Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year New You

I lost my sense of humor. Somewhere in the year 2012 or 2011 maybe? It's debatable, the exact time frame, but my humor just slipped away unnoticed until one day I was taking myself way too seriously and couldn't stop.

When you are obsessed with yourself and how people perceive you, the first thing to go is laughter. This is no joke.

It wasn't until very recently that I started to put all these things together, when a group of ladies told me something to the extent of "I didn't realize you were SO funny! We thought you were SO serious!" 

Listen, the events of the past several years haven't been easy on me. That's just the truth. I have felt isolated and lonely and friendless. I pointed to myself as the problem. I blamed myself and began to obsess over my looks and behavior and how I dressed as ways to make myself more likeable. But in the process I stopped liking who I was and stopped being the version of me that made the most sense.

I lost my humor and I gained a whole lot of anxiety.

Its so hard to get your bearing when your ship is constantly being tossed around, and for the first 10 years of our marriage, my ship was tossed. Around.

We moved 5 times. We gained and lost so many friends. I never really knew who to trust. Not even my husband at times. I wanted to be good for so long, only to find out in the midst of it all that my best efforts weren't even worth much.

The first of this school year, when I sent AK to school, found me to the point of having panic attacks. Heart racing and fatigue and nausea. On top of everything else, all the uncertainty about who I was surfaced and raged furiously. Because, who was I if I wasn't a mom at home with my kids?


I think, looking back on the past 3-4 years,  I can say strongly that there was a depression. Not clinical or anything I needed to medicate. But a dip in life. A place of being low and being sad and being disillusioned. I don't even know that it's a bad thing. I also don't even know that it's completely over. 

But I do know that my humor is finding its way back. The light hearted, sarcastic, laughing until I cry place that is so familiar and so HOME to me. 

I know because there was this group of ladies who told me YOU ARE SO FUNNY and I thought, yeah. I am.

(New Years Resolution: Take a picture of myself every day for the next year.  I'm never in pictures. I hate being in pictures. Also, I got "adult"braces --because I needed more things to be insecure about-)

(And basically this means that I take my picture every night at bedtime because I forgot to take it during the day)

Jan 1. Day after New Years Eve party with friends. Enough Said.

Jan 2. Vanderbilt basketball game against LSU. LSU won. Pre game dinner at Ted Montana's Grill.

Jan 3. No Makeup bed-time selfie with the 6 year old.

Jan 4. No makeup bed-time selfie with the husband. Husband being suggestive, per the usual.

Jan 5. Lunch with sweet friends and our 11 (11!) kiddos.

*please note how I refuse to open-mouth smile.

Jan 6. Me, no makeup. Blogging. Wine.

Ellen out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

101 Ways to Cook a Plantain

There was this moment immediately following the hectic, joyful events of Christmas morning, when everything was calm again and all the presents had been unwrapped then flung into various corners of the living room, as I was surveying my girls' thousands of new toys, that I came to the conclusion that it was time for a complete house purge.
We have SO. MUCH. STUFF.
One of the {few} benefits of moving often is that we have had to clean out and throw away all the junk we no longer use or need every couple of years or so.  We haven't even lived in this new place for 3 years and the amount of empty space is dwindling. It's utterly ridiculous of course to live in a huge house and complain that there isn't enough room.
But hey, 'Merica!
I had grand plans of attacking, organizing and sorting every room and closet in our house,
But I lost my momentum after the kitchen.
It's an exhausting process, physically and mentally. You have to ask yourself such important questions as Why do we have so many lids and no cups? and How many cookie sheets is it reasonable to keep? {I think the answer to that is 2 large sheets. But you be the judge} or Do I really need 5 glass 9x13's? (I think the answer to that is NO.}
Plus I'm not that good with mess and chaos so I spent an entire day trying not to hyperventilate.
Otherwise, I'm proud of my accomplishments and now have space for my extensive collection of Keurig K-cups, glass flower vases, and cookie sprinkles.  I did find a garage door opener we thought we had lost from 3 houses ago. Useful.
What I am saying is, you should also do a purge. Or not. Honestly, it's probably just as well that the mess sits behind closed cabinet doors than that it spills onto your kitchen floors. Out of sight, out of mind.
Now that winter is truly upon us we have all here locally been experiencing a white Christmas many weeks late, stuck in the house with fighting children and nothing to eat but bread with a glass of milk. Actually, it might just be a GREAT time to start organizing those closets!
It will make for a better, more roomier, place to hide with a bottle of wine and leftover valentine's chocolates. SHHHH. They might not find you there for a full 7 minutes!

