Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Slacker Mom

I'm three chapters into my latest summer read, Confessions of a Slacker Mom. I picked it up from the summer reading promo pile at the public library on a whim. To be honest, I was skeptical that there would be anything it worthwhile - after all, the cover showed a woman's legs in high heels (yick!) and I was sure it would be another mothering guilt trip courtesy of the publishing industry. And the author's name didn't give me a warm feeling inside. ("MUFFY?" Please tell me it's a pseudonym!)

But there was a pleasant surprise between the book's covers...

...On advertising...

"You know that if you've got television, you've got somebody incessantly telling you, over and over, without reprieve (yes, I'm being redundant - just emphasizing one of the most important ways we all know marketing works) that you've got to have a certain brand of, say, diapers. It's hard not be convinced when they show you the droves of babies who've achieved total satisfaction from these diapers."

...On mother guilt...
"Why do advertisers think this kind of guilt-driven message will work with moms? I don't see them speaking this way to fathers, I really don't. Are we mothers that insecure? Is that how we get talked into such harebrained things as abdomen-phones [Deb here - Abdomen-phones are the headphones being marketed to wear on your belly?" while pregnant to let your baby 'hear' Mozart and other supposedly brain-enhancing music...]

...On toys...
"Have you ever notice that when a toy does more, the kid playing with it does less? ...What is learned playing Game Boy other than how to play Game Boy?"

Ahhh.... A kindred spirit!

A mom who cares more about her kids than scrapbooking their latest activity (nothing wrong with scrapbooking, it's just not my personal choice for my leisure time!) A mom who doesn't sign her child up for every tutoring group/sports team/creative arts lesson so that they can be the next Einstein/Rodman/Picasso. A mom who had common sense, practical parents from the Midwest.

So as we spend time this summer at the pool (not swim team practice) or at the park (not soccer camp), and as we lounge and read (not SAT prep) I will enjoy every moment. We'll have productive work like math packets to do, and a summer school class or too. But that is not the focus of summertime. The years are flying. Next year it's 6th and 10th grade studies (not to mention my seminary classes!) I'm enjoying the brief lull in our lives until the tsunami of fall events hits.

ME? A Slacker mom? Yup. And proud of it!

From our home to yours,

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sea Glass

This was a devo written for our church this week...

Sea glass begins as a glass object thrown carelessly in the ocean. The glass fragments are tumbled by water and sand into muted gems. Over time, after repeated loops in the tides and surf, the jagged edges are rubbed off and the glass, now translucent from their many sandings, seem to glow on their own.

Like many of you, I managed to put my life into many jagged pieces in my early 20s. In the deepest, most broken time of my life, I did one thing right… I turned my life over to God. Sort of. You see, I tried to put my life back together on my own. (And if you have ever tried to glue glass, you know that doesn’t work so well.) Why did I attempt to “heal myself”? I felt unable to be loved by God. I was sure He didn’t really love me as I was. Not really. I wasn’t confident that I could “do” this “Christian life” that everyone had assured me was there for the taking. Especially when I had gotten used to picking the glass shards out of my way and, well, surviving. And I also didn’t “feel” very forgiven.

Two things helped me change my perspective. First, I came to understand that Christ’s forgiveness of my sins is not based on my feelings. It is based on the FACTS of who Jesus is: that He is the Son of God, that He died and rose again and took my sins away on the cross. My response is one of FAITH: I had to accept the facts and believe that Jesus died for my sins. Tagging along like a caboose to FACTS and FAITH are my FEELINGS. Whether or not I remember it, or feel like it is true, I am forgiven.

The second thing that helped me was realizing that when I allowed God into my brokenness, He made something beautiful out of it. What had been a very angry, brittle person became someone who was softer and more beautiful, just like the sea glass. When I was rough and shattered, God’s love patiently refined and changed me over many seasons and tidal changes. Where I felt I only had one “use” in life, God took the pieces and multiplied my life story into many different ways of serving Him! I would never have imagined it on my own.

God can change you, even when you believe that you can’t change. You think that you are unhappy because you can’t do what you want to do, or that you aren’t given the honor, prestige or wealth that you seek. Your feelings want you to live a lie – remember the FACTS!

Spend time today thanking God for the gift of His Son. Remember our time of Communion on Sunday morning and reflect on the meaning of the Bread and the Cup. Pray for little “sea glass” reminders of His Hand in your life, and for patience as He continues to smooth out your rough edges (and mine, too!)

Lord, thank You for my rough edges and for the ways I fail. Help me to see the power of Your love changing me, and making me more like You. Amen.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


You made it through another year.

You learned hard lessons, sometimes emotionally challenging ones.

