Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
So, I was forced to evaluate myself. How many times have I, having been made in God's image (some days it's a more accurate reflection than others) clamped my hands (or heart) around some object or desire then stared up at Him saying, "Mine. Mine! MINE!!!"? Too often. Much too often. And even here in the season of giving, how many of us will cling to the things we somehow think we are entitled to: our family traditions, finding the perfect gift, the money that we could give to Lottie Moon OR we could buy another Santa sweater for Aunt Gertrude. Never mind that she has one for every year since 1982.
If God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, and He is; and if it all belongs to Him to begin with, and it does; and if we are supposed to be the reflection of His image, and we are...then maybe this Christmas we can relax our grip, open our hands (and hearts) and say, "Yours. Yours. Yours!"
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
A small dose of Benedryl would help them sleep sound.
And I in my “draws” and Ma in sexy lingerie
Were about to get busy by the old Christmas tree.
When out on the porch there arose such a racket,
I sprang to my feet and I threw on my jacket.
Away to the door I ran like no other
And opened to find standing there…my mother?!
“Merry Christmas” she said with a voice full of cheer.
My wife grabbed her robe quickly covering her rear.
Then marching in like a nightmarish parade,
Next my dad and my sister with a fruitcake –home made.
There were aunts and uncles and cousins galore.
They just kept on streaming right into the door.
My wife and I stood there in helpless dismay.
We were sure they weren’t coming until Christmas Day.
Soon the house was a-buzz, nearly bursting it’s seems
And our children were roused from their drug-induced dreams.
My wife gave a sigh and a sympathetic pat;
But I thought to myself, “I ain’t goin’ out like that!”
I knew what must be done to get over this slump.
There were pallets to make and air mattresses to pump.
I took off like a flash, whizzing by their heads
And before they knew it, all were snug in their beds;
Which stretched wall to wall, covering the floor.
And then right on cue, Grandpa started to snore.
I jumped into my shoes; took my wife by the hand;
Grabbed the keys to the car and out the front door we ran.
And I yelled through the window as we drove out of sight
Monday, December 15, 2008
So, here it is. A pathetic post to offer pathetic excuses for the lack of posts and to warn you that this pathetic streak may be far from over. You could say a prayer that I'll be able to collect my swarming thoughts and maybe even organize them into something of value.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Me: (glaring at him) I suppose it's been a while since I've exercised enough to be sweaty. (which inadvertently explains why I capped off at the impressive 15 minute mark.)
Nathan: Yeah. That's what I was trying to say.
Another quick one -
I asked Bella who has suddenly taken a notion to wearing underwear on the outside of her clothes ??? (I'll try to get a picture of that soon) to take off her shoes and put them away in her room. She took them off and laid them on the chair beside me.
Me: I don't want your shoes, Bella. Go put them in your room.
Bella: No. I'm fine.
Right. If only it were that easy. "Amie, the baby needs his diaper changed." No. I'm fine. Maybe you can try it with your boss and let me know how it works out for you.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I went to WalMart to do my grocery shopping. That's an experience in and of itself week after week but usually it's neither here nor there. I caught up with a friend from our old neighborhood in the shampoo aisle and then met a woman with a daughter adopted from China and talked at length about our common struggles with older child adoptions in the baking goods aisle. Both were the kind of encouraging conversations that help remind you you're not alone in this world. Then, I went to check out. And here we begin the real story.
I consider myself to be congenial. Purposefully friendly. Normally, this trait is reciprocated. But. Not. Always. I separated my purchases with a small space so that the items which were Christmas related would end up in one bag together and could be easily hidden from the children. As the cashier began scanning my products, I stepped forward to explain why I had formed the gap. I didn't want her to think that I was paying for the items apart from the rest of the groceries. I couldn't get the sentence completed when she interrupted with...
"yeah, fine. I got it. They're all in there."
"Okay, thanks. That just makes it easier for me to keep the kids from..."
"Uh-huh. They're in one bag. Right there. It's fine."
"Uh, ooookaaaay." Are you kidding me?
She seemed completely put off by my very existence. I struggled inwardly with nasty thoughts and feelings toward her. Then decided not to let her get the better of me and to give her the benefit of the doubt instead. I began loading the full bags back into my cart but paused first.
"So, how are you doing today?" (Yes, I think technically this should have been her line but whatever.)
With no eye contact nor inflection, she responded. "Just fine. How are you?"
Are you kidding me? "I'm great. Thanks."
We each continued our duties in silence. She, feverishly scanning and I unloading and reloading my items. As the last bags were being placed in the cart and I awaited my receipt, the gentlemen behind me points to a soda bottle at the front of his stack and says to her, "Ring this up first, will ya?" Well, I found myself subconsciously taking a step back and thinking whoa, he's a dead man.
Smiling she says, "No problem. I know sometimes you just got have that drink before you even get out of the store." Hahaha they both chuckled.
Are you kidding me? Astonished, I took my receipt and headed to the van. It was while packing in the bags I noticed that she had put my grapes and four bananas in the bottom of a bag and then topped them with two heads of broccoli and a cauliflower. Are you kidding me?!
I know everyone has a bad day now and then so, I'm willing to forgive and...well...vent about it to you guys before actually forgetting.
Oh, and just when I thought my day of "heh?" was coming to a close. I walk into the living room to find that Bella has pooped in her diaper and proceeded to paint the end table and the front of her shirt with her own excrement. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
Saturday was much better...hopefully more on that soon.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
We met at the mall to take care of some Christmas shopping before heading out for coffee. While in the mall, Tim and Lans waited patiently for Kelly and I to peruse a women's clothing store. As we exited the store, we found our husbands at one of the many shopping kiosks which line the mall area. Tim motioned me over. Rule #1 -When your spouse is engaged in conversation with a sales person, avoid eye contact at all costs. I didn't know this rule until after the fact. I meandered on over and joined them. He wanted me to explain to the young lady why he would not purchase her product for me. Rule # 2 -When your spouse is engaged in conversation with a sales person, do not ask questions; simply appear aloof and walk away. Again, I didn't know the rule. "What exactly is it?" I asked.
