Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

The “P” Word

I want to talk about the big, dirty, P-word.

Politics.

I’ve had a problem with politics for a long time and I believe that I am not alone.  Now, I don’t hate government. I vote. I read up on the issues.  Heck, I attended “Girls’ State!” (Basically a government boot camp for H.S. juniors.)

I hate the hatred.

I’m so tired of only the polarized and caricatured views of our political parties being displayed to the world.  Not all Democrats are Godless liberals.  Not all Republicans are Bible-beating jerks. There are far more moderates than the polarizing Right vs. Left. It’s possible to be a part of different parties and get along. It’s even possible to be a part of different parties and live in the same house!

This morning, I watched President Obama give a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Do you know what my first thought was? “I wonder how my facebook post feed is going to display this. It’s either going to be a hatred statement or it will be ignored completely.”

Why? Because I hear all too often on how Obama is not a Christian.  Or how he didn’t participate during National Day of Prayer one year and now our country is going to Hell. Never mind that I watched it on CNN. (But you’re a Christian! How can you watch that channel?!)

He spoke heavily on personal faith today, and I believe him. Why? Because I choose to.

How would I feel if every single time I spoke about my faith I was called a liar?  Or when I choose to watch TV I’m accused of being ungodly? Or when I talk and care for my Muslim, atheist, homosexual, etc. friends I am accused of being one of them?  I don’t understand where the Bible says we are to spew judgment and hatred towards them.  How can I judge my president or anyone else for that matter?

I’m SO tired of the hatred.  If you’re not my “friend” anymore on Facebook, this is likely a good reason why.  It’s not because I only want to hear about what I believe in, it’s because I believe that if you can’t discuss it in a loving and rational way, then you are not worth my time.  Conversations held in judgment and anger are not edifying to God.  I would liken it to a “Jesus Juke” much like Jon Acuff (Stuff Christians Like) discusses.

It doesn’t matter what my political preference is.  What matters is the fact that I learn what the facts are and I try to align it with what I believe the Bible teaches to be true.  I add in a dash of love and a liberal amount of Grace (Oh Dear Jesus! I said liberal!).

Is it possible to be friends?  To discuss politics in love and still remain amiable?  Or will it forever be on my “don’t discuss” list because of the red-faced, vein-popping angry results?

Seriously, though.  When Obama’s speech is posted online, you should read it.  And show some love.

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The Motherhood Club

There is a club that I sometimes wish I never belonged to.

The Motherhood Club.

My reasons for this has nothing to do with my child.  I love my child more than life.  I have a problem with other club members, and this makes me incredibly sad.  Being a mother changes a person. I’m still who I was before I had my daughter, but my life has definitely been enlightened by her.  I have been blessed to know other wonderful mothers who will do anything for their kids and they make me want to be a better mom in a very good way.

Still, I am shocked by other moms. I was aware that there were women out in the world that were petty, mean, competitive, etc, but I guess I never really understood that there were so many. It seems like all I read and hear about are other moms criticizing and berating each other.  Why all the comparisons?  Why the passive-aggressive and aggressive competition?

I would never dare call another woman a bad mom to their face.  Well, unless they were doing their child legitimate harm.

Why are we being so mean to each other?  I mean, aren’t we all in the same boat?  We all love our children.  We all want the best for them.  We all believe they are little geniuses and that they are simply perfect. So why do we brag about them so blatantly in a way that alienates other women? Why do we look down upon other women whose kids aren’t having a good day?

I can hardly get on Babycenter (at least the community aspect) or read a lot of “mommy blogs” anymore because they make me feel inadequate if I linger too long. I start to worry about the fact that my kid isn’t talking or walking or the fact that I don’t play on the floor all day with her.  I feel guilty for breastfeeding – both because formula fed moms already assume that you feel superior to them (and I don’t) and because I feel pressure to not breastfeed.  I can’t be proud of it because of the war-like stance women take. I feel guilty because I let my kid explore on her own.  I feel guilty because I haven’t read to her Anna Karenina yet (lol, not really, but you get the idea).  I don’t drill words or the ABC’s to her every day.  I don’t take her for daily walks.  I don’t structure activities.  And on, and on, and on…

Why in the WORLD do we do this to each other as women?

Am I guilty of loving my child less because I have fed her a jar of baby food or because she has had juice already? Am I a jerk because I have made her baby food from scratch and therefore I am automatically a “superior” mother? (and on and on…)

The Motherhood Club.  Where women tear down others to make their own inadequacies diminish.

