Friday, May 27, 2011

the post in which I convince you I'm crazy

I have mentioned adoption here before. I even included our intent to adopt in our family Christmas letter this year. I’ve just never provided a whole lot of details.

Because I usually don’t want people to think I’m crazy.

And usually adoption makes people think you’re a little crazy. We’ve gotten some of those looks. Even before revealing that we’re not planning to adopt a baby and we’re not planning to stop at one. You know the ones, the looks that people give you during your first pregnancy. The she has no idea what she’s getting herself into looks.

And I didn’t when I became a mom. No conversation or book or website or other resource could have adequately prepared me. It’s a lot of learning as you go with the guidance of others who have gone before you. And a lot of prayer. A whole lot of prayer.

So do we know what we’re getting ourselves into? No. Are we a little crazy? Yes. (But let's all be honest and admit that that’s going to be true whether or not we adopt.) Do we know what we’re getting ourselves into? Probably not. Scratch that. Definitely not.

Throughout the Bible, God calls His people to do seemingly crazy things in his name and for his glory. The whole send the Son of God to earth to live a perfect life and die to defeat sin and rise from the dead to defeat death plan is a little crazy. I mean, imagine if you had never heard the Gospel before and someone told you that. It's not exactly in the realm of logic.

I’m not putting us on the same level of Christ. Certainly not! We’re confident, though, that he’s leading us in this particular sort of crazy, though. And we wouldn’t want to turn our backs on him to embrace the ordinary.

We knew as a couple, even before Lee proposed, that we wanted to adopt. It’s a longer and more personal story than I have space for here, but feel free to ask me about it offline. We began reconsidering that after Jocelyn was born, leaning instead toward having more biological kids instead of adopting as many as we had planned. However, through a series of circumstances, God has brought our hearts back to where He led them in the first place.

After a lot of prayer and research and prayer and conversations and prayer, we're willing to share where we stand in our plans right now. No guarantees that it won’t change, though, because God does his thing (the best thing!) in his time. However, I don’t think it’s unwise to share our plans, just as others aren’t shy about saying “ideally we want two kids” (or one kid or five kids or no kids). We trust that God is sovereign, and we'll be content whether or not his plans are the same as ours.

But since you asked (well, no, I suppose you didn't. but it's my blog, so I can pretend you did):
  • We are very likely done with pregnancies. My body could do it, but I lost bone in my joints during my last pregnancy, ended up with MRSA (which recurred seven times and once led to c. diff), and – in many ways – could say that I spent four years recovering from my first pregnancy. So, unless Lee manages to bear a child for us, I don't think we'll be adding to our count of biological kiddos. I’ll confess that while we think this is the best choice for us, our hearts are a little broken. I might tear up sometimes when I hold a baby, because a part of me wishes I could hold another of mine. But my heart is full, nonetheless.
  • We expect to adopt our third child internationally through Reece’s Rainbow, an international Down syndrome orphan ministry. Yes, this means that our third child will have some degree of disability. (If you're thinking this makes us crazy, please refer back to the title of this post.) When we were pregnant with Jocelyn, Lee expressed concerns that she might have special needs because, in his words, “God knows you, Shannon. He knows that you would be a great mom of a child with a disability I just don’t know if I would make a great dad.” He’s not sure in hindsight if he meant “a great dad of a kid with special needs” or just “a great dad” in general. I can vouch for the latter that he is. And now, the same guy who was worried about having a child with special needs is equally or more passionate about adopting one as I am. It’s not a pity thing or a duty thing; as cheeseball as it sounds, it’s a God thing. In the US, a kid with special needs and without a family goes to foster care; it’s not a perfect system, but it’s not always a bad one either. In many other countries, an orphan with special needs – particularly obvious, definitive ones like Down syndrome – is sent to a warehouse called an institution and given little more than basic care. Often the extent of the disability is irrelevant. The idea of welcoming them into families is unheard of. (As a related update, Kirill – the Russian boy I told you about a couple months ago – is now part of the Davis family. I think they should be returning to Alabama next week.) We will begin that process in a year and a half to two years, once our third floor has been converted from all attic space to two bedrooms and a bathroom.
  • Our fourth and fifth children will likely be a sibling pair from the foster care system. The oldest will probably be in elementary school. We are planning for them to be the youngest children in our family, so that adoption is further down the road considering that our current children are two and four. From the beginning of our conversations about adoption, our hearts were drawn toward older kids. I think it’s wonderful to adopt a child of any age, though, and I wouldn't turn away an infant if the stork dropped one on our doorstep. (What? That's not how it works? hmm.) That's just not the age group we're planning to pursue.
We have some other crazy plans, like our intent to stay in our home until we die (assuming God doesn’t move us out of Raleigh); based on our current payment schedule, that would make us mortgage free in a little more than a decade, but that’s not our only reason. It is cool to think about how we could invest that extra money in God's work, though!

