Thursday, February 04, 2016

You Will Care

So, remember that time I took a kid to the doctor’s office and my world went nuts? Good times, good times… (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this and this.)

Seriously, though, I was so surprised by the whole situation that I think I went into a bit of shock. I was in shock that a post went viral. I was in shock that so many people thought I was crazy. I was in shock that people felt so free to curse a complete stranger.

But more than all of that, I was in shock because so many people accused me of being a narcissist for wanting to raise my child according to my conscience. To be sure, there were lots of comments supporting my desire to parent according to my religious beliefs. But there were so many comments claiming my kids should be taken away from me because I did not parent in a socially acceptable fashion - claims I didn't think could actually come to fruition, but caused concern regardless.

After a while, the shock wore off. I figured my experience was a fluke. Even though I’d heard from other parents who’d experienced similar situations, I thought we had to be the exceptions, not the rule. This is still America. Land of the Free. Right?

Not so much. And a new book is coming out detailing various abuses of the First Amendment. Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen have written, “You Will Be Made to Care: The War on Faith, Family, and Your Freedom to Believe.” I’ve been reading an advanced copy – y’all, it’s good. Scary, but good. And motivating.

This is not a political book. This is a book for religious believers who are concerned about religious freedoms being stripped away. And though I wanted to believe what happened to me was a one-off, what I’m reading in these pages makes me realize there is a concerted effort to eliminate the freedoms we once held dear – and too cavalierly.

But the history of the world shows that events ultimately come to a head. They boil to their essence. And at that point, you will be made to choose between conscience and compliance.

And for my University Reformed friends, Kevin DeYoung is quoted extensively, including this:

The great opportunity we have is people understanding and seeing now that to be a Christian in our culture is going to have to mean a willingness to be different. And that’s really what being a Christian should always have been like. [It’s an opportunity] to be true not to our fallen selves, but who we are in Christ.

I’m only to half-way through, but I cannot encourage you strongly enough to get this book. You can pre-order it now and get a bunch of free stuff (including audio interviews with Kevin DeYoung, Russell Moore, and Ravi Zacharias) to tide you over until it’s published on February 22.

I’m not getting a dime for this. I’m just waking up to the reality of our situation. And I want you to wake up, too.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Today’s first spotlight is an organization I hope you never have to use: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS). This nonprofit gives the gift of professional portraits to parents suffering the loss of a baby. Volunteer photographers take pictures of the baby and parents at the hospital, then provide the family with professional quality portraits they can have to remember the baby they didn’t get to bring home.

The organization was started after the Cheryl Haggard’s son died shortly after his birth. Her friend and photographer, Sandy Puc’, came to the hospital to take pictures of Haggard with her son. This experience led Haggard and Puc’ to begin NILMDTS. Now, more than 1,700 photographers make their services available free of charge to parents facing their worst nightmares. And these pictures, according to Haggard, help her and other grieving parents remember the “beauty and blessings,” instead of the nightmare of that time.

I heard about this organization through one of their volunteer photographers, my dear friend Molly Noe. We met 10 years ago when both of our husbands were transferred to Lansing with GM. We became fast friends and even though they’ve now been transferred with GM again, I still consider her one of my favorite people and first Michigan friend.

In addition to being the area coordinator for NILMDTS, Molly has her own photography business, M. Noe Photography, and is incredibly talented! I’m partial to the ones of my girls, but scroll down to see some more of her work. (Check out the amazing maternity picture!) She does great senior sessions as well as maternity, new baby and family pictures. She even takes pet pictures, which I thought was pretty weird until last week… If you need pictures taken, she's your girl. 

Which reminds me, Molly, you game to take some college graduation pictures in April?

One of my favorite M. Noe Photography shots - Rebecca and 
Rascle! Molly is very patient with her subjects, even hamsters!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Random Thoughts, Dog Edition

The vision I had, of a little dog sitting in the school room with Rebecca, has become a reality.

See that yellow bag to the left? That's the dog food we special-ordered. Y'all, we special-ordered dog food. What in the world...

Dakota came to us with his name. And he’s had it for seven years, so changing it is a bad idea. Since we're not going to change it, Sean has let everyone know that we did not pick it. Because no respectable Duffy would select the name of a Dodge for our pet.

Michael keeps calling the dog, Dave. I have no idea why.

