And just for the sheer cuteness….
And just for the sheer cuteness….
When I was a kid, my mother taught me a very important sentence:
There, but for the grace of God, go I.
She would remind me of this when we saw someone less fortunate, or someone who was homeless, when someone’s family died or someone divorced. She would use others’ misfortune or bad decisions to quietly remind me that we were all just a small distance removed from such things and could be in the same situation in a blink. Except for the mercy of God allowing us to be okay.
My parents taught us that we were not better than someone else, no matter what. We may have had better circumstances than some, but we also had worse circumstances than others. We may have had food to eat and clothes to wear, but we didn’t have excess. We were and are well-educated, but that doesn’t make us better than someone who is ignorant or uneducated (ignorant as in not knowledgeable , not ig’nrnt as in being an idiot. There’s a difference in the South). Our choices may have worked out for the best — we were not to consider ourselves superior to those whose choices had led to disaster. We were safe through God’s grace, not because we were better.
In addition, because we were able, we should help those who were not. Many times I saw my parents help family members who were having financial troubles, even if they couldn’t really afford to do so. Many times I heard the phone calls or conversations putting in a good word for someone who needed a job. Family members were rescued from abusive situations and troubled lives. A homeless man was paid for painting our house (painting it badly, I might add). The children of friends were bailed out when they were too scared to call their parents, and other friends were picked up when they needed a ride (or bail money). My parents are generous to a fault. No one has ever left my parents’ house hungry unless it’s their own fault, and if you don’t go home with a bag of food it’s because you were too quick for my mom. If you were moving, they were helping. No Girl Scout ever went away without a cookie order, and we had lots of wrapping paper and frozen cookie dough from every kid with a fundraiser who crossed my parents’ paths.
I can never remember my parents ever judging someone because they had been in prison, or because they were poor. They never judged someone because they were unemployed, or because they had made bad decisions. There, but for the grace of God…went us.
Recently Mama and I have seen a trend in some friends. They seem….classist. Elitist. And definitely biased against anyone who is not wealthy, upstanding, and blameless. We’ve been noticing people who judge others for their choices or the choices of their family members. People who just can’t imagine how So-and-So could possibly show their faces in public. Who can’t move past someone’s felonious history to mourn their passing. We all know these people, don’t we? The people who judge others because of foreclosure or hard times. The people who can’t look past someone’s criminal history and take a chance on someone who needs a second chance.
I have to admit that it’s becoming hard for me not to judge those who judge others. I hate that I am feeling that way — but I do. I cannot wrap my head around that level of “I am better than you”-ness. It disturbs me to my core when people like this have children they are raising to judge, even if it’s subconscious. Children who don’t know how to donate their unwanted clothes and toys to Goodwill, who don’t know how to put a few coins in the envelope of the schoolchild collecting for a literacy project. Children who will think that people whose parents are less than upstanding are to be judged for the sins of their fathers, and vice versa. Or children who think that their “good works” or actions will garner them favor with God. When in reality they need to teach their children a simple rule of thumb to dictate how they interact with all people, always:
There, but for the grace of God, go I.
Happy Hump Day! And while I’m at it, Happy Ash Wednesday. If you’re giving something up, make sure it’s something you actually like. Unlike the year when i gave up potato chips….which I rarely ate anyway. Easy Lent, I can tell you that! I’m thinking of Lent this year as a chance to start new habits, and give up old ones. I have two really bad habitsI’m giving up but don’t want to go into detail. But I’m determined! And I have a few habits I”m hoping to pick up, particularly spiritual habits and personal attitudes. We’ll see how 40 days goes!
I’m publishing this post a bit earlier than usual today because of some time sensitive things that are going on. Please be in prayer, if you will.
My sister-in-law is having surgery today. It’s a big surgery – actually a double surgery. She’s having a hernia removed and then some girlie surgery. On my blog I call her Anchor Girl — say it like a super hero! She has super powers, of course, but also great faith in the Lord. Please lift her up today around 11:30 and for the next few weeks as she heals. We’re praying the surgeries are a success and she can be pain-free soon.
