Friday, June 24, 2005

Lawn Mowing Is A Complete Drag

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI know why it takes Bill so long to get to it! We have a nearly dilapidated push-type mower with a dull blade and a bag that never stays on. It’s aggravating enough for me to hear him laboring over row upon row of dense blades; I could only sympathize as I had no idea what sort of determination he had to muster up every time he mowed our lawn. Since Bill has been in Spanish classes and has quite a bit of homework each evening I wanted to treat him by mowing the lawn...
***today is payday and, since money has been tight, he had to use the gas that was in the gas can for the lawnmower for our van so he could get to work (did you catch that?)*** I tried starting the thing (I forgot to mention that the knob that was attached to the end of the pull string came off a long time ago) about a zillion times before I figured out that the throttle should be set at fast. Once I got the thing started I soon realized why Bill hates mowing the lawn when the lawn is damp. I might as well have been trying to hack my way through a rainforest! And the slugs that kept emerging looked like they were s l o w l y mocking my every grunt and gasp...a very prolonged ridicule of my noble efforts. I hoped the salty sweat that was dripping from my forehead gave them at least a little comeuppance.

Then the lawnmower quit. I checked the gas and there was still gas in it. I pulled the string and nothing happened. I turned the thing over and discovered that a giant wad of clippings had lodged itself between the blade and the space where the bag should have gone. When I dug the grimy green clump out I started the lawnmower again which sputtered for a few seconds then quit again. It was then I noticed that a new mound had been deposited under the lawnmower. I decided that this was likely to happen frequently so I grabbed a rake from the garage and cleared the path in front of the lawnmower....
***not once in all of this had I thought I should have asked my midwife if I could mow the lawn, but I was sincere enough about this job that I hope she will overlook this*** this time I had determined that my love for my husband would perservere and I would get the lawn mowed no matter how long it took me. I was applauding myself inwardly for being such a loving and generous wife and wondering what sort of delectable rewards he would bestow upon me for my goodness.

Then the lawnmower quit and nothing would make it start again. I checked the gas and, sure enough, it was empty. So while I was standing in the garage looking at the bare spot where the gas can usually sits I decided I should just get Elizabeth to rake the clippings with me later. Bill will likely mow the lawn, with a fresh supply of gas, sometime this evening. So, perhaps I should just shower off the gas fume laden sweat, give myself a manicure/pedicure, put on some pretty smells, and treat him to a savory dinner…

...and discuss buying a goat.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

Jack-Jack vs. Darwin

Image hosted by Photobucket.comYesterday I was at the Pacific Science Center with our 11-year-old for a homeschool field trip. During the first couple minutes watching the IMAX film on volcanoes, earthquakes and tornadoes, I became irritated. Can we watch something without being inundated with lies about evolution and that the earth is 4.5 billion years old and all that nonsense? I mean, the special effects were fantastic, but they were fantastic lies. Mercifully, Satan's part of the program ended after just three or four minutes, but I still wanted to stand up, a la "Network," to tell the 100 or so parents and kids that they are being lied to.

Just then, with the big screen showing the inside of a volcano, complete with a sea of lava, a boy behind me, who couldn't have been more than four or five, whispered to his dad, "I bet Jack-Jack could survive that, Dad."

I smiled.

I still think kids are getting lied to. But perhaps at that young of an age they see everything as a cartoon. Even ol' Darwin could be just a cartoon figure that needs to be wiped out by The Incredibles. That would be nice.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Image hosted by Photobucket.comElizabeth is a born conversationalist. Not very long after her birth she started talking. To the nurses, to the bassinet, to the little giraffes on her blanket (unfortunately the giraffes couldn’t answer back even if they were real). She loved it when anyone would respond to her chattering but it was apparent that she loved the sound of her own voice. Not much has changed in the 11 years since then.

When Elizabeth was a toddler she would talk herself to sleep. I used to listen near her door to hear her singing her favorite little songs and dialoging with herself about everything. More than once I slipped a cassette recorder under her bed and captured her little words and phrases to savor when her voice no longer fills this house.

It didn’t take long after Elizabeth’s first day of kindergarten for her teacher to discover how irrepressible her penchant for discussion was. Mrs. Crossland was very patient, though, as was Mrs. Dorval, Miss Sherwin, and Mrs. Poettker. Sunday School teachers were equally longsuffering and taught Elizabeth a few ways of keeping her thoughts quiet until it was appropriate to share them.

