Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

This was a lovely weekend, despite the beginnings of it steeped in wet weather and dreariness. Saturday we went to our Easter services at church at 3pm, which was the earliest service we could attend (which had the added benefit of free cotton candy for the kids! Thanks to GCC for sugaring our daughter up for the ride home :) My sister and her friend Tyler came along, and we had a very enjoyable experience. The music was stellar, as always, but this time they had an Easter choir singing along to a couple of the songs, and it was beautiful.

We came home and had some leftovers from our Mexican Fiesta, then brushed back up and went to a concert at Crossroads Community Church. Steve had gotten tickets from the radio, Pulse FM, this week, so we got to go in with the radio crowd first and got some good seats. We saw Johnny Diaz, 33 Miles, and Newsong. It was a really nice night, and it's been wonderful having all our kids together with us all weekend long. It's a rare occasion that we're together in one place for a few hours, much less the whole weekend! Then we sent them to bed so we could watch "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" which we had not yet seen. Um, very thankful we sent them to bed, that's all I have to say. But that movie was hi-larious!

Today I got up and made a corn casserole, then we went to my parents' house for awhile, hunted mushrooms (found 20!), ate too much as I always tend to do, helped clean up a bit, then came back home and we're watching the second Harry Potter movie on Blu-Ray. Steve wants to watch them all on Blu-Ray (including this last one which we haven't seen yet) and then watch the new one when it comes out, so we have them all fresh in our heads. This is one of his OCDs I can live with... usually I hate re-watching things I've already seen (except in the instance of a movie being so good I can watch it over and over and overandoverandover like Fight Club or Better off Dead).

I cannot stress enough how much I love Alan Rickman's voice (Severus Snape in HP movies, Metatron in Dogma). I think he could probably tell me, in a fifteen minute monologue, how he planned to murder me, and I would still think it was extremely cool that he was speaking.

Oh, have I neglected to talk about Easter thus far? I have. I know. It's hard for me to put into words exactly how I feel. I spent so much of my life celebrating the fact that I got to find eggs, and get a basket full of candy, and wear a lacy dress and a hat to church, and it was all good, don't get me wrong. I still like bunnies, and candy, and eggs, and lacy dresses. But as many times as I heard the story when I was a little girl, it didn't mean a darn thing to me personally, until I was 27 years old.

Believe me, I could give you a ghastly description of how terribly I had messed up my life to that point, what horrendous sins I'd committed, how badly I'd hurt people in my life that I really cared about. I could write a book on the awful person I'd become. I could astound you with my thoughts on God, and Jesus, and the uselessness of it all when I was 27 years old. I had spent at least 10 years of my life far from being a believer. But one night, when my entire chaotic mess of a life came to a climax, I found myself on my knees, sobbing, and begging God to save me, forgive me, change me, fix my life because I COULD NOT DO IT MYSELF.

You know, I used to make fun of people when they said they were 'saved'. I thought, how can you possibly, all of a sudden, change your way of thinking? What could possibly bring you from one side to the other in a fraction of a second? I'd roll my eyes, thinking they were freaks, liars, wishers, dreamers, fools, fill in the blank.

But in that moment, on my knees, pouring the guts of my soul onto the floor and giving up, realizing that I had made a mess of things for 27 years and that there was only one thing that would give me a fresh start to the new life that I needed to have RIGHT THEN because I could not take any more of who and what I had become -- in that moment, in a flash, in a fraction of a second,



I have never been the same again. That's not to say I haven't made mistakes, of course I do. Constantly. That's not to say that I haven't been angry or upset with God from time to time, of course I have been. We all get that way. But there is a hope, a light, a compass inside of me now. I have great peace in knowing that I'm not in control, even when sometimes I think I might want to be. I have great joy in knowing that I've been forgiven, and I can be forgiven every day, every moment. I have great relief in knowing that even when I fail, I'm not a failure. I have great happiness in knowing that when this life is over and done, and I did the best I could, no matter how many mistakes I made, they're all covered.

They're covered because God, in His Infinite Wisdom, knew I would fail. He knew we all would. God, with His Infinite Compassion, sent his Son to die in my place. Jesus came down from His throne, gave up everything, to take on flesh and live life as a human. He lived sinlessly, but he became the embodiment of all of our sin. He was mocked, tortured, and crucified. He died, was entombed, and rose again - all of this so that we would have a second chance. He, the only one who was worthy, died for all of us who are not -- so that we, under His blood, would become worthy.

