My girls and I read books together before bed every night. I love to read. I can't stand reading the same books over and over and over again. I totally understand this is a good thing for kids - it helps with their reading skills and understand text and all that but I go slightly cookoo when I'm into the fifth or sixth review of the same plot line. This is especially true if its "lesser" literature. You know - the books that are really just marketing commercials for random kids toys. My little one made me read Shimmer and Shine's teanie tiny escape from a sparkly bottle one too many times recently. Anyway - I love to read picture books but seriously need new input. So we go to the library a couple times a month to restock.
A couple days ago we were reading Ruth Chan's new book Georgie's Best Bad Day. Its about a group of friends who decide to tackle their rotten day with friendship and activity and end up having a pretty good day in the end. At one point we came to this page. Poor little Sneakers's here forgot his breakfast.
When I read this line out loud my youngest got it right. She said "Pants".
Yes, forget the breakfast. What this little guy forgot was pants. My eldest and I both laughed so hard we cried.
This is why I read every night with my girls. It makes me see things in a new way. I've been thinking about it all weekend. What critical things am I ignoring because I'm too worried about my own grumbles? The sermon today at church was about prayer. The pastor asked "If we believe what we say we believe....why don't we pray?". Good question.
My husband sent me a gift this morning. I love surprise gifts. This one came in the form of a blog domain and blog email renewal. My Quirky Faith domain was set to expire and without asking this sweet spouse of mine signed me up for two more years. I haven't written much in the last few weeks. I've neglected the written word. I appreciated his vote of confidence.
Fact is lately I've been called to smaller things. My sister had a baby - two months early - and in aunty fashion I've been making quilts and embroidering Christmas stockings. My mom and a good friend of our threw a fairly fantastic baby shower.
The last couple of weeks I've also been called to focus in at home. My kids have had some obstacles in health and homework which required attention - time cuddling and reading and being present. So I've been quiet online.
This morning as I dropped my daughter off at preschool she asked me a question which made me pause.
Mom - Do I look like Miss Clavel?
I looked her up and down before I responded.
Ummmmm. Miss Clavel? Like in Madeline? The nun?
Yea! Do I look like Miss Clavel?
I truly tell you I had no words. Miss Clavel is not what comes to mind when I think about my feisty five year old. But her question made me ponder.
Miss Clavel is a wonder. She sacrificed her rights to marriage and her own family in order to take a vow of fidelity to Jesus. Then she spent her life chasing after 12 little girls and one especially spunky little one. Miss Clavel took in puppies and kittens, toured world cities, woke up in the night and rushed to the side of people in pain. Madeline is the hero of the story but truth is I love Miss Clavel. So I hope my kiddo turns out the same.
Mother Theresa once said "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
I'm grateful for Quirky Faith - and for the platforms on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. I love to write and shout out to the masses what is true and holy and right and fun. I so appreciate the opportunity and the privilege. But I'm convicted when any attempt to strive for something "great" makes me too busy to look at my children and understand what they are asking. My daughter wanted to know if she looked like Miss Clavel. I want to be about the same question.
Wall of Faith: Michelle
Life is one big musical. Lyrics pop into my mind to narrate life's events on a moment by moment basis. Hang around long enough and I'll break out into song--albeit it will likely be both off key and off tune. When a headlight needs replaced, I sing "We can drive it h-ome...with one headlight". When I go to pump gas in the car, I sing"Pump, pump the jam. Pump it up a little more..." When it starts to sprinkle, I hum "Drip, drip, drop little April showers" or "Raindrops on roses..." If the skies open up in a torrential downpour, I sing"Rain, rain on my face- it hasn't stopped raining for days...". And when the rain stops and the clouds break through, "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone..". And of course when the combo of sun and rain are out, "Somewhere over the rainbow...". And anytime someone says, "You're free to go", “And I'm FREE- FREE falling..." automatically plays in my head. If I get the goosebumps, "I've got chills! They're multiplying" plays. (Props and accolades to anyone who sang all those songs while reading this!) I think in song. It's a game I've played since I was little. Ally Mcbeal used to inwardly laugh when she saw a dancing baby--likewise, I smirk when a line from a song pops into my head that perfectly fits a situation.
