Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London 2012

I'm really not all that into sports.  Jeff enjoys watching football- I don't understand how football works with all the rules and such.  Jeff enjoys racing- the car kind of racing.  I really don't get that.  It's not a sport, in my opinion, and it's just driving around and around and the one who manages their vehicle the best wins.  Jeff enjoys basketball.  I don't mind basketball.

But sports aren't a focal point in our home.  We don't stop what we are doing to focus on some event on TV, we don't watch SportsCenter or anything like that.

Until now.

It's that special time...  The Olympics.  London 2012.  Have you been watching?  I recorded the Opening Ceremony so the kids could see it.  Anytime we turn on the TV, we check for the Olympic coverage first.  Even if we watch something else, we flip to the Olympics to see what's going on.

What makes the Olympics so special for me?

The first thing is the history.  I'm not an expert or even a buff.  I just love knowing that these Games have such a rich and long history.  The bravada of Ancient Greece brought to celebration in 1896 by a Frenchman who wanted France to get more excited about sports... and the longevity of the Games since that time.  Plus, the historical impact of things that have happened during the Games is exciting, too.  Countries have boycotted the Games as a political statement.  The Games have been postponed or cancelled due to War.  Terrorists have used the Games as a stage for their message.  Social issues have sent messages in regards to gender equality, racial equality, and sexuality equality.  And I love that history is made at the Games- be it because this is the first year that every participating country has included women or because the US has more women than men competing.

I love the culture of the Games.  I love the Parade of Nations and seeing so many places I've never heard of and so many different faces.  And every face has something in common- the hope and excitement of being there.  The potential and possibility of the events to come.

I love the stories of the athletes- an investment banker who didn't know she was good at Cycling until a friend got her started and she was suddenly winning races, the kid from the Bronx with parents who have sacrificed to get him into gymnastics because it was his passion and now he works to pay them back and take care of his family.

I love the diversity of the events.  Ping pong, fencing, equestrian events, beach volleyball, and the always popular swimming and gymnastics.  I'll be honest- I don't care much about basketball or tennis.  But I love seeing all different events and I love that my kids are enjoying seeing different things, too.  Zach will tell me, "I don't wanna do volleyball."  So I change the channel to a different Olympics coverage and there's boxing... and he loves it!  I had set out bedroom TV on the Olympics coverage yesterday evening while we made dinner so I could pop back and check on it from time to time.  I popped back and there's Zach, totally into the women's basketball event and wanting to know if we are cheering for the blue or the white outfits.

Are you enjoying the Olympics this year?  Finding any inspirational stories to share?


Monday, July 30, 2012

Yep, I'm Going There

My beliefs aren't a surprise to anyone who knows me or has been reading my blog for a while.

But it's time for me to go there again.

There is a huge divisive issue in our country and in the Christian faith and it is going to continue to divide, I'm afraid.

It's that gay thing.  Those darn gay people wanting to be treated equally.  Those annoying gays wanting to marry the person they love, wanting to commit themselves to a monogamous relationship, wanting to have the benefits offered by the act of marriage.

And then there are those darn Conservative Christians.  Those CC's who are throwing the Bible up as a front for hate, who turn to the Bible to look for ways to oppress others, who use religion as an excuse to be bigots instead of focusing on what Christianity is really all about (loving others).

And don't forget the darn Liberal Christians.  May not seem like there are many of us, but we're here.  We are getting louder and stronger, too.  See, there used to be (and maybe still is) this fear of coming out against the CC's because it somehow meant we were "less" Christian.  But the voices are combining and getting louder, proclaiming that the anger and hate we see coming from our own brothers and sisters is not acceptable anymore.

And there are those pesky atheists and secularists and people who just plain hate religion of any kind.  These Big Issues that divide us are like a field day full of easy picking, low hanging fruit.  It's in these hard and difficult times that non-believers or those angry with God or with a church get onto their own "high and mighty" horse and proclaim that they were right about those Christians all along.

It's exhausting.

I see some things boiling down to certain fundamental topics.


If you don't like what a company does, you have the right to not give them your money.  When a company makes donations to political groups, religious groups, non-profit groups, they are choosing to take the risk that they might piss off some customers.  This all goes both ways and across lots of topics and issues.  If a city determines that a business or group doesn't align with the city's laws, the city has the right to deny that business a home there.

