Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

I've been waxing slightly philosophical today, whether it's from this migraine I've been sporting the last 4 days or the fact that the girls were in preschool, my headspace was such that I found myself, for the first time in my adult life, really contemplating Good Friday.

Why isn't Good Friday a bigger deal for us Christians? We celebrate Jesus's birth with cards and gifts and a whole freaking season's load of festivities--what do we do to recognize His death, the catalyst to our salvation?

Maybe Lent if you're a Catholic or a weirdo Protestant like me.

There’s a lot of hype about the Easter Bunny and eggs and hordes of chocolate on Sunday to celebrate His resurrection, but what about his actual death?

Now, I'm not saying we should put on our party hats and bust out the confetti to celebrate that the Redeemer of our souls was gruesomely tortured and murdered, but I feel like it should be a bigger deal.

I think that we get comfortable with our traditions though. Its comfortable whipping out the manger scenes and chopping down a tree the Friday after Thanksgiving, it’s nice to go Christmas shopping and wrap gifts and it's really fun dressing our kids in gaudy Easter outfits to go play in the yard and search for eggs. All of that is fun and good and there ain't nothing wrong it...except it’s just comfortable.

But death? Brutality and torture and ugliness? That's not something that’s comfortable to remember, so I think that's why we as a society must gloss over it.

But if we believe that Christmas is worth celebrating as the birth of our Savior and that Easter is worth celebrating because of His resurrection, then we shouldn't ignore the importance of Good Friday.

And that speaks to a larger problem with us Christ-followers today, especially us American Christians: we are comfortable.

We lead a pretty cushy life, even the ones struggling (and God knows there are many of us) have it a lot better than our brothers and sisters in other places across the globe.

And our unconscious addiction to comfort means that generally we don't like to talk about messy or difficult things. 

It's why we gloss over the bloody, excruciatingly painful death of Jesus and jump straight to the bunny rabbits, and I honestly think it’s why so many non-Christians have a problem with us.

I think it could be where this idea of Christians being hypocritical comes from.  We'll stand at the pulpit all day talking about your sin or her sin or his sin, but conveniently neglect to speak of our own. Its uncomfortable telling people our flaws--we want to be liked!

But if you are worrying about people liking you, then you have already lost the point of your faith.

We are called to cast off the desires of this world and follow Christ, not try and conform to the expectations of our world hoping it'll get people to like us.

How normal was it for Jesus to wash the feet of His followers? Or to befriend a prostitute? Or choose a tax collector as one of the ones who would spread His message?

No, if Jesus had decided he'd rather be comfortable and liked, he would have been regurgitating everything the Pharisees were saying but trying to tint His message so that people would hopefully catch on that He was the Son of God. 

He might have lived a long, happy life as the nice carpenter next-door if it weren't for the uncomfortable truth that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

So Christians, can we try to resolve to stop embracing the comfortable. Let's talk about the mess we have.

When I taught, I'd call it having a "heavy, deep, and real" conversation with my kids. Because once you are able to share your flaws and share your sins and all of the uncomfortable messiness of your life with others, the more clearly they see your need for Jesus. 

If we're all so perfect, why did He have to die?

Let's be honest about our messiness, let’s not forget the ugliness, and let’s make ourselves uncomfortable because it is in the truth that Jesus is able to work in us.

Anyway...that’s a roundabout way of saying we need to remember what today really is. What really happened and why it happened and we need humble ourselves and to shout hallelujahs and thank yous since He took that burden from us. 

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Why I Chose to Write About Politics

Yesterday, a piece I wrote about Donald Trump was published on our local newspaper's website.

If you haven't read it, its here .

It did not go over well.

Besides the whole world having done gone and lost all its chill, I idiotically forgot for a second that I am not allowed to have an opinion that differs from some of the readers of our little paper.

For real, people were having such negative reactions that I almost wore sunglasses inside the Fred Meyer today Kanye-style in hopes that no one would recognize me as the person who dared share her opinion in the local paper.  

Look, this election cycle has everyone spinning, and I can get that. It's not exactly unique to this cycle that politics can be a divisive topic--its like that saying goes, don't talk about religion or politics at family gatherings (nor, evidently should you discuss then in local news papers).

But, still, I went there...with the same vain hope that I could present my thoughts and be read as one of millions of opinions without getting hammered, as the vain hopes of the millions of other people who have stood in line at the polls, casting a ballot for a better tomorrow.

Because if there is one thing many of these responses has shown me, it is that a lot of American's aren't mature enough to have the hard conversations and make the tough compromises that are necessary in-order to get this country back on track.


