Michael and I were blessed with the honor of hearing President George W. Bush speak last night.
I have to say that I've never been all that politically minded, and never followed agendas or decisions all that closely until recent years. I don't feel super-crazy-passionate about political ideas or stances, but I was really looking forward to this event. It really was amazing to hear him speak in person. It felt like I was a part of history; it felt heavily significant to me. Beyond that, I was more than pleasantly surprised by how down to earth our former President is, by how truly funny he is, and by how much I genuinely liked him and what he had to say. Hearing him speak last night also made me sad that the media spent so much time and energy making him look and sound like a bumbling idiot, because if the speech I heard was any indication, he most certainly is not. He sounded like a regular, intelligent man with strong convictions and a natural ability to lead - how refreshing!
He spoke on many issues that I'd never truly known where he stood on (mostly because of the way said media twisted and presented his intentions/motives), or why he decided the things he did, and it was so nice to hear reasons and thought-processes based on the principles he holds dear, coming from his own mouth. I know there are a lot of people who think he did a poor job as President. I know that he has his own side of the story, and that it favors himself, as our own stories about ourselves often do, but he seemed genuine and honest and wonderfully steady and dependable to me, and that is something worth holding onto...maybe that's why we elected him in the first place, eh?
Anyway, here's a shout-out to the former President of the United States from little old me: Thank you, Mr. President for being yourself, for being personable, and for standing up for what you believe in, in a world and culture where those attributes are fading and becoming more and more difficult to find. Thank you for doing the best job you could do, and for trying to honor God and America in your decisions. And thanks for coming to our little get-together to bless us with your time and words. I'm thinking that someday, when history is more hind-sighted and objective, you might be appreciated a bit more.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Michael and I were blessed with the honor of hearing President George W. Bush speak last night.
Posted by Jennifer at 7:49 PM
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Today may not be the best of all days to do an update on myself, but the boys are both sleeping and I feel like having my fingers glued to the keyboard right now, so here it is. What yours truly has been up to in the recent past and present-day:
1. Still working on my book, and I'm still pretty stoked about it. I've written 210 pages so far, and I really love the way it's turned out. The rest (about 100 pages left to write) is all up in my head - it's just a matter of pounding it out. I have no IDEA if it'll amount to anything, or if anyone besides my mom or husband will enjoy reading it, but my original goal was to finish by the end of April (which will probably turn into the end of May, honestly), and to seek out a literary agent and attempt to have it published over the summer. In this particular instance, ignorance is bliss, because I think it's likely that getting your book published is just as difficult as getting a record deal musically, but since I'm not as familiar in this arena of the arts, I'm not biting my fingernails over it. And shockingly, I have ideas in my head (and some chicken-scratch drafting done) for two more books after this one...we'll see. My boys are keeping me pretty busy these days (all three of them :) ) Regardless, when this project is finally finished, I'll have written an actual BOOK, and that feels pretty cool. I'm brainstorming ways to celebrate once it's completed. Any ideas?
2. I don't remember the winter season ever effecting my mood before, but this year these colder, cloudier months are just giving me the blahs. I've always been a perfectionist and I've always been hard on myself, but not THIS hard. I've been wishing for warmer weather and more sunshine since January. Getting out to the park and in our backyard with the boys is something I'm longing for like never before. I'm also ready for easier access and more options to exercising. That chases my blahs away better than anything else.
3. As of this week, I'm joining back up with my praise team to sing in their rotation at church, which means practices on Wednesday nights again, and I'm REALLY excited about it. I took a much needed break from several activities back in the fall, and I'm just now starting to add things back in. I'm really ready to get involved in something musically again - I've missed it something awful, though the break was good and important for our family.