Our area was hit with some pretty treacherous ice that had the schools closed for 5 days. It also made for some pretty awesome ice sledding and ice-ball fights and ice-ball fight related injuries, and copious amounts of hot chocolate,  many fights over the ipad, fights over the computer, fights over which television show to watch, fights about too much fighting over stuff. Cause that's what happens when you are all just a little too close for an extended period of time with only bread to eat. With a glass of milk, of course.
I wish I could say that Joe and I booked this trip on the spot, because that would just be a more interesting story, but we plan a warm-weather vacation every year about this time since Joe claims to have seasonal affective disorder. And an allergy to cold weather. This makes it necessary for him to seek out a very warm or tropical location every winter in order to escape the cold and promote his general health and well-being. Being his wife, I get to also come along.
This year we chose San Juan, Puerto Rico because, well, WARM! BEACH! SUN! HOT!
Need I go on?
And it was a trip that almost didn't happen when Joe's mom got trapped by ice and couldn't make it in time to watch our girls, and my mom was trapped by ice and couldn't make it either. So we did the responsible thing and left Abby with one friend and Audrey Kate with another friend and GOT THE HECK OUTTA HERE!
It is a decision I do not regret and only felt a tiny twinge of guilt over. TINY.
{Joe's mom made it the next day so it was totally fine.}

And truly do you think that one could express how one's heart leaps when one steps out of the taxi into the hotel lobby wearing furry Ugg boots and glimpses the ocean and feels that amazing salty breeze and immediately runs to the room to put on flip flops and a sun dress?
From 17 degrees and snowing to 85 degrees and gorgeously sunny in less than 6 hours. Don't be jealous guys, just be happy for me, 'k?
Puerto Rico itself is a pretty neat little island with lots of history and old forts and rainforests and whatnot. {If you can convince yourself to get off the beach chair and go see them, that is.}

We were close to San Juan and spent a couple of afternoons wandering the area around the ports and square and eating "authentic" Puerto Rican food. The local food is Caribbean and creole--with a Spanish twist. Puerto Ricans LOVE their plantains {or so it seemed} and I have never eaten one food prepared in such a variety of ways. It was muy creative.
In one meal we were brought them flattened and fried,
pureed in a soup,
and boiled in a side of beans.
We also ate a traditional Puerto Rican dish known as mofongo-- basically cooked, mashed plantains, similar to mashed potatoes, but heavier and grainier. It can be served with sauce and seafood and filled with spices. I though it was yummy but Joe has discovered that plantains just aren't his favorite food. 
I'm not sure he would make it as a native Puerto Rican.
Puerto Rico has rain forests so we did spend a morning on a small {read: not too strenuous because we are on vacation} hike to see a waterfall. La Mina falls is popular for tourists and locals, so it was pretty crowded. Joe got in the water at the base of the falls, though he refuses to allow me to put his picture on social media.
But it looked something like this:
I mean, that's the closest I could find to it... :)
Most of all on this trip there was lots of eating and trying local cocktails and meeting new friends {northerners trying to escape the cold, like us} and beach sitting. I got a sunburn. The bar at our hotel claims to be the inventor of the pina colada, so I had to try one!
And then, we came home.
To our entire back patio doubling as an ice skating rink.
And with more snow predicted for tonight, I have no choice but to head to the store for bread and milk.
And maybe some plantains.
Mofongo anyone?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Ties That Bind

A few weeks before Christmas break Audrey Kate’s preschool sent home a letter to each child addressing the upcoming Christmas performance that would be held at the school.

