Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas According to Zach


When I told Zach he was blogging he got smart-alecky with me.

Zach: Christmas is my favorite holiday. I like it a lot. The End.

(Cute.)

Me: Let’s try again.

Zach: Christmas is better than 4th of July because you have to wait for fireworks.

Christmas is better than Halloween because you have to wait all day to start going trick or treating.

Christmas is better than Thanksgiving because, well... I don’t know about that, stuffing is really good.

Christmas is better than Easter.... well you do have to wait to get the eggs but I think they are equally important because Christ rose that day and Christ was born on Christmas.

Christmas is way better than St. Patrick’s Day because corned beef and cabbage are smelly.

Christmas smells like gingerbread cookie dough and that’s a very good thing.

Christmas is better than most holidays because it starts as soon as you get up in the morning.

I am making a Christmas Morning Schedule because my sister wants a schedule. Dad has been adding stuff to it, too. The thing I like best about the schedule is that my sister is not scheduled to jump all over me and my brother to wake us up until 6:45.

Your birthday makes you feel good because its all about you, but you don’t get to give anything.

Giving is fun because it makes other people happy and I’m disappointed Jillian’s present hasn’t come yet. I want to wrap it and put it under the tree.

Mom: I want to wrap Zach up and keep him 11 forever. Like Jesus, I have been given 3 gifts - Evan, Zachary and Jillian. Like Mary, I am treasuring up all these things and pondering them in my heart. Like the Magi, I am worshiping the King of everything.

Zach (after reading my post) : I want to be 12!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Mail Time!

Some of you know my friend Jill. Those of who don’t know her, probably wish you did. She is a barrel of fun in every way. What homeschooling mother of five allows her daughter to wear hairstyles (in public!) that rival both Pippi Longstocking and Bob Marley? Did you know she lets her boys parade around defrocked in nothing but superhero underwear, cowboy boots and swords? She even lets her 2 year old make cell phone calls (without permission) across states! Jill believes the purpose of the school supply store is not school supplies....no, the purpose of the school supply store is to supply props for parties! Jill is a Party Mom. She is not especially proper. She is not a perfectionist. She is not stuffy. No, Jill is the real deal. Until you REALLY get to know her and find out about her one vice, her MALL TREE. (say it with me - Mmmmmmmaaaaaaawwwwwwwwllllll Tree)

There aren’t too many hard and fast rules in Jill’s house except those regarding the Mall Tree of course. One of the rules is that the MALL TREE is only donned in STOREBOUGHT ornaments - pure white and precious silver and gobs of glittery gold! Last year, or maybe it was the year before, I dubbed the Mall Tree the Tree of Sheba. This gaudy thing has got to go, I think to myself. I can’t see how such a loving and grace-filled mom, full of spontaneity and joy, can MAKE her children NOT TOUCH it and NOT DECORATE it with the ORNAMENTS from their wee precious creative little hearts! NO, she buys them their own humble, meek and mild little green tree to decorate so that the Tree of Sheba remains PRISTINE.

So, this year, I am sending the Tree of Sheba a few little gifts of my own. And, if Jill doesn’t use them, the whole bloggedy blog world will know how prissy she can be. So, if you think this is a dare... a challenge....an opportunuty for personal growth... you are RIGHT Jill..... here they come! HOMEMADE ornaments, which I believe are worthy enough even for the Tree of Sheba. And I expect to read a blog about it.....very very soon.












PS - Many thanks for my accomplice, Julie, who last year, purchased the supplies at a proper craft store so I could craft these ornaments and to my children, who afforded me time to put the lovely ornaments together.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No Doors

Jillian and I were having a discussion. It was her attempt to keep the looming sink full of dishes at bay. She had KP. But, I always appreciate conversation even if it is under the guise of an ulterior motive known as procrastination. This is how it began.

Jillian: Who is your best friend?

Mommy: Oh, I have a Friend Collection.

Jillian: Yes, but who is your best?

Mommy: (invoking child’s moral compass to not press me) That’s so hard. It’s like you are asking me which of you children is my favorite.

Jillian: Yes, but who is the most special?

Mommy: (trying to evade the qualitative question with philosophy) God has given me the most special people at just the right time in my life. They fit into my life just when God needed them to. God gave them a special job at just the right time. God created a spot in my heart where only they reside, even if I don’t see them or talk to them any more. Each one is special.

Jillian: Yes, but which one is the best?

Mommy: (trying to skirt the issue further with humor; a lighthearted anecdote meant to distract the 9 year old) Well, your Aunty Jill and I have an agreement. I will live next door to her in Heaven.

Jillian: Heaven won’t have any doors.

My daughter is right. Heaven won’t have doors. Jesus won’t have to stand at the door and knock anymore. In fact, everyone will be welcome, all the time, everywhere. Can you see us all there? I’m sure I’ll fall back into habit and attempt to introduce you to my friend, Jesus, and we’ll laugh! We ALL know HIM! And we’ll get to know each other anew and introduce each other to each other’s best friends, special friends, family members, neighbors and acquaintances. There we will see each other for who we were always meant to be.

Heaven won’t have doors. So why do we have them now? I don’t know. Maybe it’s so that Jesus has something to knock on.

If Jesus is knocking on your door this Christmas Season, will you consider answering? Will you open your door and let Him in?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Just a Fish

It’s Just a Fish

Right. Easy for you to say.

Apparently, God saw fit to use a fish to re-teach this proverbial Jonah some lessons; lessons I thought I had already learned.

At co-op on Tuesday, I was re-teaching a few lessons myself. Music Appreciation is no easy subject. Like another language, music speaks and the students in my class were asked to decipher the basics of this complex foreign language. Some hadn’t grasped it. I was wallowing and worrying through Tuesday about the co-op class yet all the while I was asking myself a more important question, will Captain Nemo live?

Before you start imagining a cute little clown fish, think again. Captain Nemo is named for the antagonist in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Not a nice guy. Captain Nemo is a good name for a fierce, purplish, bluish, reddish betta fighting fish. Jillian got him for her 9th birthday. She named him for his masculine personality and he might die of pop-eye.

I’m not kidding. Pop-eye sounds funny to you but it’s no laughing matter. I want to call it a disease but Jillian corrected me, “No mommy, it’s a symptom.” After a day full of tears and concern and the inability to successfully complete either grammar or math I told my overwrought 4th grader to take the morning off of school. For a while, we sat on the couch. I held her. She cried. Sobbed really. The mom in me was sitting there thinking of the 100 things I needed to do, while Jesus gently whispered, “No, this is what you need to do.” Lesson re-learned, Part 1 - People matter.

At co-op I brought up our prayer request to 24 children. No one thought Jillian was ridiculous for wanting her 12 dollar fish to live. Everyone could see her little heart breaking, fretting over her betta fish. One lad asked me later in private which terrible illness Captain Nemo had succumbed to and questioned me about the prognosis. Thank you Jesus. I no longer felt silly for bringing it up.
Lesson re-learned, Part 2 - Everything matters to God.

After doing some research - oh, and this a good point - Often doing research, I can’t find what I need. However, God had mercy on ME! I went right to an excellent site that guided me perfectly through the realm of fish diseases. After finding out what our options were, I prayed again. The likelihood of finding the right antibiotic is slim. I read with the guilt weighing heavily, “You should be prepared with bettas, you should have medicine on hand just in case they get ill. They don’t carry fish medicine in pet stores.” Who’d a thunk? I should have spent 35 dollars on-line for the betta first aid kit, so that we would be ready for this day. God had mercy on ME AGAIN! Our humble pet supply place in modest and miniscule “You can’t find mittens in winter” Oakhurst, carried a SELECTION, yes, a SELECTION of fish pharmaceuticals! for 8 bucks, a mere 8 bucks! Captain Nemo can get sick 8 times, because there were 8 packets.
Lesson re-learned, Part 3 - God provides.

