Wednesday, December 31, 2008

BE

I think I've been in a blaaaahhhhhg mood this last week or two. I've tried composing blogs, but all the stuff is jumbled inside and isn't ready to come out yet. Kinda like that not-so-subtle feeling of indigestion one gets after the holidays have come and gone. It's stuck.

Every year there is a Blue Christmas feeling I get after the holiday. It's never quite what I expect it to be. But this year, as I reflect, I realize that nothing is ever what I expect it to be. Sometimes things are far better. And sometimes, things are much worse. I guess having no expectations is an option. Would I be more content? I think maybe I would be.

I wrote recently that my goal for 2009 is to Live in the Moment while Planning for the Future.

I am preparing for a road trip to see some dear friends I haven't seen in a long time. My agenda: BE there. Be PRESENT. Listen. Laugh. Be. Live in the moments as they come.

I know my tree is still covered with ornaments and my carpet is covered in pine needles. I know that I did a shoddy job of cleaning the fridge today. I know that my car needs to be cleaned, inside and out before we leave. There is laundry to be done and lists to be made, but here I am: blogging.

Why? Because tonight is a new night. It's New Year's Eve. I may not get a chance tomorrow to tell you what is on my heart and mind. I've done enough work today. It is vacation after all. Tonight, when I am done with this blog, I am going to BE in the kitchen preparing an appetizer. After that I am going to BE with my kids as I help them dress for a party, braiding hair. Tonight the agenda is to listen, laugh and play.

God willing, I'll awake in the morning to a new day and a new agenda. I'll start my planning...again.

Tomorrow, while I am doing all that laundry and list-making I hope I will BE WILLING to BE in the MOMENT. I pray that I will BE MINDFUL of the MOMENT and where God is in it. I hope I will BE ABLE to listen to God's whisper as He guides me through my PLANS. I know I have lots to do, but it's pretty worthless if the minutes just tick by. No, this year, I really do want to Live in the Moment while Planning for the Future.

But, Tonight is the only thing I can do anything about. Tonight I will ring in the new year. Tonight I am hoping that I might carry the willingness to merely BE into the new year, not just when I am going to a party or on vacation, but every day.

What are you going to BE this new year?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Are you a Fan Of Christmas Cards? I am!


What happened to the years between 1998 and 2000?

I have no idea. It’s perplexing.

In several moves I have lost :
A box of lovey letters Joe had written me while we were dating.
A standing FLOOR lamp.... yes a great big lamp!
and I can’t believe it but, I lost the years 1998, 1999 and 2000!

I have 1997’s Christmas Cards. I have everything between 2001 and 2007, what happened to the rest? I guess I won’t know ‘til I get to Heaven.

Losing the Lovey Letters was heartbreaking. Losing the Floor Lamp was a bummer. But gosh darn it, I always meant to do something with those Christmas Cards!

Since you can’t cry over spilled milk or lost things, I want to share what I think is a great idea. In good conscience, I can not brag about a good idea without admitting that I stole the good idea. In fact, I have few good ideas of my own so if you observe me having a good idea, ask me who I got it from. Here, the credit goes to my Sister-in-Love, Mary, who is a good resource for people like me who are in desperate need of good ideas. Mary showed me what I needed to do with all my Christmas Cards that I had not yet lost, and is the Queen of THIS good idea.

The (drum roll please)....... Christmas Card Fan!

To make a Christmas Card Fan you need Christmas Cards and some Christmas letters, too. Mount them on black cardstock and hold them together with a ring. Simple. It’s fun to see how families have grown. It’s fun to recall the history you have with people.
Year 2001 - a cute couple
Year 2002 - still a cute couple
Year 2003 - an ecstatic couple with one child
Year 2004 - a toddler, a tired dad (smiling) and a fat momma (also smiling).
Year 2005 - 2 beautiful children with two happy, tired looking parents and eventually, a few years down the line, we get a Christmas Card of that same family with 5 kids and the parents are still grinning. How is that?

Anyway, making the Christmas Card Fan is cheap, easy, and priceless in it’s own way. The one thing I will never do is MOVE ever again! Because I might lose my Christmas Card Fans and then where would I be?

How do you use your Christmas Cards?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Joseph

There's a whole lot of hoop-la this time of year. It's all about Jesus. There's also a lot of attention directed toward Mary. She is, afterall, the mother of God. Bears some attention I think. Like all pregnant women, she gets LOTS of attention.

However, do you ever think of dads? I'm sure you do. Especially if you have "been there, done that" and recall with a modicum of clarity how fuzzy the world was when you were first expecting a child and when your infant was born. The world was changed for you, wasn't it? It changes for moms and dads alike. Many of us have personal experience to draw upon when reading the Christmas Story. But do you ever think much about Joseph?

I can't remember where I heard it but somewhere someone commented... (like that?... I'm trying to give the credit but that old memory of mine is failing) Someone on some show or in some book remarked that Jesus came as a baby to draw attention to his humanity. It strikes me that he didn't come as a King. He didn't come as a Political Power. He didn't come as a Warrior. He didn't come as a great artist or aritocrat. No, he came as a baby. Same as you and me. He came in human form and among the most helpless of humans, an infant. He was a baby who needed an earthly father... and Joseph got picked!

Why Joseph? What do you think or believe was so notable that God chose Joseph to be the father of this child? Or do you think there is nothing noteworthy about Joseph at all? What does the Bible say?

This is one of my favorite passages about Joseph -

Matthew 1: 19-20 says: Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

This is one of my favorite passages because I can't help but to dwell on the fact that he had to consider what to do. Can you imagine? How long did he consider? What did he consider? How many choices did he have? How many nights did he lay awake? I gotta look it up in Greek. Maybe the original language will help.

What do you think about Joseph? Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to have been him? Joseph didn't lead a great army, win great battles, or fell any giants. But he is a giant of the Christmas Story and I wonder what he was like. Do you?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gifts I've Received


My friend Denise blogged recently about the spirit of gift giving. It got me thinking... not so much about the creative gift giving I’ve done, but about the many special gifts I’ve received.

Here are a few, and only a few, highlights from a few Someones whose gifts have meant so much.

Someone once gave me - a bottle of wine left on my porch after our firstborn’s first trip to the ER; Ouch!... stitches.... he bears the scar to this day

Someone once gave me - the gift of knitting because she taught me how

Someone once gave me - the LLBean travel bag I had been eyeing in a catalog for 3 years which I couldn’t see buying for myself when ziploc baggies will do. I love that travel bag... in my favorite color no less!

Someone once gave me - a precious picture framed to remind us of sympatico

Someone once gave me - the gift of forgiveness... You can’t be a friend with someone for 30 years without that!

Someone once gave me - the gift of wisdom and gentle guidance and words of truth spoken in love, consistency, loyalty, all in a single afternoon

Someone once gave me - my Jeremiah 29:11-13 bracelet right when I needed to let go of my own plans and accept God’s plans

Someone once gave me - my Sisters By Heart poem

Someone once gave me - amazing black pants I have worn for so many years that still fit perfectly and go with everything and have lasted forever

Someone once gave me - a little heart box complete with symbolic little items like 10 candles for our first 10 years of marriage, 2 monopoly houses for each real house we had made Home, 2 angels for our 2 children, salt for the tears and sugar for the sweet times


Someone once gave me - a little box with a stone, hand decorated, representing the spiritual marker of our friendship

Someone once gave me - my mushroom picture that she drew with her very own hands

Someone once gave me - the gift of allowing me to barge in on her and help her paint her kitchen my favorite color

Someone once gave me - the gift of loving my children like her own

Someone once gave me - the gift of letting me love his children like my own

Someone once gave me - the gift of time talking on the phone for a whole hour which is a big commitment when you are only 9!

Someone once gave me - the gift of encouragement and fitness because she got me to run my first 5K

Someone once gave me - a party complete with balloons and laughter and cake and ice cream and singing on a birthday day when there was supposed to be nothing but laundry, macaroni and dishes

Someone once gave me - the gift of a silver locket

And those are just a few of the best gifts I’ve ever received. What comes to mind for you?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Santa Died


The child was nestled all snug in her bed
When Mommy came in for the prayers to be said.
Mommy was hoping to be done in a snap
And go settle her brain for a long winter’s nap.

Jillian: Are you Mrs. Claus?

Mommy: Yes

Jillian: So is Daddy Santa?

Mommy: What do you think?

Jillian: Well, if you’re Mrs. Claus then Daddy must be Santa.

Mommy: Why do you think Mommy and Daddy pretended to be Santa?

Jillian: Because you like giving us presents and you like surprising us.

