Thursday, October 28, 2010

value of work & rest...

Recently I (Amy) have had many conversations with several different people along the topics of the value of work and the value of rest. It’s inspired me to write out a few of my thoughts as I’ve found myself in a stage of life struggling with that each day. I think most of us are pretty screwed up in one way or another on the topic: Some of us work too much and can’t stop. Some of us need to rest. (“rest” meaning literal sleep as well as a refrain from work to do things that are an enjoyment of the creation we’ve been given!) Some of us seem to rest a little too much and need to get to work. Some of us need to see our work as valuable. Some of us need to see our rest as valuable and significant. And my guess is that almost all of us struggle with finding value in both of them: value in our work (whatever it is) and value in our times of rest.

Which do you tend to value more? Work or rest? My tendency has always been to justify myself by what I DO—what I can accomplish, what I can earn. I THRIVE with a to-do list. Just watch me check things off of my list! And P.C. (pre-Caroline), I could actually pull that off… even quite brilliantly at times. In school, I was the straight A student. Always. Boy could I multi-task! (sometimes I wonder: at what point did my brain go to mush?) After my school years were over, there were other things to DO that I deemed as valuable to make me feel justified. In just one day P.C., I could clean my entire house, teach several violin lessons, meet with a RUF girl for lunch, cook dinner for myself & my husband, return phone calls and emails with ease, attend symphony rehearsal and still have spare time to do whatever I wanted! It was a glorious life!

But ah, enter motherhood. Leave it to becoming a mom (which has by FAR been the greatest joy of my life!) to show me how very messed up I was/am when it comes to seeing all work and all rest as valuable.

Motherhood doesn’t exactly feel like you’re doing something. Most of the time, it feels more like pure survival at this point. Eating. Sleeping. Playing. Pooping. What a STARK transition it was when Caroline was born to go from all the things I was doing P.C. to clearing my entire schedule in order to HOLD, CUDDLE, CHANGE DIAPERS, FEED, SING, and READ BABY BOOKS. And that’s my JOB??? ALL day?? Every day?? That just feels so…. so…. mundane. What else is there I can do?? I mean, that feels so utterly insignificant at times.

Task-driven people like me may get a lot of things done, but I’m starting to see the ugliness of that idol. We just never get “full.” We’re running around so busy accomplishing things, but meanwhile we’re all carrying pain and burdens, ignoring one another in our great quest to succeed. There is always something more to do. We live in frustration that we never “make it.” It’s like we become enslaved to the LIST; IT rules US. And even when everything does actually get finished, it’s a lonely place. (because honestly? who else really cares what you got accomplished? Seriously. I know in my case, it’s a self-consuming endeavor.) I’m learning the hard way that chasing the dream of “catching up” is ultimately empty and unfulfiling. The finish line is lonely. I started understanding this a little more A.C. (after Caroline) :)

Marc and I LOVE do-it-yourself home projects! Those of you who know us well can probably laugh at all the things we’ve gotten ourselves involved in and overwhelmed with--- all the pink bathrooms we’ve eradicated from homes, etc. :) But what we enjoy doing and dream of doing quickly turns into frustration as we now as parents find no TIME to do them. After Caroline, we feel like we can get nothing done anymore. It makes us mad. I mean, I guess we could get things done- we have the option to. But while we’re so busy “accomplishing,” our sweet daughter sits to the side saying, “Mommy, can you play with me? Mommy, will you play with me?” And by gosh- when you hear that out of your toddler’s mouth, there’s only so many times you can stand listening to yourself say, “in just a minute” or “after I get _____ done” that you begin to realize what IS important and what is valuable.

Caroline is teaching me, the task-driven person, The VALUE of PEOPLE, not tasks. The value of LOVING and SERVING SOMEONE ELSE, not simply ACCOMPLISHING and DOING. That it is a much higher calling to sit on the floor and build empires with legos with my daughter than to clean up the dust that’s driving me nuts as it collects all over my house. (I’m not saying that cleaning my house isn’t valuable, either! It is certainly incredibly valuable!) But for me and my sinful tendencies, I have to remind myself that I have “accomplished” just as much in the times when I stop and SIT down , look in my daughter’s eyes, and hear her laugh and say “boing!” every time she touches my nose. Loving my kid is just as valuable (and MUCH more important) than all the vacuuming in the world. In a job that doesn’t give me a letter grade and doesn’t earn me anything (well, except for some really good hugs and kisses!), it’s so easy to lose sight of that.

So wanna know what I “accomplished” yesterday A.C.?

  • I was in my pajamas until 3pm.
  • I didn’t get to eat lunch until 2pm.
  • I didn’t get any of my work for my church music job finished until a few hours before our rehearsal.