The advantage to having an older dog: he's already house- and crate- trained. So far there's only been one accident in the house and that was our fault for not moving fast enough in the morning. We have not made that mistake again.

Dakota's only real downside is his aversion to animals on TV. I'm sure no one will be surprised that Nature is Rebecca's favorite show. We settled in to watch one this weekend and as soon as Dakota heard the birds he went absolutely nuts:
I took this picture while he barked at the PetSmart ad.

So far he doesn't bark at Law & Order, so I'm good.

If my reaction to the dog is any indication, my future grandchild(ren) will be horribly spoiled. Horribly. For instance, Rebecca is training him to not bark at certain things. Like people coming in the house. Or animals on the television. But he has such a cute little bark that I find myself laughing at it. This does not please Rebecca.

She is also training Dakota to stay off the furniture. Sean and I appreciate her being respectful of our stuff, but I find myself saying, “He’s so small. He can’t do that much damage…”

Sean and Rebecca do not agree. They’re both good with the no-dog-on-the-furniture plan. I'm sort-of on board with it. Sort-of:
I don't even know who I am any more.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It pays to be the third

There are advantages to being the last kid. And considering our last, Rebecca, is the one who got dragged around to all the older kids’ activities, missed nap times and had later bedtimes in order to accommodate her siblings, it seems only right she’d gets some perks. And this week, she got a big one.

Introducing Dakota Duffy, the newest member of the family.
Back in October, I walked by Rebecca’s desk and saw her sitting there, all alone in the school room that used to house three Duffy kids. Everything was so quiet. Last year both of her siblings went to college; Rebecca spent the school year adjusting to being the only one home. It didn’t really feel real. But this year when they both left, Rebecca and I realized it was just going to stay quiet.

And on that fateful October day when I walked by the all-too-quiet school room, I thought, “I bet she’d like a dog.”

As soon as the thought entered my mind I tried to shoo it out. I did NOT want a dog! Dogs are messy and dirty and smelly. They cost a lot and what the heck am I going to do with a dog when we go out of town?

But I couldn’t shake the idea that having a little dog would mean the world to her. She'd been talking about having a dog for years. And for years, we successfully convinced her that we are not dog people. But the picture of her doing her school work with a little furry friend at her feet just stayed with me. I could not shake it.

I mentioned it to Sean later that night. I was relying on him to be the voice of reason. The one to say, “We are NOT dog people.” The one to say, “There, there, Christy. You’ve obviously lost your mind. Let me get you some meds.” Instead, he said, “That sounds like a really good idea.”

Oh. My. Word.

After the two of us talked about it for several days, we came up with three stipulations. She would have to find a dog that: 1) did not shed much; 2) weighed less than 20 pounds; and 3) was not a bazillion dollars.

When we laid out the plan for Rebecca, she looked at us like we’d lost our minds. For the briefest of moments, she thought we were playing a horribly cruel joke. After assuring her we were for real, a gigantic smile spread across her face and has been there ever since.

She spent several weeks researching and came up with the ideal dog for our family: a West Highland White Terrier. And she even found a Westie rescue organization and asked if we could adopt a rescued Westie. We submitted our paperwork the first of December. Two weeks ago, we heard that they had a dog that would be perfect for us: seven-year-old Dakota.

Last week we drove out to visit him at his foster home and Rebecca instantly fell in love. Four days later (after we passed our home study), he was packed up into our car, headed toward his new home. He’s been here for two days and in those two days Rebecca has said, “I can’t believe we have a dog!” at least a million times.

I can’t believe it, either.

Welcome to the fam, Dakota. We're all really glad you're here. 
On the way home!

Dakota doesn't stray too far from Rebecca.

I have a feeling they're going to be inseparable.

Monday, January 18, 2016

50's the new 30

When you’re 10, 50 seems really, really old. Like get a room at the nursing home and schedule an appointment with the funeral home old. And then you turn 20 and think, “Yep, 50’s still old.” Then your turn 30 and think, “Well, 50 is old, but maybe not that old.” Then you hit 40 and find out some of your friends are actually in their 50’s and you realize 50 isn’t quite as close to the grave as your younger self once thought.

And then one morning, it happens: you wake up and you’re 50 years old.

That’s what happened to my dear husband this morning. Last night, he went to bed a spry, 49-year-old. This morning, he hit the half-century mark.

Wow. How the heck did that happen so fast?