Get a load of this. A single packet of antibotic powder, less than a 1/4 tsp (I measured) was placed into 10 little bowls as evenly dispersed as any pharmacist could do it. Each day, we’ll pour this scant powder into his bowl. God willing, Captain Nemo will live.
Lesson re-learned, Part 4 - It is a privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus. (even to a fish)

He’s just a fish but whether he lives or dies, today was priceless. Thank you Jesus for second chances and for giving me a chance to grasp what I didn’t get the first time.

Wednesday morning. Captain Nemo died.
Lesson re-learned, Part 5 - The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:20

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From Chuck

November 16, 2009

Start Seeking God
by Charles R. Swindoll

Lamentations 3:25

"Lord, I'm back and I diligently seek you." How many times have we said this? This time stop stalking and sit silently. Wait patiently, seek diligently, sit silently. That means you need to pour out your heart and then deliberately be quiet. Spend a full day in quietness.

Meditation is a lost art in this modern, hurry-up world. I suggest you revive it. Not by endlessly repeating some mantra to get into some other frame of mind. Not that. Simply and silently wait before your faithful God. Read a passage of Scripture, perhaps a Psalm, and let it speak. Say nothing. Just sit silently. Let Him talk. Let Him reassure you that you are fully and completely forgiven and that your shame is gone. Feel His arms around you. Understand the cleansing that He's bringing. Feel again the freshness and relief of His presence.

God will give you a fresh start if you'll stop fighting. It works. I know. I've been there. Just submit to Him and accept His grace.

God will keep His promise to forgive and welcome you home.
His mercies are new every morning.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What Should You Do?

I should blog.

My friend, Jocelyn should blog, too.

So should Robin.

We are all overdue in our blog updates and should get back to it.

I should also catch up on facebook. So many friends I should write to. I should mop my floor well because the last time I did it, I was hasty. I should be at the gym this morning, not blogging. I should floss more. I should send thank you notes for my birthday presents. I should go through that pile of papers on the counter. I should wash the sheets today. I should spend more time with the dog. I should.....

Do you feel the anxiety? What should you be doing besides reading my blog? Do you have similar thoughts now running through your head? Has the guilt-trip set in? Proverbs 12:25 says that a person’s anxiety will weigh him down. Is your heart heavy with the shoulds you should do?

Years ago a friend lent me a secular parenting book titled Parenting with Love and Logic. It’s great. I applied a few of the simplest principles to my parenting and it made a lot of difference. In practice, it demonstrated the power of our choice of words. It’s not just what we say that counts but how we say it. Ever notice how often the Bible says we ought to “build each other up”? As a result of Love and Logic language, I chose to reconstruct the way I phrased things so that my words would be helpful to my children and really benefit them.

I am currently reading Losing Control and Liking it: How to Set your Teen and Yourself Free. Chapter 6 is about the 3 Habits of Highly Controlling People and since I don’t want to be a highly controlling person, I dove right in. Habit #1 - SHOULDS should be avoided!

Should Thinking invokes a sense of condemnation. Behind every should is a judgment.
I should get more organized... (but I don’t because I am lazy.) Should Thinking makes me feel defeated.

Should Thinking sabotages choice-making and generates feelings of obligation. I should volunteer to be a merit badge counselor, because I should do my part like all the other parents. Should Thinking makes me feel guilty.

Should Thinking removes reward, because of course, you should have earned an A on that test anyway. Should Thinking thwarts joy.

Do you get it? I hope this translates to your life and circumstances. It does mine. How many times each week do I tell my children they should..... (you fill in the blank)? How often do I subtly condemn? impose obligation? and press them into performing without hope of any credit? Guilt motivated living is not living.

Since there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, delete the shoulds from your vocabulary.

Insert words like - could - would like to - I wish - I choose. When you do so, you tell the truth. There is a lot about shoulds that create little white lies in your life. God loves a cheerful giver, so give cheerfully and not under compulsion.
A person's anxiety will weigh him down, but an encouraging word makes him joyful. Prov 12:25

If you are game join me in the month of November. It is NO SHOULDS month. Here is my commitment:

I will not should myself, my husband or my children. I choose to eliminate shoulds from my vocabulary and would like to use more encouraging words instead.

Anyone want to play?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Need a Man



I need a man. I know. I chose to live all this distance from my husband’s work place. He likes the mountains and the space. I like the space. I like my very nice house and yard and seasons and.... and.... I need a man.

I need a man because Tucker has a tick. gross. The boys are real troopers when it comes to killing big spiders and disposing of dead squirrels that the cats drag in. They clean up the garbage if the raccoons get wily on us. They manage dead rodents, birds, bats and lizards but I found out today, ticks are NOT part of their removal repertoire. I need a man!

I went on-line once again to see what the protocol is for tick removal. I can’t do it. I just can’t. I’m the mom who cringes when she looks at her little girl’s split finger or the little boy’s gushing with blood chin. I squint my eyes and pray its not gross or that I can tell right away it is ER worthy, quickly cover the wound and rush screaming child and queasy mommy (me) to Urgent Care. Do they have Urgent Care for dog tick removal? Am I a city girl or what!?

I need a man. In two and half years of living here, I haven’t missed my dear hubby that much. I mean, I do. I mean, I married the guy! I mean, I like him, I love him, I said “I do!” You know what I mean, don’t you? I mean, I appreciate the guy. He changes light bulbs and fills up my tank. He also makes me laugh and listens to me whine. It’s just that despite all the love around here, I don’t need him here every single day....unless the DOG has a TICK and I need a MAN!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Juicy Morsels



It’s Juicy Morsel Season. Yesterday, my friend brought over a ton, yes a ton! of apples. With the handy dandy apple peeler corer slicer and many hands to lighten the work, I am smelling the sweet aroma of mushy apples simmering on the stove as they await their turn in the food processor. Yet another friend is in the habit of sending us Mrs. Prindables which combines the best of fall - sweet caramel, sweet chocolate, and sweet apples. Currently, I am looking for an excuse to try Snickers Salad. If I had planned better last night I would have served it to company. An apply, snickery, cool whippy new dessert I’ve been meaning to try, sounds like a juicy morsel indeed. Juicy morsels. I love fall.

Here’s a juicy morsel: When you get to the end of yourself, you get to the beginning of God.

I think that’s true, don’t you?

In fact, I think so much of that catch phrase it’s the tag-line on my emails for the last few years now. I guess I need it there to remind me that sometimes it is okay to “Let go and let God” without the cliche.

I don’t know who gets the credit for those juicy morsels but here’s one from CS Lewis. “Pain is God’s megaphone.”

Do you agree with that?

I can recall vividly when my little boy, in the middle of vomiting cried out, “Pray for me mommy!” This was his habit actually. When the stomach flu hit this kid, I learned to pray in ways I had only once prayed for myself. His passion for prayer was acute. You could hear his desperation in the tone of voice. Never have I heard anyone ask me pray for them with such passion. Pain really is God’s megaphone.

Yet another: The good is the enemy of the best.

Heard that one? In a casual conversation recently, I mentioned that phrase. I brought it up with that familiar introduction, “You know what they say? The good is the enemy of the best.” My friend replied,” No, I haven’t heard that before.”

Whoa! Some juicy morsels of truth out there still. For all of us, I suppose.

