So I have started a few new posts and come to a complete halt before I can finish them. I suppose I have some sort of writer’s block. So, I am just going to get something out there. Something. Perhaps the best thing I can do right now is to just count our blessings. Our many, many blessings. Why? Because we have hit a rough patch lately. I guess most people do that from time to time. And so it has been for us too. With that, the glass has become half-empty instead of half-full. So, tonight, I want to turn that around. Not just the cup, but the ickiness that has been hanging over us for the last few weeks.

I am thankful for my family. God has blessed me with two beautiful, healthy children and a husband who is my very best friend in the world. I am thankful that we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes on our backs. We have a very close extended family of both blood relatives and precious friends. We are free to worship in a Bible-believing church. I am thankful for the many individuals that died to give me that freedom. I have been given the gift of staying at home with my children every day and even to homeschool. Truly I am blessed. But it’s not what is important.

The God of the universe knows my name. He knows every hair on my head. He knows the very depths of my heart and mind and loves me just the same. I don’t know how or why, because I find myself utterly unlovable at times. Not only does He love me, but He died for me. Died For Me. To really meditate on those three words makes it all the more amazing. He died for this whiny, forgetful, unorganized mess of a person. And that’s what is important.

It seems like I would learn after a while. Just like Peter, if I take my eyes off of Him I am inevitably going for a swim. And I will go thrashing about in this life trying to fix things in my own strength. Until, once again, He reaches down and pulls me out of myself. It’s then that I look around and realize that my cup isn’t half-full, but overflowing.

The Strange and Weird

Last weekend I had the opportunity to play Wii. It is the first time that I have ever played with a Wii, in any capacity. I can understand why people enjoy it! We had a lot of fun. It was a dancing game and interestingly enough, Stephen managed to win most of the time. Nadie, loving to dance anyway, really had fun. Even Oliver joined in on “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

It occurred to Stephen and I later that evening that it was probably a little strange, in this day and age, that we had never played Wii before. A lot of people are anxiously awaiting the Wii 2 as we still pull out the original Nintendo from time to time. Nadie and Oliver both love Duck Hunt! Somewhere along the way, we have both culturally and technologically devolved into those people that I thought were ANCIENT and out of touch with reality when I was a teen.

Last year we stepped off into major weirdness when we decided to homeschool Nadie. I knew that it was coming, but I wasn’t truly prepared for the reactions we would get. Or, maybe it wasn’t so much the things we encountered, but the way it made me feel. Often I was left hurt or angry. Why is it that we, as humans, don’t ever want to be labeled as strange or weird? Especially when the afore mentioned weirdness comes from following Christ? Aren’t Christians supposed to be weird in their behavior? Shouldn’t non-believers look at us and think we are strange?

1 Peter 4:1-4 1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

Obviously Wii or schools do not equate to lewdness or idolatries. Not in the least. Those are just a couple of examples of our weirdness by the world’s standards. Hopefully we have more. Stephen is a follower of Dave Ramsey. One of Dave’s constant quotes is, “If people don’t think you’re weird, then you’re not doing something right.” So very true! And yet, when confronted, I still find myself uncomfortable with our strange behavior. Questioning our decisions as I wonder what people think about us. Concerned about being labeled.

Scripture tells us that this world is not our home. We are aliens. So it makes sense that we, as Christians, should stand out as strange and set apart. Embracing that as the world shuns you is a little harder. It is definitely something that this alien can improve. Besides, I’m sure nothing is any stranger than Stephen and I looked while dancing with that Wii.

New Family Member

As I have said before, if I could be a toy, I would be one of Nadie’s baby dolls. She is an excellent mother! Just recently, she has added another doll to her already large collection. This one she purchased with a couple of Walmart gift cards she had acquired over the past months. She was bound and determined to get SOMETHING at Walmart that night. Finally, she settled on a doll. Another doll. And this is how Big Baby became the newest member of the Rudolph family.

We call her Big Baby because the doll is just big. She fits into regular baby clothes with no problem. This was the draw for Nadie in the first place. It gave her an opportunity to more easily acquire clothes for the doll AND to use real diapers (which had not even occurred to me.) Nadie has given her several other various names. Laura, Allie, Claire, Catalina, and Addalee Rose to name a few. But, as she can never remember the name she decided on, the big baby is now Big Baby.

