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Jesus, Parenting

10 seconds to start

“Attention…present Bibles…start.”

From fourth grade throughout high school, I participated in Bible Drill. I learned Scriptures, learned relevant answers to basic theological questions (i.e. “What does the Bible teach us about sin?”) and knew key passages in the Bible, such as Jesus’ birth. I could find Ecclesiastes, the Gospels, Ephesians – any book – in ten seconds or less. From fourth grade to high school, I hid God’s word in my heart.

Bible Drill is so important for these young kids – every year they memorize 25 Scriptures, compete in front of their peers and family members, and every year they do the same – they learn and start to comprehend God’s word. Even now, over two decades since I was in Bible Drill, I remember verses I memorized when I was 10 years old.

My church – the church where my babies were dedicated – also participates in Bible Drill. I have served as a Bible Drill teacher for five years now, going on my sixth. We are led by wise, dedicated Bible Drill leaders who give their hearts to this ministry each spring. And every year, it keeps getting better.

This year, I have my same girls that I’ve had since they were fourth graders. This is their last year of children’s Bible Drill before they become youth. I met them as 10-year-olds, spent four months out of the year with them, teaching them the rules and procedures, praying with them, and teaching them Scripture. It is a weighty, precious blessing that I know I took too lightly when I first started. Now, though, especially as The Artist is only four years away from her own Bible Drill participation, my heart leaps to see my girls returning for their “senior” year.

It’s not just these kids, either – it’s their parents, the ones who bring them every Sunday and who go over verses with them. These are the parents who have prioritized learning God’s word, and I am so grateful for them. I am able to teach them for 90 minutes once a week – but they have to have parental support at home.

The Artist comes with me on occasion to Bible Drill. She sees these big kids and sees how well they know Scripture and how quickly they can find passages in the Bible. She knows her books of the Bible – sort of – and she knows that come every January, Mommy helps with Bible Drill.

One day, she’ll participate in Bible Drill. She’ll be 10 – ten!! I can’t even fathom our life in four years. It changes so much now, from season to season, and I can’t picture The Artist as a 10-year-old. What will she be doing in school? Will she still be interested in art? Will she be in piano lessons then? Will she be playing tennis?

Our options seem almost endless in activities in which for her to participate – and I am so thankful to live in a city that offers her so many possibilities. And while that is such a benefit to our family – I also want to remember what is lasting and eternal. I want her to be smart. I want her to be athletic. I want her to be musical. I want her to be artistic.

But, most importantly, I want her to be kind and to know God.

Running

What do I do without a treadmill?

During December, I noticed my treadmill skipping. It’s happened before, but Kyle has been able to lubricate it with silicon and fix the issue. When I noticed the problem last month, I told him about it, and he set to fixing it.

Only this time, when he lubricated the belt – it didn’t fix the problem.

Have I mentioned that I’m a lazy runner? I really am. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but I run to eat. I enjoy waking up, hoping on the treadmill and running while watching my TV shows on my phone. Then, when I run 3, 4, or 5 miles, I jump off, head in the shower, and am ready for the day. I know I can run 3 miles in 29 min, 4 miles at 39 minutes, and 5 miles at 49 minutes. Outside, it varies. One day I can run 3 miles at 28 minutes – the next day at 33. It’s not consistent. And while it’s not a big difference, I do like the uniformity.

Having a treadmill, for me, is super convenient. First off, I don’t have to worry about weather. Rain, ice, or snow – I don’t worry about it. Because I can run in the warmth when the weather is below freezing, or when it’s storming outside, or, more often than not in Louisiana, when it’s hot as Hades.

Then, there’s the issue with children. I run a lot during their naptime, which is helpful when Kyle’s away.

Lastly, I don’t have to worry about dogs chasing me when I run on the treadmill. And, if you’re a runner, you probably know this is often an inconvenient issue.

That being said – my treadmill went on the fritz mid-December. And Kyle’s maintenance didn’t fix it. So what was I to do?

Well…run outside.

Again, most runners do run outside. Most runners hate the treadmill, and for good reason. It’s repetitive. It’s boring both because you don’t move and you don’t have inclines or declines. You can’t really run with a partner on a treadmill.

But – it is easy to get miles in.