And I get it--you're sick of compromising. You feel like you have given and given and gotten nothing back. I get it, truly. But if change is going to happen, the conversations and compromises will have to happen on both sides, and we can't do that if we're getting all bent out of shape because someone has a different opinion than ours.

It would be lovely if we as a nation could come to a consensus and start building a better country for our kids, but for the reason I mentioned before, I don't see that happening.

Call me a pessimist, but when we talk about presidential nominees, I believe they are all pushing the same load of unifying crap as the other candidate. It may come from a different animal, but all of the talk about change and unity and reaching across the aisle is all poop because people are unwilling to be disagreed with.

So whether you #feeltheBern or vote #Trump2016 or any candidate in-between, I have no doubt that every single voter is doing their part to change the country for what they hope is the better. And regardless of how you vote, that is awesome.

What cheapens democracy is when someone dares to voice an opinion that is contrary to someone else's and all hell breaks loose.
 
It is naive to think that one person can be the catalyst to change in our country. Change does not start at the national level, it starts with you.

When debating someone face-to-face, you can choose whether to get angry and defensive or you can choose to thoughtfully reflect and then present your own ideas. You can choose to be a decent human being to your neighbor or local columnist, no matter their political or religious views, or you can choose to rant and rave at them like a lunatic.

But if you're serious about politics (and you should be--voting is a huge privledge), if you're serious about having the right to your opinions, then it would be prudent to respect others when they're sharing theirs.

You don't have to agree with them or respect their opinions even, but you should at the very least respect the other person as a human being.

Before I go make some chicken pot pies, I just wanted to say one more thing and that is for all of you Christians reading this who are voting for Trump, I'd like to remind you that David beat Goliath with a pebble and a slingshot; God used a young, unmarried girl to be the mother of His Child--God didn't use the loudest, rudest showiest means of acclomplsihing His goals. He used a kid and a sling shot A single young girl. Time and again in the Bible we see God use unlikely characters, humble and broken people to do His will. We are admonished over and over again to have humility we are told the meek shall inherit the earth.(Look, I know I need as much help with that at times as anyone, but part of being Christian is admitting your sins and repenting. It's a cross I take up daily, but I'm trying.)


And if that doesn't give you pause, Christians, then consider this: you're voting for a man who professes to be a follower of God but, by his own admission, has never asked for forgiveness from God for anything. If we don't need forgiveness, we don't need Jesus. You can't follow Jesus if you don't need Him. What could he possibly be saying that compensates for that?

Alright, y'all...pot pie time.

SideNote: Since I wrote a satirical piece likening DTrump to a clown, I thought it only fair to mention here that Bernie Sanders is one lumberjack beard and a microbrew IPA away from playing the Santa role in a "Welcome to Oregon" ad. Gotta love these candidates.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

#IWD2016

International Women's Day is a day to celebrate funnel cakes.

Just kidding. Obviously IWD is a day to celebrate women in all of our awesomeness. It is also a call for equality for men and women of every walk of life.

But for anyone who thinks shattering glass ceilings should be our goal, I'd like to remind you that there is another woman who is sweeping up the shattered remnants of what was broken--and both roles are to be equally celebrated and admired.

Being awesome in the field of medicine or a CEO of a major company or owning your own business (or whatever!) is amazing, and you should be proud of your accomplishments. But that does not mean that the single mom who is working two part-time jobs at fast food restaurants isn't doing something equally amazing. Same goes for the women who choose to stay home, sometimes to the detriment of their bank accounts, in order to raise sons and daughters who will also hopefully have the incredible gift to also choose their own destiny.

I think so often "women's rights" becomes such a singular focus. And that's not to say that the focus of equal pay or breaking the glass ceiling is bad or wrong--to the contrary, its wonderful!

But what is even more wonderful is the ability to choose whether we want to be a ceiling breaker or a glass sweeper (or anything in between). Whether you're an unmarried professional, a married woman with a Duggar's load of children, if you're happily married without any kids or a single mom--the most fundamentl right we should all have is the right to choose. You dont' "do more"  becasue you're a professional and and you don't necesseraily have the hardest job on the planet if you're a stay-at-home mom.

Neither is more or better, they are different but equal. Which is the core message of IWD.

Each one of us is, in some way, a product of our choices and that should be celebrated And on IWD we should advocate for women across the globe to be able to make those same choices.

I hope and pray that whatever my daughters choose to do, that they do it well and are never judge for the choices they make. I hope no one ever shames them and tells them they could be "more" or that their decisions are wrong, all based simply on the fact that they are women. I hope I raise girls that are confident enough in their decisions that they don't need to belittle someone else's nor try to rise to society's definition of success.

