Stealing Faith

humor for relationships, family & life

I Used to Have a Bedroom


This used to be my bedroom.

This used to be my bedroom.

Those of you who have read for awhile know that a bit less than three years ago our family moved to a home measuring about 800 square feet. It was a lesson in coziness as we fit the humans, the Great Dane, and the poodles in the new space.

 

We’ve added a son and lost a poodle since the beginning, but there’s no doubt we’ve been all up in each other’s business for awhile now.

 

Yesterday, the day we’ve schemed toward arrived.

 

We began the remodel.

 

The remodel will morph our 800 square feet into almost 1,500 square feet, adding a bathroom, loft, and open living space. We’ve been kicking around plans and consulting experts and doing our best to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” and yesterday, glorious yesterday, the work began!

 

They started by destroying our closet. Then the wall divider, the ceiling was raised, and holes were cut in the concrete pad to create the support beams for the loft.

 

Dust flew, men worked, and my glee was contagious.

 

Believe it or not, however, they didn’t finish the remodel in one day.

 

Extreme Makeovers has given me a different perspective of the timing of these things.

 

So last night I slept on the sofa because our bedroom is no longer. I have tip toed through the 8″ pathway between the boxes and microwave to reach the trash can.

 

There’s a reality of remodel I’ve never experienced. In order to get to 1,500 square feet our home has been reduced to 600 usable square feet.

 

Jeepers!

 

I don’t know how long this is going to take. I’m getting scared. I can’t find my pants.

 

No. Seriously.

 

I can’t find my pants.

 

 

What Makes Men Happy – Makes Humans Happy


10 Ways to Love

10 Ways to Love

Harvard University has just released findings from a 75-year longitudinal study on what men need to live a happy life.

 

{No comments from the peanut gallery here referring to the fact my young son is perfectly content watching the laundry whirl around through the glass window of the machine. This  is real. It’s been studied. They have results.}

 

This study reported on all aspects of male life, including relationships, politics and religion, coping strategies, alcohol use — even scrotum length, if you can believe it! — and discovered there is a powerful correlation between the warmth of your relationships and  health and happiness in later years.

 

Another finding is that recovery from a lousy childhood is possible, but memories of a happy childhood are a lifelong source of strength. According to a review of the study by Business Insider:

 

“Men who had ‘warm’ childhood relationships with their mothers took home $87,000 more per year than men whose mothers were uncaring.  Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old.  Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers — but not their fathers — were associated with effectiveness at work.  

On the other hand, warm childhood relations with fathers correlated with lower rates of adult anxiety, greater enjoyment on vacations, and increased ‘life satisfaction’ at age 75 — whereas the warmth of childhood relationships with mothers had no significant bearing on life satisfaction at 75.”  

 

Another bit of statistical input that parenting is rather significant in a culture where some consider it unworthy. This study finds that no matter where you live, how much money you have, etcetera, that happiness = love.

 

Which really puts the pressure on us as human beings to figure out how to love one another better, doesn’t it?! Here’s a list I’ve mentioned before, but is worth repeating (and here’s another list of 50 Simple Ways to Love Your Spouse):

 

10 Ways to Really Love Someone

 

1. Listen without Interrupting.

2. Speak without Accusing.

3. Give without Sparing.

4. Pray without Ceasing.

5. Answer without Arguing.

6. Share without Pretending.

7. Enjoy without Complaint.

8. Trust without Wavering.

9. Forgive without Punishing.

10. Promise without Forgetting.

 

That’s a robust list of items for completion, and perhaps someday I’ll break them down one by one and write on them, but in the meantime at least they’re food for thought!

 

On the down side of this study, there was one trait found to negatively influence lifetime success, in every case:

 

“… the most significant finding of all is that “Alcoholism is a disorder of great destructive power.” In fact, alcoholism is the single strongest cause of divorce between the Grant Study men and their wives. Alcoholism was also found to be strongly coupled with neurosis and depression (which most often follows alcohol abuse, rather than preceding it). Together with cigarette smoking, alcoholism proves to be the #1 greatest cause of morbidity and death. And above a certain level, intelligence doesn’t prevent the damage.”