When I'm standing there, at the very end, if I'm asked, "What makes you think you're a part of the Kingdom of God?" I have one answer.

One word.

One hope.

One salvation.

One name.


That's better than the biggest basket of candy any bunny has ever delivered.

Stephanie Jean

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Something to Look Forward To... and How to Survive the ZA

Retirement. Yes, I'm 34. Yes, I have to work for probably 50 more years to get any Social Security, *if* there's any available in my future. But I'm seriously thinking of getting a huge piece of posterboard and putting a little box for every day of my life until retirement and checking them off, one by one, for however long it takes. If I'm lucky, it'll fit on a piece of posterboard if I make the boxes 1/16th of an inch... but probably not.

We celebrated the impending retirement of my father-in-law this evening at the Essenhaus. This is a restaurant with homestyle Amish food where you gain fifteen pounds just by walking in the door, without ever having consumed a single bite. I loved every moment of it. I love my in-laws -- they are like my own family. From the first day I met them nine years ago, I've felt at home with them, like my own parents and siblings. Tonight, we had our own room in the restaurant and were served a family-style meal (where they keep bringing it to you until someone vomits, sobs, or explodes) of broasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, baked roast beef with gravy, noodles and... we got to choose our own dessert. I had peanut butter pie. Then, Beth gave me the rest of her peanut butter pie, which made me sort of fall in love with her a little bit. I can foresee some free babysitting in the future :) Zachary started to do his Cartman impression: "I cannot possibly eat one more bite of this chocolatey goodness... oh, wait, yes I can!"

This evening was American Idol and might I say, Casey Abrams rocked the joint with Maroon 5. Seriously, if he does not win American Idol, then I'm no longer proud to be an American. Well, I'm sometimes *not* proud to be an American, but still... this will really be upsetting.

So, we've been watching the series "The Walking Dead" on Netflix. It has pros and cons. The makeup is incredible, and the possibilities for the show are endless because, if you notice, most zombie movies end with the fact that there are still zombies. There's no real closure. The show is great because it doesn't have to end. It can keep continuing a saga of zombies until they're all dead, or the characters get smart and do what I would do in the case of the Zombie Apocalypse (hereafter referred to as ZA). Don't worry, I'll get there in a moment. But first, the cons: it's on television and not HBO, so it can't be as graphic as it could be (though I'm pretty impressed with how realistic things look thus far). A couple of the actors aren't so great. But the main character (at least, the guy I perceive as being the 'main' character if you can have a main character in an ensemble cast like this...) has no clue what to do during the ZA, and I get irritated with him on a regular basis. You can tell when I like a show, because I talk to the characters while it's happening.

Okay, so here's what happens during the ZA. The first thing you have to know is, if a family member is already a zombie, or has been bitten by a zombie, do not bother with sentiment or nostalgia. They're already dead. Decapitate them immediately, cut your losses, and move to the next step. You want to be sure you arm yourself with the correct weapons. Don't bother with weapons that are one-shot/difficult to maneuver and reload/can't put a hole through the brain of a zombie or decapitate them. Look for semi-automatic weapons, a good lightweight axe with the sharpest blade possible, and a heavyweight sickle. A small crossbow isn't a bad idea because it makes no sound, but it shouldn't be your only weapon, as it takes longer to reload. Your mission is not to kill as many zombies as possible, because you won't have enough ammo, and you don't want to risk getting yourself in a jam where there is a swarm of zombies and you'll inevitably get your own brain eaten. What you should focus on is getting to a place where there are relatively few to NO zombies. If you can fly a helicopter, or know someone (alive and nearby) who can, get to a helicopter or small plane. Load up: ammo, seeds, dried fruit, nuts, jerky, water bottles, toolbox, flashlight, batteries, a few chickens (live), a couple of goats (male and female), swiss army knife. Best possible scenario, you fly to a small island in the middle of a lake/large river/ocean if possible. Not a tourist island, an uninhabited island. You secure the island of zombies, build a shelter, plant the seeds, breed the goats, harvest the eggs and milk and, when the goat population picks up, the meat. You're all set, regardless of what happens outside of the island. You can put the nightmare behind you, because zombies can't swim. I've been preparing for the ZA since age 4. But do not attempt to align with me unless you follow my directions exactly, because I will not accept baggage, nor will I save your dumb butt if you do something ridiculously stupid.

Yes, I've given this entirely too much thought.

