I don't know.

This started out as a FaceBook post. It started simple.

My dad has cancer.

How simple and complex that one statement is! I knew I couldn't put just that, although that's the only thing that's been running through my mind. I know people will ask questions: What kind? What's the treatment? How are you doing? How are your parents doing? Can we do anything to help?

The first two answers are easy. It is thyroid cancer, and since he already had his thyroid removed, the next step is to do radioiodine treatment. Except for the skin cancer that I had a few years ago, it is the most treatable cancer, with the highest survival rate. He sees his doctor on Monday. We'll know more specifics about the treatment then.

The next question is the most difficult, because I really don't know how I'm doing. I've been processing for days. It's not real to me. Something as abstract as cancer can't possible hurt my daddy

My daddy, whom I still call when my husband is out of town and I hear a noise outside. My daddy, whom my sister called from California when she couldn't find her car. I'm sure she knew he couldn't help her in any other way than calm her down and talk her through it. It's just that... he fixes things. That's what daddies do, right? How can there be something he can't fix?

 I've never seen him fight anyone, or even play a contact sport. Still, he's not somebody you want to mess with. I remember how he could look at us from across the room - or **shudder** straight down from the pulpit - without saying a word, and we knew we had better change our behavior immediately. Not because he was going to hurt us (he's a pastor, most of the time we would have rather he spanked us than give us a lecture, trust me!), but because we knew that it was not acceptable. I've had grown men tell me that they had a crush on me in high school, but would never date me because they were terrified of him. This wasn't some punk kid, either. It was a good guy, one, who, at times, reminded me of my dad. My dad stands up when he feels something is wrong, and I don't know that I've ever seen him lose that fight. How can something I can't even see or feel or touch possibly hurt him? 

He and my husband are the 2 most godly men I know. I always seek both of their advice on anything serious. He's my favorite preacher. In a recent situation in our church, I thought he was making the worst mistake. He told us to wait, and let it work itself out. It did. With as minimal impact on our church body as one could expect. He's made mistakes. I know he's not perfect. But one of my favorite things about him is that when he knows he's made a mistake, he comes to you and apologizes. I don't agree with him on everything. But he let's me think what I think with only a small amount of teasing. (If you know my dad, you're smiling at that, because you know he just can't help himself.) How can something that God could control possibly hurt my dad? 

It could, theoretically, hurt him. ("It won't. It can't," my heart says, "Something like this can't hurt him.") I can't think about that. As far as God goes, I know he's not upset with God about it. As cliche as it sounds (and I hate cliches so it pains me to write this), maybe this is God slowing him down. My dad does not know how to slow down on his own. Maybe that's not it at all. Maybe God just allowed this to happen. 

For right now, the answer is as simple and complex as my original Facebook status: I don't know. I don't know how I'm doing. I don't know what will happen. I don't know how I'll deal.

I also don't truly know how my parents are doing, though they say they're doing ok with it all. In the end, they're still the parents, and I doubt they would let us know if they were truly worried. I understand that, even if I would like to know how they're really doing.

I also don't know what to tell you to do to help us. Pray for us. Love us. Hug us if we need it. That's about it. I'm sure there will be more things to do when my dad gets his treatment, so, if you're inclined, ask again, and we'll be more specific.

A few things I do know: I know that there is a loving church family here to support us, and family far away to support as well. I know that my heart is overjoyed and filled with gratitude for that. I do know God doesn't promise us that our lives will be full of rainbows and unicorns as Christians. So, we'll take this in stride, see where it takes us. We'll see how this changes our faith, how it affects our lives. I know that I'll learn something through this, as will the rest of my family. I know that nothing reaches us that doesn't go through God's hands. So, whether it's His idea or not, we'll take it and go forward. I know that I will look for the blessings in the journey we're taking. I'll seek out the joy in something that is difficult. By God's grace, I'll find that joy, show it to my children, and become better for it.

Hooked on a Feeling

I sat down in the tub the other day after a long day. A long day in which I argued with my chiropractor (one of the smartest ladies I know) about losing weight. She, and her assistant (who's also really smart) were saying things like, "Don't worry about the scale." "It will happen." "You're doing the things you need to be doing, just keep it up."

I impatiently replied, "I just want to see the numbers go down!"

Me and numbers. We have a terrible relationship. It's not even love-hate. It's just hate. I hate numbers. I hate math. I teach English. (I never tell my students I hate math, though, so don't worry, math colleagues.) Honestly, if someone is talking and I hear too many numbers, my mind immediately stops comprehending. 

Numbers when it comes to my weight and size are even worse. They've made me cry. They've frustrated me to no end. They've gone up and down with pregnancy, nursing, and weight loss. These numbers have defined my worth for me at times. I would look down at those numbers just above my toes and think about how I've failed, how I'm fat, a terrible person.

In the tub, I sat down, and had this odd sensation. A simple sentence popped into my head, a sentence I've probably never thought and almost certainly never spoken before: "I'm beautiful." I can't explain it. My hair was in the same sloppy ponytail that it usually is at the end of the day. What was left of that day's makeup was likely incredibly smudged from the face-smashing at the chiropractor. The water was hot, so I was sweating. I have five kids, so there are always bags under my eyes. And yet, there was this moment where I felt not cute or pretty, but truly beautiful. There was no one around me, no sweet child calling me a princess or my husband saying something nice. It just came over me. It made me wonder.

What if I stopped focusing on numbers and started focusing on feelings? What if I searched for this feeling rather than a number on a scale? For nearly a year, I've weighed myself almost daily. What if, instead of looking to the scale to see "how I did," I looked to how I feel?

I reflected on the way I feel when I run. The way I feel when I do yoga, or swim. The way I feel when I do one of those things better than the last time I did them. I feel strong, worthy, in control of myself. Or, the way I feel when I eat pizza: that feeling of a solid lump in my belly, making me tired and leaving me slumped on the couch. As opposed to the feeling when I eat something healthful: I feel light and energetic and happy. I thought of the way I feel when I take time for myself. I feel at peace and at ease. I feel rested and prepared.

