Bleeding Orange and Blue

Friday, January 31, 2014 2 Comments A+ a-

There’s an often repeated story about the day I was born.  It happened to be a Sunday and the Broncos were playing.  And anyone that knows my dad, knows that the birth of his firstborn would take precedence over the Denver Broncos.  But barely.  And while my mom laid there, panting and breathing her way through contractions, Dad still had the audacity to ask about the score.  Whenever the story is told, Dad will turn red and stutter out an apology.

Our household bled orange and blue.  Every Sunday, Mom did her best to quiet the four girls so Dad could enjoy the game.  Well, it was never quiet, Dad’s incapable of quiet during a Broncos game.  Every success or failure was met with a loud holler or groan, and fist pounding.  Lots of fist pounding.  The kind of fist pounding that if we had friends over, they’d turn with wide eyes and a little bit of fear on their face. 

We hoped for a win.  Every football season, every week, we hoped for a win.  A win meant Dad would be in a great mood and there’d probably be a jig, some high fives, and forehead bumps.  TONS of forehead bumps.  But if the Broncos lost, watch out.  It was as though we lived in a tomb.  Silence.  Tension.  Sadness.  Even anger from time to time.  Especially if we lost to the Raiders.  But within a few days, all was right in the house again and Dad would have high hopes for the next game.

It stands to reason that we all became Broncos fans, some more avid than others.  But when you grow up in a house rooting for the local team, the passion that you witness, soon becomes a part of your soul too.  And so watching the Broncos games with our dad became a time of connection, a time to scream at the TV together. 

And eventually, he decided we were old enough to take to games with him.  It was a rite of passage, a tradition that we continue to this day.  One of my favorite memories was a Broncos-Cardinals game.  We sat behind the visiting team, 40-yard line, about four rows up.  There was a fan sitting behind us that was hurling some intense insults at the opposing team.  And it got under the skin of one of the players, a BIG player.  The problem was, the player thought it was DAD saying the insults and Dad gestured frantically to the fan behind us.  Dad was a little petrified when the player stared him down, then spit on the ground.  It was intimidating to say the least.

We watched Dad mourn the Broncos losses and celebrate their wins.  Watching them go to Super Bowl after Super Bowl only to lose was heartbreaking for my dad, and when they FINALLY won in 1998, I saw my dad celebrate in a way I have never seen before.  He drove us through the streets of our town, honking the horn, allowing us to get out celebrate with the other revelers.  He even allowed us to ditch school on the day of the Victory Parade.  It was though their victory was Dad’s victory too, and that, my friends, is a die-hard fan.

In less than 48 hours, our Broncos are playing the Super Bowl again.  It’ll be their seventh appearance, and they’re playing for their third win.  I am going to swallow my pride here and admit… deep sigh… that I was wrong.  While I never had anything against Peyton Manning, I had strong feelings when the Broncos signed him. But it was never about Peyton.  And this season, I’ve really gotten to witness the caliber of athleticism that he brings to the team, and I’m impressed.  (Sean Janelle, you close your mouth this instant!  Yes, I’m saying I was wrong!)

So while I dread the years that are coming once Peyton decides to retire, I’m going to enjoy the ride while we have him.  And when the Broncos have to start over (and they will), I will still bleed orange and blue.  After all, we’re raising the future generation of Broncos fans.  And we have our dad to thank for starting the tradition.

PS While I’ll be thrilled for Peyton if he gets that second ring, I’ll be happiest for Champ Bailey.  Its high time he has a ring to go with the career he’s dedicated to the Broncos.  Its time to ride, boys.

It was a breathless ride.

Monday, January 27, 2014 5 Comments A+ a-

Last Tuesday Ashlynn finally expressed a sincere interest in potty training.  Not that I haven’t introduced her to the idea or even tried it a time or two for a couple of days, with zero success, but last Tuesday it was as though a light was switched and she finally “got” it.  We’ve had a few accidents, but overall, I’m impressed with her determination.

Then over the weekend, Devyn spent the day shopping and lunching with my mom and sister, where she dropped some hints that she should use some new jeans.  (I’m not going to lie, she has her nana and auntie wrapped around her fingers.)  After trying on a few pairs, it was determined that my girl is now wearing a size ten jeans.  Size 10!!! 

