Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm a Waffle, nice to meet you

I read a devotional not too long ago that must have been inspired by a book called Men Are Waffles, Women Are Spaghetti.  And, it really got me thinking.

I am interested in how people are wired…a sort of, why do we do what we do?  I’m also highly visual.  This short devotional provided me with both a descriptive and visual look at the differences between men and women.  Basically Bill and Pam Farrel (authors of the book) describe that men have compartments.  “Men process life in boxes.”  Each box is separate and holds a particular thought, interest, or part of who they are.  Men seemingly have one thing on their “plate” at a time.  Women on the other hand are like spaghetti.  Each noodle in the bowl runs alongside or is intertwined with another.  It seems that women are able to multitask easier than men; and many parts of what women think, feel, and process intersects with another.  If something emotional happens to a man he is able to compartmentalize it and then deal with it at a later time—it may not affect his mood or daily routine.  Women on the other hand run through various thought processes at the same time.  Women may find themselves affected by a rough morning for the rest of their day.  

Now, the devotional I read was not written by the book authors.  The devotional author has a different thought to this subject and one that I find myself understanding.  The point of the devotional is that she had this “ah-ha!” moment because she doesn’t consider herself spaghetti.  She spent a lot of her adult life wondering why she didn’t fit in and didn’t relate as well to other women.  She was made more like a waffle.  As I read her words, I could feel my eyes growing narrower as I processed her words.  My conclusion is that I too am more like a waffle.  Well, sort of.

Multitasking is something I do well.  I am one of those women that can fold laundry, watch TV and break up an argument between my kids all at the same time.  The other morning I was cleaning up breakfast while the kids were playing in the backyard.  I overheard Elliot tell Sydney how he was going to jump off the top of the wooden playhouse while holding a large stick.  I was outside on the deck reminding him of the dangerous choice he was about to make before he had even gotten to the top of the playhouse.  His response? “I thought you were cleaning up the kitchen!”  Maybe he sees the waffle in me too, but that was a spaghetti moment.

I find myself engaged more when I get to focus on one thing at a time.  I don’t choose to multitask, but sometimes it’s what life calls for.  I certainly can switch subjects in conversation like the spaghetti woman, but I feel more fulfilled when I get to be in one compartment at a time.  Oddly enough is that I am married to a man that is more like spaghetti.  Many of John’s thoughts are connected to each other.  The happenings of life can affect him at a deep level.  He doesn’t compartmentalize as well as some men (I see this as a positive).  Taking this spaghettiness into consideration helps me to understand a bit of why he does what he does.  John is so good at linking together the logical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of issues (something that the book authors claim spaghetti does well).  I am not as good at connections.  For me, things are more separate, more boxy.   

What happens to waffles is that those little boxes can fill up with syrup.  The syrup of life sometimes gets poured on us even when we say we’ve had enough.  My compartments become full and then the syrup runs over into the next box.  This can create a bit of a mess, which I think is why some days I may feel overwhelmed.  I need a little extra time to soak up some of the syrup.  This is when I lean on my husband (and especially on God).  John helps me process the extra and quickly I feel less sticky.  God must really like syrup because when I go to Him in prayer, the syrup practically evaporates like water.  

Most importantly is not to try to be something we aren’t.  What food are you?  Do you tend to fall more in the category that the authors place you in?  Women are spaghetti, men are waffles.  Do you find yourself, like John and me, in the other category?  Or, are you like a waffle topped with spaghetti?  No matter, I just want to be true to who God created me to be.  

Thanks for reading and I hope you aren’t too hungry. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Cool Whip Diet

Do you like Cool Whip?  Cool Whip is sweet, fluffy and airy.  It’s quite the compliment to pie.  I read a really interesting blog this week about a Cool Whip diet.  A Cool Whip diet???  No, sorry the diet isn’t to eat tubs and tubs of Cool Whip.  Actually the blogger pointed out that so many of us already do just that.  She was using an analogy that we attempt to feed our hearts and souls with something that cannot fill us.  She said, “Cool Whip is tasty, but it doesn’t really contain anything that can sustain us.”  How much of the stuff that we do all day is Cool Whip?  We keep eating by the spoonful but are never satisfied. 

