Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Heaven

On the last Sunday at our old church, the sermon gave me an understanding of "heaven" and a longing for it that I have never experienced before.  I wanted to record some of the things that have been brought to my attention over the last few weeks before life causes me to forget them.

The Mechanic has, ever since I have known him, always said that heaven is overemphasized in Christian culture.  The focus in the Bible, he's said, is not heaven but the "new heavens and new earth."  I didn't disagree with him, but I didn't really understand it either.  Now, though, it makes sense.  And it's beautiful. 

The sermon that initially had me thinking about this talked of how we all want to be "home."  We want a permanent place that we can return to and feel at peace, feel loved, a safe place.  This was so real to me because at the time, I felt homeless.  I felt like a vagrant, a transient, traveling back and forth with my children and a tote of clothes and toys, never spending more than 3 nights in any one place.  It was exhausting. 

The sermon didn't leave me there, though.  It went on to explain that there is no such place on earth.  This world is full of change.  Births and deaths, moving, new jobs, everything changes.  This too has been real recently.  Since having children, I've thought many times how I wish things would just stay the same for a few months.  But, I no sooner figure out the schedule and routine then something changes and we go from two naps to one, or from a late bedtime to an earlier one.  As a mom, I feel like I'm in catch-up mode; by the time I figure things out everyone's moved on to the next stage. 

For a Christian, though, there is a home.  And this is where the light bulbs started coming on for me.  While the disciples were gathered around Jesus at the Last Supper, Jesus was talking to them.  He told them He was going away and they could not go with Him.  This confused the disciples.  They were looking for the Messiah, the one who would save the nation of the Jews.  They were looking for a leader, a warrior, a king.  They still didn't get it.  Peter asked Him, "Where are you going?"  He was wanting a physical location.  He wanted an answer like "Bethlehem" or "Rome" or some other city or region.  Jesus was born on earth, and they expected Him to stay on earth and fix things on earth.  They wanted the actual land of Canaan they had been promised.  So Jesus told him that where He was going they could not follow, but that they would follow later.  And Peter, being the blunt, full-force ahead guy that he was, asked "but wwhhhhhyyyyyy?"  I can just hear him whine.  And then bang his fist on the table and say "I would lay down my life for You!"  He was passionate.  But, passion without understanding the truth is ineffective.

So Jesus tells him that Peter will deny that he even knows Him, that very night.  And can you just imagine the faces of the disciples?  Judas just left, so there had to have been tension in the room.  They just got told that their friend, the one they have followed all over the country for the last 3 years and thought was going to rise up politically and fix everything, is going to go away.  And He won't tell them where.  And He says they can't come with Him.  And then He says that not only is Judas going to betray Him, but Peter, one of the most vocal and strong of them all, is going to deny Him.  They're confused.  They're stressed.  It's written all over their faces.  They may be looking at each other questioningly, shaking their heads, trying to understand.  Their world has been rocked.  Jesus has told them over and over what is going to happen, but it is just now sinking in.  And they still don't get it.  And they know they're missing something.

And what does Jesus do?  Knowing that He is going to go through the most intense, excruciating suffering any human has ever experienced, does He think of Himself?  No.  He tells them, "Don't let your hearts be troubled."  He tells them that just like they believe in God, they should also believe in Him.  And then, He says "In my father's house are many mansions.  If it were not so, I would have told you so.  And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come and take you to myself, that where I am, you will be also."  So He's going to prepare a place for His followers.  A mansion.  A really nice house.  And He will be there.  Which makes it a home.  So He's going to prepare a home for us.  I think it's interesting He was born a carpenter's son in light of this thought.

Here's where I jump to Revelation. (I've been in John 14.)    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

And perhaps I'm being too literal here.  Like Thomas, if you keep reading in John 14, I am a very literal person, and that's not always the correct interpretation.  But, this is the first understanding of the end times that has ever made sense to me.  Jesus went to heaven to prepare a new heaven and new earth for us.  A home.  And then, when He returns, He's bringing that new earth and heaven with Him.  Except God won't be in "heaven."  Perhaps the heaven just means the stars and things like galaxies.  God will dwell with us, will be our light.  And this new earth will be where the lion can lay down with the lamb, and little children will lead them in safety.  We will no longer move.  We will no longer pack up and leave.  We will no longer struggle with the stages of life.  Somehow, we will be content in whatever state we're in at that point.  We'll never be bored.  We'll never want to grow up, or grow young, or change anything.  