 

Big take away? Maybe those prohibition people knew what they were talking about! Lay off the bottle!

I DON’T Look Down On Women with a Husband and Kids and I’m Not Sorry


What does feminism resemble?

What does feminism resemble?

Earlier this evening I read a blog post titled, “I Look Down on Women With Husbands and Kids and I’m not Sorry.” My first impression involved an assumption that the blogger was using a play on words to create a scandalous headline for more hits.

 

Boy, was I wrong.

 

Let me throw out a few of the statements I found remarkably bold:

 

“Every time I hear someone say that feminism is about validating every choice a woman makes I have to fight back vomit. Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself?”

“You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.”

“I hear women talk about how “hard” it is to raise kids and manage a household all the time. I never hear men talk about this. It’s because women secretly like to talk about how hard managing a household is so they don’t have to explain their lack of real accomplishments.”

“Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business.”

 

My initial response was to shoot off some crazy, hot-headed comment about how ridiculous her perspective is and that it’s incredibly insulting to the entire gender from the perspective that I’ve lived as a full-time professional and I’ve lived as a full-time wife and mother. I’m able to address both perspectives from first-hand experience.

 

Right now I land somewhere on the fence between both working full-time from home and home schooling our children and I can testify… beyond a shadow of a doubt… that parenting is actually hard work! (Can I get an Amen?!)

 

Being a Mommy is harder than my hardest day in a professional career that included periods of manual labor, emotional turmoil, conflict management, and long range visioning. I believed my professional decisions had the potential to change the world, but now my parenting decisions literally change the world of these four children who occupy my life.

 

It’s a shame to run across a person who doesn’t see the value in freedom of choice. Freedom of choice, liberty of action, these are things we’re willing to die for when it comes down to it. The American Revolution was largely about the desire for people on the North American soil having the privilege to make decisions for themselves. (Freedom of choice.) Feminism? Largely about the ability for women to have a chance at equal footing in a world immune to disparities. (Liberty of action.) These are two simple examples from a list that could be as long as Rapunzel’s hair.

 

Yet when I think about my insane desire for freedom, I have to also acknowledge this blogger’s freedom to have a firmly held opinion, no matter how offensive I find it myself. (I’d also like to state for the record no one has ever come up with a professional sense of accomplishment quite as rewarding as the first time your toddler tinkles in the toilet. Just sayin’.)

 

 

I support her freedom to choose a philosophy I find insulting. And I support my choice to disagree vehemently.

 

While Ms. Glass is  spewing venom toward gals who follow the traditional path and invest in a world that is perhaps outlined by four walls and a laundry room (and possibly tiny toes and fingers), I’ll be over here investing in something I’ve intentionally chosen because I believe it has an eternal significance.

 

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll still be able to find the time to be exceptional.

 

No promises.

 

I’ve blogged about this Mommy War before. If you’re interested in more of my opinions on which lifestyle is harder, check out Working Mom vs. Stay-at-Home Mom and  More Thoughts about Working Mom vs. Stay at Home Mom.

I Just Can’t Love Them Like That Anymore


1funny.com

1funny.com

I know you’re supposed to love your children unconditionally.

 

All the parenting guides talk about how important it is for children to feel they have a safe space to be fully loved, and fully known. The experts agree that a happy child is one that is respected and considered with warm regard in all circumstances.

 

But I can’t do it.

 

I just can’t love them unconditionally anymore.

 

I think if it were a moral failing I’d be able to recover from this. If it was poor decision-making or youthful indiscretion, I could manage it. But this.

 

This…

 

… I’ll never recover.

 

I cleaned the back of the Suburban this afternoon. I will be haunted by the experience for the rest of my days.

 

Stella has been so good to us over the years. That beast of a burly vehicle has carted us across the country, literally from coast to coast in her almost 200K miles. She has been privy to laughter, secrets, arguments, and many, many viewings of Elf and Tinkerbell. Stella the Suburban has carried our children home from the hospital after their births.

 

And yet she’s been treated so poorly.

 

I found decaying slime of some sort in the cup holders, nacho cheese affixed to the seat, an entire bag of Honey Nut Cheerios scattered across the floorboards! Underneath the seats I discovered the remains of chicken nuggets, water bottle lids, juice box straws, and miscellaneous bits and pieces of toys, crafts (I HATE CRAFTS!), and love notes.