Mommy: That’s right. It’s fun to give presents in secret and not to get any Thank Yous. Sometimes it reminds me of Jesus who gives us lots of good things and we don’t say Thank You. Sometimes we don’t see that it is Him who is taking care of us. Jesus loves us though. That’s why he came to earth. He loves us even if we don’t say Thank You.

Jillian: Why are you crying Mommy?

Mommy: Because I don’t want any Thank Yous. I just want to love you the way Jesus loves me.

Jillian: How can I not say Thank You when I know it’s you?

Mommy: I know it’s hard. Try not to thank me on Christmas. Try to remember that some gifts are free and Thank Jesus for His gift instead. Jesus’ gift is the best one of all.

Jillian: Jesus really loves me.

Mommy: Yes, he does.

Mommy sprang to embrace her while the tears started pouring
And away she flew to go finish her mourning.
Santa had died, the fib was now out of sight,
"It’s all about Jesus now, and One Holy Night!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ebenezer

Use the word, “Ebenezer” this time of year, and you are bound to think of Dickens’ famous Ebenezer Scrooge, Esquire. A greedy, grumpy, and supremely selfish man eventually transformed and reborn.

Aren’t you glad at the end of that tale? Isn’t it a relief to see what happens to that crusty old man? The Ebenezer that emerges at the end of the play inspires Hope in us because we want to believe that given eyes to see, the past, the present and the future we can be made new. We so desperately need that kind of Hope. Deep down we fear what we might be missing, don’t we? We identify with Dickens’ portrayal because Ebenezer reminds us who we are and who we might become. But there is another Ebenezer I want to talk about.

In the Bible, an Ebenezer was a memorial. It was like a totem pole of thankfulness. An altar erected to God to remind the people of all He had done. It was meant to give them Hope. Why does God think the people need an Ebenezer? It is because we forget.

We forget how blessed we are.
We forget what God has done.
We forget all the times we have been rescued.
We forget the joy we have known.
We forget to be thankful.

God knew we are Forgetters. We are Ebenezers like Scrooge who get greedy and grumpy and need again and again to be transformed into Rememberers. Rememberers who know how fortunate we are. Rememberers who care about the poor and needy. Rememberers who look for a way to give of the little or much we have with joy.

So in response to our Scroogish nature, Joe and I bought some rocks. We also bought a great big cedar bowl. Into the bowl we place stones on which are written memories of the miracles and blessings authored by Jehoveh Jirah - the God who provides. We do this lest we forget all that the Lord has done for our family. We do this to become Rememberers. It is our Ebenezer Bowl, to remind us who God is, who we are and what He has done for us in the past and in the present. Each blank stone is a reminder that God has a plan for the future. Someday, all the stones will tell a story.

In Hebrew, Ebenezer means Stone of Help and it is with the help of these stones that I hope to actually BE an Ebenezer Scrooge, Esq..... transformed, reborn and made new... a portrait of Hope... a reflection of God.

1 Samuel 7:12.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up.... He named it Ebenezer, saying, “The LORD helped us."



PS - Credit for the Ebenezer Bowl goes to my friend Jill who got her idea from her friend. And maybe Jill’s friend got the idea from someone else. In any case, it all started in the Old Testament. It was God’s idea all along... that we not forget. That we REMEMBER.



What do YOU do in YOUR family to remember?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Silver and Gold

The Silver and Gold Season has officially begun...

My friend, Michelle, commented on my last blog with this wonderful poem about old and new friendships. You've heard it before. Maybe you even know all the words. In keeping with the theme of Blessing which this Season inevitably inspires, I wanted to share this poem with you.

Silver and Gold

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test-
Time and change-are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray;
Friendship never knows decay.
For 'mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die;
New friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast-
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.

For those of my friends who are among the "new", I want to tell you that even now, as friendship is being born, I look forward to when we are old together. I didn't know what old friends were until the last few years, but now that I know, I value more richly the diamonds in their unrefined state, knowing what they might become.

What are silver and gold to you?

Monday, November 24, 2008

“Aha” Moments



(photo of me and my friend, Abby)

When we initially moved to Oakhurst in 2007, there was so much going on in our lives. In the midst of our move, there was also a lot of pain. I think the needs of the moment circumvented the needs of the heart. It took a while for my heart to catch up and mourn what I left behind. My friend, Jill, however was left in the lurch and was processing my move and her life from those first days in 2007.

Jill wrote in April of 2008 about an “aha” moment she had with God. If I recall, I think we were having a chat on the phone when she had her “aha” moment and her blog tumbled onto the www after that.

I mention Jill because I just had a similar “aha” moment on the floor of my bedroom. It’s where I wrap things. Gifts. Lots of them. I like presents; both the giving and the receiving. I was wrapping gifts for my friend Abby and her family, who live in a land far far away.... Maryland.

Like me, Abby has the gift of giving and receiving. Many years ago, when we parted company, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with every birthday, but in the short time we had had together we had quite a repertoire of traditions and experiences. Abby was always sharing something. She still does. That’s what I love about Abby. I’ve never stopped missing her and her husband and her children.

That’s what the gifts are all about.

After every holiday, I collect little things from wherever I can find them. Usually, a set of valentine napkins from the grocery store, green bowls with shamrocks on them and this year I got a great deal on a July 4th decoration in the shape of a gigantic sparkly star! In the holiday box with all the holiday things go the holiday wishes - We think of your corn beef on St.Patricks Day. We remember your love for us on Valentines....stuff like that. I miss her. I miss her sweetheart husband. I miss her boys. I want to give her little gifts that make moments in the year pretty or silly or special. I love when one holiday ends and the next starts, because then I can start my hunt for the markdowns! I can spend a few moments in the middle of Vons just thinking about Abby and what she might like. I can’t be with her, but I can send her my heart in a box.

Then, came my “aha” moment. I wonder if Jesus is up in Heaven collecting things for me and attaching His heart to them? Does he tie little notes on those precious treasures and pass them along to me as the year unfolds? Does He gather them eagerly, excited for what I might think? Does He imagine how I will use His gift? I can see Him wanting me not to miss the lovely moments in life, little or large. I can see Him wanting to be included in them the way I want to be included in Abby’s celebrations.

I want Abby to be thinking about me, to remember me, to know that I love her and care for her. I want Abby to know that she is important and is missed all year long. There are times when Jesus seems like Abby, living in a land far far away, preparing a place for me to come home to someday. But the Truth is, Jesus is with me. I just need to open up my eyes and say, “aha!” as I see all the little gifts He has given me. I need to take a little time to read the notes on the treasures He has sent my way. I can’t always be with Abby, but Jesus is always with me.

Jill said it best in her blog
:

“Could it be He moved our friends to remind us that nothing can separate us from Him? I think that is, at least, part of it!”

“I take great comfort in the fact that the Lord has a reason for these distances. I praise Him, that He desires us to know that He will never leave, nor forsake us! I thank Him for every glimpse of Heaven and Heart that He allows us! Some day we will all be together forever in the Glory of the Lord..”

That is what Christmas is all about: God is With Us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ho! ho! ho! down!

It may not be Christmas yet but Jesus was alive and well at our annual Harvest Festival. Seriously, if you go to church in the Oakhurst area, you need to consider Sierra Vista. You got a whole lot of folk who love Jesus and a whole lot of folk who love each other. That’s what makes our church special.

We’ve got kids like Evan (not my Evan, another, much taller Evan who plays the tuba) getting jiggy with the little kids.

We’ve got gals like Rae, who also totally Rocks and that’s not just cuz her last name’s so cool. She has a gift for delicious ideas like COTTON CANDY and a “can-do” attitude that’s infectious!

In addition, we’ve got Sherry (Fabulous) Faber who can decorate anything with anything and make it look so darn hoe downy its amazing.

We’ve got a pastor’s wife who is silly enough in her own right to show up with polka dot hair ribbons, overalls and freckles painted on her nose and beleive it or not, she didn’t get the best dressed prize!

We’ve got kitchen leadership in Kim, who hates being in the kitchen but has an encouraging word and the prettiest smile to share every time you go in there.

We’ve got the Wolters, who, I am so sorry to say this, are too dang cute AND CAN DANCE! Did you miss having them in your square? Too bad for you cuz Eric knows how to swing his partner dosey-doe and everything else with the hands of a man who knows what the heck he’s doing.

We’ve got DJ, aka Denise Jones, who can orchestrate the miraculous - a coming together of all ages where love and laughter is shared and worship is obvious not because we’re singing songs or praying but because together we are God's family. Check out her blog because she has cornered the market on great photographs and subsequently, a great slide show....AFTER you watch mine. ;)

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Glad Game

I need that movie. You know the one I mean? Disney’s Pollyanna. In that old movie, people are transformed because someone comes into their world speaking words of hope and truth. Pollyanna gave the people reasons to be thankful by teaching them to look through another lens - The Glad Game. Do you need a Pollyanna in your life? Are you one?