What if a simple shift in my focus - from external to internal - changes my life? I might lower my weight and sizes and even BMI in doing this. I'll likely gain better health and more energy. But, I think I'll gain so much more than that. Comfort in my own skin, confidence, intuition, the ability to control what I eat and how I feel. I think this could allow me enjoy the journey, instead of focusing on my destination.

I'm putting my scale in the garage tomorrow. I won't look at it for two months. I'm going to focus on my internal scale and let that be my guide. I'm going to focus on doing the things that make me feel healthy, beautiful, light, at peace. This won't be me eating whatever I feel like eating, but me choosing my actions based on how they will make me feel, physically and mentally, after I'm done.

Anybody willing to take this journey with me? Because, you know, a journey is so much better when travelling with friends. <3

I've used my limited computer skills to make a little reminder for myself. Feel free to use as well.

A New Look at an Old Story (at least for me)

Part of the sermon at church on Sunday included Peter. Peter and his infamous denial of Christ.
Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon,look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
   33 “Lord,” he told Him, “I’m ready to go with You both to prison and to death!”
   34 “I tell you, Peter,” He said, “the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me!” ...  54 They seized Him, led Him away, and brought Him into the high priest’s house. Meanwhile Peter was following at a distance. 55 They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, and Peter sat among them. 56 When a servant saw him sitting in the firelight, and looked closely at him, she said, “This man was with Him too.”
   57 But he denied it: “Woman, I don’t know Him!”
   58 After a little while, someone else saw him and said, “You’re one of them too!”
   “Man, I am not!” Peter said.
   59 About an hour later, another kept insisting, “This man was certainly with Him, since he’s also a Galilean.”
   60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The usual implications of Peter were made. He was scared. He didn't want to die quite yet. We accept these as part of Peter's personality. That may all be 100% accurate.

It struck me though, that maybe we're missing something. What if Peter wasn't scared of persecution? What if Peter had a sudden and complete lack of faith? Consider you've been following this guy that you think is the Messiah. You believe with all your heart that He is come here and now to save you and your people - finally. And then, he's arrested. He doesn't even fight it! You try to fight for him, chopping off some soldier's ear, and what does He do? He puts it right back on! Can't you just see Peter looking at Jesus, like, "Wait, whaaa?" (ok, so it might not have been Peter who cut off the guy's ear, but whatever.) How would you feel?

Then, in all of the Gospel accounts, Peter follows Jesus to the court. Maybe he didn't want to miss The Awesome Thing that Jesus was going to do! Show all these guys who's boss God! But, then He was convicted. He let these people lie about Him, and let this earthly ruler condemn Him to death. I can put myself in Peter's shoes, see him looking around and thinking, "Wait. This is not how this is supposed to work. If He dies, then what? What was all this for? What's the point?"

So he denies Christ. 

We often talk as if Peter did this because he was scared. That he sold out his beliefs to save his neck. What if, in that moment, it wasn't a matter of not being true to his beliefs? What if he truly felt that he wanted nothing further to do with Jesus? What if, he suddenly thought that all he believed had been a lie? A scam? What if he was being true to what he believed in that moment

Again, I see him in my mind's eye. He walks out of the court dazed. He doesn't know what to think or feel. All he knows is despair. He thought Christ was infallible. How could this happen? He's remembering the Road to Damascus, thinking, "Certainly, I didn't imagine that... could I?" Second-guessing every experience he's had. "How did I walk on water? Is there some scientific reason it worked for a minute? Is that why I fell in the end?"

Maybe Peter is just like me. There are moments when I look around think, "Wait. Why is this happening? I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing! Where is your power? Why aren't you fixing this?!" and "I thought this was the plan. Maybe I just tricked myself into believing. Maybe all of this faith is something I've created." What if I'm simply following in the footsteps of one of the Greats of our faith? 

Maybe in that moment, when he locked eyes with Jesus, he didn't feel guilty for not standing up for his faith, but instead remembered that Jesus told him this would happen. What if that was not just a moment of conviction, but of realization? Realizing there was so much more to the story than he knew? Realizing that only a Mighty God could tell him what would happen in the coming hours?

He ran off weeping. We assume it was contrition. What if it was amazement - or even joy? Knowing that his God had not abandoned him? That all hope was not lost? He did race John to the empty tomb a few days later, so maybe it's not too far off.

I've never heard this theory before, but I doubt I'm the first to come up with it. Do you think it holds water? Do you have evidence to support or smack down this idea? Please, share!

Running for Rachel Anne

Meet Rachel Anne. Today, she is a happy, healthy 9-year old. Six years ago, she was experiencing cancer treatment after being diagnosed on her 3rd birthday.

I became friends with Rachel's mom when we were both pregnant with our second children. Both our girls and our boys are the same age, so Rachel's diagnosis hit home with me as well. I watched from afar as this family dealt with things no parent ever wants to think about, much less experience.

Rachel's mom explains, "The protocol consisted of twenty six months of daily oral chemotherapy- along with spinal taps, additional shots and additional chemotherapy agents injected into her port." Consider that for a moment.

Read the rest of this blog at my TNT Fundraising Page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/snv/disneyh12/knewmandpx

Help Me Be Good Enough!

I have some exciting news! I have decided to run the Disneyland Half Marathon on September 2nd! I'm so nervous and excited I could throw up right on my keyboard!

I'm nervous because:
What if I can't do it?
What if I'm not good enough?

I'm excited because:
Me, running a half marathon! {picture me, giddy, jumping up and down}

Running a half marathon is something I've wanted to do for all of my adult life. I've started running so many times, stopping all too quickly. Several of those times I stopped were after I got pregnant again. But, now I'm committed! I've been running steadily for 6 months. And {fingers crossed} shouldn't get pregnant again! (I'll never rest certain in that again, you know. Pastor Hubby can get a negative result 17 times, and I'll still be taking pregnancy tests a day early because I'm anxious.) And I need your help!