No, I don't have too much time on my hands, I just have an overactive imagination.

But what's got two thumbs and will survive the ZA?


Stephanie Jean

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

I continue to think that Spring is right around the corner, and yet we're predicted to have 1-3 inches of snow this fine evening. At least, as my dad pointed out, it will make the mushrooms easier to find when they stick up out of the snow instead of out of the leaves. He's a silver-lining kind of guy, my dad.

Today we attended the Palm Sunday services at Granger Community Church. It was a very heartfelt message by our senior pastor, Mark Beeson. I'm looking forward to the Easter services next weekend, but he encouraged us not to bypass this particular week. This is the week where we tend to jump to the happy ending of the story, the resurrection of Jesus, and bury the worst part of the week, where the tension built and the betrayal happened and the suffering began. I can relate to this, actually. My life is filled with tension, I've both been betrayed and been the betrayer, and I've done quite a bit of suffering and caused others to suffer. These past few days I've been through just a light bit of hell with friends and family who are suffering with loss of loved ones, found out a good friend was left by his wife just a couple of days before his birthday, lost another good friend of my own... but is that anything compared to the suffering of our Savior on this earth? Is that anything compared to the horrific humiliation, torturing, brutality, and crucifixion he braved so that I could have a second chance?

I never used to take it personally. Oh, I would take all KINDS of other things personally: insults, sarcasm, people who were randomly laughing when I was in the room, I assumed it was about me. Critiques, peer pressure, snide remarks. I took all of these things personally. But the death of Christ? Nope. I removed myself from it. A piece of history, didn't affect me at all. But now? Now it affects me every day of my life. The way I take it personally is this: if I were the only one who fell, the only one to ever sin, the only one to go the wrong way on a clearly marked path, the one who ate the forbidden fruit (though that's unlikely, so why don't we call it the forbidden chocolate to make it more realistic in Stephanie's life?), the only one to do something foolhardy or selfish, the only one to disappoint God... if I were the ONLY one in the history of humankind ever to do something like that, Jesus still would have come down from Heaven and suffered and endured what he did so that I would have a second chance. I believe that with all my heart. Why?

Because that's what Love does. When it's said that "God is Love", that's not just some random cliche. God is the incarnation, the embodiment, the quintessence of love. He created the entire notion of love. He gave the ultimate sacrificial love on the cross. And it's precisely that sort of selflessness that I seek to embody. I'm on a journey to rid myself of all of the chattel. Baggage, you know? Material things: not important. Money: not important. Headlines: not important. My agenda: not important. It's rough, don't get me wrong, and I fail miserably every single day of my life, more than once or twice a day, mind you. But I look at a Love like that, and I don't have to think "I want to be loved like that" because I know I already am. I have to think only one thing:


It's not easy. Just like I fail every day, everyone else fails everyday, too. Just like I'm hard to love, EVERYONE is hard to love. People are jerks. Every last one of us. We're selfish, we're strong-willed, we're out for #1, and we want what we want when we want it. It's tedious, this attempt to love. Most of the time I'm exhausted of even trying by 7:30 in the morning, after the fourth person has already been rude to me at the coffee shop. I can't imagine how God must feel loving every single one of us all the time right where we are. And he doesn't just TRY to love us ... he LOVES us.

Every single one of us.

All the time.

Right where we are.

Kind of makes you want to take it personally, doesn't it?

Stephanie Jean

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Life and Death

Thursday, I got a call from Steve. I knew it was going to happen, but it hurt my heart when I heard it. "Did you know your friend Laura died?" A wave of emotion covered me, and I was so glad my sister was driving, because I would've had to pull over if I had been. She had been going for a few days, and I knew it was inevitable, but just hearing it out loud really hit me hard.

Laura was a good friend of mine. Not the type of friend you would expect. She had a good forty years on me, at least. I knew her first as a patient at the eye doctor's office where I worked for several years. When I stopped working there, I cleaned her house, and continued to do so for about seven years, until she and her husband moved into a sort of retirement community. Laura used to be a teacher and librarian. She loved books and loved her family. Every time I cleaned her house, and every time I went to visit her after I no longer cleaned for her, Laura would show me pictures of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren... she was so very dear to me, and I can't put into words how it feels like a part of my heart has died. I'm praying for her family, and ask that you would, as well. I can't wait to see her again someday, and I know I will.

