Are You a Singer or a Thudder? Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of Christ.

August 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Living Simply - (Comments Off on Are You a Singer or a Thudder? Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of Christ.)

My honey and I celebrated our anniversary last weekend with dinner and a show at our local community theatre. It was an awesome Saturday date night, and Sunday morning we attended Mass with our kids and my parents, as usual. The second reading for Sunday was Romans 8:35, 37-39, which reads

Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ? 
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? 
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us. 
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

During his sermon, Father Tom talked about this reading and used a very good metaphor for our attitudes when it comes to Christ’s love. He said that when a potter makes a vessel, the way he knows if it is a “good” is to thump it. If it thuds, it’s no good. If it sings, it is good. We each get “thumped” all the time. When things don’t go as planned, when we lose someone we love, when something threatens a relationship, this is getting thumped. When we are thumped, we can choose to thud, or we can choose to sing.

If we choose to sing, we look on the bright side. We tell ourselves that God has a plan. We have faith and know that God will get us through it.

About a month ago, our little Illinois town was hit by the worst thunderstorm we’ve had in as long as I can remember. We, along with the majority of our county, were without power for two days. The damage was mainly to trees, branches falling on powerlines and houses, only a few injuries, and one reported death (that I can remember). We had no cell phone service at all the first day, and just a few gas stations were open. The traffic lights weren’t working, and most of the groceries stores were closed until many hours later. Thump.

Within this whole ordeal, there were many “thudders.” People who honked and were impatient when they had to turn around because of downed trees on the road. People who saw life without power as the most devastating thing ever. People who couldn’t stop complaining about the whole situation. I know I had my moments to thud. I had slight road rage at the now four way stops that previously had traffic lights. I found myself asking, exasperated, “Do people just not know the rules of a four way stop, or are they just not paying attention?!”

I like to think that most of us were “singers” for the most part. Friends with power were helping out those who didn’t have it yet. The men and women who work for Ameren CIPS (our power company) were local heroes. My parents, who did have power, stored all of our freezer and refrigerator food so it wouldn’t all get ruined. We grilled out and used candles and pretended we lived in the 1800s.

Facebook was littered with statuses like “Thanks to our Ameren workers” and “Thanking God no one was hurt during this storm” and “Praying for all the families affected by the storm.” My personal favorite was by my friend Leigh (who I believe copied it from someone else… someone take credit here, and let me know!)

Friends without power: I have power! Come juice up your computer, refrigerate your medicine, blow dry your hair, charge your cell phone, hang out under a fan, watch the news, or just flip on and off a lightswitch now and again to feel better. Whatever you may need, please don’t hesitate to call. I would love to help you! You might even get lucky and get a meal out of it…

She was truly a “singer” during our little disaster. When things go wrong in a community, it seems like people come together, and I know I have a brighter outlook on people in general because of the kindnesses shown to me and others. Christ’s love was present throughout our community.

I call this our little disaster, and even though it wasn’t all that bad, it puts life in perspective. On the news tonight, CBS was showing pictures from the drought in Somalia, starving children, crying mothers, looks of death on their faces. Christ still loves each of them, even in these horrid conditions. Nothing can separate them from His love.

It makes me realize the gift we have of living in America. We truly are in a land of prosperity. So today, I’m thankful that I was able to feed my children tonight, and that we have power and running water. The love of Christ is all around us.

When is the last time you were “thumped” in your life? Are you a singer or a thudder?

Twenty-Five MORE Things About Me

June 16th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Living Simply | Our Crazy Life - (Comments Off on Twenty-Five MORE Things About Me)

A little over two years ago, everyone on Facebook posted “25 Things About Me” in their notes section, then tagged their friends in it. These were just totally random facts about the writer. Click here to read my original twenty-five.

I thought it would be fun to see how much has changed and how much different I am two and a half years later, so I made a new list. Twenty-Five More Things About Me. Enjoy.

