Monday, November 29, 2010

My Favorite Nuances

Today has been very typical day in the Greene household leaving me with very little to write about, but I felt like writing so here is some random stuff to chew on.

I guess I'll open by saying that some really strange things have been happening around lately. Some minor, and some...well, you tell me. On our way to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving I was driving on 63, a two lane road from Batavia to Geneseo, when the car kept swerving to the left right in front of large trucks and only in front of large trucks. I obviously continued to regain control before anything bad happened, but it was more than just wind. After this happened about four times in a row, we pulled off the road to check the tires and discovered that, not only were the tires all fine, but there was ZERO wind. As we drove on, we decided to pray and rebuke whatever it was in the name of Jesus. It never happened again. I'm not usually a paranoid person, but I couldn't help but think that Satan was trying to kills us! So praise God for His protection.

Now I'm coming down from the Thanksgiving hangover. I didn't want to go to bed last night, a result of several late nights of playing Apples to Apples with my family over the break, and I didn't want to workout this morning. Both things eventually happened and I dragged myself back into my regular routing...kicking and screaming.

My feet have been cold all day. This always leaves me reciting Dr. Seuss, "My shoe is off. My foot is cold. I have a bird I like to hold." If you're a mom or dad, chances are you know the lines.
I discovered that I could (maybe) lose weight if I listen to music and dance while doing the dishes. But then I wondered if people could see me through the windows, and if they could, I wondered what it looked like. Because while my bottom half is moving and shaking, my top half has to remain pretty steady to wash the dishes, so it probably looked a lot like I was trying desperately not to pee my pants.
While doing the dishes I was listening to songs from our computer which I take with me to the kitchen to use All Recipes. It was right in the middle of a gospel song which I don't really know, but was really groovin' to. The choir was singing about the Holy Spirit, singing, "I got the power!" when the power in the computer died and killed my worship buzz.

Then the radio in the living room, which we never use, turned on by itself at exactly 7:35 pm for the third night in a row. I have no idea how an alarm could even be set on there, and I'm quite certain I didn't do it.

This evening Elijah kept asking to listen to his "nuances." I've heard this before, and I knew what he was talking about, but for some reason tonight it took me a few minutes to realize that he was talking about his nursery rhyme DVD that I play for them sometimes. "May I have nuances, please?" was all I heard for several minutes before I finally popped it in, then to hear, "It's time to sing, dance, and play with your favorite friends today, so come along and sing your favorite songs!" And Chastity and Elijah start to dance, which makes the annoying DVD one of my very favorite things.

I love those kids. They wake up and "read" books to each other before I come get them. The other day when I was giving them each their yogurt, I went to give Elijah a bite, and he said, "No. Ladies first, Mommy," so that I'd give Chastity her bite first. Tonight I sat like an old granny, crocheting scarves to sell, while they danced, and giggled and announced when they'd "poooooooot," rather loudly. They get into everything but say "Sowwy," as soon as I catch them. They melt my heart with their hugs and kisses, especially after I've just reprimanded them. As I sit here listening to them chatter and giggle while they drift off to sleep I can't help but think that most of this is not very extraordinary, but maybe just wonderfully ordinary.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's Only the World

I suppose you could call this a follow-up to my follow-up blog, which even annoys me. This is not what I set this blog up for, and this is why I stopped blogging years ago. Either I am not a very clear writer, or many just pick and choose what they want to hear, and therefore, miss my point entirely.

I will say one last thing in regard to Halloween and listen carefully. :) Other than buying the candy just in case some kids come by, we actually do not participate in Halloween in the traditional sense. We honestly can't justify the expense of the costumes right now, and it is too difficult to avoid the scary and evil aspects of the night which many people choose to magnify, and which terrify my children. I grew up with horrible nightmares, and I'm not trying to pass them on. I'm not telling you all this so that I will stop being judged. But I already told you my opinions, which regardless of how misunderstood they might have been, I'm not repeating. Live and let live.

Moving on...

