WFMW: Listening and Standing

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I live in the part of the country where it’s rained a lot this spring and summer.
(A LOT.) As annoying as that has been, though, the proverbial storms our entire country has felt this year are significantly worse. It seems like we can’t go one week without another round of TERRIBLE hitting our screens and our minds and our hearts. Everywhere we turn, it’s fighting and accusing and denying and grieving. So much grieving. Over and over and over.

Aside from a few likes and shares on my personal Facebook page, I’ve remained mostly silent on the controversial topics of recent days. I don’t like confrontation and I don’t like making people upset. So I’ve just kept my thoughts to myself. Just living at peace with everyone, you know, like we’re instructed in Hebrews

Except not really.

Because my silence has really been about making sure everyone likes me, not about living in harmony with others. Lately, though, I’ve felt more and more convicted about this silence, this wishy-washy, keep-everyone-happy approach. As an extremely opinionated person [go ahead and shout, "Amen," people who know me in real life], holding in my feelings and thoughts and beliefs is extremely uncomfortable.

And then there’s this, from Annalyn’s devotion for last week:

“When someone is being hurt or something is unfair, do you speak up? What about when the kid who always gets picked on, gets picked on right in front of you? It takes a lot of courage to speak up for what’s right, and it’s even harder if you realize your friends are the people picking on someone. Should you say something to stop them? Or is it enough to just stay quiet and not participate?
 
God’s word is very clear on this subject. When someone else is hurting or in need, those who follow God should be the first ones to speak up.

As I read that to my daughter, I could barely choke out some of the words for the tears threatening to escape. Speak up, Mary. The message could not have been more clear. How, though? That part hasn’t been as obvious to me.

See, I’ve written thousands of words to share with you about race and love and marriage and right and wrong and family and friends and ALL THE THINGS that have been tearing through all of our hearts over the past year. I’ve cried and prayed over these words. I’ve scheduled them and lost them and erased them and revised them. But over and over, I felt deep in my spirit that the words I spit out were not the words anyone needed to hear.

So I have been quiet and conflicted and afraid to offend, but I’ve also been listening and searching and praying. I’ve been clicking and reading and appreciating the brave souls who open up and share. I’ve been hurting and crying (again) over what has been done and said and what continues to be done and said. But still I was silent.

Friends, I can’t stay quiet anymore. But I am no wiser today than I was last week or last month or last year when I typed out a heartfelt article about Ferguson that my computer ended up eating overnight. So here’s what I have to say:

I am listening. I am listening to those who are different from me, those who have lived and seen and heard things I could not fathom without their brave testimonies. I am listening to those who make me so angry my eyes blur with tears and to those who break my heart so completely, so efficiently that the tears explode from my wide eyes. I am listening to those who look different than me, who live different than me, who love different than me, who aren’t really all that different than me.

I believe wholeheartedly that racism is a problem in our country, and I am listening to those who know more about it than I do in my white world and my white worldview.

I believe wholeheartedly that there is, indeed, a war on marriage but that it has nothing to do with the legal rights of gay people. And I believe wholeheartedly that as Christians we are called to fight for those in need, not against each other. We are called to love mercy, to love our neighbors.

I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus asks me to love others, not to judge them – especially when I know full and well that I am not without sin. And I know that Jesus said if we love Him, we should take care of His sheep – not attack them. He said to feed the hungry, care for the poor, invite in the strangers. And I know how many times I have failed those simple commands.

I believe wholeheartedly that God loves each one of us, no matter who we love, and that is all I need to know when it comes to deciding how to treat people.

I am also standing. I am standing with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are fighting the good fight. I am standing with those who hurt and those who feel and those who share and shout. I am standing with my family and my friends who are so incredibly important to me, even when we see things differently and misunderstand and let each other down. I am standing with them because I love them.

I am standing with those who say all lives matter. I am standing with those who say love is the main thing. I am standing and I’m not backing down, because even if I don’t have the right words or the wisest answer, I do know those truths and I will stand on them. I will stand on the Truth of God’s word and His love, and I will stand with those who need that love. (You know, all of us.)

