Friday, December 03, 2010

Where do we go from here?

Well, today Jim got fired from his coaching job.

There's so much I could say, and yet I feel like words wouldn't do it justice. Do I mention the fact that we believe that God brought us out here solely for this school, this team? Do I mention that we were on the fast track out of here until the coaching job opened up? Do I mention that it's been his DREAM, DESIRE to coach at THIS school?

Or do I mention the hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours spent pouring over film, creating plays, talking to the boys, dedicating his life to kids who looked up to him like a father, just as he had HIS high school coach?

In the end it doesn't matter WHAT I say. "They" made a decision. Who "they" is we have a pretty good guess at, and "Why" and even better guess. And it has nothing to do with the wins and the losses. Because not enough people have backbones, and don't stand up for what is right, people who care less about what is good and more about what they want won today. They got what they wanted, at the cost of a man who gave nothing but his all.

I'm not sure where we go from here, what we do. I do know that regardless of whether they find another coach, and even if that coach wins games...they will never find ANYONE who cared as much as Jim, who put in the hours he believed necessary to do the best for the team, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

I am proud to be a coach's wife. And I stand behind my man.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Always Something New

I know it's been awhile, AGAIN, since I last blogged. But for the sake of excuses, I'd rather have something TO blog about, than to chat on about nothing in particular.

I promised pictures of my next idea - I've got something even better - the finished product! Here are some recent pieces I'll be adding to Etsy soon:

These are two pregnant women in yoga-like poses, gazing down at their blossoming bellies.

Another two pregnant bellies, this time with just the torso and a hint of appendixes. Both glazed, one clear, the other a Blue Rutile, though I was disappointed that no blue showed up.

Two more bellies with carved designs and smoke fired. The profile of the tree of life one is below:

This is an idea I'd like to expand on - women in labor.

And here are some necklaces that I played around with:

The mothers above are my original designs of attachment parenting concepts.
And lastly, I promise to try to get past my fear of screwing up and start getting my hands messy more often. I have a ton of ideas brewing in my head, none of which are even remotely close to the ideas in this post. Some are great for the ren faire, and some I'm hoping are great for anytime. But the point is, I won't know until I try. So try, I will.

This last picture is of my colored porcelain (mixed with mason stains) soaking in water to become slip. I really want to try sgraffito and other slip methods with these. So here's to not giving up. See you very soon!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So much in one year!

Wow - I can't believe I haven't posted anything in a whole year! I CAN say it'a been a great one :)

The twins are getting so big right now, almost 3. Becca still is a princess at heart and loves to change outfits and shoes all the time. Logan is ALL boy - running, climbing, jumping, and full of energy. Caleb is still my caring, yet questioning, young man, and Amber is my ever-sweet young lady, who is learning to read already!

And me? I'm doing mostly fine :)

I'm gotten back into my clay, even selling ocarinas at the local medieval faire last fall, and hopefully again this summer. I've also done a LOT of searching my heart on the other matters I've written about here.

I can to a point once again where I was trusting men to be faithful (men here meaning "mankind" or humans in general - not the male species of humans.) And once again, they failed me. And I thought that God was not worth it if these are the kind of people who serve Him.

But ironically, while watching the movie "Into the Wild" I couldn't ignore God plainly telling me that it IS in the communication with people that we grow, and that we need to be. Even imperfect people, which we all are.

And so I am. I am imperfect, and will be. And I still don't know where God has called me to be, but I'm hoping that each step I take is where He is, anyway, and He'll still use me there. In my clay, in my circle of crunchy women, in my neighborhood, and even with the lonely Amish woman whose husband is an alcoholic and now they've been shunned.

I still don't have all the answers, and even more questions. But I think that's okay. If God is who He says He is, then I don't need to know it all in order to bring His love to everyone I meet.

I have learned not to be so critical or judgmental (Oh, I still have plenty of opinions!) But I try to see it from other people's perspective. My way isn't always the best, but I am confident it's the best for me. And I can't make people believe in God or trust in Him. I have to trust that He will call them in His own time, and in the meantime I can only live the best I can and LOVE ON EVERYONE.