 

There were forks with broken tines, spoons still sporting oatmeal, and knives once used for good left to decompose in solitude surrounded by gray pleather and black acrylic carpeting.

 

I gained a yellow paper clip and 46¢ but lost my lunch.

 

What on earth could exhibit such appalling behavior?! What magpies of destruction could have come to kill and destroy our Stella?!

 

My children. The ones that sprang from my innards. I housed them, tucked in my very own guts and they, they have repaid that kindness with a trashy hatred of their own.

 

Based on their vehicular living quarters, I’m scared to even image how they left my uterus.

 

I am so very saddened by this event. I am scarred for life. What has been seen… can never be unseen.

 

I can no longer accept my children unconditionally. My love for my children, tempered by my defense of Stella, must now be offered with a trash bag and a threat.

 

This day will live in infamy as I pledge my intention to never… Never, never, never see such a thing again.

 

The End.

Tapestry of Normal


Baby Prince Charming sporting his leaf helmet.

Baby Prince Charming sporting his leaf helmet.

My son just found me.

 

I’ve been all over the house this morning starting loads of laundry, washing dishes, making the bed, wiping down the table after breakfast – I don’t sit down much.

 

Bubby has followed me from room to room, generally making trouble everywhere he goes. The dishwasher, it’s like baby crack. He can’t stand it. If it’s open he begins to climb and I begin to screech. We play this little game of him wandering out of the kitchen to see what his sisters are doing and me quickly dropping the dishwasher door and loading what I can before he rounds the corner again, sees it open, and makes a beeline for the lowered door. I, in return, slam the door shut and he hits the closed door at full speed and slides down the front of it to an unhappy, crestfallen heap on the floor in front of the dishwasher.

 

Second verse, same as the verse. Repeat 12 times.

 

I caught him off guard when I went into the bedroom to make the bed, however. I watched him sail through the living room, search the kitchen, and bang on the bathroom door. He’s in the stage where his walking balance is better when he has something in his hands – today it was a wiffle ball and wooden block – and he lumbers like Lurch as he walks.

 

When he found me in the bedroom he literally cackled with glee. I looked down at him, his snot encrusted nose, his dimple, and his joy… and I melted.

 

This season is so short.

 

In the room next door I have a girl pushing 8-years-old who is almost too big to fit on my lap – and it happened in a heartbeat. The days felt like eternity, like I was being pushed beyond any possible endurance, but there she is, growing into a real person with hopes, dreams, desires. It happened so fast.

 

I have agonizing years in front of me with this little boy, but the reality is he’s already far from the precious nugget of life I held against my chest July two years ago. He was all hope at that point. Hope and tears and pooping and eating.

 

And now, a breath later, he’s dimples and “mama” and verbal excitement at the sight of me. In another six gray hairs he’ll be all t-ball, tie shoes and, “Can I chew gum?”

 

All while I’ve been loading the dishwasher, matching socks, and cooking meals day in, day out. Oh, the tedium of it all! And yet…

 

It’s so fast, so precious, and so significant. We’re weaving a tapestry of normalcy over here, a picture of laundry and peek-a-boo and find your toes, school work and reading clocks, cooking and laughing. That normalcy, while terribly boring in the moment, is incredibly significant in the long run. It’s creating a home.

 

These chores that chafe, the way I groan every time I see the pile of socks waiting to be matched, they are significant. The load won’t always be so heavy, and the years will fly. My son, the one that giggled when he found me and has dimples on his knees… he will exchange his all-encompassing love for his mama over time but I will always have his heart because I put in the work to make normal… normal. I’m building the base for his comfort.

 

That, to me, is good stuff.  Make that the BEST stuff.

Don’t Pull It Together


nicootje / stock.xchng

nicootje / stock.xchng

It doesn’t help me to think you’ve got it all together.

 

Now, reality says there are some people who really do have it together 98% of the time while I’m over here, grateful for the 43.8% of the time I’m not just totally losing it.

 

If you’re one of those who really, truly, deep down inside has it together… well, that’s awesome for you and I sincerely hope it works out for you long term.

