Making Family WVPE Radio Narrative (2008 Oldie But Goodie)

Last night I dreamt that I was at a yard sale and found a partial set of three gorgeous pottery dinner plates for my little cousin Portia. She is one of seven cousins; there are two others my age and five younger ones I have called the “little cousins” all my life. In the dream I remember worrying that three dishes are not enough for entertaining, but I do not know my cousin well enough to even know if she has people over that only three plates would be a problem.

Portia and I do not see each other outside of reunions as she lives in Colorado and I live here in South Bend Indiana. I guess most families are spread out today- it is rare for one to live where their parents grew up. We move to follow love, career or traveling whims and this nomadic approach often separates extended family like mine. I think our experience of 'family' gets diluted because we cannot know each other on a daily basis. In my travels I have often made my own family from a handful of dear friends, and while it is good, it is....different than blood relatives.

Regardless of location, as the cousins all grow up and begin to marry or live otherwise very ‘grown up’ lives I am sheepishly aware that to call the little cousins ‘little’ is inappropriate and yet I cannot stop. The three of us older cousins have now gotten ourselves all “married off” and are trying to advance the family name by making family of our own. We are done for the moment with ourselves and eager to create someone new out of our love with our spouses.

It is interesting and painful to discover that making more family by having a baby is truly a miracle beyond our control. Two of us have had heartbreaking miscarriages and the other is conquering other fertility issues. It seems that it is not so easy to make babies that you become glowing with child the moment your interest in parenthood outweighs your fear of it.

This struggle to expand our small families makes me consider family more seriously and I want to know my cousins better. With the advance of modern distractions like Facebook this seems possible. Even just this week, there are photos from the wedding tagged to my account and with a few clicks I can keep tabs on the cousins and their life adventures from across the states. I believe that we can and WILL stay in touch throughout the years in ways we have not before.

I might just find a lopsided set of pottery plates for my little cousin Portia in real life, like in my dream, and by then I may know her taste well enough to know if she even entertains. As I grow older and become less interested in myself and more interested in family, MY family - I may even be able to stop calling my beautiful, accomplished and grown up cousins ‘little’. Maybe. I have heard miracles do in fact still happen...and I am counting on it.

I Will Not Fake My Faith

I recently spoke at a Unitarian Church about how my Unitarian upbringing informs my Christianity. To understand the reach of this feat you must first understand that most Unitarian churches allow any belief or none at all. An atheist, a former Catholic and a Wiccan could all gather together on a Sunday morning for service. It was a tricky talk because I chose to be very forward and honest about the many grey areas I find in my faith life as a Christ follower. I wasn't trying to scare or shame nonbelievers to Christ but instead to share how I ended up believing in Jesus as my Saviour despite the grey areas. Despite my cynicism and doubt. I did this because I want people to discover God for themselves, fall in love with Jesus like I have and to take their own path to get there. My life is so great, knowing God intimately is so fulfilling I want everyone to experience a relationship with Him.

After sharing my story and getting lots of positive feedback I had some struggles afresh in my faith. What if we cannot find a church home that is OK with my conflicts? What if the only bible believing churches we can find that we like expect a fully grown follower of Christ? What if they are horrified at my struggle (still) to believe all the tenets of my faith? I will not fake my faith. I believe that I can love God and pursue Him without feeling absolutely certain about all the details.

I had a few spare moments last night and decided to get my bible to read a bit. I actually picked up a fun book I am reading on happiness instead when I felt the nudge from Ol Padnah, "Weren't you going to read your bible tonight?" I sighed and exchanged the fun book for the bigger, heavier, meatier and more confusing one. I chose to read the book of John because I like the warmth and the love in the writings. I wanted to read about the sightings of Jesus after the resurrection since Easter just passed. I was reading John 20:25-28 where (Doubting) Thomas claims he won't believe Jesus really came back from the dead until he puts his fingers into the holes...and Jesus shows himself to Thomas and encourages him to do just that. As I read the study notes below the passage my heart began to beat faster:

"Jesus wasn't hard on Thomas for his doubts. Despite his skepticism, Thomas was still loyal to the believers and to Jesus himself. Some people need to doubt before they believe. If doubt leads to questions, and questions lead to answers, and the answers are accepted, then doubt has done good work. It is when doubt becomes stubbornness, and stubbornness becomes a prideful lifestyle that doubt harms faith. When you doubt don't stop there. Let your doubt deepen your faith as your continue to search for the answer."

These words breathed life to my heart and my struggles. I felt so grateful for the scriptures and that I found just the reference I needed to continue processing my questions and the adventure of my faith. I trust this helps you in some small way this week. Please don't fake your faith.

Listen to Your Mother Valparaiso Show

I am in a show called "Listen to Your Mother" about the beauty, beast and barely rested of Motherhood. It happens Saturday May 7th at 7pm here in Valparaiso at the Memorial Opera House. I saw the call for auditions and had a piece called "Reluctant Mamahood" that I auditioned with and was accepted into the show. It wasn't until the audition I realized if they took me on, there would be rehearsals and then later a performance! For someone with a theater background to miss the whole picture proves simply what Motherhood has done to my poor leetle brain.