Stopping abortions doesn't change lives. Taking away condoms doesn't change lives. But loving people ALWAYS changes lives.

In some small way, me caring about women, and babies, and nursing, and co-sleeping, and friendship...these all tie in with what God wants for us to be as people. Loving, caring, and representing His love to each other.

I firmly believe, and I know many will disagree, that attachment parenting best represents the love God has for his people. If not, then frankly I DON'T want to be part of His family. Why would I want to worship someone who doesn't love me with everything He has? But he does, and he did, and he will...

I also don't think that the Sandra Dodd websites were helping me much. They were lost in their own self-righteous world of do's and don'ts, though they may not see it that way.

I'm floating by for now, and Amber is not that old, and maybe at some point I will add curiculum. But for now we're doing what works for us. And that's fine.

And maybe next year I gain new insights, and change my ideas about some things, and that's okay, too.

I would also like to point out that I made many new friends in 2009. I met a bunch of wonderful women through my midwife up in Erie, and the biggest downside is that they live an hour away. But it's so refreshing to have other women who parent like me who I can talk to without being defensive or sounding odd. The only downside is that I'm afraid they would think less of me if I explained that the reason I don't go to the labyrinths and such with them is that I feel odd being a Christian and doing those things. I'm not even sure they are wrong for me, but for now they feel so, and so I stay away. But I love these women dearly, and I am grateful for them daily.

I also made a group of friends at a small Bible study with Joyce, and these girls are the first group of CHRISTIAN women I've felt at home with. I think because they all admit they aren't perfect, either.

And lastly, we lost a dear friend last year, our dear tom cat Cebu. He was almost 11 years old, when he got a small scratch from another cat that I didn't notice until too late. They had to perform surgery on him, and besides having blood poisoning already, he never woke up when they were done. That morning he was playful and happy, and it was the last thing we ever expected to happen, and my heart still mourns for him. He is dearly missed, even though we ended up getting a new kitten from my in-laws.

And that pretty much sums up 2009. It was overall a year of growth and happiness, with a little bit of life thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Full Circle

It's amazing when you hear God's voice. It's amazing when *I* hear God's voice. Not audibly, like the big booming voice of Darth Vader declaring, "I AM YOUR FATHER!"...though I have often wished that God did talk to me in such a way.

No, the way God talks to me is in more subtle ways, using other people and their words to reach into my heart and confirm or answer my searching questions.


When I was in high school, I had my first experience of encountering God. Oh, I had grown up with Him in my life before that. From the time I came into this world my parents were praying over me, for me, and as soon as I could talk, with me. But I had never experienced what some would call a conversion. I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was just a few years old, in the innocent way only a child can. Without understanding theology or reason or even right and wrong, I knew that I wanted to go to this wonderful place called Heaven when I died, and so I raised my hand along with several other young children that day.

But it wasn't until years later that I began wrestling with the idea of an all-powerful, all-knowing God that created this universe and has invited me to share it with Him. But my first questions didn't come in the form of intelligent mind-bending came from the heart.


Placed in a private, Christian school with an average of 30 per class grade, I was quickly designated to the lonely position of "outcast." With my unruly curly hair, an apparently something else I couldn't define, I was an easy target. For the next 8 years I endured bullying, teasing, and just plain exclusiveness from other children. But that all changed drastically when I entered high school.

Switching to a public school of over 200 in my graduating class, I was terrified on my first day. Thoughts of standing in the cafeteria as table after table of students refused to share a seat with me filled my mind, and I was almost paralyzed when I walked onto the school bus. But it only took one day for me to realize what 8 years had not: It was NOT about me.

Not one student ever made fun of me in the four years I attended that high school, save one who made fun of everybody, and thus was also the brunt of many jokes himself. In fact, I made many friends and had the best time of my life as I enjoyed different classes and extra-curricular activities. I would gladly relive those years of my life over again.

