Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
When I think of the connotation I have of the word 'evil', I think of things that are incredibly nefarious and vicious.
And, of course, those things are evil.
But, as always happens, it's James who gets me thinking in a different way.
He does that to me.
While there is a little disagreement as to 'which' James wrote the book of James, most scholars believe he is the brother of Jesus. Matthew 13 records the names of Jesus's brothers, James making the top of the list, which would seem to indicate that he was the second born of Mary. Growing up in a house with the Son of God as your big Brother.
No wonder he may have struggled when Jesus began His ministry. It might have been hard to imagine that the kid you played in the sandbox with was Messiah.
Maybe it's because James observed his brother's ministry with skeptical eyes at first and then came to belief that his letter comes off with passionate belief. Not just to know his Brother's story. But to live it.
Which leads me to my definition of 'evil'.
See that verse up at the top? The one where, at first blush, James is talking about being a good listener and watching your temper and thinking about what you're going to say before you say it? Good advice, right? But it's what he then says about anger that gets me. He goes on to say that human anger interferes with righteousness and then goes on to state that we should get rid of this moral filth and evil.
That is, our anger habit.
I don't really think about my little temper tantrums as 'evil'.
I don't think about my sarcastic tongue as 'moral filth'.
But Jesus's baby brother did. So I'm thinking it's up to me to change my definition.
And as I think about James's words, it dawns on me. So much of moral filth and evil finds its genesis in uncontrolled words and anger. The kid who is the object of continual verbal abuse who then grows up to act out in awful ways. The wife who won't curb her tongue, systematically destroying her marriage. The person who hurts and manipulates, all out of inner rage.
Yeah, James is on to something.
Human anger is an evil thing.
Even when I see mine as just a little hormonal temper tantrum.
That James. He's always challenging me.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
After my post on Wednesday about 4 of 8 and her purity ring and commitment, I received this email in the ol' Octamom Inbox...
I read your recent post regarding the promise ring of 4 of 8. I am just curious. What is exactly meant by “she committed her dating life and purity to the Lord”? Does that mean that she will never marry?
Sorry for the question but this really got me thinking. Is it a Christian tradition? I belong to a Roman Catholic family so I am not aware of those things J
Hope you can shed light?
Would be happy to go into more detail, Sweet C!
4 of 8 taking a purity vow does not mean that she has decided to not marry. It's that she will wait until marriage to engage in sexual activity and will be cautious in her dating life. This is not some set of 'rules' that Mike and I have placed on her: this is her decision. Mike and I have told our kids that they are responsible for their relationships with the Lord and they are responsible for walking before Him in the way He leads.
We've been very frank with our kids. We've told them that we know we can make all kinds of rules and have all kinds of 'speed bumps' and chaperoning and internet filters and all the rest, but the reality is this: people will do what they want to do. We've seen many a time parents who thought they had developed a fool-proof system for controlling their kids' dating and sexual lives, only to discover that loopholes not only existed but were exercised.
That's why we start the conversation about dating and sexuality with our kids by asking, "What is your goal? Where do you want to be as a person on your wedding day?" And after listening carefully, we ask them if we can coach them toward that goal.
And so far, the oldest four have asked us to coach them.
1 of 8 waited until she was almost 19 to date, and then chose to date an awesome Christian man whom my blog readers know as Da Boy or Awesome Nick. Their relationship was built on a long friendship that has spanned many years and miles. They are adorable, yes, they kiss and are affectionate, yes, they love each other. And, yes, they are committed to saving certain things for marriage.
2 of 8's goal has been to wait to date until she is in college and then to seek more of a courtship model, not dating in a casual way. She feels that will be the best approach for her personal purity goals. She would love to have her first kiss at the wedding altar, but is not legalistic~~she just thinks that could be crazy romantic.
3 of 8 determined that he just wanted to have friendships with girls and that he is not interested in dating until he is in late high school/ early college. He prefers hanging out in group settings with both genders and enjoys his friendships with guys and girls, liking the fact that he doesn't feel the dating pressure and perceived awkwardness of junior high romance.