Along with being highly skilled as an orator, Elizabeth also became an expert listener. At least as much as the hum of our vehicle’s engine would allow or the 36” x 2” space under her bedroom door would permit. Soon she decided that any and every topic was perfectly suitable for conversations with school teachers, Sunday school teachers, extended family members, or friends. It didn’t take long, however, for us to realize that we really didn’t want Ms. L or Mrs. J to know what we thought of their teaching methods or classroom management strategies, especially as it was being conveyed by a 10 year-old. There’s bound to be some things left out or embellished in the translation.

So, being the good parents that we are, we decided to teach a little lesson to our daughter. It wasn’t anything terribly profound but I did thank God for giving me the initial idea of giving Elizabeth a discreet little card to carry with her. All I had written on it was what you see in the graphic: A very simple acronym but we talked to her about there being a time and a place to talk or share certain topics of conversation. Discussing bodily functions, for example, just isn’t well received over a dinner out with friends but is entirely expected in a doctor’s office. We wanted her to know that there is a time and a place for speaking and for keeping quiet. stands for Keep IT To Yourself. It wasn’t difficult to remember and it did reduce the number of times Elizabeth would blurt things out in class or among friends. And when she’s home with us we’re all ears!

There is someone that I have spent several months praying for and I could easily say a great many things about something she’s dealing with. You see, the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the tree has roots as well. But I know that if the Holy Spirit isn't leading my speech then nothing I say will have any impact or benefit.

I think I’m going to borrow the card for awhile.

“A time to keep silent and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:7


Monday, June 06, 2005

Farmers just wanna have fun

Image hosted by Photobucket.comLast Friday morning I was at Shari's restaurant writing a little bit and reading my Bible when I got distracted.

He was a 50-something farmer in coveralls who looked a little like Hoss and sounded like a tobacco farmer in eastern North Carolina I met once.

He struck up a conversation with the waitress.

"You remind me of someone," he told her in his transplanted Tarheel accent. "You look like a movie star."

The waitress, though she was a pleasant looking middle-aged blonde, didn't look like any movie star I've seen. She smiled, told the man that if she were a movie star she wouldn't be working the morning shift at Shari's. She poured the man his coffee.

A few minutes later while making her rounds, the man again remarked on the waitress' celebrity appearance. This time she just muttered politely and went about her business.

Another few minutes later while she was approaching his table, the man exclaimed, "Cyndi Lauper!" He then went into a long story about seeing Cyndi Lauper opening for Cher several years ago. Actually, it must have been more than 20 years ago. The waitress' reply was non nonplus, acknowledging the man with a few forced interjections of "oh really," and "wow."

Through the surprising turn in this exchange I started thinking: What was a tranplanted North Carolinean farmer from the hills of Washington doing going to a Cyndi Lauper concert? Surely the singer of the '80s with colorful hair must have made quite the impression on this man of the soil for it to have been burned in his memory all these years. I wondered what works of other singers make up his music collection. Naturally, I had pegged his musical tastes to be that of Clint Black, Trisha Yearwood, Tanya Tucker or a plethora of other country stars who twang out tales of momma, trucks, patriotism and honky tonks. But no. Here's a man who swooned to hearing about girls wanting to have fun and true colors shining through. Perhaps he understood the deeper meaning to Cyndi's tune about the Goonies.

If I were that waitress, I would have parked myself beside this complex man and picked his brain awhile. Inside that man wearing coveralls and a ballcap was a man who was more than tractors, hay and cows.

Perhaps he even went to a Culture Club concert once.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005


There was nothing fair about it, I can tell you that straight off! All of my 14 siblings had been married at least once already and not even once had I come close to wearing an engagement ring. Their advice to just stop looking and God would make it happen didn’t even work. Somehow I had become so very pleasing to date that any idea of a lifelong commitment was unnecessary. I made an excellent girlfriend but not a prospective wife.

So when I finally had my fill of relationships that were going nowhere I was already 30 years old. Having come from a family where practically everyone had married in their early twenties I might as well have been a retired schoolteacher enjoying my pension in a little cabin on Turtle Lake, Saskatchewan. I was also the mother of an extremely active and artistic girl. Mine wasn’t the only pregnancy out of wedlock in my family but mine was the one that wasn’t neatly and cleverly handled by an engagement and wedding ceremony. While the shame of it all no longer paralyzed my heart I had given up believing that any man - single, divorced, or widowed - would be anywhere near taken with the idea of becoming instant dad-in-a-box complete with directions and ready in five minutes.