You grew emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Oh yes! Physically too!!!

You learned to show love to others, even ones that "pluck your last nerve".

You reminded us that it's not about the money, or the status, or the latest cool fad... it's about being real, honest, authentic followers of Jesus.

We are proud of you!!!

A thousand hugs and a million HUZZAHS!!!!

Mom (and Dad)

Monday, June 12, 2006

In my Prime...

Happy Birthday to Me.....

Yes, I hit a prime number today... and it's not 41! [NOTED on 6/13: OK, I goofed big time... it's not a prime number THIS year!!! Yes, I flunked math facts... The main point is later in this post, anyway...] It's not so bad. Recent reading about women who are perimenopausal becoming pregnant, and reading Dana L's story made me stop and think about my life journey up to this point.

So, I get pregnant. What's the worst that could happen? (Um... I would like to clarify that I am NOT!!!)
- not going to seminary?
- having a child with a birth defect?
- physical problems for me because of my "Advanced Maternal Age"?
- having to survive 6 more years of elementary school parenting?

Somehow, I think the last one is the most daunting...

CJ finishes elementary school Wednesday, and we start again on the roller coaster of puberty and middle school. I will miss the closer associations with the school and her teachers. I will miss working regularly as a volunteer in the school. But I won't miss another round of conferences in too small chairs, listening to a concert of beginning strings or reviewing math facts or "word families".

Now, when I have grandchildren, that's another thing! (And daughters, when you read this, I expect the first round no SOONER than 10 years from now!)

From our home to yours...


Friday, June 09, 2006

Make Way for Ducklings... er.. Goslings!

Montgomery County, Maryland is a crazy area of the country. High speeds, high stakes testing, high numbers of kids taking IB or AP classes in high school, high expectations on schools to produce highly paid graduates. And if you need someone let you merge on the Beltway? Fuggedaboutit! Sometimes it gets to be a little crazy. That's why this week I saw something that really made me smile.

I was in the middle of my "DO" list (as always), trying to get some errands run while the girls were at youth group. Birthdays and end-of-school purchases were on my list, involving four or five stores in a two hour window. Do-able, but a little difficult if the traffic is bad. Driving down a 6 lane main street, traffic suddenly came to a screeching halt. Crossing over the median were two families of geese: 4 parents and about 12 or so goslings. Well after they cleared the road, about 2 dozen cars sat and watched them as they were feeding along the sidewalk. The goslings, cute little fuzzy guys and girls (I assume both genders were represented!) were perpetual motion machines all over the grass and the adults had their hands (wings?) full keeping them off the road.

Traffic started up again after a few moments, but I had to chuckle at myself, and everyone else on the road. We were all smiling. People had taken pictures with their cell phones' cameras, and a couple folks got out of their cars to watch the "parade". Moments before, we were jockeying for position on the road to make our turns and merges. Now we were a little more relaxed.

Sometimes you have to stop and watch the goslings...

From our home to yours...


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

40 AND pregnant

I read "Dana L's" article in the Sunday Washington Post. [What Happens When There Is No Plan B? By Dana L., Sunday, June 4, 2006; Page B1]

I could understand her frustration, but not her reasoning, nor her actions (summary follows)

  1. unprotected sex (she "forgot" to insert her diaphragm) with her husband led to...
  2. trying to get a script for "Plan B" abortificaent which her OB-GYN, her internist or her midwife was not possible...
  3. she opted to hope for being ‘lucky’ and did nothing and…
  4. she discovered 2 weeks later she was indeed pregnant and...
  5. subsequently had an abortion because she had "no choice".

I do understand her frustrations... One of the more annoying things for women is when their healthcare providers do not listen to them, or do not give the healthcare we need when we finally do ask for it. Prescriptions, treatments and options are described in terms of side effects, not necessarily benefits. We endure uncomfortable screenings for cancer while men go get just a blood test. We are asked to describe labor in terms of numbers or to figure out breastfeeding problems via phone with a consultant. We put off appointments because there aren’t any available in the 2 hour window we have on Thursdays… and then we never go at all. We take care of everyone else's health needs in the family and neglect our own, then get a lecture when we finally DO go to the doctor. OK, so I understand her frustration at not being able to get in to a health care provider to get what she wanted in a timely manner.

But at that point, her argument breaks down...

She claimed it was George Bush's fault that she got pregnant. It is probably TMI to find out if he was in the room, clutching her diaphragm case against his chest and yelling, "NO NO NO!!" It was HER fault. She "forgot". Unless the government really IS using brain waves and she forgot to wear her aluminum beanie, I don't think anyone "made" her forget. She admits she made a mistake, but blames the consequences on the government. This is someone trained in analysis and argumentation?

