Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quote of the day

We had just dropped Jake off at preschool this morning and Ty and I were headed to Karina's house for sister/little cousin time. Ty absolutely LOVES Karina's house because she took him by himself the other week when Matt and Jake were at preschool and he got to do some creative activities that he never does at home. You'll recall that I'm the not-creative-at-all sister. At least that's why I thought he loves her house. Here's what he told me this morning.

"Yeah, mom, let's go to Karina's house and do some crack!"

I believe the word he was looking for was craft, though we don't use it at our house very often. I realize Karina and I are different mommies, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't let Ty smoke crack at her house. Now, her own kids on the other hand...

Thanks for the scones, coffee, and crack, J. Let's do it again soon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A heart revived...same chapter, 3rd verse

My final (I think) major reason for being at the Revive Our Hearts women's conference, at least that I'll blog about, has to be my favorite. Ready for it? It was my sister. Karina Franklin aka J. (pronounced Jay-dot) Alcorn. Laughing with her, crying with her, talking for the first time in years without interruptions (named Jake, Ty, Matt, and Jack) and most of all learning to appreciate how different we are.

I've always known we had different personalities. From the moment she started creating secret clubs where she was "President" and I was "member", or playing office where she was the boss and I was the secretary. We used to play Little Orphan Annie and she was always Miss Hannigan while I wore the red curly wig. She was the oldest and I was the youngest, and we fit that stereotype quite nicely. She was academic and I was social. She was organized and I was scattered. She had brown hair and I was blonde. She was responsible and I She talked theology and I cracked jokes. Somehow we hardly ever fought. We knew we were different and that was fine.

I have told many people that I think as we've grown older we've grown more alike. We got married 7 weeks apart (the Franklins were first, even though Dan and I had been talking about marriage before J. & her Dan even got together, but you can tell I'm not bitter at all). We had our first babies 3 months apart. Being married and having kids forced me to become more organized. It forced Karina to be more flexible. Our differences aren't as obvious these days. After all, we're at the same stage in life. We live in the same city. We're both raising two young boys. And we're both married to guys named Dan for goodness sake.

I think it took a weekend away together for me to once again realize we will always be different. And I that absolutely LOVE this! Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought it would be better if we were more alike. That we would appreciate each other more if our personalities were somehow morphed into one. But God showed throughout the weekend how much we can learn from each other because of how different we are. Now I have a decent self-image, but if I would have been talking to myself the entire weekend, I probably wouldn't have learned a darn thing. I don't want her to be me, and I'm sure she doesn't want me to be her. We are unique individuals who may have had a lot of the same life experiences, but God was and continues to be teaching each of us different things.

And now I will celebrate our differences. I feel like I'm in some sort of diversity parade when I say "celebrate our differences" but I can't come up with a better phrase than that. Anyway, here's some examples of how different we still are:

  • At the airport we were choosing snacks to take on the plane. I got Cheez-it Snack Mix and she got Organic Nut and Seed Mix.
  • At the Cheesecake Factory she ordered pear and gorgonzola salad and I got chicken carbonara dripping with butter, cream, and bacon.
  • She took pages of notes during the conference and I never took out my pen except to write my name on our name tags.
  • She bought approximately 47 books and I bought 2 CD's and one book.
  • I went to bed with my makeup on (I figured my excess weeping had washed most of it away) but she cleansed, exfoliated, moisturized and repeated.
  • She woke up early in the morning and did yoga before getting ready, and I woke up with barely enough time to shower, only because I couldn't really say with a clean conscience that my tears had deodorized my entire body.

There you have it. Two different Alcorn girls became two different women. Shocker. God reminded me how good different really is. Being different doesn't mean we can't appreciate each other. In fact, I think it makes us appreciate each other even more. Wouldn't it be a boring world if there were only one type of person?

Two sisters. Each seeking to follow God's leading in their lives, and each being lead to different experiences. My sister is trying to walk the walk. I'm trying to walk the walk. And it is going to look different. You know why? Because we're different. We don't need to be the same. Just because we have the same God doesn't mean we have to look the same. David was a king. Joseph was a carpenter. Peter was a fisherman. Same God. Different people.

Thanks, J. for the reminder. I sure do love you. I hope you can learn half as much from me as I have from you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A heart revived...part deux

#2 reason why God brought me to the Revive our Hearts women's conference: to show me that I am indeed...wait for it...a woman.