In my last blog I touched on the topic of judgment. This has been on my heart for sometime, and it may have also been misunderstood since I didn't really dive into it. It's just that I can't even count the number of people throughout my life who have confessed to me that they have nothing to do with God or the church because of the people. Basically, because of us, because of God's people, someone would avoid God. That breaks my heart!

What I wrote last time wasn't meant to make me sound blameless. I am guilty of it too. We all do it whether inwardly or outwardly, and I'm challenging us all, myself included, to put a stop to it. It is not our jobs to judge others in their decisions. I do believe that in some cases God might lay it on your heart to step up and maybe talk to someone about the choices they are making, but enter that prayerfully. We shouldn't just be spouting off rules, "Don't do this, and don't do that." In fact sometimes it's best not to say anything at all. I know that I'm contradicting that just by writing this blog, but I know from my personal experience. I have learned more from people's actions than from their words. I could write out countless testimonies to that. Before saying a word to them try praying for them, being there for them, and leading by your actions and with your love.

What is hardest, I think, for most people, is having a finger pointed at them while knowing the finger pointer's imperfections, because, let's face it, a lot of the judging comes from those who know us best. We all know each others' flaws and even if you don't, you can bet that they have some. It is ignorant to say or believe that we as Christians do not sin, or even that we don't practice sin. Something as simple as eating until you are well beyond satisfied is gluttony. We've all done it, and continue to do it. Christians do make mistakes, and unfortunately they do sometimes repeat them. What sets us apart from the world isn't perfection. It's forgiveness. We know and see and hear from a God who, in His ultimate mercy and grace and love, offered up His Son for us. Maybe if we all quiet down with the yelling of scriptures and judgments and "Bible thumping" others might hear Him too.

Now, this blog in itself would appear to be judgmental, wouldn't it? I guess it is. I suppose the media is, in part, to blame, because not all Christians are like that, but those sure are the ones we see on TV a lot, aren't they? I shouldn't be judging them because God knows their hearts, and I believe that many of their hearts are in the right place, but it's got to be hard to save souls while simultaneously scaring them away.   

I am not perfect; far from it. And I am asking for God's help with this. We are all under attack from the evil one, and you better believe that he knows that the tactic of judging and shaming people is not going to bring many (if any) people to Christ. I pray that God would remove those impure thoughts and judgments from our minds, and fill us with His love to share with the world. Amen

Pheww! Can I write about lighter stuff now, please? :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hallowed be Thy Name

Since my last blog began quite the discussion/debate, I felt it was only right to follow it up a little bit. After a lot of back and forth with great friends and family, what it came down to is this: while many believe that we are honoring Satan by participating in anything Halloween, my take is the opposite. I believe that in avoiding the day all together, we are honoring him, by basically giving him his own day! It is true that people have used it to purposely honor him and continue to do that to this day. That does not mean that Christians who participate in Halloween are honoring Satan anymore than they are honoring the sun god by putting up a Christmas tree at Christmas or honoring the fertility god by celebrating Easter. Do the research and you will find that both Easter and Christmas were once highly regarded as pagan holidays. Neither one of them is biblical, though we use them to celebrate biblical truths.

I have heard some complaining that the church shouldn't be putting on Harvest Parties in lieu of Halloween. I ask, what better place is there to be? I believe we should be including God in a day when many are leaving Him out. I agree that we should not be dressing up as evil beings. We actually had to duck out of our church party after only 10 minutes because one of the the costumes there absolutely terrified Elijah. He was trembling terribly. It was a shame and very disappointing. I believe it is risky to take on such characters. Actors will tell you that to play a role, they channel that character they are playing. Such young, impressionable and imaginative minds are very easily capable of the same channeling, and even "just pretending" to be evil can be very dangerous. However, what harm is there in letting our children play dress up? Do you mean to tell me that your children can play princess and cowboy all their little hearts desire on any other day of the year and that's ok? Do you believe that on that one day of the year their hearts aren't as innocent?