It was May when I finally dragged my Bible and a box of Kleenex into my living room and began the ugly task of pouring it all out to God. I would have rather been sitting in a dentist’s chair getting a root canal on a back molar than sitting on that couch with all my emotions and nerves exposed like that. It was terrible and I winced at every truth that God spoke into my heart that day. I knew I wanted to serve Him without any reservation. I wanted my heart to belong to Him alone. I wanted to be His bride and life a life of purity and wholeness. I wanted to do all of that whether I was single or married, and I spoke plainly when I said I would accept either option. But I knew that opening my heart to the man God wanted me to marry would be harder later than it would be right then. I wanted to be sure that God and I understood each other on that account because I meant every word.

By then Elizabeth was in 2nd grade and ballet and I was in my third year of University studies, working at a daycare, and very actively involved in my church. I was a worship leader, pianist, vocalist, and soloist. My typical week consisted of Monday night music practice, Tuesday afternoon ballet and Young Adults evening worship and Bible study, Wednesday night Kid’s Club, Thursday evening ballet, and Sunday morning and evening services. My time was occupied enough that I couldn’t think about being single or hate being alone.

One day while I was at the University of Saskatchewan computer lab finding lyrics and chords for worship songs I found a Christian chat site where I could dialog with other worship leaders and musicians. Most of the time the conversation formed around issues such as music style or dress codes. Not once during this time did I think I would meet anyone who would consider me on a romantic level.

There was one man, however, who intrigued me above anyone else I chatted with. Bill was my age and he was a reporter at a newspaper in North Carolina. The first thing that interested me about him was his appreciation for the music of Keith Green, 2nd Chapter of Acts, and Phil Keaggy. As our first conversation progressed I was increasingly aware that I was developing a connection with this man that lived 2000 miles from me. This was so unexpected that I can remember feeling anxious about how anything like this could even be of God. We talked about exchanging e-mail addresses then I asked the question that had been burning a hole in my thoughts:

“Are you for real?”

And there was a moment of stillness on the monitor screen before his answer came back:

“Yes, I am for real.”

God, how can I know? How can I trust his word? How can I verify anything he’s told me about himself?

The questions came pouring out like all those painful emotions I had poured out to God only a month earlier. I wanted to be safe. I needed to be sure. I had to feel protected while this man entered the fortress of my mind and stood before the heavily guarded gates of my heart.

As we began e-mailing each other, and later talking on the phone I became very good at tossing out selective bits of information about my life. Not only did I avoid sharing any private or personal details but I also concealed my deeper thoughts and kept vigil over my feelings. We could flirt with our words, banter wittily, and even drop casual remarks about all the possible what ifs. But I would remain distant and detached because I was not going to fall in love, this time. I had experienced my own great fall in love and all the king’s horses trampled me underfoot and all the king’s men had only left me bruised and broken. Now that I was put back together I would stay clear on the other side of the wall.

Two weeks after our first phone conversation I felt that I was done with my cautious waving at the window and decided that I was going to bid my farewell to Bill. I picked out a nice looking greeting card and carefully wrote that “I think God just wants us to be friends.” I hadn’t really asked Him if He did or not but it sounded like something He might have said. What I didn’t know is that God had been having frequent conversations with Bill and that he had been told something completely different than what I had written in my card.

I was finishing up an afternoon at work when a delivery man showed up with a bouquet of three roses for me from Bill. The room was quiet and all the kids disappeared into the faded white walls and crayon drawings. I studied the roses carefully and it wasn’t long before I read the message he had written on their slender stems, their green leaves, and their dewy petals.

Roses are the most treasured of flowers and I will treasure you. Life will have thorns that we must be careful of. Our love began as friendship so let the yellow rose be a reminder of this as we journey together. Our love is deeply passionate like this red rose so know that I will move heaven and earth to be with you and stay by your side. Above all let the white rose assure you that our love is pure as it was given to us by God and will continue to flow through us as we abide in Him.

I’m not sure how I carried that bouquet home with me. By the time I walked through the door and dropped my belongings on the couch where I had poured out my heart two months earlier, I fell to my knees and begged God to tell me what to do.



Accept his love.

Just accept his love?


Respond how?

Respond with love.

It sounded so simple yet my mind could not understand nor could my heart believe what it had just heard. I stayed in that spot motionless for several minutes before I knew what that meant. I got up, found the card I had ready to send, carefully salvaged the stamp from the envelope, and destroyed the rest.

Accept and respond became my mantra during the seven months of our courtship and taught me more about marriage than anything else in my life. Perhaps that had been my problem all along but even that didn’t matter anymore. I had fallen in love and I had landed in a safe place. When we eloped February 4, 2002 I knew that and I was happy to give my heart over to this man who had made me his wife.
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