Personally, I don't go out of my way to find out where every company puts their money.  I'd drive myself mad if I tried to only make ethical decisions with every dollar I spend.  However, when I find out that a company is making a choice to support something that I personally see as truly damaging and against my personal ethical code, I can't continue giving my money to that company.  Once a company starts to learn, grow, expand, and change their ways, I'm all about rewarding for good behavior.  Target and Cracker Barrel are companies that have learned, in my opinion.  Chick-Fil-A and the Boy Scouts are groups/businesses that aren't interested in growing in that direction.  There are some who will boycott Target for the same reason I embrace Target.  There will be some who embrace Chick-Fil-A for the same reason I boycott it.  That's just the way it works.


Here's my hot button.  It absolutely exhausts me, breaks my heart, and angers me that the loud actions of the Conservative side have defined the entire group.

Let me make something clear.


I know many Christians who are fighting constantly to change that perspective.  Some in their everyday connections to others and some in a bigger venue (like within the Church or the bigger church bodies).  And it is a struggle.  And I think the struggle is perfectly summed up by one of those stupid images making the rounds that says "Let's ask the Christian owner of a restaurant chain that isn't open on Sunday his view on gay marriage and act surprised and outraged when we don't like his answer."  That restaurant guy does not speak for me as a Christian.  And I think that is why people are being more verbal and angry this time around.  Chick-Fil-A's history of donating to groups that not only oppose gay marriage but also oppose and oppress and vilify and harm gay people has been known for a few years.  But this time, this one guy is stating very plainly that the reason they give money to these groups is based in their Christianity.  Which means his definition of "Christian" is vastly different than my understanding of living a life of following Jesus.

The Bible

I have read the entire Bible over the course of my life.  I am not a Bible scholar, nor am I an expert.  I was raised to be a literalist when reading the Bible but have come to a place in my life where I can't take the Bible literally but still use it and read it as a Holy text that provides spiritual strength, guidance, and so on.

A lot of people point to the Bible when they want to label being gay as choosing a sin.  The "clobber verses" can be pointed to as "clear" words that show that homosexuality is sinful.  However, study of these verses and stories indicates that the use of these verses is wrong in the interpretation or that the historical context and translation gives more information than the anti-gay folks want to hear.  Some will point to the story of the Sodomites as proof that God punished the Sodomites for being gay.  Except that full understanding points to punishment of the Sodomites was due to the violence and rape that had become their normal culture.  It wasn't the gay thing, it was the hate, power, and violence thing.  I think it is silly for anyone to point to Levitical Law as a basis for judging gay people- unless you are truly living all of those laws yourself.  It is still on my list to read A.J. Jacobs "The Year of Living Biblically" and his website gives some insight in to what I should be seeing from someone who is truly living those Levitical Laws- and many other Biblical laws, rules, and principles.  I hear that the Bible defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.  I haven't personally read a specific definition of marriage in the Bible.  I also think that there is a lot of law in the Bible about marriage that really wouldn't fly these days- having multiple wives, a woman having no choice in who she marries, having sex with a woman outside of your marriage in order to create a baby, and so on.

Again- being a Christian and following what Christ taught are two very different things these days.  And if you follow what Christ taught about gay people... you won't find anything.  And if you follow what Christ taught about people in general and you put gay people in that same category of being, you know, just people like everyone else, you find out a lot about how we should be treating one another.  And those who stand behind the title of Christian and wave their Bibles around as their reason for being angry or hateful or cruel... aren't following what Christ taught.

So where does that leave all of us in our opposite corners?  We hurl out quips and blog posts and quotes and make blunt statements.  We get our feelings hurt, we get angry when we hear hurtful things being said, we defend, we offend.

Here is what I ask...

If you truly believe that homosexuality is a choice and a sin, take some honest time to determine where that comes from for you.  Take some time to study the Bible, review what you've been brought up to believe, and honestly determine what it is you actually take issue with.  If it is something that is outside your realm of understanding, maybe that is something you can confront.  If it boils down to "that's what I've been taught" or "it just makes me uncomfortable," it's time to stretch, my friend.  I've been on this side, I've followed what I was taught without question, and I've prayerfully come to realize that what I was told was black and white really isn't so clear.

If you believe that homosexuality is no different than black to my white, male to my female... keep loving out loud.  Because I think the voice of those who love God and who also openly accept people who are gay have a voice that needs to be heard.  If you are someone who doesn't see homosexuality as a sin and you are someone who passionately loves God and your faith, I urge you to get loud about it.