Another blogger (who I now can’t trace) quoted John Piper on her blog. He said, “The people who love God most enjoy God most, cling to him most, hug him most are the most broken people. They’re the ones who have felt most deeply how desperate they are. So let’s be a broken happy people.”

I am often lost between the optimist and the pessimist in me, the broken person and the profoundly blessed one. Loss must not be minimized nor ought it be dwelt upon. Life goes on. Hope can be found in the darkest of places and if such a hope exists, do we dare ignore it?

Yet, it is in my brokenness, my disappointments, and my sorrow that I cry out to God the most. It is often my circumstances that provoke relentless prayer. Yet as bad as circumstances might be, the depth of my brokenness is determined by my conscience. It is then that I know Who I really am! How can I be less than one of those broken happy people?

Pollyanna found reasons to be glad. I am determined to do the same and the words of this song sum it up for me perfectly. It is because of the truths expressed here that my spirit can be released to really play the Glad Game. This is what I’m thankful for:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me

When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there,
Who made an end to all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
my perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I Am,
the King of glory and of grace

My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven, He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased with His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good News in the News

Here is my idea of "spreading the wealth". Click on this article.

The point to remember is what government gives, it must first take away.
John S. Caldwell

Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have…The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.
Thomas Jefferson

A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour.
Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jump Roping for Joy


Surprise BRAG!

My sister-in-law, Mary McBride, and MY NIECES are on TV! Mary and my nieces, Allie Emma and Kate are part of a cool Jump Rope Club at their school. The youngest, Kate, didn't make the demo team cut for this gig, but everything about Kate is noteworthy. Someday, I'll be bragging about her on my blog. You can see her standing next to Jillian in this photo op at Nelder Grove. But today, check out this link and see our extended family :

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=view_from_the_bay/health_fitness&id=6471150

Allie is the taller blond one at the front in the very beginning.

Emma was the first one to do the double jump rope and at the end, they both responded first to the journalists’ questions.

Aren’t they wonderful?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What Sunflowers Do


"Keep your face to the sunshine
and you cannot see the shadow.
It's what sunflowers do."
- Helen Keller

Joshua 1:7
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Years ago, when Joe was teaching others how to ride a motorcycle he often would tell “wipe-out” stories. A primary flaw in a new rider is the tendency to not look where you are going. “Always, always, keep your eye on where you want to go,” he would tell them. Those who did found success.

Proverbs 4:25 and 27
Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.


I am horribly unathletic and where I would never in a million years be taking motorcycle riding lessons, I did eagerly agree to learn how to plummet down a slippery, snowy and icy hill. When I learned to ski, my teacher gave me similar instruction, “Keep your eyes focused on where you want to go.” So far in my skiing experience, I have kept my skis from swerving too far to the right or to the left and have kept my feet from wrapping around trees and tripping over rocks. There are always things I can not see, but those evil obstacles I can see, I have successfully avoided.

Isaiah 30:21
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

Recently the kids and I got to visit a friend from church, Traci, who graciously shared her passion with us, horses. I am still kicking myself for not bringing my camera. If you want to catch a glimpse of Traci, you’ll have to find her on another day HERE at Denise’s blog, when she gave of her generous self to the Jones’ kids. Denise, did you get to ride?

I got a chance to ride Virginia (which cracks me up since that’s my mother-in-law) a chestnut thoroughbred who is as soft as silk and patient as a lamb putting up with an awkward Me upon her back. Traci’s admonishment, “Look where you want to go.....” Following the voice of instruction, I was (moderately) successful.

At church on a recent Sunday our worship pastor showed a video clip which included a time lapse scene of a sunflower field. The Sunflowers followed the sun as it arched across the daylight sky. Their faces always shine toward the light. Can you picture it?

Ruben, If you read my blog, can you forward me the link to that cool video?

Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus .....

How I long to keep my focus where it ought to be, to be ever mindful of the direction I am headed in, to not swerve to the right or to the left but to walk in the way I ought to go. Don’t you?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cool


“Does this look cool, Mom?”

I never thought I’d hear those words from my 13 year old. He’s going bike riding today with his Boy Scout troop and apparently, wanted to look “cool”. This came out of the mouth of the babe who once chastised me for spending too much time in the bathroom before church on a Sunday morning with, “Mom, you shouldn’t be so concerned about your outward appearance, because the LORD looks at the heart.”

Yes, he quotes scripture AT me. This wasn’t the first time either nor was it the last.

The 10 year old has taken great pains about matching clothing. He won’t wear something with jeans unless it is blue OR he has been assured AGAIN with “Yes, everything goes with jeans.” The 10 year old has definitive opinions about his hair. He wears hair gel. He even sent me hunting one time for colored hair gel because even at the delicate age of 8, he wanted gold shimmer in his hair. Just in case you have girls, trust me on this one, BOYS are also DIFFERENT. “Does this look cool, Mom?” is a question that was supposed to come from THIS child, not the older one.

When it was time to leave, the 13 year old hopped into the car in his affirmed “cool” attire and I casually asked him if he was wearing deoderant. No. “Did you brush your teeth?” No. Needless to say, I left the car running ....

How long does it take until he will care about hygiene, I wonder.

Will he ever ask, “Do I smell okay, Mom?” Will he ever question, “Do I have food stuck in my teeth, Mom?” Will he ever say, “Mom, I want to marry someone just like you because you are perfect.”

I can dream can’t I?

I now understand what my mother-in-law once said when she said she had been praying for me for years before she ever met me. How cool is that?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Lie of Control

Awhile back, I blogged about Lies. I know I believe a bunch.

My friend at Knittin' Peace is firstly, one of the few who put me on the straight, narrow and difficult path of homeschooling. Secondly, she is one of the truly honest people I know. I love her for that.

I don't usually comment on other people's blogs but this one HIT right between the eyes. Can you hear me screaming? OUCH!

Oh, the lies I want to believe! If you want some truth in a spoon, take a mouthful of this short article. If you want to see her knittin' go to her etsy site and consider buying something special from someone special.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Benefits of Peanut Butter (and I'm not talking protein!)

I wouldn't have believed it if it didn't really happen, but it did!

Let me take you back a few weeks and years and even decades.

Joe is not the car man. He's the roof man, the plumbing man, the tile man, the electrician man, the window and the door man, the painter man, the breakfast man, the put in an entire sprinkler system man, but let me repeat, Joe is NOT the car man. Only recently has he started changing our oil himself. Cars aren't his gift.

As it turns out, every nick and scratch on my car makes me crazy. Begrudgingly he washes my car, but in all honesty, I am the one who usually goes back through it with the Windex. When I discovered Turtle Wax and I came out of my shell a much happier woman. All I have to do is wait for him to wash the car and then go to work, then I can WAX the vehicle! whoo hoo! Shine! But then there are many days when the car maintenance is more than I can handle and I just stay inside my house... where it is clean.

Unfortunately, we are both guilty of not teaching the kids to really clean up after themselves in the car. Occasionally I'm irritable and command that someone do something in there. Occasionally he has a moment where he too, starts ordering us around about throwing away garbage. Fairly recently, we were both heart broken to find that our relatively new car, a burb with leather seats, had stains all over... from gum.... caked on....black.....worn in.....and baked in. We had only ourselves to blame for letting our kids be kids and not doing better by them or our vehicle.

But today, I discovered a new use for peanut butter. Since chunky is Joe's favorite and not anyone else's, I grabbed the jar and a roll of Viva and went out to the car. What's the worst thing that can happen? The car gets worse? It might even smell. So what?

About 20 minutes later, with Skippy and elbow grease and a few sheets of paper towels, those black ugly marks are off my seats! In the process, I had to throw a few chunks of nuts out into my driveway for the squirrels to find, but the whole process was strangely easy. Joe won't even notice that some of his chunky is missing.

Have YOU ever thought of using peanut butter as a cleaning agent? Isn't that amazing?

What HAVE YOU used to clean up a mess that actually worked? Do you have any helpful hints to share that might stun and amaze? I found my idea off the internet. Where have some of your best ideas come from?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Prayer of Autumn

Fall. Why do they call it that? I like the word, Autumn better. It has a more peaceful ring to it.

