Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Year In Review

One of my favorite annual traditions is looking back at the moments and thoughts and events of the year that I shared on my blog.




And now it's time for 2013 to come to an end.  Reviewing the posts, I wrote a lot less than in previous years.

I made the difficult but necessary decision to prune things in my life - even some of the good things.  I started to fight back against depression.  I issued an invitation for people to get all up in my business.  I did the Dr. Oz 3 Day Detox.  Teagan had her first cheerleading performance.

I wrote about passion and joy.  Jeff and Teagan went to a Father-Daughter Dance and it was really important - to me (and them).  I vented about the Lent fad.

Teagan lost her first tooth!  I had a big experience with the Holy Spirit at church.  I reflected on singing - and also on silence.  I sahred my thoughts on being a Christian who supports equality.

I was doing better with my mental and physical health - and big changes at work helped with that.  We visited some local fun places to visit - like Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve and Conner Prairie.  We dealt with the sometimes hard truth that not everyone is compatible as a friend.  I shared about experiencing the Walk to Emmaus.  I started planning some time away to recuperate - with girlfriends and also with family.

We started "training" for our upcoming vacation to Disney World.  We had to refocus our parenting efforts.  I celebrated my A-Day.  The kids and I read Harry Potter.  We made another visit to Ritchey Woods to see how nature was changing.  I shared about my God designed family at church.  And we enjoyed opening day at our local Farmers Market.

June was a big month because it was the month of our big vacation to Disney!  While we were away, I had some awesome guest bloggers who shared a variety of experiences.  This is a month where you just have to go back and read all of it!

I think I was in vacation mourning mode because I didn't post much.  So here's July in review.

I started to worry a bit about my upcoming 20 year high school reunion.  We visited the Indiana State Fair.  The kids started school - Zach in Kindergarten, Teagan in 3rd grade. I turned 39. Years. Old.

Tragedy struck a family in my blogging community.  Teagan had a strange discipline request.  We had our first real Santa talk.  I had to face some neediness in myself.  I celebrated 5 years of blogging.

I went to my high school reunion.  We dealt with parenting.  But this time, I had a new perspective on bullying.  I asked moms to just STOP it already.  We had a weekend getaway for Fall Break where I faced disappointment but also had a reality check.  It takes a village and I am part of that village.

I made it clear that the turkey comes first in the holiday season.  I had a big realization about my eating habits and also about my relationship with God.  I came to realize that I healed a lot in the past 10 months - from facing depression to being able to feel that important holiday spirit.  We all shared important acts of kindness.

I found my holiday spirit.  The kids and I enjoyed a fun day at the Indiana State Museum.  I shared about one of my main values - doing all the good I can.  We were ready for Christmas - and our church Christmas program.  I gave Teagan an important Christmas present (my sanity).  And I had an experience where I wasn't sure I could invite someone to church.


Monday, December 30, 2013

I Couldn't Invite Him

It's no secret that I love God and I love equality and I believe strongly in the faith based ideal of perfect love for all people.

This past weekend, we had a playdate with a schoomate.  This little friend has 2 dads.

One of the dads and I hung out together for the 3 hours of playtime at a local bounce house play place.  And we talked and talked and talked.

And it occured to me that the topic of church could (and did) easily come up - my involvement in my church is pretty central to my life so it often comes up in conversation.

And in most any daily interaction, I could easily work in a little sidebar invite to come visit my church, if you happen to be looking.  

But if it came up... would I be willing to invite this gay couple to my church?

In most ways - absolutely yes.

But in a really big way... no.  Because my church is part of a denomination (United Methodist) that doesn't yet take an inclusive stance on homosexuality.  We've got a rule book for the denominiation (The Book of Discipline) that clearly states that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

More specifically, the Book of Discipline makes it clear that anyone can be part of the church as a member.  You can take Communion, be baptized, become a member, attend service, be involved.

However, if you're gay, you can't become ordained, can't be a minister.  And if you are an ordained minister in the UMC, you cannot perform a marriage ceremony for gay couples.

I strongly disagree.  So why do I stay?  The main reason I remain a Methodist is that there are many others who also disagree.  And because I believe in the message of doing all the good I can.  And because I believe in the Greatest Commandment - to love others.

I am mostly confident that my church would be accepting of this family into our fold.  There may be some disapproval.  But I think, I hope, I pray that people would invite them in with open arms and open hearts.

But in my heart, I knew I couldn't look someone in the eye who might be new to this God thing, who might have been burned by a church before, who may have had someone use Christianity against them, to enter the doors of a a faith that sees them as incompatible with Christian teaching.