This same week, my Aunt Barb's husband Paul passed away. He'd also been going for awhile. His daughter, Jenny, and I were friends when we were kids. I know they are aching as well and, though I hadn't seen him in a long time, I know he will be greatly missed and I'm praying for their family as well.

Yesterday after work, I received a Facebook message from my friend Andie, with whom I am very, very close. After celebrating the second birthday of her beautiful twin boys, later in the evening she got a call that I can't imagine ever receiving -- Andie's father passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, of a heart attack at age 62. Knowing how very much I love my father no matter how much time passes between us seeing each other, I just can't fathom the pain in her heart losing such a big part of her life. She was looking forward to seeing him again in May when he got back from Arizona, so he could hold his newest grandson Kaleb, and her dreams -- and life -- are shattered. I mourn for her, though I never met her father, and hope she knows how very much I love her.

A week and weekend of brokenness, it seems. My heart -- and prayers -- go out to all the ones who are left here on this earth to grieve their losses. Please take the time for a moment of silence, and fill it with whatever you fill it with: prayers, good vibes, wishes, or happy thoughts for all my friends and family who are going through such a rough time right now.

Thank you,
Stephanie Jean

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Today is the 100th day of the year. That occurred to me as I read my daily devotional, because it's not listed by what day (April 10th) it's listed by what number reading it is (100). Which means that I've had to wait a hundred days this year (not including how long I had to wait at the end of last year) for a single day of awesome weather. But man, was it worth it. When I finally dragged myself out of bed sometime after noon to make an egg-white and Italian veggie omelet for my husband, I was astonished at the glow coming in from the windows, and the general temperature of the house. I shut off the heat, opened a few windows, and soon realized that it was going to overpower me with warmth that way, so I shut them again. It wasn't long after that that my husband turned on the air conditioning. So begin the thermostat wars of 2011. We can never agree on the air temperature of the house. I would be happy with 70 degrees all year long, but for some reason it's set for 68 in the summer and 72 in the winter. For the record, I'd also be happy with no A/C, just using fans all summer with the windows open, but apparently that's not an option when we have central air. This comes from growing up in a house that never had central air (still doesn't) and never even had an air conditioning unit while I lived there, unless they got it near the end of my teenage years and I just don't recall it happening. I have a deep love of fresh air and cricket noises, so I'm pretty happy with the windows open. Still, it's not gonna happen. I lose this war every year. I probably won't even attempt to battle this year. I know, that doesn't sound like me, does it? I'm getting old.

No, seriously. The grey hairs are multiplying. I'm not just adding a few here and there like I have for the last several years. I can count a great number of them right now. I'm not sure what to do. Let it go grey? Dye it? Pull them out until I'm bald? I don't want to have to start paying to have it dyed on a regular basis, or have my roots done, or whatever. (However, now that I think about it, the two women I know that dye their hair black most of the time are both pretty fertile, so maybe there's something about black hair dye that might get me pregnant...) I keep thinking I should go drastic and hack a bunch of it off and bleach it blonde. Also never gonna happen, but it's a nice thought, if I had some guts. My sister dyes her hair on a bi-weekly basis. It's been red/orange/yellow at the same time, brown, blonde, super blonde and blue, black, purple, green, purple AND green AND black... and I can't even muster the courage to put a nice rinse on mine. I dyed it permanently red once, which was a dumb, dumb mistake because I did it for the wrong reasons and it bit me in the butt. I also dyed some of it purple once, which also bit me in the butt because it wasn't purple when it dried, it was pink and we all know my feelings on pink. So I'm just a failure at hair-dying. I know my sister would dye it for me in a heartbeat if I asked her to, and would probably do a great job since she's getting ready to study to be a cosmetologist... but again, I'm a big fat chicken. With grey hair. Grumble.

The boys are still not back from their trip. They should be pretty soon, I should hope. They came in fourth at the show choir Finale Nationals in New York City, and I might add that they did one of the best performances I have ever seen. Their vocals were excellent, their choreography was sharp, and I was so proud of both of them. We got to watch the live streaming video online, and there were some really good close-ups of both the boys. I can't wait for them to be home safely, though, and have our whole family back together under one roof. What with Aria gone the first half of the week, and the boys the second half, plus all of them spending the night at some friends' houses before/after their trips, it's been strange around here. The dogs are beside themselves with confusion every time someone comes in or out of the house!

Back to work tomorrow. I'll attempt to gather some gumption to get me through the week. This was certainly a wonderful weekend, though -- good food, good rest, good times. I could use a month off!