When Julie and I hiked Wawona Hotel to Wawona Point in Mariposa Grove, I was hoping to see some turning dogwoods. No such luck. They aren’t ready yet. By now, in Colorado, all the aspen have changed to golden and the crispy song they sing is now a faint memory as most of their leaves have fallen. The earth beneath laden with a blanket of yellow slowly changing to muddy brown. The trees are barren. They look dead. I remember how one could gaze out at the mountain landscape and see the huge groves of brown stick-like figures patching among the evergreen. Right now in Colorado the aspen’s life is over. The dogwood’s will come to an end soon.

Can you envision a leafless tree. It looks lifeless, doesn’t it?

When the branches of a tree are attacked by winter cold and wet, one wonders how it can survive. What makes it endure such hardship? Why doesn’t it give up?

I am no botanist, but I know that within the tree a miracle of life is taking place. Just as the light needs darkness to define it (from a philosopher’s point of view) resting periods are important in nature because they are times of refueling. Only when the cycle of life is allowed to take place, including the cold hard dead of winter, can the tree can fulfill its purposes. It may look dead on the outside but within the tree’s strength is growing, preparing it for a new season and new fruit.

I have never wanted to be an evergreen tree. I look forward to change. I always have. Stagnant isn’t my style. However, there have been enough cold hard dead of Winter seasons in my life that I have wondered if Spring would ever come. There are times in my humanness when I have yearned for the perpetual Spring and Summer, where the sun shines all day long and darkness is brighter even at night. Autumn always comes, however, and Winter follows it. I don’t get to choose when. I don’t even get to choose to give up.

As the tree holds on to Winter longing for the Spring, I hold on waiting in eager expectation for my season of renewal. I’ve done that many times. This year, however, I am waiting for the leaves of the brilliant dogwood to turn. This year, I look forward to Autumn’s fiery red leaves. This year, I am rejoicing in the season of life I am in. This year, I am in Spring.

What kind of tree are you? Deciduous or Evergreen? What is your favorite season to enjoy or to experience?



Monday, October 6, 2008

Celebration

Birthdays are a beautiful thing. All ya’ll know how much I gabbed about my own, but a few more special ones are occurring even now. It seems that once my birthday hits, everything snowballs. From now through Spring, it’s shopping season for this 41’derful mommy and the economy will be mightily assisted by the Schneider Buying Spree.

More important than the presents themselves, however, is the presence of people.

On Julie’s birthday, the Jules Clan and the Denises got together. (Take a look at Denise's Celebrating Julie blog to see her tribute and a fun video.) At dinner we talked about, guess what? Birth stories. It was a conversation for baby showers but that night, it was dinner conversation. There is much to be celebrated in the birth of a child and we talked about the miraculous and painful. The main topic, Julie, however, was the special guest of the evening. It was obvious how thankful Denise and I were to Julie for having a birthday. A reason to celebrate! Thanks Julie - for being born!

A day before, we had our own quiet family celebration for Jillian, who turned 8 this year. Over the course of the week, presents had been arriving for Jilly in the mail. I had to apologize on her birthday because amazon.com had not come through. All the presents I bought and had planned on her brothers buying from me were going to be overdue. My little girl, who ought to be rather gift focused at her age said, “It’s okay mommy. When presents are early and late it just means I get to celebrate even longer!” Even last night, at Julie’s house she said, “I just feel like I’ve had the best week ever!” Even for my 8 year old, it’s not about presents. It’s all about presence.

The presence of people. The presence of God. The presence of celebration. The presence of rejoicing. The presence of thankfulness. Birth. Days to celebrate and days to remember. Cake. Candles. Song. Celebration. Blessings.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pruning

Do you believe Jesus is closer to you when He is pruning you?

Doesn't feel like it sometimes.

Sometimes, it does feel like it. Those times are gifts.

Isaiah 28:28-29 says: Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it. All this also comes from the Lord Almighty...

Isaiah 42:1-4 reads: Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; ......A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

Have you ever pruned a plant and hoped and prayed you didn't kill it?

Sometimes my spiritual life feels like it's about to be snuffed out. Yet, the pruning, the breaking, the threshing and what often feels like bruising the Lord administers or allows has never yet broken me. No, he wants me useful. He wants me to bloom. Jesus is always closest to the vine when pruning it.

Does that make sense to you?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Distractions

From Crosswalk.com, September 30, 2008

James 4:14-15: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that’” (NASB).

God wants our eyes to be fixed on Him. The world offers many distractions, and we may substitute our obedience for earthly indulgence. The more we do this, the more we learn to settle for less. John Piper, from his book A Hunger for God, notes, “If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

What distracts you? What keeps you from the best and the great?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lies

There are lies like, "The dog ate my homework."

There are lies like, "I didn't do it, Mommy."

There are lies like, "I know I wasn't driving that fast."

But then there are lies that are real doozies. There are kinds of lies you believe and no matter how much you believe them for as long as you believe them, they just aren't true. It can take years to discover the lies. They are like weeds in the soil, growing and influencing all that is good in the garden of life. Until they are pulled out, truths around them are choked into submission, not realizing the fullness, beauty and power of the truths they are. Truths are made weak while lies grow strong.

What lies have you believed?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Forty One'derful Birthday!


Yes, it was. I dare not blog about it for fear I’ll sound like I am bragging, but I just can’t believe what a wonderful day it was!

It shouldn’t have been a good day. I mean, my aunt died in July and it was the day the truck was coming to deliver Auntie’s stuff to my house. When he finally arrived several hours late after giving me the run around about having to hire a U-haul, he opened the back of the truck and I got weepy. Memories of my dear aunt were in a truck.

But even before that moment, I had to get up and get dressed. Because he said he might come as early as 7 we had to forgo the Schneider family tradition of breakfast in bed, which is the very best part of any birthday day. And I didn't get breakfast in bed.

So, it should have been a challenging day.

Evan didn’t do well on Chapter 2 of Grammar. Problems already. Ugh.

Jillian balked at having to make up a few of her own math sentences. More ugh.

My nose is still running and my throat is all hacky and I couldn’t read as much history as I was planning on and with each day of my snuffly hackiness, we’re getting farther behind and then we had to rush out the door and onto piano lessons.

We ran out of both milk and eggs. WHEN will I get to the store? I’ve got to volunteer for the first time at MOPS tonight. Am I going to have energy at the end of this day?

It should have been a stressful day. But it wasn’t.

When we got home from piano, guess what happened....

FRIENDS! With CAKE! MADE FROM SCRATCH! And all their beautiful silly unique children with BALLOONS! And moms with their BLOGGY CAMERAS! The frosting was melting since they were waiting on the porch (I was late coming home from piano), so I ushered them in to my messy house with Auntie’s stuff all over everywhere since nothing has a place of its own yet.

I should have been uptight. I wasn’t.

The cleaning supplies were on the counter since we had a leak under the sink. The dog kept licking Denise to welcome her to our abode. She had never been at my house before. There was laundry on the couch. BUT IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY and I was with FRIENDS! Who sang me happy birthday and served me cake.

Is there a better day?

When it was time for me to rush onto church, Julie took my kids to dinner. BLESSING MY CHILDREN!

Oh yes, one more marvelous thing - at the end of my amazing day I got to crawl into bed wearing the most amazing pajamas. Jilly purchased them with her very own money and was so happy I liked the color. If you have a Gottschalks near you - go NOW and get the softest pajamas ever in whatever color that suits you. They are wonderful. My day was wonderful. My FRIENDS made it wonderful.

thanks - Josie, Noah, Garrett, Megan, Julie, Denise, Zach, Jillian, Evan, Jeremy and Emilie for giving me the perfect present - YOU and surprises and TIME and love and LAUGHTER and honesty and simplicity and BLESSING.

Zachary said, “I didn’t think today was going to be a very great day, but it turned out 41’derful!” Yup. thanks to terrific people, it sure did.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Forty Wonderful


Do you remember the line from Ben Hur, “We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well, and live.” ?

Do you ever have days like that? Weeks like that? Do you ever feel your friends or worse, your family and especially your husband, keeps you alive to serve THEM?

I know all moms feel like that at one time or another, but as the years have passed, those days are fewer and far between for me. No, I’ve got something else in common with good ol’ Judah Ben Hur....

Cook well 41.

Teach well 41.

Read well 41.

Brush my hair well 41.

Serve me well 41.

Slice my sandwich well 41.

Bigger scoop of ice cream, please 41.

And my favorite, Sleep well 41.

Yup. My kids are hysterical. They’ve been commanding me all week.

Somehow, and I think it started with my husband, my kids caught on to this very funny joke because as of Thursday, I am 41. Unlike Chuck Heston however, I am no slave.
I am princess! I am queen! I am Mom!

It is my birthday and they are alive to serve me and make me feel special. My ship will sail today like no other. I will savor every moment. I will be royalty.

