Quote ~ from the movie Parenthood

Grandma: "You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out if it."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Match! Can I Get a Match Here?!

I’m not a big fan of Barbie dolls.  While my daughter has a couple of them (given to her as gifts), I personally think the unrealistic bodies of Barbie dolls, all the extreme accessories (houses, sports cars, RVs, spas etc.), and the immodest clothing can be damaging to a little girls self-esteem and create unrealistic views about life.  I did like the pregnant Midge doll, Barbie’s friend, which was reintroduced with a pregnant tummy and newborn baby.  While I’m not sure how Mattel feels about this and I know this doll created a lot of controversy, I looked at the doll as a pro-life and pro-mommy endorsement.  With that said I don’t want you to think I’m down on little girls playing with dolls, fantasizing about growing up or role playing.  I just feel that little girls need positive and more realistic role models.

Get Real Gabi: pitching for soccer.

I am a much bigger fan of Get Real Girl dolls.  “The dolls are made to look like real girls, to act like real girls and to let real girls know that there is more to growing up than wearing tight clothes, lounging by the pool and finding a fraternity-bound boyfriend.
   Jana Machin, president and CEO of the company, explains: "they're about a lot of things, but the important thing is that they are designed for today's girls. They play sports, they are active, they are interested in travel. They have pets.””.1  
Unfortunately, the company isn’t in business any more, which really frustrates me as I think they are great role models for little girls!  Every now and again you can get them on eBay along with accessories.  If you have little girls I highly recommend them.

Anyway, to get to the point of my post.  In our house, lots of toys and clothes are passed down.  The younger three kids sadly, have gotten mix matched things, worn out things and in the case of the Get Real Girl dolls some broken things.  Despite some of our Get Real Girls only having half an arm or leg and the manly, sportsman, Ken/G.I. Joe style dolls I bought, are missing appendages they are played with quite often.  In our mix of mismatched dolls and clothing there is also a Jessie (from Toy Story 2), Barbie style doll and a Captain Jack Sparrow Barbie doll.  While my girls prefer to re-dress the dolls repeatedly and only role play with them occasionally, The Little Man loves to dress them minimally (I think mainly because he doesn’t quite have the dexterity mastered yet and it’s difficult for him) and role play much more.

The other day the three youngest were playing very well together, for a fair amount of time with no bickering or being loud*.  They were playing with the Get Real Girls and other miscellaneous dolls.  Dressing, re-dressing, bringing them to me to show me the new outfits they had created and a little bit of imaginative play.  I was relishing in the little bit of peaceful time this allowed me.  I was doing something for myself, but I stopped every time they brought me a newly accessorized doll, I would OOH and AAH at what they had created and asked questions about where the dolls were going etc. 

After awhile The Little Man comes in carrying not a man doll, his usual choice for play, but one of the Get Real Girl dolls.  She was dressed in a helmet (one of the man dolls accessories), her bra and underwear (another reason I love Get Real Girls, their underwear is painted on, they are always modest!), and Captain Jack Sparrow’s knee high boots.  She was carrying a picnic basket in one hand and a baseball bat in the other.  He held her up high for me to see.  He was beaming from ear to ear, proud of what he had accomplished, dressing this doll.  I commented on what a great job he had done with the boots, helmet, and baseball bat and picnic basket.  But, I had to ask where her clothes were.

So there is something I feel I need to share before I give you his reply.  Over the years of child rearing, baby-sitting and being around my siblings I have made some observations.  One of them is, that most kids, regardless of how they are being raised, and what their influences are, have there own ideas and opinions on things.  My stuntman brother decided early on in his career (three or four years old) that shoe laces in shoes and overalls were for babies.  Therefore he REFUSED to wear overalls and took all the shoe laces out of his shoes (this is pre-Velcro days people!).  Like the Stuntman, The Little Man who is almost four has his own ideas on clothing and style.  He has this immense need to match everything!  His clothes, his eating utensils, school work, sheets, whatever.  Sometimes he truly can match things for himself well.  While other times, his idea of matching is so far off, he looks like an old golfer, with Phyllis Diller’s sense of style. 

