Saturday, October 30, 2004

Why my husband is so cool

My husband is way cool. I couldn't be more proud. He is such an instrument of God, being both wise and honest. He is winsome and kind. Let me tell you what he did.

A friend of mine from work, PM, stopped me one day and asked if my husband would baptize their baby, if they were successful with adoption. I was flabbergasted that he would ask, let alone ask me. PM and I worked together 5 years ago. I hadn't always known what he thought of me, he liked to give me a rough time b/c I was religious, a "pastor's wife." Honestly, he made me a little nervous b/c he was a bit more aggressive than I was used to, speaking his mind ~ no nonsense. About 2 years ago I had seen PM carrying a little boy Izak's age. It was his foster son. He and G were in the process of adopting him. He'd been in their care (and hearts) since he was 2 weeks old. He was beautiful. Then I heard through the grapevine that something went wrong during the legal process, the biological father decided he did want parental rights after all, and took the little boy back. They lost their 18-month old little boy to the druggie sperm donor. As you can imagine, P and GM were devastated. For a man who already seemed cynical about spiritual things, this seemed like it would be the nail in the coffin. When I saw him a work he looked like hell, every inch of him suffering.

I was walking by the desk at work when he popped the question about Matt ("Father Matt"). Does your husband still work at that big church on McKinley? Does he baptize babies? Because they were going to be adopting soon, and they wanted to get that done as soon as possible. Once I scooped up my lower jaw I stammered, Yes, sure. I'm sure he would. And PM was so chipper, so hopeful. Almost like a different man... and then came the day that he called me at home. They had a baby boy, born one day before Libby! We swapped war stories and laughed together, and then he asked me to ask Father Matt if it would be okay to baptize their new son. I gave him Matt's office number, the name of his assistance, and told him to call Matt and set it up. I got off the phone so psyched! So I ran into the living room, and guess what Matt said. "I don't baptize babies, Heidi. You know that."

I begged and pleaded, I bargained and whined. Please, please, please!! You've gotta baptize PM's son! See, he's always been so skeptical of Christians, he's a disgruntled catholic, and been so wounded! And now he's reaching out, maybe for the first time! You've just gotta do this! Don't blow this!

Matt simply asked me to trust him. He understood the significance, but also knew better than to sell out his theology. He had P and GM come in and meet with him at church. (I was biting my nails the whole time, praying and fussing. A real woman of faith, you know.) They had a great visit. Matt was able to explain what he believes the Bible teaches about babies, their souls, salvation, and dedication. He set it up as, "You can always depend on me to be honest. So I want you to understand why I don't baptize babies." And P and GM completely resonated with his explanation. It was, in fact, freeing for them, answering many incongruities. Matt wasn't trying to sell the church, but did say that if they ever wanted to visit they were welcome. The day I walked out of the worship center and saw PM walking towards me was the day work world and church world collided. He saw me, smiled, walked up and kissed me on the cheek and said, "I didn't know that you could sing." What a sweet encounter. After they had a chance to think about the options that Matt presented, they called and asked him if he would come to their home and do a special prayer of blessing for their baby boy.

So that's where Matt was today. At their home with family, celebrating a beautiful little baby boy. They were pleased. And I'm just proud because my husband is so cool. God gave him incredible wisdom to serve my friends lovingly and with integrity. Oh Lord, for a faith that is honest and winsome!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Loving my neighbors

Got a call on Sunday from my neighbor, JB. When I answered the phone (which I rarely do on Sundays b/c of Family Day) she said softly, "I just wanted you to know that dad died Friday. We didn't want you to read it in the paper and not know about it." Sweet JB. We talked for a few more minutes, then she told me that dad's dog, Phantom, also died earlier in the week. Two losses, one week. Some saddness, some relief. Monday we stopped by during visiting hours at the church, it was a time of memorial, no body, so we took Izak. He was all practiced up to say, "Sorry." He refused to perform. Figures.