(I should point out at this time that my friend Kelly apparently knew the rules. In fact, I think she wrote them and yet she offered no assistance whatsoever. She was long gone. No love. Thanks, Kel.)
Having broken rule 1 & 2, the young woman grabbed my hand and held my thumb up in the air and proceeded to tell me how the ridges in my fingernails are bad. Apparently they indicate some horrible condition. I'm not good with medical terms but I believe the common name for it is "fiftydollarsdownthedrain-itis." Next, she buffs my thumbnail with this special little stone and says, "Are you prepared to be amazed?" Is she kidding? I'm at the mall on a Friday night with no children. Does she really think anything could be more amazing than that?
She now reveals my freshly buffed and I must admit unnaturally shiny thumbnail. "Amazing!" she declares. I was still trying to figure out why my fingernail ridges were so offensive. Working to close the deal, she asked me what I do for a living. Stay at home mom, yada, yada. Ah, she thought she'd found her hook.
Sales person: So, you never get to pamper yourself. What do you do to pamper yourself?
Me: Um, I occasionally shave my legs.
One would think that such an admission on my part would be more than enough to convince this girl that there was no way in heck I was going to drop 50 bucks to sit at home and buff my nails. She was undeterred and before long Tim and his partner in coercion, Lans, were dropping comments behind my back. "We really need to get going Amie." Rule #3 -If your spouse (and his friend) are engaged in conversation with a salesperson and you mistakenly break rules 1 & 2, and they begin speaking to you as though you are in fact to blame for the hold up...punch them both in the eye and walk away. No, I didn't know this rule at the time either.
So, all in all, I have to give my husband two thumbs down for abusing my submissive nature to sucker me into a sales pitch. ;-) I give my friend Kelly one thumb up for being smart enough to avoid the whole thing and one thumb down for abandonment. And I give the sales woman two thumbs up for persistence. One with a very shiny, smooth, buffed thumbnail and one dull, dingy thumbnail full of ridges which I suddenly cannot help but notice. Cursed ridges!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thanksgiving. Thanks. Giving. Giving thanks. Okay, he was partly right. It is all about gratitude. But doesn't the giving of thanks imply a recipient? So, to whom are you grateful? I suppose there are those who focus on family or health or good friends. I'm thankful for all those things. But where do they come from? Maybe some are just thankful for their home, their job, and good food on the table. Okay, but again who supplies those things?
Assuming that there is no God (which some propose to be the most logical and intelligent conclusion) I'm left wondering where that leaves this thing we call Thanksgiving. If I am to be thankful and the act of thankfulness implies the existence of some object to whom my thankfulness should be directed; then what on earth are my options? Let's consider a few.
We could all be thankful to our ancestors. Perhaps you're great, great, grandparents were immigrants who worked their way from the bottom to eek out a place for themselves in this grand country. That's worthy of gratitude. But...my kids are black and their ancestors were brought here involuntarily in the bellow of slave ships. Do their ancestors want to be thanked for that?
How about being thankful to my husband for being such a hard worker and for providing for our crew? I am certainly thankful for my man and all he does for this family. But suppose he lost his job or his health deteriorated to the point that he couldn't work anymore...would I have to withdraw my thanks or would there be something (Someone) who continues to sustain us?
Or perhaps instead of saying "grace" to a non-existent God this year, we will gather in a circle on the front lawn and shout our gratitude to the great cosmic forces of the universe! That should be meaningful. yeah.
Or better yet. I could just be thankful to myself for all my accomplishments and for staying healthy and being a hard worker; for cooking a great dinner and for not killing my kids. That's it. I can turn Thanksgiving into a celebration of self. Perfect. Except for the fact that I am fully aware of what a loser I am on even my best day.
In the end, it seems to me that the "illogical" choice of worshipping a loving and holy God who blesses us with every spiritual blessing and is the source of every good and perfect gift makes the most sense after all.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And a special shout out of love to our missionary friends (especially those celebrating Thanksgiving away from family for the first time.) We pray that God will give you awesome new traditions and want you to know that we are thankful to Him for YOU!!!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Kinda looks like a row of composite sketches from America's Most Wanted, doesn't it? shrug.
Friday, November 21, 2008
"Say 'Mommy (Aunt Amie) chips, please.'" They parroted back sweetly and I rewarded them with chips.
Then Tim came slinking up to me. "Can I have some chips?" he asked. "Okay, but you have to say 'Amie, I love you. You're beautiful. And...you're thin.'" No. I am not above forced flattery. Or lies. =) But that wonderful, loving, smart mouthed husband of mine is a bad, bad puppet.
"I love you and you're...thin...beauty."
Hey, wait a second.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
There are many famous "Willie's." I'm guessing you know of a few:
Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays
Singer/ Songwriter Willie Nelson
Silverback Gorilla Willie B (okay, maybe he was only famous to those of us from the Atlanta area, but still)
We'd like to add a new one to your list.
On Saturday afternoon, Tim was out working in the shed and the kids were playing outside. I was in the house with the two little ones when Nathan and Jayla burst through the front door. I barely had time to voice my parental mantra of "stop coming in and out of this house" because Nathan began screaming hysterically for Jayla to shut the door.
"Lock it! Lock it!" he yelled. I had no idea what was going. Both kids were screaming at the same time "There's a drunk man on the porch and he wants in the house."
I looked through the little frosted window in the door (standard fare on a trailer) and sure enough there was an adult sized form standing there. At this point, I'm wondering how Tim is outside and yet oblivious to what seems to have terrified our oldest son. I'm also wondering where the rest of the children are. I called Tim's cell phone from inside and asked him to please come around to the front of the house and investigate the "drunk man" trying to get in.