4 of 8 likewise has observed the stress and pressure amongst her friends who are dating and has happily decided that she wants to wait to enter that arena. She thinks she might like to have a boyfriend by college.
Perhaps there are some parents out there rolling their eyes at our approach. But all I know to respond at this point is to say that our kids are walking in their choices. We have extremely open and frank conversations about sexuality. Our kids know that they can ask us anything and we will tell them, no embarrassment involved. We start this process when our kids are young, being very blunt in letting them know where babies come from. Mike and I are very affectionate with one another, often kissing and hugging in our home. We want our kids to see attraction and commitment and covenant modeled appropriately before them. I don't think any 'fool-proof' system exists out there, but I do think Christian parents who desire for their kids to walk in purity must, must, must talk about these issues. The world loudly shouts at them about it, from images to music to clothing. If believers remain silent, or, if not silent, uncomfortable in conversation about it, the message the kids take from that is that their parents have no clue. As I told a group I spoke to about teens and purity, "If you are uncomfortable talking about sexuality with your children...GET OVER IT. They deserve for you to be the first point of information, the first place they come to get their questions answered."
And here's a final thought: Naivete does not equal purity. I sometimes hear parents saying they don't want to splotch the 'purity' of their children with these kinds of discussion. But what they are calling the 'purity' of their children is, in reality, naivete. Not knowing about something is not purity. Purity is choosing to abstain and exercise self-control in a buffet of choices.
Well, Sweet C, hope that helps answer your question! I don't necessarily see our purity ring ceremony as a Christian tradition, but it has become a tradition in our home and is also offered by our church. Please feel free to email me any more thoughts!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
We went through a commitment ceremony with 4 of 8, where she committed her dating life and purity to the Lord. We gave her a ring to wear, reminding her of her decision.
We also included 2 and 3 of 8, as we had already given them promise rings around their thirteenth birthdays.
What a sweet, sweet time.
We live in a culture that sends all kinds of messages into the stratosphere about dating and choices and purity and boundaries and freedom and consequences. It's a joy to give our kids a specific time and place to make commitment and memory.
We're so proud of you, 4 of 8. May the Lord bless you and keep you.
And enjoy that pretty new ring!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Cue the drum roll...
Random.org has declared...
And #5 is...
right here~! Contact me, Girl, at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your gift certificate instructions!~
Congrats to you and many thanks to all of you who entered! We'll have more great giveaways coming up soon!
Monday, February 21, 2011
Recently, she brought this game to Mike: Left Center Right.
We celebrated with a family game night.
This is 5 of 8's game face...
Left Center Right is fun because even the twins could participate. We started by each of us having a certain number of candy. You follow the roll of the dice, either being able to keep your candy or having to disburse it to players on either side of you or having to put it in the center.
But it all just adds to the fun!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
I have a well-worn volume on my bedside table.
My IKEA catalog.
Because as it turns out, I'm something of an organizational products junkie.
I love to snuggle under my warm covers and languorously thumb through the cheery pages of all those happy Scandinavian products, images of productive and well-organized families flitting through my purview.
Slim cabinets for holding shoes. Rack systems for storing Christmas decor. Dresser inserts that hold t-shirts like files in a file cabinet.
I go a-lurking at my local IKEA on a consistent basis. I run my hand along the shiny finishes of cabinetry, take mental note of how stuff, stuff and stuff is allocated and sorted. I purchase items, take them home, assemble them, fill them, stack them.
And my house still gets messy.
Even with all those shiny IKEA items.
There's a secret to all those organizational products.
You have to use them.
It's not enough to linger over their images. It's not enough to go to the warehouse where they are available for purchase.
It's not even enough to bring them home.
I have to use them to live up to the promise of an organized, clutter-free home.
I have another well-worn volume on my bedside table.
I love to snuggle under my warm covers and page through the promises, the stories, the wisdom of it all.
But application is the key.
To take what I find there.
And live it.
Because I can thumb through the pages all I want. I can listen to teaching tapes, attend my church, get my card punched.
But if my spiritual house is ever going to be in order, if the clutter of my inner life is to ever be sorted and cataloged and tossed out, I'm going to have to do the Word.
