The Problem With Pedestals

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

“You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3 NKJV)."
I don't want to sound sanctimonious or preachy at all, but this is something that bothers me a great deal.  There is a family here in Northwest Arkansas known for the large size of their family, the way they raise said family, and what they believe.  I'm not going to name names, because you know who they are, and this post isn't about them.  They have had a successful reality TV show on cable and have sold numerous books.  All over America, people look to them as some sort of role model and example of how to live, even the vast majority don't wish to do all that they do.  They also have been ridiculed them for their lifestyle as well as their beliefs.  So you can imagine the firestorm that has erupted after wrongdoings of the eldest child and the subsequent actions of the family as a result have come to light.  I don't want to get into a debate over all of the rights and wrongs of the situation, because it is a convoluted, horrible mess.  Rather I want to address the turmoil that I imagine many of the family's fans and followers must be experiencing.

We live in a society where the words "Christian" and "Celebrity" don't often go together.  We don't usually see Christians invited to the Today Show to talk about their faith, their style of parenting, or anything else.  We're more likely to be offered the chance to watch a television program about the lives of mafia wives or spoiled rich girls than a Christian family trying to live today with Christian principles. So, when a family such as this or some other manages to break through into at least a part of the mainstream, we as Christians have a habit of glomming on to everything and anything they do with fervent ferocity.  We are Mr. Darcy telling the world how we "ardently admire and love" them.  We devour every little crumb marketed our direction from cookbooks to devotionals,  DVDs to duck calls.  They may even have a special Bible that they promote.  We want to support our Christian brethren in their endeavors, and we also want to hold them up as an example to ourselves, our children, and the world as a whole.  We place them on lofty pedestals and look up to them.  Sometimes, perhaps, we even begin to idolize and worship them.

We all want to look up to someone.  As children we look up to (or at least want to look up to) our parents, older siblings, teachers, and such.  It is good to have worthy examples and mentors in our lives.  It is very good indeed.  However, we must remember that everyone is only human.  We all make mistakes, some of them can be very bad indeed.  The problem with pedestals is that they are of this world, and they crumble - sometimes taking others down with them.

Another problem with pedestals is that sometimes the people on them begin to be filled with pride.  Pride is one of our greatest enemies and can lead us to do things like cover up sins and even crimes in order to save face and perhaps our lofty position, making the fall from the pedestal even more painful.  Personally, I tend to think that people in this situation should adhere to James 3: 1 & 2
"My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things (NKJV)."
I am not a fan of any reality TV show.  I don't like them in the least.  Just as we show the best part of our lives on Instagram and Facebook, so do they only show what is good television on any reality show.  We don't really see how anyone lives, how they think, what internal struggles they are dealing with.  Obviously they didn't have reality TV stars when James was writing this, but sadly what they see on television is sometimes the only example of Christianity many people are exposed to.  It is not a task that should be taken lightly.

This post, however, is for those of us who do know and believe.  Even though it's tempting to place others on pedestals and in a way worship them, we don't have to and we shouldn't.  We have the perfect example of just who each and every single one of us should be looking up to in Jesus Christ.  Philippians 2:5-8 says exactly the example we should follow.
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (NKJV)."
It's ok to support other Christians.  It's ok to like the things they do.  I personally love to listen to Christian music, read Christian blogs, and books and all.  Let us remember though that they are imperfect humans just like the rest of us.  They will fall.  Don't let your appreciation of them cause you to fall as well.

As usual, please feel free to share your thoughts.

Great Things

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Recently I had someone I'm not in any way close to tilt her head to the side the other day as I passed by her and  ask, "And how are you doing, Adrienne?"  L and I were trying to make to an elevator before it closed, so I just politely, quickly answered, "I'm doing ok."  I am, too.   I am ok.  I mean, I wasn't going to delve into the depths of my soul with her, but it's true.

Physically I'm pretty much back to normal.  I have probably just one more blood test to take just to make sure everything is good, but I feel pretty great physically.   I'm thankful for that, because even though I genuinely like my doctor and think she's awesome, I'll be ok not seeing her for a while.  It will be nice to not have my arms look like pin cushions too.

Emotionally and spiritually , I'm in a really good place.  I've not been without joy these last few weeks.  I'm not going to lie and say that I don' t have my moments, but as a whole I'm doing well.  I think a lot of people are expecting me to just...  I don't know... collapse?  The thing is,  though physically this miscarriage was worse than the first one we had, emotionally, spiritually is has been much easier.  My marriage is in a better place than it was five years ago, and I am in a better place in regards to my relationship with God.

