Sunday, November 15, 2009

my pantry challenge

have you heard? apparently the times they are tough. the holidays are fast approaching and i've already declared that this will be a handmade christmas. which i'm actually pretty excited about, having finally found MY CRAFT. the one i don't screw up. the one which turns out nicely.

so for the next two weeks (excluding thanksgiving dinner, which will still be a very limited budget) i'm doing a self-imposed pantry challenge. creating meals solely from the food which already exists in my freezer/fridge/pantry. i will be buying milk as needed.

tonight i made a thorough inventory list, and started doing some searches on using their "ingredient" feature. thankfully, my husband is way more excited about the not spending money decision, and feels completely happy to eat potentially mediocre meals for a few weeks.

over the next few weeks i'll post what meals i've come up with, how it went over with the family, and any useful tips/tricks i find online.

our pastor was talking today about the biblical principle of sowing against/during lack. God's word to his people during seasons of draught and famine has always been to SOW. Christians ought operate under a different economy, one that is not filled with fear or greed, but is always focused on Kingdom economics and faith in the bigger picture, not focused on "facts" of the present in our natural world.

i think that this pantry challenge will be a good reminder for me of how much we have, how little we need, and give me the opportunity to take a look at what i'm sowing into...why sow into a full pantry when i could sow into God's work in the community around me?

tonight's pantry meal, a personal favorite, spaghetti with a jar of sauce, some olives and canned corn, and an english muffin turned into garlic cheese bread.

(p.s the pantry above is identical to my pantry, except for the part where mine is nowhere near so lovely and organized. )

Monday, July 20, 2009

hiding from myself- a digital diary entry.

sometimes i stop writing because i have nothing to say. or because i think no one wants to hear what i have to say. other times, like the last three months, i stop because i don't want to know what i have to say. i don't want to open myself up to my own thoughts. i'd rather ignore myself, as much as is possible.

i'm still in that mode...there has been a lot of life lately. the kind that is miserable and heartbreaking at the time, and absolutely necessary once you're down the road a bit and can look back. i hate where things are right now. but i hate it with hope, if that makes sense. (the WONDERFUL news in the midst of all this is that none of the misery has anything to do with kaia's health. we haven't been to the ER since May, which is BY FAR the longest stretch of health she's ever had in her nearly two years of living. PRAISE GOD.)

anyway, i'm being vague on purpose. don't intend to go any further in. except for this one thing:

several people have said the same thing to me recently, something that is without meaning or mal intention to the sayer, but that is deeply painful to me, though i can't quite explain WHY.

we're the first of our close friends to have kids. we have friends who want kids, friends who haven't decided whether or not kids are "for them" and friends who have tried and struggled and are now begining to look into adoption.

in the last few weeks, friends from each of these categories have commented (at separate times/occassions etc) that having seen ben and i have kaia has either confirmed their desire to NOT have kids, or has caused them to realize that maybe they don't want kids as soon as they thought, or maybe they wouldn't be so upset if they never had kids at all.

i know they are not saying that i'm a bad mother, or that kaia is a horrible child. i know that it most likely because the reality of our situation has been quite different then the rose colored glasses people tend to view parenting through prior to having their own children. i know that our parenting experience so far has not been anywhere near "the norm." most people aren't in the ER all the time. most people don't have to hear words like "epilepsy" "immune disorder" and "cancer" pertaining to their tiny child. most people don't have to hold their sweet baby down while needles and tubes violate their innocent little body. most people have family that will come, do dishes, take night shifts, let you leave the hospital for awhile.

and most people, i've found, aren't too open about how hard even the "regular" parenting stuff can some days it just plain sucks. what you'll mostly hear is that parenting is "the greatest thing i've ever done" and that people "can't imagine life before the baby."

so it's no surprise to me that the level of transparency i chose to live in has provided the people around me with a different perspective. that it has caused them to wonder, to worry WHAT IF their kid wasn't "normal" either? to have a greater appreciation for adequate sleep, alone time with their spouse, the absence of astronomical medical bills, the good feelings that accompany professional success, the pleasure that can come with a two-income household. our friends are more grateful for their spontaneous weekend ventures.

i guess i have at least some sense as to why these things are being said to me. what i can't figure out is why it HURTS me so much to hear?? partially because i worry that my friends may decide that the risk of having MY parenting experience is too great...much greater than the joy and satisfaction that most people experience in their children. like, what if i'm scaring people away from something they've always wanted? what if people miss out on a wonderful part of life because they don't want to live like i do? i know this is a large part of why it hurts to hear.

