Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This girl is PREGNANT

It is 11:21 I am totally beat, everyone else in my house is asleep and I am watching yet another episode of Army Wives on Netflix streaming. Ridiculous.....a little. But I have been having so much trouble sleeping I figure, what the heck. May as well stay awake. I am all of a sudden totally cranky about....well....everything. I am sure the heat doesn't help. It is stinking hot here in July. No wonder we usually leave. I walked three houses down and back, and couldn't figure out if I was sweating or if the humidity was forming itself into droplets on my skin. I have eaten an inordinate amount of popsicles and ice treats, and cannot for the life of me find a red white and blue bomb in this city. Seriously. No where. I have been looking since June.

But the worst part is my brain. I feel like I can't concentrate on anything. At all. I can't read the things I normally would. Articles that I am really super interested in, halfway through I completely loose interest. And after about a year of reading mommy-blogs non-stop I could about scream before I read more advice about doula's or poop. Even though I think both of those things are very very important. And I have been guilty of blogging about the latter. So I am aware I am a total hypocrite. But I can't read anything too dense because I completely flake out. I am trying to follow the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal, and I will literally forget what the heck I am reading when I am half way done with it. That isn't like me, and yet that has totally been me.

Tomorrow I am having lunch with the women in my department and I am sure they will all be lovely and gracious. I just hope I don't sound like a complete idiot.....or talk too much "mom talk".....or shove my foot in my mouth. Okay, the last one is probably inevitable, so not too hard.

Monday, July 11, 2011

On Love and Leadership OR Happy (Belated) Birthday Hubby: You're a good one!

It was Christian's birthday Thursday! Elizabeth took Juliet (starting Wednesday night! You're the best girl. The best!) and we slept in. Then we went out to lunch and went to the grocery store. So exciting I know. But it was the perfect day. We then picked up the Peanut and went to go get ice cream. Finally we came home and Christian went to go play poker. It doesn't sound like much, but Christian and I have come to discover that we are basic kind of people. Simple pleasures work for us. (And the sleeping in, oh the sleeping in!)

But that isn't exactly what I have been meaning to blog about. I have been meaning to blog about how lucky I am to have Christian's leadership in my life. Specifically, his spiritual leadership. I know that there are some women who desire to be in a relationship where they trust their man and he makes the decisions. And I get that in theory...I guess. Who am I kidding, I don't get it, but to each their own I suppose.

But I think that marriage is a lot like raising kids that it looks different for everyone and I say if it works for you (and the Bible doesn't say bad idea) do it. And for us these are some things I have been batting around. I am not saying this is the case for everyone; I am saying this is the case for me.

I am not the easiest person to lead, by anyone. And for Christian....well I think it may feel to him as though he has a cat on a leash. I certainly know that I am pulling sometimes just because I feel like it, not because I have a good reason. But for me I know that I can follow Christian because he loves me so well.

Sometimes I have crazy ideas. Sometimes they are good (the redecoration in the bedroom is shaping up very nicely, and if I get this craigslist dresser under $100), but occasionally I get ahead of myself. When we moved in I really wanted to get chickens. Fresh eggs! They can eat our garbage! Our backyard is huge! It will be sort of fun and eccentric and cost effective! Christian knew better. He was raised around farms. Chickens smell bad, and I can barely keep up with the less than half of the housework that is my responsibility. Now with two under two on the way.....boy am I glad I don't have to go collect eggs. Bending over to get them sounds torturous right now all the while trying to keep the Peanut from plucking feathers out by the fistful and/or not eating the chicken poop....good Lord. (Although the blog fodder would have been priceless....). It was a bad idea.

And when Christian said as much, I was able to listen because he loves me. He consistently has my best interests at heart. Dog because we were new in town and he was gone almost every weekend, okay. Chickens, no. Redecorating, do what I want. He mostly lets me do what I want, so when he says "bad idea" I trust it is one. Plus, it goes both ways. If I am really not down with Christian's plans, he holds off. He hears me. Even when we can't come to an agreement, which is very rarely. I know that I have been heard and my best interests are taken into consideration.