One of my students is very ill. This is a constant struggle for her, as her immune system is pretty weak thanks to Lyme.
The grandson of one of our church family is very, very ill with pneumonia and sepsis. Please pray he can come off the ventilator and that his kidney function will return to normal, as well as strength for his mother and his wife.
Brian has had several interviews in the past two weeks. We are praying for good results all around, and for patience.
My brother, creatively blog-called Little Bro, had an interview with a fabulous new school on Monday. I really pray he gets this job — I think it would be an amazing opportunity for him. Also, he and Sweet Lizzy became an aunt and uncle again this weekend. In addition to two cute nieces, they now have a nephew! Yay all around!
My Mama is still peaked. She’s pretty tired of being sick, so prayers are appreciated.
Brian has something big to deal with today. It’s kind of a confidential issue (not for us, but for the others involved) but it’s certain to be a giant hassle and make him really angry before the day is over. He hates injustice and certainly wants no part of this mess.
I need Wednesday to be less crazy-making than Tuesday. Just saying.
I’ve told several people in the past week that I fully expect our upcoming gonadotropin and IUI cycle to fail. There’s absolutely no medical reason for me to think we’ll fail. 99% of women respond to gonadotropins, according to my doctors, and they tell us that IUI raises our chances of conception about 10% above the old fashioned way. So the likelihood that it will work is pretty high.
But if I let myself believe that it might work then my heart will be broken if it doesn’t….again. And if I let that happen, then I have to let myself look at all the reasons why. And if I let myself look at all the reasons why….well, I just can’t even bear that again. So it’s easier to tell myself that it won’t work, so that when it doesn’t I can say “see I told you so”.
But when Cycle Day 1 arrived on Sunday, quietly and with no more than a whimper….something happened. A teeny, tiny little green shoot of hope appeared. As I sat in church on Sunday and prayed for a baby, I had a tiny little belief in my heart that God might just grant my request. There’s a chance it’ll work. Maybe I’ll get to be someone’s mama by next year.
I can let myself hope, just a tiny little bit. It’s scary, but it feels okay. New cycles are like spring — little green buds that are in danger of frost. So easily destroyed, but just as easily successful. I haven’t felt any hope in this process in about six months, so it’s a nice thing to feel now. If this works, it will be all God. Via modern medicine and doctors, yes, but the will of God nonetheless. I’m just trusting Him to know best.
We’re home from West Virginia, and trying to find our routine again. It seems strange to have simply skipped a week of our lives, of our work, of time in our regular routine. It’ll be a week before I actually know the date again, much less have a clue what day it is.
I honestly don’t know how to post about our trip to West Virginia. I feel that I need to, though, in light of the fact that my last post was about the accident. How do I adequately eulogize three people suddenly gone from this Earth? How do I adequately explain all the horrible feelings that come with knowing part of our family have been touched by tragedy? The best way I’ve had to sum up our week is this:
We have seen things, heard about things, and had to think about thinks so horrific that no one should ever have to think, hear, or see them. And we’ll never, ever get these horrors out of our heads.
That pretty much explains it. One young woman and her two young children were killed suddenly in a very violent accident, brought on by wrong choices and a lack of attention to detail. Four bald tires and rain certainly didn’t help. There are so many different facets to this horrible situation that are simply not mine to air online, and that won’t help anyway.
We spent the week gathering near to our family, hugging people a little tighter and being a little scared every time someone rode off in a car for the hour-long trip to town. Different parts of the family made arrangements, organized clothing and services, took care of retrieving personal items from a car so terrifyingly mangled that it is stored under a tarp to keep the innocent from seeing it, and worried what to do about people looting the personal items from the apartment of a dead woman. We gathered for five hours to receive the many visitors who rallied around our family. Somewhere around 200 people gathered for a triple funeral so sad it is beyond words. We trekked to the country to the final resting place for their bodies, high on a beautiful hill just down the road from the site of the accident. We thanked God for the infallible innocence of children, and for the salvation received years ago by their mother. Knowing that we will see them again made it easier to commit their bodies to the earth. Knowing that it will be a long, long time made it bittersweet.
