My husband is disappearing before my eyes. You’d think I’d be stressed about it, but I’m not. I’m actually really happy.

No, I’m not mad at Matt. He decided this is his year to get healthier. I LOVE this decision. Love love love it. The apartment complex we live in has been having a ‘Biggest Loser’ contest and they’ve had boot camps, running group, nutrition class, etc. offered free to residents. This has been fabulous. Matt has been working out several times per week. Even the kids go with Matt to exercise and they love it. Well, technically J will not go. He should, he’s in the 75th percentile for his weight! I’m really proud of Matt for how hard he’s been working, especially when he often has the ‘assistance’ of a 9 and 3 year old. Matt’s been getting to know residents here through this process, which has been really nice. There’s a core group of people who have been working out and it’s been good to get to know them a little. Plus, it’s so much easier when you can work out with others rather try to stay motivated by yourself! The lady who teaches the classes is Emily, or Miss Emily as we call her. The kids love her. She does a kids’ exercise group on Friday afternoons, which is a highlight of the week for my kids. Over spring break she even did other classes with the kids doing crafts, healthy snack-making, etc. It was great for the kids and great for Moms to have something else for the kids to do!

If the exercising wasn’t enough thanks to a Facebook post I learned about another diet. One morning I was thinking about how my husband is a carb addict. Seriously. He’d prefer eat carbs with a side of carbs and then some carbs for desert. All smothered in cheese whenever possible. Well, I was thinking about that and later the same day I’m on Facebook and a great lady named Candace posted something about the Carb Lovers Diet (www.carblovers.com). You know those moments when you feel like the sun is pointing to you in a giant beam and all the birds are singing in unison around you? Ahaaaaaaa!!! This is the diet! I sent the info to Matt and even he got excited about it. The premise of the diet is great. Carbs aren’t bad (to which most of us say, Hallelujah!), but we need to be eating good carbs.

My husband has really liked this diet because he hasn’t had to be hungry. A diet where you can feel full and lose weight? Bonus! What I love about it is I get to incorporate more things in our meals Matt previously refused to eat: barley, brown rice, zucchini, etc. He has historically hated these foods and now he likes them, at least in certain recipes. I am so excited! I am even developing a tolerance for peppers myself. I love when our family’s tastes expand. I live with a man who thought that was almost impossible, especially when it comes to grains and vegetables. Matt and I have both lost weight and I haven’t even been trying. Extra bonus!

So if you don’t recognize the much stronger, skinnier guy I’m with the next time you see us…that’s my great husband.

Busyness, bugs, bills, and brawling

Life around here is settling back into routine. I love routine. LOVE it. I also love a break from it. And then I love getting back into it. Last week was S’s spring break and I was reminded how three children can make life BUSY. How some of you do it with four, five, or more children is beyond me, but kudos to you!

We spent spring break around home. We went to parks a couple times, to the zoo twice, the science center once, and even had lunch at Dad’s work. We did some other activities around the apartment. We also went on a ‘photo walk’ at the Birmingham gardens, though the kids did more walking than taking photos. I’ll post more on that later. All in all it was a busy, fun week. S spent half of one day cleaning his room, which I’m sure he wouldn’t list as ‘fun’ though I was impressed how fast he cleaned it. He really wanted to get to a kids craft group they had that afternoon at the apartment complex. It was a great motivator!

The weather has been absolutely fantastic. If you’re in the north you’d be incredibly jealous. However, you need to know, the bugs are back. The big, ugly ones. EWWW. Gorgeous weather has it’s price.

Ever since J has been born we’ve had bills coming and going from our hospital stays. Some of them we haven’t even seen yet (such as the NICU bill…shudder-cold chill-shudder). Last week we received one from J’s NICU doctor and insurance company completely rejected it. We got another one a few days prior, I think for my epidural (something I regret on several levels), where insurance paid a whopping ten percent. We’ve already been paying on a few others. So the bills pile and we haven’t seen the worst of them. I need to battle it out with the insurance company, but I haven’t had the mental energy to do that. I dread it so much; I haven’t gotten far in the past, but this NICU doctor bill really should be covered in my opinion. If you think of it, I’d love your prayers for insurance to cover some of these expenses (preferably more than ten percent! though ten is better than zero percent!)

In the last two weeks there has been tons of controversy regarding Rob Bell’s new book: Love Wins. It has been stressful for me and has stirred all sorts of questions rolling around my head. The hardest thing for me has been the way people have disagreed with Rob and his book. I have read comments from people who were rude, opinionated, and convinced they have the Bible all figured out. In all honesty, it’s been an embarrassment for me to be considered ‘in the family’ with them. What if he IS a heretic? Does that give us license to slam him and the people who go to Mars Hill Bible Church? Before we label him the new antichrist shouldn’t we find out for ourselves what he is saying rather than basing our opinions on blogs about what he is saying?

To be fair, I have read a couple commentaries/posts that disagreed with grace. They are in the minority. I’ve seen a lot of people throwing verses around. Nothing quite like watching Christians duke it out. The people who are supposed to love like Jesus ripping into each other like a bar room brawl. It makes me want to scream. And fight….hmm…maybe I have a ways to go myself. 1 Corinthians 13 has been going through my head a lot regarding the whole subject. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13&version=NIV

I don’t want to get into a discussion about the book, hell, etc. I’m weary of it. It’s been bogging down my brain. I received the copy of the book I ordered, though I’m not too far in. I doubt I would have ordered it if it wasn’t for all the chaos, but I want to find out for myself what is written. I’m both looking forward to reading it and dreading it. I don’t know what I’ll think when I get to the end.