Sounds pretty much like a bum, doesn’t it? :) I have to admit, I struggled with the tension of feeling like I'm getting NOTHING done!! I mean, I couldn’t even get a SHOWER!

But you know what I DID do?

I played Chinese checkers. I colored pictures. I taught my daughter how to ride her tricycle and played “red light green light” I-don’t-know-HOW many times to her delight. I gave her a big blanket and tucked it around her in my bed for fun. We read stories and watched “Thomas the Train.” I helped her use the potty. I changed several diapers. I kept a little girl alive. I fed her food that is good for her little body. We cooked a delicious meal together and I watched as she tried her BEST to set the table. (see below)

We built lego “sandwiches” and pretended to eat them together. We talked about Daddy’s job as a pastor and what he does during the day while we are home together. Oh, and I got one room cleaned! (yes! A real accomplishment, right?) :)

The truth is, I got LOTS done. My day was of just as much value if not more value had I been showered, well fed, prepared for my rehearsal, meals cooked, house cleaned, yadda yadda… Now, let me be honest, I didn’t FEEL like that as the day was progressing. But the Lord gave me the grace to invest in a PERSON other than myself this day. When Marc came home and asked me the, “What did you do today?” question, I took a deep breath.

“Well,” I started, “I played legos, and…” I continued recounting all of the day’s seemingly meaningless happenings and waited for his response.

“That sounds like a GREAT day! Sounds like you got A LOT done.”

(Smiling to myself) Yes I did. Yes, I did.

"What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

it's fall, so that means...

Ahh, yes. What would fall be without family trips to pumpkin patches, right?

This weekend we visited one just down the road from our house.

I L.O.V.E.D. painting my pumpkin. No, you don't understand-- I really, really, really, really loved painting that pumpkin.

Mom, why do we have to go for photo ops when there's so much FUN to be had here?!?

Like collecting their decorations & pulling them around in a wagon... (Not to worry. They were returned.)

Or trying out the big, fast slide! The first time this worker girl took me down, (Mommy & Daddy weren't allowed) and I loved it! Which got me wanting to do it again...

but the second time, she let me go down all by myself...

...and as you can probably envision from the look on my face, there was no more sliding that day. :) (he he!)

But there was lots of jumping!

and lots of fun.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

hands of love #11...

Dear Caroline,
With the change of the weather, this week you've had the sniffles/small cold like most kids do this time of year. So alot of this week was about COMFORT food, in addition to all the "nutritional therapy" we're doing. (don't ya like that word much better than a "diet"?? Much more fitting to what we're doing anyways. "Diet" seems to imply a goal of losing weight, but that's not as important when you're working to heal your intestines!)

Prepared for you this week with hands of love...

a DELICIOUS veggie salad topped with organic spiced chicken breast and homemade dressing.

(Several people have asked me to include recipes, which is really hilarious to me because 6 months ago you'd NEVER have asked for a recipe from ME!- seriously. I didn't even know how to use a garlic press. So I'm flattered. And if it's really good or really easy, or really worth typing out, I guess I'll do so. Hopefully that can be a help to you guys & not more lines of type to scroll through...)

Here's what's usually in my homemade salad dressing (though I don't measure it out, so I'm just guessing on measurements here!!):

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
tbsp or two of walnut oil or flax oil for added nutrition
3 tbsp or so (?) of red wine vinegar
lemon juice (1/4- 1/2 a lemon?)
sea salt (throw out that table salt that has NO nutritional value whatsoever & make sure to use sea salt that will get some important trace minerals in you)
tbsp of dijon mustard (optional)

Stir it all up & pour on any salad! Yummmm....

Shepherd's pie with cauliflower potatoes on top instead of mashed potatoes. (tastes just the same or better & adds a veggie instead of a starch.)

Shrimp sauteed in coconut oil (soooo good for you), beets (yuck- but you like 'em), sauteed kale with fresh garlic (also incredibly good for your health-- the kale AND the garlic), a cucumber/tomato/olive "salad" with the dressing I mentioned above.

And here's another recipe worth mentioning as we move into cold/flu season. A woman in our church gave me the recipe for a homemade chicken bone broth. It is SOO nutritious and good for you to drink warm especially when you or your kids feel sick, or you can use it as a base for any soup, too! (Best to make this after your family eats a whole chicken--recipe coming soon-- or chicken legs & SAVE THE BONES!!!)

Looks kind gross, I know, but follow me here:

In a crockpot, place the bones, fat, or any meat remaining on the bone.
Fill pot with water, enough to cover the bones and then some almost to the top.
Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (Braggs "with the mother" is the best kind if you can find it in your health food section of the grocery store or at a health food store.)
1 Tablespoons of sea salt.
Quarter an onion or two and throw in as well.
Toss in about 4-5 cloves of garlic and some celery heads or stalks, a few carrot tops or any veggie scraps available. (that's why it doesn't look all that pretty, but that's okay- you'll strain it out when it's done)
Cover the crock pot and cook on low about 6-8 hours.
Strain the liquid with a colander and put in freezer containers when cool.