but there's something else, something that feels DEEPER and more painful about it. something that i can only identify in my gut and not find the words for. i've been sitting here, hands on the keyboard, waiting for the understanding to come for 45 minutes now...and i've still got nothing. does it cause me to feel even more lonely and isolated? do i want to pretend that i'm not missing out on as much of "the good life" as may be the case? have i done something wrong in all of this? should i have kept it all to myself and maintained this ridiculous myth that parenting is all rainbows and butterfly kisses? maybe it causes me to face my supressed emotions of anger and confusion and resentment of our circumstances? that God would go out of his way to create a miracle in my belly that was never supposed to exist...only to have the miracle be so scary and difficult and lonely and always seemingly at risk of vanishing.

all things considered, i've thought i have done a decent job of weathering it all. of having at least some balance of joy. to not be consumed by it all, to be able to continue to function as at least a close version of myself. so maybe it hurts because i've been kidding myself? that the thought of living a life like mine is THAT horrible sounding to someone else?

now i'm going in circles.

to be clear, THIS IS NOT INTENDED AS A PITY PARTY, OR A SOLLICITATION FOR SYMPATHY. honestly, it's just easier to type it all than to try to write it in some sort of diary.

also, what am i supposed to say in response to such commentary from friends? do i apologize? do i try to convince them otherwise, to promise that their experience as parents would surely be much more simple and delightful? i just don't know how to feel about it, what to say. maybe i just wish there weren't constant reminders that this is not what we signed up for, that we never pictured our lives in this way...that we've struggled to understand or to reconcile all of it. sometimes i'd just like to be BREANNA...a grown up, a girl. a short vacation from all the other titles, all the "how's she doing?" questions. the looks that obviously scream "i'm so glad it's you and not me." the critical and judgemental looks about our decisions. the insincere "if there's anything i can do..." to just BE. to have a day of not being afraid, of wondering what's next, of pleading with God for a break, a quick respite.

writing this has reaffirmed my decision to NOT write. as much as i obviously needed to get it out of much as it's a partial relief to have said it...mostly i wish i wouldn't have acknowledged it at all.

(these are the days it hurts most that there's no family to one to come and parent ME for a few minutes. the times when i go back to the same old stuff with God. stuff that should've been worked out by now. stuff that seems as if it may never get worked out after all. these days i wish for a daddy of my own.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

i have something to say

Jacob is 7 years old. he has autism, and a myriad of other difficulties. he experiences the world in ways no one else seems to understand. every day, jacob takes these two trash bins, HIS trash bins, and walks them around his neighborhood as many times as he can fit in. he takes them both, never just one. as he walks around the rocky roads, one or the other will regularly tip off to the side. jacob stops, lifts it upright, and continues on his way. never angry or frustrated. he keeps walking. all around the neighborhood, quietly wheeling the bins behind him.

i was spending the afternoon with jacob today as his foster mom needed a break. i can't fully explain why, but this parade of his two bins was incredibly touching to me. to watch him treat them so tenderly, so carefully. as if they were his two children, left solely in his care. he was very committed to getting them out to see the neighborhood, pausing to watch the horses or squirrels or to look at a creek. around and around the neighborhood. after about two hours of walking with him, it began to rain. i'm not sure jacob noticed at all. i let him know we needed to head back to the house until the rain stopped, and offered to take charge of one bin for him. as i wheeled it toward the house, jacob's free hand never left the side of it, as if to be a backup spotter should it topple over. as we approached the driveway, jacob wheeled the bins to their resting place, gently putting each precisely where it belonged. as we walked into the front door, he glanced back, to be sure they were as they should be.

this child is the target of teasing, rejection, namecalling. he is labeled with horrific words like "retarded" and "unreachable." and yet i see in him a level of intimate humanity i've rarely found. there is so much left to learn about autism. so many unanswered questions. countless families who struggle to make it through each day, to find the right help for their children, to try and parent them with love in the midst of being completely burned out.
one thing i'm sure of, though, is that the greatest disservice we could do to these children and ourselves is to ignore them or write them off. for the last six years i've worked directly with foster kids with developmental disabilities like autism. it's sickening the way these children are tossed from one home to another, label after label written into their records. medications shoved into their systems. rarely does anyone spend time with them to see who they are, past the diagnoses, past the outbursts and embarrassing tantrums.

each of these children is, in fact, created by God. and not just by God, but in his very image. they're not the exception to that rule, you know.

later, hours after i'd left jacob, i noticed myself rushing around, trying to get things done just to check them off the list. i remembered the care with which jacob wheeled his bins. that he felt such responsibility for them, and took that seriously. and cliche as it may sound, this "unreachable" child most certainly reached me.

