September 28, 2010

today I lost my job.

a job I had been in for just shy of 10 years.  I started there October 16th of 2000 and my final day of work will be October 1st of 2010.

I never wanted to leave.  My disposition is funny that way.  Advancement is not really my thing.  The desire to change jobs every 3 to  5 years just baffles me.  I want to stay put.

And in this job, I thought I had found it.  I loved the people.  I enjoyed the environment.  and the benefits were great.

but……

Then the economy happened.  and there was a reduction in force.  Again.  my husband Martin lost his job to a Reduction in Force last year in August.  And now mine got cut.  Nothing personal.  Just math.  Frankly the look in my boss’ eyes told me that he hates this as much as I do.

So…….

now what?

I’ll tell you what – for the first time in 10 years we are now open to God sending us anywhere.  We are no longer hampered by the luxury of my benefits.  We can see what other possibilities are out there.

skeptics will say “none!”

I say “let’s wait and see what God has in store.”

oh and I get to spend more time with my favorite Bible study partner and my wonderful baby girl.

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of football and fall

It’s  Fall.

Football season……

and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a particular piece of football equipment.

the mouth guard.

Intellectually I knew that mouth guards affected speech and I always felt sorry for the guys on the football field trying to speak and to understand each other with those things in their mouths.  It is a familiar sight to see a quarterback take the mouth guard out, call the play, and then put the mouth guard back in before the snap.  Anyone who watches football has seen that happen.

But just how much a mouth guard affects your speech never really sunk in for me till this past week.

I have had to start wearing a mouth guard at night.

No, I am not involved in some bizarre night time sporting activity which requires safety gear.  But I have been clenching my jaw in my sleep for years and it is starting to have a cumulative effect on my teeth.  Initially the dentist was talking about fitting me with an expensive, custom molded mouth guard.  Yikes.  I don’t have bunches of money right now so the prospect of a custom fitted dental appliance was a bit daunting!  But then the hygienist told me a secret.

“couldn’t I just get a football mouth piece?” I joked.

“yup” she said.

Music to my ears!

So the next time I was in Wal-mart I planned to get a football mouth piece.  Just for fun I looked in the dental care section first and lo and behold they had a mouth guard of the “boil and bite” variety that was not built for sports, but instead was designed for folks who clench or grind their teeth.  Perfect!  Just what I needed.  For only $20. Yipeee!

Bought it.  Took it home.  Boiled it.  Bit down.  I now have a mouth guard molded for my teeth that I can use each night to keep me from clenching my teeth all night in my sleep, Hooray!  Okay, actually to be perfectly correct, the mouth guard does NOT keep me from clenching my teeth.  It just keeps my inevitable jaw clenching from doing any damage to my teeth.

Aside from keeping me from damaging my own teeth, the mouth guard has had a major side effect though – I have gained a more personal, visceral understanding of just how difficult it is to speak as you normally would with one of these things in your mouth.  I have a greater appreciation than ever of football players who can manage to make themselves understood on the field.

And I have also gained a new understanding of Psalm 141:3.

Last year I memorized this verse and I intellectually related it to a football mouth guard as a way of helping me remember the verse.

Set a guard over my mouth oh Lord,
keep watch over the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3

But I hadn’t really understood just what I was asking God for.  I had previously thought of asking God to guard my mouth as essentially me asking God to  “stop me from speaking Lord.”   But I look at it very differently now.  Now that I have actually had a mouth guard in my own mouth I realize that really it is more that

the mouth guard fundamentally distorts your speech.

It’s not that you can’t talk.  You can.  Reasonably well actually.  But the mouth guard profoundly affects everything you say.  Your voice sounds a bit different, your pronunciations change, your ability to make any clipped sounds or sharp, crisp cut offs of consonants is gone, and glottal stops are just out the window.  Having a mouth guard in even, to a certain extent, affects your breathing mechanics.  And to a small extent it changes some facial expressions.

When I think now of asking God to “set a guard in my mouth” and realize that the guard He will place in me is the Holy Spirit, that whole last paragraph takes on spiritual meaning.

With the Holy Spirit in me, my voice should sound different.  My pronouncements will change.  My ability to be short with people and in my conversation should go away.  My every breath should be a prayer.  And if God is IN ME, He will affect even my facial expressions.

