The Mackerdoodle on Pedestrians

Friday is a light day for Jonathan, so we try to get out as a family for a few hours. This week was the debut of the new baby elephant at our big free zoo, and as we hadn’t been in a while we thought we’d check it out. As we were walking from our car toward the zoo entrance, we passed a sign. This is a guaranteed stop with the mackerdoodle these days as she either “reads” the sign to us (ie. pronounces the first letter correctly and makes up the rest) or asks what it says. This time she asked.

“This is a big word, but it says Puh Puh Ped-es-tree-an. Pedestrian use only.” I answered, showing her the letters as I sounded them out.

“What does that word mean?”

“It means if you are using your feet, you may take that trail, but if you are in a car or on a scooter or in a vamoosh you can’t use it.”

At this, she puts her hands on her hips and says, “So let me get this straight. (Jonathan and I were suddenly very intently NOT looking at each other) If I was training for a bike race, I couldn’t use that trail?”

“That’s right.” I said.

“Glad we got that straight.” said Jonathan.

“Oh yah.” said the mackerdoodle, resuming her trot toward the zoo. “That could have been confusing.”


So Much More

I think most seminarians probably goes through this experience. His family is in a church, happily serving and he gets asked to do more, and teach more. People begin asking him about things in the bible, and seeking his council, and then they begin to say, “You should really go to seminary.” Pretty soon he’s the guy who is going to be in seminary, and then he’s the guy being sent to seminary.

Then he gets to seminary: a place filled with guys interested in teaching and studying the word; a place filled with people gifted in some of the same things he is. He’s one of eighteen seminary students at church and suddenly he’s not such a unique commodity; he’s a dime a dozen.

Please understand, I’m not talking about Jonathan’s feelings here. I’m talking about mine. There are days that I just want to jump into a conversation – or onto a table – and yell, “My husband is SO MUCH MORE than Chick-Fil-A. He’s a talented teacher, preacher and leader. He has wisdom that is growing every day and he’s  also REALLY FUNNY if you give him a chance. He loves people and wants to see them love the gospel and be changed by it. He isn’t called to sell chicken for the rest of his life.”

I don’t actually do that. I just feel like doing it.

One of the blessings of our church is that they want to give seminary students opportunities. Jonathan and our neighbor David are co-teaching Sunday School with one of the seminary professors, and co-leading a small group on Sunday nights and Jonathan is David’s assistant on Wednesday night in the 3rd and 4th grade Kids Club group. Last night, David was doing a devotional in the midweek service, so I got to help Jonathan in Kid’s Club.

Watching him relate to 13 third and fourth graders brought me back to all the years we worked together, first in youth ministry for a year, then in children’s ministry for two years, then back to youth ministry for five and a half, then, after an eighteen month break, teaching for four years. It was fun, and I saw Jonathan doing the things for which God built him.

I was reminded that I don’t have to tell anyone that my husband is so much more than Chick-Fil-A. God knows. The same God who has created all of these other men to serve the body of Christ and created places in which they are to serve, he has done the same for my husband.

I’m also reminded of something our friend Darrin said back in January: No one’s called to seminary. They’re call to ministry, and seminary is the tool to get there. God has ordained that Jonathan’s seminary training would be so much more than classes and books and reading. He’s appointed Chick-Fil-A to be a part of Jonathan’s preparation for ministry. He might not be called to it forever, but he’s called to it now.

The bottom line is this: it’s all so much more

So much more than I can see, so much more than I can imagine. To quote the song, it’s “more awesome than I know.”

In Which I Learn My Limitations With Three Children

On Tuesdays I go to Bible study with a friend. Said friend loans her car to Jonathan on Tuesdays so we can all go to Bible Study together so I have the van all day Tuesday. Today I attempted to run some errands with all three children.

It wasn’t an ambitious list.

  • Get printer paper and some binders for Jonathan.
  • Get a few freezer meals for Jonathan to take with him on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Run by the bank machine and deposit two checks.

So I got everyone into the van, and buckled and we make our first stop at Office Depot. It is a first for all of my children and apparently my oldest daughter has inherited my passion for office supplies along with the other long list of things for which she will one day curse me. She went from aisle to aisle saying, “Mama! This is amazing! You hafta see this one! This is so COOL!” At one point she stood in a paper aisle, with her hands on her cheeks saying, “Look at ALL THE COLORS!”