Friday, March 20, 2009

file this one under "i wish they were my grandparents"

i mean, let's even pretend there was no recession...everyone was swimming in money. even then...WHO THE HECK IS BUYING THIS FOR THEIR CHILDREN?!?!?! (go ahead, read the post)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

we're famous! for all the wrong reasons....

hi friends. this blog post is going to be serious, and it's going to be long. but i'm asking that you read it, read the article included, and leave some feedback, because i'm needing some outside perspective. thanks.

okay, so, i've talked a bit here about the difficulty we've experienced with my father-in-law since we left the Church of Christ. i've left out a tremendous amount of detail in an attempt to show respect to the family and the situation. however, there are things i need to share, even if no one reads it, after a recent string of events. i do want to aim to be respectful and loving throughout this situation, but it is emotionally charged and i recognize that i may not succeed in that goal.

the reason i'm writing this post is because an article has been printed in a nation-wide newspaper that is sent to all churches of christ. this article is about our family, by name, and largely about why my husband and i no longer attend a CoC. please read the article in the link below:

okay. it's not that i disagree with the article, or am angry about it. i just feel like there are so many IMPORTANT details that weren't included. i totally understand that they couldn't include so many parts of the story for the simple fact that it's an article in a newspaper, not a biography of our family. but i do feel that i want to share some of the more important details, and this is the only forum i know of to do that.

it's true that ben and i left the CoC. this occurred after a long, painful experience in the church plant we had been working with for over four years. the primary issue was that the new preacher of the church claimed that i was "barren" (as you'll recall, until the moment we discovered we were pregnant, we had been told it would be impossible) because of unforgiven sin in my life. we tried for quite awhile to bring the elders of the supporting congregation and the other leaders of the church into the situation, and received no support, no response. it was after several months of trying to work things out biblically that we decided it was time for us to leave. it was never that we were leaving the CoC...we left that specific church. following that experience, we were deeply hurt and burned out on church, and didn't go for several months. when we started visiting churches again, we went to many CoC's before ever visiting the church we now attend. we prayed about the decision and talked about it at length. it was not a decision we made lightly, especially considering ben's lifelong background in CoC. but when we began visiting City Bible (where we are now members) we felt HOME. we felt filled and fed and ministered to. we could see it was the kind of place we wanted to raise our children. God made it very clear to us that THIS WAS OUR CHURCH. and it wasn't a CoC. i'll list just a few of the many reasons we were/are drawn to our church:
1. dynamic worship, heartfelt and passionate worship that leaves space for God to truly inhabit the praises of His people
2. a major focus on community, on "doing life" together. although it's a very large congregation, they emphasize and thrive on small group communities.
3. a strong children's program
4. sermons that are absolutely bible-focused, and delivered in a tangible, real life way that makes a difference in our day to day lives
5. tremendous emphasis on giving, supporting missionaries, planting churches, serving the community around us and meeting the needs of the members of the church
6. strong accountability for each member to take responsibility for the church and their own spiritual lives, rather than depending on a preacher/leadership to do 90% of the work
7. i couldn't begin to describe the quality of the character of the people in our church. i am constantly surrounded by incredible christians who are very tuned in to God's Spirit and leading, who are living the Word rather than simply KNOWING the Word. i am surrounded by people i aspire to be, and given full access into their lives, able to see how they live, how they struggle, how they seek God and my faith is built by seeing God work powerfully in and through them.

the only drawback of this decision was knowing that ben's parents would be upset about it. we expected that. ben's dad has been a faithful preacher for the CoC for a long time now, and their family is deeply rooted in it. we did not, however, anticipate the reaction we received. it's understandable that ben's dad would be passionate about his beliefs. it is not understandable, to me, that he would say things that seemed cruel and sometimes mean. i cannot understand how he could so separate himself from from the fact that BEN IS HIS SON, and is a good man of great character and integrity. where was the benefit of the doubt? where was the "agree to disagree." where was the atmosphere of unconditional love?