For almost a week now, Big Baby has been Nadie’s constant companion. And as always, she is taking excellent care of her. However, this new family member has caused a few issues. On several occasions Stephen and I have had near heart failure from seeing Big Baby in odd places. She can look very life-like when you aren’t expecting her. Like when she is sitting at the kitchen table, or when her head is peeping out from under a blanket. Also, when there is an unpleasant odor in the room, there is the issue of who has the dirty diaper: Big Baby or Oliver? Nadie finds it frustrating to have to sniff two bottoms to discover the perpetrator. Thus far it is always I that draws the short stick on this one and gets to change the stink. Luckily, after a lecture on waste, landfills, and garbage, Nadie has started potty training Big Baby. Maybe I can get her to train Oliver while she’s at it.

It’s interesting to see how this baby doll has impacted this family. As we are prayerfully and seriously considering adopting another child, I can’t help but wonder how it will change our family. Not just having another person in the family, but the process. I have heard it described as a roller coaster ride. Having ridden the Oliver Express for the past two years, I know all too well how that can be. Can this family handle another roller coaster ride? How will it change us? These are just a few of the questions that I have to be wary of. Stephen and I know that the Lord is leading us to do this and the Enemy would love to see us stumble in fear. And fear is NOT of the Lord. So, we are buckling in for the ride. Getting our house in order, both literally and figuratively. Yes, it will challenge us. It will change us. But God is moving and He is good. And, in the mean time, we have Big Baby to keep us in practice.

And yet again…

Yet again, I am going to re-commit to being more faithful to this blog. Life is moving, and has been for some time, at a ridiculous pace. I have come to the realization that it is going to continue being that way. Therefore, rather than waiting for the elusive “time to think,” I am going to have to make time. I also realize that my brain is no longer dependable to remember anything. At all. Nothing. If then, one day, I want to remember our lives at this point in time, I NEED TO WRITE IT DOWN!

If I am to be completely honest, there is more than lack of time to my blog negligence. I haven’t felt as though I had much to write about. Nothing brilliant. Nothing very witty. Nothing funny. Nothing that anyone would be interested to read. And what an error in judgement that was! God is doing things in our lives daily. He is continually blessing this family in mighty ways. How ridiculous for me to think I had nothing to write about! And how arrogant of me to think I need something profound to say each time I sit at the computer. The life that God has given me is reason enough to not only write, but to sing and shout!

So here I am, yet again. Run, run, Rudolphs! Run this race of life that God has given. This life full of the blessings of children, family, church, school, and other things too numerous to mention. Blessings that may keep me busy, but I am ever so grateful for!

Drug of Choice

I love coffee. It is by far my drug of choice. It wasn’t always that way. As a matter of fact, once upon a time I couldn’t stand the stuff. Well, I couldn’t stand the taste. But, I always found the smell to be pleasant and inviting. Eventually, with some Starbucks and nagging, Stephen wore me down and finally won me over to the dark side. Well, not dark for me. I like it sans sweetener with extra milk or cream.

Since that time, we have become sort of coffee connoisseurs. Stephen invested in a “by the cup” machine and we like to try different roasts, flavors, etc. It’s a bit of a hobby. When we buy it by the bag, we usually store it in the freezer to keep it fresh. However, I learned the hard way that if the bag isn’t sealed well that the coffee will taste just like the freezer. On some level I already knew that could happen as I had heard a tip to leave ground coffee in a bowl in your car, a room, etc to absorb odors. So, I now make sure to keep our bagged coffee tightly sealed!

Lately, I’ve felt a bit like some coffee. It seems as though I have been absorbing the ugliness of the world these days. There is so much disease, illness, death, fear, evil and whatever else out there that it sometimes just gets overwhelming. How do we as Christians know about the trevails of the world without absorbing it ourselves? How can we care and pray and be concerned about other’s burdens without carrying them ourselves? Am I the only one that does that?

I listen to K-Love in my car. There is a song that’s been playing recently in which the lyrics say, “I don’t want to live like I don’t care.” But, is it possible to care too much? This has been a huge struggle for me lately. I do care. I do pray. But I find myself carrying the pain, sadness, worry and grief in some of these situations. And ultimately, that doesn’t do anyone any good! I don’t want to be like the coffee grounds that absorb the “yuck,” but rather someone who offers prayer and comfort like the aroma of fresh brewed coffee.

So these are the questions on my heart tonight. Questions that I have no answers for. Maybe I need to heed the actions of my five year old? Nadie has such a tender heart. She is a prayer warrior! And yet, she lays it down. She lays it down at the cross with the complete faith that God has it under control. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He called us to faith like a child? Maybe Nadie can teach me something. I think I will ask her about it in the morning, over my coffee.