I think I’ll leave the rest of the crazy for another time, though. If you can get past our insanity, would you pray for us?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

hardboiled Easter eggs are so blah

I never knew what I was missing until I decided to stay home (in Rio Grande City) for Easter instead of visiting Lee or my family during my first year as out of college. I was blessed with wonderful friends, Lori and Xavi, who invited me to join their family for the festivities.

I helped them hide the eggs, not noticing that they were lighter than eggs I had hidden in the past.

I made sure the kids had bags with which to collect their eggs.

I watched them and helped them as the egg collecting fun began.

And I was completely befuddled when Lori and Xavi and Xavi's siblings started telling me to collect some eggs. I couldn't understand why. The egg hunt is for kids. But, because they were being so hospitable, I humored them, convinced that they were crazy.

And then, as I placed an egg in my bag, I saw confetti out of the corner of my eye. What was *that*? I wondered.

Soon I would find out. These were not just any eggs. They were cascarones, hollowed out eggshells that were dyed, decorated, and filled with confetti, with tissue paper glued over the hole. As you collect eggs, you also smash them on each other's heads. Confetti and colored eggshell fill yards and neighborhoods and streets and your hair for at least a week.

This year we decided to postpone our trek to south Texas until the fall, which meant we would not find stand after stand of cascarones on the side of the road. In preparation for this, I began cracking eggs at the very top and saving the cleaned shells to make my own.

And we were able to share this wonderful tradition with two families who we love dearly.

We're already getting ready for next year. Who wants to join us?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge

Lee and I returned Sunday from four days at the beach for a marriage retreat with our church. That even meant we were gone on Sunday morning, which marks the first Sunday away since we began coordinating special needs ministry. It was a delightfully sweet weekend, rejuvenating spiritually and physically.

Returning has been sweet too, particularly because all the laundry in our house was clean and put away when I left, the house was clean (my in-laws were staying here, so I scrubbed things I don't usually get to!), and our kiddos were extra cuddly after having missed us (though they had a blast with the grandparents). Also, I had an IV of six vials of Remicade on Thursday, which has fully kicked in now, making me feel like Superwoman compared to the 150-year-old woman I've felt like for the past few weeks. And, finally, the AC in my car is broken, so we're homebound for a few days while that get fixed, which gives joy to this homebody after I was away from home for a bit. I feel no pressure to be out and about at the store or museum or bouncy places or friends' houses.

I feel very content. More so than last week? I have to admit that the answer is yes.

One of the main points of Altrogge's book is that contentment isn't meant to be circumstantial. I have much to learn before I can say that I can be content in every situation, like Paul learned. (Praise God, though, that Paul says he has learned contentment, because that means there is hope for me to learn it too. Contentment doesn't came naturally, especially not to me!)