Remember my reasons for being nervous? Isn't that everybody's worry? What if I'm not good enough? Running makes me feel like I am good enough. After a run, I don't feel fat or lazy or stupid. I feel strong and powerful and ... enough.
I need you to tell me you think I can do it! You can do that below in the comments, and it will be amazingly helpful.

But, you can be even more helpful! "How?" you ask? "What on earth could be more helpful than the printed word, encouraging you to accomplish your goal?" You can put your money where your mouth is!

Donate to my website.
There's a little widget right there --------------->
that you can donate through. [All donations are secure and tax-deductible. You will receive a receipt at the email address you provide.]

Why will this help me? Your donation will help me in the same way that running for TNT helps me.

TNT stands for Team In Training, and it benefits The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or LLS. LLS provides Patient Financial Aid Programs, Family Support Groups, and other education programs for schools, patients, and even politicians. My favorite thing they offer is a connection program that matches new patients with a trained volunteer who has gone through a similar experience (diagnosis and treatment), allowing new patients to ask questions and get answers from someone who's been there. One story I heard was of a woman who had decided she didn't want treatment because she didn't want to lose her hair. In speaking with her peer mentor, she found out that hair loss was not a side effect of her treatment. Simply, that peer counseling may have saved that woman's life! I believe in mentors. I know the effect they can have on a life. If LLS funded nothing else, it would be worth it to me. {but they do more!}

I've chosen to run with and for TNT because I can help people, and receive help in return! It's a win-win! LLS has committed that 75% of the money raised will go to supporting patients. I get to train with people with similar goals, be coached by real running coaches, and be cheered along every step of the way. I really have no reason to fail!

So, I'm asking you to add one more reason to win. Put a little money in. That's your way of putting your faith in me. Telling me that I can do this thing. This humongous thing that's been on the short bucket list I've got. (Bonus: I'll cross it off before I'm 30!) You will motivate me to run farther than I think I can on each training run because I know you're standing behind me, trusting that I can and will do it! I know how far we're stretching our dollars right now, and if you have the faith in me to donate some of that to LLS through me, I'll have to cross that finish line. And, honestly, if I don't raise the funds, I can't afford to do it alone.

In the very near future, I'll have short profiles of the "Honored Heroes" for whom I will be running. (sorry to sound all English teacher-y right there - "for whom" - but I just can't knowingly write it incorrectly.) These two people have fought blood cancer and have won their battles, and I'll be remembering their fight as I pound each mile into the ground.

I've committed to raise at least $2800. I'd actually like to raise at least $6000 and do Nike Women's Haf Marathon with them in October. I'd like to have the $2800 by June 20th. For the second, I'd need the other $3200 by August 10th.

What can you do to help me and anyone affected by blood cancer? (running with me is another option, you can find that information at the top of my TNT page!)

Atheists, Adventures, and Answers (or none of the above)

I'm having a crisis of faith right now. It's not so much that I don't believe in God. I've covered that ground with Him before. I just don't know what He thinks of me. How much is He involved in my daily life? Does He care if I'm late to work? Does He care if I get up on time? Does He care if I exercise? Where is the line that is drawn to show when things stop mattering to God? By this, I mean, nobody would argue that God cares about what color toothbrush I use. But, does He care which toothpaste? Is it the one that's most natural? Best for my health? Cheapest to fit my budget? Or does it just not matter? Who knows? I don't.

So, I'm reading C.S. Lewis' Surprised By Joy, because it sounds like exactly what I need right now. It's the story of his semi-Christian upbringing, decision to become Atheist, and decision to come back to Christ. I love the title, probably because it gives me hope. Hope that, somehow, someday, in all of this, I will find JOY. And I may even be surprised. Like, maybe it will just pop up, smack me in the face one day and say, "Here I am! Right where you least expected me!"

In a quick conversation online with a friend this evening, she encouraged me to pray about something. Something kinda off-the-wall, with the implication that this small little thing that's been on my heart could possibly change our entire life. (the details really don't matter right now) My heart stopped. I wondered, "Could God have something like that planned for ME?" I honestly don't think that this particular thing is something God is going to use to change our life. But I think I needed to consider that option for a moment.

I realized that that is what I'm searching for. Is there some big thing God wants me to do? Or does He just want me to be faithful in the small things? Or the small things to prepare for the big thing? At this moment, so many big things that He could ask of me are swirling around in my head. Quite frankly, it's terrifying me. My heart and mind are racing.

It's also exhilarating. An adventure. An adventure planned for ME. An adventure that suits my strengths - or weaknesses? Something that needs ME. Oh, how I want to be useful. Needed. Necessary.  My heart wants something that only I can do. That's one thing I love about giving birth. It's something I must do. No one else. There's support from others, of course. There's even options if I were to be unable to do it. But, to give birth and know that it was this great thing that was intended for me and only I could do - to give birth to that child, to bring them out into this world - is truly awe-inspiring to me.

I know my kids need me. Should that be enough? Is there more for me, or is it that I need to see the beauty, the huge impact of giving myself for them? Is Christianity, my life, about giving up my desire to be needed in order to bless my kids? Or is it about realizing that this desire is there for a reason? So many questions. So few solid answers.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of my questions! What do you think?

Not quite "Location, Location, Location"

We want to buy a house in the next 6 months or so. I've been pinning things to my "Dream Home" board on pinterest. Some things extravagant, and some not-so-extravagant.

So... Pastor Hubby and I are sitting here looking at potential houses to buy. Suddenly, while clicking through pictures, we see this big laundry room. I gasp loudly and say, "I COULD PUT A GREAT WALL OF LAUNDRY THERE!" He looks at me like I've finally, completely lost it and says slowly, "Nooo... We don't need a "Great Wall of Laundry." He didn't use air quotes or anything, but the quotation marks were in his voice. Trust me, I can hear them. I'm an English teacher. So I excitedly say, "No no no! We DO want one! Look!" and then took him to this post by a woman who understands my life (just take a look at the title of her blog!).

