Saturday, March 28, 2009

No Room in The Inn

Things have been a bit crazy 'round here over the past few days, y'all. As I mentioned, Jason's parents, the lovely Mike and Jan were here for a visit. (They flew home this morning.) And on Thursday, we welcomed a group of 8 women from our old church in Dallas. They've come for about a week to help us with some projects for the church and to attend a big women's conference that's happening in Sydney.

So is anybody good at math? 'Cause that means that over the past few days, we've had 12 adults and 2 children in our house. And that would be our all-time guest record. Do we live here?

No. (The Jolie-Pitts invited us, but we had stuff to do.) So how have we done it? Break it down for me, fellas:
Guest Room: In-Laws
Office: 3 girls
Small Pseudo Guest Room: 3 girls
Ava's Room: 2 girls
Our room: Us and Ava
Nate's room: Just Nate, such a prima donna. (what's the male version? primo dono?)

The house we're renting is not ginormous, but it is large. And I believe that optimistic real estate agents would call it "quirky" or "filled with character". It's older, and strangely laid-out, with no central air or heating. But doggone it, it's got lotsa places for sleeping bodies! When we moved in 2 years ago, we wondered why we were getting a house with so much space. Now we know why. We are often seen as somewhat of an anomaly by our friends, because it seems that we nearly always have someone staying with us. Sometimes they're overseas visitors or people we've invited to come speak at church, other times they're friends who need a transitional place to stay. But for us, it's more rare to not have a houseguest.

Probably cause I'm the perfect hostess.

I make sure to have a fresh supply of towels ironed everyday, and warm, baked canapes just coming out of the oven. I also knit monogrammed scarves for all our guests.

Umm, no. (What are canapes, anyway?)In fact, our guests always say they feel right at home with us. I'm pretty sure that's a nice way of saying that we make them get their own breakfast and help load the dishwasher. All I know is that Jason told me before we got married that he wanted our home to be open to people to stay in when they needed to. And I was all, "Why do you have to be so Jesus-y all the time?" (I've mentioned before that he is the nicer one, haven't I? It's true.)

So, as a result--of my amazing husband and our guest rooms--we have lots of guests! I suppose it also doesn't hurt that we live in one of the world's most beautiful cities. Friends sometimes tell me that they don't think they could live comfortably among people they don't know so well. This isn't usually a problem for us. After a few years, I've learned to just do my own thing. Of course, we make sure our guests have what they need, but if I wanna sneak off to my room at 8:00pm with a bowl of ice cream and watch dvd's on the laptop, I do.

And the truth is, we really enjoy it. Nothing bonds you to someone like sharing a house with them, and our circle of friends has grown dramatically over the last few years.

Right now, the sun is setting and I'm enjoying the last few moments of quiet before the girls come home after a day's worth of helping refurbish our church offices. It's humbling that they would come so far to lend us a hand. I'll enjoy hearing about their day, then I plan to grab the Ipod and go on a walk before dark. So, no canapes tonight! In fact, I think they're making dinner.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I am so all over that, it's taken care of. (What are we talking about again?)

In a given week, how often do you feign competency? Or maybe not feign it, but at least give the impression that you are more on top of things than you really are?

I thought about this today as I dropped Nate off at preschool. You see, I was recently crowned the chairperson of the preschool's Parent Management Committee. So in case you were wondering if I was an important person, now you know that I totally am.
OMG! I promised myself I wouldn't cry! In my reign as chair, I will do everything I can to see world peace happen. Or whirled peas. That could be good, too.

So today, I thought that since we were in Melbourne when the meeting took place where I was actually installed (or whatever you call it), I should chat with the Preschool Director and find out what I ought to have already been doing. I are a leader now. Therefore, I gotta start doing some leader-y things.

I decided to act like I'd already been giving it some thought, so I kind of vaguely said, "Yeah, I thought I'd email [other official preschool person] and find out about the paperwork for the skhjeihgoisen khjaowiejarf," (here is where I made intelligent-sounding noises hoping I could trick her) "and also look into that grant application. I think we should really look into that, so I'll be looking into that." I'm pretty sure she was awed by my brilliance and instilled with confidence in my capability.

Now as most of my friends and anyone in our church can tell you (I hope!), I am a big fan of the keepin' it real. I really think Jason and I are most effective in ministry by being who we really are, not pretending to be faultless. After all, it was the real us, not some idealized version of us, that God called into ministry in the first place. He knows who we are! So when it comes to spiritual things and relationships, I try really hard to be authentic. But in some areas of my life, there are times where I have to play a little catch-up, and um, perhaps relay an impression that I am maybe just a little more with it than I really am. This buys me some time to then go and get a little more with it, you see. Clever, I know. I'm sure everyone is fooled by my elaborate ruse.

