Thursday, January 25, 2007

Do You Miss It?

I’ve been a SAHM for a little over six months now, and I have not only survived but maybe even thrived. One of the interesting aspects of my life is talking to friends and colleagues who knew me before I had this job and who may have never expected that I would leave the world of outside-the-house-work (especially work that I loved so much) to stay at home. One of the questions I am asked regularly is “Do you miss preaching every week?”

The answer is a resounding “No.” I loved preaching. I loved everything about it. I loved choosing the text to use. I loved studying the text and reading commentaries. I loved struggling with the scripture and discerning the “good news” that I was going to share from that scripture. I loved the feeling of my finger flying across the keys as I typed, so aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the preparation of the sermon. I even loved it when I struggled, wondering what it was that I was supposed to say and whether anyone was going to get anything out of this drivel that I had written (ironically, those are the sermons that seem to get the most positive feedback).

But I don’t miss doing it every week. It’s too much. And the difficulty of being a sole pastor is that you don’t get a break from the weekly preaching unless you plan well in advance. And sometimes that’s more difficult that preparing the sermon.

On the other hand, I’d love the chance to do it again every once in awhile. Joseph Sprague, retired bishop from the Northern Illinois Conference, wrote wonderful book called Affirmations of a Dissenter. Among other things he gave some guidelines to pastors who want to take their calling seriously. He suggested that pastors spend 50% of their time—50%!—in study time each week. Half of a pastor’s week should be spent studying—preparing for sermons and bible studies and reading theological texts unrelated to sermon and Bible study preparation.

If only.

As a sole pastor such was nearly impossible, despite the fact that I would have loved to meet that goal. There were too many other tasks to tend to—administration, visitation, meetings, the list goes on and on.

Now that I have time to read, however, I understand his suggestion. I feel like I would be more prepared to preach now than I ever was because I actually have the time to read and study. Ironic, isn’t it, that that time is available only now when I no longer have that responsibility.

Do I miss it? No. Would I like another shot? Someday. I still have more to read.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

House of Geeks

Jay and I have long agreed that we would support Joshua 100% in whatever he decides to do in life. If he wants to be a ballet dancer, we'll be his biggest fans. If he wants to be a preacher, a teacher, a construction worker, or a computer programmer, we'll be his greatest supporters. Our greatest hopes and dreams for him are that he becomes a person of integrity, that he stands up for what he believes in, and that he concerns himself with protecting the dignity of other people. In short, we're far more concerned about who he is than about what he does. If he follows in either of our footsteps or blazes his own trail, that's all up to him.

That said, however, when Jereme sends you this shirt:
you just have to put it on your kid.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Authors Have Spoken…

…but not to me.

Monday night (the 8th) I was not quite ready for bed so I was scrolling through my old blog posts to see if there were any new comments. I was surprised to see that there were new comments on both of my posts about The MomsTown Guide to Getting it All: A Life Makeover for Stay at Home Moms and that I had no idea who the commenters were. It only took about two minutes to figure out where these women had come from. I found them over at the MomsTown site, on their “Big Break Forums.” Mary, one of the authors, had posted a thread titled, “Need Your Help” and this is what it said,

Hi Everyone,

For those of you who know us and those of you who are beginning to know us, you know that we have dedicated our professional lives to helping moms find there dreams. We love hearing your stories, reading the the connections you're making, and the support you give each other.

Because, the online world is global and has a huge reach we are all able to do good and help each other but every now and then we run into someone like this.

We received a Google Alert from this woman's blog post on our first book "The MomsTown Guide to Getting It All". She believes we are ill- intentioned, that we wrote the book to make a buck, and that we really don't care about moms.

If you have a moment and feel so inclined to respond to her, please post a comment on her blog. We feel she not only judged us unfairly, she's unfairly judged MomsTown. A place where we support all moms.

Thank you,
Mary & Heather
And then it listed my url.

And, as you can see, the MomsTown women came to visit. (I still haven't figured out why Mary and Heather didn't come comment themselves rather than having other people do it for them, but, well, I guess that's not for me to understand).

After reading the comments I hoped to add a little bit of integrity and forthrightness to the situation. After all, the commenters didn't reveal their affiliation, how they had found my blog, or why they had come to visit in the first place. In fact, several of them have blogs of their own, but didn't have the courage/courtesy to link back to their own blogs. So I decided that I would take a trip to MomsTown and post in their forum.

I composed a nice little reply to post on the "Need Your Help" thread. That task complete, I registered on the Forum and immediately received an e-mail welcoming me to the "Big Break Forums." It also stated that my account was currently inactive and that the board administrator would need to activate it.

That was four days ago.

Since I am obviously not welcome in MomsTownI decided to post my reply here. So if they had allowed me in their forum, this is what they would have seen:

Mary and Heather,

Who thought I’d be posting on your forum? When I saw that the “Big Break Forum” was the origin of all the random comments that suddenly appeared on my blog, how could I not stop by and say hello?