What are your favorite juicy morsels of truth to share?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Pickin’ Teeth



I have always had uncomfortable teeth. My experience with fillings goes way back in time, before the time I can remember things. Hence, I have since endured numerous crowns and even a few root canals to make those weakened teeth last longer. As a result of all these dental experiences and no doubt, a side effect of age, my teeth are highly sensitive. One time I actually told an oral surgeon (a very attractive one, I might add) that if he hurt me, I’d cry. He said he wouldn’t hurt me. He didn’t. He was a very attractive man, did I tell you that already? I am so glad I never saw him again.

Today, I had my 6 month dental check-up. I like the hygienists in this office. Each one seems a happy fit for me and my family. I’m perfectly content socializing and quite frankly, would be delighted to talk their ears off for the length of my appointment, but no matter what, sooner or later, they have to start pickin’ my sensitive teeth.

Today, after her first offense, the hygienist remarked, “Oh yeah, I remember you.” Off she went to fetch the desensitizing stuff so that she could continue pickin’ at my teeth. After we chatted a bit about the benefits of prescription toothpaste for especially-sensitive-teeth people, like me, she offended me again. It was the air. It bugs me when it blows on my too-sensitive-teeth. I was then instructed to do the familiar drill: wrap my lips around the suction thingy so she doesn’t have to ouch! point it at my too-sensitive-teeth when my mouth develops saliva.

Well, in case you were wondering, I don’t have any cavities. Today the dentist realized we live in the same neighborhood. (All I could think of was whether or not he would ever make me cry during a brutal dental experience which sooner or later I no doubt will have to succumb to.) And no, he’s not as attractive as that once upon a time oral surgeon.

As happy as I am to have that dreaded appointment over with for 6 more months, I couldn’t help but think about all the things in life I might be “too sensitive” about. Unfortunately, there is no prescription for especially-sensitive-heart people like me.

I like my dentist office because they listen to my complaint. They try to take care of the hurt. Numbing the pain. Waiting for the medicine to take effect. No blame. No shame. They are gentle and firm. Plus, they do what they are supposed to do - the hard job of cleaning my too-sensitive-teeth. In addition to all this, they try to equip me to take care of the most sensitive spots. They know I have some control over my sensitive teeth situation and they genuinely don’t want to see me suffer. They give the best advice they can and have my best interests at heart.

Funny thing is, as happy as I am to have that dreaded appointment over with for 6 more months, my especially-sensitive-heart was cared about today. So Dentist Office People, Thank You.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Erosion



Things fade and change over time. The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon were a reminder that within the layer of rocks upon rocks, are hidden treasures, spires of beauty waiting to emerge from their sandstone coffins, waiting to be blown away by wind and washed away by rain, waiting to become... what they were meant to be all along. Beautiful and strange, sculpted by Heaven’s Hands. Some day, they will be memories held in snapshots and paintings. Obelisks worn away by time will no longer stand. Eventually, they return entirely to the dust from which they were formed.

But our lives aren’t like that. My body has a lot in common with a stony canyon, cut and carved by gravity, worn thin by the weather and worries of this world. But my spirit is far more. My body will someday be nothing more than a memory; my smile will live alone in my children’s and (Lord willing) grandchildren’s scrapbooks, but my spirit will forever remain. I am eternal..... and so is everyone else I know.

In 42 years, I have begun to observe erosion in my life. I’d like to believe that with each passing year, my new shape is formed into something increasingly interesting and glorious. Eventually, however, we face fate as nature takes its course with us. Some even have said, “You can’t take it with you.” IT refers to the pleasures of this world of course, but I say, “You can take THEM with you.” THEM are those people - beautiful, a little bit strange, perhaps. They are sculpted by Heaven’s Hands and seared in my heart and mind. People last. Relationship lasts. Whether I see them or not, they are there, a part of my eternity. They will always be there, even when those precious people return to the dust from which they were born. Relationship is not a thing....relationship is alive and its eternal...whether I see God or not, He is there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Utah Rocks


Can you see the small print? Utah Rocks.

That just about sums up our vacation. Several months ago when we planned this shin-dig I didn't care what we did or where we went. The planning was easy. All I said was YES! What was harder was scrolling through the 600 photos I took, choosing the ones I wanted to use and coming up with a song for this video. Normally, these things come to me. I had Audio Adrenaline's It's My Father's House as my first choice and I tried to make it work.

A big big House with lots and lots of rooms,
A big big table, with lots and lots off food...

After you watch the video you'll agree. Doesn't that look like what we did the whole time? Hang out? Eat! But the song didn't capture what was in my heart.

Bobby McFerrin's Simple Pleasures goes like this:
Simple pleasures are the best
Yes they are
I'm so happy
I'm a happy man
Yes I am
Yes I am
I'm so happy

Great words but I needed something country to go with the hickory and pine and great outdoors. Then I thought of Martina McBride's Just the Way that I Am

Don't need no copy of vogue magazine
Don't need to dress like no
Beauty Queen
High heels or sneakers, he don't
give a damn
My bab(ies) love me just the way that I am

I love being loved just the way that I am and that definitely describes a week with the Yuens, but it lacked depth of feeling.

Randy Travis' Deeper than the Holler and Sweet Bye and Bye by Sara Evans were poor runners-up. 80's dance tunes were an option since we listened to them all week long, but they just didn't have what I was looking for.

Eventually I resorted to pouring over old CD's and was thrilled with an old favorite, loaded with happy memories of a happy season long ago; A nostalgic song, celebratory, worshipful and sentimental that reflects, at least for me, what a great thing it is to have and give love. Isn't Love Profound?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Life is Short....and Funny

Life is short and funny. If you don't think so, check out my friend Robin's blog. Robin cracks me up. Always has. In case you don't feel like going all the way to Robin's blog for a good chuckle, read my short and funny story, but I warn you, if you are from PETA just click off my blog, right now.

Me. Driving. 3 compassionate children locked and loaded. Stupid gray squirrel runs back and forth and back and forth....to the curb, to the middle of the road, to the curb, to the middle of the road. "It's baiting me!" I exclaim. "It WANTS to be run over!"
"NO!" my daughter yells.
"That's mean mom!" my eldest son says, "It's one of God's creatures!"

Budump! Dead Squirrel. "Yay!" I say, "One less stupid squirrel in the world."

Middle son deadpans, "Is that what Jesus would do, Mom?"

Ouch.

Share your Short and Funny moment by clicking on the comment section. I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pumpkin Bread, Peanut Butter and Little Pilgrim’s Progress



I had such a terrible summer. Okay. You got me. I’m being dramatic. I know. I can hear my mother tell me now, “It’s not the end of the world you know!”

The last few weeks as we’ve been approaching the end of the end of the summer, I’ve been grieving a set of bad choices and missed opportunities. Why? Because I couldn’t see clearly through the fog of activity. Priorities. They are important. I missed 'em. This summer, instead of stepping back to see where I was going, I just went with the flow. The consequence: I was truly unhappy with where I ended up - upside down with my life jacket wrapped around my neck screaming, “What did I get myself into?!”

Going with the flow is a great quality if you are a canoe or a kayak. I, however, am more like an air-craft carrier. I run a tight ship with precision making it possible for various take-offs and landings. I have a lot going on in my head and my heart and slowing down, carefully plodding and living intentionally suits my character better. Going with the flow can be a lot of fun and many times I have been pleasantly surprised at how energizing and productive going with the flow can be! But I gotta be honest, it’s not how I function best. It’s not my design.

So, I have repented and refused to embark on another rafting trip down the Whatever River and I have chosen instead to get back on board the USS Simplicity. Captain Mom is saying, “No” unless there’s a good reason to say, “Yes” and will keep things simple as long as possible.