Of course the letter let us parents know what time to show up and what our kids should wear and where we should sit for optimal picture-taking. But one particular piece of advice made me chuckle. It was a simple reminder that we, as parents, need not put too much stock in this preschool Christmas performance.

Some kids will cry and refuse to participate. Little Johnny might sing with his finger up his nose. Little Susy might not sing at all. {Or, as in my child's case, some will look part terrified/ part confused the entire time.} Either way and no matter what, the letter read, please know that this is not an indication of your child’s future life performance. It most likely won’t dictate whether your son or daughter goes on to Harvard or is nominated for the Supreme Court.

In other words, lighten up parents!

I can honestly admit that I wasn’t prepared for this aspect of parenthood that has me so wrapped up in how my kids are functioning in every aspect of their lives, insanely and subconsciously balancing the weight of their future success on preschool performances and play date invitations. This is the most challenge that I have come across so far in my parenting journey. Forget the temper tantrums and sleep deprivation. Potty training, in comparison, was a breeze! This, my friends, has thrown me for a loop.

It could simply be a product of where I am as a mom. The early elementary years are completely new to me, and currently they are all I know. But I also know there is an intrinsic tie, especially as moms, that binds us to our children and in some strange, unwelcome way I am remarkably affected by both their joys and their sorrows. Their accomplishments and their failures. Their anxiety can become mine –possibly even magnified—in an instant.

My girl scores a soccer goal and it feels like it was me out on that field, I’m so bursting with pride. Yet, she is left off the birthday party invitation list and –it’s me, left out. That’s how it feels, anyway.

So intimate.

It’s strange and weird and completely unexpected.

Of course both girls are growing older and venturing out without me more and more, my 8 year old especially. That’s how it should be in some ways. It’s hard to let go and watch them make mistakes and get hurt. It puts a knot in my stomach even now to think of one of them being intentionally left out or sitting alone on the playground or being uninvited.

But we have all been there—I know I have. I suppose those experiences help to shape us into more compassionate people as we grow, but as a mom I can’t help wanting to shield them from the hurt.

Maybe I just want to shield me from the hurt.

And if it’s this bad now, OH MY GOSH MIDDLE SCHOOL? 

But as a wise preschool letter once said—Get over yourself, mom! (I’m paraphrasing now.) Too much pride and too much sorrow isn’t warranted or necessary. Ups will come and so will downs and all the in-betweens and as long as we are breathing there is a tomorrow that is new.

I know that the best I can give my girls is a heart filled with peace amidst the turmoil. Peace in the rejections and peace in the acceptance and peace for the in-betweens. That God-given peace. The one that says Ellen, I am working things out perfectly so you don’t have to! (THANK GOODNESS)

There is such a security in knowing that God has my girls' hairs numbered and will catch their every tear and those times, the hard ones and the easy ones, are about shaping them more and more into His likeness.

Just like He is still shaping me.

{And the Supreme Court? That's still an option, ya know!}

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I just googled Hazmat suits for kids

I had the unusual pleasure of getting away with my husband for a long weekend--alone--without children--by ourselves--just adults. There was no business or work involved, simply a much needed weekend of relaxation, warmer climate, and leisurely meals without interruption. Oh, and did I mention the rollercoasters? {And the ALONE-ness?}

Joe's frequent work travels result in a few perks. So free plane tickets and hotel rooms, in laws to keep our girls, and this maddening winter all gave us a valid excuse to GET THE HECK OUTTA HERE. I mean, leave for a short time while missing everyone terribly.