I think that is a terribly harmful word.  Incompatible.  Conflicting.  Opposed.  Irreconcilable.

Can you imagine being told that you are so different that you aren't compatible with your church?  With God?

I struggle in my faith in this aspect.  Why wouldn't I leave my church and go to a church that is inclusive?

Because I love these people.  I love the tenets the United Methodist church was founded on.  I love the lessons of John Wesley in partnership with the teachings of Jesus.  I love my church family.  I love the specific church that we attend and the people who are part of it.

But I very sadly feel like I can't invite anyone to my church.  Well, I can invite anyone to the church that I attend.  But I don't feel like I can invite anyone to become a United Methodist.

And that breaks my heart.  Because God is attainable by everyone.  God loves everyone.  As they are, as He created them.  And if God can love unconditionally... shouldn't I at least try?

Here is what I know absolutely.

No one, absolutely no one, is incompatible with God.

So as I sat with this young man... I knew that if it came up, I could and would talk to him about God.  And that he is loved, just as he is.  But I didn't think it would be fair to ask him to visit a denomination that considers him incompatible.  Especially after we had talked about the fears he and his partner had faced when starting the public school... would they be able to make friends with other parents?  Would parents not include their child because he has 2 dads?  Would the teacher or school treat them differently?  Knowing he already faces these fears in regular, everyday circumstances made me so sad... these are worries I don't have to face because my family fits every societal "norm" that there is, it seems.  White, suburban, straight, 2 kids.

Entering the doors of a church can be such a hugely intimate thing, a big and scary thing.  To already have a level of additional fears and concerns and worries about the judgement on the other side of the doors... judgement that feels insurmountable...

It's a struggle that I continue to pray about.  Because that's all that I really can do.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lost: My Mind

Teagan isn't able to do overnights.  Mostly.  She has successfully spent the night with a friend... twice.  The key seems to be Teagan's connection to the mom - if she knows the mom well and feels that the mom is her ally, she does better.  She also has to be able to stay connected to me (being able to call at any time, me leaving her a note in her suitcase).  She has tried, wanted to.  But it just can't happen most of the time.

Our home isn't in the best shape to host a sleepover.  Yet.  We're working on it.  I want our home to be a place where kids can hang out.

But I know that Teagan longs to have that closeness with her little besties.

For Christmas, Teagan's "favorite" gift was a moment of possible insanity on my part.

We have arranged for 3 of her friends to come have an overnight with us.  Me and Teagan.  And 3 other 3rd grade girls.  In a hotel room.  I'm the only adult.  Alone.  With 4 3rd grade girls.

I think I've lost my mind.

I've seen these 4 in action together.  The chatter is non-stop.  The volume can easily escalate.  The conversations are almost impossible to follow.

Teagan and I will pick up each friend.  Then off to dinner.  Then to the hotel for swimming.  Then to the room for... insanity.  I hope to get them into bed by 10.  The hotel includes breakfast.  Then off to see a movie on Tuesday.  Deliver each girl back home.

Then Mommy comes home and locks herself away in the bedroom for a few hours with a large glass of wine and a pair of earplugs.


We're asking the girls to bring their Barbies, favorite toys, craft projects, snacks, and drinks.

I'm bringing a book or 2, my laptop, and earbuds.

Teagan is most excited to see what pajamas everyone wears.  I think that's adorable.

I'm really hoping that this will be one of those truly awesome memories for Teagan.

I fear I've lost my mind... but I also have to admit that I might be a little bit excited, too.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The shopping is done.

The presents are (mostly) wrapped. 

There have been parties

and outings 

School Christmas programs

Fun in the snow

Church Christmas programs

It's Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Open Invitation!!

I want to hear from YOU!  Back in June, I scheduled a bunch of guest posts.  Some were from other bloggers, some were just people who had a story to share.  And the response was very positive.

The reason I blog is just to share.  It's a place to work through my questions and thoughts and to journal some of the highlights of our family.

So being able to take this platform and share it with others... I really like that.

I find I end up inspired by you guys, the readers, becoming the sharers.

So if you've got a story to share, an opinion to shout, a how-to to promote... I'd love to provide the stage!

You can email me using the form to the right or contact me by any of the methods you might be connected to me by.  I'm looking forward to hearing from YOU!


Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Christmas Program

It's Christmas Program time at church!

I've been involved with our children's Christmas program for the past several years - it's a joint effort between me and our Worship Leader / Associate Pastor (and my good friend).  We have done the traditional nativity scene using only Scripture and Carols.  We have done shows where the kids only have to stand and sit and sing at the right moments.  We've done shows where there are lines to memorize and a story to tell.  