But this presented a dilemma.  Eight years I had been surrounded by claimed Christians, most of whom attended the same church I did. Eight years I had been made fun of, shunned, and hurt. And as soon as I entered into the wider, relatively "un" Christian realm, I was treated with kindness, fairness, and joy. Not that these people were perfect, but if you had to guess which ones were going to heaven based on their behviour and treatment of people, you'd definitely have to take the second group. (Does the part of scripture where Jesus says, "I never knew you" ring a bell here?)

So what was I to think of this God - whose "children" persecuted me and whose "enemies" welcomed me with open arms? I had seen and heard too much of Him to believe that He did NOT exist. That was too much of a leap for me. But there was one thing I could easily believe - that He either didn't know *I* existed, or He didn't care. Either one, for me, was a deal-breaker. If that's the kind of God that wanted me in Heaven, I'd rather, frankly, be in Hell. And I wasn't kidding.

So...I made a deal with Him. If He wanted me to be a Christian, then He'd have to touch me in some way, to really let me know that He cared about ME, that He loved me. Otherwise, I would no longer call myself a Christian...

Well, I won't go into details with the rest of the story, because I have more to tell, but let's just say that a visiting pastor mentionted that some people at the service that day "needed a touch from God" and to come up to be prayed for. It was the first time I had ever done so since I was a kid, and the words he prayed over me let me know that God did, indeed, know I was here...


Fast forward several years. I had been through the gamut of church services where people erupted in laughter, singing, and falling down, all in the name of God. I wanted desperately to feel what I saw around me, but never really submitted to whatever it was that was going on. 

The breaking point came when one woman at our church told about her vision of a laughing Jesus...that he looked like a clown, and she was able to laugh. For her it opened up a new way of relating to Jesus instead of the stern, unmoving figure she was used to picturing. But to many in the church, her story bordered not only on the rediculus, but on the blasphemus.

Thankfully, at the time, I was away at college. But back home, my church family, which I had known for almost 15 years, split apart. Most stayed, but many went in several directions. My own parents visited many churches for years afterwards, looking for a place they could call "home" as much as they had once called this church home. It broke my heart when I would visit at home and had to attend different churches where no one or very few knew me, but worse, it shook my foundation of faith.


When my first daughter was born, we were attending a church we loved very much. We had friends, and the doctrine was sound, and I truly believe that we found a family of believers that walked and not just talked. But soon the questions would start forming in my own journey to becoming closer to God.

Raising Amber, I learned several things. But the most important was that the things she required was, in many circles of Christianity, considered odd, bad parenting, or at worst just plain wrong. I nursed her on demand and often. I slept with her in our bed, and carried her all the time so she didn't cry. I was, in short, attachment parenting. I would not wean her anytime soon, or move her to her own bed and room, or put her down to "cry it out" ever.

But articles from Focus on the Family or shows on the local Christian radio station would point out these very things as being less than the parent God had designed me to be. I thought hard about it, I prayed, and I searched my deepest being. If what I was doing was so wrong, why did I feel that it was the way God planned things to be?? I understand that you can not depend on feelings alone to make wise decisions, but how else was I to know what God wanted me to do? The Bible didn't have any verses about co-sleeping or child-led weaning...

A few years ago, while pregnant with the twins, I read Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis. It changed my life. Now some may say "The Bible should do that for you, not some book." But let me explain. He finally put into words all the things my heart was thinking, and wondering. He talked about a God that wants more than anything to love the world that He created. That our focus as Christians shouldn't be less about showing people their sin, and more about showing them God's love through us. The New Testament Christians were in service to those around them. And the ones that act like modern day evangelicals, arguing about theology and bragging about who is more holy? They're the ones admonished in the epistles. And yet here we stand, pushing people away from God with our self-righteous standards and holier-than-thou attitudes, and we neglect the very people God passionately desires to be with. We act like we are the fortunate ones who were smart enough to accept Christ, and the rest of the world, well, fooey on them. But that's NOT how God sees it...The Bible says He rejoices more over the one lost sheep than all the sheep He already has.  Maybe Christianity isn't what I've thought it was all these years...keeping track of the "rights" and the "wrongs", worrying about the proper interpretation of scripture, of the dogma we all knew but never understood. We treat the Bible as if IT were the if it wasn't written by human hands. I read one man claim that the Bible speaks for itself as being infalible. Oh, then I guess THAT cinches it. I DO believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and I believe it is INSPIRED by God. But I believe humans wrote it, and that we can't claim to know what every word's intent was, or how much was written as story vs. hard fact. (There ARE things we can know, but whether Jonah was a true story or just a story....that kind of thing)