This afternoon I made pumpkin bread. It’s not fall yet, but it just sounded so good! After dinner Zach started making peanut butter cookies. The boys walked the dog, together. Evan and I played a SAT question game on the computer. He got the math questions before me! I talked to a friend on the phone while I cleaned counters. I read my Bible today, several times. Did I write that? Yes. Whoopee! I found the time. I also read an extra 3 chapters of history to Zachary and his sister. Did you notice? I even found some time to blog. Tonight I will begin a new read-aloud, Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen Taylor. Jillian vaguely recalls her first hearing of this classic tale. This time around she’ll more fully embrace the simple principles of John Bunyan’s retelling for children. She may never want or need me to read it aloud again.

I wonder what will be in it for me this time? Certainly, I am making progress on my own pilgrimage but like little Christian in the story, I can get thrown off course in my travels by the likes of Self, Worldly, and the Giant Despair who inhabits Doubting Castle. But tonight I will unload my pilgrim’s burden and celebrate a day well lived.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Bleeding Heart


Habit. I know not every one is like me, but let me tell you how I am. I change. One thing at a time. I stand back and look at the last 20 years of my life and in all honesty, I’m proud of myself. I’ve changed a lot. For the better. One little habit at a time. I like success and one little habit makes success achievable for me.

So it is with my garden.

I’ve had this little plot along the shady walkway to my front door. When we bought the house, there were a few winners there like the bleeding heart pictured above. It also housed some real losers. With some amazing soil amendments and an intact watering and drip system (thanks to the previous owners) I was off to a great start. Our first year, I made a few basic changes. In the spring I began to envision what the space would do. The fall came and went with a few more changes. The empty spaces I filled with pine cones. Cheap. Homey. Joe wanted to talk about the watering system on the back deck. He wanted to see flowers on the front deck. Nope. One thing at a time. The Walkway. My first project. I wanted it to become mine and I have been patient.

This spring I was finally able to invest in campanula, lamium, hydrangea, hostas and shade loving roses, special ordered just for the space. As some of you know, roses don’t grow in the shade, but these do!
I’ve researched, planned and patiently worked to see this space take shape. Until last week when tragedy struck. This isn’t the first hardship the garden has had to face this season. Earlier, we were infested by Odocoileus hemionus or “mountain rats”: mule deer. They almost ate all my roses. $30 later and repeated applications of repellent, the roses are saved. However, this week’s tragedy has made my heart bleed.

Voles.

Today, I started digging plants up and potting them in hopes that they will live. So far, my roses are okay. A friend assured me that poison was the only way to get rid of voles and she also assured me they’ve never eaten her roses. My happy hydrangea looks okay. It’s too big to pot. I hope it lives.

Joe and I used the Vole Invasion as an opportunity. We cleaned up the space. We discovered the watering system needed some attention and the hose thingy needs to be replaced. We threw away old bird feeders and moved shepherds hooks. Since I was pulling out plants, trimming everything down, moving bird baths I also decided to bait for earwigs and slugs.

It’s just a garden. I know that. But I can’t help wondering if my plans just aren’t God’s plans. Ever. Hope deferred makes the heart bleed.

Maybe it’s what Robert Burns meant when he penned,
The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!


I guess I'm starting over.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Controlling Myself

Summer is ease. Summer is peace. Hot weather. Fewer agendas. Change in routines.

Our life is a bit topsy turvy in the Schneider household. What started out as a summer with no plans has become a summer full to overflowing and I'm having a heckuva time staying on top of the laundry and grocery shopping. We've got people, places and things happening galore. I'm working very hard on enjoying it, because as you know, I'm one of those who likes her ducks in a row.

When the ducks aren't in a row and life gets a little off balance I respond my trying to control what I can. Makes sense. You can't control this other thing, so what do you do? Control what you can... I may not be able to change the schedule of our day today, but tomorrow I can demand that you (children) finally clean your rooms and do it to my very high expectations! Can you hear my voice? (unfair, unchangeable, non-negotiable)...

This blog entry was a helpful reminder to me of who I want to be and who I don't want to be. No matter the circumstances, I don't want to fall back into being the "Momster", controlling my children, denying freedom of choice and fullness of life because my head and heart are spinning out of control. No, I can control myself. Do you know what I mean?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I have Nancy Pelosi Hair!

OMG! I realized one fine day while perusing the Fox News pages on-line, I HAVE NANCY PELOSI HAIR! I’ve not been totally happy with the short bob thing I’ve been wearing this summer. You ever have those hair days? those hair months? those hair years? Fortunately, I’m not hating this hair for years, yet. It’s just that I have hair woes... I want something different.

Most of my friends reading this are primed with a “shut up, Shirin” kinda comment lurking in their brains. I know girlfriends, I DO have great hair. I got monkey feet and my dad’s hands, but I am aware I have inherited an amazing coiffure of thick hair. I’ve also prematurely gone gray so my amazing coiffure of thick hair costs a fortune to color, but I digress.

Nancy Pelosi hair, however, THAT I didn’t count on. I mean c’mon... can you see me bringing in a magazine clipping with that all too familiar question, “Will my hair do that if you cut it right?” NO! I never said that. So, how did I end up with Nancy Pelosi hair?

My hair has a mind of it’s own. Those stylists can cut it and blow it dry, sell me various product, recommend the proper brush, but my hair will always end up doing what it wants. I also had Nancy Pelosi hair in the 80’s. If you don’t believe me, peruse my facebook photos.

The other day, I went into the salon saying, “I’m ready to grow it out now,” but since my stylists ALSO has a mind of her own, I walked out with Mrs. Incredible Hair! Which would be awesome if I were a superhero, but I’m not. I wish I were a super-stylist and could actually make it look like it did when I walked out of the salon. Needless to say, she didn’t make it look like Mrs. Incredible Hair. After she did it, it just looked rather incredible. With me and my hair brushes and plethora of prodcuts, however, it’s just not going to happen.

Instead, my hair reminds me of the Dorothy Hamill “do” I wore in 5th grade. Like I said, it’s gonna do what it wants to do. I am giving up believing I have control over my hair or my stylists... even though I pay them. I am relinquishing the need to make my hair into something it’s not. It is what it is. Perhaps the better question is, why am I trying so hard to change what is perfectly good all by itself?

Because when I close my eyes at night I imagine looking like Eva Longoria. If I could also change into a 5 foot nothing size 0 that would be awesome, too. I guess it is human nature to want what we don’t have, even when we have it all.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I Thought It Was Mutual

I am co-dependent. I have known this for a long time. If you aren't familiar with it, here is a short list of co-dependent behaviors:
1) Think and feel responsible for other people - for other people's feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, lack of well-being and ultimate destiny. 2) Feel compelled - almost forced - to help that person solve the problem, such as offering unwanted advice, giving rapid-fire series of suggestions, or fixing feelings. 3) Find themselves saying yes when they mean no, doing things they don't really want to be doing, doing more than their fair share of the work, and doing things other people are capable of doing for themselves.

It is really painful to have weak boundaries. When you fail to “let your yes be yes and your no be no,” others can walk all over you. All the while you believe you are doing them a service. You believe you are helping them. You know you are protecting them and want what is best for them so you go to great lengths to ensure that they are well and happy and that their needs are met. I have done this. I have shackled myself in the bonds of imaginary obligation and expectation.

I would like to be totally free, but I can’t be. That’s a co-dependent statement right there. I feel helpless to change because of the pain it might cause others. Separation seems cruel. When I am away I worry and feel guilty about whether my loved one feels rejected, abandoned and lonely. When I walk in the door and can attend to his needs, reassure them of my love, I feel a sense of relief and control. I feel responsible for his happiness. I know that when I am around, my loved one’s life is far better and my self-esteem is improved. I am a good caretaker.