Well I better cut this short, cause I have to go email this preschool guy about something except I'm not sure what I'm really supposed to be asking him, so I'm gonna ask him without asking him. Got that? But tell me the ways in which you feign understanding or competency. C'mon, 'fess up!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Whoomp There It Is, Indeed

As a pastor, (Lord, what a way to begin a sentence) some of my days are spent trying to help with some really difficult or sensitive situations. God is faithful to equip us to do what we can. It can be rewarding and fulfilling, but sometimes it's just hard. Today was one of those days. And as Nate might say, me no can blog about that.

So how 'bout something that's all about me instead? OKAY! You know me, I gotta give the people what they want.

Today, Ava's friend Rebekah was over and the girls were dressed in their ballet clothes for some serious ballet-ifying. (Say hi to Jan there in the background! Jason's parents are visiting.)

Nate wanted to dress up too, so we used our current go-to outfit: the cowboy. (He was clothed this time.)

I played some Aaron Copland for them and they spun around the living room. To the Americans in the house: 'Member that song from the Beef Commercials? ("Beef. It's what's for dinner.") They loved that one! I know--I am so cultured and stuff. So after much spinning and twirling, I asked if they wanted to hear some fast music.

I put on an old CD I have called "Sports Jamz" (or something terrible like that). My friend Jody may remember this CD from a skit we were forced into years ago at a women's retreat. All I will say is that it involved the song "Y'all Ready for This?", bare midriffs, and pom poms. That's all I will say, and I'm pretty sure I've over-shared as it is.

Well, Nate especially loved "Y'all Ready for This". I wish you could've seen the somersaults he was doing--all while keeping his cowboy hat on. The girls were having fun, too. Finally when I could talk Nate into listening to another song, I put on the next one. Remember "Whoomp, There It Is"? Awww, yeah. C'mon, Party People!

Don't pretend that you don't like this song. You're hearing it in your head right now, aren't you? I listen to Coldplay and Jack Johnson just as much as you, but don't be gettin' all superior and stuff! Whenever you chance to hear this song, which isn't so often anymore, you know that wanna get up and shake it. That's okay, you know. This song, for some reason, makes me feel really happy. I could say that it's evocative of simpler times, slumber parties, and the exuberance of youth--or maybe I just like to get my dance on every now and then.

So, I decided to get up from my perch by the CD player to show the kids how it's done. I did some of my best moves. They were less than impressed. You know that scene from "Hitch" where Hitch tries to teach Albert Brennamen to dance? Yeah. I was a little like that. Not Will Smith, the other guy. Belly included.

I mean, I think I got game, but no one else in the room did. The kids all looked away--like they were too embarrassed to even see it! Even 3 year old Nate, who is so lacking in social awareness that any public place is clothing-optional, averted his eyes. Was I really that bad? Perhaps it was just the overwhelming sight of my 7months pregnant self shaking like a polaroid. Too much to take in. Like staring into the sun--brilliant, glorious, blinding.

Or not. Perhaps it was freakishness, combined with no rhythm and a case of chronic white-girl. But do I care? Nope! In my mind, I am frozen at age 22: cute, bubbly, and well, not great-with-child. So I am somewhat surprised when I am not perceived this way. I mean, I know how adorable I am--and you should too, right? Right??

So what age are you "frozen" at? And what reality check has snapped you back to the present? Tag Team, Back Again!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ice Cream and AIG

Why, yes, we DID have a lovely holiday--thank you for asking! I gotta tell ya, this here is a beautiful country that we live in. It's almost as if God created it Himself. Oh, wait.

Anyway, it's nice to be home again. Last night and today, I've been reading the news and catching up a bit on what I've missed. I'm wondering if you find yourself anxious or angst-ridden about the state of things? Corporate executives receiving multi-million dollar bonuses for helping cave the economy? Businesses closing? Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson possibly on the rocks? If so, have you considered the therapeutic benefits of ice cream?

'Cause until things are really in the hole, someone somewhere will be making ice cream bars, right? And I think you oughta have one.

Or two. Hey, I ain't gonna judge you. Desperate times and all that.

However, if you find that copious amounts of ice cream aren't helping, there is one other option. But I would really only recommend it in extreme circumstances.

You could try being a near-naked cowboy.