Stephanie Jean

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can It Be?

I'm almost in shock that I'm in bed on Thursday night, and when I wake up tomorrow, I'll only have to work until 1pm, and then... I can breathe, because it's finally the weekend! *YAY* The boys are in New York City, Aria's spending the night at her cousin's house on Saturday, so we'll have one night alone for Spring Break! But right now, I'm just smiling at the thought of this week being over. If ever there were a week where I wished for the Sabbath to come sooner, this was it!

Monday: worked 10 hours at the coffee shop, drove to Goshen, cleaned new house.
Tuesday: worked 8 hours at the coffee shop, drove to Lagrange, cleaned new house.
Wednesday: Picked Aria up at 6am from D.C. trip arrival, took car to Tire Star to fix tire (again), worked 6 hours at the coffee shop, helped coordinate boys departure for NYC, looked for Zach's keys for 45 minutes.
Thursday: Post office, helped Fran pack for her move to new house, polished Kathryn's entire wood floor by hand, then used buffer, shopped three places, brought groceries home, attempted to clean this house, made dinner for Aria and myself, wrote article for Family Magazine.

I need to breathe.

Speaking of breathing, my mom bought me a reed diffuser air freshener and it's pretty awesome. I'd never heard of it before, but my whole bedroom smells like garden rain, and it's just lovely.

I've been getting really super hot at night under the covers. I just realized that part of that is because my laptop is warm and it's... well, on my lap.

Okay, so I have to tell you this story. After a ridiculously long day yesterday at the coffee shop, it was nearly closing time. This nice young lady ordered a drink. While I was making it for her, an odd, older gentleman came in, and was staring at the large menu over my head. I assumed he was deciding what he wanted to drink. I finished making the drink for the girl, and as I started to ring her up in the register, the guy looked at me and said:

"I saw you were a coffee shop. I thought you'd have burgers?"

Large pause, as I considered whether or not he was just screwing with me. He wasn't. I said, "No... I'm sorry," in my most polite voice. He walked out. When the door closed, the nice young lady and I looked at each other and just cracked up. I said to her, "I saw this was a church, I thought you would have some pole dancers..." It was a shining moment at the Grind.

MY WEEK JUST GOT 100% BETTER! My cousin Charlene, who is in the Army and stationed in South Korea, just called me! I haven't talked to her since December, and I am beyond excited that she just called!!! I might not sleep all night! :)

My sister, Savannah, recently showed me how to use Skype, and I think it is perhaps one of the more awesome creations of the past century. (I like to use things that Savannah already knows how to use, because she's very adept at explaining them to me quickly in a way that I can understand. She's like the Cliff Notes version of a User's Manual!) In addition to Skype, she also showed me how to use my digital camera, iPod, and my old cell phone. Savannah pretty much rocks.

Now it's time to attempt sleep... but I'm so excited for the weekend, and about Char's call, I might be right back on here in an hour! :)

Stephanie Jean

Monday, April 4, 2011

La Semana Diabla

Okay, this is totally going to be the week from Hell, I can tell already. How, you ask? Because I'm savvy like that. I got up at 6 this morning, and it's taken me until just NOW to stop and relax. I worked for a little over ten hours at the coffee shop, then drove to Goshen to find Fran and Weldon's new house, which I utterly failed at until I finally talked to them and they directed me perfectly. I cleaned all of the cupboards inside and out, and the floors, and the place is spectacular. I love it! It's bright, and airy, and open. Then I went back to their old house where they were at, visited a few minutes, and drove home, missed Jeopardy, attempted to make cheese fries (3/4 of which fell on the floor), gave up and ate four (count 'em, four) hot dogs with cheese and ketchup because I was angry at life. At least I didn't eat the buns. Let's just pretend like I had a day on the Atkin's Diet.

Tomorrow, I get up at 5, and do it all over again. The coffee shop, the closing with Steve, then drive an hour to clean another house, then back home hopefully by 7:30 so I can actually SEE Jeopardy, but I can't imagine that will really happen. Wednesday brings the same, once again. However, Aria will be home that day, and the boys will be leaving for NYC. Thursday, clean two houses and grocery shop, Friday work at the coffee shop... then, perhaps -- some rest!? I'm looking forward to it already.

Right now, it's laundry, laundry, laundry. I'm seriously thinking about a hot bubble bath. But I'm rather enjoying just snuggling up inside this Patriots fuzzy blanket and typing, plus I have a lot to get caught up on, so maybe the bath will be saved for tomorrow night.