That's the thing too.  I trust God's will and His plan.  The morning before that fateful appointment when we learned we weren't welcoming home a new family member in November, I was reading in Luke Chapter 8, starting at verse 16.  One portion of that selection is where Jesus healed the man who was possessed with the legion of demons.  Once the man was free, he begged to stay with Jesus (who wouldn't?).  Jesus, however, had other plans for him.  In verse 39 Jesus commanded the man to “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you (NKJV)."  I highlighted that verse, feeling knowing God would have something for me to say when I got home that day.  I just hoped it wouldn't be what it was.  Though, looking back I believe God was already preparing me for just that.

There's a great shroud of mystery in our society regarding miscarriage.  No one really talks about it.  In fact, we're encouraged to not announce pregnancies until after the first trimester, because so many end in miscarriage before that time.  I've been on that bandwagon.  It made sense and was supposed to be easier.  Heaven knows it's not easy telling people that you're not pregnant anymore.  It's one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do - in some ways more difficult than the actual miscarriage.  Of course one of the reasons it's so difficult is because people don't know how to react.  So, I feel that one of the reasons we've one through this trial is because God wants us to talk about it in order to help others heal.  He wants me to tell what great things He is still doing in my life.

That first week, before the actual miscarriage started, we were in shock and tried our best to do everything as normal.  Throughout everything, we've tried to keep everything as normal as possible, especially for Ladybug and ourselves.  The things that people did that meant the most to us were the kind texts and messages, the flowers from a friend on my birthday, the offer of a dinner cooked even though the scheduling didn't work out, friends taking L when we had to go to the ER and watching her during one my followup appointments with my own doctor, and a special care package from a friend miles away.  Most of all, your prayers have been felt and appreciated.

What I've learned so far in being so open is that some people have a lot of questions about miscarriage, because, again, it isn't discussed.  So, I've tried to answer them to the best of my abilities.  I want to tell everyone how God has carried me through this.  He is indeed good.  That same morning I read on in Luke 8 the account of the woman who bled for twelve years touching Jesus' cloak and being healed.  Jesus told her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace (NKJV)."   Though I grieve for my loss and what might have been, I have a peace about me like no other and am of extremely good cheer.

Every Day I Fail: Grace In Motherhood

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Each and every day, I pray that I am the above things as a wife, a mother, a friend, and just a general person.  Then almost each and every single day, I fail at one or more.  I lose patience.  I am unkind. I am prideful.  I am ungrateful.  I am selfish.  I fail to understand.  I allow little things to irritate me.  I lose my temper.  I fail.  

Some days are easier than others.  Some take everything out of me, and again I feel as if I am constantly failing.  I feel like I don't do enough (whatever enough may be).  I feel as though I should be more (again, what exactly is more?).  We are always being fed pictures of the lives of others who seem to have it all together on social media.  I must constantly remind myself that I'm seeing what others want me to see, not necessarily the whole story.  I don't see the messes, the tantrums, or the frustration.  Sometimes that's all I see in my own life.  I only hear the whining.  I only see the uncleaned house, and I feel as if I have failed.

That's it though.  I feel as if I have failed.  Some days I really do fail, and some I don't.  Most days I'm just battling through the trials of trying to raise a small person to be all the things I pray to be, and it isn't easy.  Kids aren't born good, they aren't born these things.  They are taught them.

So, with every, "Thank you, Mom, for giving me clean laundry." and "Thank you, Mom for changing my sheets." and "Thank you, Mom for reading books to me," I realize that I'm not really failing after all.  The days can be long and hard, but I'm investing in the long haul, the big picture, even if it's difficult in the moment.

None of us is perfect, and there are always those days when we're at our wit's end.  That's when grace comes in.  We are saved by the grace of God and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9), meaning we can't do more and enough works to get into Heaven.  So also, we must realize that not one of us is a perfect mother, and we will not raise perfect children.  We must pray diligently and lead our children by example, just as Jesus is our example.  I don't know about you, but just as Jesus grants us grace, I'm constantly having to be merciful with L and give her grace as well.  

Motherhood is hard.  Not one of us is perfect.  We all fall.  We all fail.  Thank goodness occasionally failing at the little things doesn't mean we've failed at motherhood or life as a whole.  There's always grace, and we while we're doling it out to our children, we should remember to save a portion for ourselves.  Being a mom is hard enough.  It would be impossible without grace.