Now, being, well, Not-Me he's not nearly as excited as I am, so he made comments like, "So you just dump things in them?" and "But they get all wrinkly!" I told him he could continue hanging his own clothes (because I long ago stopped doing his laundry) and he hesitantly replied, "Oooookaaaay. I could get behind something like that." as if The Great Wall of Laundry was not The. Best. Idea. Ever.  Whatever. I am now only looking at houses that could possibly fit a Great Wall of Laundry.

So, my house list will look something like this:

  1. Location/ School zone (you didn't think I'd take that off the list, did you? I'm a teacher, remember?)
  2. Big backyard - is it too much to ask that it already have grass and a covered patio? because this mama has GOT to have a place to throw my kids where they can yell and scream and it be somewhat acceptable and in my line of vision. 
  3. Great Wall of Laundry possible

Bedrooms-schmedrooms. My kids love "sleepovers" together. As long as I get my Great Wall of Laundry, I don't care.

So, that's it. A place for them to learn, and learn well. A place for them to run. And a place for the massive amount of clothes they require.

Too many feet!

Another first happened to me at church yesterday.

I'm unpacking the kids from the van on-time-ish, and the newly-4-year-old comes to the door barefoot.

I say to him, "Go get your shoes!"

Then, all very quickly, I think, "What if his shoes are not lying on the floor back there? Did I ever see shoes on his feet today? Uh, nope. I know that I said 'Put your socks and shoes on.' But, man, what a newbie mistake to not check!"

So, after all the quick thoughts, I said, "Did you ever put them on?" He looked me in the eye and said simply, "No." His voice had a hint of, "Huh. That would have been a good idea," in it.

I couldn't help myself. I asked him why. His answer was something like, "Well, you told me to get into the van." Ah, well, yes. That makes perfect sense. Because there were many things I told him to do this morning, and, well, he missed one. It seems like an important one to me, but, apparently not to him.

What could I do at this point? My mind quickly flipped through my available options: 1. Take everyone home. 2. Leave a few kids and take him and the baby home. 3. Let him go to church barefoot and not miss church, and not miss the music section.

I should pause to say that, in the 6 months that Baby Girl has been alive I've made it to church approximately 65% of the time. And of those, I've been to the music section of service exactly 3 times. I should also add that I really love the music section. Music changes me. The sermons are amazing, and I learn from them, but I really, really need that time of praise. I married a music pastor, for crying out loud!

I told the kid to go to class and he couldn't play outside afterwards. 

I'm hoping that this is the kind of mom I'm becoming. Honestly. To my kid: You didn't listen to me? Ok, well, that doesn't necessarily mean that all of my plans change (although, of course, it might). It doesn't mean that I'm going to lose my cool and yell at you about it. It also doesn't mean that I'm going to internally berate myself for not checking - something that would have happened, without fail, in the past.

So, this was the first time I took a (walking) kid to church with no shoes. (I gave up on shoes for non-walkers 3 kids ago.) But it was also another first.

This time, I evaluated the situation, made a decision, and, mostly, moved on. I quivered a little as certain people saw him or brought attention to the situation. But, I laughed. And this time, it wasn't just for their benefit. Oh, how many times I've laughed to hide my self-loathing. Not so much this time, although I could feel it hiding below the surface, like an enemy submarine waiting to torpedo my whole  self. I just laughed and said, "Yup. I forgot to check that he actually put them on when I told him to! Rookie mistake!" And, internally, instead of telling myself what a horrible mother that made me, I said, "This kind of thing could only happen to a mom of at least 3 kids! There are just too many feet to check!"

I'm learning to roll with the punches. I'm starting to wonder if that's why God gave me 5 kids. Perhaps I was just so stubborn that I wouldn't bend in the wind with fewer kids - I just kept breaking. With each new kid, I couldn't fathom how I was going to stand in the storms they would inevitably bring. I see, now, that it's not about being strong enough. It's more about being flexible enough. That includes being flexible enough to not fit into what I and others have thought or said were the necessary things to making a good mom - like shoes at church, even! Even more, to be ok with not fitting that mold. Maybe, what will make me a good mom is instead my response to him, and to me, a mixture of grace and natural consequences. I'm still figuring this whole thing out, but being flexible enough is so much easier than being strong enough.

On orphans and hipsters

I haven't branched out much in my blog-writing. Today, I do.

Most of you have heard about the Kony2012 campaign. If you haven't, watch this.

It's pretty compelling, isn't it? Of course, as with anything else big these days, people quickly started coming out bashing the video. I needed to figure out where I stood. So, this is a long post to help others see as many sides as possible of this campaign without spending hours on the internet. I'm not a professional researcher. I'm just a former student, now teacher, who likes accurate information. Feel free to contact me if you think any of this is inaccurate, but, please, do so politely. 

First, the problems people have with the video:
1. Kony is no longer as dangerous as the video makes him sound. He was once this dangerous and deserves to be tried for his crimes, but these crimes are largely in the past. 

2. Finding Kony is not as simple as making him known. He's been on the world radar for a long time. America already has troops dedicated to this cause, and there has been no talk of pulling them. Part of this problem is that we're looking for him on his turf. And his turf, being the Congo, is a tricky turf for outsiders. Another huge issue is that he uses child soldiers as his bodyguards, and our forces would likely have to kill those children to get to Kony. Obviously, this presents a problem for our forces. I imagine even the most seasoned of assassins would hesitate before killing a child.

3. There's also the whole premise of White Man's Burden. What are our motives for going over there? Is it to "help the savage" find redemption? Or is it a gut reaction to seeing children abused in a way we can't fathom?