One crockpot made about 5 quart-sized bags of broth to freeze!

So about 2x a day this past week, I put some in a cup with a tsp or two of ginger for taste & nutrition, and warmed it up in the microwave!

And I had one happy gal! (not to mention, it helped drain all that yucky mucous out of you & got you feeling much better quickly)

Caroline, God is working in Mommy's life in so many ways, and I hope that is evident in every bite you eat. Through lots of pain and heartache over the past year, He has brought SO much good into our family. Though we may be low in the hair department, we have been blessed with a beautiful daughter in you and you are worth every overly-priced-piece-of-organic produce that I could ever buy!!! :) We love you, sweet girl.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

remember the joy...

Caroline, what I want to remember about now in years to come are not things like the food, the doctors, or the hairloss, but I want to remember the JOY that is always present wherever you are. Especially at spontaneous family dance parties in the kitchen... :)

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the doctor is in...

Last week we celebrated my Gotcha Day! (Oct. 13th 2 years ago was the day my adoption was finalized and my name was officially changed in court-- see pics here) You know, as an adopted kid, I get it pretty good around here, because not only do I get a BIRTHDAY, but I get a little GOTCHA DAY celebration, too! Our family enjoyed spending an evening together, rejoicing in God's beautiful plan for our family.

And for my gotcha day present this year, I got a doctor's kit! (kinda ironic, we know...)

Oh, you don't know how good it is for me to be on the other end of things where I'm the one giving the shots! It's about time!

"Daddy, I'm going to check you." (listens) "Sounds pretty good!"

As I always tell Mommy & Daddy, "We are the family and we love each other."

And through the challenges we've faced together this year, that statement couldn't ring more true.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

jesus loves your tummy...

A few weeks ago, I (Amy) got a phone call out of the blue from a former Texas Tech RUF student.

"Hi Amy. This is Sari, and I've got some good news for you." (you don't hear that everyday!) Needless to say, I was all ears.

Well, it was true. Sari (whom we sadly haven't seen in years!) went on to tell me that she has been following our blog and that she has been wanting to do something to help us out. And boy, did she. Sari said that several of our former RUF students from Tech decided to pitch in to help with the financial burden that Caroline's health situation has incurred upon us. As she shared this over the phone with me, tears began streaming down my face.

"You and Marc were always there for us, and now we're at a point in our lives where we can do something to be there for you guys. I hope that this gift will help you know that the body of Christ is there for you and loves you." (Her words were even more poignant than that, but you gotta understand-- I was bawling uncontrollably by this point...)

Sure enough. They pulled together $450 (!!!!) for our family. $250 of that was a grocery gift card, which is providing Caroline's groceries for over a MONTH!!, and the rest of the money will be used towards other medical expenses, supplements, and health food store purchases. I was BLOWN AWAY.

And it didn't stop there.

They sent some packages in the mail with presents for Caroline!...

...and Sari made a beautifully creative "book" that we'll hold onto forever.

In it, she included pictures of the students that had given and explained a little about each one of them to Caroline. Oh, you don't know how sweet it was (and is) to read to Caroline about how people all over the country care about her. (plus to remember SO many sweet times with these guys as students! We love you guys!)

Also in the packages were cards/letters from many of these students and just reading their words to us meant so much to me and Marc.

And what care package from Texas is complete without lullabies from Willie Nelson?? ha ha

And the packages kept coming!

One of the things Sari did was to tell all of the children at her church about Caroline's story during a Sunday School lesson. They all made cards for Caroline, and what a treat it was for the three of us to pull out these cards and enjoy them. Among our favorites:

"I eat vegetables too + Jesus loves you."

The note from the adult at the bottom reads: "Celia & Jenny want to send you 'flowers that are pretty like you' but they are 4 and have only 60 cents between the two of them." (ha ha!)

And perhaps the sweetest & deepest message came in this card that kinda stopped me in my tracks:

"Jesus loves your tummy."

How seemingly silly those four words are, yet they pack in a ton of meaning to me. Beautiful!

How can I begin to say thank you enough to Sari and all of our dear friends & former students for loving us in this way??? It was such a joy to know you & walk beside you all throughout your college years, and it is an even bigger blessing to watch how the Lord is working in your lives now. We are so proud of you all. Wish I could give each of you a HUGE hug right now!

Thank you for your love and your prayers for us in this journey. God is so good. And Jesus loves your tummy.
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it's a rough life...

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