Monday, March 29, 2010
I don't have to pretend to be the Holy Spirit and externally impose behaviors that look like fruit.
I'm her teacher, model, coach, advocate, comforter and a signpost on her walk of life that points to the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.
p.s. Someone in the comment section of Sally's blog recommends the book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. I very emphatically DO NOT recommend that book's approach as it does not fall within the definition of gentle or grace-based discipline, but rather is one of the "formula" books that leads to an adversarial relationship.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
All that to say that we've been working hard for the past 10 days or so on "staging" our place for sale. Besides rearranging and removing some furniture, the primary activities of staging have been extreme decluttering.
We rented a 5'x10' storage unit to keep all the stuff until we're ready for it again.
Rather than a feeling of sacrifice, I've been surprised to find the functioning of our day to day lives has not been significantly different without the items in storage. In fact, I love the way our house feels without them. If it is so extraneous, it makes me wonder why I've been holding on to it? Why did I live in such a cramped way just for the sake of hoarding things I might need someday when we might live in larger quarters?
I'm very encouraged to continue allowing the Holy Spirit to build the discipline of simplicity into our lives. When we finally get our stuff out of storage and have the ability to go through it and make decisions about what we need, what we like and what can go, I hope I can remember what it was like to be in my pristine bedroom and make wiser choices.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Not my first choice of pasttimes, but for now, it seems we have no choice.
It's not a new experience. DH has been out of work before. In January 2008, he had just been laid off, and we promptly found out we were expecting Pookaloo. It was a bit scary, but we trusted God then just as we do now.
A few weeks later, before his severance had run out, before he even received his first unemployment check, he had landed a new job.
I realized today that for some reason, part of me had been expecting the past to predict the future.
I didn't expect him to be out of work this long.
I didn't expect us to be led down the path of entrepreneurship.
And while that path isn't crystal clear yet, it's the best we can make of the circumstances we have been given.
On a related note, before the job loss, we had been planning to add to our family this year.
Maybe I need to be expecting Pookaloo's sibling before something happens?
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Today I was thinking about the following verse, Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We are to renew our minds by filling it with truth. Meditating on who God is and who we are in Him.
At another Bible study on Tuesday, I was introduced to the Father's Love Letter. It's a paraphrase of many of the Bible's great verses on God's passionate, intimate love for us, written like a personal letter. There are so many great truths there that I needed to be reminded of.
- That God has every day of my life written in His book and knows all the times and seasons. We may not know where we will be living in a month or three months, but He does.
- That God can do more for us than we can possibly imagine. Building a business as an insurance agent in some ways seems risky, but we have been diligently seeking His will and if this is it, he will be the best business partner we could ask for.
- That He comforts us in our troubles. I don't have to pretend that this situation isn't stressful or that I'm completely at peace. Like David in the Psalms, and Jesus in the garden, I can cry out to God in the pain of this uncertainty and receive comfort.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
God has blessed me above and beyond what I could hope or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20) in many ways, but especially with the gift of my husband (here after referred to as DH).
He is a strong, gentle, romantic, hard working, loyal, loving man after God's own heart. He has a heart for serving others. As the old song says, we work with each other side by side, and we walk with each other hand in hand through this life.
I would say our marriage is basically strong, but we are going through a lot right now. DH lost his job about 6 weeks ago. He's been on three interviews, and we are still waiting to hear back on two of them. The one he has heard back from is an opportunity to be an insurance agent, which while a great opportunity and something he has longed to do, is scary because it means stepping out in faith to the unknown: building a business from scratch and living on commission.
A related issue that adds extra stress is the need to move. We can no longer afford our condo, and we would like to relocate somewhere closer to DH's family a few hours north of where we are now. We have listed our home for sale. We are working hard to get it ready to show, which is certainly a challenge with a toddler who either wants to get into everything or needs to be held! We have gotten calls and letters from our lender regarding our missed payment and that isn't much fun either.
If we go the route of insurance agency, which it is looking more and more like the longer we don't hear back from the other two interviews, we'll have to move in with family, either DH's parents or his bachelor youngest brother who happens to have a 3BR house. While I'm willing to do that for the greater good, I'm also not exactly looking forward to being a long-term guest in someone's home.
The eczema issue with Pookaloo has been stressful too. It's hard to see her like that, and it also can be draining and frustrating to deal with her extra fussiness/neediness and tantrums. We've also disagreed a bit about what approach to take to treatment.
As a result of all this, there have been a few more fights than usual. We're both dealing with the stress in our own ways and since we are both introverts, that means we're connecting a little less right now.
I'm finding that now more than ever it is important to be intentional and disciplined, if you will, about the things that have made our marriage great and will keep it healthy.
- Communication and honest sharing of feelings
- Humble hearts that are slow to anger, quick to apologize and quick to forgive
- Words of affirmation
- Small kindnesses
- Kisses, hugs, hand holding, just sitting together
- Turning away from the TV and computer and toward each other
- Taking walks together
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Pookaloo recently (6-8 weeks ago) developed eczema and we have been battling it unsuccessfully and watching it just get worse and worse despite globbing on lots and lots of lotions.
Then, she developed hives one day after trying ranch dressing, and again a different day after having some garlic cheese sauce. Her face turned red after one bite of eggplant a week or so later. I already knew that eating tomatoes gave her a red bottom.