Lately, one song has been playing through my mind like a broken record- "Home" by Chris Thomlin. It has been playing for 48 days and counting in fact. Forty-eight days and counting- that's how long we've been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with our 32 week gestation preemie. He started out 3 lbs and 14 ounces. A resounding gush of thanks was prayed when he came out screaming-- you can't cry if you can't breathe. His lungs were strong, but a soft cleft palate was discovered moments after he was born via emergency Caesarian section. Due to the fact he was born before the suck and swallow reflex was developed and the cleft palate, learning to eat has been very difficult. He is using specialized bottles and slowly making progress. This little man has been out of the womb for over 7 weeks, but he hasn't left his NICU room once. All he knows are those same four walls.
Life in his NICU room is pretty good. It's warm. Germs are kept at bay. Mom sleeps there most nights and cuddles lots in the day. He is clean and thanks to a feeding tube he doesn't go hungry. The nurses are kind and helpful. He has a team of specialists (Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Nutritionist, Neonatologist and more) who carefully look out for his well being. And there have been visits from dearly loved ones.
There have been plenty of things that have been less than fun. There have been heel pricks and blood draws. Feeding tubes have been yanked out and put right back in. There were biliruben lights and genetic tests. Several times a day there are blood pressure and temperature checks. Milk has flooded his sinuses over and over while he is trying to learn to eat and the suppositories are no fun at all.
Then there are all the things he missed. He didn't get to
go to Easter Sunday at church or to the family gatherings that weekend. His cousins haven't met him yet because no one under the age of 18 (besides siblings) is allowed in the NICU. He hasn't felt a drop of rain or the sun on his face. He hasn't heard a dog bark or a cat meow or a bird chirp. He hasn't seen his nursery or his home.
Home. We keep telling him about it. It's this wonderful, happy place with no more needles, feeding tubes and beeping machines. There are a lot more than 4 walls. We tell him about his stroller and the walks we're going to take and the clouds, trees, flowers and animals he will see. We tell him about the car and how he gets to ride in the back seat with his big brother and the music we'll sing together along with the radio. We tell him of the books and toys at home that are waiting for him to play with and mostly we tell him of his cousins and friends he'll get to meet when he breaks out of this joint. Right now the words of a future filled with comfort, exploration and fun are just noise to our tiny baby--but soon they will be a reality.
We have similar conversations with our four year old, but they revolve around the Happiest Place on Earth. We talk about the food he can eat, the shows to watch and describe the rides in detail and the characters he could meet. We tell him about fireworks and shops filled with souvenirs. We tell him of the music and twinkle lights. He hears about airplane rides, sunshine and hotels with swimming pools. We've shown him pictures and friends who have gone recently exuberantly speak of how much fun they had.. He believes that Disneyland is amazing even though he's never been. He trusts our word. He keeps asking when he gets to go.
More importantly we tell both of them about the place that is even better than Disneyland- our true home- Heaven. We talk about being in a place with no more tears and no more sadness. We talk about the Bible characters and relatives they'll meet who have gone before. We speak of pearly gates and streets of gold. We speak of Jesus. And we tell them of the music they will help create which will be so much better than anything here on Earth. Many question the reality of life after death. They aren't sure what's to come. But we serve a God we can trust. He promised those who believe in him that he will one day take us home.
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
I got my baby's nursery ready just for him. Walls were painted. Pictures were hung. New floors and blinds were installed. The crib was assembled. Baskets of baby clothes were washed and sorted. Nesting officially took place. I can't wait for the day that I get to take him home for good. Likewise, Jesus feels the same about all those who know him. He's getting everything ready to welcome us home. I've been singing this song over my tiny baby for the past 48 days and counting... It's fitting in so many ways:
Home, where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go, oh I wanna go
Home, where every fear is gone
I’m in Your open arms
Where I belong
Where I belong
Where I belong
I’m going home
I’m going home
I’m on my way home!
I’m goin' home!
I love Easter. The pastel and chocolate and candy and family photos make me smile. The packed church and triumphant worship songs make my soul warm. The food is fantastic too. You know me - anytime I get food I'm a happy girl.