I have been running less, that’s for sure. Turns out when I’m working, I actually am more productive in all aspects of my life. I thrive on structure and predictability, and over the Christmas holidays, we really didn’t have a lot of either. But I ran, often with a running partner, and I even found myself enjoying the sub-freezing temperatures (29 degrees is sub-freezing) and even the hills. (Though I did not like the one “naked” run I had to do without a partner and without music – quite boring.)

I ran solo on Christmas and had a doe and two fawns run right in front of me in the middle of the day! I felt my strength improve as I ran the piney hills of my neighborhood. I caught up with my running partner, who I generally only get a chance to see when we run.

It was good. It was grand.

But I did miss my treadmill.

Parenting, Reading

Look at that — a new year

Hello, 2019!

Sorry for the neglect of the blog the last few weeks. I took a Christmas hiatus and it was delightful. A lot of family time, a lot of friends, and way too much food. Have y’all seen this meme?

do-you-know-what-i-got-for-christmas

I get it. I get it soooo much.

So naturally, with probably 99.99 percent of Americans, I am resolving to eat better this new year. I just want to fit back into my running sweatpants. It’s bad when even sweatpants are tight.

I don’t really do NY resolutions or goals. I make them and then forget them before Jan. 31. But this year, I have some new habits I want to adopt.

1) Instead of reading a set number of books, I just want to read. One of my favorite books is “Les Misérables.” Victor Hugo writes so beautifully, including the main characters and the world around them, and it’s magnificent. It’s so good, but it is about 1,400 pages. I read it when I was pregnant with The Artist, which was back in 2012. I haven’t read it since then, and I have missed the book. I need to read it again. However, if I endeavor to read it (and “The Devil’s Redemption,” which I ordered with Christmas money – it, too, is about 1,400 pages, but I cannot wait to explore the history and future of universalism), I may seriously only read those two books during the first six months of 2019. And that is okay. Instead of setting a goal to read x number of books, I just want to make sure I read at some point every day. Most days I meet this goal, but I want to enjoy the process of reading and not feel pressured to read a set number of books.

2) Be confident in my decisions, especially parenting ones. I’m the world’s worst in taking other people’s opinion as gospel when it’s an opinion – often not even fact. I worry that I’m not doing the right thing, especially by my kids. But I don’t want to focus on that this year. I know my kids. I may seek out advice, but I want to be confident in my decisions regarding their upbringing. Also – my kids have their moments – don’t ever hear me say they are perfect – but I want to remember that they’re kids. They’re young. They’re little. They’re not perfect. And I want to give them grace when they mess up, especially in public. That’s always so embarrassing – all parents know that feeling – but I want to remember that both The Artist and The Engineer are good kids. And I want them to know that about themselves.

And, as I mentioned before, of course, I want to drink more water, exercise more, sleep more hours – all the things that are good for our bodies. Because I’ve got to go to work again next week – and it’s going to be real embarrassing if I can’t fit into any clothes.

 

celebrations, Parenting

Milk & cookies

When I was a kid, every Christmas Eve we had epic Christmas parties with families and friends. Those nights are some of the highlights of my childhood. The adults would stay inside, eating and drinking hot cider, and the kids would be running around like wild heathens outside, playing hide and seek and chase. Often, we’d have visits from Santa during the parties, too.

In fact, one of my first realizations that I did not want to be a newspaper reporter my entire life was working my first Christmas Eve after college graduation and knowing I was missing my family’s party. I was so irritated, because I absolutely loved those parties.

Since then, with my own kids, I thought about starting our own Christmas Eve parties to keep up the tradition – but it didn’t work for our family. Our church hosts a beautiful, memorable Christmas Eve service every year – and I did not want to miss that or ask others to miss out, either.

So, instead, we host Milk & Cookies parties for the kids one morning before Christmas. It’s wild and chaotic and filled with sprinkles and sugar. And while I call it a Milk & Cookies party, it’s really more of a Milk-and-cookies-and-pjs-and-watch-The-Grinch party. Because that’s what we do. The kids (and I) wear Christmas pajamas and eat way too many cookies (most of the time guests are sent home with a bag of cookies as well) and we have the old Grinch cartoon playing in the background. I say in the background because, in our four years of hosting this party, I’m not sure if the kids have ever finished the movie. Did I mention the cookies? Yeah. Usually they’re all sugared up, running around and playing in the kids’ rooms. And it is wonderful. It’s beautiful and lovely because the parents and I are watching our kids with these new traditions, growing up together.