I don’t want to be a part of it.

I know that this is NOT all women.  I just wish that there weren’t so many women like this out there.  We should be allies, not enemies.

the must-have friends list.

So, as I was driving to Norman at 6:45 this morning, I was thinking about buying a headband. I know what you’re thinking… such deep thoughts, April! Ha. Really, though.  I was thinking about buying a headband, one of those cute embellished ones. 

So, what was my next course of action?  Contact my friend Andrea for advice.

Andrea is one of those people who are always, always, ALWAYS classy.  Seriously.  I’ve thought she was classy since we were 6 and she gave me a Sanrio stationary kit for my birthday.  She is always stylish – the right blend of classic style with a trendy twist.  Seriously.  She’s the kind of girl that I wish I was.  She’s funny, sincere, trustworthy, and I never EVER have to worry about whether she will be honest with me.  She’s the girl that I ask for fashion advice.  

Example: Todd, Andrea and I are at Old Navy and Todd tries on an ugly, puffy, orange vest.

Todd: Doesn’t this make me look McFly?
Andrea: McNo.

She will let me know if jeans tucked into my boots make me look like a OU sorority girl wannabe, or if the flower in my hair makes me look like Billie Holiday or a 5 year old.

I thought to myself this morning: everyone needs this kind of friend.  Then I thought, I really have a great group of must-have friends.  So, I have compiled a little list of a FEW of the wonderful friends I have (this is not comprehensive, it’s just an overview)… types of people I consider a must-have friend.

The best not-my-husband guy friend: Curtis. We might as well have been twins.  We are carbon copies of each other.  He’s one of my husbands’ dear friends, so he can shoot it straight with me and we can gripe to one another Platonically. 

The sweet, April-stop-freaking-out friend:  Erin. This girl is more of my compliment.  She is an optimist, and always SUPER kind and funny and fun. 

The Couple/people who are in your same stage of life friends:  We have a few of those.  Erin and Curtis (see above), John and Azlynn. You need these.  Trust me.  Otherwise, you’ll feel all alone.

The couple a little ahead of you/call for advice friends:  You need these too.  They keep you from freaking out. We are lucky enough to have a few of these too, but Marcus and Tricia come to mind.  Gosh, I LOVED living next door to them.  They were the best.

The faithful, I’ve-got-your-back-no-matter-what friend: This person is the one that you know would be willing to sit in jail beside you. 😉 (Not that I’m advocating jail… I just mean that this person is with you no matter what.)  Nichole.  We share secrets and I know that I can always count on her.  She’s the one who threw me a fantastic baby shower, was there for everything for my wedding even though she lived hours away, and I know that we’ll always been friends even though we don’t live close.

My social justice/political friends: Curtis.  Joel.  These guys push me to think for myself and force me to stay up to date on the issues.  You need these people.  Trust me, the world is a better place with a little less ignorance. 🙂

My online friends:  I can’t begin to list these friends because I have developed quite a few since I have been homebound (aka – a mom), but these are women and men who I haven’t seen in person in years or ever, but I love being a part of their written lives.  Many of them are listed to the right of this post. 🙂

My friends who are family: These people are always a must-have.  Again, I’m not naming any names here, but it’s a crucial part of my life.  You know who you are.

This may have been a bit of a boring post to you, but I was thinking of how thankful I am for these people.  I’m sure I missed some, but this is a general idea.  How about you?  Do you have friends that are must-haves?

Why I’m believing in Santa – 2010 edition

Below is a post I made in December 2007.  So much has changed in my life in these last 3 years, but I think that this post still holds much truth to me.  Obviously, I don’t work in a church anymore, but I am trying to embrace the Advent season. 

Thank you, Jesus, for being my hope.

The magic of the holidays are here. The stores glisten in shade of red and green, music plays on every corner, and Santa’s throne is constructed in every shopping mall and department store. There’s a festivity in the local churches, although it’s a significantly different sounding message. The churches are preparing to celebrate the birth of one bouncing, bubbly, baby boy. A boy named Jesus, who came to take away the sins of the world. Once a year, we are allowed and encouraged to breathe in the mystery of the Christmas story. People crack open their leather-bound dusty Bibles to revisit the tale of the child in the manger and the magi with their three gifts.

It is my favorite story.