It's a light read, with humor and brevity, but it is incredibly powerful as well. I shared that power last week, and now I'll share some more quotes from Altrogge:
This book is not the memoir of a contented man. It's not the poignant reflections of a white-haired guru who has finally figured out the secret to contentment. It's more like sweaty bloody, hastily scribbled notes from a battlefield...I can see contentment in the distances, like a hazy oasis, but I have to pick my way through a minefield to get there. (Introduction, pg. 14)
 (About Paul's words about contentment in Philippians 4:11-12) These words should startle us and cause us to catch our breath. Paul says that he has learned to be content in every situation. Not just the happy, comfortable, "why, yes, I will have another latte" situations. (p. 19)
 ...I really do live every days as if I were the center of the universe. I want each day to unfold in such a way that I receive maximum joy and happiness. I want all the circumstances and people in my life to contribute to my happiness. When something interrupts my wonderful plan for life, such as a crying baby at 2:00 A.M. or a sinus infection, I'm unhappy because this is my world and these kinds of things shouldn't happen in my world. I don't actually speak those words, but every day I'm tempted to believe them, live by them, and treat others according to them. (p. 21-22)
Discontentment is the result of misplaced worship. It's the result of giving our heart to someone or something that should never have it. (p. 37)
When we complain, we're loudly saying that the blessings of the gospel aren't enough. We're saying that the death of Christ isn't enough. We're saying that eternal fellowship with God, purchased at great cost to God, isn't enough to satisfy our souls. We're saying that forgiveness of sins and peace in God is nice, but not that nice...We're saying that God himself, who is the very definition of goodness, isn't good enough. We would like a little something more, if you don't mind. God plus [insert desire of choice] should do the trick. We we complain, we accuse God of being stingy, of not giving us enough. (p. 72) 
 When I complain, I'm declaring that I serve a helpless, bumbling God. That my life is out of control. That he hasn't been faithful. That he isn't using circumstances for good. I'm smearing God's character and forgetting his past faithfulness. I'm telling the world that God is a pathetic, disorganized deity who can't seem to get my life straight. I'm telling a lie about God. (p. 106)
 And finally...
Discontentment begins when I start trying to be God. Discontentment happens when I attempt to displace God from his rightful place at the center of the universe. When I think that everything should run according to my plans instead of God's plans. When I forget that God is God and that he is allowed to do with me whatever he wants, whatever will bring him glory. Discontentment results from a big view of myself and a very little view of God. (p. 24)
Crossway provided this book for my review, but they neither asked for nor required a positive opinion about it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

the style of our home

In the past year, we've changed a lot about how our house looks - the arrangement of furniture as well as the furniture itself and many elements of decor - and we're still in the process of doing so. Because I've become addicted to websites like Nesting Place, I've realized that I need to clarify what our goals are for our physical space. Otherwise, I'm tempted to be drawn into things that look pretty in someone else's home but that don't really work for us.

I'm not sure I've fully meshed out those goals, but here's the current working version of them:
  1. I want our home to be a haven for my husband and our children. We're pretty laidback, so - for us - that means that comfort is key. And it also means that the arrangement of our home doesn't conflict with living our life, nor does the expense of decorating create hardship for us. And that means that I aim for my attitude in keeping our home to create a haven-like environment as well.
  2. I want our home to be an inviting place. In other words, I want that haven to extend beyond our family. This most often means, in a practical sense, that I want my home to be tidy enough that I'm not embarrassed to invite others into it, even without much advance notice. This also means that while we aim for our home to show that we have small children in that we don't hide away all the toys (because that would violate my first aim, that of creating a haven for them), we also - in so much as is possible with two small children - aim to have places for toys to go so that they don't always have to be underfoot. 
  3. I want our home to reflect the hope we have in Christ. While this is only authentic when our attitudes and dispositions also reflect that, I like to have scripture and Christian symbols around our home in obvious ways. Not only does this display that hope to others, but it also encourages me because so much of our time is spent at home. Plus it helps us, in one way, live out these verses:
 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  
You shall love the Lord your God 
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  
You shall teach them diligently to your children, 
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, 
and when you walk by the way, 
and when you lie down, 
and when you rise. 
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, 
and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

My latest home addition was this Wood Carved Wall Hanging from Dayspring.