Where this attitude came from I have no idea. Unless we are going to church, and even that has a lot of leeway, I have never pushed any of my kids to match or be perfectly dressed.  It is much more important to me that they have a sense of accomplishment by picking out their own clothes and getting dressed themselves, than it is that they match or look perfectly pressed.  I know many people would disagree with me, but I feel it is important to build up there self-esteem and individuality early on.  My only concerns when it comes to clothing are, that it’s modest and that they don’t look like Pigpen.  So, this obsession with The Little Man’s “matching” is a little odd to me.

Back to the Get Real Girl dressed in a helmet, her bra and underwear and Captain Jack Sparrow’s knee high boots, carrying the picnic basket in one hand and a baseball bat in the other.  I looked at the doll and asked “So, Bud, I like her helmet and boots, but where’s the dollies clothes?”  He looked at me, as if the answer was so completely obvious and replied, “I not find an outfit to match da helmet!” and went on his merry way.

Now there is nothing wrong with matching things, and looking nice is important but when it gets in the way of life it can turn into a problem.  The Little Man has had many a break-down over having to wear something or use something that he sees as not matching.  And, in the case of the doll, it is only a doll and he is only three but at some point he needs to learn that going out in a helmet, bra and underwear, knee high boots, carrying a picnic basket in one hand and a baseball bat in the other, just isn’t acceptable.

As I think about him and his attitudes, I begin to wonder if God isn’t using The Little Man yet again to teach me something important.  I wonder, do I have attitudes that seem mostly innocent and quirky, but because of my strong attachment to them, they get in my way?  Do I have attitudes that could turn into inappropriate beliefs down the road?  What attitudes or beliefs, right or wrong, do I have that are holding me back or hindering me from receiving God’s eternal love, blessings and grace?  I certainly know I can throw a tantrum or pout because I think something should be done a certain way or because I think my friends or family should change their attitude and beliefs to be in line with mine.  Am I missing out on relationships with others and a deeper relationship with God because of this?  I have to wonder how much better off I might be if I would let go a bit, give in some and be open to God showing me how to truly “match”!  After all it says in John, chapter 3 verse 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his ONLY begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Emphasis mine)

If God loves me like St. Augustine says “God loves each of us, as if there were only one of us.”  Shouldn’t I trust that He knows what is best for me right now in my life?!  Why do we get so attached to our ideas and attitudes?  Why is it so hard to just let go and let God?  I truly hope that God will call me OUT when I bring a half naked Barbie doll to show Him and when He asks where its clothes are I say “I not find an outfit to match da helmet!”

1.  Get Real Girl Doll quote and picture taken from http://info.hktdc.com/imn/02032203/toys14.htm

*We have a plaque in our home that reads:
                In Our House
                We do second chances
                We say prayers
                We do I’m sorry’s
                We do loud really well
                We give hugs
                We do love
                We are family
And boy do we do loud REALLY well!

Picture of Phyllis Diller taken from http://www.lewrockwell.com/rogers/rogers43.html
Picture of Pigpen taken from http://www.peanuts.com/characters/

Thursday, March 15, 2012

HELP! The Water is Encircling Me, Pulling Me Down!

Sometimes I feel like God is on hiatus, taking a break, especially from all of my complaining and “HELP ME NOW” prayers.  Do you ever feel like that?  Do you wonder where He is and what He’s doing while you are barely hanging on, ready to drown, at any moment?  I do!  A lot lately!  I feel like Job and I are long lost relatives.