I do want to say this: I LOVE Mars Hill. I miss Mars Hill. I ache with longing for Mars Hill. Every Sunday I shed a tear that I can’t be there with the people gathered. There is no place quite like it. During my years there I heard great teaching (yes, from Rob Bell, along with others.) I experienced spiritual and emotional healing. God grew my faith tremendously. I got to know some of the most amazing people on the planet. I learned about how to live out Christianity in all aspects of my life. I learned tons about social justice, something God cares a lot about. I learned about caring for God’s creation. I learned about loving people different than me. I even learned about how to love people I disagree with (though I still do that badly. What am I saying? I still have a long way to go in all those areas!) Matt is a Christian today because of God using Mars Hill. By the way, I’m also married to Matt today because of Mars Hill. I love Mars Hill. It is by far not a perfect place. But a lot of good happens there and through there.

Mars Hill may end up going down a wrong path. Lots of great churches/people have. And some were considered the wrong path at the time and now we hold what they did/believed as a tenet of our faith. I have no idea what the future will bring.

I wish those who disagree would do it with grace and with doing their homework first. I probably won’t tell you what I think of the book when I’m done with it. But I’ll loan it to you. And maybe by the time you’re done reading it I’ll be emotionally ready to discuss it. And we’ll help each other maintain an atmosphere of grace, even if we disagree.

–Wow, a light blog post turns heavy! My brain has been full and jumbled the last couple weeks between spring break, controversy, and laundry (which is never ending.) Thankfully I’ve had great weather and lots of giggles to help me keep a touch of sanity. By the way, there is nothing better than getting J to giggle. Except maybe watching K or S get him to giggle.

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Bits and pieces

I live in a little ‘bit’ of the world. A very little piece. Even though on many days it feels very all-encompassing, it isn’t. It’s just a tiny fragment of time and space. A well-loved fragment, but still just a fragment. In our little bit of the world not much is happening these days. Dad goes to work. S goes to school but is done playing basketball for this year. K dances around the apartment and plays. J rolls and plays and is learning to eat ‘solid’ food. Mom cooks and plays and tries to maintain a minimum level of cleanliness in our little bit of the world, with the emphasis on minimum!

Some days it feels like too much. Some days I dream of having a different place to live. Or being back ‘home’ in Michigan. I definitely dream of having a full night of sleep. I dream of having a date night with my husband. I dream of hanging out with my friends and family.

However, in another bit of the world today, someone walked on a pile of rubble that was their home yesterday. An earthquake and tsunami destroyed their plans for the day. Maybe for the year. Maybe for the rest of their lives.

In another piece of the world others are still trying to rebuild from the earthquake that hit last month. And the one that hit last fall.

In one bit of the world there is a little girl named Willow who has fluid on her brain. She is two months old. She will have to have surgery. Her parents wait anxiously for more testing and information to find out the cause, the treatment, and the prognosis.

In other pieces of the world there are children waiting on the US Government to get permission to come live with their new adoptive families in the States. Their families anxiously wait to be together.

In another piece of the world there is a huge civil war going on. People are having the courage to fight a leader who has been in power for over forty years. They currently seem to be losing.

In other bits of the world people are sold as slaves. Others sit in hospitals. I could go on and on about various pieces of the world, and I’m sure you could as well. These are just the ones on my mind today.

My little part of the planet is seeming brighter and brighter, you know what I mean?

Do you ever wonder what to do? I don’t want to be self absorbed and forget how blessed I am. Today I went out to my van with no concern about it being rigged with a bomb. Tonight there is an extremely small likelihood my town will be covered in water with buildings and people floating away. I don’t expect to get beaten today (or anytime, for that matter.)

I want to pray for other bits around the world but sometimes that seems overwhelming. Does it make a difference? Where do I begin? I do believe it makes a difference, but I feel insignificant. Also, it’s so much easier to pray for specifics. I’m so glad God doesn’t need specifics! Yet, it’s still a struggle for me. What do you do? How do you pray? How do you keep perspective?

I’m sure the people searching for their loved ones would appreciate our prayers. I know Willow’s parents would be very grateful for our prayers. I know another family, we’ll call them M., would appreciate prayers for the US Gov’t to work quickly so their daughter can come home soon. I would imagine the people in war torn areas would love our prayers for peace and freedom.

Back to my little bit of the world… We are well. J and K went to the doctor yesterday. J is up to 19.5 pounds. I was concerned about a couple things in his development, but the doctor checked him out and he is fine. K is also doing great. She weighs 28 pounds. Yes, that is nine pounds more than J!

If you recall, we received a notice from the State of Alabama saying J needs his hearing checking again because he is at risk for hearing loss. The doctor said he’ll be checked again when he is around two years old. One of the medications he was on in NICU can cause hearing loss when taken for an extended period. It likely won’t be an issue for J because he was only on it a few days. However, we still need to follow up on it when he’s older.

I’m including two pics…one of spring. We have trees here that break out in white blooms. They are so pretty! A week or so ago they were all white and when you saw them at a distance they looked like they were covered in snow. Here is a picture from our apartment:

This picture I recently took accidentally. It’s not a great picture, but it does slightly capture the size difference in J’s pupils. The pupil on the left (his right eye) is larger. The dimmer the lighting, the easier it is to see, but harder to get a good picture.

Once again I’m reminded of how J has come through so many health scares already…and he’s still made it to 19.5 pounds!

I hope you are well in your little bit of the world. I’d love to hear about it. I imagine you’ll keep remembering and praying for other bits of the world. Maybe we can remind each other of things going on in various pieces on the planet. We can pray together for large parts, such as the people of Japan, and little parts, such as baby Willow. Maybe we can help each other maintain some perspective when our own piece gets really messy.

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