As I alluded to in the last post, I'm not, nor ever have been a girly-girl. Some people may take this to mean that I was/am a tomboy which was never/is not the case. Are you enjoying the way I'm encompassing my past/present in each sentence? Let's move on.

I have always enjoyed prom dresses and makeup and though I prefer green, pink is definitely in my wardrobe. I try to be very sensitive to others' feelings. I could be the spokesperson for how chocolate eases all pain. But part of my identity seems to have been wrapped up in the fact that I don't cry very easily. My husband, coming from an estrogen dominated family, appreciated this quality from the moment we started dating. He also appreciated that I didn't need him to bring me flowers, and that I may have laughed in his face if he ever wrote me a poem. I was the girl who wasn't very needy or prone to spur of the moment weeping for no reason.

And then I got pregnant.

I knew I was in for it when I was only about 8 weeks along with Jake and I started tearing up when I heard the song "Butterfly Kisses." In the past that song had either made me roll my eyes and groan, or actually physically ill. Then the tears started flowing freely at about 10 weeks every time Extreme Makeover Home Edition was on. "It's just so wonderful!" I'd sob as Dan stared at me wide-eyed. I had to change the channel immediately if I saw a Hallmark commercial because I'd have pretty much been a sobbing heap on the floor. I was sure I was headed straight for an institution. Poor Dan. Poor, poor Dan. He thought he'd married a rock. The pregnant me was more like an overstuffed jelly donut ready to burst at any moment. And I'm not talking physically, though looking back at pictures that is quite an accurate analogy. When Dan reads this he may think I'm exaggerating. First of all, I NEVER exaggerate. And second of all, I tried my darndest to hold it together when he was around. I was tough, I wasn't an emotional basketcase. I didn't need him in an institution also.

ANYWAY, back to the lesson learned. I knew during pregnancy that God was rocking my world, but instead of embracing it, honestly...I fought it. For a while I thought I would have to learn to accept my new perpetually tear-stained self. Don't get me wrong, both my boys have brought me to a new level of emotions, and I am truly grateful. But after the hormones subsided a bit, I was able to rebuild most of the wall that holds back my tears. I had an image to maintain, you know. I'm not needy. I don't let emotions cloud my judgement. Here was my kicker: what I believe should effect what I do, not how I feel. Faith wasn't about emotions for me. It couldn't be, because emotions are deceitful, aren't they? I might allow myself to feel like something was right, when I knew it was wrong. But I was WAY past that balance between fluffy faith and rigid faith. Shutting down my emotional self led to a very boring and thus quite unfruitful spiritual life.

I was squelching the Spirit.

I can't tell you exactly when it happened, but somehow about a week before the conference, God started to prepare me for some serious soul scrubbing (I stole that phrase from Joni Earekson Tada). I began to feel that spark in my soul, and it moved me to tears. My wall, a wall built mostly with pride, was starting to crumble. More pieces fell to the ground at the beginning of the conference. And then it happened. My wall was demolished during an incredible time of worship. I knew I was on holy ground, and I let God's presence wash over me like a raging river, and He burst my dam of pride.

I surely couldn't fight it, so I decided to go with it. And there I was, in a room full of 6,000 woman, shamelessly sobbing my eyes out. I have to interject here that I am not an attractive crier. Some people have the sweet angelic face with waterfalls of tears magnificently cascading down their face. Personally, I go for the bloodshot-eyed-don't-own-waterproof-mascara-snot-cascading-down-my-face look. It was not a pretty picture...and yet it was. A beautiful picture in fact. I'm a woman. Women cry. Good golly do we cry. I swear that the sheer liquid weight of tears I cried this weekend was more than all of 2007's tears combined.

Then again, these were the soul cleansing tears, and I'm pretty sure they weigh more.

I will always battle my pride, as long as I am on this earth. I don't want to be weak. And yet what have I learned? "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." When I am weak, I am strong.

I don't want to be needy. But that's what God calls us all to be. You know why? Because we are. Needy for a savior. God, please don't let me forget how perfectly right it felt to need your presence.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A heart revived

Hey, sorry for the long absence from the blogging world. I am back from one of the most thought provoking, emotion-stirring, and spiritually challenging weekends I've ever experienced. My dad sent my sister and I to a conference in Chicago put on by the women's ministry called Revive Our Hearts. I am honestly going to take weeks, months, and hopefully actually my whole life recalling the events that took place, so be patient with me as I sort through the impact this weekend has had on my life as a daughter, sister, friend, wife and mother.