Then I read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Again, the idea that God is actively seeking for a relationship with us...that He's not just sitting on His throne judging me, but that He's actually courting me, wooing me...and that my job is to love everyone around me, unconditionally...something not truly practiced in most churchs...(you've heard it..."but they're gay"..."she's getting an abortion - the murderer!"..."he swears and smokes and drinks...")  Did Jesus run away from these people, or did He befriend them? (the verse about coming for the sick, not the healthy, comes to mind.)

But the most imporant thing is that as I turned to unschooling as a way of raising my children, continuing on the journey they began at birth, I learned even more principles about how to model the relationship God wants with us.  We don't have to train our children to obey us, as most Christians believe.  We think that obeying means trusting, but it doesn't. You can obey someone out of fear, which is what most of us are taught to do. If a child doenn't obey, they are spanked. This teaches a child that if they don't respond a certain way, they will be hurt. It does NOT teach them to trust the person hitting them.

On the other hand, if we show our children that we intend good things for them, that our goal is to make them happy, then when we DO say no, they are far more likely to listen because they TRUST that we have THEIR interest at heart, not OUR HIDDEN AGENDA. True trust comes from love. 

And the point hit home with me just this week. I have been questioning the "why's" of life and death and several people in our community have lost loved ones tragically this last year. And I have been fearful about losing my own loved ones. And someone suggested the book The Shack by William P. Young.

I. Love. It.  The first sentence that I cried at was this, "You don't believe that I love you, so you cannot trust me."

And that's it. That's the core. I have never truly believed that God. Loves. Me. Sure, it's the gospel message. Sure, that's what you always HEAR. But I never saw it modeled out - not by Christians, anyway. I always lived in fear that if I did the wrong thing, God would strike me down. I had to learn all the rules of living "the right way." Don't do this. Do this. Don't do that. And if I messed up, I knew that God would be disappointed. And yes, there is difinitely truth in that. But we somehow missed the part that emphasises how much God loves That no matter WHAT I do, He'll still love me. No matter how I am right now, He still loves me.

In the same way I love my children, even when they screw up, God loves me. Even when my kids are dirty, smelly, or less than happy. I still would die for them in a heartbeat. Like Jesus did for me.

I can have a relationship with my children that is give-give. I don't need to demand their obedience. I can serve them out of love, and naturally, they will want to serve back (I know it sounds contrary to what we were told...but that's just it. How do WE feel when someone serves us? We want to repay them with's the way God desgined it!)

And then I saw this video with Rob Bell, and I cried some more. It's not that God will keep storms out of my life, but He will still be there, like a father, holding me closer than ever...and that's how I'll get through it. It's not just that He's God, and He knows best. It's that He love ME, and wants ME to be happy. If I truly, really, believe that, then I can trust Him when the unthinkable happens.

When Amber broke her arm, she squeeled out the words, "Oh, WHY?" in pain...and though I couldn't have prevented the break (technically speaking, I could wrap her in bubble wrap, but that is not living - same with out lives in this world), I WILL be there for her to help her as the arm heals. Her arm will never be the same as it was unbroken, but where the bone fused, it is now stronger. And so our faith with God can be stronger after a tragedy, if we trust Him, if we believe He loves us...

And though there are a TON of people out there criticizing Rob Bell, Donald Miller, and now William Young, I am one who has been touched by the idea that have allowed me to think outside the religious box I put God in. That I now see Him as someone interested in ME, and MY LIFE...and that Loving is more important than Getting It Right...

I've finally come back to the place where I started. If You love me God, then touch me...and He has.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Looking Forward

It's a New Year. And I'm looking forward to all the things this year will bring. 