My grandmother used to make this cheesy potato dish every Easter. Its the kind of casserole you shouldn't really eat so we only do so once a year. Maybe by eating it on Easter we think we're celebrating life by eating something which dares death by calories and clogged arteries. At any rate - its cheddar cheese, sour cream, cream of chicken, potatoe goodness. Last year my mom made it. It was good - but not grandma good. Mom didn't put the cornflakes on top. This year we made it. We added cornflakes and onion. Closer. Still not grandma good.
It's possible what was missing was her.
The recipes and treasures from family serve to call my heart to eternity. The best part of Easter is the promise. Death loses. Heaven wins.
The Good News on Good Friday? God didn't leave us in our helpless, hopeless, chained up lives. He made a way for glory to be our inheritance. It involved the most shocking and horrific plan. Heaven's Darling - the One who created it all - gave it up to come and be mocked and beat and bullied and tortured. To be denied. To be killed.
But the Good News is that's not the end. Passover is tomorrow. A gorgeous reminder God's plan always included salvation - and Sunday is Easter. Oh my goodness. My heart is overflowing in gratitude.
If you need a couple of ways to celebrate can I suggest you check out Dr. Russell Moore's blog at https://www.russellmoore.com- I love his compassion and courage.
Or - buy Andrew Peterson's new album released today - Its called Resurrection Letters and I love it. The song whole thing is a call to my soul to live like I mean it.
Or - if you are on Twitter - BJ Thompson @bj116 is worth the follow. I like the guy. He makes me think.
My husband and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary today. And by celebrate I mean we sent our children to their grandparents and spent a couple of days eating our way around Portland. The dinners involved steak and lasagna. Fantastic lemon custard one night and a bananas foster cheese cake the second. Breakfast was spiced Huevos Rancheros and cheese grits with charred tomatoes. Yummmm. One of the ways we've managed to reach 19 and still like each other is a dogged commitment to celebrating everything with fantastic food.
I'm the lucky girl who knows how this handsome bearded man thinks. I know because I've spent that last 19 years eating across the booth from him. We met when I was 18 so I've been married to him longer than I didn't know him. I know the best ways to annoy him (don't give him space, talk bad about him before other people, interrupt him or others). I know the best ways to make him happy (catch his daughters doing something kind and tell him about it, appreciate something he's made, write something that changes the way one of us sees a hard situation). He's got me figured out too. If I'm cranky, feed me or put me in the bath with a book. Not complicated.
I asked him last night what advice he'd give to people on how to stay married 19 years. Here's his list:
Don't be crazy. (and by this I believe he means, calm down, fight fair, avoid the deal breakers, think).
Don’t be ridiculously self centered.
Give the other person space when they want it.
Don’t say one thing but mean something else and expect the other person to know what you are talking about.
Don’t berate your spouse in front of other people.
Work towards being a better person.
Invest your time in people that tend toward the positive.
Try and evaluate people in your life that are exceptional and watch what they do.
Figure out your stuff.
It's a good list. I think it works for parenting and friendships and any manner of relationship where longevity and care and quality are goals.
I enjoy the celebrate everything bit. I think people forget the joyful part of marriage and get stuck in the daily grind. If I have marriage advice its to try and figure out what makes your spouse smile and do more of that. Try to know your kids well enough to not push their buttons and to cheer on their joy. Try to honor your parents by avoiding what will break their hearts and invest in what brings honor. It works with friendships too.
Yesterday, my spouse took me to my happy place. Powell's books. We spent time in the children's books looking at the newest picture books, wandered through cookbooks and fiction and business. Picked out some books for family and friends. I have a new nephew to celebrate and a friend who I found out has never read Mere Christianity or The Hiding Place. This will be remedied soon.
This morning before heading home we spent the morning at The Portland Art Museum. My husband noticed the paint in this piece was incredibly thick. Parts looked almost as if the large globs had been glued in place. As we leaned in it became apparent the largest chunks were actually separating from the main painting due to time. There were cracks and crinkles.
Want to know something? The time gave it character. Depth. You could see the water ripple better because the painting had aged. The value increased with time.