 

But I’m hanging out over here in the land where my 7-year-old dresses herself in tights for church that are sporting the crotch down around her knees — and she doesn’t see a problem with this.

 

I’m in the land where a perfectly normal, reasonable conversation with the man I love can suddenly escalate into a full blown, relatively ugly event because despite loving each other we’re still working out the kinks in living with each other.

 

And in my world professionalism looks a bit different than I read about in graduate school. It’s not all best practices and new updates and all sorts of other things that are awesome but unessential.

 

So if you want to be my friend, to help me, encourage me, or walk alongside me in this journey, be real.

 

Be real because I need you.

 

Don’t hide your chaos from my sight because you’re trying to be impressive and fake it ’til you make it. Let me see you wrestle with your life and ask the Big Questions because it allows us to journey together.

 

Tell the truth. Invite me over for breakfast and serve me some scones, complete with crumbs in the butter tub. Crumbs are a side effect of living and they remind me that we can tell each other the truth, not bothering to hide the dirty business.

 

Hold my hand and keep on holding, even if your palms get sweaty. My palms are sweaty too but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s good to have a friend who can help you hold tightly to the important stuff, like God and family and inspiration and passion… even if it gets a little uncomfortable.

 

It doesn’t help me when you create a mask big enough to hide behind.

 

It helps me when I see you for who you are, and am given the opportunity to admire your humble spirit, the way you keep asking hard questions that encourage you to grow…

 

Be a genuine, bona fide friend, one I can trust with my life because you’re willing to reciprocate.

 

I think we’ll all end up the better embracing this change.

 

Inspired, in part, by The 10 Best Ways NOT to Help a New Mom by Lisa Jo Baker.

The Myth of Doing Your Best


The Myth of Do Your Best

The Myth of Doing Your Best

Perhaps you, like me, grew up in the era where we tell people, “Just do your best, win or lose, and I’ll be proud of you!”

 

I call BS! (Actually, I don’t want to call BS because I don’t typically use the word BS because profanity and I aren’t kissing cousins. But I need to call something on that sentiment… how about Farkle? If I call Farkle will you know I’m really saying there’s no chance the above statement can be true? Besides, farkle is a really fun word!)

 

I CALL FARKLE!!

 

We don’t really agree with the statement, “Just do your best.” Maybe we would in an absolutely perfect world, but when you get way down serious about your motivations, no one really does their best, so the foundation of the concept is cracked.

 

Now you want to cry Farkle! on me, right? “Of course we do our best! I do my best all the time!” you cry.

 

FARKLE.

 

To do your best is to put everything on the table. Leave nothing in reserve. The best is the best, there is nothing more.

 

And that’s not how we live.

 

Carrying that extra 5 pounds around? Not doing your best. The unmatched socks on the sofa? Not your best. That crabby response you shot off to your child when they pestered you one time too many? Nope, that’s not your best, either. (FYI – these are all examples from my own life. So if you’re feeling called out, I’m right there with you.)

 

Your BEST would be good enough, perfect even, if you actually gave it. But you don’t, and neither do the people around you.

 

We are not a best-giving culture, despite our pretty, self-esteem lifting rhetoric. We are a culture of doing as much as is comfortable, taking a teeny step further, encountering resistance, and calling it Best to justify quitting.

 

I realize there are exceptions to this idea, but if the exception were the rule we wouldn’t be fascinated with stories about physician Ben Carson or watch the Pursuit of Happyness and cry.

 

What’s more, I’ve come to the conclusion we don’t want to do our BEST. We don’t want to exercise the muscle of conviction. Doing our true Best creates conflict and the majority of us are dying to avoid conflict.

 

Even more… our true Best breeds fearFor if we lay our true Best down on the altar of effort — if we give every single, tiny bead of our fiber to the cause, right to the scrapings and smidgens — if we do that and it’s truly not enough we are crushed. We have nothing left. We have exposed our deepest vulnerability and been found lacking.

 

That’s terrifying stuff, friends. That’s the harsh reality of living most of us can’t even begin to grasp, so we instead come up with excuses as ways to pad our fear:

 

“I didn’t really get to study for that test as long as I should have because of PollyAnna’s birthday dinner the night before. You know, she’s been such a ray of sunshine in my life I couldn’t blow her off!”