And if you are someone who is gay or transsexual or bi-sexual and has been hurt by someone or an organization who uses faith and God and the Bible as their weapons, I urge you to listen to the voices of those of us who don't believe that way, who are finding our place as your allies.

After publishing this post, I was inundated with links in my news feed from various organizations that just happened to be posting about the same topic.  Check it out:

Biblical Standard for Marriage (Huffington Post)

Gay Friends and Waffle Fries (State of Formation)

Some words for Christians on both sides of the Chick-Fil-A war  (Rachel Held Evans)

The Chick-Fil-A Controversy  (Crumbs from the Communion Table)


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Indianapolis Indians

Jeff's company does an Employee Appreciation/Safety Awareness event every year.  In previous years, they have hosted employees and their families at the State Fair and the Indianapolis Zoo.  This year, we spent the afternoon at Victory Field for an Indianapolis Indians game (and lunch provided before the game).

Our kids have attended several games over the past few years but never make it past the 5th or 6th inning.  Today was an afternoon game and they made it all the way through the 9th inning!  Our team didn't win, but we had a great time.

Unknown Mami


Saturday, July 28, 2012

6 Words: Olympics

Makes me cry every time!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Quitting Religion

I'm quitting religion.

Well, kind of.

I'm not quitting my church.  My relationship with God remains strong and steady.

But something disconnected a while back and I've had a nice heart to heart with the Man Upstairs and the word came back- "You're trying too hard."

As I've been dealing with stress over the past year, I have relied on my faith for comfort, guidance, peace.  Somewhere along the way, I got this idea that I had to do more to do it right.

I started listening to nothing but Christian Contemporary music in the car.  I started reading multiple devotions everyday.  I started "liking" various ministries on Facebook to get their regular doses of religion.

And it has been doing nothing but adding to my stress.  Because the personal relationship I have with God has suffered for it.

We were good.  We were tight.  Had a great thing going.  But I thought I wasn't doing it right or wasn't doing it "good enough."  So I started seeking more, better, different.

I don't like what I see when I dip my toes back into those religious waters.  I don't like the hate, the ignorance, the blindness.  I don't like the preachiness, the refusal to be open to the hugeness of God's universe, the refusal to accept that perhaps we don't know everything.

I have been going through all of these motions and completely losing the Emotion.

My faith is my passion.  My faith in God and my belief in the teaching of Jesus Christ are what lead me to be the person that I am.  It's what drives me to love others, to be compassionate, to embrace all people, and to seek kindness and love in hard circumstances.  Instead of listening to my heart, instead of following the internal compass I was created with, I've been following the Rules and Regulations of Religion and I haven't liked it one little bit.

Earlier this week, I decided to pick up breakfast on my way in to work.  As I sat at the drive thru window, waiting to pay, I felt the nudge.  Pay for the guy behind you.  I look in my rearview mirror.  I don't know this guy.  I've paid for the person behind me before- it's an easy random act of kindness.  I start thinking- send up a quick prayer.  Is this really what you want me to do?  Buy this guy breakfast?

Stop thinking about it and just do it.

So I did.

And nothing miraculous happened.

I didn't expect it to- I paid, got my food, drove away.  I didn't stick around to watch the guy find out I'd paid for his food.  I didn't stop to talk to him.  I didn't pull over so I could bow my head in prayer.  I paid and drove away, never to know this guy or the results of what I did.  Because I don't need to know.  I just have to trust and obey.

Days later, that came back to me.  I've been trying too hard, questioning too much, and seeking "answers" in all the wrong places.  I need to trust and obey.  I'm out of tune.  I dropped the personal connection in favor of the "doing the right thing by society's standards" connection.

You don't strengthen a relationship by reading all the self help books but never talking to the person you're in that relationship with.  You don't strengthen a relationship with someone by talking to everyone about that person but not spending time with them.  You don't maintain a relationship by just following a list of rules and should-do's.

And if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I'm stepping back.  I'm "unliking" a bunch of stuff on Facebook and dropping this list of expectations I've suddenly found myself with.  I'm getting back to focusing on my personal relationship with God and not seeking a definition of religion.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

It's a Zoo, you learn cool stuff about animals, great chances to play with my camera, adorable animals, fierce animals, funny animals, gorgeous plants and flowers, interesting plants and flowers.

