mind for many weeks, but I am renewing my hope in the Lord. He is faithful when I am not.

It has been hard to reconnect with my other friends. They are busy and their lives are filled to overflowing. I love them and keep them in my prayers.

Michael and I are growing in our relationship - this mostly comes with conflict, but it is healthy growth. I learn so much just having to live peaceably with another person everyday. I weary of sin when I think of how frustrating it must be for God to continually forgive the attitudes of my heart.

Well I intended to write more positive things, but my child has just had an episode of projectile vomiting so I need to go work that out.


Adriana's Quinceanera

Quinceanera

Quince 031

A picture with the birthday girl.

Quince 017

Sisters

Quince 028

Ebeth on the dance floor. :)

I also have some incriminating pics, but I have restrained myself from posting those. ;)

Lent

Lent

Okay here is my quick version of participating in Lent that I have gathered.

In Lent, it's traditional to give up something that you do a lot of and find pleasure in.

This giving up is done:

1. To learn self-control.
2. To free oneself from the chase after material things.
3. To identify with Christ's sufferings.
4. As an act of sorrow over our wrongdoings.

When we desperately struggle to give some tiny aspect of our lives over to God, we discover (symbolically):

1. How inescapable our sin is.
2. How deep is the divide between us and God.

The recognition of the two things above should drive one to even deeper reverence for God and faith in His salvation.

It is not a time of celebration, but of reflection and repentance.

Lent isn't just about giving things up. It's also about adding things to our lives:

1. Worship
2. Service to others
3. Reconcilation of broken relationships
4. Prayer
5. Bible Study

So though the denomination I am a part of doesn't participate I have been for a couple of years now. Is anyone else? Anyone have any thoughts to share? I am interested.

The Genius Edition

I can't help it. It still makes me laugh. I had a friend once who loved to brag. Arrogant does not do him justice. Well, one day he told me about his prowess playing the Genius Edition of Trivial Pursuit. It was heartbreaking to have to be the one to tell him, but I reluctantly took on the burden. He was playing the GENUS Edition. Apparently you don't have to be able to read to be a genius. :) I do miss him.

For now, I vote reading. :)

Apparently if I want something more from my day I will have to make more of an effort. *Sigh*

I did stop and offer a ride to a teenage girl walking in the rain, but it did not appear to be the "God moment" I had hoped for.

Perhaps I should take a vote on what I should be doing with my time.

Seize the Day and all that

Well I've been up and poking around for an hour. I didn't sleep all that well with a baby flipping all over me and robbing me for my milk. I guess the cat taking advantage of our prone positions to sniff us all down didn't help much either. Anyway, here I am ready to seize the day. I hope that it has something interesting to give up or I shall be sorely disappointed.

Late Night Randomness

It's late (to some people), and I am up as usual. While all the people I know in many different time zones sleep, my mind prowls around looking for things to devour: a book, a magazine, a game. How much sleep do you people need?!? What could I accomplish with this time I am forced to quietly await the surrender of my mind to its body? A psychologist once told me that needing little sleep and having a high IQ are related. I have a hard time buying that seeing as so much crime is committed at night. Perhaps I would make a good criminal...

On another note, my days are bogged down with diapers and dirty laundry. Necessary and important, yet so unmeaningful and temporary. How can I squeeze a drop of significance out of my day?

I don't suppose I want any answers. After all you were probably asleep when I wrote this and we all know what that means... ;)

The First Birthday

Thank you all for the thoughtful birthday wishes.

Thumper spent a very quiet first birthday with her momma playing dress up. It was made even more enjoyable by the flailing arms and wiggly bottom.

We had a lovely lunch with Daddy where she got to practice her throwing skills.

She took a ride in a shopping cart and worked on her vocals. Many old women were charmed by her LOUD "hello" and one whiskered old man was surprised to be called "Cat" very loudly ... dozens of times.

She received many phone calls to wish her Happy Birthday and to sing her the birthday song. All of which she promptly hung up on as babies tend to do with flip phones.

There was cake, but that was not received nearly so well as the cat throw-up. What is a mom to do when she discovers her baby eating that? Call Daddy of course so he can share in the horror. (Nana suggested getting it on tape, but I decided seeing it once was more than enough.)

As for presents Sofie had long since sneaked into mommies drawer and ripped open the curiosity of sparkly wrapping paper - which of course has been played with far more times than the $30 gift inside.

There were tears all around. Daddy sadly realized Sofie is not a baby anymore. Sofie happily realized we get to do this all over again Saturday. Mommy realized she had a big mess to clean up. And poor Mocha, the cat, realized Sofie will be staying with us indefinitely...

To my daughter on her first birthday.

To my daughter on her first birthday.

The moment we met - I wept. You were safe. Alive. The satisfaction of my curiosity. Finally I could see more than the impression of your tiny feet pressed into my tummy looking for room to stretch out. Amazed, I tenderly held the person who'd been using my bladder as a pillow for nine months.

At one minute old I marveled. You had miniature replicas of my flare-nose and your daddy's pliable ears. Ten fingers and ten toes. God's beautiful creation a reflection of the love and intimacy of our marriage.