Do the Word.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Just about the time you think you have the gig down, you encounter an outlier that makes you have to adjust and grow.
Case in point~that kid in the picture up there.
I myself was a late bloomer. I was the geeky, gawky, nerdy kid of yore. Legs that look like toothpicks, interrupted by knobby knees. Shorter than everybody, then a growth spurt that had me towering, all in the space of one summer. Younger than everyone in my class. Not smart enough to fit in with the true brilliant future internet start-up kids, but aware enough to not engage in the popular reindeer games.
So, based on my social pathology, I can navigate kids through The Awkward Phase.
I've been there. I made a map. And kept it.
So now, with child #4, I encounter the elusive creature known as The No-Awkward Phase child. As in, she's going from child to runway model in one elegant step.
What's up with that?
She got all dolled up for a party with youth group that was to roast the 80's. Which stings a little...given that I really thought I was cool in the '80's...
And she looks like she's 20.
But she's 12.
I did not have this problem when I was twelve.
Neither did 1 of 8. Or 2 of 8.
Sorry, girls. But you know I'm just being honest about hereditary geekdom.
Somehow, 4 of 8 comes off as cool and collected and fun and confident and mature. Maybe more like 40 than 20. She's as tall as her older sisters and borrows all their clothes.
The orthodontist is telling me that 4 of 8's braces can come off 'any day now'.
For, like, another two years.
Just to buy us a little time.
I'm told that the daddy of this kid didn't do awkward himself. I've heard of this phenomenon. I just didn't really believe it existed.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Because, when I'm a bit sapped when it comes to blog creativity, she can supply me with photographs of French Ferris wheels.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Miss 7 of 8.
We are in the midst of trying to make some physical and occupational therapy decisions for her.
You can read more about her journey here.
These are the kinds of mommy decisions that require a completely different level of wisdom.
As in, wisdom I don't have.
But am praying for.
She's hit a plateau lately when it comes to progress in her present forms of therapy. Her little left arm remains something of an afterthought to her. She navigates most of her world right-handed. And likes it that way.
But her therapists and I want to see that left hand used as much as possible.
She does not share our vision.
So we're looking into other avenues and thinking outside the box.
Praying for wisdom.
I suppose other parents have to deal with an issue of mine; I don't think I'm alone in this.
I'm very attached to 7 of 8's present physical therapist and occupational therapist. As is 7 of 8.
And the thought of changing therapy groups is a bit paralyzing to me. I trust these two therapists. I admire and respect them.
I love them.
For us, they are treasured members of our extended family.
And I know they are crazy about 7 of 8, that they want what will allow her to go as far as she can in her recovery.
But I struggle with considering taking 7 of 8 to someone else. And I struggle with how hard that would be for her. And I struggle with knowing that this physical therapist and this occupational therapist wouldn't suggest it if they didn't feel 7 of 8 would have benefit from different types of therapy.
Attachment and advocacy. Pushing and preserving.
We'll figure it out. God always shows up.
And in the interim, I'll just take cute pictures of her in her oldest sister's favorite outfit from the same age.
(Don't forget to enter an amazing giveaway~click here to enter!)
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Why, yes I did!!!
Because it's the day after Valentine's and the sun shined most of the day and it's a Tuesday, it just seemed like a good time to have a giveaway.
And this is one of my favorite kinds.
'Cuz it's moola to spend anyway you want at one of my favorite online stores.
Whether you're looking for a swing set or some amazing new shoes or a perfect chair for the corner of your entry, that online happy place known as the CSN stores has got you covered!
My kids are thinking this would be a fantastic online purchase now that our days are warmer and sunnier...
So, shall we set some Day-After-Valentine's-Sunny-Tuesday rules for winning a $55 dollar gift certificate to spend any way your little heart desires at the CSN online stores?
That sounded like a resounded yes to me...
1. First, become an OctaFollower, if you're not already. Then comment for a chance to win.
2. Blog for another.
3. Tweet and FB for yet two more chances.
4. The giveaway is open for U.S. and Canadian readers only.
5. The winner will be selected on Monday, February 21st by random.org.
6. And for yet another chance, be sure and 'like' The Original Octamom page on Facebook. You'll receive free parenting tips for connecting with your kids and for strengthening your family life.