I'm struck by the difference from 5 years ago to now. When we first moved in I was not impressed by my neighbors. They were too loud, too messy, their dogs barked all day, pooped in my yard and tormented my dog. I was inconvenienced by them. The dog thing was like a constant alarm in my head, irritating me to death. They did have a problem controlling their dogs, we did make and log calls, they were always very pleasant and responsive to our requests to take the dogs in. One day we took them to court, after what seemed like the bazillionth time of their dog in our yard. Actually it happened during a big party. I had at least 15 kids under the age of 5, and Phantom came over to see what the good smellin' meat was on the grill. He was the most docile dog, menacingly huge, but a real whimp when Matt grabbed him by the back of the neck and dragged him home. I was mauled by a German Shepherd as a little girl. I couldn't have small kids endangered. We took them to court. The judge reemed Mr. B out and threatened to have his dogs destroyed if there was another complaint within a year. Things improved after that, dog-wise.

But I was uneasy. I know that scripture teaches that if we say we love Jesus, but we don't love our neighbors, we are not truly followers. It bugged me that I didn't like my neighbors at all, but I also didn't know them at all.

The guy that we bought our home from was a man from our church and he was terribly excited that his pastor was buying his house. So he took the liberty of telling all of our neighbors, up and down the road that we were the pastor and pastor's wife of his church. Great. One day I stopped by the little roadside fruit stand of our older farming neighbors to buy some herbs. There were some other elderly women there too. I was feeling rather out-going at the moment and introduced myself to the farmer's wife as her new neighbor down the street. All of the women stopped talking, and one piped up, "Oh, Mrs. Furr! It's nice to meet you! And how is the Reverend?" OMG. I almost died. So needless to say, it's been a little awkward getting to know folks without the religious weirdness.

So anyway, I knew my neighbors must have known that we were in the ministry, and here we were, sorta at war, definitely not neighborly at all. I felt God's hand in my back, first softly, then more firmly. I fussed about it for at least 4 or 5 months. I felt God wanted me to reach out to them, but I was embarrassed, stubborn, self-righteous. One day I shared it with my mom, and she said, "Just take over a plate of cookies." Yeah, but what would I say?! I had no idea how to even broach the subject. "Sorry we took you to court." "Sorry I'm so neurotic about your stupid dogs." "Hey, nice weather we're having!" Whatever. I was pregnant with Izak, maybe I could work that in. OK, here was the line, "If I call about the dogs a little more frequently in a few months it's because we're going to have a new baby."

I baked a plate of rhubarb custard cake, prayed, practiced my line, "If I call about the dogs..." and went over. I wouldn't blame them if they were pissed, gave me the cold shoulder, I hadn't been very nice for three years. I knocked on the door. The granddaughter answered the door, "Is your grandma here?" Before grandma came to the door, JB walked up. A young, single mom, my age or a little younger, on her heels was grandma, Mrs. B. I held out the plate of rhubarb, trying not to look nervous, but feeling really outnumbered. And before I could even open my mouth Mrs. B steped forward and grabbed me in a big, warm hug. I couldn't talk, tears were welling up in my eyes. So much that didn't even have to be said. I smiled, "I hope you like rhubarb." Oh, they squealed, we do, especially Dad! So I offered my line, we laughed, they rubbed my belly and we talked about pregnancy, morning sickness, and babies. We were suddenly old friends.

Since then we've had long talks over the fence, JB has shared beautifully and openly about her life, her dreams, her passions. Mrs. B has cheerfully waved as she's driven by the house. They bought a gorgeous figurine for us after Izaks birth, a Willow collection called "New Life." JB openly cried as I opened it, sharing her desire to have more children. We've shared rhubarb, herbal rememdies, graduation parties, family reunions.

I don't hear the dogs much anymore (actually I don't hear Phantom at all! ). I don't care if they're louder than we are, or different than we are. I just don't. I believe I am living in obedience to Christ. And that is such a peaceful thang. So tonight when I stood on the porch with a big bowl of soup I couldn't help but remember how much God has redeemed this relationship. I am so thankful.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A perfect evening

We had a really good day today. It was really a little crazy at the start, but ended so peacefully. This weekend Matthew was flat out at church, leading a big, huge missions weekend with some internationally heavy hitters, Clive and Ruth Calver. I was also on worship team last night and today. We had SO much fun as musicians, really rocked the house. We enjoyed working with a new drummer (Paul, the beat felt GREAT! Welcome!), did some edgy numbers, some tender pieces as well. The quality of the band was very high, and Foxy mixed it hot up in his nest. I was able to entrust the kids to some wonderful women while I led worship. Good music is like food to me. It is so completely satisfying.