The cheesedoodle had managed to find two pencils and was sitting happily in the cart poking them through the holes, and bringing them back again and when he tired of that, he began to drum on the cart.

The snickerdoodle was hanging out happily in the wrap, looking around at the Office Supply world, probably wondering what all the fuss was about.

Between my spending too long looking for rulers that I eventually did not purchase because they were cheaper on Amazon, and the mackerdoodle’s constant scenic detours through the post-it notes, we spent an hour in Office Depot. As we walked across the parking lot toward the van, I was giving the mackerdoodle and the cheesedoodle the stern talk:

“It is getting late, and we want to go home and have dinner at a reasonable time. Mama has to go to Schnucks. We are going to go in, get what we need and get out. Do you understand? Look in my face. Say yes ma’am. Are we going to ask for any snacks? (solemn head shakes) That’s right, we are getting in and out.”

At that moment we approached the van, and the snickerdoodle looked me right in the face, and began to poop. I watched, in horror, as the entire right leg support of the wrap turned a distinctive yellow. She just kept going and going until I eventually said to the older two, who were by now strapped into their car seats for the quick trip to Schnucks, “We’re just going home. I can’t take the snickerdoodle into Schnucks like this.”

Both doodles looked me in the face and shook their heads solemnly.

And that’s my life right now. Sooner or later, everything boils down to poop.

It Was an Ending that Was Also a Beginning

Last week was the fifth anniversary of our miscarriage.

I don’t really know how to write this post. I just know that I want to.

There are moments in our life that are defining points; moments by which we mark our lives as “before” and “after”. These tend to be marriages, births, and deaths and for me and Jonathan, losing our first child is such a moment. It was the end of so much and the beginning of so much, and such a learning time that now, five years later, we’re still processing some of the things the Lord showed us in that brief six week period.

It was, indeed, the end of an earthly life. A few days after the miscarriage, I wrote:

“I thought of all the parents who wish they could just shield their children from pain, suffering and sin. I realized that I have a child who is permanently shielded from those things for eternity. It was the first time I realized that regardless of the earthly reality, I am a mother. The thought brings peace, and pain at the same time. How strange.”

It was also the end of all those years of wondering and praying. It was an end of an era of infertility for us. We didn’t know it when Jonathan painted this, but this loss was the gateway to more than we had even dared ask. I sit here, five years later, with a four year old, a two year old and a 4 month old. None of which replace the one we lost, but all of whom bring such joy. It is a reality so much more extravagant than I could have ever dreamed back then.

It was the end of so much, and the beginning of so much.

Of course, it was the beginning of our journey in parenthood, but it was also a beginning of our journey toward covanentalism and by extension toward seminary. It was the beginning of God moving us from an intellectual assent of God’s Sovereignty, to that truth living in our hearts, and informing everything, including our emotions.

And it was the beginning of this blog, which has been so much of a blessing to me.

Five years seems like a lifetime ago now, and in reality, it was four lifetimes ago. One of them very short, and the others still in process. In five years our lives have changed a lot: our address has changed several times, our professions have changed, and we’ve come to seminary. We’re very different people than we were back then, and the miscarriage has helped to make us the people we’ve become.

Dream Crusher

A long time ago, when “Veronica Mitchell” was blogging at Toddled Dredge instead of her current eponymous location, she wrote a post about the types of characters that are portrayed in young adult literature. It begins: “On Pern, parents exist to crush their children’s dreams.”

It’s a great post. I recommend it.

As a novice parent and blogger, I commented on that post. included in that comment was this line: “Sometimes we have to crush dreams before the dream crushes our children.”

Veronica recently reminded me of that comment and challenged me to make an “inspirational poster” of it, which I promptly did, posted on her facebook page, and forgot about.

Until this evening.

Tonight for bed time story one of my doodles chose “The Berenstain Bears Go to School” which is all about Sister Bear’s introduction to Kindergarten. I can almost recite it, I’ve read it so much. At the end of it, I turned to my mackerdoodle and said, “So, what do you think about going to Kindergarten next year” Her face lit up and she answered, “Yeah! Would I be helping out?”

Juggling a sleeping toddler and wide awake infant, I thought I had misheard her so I asked her to repeat herself. Her clarification was, “At Kindergarten. Would I be helping the teacher? To teach things? At Kindergarten, mama?”