I suppose that about covers it. Get those typing fingers ready. On your mark, get set.....GO!
Monday, February 14, 2011
JT and AT's adopted son from Ethiopia.
You can read about the path to bringing him home here and here.
JT and AT are our amazing friends and neighbors and JT is my running buddy.
It has been an incredible experience, from the first flickers of exploring adoption to seeing this child come into their home.
And into all our lives.
But every now and then, I get to have a little peek at this precious baby.
And I got to ogle him today as he and JT took a walk in the sunshine. And I chatted with him a bit. And he called JT 'Mommy' many times. And I got all teary. And then he worked on saying my name. And I stayed teary.
There's nothing like having a miracle move in down the street.
Happy Valentine's Day, Sweet Boy. You've got a whole crew of admirers here at the OctaHouse.
We're so glad you've come to stay.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
He loves you.
I know we throw that phrase around a lot...God Loves You.
We say it in chirpy little voices to each other and slap it on situations large, medium and small.
Let those words never become trite to us.
He loves you.
I create, from time to time. I bake bread. I paint a wall. I sew an item. And I usually like what I've made. It's nice. It serves a purpose.
But I don't love it. Not to the point of sacrificing something dear to save it.
If the bread flops, it flops. If the paint color on the wall is wrong, it's wrong. If I sew something and it ends up all wonky, I toss it.
But the Creator of you and me doesn't toss us away. He loves us. And to cement and validate that love, He makes incredible sacrifice to make us His own.
He loves you.
The Maker of cells, stars, skies and shins loves you. The One who designed eyes, ears and elephants loves you. The Righteous God sees your unrighteousness, my unrighteousness and loves us.
He loves you.
Right now. In this moment. Even in the midst of the current messes and mayhems of our lives.
He loves you.
And just thought you should know.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
It seems that there is a phenomenon occurring right in the middle of my home office.
And if it is true that all science begins with observation, then I have this observation to make.
My desk has some kind of magnetic pull. Some kind of attracting force. For literally almost every category of any household item you could think of.
I thought at first it was just a fluke. See, Mike and I have these rules about our home office and how people aren't supposed to come in here without permission and they are certainly not supposed to touch stuff or push buttons or open drawers. And, from our interviews with the OctaTribe, it seems that no one in this house would ever come touch the desk or open the drawers or anything of such nature.
So my best scientific observation is this; my desk must be the center of the OctaUniverse. Because all kinds of things make their way here by some invisible force, since, of course, no one in the house is putting any of it here.
A dance costume from 2001. Gum wrappers. School work. A impressionist coloring job on a Sponge Bob coloring sheet. The title page of a Little House on the Prairie book.
A microphone to some kind of game. Bits of crayons. A random sock. Post-It notes that have been decorated and are now decorating the office.
Magnetism, I tell ya. Since no one has been in here touching anything.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
That's a precious pal of mine, Kristin Armstrong.
Kristin is an amazing believer, mom, blogger, speaker and writer extraordinaire.
And, oh yeah, she's a runner.
As in, marathoner.
Even having done some extreme marathons.
I'm a little impressed...as in a lot.
So I've got some scoop on the amazing Mizz Kristin.
Are you ready? Ears and eyes at alert?
Here it is...
For all of us who don those running shoes and make friends with the pavement to those who simply wonder the why behind running, this will make one fantastic read.
Kristin's writing style is wonderful, conversational and open, funny and philosophical. I can't wait to get my hands on this latest work. It comes out March 1st, hence my feeling all snazzy about giving you the heads up.
Usually I only have the scoop when I find out I'm pregnant. And I keep it secret for about five whole minutes. Not that I say anything. But just that my very tired abs give it away really fast.
I'm not pregnant, by the way. I don't think. For sure.
But this is bona fide writer's scoop on Mile Markers. And I'm so delighted for Kristin and just know that her latest book is going to do so well and will be such a blessing.
It's available for pre-order by clicking right here.
I wonder if my top reason for running is in there...as in, I run to get away from my dirty kitchen.