Just a few verses up from the one about living in peace with everyone, the Bible says this:

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves…Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

So I will love and I will listen, I will rejoice and I will mourn, and I will stand.

Listening and standing works for me.

 
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Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

How Netflix is Ruining My Life

Let's be honest, Netflix. I never, ever want to leave you. #onemoreepisode

A photo posted by Mary Carver (@marycarver) on

I mean, really. Why’s it have to ask me like that, every time? Do I WANT to exit? NO! Of course not! But I am, technically, a grown-up who needs to go to bed at some point. So quit asking me that, okay? Geez, Netflix. Quit being so clingy!

Until a few months ago we rarely used our Netflix account. We don’t have a gaming system or a Roku box thing or whatever it is that people use to get the Netflix on their televisions. [If you’re new here, you should probably get a handle on my slow adoption of new technology situation and read about the day I said goodbye to my VCR. Here’s a hint: It was not that long ago.]

But recently our lives were changed when we switched cable providers and, suddenly, Netflix appeared on our TV. Like magic! OH, THE SHOWS WE CAN WATCH! You know, without getting out that bulky cord and connecting the computer to the TV, like we did before.

It’s been awesome. I have watched A LOT OF THINGS. Not all of them great, fine, yes, this I will admit. But still, I finally watched (and loved. LOVED.) Sherlock, and I’m currently rewatching Chuck — so all is right with the world and my viewing experience.

Except…

Netflix is kind of ruining my life.

I mean, I used to have no problem watching one episode of my favorite shows each week. Unexpected reruns or holidays annoyingly coinciding with my regularly scheduled programming was irritating, sure. But for the most part I was content to watch my shows whenever the powers that be decided to give them to me.

Now, though. Oh, now, I can watch as many episodes IN ONE SITTING as I want. And I. Do. Want! So there’s been a lot of sitting at my house. Even more than usual.

And you know what happens when you watch episode after episode of a show? You get completely sucked into its world sometimes. And if that fictional world you’re watching happens to be a dark one (Hello, stupid Heroes, I’m talking to you!)? Well, good luck, my friends. Maybe go ahead and schedule that therapist appointment for the approximate week you anticipate resurfacing because you are probably going to need it. Holding onto reality is hard – and re-entry can be even worse.

Then – THEN! – there’s what happens when you try to go back. Re-watching old shows and discovering new ones is all well and good, but there ARE still shows on live TV. Right? You remember this? Shows playing today, at this very moment, that you might want to watch before they make it to Netflix? But how?

Sure, sure, you’ll DVR them. But can you really handle watching just one episode at a time? LIKE AN ANIMAL? But what else can you do? Save them up until you have enough for a good, solid binge? But what if you accidentally read or hear a spoiler? How annoying will that be?! WHAT TO DO?!

And speaking of spoilers and talking to other people about TV shows because it’s what we do…the emotional anguish that comes with binge-watching a show on Netflix that EV-ER-Y-ONE else in the WORLD has already watched and then NOT HAVING ANYONE TO TALK TO ABOUT IT? Well, it’s nearly unbearable. Do you know that I went back and read old recaps and reviews of Friday Night Lights when Mark and I watched last year? I may have (DEFINITELY DID) even listened to a couple (MORE THAN THAT) podcasts about it, just so I could pretend like anyone I know cares about a nine-year-old show.

So, you see, Netflix is clearly wrecking my entire life. Everything I hold dear (mainly my sanity and productivity) is at risk. I feel like I could say so much more about this, but you guys, I just got to the fourth season of Chuck when he [SPOILER ALERT - wait, what's the expiration date on this, ANOTHER PROBLEM Netflix causes!?] finds out his mom was a spy, too. So obviously I don’t have time for more blogging.

Am I alone – or has Netflix ruined your life, too?