I Want God to Fundamentally Distort My Speech.

My personal paraphrase of Psalm 141:3 as a prayer now goes something like this –

“Set your Holy Spirit in my very mouth LORD, profoundly affect my every word, make it so that I cannot speak at all without betraying that YOU are in me.  Watch over me Lord.  Affect my breathing, and my expressions Jesus.   If I try to take out your guard so that I can speak in my old sinful selfish way, SEE me Lord and let your Holy Spirit kick me so that I do not take out my mouth guard. Ever.”

It is one of my most frequent prayers these days.  Well, other than “Lord, please do something ‘bout dem DAWGS”…………..


we need to move the djembe…

ah …..

The unbearable cuteness of being….Ginny.  She does or says something cute every day, but some of them need to be recorded for posterity (or for embarrassing her with when she starts dating). That said, here are a few cute things Ginny has said or done recently

She has started singing.  The first recognizable song was “Ring around the Rosie” which in her world goes something like this

Ring a’ rosie
Ring a’  pocket a’ posies
ashes
ashes
ashes
all fall DOWN!

Not quite canonical, but when she gets the words right it won’t be nearly so cute.  I do have film and audio of her singing this, but as her favorite place to sing is in the bathtub….I can’t publish it. *sigh*

So instead you will get a photo of Ginny devouring birthday cake.  The child adores her Grammy’s carrot cake.

She slayed me the other day.  I work full time.  Monday through Friday 7:30 to 4:00.  Martin has a part time job doing AV for our church, it involves a lot of emailing, but he only really  physically works on Sunday mornings and a little bit during the times that Ginny is at school, so she doesn’t really notice him as being gone or not available.  Apparently she has no trouble at all identifying ME as being gone and unavailable.

This became evident about a week ago.  I was spending a delightful evening with Ginny. We played dress up, we wrestled, we giggled, she had a very good time at dinner and she was very snuggly all evening.  I was in hog heaven.  She was in her bath and we were playing and she started doing the roll call that all toddlers do.  Naming every person in their life whether the person is in the room or not.  And you, the adult are supposed to answer and tell her where everyone is.

Her – Gammy?
Me – Grammy is at Grammy’s house.
Her – Gammy’s house.

Her – Gan-daddy ?
Me – Grand Daddy is at Grammy’s house.
Her – Gammy’s house.

Her – Kirby?
Me – Kirby is downstairs.
Her – ‘own sairs.

Her – Lucy?
Me – Lucy is down stairs.
her – ‘own sairs.

Her – Papa?
Me – Papa is downstairs.
Her – ‘own sairs.

Her – Mama?

And before I could hug her and say Mama is right here, she came out with “Mama’s at work!” in a decidedly belligerent tone.

Ugh.  Talk about a stab to the gut!

I’ve never before run into this, but she knows the major USES of the colors Red and Green, but she doesn’t say the color NAMES.  For instance she will hand me a red ball and instead of saying “red” she will say “stop” and when she sees a green object she identifies it as “Go!” not green.  Is this weird?

One of my greatest joys in life is watching her figure stuff out.  Don’t you love the thoughtful look they get when the wheels are turning inside their little heads?  Well, last night Ginny was pretending to clean things.  She went all around the living room with an (empty) spray bottle and cleaned the couch “I keen sofa.”  She cleaned the little tykes slide  “I keen lide.”  She cleaned the dog “I keen puppy” (this was Kirby who got slightly annoyed with being sprayed with pretend water and sound effects).   She cleaned the TV screen “I keen Movies.”

Then she moved to the item next to the TV which is the glass fronted cabinet where all the other electronics are stored.  The VCR, DVR, Cassette player, the cable box etc.  She pretend sprayed the glass cabinet door and said “I keen……ummmm”  she visibly thought about it a moment and then said “I keen BUTTONS”

And then she looked at me funny as I giggled for the next ten minutes.

One more story of recent cute stuff.

Ever since she was born we have been singing a couple of specific songs to her “This is the day that the Lord hath made” is our morning song.  “the Lord bless you and keep you” is our night time song and we all hold hands and sing the blessing at the table.  For a while now Ginny has been asking for the blessing song all throughout dinner.  At random intervals she will hold out her hands to the people next to her and say “pray” which means she wants us to sing the blessing again.  Ginny also asks us to her nighttime song almost every night.  It is our best cue that she is ready for sleep.  She says “Peace.”  We sing the song, kiss her goodnight and go away.