Song lyrics describing how I feel have been spinning around in my head lately.  Like Steven Curtis Chapman’s Cinderella opening lyrics (emphasis mine),

She spins and she sways
To whatever song plays
Without a care in the world

And I'm sitting here wearing
The weight of the world on my shoulders

It's been a long day
And there's still work to do

She's pulling at me
Saying "Dad, I need you

There's a ball at the castle
And I've been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

And, Jars of Clay Flood,

Rain, rain on my face
It hasn't stopped raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become one with the mud


But if I can't swim after forty days
and my mind is crushed by the thrashing waves
Lift me up so high that I cannot fall
Lift me up
Lift me up - when I'm falling
Lift me up - I'm weak and I'm dying
Lift me up - I need you to hold me
Lift me up - Keep me from drowning again

Downpour on my soul
Splashing in the ocean, I'm losing control
Dark sky all around
I can't feel my feet touching the ground


Calm the storms that drench my eyes
Dry the streams still flowing
Cast down all the waves of sin
And guilt that overthrow me


Lift me up - when I'm falling
Lift me up - I'm weak and I'm dying
Lift me up - I need you to hold me
Lift me up - Keep me from drowning again

Just about the time I get ready to throw my hands in the air and yell out “Where in the heck are you lately?!  Don’t you see I’m drowning down here?!  I can’t take any more!  I don’t care if you think I can!  I can’t!  I am not as strong as you think I am!  Enough already!!!”  Guess what?  He sends me something, a song, a blog post, a friends phone call, a bit of wisdom from one of my children, a passage in a book, a story on TV, something that lets me know He, the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the one and only Almighty, gets it!  He knows what I’m going through!  And, get this, He cares!  I AM NOT ALONE in all this!  He, my GOD is right there with me, every step of the way.  Most of the time I just need to get out of my own way and I would be a lot better off!

I was told last night that I need to stop focusing on the negative lately and thank God for all my blessings.  Gratitude opens the flood gates of grace!  I know this!  I know that I know this!  I forget, in all the mess of life, I forget!  What is wrong with me?  I have more blog posts on what I need to do, how I have forgotten or failed yet again, than I do on my victories.  Am I really that bad off or is it that I need to write in order to remember and solidify my commitment yet again?

Today I read a wonderful post from the blog that really jump started my desire to blog, A Holy Experience.  It was titled What to Do When You feel like a Loser… let me tell you it hit me right between the eyes!  It was just what I needed!

My lent has not gone according to my plans this year.  I love where Ann says

Whoever had the crazy idea that Lent was for the good who were forsaking some lush little luxury?  Lent’s for the messes, the mourners, the muddled — for the people right lost. Lent’s not about making anybody acceptable to a Savior — but about making everybody aware of why they need a Savior….  “See how these fingers can angle — how they can bend in surrender to Him.  And if you lay the other index finger across, pick up your cross and follow Him– there it is — there’s the sign to wear, the sign showing the way out of a mess: “A” – amazing.  She has to know this, that the word, “amaze,” it comes from the act of wandering in a maze, to be bewildered, overwhelmed with wonder — amaze.  The losers, the ones lost in the labyrinth of life, are the ones made amazing – by the One who solves the mazes of life.  I touch her cheek, “In Him, you are already amazing.”  She blushes and I laugh, nod my head yes, insisting to this daughter who has to know her Father’s heart for her now because of the Son.  “In the flesh, you’re a mess.  In Christ, you amaze.”  I sign the “A” over her and Christ with the scars, He marks her.  “You’re already amazing.”

I imagine she’s speaking straight to me!  Words I so needed to hear!  The losers, the ones lost in the labyrinth of life, are the ones made amazing – by the One who solves the mazes of life.   In Him, you are already amazing.”  To know He will solve the mazes of life.  To know that in the flesh I AM an ABSOLUTE MESS!  But in Him I amaze.

God speaks to me when I write.  As I write these words a new song pops in my head, Matthew West’s Strong Enough.

You must
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through
Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough, strong enough
For both of us

Well maybe
Maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up
Cause when I'm finally
Finally at rock bottom
That's when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough, strong enough

Cause I'm broken down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to one thing
You are God and you are strong when
I am weak

I can do all things through Christ who
Gives me strength
And I don't have to be strong enough (2x)

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough, strong enough

I am affirmed!  I am strong enough!  I CAN handle ALL I’m given, BUT, only through Him and with His grace.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.                                                     Ephesians 1:3
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
                                                                   Philippians 4:13