I realize it is a fine line, and the evil and scary aspects of the day are hard to avoid, even at church parties. I also understand that this is just one of those areas where people are convicted differently. Drinking the occasional glass of wine is not a sin, but getting drunk is. Many people are convicted strongly against touching alcohol at all, and perhaps with good reason. Maybe they are prone to alcoholism. Some are, and they know it, so they have a strong conviction against it. That doesn't mean that a glass of wine is bad and that all Christians should avoid it. If you are strongly convicting against participating in Halloween, so be. I'm not arguing with you, or judging your decision. I believe what I believe. God knows my heart. He knows exactly where I stand, and I'm not going to avoid some traditions of a day that has long been filled with quality family fun for me.

Also, don't kid yourself when you say you are not judging. It is another topic entirely, but I'll touch on it now. We all fall short of the glory of God. We are all sinners, yet we somehow manage to tear each other apart for things we believe are wrong. Someone else is always doing something we don't agree with. I lovingly remind you that we all do things that are wrong or that could be perceived as wrong, every single day whether others see it or not. Someone else allowing their kids to dress up, have fun, and eat candy on Halloween should really be the least of our concerns.

Jesus says in Luke 7:33-34, "For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'"

Both of them lived according to their own convictions. Yet both were regarded as flawed, to say the least, by many. Let us not forget the God we serve, who did not avoid the sinners, but rather, went to those who needed Him most, without being fearful of the names He would be called. 

I reiterate, Halloween does not need to be the evil thing that it has become or that some people treat it as. Anything can be what you  make it. Just google "Hallowed be Thy Name," and check out the first couple things that pop up. Yet, we won't remove that from the Lord's Prayer, and that won't take away from what it means to us, because it is God' is everything

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Take Back the Day

With Halloween rapidly approaching, I thought it was only fitting to write a few (hundred) words about this controversial topic.

I have heard one major debate against the celebration of Halloween among Christians. Many refuse to partake in the day in any way, shape, or form stating that it is a day of the devil, and should not be celebrated. I dare ask, what exactly makes it the day of the devil? It really wasn't until relatively recently that it became a day where satanists worshiped Satan. And why is that? Could it be because more and more Christians have removed themselves from the day all together?

Allow me to elaborate. I feel that by stepping back, and refusing to participate at all in a day, just a day that the Lord has blessed us with, is basically handing that day right over to Satan. As a result, the day has become more and more gruesome, and horror-filled. There are many aspects of Halloween that, as a parent, make me cringe. I hate that I have to change the channel or turn the TV off every time a Halloween-specific ad comes on and my children become scared. I hate that we had to avoid half of Wal-Mart a few weeks ago because of two life-sized, scary looking, robotic figures that were absolutely terrifying to our son. But how much worse can it get if we, as Christ's followers, continue to turn our backs on this day?

Did you know that the origins of Halloween did not at all begin with Satan? It actually has it roots in many areas and traditions and one of them is Christianity. Today's Halloween is primarily a combination of the Celtic festival of Samhain, and the Anglican Church's celebration of All Saints' Day. Samhain is an Irish term derived from Old Irish, meaning "summer's end." It was meant to celebrate the end of the lighter half of the year and beginning of the darker half. This was a good time for harvesting, and became associated with food and harvest parties as well. Now, this is where it does get a little sticky. The Celts believed that the joining, so to speak, of the worlds allowed spirits, both bad and good, to pass through. The tradition of the disguises began as a ritual of dressing like the bad spirits so that they would think you were one of them and not harm you.

The Trick-or-Treating began with the Scottish tradition of children going to houses and shops and doing a trick, such as singing a song or telling a joke, to get a treat. That didn't even become popular in the U.S. until the 1930s, and it wasn't until much later that it took on the meaning that we know today as children pulling pranks on homes that don't give them treats. The dressing up and going door to door dates back to the Middle Ages when poor people would ask for food in exchange for prayers for the dead. This was known as All Souls' Day.

None of this is to say that Halloween is a completely harmless day. I believe that without the proper spiritual guidance and an understanding of the history behind the traditions of the day, it can lead to bad things. However, to step back from it completely, I feel, simply leads to confusion. There are many days and many things in which we all participate that are not necessarily biblical.