She's also been having lots of sneezes, sniffles and an almost constant clear runny nose.
Clearly she was reacting to something and I read that eczema can be related to food sensitivities.
Based on all the evidence, two weeks ago, I decided to cut out the top two common ingredients in the ranch and cheese sauce, dairy & soy, out of our diets. I also decided to eliminate the nightshade family (which includes tomatoes & eggplants, but also potatoes and peppers belong) too.
It seemed to be stable, maybe getting a little better. Then 8 days in to our new diet, she accidentally had a bit of her cousin's yogurt.
Things went from bad to worse. She broke out in a new rash all across her torso. One of the biggest & oldest spots on her arm cracked open and started weeping fluid, and the back of her knees were bright red and angry looking. Whereas it never seemed to bother her before, Pookaloo was rubbing at the spots and saying something approximating the word "itches."
Then, suddenly, yesterday and today we've seen a dramatic improvement. It could be the new Aveeno Intense Repair Cream. Or the oatmeal bath or baking soda baths she's had the past two nights. Those definitely helped. But I'm pretty sure that Pookaloo is sensitive to dairy.
Did this just suddenly happen? Probably not. She was a fussy baby, but it was never quite severe enough to be categorized as colic. She has never been a great sleeper, and excessive night wakings can be a sign of food sensitivity too. I don't eat all that many dairy products because of my lactose intolerance, but I do indulge every once in a while. I never noticed a consistent obvious pattern of her fussiness or wakefulness related to the times I would indulge in a bowl of lactose-free ice cream or take probiotics so I could enjoy a slice of pizza with light cheese and extra sauce. That the eczema showed up only recently makes sense because she has been eating yogurt and cheese directly more and more since she's turned one. In fact, I thought she loved it; she was always asking for cheese. I learned recently that an obsession with a food can actually reflect a sensitivity to it.
Not only is her eczema better but her nightwakings have become much easier to handle too. I don't know if it was a fluke or not, but last night she woke only at 2:30 and 6:50 and we got up at 7:30. Twice in one night might be considered a lot for some 18 month olds, but for her it was like a miracle. Nights where she wakes up 5 or more times are not uncommon around here.
I'm feeling happy to know what is going on, but feeling a little sad too that I didn't catch on sooner. When she was tiny I sometimes wondered if something I ate bothered her but I didn't think her symptoms rose to the level described by those with clear-cut cases of food sensitivity/allergy and like I said, if there was a pattern to her symptoms, I missed it.
Too, I was lazy and selfish. I didn't think it was worth it to go to the trouble and discomfort of an elimination diet for what seemed to me like a remote possibility. I thought I just had a high-needs, spirited baby who needed a little extra TLC. How much frustration and discomfort and pain could I have spared both of us if I had been more willing to submit to a more disciplined way of eating? Praise God for his mercy. I can be thankful for the eczema because it was God's design for Charlotte's body to put up a red flag and get my attention.
I do think God spoke to me about fasting in order to prepare me to go on this elimination diet for both our sakes. It hasn't been easy. The first week I craved ice cream like nobody's business. But now I find myself thinking of it less and less. I'd rather have a banana or a fruit popsicle. And I definitely feel better without dealing with the slightly mild lactose intolerance symptoms that used to follow me everyday (because dairy is in so many things!)
I'm pretty certain of the dairy being a problem, although I will probably challenge it again in a few weeks just to be sure. Her reaction to tomatoes and eggplant was really obvious so I'm definite about needing to avoid those too. I'm less certain about the soy being an issue, but I'm content to keep avoiding it for now.
A blessing to be found in all this is that I am now much more aware of what we put into our bodies and seeking to support our health. It's opened my eyes to ways of approaching wellness that I never would have sought out or considered without this.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
But after reading Alfie Kohn's article, I realized that I do use praise in a manipulative way still. I feel like I can never let Pookaloo's success or helpfulness go unremarked, and it could be that I'm one of those described by Mr. Kohn who:
secretly or unconsciously ... believe it was a fluke. If children are basically evil, then they have to be given an artificial reason for being nice (namely, to get a verbal reward).
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
And yet, a few weeks ago I felt a call to do a partial fast, one day a week. I've done it three times now, and you know, I still don't get it.
I can't say I feel much different.
Okay, so maybe I have a greater awareness that some things I thought were needs were really just indulgences. For example, I may think I NEED to have a bowl of ice cream, but really, a banana hits that same sweet tooth in a much more healthful way. I've experienced the truth in the statement that a life without boundaries has less joy; I've never enjoyed an orange so much, or gotten so much satisfaction out of a simple bowl of cereal.
And maybe exercising some self-control muscles helped me get to the point where I could consider putting Pookaloo and myself on an elimination diet to track down whether food sensitivities are at the root of her eczema.
So, I guess it would be fair to say that the benefits of fasting for me have been increased contentment and gratitude and a greater willingness/ability to deny myself for the sake of another.
Or, maybe as a wise man I know said the other day in a Bible study while we were discussing the practice of fasting, the point of fasting is that there really is no benefit to us, it's just an act of sacrifice to demonstrate love for a God who loves us so much, like the woman pouring out her perfume on the Savior's feet.
Hmmm ... maybe I am starting to get it after all.