Mr. William (called Willie by most) has lived in our neighborhood as long as most people can remember. He's also had a serious drinking problem as long as most people can remember. What's more -he has a severe speech impediment and is almost impossible to understand when you combine the two factors. Apparently, he called to Nathan from the street, motioning with his hand and saying, "c-c-c-come o-o-over here." Can you say stranger danger? Nathan ran for his life and drug Jayla with him.
Turns out Willie just wanted to know if he could use our restroom. Tim and I conferred and decided it was harmless enough. He took care of his business and was back on his way down the street. I took the opportunity to talk to Nathan about what had happened. I commended his quick reflexes and wisdom for not approaching a stranger on the street but shared that in his panic, there may have been a couple of things he overlooked. For instance the fact that he had locked his brother and sister outside with the "scary drunk guy." I think this really bugged him in retrospect. Nathan is more than willing to argue and fight with his siblings over insignificant issues but he has a real sense of duty and protectiveness over them when it comes to major things like fires, tornados, drunk guys, etc.
I also pointed out that since Daddy was home and just around the corner, he could've just as easily said, "I have to get my Dad" and then bee-lined to Tim's location. Hopefully, it was clear that daddy is the official drunk-man-on-the-porch-go-to-guy for future reference.
An hour or so passed and there was a knock on the door. Yep. Willie and his apparent weak bladder were back. I was reluctant but since Tim was already in the house this time (in the boys room dealing with an issue) I conceded and directed him to the facilities. A moment later, as I was getting ready to cook supper, I look up to see Willie standing in the living room, holding his shirt up, with his belt buckle undone.
"C-c-c-an I-I-I get s-s-s-ome help o-o-over here?" he asked.
I have no idea what my face looked like. I'm sure it was a cross between absolute horror and total indignation. In a split second my brain tried to process a million files of data and intuition to determine if this was true incompetence or just perversion. I decided to play it cool and safe at the same time. In the most authoritatively friendly voice I could muster I said, "If you have issues with your clothes you will have to talk to Tim." Turning on my heels, I shouted "TIM!" through clenched teeth. Tim rounded the corner and I motioned in the general direction. "I think he needs...something." Yes. Tim is also the official drunk-man-needs-help-with-his-pants-go-to-guy.
So, here's where it got crazy. Tim (and I) assumed based on the length of time he'd been in the restroom that he needed help buckling the belt back up. And that's what Tim did. Buckled him up. Then Willie turned and headed right back into the bathroom. We looked at each other in disbelief. How does this happen to us? We had the following conversation in hushed tones.
Me: What's he doing?
Tim: I don't know.
Me: Didn't you just buckle his belt?
Me: Is that what he wanted you to do?
Tim: I thought so.
Me: Are you sure he didn't want you to undo the pants for him?
Tim: Maybe so.
Me: Well, how's he gonna pee if he can't undo his pants?
Simultaneous shrugs. Tim knocked on the bathroom door and said, "you okay in there?" The answer was affirmative as best we could tell. Shortly after, Willie made his way out of the house and on down the street. We couldn't help but laugh at the sometimes bizarre mission field God has placed us in.
We also decided that this could not become a public rest area. Not because it's unbelievably strange to have people wander in off the street to use our bathroom. Only because we don't have the room for all those vending machines. ;-)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I walk the two oldest to the bus stop every morning and every morning when the bus comes they (and the other kids whose moms are there) give me a kiss and head off to board the big cheese. None of us have thought much about it. The families at the stop know us and know our story. No big deal.
Well, on Monday, Nathan boarded the bus to find that another student had apparently taken note of our good-byes.
Kid: You got kissed by a white girl.
Nathan: That's my mom.
Kid : Really?!
Nathan: uh, no.
"He was afraid they would make fun of him so he denied that you were his mom." Tim concluded the story. "He denied me?" I couldn't help but laugh. "Did the cock crow or what?" I asked with feigned offense.
Poor kid. What could he do? He's been outed for kissing a girl, then for kissing a white girl, then for kissing his white mom...I mean it was only getting worse and worse. I can't say that I blame him. Luckily, it wasn't one of the days that I was wearing my pajamas to the bus stop. Now, there's a day to pretend you're not related to me. You 'll be happy to know that despite this little incident, I still got a kiss before he got on the bus this morning.
sigh. We've always known that being a multi-racial family wouldn't be easy and in truth, it will be harder on our kids than on us. But we've tried to (and continue to) prepare them and will always be ready to openly and honestly talk through the tough times.
And on the opposite end of the spectrum. . . The kids were home from school a couple of days last week. Mamoune and I were watching Rachel Ray (the show I love to hate). They were doing a segment with a mother-daughter pair who looked nothing alike and giving them makeovers to try and play up the family resemblance. Mamoune looked at me with complete sincerity and said, "Oh, Mom. I wish we could go on that show and they could make us look more alike!" Through stifled laughter I said "That's a great idea, baby girl. Let's call 'em!" ;-)
Life is never dull.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Did you vote for John McCain because you are pro-life? Great. Volunteer at your local crisis pregnancy center; support adoption; extend grace and friendship to a post-abortive woman; open your home and your wallet to a young woman who's chosen life for her unborn child. Do something.
Did you vote for Barack Obama because you are concerned about the poor and disenfranchised among us? Great! Start collecting cans for the local food bank; volunteer at homeless shelter; give your time and financial support to a single mom trying to make ends meet. Do something.
And just in case your not sure what I'm trying to say here...DO SOMETHING!
The world has voted for "change." But one thing has not and never will change: Jesus is on the throne. And we have a biblical mandate as citizens of heaven to be His feet and His hands to those around us regardless of who is in the oval office. The call for the body of Christ to act like the body of Christ would have remained exactly the same no matter who won the election. So, if you're rejoicing today -rejoice while you do something! If you're mourning today -stop it and rejoice that you can do something!
My motto from the beginning of this political season has been "Vote-- then get over it!" What's done is done. What will you do now?