This year, we have a play with Scripture and song interspersed throughout.  

And I wrote it.

And Teagan is 1 of 5 of the lead angels in the play.  

But those aren't my favorite things about it.

There are lots of favorite things about it, actually. 

Like... kids being involved that haven't been involved in much with the church before.  Kids taking lead roles that are stepping them out of their comfort zone.  

But I have to confess that I have a favorite moment.  

At one point in the show, the following Scripture is read by one of our kids:

Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests,so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Now, if you've ever attended any kind of Christmas program or kid program... you know that sometimes the kids don't quite get the full meaning of what they are reading?  Especially with Scripture.  I use kid-friendly translations to make it easier and I try to explain to them what they are reading and why it is important.  But when they are reading, it's kind of just a lot of words.

Unless you're the kid reading that bit from Philippians.  Now, some of his reading is just reading the words.  But some of his reading...  he's preachin'.

It kind of goes like this when he gets started -

Don't be anxious about things!!!  Instead -  PRAY! PRAY about EVERYTHING.

I went to a friend's wedding recently and a young woman led us in The Lord's Prayer.  And she got to the end and said...

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, AND the GLORY.

And it changed the prayer for me.

And when this little boy reads that first line... it changes the verse for me.  It makes it sink in differently.

Which is why it's my favorit thing in our Christmas program this year.  Because I think other people are going to hear it and that verse will be changed for them, too.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Do All the Good You Can

Part of why I chose to become a Methodist is because of this quote from the church's founder, John Wesley.

To me, it kind of epitomizes the Great Commandment - love God and love your neighbor.  You follow that commandment and everything else falls into place.  And when you choose to love others, you just might find that you come to a place where you want your love to be actionable.

But sometimes... the need for good in the world is just flat out exhausting.

Because the needs can never all be met.

I'm usually pretty good about being able to "brush off" things happening in far away places.  I accepted a long time ago that other people feel a call to help thos ein need around the globe.  I feel more of a pull to love and care for those in need all around me.

At Christmas, charitable giving and caring for others goes into overdrive.  The demand is higher, the needs are greater, and there is more outpouring.

But it isn't enough.

I don't pretend to think that I can save the world.  Or save a single person, really.

But I find myself a little overwhelmed this year... by the people sitting in the frigid cold with nowhere to go and nothing to eat.  Buying them soup doesn't seem like enough.  Or by the moms struggling to make ends meet and also provide a Christmas for their kids.  Buying them presents doesn't seem like enough.  Or all the kids in foster care who would love nothing more than to have a healthy and normal family.  Buying a kid a gameboy doesn't seem like enough.

Sometimes, I think that if I had the money of Bill Gates for 1 day... I think about renting out entire hotels to give the homeless a place to go and get clean and sleep, warm and safe, for a night.  I think about buying the ridiculous and large mansion that could house so many but sits empty and unused.  I think about the programs that need funding and the food that needs to be provided and the gifts that kids are wishing for and the fears of instability and the marriages that need repairing and the jobs that need to be created and the medical issues that need paid for and...

And it can all get to be overwhelming.  And sad.  And I feel so... helpless.  Like I can't possibly do enough good.  Even if I'm trying to do all the good I can.

And just when I feel like I'm starting to really get staretched thin by trying to do good...

I see something that reminds me of how blessed I am.

And how important it is to keep doing all the good I can.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Now It Feels Like Christmas! #ISMCelebration

We had a fantastic time at Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum!

What I love is that there is a lot to do but it's not an overly chaotic mash up of trying to do a billion things in one day.  When we go to the Children's Museum, for example, I feel pressed to get EVERYTHING in and sometimes forget to let my kids just be kids and enjoy a section for an hour or 2.  But there is just so much to see and do!  At the State Museum, we easily could have stayed longer than the 4 hours we were there (I had an allergy attack and was miserable and had to leave).

But you don't feel like you have to rush.  And that's what made it an enjoyable day.

We arrived and met up with the group of bloggers that were there to enjoy the day.  Then the kids and I raced off for the last minute early lunch reservation we were able to get in the L.S. Ayres Tearoom.  I'd been craving their menu since reading it online... chicken velvet soup was high on my list!  We also love that the hot dog kid's meal comes in a bandana.  And of course, we love dessert!!  Clown ice cream for the kids and the pecan crusted ice cream with hot fudge for me!!

 The museum has a Foucalt Pendulum Clock that is really mesmerizing to watch.  I'm not so good at the science thing but the basic idea is that it keeps time by knocking down the little pegs - but it knocks them down because the pegs move due to the earth's rotation, not because of how the pendulum swings.  For the Christmas season, the museum puts up train tracks and a little village around the clock.  The village is made by knitters!!
Snow effect added by Google +.  Pretty cool!