Have I mentioned that Izak is picking up music? It's a little on the scary side. My Dwell (by Vineyard) CD was playing in the kitchen, he was listening so intensely, frozen, staring. And later that day he began to sing, the words, the rhythm, all correct. Spooky, but cool. It was so neat to go into his room and hear him singing a praise song. So all weekend he's been running around, "Not my will, but Yours be done. Come and change us. Not my will, but Yours be done. Come and save us. Dwell in the midst of us." Wow.

Matt came home after church and found me stretched out in the LazyBoy watching football. (Bills lost again, but New England beat the Jets. Yessss.) Libby and Izak were napping hard, so he was able to rest too. After we all crawled out of our sleeping holes (around 5p) we ordered our traditional Sunday dinner, Dominos chicken pizza. The evening was not too chilly, so we all bundled up and went for a walk as a fam. It was sweet. Izzy walked with Daddy, holding his hand. I had Libby in the Snuggli with her big, white fuzzy hat on. I think she looks like the Mad Hatter, Sue called her "the czarina". I had her buttoned inside my fleece jacket, her pink booties hung out the bottom. I also had Sailor on the leash. She was thrilled to be out for a walk again. The colors of the leaves were so pretty, An orange tree against a bold red tree, with a bright green tree alongside. My son singing praise songs, my daughter grinning contentedly. We cut throught the fields and woods on the way home, letting Sailor off her leash to run, Izak chasing along behind her, laughing.

Deep down inside me I felt like this scene was something I've longed for all my life. It was perfect.

Now, if the Red Sox would just win again tonight.. pure heaven.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Whispering in the dark

Matthew is running crazy this week. He has a huge mission weekend (we've been planning around this thing for months now), a few weddings, a ton of meetings. So I've been hunkered down at home with the babies. Nighttime routine done alone can be daunting with two little ones. Wanting to get everyone's bath done in a timely fashion, get the jammies and lotion and diapers on, stories read, songs sung, bottles administered. And then everyone off to bed.

Izak's language skills have completely turned on the last week or so. He's a singing, parroting jabberjaw. We call him the hootenanny, defined as one who celebrates loudly in public and invites others to join along. LOL So bedtime becomes a time for much song and shenannigans. Sometimes he'll be in there for an hour or more singing and chatting. But last night, after he'd been down for 1.5 hours I heard a very sad, scared little cry. As I went in, he popped up in his crib, whimpering. I don't know what happened, maybe he's getting a little scared of the dark, but I laid him back down and leaned in closely until our noses were almost touching in the dark. And then he said, "Baa baa basheep?" (Note: This is his universally favorite song and I am called upon to perfom it at least one hundred times a day.) So I began to whisper it to him, "Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?" And then he began to whisper it in unison with me, "Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full...". We whispered the whole song together, pushing away the boy's night fear, edging out the mommy's loneliness. At the end he would, in full voice, say, "Again? Again?" And then we would start again, whispering so closely that I could smell his breath and freshly shampooed hair and baby powdered belly. After, oh, say nineteen rounds I left him to fall asleep, tucking away these most tender memories in my heart.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


The house is so cozy, smells like homemade chicken soup. The babies are going on their third hour of naps, so I thought I'd try to write down a little something during my reprieve.

One of my favorite pastors, Rev. C.L. Adams from St. Paul in Marion,IN once said that God has 4 ways of answering our prayers ~ 1) yes, 2) no, 3) wait, and 4) you have got to be kidding!?! I wonder what God is thinking about some of the questions I have been putting to Him lately. I am puzzled by some of the answers I think I've seen unfold.