I won't tell you which of these options I've personally tried, but I will say that I find myself remarkably angst-free these days. Perhaps, instead of millions of dollars they probably don't deserve, these aforementioned executives should receive bonuses of banana ice cream bars and faux leather chaps. Isn't that a plan we could all get behind? (Pun not intended. Ok, it was--a little bit.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

On the Road Again: A Short Lived Epiphany

We are away for a little holiday this week in Melbourne. Jason's parents are here for business and we flew down last night to meet them. What a lovely city!

As you might imagine, living in Australia and having family back in the US, we've flown quite a bit with the kids, enough that I consider myself somewhat of a non-amateur in this area. (I won't say expert, cause I find that intimidating, don't you?) Either way, I have complex, multi-layered strategies for trans-oceanic flights with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. But yesterday as we went through security at Sydney airport, I had an Epiphany.

For starters, I only had ONE carry-on, and it did NOT weigh 147 pounds. Secondly, Ava and Nate each had their own backpacks--THAT THEY ACTUALLY CARRIED. Like, I mean, I didn't end up hauling their bags around in addition to my own. Thirdly, no one freaked about having to go through the metal detector on their own, laying on the floor in protest. Fourthly, I didn't have to take a sleeping baby out of a stroller or a Baby Bjorn to send it through the metal detector. (The stroller or Bjorn, not the baby, of course, though I have been tempted to do so--who wants to wake a sleeping baby, after all?) We breezed through to the gate, and I said to Jase, "This is what it's like--traveling with older kids. It's so much easier!" I felt like a burden was being lifted from my shoulders. Now, the days leading up to a flight possibly wouldn't be filled with plotting, planning and pleading for divine favor from the hand of God. (Which we have received many times. God is cool like that.)

I felt an incredible lightness of being for a moment. That moment came to an end when the baby I am currently gestating decided to play "Dance Dance Revolution" atop my bladder. "Right," I murmured to myself.

Soon, I will be back to the days of Baby Bjorning through security, hoping that breastfeeding will contain the magic sleep solution, stuffing burpcloths, diapers, and pureed whatever into every available container. Soon I will stop packing magazines or books to read on flights, which I'd only recently begun to do again. Soon I will eat only what the kids don't eat on flights, cause who needs to be stuck with a tray over their laps when explosive whatever could come at any moment? Soon, traveling with 3 small kids, I'll be the object of pity and/or scorn by most who see me at an airport. (The former will work in my favor, the latter will be obliterated by my lethal Stinkeye.)

But I don't mind so much. I know all too well how incredibly blessed we are to be having another baby, and I also know how privileged we are to be able to travel as we do. So, I will do it all with a smile. Or a grimace. But ya know, at 3am, in a dark plane over the Pacific, you can't really tell the difference between the two.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Girl, Kick Him Out from Under Your Umbrella

I wasn't planning to say anything about the rapper Chris Brown's alleged assault on his girlfriend, singer Rihanna, but an article I just read in Newsweek had some great points about what we can teach our children about relationships and domestic violence. And not just what we say to them, but how they observe us talking to others about it. Someone named Raina Kelley wrote, "Domestic Abuse Myths:Five Mistakes We Make When We Talk About Rihanna and Chris Brown's Relationship". And I just have to say, Preach it, sister!

I won't add my voice to the torrent of opinions, speculations, and relationship-dissections going on out there. Enough is being said, I suppose. I just think it's important that we think about how we think about this, and be purposeful in teaching a better way.

Peace, y'all. Now go click on that link. Go on, there's nothing else to see here!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's All Greek to Me

After a hectic, hot day out with the kiddos, I am busy preparing for our church service tomorrow. Jason and I are co-preaching--we've basically split the message in half. It's one of the things I really love about what we do, it's fun to work on something together. Well, it's fun NOW. After nearly ten years of marriage and ministry together, we've pretty much learned how to communicate well in a "work" setting, as opposed to a "marriage" setting, and how to navigate when those two merge. If you work at all with your spouse, that will hopefully make sense to you. (More on that dynamic another time!)

Right now, we're sitting at our laptops, trying to be all, like, insightful and stuff. It's just adorable. (I'd take a picture and post it, but I look a bit rough after aforementioned day out with the kiddos. And I'm wearing shorts that are not for public consumption.) We think of it as tag team preaching, but don't worry. It's not like tag team wrestling. Mostly cause this kind of get-up would not be flattering for either of us:

God forbid. (And I'm pretty sure He did.)

So, I am up to my ears tonight in commentaries, Greek Bible Dictionaries, and catchy illustrations. Oh--and my own brilliance. Nearly forgot that one!