Ann Imig, the National Director of the shows had this to say on her blog post today:

"LTYM, like motherhood, is about process over product. It is not about polish, but rather about that unfinished, unvarnished, authentic beauty that happens when you make room for something bigger by letting go."

What truth and beauty in one little sentence. All of us are letting go of the pretense we have it all together. We are letting go of fear of rejection. We are letting go of private woes and joys and sharing them that they may be soothed(the former) or multiplied (the latter). I'm so open about my daily tumult it never occurs to me that is risky...that for all of us to be so open so publicly it is truly a dare and a gift at the same time.

I'm THRILLED with Stephanie Precourt for running Valpo LTYM and to Ms. Imig for inspiring me this morning with her post.

THANK YOU to every Mama (and son) participating in these shows! Being a part of this creative process is a gift to ME.

Vent Less, Enjoy Mom-ing More?

After a particularly crummy day in an otherwise awesome existence I found this blog post as I housed a box of cheddar bunnies trying to find some solace. The afternoon had drained me of peace, joy and sanity via shuttling between the whining toddler and the crying super hungry infant. I'd just had a pal over the same morning for a mama vent while our tots terrorized the house so finding this post was most timely. Being a parent is HARD. People say that, but no one can truly understand what that means until you are having one of the HARD days. I have a great help system and know my own limits...and still there are days when I need a time out or it's going to get really ugly at our place. I'm grateful for the wide network of momblogs and friends and for groups like Mothers and More who put us all together to help make the grueling HARD days just a bit fewer and farther between. Enjoy the Happiest Mom site, and SEND ME MORE CHEDDAR BUNNIES!!!!

Sweet! NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

I’m not proud to admit this to anyone, least of all myself. It had been a particularly rough day as a stay at home mama. The two month old was very vocal in a grating and deafening manner about her need to be held. A lot. The two year old was consistent in communicating her interest in “more painting more snack more goldfish more up more craft more Elmo more more more more”. A lot. My modest goals of a hot shower and vacuuming up the dog’s hairballs had understandably not been reached. I was stressed, worn out and overwhelmed. I admit that I sought solace, comfort and peace in the arms of sweets. It was a great big fat batch of chocolately chip cookie goodness some thoughtful person dropped off with a warm meal from my mom’s group. I ate half the batch in ten minutes while standing in the kitchen without so much as a glass of milk. And I only found solace, comfort and peace in it until right after I’d licked the last of the sugary confection from my lips and fingertips.

Now to be fair, I don’t find any fault with some comfort eating--it can be delicious! But since I am being honest with you about this, and honest with myself…I always find a reason to eat sugary treats in excess: A good day, a bad day, a mediocre day. With friends, on my own in the car after grocery shopping, on my own not really hiding in the kitchen because eating it over the sink isn’t a sin…but you get the picture. I’m often dismayed at my lack of control with all things sweet. Can you relate? I’ve started to realize my relationship with sugar, with sweets, isn’t sweet at all.

For several years now I have eaten sweets almost every day, sometimes several times a day. I have what others cutely call a sweet tooth. I love the sugar high. My heaven was when I worked downtown Niles right above County Down bakery and around the corner from Veni’s chocolate shop. I used to joke that instead of the freshman fifteen, I gained my happy marriage fifteen. I didn’t think I had a problem because I wasn’t eating a dozen donuts at a time. I didn’t think I had a problem because I didn’t have a huge weight issue. I didn’t think I had a problem because I always had a reasonable reason. Well, I do have a problem: I’m sugar sensitive. Stop chuckling! It’s not a joke, it is a real thing.

I learned about sugar sensitivity from a book called Potatoes Not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons. She saw patterns of sugar addiction in adult children of alcoholics and I saw myself in the symptoms right away. Eating too much sugar can be a real issue for many people. An article on Dr. Oz’s website states the average American consumes twenty-two teaspoons of sugar per day. The American Heart Association suggests we keep it under six teaspoons per day. Oops.

For the past month I have been experimentally avoiding sweets. I still eat honey in small amounts but I don’t crave it like I do a cupcake or a Heath bar. The book Made to Crave by Lysa Terkhurst was helpful to me in changing my eating patterns. It talks about how we often search for what we need emotionally in our food items but that they cannot deliver any lasting positive dividends. Reading this book was probably the strongest influence in my healthier eating choices becoming reality.

Now if I feel myself getting all hot and bothered over something I might eat that’s a signal it might be something I should avoid right now. I still want everything, I just decide in advance not to eat the sweets. It has been very empowering to decide I have control over what goes into my mouth and do not need to feel so out of control when it comes to sweet things.

Lately I explain my uncharacteristic avoidance of treats by saying I am allergic to sugar; it makes me break out in fat. Feeling empowered over my food choices, over the size of my waist gives me a sense of peace and self-control no big heaping pile of sweets could provide. I still miss sugar every day and struggle to keep it out of my mouth. Even with the cravings and temptation lurking everywhere, knowing I hold the power over it; now that is really sweet.