this has been going on nearly two years now. i have learned, at least a little, to turn off my emotional response to the comments we receive about our decision. i have learned to stay out of it, that it is something that should be dealt with between ben and his dad. it does not hurt me any less to see my husband disrespected by his father in this way. it does not hurt me any less to know that he believes we have left THE CHURCH, rather than "a church," and to read that he is "grieved" and doesn't feel "as close" to ben any longer is a new hurt since seeing the article.

the one thing about that article that i was displeased with was that it failed to fulfill it's premise. the article, we were told, was to be about WHY some in our generation are leaving the CoC. but i saw NOTHING in the article that sufficiently addressed our reasoning. it seemed to me to be more about ben's dad, his feelings about us leaving, and all the things he had done "right" that should've kept us there.

so this is my response. we did not leave the CoC as a whole for any real reason. but there are VERY real reasons that we would never return. Namely the judgement, condemnation and rejection we have experienced from those who ought to be CLOSEST to us, who should know our hearts and see that our lives are absolutely godly and christlike. that we have been labeled and written off, to a degree, not because we've become non-christians or are living in sin, but because the sign in front of our church simply says "CITY BIBLE CHURCH" rather than "CHURCH OF CHRIST." i cannot understand why the church sign carries more weight than the lives we are living, the good things we are doing for the Kingdom. i cannot understand the one-sidedness of the conversations that have occurred, with no regard to hearing what we have to say, only wanting to be heard.
now, the majority of those things SHOULD NOT have been included in the article. i get that. but now that a whole community of people will read ABOUT US, i wanted our perspective to be heard. i sincerely didn't think anyone we knew would ever even see it, and i don't mind if they do. but it was just released yesterday, and already people are contacting us to say they've seen it. i just feel like there should be a more complete story available. the article may portray that our family experiences a lot of drama and difficulty as a result of our decision. this is not at all the case. the things that have gone on have been very quiet, sometimes unacknowledged. the end of the article says that we all came together for tim's wedding despite our differences, as if we there were any other option. let me be clear. there is a TREMENDOUS amount of love in this family. we ADORE our time together, and wish we had a lot more of it. there is no drama, no feuding. sure, my feelings are hurt, and it's been made clear that ben's dad is unhappy and unapproving of our decision. but these are not things that permiate every interaction, every family holiday or chat on the phone. had it not been for the article, i'd have left it all unsaid and felt fine about that.

we do not hate the CoC. we do not reject it. we don't think it's wrong. we're not angry at it. we feel love and community with any who follow Christ and the Word. the problem in this story is that we're not receiving the same amount of grace for making the decision God clearly led us to, for living as Christ-followers and doers of the Word.

one last thing, the author of the article has also written a blog post about it.
feel free to read it, and to leave comments if you have them. if, for some reason, you have strong feelings about any part of this situation, please be intentional about leaving comments in a loving and respectful manner. i know that some of my close friends are upset about the situation as a whole, and i am grateful that they would defend and protect me. but this is not the forum for such a response. i'd honestly like to see a productive conversation happen there about the REAL issue the article brought up....why are so many in our generation leaving the CoC? and what can be done about it?

Monday, March 02, 2009

things are getting funner-er

i can just about promise that this will be the best 40 seconds of your day.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

hijinx at 30,000 feet

hello there friends. remember me? i'll admit i've gotten distracted with my 365 blog and ALL THE OTHER THINGS GOING ON IN MY LIFE and have neglected to enrich your lives with my profound and hilarious musings.

so, i'm back in full force with an action packed, suspense filled story.

have i ever told you about the time my flight was hijacked? no, i'm being serious. it was my freshman year of college and i was on my way back to portland after being home for christmas break. i took a late flight out of LAX. the flight was fairly empty. i had a row to myself and was cozied up with a crappy airplane pillow and blanket. about thirty minutes into the flight, we felt the airplane start to turn. i looked out the window and could see us going back the other direction. the pilot came on the speaker and said something about needing to make an emergency landing back in LAX. there was no mention of the reason. we heard muffled commotion from the front of the plane. i was near the wing, so i really couldn't make out anything being said, but people started to really panic all over the plane. we all felt like something was REALLY wrong. i did the only thing i could think to do to try to calm down...i started humming and then singing to myself.