 

“I finally told my wife if she couldn’t see how hard I was working to make her happy it was her problem, not mine. She’s always so negative. Sometimes I wonder how we’ll make it to the end.”

 

“If my boss wouldn’t give me so many hats to wear — this organization is growing so quickly it’s hard to keep up! — I would be able to stay on top of my workload. But there are only so many hours in the day…”

 

“Today little Malcolm was begging me to jump on the trampoline with him but I saw the mountain of laundry — and my bladder isn’t what it used to be — so I said, “No Way!” He’ll probably forget about it by tomorrow.”

 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the excuses except that they’re excuses. They’re explanations for why we didn’t give our Best. Why we don’t want to give our Best.

 

I propose we need a change of vocabulary. We need to throw all that “Do Your Best” business out the window and claim our reality. We are capable of doing our Best in some things — but not all things.

 

What’s more important, that’s OK. That’s something you can embrace. You are not a super hero and you shouldn’t be. Intentionally prioritize your life so you can articulate what’s most important to you. Tell the people around you what really matters and let them take their judging to the Olympics, out of your life.

 

If you have created your set of standards based on your priorities (and, if you’re a Christian, God’s calling on your life), all that judging that goes on really doesn’t need to affect you; their judgement tells you more about their priorities than speaks to anything you are doing yourself.

 

Speak to yourself honestly:

 

“I can only spread myself so thin. So when it comes to losing the weight, I’ll be ok with holding on to that fluffiness around my midsection. But when it comes to educating my children - I will do my best and leave nothing undone that matters.

 

“My priorities in this season are time-consuming. So I’m going to have to put that previous heart’s desire on hold in order to really devote myself to what is in front of me right now. When circumstances change in the future, if that desire is still there, I’ll trust there will be a way to accomplish it.”

 

My final thought on the Myth of Doing Your Best? If we can figure out a way to live authentically, with purpose, with nothing held back, I’m pretty sure we’ll discover that vulnerability we are scared to expose will be replaced by something breathtaking to behold. By something stunning, uncommonly beautiful because it’s rarely seen and infinitely cherished.

 

It’s your Best.

 

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

My “Why?”: Because It Is Yet Light


Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

I’ve been at a few training sessions lately for Classical Conversations (the organization we collaborate with in our homeschooling journey) and it’s forced me to answer a very important question for our children’s education: Why?

 

Why bother educating at home when I’m impatient, easily frustrated, always behind on housework, not formally educated in elementary school techniques, etc.? Basically, in all the ways that seem to matter from the outside this whole home schooling path we’re on as a family seems… well, idiotic.

 

And yet… here we are. Even worse, the more I learn about CC the more committed I am to seeing the culmination of this method within our education process. We’re choosing a difficult path… and liking it.

 

But why?

 

In all the world, of all the many ways we could choose to educate our children, Why would we choose Classical Conversations? Why would we accept more leadership in an organization when my life is full as it is? Why bother when it would instead be so much easier to take off some hats and find space to relax? Classical Conversations is not a religion. It is not a replacement for church. It’s just a model, a method, in the sea of other options, right? And even more importantly, Why CC?

 

My Why is that CC makes home education possible for me. This organization clearly places an exceptional, achievable educational journey in front of my family that I can follow as the primary educator in our family without freaking out because I may be missing something in setting up their knowledge base. It’s comprehensive – and the company’s explicit aim is to reveal God through the knowledge of Him and His creation, to know God and to make Him known. And that mission – that ability to make a monumental task like education my child achievable – is a gift I find a blessing, one my husband and I are willing to sacrifice our time and energy  to promote!

 

I don’t want to keep this opportunity to myself, or to for those lucky few families who happen to live within driving distance. I am so aware of the mom who is dying inside, knowing they don’t want to turn their children over to public schools to be wards of the state for 30 hours each week – but don’t know where to start to even attempt to teach their children themselves. I want that dad who aches to mentor his children to find a way to walk alongside their child in all aspects of life into adulthood with the support of a Godly community. There are people desperate to make the life change necessary to bring their children home who don’t know where to start; CC can be the diving board… at least it was for me.

