Known by our love

What I'm about to talk about is something very close to my heart. And like all closely held beliefs, it is one filled with thought and emotion. It is something I have thought long and hard about over the years.

Let me start with a little background about me and where my beliefs came from...after all, all of us are products (or reactions) of our environment. I was born into a pastor's family and raised in the church. I would consider my childhood a great one, filled with many life defining memories. As a teenager, my dad's job within his denomination changed and he became "a pastor to the pastors". Then, after college, I went to work for the same denomination as my dad. By my mid 20's, I found myself second guessing everything my childhood taught me about the church, about christians. I had been exposed to so many double lives. And the double standards so many had about drove me crazy. I felt about done with the church, but not done with Jesus. It was a very strange place to find myself  for a girl that was literally raised within the walls of the church. 

I was burnt out on church when we moved to Scotland. I actually consider our time at our church in Aberdeen one of great healing for me. From the first time we set foot in that church, everyone was genuinely welcoming, nice and incorporating. And that's how they were with every single person. That time really helped remind me what it means to be like Jesus. That we should incorporate others and not separate. That we should open our homes and churches, not create barriers. 

Unfortunately, my experience of inclusion hasn't been one many in mainstream American christianity have gone through. Mainstream christianity today in America is defined by what we don't believe in, or don't agree with. It's defined by exclusion. It's defined by hate. It's defined by us persecuting others. Isn't that ironic? The church has become known for the very things is should be against? I get that every church isn't out doing crazy things like the Westboro Baptist Church, but we do love to stand against certain causes/sins/walks of life much more angrily and hostile than we do towards others. 

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  
John 13:35

We as a church don't even have the loving one another part down. We love watching an overly inflated preacher fail. Gossip and backstabbing are just normal parts of the church. Instead of helping everyone, many churches now only help those they deem worthy. Jesus must look at us and wonder where we got so far off track. 

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. 
Galatians 5:22-23

We, as followers of Christ, should be oozing the fruit of the spirit. Now, do we always get it right? Certainly not. But this is what we should be striving toward instead of taking mantras like "love the sinner, hate the sin" and making them part of our core values as a church. Which, how does one love and hate the same thing anyway? I even thought of it in the context of us not being able to love ourselves when we hate our belly/thighs/hair/nose/etc. How then would we ever be able to love another person yet HATE something they are doing? Hate is such a strong word. 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary had a couple definitions of hate that are quite eye opening. "Intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger or a sense of injury." Or there's this one, "extreme dislike or disgust." Neither of those definitions go hand in hand with love, do they? And when did Christ call us to do something other than love others? I'm finding it hard to find where we are told to stand in hate toward people's sins...but not our own, of course, because the church is great at deciding who we will and won't forgive or accept in with open arms. 

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck our of your brother's eye. 
Matthew 7:5

I'm not claiming I get it right all the time, not even close. I certainly mess up. I am a sinner, saved by grace. But I do try to come in love. I try to put myself in the other person's shoes. I try to stand up for injustice. I remind myself that Jesus loves to give people second chances. And third. And fourth. And fifth. My beliefs are never a reason to cut someone out of my life. They aren't a reason to turn my back on someone. In fact, my beliefs should have just the opposite effect on me. 

I get that I am over simplifying a hugely complicated issue. Anything with humans and feelings and emotions involved is complicated. But I do know love wins every time. And I also know that my belief in Jesus Christ and my decision to walk in his image should never, never, never be a reason for division between me and someone else. 

Please know that I am aware there are legitimate reasons that we have to sever relationships with people. I get that. We should never allow physical abuse and emotional abuse to go on. Please don't think I am saying that. What I am saying is that as Christians, we should not allow our beliefs to get in the way of loving and accepting another person just because their beliefs are different than ours. 

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Father's Day

Thankfully no one was crazy sick on father's day, like mother's day, so the show went on as planned. On Saturday evening, my parents and brother came over for a bbq and swim time to hang out and celebrate my dad. On Sunday morning, we went to church, then went home and chilled for a few hours...put Callum down for a nap, did stuff around the house, etc. Then we went and took the annual father's day pictures before heading out to Ian's parents house for a bbq with his parents and brother's family.

Annual photos on various holidays are kind of becoming my favorite. They are an easy and fun way to watch everyone grow and change. Plus, I love watching their personalities shine through in the group shots. Cough, cough, hello Isla! I will definitely be taking these pictures and every other cheesy one out there until the kids flat our refuse to get in the shot...but then I'll give it time and restart the tradition, because we all know the stuff we find lame and corny as teenagers we totally love as parents ourselves!

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Cabazon Dinosaurs

I grew up in Arizona, but both my parents were from southern California. We made countless trips over to see my relatives and I remember always passing the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs and the weird ufo plam trees actually...which the palm trees are gone now. Anyway. I am sure we stopped at least once in my childhood, but I don't really remember. Given that these dinosaurs were such an iconic part of my childhood and that I am a sucker for roadside attractions, I knew we had to stop. I actually meant to stop with the kids on the way to Arizona, but somehow totally missed the dinosaurs, so we stopped on our way back instead. 

As I said, I am a sucker for roadside attractions. And my kids are suckers for gift shops, so we make a great combination. We hit up the gift shop first, which there ended up being a bigger one inside the museum, but you live and learn, as the kids had already each gotten something at the first gift shop so they were out of luck. After the gift shop, we went into the museum. Though there was a decent crowd at the dinosaurs, we were literally the only people that paid to get in the museum. And to be honest, the museum was way better than I expected. 

In the museum were a bunch of dinosaurs that you walked around and different facts about the various dinosaurs. There was also a huge sand pit, along with the main attraction of climbing to the top of the trex. Now the museum said to head inside first, which we didn't do, as I thought it was just a gift shop and we had already gone in the other one. We ended up going in on our way out. It had a bunch of animatronic dinosaurs to look at that were super cool. It also had some photo opportunities and a bouncing dino you could ride. 