And today we tore down the crib and put a twin bed in its place.  As Ashlynn slept her first nap in the new bed, I took the crib to the garage and set it against the wall.  The same crib that kept all of my babies is now sitting in a cold garage and is awaiting a trip to either Goodwill or the dump. 

And I’m sad.  Nostalgic.  Maudlin.

In the blink of an eye, it happened.  They’ve grown up.  And yes, it’s happened over the span of nine years, but all of these events are tangible evidence that we’ve left the baby stage behind and are coasting into this next phase of our life.  Gone are the diapers, the crib, and the single digit sizes.  And yes, in its place are new experiences, new freedoms, and new frontiers yet unexplored.

But for a moment, I want to sit with my knees drawn up to my chest, my head resting against the cement wall, and stare at that crib and remember all of the beautiful moments we experienced as new parents, as a young couple with pint-sized Littles.  I want to remember all of the doubts and fears as we brought each of them home, one by one.  It does something to a mother’s heart when she knows that a tangible piece of her youth, a reminder of her days as a young mother, is going to sit and gather dust.  It brings an ache so bittersweet, I can feel each heart beat and indrawn breath.  Time is marching on…

Don’t get me wrong, most days I’m enjoying this new stage.  The sledding trip we took last Monday wouldn’t have happened with a newborn or infant.  The trips to go hiking and swimming would’ve been reduced to wading pools in the backyard and a walk around the block.  I’m finding joy in these new experiences, and I’m thankful for the new memories we’re creating.

But for just a moment, this moment, let me mourn the end of an era.  It was beautiful and hard, treasured and messy.  An exquisite tension between some of the most cherished memories of my life and some I’d rather forget.  It was a breathless ride, and one I’m sad to see come to an end. 

Love one another.

Friday, January 24, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

About a week before Christmas, a “scandal” broke out on the world wide web.  If you have a Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram account, then you no doubt know what I’m referring to.  But this post isn’t about the scandal itself, but rather what happened in social media as a result of said scandal.  It. was. ugly.  I watched as friends posted memes, links, opinions, petitions, and the like.  With each new post, I cringed, I winced, I wondered if Satan was happy with the firestorm he’d created.  (I’ll write more about this another time, but I want to pause and state MY OPINION that I firmly believe Satan played a huge part in this storm and he probably relished watching Christians turn on each other, mere days before we were to celebrate the birth of our Savior.) 

And turn on each other we did… 

Everyone had an opinion, a thought, and demanded it be heard.  Hey, I’m as opinionated as they get (just ask my husband or sisters or parents), but there’s a time and a place.  And in my opinion, social media just isn’t it.  We can’t understand the emotions behind the words.  Facial expressions, tone of voice, and mannerisms can convey so much more about our hearts and motives than black and white words.  With black and white words, the reader can interpret intentions that aren’t there, or assume the worst.   In my humble opinion, those conversations should be taking place in person, face-to-face, in real life relationships, where hopefully love and respect color the words in those hard conversations.

I’ve been struggling lately.  I’ve noticed a trend in which everyone seems to know how to do the “Christian” thing better or more correctly than the person next to them.  I’ve mentioned before that God has really been speaking to my heart about keeping my focus on Him.  I often get distracted by those around me, measuring my walk against theirs, wondering why my convictions aren’t their convictions, believing that my Christian walk is better or worse than theirs.

It’s a dangerous place to be.  I think that any time someone (me) believes they know how to do this Christian thing better than someone else, it’s a pride issue.  And one step away from falling off a cliff.

I find myself having pep talks with myself on a daily, strike that, an hourly basis.  “Do not look left or right, Jenn.  Keep your eyes straight ahead, on God.  Your only responsibility is to respond to the convictions He has placed on YOUR heart.  Worry about YOUR attitudes, YOUR mind, YOUR obedience, YOUR calling.” And I’m wrestling with some major convictions, some areas where I’m just uncomfortable.  I don’t yet know how God is calling me to obey in those areas, but they’re there.  And they’re mine alone.  I do not get to judge you based on those same convictions, I have no idea what God has called you to obedience on.