Under Construction

As I’ve noted in the “About Us” section, my house is never clean enough for my liking. Never. And I used to be even more neurotic about it until Stephen gave me a gentle yet stern warning that if I didn’t let up a little, it would kill us all. Ok, point taken. Some would look around and say that maybe I’ve let a few too many things go. Possibly. It’s just such a hard balance most of the time! It seems like things never get finished. Projects are always in limbo, which inevitably creates another pile or stack, which leads to more clutter, which leads to heart palpitations for me. It seems like we are constantly under construction of some sort.

At least two times a year, this intensifies greatly. It is a time that I dread because not only is it painful, but it creates the biggest mess that just won’t go away. Changing out the kids warm and cold weather clothes. It creates multiple piles of sell, donate, save for someone else, and throw away. Times two kids. And then there’s always the Mother Nature curve ball of the 80 degree day in November or the 40 degree day in April. So I feel like I have to keep the out of season clothes at least accessible for a while before they are permanently put away. Throw in making the kids try on a bunch of stuff to see if it fits and it’s some fun times.

In conjunction with my mess, this season Stephen has started a construction project of some grout work in our shower. For now, all four of us are using the kids shower. That means I get to try and work my way through the clothing piles as I trapse wet through the hallway after showering in the kids’ bathroom. And notice I said “started” the project. So far all he’s done is let our shower thoroughly dry so he can do the work at a future, yet to be determined date. Part of our 12 Step Program, I guess. However, it’s not optional and it all needs to be done.

I say all of this because it seems never ending. Why is it that my house is always under construction? Mostly, I think that’s just how life is. Especially when you’re raising your kids and they are young. I say that now, but I figure that after the kids are gone there will be other things then as well that will keep us tied up and in a perpetual state of “when I finish this . . .” Meanwhile, we just continue to do the best we can and hope the stacks and piles don’t get so high that we can’t step over them.

I think it’s a lot like that in our spiritual lives as well. I know I am certainly still under construction. God is constantly molding and shaping me to be more Christ-like. More of the person He wants me to be. Quite honestly, it’s not always pleasant. More often than not, it is outright painful and uncomfortable. But it is all part of His glorious plan, and He never lets the piles get so big that He can’t help us over them. And it will continue as long as I am here on this earth until, one day, I will finally meet Jesus and His work in me will be complete! That gives me hope. Not only hope of a functioning shower, but hope of what is to come. Until then, please be patient with me if you happen to stop by and there is laundry on the sofa, or you feel the urge to sign your name in the dust on the furniture. Our home is under construction, and so am I.

Step 2

Ok, so it’s March of 2011 and in keeping with the Rudolph 12 Step Program, nine months later, I am officially taking the step of putting an entry into the blog. A blog. One of those things that I said that I would never do and couldn’t understand why others wanted to do them either. Why would anyone want to air their business on the the web? Really? My mom always said that you should never write your private business down as it could come back to haunt you. I think that’s good advice. And yet, here I am, writing a blog.

It all started with Oliver. Since he came into our lives in April of 2009, many statements have begun that way. The stomach bug, a virus, complete depletion of our health care spending, ruined carpet, or any other number of things one could substitute “it” for in that sentence. It started with Oliver. He was hospitalized at LeBonheur for his entire fourth month of life. During that time, I maintained a Care Page for him. It was very therapeutic for me to write during that time and I have often wanted to add to it. Recently, I went back and read the contents of the Care Page. I can honestly say that I don’t even recognize many of the words. It reminds me of the poem “Footprints.” As I look back at that time, preserved in the blog/Care Page, there are clearly only one set of footprints. The Lord was definitely carrying us. It encouraged me to go back and see how mightily He had moved during that difficult time. My mind knew it, but my heart needed the reminder.

With Oliver about to turn two, Nadie quickly approaching six, homeschooling, church, and other activities, life is busy. And with some other difficult things that have happened recently, sometimes life is just plain hard. I know I won’t remember these times. I honestly couldn’t tell you what we did yesterday. That is why I am going to give the blog a try. Not only for the therapeutic aspect to me, but also to hopefully preserve some memories of our life in the here and now. Maybe one day I will look back on this blog entry on this phase of life and smile. Maybe one day my kids will look back at it and understand why I am crazy. Maybe one day I will just need a reminder that as I am writing this, Oliver is trying to climb out the dog door and Nadie is playing with her baby dolls. Whatever the case, I know one day I will look back and there will only be one set of footprints.

The dust has cleared and the blog is up…

So I have been promising my dear wife Anna for some time now that I was going to setup a family blog. The past year has been an incredible roller coaster, but we have made it through, and life is starting to finally settle down. The Lord has certainly carried us along the way, and now that the dust has cleared, the blog is up!