It will eventually hang below this plate and painting (also from Dayspring, found here), but I need to move them up so I can have all three hung at a height that it out of reach of my little guy.

The back allows it to be hung either way, and I don't know if there's a traditional way to do it. Should the fish's nose point left or right? Or do I just make an arbitrary call? Any suggestions?!?

What are your aims for your home? I would love to know!

Many thanks to Dayspring for providing this item for my review. Though they didn't ask for or require a positive post, I do love it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The right words at the right (though unexpected) time

I'll be posting a review tomorrow of Stephen Altrogge's fantastic book, The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence. I was planning for this post to be part of that review until I realized that what I have to share here isn't really about the book. It's about me.

You see, RA isn't obvious, and neither is my pain. Most of the time I'm not irked at that facet of my life being overlooked. I don't think I'm entitled to anyone's compassion, and I certainly don't seek pity. I realize RA isn't an illness that is noticeable. I know it doesn't affect as many people as cancer or AIDS. I get that it isn't a hot cause for research or funding.

And I'm okay with that.

What I'm not okay with is a dismissal of it as if it isn't that big of a deal. People have made comments like, "At least it's not cancer or anything." Yes, I am thankful it's not cancer, but really?!? During the month or two that I was in remission, it wasn't that big of a deal. But it can be painfully consuming when I'm not in remission land. And even when I'm in remission, the daily pills and bimonthly IVs give me a regular reminder that my body is not whole.

While I'm sad that my remission was short-lived, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for it because, as I wrote about here, three years of daily pain had worn on me. I've mentioned this before, but the latter part of 2010 was a struggle with depression. My body? I can handle that wasting away. It isn't meant to be eternal anyway. My hope, though? It is eternal. And as I focused on my circumstances instead of that hope, its glow in my life was dimmed. I loved Jesus, but I grieved my life. And I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until God rekindled the joy of life in Him here and now with sweet remission.

The remission didn't stay, but the hope did. I'm not living defeated like I was. Remission is a possibility. That helps me consider, in the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4, this to be “light momentary affliction…preparing for me an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” And though I wrote about the bad day when the remission ended here, it hasn't been all bad days since. And even when the days have been physically difficult, God has sustained my spirit in ways that I can't adequately describe, other than just telling you to read Ephesians 3:20-21.

And the days have been difficult. My IVs are spaced every eight weeks right now, but the meds wore off around week 6.5. We'll probably be changing my schedule to every seven weeks now because we're already at the top dose for my weight. (Which - by the way - had my doctor quipping one day: "Well, we can keep it at every eight weeks if you'll agree to eat more cake" to put on the extra eight pounds I would need to qualify for the next dose level. I haven't taken him up on that, but how many of you can say that your doc told you to eat cake?)

Thursday morning I get my next IV, and it will mark a week and a half of pain with each step and each turn of my head, given that my hips, knees, feet, and neck are affected this time around. (It will thankfully mark the end of that painful period, though, because the medicine takes effect quickly. I'll feel a little flu-like on Thursday night, but I'll be feeling wonderful by Friday or Saturday.)

I say all this to set the stage for reading the second to last chapter in Altrogge's book. I was soaking in a hot bath, because that's what I do in the evening when my meds fail me.I helps make the pain subside for a little bit. I wasn't glum, and I wasn't having a pity party. I was just enjoying the water and a good book. I didn't even know that the chapter that would make me sob was coming.

And then I got to (with the italics below added by me, not the author):
Chapter 11: The Furnace of Suffering

This chapter doesn't begin with a joke or clever illustration or mildly amusing personal story. In fact, I'm not sure where to begin, because this chapter is about finding contentment in the midst of suffering.

I've suffered very little in my life. No chronic illnesses, no tragic deaths, no world-shattering events. Yet.