I'm super inspirational that way.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
This little puppy gave us a run for our money in the wee hours.
Wowza. What a crazy time.
We arrived home late last evening after a busy, busy day, me having had a class to teach in the morning and a speaking engagement last night, with various kid activities and schoolwork sprinkled in between. We had been back and forth to the house and had played with our two doggies, Katie and George, and when we left for last night's event, they were fed, pottied and crated in the house.
But when we arrived home a few hours later, it was clear something was up with Katie.
She had gotten sick in her crate and we got her cleaned up and tried to figure out if she was okay. She didn't get sick anymore, but she definitely wasn't herself. She was willing to drink some water and we got her warmed up. Katie and George are tiny little dogs and don't keep their body heat all that well. A while after midnight, we felt that she was doing alright and headed to bed.
But a couple of hours later, I woke up. She hadn't barked. She hadn't made any noise. But I was just compelled to check on her.
And now I had one very sick little puppy on my hands. She still hadn't vomited anymore but was incredibly weak and disoriented. As I sat in my bathroom floor with her, trying to assess the situation, 3 of 8 came in, he himself feeling that same need to check on her.
Calls were made to the 24 vet clinic, the Weather Channel was consulted as we tried to figure out the conditions of the roads as ice was in the forecast. Katie just seemed to look worse, but was willing to take a few drops of water with a little sugar in it.
Mike happened to be out of town and I was trying to figure out how to best head out in the middle of the night with a sick puppy and sleeping kids at home. 3 of 8 was helping me get it all planned out and I had the vet clinic on the phone with me, keeping up with her behavior and symptoms.
And then, mid-drama, Katie gave herself a good shake. And squirmed to be put down. And slowly walked to her food bowl. And ate some food. And drank some water. And ambled over to 3 of 8. And seemed to say, "Thanks for hitting the drama button for me. I think I'm feeling better now."
It's now several hours later, lunchtime. And she's a tiny bit slower than usual but is already tearing through the house, keeping George away from her food bowl, yapping like the little yapper she is. And I'm running on a couple hours of broken sleep and a whole lot of coffee. And 3 of 8 is moving in a fog.
But in that weird way, it was bonding. Bonding to try to comfort this little dog, who, honestly, is generally a yippy, yappy, bossy little lovable pest. Bonding to sit with my oldest son, the man of the house for the night with his dad away on business, helping me think through what we needed to do, determined to help me and to be by my side. Bonding.
And we're thankful. Thankful our prayers for our little puppy to feel better were answered.
And hopefully, tonight, with Mike home and Katie all healed up, there will be sleep.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Those two little girlies on the left up there, 6 and 7 of 8, have been rooming for a while now, ever since we moved the twins to the upstairs Kids Dorm Land.
7 of 8 thinks she is hot stuff, getting to sleep on the bottom bunk and be 'roomies' with 6 of 8.
Since I was the only girl in my family of origin, I always had my own room. And when we starting having kiddos, lo some twenty years ago, I had some concept that each kid should be in their own room.
But as the family grew and the number of bedrooms didn't, we found that they would all pile in like puppies together anyway. And now, most of the kids have each had various seasons as roommates. It's always sweet to see the relationships that develop further from having shared space.
It's also expanding to have to learn to share your Barbies. Speaking from experience. Some loud experience.
Monday, February 7, 2011
I hear this question often. People wondering what it takes to run a big household. People curious about how we work and school and clean and parent and cook and get to soccer and church.
Getting It All Done.
Here's the deal. Getting It All Done is a fairytale. At least around here.
I don't get it all done. Not by a long shot.
And I'm getting more and more okay with that. Sort of.
I mean, I don't love it when folks come over and the house is a total wreck. I'm not particularly proud when I have to shove piles of laundry out of the entry. It's not like I'm delighted when I'm behind on household chores and the checklist isn't completed and I forget it's my turn to take snacks.
But that is the reality.
I don't get it all done.
But what I do hope I do get done more often than not is to share laughs with my kids. What I do hope we get done is reading great books together. What I am glad we get done is that we make effort and we try and we work together and we interact and talk and prioritize.
For the most part, those things are getting done.
For the most part.