If I can do that, I'll consider myself successful.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

An Addendum to my DCMoms post about vaccines...

Waring: This one is more true to sarcastic form and less public-consumption friendly.

Look, I tried to be nice in my NR blog post. For Pete's sake, I was nice!

But there were still belligerent posters telling me how my hours and hours of internet research is FAR less credible than theirs...you know, because they have as much formal medical training as I do and WAY less post secondary education.

So, because I LOVE hearing from the belligerent, defensive anti-vacciners and just can't keep my mouth shut, here is an analogy for you.

(In layman's terms, an analogy is a comparison between two things that, although may seem dissimilar, really have several commonalities...you know, just in case your WebMD PhD didn't cover literary terms).

Not getting your child vaccinated is like driving buzzed--chances are that you'll make it home safe and sound and no one the wiser, but taking that chance is stupid and puts others at risk.

In the buzzed driver scenario, you are at the bar and you realize that maybe you've had a little too much to drink. (There's been a Measles outbreak and there is a chance your kid could be exposed!).

You have a couple of different options in this scenario. You could hand your keys to someone else at the bar and hope they haven't had as much to drink as you (adhering to the age-old theory of Herd Immunity), or you could call a cab and get home safe and sound.

Now, for sure, there is a slight risk that the cab could wreck on the way home and you'd get hurt in the wreck (possible side-effects of receiving a vaccination). Or that maybe the cab driver himself is buzzed and hits someone on the way home (potential of shedding from vaccinations that contain live strains to someone who wasn't immunized, couldn't receive the immunization for medical reasons, etc.)...but the  most likely scenario is that you arrive home safe and sound, haivng never put anyone in danger. The cab drive is like a vaccine--there are still potential risks but it is hands down the smartest way to get home.

The third option in this scenario is to keep your butt at home in the first place--(this works the same in regards to buzzed driving and not vaccinating. *May I encourage those belligerent respondents or those of you without a sense of humor to take this route....)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dehydration: The Untold Plight of Mothers Everywhere

Everyone knows the old wisdom about new moms and sleep.

Sleep derivation is the most common side effect of becoming a new mother. Pregnant women and parents of new borns hear it all of the time, "You'll never sleep again!"

And that's true, for a few months.

But unless you have just a terrible sleeper, by the time your child is a few months old you will eventually get back to sleeping for 6-8 hour stretches.

But what they don't tell you, what people never talk about, is the dehydration.

If you're preparing to welcome a child into your home, be prepared to suffer through years and years of a life without hydration.

It starts before your baby is even born, with frequent trips to the bathroom. That little soccer player is practicing dribbles on your bladder and you are lucky to retain so much as an ounce of water between your hourly bathroom breaks.

Then, once you deliver the baby(ies), they suck the life out of you. Literally. You have to drink gallons of water to keep your milk supply up to their constant feeding demands. For every ounce of water you drink, your baby is going to be sucking two out of you. (That's not entirely medical but based on my experience nursing four kids, I'm going to say that it's pretty close). You can NOT get enough to drink.

And that's just the first year. You might think it's all water and coffee from here, but you're wrong. You're just so, so wrong.

Because, let's be real, there's not a mother on the planet who actually gets to pour and drink an entire cup of hot coffee. Snagging sips of luke-warm and cold coffee between diaper changes and food spills is your new norm, if you're lucky.

But let's forget the coffee, since, although it is the elixir of life, it'll technically dehydrate you and this post is about the unspoken maternal struggle of dehydration.

Your kid is one, and you've stopped breastfeeding. Think you're gonna finally be able to enjoy some refreshing water in peace?

Bless your heart.

Your kid is one now, which means he can and will pull up on any surface in your house. Which means your cup is not safe. Anywhere.

The coffee table, which would maybe be the obvious choice to you since you're hanging out with your kid in the living room, is also their favorite cruising surface. If you put a drink of the coffee table, they will knock it over.

What about tall tables, you ask? You mean the one that has those nice, long legs your kid can shake like a maniac? Yea, sure, put your cup there. But they're going to knock it over.

Your drink is not safe.

"Well surely after they don't need to pull up on things to get around they won't knock over my cup?"

No, they might not knock it over (they totally still will). But with their new found dexterity comes to freedom for their grubby little paws to be open and available to lift said cup and guzzle down whatever beverage you've poured for yourself. I dare you to leave your cup unattended while there is a three year old in the room. You'll come back to an empty cup and a hydrated toddler.

Meanwhile, your skin is parched and your mouth is like sandpaper due to years and years of dehydration.

Is it any wonder with conditions like these that when we do get a chance to quench our thirst, we reach for the wine bottle instead of the water bottle?!