At one hour we figured out nursing. It was simple for us. A natural cohesiveness written on our hearts. My body had nourished yours from its own supply in the womb, but it was nothing compared to your instinctual, trusting rooting at my breast. For the first time in my memory I shared my body with another person without any awkwardness or doubt.

At the end of our first day, I tucked you into the curve of my arm and drank in your sweetness. A fierceness I'd never experienced welled up in my heart. I knew I was to be your advocate, the gate through which every other person would know how to treat you. Motherhood fit me as easily and comfortably as a warm pair of long-johns stretching over my every curve. I'd expected confinement, but experienced instead utter bliss. In you I found a place to pour out all my tenderness and affection without any fear of rejection.

You were so beautiful. Every time the nurses brought you back from a check-up your hair would be combed a new way or you'd have on a new set of clothes. Even though they worked with babies every day they couldn't resist your chubby cuteness.

Those first days in the hospital the three of us existed as if in our own fantastic world of tender smiles, photos op's, and no sleep. With every diaper we rejoiced that you were making progress and indeed getting food from nursing. I remember the first diaper your daddy changed. His gentleness reached into the core of my soul and spread joy like wildfire. You have the best daddy in the world.

The night we brought you home I cried - more of a baby than you were. They released us from the hospital with a bag of diapers and a new life. Things fell apart when I couldn't remember exactly where I'd put your Diaper Genie, but you were patient with me. When I locked myself in my room and wept you stared at me with your fathomless dark eyes bearing with me - uncomplaining.

By the end of our first week, we were as bonded as hot metal cooling on a new surface. I couldn't speak of you without tearing up. I was shameless in flashing your pictures to any person that happened by. Gushing, I would recount every detail of your day to your daddy. My friends were enthralled. Our family in love. The girl at the grocery check-out, the pizza delivery man, the mail carrier, our neighbors: all certain you were our first child.

After eight days, your personality distinctly showed up. You were determined. If we stuck our tongue out - you did too. If we reached out and touched you, you trainied your hand to follow. If I was slow to feed you, you let me know. Loudly. Already you were lifting your own head driven to be independent. A true first-born.

At one month, you already understood that sticking your bottom lip out was the easiest path to get your way, followed by a loud sqwuak of displeasure. Pick me up. Put me down. Hand me that. NOW! I began to suspect that God had not seen fit to give me a quiet or docile little girl. Predictions that "she will be just like you" nagged at me. I called your nana for reassurance that I was an easy baby. She reminded me of my teen years.

Above your belly button there is a smooth brown freckle that catches my attention. It is bold and arresting just like you. I suppose no one can appreciate your strong will more than I.

When you were almost four months old you rolled over on the changing table stubbornly trying to grasp the babywipes I stored behind your head. To this day no stone has been left unturned.

You were the joy and highlight of my every day. Nothing seemed as important as snuggling you, tickling your chubby thighs, or pretending to snack on your toes. There were some days though - I was so caught up in school or housework that I'd feel I failed you as a mom. I would lose my patience. I would cry. I would whine. But always I loved you. I couldn't get enough of you. Your soft baby skin and sweet baby smell captivated me and lifted me out of realm of dirty laundry, research papers, and car repairs.

Most days you never allowed me to be out of your eye sight and so I carried you everywhere I went: internship, class, grocery store, or bathroom. You were so patient with my busyness, and I was patient with your need. If someone said I was spoiling you, I would gently remind them that you were my baby to nurture as I saw fit. Nothing as generously loving as you could be spoiled.

At five months curiosity became your most outstanding trait. You learned to crawl, and I learned to think on my toes. You were a master at de-babyproofing the house. I quickly learned to watch for your pincher grasp. I never knew how many pennies and odd bits of this or that fall on the floor in a day. You made sure I was acquainted with each of them.

At six months you fell in love all over again. Your daddy had the summer off from teaching. He would wake up in the morning and steal all the snuggles I was used to having all to myself. He taught you all about loud noises and shoulder rides.Your mutual delight in each other was as romantic as any barefoot walk on the beach or walk the down aisle. I wasn't jealous because each night I knew you were mine alone. He never did figure out how to produce his own milk.

By seven months you were walking and my hair was falling out. I began to understand the mothers at Walmart who haven't brushed their hair or teeth, whose kids only have one shoe and mismatching socks, and whose cars are filled with toys and fast food packaging. Some days just surviving is good enough for the mother of a toddler.

Everywhere we went your baby babble and beaming eyes would arouse a smile from even the hardest of hearts. As your escorts we became like mini celebrities filling people with tales of your mischevious exploits, and our clumsy parenting.


Each new day brought new abilities and new challenges. Every week our relationship grew deeper, stronger. Your life became interwoven with mine creating a garment so comfortable and attractive I proudly wore it everyday. I have been: the voices of your books, the villian to your superhero, the water park in the bathtub, the pony ride at the park, the face behind the camera, the arms trapping you in diaper and clothes, the soothing pat in the night, the milk and chef when you were hungry, the sympathy and kiss when you fall, the loud cheering when you figured something out, and that same voice you first heard in the womb singing the abc's and every lullaby I could remember or make up.

You are one year old now, and I am unbearably sad that each new day you will think you need me a little less.

Even so, I eagerly await every nuance of personality, skill, and look this next year will bring.

You are my baby, and I am your mommy. Happy Birthday Thumper.