Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What More Could I Ask For

from Ron Babington to Jenny-Lynn Babington
date Jan 23, 2008 5:22 PM
subject: The Plan
5:22 PM

k, then here's the deal:

1) I come home, kiss and hug

2) We say "hello"

3) I take afton out for errands, or
a) we all three go out for errands

4) Sams/ tires, Wal-Mart formula and long liners, Target butt paste

5) Pick up large pepperoni pizza from pizza hut for Idol and Liar

6) Enjoy the same

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Just Shall Live By Faith

Off and on for the past few weeks I have been working with Afton on learning to drink from a sippy cup. I recently read that spill proof cups are hard for novice drinkers to get liquid from and can therefore frustrate and dishearten them. That sounded like a terrible outcome! What was I to do? The article recommended removing the the part of the cup that makes it spill proof. I obediently complied and these were the results:

The top picture really doesn't capture what was going on there. Juice was spewing from the cup as rapidly as water spews from a watering pot. Afton was having the time of her life soaking her face and her hair and the carpet. It was really sweet and funny. You would also think it might have been a learning moment for me. Not really. The next picture was taken about a week later, the next time I tried. I gave her the same "spill all you want" cup with the same instructions, "Drink like a big girl!" As you can see, much to Afton's delight, the same results followed.

I am pretty skeptical by nature and I don't believe everything I read. Except when it comes to the advice of experts.....particularly Christian experts. I start out with the assumption that they must know more than I do about the ins and outs of any situation I have yet to encounter. It took me two instances of my daughter emptying a four ounce cup of juice onto herself and everything around her in less than a minute before I came to terms with the fact the though it may be true that spill proof cups don't work for lots of babies, the "spill all you want" cups definitely weren't working for my baby. Too bad I didn't realize this before I threw the spill proof pieces of all my new cups into the garbage.

I think this tendency in me to cling to the recommendations and opinions of experts with almost the same fervor that I cling to gospel comes from a desire that there be one right and perfect way to mother. Give me some rules and steps to follow and a guarantee that if I do then my kids will have a good mommy, that they will be good kids who grow into even better adults. I know it doesn't work that way. It just takes lots of little reminders like this one to really drive it home.

It is tempting to think it would be nice if it did work that way. It would take a lot of the hassle out of life. The problem is that it would take a lot of the beauty out of life as well. If all babies were the same would they be so, so special to us? If a list of rules could teach me how to mother would I be as acutely aware of my need of the merciful and gracious aid of God. I know I would not.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Three Calendars

When 2005 became 2006 and it was time to switch the calendars, I decided not to throw the 2005 calendar away. 2005 was the first full year Ron and I were married and I thought it would be so special to keep every calendar we ever had as a married couple. It would be so cute, I thought, to look back when we were in our fifties and remember that on February 22 of the first year we were married I worked from 9:00AM to 5:30PM and Ron worked from 3:00PM to 11:30PM. You know, and other stuff like that. Ever since then at the beginning of the new year I have tucked away the previous year's calendar somewhere in my closet.

Today as I was picking up my messy closet I came across all the calendars we have ever had together and something really struck me. There were only three of them. Wow. Every single day of my entire marriage could fit into those three small booklets. I felt so small and insignificant. Small and insignificant, like I really am. Those three years had been the biggest and most significant of my life. But they were still just three tiny years. I thought of all the people I knew who would have thirty or forty calendars had they saved them all, or of Ron's grandma who had earned sixty-five calendars before she lost her husband last spring. There were people not much older that me who were already up to ten or more. I only had three. Those three calendars served as great reminder to me of all I still have to learn. Sometimes when I can feel myself growing and learning and changing so much I get excited and maybe a little proud of myself and feel like I am actually becoming something. Seeing those three calendars reminded me that I am only rookie. It might do me some good every now and then to be quiet about what I know and have learned and just listen to those who have a little more experience than I have. This was the humble pie that I had more breakfast this morning.

On a funny note about calendars, this year was Ron's turn to pick ours out. I will enclose a picture of our fourth calender. The one hanging on the wall in our living room right now.

