Sunday, March 28, 2010

Safe



A friend sent me this.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bubs!


Today my brother Austen would have been 24. We're only 16 months apart. I loved having a brother so close in age. Growing up I always had a playmate and a partner in crime when it came to picking on our younger two siblings, William and Anabelle. William didn't even come around until 1992, so for years it was just the two of us. And eventually we became 4 (siblings)... and now more... and our sibling love grew. But Austen and I will always have that special bond.

For those of you who don't know, my brother struggled with addiction for a long time. Thursday he lost that battle.

I can't believe it's only been two days. It feels like it's been an eternity since my mom (SMom, in this post) called me to tell me. I have amazing friends from school that took me home, packed me, booked me a flight, and got me to the airport. Thank you. I couldn't have done it without you.

A little about my brother... Austen, "Bubs," was someone that could always make me laugh. He didn't take life too seriously, which I loved. He would remind me to "chill out." While I'm very Type A, he's very Type B... we balanced each other out I guess. I kept him on track, and he made me stop to have fun.

What I really love is that he was 6'4" and 250 lbs - football player big - and that I'm 5'2" and 105 lbs. He was my giant. He gave the best bear hugs! When he hugged me, I felt I was being engulfed in love.

This picture was taken at my wedding 2 1/2 years ago. Austen was able to come home from extended care for it. I had not seen him in over 6 months and was so excited to share my big day with him. It meant so much to me to have him there.
By the way... yes I am wearing heels AND standing on my tippy toes in this picture. He's a big guy.

I have some great memories of him...
  • I remember waking up to the sound of happy shrills as he pulled my siblings down the stairs in a blanket. Sounds terrible doesn't it? They LOVED it. He would wrap them up like burritos and then pull them down our carpeted stairs. It was like a ride at a theme park or something. We have holes in a lot of blankets because of this.
  • When I was in middle school and he was still in elementary, he would let my friends and I dress him up like a girl, just to be cool. I got to paint his nails. Put make up on him. Sound weird? It wasn't. He was so big and had such a huge heart. He just wanted to make us happy and to be included with the older kids. And once on an RV trip, he and William let me paint their nails! I was so entertained. Best brothers ever.
  • Another time when we were in the airport, Austen got Anabelle (who was maybe 4 at the time) all stirred up. She started slapping him and kicking him because he wouldn't leave her alone. He just sat there and took it, without changing his facial expression. He went on talking to everyone else as if she weren't there and wasn't touching him. We made her believe that we were all unaffected by her touch and that she could not hurt him or any of us. It made her so mad. She started hitting him more and trying to do the same to me. (Remember this is a 4 year old - not some older child or adult. So don't think we're a violent family or anything. She was just mad.) She tried so hard to prove us wrong. She started pinching us as hard as she could. That's when my mom turned around. She didn't see us tormenting Anabelle and giving her a hard time. She just saw her little 4-year-old slapping her older siblings. And once again, team Austen and Ashleigh was a success... tormenting Anabelle and getting her into trouble. ...Love you, Anabelle! I think that was pay back for that blue zinc...
  • Austen always bought me things as a child. We would be given spending money for Christmas gifts and on family trips. Yet somehow that money always got spent on me. (And no, I did not force him to buy me things!) In Disney World, he bought me a Tinkerbell charm for my charm bracelet and gave it to me as a gift. Another time, we were at the mall and he bought me A&F perfume. (Oh, back in the day when Abercrombie was cool - and not skanky!) Once at Christmas he spent waaay too much money on me, and my parents forced him to take back most of the gifts. He had a huge heart. And gifts have always been my love language. I know he loved me. I'll always treasure that Tinkerbell charm.
  • Seeing him play football in high school was the best. I was so proud to wear his football button. I wore that big button so proudly and made sure everyone saw it. #70 Austen Reade. 
There are so many more memories I could recall and share with you. It's making me so happy to write these. If you have memories (or comments), please share them too! I think it's the great memories that are going to pull us all through.

One last one...
  • At SMom and Wayne's wedding 2 1/2 years ago, I came and stood behind Austen, who was sitting in a chair. He didn't realize I was behind him, so when he scooted the chair back, with all of his weight, onto my foot, he about crushed it. I still have a red and purple scar from that. Doctors couldn't heal it either. The pain is still there. Sometimes I have to wear gel inserts to alleviate the pain. After a few doctors, I told Austen that the doctor said it probably wasn't his fault. Austen, the big teddy bear, had felt so bad about it. I think he was relieved. Was it his fault? Most likely. And I'll probably always have that pain because doctors have yet to solve the problem. But now instead of being burdened by the pain, I can smile and remember my brother. Austen always made a great impression... and now I literally have it on my foot. I never thought I would be so thankful for that.