The one song she hadn’t asked for yet though was the morning song. Until about a week ago.  Martin is the lucky man who gets to greet Ginny in the mornings.  And I’m not being facetious here, Ginny is pure sunshine in the mornings.  I don’t know why God saw fit to bless two people who are addicted to sleep with a morning person, but that is unquestionably what he did.  Ginny is at her best in the mornings. Cuddly, sweet, amazingly happy and very free with her hugs and kisses. Naps just aren’t the same thing.  She wakes up cranky from naps more often than not.  But mornings?  Pure gold. If you ever need to be cheered up or pulled out of a depression, just come by our house at 7 a.m.  any day of the week, Ginny will cheer you right up. This, by the way, is why I try to schedule our family photo appointments first thing in the morning.

Anyway, Martin gets to enjoy the majority of the wake up times and he has been singing his own version of “This is the day that the Lord hath made” to Ginny.  His version involves using two books as impromptu percussion instruments.  Apparently Ginny really likes this version. Martin forgot one morning last week and didn’t do the song right away.  Ginny went and got two books, started banging them together in the proper rhythm that Martin uses and brought them to her papa saying “This is Day! This is day!”

Clearly we need to get her tambourine or move her djembe to her room……

well, that didn’t come out right….

Did’ya ever say one thing…

And your audience heard something else entirely?

Basically it came out completely wrong.

At a recent Beth Moore event I spotted this gorgeous young lady.  She was beautiful and dressed beautifully. I thought she must be in the choir or platform party in some way.  She looked elegant, fully made-up, hair in an up-do, flowing floor-length dress……at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

She was only a few feet away from me so I caught her eye and said

“wow you sure are dressed beautifully for a Saturday morning!

She looked at me as if she was offended and said “well it’s very comfortable”

And gave me a pinch of her dress to feel.

It was comfy – it was stretch cotton, but you would never know just by looking.

I tried to backpedal, I tried to make her understand that I was ADMIRING her

But the initial phrase had come out wrong (or been wrongly received) and I couldn’t fix it.

The doors to the auditorium opened just after that and we will never see each other again.  I don’t even know her name.

It haunts me.

Has that ever happened to you?

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a comment that initially sounded hurtful?

I know I have.  There have been plenty of times in my life when someone has said something that I could instantly take as insulting.  And usually I do take umbrage far too easily.

Perhaps I should reconsider.

Perhaps they meant well, but it just didn’t come out right.

ginny’s second birthday party

Hey folks.  Long time, no blog.  I know I know.

I’m gonna try to get back in the groove of posting more soon.

But until then, here is a slide show of SOME of the 1000 photos that Doug Mulford took at Ginny’s Second Birthday Party.

the party was at The Little Gym in Snellville.  I had always sworn I was NEVER going to pay to have a party at some venue outside my home for a childrens party.  yeh, I know never say never….

At the beginning of the summer we enrolled Ginny in a weekly class at the Little Gym and she loved it so much that we decided “oh what the heck, let’s have her party here too” and boy are we ever glad we did!

First of all two year olds have WAY too much energy to have a party at our house.  Our home can barely contain Ginny in an energetic mood, never mind 10 or 15 guest kids.  oi!  The Little Gym staff was amazing.  They did everything we paid for and then some.  When we arrived they made a point of asking what Ginny’s favorite games are.  Hide-n-seek? Peek-a-boo? Tag? So that they could tailor the group activities to HER tastes!  Maybe other places do this too, but I am naive enough that I was impressed.

Anyway, her favorite thing in the whole world to do these days is (in her own words) Bouncy! Bouncy! Bouncy!  so they extended the time the kids get to play on the bounce…thingy.

I will post an update on her words and current doings soon, but for now I’ll just say that Ginny is 34 inches tall, weighs 26 pounds and has the sweetest personality in the world.  I am daily amazed at this wonderful, complicated, cheerful, creative, energetic little girl that God has blessed us with.  “Thank you” doesn’t even begin to convey the feelings I have for Ginny’s birthparents, Mel & Steve.

The adventure that officially started in a hospital room in Kansas on the night of August 29th, 2008 continues.  I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my lovely

Virginia Altie Aspen Gerard Russell