4. Lastly, Invisible Children seeks to give the Ugandan government more control. This government, like many African governments, is corrupt. They are raping and kidnapping also. Some suggest that they are not fully trying to apprehend Kony because when he's around, it gives them an excuse to have a presence in Northern Uganda. With this presence, they are sending the Acholi people to concentration camps, killing them, and basically trying to eradicate their people and history.

Then, there are problems with Invisible Children, the non--profit:
5. Charity Navigator only gives the 3 out of 4 overall stars, with various rankings of 2-4 stars in different areas. Go here for that full report. 

6. The filmmakers are young guys who went looking for a problem in order to make a film. Now that Kony is on the run, they are still looking to "cash in" on an already-solved problem.

7. They've made mistakes in the past, such as taking a group of people to Uganda, without a plan of what they could actually do. Some of these mistakes could have caused more harm than good. 

8. Their salaries are too high - about $88,000. 

Here's my take about each of these issues, in order. 

In order to understand my response to #1 (Kony is not dangerous), you have to look at #2 (Finding him is not simple). Notice that Kony is still using child bodyguards. That means he is still terrorizing children, even if it is on a much smaller scale. Even the criticisms that pointed out #2, also listed #1. I don't see how you can believe both of those facts to be true. I've seen several criticisms saying that the film is awful because it makes it sound as if the war in Uganda is still going on, and Kony isn't even in Uganda anymore. But he still has child bodyguards. It doesn't matter to me in the least where the man is terrorizing children, just that he is. See this New York Times Opinion article by Lisa Shannon for more. 

Also, it could be argued that, even if his crimes are in the past, justice still needs to be served for all those killed, enslaved, kidnapped, raped or harmed in any way. One blogger said several different things that Christians should be aware of regarding this campaign, one being that Christians are not supposed to be out for revenge, we are called to love. This is true, so personally, I'm not saying Kony should be tortured/hanged/treated the way he's treated children. But, since it seems that he is still harming children, I don't think it's wrong to pursue capturing him. I don't see that as revenge. I see that as loving those kids. I also think that blogger's point of praying for these kids is completely necessary as well. 

For #3 (is this White Man's Burden, or a desire to help kids?), I think it's the latter, plain and simple. People want to help kids. No one is trying to convert them. No one is trying to make all the children come to America, be adopted, and become good little Americans. I truly believe that most, if not all, people reacting to this video are reacting to the heart-wrenching story of these kids. 

Moving on to #4 (Invisible Children's partnership with the shady Ugandan government): in this Washington Post article by Elizabeth Flock, Invisible Children defends their partnership with the Ugandan government by saying, "There is a huge problem with political corruption in Africa. If we had the purity to say we will not partner with anyone corrupt, we couldn't partner with anyone." The article goes on to point out,"Human rights activists agree, however, that the abuses of the LRA are far worse than those of Uganda's security forces." To me, that answer is not only good enough, it's incredibly transparent and honest. Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils. 

Invisible Children also addressed #5 (3/4 stars by Charity Navigator) in the Washington Post article above. I feel like 3 out 4 ain't too shabby, especially when you consider my responses to #6 and #7. 

#6, 7 and 8 (They were looking for a cause, they've made mistakes, and they make too much money)- This comes down to one fact: People don't really like seeing the hipster/indie filmmakers. I get it. They are young white guys who went out looking for a film to make and found one. But, the thing I keep coming back to is, they have talent. They could have used that talent to market soda, video games, or sweaters to teenagers. And instead they chose to market a cause. They chose to tell a story that kids in America can't fathom and ask them to think about something beyond themselves. This, above all else, is why I'm inclined to like these guys. So, they wear cowboy hats and ties. So, they're excited about this thing and make mistakes like mentioned in #7. So, the 3-year old pictured also has a hipster haircut. Does that change their purpose? Does it change the fact that I see, on a daily basis now, 12 and 13 year olds talking about helping - excited about helping - kids hurting in Africa? That fact doesn't change at all. And, judging from their FAQ page (see the first question) they're learning from their mistakes, so that is even a step in the right direction. 

Also, for #7: This may be another misguided attempt to help. But, what does it hurt? 

That brings me to #8 - how do you expect them to afford hipster clothes and haircuts on anything less? No, seriously. $88,000 is not a ridiculous amount of money. Yes, it's more than my husband and I make together. But, again, they could have chosen to do a ton of other things with their time. They could have been home with their kids more. But they chose to do this. I also had the opportunity to look at the blog of a friend of a friend who knows a few of the founders, and see what she had to say. 
"I've seen some criticism that they are taking HUGE salaries of around $80,000.  Seriously?  Ben and Laren graduated at the top of their classes.  They went to major universities that most students cannot even be accepted into.  They could be making 5 times that amount in different careers.  They work around the clock and even recruited their wives to work for Invisible Children.  I think their salaries are more than fair and even very low.  I know assistant pastors who make more than $80,000 at big churches.  No one seems to shout about that being wrong."
Well, *my* assistant pastor isn't making that much! LOL But, really, they chose to spend their time helping others. They're not making 6 figures. That's enough for me.

I feel as though I didn't adequately address #2. To me, that is the only issue not fully resolved. I don't know that doing all these things will actually help the cause. But I don't think it will hurt. As a parent and teacher, if a kid is excited about trying something, I try very hard to not step all over them with my pessimism. Or even realism. Kids need to believe that they can make a change. Even if you and I don't think that putting up posters will do a dang bit of good in capturing an evil man on the other side of the world, it could spark an interest in these kids, and show them that there is so much more to life than playing video games and complaining about homework. That not getting an iPad for Christmas is not such a terrible thing, on the scale of things happening to children in the world. 

So, will I pay $30 for a kit? Probably not. Not because I don't think it's worthwhile. I don't think it's responsible for my family right now. Mainly because I don't see how spending that money will help catch Kony. Will I encourage my kids (students) who are excited about spreading the word? Of course (while also asking them to be law-abiding citizens the night of April 20th). Will I use this opportunity to teach both critical thinking and community awareness? Most definitely. 