Carrie was a beloved daughter and niece. She was like third daughter to my in-laws, and her own daughters were loved deeply by everyone who knew them. They were their grandmother’s life, and their daddy’s joy. The three of them are gone too soon, and girls’ father will never be the same. Through the amazing gift of organ donation, we can only hope that Carrie, Haley, and Addison will live on and were able to save lives even in their own passing. As the story was picked up by the Associated Press, hopefully people will understand the importance of having good tires on a car. If one person is saved through that, a tiny ray of hope shines through.
Thank you for all the comments, calls, emails, texts, cards, sweet things mailed across the country, and most of all through your prayers and good thoughts. We literally couldn’t have made it through the week without you. And thank you for understanding that none of us are “over it” and we don’t expect to be anytime soon. I fully expect to see glimpses of Haley and Addy in our own children, since the Baileys genes are just as strong as the Hill ones. I know I’ll never drive in the rain without thinking about them, and I’ll be more mindful of my speed and car maintenance. We will remember seeing tiny girls share a casket, we will remember a daddy who tried to resuscitate his sweet daughter in vain. We will remember a cousin who had such a good time the last time we were all together, and seemed to always be smiling. We aren’t “over it”, we haven’t moved on. We may cry. But now we have three more people to look forward to seeing in Heaven, and that eases the pain just a little. Thank you all for showing us so much love.
I’m not 100% sure where this post is going to lead me, or what the response will be. We all know the internet is just chock-full of snark, right? And that women can be (some would say by nature) catty and backbiting. There is a scandal a minute in the blogging community, and sometimes it seems that “mommy bloggers” have way too much free time. I don’t have kids, but I care for five children day in and day out, and if I can find five minutes to rub together it’s a miracle. But I have become aware of a situation that I feel moved to comment on, though with very few identifying details. It’s put a lot on my mind and on my heart, and I’m thinking a lot about idols and how they can sneak into our lives without us noticing.
I read a lot of blogs. Before you think I’m planted in front of the computer 22 hours a day, I have a blog reader on my phone, and I read quite fast. So there. Typically when I find a blog that I think I’m going to like (and I’m nearly always looking for suggestions!), I go to the very beginning and read through the archives. It is time consuming, but think of it like reading a novel. I’m not reading the latest James Mich.ner, I’m reading someone’s entertaining posts. No different, really.
Over a year ago, I clicked onto a blog that I just fell in love with. Several of my friends also read this blog. If you’re reading here and want details/addresses/whatnot, please email me and I’ll send those out. I’m not looking for a slander suit, so I’ll be keeping it strictly no-name around here today. The mommy blogger was witty, crunchy-granola, Christian, and fun. She had cute kids, and one was in crisis. I am actually embarrassed now when I realize just how awesome I thought she was. I read through the archives, I followed her posts daily, I prayed for her children and family in tears. I was a bit put off by the idea that when her child was supposed to be in serious danger she was Tweeting and blogging, including pictures. But I chalked it up to me being more private than some people (sure I am) and was thankful that she allowed us to support her family through prayer. I was amazed at the stories of people sending gift cards, money, iPhones, and many, many other gifts. I included the family in my prayer requests here on my blog, and encouraged you all to go and love on them as well. I don’t regret the prayers one bit. Let me make that perfectly clear.
Over the course of the year that I’ve been reading that blog, little red flags began to pop up. Stories that didn’t quite make sense, or details that seemed incongruent from one story to the next. The attitude of entitlement and perceived preferential treatment from God, and the obvious pandering designed to bring clicks. See, when you click on a blog that has ads, the blogger gets money. I’m not saying this is a bad thing — I used to have ads on my blog and I may again in the near future. It will never pay my mortgage, but people should get paid for their time and intellectual property. So my beef is not with the ads. But engineering your blog to increase the number of clicks and beginning to plant Google ad words and search terms is a bit….distasteful. Apparently there’s an art (that I obviously don’t grasp) to putting particular words in your blog to bump it up in Google searches. The more times you can include that term in your post, the higher on Google your blog will be, I think. I’m not 100% sure how all that works. But I started noticing a lot of product placement word-wise, a lot of sketchy terms that could bring clicks looking for less-than-admirable things, and a lot of other tactics to garner clicks. Like promising an update but not posting it, while posting yet another teaser. It’s like when the evening news tells you what’s “coming up next!”, but it doesn’t come up next for about 34 minutes. Annoying, and kind of rude.