  1. I am a stay-at-home mommy of three children under the age of four years old. Although it takes a lot of time and energy just to care for them, we have way too much fun. It’s like I get to be a kid again sometimes.
  2. After 6 years of marriage, I’m still insanely in love with my husband. He’s got an awesome, clever sense of humor, and he keeps me grounded when I fly off the handle. We complement each other, and I have no doubt that God brought us together.
  3. I believe in Heaven. I have read several books on Heaven (Heaven Is For Real, 90 Minutes in Heaven, and others). I have always had a strong faith in God and I believe what the Bible says, so I know it’s a real place.
  4. Deep down, we still want ten kids. Before my honey and I were married, we answered EVERYONE who asked, “How many kids do you want?” with a definitive, “Ten.” Now that we aren’t young starry-eyed kids anymore, we have to be realistic about raising and educating multiple children… but we still WANT ten. Are we crazier than Charlie Sheen? Possibly.
  5. If you are old enough to be on Facebook, you are old enough to know how to spell the word “definitely.” Not definately, not definently, not deffynitly. And don’t even get me started on their/there/they’re and you’re/your and here/hear and too/to/two. It makes my skin crawl to see a high school or college graduate write, “Deffinently. I’ll be their.” Ick.
  6. I’ve tried to quit drinking soda at least ten times in my life. But I just love it. I don’t drink it very often, but a delicious Orange Crush or a Dr. Pepper is a real treat on some days.
  7. I have started running again. My high school self would be disgusted at how fat slow I am these days, but hey, at least I’m trying.
  8. My kids just look like themselves. Everyone always asks which parent they resemble more. They’re just a good mix of both, and they do not look exactly like anyone.
  9. Buying paint and canvas doesn’t make you an artist, buying a piano does not make you a concert painist, and buying a DSLR does not make you a photographer. Another pet peeve of mine. More on this later.
  10. If I had a million dollars, I’d still shop the clearance racks first and buy store brand groceries.
  11. I took dance for 15 years. Tap, ballet, jazz, some modern. I had fun, but I’m not wonderful at any of it.
  12. I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s since 2004. To be fair, I did take TT once to play on the playplace and eat a happy meal, but I didn’t order anything.
  13. I used to think “babywearing” was for hippies. Now that I’ve got my three, I can see how convenient those little slings are.
  14. The whole reason I’m a picky eater is not because of flavors, but because of textures. I still don’t eat raw tomatoes, pears, olives or oranges.
  15. It sounds weird to me when my husband calls me by my first name. We started calling each other “Mom” and “Dad” when TT started talking, and I’ve gotten used to it. A little too used to it.
  16. I was a jerk to my parents in high school. And my whole first year of college. Sorry Mom & Dad.
  17. I have thumbs up toes. Details to come.
  18. My husband and I go on a date at least once a month. It’s amazing what good food and good conversation can do for a relationship.
  19. When we first started dating, I told my honey all I wanted was Funyuns and fireworks for my birthday. He got me a big box of fireworks and my parents got me an entire case of Funyuns. Happy 20th to me.
  20.  It’s possible to survive without a cell phone. Yes, it’s really true.
  21. If I think too hard about my kids growing up and going to school all day long, I cry.
  22. Conan is my favorite late night talk show host. Come on! How can you not love Coco?
  23. The “right” way to put toilet paper on is when it rolls over the top. 
  24. I’ve had some sadness in my life, but in the words of my good friend Matt Andrewz, “It could be worse.” Overall, I’m a super happy person, but of course no one’s life is without its sorrows. I’m a “look on the bright side” kind of girl.
  25. Blogging might be for me. This is a starting list of topics to write about. (Yes, I did just end that sentence with a preposition. But I’m from the Midwest, I can’t help it.) We’ll see how it goes.

Summertime and Cloth Diapers

June 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Living Simply - (Comments Off on Summertime and Cloth Diapers)

Aaahhhh. Summertime. I know I’ll be sick of the heat by August, but for now… it’s just peachy. Playing outside all day and into the evening, the smell of freshly mown grass, and CLOTH DIAPERS!

Oh how I love cloth diapering in the summertime. It’s so much easier to get cloth diapers smelling clean and fresh when I hang them to dry on the line outside.

My backyard clothesline

For those who remember cloth diapering “back in the day” with those huge diaper pins and rubber pants, cloth diapering sure has evolved since then! I use pocket diapers, which consist of the covers – shown in the picture – and microfiber inserts that are stuffed inside. The covers are a waterproof shell that’s still so soft on the outside and a suedecloth or fleece inner to keep baby’s bottom dry. They fasten with either hook and loop (like velcro) or snaps and are almost as easy as a disposable.