The figure out your stuff thing is tough. It's what you do when it would be easier to leave. Or to shut down. We spent several years fighting about money and so we hauled our issues through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class. It helped. We've attended marriage retreats and parenting classes. Read books, took small group classes and one painful season headed off to a counselor. We used to fight when we put together Ikea furniture. Lots of practice and now we can assemble anything. We've got a plan. The figure out your stuff thing means identifying where the tension is coming from and figuring out a new normal.
Figure out your stuff means you don't get to quit. Trust me, I've let my husband down - and he can drive me crazy. But figuring out your stuff also means you get the privilege of loving someone after you know all their junk and after they know yours. It means hanging on to friendships when people make choices you don't like. It means investing in people with whom you disagree. It might be easier to love new people - flawless and fresh people. Of course, that's fake and if you hang out long enough the bugs show themselves. Real people take grace. But the years after forgiveness and growth and grace are the ones with treasures.
What have we been doing the last 19 years? Figuring out how to keep some promises. To honor and cherish. For better or worse.
Remember when you were a little kid, and you’d watch those TV shows where there were two inseparable best friends who would do anything for each other and were always seen together? Where you know if you saw one you’d see the other? Those two friends who finish each other’s SANDWICHES….I mean sentences…and sometimes you wondered if they were siblings that were separated at birth and somehow had different parents?
I remember. Some of my favorites were all from Disney Channel shows. Or Harry Potter. Or Lord of the Rings. Or really cheesy Rom-Coms where there’s always a best friend whose kind of just hanging out in the background while she watches her best friend in the entire world fall in love. Or Shawn and Gus from Psych, or Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, or the Doctor and whichever companion he’s dragging around at the time….the list goes on and on, y’all get the idea.
When I was little kid, I remember seeing all these friendships and going, “Man. I want a best friend like that. One I can’t imagine myself without, one who would be by my side at my wedding, one who would send the guy who breaks my heart to jail, one who would always stand up for me and yet pick on me relentlessly. One who keeps me strong in my faith, encourages my passions, is patient with my flaws and imperfections, who knows me inside and out and yet loves me all the same, who trusts me with their deepest darkest secrets and shares their hearts’ desires with me.”
Sounds like a pretty tall order to fill, doesn’t it?
Fast forward to 2009, where I (bubbly, neon colorful, outgoing, awkward and obnoxiously loud yet adorable little kid) am shoved in a corner with board game and told to play with Cadence (awkward, shy, emo-punk rock kid in black and red checkered skinny jeans who is looking at me like I just stepped out of Alice in Wonderland.)
Can I just take a second to mention that the creator of Quirky Faith is the one who shoved us in that corner with a board game and told us to talk? She gets all the blame for this. Maybe she knew we’d write a blog about later as adults. Who knows?
Anyway, life was never the same after that. We quickly became friends…well sort of. In reality, we really couldn’t stand each other but to some extent we knew we needed each other. My extremely bubbly happy go lucky extroverted personality severely clashed with her extremely quiet, judgmental introverted personality. But regardless, we made it work for about 4 years. We spent the night together at each other’s houses, had birthday parties together, stood next to each other caked in pounds of makeup for our Easter musical, fought hard together and laughed hard together.
That is, until boys came into the mix. Girls, let me just say…never let a guy come between you and your best friend. I know it’s said a lot in TV shows and movies, and it’s a bit cliché, but it’s true; Just, don’t.
For three years, I fell to the trap of letting a guy come between me and the person I had found myself calling my best friend. For three years, she didn’t hold that title in my mind anymore. I still regret that to this day. I am not with that guy anymore and if she hadn’t been so kind and forgiving, I would be without a best friend, too.
It took a couple years after that for our friendship to rebuild. We’ve known each other for 9 years. Four years of that, we were best friends. Three years we were mortal enemies. The last two years? We’ve both been through trials and tribulations in our personal lives. Moments where we were at our lowest. We’ve both been through great victories. Moments where we were standing all alone on top of our mountains of whatever temporarily amazing thing we had accomplished. We graduated from high school, went separate career paths, started jobs, had multiple friends come in and out of our lives. Made great friendships with others but none were quite the same. Despite the fact our personalities were basically World War III when they’re in the same room, we still never could find that same connection.