Best case scenario, age brings wisdom. That’s definitely happened in Sean’s case. While he’s still the goofy guy who makes me laugh, the ways he’s grown in his faith and as a husband are astounding. Looking back over 20 years to see such growth is something to be so thankful for.

Sure, he’s got some gray hair. And yes, his pant size has gone up a bit (thank goodness – he wore size 28 waist when we married). But turning 50 didn’t change anything but the box he’ll have to tick when he takes surveys. He is as fabulous as he was when we went on our first date in 1989.

Sean, you may be over the hill, but it’s our hill. I’m happy to sit shotgun next to you on this crazy life we’ve made. Love you lots.

(Many thanks to Sean's dad, Chuck, for finding all these great pictures for me!)

Sean as Batman, holding a battery he pretended was his "Bat Spray."

Redan High School Marching Band.

With his first pride and joy, a '68 Bug.

The car he drove when we started dating, an '88 Chevy Beretta.

Sean and his sister, Jill, in the Firebird that Amy's now driving.

He loved this Olds.

There are so many pictures like this one! (I love that the Amy Grant Unguarded piano book is there!)

Fifty looks good on you, honey!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

New year, new idea: Spotlights

It’s January 7 – seven days into all those new year resolutions… how you doing? I didn’t make any this year. It’s not that I’m opposed to resolutions, it’s just that my past resolutions have been a bit too sweeping. So this year I’m trying to focus on smaller steps instead of giant, major changes. And that goes for my blog, too.

Credit: By huangjiahui on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
One of those changes you'll see here is occasional Spotlight posts. They'll support other people doing cool stuff. Or call attention to great customer service. Or shine a spotlight on regular people making good choices. Most of these posts will come from my personal experiences, but I would love input from you, dear reader!

Three spotlights today. First, a new blogger I’d love you to read. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What? Another blogger? Aren’t there enough of y’all already?” Well, there are a lot of us, but not all of us can tell a tale like this lady. Ruth Ann Frederick’s writing is engaging and at the end of each post you’ll feel like you spent some time with her on her front porch. Check out her very first post, Mama’s Chicken Skillet.

Second spotlight: Danielle Spencer, a friend from church, has blogged periodically about life and lessons learned in her home of nine. She continually points us to Christ. Her encouragement to moms of large and small families is appreciated by those who know her in real life as well as those who get to know her via her writing. And hopefully more will know her soon, because she was just published on The Christward Collective, a publication of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Her post on hospitality is excellent.

Finally, if you need somewhere to stay in Greensboro, North Carolina, I have the place for you: Hampton Inn & Suites Greensboro/Coliseum Area. My family stayed here when we attended my aunt’s Life Celebration. They hotel rooms were amazing – brand new –  and the staff was excellent. But the reason for the spotlight is because when I returned home, there was a condolence card waiting for me, signed by the staff of the hotel. The hotel staff sent me a condolence card. People, have you ever heard of such a thing?! What a lovely gesture.

So three spotlights for today: two good reads and a place to stay in Greensboro!

I’m looking forward to these periodic Spotlights – if you know of anyone who should get a little spotlight love, let me know.

Happy New Year – and may you faithfully stick to your resolutions, big or small!

Friday, December 25, 2015

All is well

You may remember Sean and I had a disagreement about which song the Christmas Choir should sing. I was angling pretty hard for Emmanuel by Amy Grant. He wanted something more classical. We found a compromise in a Michael W. Smith/Wayne Kirkpatrick song, All is Well. (And by compromise, I mean he picked it and I thought it was good.)

Today, as I think about the suffering in my own family and the families I know, I have to ask how can all be well with so much pain? But the song reminds me that all is well because Emmanuel was born – our Lord and Savior came to earth. And indeed, all is well.

All is not perfect. All is not as it should be. Not yet. But today, all is well.

This is a recording of the University Reformed Church singing the song. The picture’s not great but the sound is, which is actually a good thing – just listen to the words and remember that all truly is

Christ is come! Merry Christmas!

All is well all is well
Angels and men rejoice
For tonight darkness fell
Into the dawn of love's light
Sing A-le
Sing Alleluia

All is well all is well
Let there be peace on earth
Christ is come go and tell
That He is in the manger
Sing A-le
Sing Alleluia

All is well all is well
Lift up your voice and sing
Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior
Sing Alleluia
Sing Alleluia

All is well