But I've watched many people suffer in awful ways. There are men and women in my church wh have endured, and are enduring, fiery, world-twisting trials. Chronic arthritis that puts hot nails between every joint. Extreme, unrelenting, chest-squeezing financial pressure. The slow, fierce creep of Alzheimer's disease. The persistent joy-sucking gloom of clinical depression. Terminal brain cancer.

These friends are my heroes, because in the midst of suffocating suffering they still honor God. They don't curse God. They don't hate God. Yes, they weep. Yes, they have questions. Yes, they have days when it hurts to get out of bed. But they praise the Lord anyway. They bless the God who gives and takes away. They set a breathtaking example for me to follow.

This chapter is for my heroes. For those of you who are following Christ through high waters and hot flames. For those of you who are living martyrs, testifying to the power of Christ as the fire licks your feet.

I don't want to give you pat, trite answers. I don't want to tell you just to trust God and everything will be okay. I simply want to connect you to the God who is bigger than your sufferings and who fully understands what I don't. I want to connect you to the only person who can carry you through and give your contentment in the midst of suffering. I want to connect you to Jesus.

I couldn't even type those words without crying. I have never written a thank you note to an author before, but I will be writing one to Stephen Altrogge. Those words and the rest of the chapter had me sobbing (in a good way). I'm used to being encouraged by chapters like this one, but something about his specific reference to my specific sort of suffering triggered a flow of tears that I didn't know was dammed up.

Yes, Stephen, I weep and I have questions and I have days when I hurt as soon as I begin moving. And, yes, praise is a choice that I have to make daily. I wouldn't agree, though, that my life is heroic. The rest of the chapter pointed me toward the hero of the story - Christ - and that's who I hope my suffering in life points to as well.

I'm not great; Jesus is. And I'm thankful He led Altrogge to write this book. I'll be reviewing it in full tomorrow. Until then, I'll leave you with these sweet words:

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, 
and the flame shall not consume you. 
For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." 
Isaiah 43:2-3a

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, 
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; 
perplexed, but not driven to despair; 
persecuted, but not forsaken; 
struck down, but not destroyed;
So we do not lose heart. 
Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory 
beyond all comparison, 
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. 
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 
1 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-19

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cuddling with a half-eaten Pop Tart

We have been sick nearly non-stop since October or November. And while I think we're finally entering healthy land, Robs is struggling today. I *think* it's just allergies, but I'm not positive. Especially after he passed out on the floor this morning.

Yes, that is a Pop Tart. I know they're not the healthiest things, but it was a special treat. Plus Pop Tarts are his love language. If your kid's love language was quality time, I wouldn't tell you to cut him off from that. So there's that.

Please pray that the kids would be healthy as the grandparents arrive on Thursday so we can go to our church's marriage retreat. We had to go a day later than planned last year due to a little guy with a high fever, and while I don't think we'll postpone it this year (since Momma Bear is more comfortable with leaving a two-year-old with a runny nose than I was a one-year-old with a fever), it would help me relax to know that he's feeling fine and having a blast without us!

And now it's time to get off the computer and transfer a little sleeping man to his bed. 

(Why, yes, I did just take pictures, upload them, and write this post with him asleep on the floor.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Materialism run amuck

Nope, this isn't a post about our culture. Or America's insatiable appetite for stuff. Or any of that.

It's about me. And my heart.

I love stuff. I love that I can get free books from publishers to write reviews. I love that I'm part of Amazon's reviewer program, which has provided me with hundreds of dollars worth of products for the cost of nothing but my written review. I love that other vendors who have been willing to partner with me simply because I am willing to share my opinions.

I love the new winter coat I just bought on sale, in part because it's cute and in part because my old winter coat was a couple sizes too big and let in icy air. I love homeschool supplies, and - even though I'm only certain that we're homeschooling through preschool - I could have happily purchased every item in the local homeschool supply store here. I love owning DVDs, even though I rarely watch any of them other than my Gilmore Girls series. I love shoes, and I can get pouty when the joints in the lower half of my body limit me to nothing but Crocs.