This year, for the first time, The Artist asked if we would have the Grinch party this year. She’s remembering it now, and those memories are good. They are grand. She knows her friends will come over and play and I won’t tell her one time to stop eating all the cookies she wants (She and The Engineer managed to eat quite a lot last year by sneaking cookies off of peoples’ plates).

When I was first married, I thought we needed to have certain traditions that first year – but all the traditions I tried to form never worked. We tried to go to Natchitoches every New Year’s Eve. Nope. Worked for three years and that was it. We tried to go certain places for Christmas. That didn’t work.

The best holiday traditions we have now are the ones that just started naturally. I hosted the first Milk & Cookies party when The Artist was almost two, and our group of friends had maybe 5 kids among 5 families. Now – now, we have about 20 kids who come in about 8 or 9 families.

We somehow started a Christmas tradition without even realizing it. And that one is one I’ll treasure forever.

That and lying in bed on Christmas Eve and laughing as Kyle irritably puts together way too complicated Christmas toys while watching “Christmas Vacation.”

Hey, I never said I was a saint.

Reading

Top Books of 2018

Granted, I realize I have some time before the end of the year, and I do plan on finishing up a few books before the dawn of 2019, but if you’re like me, you ask for books (or Amazon gift cards) for Christmas. And you, like me, may have a Goodreads list with dozens of books listed there. Well, here’s some more you might want to add. Please note that few of these were published this year. I just grab books either because I notice them at the library or on Goodreads or someone passes them along to me. I have very little reason other than, “Hmm. Looks good.”

First off, let’s have a comprehensive look at the books I’ve read this year, not counting my top four.

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon (Fantastic post- apoplectic book, but too disturbing at times)

Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory (Obviously I love Philippa Gregory; great historical fiction writer, always a satisfying read – but did not make my honorable mention or top book list)

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (Great story, disappointing climax)

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Also, I hear she’s coming out with a sequel!)

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Okay. I’m pretty satisfied with that list. With that list alone, you have variety with good writers of fiction and nonfiction. That list alone could get you through 2019. But now let’s go through honorable mentions, because I couldn’t pick just one:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Don’t roll your eyes, but, for real, the book is better than the series. I’ve watched the first season of the series, which covers the first book. It’s not that it’s not good, but I’m just not a fan of torture. That’s one of the reason why I gave up Game of Thrones. I’m not into that. Gabaldon does a better job conveying her story than Starz does.

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward
I mean, come on. It’s Bob Woodward. BOB WOODWARD. How could you not want to read this? But, in all seriousness, it was a fantastic book because Woodward does a great job being unbiased. It’s a good, solid piece of journalism here. My only complaint was the obscene use of profanity throughout the book. I understand he is quoting these individuals directly and that, as it was in a book format and not a newspaper, he has more than the necessary freedom to print those words. It was just a lot. A. Lot.

The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman
I actually took an online class with literary agent Rachelle Gardner over the spring, and I picked this book up at our library on a whim when I saw it. Good, solid advice that echoed Gardner’s classes.

Now, the part we’ve all been waiting for.

Drumroll, please.

My Top Four Books of 2018

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club. Oh, Chuck Palahniuk. I listened to this on audiobook on my way to New Orleans for a conference. It was a terrible travelling experience, but this audiobook made the trip worth it.

fightclub

Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together by Kara Tippetts
I will buy this book for everyone because it is that good. So many times we want to help friends or loved ones who are dealing with a debilitating disease – but we don’t know how. This book offers practical, real-life advice through personal experience and testimony. Props to my cousin’s wife, Nikki, for recommending it on Instagram.

justshowup

Faith and Doubt by John Ortberg
This is another one that I would buy for everyone – if it were readily available. I have had a hard time finding copies of this, but if you happen to see it, GET IT. Rachel Held Evans’ book “Searching for Sunday” talks about her disappointment in the church and wavering belief in God. This book is what her book wanted to be. It is real, it is honest, it is backed by Scripture, and it is good.

faith

Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
If I had to pick a book of 2018, it is this one. I LOVED this book. I probably quoted the majority of it to Kyle. It has changed the way I parent my children for the better, and I am thankful to Kimmel for sharing his wisdom on this subject.

grace

There you have it! My top books of 2018! I still have a couple more I’m finishing up, but I’ll talk more about them in January.

What books did you love this year? Did you read any from my list?