Randomosity: Oh What a Week

Friday, May 8, 2015

After all of my serious posts the past two weeks, I've wanted to post some lighter stuff so, here's the latest Randomosity.

  • Everyone I know keeps posting pictures of just-hatched baby birds on their Facebook and Instagram feeds.  Newborn birds  They're just UGH!  You know, with their giant eyes and all.  No thank you!
  • L is on a huge super heroes kick.  If 2014 was the year she discovered princesses, then 2015 is the super heroes year.  She's mainly a DC universe girl.  She has decided that she is Wonder Woman, Lucy is Superman, and Dory is Batman. We've also been watching some Avengers and Captain America, because we already love Agent Carter.   Ladybug still loves princesses, but I'm thrilled her horizons have expanded.  I can't wait until the DC Super Hero Girls comes out this fall.
  • Speaking previously of Agent Carter, I'm thrilled it was renewed for another season.  I'm also unhappy that Forever wasn't.  That was a good show, and I hate that it's over just as Jo found out about Henry.
  • Last week Christy Nockels released a live album titled "Let It Be Jesus."  I think it was fortuitous timing, and my personal song of the week so far has been "Freedom Song."
  • This little thing called the Bentonville Film Fest has been going on this week.  I've been a little bummed that I wasn't able to go to any of it.  I especially wanted to take L to the A League of Their Own game and showing at Arvest Ballpark last night but wasn't sure if I felt up to it yet.  Maybe they'll do it again next year.
  • Along the lines of TV, a lot of people don't like how Grey's Anatomy jumped a year after the death of Derek Shepherd.  I actually do.  I think Meredith and Amelia are both realistically dealing with their grief and I don't think we needed to go through that crappy first year after.
  • We had a houseguest this past week.  Bart's brother's family left their lab Apache with us while they visited their previous post in Colorado.  She was basically the easiest houseguest ever except for the whole part of her being on Eastern time and wanting breakfast at 5:30 every morning.  Now my girls are used to it too.  I've been sleeping later recently, but I would prefer no to be woke up until at least 6.  She gets along great with the girls.  She and Dory are almost exactly the same age and have always played well.  I do think Dory's kind of glad to see her go though.  She seemed to be acting a little like Jan Brady while Apache was here.
  • We've been watching a lot of baseball at our house lately.  Now that things have changed, we're looking to go to another Cardinals game some time in early fall.
  • Next week or the next, I'm going to start getting up early to bike with Dory in the mornings.  I know better than to try with Lucy.  She doesn't exercise before 8 in the morning.
  • I was reading over on The Big Mama Blog yesterday her list of books to read in the summer and some of the suggestions in the comments where I saw several people suggest LM Montgomery's "The Blue Castle."  I adore all of Montgomery's books, especially the "Anne of Green Gables" series, so I had to chime in that it is a great read.  It is NOT a children's book, but it's definitely not "Fifty Shades of Grey" either.  Anyway, I'm going to have to give it a read again soon, I think.
  • For my birthday this year, Bart got me gift cards to Easy and Shutterfly.  With the Etsy one I ordered giant Scrabble letters for our last name.  They came in today.  Now I have to find something to put in place of our wedding picture.  I've been planning to do that for a while now.  It's more than time for a change.
  • I have felt led to be very open and share what we've been going through lately, because there's too much shame and secrecy when it comes to miscarriage, and there shouldn't be.  For anyone wanting to catch up on what's been going on lately, read these:
  • Lastly, to everyone who has sent me a message or just checked on me, thank you so very much.  Every prayer, every word has been felt and appreciated.  

A Band of Sisters

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Last night I danced.  As L took her bath last night, I plugged my phone into the dock in her room, and a song that just makes me happy played.  So I danced around and sang with L as she splashed in the tub, and it felt refreshing.  Dancing it out always feels good, even if you only have the energy to do it just a little while.

Dancing it out might not seem like a big deal to most, but you must understand that Monday afternoon I was in so much pain that I had to have Bart take me to the ER.  I tried to wait it out, knowing full well just how painful miscarriages can be, but eventually it just got to the point where I couldn't.  Ironically, almost as soon as I made it into the ER, the pains stopped.  Thankfully, I haven't required any additional help medically with everything.   Though I won't go into all the gory details, Monday was a very difficult day and took a huge toll on me physically.  I was still exhausted when I went in for my follow up with my regular doctor yesterday afternoon.  Being able and wanting to dance to "Then He Kissed Me" by The Crystals like Elizabeth Shue in Adventures In Babysitting was just awesome.