It's my new acronym. Got Her Milk? nope. Going Half-Mental? no. (ok, that one sorta works.) Get Hot Mustard? nuh-uh

God Help Me. 

This is my response to the plethora of FML posts I see. For those of you who don't know, FML stands for *eff* my life. It's supposed to be about the everyday crappy things that happen. Here's an excerpt from the site: "Today, I sneezed while at the office. I felt snot shoot out, but I couldn't see anything on the tissue. I ignored it and went on with my day. When I went to the bathroom hours later, I noticed a huge wad of snot had dried onto the front of my shirt. No one told me about it. FML" (I gave you an excerpt so that those of you who have a problem with profanity or crudeness don't have to go there to understand what I'm talking about. Good blogger etiquette, however, is to put a link to the site for those who do want to look further.)

I realized today that, most of the time, when people write "FML" I want to write "FWP" on their post. [First World Problems - another meme that pokes fun of how we get upset about things like our iPhones not working or our favorite Keurig coffee being out of stock.] 

I also realized that I catch myself thinking "FML" often, but then, out of ...well, guilt, I change it to "God help me." This started as simply a replacement that didn't make me feel so guilty. {"FML? Really? I may have 5 crazy kids, but they're all healthy! I may have 12-year olds disrespect me on a daily hourly basis, but I have a job!" in case you wanted a peek inside my head} But, one day, it changed. I found myself saying, "God help me... literally." It became a sort of prayer. Maybe not the most reverent, but often quite heartfelt. 

So, I'm going to start using GHM on Facebook and such. Sometimes you might be able to use either God Help Me or Going Half-Mental, but that's okay. Here's a few examples:

3/5 kids crying loudly in the car. No place to stop for the next 30 minutes. GHM.
2-year old found my toothpaste and painted the new couch. GHM.
30 7th graders. Full Moon. Friday before 3-day weekend. GHM. 
All 5 kids sick with the flu. I only have 2 barf buckets. GHM. 

Ok, maybe you can always use either one and it will work, but I guess that's the point. When I'm losing my mind, the only thing I can do is say, "God help me!" 

What scenario could you write GHM on?

"Is that chocolate or poop?"

I just found out I have a milk allergy. 

I love chocolate.

I was told I can try dark chocolate. I went across town to buy the good, real dark chocolate at the natural health store. It was a big bar, the kind you're suuposed to break off a piece a day and eat. This would have lasted me a day a whole week! 

The 2-year-old found my chocolate.

She unwrapped it and was carrying it in her hands.

"So what?" you say? 

She had been running around naked and pretending to go potty for several hours. 

Even I admit I have to throw away that chocolate.

It's embarrassing how sad this makes me. 


I took a picture of us at church this morning.
Because this picture is BEFORE church.
Seriously. I made it, not just on time. EARLY.


That is a feat worth remembering.

I don't even care that the 3yo is moving and the 2yo may or may not have her finger in her nose and the baby and the 6yo are not looking at the camera and the whole thing is a bit blurry. Whatever. I have proof that I got to church on time. No, no no - EARLY! Early enough that Pastor Hubby was still walking around talking with people! I walked in and told him that I wanted a picture. He laughed, and I said, "You think I'm kidding. I. Want. A. Picture." He asked if I wanted the clock in the background.

Thanks to Pastor Hubby for staying home for 45 minutes longer than normal this morning to make this moment happen.

The Math of Parenthood

A lot of people think having 5 kids is exponentially harder than having 1 or 2 kids.

 In case you forgot your high school math, this is my explanation. (remember, I teach English!) 2x5=10 but 2^5, or 2 to the exponent of 5 = 32. People think that adding kids makes life exponentially harder. It really doesn't. The kids help. They play together. The act of adding one more chicken breast, or, let's be honest, one more box of macaroni and cheese, is not that much more difficult than what I was doing before. It does get harder, but not exponentially harder, the way most people think when they see us at the grocery store, with 2 full carts, 10 hands grabbing things, 4 sticky chins, and 7 voices saying or singing different things (2 of those voices are saying things like "Stop," "No," "In a minute," and "Please put your pants back on.")

Now, it might be exponentially louder. That has to be true.

There might be one time, though, that it is true, when having 5 kids is exponentially harder, not just 5 times harder - when a stomach flu hits the family. Unless you have 5 kids (or more), you can't fathom the amount of dread that runs through me when someone starts throwing up. It means at least one week of trash cans by beds, scrubbing floors, washing blankets, taking temperatures, making soup and buying gatorade. Unless it happens during the summer (which is obviously rare) or Christmas Break, it also means taking turns off of work. Of course, the days that you do work are exponentially more difficult themselves.

And, then, of course, there are the other kids, running and playing and not understanding why one of them gets to sit on the couch and pick TV shows all day. They want the smelliest food for lunch, prompting the sick one to vomit more. The younger ones will bump into, or even REACH INTO the barf bucket. Don't forget the vain attempt to keep the other kids from touching, eating after, or generally breathing near the sickie.

And all hell breaks loose if mom and dad get sick, especially {crossing fingers} at the same time. For some families, this is just if mom gets sick. Thankfully, Pastor Hubby is amazing and is great at doing the chores listed above. In fact, last night, my oldest came into my room (and turned on my light! what was she thinking?!) and said, "I threw up." A groan, not unlike those in early childbirth, escaped my body before I could stop it. That lovely man said, "You stay here and take care of her {the nursing baby} and I'll take care of that." I don't think I've ever loved him more. Seriously, I could hear him dry heave (he explained in the morning that it involved scooping) at times while he cleaned the top bunk, the wall, the lower bunk, and the floor, as well as tossing linens into the washer.

There comes a point in marriage that voluntarily scooping vomit is better than any amount of flowers.

There are a few other times that it might also be exponentially harder - going to theme parks, or if you're stupid ambitious enough to try to take them all to a doctor's office. The thing is, you can avoid those things. Or enlist family members to help. Nobody wants your sick and germy kids at their house. If the flu comes, you're just stuck. Stuck in a vomit-filled version of hell that you can't escape until it's made its rounds through the whole clan.