I’ve been on a Facebook break, a sort of fast, during Lent this year.  My grandfather was a Methodist Minister.  He passed away when I was pretty young.  One of the memories I have of him was his encouragement to make a sacrifice during Lent.  It’s funny to me that I chose to break away from Facebook before reading the Cool Whip blog this week.  There was also a video message about the “diet” that went along with the blog.  As I listened to the message I could not help but relate to some of the things being said.  I, like many people, see what gets posted on Facebook and then find myself feeling inadequate.  I was reminded that when we compare the best parts of someone else’s life against the less than best parts of our own life, we will never feel worthy.  Wow!  How did I overlook something so simple? What I had really done, like so many others, was eaten a lot of Cool Whip.  No wonder I didn’t feel satisfied.

Now, I am not saying that Facebook and other forms of social media are all bad.  There are things about Facebook that are fun!  I love to see photos of my friend’s kids that I don’t get to see enough in person.  I enjoy posting birthday wishes to friends.  I like the links people post to recipes and recommendations of good books.  It’s just that for me I was feeling the Cool Whip effect.  I was taking in a lot virtual calories, but I was STILL HUNGRY!

I can tell you since I have Facebook fasted I have made more phone calls.  I have sent personal emails.  I have reached out to friends on a more personal level.  I have read more books, more blogs, and concentrated more on my Bible study.  I have given more of my undivided attention to my family.  I’ve also felt a bit isolated, a bit out of the loop, but LESS HUNGRY! :o)

That blog and video also got me wondering what are the other areas of Cool Whip in life?  Certainly there are things we have to do.  Laundry has to get done; dinner doesn’t make itself, but, what do we do (or “eat” rather) that isn’t filling us? 

I hope this got you thinking, like it did me.  I so want to live an intentional life.  I will get back to Facebook, but it will be like the real consumption of Cool Whip in my diet…that key word my husband uses, MODERATION.

Thanks for reading.

PS, if you want to watch the video here is a link:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Where Are Your Roots?

Grandpa Dex delivering milk
Roots.  Some roots run really deep.  I’m amazed by the strength of some roots.  They hold strong and run deep.  A dandelion may only be a few inches tall, but removing it from the soil will sometimes show a plant with roots twice as long as the flower.  I realized the other day, as I was working though a study for my women’s Lifegroup, that I have some strong roots.  And, that can be good, but it can also impede my growth if I am not aware of how deeply I may be rooted in one area.

I have this t-shirt that has an outline of the state of Ohio (the great Buckeye State).  Near the bottom of the state line roots are growing out.  The shirt reads “Ohio Roots.”  I am proud of this shirt.  My Ohio roots go way back.  My great-grandfather, Dexter John Spaulding, was born in Ohio 116 years ago this year.  I was fortunate enough to know this great man.  He was raised by corn farmers in an area of Ohio where the soil is rich.  When we went to college he received an award for his corn farming skills.  My uncle has the framed certificate that Grandpa Dexter was awarded that reads “corn is king.”  He went on to become a dairy farmer.  On that farm was where he and my great-grandmother, Louella, raised my amazing grandma and her 2 remarkable sisters.  Spaulding Dairy was well known in Fulton County, Ohio.

When I was a kid we used to visit the family farm on weekends.  The acres of land seemed to stretch beyond what the eye could see.  The farm house was surrounded by huge walnut trees.  I remember gathering up the walnuts still snug in their outer green skins.  As a kid, that farm was heavenly—a place to run free, get dirty and make memories.  Grandpa “Dex” as everyone called him was a gentle, God-loving man.  He bought us mini crullers to eat for breakfast, played cards with us for hours, and took us bowling in the evenings.  He was a great bowler, a lefty.  This southpaw trait passed on to my mom and now to Elliot and one of my nieces.  Roots have a way of growing deep into families too.