Weekend Links, 6.27.15

Weekend Links via givinguponperfect.com

It has been a bit of a rough week at my house, what with the blasting heat and infesting lice. Is that the right way to say it? If I found half a dozen tiny bugs on my baby’s head, should I call it an infestation? Probably not. But that didn’t really stop me from hitting the “Burn Down the World” level of rage.

Luckily the scorching temps outside made me think twice about that.

ANYWAY. I cannot possibly stay upset about this past week’s struggles because this weekend I get to spend time with some of my very favorite people. (The friends-like-family of Strawberry Bruschetta fame, if you’re wondering.) And that just makes everything right. (Even more than the package of S’mores Oreos I bought at the store when shopping for lice-fighting supplies…)

I hope, no matter what your week has looked like, you find something to smile about this weekend. Here are some of my favorite posts from the week:

And one more just for fun: Every State Flag is Wrong, and Here’s Why.

Happy weekend, friends! And, please, share with us the best posts YOU read or wrote this last week in the comments!

Don’t Worry. It Comes Around Again.

As I put Adrienne into her car seat, I spotted it: a tiny black bug. In her hair.

IN HER HAIR.

I didn’t have time to freak out, although I’ll confess to googling a little bit at stoplights on the way back to Annalyn’s school. Which means my phone’s Google app currently shows “black bugs in hair,” “flat black bugs” and “bugs in hair not lice” as my most recent searches. Fun.

After standing in a crowded office for 10 minutes waiting for the new printer system to spit out my visitor pass and then hauling a less-than-cooperative toddler around Annalyn’s school for the summer school showcase (aka, the day the teacher sends All The Papers home with us), I was done. And sweaty.

So VERY sweaty.

I got the girls into the car, cranked up the A/C, and headed straight to Sonic. It was happy hour, and we needed some happy. (Largely because I spent the drive yelling at Annalyn for, basically, being a kid. And because I was hot. SO HOT.) We got our half-price drinks and headed home.

Where I sat down with a baby on my lap and promptly found more bugs.

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{Photo is from The Switch. Sadly, Jason Bateman was not available to help me deal with this situation.}

Feeling a little desperate, I googled a bit more until I couldn’t deny it any longer. Adrienne had lice. Probably from the parents’ day out program she attends. (Which is a nice, clean facility – but also filled with kids, you know?) (I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you that lice prefer clean hair. Okay? CLEAN HAIR. There’s no stigma here anymore. I mean, in a world with commercials about herpes medication, how could THIS be the most embarrassing thing to have?) (Except it is. Obviously. Hence my babbling here.)

After asking a group of friends on Facebook for recommended treatments, I packed up the girls and got back into the [hot] car. It was okay because I needed to go to the store anyway (and I’d gotten distracted earlier with my heat-induced tantrum). So we went to the grocery store, where Annalyn said – not once, but twice, and loud enough for fellow grocery shoppers to hear – that we were there because of the contagious bugs in our hair.

You’re welcome, HyVee shoppers.

We loaded up on Cetaphil cleanser and fine-toothed combs (for this method), then grabbed a head of lettuce (for the tacos I still thought I’d make for dinner that night) and a seedless watermelon (for an upcoming playdate that I’d said I’d bring fruit to). And, FINE, I bought another package of S’mores Oreos, too. CAN YOU BLAME ME?

When we got home, I told Annalyn to take the watermelon inside while I carried Adrienne (who had insisted on removing her shoes in the car) and the grocery bags. I imagined snapping a quick pic on my phone of her doing it, captioning it something oh-so-clever like, “She carried a watermelon?!”

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What’s that, you say? Where IS that clever instagram? Oh RIGHT. It’s not anywhere. It didn’t happen. Because Annalyn didn’t carry the watermelon. She dropped it. On the front porch. Where it immediately cracked and began dripping. Because what was I thinking? Simply saying, “Be VERY careful! Use two hands! Set it down VERY carefully to open the door…” was NOT going to be enough. Watermelons are heavy, you know?

But accidents happen, so I couldn’t even be mad. Really, it just made me chuckle. Of COURSE this day would include a five-dollar watermelon going full Gallagher in the front yard.