I wanted to share this, because miscarriage and child loss of any type are still basically taboos in our society.  We don't talk about it.  We don't want to talk about it, but that often leaves those of us who have experienced it feeling very alone.  Often, as I've experience this time and during my first experience five years ago, people will privately share that they too have gone through the same.  I'm thankful when they do share, but I don't believe it is something that needs to be kept private.  There is no shame in pregnancy loss.  This isn't Ye Olden Days when it was assumed the woman did something wrong or committed some heinous sin.   You did nothing wrong.  It happens far more often than most of us are publicly aware.

Sister, you are not alone.  Did you understand that?  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  It sucks.  It hurts, physically and emotionally.  It's okay to grieve, to be sad, to be angry, and to just feel lost.  You might not know how you're going to survive this, but know that you aren't alone in this.  You needn't hide away in shame and pretend it didn't happen.  It happens to a great many of us.

Last night in bed, my background in Shakespeare came to mind.  I thought about the St Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V.  You know, the "Band of Brothers" one that gave way to the title of the book and miniseries about the 101st Airborne?  There's this one part:
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
Cut out the "happy few" part and change every "brother" to "sister" and "he" to "she," I think this works:
From this day to the ending of the world,But we in it shall be remembered-We few, we happy few, we band of sisters;For she to-day that sheds her blood with meShall be my sister; be she ne’er so vile,
After all, we are in a manner a Band of Sisters.  Let's be open, honest, and lift up each other in prayer and encouragement.  We'll all be healthier for it.  Then, maybe we can all dance it out, because  there is still so much to be thankful for and happy about.  With time and support, we can take the strike out of the "we happy few," because I can assure you that "Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5b)."

Neatly Wrapped Packages

Monday, May 4, 2015

As much as I like to think that I'm okay with the spontaneity of life, I'm a planner.  I like order to life.  I like schedules and structure.  I can roll with change fairly easily, but I prefer to not have to.  I like mentally ticking things off a timetable in my mind.  I like for life to be wrapped up in neat little packages, which is ironic since I am the worst gift wrapper known to man.

I turned 35 on Friday.  I wanted to be finished having children by the time I was 35, and I thought that I was going to get my wish, if delayed by six months.  I was going to have my last child at 35 and be done with it.  What's ridiculous was that I knew better.  Five years ago I had almost the same timetable.  I was going to have my first child not long after having turned 30.  Both instances ended with miscarriage of one sort or another.

Once again I have been reminded that you can't set God's plans to any specific time table.  His time and our time are completely different things.  You can't wrap His plans up neatly in a pretty package.  To do so, is to try and limit Him when all you are really doing is limiting how much He can do within you.  It's a lesson that I'm continually learning.

I don't know what the future has in store for us.  Will we have more children?  Will Ladybug be our only one?  I'm going to be honest and admit that quite honestly I'm fine with both.  I would love to have another child, but I'm very well aware of the blessing I have watching Mickey Mouse as I type this.

I have refrained from posting anything here until we got word, but the miscarriage wasn't our only tough spot last week.  Our packages got even messier than we had already assumed.  Wednesday I took Ladybug in for her 3-year checkup, and her pediatrician detected a heart arrhythmia.  He ordered an EKG, which he said looked okay, but they also faxed it on to Arkansas Children's Hospital for a cardiologist to look at it.  Finally this morning we got the results that all is well.  I can't begin to explain how overjoyed and thankful I am for this news.

So, today I'm focused on getting through the physical aspects of this loss that finally started over the weekend and focusing on the good things in life.  Bart and I have started to think about doing the things we were putting off or just not doing this summer and fall, and I'm ready to commit to doing things like working VBS this summer.

I'm in a good place.  I know a great many people don't understand how I can be at this moment, but I am.  I will be honest and admit that I've had my moments, any feeling person would.  However, as a whole, I'm choosing joy right now.  Life is messy.  It never goes the way we plan it, and if you think about it, do we really want everything wrapped up in neat, little packages?  The blessings and the lessons in life come in the mess.  Once everything is wrapped up neatly, then it's time to go Home to Heaven.

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