I'm already going to promise at least two other blogs about this weekend, but let me just start by admitting that I was a little skeptical about going to a woman's conference. After all, I'm the girl who will always choose Batman over Sense and Sensibility. I wrestle with my boys instead of crafting with them. I firmly believe that needles are for vaccinations, not knitting. The thought of Martha Stewart makes me nauseous. You get the point. I told my sister at the beginning of the weekend that I wasn't quite sure what God had planned for me. I got three answers. I'll tell you one now, and you'll have to stay tuned for the next ones.

#1 reason God brought me to the conference: To show me that I'm often a wimp. John Piper was the only man to speak at the conference and he reminded us that "wimpy theology leads to wimpy women." I don't want to be a wimp. I want my theology, my belief about who God is and what He has purposed for me (specifically as a woman), to be based on what the Bible says not on simply what I feel like at the moment. I'm unreliable and inconsistent. God is not. The foundation of biblical womanhood...not.

It was amazing to me that each speaker was so different and came from a huge variety of walks of life, but each conclusion was the same: God teaches us through the Bible that He has a unique and wonderful purpose for women, and that we will never be truly satisfied until we embrace His calling on our lives.

I could share ten thousand incomplete thoughts on what was said and what I learned, but the conference is summed up quite beautifully in this "True Woman Manifesto" that we had the opportunity to sign at the end of the conference. If you're like me, I often don't even take the time to click on people's links, but I promise you, this one is worth it. It's a high calling we women have. Some of this stuff is hard to swallow from our society's perspective today, but I'm choosing to believe that my all-powerful and all-knowing God knows better than me. His plan will always be better than my plan, whether I understand it or not. Hopefully these excerpts will encourage you to read the whole thing, and (to all you ladies out there) possibly even sign it yourself.

We affirm that:
  • Scripture is God's authoritative means of instructing us in His ways and it reveals His holy pattern for our womanhood, our character, our priorities, and our various roles, responsibilities, and relationships.
  • We glorify God and experience His blessing when we accept and joyfully embrace His created design, function, and order for our lives.
  • Selfish insistence on personal rights is contrary to the spirit of Christ who humbled himself, took on the form of a servant, and laid down His life for us.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Two peas in a pod

This is a complete rip off of one of my sister's blogs, but at least I'm giving credit where credit is due. Thanks J. for the inspiration. (Her name actually has no J.'s in it, and never has, but that's another blog.) Her post compared motherhood to cheerleading, and since I was never a rah-rah girl, I can't add to those similarities. But I did find it quite amusing, and since I'm all about stealing ideas from other you go.

Similarities between an ER nurse and a mom:
  • The uniform. Scrubs are pretty much glorified pajamas, and my typical mommi-form of mismatched pj's normally doesn't get changed until Ty's naptime, unless we have morning plans. And sometimes even if we do. At work, or at home, there's something to be said for comfort...and the fact that you'll most likely get blood or other bodily fluids on them imminently.
  • The "please don't panic" speech. The abrasion on your knee is not fatal, doesn't need immediate surgery, or even stitches, and in fact, it barely even warrants a bandaid. The fact that you're screaming only makes me want to show you what real pain is all about, it does not evoke sympathy. Chill out. (Don't worry, I do kiss my kids' owies and make sure there are no internal injuries. But if the tears are disproportionate to the injury, my eyes start to roll. I can spot a crocodile tear miles away.)
  • You have to master the everything-is-going-just-as-planned-face even though inside you're thinking, "Lord, help us all."
  • Multi-tasking is a must. Getting a complete medical history from a patient while taking vital signs and doing a head to toe assessment as you start and IV and draw blood. Kinda like flipping a grilled cheese sandwich while wiping one child's nose as you help the other draw a perfect circle, all while having a serious conversation on the phone.
  • Prioritizing is key. The guy without a heartbeat trumps the request for a bedpan. Sorry. Catching Ty as he attempts to run down the street after the ice cream truck will come before Jake's request to help him color coordinate his 463 Hot Wheels.

and finally:

  • They are both very rewarding. Watching the relief on a person's face after giving them drugs to stop a potentially fatal allergic reaction, talk about immediate gratification. Watching Ty pull himself together within 10 seconds of starting a potentially fatal temper tantrum at Walmart, priceless.