I just can’t help but wonder how different the Church would look if we all focused on ourselves, our walks with God, and answering for our own convictions.  There’s no need to condemn one another if our beliefs don’t line up.  If you feel convicted to lead the charge on social justice, then that is where God has called you.  If you feel led to answer the call of caring for the widows and orphans, then follow it.  Some of us will feel called to enter the mission field overseas, in our backyards, or in the public schools, and others will want to focus on the mission field in our homes.  None of these are wrong, none are more right than the others, and all are very much part of God’s eternal plan. 

Focus.  Focus on where you’ve been called, focus on your obedience, stop believing that there is only one right way to answer the call to follow Jesus Christ.  We all have different strengths, weaknesses, and passions.  For a reason.  And when they work together, as I imagine God intended, there is nothing that can stop the Church and perhaps, they WILL know us by our love. 

In Her Time, In Her Way

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 5 Comments A+ a-

Reagan, from the moment I found out you were on the way, you have always done things your way.  You’re the only child of mine to arrive before their due date, a surprising two weeks early.  You have asserted your position in the family from the moment you entered our lives, never rushed or hurried.  Arriving at milestones and conclusions in your time, your way.  Never early or late, but always right on time.

You are the logical one.  I can see the wheels in your head turning as you process ideas.  You are not one to act on emotion or on impulse.  You like to think things through to their conclusion, inasmuch as a five-year-old is able.  You, my love, are a thinker.

So it was no surprise to me that you were taking your time to make a decision about accepting Christ into your heart.  Your older sister and brother were both four years old when they asked Jesus into their hearts, and I wondered when it would be your turn.  We’ve had the conversations time and time again.  But every time I asked if you were ready to take the next step, you’d shrug your slim shoulders and change the subject.  And I was ok with that because I knew that when you were finally ready, there’d be no holding you back.  I was more than happy to continue answering your questions, content with the small glimpses into your heart.  I knew God was at work with you.

Last night was a big night for you, Reagan.  I’d come home from a meeting and found out that it was Daddy who got to pray with you and welcome you into the kingdom of God.  You came running of your bedroom, eyes sparkling, wide smile, and almost leaped into my arms.  Before I could chastise you for not being asleep, you and Devyn announced that you became a Christian during bedtime prayers.  My Love, the excitement and joy I felt cannot be adequately explained here.

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Reagan Jacqueline, you are a light.  You are not one who is easily deterred or swayed.  You stand strong and I have no doubt that you will be used for great things in God’s kingdom.  I pray that you’ll always know how much your Father loves and cares for you, that you’ll always be aware of His grace.  I am so thrilled to have your name listed alongside ours in the Book of Life.  This journey as Follower of Christ is a wild one, and if anyone is up for the adventure, its you.  Welcome, my Love, hang on tight!

Odds and Ends

Saturday, January 11, 2014 3 Comments A+ a-

Well, it’s a new year.  A brand, spanking new year.  I have thoughts, lots of thoughts, but I figure its probably best to do a random update of odds and ends.  Bear with me as this is going to be ALL OVER THE PLACE.  Consider yourself warned…

520423bb-9733-49f5-9459-c4537820cf45I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions.  I just don’t.  In 2008, I started choosing one word that would be my theme for that year.  I’m one that likes to wait and see if a theme appears in the first few weeks of the year.  Its become quite apparent to me that the theme of 2014 is “Be Present”.  Everywhere I’ve turned that phrase has appeared and I wanted to ignore it.  Because this is going to be hard for me.  The extrovert of extroverts, the social media maven, is going to learn what it means to “be present” in each moment.  And I’m a little terrified to see the lessons that lay before me.  But okay, I’m willing to do it and I pray that this will become my mantra in the months ahead.

Speaking of “being present”, Jon and I started talking about Lent in early December and what we should give up during those forty days.  I’ll give you one guess as to what I refused to name, but it was at the top of Jon’s helpful list of ideas.  Social media.  So, starting on Wednesday, March 5th, I’ll be social media free.  The fact that I’m a little scared of this sacrifice tells me that this is the right move.  But please, please check in with me… I’ll still be blogging (probably more so than normal) but I fear for my sanity going cold turkey.  (And the fact that I’m only half-joking means I have issues.  Serious issues.)

