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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The self feeding baby that talks and walks

Self feeding Baby
Originally uploaded by Devona.
You might be able to see those teeth that she broke through on the bottom in this picture if you look closely.
Olivia is a master of both eating and dexterity. Heck she's even a master of verbality. Is that a word?

She can pick up her food and put it in her mouth all by herself as long as the food is not slippery. She's also left handed as far as I can tell. That would be a trait passed down from Mary, Rob's mom. She loves food. All food. As a 7 month old baby she's eaten carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, hummus, guacamole, zucchini, bananas, apples, greenbeans, and sometimes eats those things mentioned above seasoned with garlic and sesame. She's crazy! Today we were at the mall during lunch time when I hadn't expected to be, so I went to a place in the food court and we split a lunch. I had pizza and she had the side of mixed veggies. I cut the little pieces of zucchini and carrots into bite sized chunks and she ate them up. She even chewed with her little teeth. It was very cute.

She is also saying "Dada," and sometimes singing it. She has only said "Ma" once. It was when I went into her room after she woke up from a nap. When she saw me she said, "Ma!" and never mentioned it again. "Dada" on the other hand is the talk of the town. A normal Olivia sentence is, "Dada, Dayadaya, Ga Da Ya Ga Ya Ya Ya Ya." It's very sweet to listen to. The other evening Rob, Olivia and I were hanging out in our bed getting ready to read a story and put Liv in her crib and we were all talking. Rob said, "O-LIV-I-A, can you say that?" over and over. Then Olivia replied, "O-O-VI-A." I kid you not. This was also a once time only performance along with "Ma."

And if I haven't bragged on my baby enough in one post, I have one more little announcement. Olivia will not crawl, but she really likes standing up and hanging on to the furniture. She'll even walk across the room if you hold her hands. She's super-baby.

OK, that's enough Mom-Pride for one day. I hope you enjoy the picture!

Bad News

I was hanging out with my good friend Eliza the other night and we decided it would be a good idea to try and figure out exactly what classes I needed to take in order to graduate. Well, upon further inspection of the University of Akron webpage I discovered that I have twice as much school left to do than I had originally thought. That means that I won't be able to finish up my degree, at least not as a traditional student anyway.

I would have 5 semesters at 9 credits, or 3 semesters at over full-time, if I wanted to graduate. Not only can I not bring myself to leave Olivia that long, but we really can't afford that much school for me to be a stay-at-home-mom when it's all said and done. I am calling the university advisors office to make an appointment to see if there is anything I can do as a distance learning student, or through another college. Either way it's going to be expensive and time consuming.

To be honest, I almost just want to take a break from school. I really thrive on the classroom discussion, and I love learning from the professors in the English Department when they're not psycho feminists, but it really separates me from my family. I have so much work to do and I can't settle for second best, so I end up obsessing over my assignments and neglecting my home life. The final paper I wrote this semester clocked over 30 hours of work in one week, not including classroom time and the paper was only 7 pages long. I know I put more into it than was required, but I wouldn't let myself settle for less than what I did. If I took more classes than I did this semester I don't know when I'd see Olivia and Rob.

I know that there are hordes of my family members and friends groaning in disappointment at this news. I know that I am really close to being done, and that I'll only benefit from having my degree......... I know all of it. But I really want to assure you that if I don't pursue my degree further it is only because I know that it is not what is best for my family. College is supposed to prepare you for your adult life and help you become a contributing member of society. It is supposed to educate you, and help you to mature. I have already reaped those benefits from my experience at Akron U, and if I don't get the degree what I have gained thus far cannot be taken away from me. Besides, when I go down the advisors office and sign my contract with the university I will always only have 47 credits left until I graduate. I will always have all of my required classes completed. And I will always only have electives left to finish before I graduate. I won't always have new babies at home and a young husband trying to get on his feet to support us. I can't get this time back as a young family, but I'll always be a college senior.

My goal is to spend the summer trying to get published as a free-lance writer, and if I can do that, maybe I'll just give up on the degree all together because I'll already be accomplishing all that I hope the degree will help me with.

Could all of you out there in the blogosphere say a prayer for me that I would be able to discern the proper decision? I'll be sure to keep you all updated as to what the university decides.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Serving the church: Belief in God or belief in self?

I'm looking for a new job. Since I can't do anything without thinking about its theological implications, I've also been thinking a lot about vocation, serving the church, and what it means to be a productive member of society.