It was piano lesson day, and Mark was randomly working days so he wasn’t home. Did I mention those fun facts yet? Yeah. So I treated Adrienne’s hair while Annalyn practiced piano. (If you’ve never tried to blow-dry soap-soaked hair on a toddler, by the way, DON’T.)

Anyway. After texting Annalyn’s piano teacher to make sure I could bring my potentially infested child to her house, we got back in the car. The hot car. Again. Annalyn asked for a piece of gum because she was SO HUNGRY. (Still planning to make tacos after piano lesson at this point…) I said no, but stopped at McDonald’s for a small smoothie.

I passed it back to her, and she immediately asked if she could share with her sister. Her sister who was yelling, “EAT! EAT! EAT!”

Now, for the record, these children HAD BEEN FED. Breakfast, lunch, snacks – they weren’t starving. But they were probably hungry. Which is what I told myself as they bickered in the back seat. Apparently Annalyn was all-too-happy to share ONE SLURP with her baby sister, while her baby sister had more of a 50/50 arrangement in mind.

There we were. Stuck in traffic. Two squabbling sisters. One mom about to have Meltdown #ILOSTCOUNT. In the hot car. Hungry. Five minutes from being late. Probably infested with “contagious bugs.”

But then…THEN! I heard it. “When I wake up, well, I know I’m gonna be…

Don't Worry. Your Joy Will Come Around Again. | via givinguponperfect.com

It was the Proclaimers, singing, “I’m Gonna Be” – or, as most of us know it, “I Would Walk 500 Miles.” It’s a fun song on its own, but ever since I watched Ted and Marshall singing it on repeat during their first road trip, I’ve loved it even more.

Singing along to that goofy song at the top of my lungs – and listening to my girls do the same – totally cheered me up.

If you haven’t seen the How I Met Your Mother episode I’m referring to, the guys listen to the song over and over again because a Proclaimers tape has been stuck in Marshall’s tape deck since he was in high school. As you can imagine, even the most enthusiastic and optimistic TV characters get a little tired of it after a while – but as Ted starts feeling annoyed, that’s when Marshall encourages him, saying, “Don’t worry. It comes around again.”

Isn’t that the truth?!

Even on days that come with hair bugs and heat waves and smashed watermelons, it’s not all lost. Our joy, our happiness – they’re not gone forever. Even those terrible, no good, rotten days have cookies or car singing or sunsets or rain showers or a phone call from a friend or a timely Bible verse shared on Facebook.

And even if your day is so bad it doesn’t have even one of those things, you can rest in the knowledge that tomorrow is a new day. And that no matter how bad things get, God is holding you and loving you. Even on the worst days.

Don’t worry. It comes around again. Your joy, some hope, a bit of happiness – it all comes around again.

(Here’s hoping the lice, however, does not come back around – ever again!)

WFMW: Our Indoor Swimming Pool

Works for Me Wednesday: Swimming in the Bathtub

It has been raining forever.

Like, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone building an ark, forever. Seriously, it’s rained most every day for the last several weeks (which, I know, is the opposite problem of other parts of the country!). Recently we’ve had a few days here and there without rain, but they’ve been scorching hot.

That means I’ve had one frustrated little girl who just wants to go swimming! WHY can’t we GO SWIMMING?! (And another, smaller girl who wants to blow bubbles. BUBBLES. Bubbles? Bubbles!!! One day we walked outside to blow bubbles and it literally started raining three minutes later!)

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Earlier this week we had an idea, though. As Annalyn put it, so cleverly, “I know a way we can swim inside…!”

Yep, the bathtub.

I got the girls into their swimsuits, grabbed some cups and bowls plus the bubbles (BUBBLES!), and filled up the tub. For about half an hour, they had the best time splashing and playing together.

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The summer can be hot and long and – in our case – rainy. So sometimes we have to get creative around here to keep from going a little crazy! It’s a little thing, but pretending our bathtub was an indoor pool WORKED.

What’s working for you this summer?

 
Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!