My 13 year old will make breakfast and attempt to make coffee. My 10 year old will clean the kitchen. My 7 year old won’t argue with her brothers and will unleash a present unlike any other I’ve ever received that she especially bought, with her very own money, for ME!

It will be a 41’derful Day!
Ramming Speed!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

An Ode to My Friends and More Thoughts on The Shack

I love my friends. All of them. God has seen fit to give me one or two gems during each season of my life. I’ve got the Junior High Friend who eventually became one of a few good High School Friends. I then added a singular College Friend and eventually a few New Mommy Friends came along. Recently to my treasures were added the Women Who Prayed Me Out of the Pit Friends or CC (for Caretakers Club since I had one foot in the grave at the time). The CC Friends all live in Colorado. One of my CC Friends once told me when we were just getting to know each other, “It’s hard to know who’s going to be a ‘Keeper.’”

I like that word: Keeper. I Keep little corners of my heart for those I am especially fond of. Each Keeper knows a part of my life and where they are free to roam within the whole of me, they usually hunker down in the familiar places set aside just for them. When they are there, my heart is more full. When they are not, my heart feels a little bit empty until they, or I, return or write or call.

What I love about Keepers God has put into my life is that because they have access they see who I really am. In the midst of that knowledge, they have given me the freedom to be me. No matter the circumstances, the falling in and away and back in again; the lack of intimacy for months or even years on end, abruptly ending with a “Hi! How are you?”. The words of wisdom that might otherwise chastise and hurt, from the mouth of a friend are both freeing and edifying.

The little gifts of words and time blossom into familiarity. The sound of a friend’s voice, affirming words, understanding, the distinct scents my dear girlfriends wear, scattered memories of crazy sneezing, laughing fits, dye jobs, eating too much, drinking too much, movie lines we can quote, breaking out into 80’s dance music, the habits and rituals we’ve created be they wontons, wine, sipping coffee, late nights of satisfying conversation....so many things come together to make me feel whole and even be whole. Sharing. That’s what it’s like being with my Peeps, my Keepers, my Friends. Relationship.

Real Love is not forced. I wish I were a sponge who could soak that in completely and wring it out on everyone I know. My friends don’t force. Jesus is like that. He doesn’t force Himself on me. Friends simply open the door. Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock... I will come in.” Kind. Loving. Accepting. So often, my friends have given me the right words, at the right time. Depth. Cutting to the chase. The perfect question causing my mind to swing from presumption and posturing back to truth. Relationship. Relating. Being Real. That’s what I love about my friends. That’s what I need so desperately in my God. That is what I’ve found in Him.

What does this have to do with this book everyone is talking about? I’ll tell you. My friends love me at all times....even when I’m not so lovable..... even when I’m distant.... even when I’m a mess. That’s The Shack. That’s my God.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Who Wants to Try It?

Who wants to try this? I've got to know if this works! I'm all outa eggs and am not going to the grocery store. Someone please help, try it soon and send a comment! I've got to know...

NOTE: MILD profanity

Monday, September 1, 2008

Whose Idea Was It to Play Tag in Cyberspace Anyway?

From My Friend at Sparks of Illumination
I got Tagged!

Here are some things about me -

I am: bloated.

I know: that I will feel better if I eat nothing for 3 days.

I have: to be getting older or why else would I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin?

I wish: I were 30 with the wisdom and maturity of 40.

I hate: it when I can’t sleep at night.

I miss: Colorado.

I fear: my children not hungering and thirsting for Jesus.

I feel: my husband scratching my back.

I hear: crickets.

I smell: my shampoo.

I crave: worship.

I search: my heart and my mind.

I wonder: what it will be like to live in Heaven.

I regret: moments of ingratitude.

I love: who God is making me.

I am not: crazy.

I believe: in miracles.

I dance: when I can’t help myself.

I sing: from my soul.

I cry: often.
I don’t always: do my best.

I fight: against despair.

I write: to process things.

I win: at Othello.

I lose: at everything else.

I never: eat peanut butter with syrup.

I always: give cheerfully.

I confuse: my husband.

I listen: to reason.

I can usually be found: at the computer.

I am scared: that my children will grow up in an ugly world.

I need to: trust God more.

I am happy about: the fact that God is with me.

I imagine: what it will be like when every knee bows and every tongue confesses Jesus Christ as Lord.

Okay, Michelle and Robin, want to play? You're IT!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Shack - First Thoughts - not a spoiler

We started. We began the conversation. We mulled over ideas. We reckoned with Truth. A few hours later it only seemed like a few minutes and the meatloaf was waiting. We aren't done yet. Jill and I have more to talk about. Do you want to join?

Here are my thoughts after I got off the phone with my fellow book-reviewer.

This God that seems so incredibly familiar to me in The Shack; is He the God of my era? is He the God of my limited theology? is He the God of American Evangelical perspectives? is the God of what makes sense today?

OR is He the God of Billy Graham?
is He the God of CS Lewis?
is He the God of Eric Liddell?
is He the God of Martin Luther?
is He the God of St. Francis?
is He the God of the Apostle Paul?
is He the God of John the Beloved Disciple?
is He the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?


Would the God personified in this book be familiar to the men and women who have walked with God over the centuries? Is the God of the Shack consistent with all we know or think we know about Him? Could He be the God for any where and all time?

What do you think?

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Shack - Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity - not a spoiler

I hate Christian fiction. Like a lot of modernized things, it just can’t compare with the richness of classics like Anna Karenina, Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Count of Monte Cristo. The moral truths expressed in books of that caliber seldom compare to the books published today. However, I’ve come across an interesting book this last week that ought to be read. When I am done reading it, I may change my mind, but for now, let me just say - I recommend it - pick up The Shack by William P. Young at a library near you. Its content is startling.

People are saying it’s controversial, but I’m not sure why. I am curious enough to read other’s opinions but am afraid that it will color my own; therefore, I have deliberately avoided googling the book and tracking down all the hype.

I’ve got a phone date next week Jill from Adoptyuen who, like me, struggled getting passed Chapter 4. She also promised to push though it with me so we could talk about it. I just got done with Chapter 8 and now I am thinking maybe, that’s the whole point of the book.... To give us stuff to talk about!

Here’s a few excerpts that have got me thinking.

p.122, God, referring to Himself as part of the Holy Trinity explains, “We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us.”

p.124, Jesus, making reference to mankind’s social and political and religious structures says to the man, “If you had truly learned to regard each other’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.”

p.126, God responds to the man’s questions about suffering, “You try to make sense of the world in which you live based on a small and very incomplete picture of reality. It is like looking at a parade through a tiny knot-hole of hurt, pain, self-centeredness, and power and believing you are on your own and insignificant. All of these contain powerful lies.”

p.145, Jesus replied, “To force my will on you is exactly what love does not do. Genuine relationships are marked by submission even when your choices are not helpful or healthy.”

When you talk to God, does He say stuff like this to you?

Have you read it yet? What are your opinions?

Will you read it? Why or why not?

Note to my Teeny and Tweeny Blog Readers: The Shack may NOT be a good book for you. Check with your parents before you dive in and/or have your parents talk to me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meet My New Friends

Do you want to meet my friends?

One of them you’ve met before when I blogged about Half Dome. See my old posts in June for stuff about Julie. The real her is being unveiled in the heat of the summer!

I imagine some of you are wondering why the heck we moved to Oakhurst. I wish I understood God’s plans. I don’t. But let’s just say, it’s been one year since we moved here and quite an adventure finding people who we might like to spend time with. One of my old friends who has known me forever said to me when I was whining and complaining about the lack of companionship, “Why don’t you just be yourself?” Then I met Denise. What was God thinking?

This is part of my sad reality. I am actually thinking of asking for a guitar for my 41st birthday so I can be like them....yes, my new friends. If this makes no sense, pop some popcorn and check out their video blogging. They are so silly. They are so goofy. How did I pick them? Or maybe, and here’s the scary thought, maybe they picked me! Or worse, maybe God picked them for me because God knows how much I needed laughter in my life.

The other sad truth is that I wouldn’t know anything about blogging and haven’t had any connection to the bloggedy blog world if it weren’t for my super silly, goofy godly friend, I left far far away in Colorado... Jill.... who loves me so much and inspires me so much.....she taught me HOW TO BLOG!

God has a sense of humor. You can tell by watching Jules and Denise’s blogs. Enjoy... and Meet My New Friends.