I can’t help but be transformed by that starlit sky and the ungainly movements of a virgin swollen with child. My favorite tale of it is told in the book of Luke, in the New Testament. “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Imagine a girl, no more than a child herself, carrying the salvation of the world in her womb. Picture the first time she felt Jesus’ feet fluttering in her womb. Imagine the overwhelming love she held deep inside. Everything in her life was extreme and confusing at that time. She was a young girl who had never been with a man, yet she’s due to have a child. A girl surrounded by imminent scandal. How did she deal with her family? What about her skeptical beau Joseph? Did anyone doubt her? The only woman she had to talk to was her elderly, formerly barren, now pregnant, cousin, Elizabeth. Surely, she must have felt at times that it was only her and her baby. I imagine she whispered her love for Him many times. Mary didn’t have the normal anxiety of a new mother; she was in charge of the Savior of the world. Imagine the pressure!

Working in a church allows me to dwell on this wonderful truth, but it also keeps me from truly enjoying it as well. Nothing’s so simple anymore. It seems like Christmastime is about having the best program a church can produce. I believe this is standard for the majority of churches and Christian subculture in America. Also, as a Christian, I hear others who criticize our Santa Claus-embracing counterparts. “It’s materialistic,” They miss the Reason for the Season,” “Santa’s not Jesus,” and much more is said this time of year. Are we as Christians any less materialistic? The majority are not.

In regards to Santa—I agree that he doesn’t belong in the church at Christmas. People can potentially miss the central message, and then the Christmas season is done entirely in vain. Separately from the Church—I still believe in Santa. I love to imagine his gingerbread-style mansion in the snowy tundra. I love the joyful faces of the elves and the flying reindeer. I imagine a sparkly aura around the North Pole. It is a place of selfless giving and joyful hope. Isn’t that what Christians are trying to promote? Santa encourages children to behave and sends little minds into a fanciful whirlwind of their imaginations. Let the little children imagine! Give them hope. Sing songs of “Joy to the World” as well as “Here comes Santa Claus.”

The reason we do this is because we are teaching children to use their imaginations. We’re teaching them to believe. We are giving them a happy place to retreat in the inner recesses of their minds and to dream wonderful dreams. Children need their dreams. I need my dreams. Taking that away makes the world a more difficult place to live in, and the world is difficult enough.

That’s why I still believe in Santa.

Mommy-Blog post: The C-Section Debate

Yesterday, we welcomed a sweet little addition to the family — my cousin gave birth to a 7 lb, 20.25 in long baby boy.   I can’t wait to love on him! Three babies in 2010 – yay!

My cousin did beautifully.  She was able to convince her doctor (same as mine) to induce ON her due date (lucky! 😉 ), at 40 weeks exactly, and she delivered her son at 3:39 pm (water broke at 8:30 am).  She had the same doctor, and the EXACT same routine as mine (see here if you care to have a refresher).  The only difference is that apparently my body was defective.  Actually, I was further dialated when I went in for my induction than she was… but not by much.

I ended up with an emergency c-section.  I know I did my best.  I didn’t realize that the labor was out of the norm until much later, and I have a beautiful, healthy daughter. I am happy.

Recently, however, I have heard a ton of comments from my family about how they disapproved of the fact that I had a c-section.  “I should have been allowed to go into labor on my own,” “I think you could have had the baby without a c-section,” etc.

At first, I felt cheated and dismayed that I did not go through a “normal” delivery.  Did I not get the “full experience”? Am I not fully a woman because I had a c-section? In this part of the state, the hospital policy is “once a c-section, always a c-section.”  I can’t even try to be “normal” if I wanted to.

Then I realized/remembered, Motherhood is not about how you became a mother.  Whether a traditional labor, a c-section, adoption, or another means, how you become a mother is not as important as how you are AS a mother. One of my friends carried her baby for 42 weeks, and gave birth via c-section to a perfect, nearly 10 lb, baby girl!  Is that not real work?  My aunt had an emergency c-section for nearly the same reason as I.  Is she not a mother because she didn’t traditionally deliver? NO! I have friends who have adopted their first child around the same time as I had Belle… are they not mothers?

We are all moms.  We all toiled and worked to obtain motherhood.  Let’s stop this comparison thing, because it’s futile.  You’re not better than me because you pushed your kid out of your you-know-what, and I’m not better because I went through major abdominal surgery to have mine. 

That’s all I have to say about that.

Social media overkill.

I am a mom.  I am a consumer.  I am an entrepreneur (an admittedly weak one, but still).  I am an internet user.  I am a social media stalker junkie.  I check my facebook and twitter often, for both updates on friends and to see if I have been contacted personally/feedback.  For months now, I have been struggling with something I see often from my “friends” — OVERLOAD.