So happy birthday, Bubs! I'm sad I won't get to squeeze you and say those words one more time. I miss you dearly.

And one more thing. I wanted to share this with you all. Austen wrote this email to Brendon March 22, 2009 - almost exactly one year before his death.

After reading about christ converting Muslims to Christians through dreams in Epicenter I decided to research these stories. I have found through some research that this is even bigger than I Imagined. Christ is showing himself to Muslims not only in dreams but in real life visions. Tens of thousands of Muslims are Turning to Christ through these visions. God is truly at work in our world. I have always felt that I believed in God and had a relationship but I still felt something was missing. I couldn't ever feel the holy spirit inside of me. Today for the first time I know for 100% that the holy spirit is inside of me. It is the most amazing feeling ever. I'm sharing this with you because you are one of the only few buddies I have that is very strong in faith and can understand how I'm feeling. Thank you very much for letting me read the book Brendon. It has truly changed my life and has blessed me with knowing I can achieve everlasting life through Jesus Christ. Thank you Brendon.

Austen

These words are a sweet assurance that my brother is in God's presence now. I will treasure them forever. In college, Austen had been on my "top 5 most wanted" list... the top 5 people I wanted to make sure knew Christ and share His love with. I married Brendon after college in 2007, and Austen loved him. Brendon didn't judge my brother for his partying or addiction struggles. He loved him. And Austen knew it.

We don't bring people to Christ. Christ brings them to Himself and simply uses us in the process. My husband allowed himself to be used in the life of my brother. What I could not accomplish, Brendon did. And my brother's destiny is changed because of it.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16  

Hebrews 6 assures me that if someone truly believes, they cannot lose their salvation. This is a huge comfort because the fact is we all sin. And when someone loses their life to an addiction or something of the sort, it's easy to question their salvation. Their life at the time of death looked drastically different from the life God intended for them. But my brother knew the Lord! I am so thankful that he wrote this email to assure us all. And while I hate what happened to him, I am so comforted by this.

God is sovereign. He is enough.

Austen knew that. I hope you do too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are

Courtesy of Bearotic.com

This past weekend I watched Where the Wild Things Are. I didn't expect much from it honestly. I LOVED the book as a child, but the previews left me feeling sad that this movie was geared more towards our generation than towards kids today. I thought it would be sad, dark, and gloomy. Still I had to see it for myself. And I was pleasantly surprised. This movie was full of so much good stuff! It wasn't necessarily a "feel good" movie, but in the end, I still thought, "Man, that was brilliant." Here's some of what I got out of it...

This is a great movie for parents to see. And here's the counselor in me talking... Kids have a hard time expressing their emotions. This is seen when Max jumps on the table in defiance or runs into his sister's room throwing it into chaos to express his anger and feelings of betrayal. Some friends commented on how helpful this movie was just in understanding how their own kids express themselves. I've never seen childhood captured so vividly and authentically.

There's a child in all of us. Even though I'm an adult now, I still found myself identifying with Max - and the other creatures for that matter. Reading reviews of the movie, I now realize that these "wild things" were meant to be extensions of Max, parts of his psyche. While their humor appeals to adults, these creatures interacted as children. The emotions in them and Max are abrupt, ranging from pure glee to intense anger and even sadness. This reviewer said it well. "These beasts are the manifestations of our sorrow, our frustration, and our demons; they are the voices living within us, kept down by self-control and overcome by happiness and love. However, when those emotions are brought to life, unchecked, the end result can be nothing short of war, retribution, and malice. It becomes the duty of young Max, the creator of this imaginary world, to not only discover the love he has waiting back at home, but also to defeat the anger that has been bubbling to the surface, allowing him to even bite his mother in this cinematic version. We all need some time to let loose and run wild—howling to the moon—it is what we do after the burst of energy subsides that counts. Sometimes looking into a mirror is the only chance we have of becoming the people we should and hope to be" (IMDB). Though we have learned to "control" our emotions now, I think we can all identify with the qualities the creatures portrayed - whether its spontaneity, jealousy, pride, sorrow, or joy. The way these different "parts" were portrayed was intriguing and enlightening.

Finally, I love how this film showed how hard being in a family can be. Sometimes we don't get along or feel understood. Disputes happen. Relationships are work. And families are often the most work. But they're worth it. No matter how angry we get within our families, we still love them.

If you saw this movie, I'm dying to know your thoughts!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring WAS here

Last week I found myself joyous at the start of spring. Trees and flowers had begun blooming. The sky was blue. Lawns had begun turning green. I was walking around truly in awe of the beauty of spring. Hubby, Sammy, and I even had a picnic in our backyard on Friday night. It was wonderful!

Here are some pictures I took to document spring.

Our peach tree is blooming and budding!