4. Also as of this week, I'm getting back into....JAZZERCISE!! Our community center offers it on the perfect days and at the perfect time for our family's schedule, and this is the ONLY type of exercise I've found that I like (and despite the totally dorky name, I don't just like it, I LOVE it!). I thought about getting an elliptical machine (because I don't mind it so much either), but truth be told, we just don't have room for it in our little house, so until we move into a bigger space, I'll be jazzin' it up. I've been having a hard time getting motivated to stay active. Michael has been a real sweetie about it, and has even been doing our work-out DVDs WITH me at home for a few weeks, but it's just not cutting the mustard. So when I mentioned getting back into my old faithful, Jazzercise (which helped me lose all of my baby weight after Bennett), he told me to go for it. So I will. Any takers? You don't have to wear a leotard unless you just really want to. Promise.
5. Jasper John is turning ONE in less than a month (*tear*) and I've been planning and working on his little party for the past couple of weeks in hopes it won't sneak up on me and make me feel totally overwhelmed.
6. I've set two (technically three) daily goals for myself to help improve my overrall health and wellness: 1. Drink 8 cups of water daily. 2. Go to bed early (asleep by 10:00) 3. Get up early to spend time with God and exercise. So far so good. On the days I actually do all of this as I intended, the day seems to run so much more smoothly, I enjoy my boys more, and I have a lot more energy. So this is going to be my focus for a while concerning myself.
7. I'm digging our Bunco group. Meeting with the girls once a month to play is a ton of fun. And although I can pretty much guarantee I'll never go home with so much as a dollar from the games, I sure do love the fellowship and time to be a silly girl. If you've never played, or never joined a group like this, I highly recommend it. Along these lines, I'd love to go play Bingo again (it was HILARIOUS last time we went) if anybody's interested.
8. Overrall, I still feel busy, busy, busy. I know I wrote up above about NEW things I'm ADDING into my life, but they're things that I want/need, so for the rest of this school year and over the summer, I'm going to really be thinking about my priorities and praying and asking God what He would have me do. I really miss ladies bible study, and I miss feeling like I've actually got the time I need to get things done. Maybe this is just a part of having little ones, but I feel restless, like something needs to change. So I'm reflecting on it, thinking about it, listening for God's voice to tell me what's next. Have you ever had the feeling that change is in the air, or right around the corner? Anticipating something different? That's kind of where I'm at.
Posted by Jennifer at 1:44 PM
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I've read the book Wild at Heart before, and Michael read it a few months ago and really liked it. Partly from that, and partly just from reflecting on our relationship over the past couple of years, we're re-defining what's okay and what's not okay in the treatment of men in general, and in our home. What's amazing is, when we became more aware and really listened to what goes on around us pertaining to men, we were both pretty amazed at just how often men get a bad rap, or are undermined or given lower expectations to meet, or just downright insulted.
Before I go any further, I'm perfectly aware of how rough we women have it in society (for all of you feminists out there who are getting your feathers ruffled :) ). We are called to be emaciated and flawless if magazine covers and the media are any indication and we wear a dozen hats day in and day out. But that soap box is for another time.
When we were at the marriage conference I mentioned before, Michael and I were both really surprised and slightly offended when, at the very end of the seminar, one of the hosts from the main church got up and asked everyone to give all of the men a round of applause for showing up. Say wha-? We couldn't understand why the expectation was so low that just to show up was something of miraculous proportions that should be lauded and praised for the men. Should women think so little of their desire to improve their marriages and their relationships with their wives? Are women the only ones who care about strengthening their marriages? No way, Jose. In fact, my husband is the one who registered us and signed up for childcare for us and made all of the plans for us to go, and I know many other men did the same and were glad to be there.
Since then, I think my "Man-Bashing" radar has been up, because I've noticed at church, in day-to-day interactions, in the media, etc etc. that in some ways, very little is expected of our men, and their intelligence and manliness is subtly insulted far too often. In a matter of days, I've heard them referred to as "clods," I've heard someone say, "Well, he's a guy. What do you expect?" and in general have picked up on the stigma that our poor men wouldn't know how to scratch their own behinds without the help of a woman.