Here I am with two beautiful babies, who were, for the most part, nowhere on my life radar. I sit in my living room, breastfeeding, chasing, lugging around the two little bundles of flesh that came from my very body. My girlfriend sits in her living room, desperately wanting children, has miscarried four times, was diagnosed with breast cancer, had to remove her breast, is receiving chemo that makes her feel two seconds away from death, cannot use her left arm to carry or lug due to the changes after her surgery. The irony chokes me.

Why did God chose this as the answer for her? Granted, it may not be the ultimate answer, but why, when the prayers were for healing, was the answer "no"?

As I look at our financial situation I feel like there's so much that needs to be done with the extra paycheck (wa-hoo for extras now and then!). I feel unsure about what to do with it in order to make the most impact. If I just knew the future I would be able to dole it out better. If I just knew the future... and He says,"Wait. Do the best you can and wait."

I don't mean to exasperate God. Sometimes I withhold my heart from Him because I'm afraid that one of these times He's gonna absolutely fly off the handle and scream at me. And then I might feel very small. But consistently, whenever I've been totally honest, especially about the littlest things, I sense His pleasure. And I know He wants to answer me. Sometimes the answer is what I'm most afraid of.

I'm mentally overworked lately. Got a lot on my plate to figure. A lot of unknowns. Trying very hard to stay in the present and embrace the reality of each moment and not stress out about what's ahead. Searching desperately for answers, and gingerly putting one foot in front of the other. Don't get out too far in front of me, Lord. Don't leave me behind. And He says with a wry grin, Girl, you have GOT to be kidding."

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Two years old today! Posted by Hello

A two year old boy

Today my Izak is two. Happy birthday, sweet one. Love, Mommy

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Home again

What a weekend! Let me start by saying that my back-up plan backfired in my face. LOL! I was able to get ahold of another antibiotic for Izak to treat his ear infection (cefzil) without calling my doc. Ahem. Well, after his second dose I noticed this strange rash all over his trunk... can you say drug allergy?!? So Friday morning I had to call my doctor back and tell them that I'd been a bad girl, using my conniving nursing powers for evil, not for good, begged forgiveness, and had to buy a second dose of Zithromycin. Daddy, me, and mint-chip ice cream helped get it down the boy without much incidence whatsoever. So everybody had drugs on board and this was good.

Flew to Chicago to spend some time with friends Saturday morning. This was a test of the tensile strength of my marriage. Typically I struggle to be easy-breezy with my babies when it comes to getting them out of their routine and surroundings. But the trip was booked and there was no backing out, even if they did have ear infections. My tendency would be to make Matthew pay for the stress I was undergoing on behalf of my children. I was only mildly grouchy with him as we were shuttling towards the airport. Getting through security was hard. Had to unload the kids from the double stroller and car seat, put everything through x-ray, and reload. Fortunately we got to use a short line for strollers and wheelchairs. No wait. It was groovy. The kids did great, minimal fussing. Dad did a fantastic job keeping the toddler amused (betcha didn't know he could change the toddler standing up in the little airplane toitey!). Both ways we were able to arrive at destination around naptime.

I struggle with flexibility. Have my routine. Like it. Keep it. Husband loves adventure, change, spontaneity. I try to accommodate him. But can I just say that after four days of adventuring, I'm ready to begin traveling in my usual orbit. I don't know if there's a correlation, but it makes me think about teachability ~ am I teachable? I had always thought I was open-minded, but then someone gave me a great tool by which to assess the reality. It's a simple question. "When's the last time you changed you mind about something?" If you haven't changed your mind, your position on something or someone, then chances are you're not teachable. And that is very unbecoming.