I love stuff.

Which is exactly why I knew that the book Unstuff by Hayley & Michael DiMarco would be a good one for me to read.

And while I certainly don't intend to sell everything we own to tour homeless shelters from a tiny RV for three months like the DiMarcos did, my life could use some unstuffing. One of the first statements that grabbed me was this: "the truth is that it put our concern for stuff over our concern for people." While my house doesn't resemble this statement right now, it is not uncommon for my desire to have an orderly house to motivate me to ignore my kids. It's not really neglect, but it's not an attitude that esteems my love for them over my love for stuff.

On Facebook (ironically) I posted a link to It's cute. And witty. And a wee bit convicting. Because the truth is that I love my online stuff too. Sometimes I love reading anonymous people's thoughts on blogs more than I like interacting with people outside of the interwebs. Because you know what? Online, I can close the window if it gets too messy. In real life, I have to deal with it in a more mature way than that. In a more Jesus-like way.

Another good tidbit: "If you're feeling overworked, there's a good chance it's a sign of stuffing." I work hard to manage emails and blogs and tweets and laundry and dishes and food and sewing supplies and toys and... Really? Is stuff what I worship? No, but does how I spend my time and my energy show that? *gulp* sometimes.

The book does talk about debt and all that, but it doesn't shine as much there as it does when it's addressing other symptoms of overstuffing. Like this: "The sin of overwork is seen in things like worry, fear, anger, bitterness, lack of time for God, lack of time for family, and lack of time for rest." (If you do want a good read about money stuffing, Money & Marriage by Matt Bell is a great one that I reviewed here.)

My one criticism of this book is that it hits so much that it doesn't dive deep in many places. I don't think that's a bad thing, though, because it's still powerful and convicting. Every Christian book doesn't have to read like a seminary text to point us to God and His Word.

And thanks to Tyndale for providing this book for my review. They didn't ask for a positive review, just an honest one. And thanks, also, to them for giving me another structural member for my bookshelves, because they are so overloaded at this point that I stack books in them in such a way that the books themselves support the weight of the other books because the shelves are beyond their limits. It's handy that my husband is a structural engineer, huh?

Monday, May 9, 2011

random thoughts

1. I'm a wee bit jealous that our church has begun handing out The Jesus Storybook Bible at baby dedications. Why? Because the ones they gave Jocelyn and Robbie were meh. Not so exciting. Or accurate. Or awe-inspiring. So I'm 90% excited that these families are being given a really fantastic Bible storybook, and 10% envious that they weren't doing that when our babes were dedicated.

Because, of course, we all know that the most important thing about baby dedication is which Bible you get to bring home.

2. Laundry is drowning me.

That is all.

3. The Advance the Church 2011 conference was ah-mazing. Will Johnson has posted a lot of the notes he took over here. I'm not ready to intelligently post anything yet, but it will be coming.

4. We ordered pizza for Mother's Day. Best dinner ever, in my opinion. Menu planning will commence again tomorrow after dinner with my dad tonight, but I'm a low-class broad who loves pizza even though it and my affinity for sugar are to blame for my rheumatoid arthritis. Well, that and my lack of faith and the ineptitude of my prayer life. {insert snark here}

5. Domino's won me over for life when they added garlic salt to their crust.

Well, for life or until another chain gets the hint.

6. I love my dog. He is goofy and protective and not incredibly intelligent. And he's perfect.

7. I don't know why this item is italicized, but I'm too lazy right now to undo it. I'm thankful, though, that while my hips, knees, and feet are being affected by my present RA flare, my hands and wrists are not. So typing and writing and reading and all that aren't affected. 

8. There isn't much I love more than a hot, nearly scalding bath. With bubbles. Even though the angle of my bathtub faucet makes it hard for it to hit the water as forcefully as necessary to create said bubbles.