I'm starting to think that women who wonder why their men aren't romantic or don't have a clue or aren't very sensitive might actually be reaping what they sow. After being told by their families and society in general over and over that they don't care, they don't "get it," and they're not capable of much, why would they strive for more? The sarcasm, the public remarks, and the "funny" anecdotes about men do more harm than good, and I'm convinced they damage our relationships with the men in our lives in the long run.
Personally, I've felt convicted to be more aware of what I say and what I imply, because it carries weight and it matters, and regardless of society or others, I'll be attempting to Just say NO to Man-Bashing.
Just some soap-boxing-food-for-thought. Chew on it or spit it out as you will.
Posted by Jennifer at 1:19 PM
Thursday, February 18, 2010
There's a Third Day song with the words of this blog entry's title, and I'm a true believer in the lyrics (I've typed out part of it below):
For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on,
Have lost all of their faith in love
And they've done all they can to make it right again,
Still it's not enough.
There is hope for the hopeless, rest for the weary
And love for the broken hearts
There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus
Cry out to Jesus.
These words were for me in my marriage almost two years ago, and God restored us.
I felt convicted once again to do this post after Michael and I went to an AMAZING marriage conference over Valentine's weekend. It wasn't even live - it was a telecast - but the things this couple said were SO powerful and Spirit-filled. I can't say enough about them, and I encourage anyone to attend if they ever get the chance, whether your marriage is in trouble, or you're just committed to taking steps forward and growing together. (The organization is called Marriage Today, and the couple is Jim and Karen Evans).
While Michael and I were sitting there together, able to relate to just about everything the couple said in one way or another, I began to reflect on the last time we were at a marriage conference. It was also at our church and the speaker was the author of "The Five Love Languages." He proceeded to give advice and tools, etc. etc., many times referring to one of the books he'd written. I vividly remember scribbling away, taking notes, praying for a miracle - that this seminar would change our drowning marriage and change our lives. But that didn't happen. In fact, in the weeks following the seminar, things got worse.
Without going into too much detail here, I'll just say that things were beyond bad, in a way that is hard to describe or relate to unless you've been through it, and Michael and I were separated (which was necessary for any hope of restoration and healing) for seven months. Those were without a doubt, the most difficult months of my whole life. I experienced a full seven months of crying out to God, night after night, not knowing what my future held, not knowing what would happen to our family (Bennett was a baby at the time). I also felt the Lord's presence like I never have before. I told him that I wouldn't give up until He released me and gave me permission to throw in the towel, and he told me to keep praying. So I did. And toward the end of those seven months, when I was at the very end of my rope and felt like I had nothing left to give, the Lord answered our prayers. He used His Word, He used other people, He used our counselor (who was amazing), and He truly, miraculously healed our lives and our relationship.
Because of this, Bennett is growing up in a whole, healthy, godly family, and because of this, Jasper John exists. Because of this, Michael and I are able to help and encourage others, and because of this, GOD IS GLORIFIED.
During the conference this time, I simply sat there, praising God for His goodness, crying tears of joy for how far HE has brought me and my husband and our two beautiful boys, thanking Him for His will being done in our marriage. In the span of two years, Michael and I are different people, our family functions completely differently, and we have a testimony of miraculous healing to share with anyone who will listen, and anyone who needs help.
Please know that I am NOT saying our marriage is perfect - we have problems and issues and flaws just like everybody else. The difference is, we're friends, and we're batting on the same team, and we respect each other. We work on ourselves and our relationship together, for a united purpose: to bring glory to God and to help each other.
God is good, all the time, and this testimony needs to be told, for anyone having doubts or fears about their own marriage, or for anyone who knows someone else going through a really difficult, painful time.
Before closing out this post, I want to share a few quick points from the seminar that I loved being reminded of, and I wish EVERYONE could hear:
1. In an extensive poll of troubled marriages, where the couples believed divorce seemed imminent, when the poll came back around and visited these same couples five years later, 85% of the couples who'd stuck it out and stayed together said they were happy.