Lord, keep me soft and moldable. Teach me that real change is a gift from you. Change my mind, shift my routine, and draw me in closer to where you are.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Staring at Panic

So we were up all night. 12:30A TO 5:00A. That's pretty much all night in my book. Matt came home at 11:30p from his board meeting up in the city, I was just drifting off, the babies were asleep... and then all hell broke loose. Libby woke with a need to feed and then I heard Izzy starting to sob. He was running a big fever after his afternoon nap, I knew he needed to get to the doctor's today, was just trying to buy some time with Tylenol. After I got Lib down I took him a loaded bottle of milk with more Tylenol, he was burning up. I just kept thinking, "Hang in a few more hours, Buddy." He drank the bottle (good), was quiet for a few minutes(good), but then I heard this funny sound (bad) and a few minutes later he started to sob again (really bad). I opened the door and could smell the vomit, which covered his bedding and jammies and head and hands... ewwww. Thank God I'm not pregnant because that would've been the end. I got Matt up to just help hold the boy while I stripped him and rushed Blankie to the washer for an emergency washing at 1:30A. Got more Tylenol in him, Matt was able to not joing the chuck wagon even though the boy stunk. Good. Got Blankie at least clean (and quite damp), got Izzy back to bed and he was quiet. Good, very good. Then Libby started up. It was seamless really, fine coordination between the two. I pulled her, knowing she didn't need to eat, but with all the rucous she was bright-eyed, smiling, charming. Bad. And then she melted. Very, very, very bad. It was far worse than her former colic days. She screamed until I thought she'd come out of her skin, or die trying, for 2 hours. Two hours! Thankfully Matt was functioning really well and he hugged and snuggled his girl for part of the time, and I tried for the remaining periods. At 5A everything was finally quiet, I collapsed on the couch, Matt was cashed in the bed (Poor guy has to speak tonight). I was just glad that I didn't see the sun start to rise. It always makes me cry when I've been up all night and the sun rises, it feels sooo hopeless. At 7:30A Libby was chirping in the other room, smiling, cooing (where did that other baby go?!?), so I rolled out the family and we headed to the doctor's office at 8:30A. Ear infections for everybody, antibiotics all around.

I thought that would be the end of my crisis. Well... I've gone and done something really, really stupid. I took Izak's one-time dose of Zithromycin and mixed it in his bottle, which he generally drinks without a problem. Well, no go. He refused, took it and threw it out of his crib. So I thought, I'll just dillute the dose into two bottles, one before the nap and one after. Still NO GO. Now I'm thinking I've gone a wasted time and money. I need to get these babies healthy by Saturday b/c we're going to Chicago to visit some friends, flying and everything! Auuuugh!!! So I'm in a panic. I'm working on getting him another dose, it may cost me another $25 and, worst of all, another 24 hours. I should've just hog-tied him and forced it down, a maneuver that I'm getting pretty good at. But sleep deprivation clouded my judgement and I blinked! !*@#$%^!!! I SCREWED UP! If there are any prayer people out there, please, please pray for my back-up plan.

On top of it all I'm preoccupied with several HUGE issues, some of which are my girlfriend's breast cancer (lymph nodes were positive after all) and upcoming chemo, our best friend's dad went in for gallstones two days ago and they found a mass on his kidney, looks to be cancer, my other girlfriend's struggling marriage. Some not-so-huge issues- my babies are sick, one won't take his meds, I have to pack and run errands to get ready for the trip, try to find time to eat and sleep, haven't balanced my checkbook in a week, can't remember if I paid the hospital bill, need to call people about Izak's birthday party before it's too late, and the list spirals on. Overwhelmed at the moment. Staring panic down eyeball-to-eyeball. Feeling a little forgotten by God, that somehow I must have slipped off His radar. This all seems much harder than it should be.

Yet I continue to find solace in His word. Lat night I sat down and wrote out the verse that has become so meaningful to me, again and again.

"Can a mother forget a baby at her breast, and have no compassion for the child she has borne? Thought she may forget, I will never forget you. See? I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your walls are ever before me." Is. 49:15, 16

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bradley girls Posted by Hello