The last of my winter flowers. Hangin' in there!

My peonies sprouting... okay so it came from a bulb. But it looks spring-y, right?

Then Saturday morning we woke up to bitter cold. And Sunday we woke up to snow! Friday it was 70, and Sunday there was snow - on the ground!



Happy spring! March 21, 2010! Supposedly this week we'll be back in the 70s. I hope so!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Pill, Part 2

Ready for part 2? If you missed part 1, go read that first.

Keep in mind that I am NOT trying to convict anyone to change their ways. But like I said in part 1, I was honestly hurt that my friends had good solid reasons - biblical ones even - for getting off the pill and had failed to inform me. Like I said before, I'm still paying for it. My body is completely crazy.

On to part 2...

First let me educate you a little bit. Do you know exactly how the pill works? How does it prevent you from getting pregnant? Here's what I pulled up from Go Ask Alice and How Stuff Works. The pill works by...

  • thickening the cervical mucus, which hinders the movement of sperm,
  • inhibiting the egg's ability to travel through the fallopian tubes (preventing ovulation),
  • partially suppressing the sperm's ability to unite with (and thereby fertilize) the egg, and
  • and altering the uterine lining so (in the event that an egg is released and fertilized) the egg will likely not be able to implant into the uterine wall. (A fertilized egg would then be discharged with the rest of the menstrual blood.) 
Did that last one shock you? This is how people get pregnant on the pill. I actually had a friend recently become pregnant on the pill. It happens. As we are told, the pill is not 100% effective. Why? Because these barrier methods can fail. But imagine if all but the last one fail. Then you have sperm, which have managed to travel through the cervical mucous, and an egg, which has managed to travel through the fallopian tubes. Somehow the two unite, and the sperm fertilizes the egg. Yet because of the last barrier method the fertilized egg is flushed out of your system, prevented from implanting.

Then I had to ask, Where does life begin? For me, this was a quick answer. I believe life begins the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg. So if I kept taking the pill and knew that an egg could potentially be fertilized and then discarded, I would discarding a life. That's not okay with me. Doing that is no different than taking a morning after pill. (See how the morning after pill works, here. Surprised that it looks so similar to the list above?) After reading and processing through what I just shared, I knew I had to stop taking the pill immediately. That was in August.

In October I was reading for a theology class. I was reading a chapter by Dr. Pyne, a DTS professor whom I respect, in Understanding Christian Theology. His writing on the pill only confirmed my decision more. He has a very short section on the pill, which you can read here. (In the "search inside" box, type "birth-control pill" ...that will allow you to access the full page. I'm including an excerpt though below.)

You will find Christians that disagree with this. I told a good friend what I had learned, and she disagreed, saying she did not believe that's when life occurs. Like I said, I'm not trying to convince you. I just want to share with you what I have learned and where the Lord has convicted me. You are entitled to your own view. I respect that.


_______


I feel like I should label this "Appendix A." Either way, here's that snippet of what Dr. Pyne wrote. This will give you the gist of his thoughts. I agree. But this is controversial in Christian circles. Like I said, not all Christian leaders agree with this stance. But here it is...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Prius


This is a sad sight isn't it? About a month ago the Prius got into a little fender bender. I was driving along the 75 access road, protected, I might add, by a solid white line to my left. (For those of you who don't know - technically you can cross a solid white line AT YOUR OWN RISK. Otherwise, don't cross.) The car to my left (on the other side of the solid white line) decided it wanted to pull into the parking lot on my right and cut across my lane, directly in front me. The driver did not switch lanes. She cut across my lane.

It's taken almost a month with insurance to figure out who's at fault because that driver was saying I rear ended her... even though the pictures of her damage and cop report clearly show differently. (I hit her at her back right tire - so on her passenger side.) Finally insurance came back saying she's responsible. Duh. Yea! That means the Prius is getting fixed!

I had come to terms with the Prius looking like this for the rest of its life. Since it is just a car, I wasn't convinced that I should spend $950 to repair it. Big repair, huh? Like I said, it's just a thing. So I was going to let it be. But then I got the news that her insurance would cover it, so why not?

The lesson I learned from all this is? Always get a police report. I've heard otherwise. I think my dad actually always told me not to. But when that lady insisted I was at fault and wanted me to sign something (never sign anything), I thought maybe we should get the police over there. Even with insurance, the other woman kept changing her story. That looked sketchy in itself. But with no witnesses, the police report provided an objective report taken at the time of the accident, rather than weeks later when they get your statement.

The Prius will be glad to be back to new!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Pill, Part 1

I got off the pill in August. Why? Several reasons. One being that I was skeptical that all of the chemicals were actually okay for my body. This is my personal skepticism. If you've been reading this long enough, you have probably realized that I am a skeptic. We don't need to go into that... basically this reason and my other even bigger reason (which will be saved for a later post) convicted me that the pill was not right for me. (Please note that I'm not trying to convict you. But I have felt compelled to share my decision.)

