Friday, July 29, 2005

Blogging In Proxy

Even after getting up with Bill this morning, making a blueberry cobbler for his Advanced Spanish class's potluck, and having my devotional study, I have nothing. I am still in bed dreaming about diapers and lost kittens. So, I will share a poem that Bill wrote just before our first anniversary. I giggle whenever I read it just because it describes us perfectly as a couple. He has broadened my sense of humor in unimaginable ways, and I am blessed to laugh with him often. Enjoy!

I thought I saw you
when you looked at me
but that was no
was it?
You're laughing on the
You're ripping a gut
You're hyperventilating
You're beside yourself
Watching me
Funny bones
"You're crazy," you say
Over and over
Goofy pants
I'm a clown, taken away by shaving cream
And hand animals
barking on your stomach
Silly pants
I'm glad you enjoy your stay
your visit to this
Wedded Amusement Park
At least we're not watching paint dry

Bill - January 17, 2003

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Like Mighty Warriors

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe house was an oven, last night. And I was a Thanksgiving turkey getting roasted slowly while my inner moisture reserves were exuding from my pores in a vain attempt to cool off the rest of my body. I was envisioning a Seinfeld type of moment where my family would sniff the air and ask me if we were having fried chicken for supper. Something drastic needed to be done. Elizabeth and I set to work rearranging the living room furniture to clear an area near our screenless windows (we’re working on that one). It was then that I found my copy of With All Their Heart by Christine Yount. From reading the introduction I knew I would like this book as Christine writes: “Welcome to this journey where I will tell stories from ours and others’ sojourns. The chapters are short for the busiest people on the planet – parents (I couldn’t stifle an Amen! when I read that). Dig into the Scriptures to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into God’s revelation of truth.”

So, today, I am going to do just that, and leave you with the reflections from Chapter 5: Like Mighty Warriors. Hey, if I have to endure conviction so do you!

1. How would you answer the question, “Do you love God?”
2. How would your actions answer the question, “Do you love God?”
3. Consider whether you’ve defaulted your role as your children’s primary Christian educator to your church. If so, what changes do you need to make?
4. If you were tried in court, what evidence would there be to the living presence of God in your life?
5. Which things are present in your life from the list in Psalm 112 (fear of the Lord, delight in God’s commands, graciousness, compassion, generosity, justice, a steadfast heart that trusts in the Lord, no fear, triumph over your enemies)?
6. What is God calling you to do differently in order to be the example for your children that you need to be?


Monday, July 25, 2005

Days 1 through 7: A Week-long Peek Into Our Lives

This week we experienced More Than Enough evidence of God’s provisions for us

Day 1: As I type this my hands are happy to be free of their dirt-encased-garden-glove prisons and nestled in a pair of sunny yellow moisture gloves with a fresh layer of Arnica Essentiel Hand Cream from Yves Rocher. I am correcting my typos as I go since I barely pass as a typist without gloves! Today’s goal of weeding, trimming, and re-planting our front yard was cut short by a clear signal from our womb-dwelling son straight to my pelvis that he was quite finished with my bending, crouching, and squatting. I got the message and decided I needed to shower and straighten out the main bedroom before our new acquisition arrives:

We will very soon be the grateful recipients, proud owners, and blissful users of a FREE king size bed. This is an item of material value that I used to associate with only the wealthiest and spoiled-est of folks. I was raised sharing a bed with various sisters until only the youngest of us were at home and I was able to have my own room. My bed was a ¾ full, not even a full size bed, but I was happy with it. Now I don’t know how I’ll manage to fall asleep with all the extra inches...

Image hosted by Photobucket.comDay 2: Last night I slept as soundly as I could have hoped, which is a tremendous blessing. We had to buy a sheet set for the bed so we tried finding something affordable at Target without success. We had purchased our quilt and sham set from Sears from wedding money so we decided to try their bedding department. And there it was: the funkiest, striped linens I’ve set my eyes on since I was a big-haired teen in the 80’s. But that wasn’t the thing that made my eyes pop. It was the price tag of $5.49. A whopping 90% off of the original price. I asked Bill if he cared about the style, which he didn’t, so we toted our purchase home happily thanking God for His provisions of colorful bedding to put on a free bed.

Today I began working on one of several sewing projects I want to finish before our little boy makes his grand entrance. Along with flannel crib sheets, a blanket, and a heart-shaped cushion for Elizabeth, I have a curtain I have wanted to sew for our master bath. It’s a light silver gray linen weave fabric and I planned to put shirring or pleats into the sides. A friend of mine has graciously allowed me to borrow her very easy-to-use sewing machine so I set to work on it today. I should say that I sew as well as I type, which definitely would not land me a job as a seamstress, but I can get by. All this is to say that I am grateful that I have access to a fine piece of equipment without costing me anything.

Day 3: After a difficult day the biggest blessing came at the very end before I fell asleep. I went into Elizabeth’s room and gave her a hug and kiss. She said, “I’m so glad I have a mom like you.” This comment came after a long hard period of chastisement. The joy of the Lord was definitely my strength because I was finished, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And He was everything I needed.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comDay 4: A friend of mine invited me and the kids over for lunch and gardening. Apparently she trusted my pruning ability with roses and allowed me to work on two very tall and large bushes that are growing in her yard. She was nearby weeding around the ivy and we talked about the spiritual analogies between gardening and what God does in our lives. Another friend joined us later and we ended up having such a precious time of fellowship. I realized, once again, how incredibly rich I am in friendship. I am so deeply thankful to God for that.