For all my husband's businessy-savvy-serious-workishness, he must actually be a big kid at heart, since almost every trip we take somehow involves a rollercoaster. But that's ok, since I like rollercoasters, too. And it's been kinda rare, in recent times, that we are able to enjoy a good rollercoaster ride together, seeing as how I have been pregnant or with a small child in tow for the past 8 years.

So we hopped a flight down to Orlando {ALONE} and immediately went to bed. Since that's how we roll. But the next day we took our fun rollercoaster-loving selves to Universal Studios/Isands of Adventure where I met a Transformer and drank an entire butterbeer.

And those, folks, are the only two pictures we took the entire weekend. We had other funs, like eating beignets at a piano bar and seeing a mid-day movie, watching people eat pureed worms at a Fear Factor show and, of course, riding rollercoasters.
We also saw the Barenaked Ladies in concert who, I had to later explain to my girls, were neither Ladies nor Naked.
It was such a great respite from the delirium that has become this forsaken winter. I seriously rebuke this winter. I'm just not even going to recount the various trials and tribulations {ie: very minor, yet annoying, illnesses} that have troubled us, but suffice it to say that someone has been sick in one various form or another, since Christmas. 
The insane and frigid winter has wreaked all sorts of havoc. Our backyard pool froze over like a skating rink. Our dog refused to go outside for a solid week {YOWZA!} and we had a great deal of family togetherness that involved us sharing many germs, apparently.
Imagine how thrilled we were when this week dawned gloriously warmer and brighter! I practically forced my kids outside yesterday afternoon. {I believe the words were "Go outside and play or stay inside and clean. Your choice."} So anyway they went outside to play and not 10 minutes later Audrey Kate came frantically running back inside to let me know that Abby was stuck upside down in the swingset.
Why wouldn't she be?
And then Audrey Kate immediately fell and lost her leg scraped her knee a bit. Maybe it would help if she wore her shoes on the right feet? I dunno.

{No children were seriously injured in the taking of these insensitive photographs.}
And I got them tidied up and unstuck and back to playing only to have Abby come sobbing to the back door 5 minutes later, followed closely by her sister, with approximately 1 wrist injury and 2 arm scratches, respectively.
At that point I asked, "Did you children forget how to play outside? Has it been that long, really? Do you need playing outside lessons?"
{And when I walked back into my kitchen I realized I had left the gas burner going on the stove and I had to ask myself, "Did you forget how to cook? Do you need cooking lessons?"} Yes. Yes I do.
But thankfully, as of yesterday, we had been illness free for approximately 4 days and it felt awesome and I was ready to declare ourselves "fit to go out in public" once more...
until Abby woke up this morning...
And instead of all the things I was going to do, I stayed at home and took temperatures and administered medicines,
and sat in front of the computer googling
hazmat suits for kids.
If you see this little green guy around town don't be afraid.
It's just Abby.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Busy Days

I haven’t meant to not blog, it has just been a gradual process of weaning it from my daily life.  Honestly, I got a bit annoyed with writing about myself, so I just had to assume that other people {you, dear reader} were equally annoyed.

But MAN! I LOVE the documentation I have had these past 6 years and I would not trade it for anything. Sometimes I get sad that my current 4 year old will not have the same glamorous paparrazi-like attention showered upon her as did my eldest daughter, especially as she is one of the funniest people to ever have walked the face of the earth. She is also extremely strong-willed, so I get to experience the challenges and joys of parenting this child who is part crazy/ part adorable. If I truly was convinced of the truth of such theories, I would believe that my 4 year old was the pinnacle of all evolutionary principles. She spends her days fighting hard for what she wants and looks cute while doing it. Self-preservation? Survival of the fittest? Yes. She is going to be just fine.

Me? Well, we will see.

I think you would enjoy hearing about her and her strong-willed 4 year old ways.  

So a lack of blogging can be definitely also be ascribed to my busy days of mothering this precious handful and her big sister.