9. (Geez, the italics again?!? What on earth.) I love, love, love my friend Jenelle's new haircut. Love it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

the poor neglected middle child

I was going to say first born, but then I remembered that I dabbled with Xanga, which makes this my second blog child. I have completely forgotten my first born, though, other than that it was called SillyShenanigans but I never ever wrote about anything silly on it.

Let's see if I can find it...hmm, there is some funny stuff there. Like this:
Interesting quotes from my husband this evening...

"How can I be 'the honorable'?" after Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling was introduced as "The Honorable Margaret Spelling" on Celebrity Jeopardy. (Amusingly enough, our Secretary of Education couldn't beat out a couple of actors. Sad, huh? Not that this was a surprise, though, since this was a re-run that I watched the first time around...)

"Don't we need cookie mix?" in response to my suggestion that we use the caramel-chocolate chips for cookies later instead of adding them to the cake batter tonight. I showed him the back of the bag of chips, where the recipe can always be found, so he could see the exact ingredients required to make cookies. A few moments later came the next quote...

"So you mean this is just flour and sugar and some other stuff?" he asked while holding the bag of cake mix.

"You're right. This bag has a recipe too!" as he held up another bag of chocolate chips.

"So who reads your Xanga?" he asked after I told him I was beginning this post. He was okay with it once I explain it's only Jenelle and sometimes Derek.

Which was true. But more of y'all read this blog. Or at least you did before it became my neglected middle child blog.

I have been posting a ridiculous amount over at The Works of God Displayed. It's where I write about special needs ministry stuff.

And it's official, based on pageviews, visitors, and Twitter followers: my ministry is more popular than I am.

And I'm okay with that. Well, I wasn't totally okay with it, and then a sweet friend reminded me of the verse at the end of my emails: "He must become greater; I must become less." {John 3:30}

So I'm okay with it now.

What I'm not okay with is neglecting this space. Because, as much as I love my ministry stuff, I love my own space that doesn't have to be specific to any one topic. The eclectic area that fell together here sort of like the original Dinglefest did ... you know, the crazy carnival wedding reception that we threw together in Texas after we scrapped the wedding we planned in Florida? It started as a joke by my man, and it evolved to the best wedding reception ever.

My first real post here was about my then one-year-old daughter preferring dead leaves over the company of Mommy and my then twenty-five-year-old self preferring the rubbish of the world over the treasure of Christ. And while the blog has changed much since then, I still want that fresh, real attitude to be here. Along with the other randomness of life I've added in.

All this to say: my newborn blog is two months old today. It has 45 posts, most of which I love. And while I would love for you to check it out, I wanted to share with you that I think we're through the late nights and difficult first days. I'm thankful for the hundreds of folks who care what I have to say there, but I miss the comfort of the tens who like to check in on me here.

I'm back. No promises about how frequently I'll be back, but I'm back. I missed y'all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

fun with friends

The week before Easter, we went over to our sweet friends' house and hung out for the morning. Knowing that Leiana would love to dress-up and knowing that Jocelyn wouldn't want to leave her costumes at home, we brought them with us! Such a fun day, for which I am thankful because since then we've each had a stomach bug, the kids have each had another virus that gave them high fevers, and Jocelyn now has poison ivy. It's a good thing I'm reading Stephen Altrogge's The Greener Grass Conspiracy right now, because it would be tempting to become discontented if I weren't reading solid reminders of why that's not God's best for me. (And, yes, a review is coming; I still have a couple chapters to go, so I can't write it just yet!)

But enough about 'bout this precious princess?!?

I think she's bummed that the prince isn't willing to play along.

And all the dragon wanted to do was read a book about a dragon.

Thankfully, reading was an activity they all found agreeable.

Love them!

Hmm, Robbie just looked over my shoulder and said, "Baby Leiana cute." Isn't it a bit early for that?!?