My department head used to love her students into submission. It was unreal. I watched it happen and I still have no clue how she did it. I guess she raised her voice on occasion, but really and truly they believed that she had their best interests at heart and thus they did what she asked.

The best parenting book I have read talks a lot about that. That kids respond to you loving them really well. And setting up loving boundaries is a good thing. Leading kids as parents means setting up situations where it is safe for kids to be them...and sometimes to fail. There wasn't a whole lot of rebelling going on in the house I grew up in. Mostly because we believed that the "No's" weren't arbitrary. We knew our parents wanted what was best for us, and if it wasn't going to hurt us they generally went with "okay".

When I was in Bible study in college one of my leaders called God's boundaries the "electric fence of love". God leads us by loving us. His boundaries are there for a reason, and He only has them because He care about our well being. And sometimes we decide something is a good thing that....well...isn't. Like chickens in the backyard or running my mouth just because I am mad.

When you not only know, but see consistently over time that someone loves you and always has your best interest at makes following a lot easier.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Today is Red and White day

Every Thursday is Red and White day, all summer at Camp Ray Bird henceforth: CRB (except for discipleship week ....we'll get to that.) The day where the campers learn that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of their sins. They learned about sin on dark day, Wednesday. Gold day is Tuesday, when they learn of the goodness of God, and Green day is Friday, when the campers learn how to grow in the Lord. (If you read your Bible and pray every day then you'll grow, grow, grow.)

Christian and I worked at Camp Ray Bird the summer before we moved to Atlanta (Summer 2006). We had some friends on the speech team who encouraged us to get summer jobs there, so we thought "what the heck." I spent the summer answering phones and messing up registration ( about learning about God's grace...) while Christian led activities that the counselors took their campers to. A job you don't normally need a masters degree for (you don't usually need to be old enough to vote....but Christian managed to fit right in.) What goes on is so much more than the sum of the stuff that everyone does there.

The basics are this. Around a thousand kids come through CRB every summer. Almost every single kid qualifies for a reduced fee. $30 for the week. The whole week, overnight, 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, and a t-shirt if they memorize all of their Bible verses. Not to mention swimming everyday, daily activities, crafts, the whole summer camp experience. From where I sit that is less than VBS at some churches, and all the kids eat there is a themed snack.

But the biggest piece is this. The kids are loved at CRB. The counselors, the kitchen staff, the lifeguards, the 16 year olds whose job it is to put the worm on the hook for the 7 year old girls, every single person is there to love campers, even if that means discreetly picking up wet sleeping bags and having them laundered before "horizontal hour." Every worker believes it is their job to love the kids in whatever way they can.Even if it means cleaning toilets or roping off the field for games later that night.

And the kids, even the little ones, can't leave without understanding who Jesus is and exactly how much God loves them. I'm not saying it fixes all their problems or anything, poverty is a beast for sure. But for a week, one week, kids who otherwise wouldn't get the opportunity, get to do summer. Not sit in front of the TV all day because it is too hot or not safe enough in their neighborhood to go outside.There is no public pool in South Bend, so for most of the campers their week at camp is the only week they swim.

Christian and I feel so, so blessed to have been witness to what goes on there, to be able to participate in the ministry. This is the first year we won't be able to visit, even for a weekend. The timing of it all just didn't pan out. I'm praying for the ministry this summer. And praying that the staff can see beyond the grueling hours and incessant needs of the campers to the investment they are making in the name of the Lord. It gets hard sometimes.

And if you feel so called...even if it is just a couple bucks, feel free to click the pay pal button on the Camp Ray Bird website. I worked in the office, and can honestly tell you that NO ONE can stretch a dollar like the CRB staff. I've got details if you want them. Seriously, even 5 bucks will pay for bait for fishing for a week. And by all means put them on your prayer list!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Privilege, it seems like the more I avoid writing on something the more I am bombarded with the issue. And privilege is what I have been thinking a lot about lately. It started with the big school move (detailed here). But then I started reflecting on my birth experience to get myself prepped for the next one (post to come soon....I hope) and then there was some sort of public twitter blogger-word-fight about poverty tourism surrounding Heather Armstrong. One of my favorite bloggers, Katie Granju, wrote about the whole thing as did mom-101 and many, many others. And for me it all boils down to privilege, and what responsibility (if any) does privilege come with?