These girls are growing up fast! All this growing up means for me that my days are busier and busier. I was under some strange illusion that once I had one child in school my life would be a slow roll of days at home with the occasional trip to the grocery store. How wrong I was! I feel busier than ever before, and while some busy is good, other busy is not, and I certainly cannot claim to have found the balance between them.

And very much besides the fact that my blog has had picture loading issues and script issues and been all around annoying logistically, I also have found myself purely and completely overwhelmed in many other ways that have kept me from blogging. Overwhelmed by life’s complications and hardships. Watching friends walk through some hard, hard things. Looking around to see so much hurt and confusion, anger and disillusionment has left me uncharacteristically speechless.

I don’t really know what to say. There just aren’t easy answers.

And so, probably wisely, I have been silent. It’s usually best when I am! J

I have been a {mostly) silent observer to some of the deepest pains of life that people can endure, and I’ve walked away with the knowledge that life is devastating and raw and at best perplexing. It’s never really what we hoped for, even when it is good and light. Even when our kids are dancing in the kitchen with full bellies and laughter rings throughout the house, there is always a subtle ache, a nagging whisper, to remind us that something is missing. Something just isn’t quite right.

We are broken and found wanting. All of us. And we all need Grace.

Grace because we will never live up to our own standards, let alone God’s. Grace because all of our efforts to be good and righteous don’t even guarantee us a happy life, let alone salvation. Grace because sometimes hope seems like it’s a world away, but we need it now. 

Grace because we are weak.

God’s grace is sufficient and abundant and doesn’t falter or discriminate and we don’t deserve it but He offers it anyway. It’s available to me, even me, when I am haughty and rude and prideful. When I am impatient with my children or snap at my husband or look down on others’ bad choices. When I make my own bad choices.

Yep, even for me.

And somehow the brokenness around me all makes sense. If we are all as broken as I am, things are bound to get ugly. We can’t escape our brokenness, we have to be rescued from it.

So on these busy days of mothering and errands and discipline and chores and school functions and playdates, birthday parties and moms’ nights and date nights, cooking and laundry (and the occasional exercise), I am immensely thankful for grace.  The truth about who I am meets the Creator of the universe and this is how it is reconciled: I get a righteousness that isn’t mine and He dies a death that isn’t His.

I don’t know much of anything about life. I know that the sorrow can be big and the hurts can run deep. I certainly don’t have many answers. But I do know one thing in these busy days, I can cling to Grace.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become Children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God. John 1:12

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Uninteresting Tales, Volume I

Have you ever accidentally made dessert? I've gotta say, accidentally making a dessert is one of the most amazing accidents one could experience in a lifetime of accidents. CRAZE-MAZING.
We have had a great deal of "accidents" here at the Grant house. Most of them are as un-amazing as you can get.
So the story of the accidental dessert is this: one evening we were all jonesing for something sweet, and because I am really mean to myself, I refuse to buy sweets at the grocery store. Most of the time I am thankful that I cruised right by the oreo display and refused to entertain the ice cream aisle.
But sometimes? SOMETIMES? (EVERY FEW MINUTES) I am really, really wishing for something chocolate to appear in the pantry. My kids have been known to gnaw on baking chocolate. Hiding behind closed pantry doors. With the lights off. I've seen the teeth marks, I know I'm right.
 That's how dry and parched things have become on the Grant home front as far as desserts are concerned. Except this one time I bought this CRAZE-MAZING concoction (Yes, I have a bet with myself on how many times I can use craze-mazing appropriately in a sentence.) (I am winning.)
known as Nutella (RIGHT? Hive five.) because I needed it for something I was baking and well, it ended up just sitting there in the pantry, half the jar unused. In the dark. CALLING TO US. Because that is how Nutella works, that unassuming jar of hazelnut and cocoa blend, it CALLS to you.
Can you hear it?
So some genius, I can not remember who (probably me), suggested slathering it on a tortilla and toasting it on the stove top.