2. Words are NUCLEAR. This is so true. Our society and culture makes it seem like it's okay, and even funny, to be sarcastic and cutting and harsh, but it's not, especially not in our marriages. The Bible says that one day we'll be held accountable for every word. The tongue really is a two-edged sword, with the power to maim or destroy. When we're fighting or arguing or discussing in our relationships, this is so important to remember. Our words plant seeds and produce eternal fruit and have eternal consequences, and we reap what we sow. Satan wants us to believe our words are evaporative and unimportant. FALSE.
3. You're not in a good marriage unless your spouse says so.
4. Weak people follow their feelings. Strong people do the right thing, trusting the emotions will follow.
5. Your words have the ability to heal your spouse more than ANYthing else. Another lie from Satan: I'd say something nice, but it wouldn't make a difference. The truth is, the more you nurture with humility, kindness and encouragement, the more you get the response you want.
6. When you pray (including for your marriage, your spouse, your family), your words are not just going up in the air. They're building a monument before God. Prayers don't evaporate. They accumulate.
7. Great marriages and happy relationships have FUN! The more fun a couple has, the more healthy and fresh they are. Having fun opens up lines of communication.
8. Sarcasm and silence are both unhealthy in a marriage.
9. Men are as sensitive in their egos as women are physically.
10. A man will never be influenced when he feels disrespected, and a woman will never be influenced when she feels insecure.
(All taken from the notes I wrote down from the Marriage Today seminar)
I'll close in saying, if there is anyone reading this post who needs help or needs to be pointed in the right direction for getting help, don't hesitate to pull me aside, e-mail me, whatever. I don't have all the answers, I don't have a bunch of self-help wisdom to offer, but I do have the Lord, and I can absolutely understand.
Posted by Jennifer at 5:48 PM
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
3. UPDATE ON THE MAMA
4. GOOD PICTURES
Posted by Jennifer at 9:14 AM
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
My little Valentine turned 11 months old on Valentine's Day. Insanity, I tell you. Here are some things he's up to:
1) Crawling and pulling up to his knees on EVERYthing (arms are still a little weak to pull up to standing, though he gives it his best effort).
2) He's more daring and curious than Bennett was, so I have to keep my eye on the little booger. He attempts more than he's capable of on a regular basis :)
3) He's obsessed with other peoples' food, but will only eat finger foods when it's something that somebody else is also eating (i.e. won't eat the corn or cheese or bread I give him at his meal, but will eat the same thing if he's watching brother eating it).
4) Hasn't sprouted any more teeth for a couple of months (still has eight), but drools like it's going outta style (as is evidenced by the shirt he's wearing in his 11 month picture).
5) LOVES playing with brother's toys, especially his big tractor that sings the Chicken Dance, his big duplo blocks, and his grocery cart of food.
6) Still has the saddest, most heart-wrenching cry and expression I've ever seen.
7) I've had to thump his mouth (lightly, of course) to teach him not to bite. He's a biting fiend. Comes naturally with the insane amount of teeth, I think.
8) Still cuddly and snuggly, which I just eat up and love love LOVE because Bennett has always been Mr. Independent. Jasper John is a mama's boy, ALL the way. He loves his daddy and will grin and giggle at him non-stop until he has his attention, but as soon as he leaves my arms, he's turning around to find me and come right back again. LOVE it.
9) He's down to two naps, for a total of about three hours throughout the day, although he's not quite as predictable as Bennett was - I never know which nap will be longer and which will be shorter, or if they'll be about the same length of time.
10) This baby is constantly snotty. We've been fighting off the ear clogs and congestion ALL winter. I've never been more ready for warm weather because he gets sick so easily.