Monday, November 3, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Shirley Temple (as previously pictured)
Princess Fiona -Mamoune won a costume contest at the town carnival.
We were all so proud of our little ogre.
Cruella Deville...Cruella Deville...if she doesn't scare you... yada, yada.
No, I do not promote the use of tobacco products!
I had trouble finding white hairspray so I went with what I had. Oh, and while I was getting ready, Mamoune said "Mom, you already look evil and scary." Yes, dear. But that's my natural look. Tim was supposed to be Shrek but bailed on us and the boys made a lame attempt to dress as army guys because apparently 7 and 9 year olds dressing up is suddenly uncool. How uncool can you be with Cruella Deville as a mom? puh-lease.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This is me (okay, no, it's Justus) but it is the result of me
refusing to pay $40 for a Bumbo.
A laundry basket and a couple of pillows and the boy is set.
This is Bella after her brother (Isaiah) offered to diaper her for me.
Notice the onesie is inside the diaper. Nice.
Mamoune's class recently read "How to Eat Fried Worms."
She decided to cook up a batch and try it out.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
By Amie Sexton Copyright 2009
If we who believe would lay politics down
Step away from the marches and mantras that sound
What could God teach us of those we oppose?
Which of our own sins would He painfully expose?
Would I see the young woman who denies her child birth
As the vilest of creatures to walk on the earth?
Or would I see in her eyes the desperation she bears
As she forces her way past the shouts and jeers
Being hurled on God’s behalf of her impending doom?
But does God love her less than the child in her womb?
Or just as she chooses to end life for one more
Have we slaughtered her soul on the way out the door?
If for once we could see her the way Jesus does
Perhaps seeing her truly, we’d be tempted to love.
Would I see the homosexual as a formidable foe?
Quickly hoisting a sign to make certain they know
That my “God hates fags!”
Oh, really. Is that so?
And if it were true that God hates these “fags”
Upon which of your sins do you suppose He gags?
Is it the gossip that spews from your lips with great ease
Or bitterness that grows like a cancerous disease?
Do we think their deeds are more heinous than our own?
That apart from His grace we could dare face His throne?
Or could we halt our disgust long enough to explore
The soul that’s within; perhaps searching for more?
If for once we could see them the way Jesus does
Maybe seeing them truly, we’d be tempted to love.
The single mom on welfare, the addict at his worst
Do they get compassion or do they “get what they deserve”?
Popping pills like it was candy? Sniffing, snorting, who can tell?
And having babies sure is handy when the check comes in the mail.
Don’t act like you ain’t thought it, even if you’ve checked your words.
God knows the thoughts inside your heart, even those that go unheard.
“Government shouldn’t do the church’s job.” I’m glad that we’re agreed.
So, how many of her babies are you offering to feed?
“Well, she shouldn’t have so many kids!”
Which brings us right back to the top.
Perhaps she should have aborted them
So the welfare checks would stop.
“You’re twisting my words; that’s not what I meant.”
No, but if you really thought it through
You might find that your box of what’s right and what’s wrong
Conveniently encompasses you.
Now, sin must be dealt with; God’s Word makes that plain
But love precedes truth, not judgment and blame
What is standing in the way of the work He would start;
The sin in their life or the hate in our hearts?
Could we finally see people the way Jesus does?
Because seeing them truly, we’d be tempted to love.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
We are created in the image of God.
What? You already knew that? And here I thought I was being profound. But you're still not convinced? Well, let's dig a little deeper into what that statement means. What do we know about God? Many things, hopefully, but I'd like to narrow our focus to two. The first being that-
God loves us.
He demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The second thing is this-
God desires our love in return.
Coming soon...the conclusion of my political rantings and the return of all things silly. =)
Dear Teenage Mom,
We want you to give birth to a baby that you may not be prepared for (which, btw, was a huge screw up on your part) and NOT have an abortion because that is the right thing to do. However, we do not want the government to help you provide for this baby through housing, food stamps, or welfare because that is not their job. It is the church's job. Unfortunately, we cannot assist you at this time because our dish network bill is due and well, truthfully, we don't want our kids exposed to the likes of you.
Joe the Christian (not to be confused with Joe the Plumber)
Anybody out there...out there....out there?
;-) Hoping that a few of you are left. I'll explain my view on this touchy topic.
There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that it is inherently evil for a governing body to provide assistance to it's people. I'm not sure that anyone would argue that point because I don't think the existence of welfare programs is the real rub. I think our dander gets up when it comes to the distribution of these services. Who gets real help and who is working the system? And let's be honest, the average white evangelical conservative believes that MOST recipients of government hand-outs are simply taking advantage of our tax dollars. The government is the ultimate enabler and the recipients are all lazy, unemployed, drug addicts.
But let's also be honest about this: the average white evangelical conservative has never personally invested in a family who lives in a government housing project; never gotten to know them; their names, their children, or their story.
Are there those who sit on their heels and collect a check every month? Sure. Just like there are those who do the least amount of work possible at their corporate job or take an extra twenty minutes for lunch on company time because the big boss is out of the office. The ghetto doesn't hold the corner market on cheaters, users, and slackers. Need I mention Wall Street?
Maybe it's true that "one bad apple spoils the bunch" and because anyone abuses the system, no one should be helped. Seriously? We all hated that philosophy in elementary school. You know the one kid who wouldn't shut his yap and the whole class gets silent lunch. blah.
As our dear friend Joe the Christian would say, "The bottom line is that the government shouldn't do the church's job." Well said. Easily said. Easier said than done. Not. being. done. My response is always the same, "Okay, which family are you willing to take into your home?" Oh, but that's where the proverbial rubber meets the road.