In the past week, I stumbled (not literally) over a blog disparaging this woman. Let me take that back — it’s not disparaging if it’s true. Apparently I’m not the only person who was starting to be rubbed the wrong way. Apparently I’m not the only one to notice some things that seemed inappropriate. I just don’t have the time or Google-skills (like ninja skills, but more useful!) to find the dirt. But the users of this site certainly do. And what I read shocked and appalled me. I checked some things, I went back and re-read things, and I referred to my own BS meter.
And while I was falling swiftly out of love with this mommy this past week or so, she did a bunch of other stuff that literally turned my stomach. Like continually posting pictures of her childr.en uncloth.ed and including search terms that are practically tailor-made for pedophiles. And then doing it again when people tell you what has happened to other children in the same situation. Insinuating that God just loves you better, and saved your child because so many people prayed so hard but didn’t save other children for whatever reason. God does what He will, not what we want. Then some obvious lies started coming out on the blog that points out this mommy’s problems. And some information about shady business and personal dealings. I have been reading these blogs simultaneously this week to check what the mommy blogger says against what the people who would keep her accountable say. It’s actually become a strange mixture of very sad and very interesting.
So what’s my point? Click away, right? I’ve always felt that if I don’t like what someone blogs about or the manner in which they do it, I should just click away. No one is paying me to be there, and I shouldn’t be contributing click-money to someone that I don’t agree with. And as much as I would love to make big money off the drivel I put up on the Internet, I refuse to offer pictures of children that invite pedophiles, and I won’t pander to businesses or people that would allow me to lie and stoop to making things up. I will not sacrifice my soul for it. I will not sacrifice my ideals or my principles. Two verses of Scripture come to mind, and have been offered in regards to this matter by other people:
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24)
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10)
I think that about sums it up for me as far as money is concerned.
My point is this: be very, very careful of the people you idolize. Be very wary of anyone who seems to have it all together, or says that God loves them more, or has to backtrack and backpedal due to making false claims. If you wouldn’t be friends with someone in real life because of their decisions and actions, why are you patronizing their blog and helping them to earn more money? Be careful whom you aspire to be like, and beware of envying someone else’s life. I know I was guilty. I would dearly love to have X number of kids running around my house (a big, beautiful house), to make what looks to be tens of thousands of dollars each month off my blog. I would dearly love to be creative and quirky and funky and so “bold” in my blogging. I would love to have concrete proof of God’s love and faithfulness in my everyday life in the form of a healed child. Or any child, for that matter. But at what cost?
But now you can be certain that I will guard my heart against these idols who walk among us, looking to take our minds and hearts from pure things. How much time have people spent reading this woman’s blog and feeling bad about their own life or parenting skills? Time that they could have spent actually playing with their children or talking to their spouse. I worry about this woman’s children, and how they will feel about their every moment being put up as blog fodder. Granted, we’ll blog about our children, but we won’t expose them willingly to pedophiles. And we won’t subject them to contrived and forced situations for blog purposes. I won’t lie to you and use my cute children as bait so that you’ll click and make me some money. I only wish this woman would shield her children a little more from the prying eyes and nosy people. And if she’s lying half as much as it looks like she is, and doing it while proclaiming the Lord’s name all over the internet, well…God save her.
If someone looks too good to be true, and purports to be better than you, walk away. Someday you may actually get a glimpse at the seamy underbelly of their situation, and the sound that idol makes as it falls down is deafening. And heartbreaking. Guard your heart, bloggity friends. I’ll definitely be a little more cautious from now on.
Tell me — have you idolized a blogger only to find out that they may be a big phony?