These are my pictures from the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.  What will prove to be most interesting about our trip to Fort Wayne is when I get the pictures developed that my kids took with the disposable cameras we bought for them.

And the Kangaroo experience... is at the end of the post!

Click the pic to see Teagan at this same water fountain 2 years ago!

Not an official part of the exhibit. We enjoyed watching this little green guy cavort with a chipmunk in the African Plains exhibit area.  

Jeff conquered the lion!

This is a dingo.  It is far too adorable to have eaten that woman's baby.  Seriously.  Dingos are hunters... but look like regular, friendly dogs!

Great way to end a hot, hot day.  And also a giggle in how similar Teagan's expression is to that last picture.


When we went to Fort Wayne in 2010, we had an amazing kangaroo experience when a kangaroo vaulted over the path and over Zach's stroller!  We've talked about that kangaroo for 2 years now. 

The highlight was back in the Australia area. You can get really close to the kangaroos. Like... there is a path through the exhibit and a little rope thing to keep you on the path but there is nothing that keeps a kangaroo from hopping! Most of them were hanging out in a little shady area when I spied one hopping towards us from the other side of the exhibit. Teagan and I stopped to watch him hop- amazing to see those powerful leg and how they use their tail. Jeff had Zach in the stroller and was a bit ahead of us. Suddenly, the kangaroo decides to go join the group in the shade off to our left and bounds over the path- directly in front of Zach and Jeff!! It was awesome!! That gave us quite a little boost of energy! 

This year's visit had a lot to live up to after that!

And it did not disappoint!

First, I learned more about kangaroos than I have ever learned before.  They are fascinating animals.  This mob of kangaroos currently has about 12 joeys.  A joey starts out about the size of a jellybean.  They then live in their mother's pouch for about 9-12 months.  Bits and pieces of the joey will poke out of the pouch over the course of those months.  A foot, a paw, the head, a tail.  When we first came into the exhibit, it was crowded and a well informed zoo employee was telling the crowd about the joeys and the kangaroos.  All the roos were hanging out in one particular shaded area.  2 of the moms had larger joeys that were dangling various parts out of the pouch- back legs, a tail.

We listened and learned and spent a few minutes just watching the kangaroos.  Then we moved on to another section down the path and learned about the joeys in more detail.  The kids got hands on with some things and we learned about how the joey stays in the pouch when mama roo is jumping around.  I hear the bird exhibit that we had come through to get to the kangaroos getting noisy and notice that the kangaroos are noticing, too.  Lots of standing upright and ears perked up.  I also notice that we are now the only visitors in the exhibit.

Suddenly, one of the mama roos jumps onto the path just feet away from where we are!!  This picture shows how far she was from Teagan and Zach.

She then hangs out on the path, looking around, listening.  Suddenly, the little tail that had been sticking out disappears and out pops... a little joey head!

We were so close to this fantastic animal and her baby.  It was amazing!  She stayed on the path, close to us, for about 3 minutes before hopping back over to the other kangaroos.

Next time we visit the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, I'm thinking a kangaroo might just come over for a hug.

If you'd like to see all my pictures from our trip, check out my Google+ album!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Look Up

It was a spur of the moment status update.  I hadn't really thought it out.  It was on my heart due to some inconsistent things I was seeing other people doing- big things, small things.  

When you make choices, you must also take the consequences. Period. Every choice you make has consequences. If you don't like the outcome, try changing what you're choosing. If you can't or won't make changes, stop complaining or change your perspective.

It was well received and even shared into other status updates.  

It's something that I thought applied to most anything.  For me, for example, it applies to my current health state.  I haven't been exercising or making healthy food choices.  At all.  The foundational reason is the increased stress related to a lot of things right now.  But choosing to respond to that stress with food?  My choice.  Choosing to sit on my very tired butt to watch TV at night is my choice (I could march in place or do something active while getting my fill of Wil and Jeffrey and Gene and Janelle and other Glass Big Brother House contestants).  I have legit reasons and changes in my life- my lunch hour is truly a non-existent thing now.  I am swamped all day long and leave work emotionally spent many days of the week.  But I'm still making choices.

I wrote it because of what I was seeing in other people.  But it really was something that triggered some deep thinking in me, for me.

Change your perspective.  That was the hardest part for me to write.  Because it's what I've been doing.  Or been trying to do.  Change my perspective.  And I've been complaining.  It's not something that is going to instantly change.  But sometimes I remember to change my perspective literally and look up.