PS - I have supporting roles in each of their video blogs... Jules’ Friday entry (8/15) and Denise’s on Thursday (8/14). Maybe I’ll win an an Oscar to go with Jules Grammy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jillian Got Bap-i-tized

Jillian got baptized Monday, August 11, 2008 . She is 7 going on amazingly mature and godly. She is absolutely her parents pride and joy which is saying a lot since her older brothers are extraordinary people. The only problem Jillian has is that even though she has grown in a myriad of ways, she still can’t say “baptized”. Everyone she met this last week she asked, “Do you want to come and see me get bap-i-tized?” THREE syllables. Lots of people came.

One perplexing element of Jillian’s decision to be bap-i-tized is that we don’t recall exactly when she understood the truth about Christ and His sacrifice for her. We don’t remember that she ever prayed the sinner’s prayer. We don’t remember when she may have asked Jesus to come and live in her heart. I have a vague recollection of her telling me she had prayed to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior after a Sunday School class. I must have thought she was too little to remember or know what she was saying. I must have thought she would do it again. Who knew such a little one would know and understand what it is to deserve blame and yet be blameless. Who knew Jesus would never let her go after that? I have to admit I missed the opportunity to rejoice with her. What I failed to do, the angels were doing, however. God’s face has shined on her ever since.

Since 2006, Jillian has been fixated on baptisms. She was always asking questions about what it was like, why they do it, and why did Jesus do it. She had the all the usual questions about the baptismals themselves and how the pastor actually dunks you. At one point she asked, “Can you wear swim goggles?” Jillian has been thinking about following Christ into the water for a long, long time.

But her journey has only just begun. There will be high times, low times and times when God seems distant. I came to the knowledge of Christ through the book of Ecclesiastes... not your usual recommended Bible read for a new Christian. Yet, the truth about the vanity of the world and its ways caused me to cry out for a God.... if He was there. God answered me 25 years ago. Today, I rest in the knowledge that my very good God now has hold of my daughter and by doing so, He answered one of the most important prayers I ever prayed.

For my daughter I am glad she will always know God loves her. He has been there from the beginning. He has been there from her beginning. He will always be there. He won’t ever let her go. Praise God with me and watch this video. Bass Lake is practically in our backyard and for many years, our church has baptized followers of Christ here. Every baptism is wonderful, but this one has a truly wonderful setting to prove it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What about Football?

Futball or football, known in the US as soccer, has a sordid history, apparently. This I did not know. I am becoming a history buff as I homeschool my children and have had a particular fondness for the history of Britain. I read the biographies of Eleanor of Aquitane and Mary, Queen of Scots just this year. I'm not all that interested in the politics of recent years, but boy some of those old movies rock my world. A Man for All Seasons. Anne of a Thousand Days. The Lion in Winter. Even though they took creative license with Elizabeth - the Golden Age I can't help loving Cate Blanchett in the role. Who doesn't relish the history and legacy of the Virgin Queen?

Elizabeth I is credited with one of my favorite concepts of all time. She declared that she had "no desire to make windows into men's souls". Sure would love to have been a fly on the castle walls 500 years ago. However, today I can't help wanting to make a window into men's souls in the UK. What is it about their football? Why don't they have an Olympic Soccer Team?

With the likes of David Beckham at their disposal, why aren't they competing? Does it have something to do with Victoria's fashion sense? Are they closet Scientologists who have a prejudice against anything that worships human achievement instead of aliens? (If you don't get this joke, google Scientology) No! The reason the Brits don't have a soccer team in the Olympics and haven't since 1964 has everything to do with William Wallace. Seen Braveheart? Do a little deductive reasoning or read about it in USA Today.

Fascinating stuff. And I thought I was going to be a couch potato for 2 weeks. Guess not. There is so much to learn in this great big world of ours. But I gotta go. The opening ceremonies are tomorrow night, but the sports have started already. I want to savor every bit of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I'm going to go watch TV.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Miracles of Me

The Miracle that was me began in my mother’s womb
I am fearfully and wonderfully made....

The Miracle that made a teen look for hope
There is a time for every purpose under Heaven...

The Miracle that made me question God’s existence were lyrics from a secular song
I am in all....

The Miracle that created joy unimaginable
I was blind, but now I see...

The Miracle that cured a broken heart and soul
He who keeps you will not slumber...

The Miracle that made a heart sing
Delight yourself in the Lord...

The Miracle that made a marriage of 20 years
Treat others the way you want to be treated....

The Miracle that made a mom unashamed
The kindness of the Lord leads us to repentance.....

The Miracle that released a person from the past
I have engraved you on the palms of my hands....

The Miracle that birthed courage in the midst of dry and weary lands
Behold, I am doing a new thing...

The Miracle that made possible next steps
For I know the plans I have for you....

The Miracle that broke the bondage of doubt
Doesn’t He know how to give good gifts to His children?...

The Miracle that lifted me out the deepest pit
Where two or more of you are gathered, there I am in your midst...

The Miracle that makes me believe in Light when all appears Dark
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

I believe in Miracles because circumstances don’t always change, but I do.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Miracles...

Do you believe in MIRACLES?

Do you ever look at your life and see a MIRACLE?

Do you ever pray for one?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oh, Big Brother!

Did you hear the latest?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made it official: California will be the first trans-fat free state in the nation. For more on this latest news go to the original article at ABC news.

My first thought was: Oh goody! Maybe he'll give us a tax right-off for going to the gym? or being vegetarian? or being the recommended weight? Could we get bonus points for being TV free? Hey! People get tax breaks for driving a hybrid! What about an allowance for those of us who refuse to be couch potatoes? How about it Big Brother?

Do you think they could make a law against Tostitos, Lays, and Pringles?

Maybe they’ll outlaw donut shops?

Can you imagine margarine being illegal? ... Joe and I could start a bootlegging business selling:
- Crisco
- Non-dairy creamers
- Ritz crackers
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
- Nabisco Chips Ahoy!
- Cool Whip
- Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing

We’d be rich!

Did you know that Ramen noodles are loaded with trans fats? I see it now .... teenage boys in swim trunks and tank tops sneaking to my door Friday nights to buy a stash of noodles in styrofoam cups for the Saturday morning swim meet. I would be the local soup dealer corrupting the athletes in my community. Before you know it, they’d be doing trans fat testing to see if the boys were tainted before their races. Aaaahhhh!

Oh, Brother! Now I’m having visions of Michael Phelps being carried away in handcuffs and it’s all my fault. I can’t stomach the thought. Will the Pantry Police come and get me? I really think I need to snack on a bag of Ranch Flavored Doritos. Until Big Brother makes more laws, they are only 3 bucks a bag.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Blissfulness of Bins, Boxes and Baskets

When I get to Heaven there will be organized bins and boxes. Did you know that? I have no idea what we have to store up for ourselves in Heaven, but at least we won’t have to worry about moths and rust destroying anything. I know there will be organization in Heaven because orderliness is next to cleanliness and cleanliness, of course, is next to Godliness!

Last year, when I moved into my new house, my friend mentioned how many wicker baskets I had. Little did she know the history of some of those earthy, friendly warm containers that lovingly cradled crackers and dryer sheets and napkins and hand lotions and clean towels. Those precious baskets would have stories to tell. Yes, I was an organizer before organizing was “in”. In all honesty, I have never been in a Stacks N Stacks or a Container Store, but I know I would feel at home there. I do love to organize. I love organizing the way I used to love shopping.

Are you having a flashback? In college, the coolest way to spend my time was to go to the mall with my friend Delia (who has the same taste and who is the same size) and 100 bucks in my wallet. We’d have fun seeing how far our 100 bucks would go. Today, however, I seek the perfect Rubbermaid, Sterlite or “pretty box” with which to put my stuff. Today I like shopping for the stuff to put my stuff in. Am I American or what?

I also learned on my recent trek up half dome that I am a Baggie Person. What a thrill to realize there’s a label for a person like me! You might think that it sounds like a “Bag Lady”, but I assure you, the compliment far extends the benefit of being a bag lady. I actually know a bag-type lady who prefers the art of dumpster diving but that is a blog for another day. No, I am a Baggie Lady. Emphasis on the “ee”. What I didn’t know I was missing out on is the new gigantic industrial strength baggie!.... with a ziploc top! Perfect for those enormous loaves of sourdough bread you don’t want to go stale. You know some mom out there invented the ziploc top. It’s sheer brilliance. Think about it ladies, how many times did having a ziploc top save you a gigantic mess in the indispensible diaper bag? Ziplocs are a godsend. Baggies will definitely be in Heaven and I will feel at home there.