What?! Delish.

Now to this day in our home this is actually a "thing." Like, do you happen to have any Nutella to make those Nutella tortilla toasty things? No? RUN SWIFTLY to the store. Hurry! (That is a true story, by the way.)

I like happy accidents, don't you? 
(Fortunately there was no accident involving knives and tongues.)
Other accidents aren't quite as delicious, but are just as entertaining.
I don't know about you, but making dinner every night can be a chore. Sometimes my days can be an outright marathon of activity, and finding the time to chop, dice, slice, stir, bake or sauté is a challenge. Even harder sometimes is the challenge of making new and different (and tasty!) meals that are healthy and that my family enjoys. I LOVE using my crockpot, and I found a recipe online that called for chicken, diced tomatoes and cannellini beans in the crockpot.
The thing about cannellini beans is this: Once upon a time, about 6 months ago, I went on a big kick to make home made hummus. And because I got bewildered and harried at the grocery store (my usual grocery shopping state) I bought about 2 or 10 cans of cannellini beans, because I confused them for CHICKPEAS (garbanzo beans.) And I got home, went to make some hummus, then realized I had 2 or 10 cans of the wrong bean. Back to the store I went for garbanzos. (and yes, I eventually made a small batch of, quite tasty, hummus that no one ate but me and I had to eventually throw out.) (Sad story.)
Now we are back to present day me who is at the grocery store shopping for ingredients and thinking to herself, SELF, YOU HAVE MANY CANNELLINI BEANS AT HOME.
Self, you needn't buy cannellini beans because of that one time, 6 months ago, when you bought 2 or 10 cans of them and they are sitting unused in your pantry. SCORE!
And self gets home, prepares her chicken crockpot dish, scours the pantry for the loot of cannellini beans that she is positive are taking over the canned goods shelf, and finds....
 8 cans of garbanzos! And not one single can of cannellini beans.
Really, it's positively a mystery. One observation to be made here is that I need to make better bean choices. Another observation is that I need to make some hummus.
ThE eNd

Thursday, August 15, 2013

3 months

How much has happened in 3 months? Well, let me write you a novel.
But I won't because I am much too kind for that.
So, in a nutshell,
Audrey Kate became a 4 year old. The haircut she gave herself back in the spring has now grown longer and is almost unnoticeable. She had end of the year dance recitals, precious in her tutus and headpieces, and went to dance camp with her two best friends. She swam like a fish. She had her "first" official birthday party. She spent the summer in princess high heels or a bathing suit. She stayed a week with her grandparents and had a blast. She changed clothes 230238420984 times a day.  She learned how to spell BOTH of her names. She still tells her daddy that she will never get married, never grow up, and that she will live with him forever.
Abby finished her first year of Kindergarten and started first grade. She went from being a 6 year old to being a 7 year old. She lost another tooth.  She fell off her bike on our family vacation and scraped her cheek, knee and thigh. That injury has healed completely. She swam and swam and swam in our backyard pool, sometimes with friends, sometimes just with her little sister. She grew into another size of clothes. She went to horse camp with her two best friends. Her hair grew longer. Her shoes are getting too small.  She went from telling her daddy that she would never marry and live with him forever, to telling him that maybe, just maybe, possibly she MIGHT get married some day, but probably not.
Joe went to work. :)
Ellen became smarter and wiser and more amazing, until she realized that she really wasn't.
And so now you have found yourself caught up.
It is quite interesting the changes that 3 months can bring.