She was angry that her OB would not write the script for her and would not tell her where she could get one. Thankfully, physicians still have the option to decline to prescribe medications that they find morally repulsive.

She said that it was not available "anywhere" and forgot in her panic about Planned Parenthood. Puh-lease. I worry about her clients if, in the stress of a moment, she can not remember a widely known resource.

She claimed it is just too risky to be pregnant and over 35. Huh. I had two healthy babies at ages 35 and 40, and they are now 15 and almost 11. The odds were in my favor to have healthy babies. In fact, if you knew the odds were that high to win the lottery, you'd empty your bank account getting scratch-off tickets...

She stated later that private reasons (medical and personal) affected her decision to abort, among them a Category X cholesterol-lowering drug that is not safe for pregnant women. She was afraid of having a child with birth defects. Her doctor did not counsel her on having back-up birth control. Don't blame government agencies for your lack of communication with your doctor! And, speaking for friends and family who have children with “special needs”, they are blessed (BLESSED!) by those children. Yes, it is a hard life, one with heartache and the occasional bout of “emotional upheaval”. But they would not change out their children any day.

She claimed that it would affect their lifestyle and they had decided they did not want any more children. She claimed that she did not want to neglect her children who are in elementary school because they already get little enough time with them. Yet they had not chosen a permanent (surgical) birth control. She said that if she had to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term that it would cause "emotional upheavals". She stated that her work responsibilities and having to meet the school bus meant that she could not take time off work to find another medical solution. At the least, she is showing poor planning. At worst, she is being selfish.

She claimed that in case of rape, Plan B is not available when needed. On the contrary, it IS available in ERs for women who report rapes and are checked in the ER. The "rape excuse" is a poor one.

I suppose that part of her reasoning was that she didn't want to be the oldest mom in her baby's kindergarten class. Believe me, it's a badge of honor. (And you won't be the oldest one, in all likelihood!) She said that she didn't want to miss having fun with her husband. Yes, by the time our younger daughter graduates from high school I'll be pushing 60. By the time she finishes college I'll be close to needing my Medicare card. (or not, if they advance the age again!) I am in good health; my kids keep me young and outwardly focused, instead of thinking about M-E.

I’d write and tell her all these things, but in the on-line discussion, she neatly turned all discussion to the fact that she couldn’t get a prescription for a drug when she wanted it… and that was the problem. NOT her choices. NOT her lack of planning. NOT her ability to handle financially, emotionally and physically an unplanned pregnancy.

I’m not disturbed by her eventual choice (abortion) as much as I am the fact that everything that ‘caused’ the pregnancy was, in her mind, not her fault… And perhaps that is what has caused me to write this long diatribe in the first place.

I make plenty of mistakes. But, when I do, I own the results. And that is my goal as a parent…

From our home to yours…

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Survey says...


I tried to test out of a course this week for my fall semester in seminary. I did study, but apparently did not guess at what THEY thought were the salient points in a 500+ page textbook. I was just a few answers short of testing out of the class. So it goes...

My teenager loves it that Mom has to study too. The good news is that I don't have any classes to study for now until August. SHE has finals and a couple of papers to write. The bad news is I am still trying to win scholarships to pay for all of this...

After I got my (failing) score, I talked with Ken, my prayer partner and close friends, and they all said the same thing: "well, I guess there is someone you need to meet, or something you need to go through so you have to take this class." Yeah, I know. Not exactly comforting. I do know more than the average pewsitter about the Bible. But obviously, there are more than a few things that I've forgotten since I last took seminary classes double-digit years ago. (Yes, that would be pre-marriage and pre-kids!) Humiliating, that I have to re-take this class? No. Humbling? Perhaps. As I've thought about it, it seems to come down to a matter of obedience.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deut. 8:2-3

I have grumbled about the test, my score, etc. Grumbling around in the "desert" of my own inflated self-evaluation, until I agreed with the test's assessment: I need to review this stuff. So... I'll try again.

I won't get it right the first time, or the second time, or the fiftieth... but I'll keep trying... to listen... to hear... and yes, to obey...

From our home to yours,

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Small potatoes...

In the midst of another's sadness, my "list" of cares is nothing.

A friend from my pilgrim weekend in Emmaus, Laurie, died yesterday. After tests, confusion, treatment and rehab, and a year of dealing with the effects of multiple myeloma, she died with the love and comfort of her family around her. I've just been on the periphery of her illness, keeping in touch via a blog, seeing her occasionally, and getting frequent updates from those who were around her and her family each week at church.

I will miss her... my heart and prayers are with her family.

From our home to yours...