My Bradley Posse

Two years ago, when Matt and I were preparing for childbirth, we took a Bradley Childbirth class with 6 other couples. Bradley believes (in a nutshell) that healthy moms make health babies (good prenatal education re:diet and exercise), birthing babies without pain medication, augmentation, or episiotomies,and emphasizes the importance of the father's involvement as a coach during pregnancy and labor. We had 10 weeks of classes, every Monday night from 7-9 p.m.. We had the greatest Bradley class ever. So much so, that we're all still in touch except for one couple who moved to California. The classes were very fun (also informative, thank you, Brigitte. :) ) It was really hard to try to relax and focus like we were in labor when we were all giggling about some smart-aleck comment made by one or the other. We shared our birth stories with one another as they happened, blow by blow, and acted as a base of encouragement during the early months with a newborn. Now we e-mail or call, get together occasionally for Mom's night out and play group. I absolutely love my Bradley girls. I think one reason is that I feel more free to be myself and not the pastor's wife. I met these friends in a context other than a 2,000 member church, other than me singing on a stage, other than me being "Matt's wife." (Most people fall in love with my amazing husband before they ever meet me. I think that's a natural thing in the ministry. Not bad, just typical. The more paranoid side of me is pretty sure that there are those who tolerate me just because I'm Matt's wife. But that's only when I'm being paranoid... stop looking at me!)

We are all different. Artsy, international, analytical, scientific, musical. We had very different birth experiences. We all practiced different kinds of early parenting. We have different "favorites" when it comes to authors and websites. And all this without judgement or criticism of one another. This group taught me that diversity is good, there's no one way that's right or wrong. They have taught me the value of listening and learning to ask good questions. They've given me a broader base of reference for my parenting quandries, sometimes I ask, sometimes I watch and see what they're doing. It's just a very safe place for me.

So Aud, Lor, Priti, Anne, and Elana, thank you for being a special part of my life.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Cloth diapers

Now here's a real mommy issue! Cloth diapers vs. disposables. Quite a few of my friends know that I use cloth with my kids, not 100% of the time but a good majority. I was first turned on to the idea by a great friend of mine, Diann. They were at our house one afternoon, it came time to change the toddler and Diann whipped out this adorable thing she called a cloth diaper! It was a print All-In-One by Bumkin, for all you CD (cloth diaper) fans. She held it up to me and laughed, "Isn't this just the cutest?!" From then on I was curious about it. Why cloth? Why that style? How much money? How much work? I wasn't even pregnant at the time, but I began to turn the thought over in my mind. I don't necessarily do things just to counter the culture... it's got to be pretty practical in my book if I'm going to deviate. I haven't been captured totally by the "Save the Planet" argument, I don't buy the scare tactic that there's some conspiracy between disposables and higher cancer rates... I just love the feel of cloth on my babies, and it saves me a lot of money. I think that their skin looks better in cloth than in disposables. I love washing them, hanging them to dry, stacking them. It's a type of hobby for me. I did prefolds with Libby, the big square white diaper that you fold, pin and cover... two dozen diaper, six vinyl cover pants and four diaper pins=$30. This has managed her first four months beautifully. For months 4 thru ???? (Izak's still going at 24 months) I have a beautiful collection of All-In-Ones (AIO's) by Bumkin. They are layers and layers of cottony flannel covered by a colorful waterproof shell. For added absorption I throw a hemp doubler inside (looks like a giant cotton maxipad) and a biodegradable, flushable liner (looks like a giant kleenex) to catch the solid mess. I get 3-4 hours out of a diaper with Libby, and 4-5 with Izak before it needs changing. I have 20-sz.M for LIbby and 16-sz.L for Izak. I wash diaper approximately twice a week; I line dry my AIO's b/c of their waterproof covers and machine dry the doublers. The AIO's cost about $13/each. Most I received as shower gifts and Christmas presents, some I bought new and some I won on eBay. At night I do use disposable Night Diapers.

I have a handful of friends that use cloth, and others that would if they could. I'm not a purist, but I feel like there's something old-fashioned about cloth diapers. It's a little like what I wrote about when I discussed natural childbirth as it relates to making me feel connected to history (see blog from July 3, 2004). It's my own unique contribution to my style of mothering. And it's not that much extra work. In my future life (LOL) I hope to someday teach Bradley Childbirth (Natural method) classes, and I hope to be able to throw a few unconventional ideas out there, like cloth diapering, prefolds, AIO's - just to let people hear a new thought. I never feel like I have to convince anyone to use cloth. It's not my place. But I was influenced by a good friend taking to time to share her experiences with me. It's fun, I enjoy CDing, and will really cherish this memory as a part of our baby years.