So, what can be done? You won't be surprised that my advice on this issue is the same as the previous topic: if you are convinced that welfare reform is of utmost priority, then vote to reflect your conviction. Then get over it. Love people the way Jesus does, serve people the way Jesus did, and invest in people regardless of politics.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In 2006, there were over 11,000 children in the foster care system of North Carolina. ELEVEN THOUSAND! In NC alone. Let’s suppose for a minute that Roe v. Wade is overturned. Ah yes, Christians everywhere are rejoicing but um, excuse me…where will all those babies go? There is a lyric in the finale of Into the Woods (Broadway musical) which says, "Careful the wish you make, wishes are children. Careful the path they take. Wishes come true -not free." The ultimate wish fulfillment of the pro-life movement has a very real, very tangible result...children. And children demand a very real, very tangible response.
Are our highly politicized churches ready to become highly provisional? I hope so. Well, what does it look like? First, I'd like to suggest that any and every believer who considers him/herself to be pro-life should also strongly consider him/herself as a potential adoptive parent. Strongly. consider. it. At the very least, it only makes sense that we should give as much vocal and financial support to adoption and reputable agencies which provide this service as we give to the opposition of abortion.
Otherwise, we are demanding that every woman choose life for her child and then washing our hands of them both when she complies. There's a word for that. Actually, there are a couple of choice words for that but in an effort to appease my editor I'll go with...hypocrisy.
Even James wondered what good it does to tell someone to be "warm and well fed" but do nothing to meet their physical need? He declared that "faith without works is dead." Some Christians have perfected the art of standing on their principles while sitting on their duff. Dead faith.
And yet, many of those same people have STRONG opinions about government "hand-outs" and whose job it is to care for those who in need -like the now single teenage mom who chose life for her baby. Which leads us to tomorrow's topic...
Monday, October 20, 2008
I'm not talking about abortion. I'm talking about the choice between accepting the payment for our sin and walking in relationship with God through Christ OR rejecting the sacrificial love of a Holy God. The soul of every human is at stake -- yet God in His desire for real relationship has given us the freedom of choice; to choose Him or not. How crazy is that? And everyday someone chooses to reject their very Creator. Given this knowledge, is there any atrocity that is beyond the scope of human capacity? Abortion is just another disturbing example of our God-given ability to choose.
So, how does God respond to this freedom of choice? He loves us. Pursues us. Died for us while we were still sinners. Forgives us. hmmmm.
So, what should be our response to the freedom of choice regarding abortion? Vote against it? Okay. Is that enough? Is that where our obligation ends? What if voting alone doesn't effect change? Might more be required of us than just a check box on a ballot? I think so. It might become necessary (and perhaps much more effective) to forge real relationships with women who are considering choosing or have already made a choice that seems horribly wrong to us.
We might have to love them. Pursue them. Forgive them. Sound familiar? We might have to be Jesus to them. We might have to realize that changing, amending, or overturning laws in and of itself is not a complete solution because aborting children is just a symptom of the problem.
And are you ready? Because we might have to do even more than that.
I have rarely, okay maybe never, been accused of being politically correct. If you've read this blog for long then you are probably nodding your head and thinking "yeah, I can see why." And by the end of this week many of you will think that not only am I politically incorrect but I may be completely off my rocker. I hope that a few of you (I'll settle for one or two) will think: dang, I want to be off my rocker, too.
We are just two weeks from an election. I have no intention of telling you how or for whom to vote. As a matter of fact, I'm not trying to persuade you in your political view at all. BUT the current political atmosphere has driven me to present a few ideas for your consideration.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Last night, he pretty much stumped the panel. The question was "If your day was a presidential candidate, which candidate would it have been?"
Mamoune and Isaiah were at a loss. Nathan however, surprised us by saying, "Well, it could've been like John McCain 'cause I was thinking about gas prices." I couldn't help but chuckle. "Really, you were thinking about gas prices? Did you come up with anything?" I asked. "No. I just thought about it...I was still listening to my teacher at the same time."
What a fix -solve the nations gas crisis or pay attention to third grade math?
Then it was my turn and I was having a hard time figuring out which candidate most represented the last 8 hours of my life but I think Tim hit the nail on the head:
"Yours was like John McCain because you spent the day trying to keep up with younger black people."
Ha. Ain't it the truth.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Just the other night, Tim and I were flipping back and forth between Survivor and a football game. Since both happened to be taking a commercial break, I decided to zip through the other stations. And there it was, the infomercial for the GT Express 101. I've seen it a hundred times and yet every time I am mesmerized. I swear I could watch her pop that little sucker open and scoop out leftover meatloaf sandwiches over and over again. I thought it might be the food connection. If there's anything that can get my attention and hold it, it's food. But the problem is bigger than that. It really doesn't matter what the product is: mineral makeup, shampoo, work out videos, rotisserie ovens, etc, etc, etc. I will sit and watch the entire infomercial.
Maybe it's the lunacy of it all or my innate desire to mock and be cynical. Of course, your vacuum cleaner can suck up dirt that was obviously laid one crumb at a time on top of that carpet. Try grinding it in like my seven year old does and then I'll be impressed. But even knowing how silly it is doesn't make me change the channel.
Okay, so simply making you aware of yet another of my psychological idiosyncrasies was not the point. The title phrase got me thinking. You've seen this at the bottom of those infomercial/commercial screens in small print with the little asterisk. The ad is telling you "this woman lost 72 pounds in three weeks." The small print says "Results not typical." Meaning the odds of this best case scenario working for you are slim to none.
Question: How many times have you read about someone doing amazing things for the Lord...Stephen speaking to the Sanhedrin, Lottie Moone sacrificing her life for the gospel in China, Jim Elliot, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa...and you think "wow, God really used them!" But the fine print in your mind reads, "results not typical." The program, as it were, will never work for you the way it did for them. Why not?