And I notice things are bigger than me.

It's easy to get caught up in the stress, in life, in the muddles conversations in my head, in the Big Choices I am currently facing or seeking to face...

But there is also a bigger plan.  And I have to have faith that all the stress and questioning and discomfort right now is going to lead to something, some purpose, some lesson, or maybe just a bunch of lessons along the way.

If you're like me and you've been feeling stressed and overwhelmed and haven't made great choices or haven't thought through to the potential consequences of your choices or feel like you just don't even know what your choices might be...

Look Up.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jumping On The Bed

Great way to burn off end of day energy... fun thing about staying in a hotel... the kids get one opportunity to jump on the bed.  We gave them a limited amount of time to just go crazy before bed.  And they enjoyed every second of it!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Fun in Fort Wayne

We had a fantastic weekend!!  We had some adventures, lots of fun, and got to explore some of the fun things Fort Wayne has to offer.

We drove immediately to the Barr Street Farmer's Market.  I loved the set up of this market- it was shady and the booths were spaced out nicely.  There was a good flow of people but it wasn't overly crowded.  Vendors were friendly and knowledgeable.  Good mix of produce vendors, food items, and some fantastic crafts.  We also discovered a great little flower shop and eatery across the street- Downtown Deli.  It's organic and homemade and it was great!  Jeff had a roast beef sandwich- it was huge.  I had half a turkey sandwich and a cup of vegetable soup that was seriously loaded with kale (awesome!!).  The kids did plates at the salad bar- all organic and their plates were loaded with edamame, peas, carrots, raisins, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cottage cheese, tomatoes, and more!  And the homemade lemonade was incredible!!

One of the most gorgeous heads of cabbage I've ever seen! (Barr Street Farmer's Market)

Family reflection protrait
After lunch, we went to check out the hotel.  We were fortunate to have been given accomodations at the Courtyard by Marriott right in downtown.  We were within walking distance of the Botanical Conservatory and had a great view of the Tin Caps ballfield from our window!

The view from our hotel room window.

We got settled in and then took a short walk to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.  I used to go regularly to Krohn Conservatory with my parents years and years ago so I was eager for this stop.  I also knew I'd have many photo opps- and this Conservatory did not disappoint!

A lovely and relaxing little fountain
I was fascinated by the Angel's Trumpet tree. The flowers are gorgeous and all pointing downwards- and apparently the entire tree is also poisonous! 

The flower of the Angel's Trumpet- yes, I laid on my back on the ground to take this shot.

Teagan found a comfy spot to relax and daydream...

Close up of a wasp in a carnivorous plant display.  We were rooting for the plants but we never saw this guy get swallowed up.

My kiddos.  They really had fun together!

My husband and his man-bag.  Oh wait.  That's my not-man-bag.

A favorite picture of all time- I snapped a REAL smile as he unexpectedly turned to show me something he was excited about!
After the Conservatory, we hit the hotel pool to cool off.  Teagan loved practicing her swimming and treading water.  We had the place to ourselves and really enjoyed our time together.

And oh the dinner adventure!!  If you travel to Fort Wayne, your best bet is to find someone who lives there and ask them to tell you exactly where to eat.  We were going to hit a local diner but then I found this place called Dash In and added it to the list of places I wanted to check out.  Then a friend mentioned this other place... and I should never be in charge of dinner in a strange town again.  I walked us a good mile or more around Fort Wayne as we realized I had an address wrong and then the Dash In place was adults only (would be nice if you put that on your website or if it was printed in the hotel's restaurant info).  Got back to the hotel and drove to the correct address of the place a friend recommended- without a reservation, we were looking at an hour long wait.  There happened to be a japanese steakhouse next door called KOTO.  We went.  It was AWESOME.  We were well taken care of, the chef was hilarious and entertaining and the food was delicious.

If you're within a couple hours of Fort Wayne, it is definitely a great place to visit with your family.  It would have been very easy to add another day on to our itinerary.  Teagan wanted to go to Science Central but we ran out of time.  If we'd picked a weekend when the Tin Caps were in town, we would have enjoyed taking in a game.  And I want to seriously brush up on my restaurant choosing skills- I want to find the locally owned gems (like Downtown Deli)!

And our trip to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo gets a post all to itself.  We learned so much about kangaroos and had yet another incredible kangaroo experience!!  Tune in tomorrow for more!