Another area of dysfunction I deal with is has to do with physical limitations. You see I have a loved one who is always asking for my help. He has the ability to do things but is afraid. Often I make myself available so he no longer feels trapped in his circumstances. He needs my encouragement and I am compelled to help him. There are some things he can’t do alone. He needs me and because of all I do for him, he loves me. Most importantly, I feel loved because I am needed.

This morning, I tried to encourage one of my precious loved ones to move past his comfort zone and eat on the deck in the dappled shadows of summer’s oaken canopy. He wanted to go inside but several times I said, “No, I want to stay out here.” In the long run, he won again. I went inside the house for his sake. I sacrificed my desires for his, again. I am a martyr.

Over the years, as I learned of my dysfunction, I realized that one way I cope is by choosing to invest in those who are less demanding. I’ve met many selfless people who have taught me to balance caretaking with self-care. This has afforded me expression of some of my own needs, wants and desires. I have become somewhat free. In all honesty, however, we chose a golden retriever because they are among the least demanding. Tucker is generally very low maintenance dog yet we have succeeded in enabling him. We just can’t help “helping” him. Apparently, a dog’s life is too much for our dear pooch to bear.

We hate leaving him because we know he doesn’t like to be alone. He won’t push his way through a doorway so it means we won’t even bother with a doggie door even though it would make our away trips far less worrisome if we knew he could get outside to go do his doggie doo-dooty. I did not enjoy my hot cup of coffee on the deck this morning while Tucker ate his rawhide because he just didn’t want to eat the thing outside.
We have enabled him to be an indoor dog. It is our fault. Instead of him being our best friend it turns out, we are really HIS best friend. And all this time... I thought it was mutual.....and that I had put my co-dependency behind me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Voices from Heaven

I don’t know what to make of those “afterlife” stories you hear about. You know, the ones where someone who has been in a terrible accident is on the table in the ER, sees themselves lying there and then passes through a great light. They always make a decision to come back to earth to live. I don’t know how much choice we really have when we pass on. When I think of our freedom in Christ, however, and the fact that we are in relationship with a living God, I can imagine that God, in His sovereignty, might choose to give us a choice. I just don’t know.

In recent years, I have felt compelled to pray for the Lord’s return. I feel it is imminent. So did the early Christians of 2000 years ago and that makes me smile. Maybe we are supposed to live with that hopefulness and purposefulness knowing that what we see is just a mere reflection, a mere shadow of what is to come. I’ve been meaning to read Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. I still don’t have it. Currently, I am reading a number of books all related to living now. I just can’t wrap my head around Heaven yet God’s voice whispers that it’s worth considering. Thinking about Heaven more might even change the way I live today. Ya think?

There’s a song I’ve been listening to lately by Big Daddy Weave. It’s called "From Here". This is the chorus:

From here, the race has been run and love’s already won
I see clearly the end and the start
From here, I’m cheering you on
So live out each breath with all that you’ve got
And know until I hold you close
I’ll be holding you dear in my heart
From here

I don’t know where my grandma is. I don’t know where my aunt and uncle are spending eternity either. I was the first in my family to get a college degree. It’s possible I’ll be the first in my family to go to Heaven, too. It’s another one of those things I just don’t know. Yet, the song encourages me to think about my future. And it encourages me to see more clearly today. While I live in the shadows, I have my own personal coach, cheering me on until my race is won; I have Jesus.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Political Moment

I'm having a political moment. Will you read my blog anyway?

Check out this story. It got me thinking.

I'm sure this issue will die, but like so many issues, it will resurface. Again and again. How do I know? History.

My boys are Boy Scouts. Part of their oath is to keep themselves Morally Straight. Do you know how to explain this principle to your children? Do you even try?

What about truth and truthfulness?

What about ends justifying means?

What about freedom? responsibility? prejudice?

How do you explain these things to your children when we live in a world that lies and deceives? Have you read the magazine covers at the check out stand?

How do you explain a government that thinks we are now out of money when last year when we were in the hole trillions of dollars we were somehow not out of money and had the means to bail out everybody. Did you know they are considering a TOE? A federal tax on everything.

How do you explain freedom and responsibility when you have to pay a fine for not wearing your seatbelt, but if you get pregnant you can have an abortion for practically free.

How do you explain prejudice to kids who can't talk about Jesus in their classroom but have a chapter on Mohammed in their textbooks?

How do you live the Golden Rule?

I'm off my soap box now. Thanks for listening. I needed to have a political moment. I needed to vent. Now, I need to go eat some chocolate.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making Friends in Oakhurst




I’ve been aghast at the number of new discoveries in Oakhurst. It’s always something. Many friends. Some good. Some not so good. Can you see these friends? Do you know who they are?



They are all over our house this year and I am thankful for them. Do you know why? Because I planted Zephrinine. Almost as soon as I put her in the soil, she began thanking me profusely with blooms to match my lovely hydrangea. Clair Matins has not yet arrived, but when she does, she’ll need friends like these, too. Have you figured out who these little friends are and why I am so happy they live here in Oakhurst?

I must admit, that while I was taking these few snapshots some of my not so good friends showed up. I HATE them. So far this year, I have had too many swollen, itchy, irritating parts to count. So swollen my eye was puffy for 3 days. (That was from a bite on my nose.) So swollen on another few days that I couldn’t wear my wedding ring. That little nip occurred when Zephrinine and I were first getting to know each other. Joe talked to the knows-something-about-everything boy scout troop Doctor Dad who said I have an overreactive immune system. (Whatever!)

I may have to enjoy all this wildlife looking out the window of my air conditioned house or get Joe to move me somewhere where bugs don’t bite me. (Yeah. Right.) The other option is deet poisoning. Dag nab it. I have to stop blogging now to go find the benadryl cream. I’m sure there is another one of those spiritual journey parallels about all this good and evil stuff, but I’m too distracted to care. Someday there will be roses and bugs living in harmony without mosquitoes. It will be Heaven. This life is just a shadow of what is to come. (Colossians 2:17)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Danger: Going the Wrong Way

Oops! We went the wrong way. Ever done that? Had to take a U-turn?

My husband insists we went the right direction. In a way, he is correct. We found the flume. A Reliable Friend had told us about the flume a few months ago. After much debate over what we might do on Mother’s Day, we finally, at the last minute, settled on what I wanted to do. A Bike Ride. Joe decided on the location: The Flume.



We started out great. We got there, got the bikes off. Discovered a flat on Joe’s bike but determined it wasn’t all that bad. We’d just tote the pump along. Found the flume trail, but then we discovered we had to cross over the flume itself. At first, no biggie. Just pick up the bikes or carefully side step them over the narrow passageway. Easy. A little time-consuming, but with 3 capable children and a daring mom, we were on our way. Until we got to the next narrow passageway OVER the flume. Finally I said, “Ummmm.... did Reliable Friend say that this was a BIKE trail? Seems to me it’d be great for hiking?”


Plan B. We left our bikes on the side of the flume and started hiking. We walked over a really long narrow passageway and I tried not to watch my children navigate heights.

Then Plan C hit. I really wanted to do some gardening that day, too, and we hadn’t brought along water bottles or hats for hiking. No bug repellent either. We finally said, “It’s time to turn around.”

After returning to the car, we found a bike trail. Aha! This is where we meant to go all along. At least, it’s what I had in mind. Joe reminded me. “No, I wanted to find the flume. It was where I was planning on going all along.” We talked about whether or not Reliable Friend had told us it wasn’t a family friendly bike trail. Did something get lost in the translation? We questioned whether we heard him right. Did we misunderstand his description? Did we just hear what we wanted to hear? Did we simply forget what he had originally said?