Certainly, I like to organize and care for my “stuff”. In my backpack the day I hiked Half Dome I had strategically placed all valuables and not so valuables in baggies. Some genius will discover the art of color coding them that way. Some day when I’m searching through my backpack for my ipod or my camera or my nilla wafers, I can search for the COLOR I put them in. Hear that Glad? Hear that Ziploc? COLOR CODED baggies! Is anyone listening?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Well Pleased

They did it. Mom had to admit that she couldn’t do it. No. It was a job for Dad. Taking his son to the highest heights on the slipperiest slopes and making a mountain out of a man. Okay. So he’s not a man yet, but he did something today he will add to resume of great accomplishments... and he did it with his dad.

Evan hiked Half Dome.

This blog belongs on my Schneider’s Climbing Mountains “Brag” Blog but since no one has commented on my super cool and very first slideshow, (I think I made a technical glitch making it impossible to view) I am leaving my own accomplishments there and bragging about Evan here. Enjoy my second slideshow below (which is better than my first) and thank God along with me for a marvelous, wonderful and terrific 13 year old son who is growing up to be a fine young man.

I am very proud of my son. I am a Mom who is Well Pleased.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More Stuff About Julie

Julie will stand between me and a live bear commanding me to "BE QUIET!" and shove me to get back.

Julie has never seen a live bear except at the zoo. I have.

Julie forgets to take her blood sugar levels.

Julie knows how to change the time on my son's digital watch and knows how to tell me to program my cell phone. Julie is tech savvy.

Julie doesn't get hot and sweaty like I do.

Julie doesn't get hungry as often as I do.

Julie will criticize you if you break out in Karen Carpenter tunes while on the trail.

Julie doesn't complain.

When in doubt, Julie prays!

Julie doesn't grumble while hanging on the side of a cliff waiting to get the top of Half Dome. I do.

Julie wants to go to the edge of a cliff and look over. Crazy woman.

Julie walks faster during the second part of the day. I, however, walk slower during the second part of the day.

Julie refrains from making the sick jokes I am thinking of when we see the naked guy at the river pulling on his swim trunks.

Julie doesn't say, "Hi," to the naked guy. I do.

Julie has never seen a naked guy pulling on his swim trunks at the side of a river.

I admit, neither had I, until yesterday.

A memorable day.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Stuff About Julie


This is just stuff about my friend Julie who is Hiking Half Dome with Me, Sunday, June 22, 2008.

She scares me. She’ll probably kick my butt to the top of that rock. She can do at least one perfect push-up and probably more but she’s too humble. She won’t show off. I like that Julie won’t show off. No one needs an inferiority complex, at least not when they are combating cellulite and wrinkles.

Maybe you want to know why I know she can do a perfect push-up? She teaches our homeschool PE class. She actually teaches kids how to do at least one perfect push-up. That's one subject I can't teach.

Julie smiles and laughs but the wheels behind her sparkly eyes are turning. One of these days I plan to catch her in an all out belly laugh. I know she is capable. She is really funny.

She has a great blog and way too much time on her hands to be that creative. Perhaps she doesn’t sleep at night?

She takes great pictures. The picture of me and my family in front of bamboo at the zoo; she took that. As I got a closer look at her blog, I realized those weren’t borrowed pictures from some nebula of the world wide galaxy, no! SHE takes those pictures.

Julie knows everyone and has been everywhere... except the top of Half Dome. I’ve been there. She hasn’t. It’s the only thing I can hold over her head.

Julie’s 3 children are nearly the same ages as my 3 children. They are the only other children I know who enjoy playing chess.

Julie homeschools like me. We both use Saxon Math. We both use Institute for Excellence in Writing. We both like Apologia. We both wonder if we’ll come out alive on the other end of homeschooling.

Julie sings. I don’t know how good she is, but when I look at every other aspect of her life, I’m thinking she’s probably pretty good and since I sing too, maybe one day we’ll do a duet! As I think about it, I wonder if she’s good at dancing. Maybe we’ll do the Happy Dance on top of Half Dome!

Julie wears a cool leather jacket in the winter. I need a cool black leather jacket. Doesn’t everyone?

One thing everyone needs, is a friend like Julie they can hike 8 miles with... or 10 miles... or be crazy enough to hike 16 miles or 20 miles to the top of some stupid rock that most people only see in postcards. Pray for us on June 22.

You can check out Julie’s blog. She has a tracker so you can go on a virtual hike with us!

Since you can’t actually hike with us, I wanted to share the one perfect view of the infamous cables which most represents what I saw last year when I hiked in September. Climbing the cables defies logic, yet it can be done. The fact that it seems impossible and yet is possible is a metaphor for my spiritual life, but I’ll save that blog for another day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Road Trip Survival Kit


I thought I’d blog about road tripping and attempt to give advice, not that anyone in their right mind is going anywhere this summer with the price of gas hitting an all time outer-space high, yet in the spirit of summer, I decided to impart wisdom for anyone with any aged children who have the courage to strap them into a vehicle for hours and hours and hours. One of my friends whose child-rearing advice has kept me on the straight and narrow, asked ME what I thought about road trips to add to her own kit of survival techniques. So, here it is: advice from 2 moms who’ve survived road trips with children in the back seat of the car and have lived to write about it.

Mom One Wrote: Just like at home, we have a car routine.

There are.......
* music times
* quiet times (for I-pods and DS)
* talking times
* singing times which always turn into joke telling time
* snack times
* story times (always always always have books on cd to listen to! - library has a great selection) Most recent treasure: The BFG by Roald Dahl

When the kids were littler, we would say something like, "Okay, after the next stop we'll be having an hour of quiet time." Or, if the kids were asking for music we'd reply with, "Talking time will be over in 20 minutes and then we'll turn on something for us all to listen to." It is helpful for each child to have a watch.

Before hand, I had the kid's make their own "car boxes"... a shoebox, decorated at will and stuffed with all the little things they like to play with. Often I would throw in little surprises like a new pen, small notebook, candy that takes a long time to eat, stickers, even chenille stems or paper clips keep the oldest kids busy. Also - if it doesn't fit in the box, it doesn't join us (except pillows and blankies)

Another "ahead of time" thing is to make maps (off of google).... I simply print them out and put them in the report folders so the kids can following along as we get to certain cities, etc. It helps them get a sense of how far we have come and where we're going. You can do a lot with this, naming hotels, making a travel journal, etc, but I never got that fancy.

At each stop (bathroom breaks, gassing up, arrival), we always do a "garbage check"... this seems to keep the car clean of coloring pages, juice bags and gum wrappers. Everyone is supposed to grab as much garbage as they can carry.

One punitive form of control we use is the "sit on the hands" time out. If they are touching each other or otherwise causing mischief, they have to sit on their hands.


Mom Two Wrote: Stuff we figured out the hard way, that saved our sanity on road trips:

Problem: Kids fighting over who gets to choose the bed at the hotel or push the button on the elevator or choose the fast food place for lunch or which side of the car to sit on, etc.
Solution: For families with two kids, one is assigned even days and the other odd days. Throughout the trip, whenever a conflict arises, ask whose day it is.*

Problem: Bickering in the car or otherwise getting on each others' nerves
Solution: Before leaving, discuss the rules (below) that apply to car trips. Explain that these are needed because when we have no choice but to be strapped into the car with each other, we need extra boundaries to protect personal space and peace of mind.

Problem: It takes time to get used to the new rules; everybody is going to accidentally break them some time.
Solution: Start the trip by giving each child a roll of coins (obviously, this isn't for very young children who might choke on them). Whenever they break a rule, they have to give one coin to a parent.** However much money they have left upon arrival at your destination, they get to spend.***
-------------------
*We assigned the younger child the odd days, because every once in a while, there are two days in a row (May 31st followed by June 1, etc.) and that sort of makes up for the fact that the older child got to choose first for several years, up until the younger one got old enough to speak up for himself!

**Forfeited coins can be earned back by asking, 'What can I do to help?' whenever the family is loading or unloading the car each night/morning at the hotel, or by getting 'caught' following the rules further down the road.

***Ideas for variations include a roll of fifty pennies, reused each day, can be redeemed with the parent for silver change to buy one snack from the vending machine that night (quick payoff for younger or more impatient kids). A roll of nickels, dimes, or quarters, based on your budget and the length of your trip, can be souvenir money used at a specified destination. (The older the child, the longer you can delay the gratification.)
-------------------
----------------------------------------------
For anyone who thinks all this mumbo-jumbo is a bunch-a-hooey ought to read my friend Jill’s Blog on the topic. Let’s just say, she is otherwise the ideal mother, however in her Road Trip Survival Kit there is a lot of sugar involved! Sanity can come at any price and she is not beyond bribery to get from point A to point B. Honestly, are any of us?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Mushroom Shaped Wooden Garlic Masher

I’m not much of a cook. Eating is merely a necessary evil in my house. I admit there are a few things I make that are out-of- this-world tasty. The creamy chicken recipe I found off the internet and the salmon with thyme seasoning and tangy sauce I pulled out of magazine make my mouth water. Otherwise I douse things with butter and garlic. My food is edible at least. Joe doesn’t complain. He is a peanut butter and jelly kind a guy which probably explains why he married me.