Friday, May 3, 2013

There's a Coffee Pot in My Bathroom

Hello blog!
I hope you don't take my silence here to mean that there is nothing much going on in my life!
{This blog, among its many other talents, speaks conversational French. Je Suis Perdu.}
{Ok, really it doesn't. It only speaks the occasional words and phrases it remembers from its Junior year in High School. And sometimes confuses them with Spanish ones.}
Donde Esta la Sanitarios, s'il vous plait?
Well, as if I didn't have enough going on, I decided to add a little bitty kitchen reno to my already play-date packed schedule, so that has left me a tad topsy-turvy these past few weeks.  Man! You really don't realize how much you use your kitchen until you, like, can't use your kitchen. 
My husband had me relocate our coffee maker to the master bathroom because I guess coffee is just THAT important around here. But it does feel strange to grind the whole beans every morning right next to the toothbrushes...and not too many steps away from the toilet. I try not too think very hard about it.
My Kitchen:

I will be pleased to put up before and after pictures if the AFTER ever gets here. It seems like an endless endeavor, but I am sure the end product will be Muy Bien.
In the meantime, here are my pretty girls. They just won't stop growing up!

Au Revoir, mis amigos!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

An Assortment

A quick peak into life the last couple of weeks:
We went on a "family date" to eat lunch and see a move. The Croods, to be exact.

I keep telling my girls this is where I am going to send them to college:

My grandmother makes me laugh. She is so current, with her Iphone and everything. I got this frenzied text message from her:
(I love you nanny! Happy Birthday!)

Also? She said "cotton picking." Isn't that the cutest??
Abby is loving reading and writing. She wrote her Aunt Melinda and Uncle Andrew a letter. It was all about their new baby. Did I mention they are having a GIRL?! Woohoo!
Over Spring Break my mom and I took both girls to the Nashville Children's Theater to see Pinkalicious the Musical. It was so cute. They loved it.

I had a few moments to myself one day and borrowed my parents car to make it to an appointment. I couldn't figure out how to change the radio stations, so I ended up listening to classical music the entire time.  It was both annoying and relaxing all at once!

Easter happened and it was so fun. (BTW, have you ever seen an Easter Bunny costume that wasn't creepy?) (Me, neither.)

Audrey Kate and I spend lots of our day together, every day, all day. One day last week she accidentally spilled some water in the kitchen and I asked her to clean it up with a towel. It was just a tiny spill, really. So when I came back into the kitchen she had emptied my entire dishtowel drawer.
Yep, she got the spill up.


she raided my closet and emptied out my jewelry cabinet.
She is one funny girl that suprises me every time I turn my back. :)

Last but not least, Charlie-dog is getting to be just the sweetest.
Anyway, short but sweet post--full of pictures from a couple of weeks ago!
Now that it is getting warmer--yay! we are excited to get out and about. Or just stay home and play lots. Who knows?
Happy Spring Finally!

Friday, March 29, 2013

What Easter REALLY Looks Like

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8).
I recently finished reading through the book of Romans. It took me a couple of months because I decided to read it s l o w l y and in-depth. At or around Romans chapters 7 and 8 my brain started to leak out through my ears. Heavy stuff. Truly awe-inspiring, heavy stuff. In fact, now that I am through with Romans, I think I might have to start reading it again, because it contains more information than this here brain can absorb. At this rate I will understand the book of Romans in the year 2034, and then maybe I will move on to Thessalonians or Colossians. However, I am going to try to avoid the book of Revelation for as long as possible. Maybe it will have all come true by the time I start reading it?
All joking aside, a few years ago I came to the startling realization that my Biblical knowledge was quite lacking, especially for a girl who was church-grown and bred, and I took steps to remedy the situation.  For a large part of my life much of my belief was based on what I was told, and surely all I was told was not incorrect, thought some of it was. But it doesn't matter much to believe something without going to the source of that belief, does it?
I recently watched the movie Argo with my husband, and we both thought it was a great movie. But then I ruined it by googling the actual, you know, facts.
The movie contained some of the basic elements of the true story but had put a twist on them, left some important parts out, or embellished the facts in order to, of course, make an easier to watch, easier to follow, and more emotionally- gripping movie.
(I have an annoying habit of wanting to know the real story behind just about anything. That is why I spent an entire week after watching Secretariat reading novels about famous racing horses, watching biographies about famous racing horses, and scouring the internet for videos of famous horse races. I became, for one week during the winter of 2011, a horse-racing expert.)
(It is a strange compulsion, but it is this very compulsion that led me to, finally, after many years of "doing church," want to figure out the facts. So to speak.)
So after watching Argo, and then finding out more about the true story behind the film, I bounced into bed that evening and exclaimed to Joe, "I figured it out! We've Argoed the Bible!"
And he said, "Huh?" and he rolled over and went to sleep.
But I couldn't sleep because I knew that I was on to something. At the very least, I am able to give a visual of what I see happening to the Bible. What some churches do to the Bible, what some Christian bloggers do to the Bible, what our sometimes well-meaning pastors, friends, teachers, spiritual advisors, priests, counselors or Christian authors can do to and with the Bible. What I can do to the Bible, if I am not careful.
We Argo it. 