Our spiritual journey is like this sometimes. When you go the wrong way, you start questioning yourself: Did I hear God right? Did I miss something in the translation? Did I hear what I what I wanted to hear? But you know, there are times when going the wrong way isn’t really wrong. It IS what God is planning all along and it is RIGHT.

Even on right paths, we occasionally have to pause. Evaluate. Make a U-turn. That’s what we did. That’s what we do. Sometimes, right or wrong it becomes obvious that it’s time to turn around. It’s part of learning how to listen, how to discern and the growing of wisdom. Going the wrong-way is an opportunity, because we know that all things work together for good....

When was the last time you made a U-turn in your life?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gotta Love Chuck

Chuck Swindoll is not among my favorites. His sister Lucy rocks, however. Ever heard her at Women of Faith? Anyway, when I catch Chuck on the radio I pause. I am always compelled to give him a thorough listening ear because he's a solid guy. He's just not one of my favorites.

BUT TODAY, he may become one of my faves. Why? Because his website is awesome. Go to Insight for Living. If you want to listen to a particular passage of scripture and his preaching on it, you simply go to his broadcasts, click on the library and then you can find his sermons by topic, title and YES, SCRIPTURE REFERENCE!

You know his mom was cool. She named her kids Chuck and Lucy. Do you think they might have been like the cartoon strip growing up? Maybe so. Gotta love the humor and the authenticity of that Peanuts inspired relationship. I welcome being served the meat of the Word with truth and laughter. Give the Swindoll Sibs some of your time; add Chuck to your podcast rotation or buy one of Lucy's books for a summer read. I hope you will.

If you know any other websites so well laid out that you can just click on what you are interested in hearing about... let me know. I'm becoming a connoiseur of radio preachers. There's lots of good news out there!

Oh! And does anyone out there know if I spelled "connoiseur" correctly? It's a great word.

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's Important to Me



Today, I read this interesting article on parenting. I realize as I have grown with my kids how much I’ve learned and how little I would have figured out on my own. In fact, the article itself came to my email box by way of a friend whose example and advice have molded my mothering. It is good to be iron sharpening iron. I love that my God chooses to use people in my life to care for me and meet my needs. But, it leaves me with the question, am I caring for others the way Jesus cares for me? Am I the hands and feet of Jesus to, at the very least, my family?

Segue.... Many years ago. Yes, many years ago....maybe 7 or so, my husband came home from work one day. Welcoming him through the door I gave a thorough recitation of my concerns, worries and burdens. I proceeded to inform him of all the things he could do to “help” me, when he cheerfully replied, “If it’s important to you, it’s important to me!” I sarcastically retorted, “Who stole my husband?” Yes, I really said that. Out loud. I proceeded to explain that someone must have body-snatched the real Joe Schneider and replaced him with this man who cheerfully replies, “If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.” I went to the window to look for the alien spaceship that had replaced my husband with this Divine Imitation.


The irony, of course, is that there really was no alien spaceship. This new man really was my husband. I tried to analyze why he would suddenly intentionally begin to make my concerns his own. I even asked him, “Why?” I admit it. I’m pretty stupid. After an embarrassing amount of probing, I chose to take what I was given and enjoy every bit of it.

All these years later, you know what I wonder? I wonder what would happen if I could put that one simple principle of caring into practice?

If it’s important to my kids, it's important to me.
If it’s important to Joe, it's important to me.
If it’s important to God, it's important to me.

I am just one woman and I know I can only do so much. The problem is, I often try to do all the wrong things. Just like I mentioned on my last post, On the Porch, I can barrel through life, trying so hard. That’s not part of God’s plan for me. God says, “Be still.”

In answer to my prayer, “Bless Him, Change Me,” God has replied with the words of my husband, “If it’s important to Joe and the kids, it’s important to Me.”

Could that be the whole of God’s will for me? What if it is?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On the Porch



Porch Time has been reconvened. The coming of 80 degree temps has brought us back to Porch Time; that time of day we sit out on the porch and talk. I love my husband. I love that he thinks Porch Time is important. I love that time with him. I love that God gave us a great porch. I love being on the porch. I never know what will happen when we are there.

This weekend during Porch Time I asked my husband why he had been so nice to me lately. I prattled on about all the little things I’ve been noticing. I asked forgiveness for being a little whacky lately. Emotional. I thanked him for being kind with me despite myself. I thanked him for going the extra mile in so many areas, making me want to be less of a burden and more of a helper. I told him that in my desire to be selfless, I had put a lot of pressure on myself. I confessed I wasn’t asking God for help and I wasn’t seeking counsel from the best counselor at my disposal, my husband. I was just barreling through life... trying so hard.

You know what he SAID?

You KNOW what he SAID?

He said, “I’ve been asking God to Bless Her. Change Me.”

I sat there on the porch, stunned.

What Joe doesn’t know is that in all my trying, the undercurrent of blame exists. In all my trying lives a martyr complex. In all my trying, working, and striving to be selfless exists an arrogance and self-importance which can consume and destroy a marriage. If allowed to run rampant, it will turn me into an ugly hag and him, a disappointed defeated man.

And what is he praying? “Bless Her. Change Me.”

I woke up this morning with the utterances of prayers for my husband on my lips. A morning ritual. But today all I could manage to say to my God was, “Bless Him and Change Me.”

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Dream Come True

I am working on my bucket list. Mostly, it's made up of things I think I might like to do when my kids are grown. There are other things, however, that I can do now. For example, I want to hike Half Dome for the 3rd time and God willing, every year until I can't anymore. I'm considering running a 10K. And yes, one of these days, I want to get involved in community theater. Perhaps I'll be able to do that with one of my kids. There is so much in life to be enjoyed and you never know what the future holds.

I love this video, because it reminds me how important goals and dreams are.

It won't allow me to embed, so you have to pop over to YouTube to see A Dream Come True.

What do you dream?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Resurrection Cookies

Jillian was asking to make Resurrection Cookies again this year. They are edible, but not delicious. However, making them is as easy as pie and cheap. Here is the recipe and the process by which you can share the Easter Story with your children.

Except for the pecans, everything in this recipe is probably already in your cupboard. And if you can’t swing the pecans, use walnuts. They’re less expensive and work just as well.

Resurrection Cookies

* 1 cup whole pecans (we use walnuts)
* 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
* 3 egg whites
* pinch salt
* 1 cup sugar
* Plastic Ziploc Baggie
* Wooden spoon
* Rolling pin
* Tape
* Bible

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. (Do this before doing anything else.)

* Place nuts in baggie and beat them with a wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3
* Open the vinegar and let everyone smell it. Put 1 teaspoon into the mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, all He was given to drink was vinegar. Read John 19:28-30
* Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11
* Put a little salt into each person’s hand. Let them taste it, then brush the rest into the bowl. (If you have lots of kids, put a pinch of salt in yourself, and then let each child taste the salt…otherwise there will be too much salt in the recipe) Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27
* So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Sprinkle a little sugar into each person’s hand. Let them taste it, then brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16
* Beat with mixer on high speed for 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents our purity in God’s eyes because our sins are cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18
* Fold in nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60
* Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and TURN THE OVEN OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door shut. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. One year, the boys posted Roman sentries outside the oven using Lego Men. Read Matthew 27:65-66
* Now go to bed. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22
* On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the third day, Jesus followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9
* Head off to church and the rest of your Easter celebrations, knowing that you have started the day as a family, remembering the reason you celebrate Easter.