Yes, those are guns. And, no, I never would have agreed to this in 2005. I can't even imagine what the relaxing effect of time and the sanctifying effect of marriage will have me hanging on my walls should God be pleased to give us fifty or so more years.

Friday, January 11, 2008

If Mama Ain't Happy

I have always kinda hated the saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It evokes for me the image of a demanding, hard to please woman whose emotions tyrannically rule those around her. The kind of woman I never want to be. The kind of woman I know I could very easily become if I am not careful and apart from the grace of God. Lately, however I have come to understand the profound truth in that statement. I have also come to understand that really need not be an admonition to those around mama, but to mama herself.

This realization came a couple of weeks ago when my husband came home from work and made this remark, "You seem to be in good spirits!" He said it with a small measure of surprise and no small measure of joy on his face. At first I was a little puzzled. Was this such a strange occurrence? Am I not usually in "good spirits?" Before I opened my mouth to ask I thought about the previous few weeks.

To start off I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. I have not proven myself to be a real trooper (i.e. silent sufferer) when it comes to pregnancy. Secondly, this pregnancy seemed to be doing a real bang up job on my emotions, not just my tummy and my energy like last time. Thirdly, I had been pretty sick and then so had my baby. And lastly, my previously very easy going baby had entered a little fussy phase just as I had entered my weakened state. So yeah, while I would like to believe I hadn't been downright grumpy, I could concede that perhaps it had been a while since my husband had come home to find me in actual good spirits.

What was of such great interest to me was how delightfully happy he was to find me in that state. It was very curious to me. I just locked this little observation away in my heart. In the weeks that followed I began to see this was a trend. The happier I was the happier he was - the more we seemed to enjoy each other's company and the more smoothly we sailed through the little things that came our way. The gloomier I became the more sullen he became. Things became harder for both of us. I then started noticing that the same was true with my baby. When I was having a joyful day, she seemed to have a joyful day right along with me. The more tense and overwhelmed and unhappy my behavior was, the less consolable she was. I began to realize the kindest and most loving and outright best thing I can do for my family, for those I love most, and for those who love me most, is to choose joy. Just be happy. Look at the sunny side and be grateful. I couldn't believe such a small thing could have such an impact on our home. But it really did. More than a vacuumed rug, more than a delicious new recipe, more than everything being in place. Just a light-hearted, merry spirit.

That is when I remembered the old saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" And no one can be responsible for mama's happiness, but mama. I have a long ways to go to totally apply this principle to my life, but I am very excited about it. What could be a more pleasant goal than learning to be happy more regularly. I am not going to resort to fake happiness, because as I have been learning, it not only isn't fruitful, it isn't necessary. As a Christian, no matter how bad things get, there is always something to be thankful for, something to really and truly smile about. That is the gift I am going to work to give my family this year. My smile.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