So, there you go. Having 5 kids is not exponentially harder unless you're vomiting or at Disneyland. Or, God forbid, both.

A Run with One Sock

On the level of circumstances and events, today really sucked. I had a running late, stressful morning - I'm going to invent breastpump pieces that are not clear so that I don't keep "losing" them! Then, my sub didn't show up on time, so I had to deal with students who knew a sub was coming, and I didn't get to my meeting on time. The meeting had a few rude uptight strong personalities and required some deep breaths and tongue-biting on my part. The second part of the meeting was a bit discouraging; it was hard to remember that feeling of I-could-change-the-world that every teacher starts out with. After work, dinner took a long time to get started, and the sun was down, but I hadn't been able to get out for my run yet. I couldn't find my ipod or socks, couldn't make any music app work on my phone, so I put on my son's socks, resigned myself to silence and went out. The kids didn't like dinner, and now I have a baby with a fever.

However, I am learning something that my mother will be so glad to know. My day is not based on what happens to me. My day is not based on how others treat me. My day is based on my reactions to those things. When I take a deep breath and realize that a co-worker's problem is not my problem, that she may be saying the things she's saying out of insecurity... or maybe ignorance, but either way, I can choose to move past the comments and get my job done. No matter what NCLB requires of me, I can choose to focus my efforts on reaching kids. Even though I had to stop running halfway through, take off the stupid, too-small sock, and run with one sockless foot, I finished my run (and faster than normal!). The kids may not have enjoyed dinner, but hubby and I loved it. And, the baby has a fever, but I have advil, and will take her to the chiropractor tomorrow, the pediatrician if necessary. Even better, as part of our budget changes this year, we have money set aside each month for unexpected co-pays.

Yet, with all that happened, I am sitting down at my computer, feeling relatively content. Things have not been well today. Several things have gone wrong, in fact. But, I'm doing fine. This may seem ordinary to you. For me, it's somewhat extraordinary. I have been a slave to my emotions for far too long. Not too long ago, a day like today would have me ditching my run, yelling at the kids, and running to McDonald's for ice cream and cookies after bedtime. What's changed? Really only one thing: my thoughts. I realized at the end of my last pregnancy, and especially during my last birth, the power of my thoughts. It seems to be the lesson God has for me of late. At first, it was incredibly difficult. I would struggle to change my thoughts, fight to stay positive. It's become easier with practice, just like my runs. The more I run, the easier it is to breathe while doing it. The more I work at changing my thoughts, the longer I can do it before melting down.

Now that I've written this, the baby will be up all night, and my students will be off the wall tomorrow. I'll appreciate your prayers. :)

What do you think? Have you realized the power of your thoughts? How are you harnessing that power?

The Joy Dare Week 1

Go see this post to see what I'm doing. I started late, so some of these are what I remember this week, other days, I just substituted other gifts to be thankful for from the week. Next week, I'll write them down as I go, or more likely, use the app, so they'll be better, I'm sure. :)

January 1: 3 things about yourself that you are grateful for
January 2: A gift outside, inside, on a plate
January 3: 3 lines you overheard that were graces
January 4: one gift old, new, and blue
January 5: something you're reading, you're making, you're seeing
January 6: one thing in your bag, your fridge, your heart
January 7: 3 graces from people you love

  1. Sight - I am so grateful that I can see all the amazing colors and sights, my children's smiles, their eyes lit up with joy.
  2. Legs - I have always hated the way my legs look, but I am so grateful that they are legs that can run, bounce a child, chase a kid, kick a ball, pump a swing next to one of my children.
  3. A newfound belief in the power of my thoughts - I'm still learning just how powerful the meditation of my brain is on my life.
  4. Outside - watching my kids enjoy playing with their new Christmas toys
  5. Inside - my whole family, hanging out for what may be the last time before my sister moves away
  6. On a plate - ham and dumplins, it's my brother's favorite, I think just about every adult in the family helped with it a little, as we all gathered in my parents' kitchen. 
  7. 1 - the 5yo to the 3yo: Oh, let me help you!
  8. 2 - the 3yo to the 1yo: I'm in here! I'm in here! (they are best friends)
  9. *not according to the list* my parents' living room full of people celebrating my sister's birthday
  10. *not according to the list* a van-full of kids eating chocolate chip cookies
  11. *not according to the list* a rent check, shelter, provision from God
  12. *not according to the list* my daughter's resolution: to help at least one person feel better every day (she came up with that all on her own, and made my heart melt in awe and humility) 
  13. Reading - this blog - which came perfectly on a day that I was wondering why on earth I felt so old! it's because I'm {go look at blog to figure out calculation, brain laughs that some other part of brain thought I could attempt such a thing, decide not to figure out actual number}... infinitely older than what my birth certificate says
  14. Making - pizza with my kids, super easy, but they loved spreading the ingredients on the dough!
  15. *I decided to do reading again. Hey, I'm an English teacher, reading is important to me!* Little House in the Big Woods - all 3 biguns (and, "big" at my house equals 3, 6, and 8, for what it's worth) will snuggle with me onto the loveseat and *actually listen* while I read. all... ok, almost all of their questions are good questions about the book, and I'm just so happy to be reading something to them that I loved as a kid, and have them enjoy it too. 
  16. In my bag - 3 candy kisses, from a shy student who occasionally just walks up and hands me little gifts, no words, just a small token
  17. In my fridge - half-made batter, tried to make mocha brownies with my sister, only to find we were out of eggs
  18. In my heart - one last family gathering, playing Sour Apples to Apples, lots of laughs
  19. From my hubby - a night of sleep - he got up with the baby!
  20. From some friends - dinner at their house
  21. From the same friend - an offer to take all 5 kids so we could both rest tonight
What about you? Are you taking the Joy Dare? What were you thankful for this past week? Comment here or on the FaceBook page!

