Saturday, February 12, 2011

Five Minutes of Silence

For anyone who has kids, you know that the moment you conceive, your moments of silence are numbered. Pictures of sleeping, angelic babies crack me up because that is so not how that goes; there is a lot more crying and fussing than those pictures let on. Yes, they do sleep eventually, but who has the time to photograph them while they're asleep? You have to use that time (however short it might be) to bathe, do laundry, wash dishes, fix your hair, put on makeup, cook dinner, clean up the house, you get the point. The fussing and the crying that happens during the awake time put me totally on edge. It was excruciating to listen to either of my boys "cry it out" so I just refused to do it. Probably contributed to the whole "no sleeping through the night and you have lay down with me until I go to sleep" situation we find ourselves in, but I really don't care.

Then there are the baby and toddler toys. I swear, I think the toy companies got together with the alcohol industry and conspired to drive parents to drink. The noise that comes out of these toys is unbelievable. And of course the typical child will have more than one toy "going" at the same time. The exersaucer makes noise; the activity table makes noise; even books have those buttons on the side that provide annoying little sound effects while you're reading the story. Couple this with kiddie DVDs like Elmo's World and Little Einsteins, and you've got yourself a cacophony of "learning" going on! Meanwhile, mom is in the corner smoking her Virginia Slims, sipping her scotch and twitching.

Let's not forget the grandparent factor. My dad has given Joshua a harmonica and a guitar. Joshua has already blessed our lives with an abundance of noise - he never stops talking and with his hearing loss, his "whisper voice" is about as quiet as a football stadium during the SuperBowl. I suspect that Dad's gifts, while intended to help spark a love of music in Joshua, also carry the ulterior motive of providing "payback" for all the times he asked me for five minutes of silence while I was growing up. To my knowledge, I was never quite able to provide it and now I'm getting my just desserts. I am only just now beginning to understand the fortitude it must have taken to not strap my motormouth to the roof of our car during the three-day cross country move to Arizona when I was nine years old.

The irony is that my house no longer feels "right" when it's totally quiet. If I happen to get home before Darrell arrives with the kids, the house seems almost too still, too quiet. I actually look forward to the arrival of my boys and all the noise they bring with them. Within five minutes of their arrival, however, Joshua is telling me about his day, Darrell has turned on the TV, Caleb is fussing for a snack or a bottle or some attention or because he loaded up his diaper, the toy I kicked on my way in is singing a song, and the Leapfrog crap on the fridge is telling me what the letter "A" says.

And I am once again longing for five minutes of silence.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Cousin Andy

My dad is one of three brothers. Between them, they have five girls and one boy. We lived far apart when we were kids, and didn't get to see each other very much. But I have many fond memories of my cousin Andy. He has always been "loaded up" with personality and kept our family gatherings very entertaining.

Andy always did everything with his whole heart. And now that he is an adult, it is no different.
When he was in college, Andy went on a mission trip to India and fell in love with the people there. That trip sparked a deep and abiding desire to serve widows and orphans around the world. I'll be honest, at times we wondered what was going on with Andy. He would load up everything he owned, spend his last dollar getting to India, and then give away everything he had while there. He has been critically ill with meningitis in a foreign, "developing" country. He has been down to his last penny, not knowing how he would pay his bills, when God miraculously intervened and provided a way. But Andy always said there is no safer place to be than the center of God's will. His life of ministry has certainly proven that time and again.

As Andy once put it on his Facebook page, "Just because you aren't serving widows and orphans doesn't mean God didn't ask you to." He and his beautiful wife, Susan, spend every moment focused on just that. They now support four orphanages in India, Ghana, and Haiti. Their company, Chunky Junk, sells jewelry hand made by a group of ladies in Dehli, India with proceeds going directly to the support of these orphanages. I have a couple of beautiful pieces that I would love to show you if you're interested in seeing the craftsmanship up close. You can be certain that in buying this jewelry, you are participating in a ministry that truly loves the Lord first and then loves every neighbor, especially the least among us.

I hope you will consider supporting Andy and Susan in their ministry efforts. Be blessed!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Jeopardy (or the Big Nerd that lives at my house)

Sitting here watching Jeopardy, I am reminded of how I used to intentionally make my sister think I was a genius. My dad had a laptop for work (back when laptops were the size of washing machines) and on it was a Jeopardy computer game. I discovered that if you played the game up to "Final Jeopardy" and then turned the computer off, the next time you played it would be the exact same game (I think you know where we're going here). So I would play the game up to the end, turn the computer off, and then find my unsuspecting little sister and invite her to play with me. Since I rarely invited her to play anything with me (especially where she wasn't required to be my servant, the student, or a secretary), she was usually more than happy to accommodate my request. The rest is relatively easy to guess; she was amazed that I knew the gross national product of Lichtenstein and the scientific name of the dung beetle. I know, I'm pathetic.

As an adult, I watch Jeopardy almost every night. It is the only show that I will stop what I'm doing to watch. I love the feeling I get when I know an answer that none of the contestants knows. Never mind the fact that I'm sitting in the comfort of my own home with absolutely no pressure to know the correct response. Never mind that there is no chance I'm going to win any money due to my intellectual prowess. Never mind that I am not risking humiliation in front of millions of Americans if I don't happen to get categories that I am knowledgeable about (do millions of Americans watch Jeopardy?) I sit on my couch and make fun of how "dorky" the contestants are while they're "chatting up" Alex Trebec (hello. you're watching Jeopardy, you big nerd.) And then I race Darrell to see if I can answer before he does. It doesn't matter that he's not playing. And heaven forbid I get the final jeopardy question correct. The gloating is, I'm sure, unbearable. Darrell just tunes me out.

I'm not sure why I felt it necessary to write a blog entry about this topic. It's not something I'm proud of (although if you happen to be at my house while Jeopardy is on, you might beg to differ). The Jeopardy Tournament of Champions is my Super Bowl. I am a big nerd. It's part of my charm.

Thankful

Dear Senator Collins (and McCain), My seven year old son Caleb has cystic fibrosis and I want to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for...