Not only do I watch infomercials, I have actually made an infomercial purchase. ONCE. TurboJam. That's right, the exercise/dance/tae bo sort of routine that is meant to shape and sculpt your body into supermodel style. Those of you who know me personally can attest that I have indeed taken shape -that of a mushy pear but whatever. I made the call to the 800 number where "operators are standing by" to help me and guess what I found out? Those people who experienced the greatest results (the ones who are NOT typical) did not just use the standard workout DVD that I was hoping to buy. No, no, no. They also purchased the $20 weights, the $40 resistance bands, the blah, blah, blah, for $$$. You get what I'm saying. Mind you, I'm not judging the system or assuming that the results were not real. I'm sure they were. BUT the ones who actually got results were the ones who completely sold out to the program. They bought into it lock, stock, and barrel and took advantage of everything it had to offer.
Back to that question...do we really think that a life lived fully charged, with total abandon, that pushes back comfort and rational thinking even to the point of ultimate sacrifice is a-typical of Christ's followers? If so, why? Is the "program" a farce in which only an elite few reach the pinnacle of their faith? Or is it because we aren't completely sold out to God?
Tim and I have just finished a book by Erwin McManus called "The Barbarian Way." We highly recommend it. As believers and as parents, we want our kids to see that God actively using His people, using us, to do great things is par for the course. That usefulness, sacrifice, obedience, danger, and amazing accomplishments* are normal when you love and walk with Jesus; not the exception.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Should a twenty month old who decides for some unknown reason to start her day two hours earlier than usual rob a mom of the ability to poop in peace and privacy? I think not. I think a twenty month old who has plenty of books to look at, toys to play with, and a big brother to entertain her, should be otherwise unaffected by my need to escape to the bathroom for a few minutes. The twenty month old does not agree.
She believes that her right to be glued to Mommy's leg supersedes a moms right to poop...alone. She thinks my attempt at privacy is the perfect moment to scream at previously unreached decibel levels and to shake as though her entire body will explode if a distance greater than two feet passes between us. The probability of which seemed fairly low, though I must admit the dark and menacing side of me was willing to test the boundary just to see. Can you imagine that police report?
Officer: And so then, the child just exploded?
Me: Yep. I gotta tell you, I didn't think it would happen but I took one step toward the bathroom and BOOM, there she went.
Officer: Okay, just a couple more questions Mrs. Sexton.
Me: yeah, could you just uh, hold that thought. I really still need to poop.
Okay, I realize that there are places and people who don't have the luxury of indoor plumbing much less a good book to read while taking care of business. Maybe they just drop it right there in the field without a second thought as to who is watching. But I, like most of you, have been raised in a culture that builds special rooms, nice rooms with decorations, lighting, candles, and mirrors so that we can slough off our dead skin cells and dispose of bodily refuse like truly civilized people. It all seems a bit frivolous when you put it that way, doesn't it?
And yet, I have a highly developed sense of privileged justice which tells me that I deserve, no, have the right to, five minutes of solitude while maintaining regularity for my inner workings. Solitude meaning not having to hold conversations through a closed door, not having to scream threats at children who are taking advantage of the opportunity to disobey, and above all NOT having a twenty month old standing at my knees saying, "poopie, Mommy. Naaashty." yeah, I get that Bella. But you're killing the ambiance of the beautifully decorated room built for this purpose so shut up and get out kid. ;-)
I repeat. Mommies are allowed to poop.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
It's hard to believe that the next time these two boys are together,
one will be a teenager and the other will be walking and talking.
For a minute it looked like Jesus was just gonna show up
and none of us would be traveling anywhere.
And here are few random pictures of the crew:
See, we know we have older kids, too. For those wondering, it's not that we don't love them equally. They are just better at avoiding the camera than the little ones. But trust me, they had their day and if you need the proof I have BOXES of prints that you are welcomed to peruse. Nathan is absent in the line up but I'll try to post one of his newly shorn head later.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Do you mind if I call you Mark? Since our first reading of your books with the ooze of sarcasm dripping from the cover, I've felt that we were old friends. I'd like to thank you for spending time with my husband as he's been fighting off a recent head cold. Your late night, middle of the night, and early morning chats are very dear to him. Though he has made mention that you are bit one-sided in your "conversations*" and he can barely get a word in edge wise.
"Do you know what Mark told me last night?" he asked me first thing one morning. I coudn't begin to guess since you guys seems to cover a wide array of topics. "He told me that I should wear my wife's favorite cologne." Really? "Do you know where it is?" I was stunned. Of course, I know where it is. In fourteen years of marriage I have tried everything imaginable -begging, nagging, conspicuously leaving the bottle of cologne alongside his deodorant, offering various ahem, rewards and pleasantries; none resulting in consistent wear of my favorite scent.
But now, upon your recommendation (with the help of Solomon) the warm and enticing aroma of Drakkar Noir lingers in the air. And the memories and tummy flutters of our high school dating days have flooded in as well. I think he has long underestimated the power hidden in a simple dab of musk. While he was out of state for college in the second year of our relationship, I would visit the Macy's fragrance counter and douse my sweater with the tester bottle. Then I would sleep with the sweater and dream that I was nuzzled into the sweet, warm skin at the nape of his neck. aaaaaahhhhh.
Wait...where was I? Oh, letter to Mark Driscoll -that's right. Anyway, Mark I would just like to thank you publicly. You have brought the smell of the early 90's back into our lives and I'm loving it! Now, if I could just get my bangs to stand straight up...
*(If you'd like to have "conversations" with Mark Driscoll, you can play and/or download messages at http://www.marshillchurch.org/)
Monday, September 22, 2008
"Dad, it seems like it's hard to be a parent with kids around."
The boy is on to something. It's often said that the people with the strongest opinions about raising kids are those who don't have any. Lots of advice but zero credentials. They haven't learned the obvious wisdom in Isaiah's comment yet. But the same simple truth could be applied to a lot of things. For example:
It's hard to be an astronaut with gravity around.
It's hard to be a chicken with wolves around.
Basically, anything can look or sound easy until you meet your first obstacle. Have you ever wanted to tell your Abba/Daddy that "it's hard to be a Christian with sin around?"