Is it wrong that I want a gigantic hot fudge sundae now? Not that I'm going to have it, since there is no hot fudge and no ice cream in the house. But... wantz.


I am too tired to be inspired.

Stephanie Jean

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring... Break?

I love the idea of adults having a spring break. Flying to Florida, taking a cruise, sitting by a white sand beach somewhere sipping a cocktail without a care in the world. This has never, ever happened to me in my whole adult life. I like to think that, eventually, I'll be in a financial position where this is a possibility. Right now, I'm trying not to envy those who are in that position while we coordinate helping our daughter pack for D.C. and running her to the school and figuring out which one of us is going to pick her up at 6 in the morning in the middle of the work week, and getting our boys to the school to leave for their New York City show choir trip, making sure they have everything they need, and all the while working every day this week, cleaning two people's houses, feeding the dogs, cleaning our house, and wondering how in God's name anyone over the age of 18 takes a week off, ever...

I'm grateful for small moments of peace, however. Today, church was good. I've not been a fan of the last series, which was basically four weeks of a capital campaign to get us to give more money to build more things that I don't feel like we really need. I love our church, don't get me wrong, and I love our pastors. I'm just not on board with the new project. I was on board with the old project, and we gave money towards that goal, and that goal hasn't yet been seen to fruition. I needed some spiritual feeding these past few weeks, and a capital campaign wasn't cutting it. Not that it's all about me, mind you. NONE of it is about me, nor should it be. I found my encouragement from God, and I didn't need church to do it for me. I just find it convenient when that IS the place I get it. That's just me being too lazy to do things on my own :) This week was great, though. Jason Miller, at age 28, is one of the more genuine, wise, enlightened speakers I've ever heard. I'm a big fan. As soon as they post the service for the week, I'm going to put up a link.

I've recently reconnected with one of my second grade teachers, someone to whom I've looked up all my life. Anyone that can still remember who I am when they had me in second grade is pretty amazing in my book! (Although I hesitate to think of how precocious I must have been for her to still remember me after all this time!) Seriously, though, I've always enjoyed my conversations with her and I'm glad to have contact with her once again.

At the moment, we're sitting at Barnes & Noble in the mall, catching up on reading and just enjoying some quiet time together, the husband and I. Aria's in D.C., Michael's at work, and Zachary's with some friends between church and youth group time. The house is so quiet when all three of them are gone, it's strange. Not unpleasant, just different. I think it confuses the dogs, though. For now, we'll enjoy a little more reading, maybe a walk around the mall, and then go home.

I have two articles to write this week. I've started one, but I'm waiting on information from a few people to be able to finish them both. I was rather hoping to do that now, while I'm at the laptop and it's silent, but I didn't receive the emails I was hoping for, so I'll have to wait another day or so.

Hope your weekend has been as relaxing as mine!

Stephanie Jean

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beautiful Saturday

It's time to breathe.
It's time to rest.
It's time to relax.

Oh, I cannot even tell you how much I live for Saturday mornings. Sleeping in, reading, catching up on email and Facebook and blogging, snuggling with the dog and the hubby. I get up for coffee and come back into bed and just revel in the fact that I am not at work. It's no wonder God put Sabbath into the same set of Ten Commandments where not murdering someone is at. It's just as important. Plus, it makes it easier not to murder someone if you have a day off from work each week.

When I was growing up Seventh-Day Adventist, the Sabbath felt almost like a punishment. I don't blame the church or my mom for this. There is no blame here. There is a lack of ability to describe such a wonderful thing as 'rest' to a child, or even a teenager. So much of your life when you are younger revolves around your own desires -- you want to go to the mall, so you go to the mall. You're on Spring Break, and you want to sleep in, so you sleep in for seven days in a row... and then all summer long, too. You want to hang out with your friends, so you hang out with them. There's not a longing deep inside you for a day off from the stress and hard work, where you can just relax and be yourself, and revel in the freedom and joy it gives you, because that's your everyday life. I'm not saying, for any of you teens out there, that I don't appreciate the stress of being a teenager. But on the flip side, you're not providing for anyone but yourself, usually. If you have a job, it's for your own income, savings, or blowing on Taco Bell and movies. If you have stress from schoolwork, you're on your own merit to get good grades, perhaps to please your parents, but really for your own future, not anyone else's. You still have leeway. Freedom. When you're an adult, you don't have the luxury of staying home a day from work because you don't feel like going that day -- you have to shove yourself into things that you don't want to do, because you have to pay your rent or mortgage, you have to pay for gas, and electric, and water, and sewer, and phone, and internet, and cell phone, and trash pickup, and vet bills for your pets, and insurance, and gas for your vehicle, and home improvement projects, and clothing, and vehicle maintenance, and all of the stuff for your kids, and groceries, and (do you see how this list really has no end?)... and so you just LIVE for the day you have off each week. Off from work, off from cleaning the house, off from driving other people places, off from your regular life, and into this bliss where you can have the freedom to choose what you want to do that day. Sleep in, write, drink coffee, sleep some more, read the paper, take a walk or a bike ride... Adam and Eve were created as adults who worked, so it stands to reason that the Sabbath really meant something to them. I don't think it really means anything to anyone until they sit back and meditate on how it will make a difference in their life to ... just... rest. And be thankful for the time you have to do it.