11) His progress with gross motor skills is GREATLY improving. We're still doing therapy, and will continue for another session or two. I'm SO thankful for our pediatric chiropractor. It's made such a huge difference in Jasper's healing.
12) When he gets really excited about something or someone, he kicks his legs like a frog. And when he's really REALLY excited, he shakes and bobs his head around.
13) He LOVES music, even more than Bennett did at his age. Jasper will bounce up and down, shake his head, and he has this specific little sound he makes, kind of like a little mantra, that he does over and over again when he's "singing." His favorite songs, hands down, are "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Where is Thumbkin," although I'm pretty sure it's because of the hand movements (he's obsessed with hands - his and anyone else's).
14) He's given those open-mouth slobbery kisses every since I can remember, and now he's a champ at it, regularly doling them out on unsuspecting subjects.
15) He says "hi" and is making several new consonant sounds. He doesn't "talk" as much as Bennett did, and is much more quiet. He listens and observes and takes everything in, especially his little Texas tornado of a brother.
16) He "claps" by pounding his hands on his knees.
And this should suffice to make up for the months of Jasper-update-slacking I've done. I can't BELIEVE that the next update will be my baby at ONE year old!!
Posted by Jennifer at 6:27 AM
Monday, February 15, 2010
He's gonna dump the two he's ended up with and run back to Allie. I'd bet money on it (if I were a betting kind of gal).
And has anybody noticed the religiously coined phrase, "I'm falling in love with you," rather than the simple authentic, "I love you." ?? Because I'm pretty sure that's the same kinda deal as talking about God but leaving out Jesus - know what I mean?
Truth be told, I can't believe I'm watching the show at all. The drama and fake body parts totally weird me out. And yet...here I sit, week after week.
Posted by Jennifer at 10:32 PM
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Michael gave me an ENTIRE day off yesterday, and it was fabulous, I must say. I left the house at 7:30AM and hung out at Starbucks with my Kindle and white hot chocolate (heavenly). Then ran some errands to get ready for my baby's 1st birthday party (Insane.), and for Valentine's Day. Errands? you may be thinking. Why did you run errands on your day off? But let me tell you friends, it didn't even feel like I was running errands because there were no snotty noses, no whiny voices, no little hands tugging and pulling and patting at me...just me and my thoughts. I had time to interact with people, to smile at people, to really stop and study the things I wanted to look at. I spent an hour at Target trying on clothes and looking at shoes (found three pairs that I wanted, bought none *sigh*), just because I could. I stopped at Subway for lunch and SAT DOWN at a table to eat my sandwich. I could've cried at the beauty of it all.
And then last night me and my mom went out for dinner and a movie. We saw Avatar, and were shocked when our tickets were pronounced to cost $12 a piece! Really?! We realized after buying them that it was the 3-D version, so we got the super-cool oversized Blues Brothers glasses to wear. Mom paid, and I felt so horrified by the price of the tickets, I decided to treat her (and myself, of course) to some candy. The bag was $4.50, and when I actually took it in my hand, I was shocked by how small it was. So I bought another bag. That's right. $9.00 for two small bags of M&Ms. We ended up totaling somewhere around $33.00 for our "date" at the movies. But I must say, we both left feeling it was all worth it for a nice break and an entertaining movie. But next time I think I'll skip the 3-D and the particular movie theater we were out, whose prices are enough to make you want to eat your hair.
THANK YOU, Michael for my amazing day off from mommy-hood and wifedom. I feel refreshed!
Posted by Jennifer at 12:07 PM
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Here's a shout-out to all you fabulous people who came to the diaper shower I had for Jasper John, about a year ago. Last week I bought diapers for the FIRST TIME, because up until then, I'd been using the mountainous supply we were given. Thank you, thank you. A savings of literally hundreds of dollars, and about half of Jasper's diaper-life was GREATLY appreciated!! It's amazing how little I mind changing and throwing the things away when I'm not the one paying for them! Hee :)
Posted by Jennifer at 3:57 PM