While I can't express this eloquently enough, it is beautiful.  I can't seem to get the words to say just how beautiful and wonderful this is.  It's beyond description.  It is truly something that I can now say I long for.  I want to watch my children grow up, I want to meet my grandchildren, I want to grow old with my husband, I want to continue to learn.  But, finally, I'm grasping that there's something better.  Paul's statement "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain" is finally making sense.  This life, right here, right now, is good.  But there's more than this.  Jesus is preparing something better than this.  More beautiful than this current world, and without all the bad.  The drywall won't be cracked in that new home.  The uneven floors won't trip me.  There will be peace.  There will be order.  There will be calm.  It will be like the most beautiful bed and breakfast that you never have to leave, with the nicest people.  There will be incredible worship.  

And it's beautiful.

Friday, April 26, 2013

On the subject of moving with young children

My advice?

Don't.

That's about it.  Just don't do it. 

If you must, here are a few things I have learned. 

Pack the children's room last and unpack it first.  This seems to have made the transition easier for Ladybug.  Once we spent a few days in an empty house and then came to her new room, she accepted it and has not had nearly the fall apart she had the first time we went into the empty new house.

Have a tote of clothes for various weather conditions and always keep it on hand.  The various weather conditions is especially important for a spring move.  Don't pack your raincoat in a box!

A picnic basket of basics like a few bottles and sippy cups, plus disposable plates/utensils/coffee cups is also valuable.  Keep snacks for both the kids and yourself in there as well, and some rawhide or treats for the dogs.

Keep a first aid kit in your car, and ensure you have extra medication for your children, yourself, and your pets.  When everything is out of the house is when your dog is guaranteed to discover the chocolate you have for the drive down.  (Yes, this happened last week.)

For the day of the moving truck, buy a red tote and some "do not cross" tape and use it to isolate items that you will need while in transition.  This will save you trips to Walmart to buy a towel, and also save you grief in your new house when you still haven't found the coffee maker a week after moving!  Think ahead on this; it's easy to forget everyday items that are essential. 

Keep your planner with you.  Strap it to your back if you must.  There is simply too much going on for you to try to remember appointments, things that need to be turned on, things that need to be turned off, people to thank, etc.  Write it down!  This is especially critical if you are in transition for several weeks and have appointments in multiple towns. 

Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect.  It won't be.  It won't go smoothly, so prepare yourself mentally for this.  Give yourself time for breakdowns.  Your children will have them, your pets will have them, you will have them.  Make sure you have tissues available for yourself, pacis for the kids, and paper towels and odor remover for the dogs.  And if it gets really bad, just come up with a silly song, like "I hate moving" to the tune of "Wheels on the Bus."  Or "My back, shoulders, knees, and feet really hurt" to the tune of "Head, and shoulders, knees, & toes."

But, if you can avoid it, just don't move with small children.  It simply isn't fun.  =)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Calamity "Ladybug"

My oldest daughter has earned a new nickname in the last few weeks, Toddling Tornado.  Today, she earned the name of Calamity "Ladybug."  It sounds much better with her real name, but I'm just going to make it habit on here to not call my children by their real names.  In my little family's blogging world, DaDa is "the Mechanic," I am "the Beloved," daughter #1 is "Ladybug," daughter #2 is "Turkey," beagle #1 is "Tub 'O Lard," & beagle #2 is "Defective Dog." 

I'm typing on my mother-in-law's laptop, without the "z" key.  It is also missing the "windows" key.  This is what happens when your toddler throws a board book at the computer.  Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I think she was actually throwing it at me.  But since I was trying to figure out how to change our address, I didn't catch it in time.  
 
I didn't intend to do a post like this right away, and I especially didn't intend to do one today.  But, these 10 minutes were so absurd that I simply had to capture it on camera.  And once I realized just how many pictures I was taking, because my child was giving me so many opportunities, I simply had to do my own "reasons my daughter is screaming" post.  We are officially in full blown toddlerhood.  Complete with the kicking feet, random tantrums for no apparent reason, or at least no reasonable reason, looking at me and saying "nanana" and shaking her head no and then doing it anyway, getting intensely frustrated very easily, and in general wrecking havoc faster than Mommy can keep up.  Being in the middle of a move, with her daddy away, is not helping.  And as a disclaimer, I am fully aware that my house is not childproof in these pictures.  It is impossible to be childproof while moving.

All of these pictures were taken between 1903 and 1914 (7:03pm-7:14pm), while I was preparing Ladybug's dinner of frozen pasta and vegetables.  
This is Ladybug after giving her sister a plastic bag.  Ladybug got the plastic bag by pulling the lid off the clothes tote we are living out of & dumping the dirty clothes out of the bag. 
This is Ladybug after she bumps her head trying to squeeze past the air mattress, after giving her sister a plastic bag.

This is Ladybug getting mad because she's tripping over the trash bag that houses the sheets we're using.  We've talked many times in the last 48 hours about the hazards of walking on this bag. It doesn't seem to be sinking in. 

This is Ladybug screaming because I told her to stop walking on the trash bag.