Churches run on people. Volunteers are the coal that keep the train of programs, services, and support groups chugging. Glance through this week's Business Week, and you'll see it's truer now more than ever before.

These churches do a good enough job indicting themselves with this kind of behavior--I'm not going to blast them too badly for getting millions of dollars worth of work for free.

I'm much more discouraged by the common methods for amassing armies of volunteers. Whether its the old favorite guilt-trip, or the newer strategy of strong-arming people with their own 'unrealized potential,' churches tend to get volunteers by putting the talents and personalities of their members at the center.

Good with computers? You should come fix the church's for free! Edit video for a living? Why don't you put together our hour-long video tour for new members? And if you've got a good personality and find it easy to talk to people, look out. You're about to be thrust out in front of every church-growth initiative imaginable.

Anyone who comes off well in front of a crowd is untapped potential for the modern church. The biggest megachurch worship services are the most elaborate volunteer talent shows you've ever seen.

That might be okay if the talents weren't always getting in the way of the worship. After all, organ music is nice, and a well-trained choir is a beautiful addition to the liturgy.

But to get the kind of performance out of people that the modern church demands, you've got to convince them that their talent--given to the latest church program, not their family or career--is vital to the proclamation of the Truth. This inexoriably marries our talents, demeanor, and stage presence to our faith in Christ--a precarious position to say the least.

Is there anything inherently wrong with church computer networks, video suites, and church-growth initiatives? That's debatable. But there's definitely something un-scriptural about the central roll personality, self-esteem, talent and ego are taking in the church.

Let's compare. When God wants to get something done, he picks a real loser.

Need to free your chosen nation from bondage in Egypt? God picks a renegade shepherd with a bad lisp. Even with a full bag of miracles, Moses can't handle the job alone, and God has to send smooth-talking Aaron along with him. And even Aaron drops the ball, with that whole Bring-Your-Own-Golden-Calf frat party in the desert.

David starts out well enough with the Goliath takedown. But after Bathshebagate and a family feud straight off of Jerry Springer, things end on a generally sour note.

Fast-forward to Paul. If he's not whining about body of death this, sufferings of Christ that, he's wandering into the church in Corinth in weakness, fear and trembling. His understudy, Timothy, isn't much better. A bad stomach and a real penchant for misery don't exactly put him in the same league as Rick WarrenTM.

And let's not forget Christ. Homeless, ugly, and cruising into town on an ass, the people kill Him the first chance they get.

It's a good thing we don't have guys like Him running the church. We need people with skills.

John the Baptist takes an approach foreign to so many church efforts to get people 'involved.' When asked to explain Christ to his disciples, there are no lights or sirens, no smoke machines or even warm handshakes. Instead, he says "He must increase, but I must decrease."

When Paul calls to Timothy to serve, it sounds similar:
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
Central to Timothy's budding ministry is not his natural ability, his winning smile, or his warm chuckle. It's a confession of Christ. We see the same throughout the New Testament: Rejected Jews, tax collectors, and grubby fisherman--the real oddballs in a world of slick Roman politicians and wise Pharisees--carrying the Gospel of Christ to the four corners of the world.

The work of Christ is not done in the power of persuasiveness, winning friends and influencing people the whole world round. It's done by the power of the Holy Spirit in the preached Word, coming out of the faltering lips of the most unlikely people.

This central role personality has taken in the church isn't bad only because it's non-scriptural, but also because it's destructive. All of those people, sought out by the church because of their gifts of eloquence, people management, or creativity will one day look inside themselves and see nothing but a black pit. And it will shake them to their core.

I know this because it happened to me. After years of being told that I was perfect for church ministry because of my niceness, sincerity, charisma, and whatever else, I discovered I wasn't really any of those things. And whatever I was, it wasn't any good at all. I saw my sin played out in my conversations, habits, and innermost thoughts.

What was I?

A poor, miserable sinner. And hearing it was like having my eyes opened for the first time.

There's a terrible distance between serving the church out of belief in yourself, and serving out of belief in Christ. The former is sand, the latter is the solid rock.

My pastor asked me if I could help out at church the other day. He didn't tell me he wanted me to help because I was a snappy dresser, had cool hair, or could play a mean G-chord. He just asked "Hey, got some time?" I couldn't have been happier to oblige.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

I'm a Genius!!! MMWWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

That's right! I got straight As this semester. Oh yeah. I am Aw3xom3!!LoL!!!!111!!!!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Leave my burdens where?