 We stopped and watched some musicians from above.  Teagan has decided she wants to play handbells like this woman.  I've heard a rumor that we might get handbells at church someday so maybe she will get a chance!  It was really cool to watch this duo - I'm used to seeing a handbell choir with many people and each person only has a couple of bells.  To see one woman doing all the bells was very impressive!

Another favorite at Celebration Crossing is the old train that you can ride after you see Santa (bad mommy - I didn't bother to take a pic of the kids with Santa).  They rode the train multiple times and loved it each time!  The train goes around in a circle and is set in a winter wonderland setting with lots of fun things to see.

Another favorite thing about the train ride is the stop to see Raggedy Ann and get paper snowflakes from her.  We cam ehome with 10 snowflakes and have taped them on the window by the front door.

And it isn't all Christmas stuff.  My kids loved learning about remains found in Indiana and they really loved this dig pit.  They've played in this sort of thing before but never loved it like this one.  This one was really small but my kids played in there for a good 20 minutes or more.  Many other kids came and went but my kids kept going - trying to unearth all the bones.  The best part was when Teagan discovered a brown bone and the 2 started to feverishly dig to unearth it... only to discover that she had found the floor!

Again, we would have spent more time if I hadn't been hit with an allergy attack.  Teagan was fascinated by the natural history section since her class just finished a science section on fossils and rocks.  I guess we will have to make a point to go back and see what else the museum has to offer sometime soon!

If you are looking for a really fun way to ring in the New Year with your kids, the Indiana State Museum has a great opportunity!  They host a Family New Year's Eve on Dec 31 - it's a full on kid friendly party with face painting and stilt walkers and a band and a huge balloon drop at 8 p.m. to ring in the new year, kid friendly style.  Don't miss it!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's Almost Ridiculous

A year ago, I was in a bad place.  And it was all because of my job.  I was ready to walk.  But I kept getting clear signals that I was supposed to stay.

And I'm glad I did.

Because things are so different now.

Last year, I had no energy for Christmas.  My spirit was dark.

This year, I am filled with so much love and joy and excitement for the holiday season!  No special reason why - no big gifts planned or expected.  I'm just so jazzed by decorations and music and snow and fun holiday events and special Christmas services and time with friends and family.

We put up the tree at home and I wore my favorite Christmas t-shirt.  And I loved on each ornament as we hung it up.

I even decorated my workspace.

It continues to strike me... how different it is this year.

I am happy.  Every day.  I look forward to coming to work.  I look forward to being around the people I work with.  I look forward to the work I'm doing.

It's almost ridiculous.  It's kind of weird.  Some people seem a little put off, for a moment, by my happiness.  I wear fun socks and sing carols and make jokes.

Because I am blessed.  I have love and joy to spare.

I'm looking forward to doing fun holiday things with my kids.  I'm excited to be doing charitable things as a family.  I'm eager for family and friend celebrations and meals.

It's Christmas time!  It's time for snow and cold and singing and decorations and fun! And I am fully prepared to enjoy it all!


Monday, December 2, 2013


It sure feels good to be my holiday loving self again this year!

We decorated yesterday - put up the tree and some decorations.  Got ready for some Christmas traditions.

Advent is part of our tradition.  But it hasn't been a big part.  I remember my mom and dad had an Advent wreath on our dinner table and we would do our own Advent devotional.  In our home, we have an Advent calendar that simply marks down the days until Christmas.

Each week of Advent focuses on an aspect of preparation for the coming of Christ.

Hope - the prophecy

Love - the manger

Joy - the shepherds (the pink candle)

Peace - the angels

And finally, in the center of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace is the Christ candle.

We haven't done much with Advent in our family.

Until this year.

I saw this fantastic idea on 100 Days of Real Food.  And I decided to change it up a little to go with the themes of each week of Advent.

Dec 1 - 6
Each day in the calendar will have an activity or act of kindness that focuses on Hope.

Dec 7 - 12
Each day in the calendar will have an activity or act of kindness that focuses on Love.

Dec 13 - 18
Each day in the calendar will have an activity or act of kindness that focuses on Joy.

Dec 19 - 24
Each day in the calendar will have an activity or act of kindness that focuses on Peace.

Dec 25
The activity will be focused on Christ.

I'm sure this isn't some new idea.  I'm sure there are resources out there that already have this sort of plan put together.

But I want this to be specific to my kids, to my family.

I'll be sharing each day's advent calendar entry on my Facebook page so feel free to join in!