What do you do that's memorable for your children?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Busy

I've been sucked into the Destination Imagination vortex. My kids are going to State Championships and I've been spending all my spare time getting them back and forth to practices. Lately, I can't get anything else done. I'm trying to squeeze in the must-do's, like grocery shopping, into all the pockets I use to use for the want-to-do's, like blogging. Sometimes real life trumps virtual life. That's as it should be.

There are a few staples of my busy-life diet I try to keep firmly in place. If I don't, then I begin to look something like that odd ball on the playground that's been warped by time, deflated some by abuse and just won't bounce properly. No one wants to play with that odd ball. I try not to get out of whack and make every effort to remain steadfast as I roll around through life like a pinball bouncing from here to there.

Reading is one of the staples of my busy-life diet. This is something I read recently that's kept me more balanced than I would have been.

Satan dreads nothing but prayer.
The church that lost its Christ was full of good works. Activities are multiplied that meditation may be ousted, and organizations are increased that prayer may have not chance. Souls may be lost in good works, as surely as in evil ways. The one concern of the Devil is to keep the saints from praying.
He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.
- Samuel Chadwick


I resolved to pray even more in my busy season and the little girl in me has been rejoicing at God's answers. What helps you remain focused during the busy seasons of your life?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring Fever


It's that time of year when we all get a little "Spring Fever". Suddenly, the blessings of being home with children, running errands and making life meaningful through work and play feel like drudgery. “Spring Fever” makes me ready for change.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what fills my tank. There have been seasons where Getting Away from my children was all I needed to feel full enough to return to Motherly Duties. Other times, Getting Outside with my children and just enjoying the great outdoors, doing something educational and different than the day to day table-work has totally floated my boat. Quiet Time to myself has also been one of the regular remedies for the void I feel in my spirit with time to reflect, to read, to ponder, to journal.

However, this season of life I am in, requires something altogether different. At this point I need a jolt of Creativity; learning something new, moving forward, growing a part of me I can scarcely identify. That is what is required in this season of my life. Over the last few years, this need for something new has manifested itself in a variety of ways. But most recently, I have turned into a Knitting Nut!

I recently made my first knitting store purchase on-line. I’ve visited my local knitting store so many times now, I have one of those frequent purchase punch cards. I am in the process of knitting my first sweater, knitting a bucket (yes, didn’t you know you could knit a bucket!?) and am branching out in the area of felting! I have friends who are coaching me along and at least one local knitting officianado willing to listen to me rant and rave about what I’m learning. I picked up a crochet needle (something I swore I would never do) because a few needle tricks with the crochet hook will assist me in some of my new knitting projects.

What do you need to get out of the rut you are in? What totally energizes you? What are you doing to take care of YOU in this Spring season? What helps you survive, “Spring Fever”?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

God Answers

My husband is really "into" politics. He was frustrated in college because he "didn't know what he wanted to do with his life" and today, he wishes he had dived into a major in Political Science. He may not have known what to do with his life, but at least he would have been interested in his classes! ha! Politics, however, are not my stronger suit. I have to work hard to pay attention to his mini-sermons about the state of the world. I have to work hard to engage. I have my own views and my own areas of interest in the greater political realm, but remaining a viable part of the conversation is a stretch for me. Often, it seems overwhelmingly dark.

On a recent night out with some Girl Talking Friends, we were finishing our discussion about kids, school and daily business and the topic became the state of the world. We agreed, doom and hopelessness can be both frustrating and depressing. I had to confess, these days I am avoiding what's going on in the world. I am trying to remain thankful. I am trying to be joyful. I am trying to learn to rejoice in every circumstance. Like the proverbial ostrich, I am purposefully putting my head in the sand and looking for the light. Can you hear the echo? Are you there Lord?

The trouble is, God isn't in the darkness of my hole. No, he's out here. In the grim and grime of the world.

I went home that night and took my usual position in bed to read my evening Psalm. This is what I read in the 46th Psalm:

1.God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

2.Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall
into the heart of the sea,

3.though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. "Selah"

4.There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5.God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

6.Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7.The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. "Selah"

8.Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9.He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.

10."Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

11.The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. "Selah"

In the grim and grime of the world the Lord Almighty is with us and He will be exalted among the nations and He will be exalted in the earth. In the midst of everything, He is ever-present and He gives us reason to rejoice!

Do you hear His voice? Do you KNOW that He is God? Have you said, "Thank you?"

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Robin

A Long Time Ago in a Land Far Far Away, there was a Boy who lived around the corner. He had a light saber, but that is another story..... That Boy became one of my son’s best friends. On February 14th, his mom blogged about him. As I was scanning the pictures of the boy around the corner as he grew up, I saw, among many wonderful shots of that crazy Boy, my little girl! Oh! What memories we have the boy around the corner and his wonderful family!

They live in Oregon now. Joe doesn’t meet with the boy around the corner’s dad to pray, I don’t get little girly hand-me-downs anymore and we no longer swap children for date-night-outs, yet Robin remains one of those inspirational people in my life. She has always had something significant to share. If you read her blog, you will scratch the surface of her many interests... you may even see how they compare with my own. We love books. We love gardening. We homeschool our children. We are infected with the knitting virus. But Robin, unlike me, is crafty and productive enough to have an etsy shop! Her aprons are so fun! Just like her. It’s easy to see she has lots to offer....so check out that etsy shop and enjoy browsing her most tangible gifts.

If you spend some time reading her blog, you will learn a little about the way she sees the world. She is funny. If you read more, you will realize she is smart as a whip. You will sooner or later notice that she has remarkable wisdom and perspective about raising children. She has an uncanny ability to focus on what matters most. She has a big heart and it’s an honest one. What I love most about Robin are the intangible qualities that have helped me see more of God and more who God is making me to be.

I wish her heart still lived around the corner from mine. Maybe it will, someday, in Heaven. If she moves in around the corner at the end of Pearly Lane Road, I will serve goodies wearing one of her great etsy shop aprons! Check them out and check out Robin, she may inspire you, too!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Learning to Play

We have to learn a lot of things in this life. Some things are harder than others. One thing that has been hard for me is Learning to Play.

When I was a child, I played at singing and violin and acting. I was part of a wonderful theater arts program in school. There, I flourished and played all the parts I was given as well as I could. In high school, I made great strides and in my performing arts high school, I made lots of friends who would go onto the entertainment industry. I can play at "entertainment".

In college, I felt it was time to set aside the things of childhood and get serious. There I intentionally gave up the things I loved. At least I tried to. Eventually I got a Creative Arts degree, with the hope at working at a non-profit arts organization. I did that. I hated it. I went back to school to teach. I did that. That suited me very well. First, I had a salary and secondly, because teaching requires a whole lot of creativity!

When my kids were little, I learned how to play with them on the floor. I was knowledgeable enough about children to know that being with them is where it's at. I learned how to relish the moments of stacking blocks and building trains and singing silly songs, but when the time was up, I was always glad to move on to adult matters of the day. My heart could engage in that kind of play for short periods of time, but never for very long. I was a grown-up and I didn't really enjoy play.

As my kids have aged, I have found myself looking for ways to play with them. I fall short, often. I'm the mom who plays the card game out of obligation. (can you hear God's voice saying, "God loves a cheerful giver?"). I'm the mom who watches a movie and tries so hard not to fall asleep, (can you hear Jesus saying, "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?"). I'm the one who prefers a neat kitchen instead of one all messed up by some kids' cooking project (can you hear Jesus say to the woman upset about all the kitchen stuff, "Martha, Martha,you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.")