Last night, our daughter left for her trip to Washington D.C. Her best friend is going, also, and the two of them will have a great time, I'm sure. I, on the other hand, felt this moment of panic, as if I could flash forward and see what it was going to be like when they all go off to college. Suitcases and pillows and duffel bags abounded, and parents were milling all around, not sure if they should stay or go, hugging their kids as nonchalantly as possible, but you could see by looking in their eyes they all felt the same thing I did. PANIC. Panic that this is all happening too fast. These kids were just hanging on us a few days ago, asking us to color with them, read to them, play with them... and now they have suitcases and are taking a bus trip to Washington D.C. for five days, and next week they'll be off at college or getting married or having babies of their own. Okay, I fully realize I'm getting ahead of myself here, but I ask you: AM I? REALLY? Because I blinked and now she's thirteen and I'm thinking of having my eyelids surgically altered, because I'm scared to death to blink again.

It's different with daughters. I love the boys so very much, of course, I don't love any of them more or less than the others... but I feel more comfortable with the boys growing up and having freedoms. I realize I have double standards, and I hated those double standards when I was younger. My brother got to have his own car, and a later curfew, and hang out with his friends, and do things that I wasn't allowed to do when I was his age a few years later. My room had to have the door open at all times if there was a boy anywhere in the house! I think moms, in general, are less protective of boys than they are of girls. It doesn't mean the love is any different, it just means there is some sort of innocence about girls that we're attempting to protect as long as possible. Part of me wonders if this is a bad thing -- if we are perpetuating the gender gap, or enabling our men to have a sense of superiority over women, or an inferiority complex of their own if the girls become successful. But truly, I think that we're just, in essence, closer to girls than we are to boys most of the time. We can understand them. We have the same emotional outlook at life, the same sense of vulnerability, the same self-consciousness, the same body parts, the same hungers and drives. It's easier with girls because... well, because we've been there. We know what it feels like to have your heart broken by a boy. Granted, your boy can have his heart broken by a girl, but though we can assume it must hurt, does it hurt in the same way? Will he grieve in the same way that you did for little heart-throb Bobby when you were 12? or 15? or 26? Will he be comforted when you tell him things that you know would have comforted you? It's hard to know. We can try, but it always feels like we're trying harder with our boys than with our girls, no matter how good of a relationship we have with them. Girls have an inherent understanding of our hearts and our emotions, and boys tend to think we love the girls more when, really, we are just fumbling through because we have no idea what we're doing.

Of course, that sort of describes parenthood in general, doesn't it? I said in a recent article I wrote, "There's no such thing as good parenting. I feel like we're all just throwing eggs at a frying pan, and once in awhile one of us happens to make an omelet."

I keep waiting for the weather to warm up so I can go walking every day. I have lost 8 pounds over the last two months, which feels really great to me. I want to keep losing, but the most important thing to me is that I am healthy. I want to be able to have body strength and endurance, a higher constitution (I feel like I'm back to playing RPGs... what can I do to get STR +2, CON +3, and END +3? I picked up a piece of flaming magical armor! Roll 1D4 for bonus to each! Okay, if you understood that, I'm sorry... I've tried to ween myself from my geekdom, but it hasn't fully occurred, even at age 34.)

I suppose it's time to move on to the next piece of my restful day, which is to post this on Facebook, catch up there, and then do some reading in the hot bubble bath. Ahhh, I love Saturdays!

Have a good one yourself.

Stephanie Jean