Which, of course, doesn't do a lot in the way of re-hydration.

So new mothers everywhere, you have been warned.

You might want to register for a spill-proof water bottle...and a corkscrew. 


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

We get it, you don't do Santa. Now go away and leave us heathens alone.



It’s December 2nd and you know what I’m already sick of?

All of the self-righteous people posting about how they “don’t’ do Santa.”

Now, now. Before you get your panties in a wad let me just say, whatever your family’s decision, whether to do the whole Santa thing or not, is completely your choice and I would never judge someone for deciding what is right for their family.

What I will judge someone for is deciding they’re doing the “right” thing by taking Santa out of Christmas.

Again, calm down. I am a Christian. I believe the reason we should celebrate Christmas is because it is the day we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World.

Look, my family bakes monkey bread in a Bundt cake, slaps a couple of candles on it and sings Happy Birthday to Jesus. I get it, it’s weird.

We all have different ways of keeping the holidays.

My problem is not how you choose to celebrate Christmas, it is the fact that you think you’re somehow above others because you told your 3 year old there is no such thing as Santa.

These are just a couple of the issues I have with this:

Firstly, you’re not consistent. If you say you want to take the commercialization or anything that detracts attention away from Jesus out of Christmas, why are there gifts under your trees? Are you listening to non-religious carols while baking Christmas cookies? Sorry,I don’t remember that being a part of Mary and Joseph’s trek to Bethlehem. I hope you don’t have any of those pagan stockings or Christmas lights. That’s right. You probably don’t because you celebrate Christmas closer to Christ’s real birthday, which definitely was not December 25th. After all, December 25th is just an agreed upon date chosen by the church that (to quote one source) “reflects a convergence […]of concern about pagan gods and the church's identification of God's son with the celestial sun. December 25 already hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman "birth of the unconquered sun"), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian "Sun of Righteousness" whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. […] Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and introduce a new festival.” Maybe you should let your kid write an essay on that instead of lay out cookies for that bad, bad Santa Clause.

Another problem I have with people thinking they’re doing the “right” thing by taking Santa out of Christmas is this:  I don’t get why you think it is a bad thing to allow your kid to spend one month out of the year, for 6 years of their childhood, believing in the magic that the idea that Santa inspires? You don’t want them to be disillusioned when they find out he is really just you? You don’t want to lie to them or you want them to understand the real miracle of Christmas? Okay. Have you had the sex talk with your four year old? ‘Cause last time I read my Bible the virgin birth was kind of a big part of that story.

Look, our kids grow up a lot faster than you and I did already.

Kids are trading sex for pain killers in their middle school bathrooms.

Eight year olds are committing suicide because of bullying.

Do you really htink you’re doing them a favor by telling them that Santa is a phony?

Why don’t we just give them this, just for the few years they’ll believe in it? Any 7 year old knows how to Google, they’re read all about the myth of Santa on their own at that point. What’s a few years of holiday magic in the grand scheme of thing?

Santa represents the spirit of giving that this holiday inspires.

Is he God? No.

Is he more important than the birth of our Savior? No way.

Should our emphasis at Christmas be on Christ and all He did for us? Of course.

But I don’t believe the two must be mutually exclusive.

We can teach our kids about Christ and let them believe, for this short, special time in their lives, that they are the recipients of gifts unearned….

Oh, wait. That’s salvation, not Santa.

Anyway, I guess I won’t be sending you an invitation to my Easter Egg Hunt next spring.

The last thing I’ll say is that even if you’re not self-righteous and you really just feel like it is the right decision for your family, you’re deluding yourself when you say, “Oh! We don’t do Santa but I’ve told Little Jimmy not to say anything to the other kids at school!”

Let’s be honest: Little Jimmy is the one that is going to ruin Santa for my kids.

And when he does, I will judge both of you for it.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays

As many of you know, I write a weekly blog for our local newspaper. 

This week, I wrote about choosing to be thankful at Thanksgiving instead of focusing on what I don't have. 


While all of that is true and I am trying to have a positive, thankful attitude, this is the other side of how I'm really feeling:



Holidays can be stressful on anyone.

Whether you’re attending a big family gathering where your creepy cousin Earl will be in attendance or schlepping it 3 hours away with your brood of young kids to sit in awkward silence at your in-law’s house, here are 10 sure fire ways of surviving this holiday season…as long as you don’t have to drive anywhere.

Riesling
Pinot Baco

Chardonnay

Sauvignon Blanc

Zinfandel
Syrah
Pinot Gris
Merlot
Cabernet sauvignon
Pinot noir

Happy Thanksgiving!!