I want to support my friends and their endeavors to make ends meet for their families.  I seriously do.  But I’m overwhelmed.  I’ve started hiding and deleting my friends that only post about “giveaways” on their blog, or promoting their business.  I understand that facebook and twitter is a good outlet for free publicity.  As a person who makes bows, bags, and more, I have loved the fact that I have been able to make a little money to help support my family through these media outlets.

Am I the only one that thinks that some people are taking it to far?

I’ll admit, I both understand and am frustrated by the “mommy blogging” business, as I’ve stated before.  It just feels to me like a junior-high popularity contest for mothers. (NOT EVERYONE, mind you, but there are several like this out there.) I talked to a friend of mine months ago that mentioned that he defriended a girl we grew up with because she had become one of these people. He said (paraphrase): that she was “not the only girl that had ever had a baby and that her life is not as interesting as she wants everyone to think it is.”  HA!! My sentiments exactly. I don’t want to feel inadequate as a mother.  It’s hard enough as it is without having other moms out there making me feel like somehow she got the genetic jackpot. … I digress.

It’s just all becoming so much overkill.

It definitely makes me think twice before I promote anything of mine.  I don’t advertise my blog 15 times a day.  I don’t update my facebook with posts on what I’m selling all the time.  I am working towards a website, logo, etc, because they are necessary at this point.

All this redundant promotion — It’s making facebook so much less fun.

Anyone else overwhelmed?

Does God think I’m fat?

This facebook post by a beautiful friend of mine got me thinking:

I have come to the conclusion that I will never be a size 0, or 6 or even a 10 for that matter. But my body has remained healthy for 40 years, has endured several surgeries and healed remarkable well. It has carried, delivered and sustained three beautiful babies. So I have curves and jiggly parts, SO WHAT! My husband loves me. I am tired of the media making me feel like I’m fat! Why don’t all the magazines and commercials get models that are healthy sizes and shapes so our young girls will have realistic models to try and emulate. I’m 40 years old and still struggle with the fact that I don’t look like all the movie stars and models I am constantly bombarded with every time I pick up a magazine or turn on the TV.

Amen, sister!

I have been made to feel fat my entire life.  I was told by my grandmother that I was “pretty, but I’d never be beautiful” and that I would “always be a big girl.”  I took diet pills at 16 because I wasn’t the size of my other friends.  I was the biggest girl on the cheerleading squad.  I did the Atkins diet at 17.  I have sustained myself off of coffee, pretzels, and peanut butter crackers (college). I played softball, cheered, exercised.  It was never enough.

I brought a little girl into a world that teaches that EVERYTHING makes you fat.  No more bologna and cheese sandwiches like my mom used to eat, or standing in line for the ice cream man (who didn’t love hearing the truck’s jingle a 1/2 mile away– begging every adult within earshot for ice cream money?). Sample sizes are a 2 and a 4… and you probably should be 5’9″ in order for that to be really legit.  Anything over a size 6 is considered plus size modeling. I eat whole wheat bread, fruit and veggies, and I love everything green.  I drink unsweet (I know! It’s like I’m not Southern!) tea because it’s calorie free.  I exercise (not as much as I should… but isn’t that most everyone?) and I choose the calorie-burning option 90% of the time.

I am a size 16.

There. I said it.

Granted, I had a baby 6 months ago, but I was a 12/14 when I got pregnant.  That’s where I usually am.  My mother, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law are easily half that (and my mom eats ONLY junk food!).  I am usually miserable when any one of these beautiful ladies decide to diet… because it makes me feel like more of a failure.

Why in the world should I feel that way?!?

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

Would God “knit me together” and think … “Eh, I could do better”?  Does God think I’m “fat” because I don’t fit modern society’s preconceived notions of beauty?  I have a friend who is 6 ft tall and is beautiful.  I have a friend who is 5’9″, a size 2 and is beautiful.  I have a friend who is 5’2″ and is not a size 2 and is beautiful.

How dare society tell us that we are not ideal?  How dare we believe the lies that society tells us?

I remember being a little girl, looking in the mirror, thinking, “I’m really cute!” Ha, I really did!  You know what?  I WAS! I AM.

My daughter is breathtaking.  I will not tell her that she will “never be beautiful” or “always be big.”  I don’t believe God made a mistake when she was made.  Why should I believe the same about me?

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL IN YOUR OWN PERFECTLY, WONDERFULLY, UNIQUE WAY.  DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU OTHERWISE.

Thanks, my friend, for reminding me of this tonight.