^^ When we got to the top, Connor and Isla actually got freaked out. It was super windy up there. Callum loved it though. And later I got Connor to go back up with me and he enjoyed it a lot more the second time. 

^^ Isla checking out a few of the animatronic dinosaurs

I really enjoyed myself at the dinosaurs. Had I realized how nice the paid part was, I probably would have allotted us more time there. I also would have brought a snack or meal along, as there were a bunch of picnic tables inside and plenty of space for the kids to roam and play. Sometimes I wonder who loves some of this stuff more, me or the kids! 

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Callum {1 year, 6 months}

Weight: 22 pounds, 8 ounces
Length: 31 inches
tooth count: 12

Likes: puzzles, climbing on tables, throwing things, frozen blueberries, doing things on his own
Dislikes: sitting still, his diaper being changed

This kid, I tell you. He has developed such an independent spirit since learning to walk. Often he doesn't even want to hold my hand. He insists on doing so much on his own now and fights being carried a lot. He knows how to move chairs so he can use them to climb on top of tables...the kid even climbs on top of our dining room table! He seems to sense when the gate on the stairs is down and goes running to the stairs to climb them. And he gives us the cheekiest smile when we say no to him. On the opposite end, when he is tired and I pick him up, he lays down his head on my shoulder and rubs my back, just like I do to him. He gets so excited when Ian gets home from work and runs at him yelling, "Dad!!!" And he has a passion for food and eating that can't be rivaled. 

Obviously the biggest thing that happened since Callum's last update is him learning to walk. He only walked bits at a time for about the first week, then one day literally started walking everywhere and stopped crawling. Every once in a while, I will still see him crawl, like under a table or something, and his little funny crawl makes me smile and tugs at my heart a bit because all this growing up business just happens so stinking fast. 

Callum is currently getting his eye teeth, and like all his teeth have been, it has been drama. Besides waking at night from the pain, he also walks around with a hand constantly in his mouth and has been drooling a lot. Anything cold has been his best friend. But, I mostly try to stick to frozen blueberries because it just seems healthier than giving him popsicles all day and they seem to make him just as happy. 

Because of the eye teeth, sleep hasn't been going as well as it had been. However, he keeps making progress on going to sleep. He has even been letting us leave his room without fussing while still awake. This is such improvement from just a couple months ago when we would sit next to his crib and hold his hands through the slats. And I am hopeful that once his teeth are in he will go back to sleeping through the night. Depending on when Callum wakes up in the morning and really also depending on our schedule for the day, he will take either one or two naps a day. And it's hard to say how long they last as he normally gets woken up by one of the other kids making too much noise. 

We had to move all the kids around in my car because Callum kept pulling Isla's hair. He literally ripped out chunks of her hair on two occasions, so I knew something had to be done. All three kids were sitting in one row. Now Connor and Isla are in the third row and Callum is all alone in the second row. It works out well. I thought maybe Callum would be more entertained on car trips because he has his siblings to stare at, since he is still rear facing. But after all the driving we did last week, I can tell you that was just wishful thinking on my part! When he gets bored on those long car trips, he lets everyone know. 

Callum loves playing with any water and loves going in the pool. He also will pick up any writing utensil he finds and start scribbling away. And if there is no paper close, he is happy to use furniture...not that I would know or anything. Throwing and chasing after balls are also still one of his favorite things. 

Callum is obsessed with his belly button. The kid literally walks around with his finger in his belly button at all times. One day I lifted up my shirt and showed him mine and he got so excited and went to stick his finger in it. Since then, he has seen other people's belly buttons and gotten equally excited. Such a funny thing to get excited over, but it's all cute, strange and funny all rolled into one. 

Just for fun, Connor and Isla at the same age. Apparently both of them had many more teeth than Callum at this point and also weighed a decent chunk more than my skinny mini.  

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Arizona Desert Museum

I have to admit, the idea of spending too much time at a desert museum had me feeling a little meh...and possibly wondering if my deodorant could handle the heat. But I was super excited to see where my sister in law is going to get married, which is at the desert museum. Once I found out there are animals at the museum, I was more excited, as I always love going to the zoo. Of course, the reptile house, with all those snakes...and so many of them shedding skin?!?...had me a bit creeped out, but the rest was amazing. The sting ray exhibit was over the top cool and I got to see a porcupine up close. Oh, and the frog and tadpole exhibit had both me and the kids thoroughly entertained. 

Isla probably made this cute old lady docent's day by being full of questions about the saguaro cactus and seeming genuinely interested in everything the lady had to say. Connor, on the other hand, didn't even want to be there for a quick photo of the view, though when the lady mentioned you can see Mexico in the distance, both seemed intrigued, though I am not sure either knew what she was talking about. 

^^ Callum was obviously thoroughly enjoying the museum

^^ Sea eels always fascinate me and creep me out a bit

^^ This not so little guy was not a part of any exhibit, but was perched outside of a cage. He had an insanely beautiful bright blue belly and didn't seem to be bothered by me getting close to take pictures. 

Aww, the sting rays. Did you know they are native to the Sonoran Desert? Well now you do! And these ones were more than happy to let us touch them. Many of them even seemed to swim right up, almost asking to be touched. And one even peeked its face out of the water at Isla. I'm pretty sure this was a highlight for all of us at the museum. 

^^ Notice anything weird? Isla wore her shorts backward because "I wanted pockets in the front mom"

And we get to come back to the museum in January for my sis-in-law's wedding! Rumor has it that they bring out some of the animals for the kids to see at the reception, so that should be fun. 

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