The other day, a good friend of ours was telling us about worship services at her church. After listening to the White Horse Inn episode on Happy Clappy Worship, which points out the glaring lack of suffering in many of today's worship songs, she remarked "Yeah, at my church they tell you to leave all your burdens at home before coming to church."

I've heard this sort of thing hundreds of times. I led worship throughout high school and college for a number of churches--I probably even said it a few times.

Now, the statement makes me cringe. If we are not allowed to bring our troubles to church, where are we supposed to take them?

Every one of us is dragging around a body of death. The road we drag it down--the road of the already justified, not yet glorified, and still being sanctified--is a hard one. The great mistake we make is when we look at our road-weariness as the entire problem. "If only I could be more positive, I wouldn't struggle so much with sin," we tell ourselves.

Paul didn't see it that way. Neither did Jesus.

Some of the most hopeful words written in history were penned by a destitute apostle, facing death at every turn. From Romans 8:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

To Paul, hope is everything. Hope is all he has. And for every last one of us, it will be the same.

We will each face that terrible moment as death creeps across the room to take us. And there, as we face that ultimate enemy we were never created to face, the hope of Christ must be everything.

Will we even be able to pray at that moment? Are we even able to pray now, when suffering can strike us down time and time again? Paul continues, telling us not to worry:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

The worship leader who admonishes you to leave your burdens at the door does not know what he is leading. Through our suffering, we partake of Christ. If our burdens serve only to distract us from God, why would Paul write in verse 17:

Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Our sufferings are an unavoidable part of being a child of God. Our hardships--as bad as they can be--somehow serve a purpose.

Don't leave your burdens at home. Take them to church and pour them out before Christ, week after week. In His words:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Tush and Vowels

Originally uploaded by Devona.
Hi everyone! I decided to take a break from eating my sweet potatoes to let everyone know about my progress in the art of speech. I'll explain a little bit about my adventures scooting around backwards, too. Which one do you want to read about first? Scooting? Ok.

I love moving around. In fact I love it so much that Mom and Dad argued about whether or not I was fast enough to get away and go down the stairs. Mom won, and so now everything in the the living room has been moved to a new place, and there is a white plastic gate at the top of the steps. I haven't gone near it. Mom and Dad have to move it a hundred times a day though. I am feeling a little squirrely today though, so I might move my way over there to see what is so great about the other side of that gate, and learn why they keep taking it down and putting it back up.

The method I use to get from one place to another is called the "Modified Push-Up." The first step is to either fall flat on your face from sitting, or if you're feeling like taking your time, you can always inch down slowly into the belly crawl position. Then you lift up your body, pointing your tush to the sky and wiggling it back and forth a few times. Then push with your arms and your feet should go sliding backwards until you return to the belly crawl postion. This is most effective on hard wood floors and linolium, but with determination you can achieve this move on carpet as well. It doesn't work in grass at all. If anyone is in the market for a new way to move, I'll be offering lessons between lunch and nap-time. Check with my secretary, I mean Mom.

The only down side to the "Modified Push-Up" is that if you want your jingly block or your Spot book, it will take you hours to get it. For some reason, when I move around this way I always end up farther away from what I want, and so I cry. Sometimes Mom picks me up to move me toward my book or block, some times she picks up the toy and moves it to me. All in all I think I'll stick with this until something better comes along.

I'm also learning to talk. The best conversation I have had so far is with the coasters at Outback Steak House when Dad and I took Mom on a date for Mother's Day. Oh, I talked and talked. I used my voice the loudest I had ever used it before. I think it made the other people like me becuase they kept looking at us. I'm cute, so I can understand.

The noises that I find most effective for communication are the sounds my mom calls vowels all smushed together. It sounds kind of like this: "AAOOUUAAAAGAAAAAH EEEOOOOOOOOOAAAAAH" Which in this case meant, "Oh, Coaster. I love you and your papery texture. I enjoy chewing you, and throwing you on the ground. Hey, what's that guy looking at?!"

When I'm feeling quietly content and happy I make the "f" sound, or sometimes the "v" sound. Mom said that is a pretty normal place to start making what she calls "consonant" sounds. These are apparently "fricatives," which are easy beacause they are just vowel sounds that I say while partially closing my mouth with my teeth and lips. At least that what Mom said. Next I'm suposed to make "Stops" like "b, " "d," and "t." Those are suposed to be more tricky. But once I get those I might try some words like "baba" or "dada," who knows. Maybe I'll say "incarnation" instead. It depends on how profound I'm feeling that day.

Well, thanks for stopping by.