“No.” I responded, admirably not laughing. “You would not be helping out.”

“Then WHAT would I be there for?” She asked.

She could think of no possible explanation for her presence in Kindergarten except as a teacher’s aide. I crushed that dream right there – gently and with grace, but still crushed.

Now, Veronica’s post was correct in its concerns that as long as we portray to young adults that all parents every where are kill joys who would rather amputate their hand than let them play the harp, we are feeding the narcissistic angst of our culture and breeding unbiblical parent/child relationships.

However, to be good parents, sometimes we have to reach out and crush our children’s unrealistic and idolatrous ideas of themselves. My mackerdoodle needs to understand that she has a lot to learn, and she hasn’t achieved the role of teacher yet. She will get there, but not at five. Right now, she has to be a student before she can be a teacher. I would be setting her up for failure, disappointment, and ultimately a sinful view of herself if I didn’t love her enough to crush her dream of being a 5 year old teacher’s aide.

So with that in mind, I offer to you my hastily composed inspirational poster. I’m willing to bet it doesn’t catch on in pinterest, but I stand behind it.

On Thinking and Doing and Irony

The snickerdoodle is 4 and a half months old, and as was the case when the other two children hit that age, I am feeling all of my creativity pouring back. There are a thousand blog posts rolling around my head right now and the fictional characters are beginning to talk again (over each other at the moment. I need to sort through everyone to find Tracey again). I stained a bookshelf our friend Loran made us a year ago (and put it beside the couch and now I need another one for the other side. hint hint), re-covered an office chair and have been pouring over the Design*Sponge book my sister bought for me. I went into Home Depot for a new filter for my vacuum cleaner and found myself looking longingly at power tools. I want to renovate something.

The irony of all of this is that while I am googling “Can I change the color of my leather couch?” because it suddenly MUST BE RED, in the desperate dream of a home that one day looks like adults live in it, my apartment currently resembles what would happen if a frat house and a day care ever bred. (by the way, yes, you can re color leather for about the same price as buying a brand new sofa. Just FYI)

The new semester has real activities, and we spent several days fighting hair dwelling parasitic insects and I have a preschooler, a toddler and an infant, and the weather has been comfortable enough to go outside, which eats into my chore time. I could blame any one or all of those things, but the truth is this: I have always lived better in my head than in real life and I have a tendency to believe that what I imagine could happen one day is more important than the reality of what really is happening and going on and needing to be done right now.

There is nothing wrong with trying to make my home both more functional and more beautiful, but only if I am also keeping up with the mundane necessity of clean dishes, swept floors and scrubbed toilets.

Random Thoughts from a Scattered Mind

  1. Going past 48 hours lice free. Hooray, but not any where near out of the woods. New laundry policy: pillows go in the dryer for 45 minutes each morning, towels, pajamas and shirts are single use for the next month, all laundry is being done in hot water (making sorting much more important) all dress up clothes and stuffed animals and my comforter are in space bags until Canadian thanksgiving. I keep hearing these horror stories of families fighting infestations for up to a year.
  2. What finally worked for us (I’m pretty sure one of the treatments we used on the mackerdoodle’s head just made the lice laugh) was the Lice Freeeee! spray. After an hour on the mackerdoodle’s head, we were wiping dead bugs off the back of her neck and shirt (and then sealing the napkins in plastic bags). They were just dying and falling out of her hair. We’re using the shampoo as follow up for the whole family.
  3. Jonathan has a LOT of reading this semester and I committed to read Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion with him. The McNeill translation that I linked to is SO much easier to read than the Beveridge Translationwith which most people are familiar, but I’m already WAY behind and I can only blame part of that on lice. It’s a pretty big wake up call for a gal who was thinking of enrolling in a degree program myself this time last year.
  4. Jonathan’s professor for Calvin’s Institutes said, “People either love or hate Calvin, but most people on both sides have never read him.” Excellent point.
  5. I’m in a women’s bible study at church for the first time since we left Georgia. We’re studying The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis by Nancy Guthrie and here’s my favorite quote so far: “We don’t want to read little bits of scripture and take away an inspirational thought . . . We want to understand the big picture of what God has done and is doing in the world.” Love it!
  6. `The mackerdoodle did get to begin ballet on Wednesday thanks to #1 and #2 on this list.

    Look at all those little girls in pink