Thinking it can't stand on its own feet, we embellish, twist, leave out facts in order not to offend. We want the Bible to be more palatable, we want it to be easier to understand. We want it to be emotionally gripping and we want to make it fit our purposes, instead of the other way around.
That is what I am thinking about this Easter. About the ways in which we have mangled the Gospel and made it look like but a shell of itself. We forget, or maybe we never truly understood, that the Bible isn't a story about us, it is a story about God and His plan for the redemption of mankind. 

We want to take the Son of God, who came to Earth wrapped in the flesh of a human yet never, ever sinned and portray him as simply an avenger of social justice, a really nice guy who wanted to do good things rather than convict men of sin and lead them to repentance. We say that the world would love Jesus if they could just get to know Him, but we forget that Jesus himself said he was hated by the world. He was rejected by it and killed by it. He was mocked and spat on. The world did know Him, and they hated him.
 We point our fingers in disgust at the Biblical pharisees and fail to see that we are the pharisees, haters of God, constantly writing our own versions of righteousness and attempting to live them out. Never mind that Jesus makes it clear that there is no righteousness apart from him.
Jesus drew hard lines, but we don't like hard lines, so we re-draw them. Yet Jesus said You are either with me or you are my enemy. There is no in-between, not with God. We are not just silent observers, we are not sideline cheerleaders, we are not thoughtful onlookers or innocent passers-by to what God is doing. Our sin is weighty and big. In fact, the Bible says that because of it we deserve death. Oh, and not just death, but God's wrath. But we prefer to gloss over sin, maybe even leave it out of our Bible teaching and churches, because it makes us feel bad. Who wants to be a sinner condemned to spiritual eternal death? Not me!
 The hard line is this: my righteousness comes from Christ, not of my own doing. My sin is real and it is big, and it trumps any good thing I might do. My heart is decietful and wicked above all else, but Jesus' sacrifice was enough to satisfy God's wrath against me and make me an heir to His incredible grace and righteousness!

I wasn't enough.
HE was enough.

The world does a pretty good job sometimes of looking "good." It doesn't need us for that.  But The Gospel has never been about looking good. It is about our hearts bowing in repentance and faith to our Savior. (Though out of our gratefulness for His salvation we spill out and overflow into the world, making Him known with words and deeds.)
So may our Easter not look like the world's Easter, an Easter that contains lots of rules but little hope. May our Gospel not be an Argo gospel: just a really neat story that only mimics the true story. The true story is much, much better. It is a story that saves.

 May we not worry about better ratings and critic's choice awards, but may we be faithful to the God of the Bible who does not change like shifting shadows or bend with the whims of current culture. His Truth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Beginning and the End and He wants to bring Glory to Himself by saving sinners.
Sinners like me. Sinners like you.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

So that we, in repentance and faith in Jesus, may be called His friend.

And that is what Easter REALLY looks like.

*(John 15:18, Ephesians 2, Romans 3:21-26, Jeremiah 17:9, Matt 12:30, James 1:17,Revelation 22:13)

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