IMG_62761561116847In 2013, my one word was Courage.  And it was definitely the year for it.  As I look back on last year, I can see many situations in which Courage showed up and took residence in my heart.  There’s was even a moment when Jon looked at me and wondered aloud if Courage had been meant for him too.  Here’s a small list of things where courage was needed…

Over all, I have no doubt that Courage was an obvious theme in Twenty Thirteen.  And I so appreciated how I was able to actively search to find where God was asking me to show courage, or was even able to recognize it after the fact.  He was so faithful to me this year!  I certainly would not have made it without Him.

If you follow me on Instagram, or are friends with me on Facebook, then you already know about this next one.  The whining, the temper-tantrum throwing, the fighting, the arguing.  Its out of control in our house.  As in, I’ve reached the end of my rope and realized something needed to change, because the screaming I was doing back, was obviously NOT working.  Enter the Philippians Jars.

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I can’t take credit for the idea.  This site explains it so much more eloquently than I ever could.  But we tweaked it a bit.  I’m not doing $5 a week/per child.  Um, with four Littles, that’s $80 a month.  No, just no.  So we’re going to probably do either $5 or $10 a month.  This first month, we’ve put $5 worth of quarters in each child’s jar.  Every time one of the Littles complains, whines, or throws a tantrum, a quarter comes out of their jar and into my (or Jon’s) possession.  It will be added to our date jar.  Ha!  If there’s a fight among the Littles, the instigator will have to remove a quarter from their jar and put it into the offended sibling’s jar.  Whatever is in their jars at the end of the month, they’ll get to keep and spend how they want.

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With this in mind, we’re going to be adding the chore jar.  Its inevitable that either a) they’re going to run out of quarters or b) they’ll want to add more money to their jars.  So into the chore will be real chores, hard chores and a dollar amount.  When said chore is finished, they can add that money to their jars.

I would like to add a disclaimer here.  I really have no clue what I’m doing with this parenting thing.  As I’m more than willing to admit, so much of parenting seems to be trial and error.  I’m hoping these things works, but I also realize that each of my Littles are unique.  What works with one, often won’t work with another.  But as clueless as I am, I’m honestly just trying the best I can.

A couple of other random things to note:

  • Reagan was sent home with a “Welcome to Kindergarten” binder.  Kindergarten.  My third-born is going to be registering for kindergarten next month.  Noooooooo…

  • Jon’s supervisor retired last month (December), as did two of his own guys.  So Jon is not only acting Junior Foreman, he’s also trying to maintain his own job as Shop Foreman, while maintaining his roads without two of his men.  Poor guy worked three weeks straight, without a single day off.  He is truly one of the hardest working men I know.

  • Hudson and Reagan continue to be either the best of friends, or sordid enemies.  They’ll either spend hours working on Legos together, or Reagan is telling Hudson “You’re the worst brother ever!”  To which Hudson responds “Well, you’re the worst sister in the whole world!”  Crying and fighting ensues.  See Philippians Jars above.

  • I remember when well-meaning family and friends expressed concern about Devyn not crawling (she went straight to walking) and how it would affect her ability to read.  I’m happy to report that Devyn is now reading at an 8th grade reading level.  In fact, most days will find her happily cuddled up in blankets and a big book.  I’m so proud of our girl!

  • Well, it happened.  Nine years of parenting and we have our first black eye.  Well, two black eyes if we want to get technical.  Last Saturday, Ashlynn ran smack dab into a wall.  It was a nasty goose egg, it swelled immediately.  I spent most of the night making sure she was ok by waking her every couple of hours.  By Tuesday, the swelling and bruising traveled down her face and settled around her eyes.  Slowly but surely, our baby girl is healing.  But wow, the colors have been fun to watch. 

  • Ashlynn is not yet potty trained, and I’m in no hurry.  After doing this three other times, I just wait for the Little to show interest.  And we’re not there yet.  All in due time…  But the girl is now speaking in full sentences and is still a ball of sass and attitude.  She keeps us laughing!

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