I wanted to come by and address your post on the Big Break Forums that seems to have attracted this attention to my blog. First of all, please know that you are welcome to leave your own comments on my blog if you really feel that I have “unfairly judged” you, rather than sending other people to come to your defense. Second of all, I ask that you please read what I have written carefully before you accuse me of believing that you “don’t really care about moms” and that you’re “just out to make a buck.” Never did I state either of those things. I can understand why you might assume that I believe you were ill-intentioned, but I assure you that I do not believe that you set out to write this book in an effort to intentionally do harm to moms. You would do well to base your understandings of what I “believe” based on what I have written rather than assuming you know what I believe and then communicating that to your readers.


If you go back and read my posts carefully you will find this: What I do believe is that this book contributes to the greater societal misconception that there is something wrong with a SAHM who is satisfied with cooking, cleaning, and carpooling. What I do believe is that the book puts undue pressure on women to live up to the expectation that we can “get it all,” when in fact, many of us make difficult choices between our families and our careers.What I do believe is that if you really think spirituality is an important aspect of a fulfilling life, then you will point readers toward other resources to nurture that spirituality . Instead, you have implied that 15 minutes of mantra a day is sufficient for a healthy spiritual life. What I do believe is that there are reasons for doing good things for others people besides what I will get in return. I didn’t see much (if any) acknowledgement of that in your book. What I do believe is that you are correct in your assertion that taking care of one’s body is necessary for overall physical, mental, and emotional health. If you were to look further down in my posts, you would see that I mentioned how motivated I was to care more for my physical health after reading the book.

I want to also be clear that never did I judge you as people, as you would like the folks on your forum to believe, and I certainly never judged MomsTown. I commented on your book, not your character. I commented on one aspect of MomsTown; I did not pass judgment on the entire enterprise. If you feel I have judged your book unfairly, I can certainly understand that, but be clear that I made no comment on who you are as people or on your business. I have read the reviews of this book on Amazon.com and have a hard time believing that you’re not yet thick-skinned enough to dismiss the opinions of one person in one miniscule corner of the blogosphere.

I’m glad that the two of you have touched so many lives. It’s obvious that there are women whose lives have been greatly enhanced by your books, website, and radio programming. I think that’s great and I hope you keep up the good work!

To Everyone,

I apologize if I have caused any hurt by criticizing something that is obviously so important to many of you. It is obvious that you are bright, articulate, and successful women whose lives have been profoundly impacted by MomsTown. My opinions of this book shouldn’t take anything away from that.

Wish you well (and thanks for mentioning me on your radio show, although I hardly believe I have egg on my face),

Mary Beth

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Welcome...

...Jonathan Jacob (Jingleheimer) French, newborn son of Anna and Jesse.

He showed up at a whopping 8 lbs, 2 oz. this morning.

All are well. Pictures will be available at Anna's place pending her approval.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Baby Signs, Sort Of

Jay and I recently decided to start using some signs with Joshua since he's getting to the point where he's a little frustrated by his inability to communicate. And, honestly, we were getting a little weary of him following us around making the baby bird face and saying. "Ahhhh" when he wanted a bite of what we were eating. So far we've taught him three signs: more, water, and finished.

The sign we taught him for "more" is actually ASL for "again," and after modifying it a bit, he makes the sign for "more" by pointing to his palm. We taught him the true ASL sign for "water," but that's a little tough for a toddler, so he points to his mouth rather than making the "w" sign by his mouth. Finally, we taught him "finished." His own version consists of waving his hands wildly in front of his face.

We've been at this for two weeks and are slowly learning that his definitions of the words are slightly different from ours. Here's what he means when he makes these signs:

More [mohr]:
1. Put food in my mouth now (Often done while running into the kitchen after naptime and looking for his snacks)
2. Give me some of whatever you're eating now (Done when you have something to eat and he doesn't. This has recently resulted in his first experiences of pad thai and spicy breakfast sausage, both of which he surprisingly enjoyed).
3. Let me drink from your glass. (Joshua has a large selection of lovely sippy cups, but once he hears his dad pouring a glass of water, dad must share).

Water ['wot-er]:
1. More.
2. Water.
Yes, these are interchangeable, and understandably so. If "water" is signed by pointing to the mouth, and "more" means I want you to put something in my mouth now, then shouldn't I be pointing to my mouth if I want more?

Finished ['fin-isht]:
1. Put me down, I want to play. When eating, often followed by the word "more"
2. Put me down, I want to play. When being picked up after a nap, means "I like you and all and snuggling's not so bad, but I'd really like to stick my fingers in the fan."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

On the Other Hand

Here’s a book that I would recommend. *

Several years ago I was on the phone with my friend Tom from grad school. He was chiding me about my Atkins obsession and told me that someday he was going to write a book about getting fit and staying fit. It would be totally based on common sense, he said. No fads, no crazy promises, no outlandish results. Just stuff that made sense. I thought he was just talking.

He wasn’t.

Crazy Tom.

*I realize that there is a whiff of hypocrisy in this recommendation. As in the case of the M-msTown ladies, just about any book that addresses diet and fitness is based on the premise that there must be something wrong with who you are right now. However, this book is for people who are dedicated to a life of health and fitness but don't know how or where to get started. There. That's my justification. Read away.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Christmas Recap

If you're interested in our Christmas doings, Joshua has a three-part summary over on his blog.