100 Things

1. I am really tired.
2. I am almost always really tired.
3. Pregnancy has never been my friend.
4. I am disappointed that my first three things sound like complaints.
5. I try to white wash my complaining by passing complaints off as statements that sound like complaints.
6. It looks like we will have a bad storm tonite.
7. I am from Oklahoma, but I have never seen a tornado in person.
8. I like storms now.
9. They used to scare me so bad I would get sick to my stomach.
10. My baby is sleeping.
11. She is a very sweet girl.
12. I had P.U.P.P.
13. That fact is what make me think I should do a list like this.
14. I love clocks.
15. I love my husband.
16. I have never been very good at fixing my hair.
17. This is harder than I thought it would be.
18. I love lists.
19. I mean I really, really love them.
20. When I was a kid I used to spend hours in my room making lists of names.
21. I am kind of a loner, but I love being with people I am close to.
22. I am mad that I worry about ending sentences with prepositions.
23. I mean who really cares.
24. Something weird just happened to my computer and erased the last several lines I had written.
25. I can't remember what they were exactly. Oh well.
26. I love the country.
27. I like the city, too.
28. I am always very eager for the next big thing.
29. My husband is good at tempering that quality in me.
30. He is very good for me.
31. I hope I am good for him.
32. I am very, very shy.
33. I am fine with that and I wish others would be too.
34. I have read that shyness is a form of self-centeredness.
35. At first I was offended, but now I am willing to admit it may be true. Partly.
36. I pray that I will be able to turn my back on self-centeredness.
37. I absolutely adore Corrie Ten Boom.
38. Once when I was in a hospital in Italy God miraculously revived and sustained the battery in an iPod I was using.
39. You don't have to believe me, but it is true.
40. I never make statements like that.
41. I want to be a really good mother.
42. Selfishness will be my biggest obstacle.
43. I still miss my Aunt Debby.
44. I believe in heaven.
45. I hate going to Sam's.
46. I hate waiting.
47. I love getting packages.
48. I guess were are all the same like those last two.
49. I love kindred spirits.
50. I haven't met one in a long, long time.
51. I had a great time in high school and college.
52. I wouldn't go back to either even for a day.
53. Dogmatism in little things annoys me.
54. Making big things out of little things annoys me.
55. I desperately want to do what is right.
56. I am afraid of baring my soul to others.
57. I wish I could find Savong Donovan.
58. Misty Sargent is one of my heroes.
59. Not that I have lots of heroes.
60. Basically just her and Corrie Ten Boom.
61. There are a whole lot of things that I could have done a lot better, but not a lot of things I would do over.
62. The only thing I can think of is that I would have stood up for Angie Wacek back in seventh grade.
63. I am so weak.
64. I was a regional spelling bee champion in sixth grade, but now I have a really, really hard time spelling.
65. I don't like country music as much a I used to.
66. I rarely miss home anymore.
67. I hate putting lotion on. It takes forever.
68. I hate being criticised.
69. I hate being misunderstood.
70. I just deleted the last two things I wrote because they were too embarrassing.
71. I hate TV, but I watch it a little everyday.
72. I do worry a lot about my family.
73. I hate having to explain myself.
74. I have been too hard on my husband.
75. I want people to think the best of me and my motives.
76. That is what I think of when I think of the golden rule.
77. I love relaxing.
78. I kinda like cooking.
79. I don't like things that are really complicated.
80. Except movie plots.
81. I wish I could remember how to make snow flakes.
82. I love hearing birth stories and engagement stories.
83. I hate listening to glory trips.
84. I don't like being one of a number of multi-tasks.
85. I don't like multi-tasking.
86. I love garlic.
87. I waited tables for over two years and it wasn't good for me.
88. I am overly considerate of service personnel.
89. I love the taste of red wine and would love to drink it every evening like Europeans supposedly do.
90. Other than that I am not at all impressed with Europe.
91. I was treated very, very well when I spent a week in a hospital in Italy.
92. My baby is waking up.
93. She is a very good baby.
94. I hope her brother or sister is just like her.
95. I am 13 weeks pregnant.
96. I am very, very happy about that.
97. I just started learning Latin with Rosetta Stone.
98. It is really fun.
99. My brother got it for me.
100. I love my brother.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Real Virtue?

Realness. The virtue of choice for me and most people my age. But is realness really so virtuous? I am beginning to wonder. It is definitely more virtuous than its obvious opposite, phoniness. Originally, I think it was a reaction against phoniness that brought "realness" its current prominence. I am coming to believe that it is something else that has allowed this quality to remain so popular and esteemed. It makes a perfect mask for sin. Think about it. I can behave in a lazy, unfriendly, foolish, inconsiderate, hurtful manner and if I pass it off as being "real" I am praised rather than criticized. How delightfully convenient. Not only that, but if I am really good at it I might even convince myself and then I get to be proud rather than ashamed of unseemly behavior. I am coming to realize that this is a major pitfall for me. It shows up most in my life through complaining. I would rather complain that put on one of those fake smiles I have been taught to despise. But are those my only two options? Must I choose between complaining and being fake? As a Christian I know the answer is certainly not. So that brings me to my New Year's Resolution of sorts. I aim to seek by the grace of God to stop complaining. I pray that He will help me to replace my complaints not with a skin deep, painted on smile, but with all the joy and gratefulness that befits one whom Christ has brought from death unto life.