 

I know we are all busy – too busy, truth be told. We don’t really want to pull our children home with us because we are intimately acquainted with their tricky personalities, the way they can push all our buttons 16 times before 7:30 a.m. We are already so very tired just with the day-to-day living that must take place to survive. Even so, there’s something valuable about this homeschool craziness that somehow, some way makes the sacrifice worth it (for me).

 

Here’s one more snippet from my most recent training session that gives me goosebumps. It was a written response to a person expressing hesitation about whether being a leader in the CC is worth the pay off, but the sentiment applies across the board to those who embrace this counter-culture idea of being your child’s primary influencer:

 

“… as home schoolers, we have a responsibility to work while it is yet day. The night is coming, when no man may work.  We can’t be sure we will be able to home educate 20 years from now. What can we be doing now to make that a possibility for our grandchildren?  So yes, our main responsibility as wives and moms is to our husbands and children first… [but] it isn’t going to do any of us any good to protect our home time and our family time if we have no freedom to home educate. There may come a day when we are compelled to give our children to the state to be educated.  At that point, we will have much more time to devote to the cause.  But a very much harder task to accomplish.”

Before you take me to task on being all death, doom, and destruction regarding the urgency of working to make homeschooling a viable option today, please consider the families in Germany seeking political refuge in the US because the German government wants to jail them and place their children in the state foster care system for daring to educate at home. Take a moment to consider our current US Secretary of Education publicly announced he feels Americans should not consider the ability to education their own kiddos a basic right of citizenship.

 

The night is coming, friends… but I want to do my best to keep it light for a few (figurative) hours longer.

 

Just for fun, here are several links to infographics regarding the home education movement and effectiveness:

 

1. Homeschooling by the Numbers.

2. Homeschool Domination: Why These Kids Will Take You Down.

3. History of Homeschooling.

4. 2008 – 2009 SAT Scores.

5. How American Homeschoolers Measure Up.

Give me Pitchy Shivers


Yep. It's official. I love a capella.

Yep. It’s official. I love a capella.

In addition to the random things that give me shivers I’m going to add solid a capella.

 

Every time I acknowledge my love of a capella music I feel like I should be wearing an appliqued sweater and getting my hair set once a week. After all, a capella is the sole province of the Sweet Adeline’s and Barbershop Quartets, right?

 

Apparently, wrong.

 

A few months ago I dragged my dear, sweet husband to go see Pitch Perfect. There was only one other couple in the theater and once the show was over we chatted with them. They were enjoying their retirement years by directing their local Sweet Adeline’s group and eating their dinner at 4:00 p.m. so they’d be all tucked into bed by 5:30 p.m.

 

This gave me the impression my adoration of this film for the vocal stylings (not entirely for the content, although there were some laugh out loud moments) cemented my place on the AARP list of distinction.

 

Tonight I went on a search for a new Pandora station based upon Straight No Chaser, the Pitch Perfect soundtrack, and a group called Pentatonix. I followed a random link on Facebook to Pentatonix and listening gave me goosebumps and made my brain soar!

 

When our college student child wrangler came over for the evening I tried to tell her how excited I was to be listening to this new station. I bashfully admitted to liking Pitch Perfect and she said:

 

“Oh! I LOVE Pitch Perfect! All my friends do, too! It’s kind of the cult classic for my generation, right along with Mean Girls!”

 

And my heart did a happy dance of joy while also dying inside a little. Because Mean Girls… well, that’s one of the movies I made my husband watch with me when we were first married and he was ever so accommodating and if he finds out Mean Girls and Pitch Perfect are lumped together as a cult classic for the generations… well… he may not be able to forgive me.

 

So I’ll just try to keep that little tidbit from him for now.

 

All this long story can be summed up in a few things.

 

A) If you want to fall in love with vocals, check this out: Royals – Pentatonix

 

B) If you want to get into the holiday spirit with some a capella you need to check out Straight No Chaser – 12 Days of Christmas

 

C) If you’d like to see the song that literally makes me coo in happiness, check out Just the Way You Are & Just A Dream (mashup)

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