How to Expect Failure, and How Not To

New Year's Resolutions. I do 'em. But I'm not afraid to change something in the middle of the year either. In March-ish, I started counting 1000 Gifts. In October, I started running again. But, the New Year is a great time for starting fresh, so I've made a few resolutions. And I'm sharing them with you for 2 reasons: 1. To encourage you and 2. So you will encourage me. Brilliant, isn't it?

So, here goes:
  1. Kiss all my family members good morning and good night each day (or as many of us who are sleeping in the same house). 
  2. Run in a 5k, then decide if I want to run in a half-marathon. 
  3. Become healthier. The goal is to lose 75 lbs, but that may not be completed this year, as I'm breastfeeding, and want to make real change in my life. So, any weight loss will count, as will being able to run farther, play longer, eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. 
  4. Count one thousand gifts that God has given me. Like I said, I started this in March, while reading the book, but this year, there's a whole community of people doing it with me. Read this post for more details. Will you join us? 
  5. Be realistic.  
That last one requires a lot more thought; let me try to explain:
Hello, my name is Kristi and I'm a perfectionist. It has been 10 days since my last Imperfection Meltdown. 

Two explanations: Imperfection Meltdown (n): the emotional fall of a cliff that often results from something minor, say a lost shoe (or a box of Christmas presents that your mother-in-law shipped and now only the box can be found. notice the date of 10 days ago - Christmas Day. yep, we straight-up lost several Christmas presents before they could be given.). Nearly always accompanied by a tirade of hateful thoughts directed at oneself, often on repeat, e.g "I am a terrible mother. I can't even find socks for my own children. Why can't we keep this place clean? Why do we have so many socks? I am a terrible mother. There are people in this world who would love socks, and I have so many and I can't even find a pair. There are people who would love even an unmatching pair of socks, and I'm getting upset about it." (Notice how there is an ability to take something that could make you become rational, the idea that any socks are fine, or to be grateful that we have socks, and spin it so that it makes you feel worse) Sometimes includes a slight awareness that it makes no sense - it's just a shoe! (or a box of presents...) - but with the seeming inability to accept that it makes no sense and get out of the repeat cycle. 

That explanation will require the second explanation, because I just told you I'm a perfectionist, and then told you I don't have my kids' socks neatly folded in their drawers. You may be thinking, "Whaaahuh?" See, here's the thing: If you are a perfectionist, you will always fail. That's it. No way around it. You can't be perfect. So, perfectionists spend their life in this cycle of try, fail, try harder, do better, still not perfect, meltdown, try, fail, try harder... It doesn't matter what area of life we're talking about, 

If you are a perfectionist, 
you will inevitably always be a failure. 

Young moms in particular, listen to me. If you are expecting perfect, also expect failure. From you and from your children. It's not just young moms, but we tend to be the worst at this. So, I learned years ago from Martha Cilley, FLYlady, that the odd reason that my house is a mess is because I am a perfectionist. It's counterintuitive, I know, but it's absolutely true. I get overwhelmed, see that perfection is not possible, and give up. Another sick cycle.

So, basically, my resolution is to step out of these cycles when they start. To not allow the cycle to cycle. I will make my expectations realistic. I will not expect perfection. I will expect progress. I will expect good enough. I will expect being human. I will expect bad days and good days. I will expect setbacks. Setbacks, not failure! I will expect to work through those setbacks.

What about you? Are you a perfectionist? What will you resolve to expect this year, instead of perfection? 


My New Year's Eve:
6-9 goof off with friends, eat dinner and rice krispies, play Pastor Hubby's birthday present - Xbox Kinect, watch the ball drop in real time, even though we're on the West Coast
9:09 begin playing Sorry Spin! other couple husband says, "This is going to be a short game with such a small board!"
10:10 I win game!
10:30 friends leave, everyone's smiling
10:35 begin pilling clothes for tomorrow - church and sister's birthday party afterwards
11:00 daughter brings in relatively new doll with severed head, tears in eyes

11:00 - 11:10 Hubby and I attempt to reconnect head, using tweezers, to no avail
11:15 find out it's more expensive to ship doll to doll hospital for repair than to buy new expensive doll

11:25 finish assembling clothes
11:30 leave baby asleep where she's at, rather than risk her waking, but not before taking picture of how adorable she is holding her little head on her hand
11:35 climb into bed,
11:55 drift off to sleep
11:58 baby wakes up to nurse
12:10 move different, more upright baby bed next to my bed for congested baby
12:15 - 12:30 attempt to get baby to sleep in bed
12:30 pull baby in bed with me, nurse again
1:20  almost-2-year old wakes up, go in, find her 1 baby doll, 1 stuffed animal, and binky, tuck her in, say goodnight, say I love you, stumble back to my room, manage to transfer baby to baby bed
3:16 baby wakes up, nurse in bed with me
4:04 - 4:09 baby's snorting and congestion wakes me up, do dreaded nose-sucker, causing baby to scream
4:10 try to calm baby to sleep, bounce, jiggle, cuddle facing in, cuddle facing out, etc, etc
4:30 try nursing to get baby to sleep
4:46 lay baby in baby bed, know it won't work, but maybe it will buy me 10 minutes of sleep, consider giving baby to Pastor Hubby, but I have agreed not to do this on Saturday nights, curse Saturday night
5:10 bring baby back in bed with me, nurse again, hear Pastor Hubby wake, roll over and go back to sleep, consider whether this would be considered justifiable homicide, decided it depends on the jury, decided not to risk it
5:25 hear washing machine turn on, know that means I intended to be up in 1 hour
5:45 finally sleep
8:00ish eyes closed, shush boys and ask them to play quietly in their room, because mommy is very very tired
8:45 able to open eyes and see that I only have 30 minutes to feed and dress all 6 of us for church... give up and eat a rice krispie treat.

{9:00-9:30 write blog post and polish off the rest of the riee krispie treats! Happy New Year!}