Our Christmas was pretty good. In fact, Pumpkin claimed it was the "best Christmas EVER!!" which is pretty telling, in her 6 years of red and green...

We stayed home vs. traveling to my parents, as we had traveled for Thanksgiving. When the babies are older, we'll try to make it out for both holidays, again, but for now it was nice staying here and just relaxing. 

We got Rugger a 10$ "rock" guitar with strings to strum, since his bango guitar had broke. He loves it, and I'm glad we didn't get the $30 real guitar which he wouldn't have been able to play, yet, anyway.

The best thing we got Pumpkin was two little play sets - one a pony with an oven and baked goods, and the other three little zoo animals with a house. She said it was just what she wanted. :)

We even had a New Year's Eve party at my in-laws and Pumpkin stayed up to watch the ball drop, which didn't impress her, of course. But we all enjoyed playing pool and eating junk food.

We had a surprise of sorts, which also was a little sad. Friends of ours lost their beautiful newborn daughter less than two weeks after she was born, due to a cord accident in the womb.  The father's family purchases season tickets to the Buffalo Bills home games, and since they were all still grieving, they offered the tickets to us and we brought another coaching couple with us to the game.

It was fitting of Buffalo - cold and very windy. Boom had only ever been to two other Bills games at the stadium, both in crappy weather against New England, and both losses. This was no exception :)

BUT, the tickets were BOX SEATS!!! Soooo, we were indoors, warm and cozy, and one of the highlights for me was watching a fan run onto the field only to be taken off by 5 security guards who escorted him to the waiting judge below the stadium. I never knew there was a judge during NFL learn something everyday.

It's amazing to watch the kids grow. Birdie has liked baby dolls and stuffed animals for awhile, now, but she's also getting into playsets with little people and animals, driving them in their cars or sitting in their chairs. She reminds me so much of her older sister, who used to set up little scenes in the most unusual places all over the house. I'd be walking by the TV or sink only to find a dinosaur staring up at me, his latest kill still stuck in his jaws....

Booger on the other hand is fixated on buttons to push and things to open and close, not a good combination for all things electronic and expensive around here...

Birdie also loves reading. The only downside is that Birdie is the more agressive of the twins (something she proved during her birth) and will push Booger away every time she wants something or doesn't want him to touch what she has. Booger, unfortunately, just runs off and cries for help.

Overall, this is a fun stage, though the house is always a mess. I pick things up only to see them scattered again tenfold...and that's the way it will be for awhile.

But hopefully by this year's end, I will have gotten back into my clay, possibly won some money from Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty, tried a used treadmill, and had lots and lots of fun playing and learning with my kids :)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Over the Rainbow

As I sit here listening to "Over the Rainbow" from the soundtrack to the movie 50 First Dates I can't help but picture the ending scene where Drew Barrymore is looking out over the sea with the mountains in the backdrop and the sails aloft on the sunny, breezy morning....and I love this song and the way it makes me feel.

I've been down again today. We had a great Christmas, and I'm looking forward to the New Year, with a "real" party for New Year's Eve, no less. But there's three things I have been thinking about:

Death - 
In days past, and not so very far away, death was accepted as part of life. It was expected, even. Most families had more children who died than lived, and to grow old with a spouse was almost unheard of. To grow old in general is something that very few did. But in our time, in this country, we view life as a right everyone deserves, and to a ripe old age. When people die, we talk about them being "stolen" from us. And in a way, they are. But only because we have the view that it is normal to expect them to be with us forever, or until the "normal" time for dying comes...around 90, maybe?

But death IS a part of life. Even God must see death somewhat differently from us, as He killed many people without much of a thought in the Old Testament. I can be comforted, though, that Jesus mourned both for Lazerus and for John the Baptist. This means that when it is my time to face death or loss, my sadness won't be unexpected. And yet, I hope that I can also see that it is a part of our human fate. That I have no right to expect happiness all of my days. I will welcome the joyous times, no doubt. But to think that harm will pass me by is careless and a form of denial.