Who came to my rescue? The very person I had forgotten I needed…Cadence. And all it was, was a simple, perfectly timed text message asking if I wanted to hang out. And from that moment forward, we are back to being inseparable. We have learned so many lessons in our time apart, that I know this was all in God’s timing. Even though I regret pushing her away for all those years, I know God was preparing my heart for the friendship we have now. Yes, we are polar opposites. Yes, we are both stubborn, opinionated, and passionate about almost completely different things. Yes, we can’t agree on the same music to save our life. But, amidst all of that, we hold each other up. We fill in the gaps in ways the other can’t. We have the same, loud, obnoxious squeaky laugh. We can make each other laugh so hard we cry. We cry with each other, hold each other, and remind each other who we are in Christ. We’re honest with each other, we best express our love in being jerks to each other, and we know each other’s boundaries.
I don’t know where I would be without this girl. She brings out the best in me, keeps me grounded, brings me joy, and throughout the 9 year roller coaster of our friendship she has been there for me without fail. Even when I forgot she existed, or replaced her with another best friend, or disrespected her opinion or advice, she still stuck around, forgave me, and continues to be an irreplaceable human being in my life. We can go weeks without seeing each other, and yet when we’re back together you’d think we’ve never been separated. But we both make it a point to invest in each other. Checking in on each other twice daily, not taking “I’m fine” as a valid answer, and pushing each other to overcome our struggles and encouraging each other in our strengths.
I could go on and on, in fact I’m finding it extremely difficult to write a conclusion for this post. Maybe because there is no conclusion.
I don’t have any profound thoughts except for this – don’t take your friends for granted. Don’t. Invest, appreciate, sacrifice, and enjoy whatever time you have with the people in your life.
“The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when.” ~ Simon Sinek
I would like to start my section being honest; when Amberly mentioned “a simple, well-timed text message” asking if she wanted to hang out with me, the only reason why I had texted her was because the friend I originally was going to hang out with cancelled last minute, and I had about 2 hours to kill before college small group, so I texted Amberly and asked if she wanted to go for coffee or something. This was only a few months ago. Now, we’re closer than we’ve ever been and we’re both equal amounts of effort to keep our relationship strong. I think it’s funny that we’re closer now because I used her as a back-up plan for my socialization LOL. Well, now that you got a summary of Amberly and I’s friendship, my contribution for this post will be tips and tricks Amberly and I have learned through experience on strengthening and maintaining our friendship. Granted, we’re both in our 20’s, so we’re not going to claim that we know everything about friendships. We just thought this could be somewhat helpful for others who struggled with friendships. Anyway, queue bullet list (dedicated to Amberly because she loves bullet lists)
Perhaps I've been hanging around too many small children dressed as Jesus era waifs. Or it may be because I live with someone who makes a fairly fantastic Roman Soldier. At any rate, when I saw the movie trailer for Paul - Apostle of Christ movie I cheered. I watched the trailer and figured this would be a fantastic way to celebrate Easter. Mark your calendar for the movie theatrical release date - March 23rd. If you'd like to be entered to win two free Fandango tickets to see the movie Paul simply enter a comment on the post below, or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I'll draw a random winner from the comments on Monday March 19th.
The movie tells the story of the last days of Paul the great Christian missionary and his friend Luke - who was determined to document the story of Jesus and the spread of the gospel. Paul and Luke face persecution in Nero's Rome but God's glorious plan will not be stopped.
I am impressed with the writer's commitment to tell the story of the Apostle Paul in keeping with the scripture - check out the movie trailer and interview with the author and I think you'll agree. #PaulMovieL3
Connection to Scripture
One entry per person regardless of number of comments.
Comment on the QuirkyFaith Facebook Post, this blog post, or the QuirkyFaith Instagram or QuirkyFaith Twitter for an entry to win.
Winner will be drawn Monday March 19th.
Winner will be provided an email link to two free Fandango tickets to the movie Paul, Apostle of Christ.
No purchase necessary to win.
Reviewer was provided with promotional giveaways, movie tickets in exchange for an honest review.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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