Tim and I have always tried to be transparent because to us, if this Jesus stuff doesn't work in the hardest, scariest, most painful, most hurtful moments of real life then it doesn't work at all. Because real life is hard, scary, painful, and hurtful. Sometimes all at once. But that's the beauty of following Jesus. He lived real life. Just like us. None of the obstacles were removed. In fact, his suffering removed my greatest obstacle which was this enormous chasm between myself and God.
What's my point? Two things:
--My life doesn't have to be (and will never be) a smooth and unhindered path through meadows of flowers with money falling from the clouds. If this is what your church teaches, they are liars. And you already know that they are liars because no matter how hard you try your life never looks like that. And they know they are liars because no matter how they fluff, tuck, make up, or hair spray it their lives don't truly look that way either.
--I don't have to (and never should) isolate myself from the world and the people in it so that being a Christian will somehow look easier without the influence of sin. If this is what your church teaches, they are mistaken. Jesus died for the world of people you are hiding from. And the truth is if I (or you) lived in a sterilized bubble, sin would still be there because I am there.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Take Isaiah for example. Quite often he takes initiative to give a little extra help around the house. Oh Amie, that's so sweet of him. No, it isn't! You are among the duped who assume that initiative is always a good thing. So - not - true! You see, the child will have left his underwear in the floor, his toys all over the living room, and a big glob of toothpaste oozing out of the tube and onto the sink BUT he will suddenly take the initiative to wash the windows. Not something I've asked him to do. Not something I need him to do. And not something he's good at doing.
Not long ago he cleaned the bathroom mirror...with one of my Olay facial cloths. yep. Took me forever to figure out why their mirror was fogged up every time I went in there. Sometimes initiative is a truly horrible thing. Just imagine if I had taken the initiative to build the last 50 feet of the Golden Gate Bridge. No good.
So, when Isaiah took the initiative to put Justus in his swing this morning...let's just say it wasn't met with showers of gratitude. Oh no. It is the point at which initiative and incompetence meet that this "go getter" characteristic become inherently evil. As demonstrated in the very moment that Justus somehow missed the swing seat and was being held up by one arm. I was screaming "Drop him, Isaiah, drop him!" having quickly rationalized that the six inch fall couldn't possibly do more damage than the dislocated shoulder; and having been suddenly caught in that panicked time warp of slow motion that makes a distance of three feet feel like the length of a football field.
You'll be happy to know that the baby is none the worse for wear -shoulder safely in place. And Isaiah? Well, I'd like to post this announcement on his behalf:
Attention Future Employers of Isaiah Sexton
Please be advised that if your evaluation of and potential earning increases for employees hinges upon evidence of having taken initiative in the work place -Isaiah will never receive an exemplary evaluation nor a pay raise because on this the 18th day of September 2008, he has been instructed under threat of death and/or dismemberment (not necessarily in that order) to ONLY do that which he has asked and been granted permission to do. Nothing more. Nothing less.
And now, if we can just work on the incompetence issue. Don't worry -we will NOT be practicing with living creatures. You remember Lennie from "Of Mice and Men," don't you? yeah.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Here are my observations. On the positive side -she's cute and quirky and not a size "0" which is encouraging. The recipes seem easy enough and I'd be willing to try a few. On the flip side, however; I find myself wishing someone would tie her hands behind her back just to see if she could complete a sentence without them. It makes me tired just to watch her and I am a hand-talker so I should be able to appreciate this about her. But e.ver.y. sin.gle. syll.a.ble. is emphasized with some movement.
In addition to this (though this one is not just a Rachel Ray thing but applies to all cooking shows with studio audiences)... are people really clapping for Parmesan cheese? I mean, it's totally quiet until she says "and now we'll just sprinkle in some Parmigiana/Reggiano" and suddenly there is uproarious applause and even whistling. It's cheese people. Now, if it were cheesecake --that would be a completely acceptable response. (btw Ron Millender: twelve days and counting =)) But it's not cheesecake. Is this really our nations innate response to dairy products or is there some guy holding a cue card that says "Clap for the cheese. We don't care if you're lactose intolerant"?
And speaking of studio audiences -whose the brainiac behind this one..."this show was recorded before a live studio audience"? Have you ever considered the alternative? hmmm.
In the end, I gotta give Rachel Ray props seeing that she has like 47 different shows, a magazine, and her own line of kitchen garbage bowls. shrug. All I have is this here blog. Which, by the way, "is recorded before a dead studio audience." Apparently, something wasn't quite right with the cheese platter we offered before taping. Wait...no...hold your applause...it was BAD cheese, people....bad cheese...STOP clapping already...put down those cue cards....aaaaaaaah!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
it seems I may have slightly underestimated what life would look like with two kids in public school, one home schooler, and two in diapers. While we are slowly getting into the groove of a workable schedule, you can clearly see that blogging has been pushed to the back burner. Hopefully it won't stay that way for long. To the many of you whom I nag relentlessly when you fail to update your blogs -I am chief among sinners. It doesn't mean that I will stop nagging you, it just means that I will continue to do so fully aware of the hypocritical nature of it. =)
I recently opened a facebook page (which was the intelligent thing to do given my inability to maintain just one web account). I joined this cult, er I mean, club for one simple reason; I wanted to see pictures of the Millender family. Now I have all of these friends --which I am grateful for because apparently being a friendless facebooker is like the scarlet letter of our day. I have nightmares that I'm gonna try to check out groceries and be told, "I'm sorry we have a 100 facebook friends minimum here. You'll have to shop at the 'people who still think myspace is cool' store." What?! You mean myspace isn't cool anymore? crap.--
Anyway, I have friends but I'm not sure what we're supposed to be doing together. Every now and then someone "writes on my wall" which could be seen as a little offensive giving our states laws against defacing public property but laying that aside, I respond. And then there are these other things like smiles and chocolates and knighthood and... the list is really endless. So, you get one of these things and it's flattering and thoughtful. You have two options: send one back or IGNORE this person. Okay, seems like an obvious choice but sending one back is not as simple as you might think. First, I have to download this widget-ma-jiggy in 62 easy steps. HUH?