What is privilege? Who decides who is and who isn't? Is it always about money? I feel like I am stepping into a whole pile of stuff that is too deep for me to surf through. But it is what is going on with me, in my life. So here goes nothing.

I realized that I was resenting my new students for the privilege that they have. Their school is beautiful and well maintained. No graffiti in the bathroom stalls, always toilet paper. 20 different AP possibilities to choose from. Every sport imaginable, (including a quidditch club). And as a teacher if I need or want something for my classroom? I simply attach the need to my syllabus and the students have the resources to get it for me. When I say resources, I don't just mean money. They have parents who value education and have the time to be supportive, transportation to the store, an office supply store in their neighborhood. All of the things that set the kids up to succeed. And you know what? It isn't their fault they have all of those things. And it isn't their fault that my old students didn't have all of those things.

But mostly God held up a mirror and said, "Really Abby, a 27 year old able bodied white woman in America, raised in a Christian two parent home.You are going to hold people's privilege against them?" Yeah, rich, I know. I am privileged. As a woman I was born in a place where I didn't have to live in a fear of my womanhood, it didn't equal a death sentence or a mandatory marriage at 15. I was entitled to a free education  until I was 18. And the blessings the Lord bestowed on my family growing up......I could write forever and not get everything down. And yet, I was looking at these kids and blaming them. For all that is unjust in this world. Which isn't fair.

Privilege isn't fair. Some people are born with more than others. And if your in the more category (and if you are reading this, you probably are) what does that mean? What responsibility do we have? This year I hope to teach my students about people who have less than they do. People without safe homes or clean drinking water. I want to inspire them to use the things they have access to to make someone else's life better. And I want them to understand that just because you recognize your privilege, doesn't mean you are saying that you and your parents aren't working hard. It just means you were also blessed.There is no shame in that. But there needs to be some sort of realization that some people work just as hard as you, harder than you and still come up short.

That is why I respect Heather Armstrong so much. She acknowledges her privilege. Recognizes that in a lot of ways she is just really really lucky. And she is using her position as the most successful blogger on the block to benefit other people. People who otherwise I would never think or hear about. That is what I want to do with my students. Inspire them to use their privilege for good.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

What have you done for ME lately?

We took the two oldest of the Grimes clan (remember, we kiddo swap with them) with us to the drive-in on Wednesday. We may have used the borrowed trucks bed as a giant sized kiddie corral. It was fun. We saw Cars 2 and I was reminded that when we first started watching the kids the oldest (we'll call him J) was always telling us how cool Lightning McQueen was. Only he used the t sound for the c sound and thus was always telling us how tool Lightning MtTween was. It was hilarious. He now pronounces everything correctly and also thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Impressively he stayed up for the whole thing.

On the way home the girls were conked out, but J wanted to know where his youngest brother (S) was and if he would be at the house. I told J that S would be staying the night with a friend of mommy's. But I couldn't remember the name of said friend and was trying to get J to understand. So I asked if he remembered the church he went to with mommy before they moved, the one they still go to with Grandpa and Nanny. But I wasn't speaking his language. Because of the every other weekend custody agreement, the kids have 2 churches that are "their church." But it all got confused when I was using my labels. J let me know how he keeps track by asking me, "Do you mean the doughnut church, or the lollipop church?" At 1027, J gets doughnuts. At his other church, the kids get lollipops. It is a great way to keep the churches straight in a 5 year old mind. I have since started using those labels.

Here is the thing though. I realized I do this too. I label the church, my neighborhood, my school and for me especially my relationships based on what I am getting out of them. That is my fun friend, that is my mom-advice friend, that is my God friend, and sometimes I think, that friend isn't getting me anything.....why is she in my life again? Why go to the doughnut church if the doughnuts have stopped coming? Why go to the lollipop church if the candy counter is closed?

I'm not saying it isn't important to make sure we are being fed. Or that we shouldn't have our needs met by the church, or the relationships we participate in. I am just saying.....Maybe my primary label of people shouldn't be all about what they can get me.

Man, I was intending this post to be light. And here I go exposing my dirty under-belly for all the internet to see.....