Okay so why bring this up? I just read an interesting Q and A in the April 2010 Body+Soul magazine...
Q: "Is it ok to go on a birth control pill that erases my period entirely?" Note: This is what I was on. I was on Seasonale, which makes you only have your period once every three months.
A: "'Studies don't appear to show any greater risks in taking hormonal pills continuously when compared to cyclic birth control pills [that give you a period],' says Lissa Rankin, M.D." ...her credentials... "There's nothing natural about the 'period' you get while you're on a 21-day oral contraceptive anyway, Rankin says; it's just hormone withdrawal: 'Manufacturers created birth control pill packs with a week of placebos in the belief that women preferred to have a period, even if it was artificially created.'"

Yikes! No wonder why after 7 months, my body is STILL adjusting. It's all been fake anyway! ...I think this blurb was meant to be reassuring, but I found it frightening honestly. Anyone else?

Again, I'm not writing this to convince anyone else what they should or should not be putting in their body. It's each person's choice. But I will say that I was SHOCKED when I told a few friends about my decision only to find out that several of my friends had gotten off years before! Really??? Where have I been? Honestly I was annoyed that they had been "enlightened" (in my mind) and had let me stay in the dark!

With friends' decisions, I am sorta talking about reason 1 here, but even more so about reason 2. I found that once I opened up about my decision those of my friends, who had made a similar decision, said that they had done so because of reason 2. Again reason 2 is for another day. But for now, I want to open this up to you... What is your thought on the pill? You won't hurt my feelings either way.

Part 2 is now up, here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Follow Me Monday

Ever watched Collin's Follow Me Monday series? It's great! Collin is the author of Hip2Save. Check out her latest video here. Donate your freebies!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Young Life


All four years of college, I volunteered as a Young Life leader for Highland Park. I loved being able to love on kids and teach them about Jesus. Especially in a place like Highland Park. A lot of people think time ministering is better spent in the inner city. No doubt, that's important. But the kids in Highland Park have everything - a new car, new Gucci bag, the latest Tori Burch shoes. The last thing they think they need is Jesus. What could He possibly give them that they don't have? So showing them their need for Him is no easy task. There were times I just wanted to quit because they barriers those kids put up can seem impossible to penetrate. But then, I always stayed. And God gave me a few girls that loved Him and taught me a lot along the way too. Their faith encouraged me to see the potential in their classmates.

Not only was I a leader in college, ministering to kids, but Young Life at SMU (leadership training) is where I learned what it means to walk with Christ. It's where I was first discipled and held accountable for my actions. And my team for HP YL was amazing. The taught me so much. And the kids taught me even more.

After college, I stopped volunteering with Young Life. I wanted to be in ministry with my husband, and his schedule didn't allow for Young Life. Still, its always held a place in my heart, and it will continue to. I'll always support it however I can - if that means opening up our home to them or supporting them with a monthly donation.

For some reason though, HP YL has always had trouble raising the support needed to stay in the community. What's ridiculous is that in Highland Park the people have the money to give, but that new car just seems more important. Sadly, this year, like many other years, HP YL didn't raise the support needed. The raised drastically less. Not even enough to keep going. So until HP realizes their desire for Young Life and commit to it with their time, efforts, and finances, there will be no Young Life in HP.

It makes me sad because I know that in all my time as a leader, Young Life meant so much to me. And like I said, despite that "we have it altogether" mentality, HP is in desperate need of Jesus. I pray that God will reveal that to some of His followers in the community. And that He'll use the other Christian ministries to reveal Himself in a powerful way.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Interning.

As most of you know, I'm currently interning for my counseling masters program. I haven't shared much because obviously, things are confidential. I have one good terrible story though that because of the nature of it doesn't seem to fall under "counseling," so I'll share.

Last night we had one of those "worst case scenarios" with a support group we were asked to facilitate - just as facilitators, not counselors. They didn't want leaders, but someone unrelated to the group pulled us in without telling them! Who does that?! So there was a clear lack of communication to us and to them from the start.

We introduced ourselves, and just began by opening it up, asking what they liked about the group and what they didn't. No counseling jargon or anything intimidating. One of the ladies broken the ice and said that if we came back, she would not because this was a grassroots program that did not require leaders. Great. This was basically how the whole painful hour and a half went. Then at the end of the night one man told us, "Nice meeting you. No offense, but I hope I don't see you again." Cool.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Film Festival

My hubby helped one of his friends out with this short film, and it made it into the film festival! If you have time, watch it. I think it's so funny!