Both Easter and Christmas have traditions rooted in Paganism. Most obvious with Easter is the Easter bunny. Rabbits were a pagan symbol of fertility. Eggs are also an obvious symbol of fertility, and since birds lay eggs in the spring time you have your very logical combination of the Easter bunny and its eggs. As for Christmas, The Romans believed the evergreen tree to be a special plant of their sun god. They would decorate it during the winter solstice to remind themselves that spring and summer would return. The date of Christmas alone was taken from the celebrated birthday of the Persian sun god. It is believed that the Pope, sometime around AD 320, declared it a day to celebrate Christ's birthday because he was tired of their futile attempts at stopping the sun god's birthday celebration. Scholars believe that Jesus was actually born sometime in the spring.

I'm not really here to give you a history lesson on these three most traditional holidays here in America. You can find all of this information yourself. I merely wanted to make a point. What if the Pope at that time had declared that no one participate in any of the traditions and festivities of the sun god's birthday? Would we all be shut ins to this day on what we now lovingly know as Christmas? I'm not saying that they should be dressing up as witches and goblins and ransacking the neighborhood trick-or-treating. But do something. Find a tradition and make it your own. Host a dress up party at your own home where the kids can participate in a safe environment. Include God. Don't just hand the day over to Satan. I don't think that Jesus would want us to shield ourselves completely from a day in which we could be spending quality and creative time together as a family, and reaching out and loving others. It's true that I don't like what Halloween has become, but we, as Christians, should take back the day! It is still a day that the Lord has made! What are we truly gaining by not allowing our children to be cowboys and princesses for a day?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Feels Like Home

I had the chance to visit North Carolina for the first time since we moved back north, two years ago. I don't know why I always say that, because I wasn't really visiting the state. I was visiting my sister, but I guess I have so much love for NC that I felt as though I was visiting her too. I can't explain the feeling I got last week every time I drove around the Charlotte area, but every time I hit those familiar roads, the chorus of Feels Like Home by Chantal Kreviazuk ran through my head over and over again. Why? Why would the one place where I lived the shortest amount of time hold so much sentimental value to me? My sisters are no longer that close to Charlotte (though certainly closer than Buffalo), I definitely have more family closer to us in Buffalo, and more friends, but I can't seem to shake the feeling that Buffalo is just another temporary stop. To look at our apartment here one would think we are quite settled, but that is just my extreme hatred of living out of boxes (which I've done many times). I have actually never felt settled in Buffalo. In fact, in a total of five years here I have lived in seven different places.

If it's possible to fall in love with a city, I fell for Charlotte back in high school. My older sister moved down there just north of Charlotte in the late 90s, and the very first time we visited I was hooked. I am a country girl through and through, but Charlotte is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. At that time though I couldn't really tell you why I loved it so much, but I told everyone I knew that someday I would live there. I guess it wasn't surprising to anyone that when a friend of mine called me after I graduated college and told me she had a job opportunity for me in Charlotte, and she needed a roommate, I jumped at the chance.

Charlotte was where I truly learned to live on my own, became an adult, and started my family. It held my first real job, the first apartment I really paid for myself, our very first home as husband and wife, and our first child. Charlotte managed to grab all of those life changing moments in three short years, and Charlotte grabbed my heart. People like to say, "Home is where the heart is," and I agree. Wherever my family is, will always be my heart and therefore, my home, and I don't know what God has planned for our future, but if given the chance, I would return to Charlotte in a heartbeat. If home is where the heart is, then Charlotte will be my forever home. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Let it Rain