How I long to not rob my children of a fun mother. I think how Jesus' might have played. What did that look like? Did He and the disciples play pick-up games of stick ball along the road to Jerusalem? Did they ever play marbles on the floor of someone's home? Did they make up skits? Did they make up ridiculous songs or recite funny poetry at parties? Did they concoct zinger trifles to eat for dessert?

I'm certain Jesus was fun.

In contrast, I have a hard time being funny. I AM funny. It's just that no one ever gets my joke. See? That was a joke and you didn't get it, did you?

But more important than wit is that ability to infuse an event with joy. For me, choosing events for the sole purpose of joy is a stretch. But I am learning.

When I moved to CO I began trying a myriad of new things, I discovered a sense of adventure. I grew (out of no where) a belief that I could be good at all kinds of things. There were so many things yet to be discovered. I thought it was time to try them, even if I failed. It was time to get out of the music box I had put myself in and become a new kind of fun. The words of my friend, Abby, ring so true, "Shirin!" she exclaimed, "You are learning how to play!"

The truth about me is that I have no right to talk back to God. Romans 9 reads something like this: "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? Can't God do what He wants to with me?

What natural design has He given me? That's a post for another day. Today, I realize that I haven't been my own for a long time. I am His. If He wants to teach me to play then I will learn to play. God is shaping me in ways I have never planned on. I am His workmanship. How is God reshaping you?

Monday, February 16, 2009

I Want to Play!


As a side note, this photo will be part of a photo story I am planning to tell about one of my favorite Spring rites of passage - The Birth of the Daffodils.

My friend over at Knittin' Peace suggested I look at Poetry and Hums' challenge to write a flower haiku. I decided that writing a poem was a game I want to play!

Here's mine entitled: Daffodil Spring

emerging pushing
from frozen layers of earth
yellow petals breathe


Do you Haiku?

Do you want to write one too?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just In Time


The scarf is in the mail. Is it late? Oh, yeah, but it's on its way.

I could ramble on about the relief I feel. It's done. The labor of love is finished.

Yet, I can't helping thinking about what it must be like for God in Heaven, waiting until just the right time to give us His gifts. Of course, he can snap his fingers and get anything ready in a moment or a day. I don't know what time is like for God, but I do know this, we are supposed to wait. Have you ever gone on Crosswalk.com’s Bible Search engine ? Try it. Type in the word “wait” or “patience”. We are told to wait on the Lord a lot.

Waiting well is a virtue. Think about it, what tops the list among the fruit of the spirit? What’s first in the definition of love? How many great men of the Bible - Moses, Joseph, Abraham, David - to name a few, had to wait on God? Yet, for mere mortals, waiting is seldom easy.

My girlfriend, born and raised in the deep South, has a way with words and she quipped recently, after she had gone through one heck of a long trial, that she was sure glad God took the time to take away all the rhinestones in her life. She is happy that the counterfeit things of this world were removed. She is grateful that the good Lord took his good sweet time to lay out the black velvet, empty, nothing, a blank canvas, so that when He put the diamond there, she'd be able to see it for what it was!

Isn’t she cool? Isn't she amazing? And she meant it! Oh, to have a faith like that. To see with human eyes all that God might have planned. To be willing to wait and wait some more. We are a ‘want it now’ society. We are a ‘want it now’ world. We can not delay our gratification. We lack patience. Me, most of all. I can't even knit a scarf without whining about how long it takes.

I just sent my sister a scarf and now I am trusting that it wasn't late one day. Not really. Not if God is sovereign. Now, don't get me wrong, it's a good thing to be On Time, but in God's economy, He is never late. None of His gifts are. Isn't it a good thing to wait for God's plans and not try to force our own? Joe likes to say that God is in the business of the “Just In Time” delivery.

What are you waiting for?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Enslaved by a Cableknit Scarf


I love my sister, but she does not read my blog. I can use this venue to chat about her or even gossip. I hope not.

I love my sister, yet we are not close in personality type. I am the first child, she the very, very last. Psychologically, we are only children who grew up together.

I love my sister, and she is 6 months overdue in sending my birthday present. She is a month late in sending my Christmas present. None of my children have received anything from her in months and months.

So why am I going crazy about this scarf?

The cableknit scarf looks great. It’s not perfect, but it’s my first one and I am so proud. But, I am also sick and tired of knitting it. I have a short attention span. I admit it. I want fast projects, because I can not stand, CAN NOT STAND, not finishing what I start. Cableknitting on skinny needles is kinda slow. There is this inner drive that compels me to at least do what I said. I may not do it well, which also drives me nuts, but I will, I promise, do what I said. Even the promises I make to myself. I keep them. I am trustworthy.

This would be a great quality and perhaps, in general, it is a virtue. However, at this time, this afternoon, when I should be knitting that cableknit scarf, I can’t make myself do it. It needs to be in the mail 7 days from today to get there on time. It doesn’t bother me that SHE is late in every gift giving occasion. No. That’s fully her perogative. No skin off my nose. Doesn’t bother me. It’s just that I want to be ON TIME for her birthday.

And I don’t want to knit that cableknit scarf!

Are there cableknit elves who will come to my house at night and knit a few rows like the Shoemakery Cobbler had? Wouldn’t it be lovely to waken in the morning and unroll it and find it inches longer? I’d take out the measuring tape each day and find it was nearing the 48” mark... oh, the thought!

I can hear one friend’s voice in my head, “Chill out.”

I can hear another friend say, “So, don’t do it. Give it to her next year.”

Yet another friend will say, “Here. I’ll take your kids. You turn on the stereo or a girly movie and have a great day finishing the scarf.”

I don’t need help. I just need to choose. I let the burden overwhelm me. I let the thing rule over me. I let guilt plague me. And it is just a scarf! A scarf! A gift filled with thought and love that has no timeline on it. How many other things in my life do I let get the better of me? How many other “scarves” are on my schedule that are making me crazy because I can’t see how they fit in to the bigger scheme. Why am I like this?

A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him - 2Peter 2:19

What dumb things get the better of you?

Monday, January 19, 2009

How Sweet It Is

10 Sweet Things About Being on Vacation
10. Zinger Trifle
9. Twinkies
8. Pop Tarts of every flavor
7. Pop Tart Cake made with Funfetti and Fudge
6. Chips, Cheetos and FunYu(e)ns
(it was sweet to engage in a little salty on vacation!)
5. Peanut Butter Cookies
4. Oatmeal Cookies with golden raisins
3. Birthday Cake
2. Prindables Sweetly Covered Apples and
1. Lots of Sweet Fellowship!


Wikipedia states, “The chemosensory basis for detecting sweetness, which varies among both individuals and species, has only been teased apart in recent years. The current theoretical model is the multipoint attachment theory, which involves multiple binding sites between sweetness receptor and the sweet substance itself.”

Ha ha ha! Well, I know some of the sweetest people alive with whom I would share something sweet in a minute. I’ve gone through my salty phases, and technically, I am a salty - but there is something sweet that often takes the edge off. In high school, my friend, Megan, was my greatest comforter. She makes the most amazing wontons. Garlic. Soy Sauce. Divine. However, I am sure there were M&M’s involved on some of those salty occasions and I know we drank way too much Pepsi. So it is with friends. They provide lots of opportunity for "multipoint attachment".

When you can, you indulge. You indulge in laughter. You indulge in sharing. You indulge in silliness or song. On this last vacation, we indulged and made it our goal to indulge. Most of all, we indulged in EACH OTHER. We attached ourselves to "multiple binding sites", I guess. My sweetness receptor was on overload and I loved every sweet minute. Friends are the sweetness of life. Watch, and you’ll see what I mean. It is so sweet to be loved by all of you.....


video