Brands of Pockets (that I have)

BumGenius

There are several different brands to choose from. Pockets are one of the more expensive routes to cloth diapering, but they are more convenient than some of the other available methods. My favorites are my 6 bumgenius one-size pocket diapers. I’ve had them for almost a year and they still look brand new. The newest ones retail for $17.95 apiece for the solid colors and $19.95 apiece for the cool “artist series” which have several adorable prints. You can order them online at CottonBabies or get them delivered free in the Quincy area at Cloth and Carry.

Kawaii

Kawaii One-Size Heavy Duty diapers are my second favorite of the cloth diapers I have. They are also one-size pocket diapers (meaning they snap down to change sizes for different size babies, so baby can use them from about 2-3 months till they’re potty trained). They have held up perfectly – still look brand new after nearly a year, but they run a bit larger than bumgenius, so they are a little loose on my 5 month old 14 pound daughter, even at the smallest setting. They’re perfect for my two year old daughter though, and the inserts that come with it are fantastic. They retail for $8.99 apiece at Cloth and Carry.

Nubunz

The last kind of pockets I have is Nubunz. They were the most inexpensive, and they work well, but they definitely don’t look quite as nice on the inside as the other two. Instead of suedecloth on the inside, they are microfleece, which still wicks moisture away from baby’s bottom, but pills up like crazy after only a few washes. It doesn’t affect how the diaper looks, though and they still look great on the outside. Nubunz run about the same size as bumgenius, so my youngest daughter is able to wear these with nearly no leaks. They are on sale right now for only $4.50 per diaper at Nubunz.com, a price that can’t be beat for new diapers! Their website looks crappy and kind of shady, but I’ve ordered from them twice and gotten these great diapers in a reasonable amount of time.

Try it out! And get some good detergent!

If you just want to try cloth diapering, order one pocket diaper and just try it out. It’s not as bad as it seems! One more super-important thing about cloth – get the right detergent to wash your diapers, otherwise your baby could end up with a wicked rash. I had no idea what I was doing when I started, and I got a “free and clear” detergent that gave my older daughter a terrible rash. I’ve had good luck with Rockin’ Green. If you’re just trying cloth for the first time, you can get samples of this awesome detergent here. Our local cloth diaper web store – Cloth and Carry – also has several types of “natural laundry” detergents, so if Rockin’ Green doesn’t work for you, there are other options.

If you have questions about starting cloth diapering, please feel free to comment, and I’ll get back to you via email as soon as possible.

Oprah's Favorite "Things"

May 25th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Living Simply - (Comments Off on Oprah's Favorite "Things")

I just read a blog post entitled “How Oprah Winfrey Implicitly Endorses Consumerism and Materialism”

Read more: http://money.blogs.time.com/2011/05/24/how-oprah-winfrey-implicitly-endorses-consumerism-and-materialism/#ixzz1NQepkOdz

In that post, Brad Tuttle talks about how Oprah is NOT compensated for any of her endorsements (you know, her “favorite things”), so people want them even more because they know that she just likes them. But is that what “living your best life,” as Oprah says, is really about?

I stopped watching Oprah a few years ago when she started getting into The Secret. It seems like that goes along with her feel-good consumerist attitude. It’s like she’s saying that life is all about doing what’s best for ME, doing what feels good for ME. doing only what I want to do – all the time. I honestly don’t believe that thinking of yourself all the time and buying things makes anyone truly happy.

At my funeral (I know, it’s sort of morbid to imagine your own funeral, but anyway), I really don’t want people to say, “Bryn was so great because she had a really nice car and an awesome cell phone and platinum dipped dinner plates.” If that’s all someone will have to say about me, I will have lived an embarrassingly self-absorbed life. I’m hoping they’ll say something like, “She really changed people’s lives for the better. She was a woman of God. She spent her life humbly serving others.”

Real happiness comes from connecting with others – our families, a significant other, friends, and God. Everyone feels uplifted when communities come together to help someone in need. The tragedy going on in Joplin, Missouri right now is a prime example of how people just want to help and serve others. Thousands of people are donating cash, essential items, and blood so that those trying to get their lives back together in Joplin can succeed. And it gives us all that warm fuzzy feeling inside to think about how people can come together in the midst of tragedy.

When it comes to “living your best life,” think about what’s really important.

Oprah, I know people are devastated that your show is over, but I’m sure some other narcissistic hollywood richer will come along soon to tell us all that our possessions make us happy… but they’ll be wrong too.