Today was my 35 minutes jog. I have a workout schedule now thanks to my wonderful husband. Mondays I run quarter mile "sprints." Believe me...I use the term "sprint" loosely. My fastest so far is 1:47, and I used to run them under 1:10. Anyway, Tuesdays I just do a long 35 minutes jog. Wednesday I time my 3 miles. I'm still trying to get that down to 27 minutes. Thursday I run half mile "sprints," 4:04 being my best time. Then Friday (if my ankles make it that far) I time my mile.
This morning I woke up around 6:30. I knew it was supposed to rain, so I stayed in bed for about 5 minutes just listening. If it was coming down hard enough I was going to sleep a little longer and then head to the gym when they opened. I didn't hear anything so I got up, went through my normal morning routine, grabbed my water, put on my shoes, and was out the door...only to be met with rain. It was a fresh rain. I could tell it had rained earlier, but that this was a new one. It was a light drizzle, I was already up, so I headed for the track anyway. By the time I got there the rain was coming down a little bit harder, but still not hard enough to turn around. I did my warm-up lap, stretched, and began the jog. By my third lap it was coming down hard enough that I kept having to wipe it away from my eyes. By my fifth lap it was pouring down. I was wiping my eyes and forehead every 15 seconds, and I could barely see. Rather than continue for the whole 35 minutes I decided I would finish up two miles and head home, but by the end of the second mile, it let up, and I vowed to finish. One slow lap at a time, now weighed down with an extra 7 pounds of wet clothing, I approached my 35 minutes goal. The rain came down hard again around lap 10, but I had gone to far to quit then! By my last lap I looked down and noticed that I was raining too. I was so completely soaked that with each stride water was sloshing off of me, but I was smiling like a lunatic.
I wondered, "What must the people passing by the track on their way to work or school be thinking of me?" It may have been my rain soaked imagination, but I really thought they were slowing down to do a double take at the crazy person running in the pouring rain. I figured they were thinking one of two things.
1. WOW! She's an absolute nut!
2. WOW! She's extremely disciplined!
While I am a bit crazy, and it did occur to me that if I didn't suck it up and run it would make it that much harder for me to do it the next day, I'm not an absolute nut, nor am I really that disciplined. What it's about is doing just one thing for myself. Every run I take is a small victory after the years of ankle drama I have been through, and these days, I rarely make the time to take care of myself.
So, yes, as my stopwatch hit 35:00, and I realized I'd had dryer pool workouts, I was smiling...praising God for another great run.
It's funny, because I spent much of my college career dreading our 6:00 am pre-season and post-season workouts, and I knew if I got up and it was raining it was going to be that much worse. But as I ran today, I thanked God for the coaches I've had that have taught me how to push myself through anything. I mean, come on! Back then I had a reason to survive those workouts. I was playing a game that I loved and wanted to excel at more than anything. Now, if I can force myself to run through a rain like that only for the minor victory of getting it done (and knowing I have the kids to take care of the rest of the day), then maybe I am super disciplined. It seems I've underestimated myself, friends. But I digress...
As soon as I got home, the rain stopped, the sun came out, and it was beautiful the rest of the day. It occurred to me that in life we are often thrown a little rain, or in some cases a monsoon, and God wants to bless us through it. He wants us to have faith, stick it out, and receive our reward!
For me, what was once a dreaded torment, is now a simple mother's reward. Trust me, it surprised me too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mission Statement

I haven't written creatively in over five years, so in honor of my very first blog, I'd like to open with a poem.
I've recently come to a very depressing realization about my life. As a mom I am constantly planning and trying to keep something resembling a schedule. Every second I am thinking about the next second, every hour I am planning the next hour, and every day I seem to always be thinking about the next day. Rarely do I step back from my multitasking mommy persona and just enjoy the moment that I am currently living. I challenge myself as well as all you readers out there, mommy, or not (we all have everyday routines), to find the cure for the common day.

Set aside time to be goofy.
Pick a time; pick a date.
Spin in circles
until you can't walk straight.
Laugh until you cry,
pretend to fly,
stretch you hands into the sky,
and pretend you're really tall.
Build the tallest tower ever
just to watch it fall.
Instead of just typing it
actually roll on the floor...
Make the everyday choices
not to be a bore.
Speak in funny voices,
tell stories;
not lies,
color outside the lines.
Make forts,
inside or out.
for joy.
Buy a toy.
Play dress up,
or dress down.
put on that gown
you said you'd never wear again.
Dance like no one's watching.
Let go and sing;
sing along
to a song
you don't know.
Whatever you do,
do something outrageous.
spread the uncommon,
because common's contagious.


It's certainly not my best work. It's scribble really, but it speaks to me, and I hope it speaks to you. When was the last time your spun in circles until you fell down?