Someday, I, too, will mourn. I hope it is not soon, and I can only pray that when it does happen that God holds me up. For there are some things that I will never understand this side of Heaven...

The second thing I've been pondering is:

Confidence - 

Why is it that I can't be confident in who I am? Who God made me to be? Part of it is that I'm always second guessing who that person is. Or who that person is SUPPOSED to be...Am I doing what God wants me to do? Being who He wants me to be? Or am I missing the mark?

I look for other people who I feel comfortable with, and as I am around them I begin to think that they have all the answers. So I try to be as much like them as possible. And yet I fall short. And so when another group of my friends get together, and I know they are smart and well-rounded individuals whom I respect and like, I feel out of place because of the ideas I present from my other group of friens. This group feels differently, and I feel on the "outs." I want to be accepted by both groups, but find I fall just short in both arenas.

It appears that despite my desire to fit in and be accepted, I still stand apart. And yet that's okay, too. But it would be nice if I had people come up to me and say, "You know...not only do I think that what you are doing is great, I think it's so great I want to do it too!"

I want that pat on the back that says I'm doing a good job. That people like me. That I am okay. Funny how grade-school ostracism never strays too far from the ego...

Part of me is okay with who I am. Confident that my children are doing well. But the other part says I'm a failure at everything I do. Good enough but not outstanding...

Which leads me to the last thing on my mind:

Art for the Sake of Fun - 

I haven't touched my clay in forever. But I haven't even touched my needle felting. Not for lack of time. Or ideas. But for fear. Fear of failing. Fear of wasting money. Fear of falling short.

I spent a lot of money on the materials for needle felting, and I haven't done that good of a job on it. Of course, the best way to learn is to practice, and yet if I practice just for the sake of practicing, then I feel like I'm wasting all that money. I want to make things that "count." Toys for the kids, gifts for friends, something worth something.

It's a reflection of my life. I want to make something that the world sees as worth. I want kids that people think are well-raised. A home that looks well-kept. A craft that looks well-made. Conversation that sounds well-thought.

I can't seem to accept God's seal of approval for the fact that I'm just me. That my hubby loves me and thinks I work hard and come up with great ideas for crafting. That my kids love me.

And so as I listen to this music, I think about the things that are good in my life. And it truly is a wonderful world I live in. There's enough negativity out there, and I don't need to search for it.

But the positive...there's SO much of that, too. And though on some days it's hard to find, when I look it's hard to miss. And I think, I truly think, that if you could weigh the good against the bad, I'd still come out on the good side.

There's still a lot of bad to work out. But God isn't finished with me yet. He's still smoothing out the sides and gently burnishing the sharper points on me. I look forward to seeing what changes He'll bring in 2008...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It Just Keeps Coming

Last week's headlines in our local paper told the story of a trio consisting of an angry ex-wife, her brother, and their friend who conspired to kill her ex-husband in cold blood, leaving his sons to find his dead body on the back porch when they got home from school. Apparently the killer also practiced on their pet dog before shooting the father.

Today in front of Boom's high school a fed-ex truck slid sideways causing another car to run full-on into it, and a tracker trailer tipped over trying to avoid the accident. The young man, only 22, driving the car was killed. The son of a family we're friends with, who happen to also be homeschoolers, I can't even imagine what his mother and siblings are feeling tonight. 

And for the whole season. This year, for so many, 2008 will be a Christmas they will never forget. But for all the wrong reasons.  And I'm having a hard time not getting down about it.

So the best I can do is be thankful for my family. Live in the moment and know that I didn't waste even a day. Because if my daughter dies when she turns two, I'll know that those two years weren't spent "training" her to be an adult, but appreciating her for who she is now. 

I'll know that I didn't let my children fear if they didn't have to, or cry if I could help it. Yes, there have been times of fear and several tears shed. But not because I forced them to cry it out in a dark room while longing for me. Not because I force them to obey arbitrary rules just "because I said so."

Now, more than ever, I am thankful that I am on the unschooling journey in our lives. Not just accademically, but whole living. I have so much joy in my life right now with my children and husband. I cherish them completely, and am glad for each new day with them...