Hope all is well where you are!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

3 Juvenile Observations from Kindergarten

We are new to this whole "big school" thing, and a couple things have happened this week that have struck me as funny. This will be a short post tonight, as I gots stuff I gots to do. Oh bloggy friends, I can't quit you! Tell me if you've noticed any of these things where you are.

1. Outside Ava's classroom, I am merely one of many moms that arrive to drop off my daughter and pick her up again in the afternoon. However, as I've discovered when I go in to do Reading Groups with the class, once a mother enters the classroom, she instantly becomes an Object of Fascination and Mystery. Ava blows me kisses from her seat. Whispers break out across the room. I feel like I just won some kind of Mom Pageant. Are moms allowed in here? What is she doing here? Whose mom is that? "Are you Ava's mummy?", little Angelina whispers as I lower myself and my burgeoning belly onto one of those tiny chairs.(Lord, this is a sight in itself.) Yes, I tell her. "WHY are you here?", she asks, mystified. Step back out of the door, and the spell is instantly broken.

2. Yesterday, as we walked to the car after school, Ava pointed out another little kindergarten girl. "See that girl? She said she doesn't like my accent." "Hmmm," I say, trying to gauge if this bothers her or not. "That's a silly thing to say." "No, Mom," Ava replies matter-of-factly, "That's a mean thing to say." Yeah, I guess it is. My girl sees things in black and white!

So I get all catty, and tell Ava that I happen to know that the other little girl in question is ALSO from another country, so her accent is different from the others, too! Plus, I say, I have it on good authority that lots of people think her American accent is cute. This made her feel better. I have so far been successful in not egging Little Mean Girl's house. Will keep you posted.

3. A couple weeks ago, Jason asked me what we, the parents are supposed to call Ava's teacher. "Miss _____________," I tell him. "Yeah, but isn't that what the kids call her?" "Of course," I say, "and that's what we call her too. She's a professional. I introduced myself to her and she introduced herself as Miss Blank." This is standard procedure for your kid's teacher, is it not?

Well, the next day he goes to pick Ava up and comes home with a smug gleam in his eye. "I went up to Miss Blank and said,'Hi, I'm Jason.' And she said, 'Hi, I'm Mary.' So there!" Like he'd won some argument or something. But really, imagine you're a young teacher and a devastatingly handsome guy comes up, smiles at you and introduces himself, I mean, what would you do? Look at him, for goodness' sake.

She told him her first name and she probably woulda given him her lunch money, too, if he'd asked for it. She'd friend him on Facebook if she could! I cry foul! And I still call her Miss Blank. Apparently, we aren't on first name terms yet.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Guys in Skinny Jeans: Dudes, C'mon.

In the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, the prophet Jeremiah says the message God has given him to speak is like "a fire shut up in my bones". "I am weary of holding it in," he says, "Indeed, I cannot."

Dudes, I so feel his pain. I have been holding this in for awhile now, but much like that venerable prophet of old, I can withhold no longer. For the past several years, over countless trips to the mall and out and about, mine eyes have beheld images like this:

And I just have to say. At what point, in what universe, at what young-dude convention was it decided that this is a good look? For anyone? Cause I'm just sayin'--it ain't. I don't care if you're the Jonas Brothers or Ashlee Simpson's hubby what's-his-name, those tapered leg tight jeans are LAME. Okay? You look like a girl. And not a cute girl, either. And that thin white belt you're wearing with it isn't helping.

I recognize that their might be a generation gap here. After all, I am the ripe old age of 32. HOWEVER, I felt vindicated last week when I was getting my hair done, and the girls who worked in the salon (20 and 17, respectively) were complaining that their boyfriends liked to wear skinny jeans. "Nobody looks good in those things, especially guys," one of them said. "Yes!", cried my soul deep within me. I rose out of the hair washing basin, drips flying. "FOR REAL!", I exclaimed, "I have been thinking this for years." It was a true meeting of the minds. A cross-generational clasping of hands. We nearly burned our bras right there.

But we didn't. Cause that would be a bad idea. Much like guys wearing skinny jeans is a bad idea. It looks lame, it's kind of emasculating, and, with that kind of tightness, I worry for their future virility. I'm just saying.

If any skinny jean wearing dudes are reading this, please don't be offended. I say all this in love. If you won't change for yourself, do it for your children to come. And in the meantime, you'll make my trips to Target or McDonalds that much better.

--To my good friend Holly, whose 6 year old asked for a pair of skinny jeans, I'm not talking about him. But I might be in ten years' time.