I never dreamed I would live life outside of Ohio.  I always assumed I would raise a family in the familiar Buckeye state.  My roots were planted.  There are times though that God calls us out of the familiar.  In 2000 I moved out of Ohio to follow John, my own Buckeye, when he took a job in Virginia.  Love makes your heart grow in new ways, new roots.   

I spent many months, even parts of some years after that move, working through tears and growth—weeping as the author of the study calls it (referring to Ruth 1:7-14).  I realized after reading that passage, that part of what made that move so difficult were roots.  Firm roots in Ohio made it really difficult to plant new ones in Virginia.  I was weeping over my roots without moving forward at the same time.  It’s okay to have roots in Ohio, it’s where I was born and raised.  It’s okay to weep over that loss or to feel homesick, which I still do some days.  What I cannot do though is not have forward movement at the same time…I need to love Virginia too.  I can say that in the past 5 years I have grown to.  After all, it’s where my kids’ roots are.  Kelly Minter, the author of the study, wrote “Although there will be weeping in this life, the direction in which we weep is what truly matters.  God sees your tears.  Cry them, wipe them, feel them, but don’t let them stop you.  It’s possible to cry and walk.” 

We all face loss, pain, heartache and difficult things and places in life.  We have to keep walking forward though.  If we stop moving forward we will face defeat. 

I used to say “I’m a Buckeye at heart.”  I think now I will think of myself as a Buckeye at the root, but a Virginian at heart. 

Thanks for reading.

My Ohio Roots T-Shirt

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eight is ENOUGH!

Getting ready for smash cake!
Elliot turned 8 on the 20th of February.  Eight.  How did 8years pass by already?  In some instances I cannot figure out where the time went. Then, on the other hand I look at his baby pictures and feel like that time was a million years ago.  I can't understand it.  Every mom feels like their kids grow up too fast.  Every parent wants to keep the innocence of childhood just where it is.  Time doesn't stop though.  Our kids grow up.  We get gray hair.  Innocence is just starting to be replaced with experience.  

Some weird fluttery thing happens in my heart when I fold laundry and see that Elliot's socks are the same size as mine.  At 8, this kid can out eat me at meals.  He is a total bookworm and a real goofball.  He's wonderful.

When we brought him home from the hospital I had no idea what I was doing.  All the babysitting in the world can't prepare for parenthood.  I had expectations, such as when he would sleep though the night, that were quickly silenced by real life experience.  

I've read more parenting books than I can count  in the past 8 years.  Some have given better advice than others (best by far is Parenting With Love and Logic).  All of them have helped me in some way.  Some have just offered comedic relief (read I Was A Really Good Mom BEFORE I Had Kids...oh and read my post on it by clicking HERE).  

Foster Cline author of Parenting With Love and Logic wrote, "The greatest gift we can give our children is the knowledge that with God's help, they can always look first to themselves for the answers to their problems." What that statement says to me is that if they have a heart rooted in God they can rely on Him to look inward to first solve a problem.  Step one in making sure that happens is to point my kids toward God. I have to intentionally plant a seed in their hearts that will grow as they grow.  The years I have to prepare them for the real world are short lived!  

I want my children to be confident, self-reliant people.  I don't want to be a helicopter mom--to hover over them so they don't make mistakes; or attempt to solve their problems for them.  I know God has a plan for their lives and in that plan there will be turmoil and heartache.  There will also be happiness and blessings beyond what I can dream up. 

Elliot's first birthday was a family-filled celebration.  He got his own smash cake from Grandma Mary and was covered in frosting.  Birthday 8 was having a sleepover, eating pizza and Angry Bird cake pops.  But, under his growing exterior is still a sweet, tenderhearted kid.  He teared up when he read his birthday card from John and me.  That is the evidence that we are doing something right.   

The slogan for the Peace Corps is "the toughest job you'll ever love."  Maybe, but I think parenthood has it beat. :o)

Thanks for reading.