as we approached the airport, we could see dozens of vehicles with flashing lights...cop cars, fire trucks, ambulances, other "official" things i couldn't possibly name. the landing was horribly trecherous. as soon as we started to come to a stop, all the flashing lights and sirens rushed in. some sort of airport FBI dudes (or whoever it would be) came quickly on to the plane and rushed all of us out and immediately into this secret room in the airport. we had no idea what was going on. we sat in that room for several hours, not knowing what was happening. we were all hypothesizing about it, and coming up with increasingly scary potential causes.

at some point, officers came in and spoke with each of us about what we had seen or heard. they took statements from us, which was silly considering we hadn't a hint of what really went on. hours later they sent a representative to explain that some guy had tried to hijack the plane (this was just a few years before 9/11) and one of the pilots was able to somehow restrain him, but that we had to return to LAX because it was closer than continuing on to portland.

anyway, they put us on another flight in the early morning of the next day. and that was that.

i tell you this story to say something that is belated but necessary.

that guy that's trying to sue the airline for the "miracle on the hudsen" thing...i want to kick his jewels. HOW DARE HE?!? he should be licking the feet of that pilot, and writing a bucket list and righting all his wrongs. it's sickening to me that he has such selfish disrespect and lack of gratitude to try and make the situation ABOUT HIM. i didn't receive any kind of compensation. no free flight or money for damages suffered. and it never would have occurred to me to want it. i was SO GRATEFUL for the pilots who handled the situation so well and kept us all safe. i felt indebted to them, not OWED.

and there you have it. one of my best stories.

what's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

the croup

although we're not pet people, we've got a little baby seal living with us presently. see, as it turns out, the croup isn't just for anne of green gables. apparently, it's alive and (not-so) well today. the poor dear is miserable, all sneezy and gooey and barky. we're becoming bff's with our local ER.

let's check the list so far:
pneumonia x 2
immunde disorder
every food allergy known to man
possible catatonic seizures (this is new)
possible cancer (but test results have been good on this so far)

not to mention your run-of-the-mill ear infections, teething misery, colds and whatever else i'm too sleep deprived to remember.

and she's only 16 months. i'm officially fed up. and if i've said that before, then i'm official MORE fed up. and tired. profoundly tired.

HOWEVER i'm also keenly aware of how blessed we are to have a sweet and particularly gorgeous little girl to cuddle.

so, i'm making a gratitude list today. because otherwise i'll just keep crying.

1. we have the single greatest pediatrician of all time
2. we have been blessed with incredibly gentle and friendly ER staff each and every time we've been there
3. we have insurance coverage. it isn't spectacular, but it's there
4. last night, while in the ER, we got to overhear some REALLY amusing conversation between the staff and a guy that was brought in because he was super duper drunk.
5. so far, a lot of the most terrifying things have turned out to be less terrifying things.
6. although it's a struggle, we're able to survive mostly on ben's income. so i don't have to get a paper route at 4am to get us by each month.
7. blues clues. i am eternally grateful for blues clues. i'm also eternally grateful that i thought to put some episodes on my ipod. this makes ER visits and painful testing more bearable for her.
8. kaia is filled with grace. even after the most painful of tests, she'll wave at the person poking at her when they leave the room. also, she keeps loving us, even though we're the ones holding her down for all this mess
9. although i don't presently feel it, there is a lot of hope. answers SURELY exist, and i'm determined to find them.
10. my husband lets me sleep in on almost every saturday. he's not really (in any way) romantic, but today i said to him "sleep is the only romance i'm interested in at this point in my life" and i really meant it. i'd take an hour of napping over jewelry or chocolate or cute new shoes any day. (although i reserve the right to retract that statement in the future, once sleep exhists more regularly again).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

best youtube of 2009

friends, i know i post videos here that i think are awesome for whatever reason, and sure, you might not find them so thrilling. perhaps you've given up on my ability to post a good video, who knows.


because, i promise, it's going to be SO worth two and a half minutes of your life. or your money back.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

shameless self promotion

you know how i have that one other blog which has been about twelve different things? well, for the next 365 days, it will be the home of my 365 photo project.

you've likely seen or heard of this project before. participants commit to take one picture per day for one full year, and post them on a blog or flikr or some such site. i've seen other 365s and been pretty interested. a lot of participants say it's a really interesting and revealing thing for the photographer to experience.

anyway, i like the idea, and so i've started it. and i'm just letting you know in case you want to see it from time to time, or better yet, join me and do your own 365. if you do, let me know so i can link to you!