Monday, July 29, 2013

Beginning Again

In two days, my daughter will be 2 weeks old and what feels like the longest month this year will be coming to an end.  All month long, our household has felt in slow motion and fast forward simultaneously, so much happening while doing absolutely nothing! We've been surprised, overwhelmed and so blessed this past month - and now it's time to begin again.

My handsome and oh-so-active Jude is ready to dive into 'school' again, since we've been lacking quite a bit lately.  My precious Zoey is beginning everything! Mr. Butler will go back to school in a few weeks, beginning his final year of graduate school.  If I can get the hang of being a mother of two, I should begin teaching piano lessons not too long after that.  Lots of beginnings.

Beginning something for the first time can be scary.  There's just a lot you don't know until you start doing.  Beginning again is a little different.  There might be more pressure because you have been here before and often the standards or goals are placed a little higher.  At least that's a little bit what I'm feeling as I gear up for all of this.  What I'm finding, already, is that no matter what I'm trying to accomplish, I still have to do the work.  There's no room for impatience or giving up too soon.

As we all begin some things again in the next few weeks, let us be reminded of the beauty of beginnings and throw ourselves into really living the days - even if it feels like a rerun.  Every day will be flawed somehow, but at the same time those flaws bring us to new places that ultimately bring growth we couldn't touch otherwise.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why I Never Wanted To Have a Daughter

When I was pregnant the first time, I really, really didn't want a girl.  I get boys.  Girls? Not so much.  Girls are complicated and I could barely handle my own complicated girl-ness, so how could I raise one just like me?  I expected God would tell me to get over it and give me a girl anyway, but He didn't.  And, for sure, I love my boy - jumping, noisy, dirt and all!  But as I sit on the verge of having another baby (that might be a girl), I'm game for anything this time around.  I am starting to understand a little bit better why having a daughter was so unappealing at first.

I've always heard a story about me and my great aunt Sally sitting with me as I color and asking me what my favorite color was.  My response? "Black."  And no joke, for the first half of my life, black was the dominant color.  The typical pink or purple response was revolting to me.  I also hated things like tights and lace - mostly because they bothered my skin, but it quickly became difficult to distinguish between the items and the frilliness they represented!  I'm not certain that this ever happened, but in my mind I asked my parents for cars (with ramps and all) and they refused.  Perhaps I never actually asked for them, but I felt gipped just the same.  I just didn't like the typical girl things.  Dolls seemed dumb.  I didn't get the princess 'persona'.  And, frankly, most girls seemed so dramatic and not like me.  (Yes, I understand some who know me might object to the idea that I was in no way dramatic, but just go with it!)

I'm sure there a lot of reasons for the differences I felt, but a general reason is that society didn't readily offer other acceptable options for girls.  Clothes, toys, colors - if you picked the wrong ones, it said something about you that seemed threatening and irreversible.  In my heart, I knew that it just didn't matter, but the fact that so many people couldn't see that, made me mad.  That resulted in subtle rebellion, like never wearing the color pink or not ever playing with barbies by choice.

As my husband reminded me this morning, in most ways I'm living the life I always wanted: married, homemaker, mother, freedom to create as I wish.  Sounds pretty typical for a girl.  So, don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-girl.  Not at all.  But the girl box that I always heard and saw from other people just didn't feel like it fit me the same as it did everyone else.  Anyway, my point, and the lesson I've taken too many years to really learn, is that having/being a girl doesn't have to mean one toy or color or one (career) path - it can be all of them or none of them.

Have you heard of Goldie Blox? I had been told about them, but had never seriously looked them up until recently.  This is a video of the creator and her thoughts behind the toys.

Web edit - v10b-YouTubeUP-25k from Goldie Blox on Vimeo.

I don't know that I would have been a good engineer, per say, but I can see how this type of encouragement could have shaped the way I saw myself much differently than I did.  And perhaps this toy isn't the solution to all the 'girl' problems of the world.  It IS, however, a beautiful example of how there's not one kind of girl.  Don't expect it (whatever girl version you have in your head) from your child, but encourage discovery and exploration in all areas.

I'm sure princess play shows, just like boys will discover fighting and saving the girl, whether you encourage it or not.  The point isn't to polarize our vision for what being a girl is, but to understand that those aren't the only games to play!  At this writing, I am a few days shy of my due date and no clue if I'm having a girl or a boy.  It's exciting to say the least, but should I have a girl - I'm so excited to not feel boxed in the way I have in the past.  For all of you parents of daughters, what types of toys or games have you found that encourages your daughter to be more than just a princess, as their slogan says?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Your Problem Isn't Really Your Problem

Happy July to you! Here in Oklahoma, we've been given a marvelous gift of highs in the 80's all week.  After the extreme weather we've been battling, it's definitely a show of God's mercy and goodness.

I am currently 39+ weeks pregnant and playing the waiting game with the arrival of baby #2.  With this pregnancy going a lot smoother with very little 'misery' and everything appearing to ready and healthy,  there is much to rejoice about.

Since Mr. Butler has finished his first year (of 2) of MBA school and I've taken some time off from teaching, we're enjoying much needed time together as a family and catching up on the back log of to-do's around the house.  After the very full year we've had, this break is such a blessing!

And yet.

And yet, I still find myself focusing on what I feel like I'm lacking.  Since this baby could come any time now, I can't travel and I need to rest a lot.  Kind of lame when it's the season for activity and fun! Do you ever think like that?  My life is full of things that you might envy, but all I can think about is what I can't do and don't have.  Any new day, regardless of the actual events, can be a struggle - a battle between positive and negative.

Why Your Problem Isn't Your Real Problem

What that tells me today is that it just doesn't matter what your circumstance is or how much money you have.  The problems we focus on usually just aren't the real problem. You can be grateful and joyful about what you do have or you can always complain about what's missing.  It won't matter if today's problem was fixed, we could just find something else to fixate on and be miserable about.  The real problem is our response - a tone of voice, the amount of faith or hope, effort and attitude.

When I'm miserable, being told to CHOOSE to be content despite the circumstance is not that helpful.  Why?  Because I want my emotions to change on the subject before my response does.  Did you get that? We are usually waiting on our emotions to change before we change our response.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work very well that way.

Instead, I need to be focusing on the best response with the expectations that my feelings will change.  So, what's a good response? Gratitude.  What are you grateful for?  What prayer has been answered that was such a burden before?  What are you learning right now? Behave - respond - as though it is a blessing!

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17