This is Ladybug about to get mad because she can't get the door open by leaning on it.  Even though it has never, and will never, open towards the outside.  But in a toddler's world, if you push hard enough it will eventually open.

This is Ladybug getting angry at getting sticky because she's walking on the refrigerator shelves that have orange juice spilled on them.  Mommy was cleaning them and told Ladybug not to walk on them.

This is Ladybug getting mad because she is sticky, because she walked on the fridge shelves Mommy told her not to, and now she is sticking to the plastic bag that has a book she wants in it.

This is Ladybug even madder because the book is stuck in the handles of the bag.

This is Ladybug looking at her book.  Does that face look familiar?  It sure does to me!

This is Ladybug pulling down a plate off the window sill, that I told her to leave alone.

This is Ladybug trying to put something she pulled off the window sill, back onto the window sill.

This is Ladybug trying to eat over-microwaved pizza crusts that she pulled off the windowsill.  This resulted in tears.

This is Ladybug screaming because the Oreo's are in the the booster seat, and she is not. Even though she put them there.

This is Ladybug continuing to be mad about the Oreo's and the booster seat, even though she took them out of the booster seat.


This is Ladybug getting mad because Mommy won't give her an Oreo before supper.

This is Ladybug getting even madder because Mommy won't give her an Oreo before supper.

This is Ladybug even madder about the Oreo's, and being sticky, and the fact that there's a box behind her.

This is Ladybug being mad.  About something.  I don't even know what.

Withdrawal

When a medication label says not to stop taking the medication suddenly, there's a reason for it. 

Lesson learned.  When moving, make sure you have extra medications stashed in several areas of the car, just in case your husband grabs the wrong bag of medicine. 

Heart palpitations are not pleasant.  Nor is the pounding head with strange sounds, sounds that aren't actually really happening outside my head.  The insomnia isn't great either.  The increased anxiety and tearfulness is also poorly timed. 

But, this has given me incentive to write a few posts about a subject near to my heart.  But, I'll do us all a favor and wait until I am back on my medication before writing that. 

I'm keep telling myself a verse from a hymn that I can't find online, but I know it's in the Trinity Hymnal.  Something about "a joyful mother makes."  Going through medication withdrawal doesn't give me an excuse to not be a joyful mother, it just makes it a bit more challenging.   Whew... but anytime these heart palpitations want to stop is fine with me!  I may end up driving through the night just to knock 12 hours off this misery; not like I can sleep anyway!

You asked for it.

Well, some of you did.  I've been told more than once this year I need to start a blog.  This was actually started over two years ago, simply as a creative outlet.  I used to enjoy writing, especially in college on my Xanga blog.  I like putting my thoughts down by keyboard, somehow making them seem more organized and logical.  I also enjoy going back and reading what I've said, whether 5 minutes ago or a year ago.  It brings me greater clarity and better perspective on my life, as well as providing amusement at times. 

I've gone through and removed some of the more emotionally graphic posts, the ones giving details of what exactly has happened in my life in the last few years.  I sometimes used this as a journal, knowing very few people ever saw this and even fewer actually knew me or my family.  But with the decision to make this more public also comes a responsibility to guard what is said.  I did not remove offensive posts.  Some of my beliefs and opinions are offensive.  If they bother you, stop reading them and find someone with whom you agree.  Or broaden your mind and consider what is written.  What I say on here has been thought through, read more than once, and deemed appropriate. 

Alright, with those disclaimers aside... here are a few more.  =)  I'm a relatively boring person.  My life at this stage consists of diapers, sippy cups, bottles, rice cereal, blocks, Mud Pie For Mother, and the newest exciting development, crayons!  I try to read something on an adult level at least a few times a week, although thanks to this move my Truman next to the air mattress has a layer of dust and cobwebs that have fallen from the recently swiffered walls.  Drudge is my usual source of news, supplemented by my husband, the Mechanic.  The TV shows I watch most often are Yo Gabba Gabba, I Love Lucy, and the Andy Griffith show,  although I also enjoy Psych and Once Upon a Time, as well as another show I don't dare mention because it is not exactly a smiled upon show.  It is my vice.  Some of you know what I'm talking about.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, you probably haven't been around me lately and don't need to know.  

So that's the introduction to this new public phase of my blog.  Why anyone would want to read what I write I'm really not sure.  But perhaps the thought that someone might actually read this will cause me to use my brain a little more often.  My brain is about as out of shape as the rest of my body, which means the muscles that are necessary right now, the child carrying muscles, are well developed, while any other muscle is nothing but flab with a thick layer of fat.  Perhaps now would also be a good time to mention that I am a nurse and so I have no sense of appropriate dinner conversation anymore. 

Enjoy.  Ignore.  Laugh at.  Question.  And if I don't post on Facebook as often, it's because I'm here.  =)