When I was visiting in Texas a few months ago my “gourmet” friend... the one who won’t eat at my house and shows up with groceries in hand so she can do the cooking....put me to work in her kitchen making the same old delicious “chicken thingy” I’ve eaten at her hand for the last 20 years. When we were cooking I learned that I had been using the wrong cheese all these years. “Not THAT WHITE cheese... the OTHER WHITE cheese!” Geez! I thought it was me. Then in her motherly way she reassured me that her sister, too, calls each and every time she makes the “chicken thingy” to find out WHICH WHITE cheese is it again? Now, at least, I know why mine never turns out as good as hers. This, however, is all besides the point because what I really want to talk about is the fact that they don’t love it like I do.

What is it? You ask. What don’t they love like you do?

The mushroom shaped wooden garlic masher.

The mushroom shaped wooden garlic masher was inspiration. I’m guessing my gourmet friend has owned hers for years. I may have even used it before while under her tutelage or direction, but it was on this recent occasion that it made an impression. I was in charge of the garlic mashing on the night we cooked in Texas and I got to use the mushroom shaped wooden garlic masher. My life will never be the same.

You grab this mushroom shaped wooden thingy and whamo! It’s great. The skin of the garlic falls off. With your fingers you can successfully peel the skin and with a few finishing slices, you have “pressed” garlic. You can entertain with confidence knowing your guests won’t fall prey to unwanted chunks of this biting bulb as they savor the gentle aroma of sweet and spicy garlic. It’s so fine. It’s pureed. It’s beautiful.

Please don’t try to sell me on any other garlic gadget. I’m not interested. I’ve tried a few. The tools I invariably choose are my faithful henckel knife and my very own fingertips. It saves me the trouble of scraping out papery garlic leftovers from hopelessly ineffective gadgets. No, the mushroom shaped wooden garlic masher is what I want. It is what I need.

In my hunt to find the mushroom shaped wooden garlic masher, which my gourmet friend seems to have owned for years, I hit a lot of googley dead-ends. Eventually, I found it mentioned in blogs among the “useless” tools in the recesses of many cook’s kitchen drawers. The audacity! Can you imagine? I want this thing! They must not be able to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the mushroom shaped wooden garlic masher.. They are short-sighted and they are really missing out. They just don’t love it like I do. Do you think someone would mail theirs to me? Should I send a note to someone I don’t know and ask them for their tool? Maybe they’ll trade me for my useless plastic egg poacher or my useless cheese slicer or better yet, my very useless garlic press whose packaging promised “no more tedious peeling”? Maybe we should have a Bloggers Garage Sale? Would that work?

In case it doesn’t, I have found one source for my mushroom shaped wooden garlic masher but it’s in Britain somewhere. I’m sure I can work my way through the red tape of currency systems, but it would be a lot easier to buy one on this side of the world. Does anyone know where I might find one of these? Does someone have one stuck in their drawer they’d be willing to donate to a cook who doesn’t like to cook except when cooking garlic? Will someone help me find a way to own the one cooking utensil I really want? The mushroom shaped wooden garlic masher will surely make me happy and if it doesn’t, at least I will be one person who is sure to use it and will love it!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

And They Lived.....

The Happily Ever After isn’t all done yet, but for the moment we are exercising our “attitude of gratitude” muscle. The “attitude of gratitude” muscle gets stronger with each passing year and with each obstacle overcome.

Many years ago a friend challenged us to write down our dreams, to not just talk about them ambiguously but to put them down on paper. She generously took our kids overnight so we could focus on just us. It was the inspiration birthed on that occasion which eventually gave us the courage to move away from everything we’ve ever known and move to Colorado. It was a dream come true in many respects and an incredible opportunity to grow as individuals. We are here now, however, and we can only look back and reflect with an “attitude of gratitude” at all that God did in us during our Colorado Season and in all the seasons before that one. Others may look at the outside and not see much difference, but we can see that each season has refined our hearts and fortified the backbone of our marriage.

One night at dinner Joe said, “What would you list as our greatest accomplishments?” Wow! What a question! We had fun evaluating our history and coming to the conclusion that at every turn, God has done immeasurably more than we could have asked or imagined. Joe then told me to pull out the handy dandy notebook so we could, once again, write down our hopes and dreams..... We titled it, The Next Twenty Years.

Rest assured California friends, “moving to Colorado” isn’t on the list as it once was. However, this list, like the last one, was filled with the hopes and dreams of who we might become and how we might live for others. This new list has words on it like “good health” and “grandkids,” things we didn’t think much about before. This new list will hopefully set the stage for another similar list 20 years from now.

Our job for the time being is to simply Live Happily as long as God sees fit to give us each other and days on this earth. I pray that we are faithful to each and every day and that our children and grandchildren will someday say that we did, indeed, “Live Happily Ever After.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Once Upon A Time.....

No Kissing! My kids are prone to say. I guess we kiss a lot, my hubby and me. Is that a good thing? Of course it is. When you are old and wrinkled and have to have coffee just to stay awake during the day, it is a good thing that someone still wants to kiss you.

Kayaking. We always said it looked like fun. Now we are going to do it. Our 20th Anniversary is as good a time as any to try something new. We have reservations. We dug down deep into closets and boxes for all our athletic non-cotton clothing we seldom ever wear and found some. We are packing. We’re going kayaking in Monterey...hooray!

Romance. There isn’t much of that in our household. We kiss a lot and smile a lot and say sweet things but the candlelight dinners, soft music and solitude is sorely lacking. I signed on the dotted line for dependable, gracious, sweet, admiring, encouraging, kind, considerate, happy, joyful, cheerful, funny and helpful... When I did all that I forgot to check the box marked “romance”. Unfortunately, so did he. But this weekend will be different. Oo la la!

Memories. We are going to eat at Casanova’s where we’ve savored many celebratory meals. And we are going to stay at The Happy Landing Inn where we spent our first few nights together 20 years ago! We will walk the strip at Carmel and shop. We won’t buy anything of course, we never have, why would we now? We will rent bikes and take pictures. We will wander along 17 mile drive and ogle at houses we will never afford.

Rich? Oh yeah. Wealthy? You bet. Blessed? Indeed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Music Appreciation Flunkies

My kids flunked Music Appreciation today. Yes,they did. My grand scheme for the summer mentioned in my previous blog has been blown out of the water. This is what they did.

We were listening to Manhattan Transfer. They refused to clap on beats 2 and 4 which is sacrilege when there’s jazz in the room! Those goofballs kept clapping on the 1 and 3 beats and I told them they were going to Remedial Jazz Appreciation this summer. Which, in all honesty, is fine by me.

In the comments section of my original Music Appreciation blog, my friend Julie had an interesting suggestion. She said something about Sinatra, Martin and Bobby Darin. Julie doesn’t know me that well, but I have to give her credit because she must know music! I just bought Oh My Nola by Harry Connick Jr. If you don’t know Harry Connick Jr. watch this:



If you want to know more about Harry Connick Jr. rent the DVD Memphis Belle or borrow it from me. Your husband won’t mind. It’s a war movie but worth it’s weight in gold when Harry sings “Danny Boy”. I’m swooning right here and now.

So here is Plan B. Frank and Dean and Harry are easy to find because they are in my every day rotation. Bobby Darin is another matter and I’ve been thinking I ought to get some Sammy lately. Does anyone know if Joey Bishop ever had a hit tune? I could have a summer tribute to the Rat Pack. I like Julie’s idea. We’ll have a cocktail party instead of karaoke. Maybe Joe will wear a suit. I’ll wear red lipstick. Hey! I know someone who makes harvey wallbangers. We’ll have dry ice for atmosphere and my kids will do a show. Zach will play “Candy Man” on the piano. Jillian will sing. Evan will tap dance wearing shades and it’ll be great! Wanna come?

Who knows which Rat Pack member was related to a President?
Who knows how many times Dean Martin has been married?
Who knows if Jerry Lewis is still alive?
Who knows why I would mention Jerry Lewis?
Who knows what hit song made #1 by Sinatra’s daughter?
Who knows who Joey Bishop is?
Who knows which artist(s) mentioned in my blog have nothing to do with the Rat Pack?
Who knows all the lyrics to I’ve Got You Under My Skin?
If you do, you get an A+ in bein’ a cool cat!
Who thinks I was born in the wrong era?