I don't want to download the widget-ma-jiggy but my only other choice is to actually click the button which says "INGORE" my dear friend who has sent me something flattering and thoughtful. I have a hard time hanging up on telemarketers and now this?! Where is the "send a nice thank you card and move on with life" option? I want a third button, dang it! sigh. Being smiled at should not cause this much anxiety.
In other news, Nathan completely made his mama's day recently. He accidentally left his lunch box at school and so we packed his lunch in a target bag. While walking to the bus stop, he handed it off and asked me to carry it. Seemed odd. You're carrying an 80lb book bag but your lunch sack is weighing you down? "Are you embarrassed that your lunch is in a target bag?" I asked. He was. I laughed at him (because that's what good moms do) and tucked it into the top of his back pack before anyone saw it. Then, I grabbed his hand and said, "Are you embarrassed to hold your Mommy's hand in front of your friends?" He slid his little fingers in between mine and said, "Nope. Not even one little bit." I fought back the tears. If the Target bag wasn't enough a sobbing mom would have surely put him over the edge; but seriously, my heart melted into my toes.
The rest of the crew is doing well. It's been a while since we had a night of incessant crying...oh, and Justus is sleeping better, too. ;-) Izzy and I have started a new tradition of having our coffee (or coffee flavored milk as it were) on the back porch every morning after Tim leaves for work and before we wake the wee ones. It's a nice start to the day and he loves feeling all grown up.
Bella is as Bella does and has decided the way to get what she wants or to stop her siblings from doing something or to tell us what she doesn't like or well, for just about any reason is to scream as loud as possible. She is learning that this method really only gets her one thing so, I think it will be a short lived phase.
I'm afraid that Mamoune will not be with us much longer. I do not expect her to survive the winter months at the bus stop. It was about 65 -70 degrees this morning and the child was shivering cold with chill bumps all over her arms. I guess you can take the girl out of Haiti but you can't take the Haiti out of the girl. Thermal underwear will be her new best friend.
Picture post to follow shortly. Have a wonderful day!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The following essay is presented in defense of opinions held by Amie Sexton and is entitled "Why Christians should NOT be creepy salespeople."
If you have a product or service and you want to sell it, fine. I don't have a problem with that. But for heaven's sake don't be creepy. What does creepy look like? I just happened to have experienced it today.
A gentlemen knocked on my door this afternoon. As I opened the door, he stepped back quickly and said "whoa, didn't mean to surprise ya there." I wanted to ask "uh, you knocked on the door; I opened it. What's the surprise?" but I refrained. He immediately went into the name dropping phase of his presentation. "I was just chatting with some of your neighbors, the uh, Wiggins' and Howard's. Really great families." I stared at him blankly since I know very few of our neighbors by their last names. He could've said he'd had tea with the Bush's and it wouldn't have mattered to me. But I got the impression that hearing these names was meant to put me at ease. "Oh well if the Wiggins' listened to your spiel then I'd be a fool not to." It didn't work. As I said, I don't know the Wiggins'.
Next, he assured me that he would only be taking a couple of minutes of my time. And for added flare or in case I was a complete moron who had no idea what a couple of minutes was, he pointed carefully to his wristwatch --twice.
"And so, is there a place where we could sit down and chat?" At the very moment he is forming these words and I am NOT exaggerating (though that is my usual nature) -he begins wiping his feet on a non-existent door mat, elbows in the air and stepping toward my front door apparently expecting to be ushered right in. He seemed only slightly jolted when I said "No." I explained that I don't welcome in people that I don't know when my husband is at work.
Not to worry. It turns out the condensed version of the spiel can be done standing. In closing, I told him I did not think we would be interested in the service he was offering. "Do you mind if I ask what line of work your husband is in?" He's a spokesperson for the NRA who likes to shoot door-to-door sales people for sport. "He's a pastor."
Turns out the guy has been to our church before but currently attends another church in the area. "yeah, I've been the that church for your Halloween program before (he knew it by name and wasn't bluffing, even so). What's your husbands name?" As soon as it left my mouth I was mentally kicking myself in the derriere repeatedly. The pitch ended and he moved on down the road.
Take note: if you live in the area and a guy knocks on your door and says, "I was just talking to the Sexton family the other day..." Do not be fooled. Pretend you've never heard of us and close the door quickly.
And so, back to my original statement. If you have a product that you believe is worth my time and financial investment -say so. But don't do the whole song and dance routine and for the love of Pete -DON'T wipe your feet on an imaginary door mat. It's just creepy.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I am convinced that coloring could change the world. (not quite as effectively as Jesus but still helpful.) Forget deploying Marines, we need to do air drops over Iran of crayons and coloring pages. UN meetings should begin with 15 minutes of coloring. Truckloads of coloring supplies should be donated to the local prison system. I think the percentage of rehabilitated inmates would sky rocket. Mind you, it can't be those cheap behind crayons from the dollar store. Sorry to the Rose Art company but those are the waxiest, crumbliest, unevenly pigmented-est coloring sticks ever. It's got to be the real deal. Crayola people. And at least a 64 box. (Anyone representing the Crayola company who may be reading -call me. We'll do lunch.)
Negotiations, treaties, cease-fires? Blah. World peace lies at the tip of a Cerulean crayon.
Not buying it? Well, Debbie-Downer, try it. Yes, it's another silly challenge. Sometime this week, bury yourself away with a box of crayons and a fun coloring book full of puppy dogs, butterflies, and rainbows and go to town with it! It might not create world peace --but I bet it will be the most relaxing twenty minutes of your day. How can it not be when you have crayons that are dandelion, carnation pink, and purple mountains' majesty?
Monday, August 25, 2008
"Well, at least I got a new back-pack out of this."
"What do mean a diaper bag doesn't count?"
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I think Justus is saying "Are you sure he's not going to eat me?" Don't worry, little man. I'm 98% sure! =)