Day 5: This morning I could hear the timid pattering of raindrops on the rose leaves outside our bedroom window. These have been oppressively hot days and I had come to the place of actually saying out loud, “I hate summer.” I really don’t but there is much resentment to overcome when the house is already warm by mid morning and yard work gets stricken from the list of things to do because the heat has become downright unsafe. So as I retrieved beach towels from the deck rail and brought them indoors to tumble dry, Bill came out of our room and we stood together looking out at our backyard. Neither of us said a single word. We just knew. We are blessed.

Day 6: We actually enjoyed being able to buy some things we normally wouldn’t just because we really wanted to be frugal. Bill received a promotion in his job which earned him a higher wage retroactive to June. This will be somewhat short-lived as he is filling a position formerly held by his supervisor who is manning an interim position. Among the purchases was a refrigerator. Believe it or not, this appliance was very necessary in our home as the one we have been using literally freezes our assets in the form of very poor energy efficiency. It has a malfunctioning seal and drips water into the bottom of an old diaper wipes tub which has been filling up every two or three days. There were some arrangements to be made before we could take it home but while Bill and I discussed the logistics of financing and transport I felt such a deep sense of security in knowing that God was providing for our needs even in big ways. And I felt so safe knowing that I could trust in my husband’s decisions in this and so many areas of our life. He is wise and thoughtful and I know that he prays to his Father about our family every day.

Day 7: After church we invited another family to join us at Alfy’s. What blessed us the most about this was that we see this family on quite a regular basis and it didn’t surprise me in the least to see them seated at our table with a couple of Bibles. The topic of study centered around the verse in Matthew 18:20 where Jesus says, “For where two or more are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them.” What an incredible thought! Jesus is present with us when we gather in His name. He is near to us in our struggles and sorrow but also in our achievements and joy. He places people into our lives to share these moments with us so that he is glorified. This week I have been seeking reminders of how much God cares for us. It is so true that with Him we have more than enough.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Not Forgotten

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIt has been a very long time since I have been awake like this. So long I can’t remember if I was married and writing as quietly as I could with Bill sleeping peacefully beside me, or if I was single and writing at the kitchen table with Elizabeth sleeping peacefully in her room. I am not one of those people who do their best writing in the wee hours of the morning, either. My head is just too fuzzy so, most of the time, I write my brains out to clear my thoughts and exhaust my intellect enough to doze off. As it is now, I am parked at our PC in the front room, just a few feet away from Bill resting in subconscious-ness, and waiting for my Earl Grey to steep in my favorite Seattle’s Best (my apologies to the Starbucks loyalists) coffee cup.

Tonight I have been thinking heavy thoughts. These are heavy thoughts that I have been evading for a long time but have finally caught me in a vulnerable moment. And after thieving precious time from a husband who needs to be awake in less than five hours my thoughts have finally stolen my ability to drift off into undisturbed slumber. I am left to assess the impact these thoughts have had on me and take inventory of the truths that remain untouched. And I am comforted to discover how rich I still am:

God has not forgotten me.

This summer Bill has been working very diligently at clearing out the portion of our property behind our fence that has been overrun with wild grasses and unruly blackberries. The grasses have been mercilessly hacked away at and shorn until just a few inches of stalk remains above the roots. It won’t be long until these stalks attempt to reclaim their positions of prominence but they will be cut down regularly until all that is left is a soft carpet of green to cover the paths between elders, poplars, willow, and blackberries.

The blackberries, however, will serve an altogether different purpose. Our first thought was to wind the long suckers around the fence rail to encourage the blackberries to grow along the fence. This was a short-lived effort, though, as the sucker snapped in the middle and died in its forced spiral shape. We threw that one away and tried supporting a different sucker so that it would grow in a lazy arch towards a nearby bush. This one too broke in the gusts of a stormy evening so we attempted to tape it back together with florist’s tape. The miniature cast did not correct the break, however, and we had to throw that thorny sucker away as well.

What happened next was something that we really should have anticipated but were surprised by nonetheless. During one of Bill’s ruthless mowing sessions he noticed that the stalks that were broken had begun to bud and bloom. Even now we can see where small green clusters of berries have started to form. Nestled among the soft green leaves is the promise of a fruitful bounty. We know now that this would not have happened if the suckers had been allowed to continue their aimless wandering. In fact, the only possible outcome of letting them grow unchecked is a tumble of thorny stalks winding over and under each other but never producing anything beneficial.

So, tonight, while I was shedding tears that only a broken soul could yield I thought of the blackberries. Many things in my life have needed to be pruned away in order for God to use me to bear good fruit. While I know that my own endeavors are not inherently wrong and I am confident that I would make every effort to glorify the Lord in them, I have known and understand the pain that comes when God shears off those things that have become dear to me. I dare not risk stepping out where God is not leading me nor will I attempt to hold tightly to that which He would have me let go.

No, God has not forgotten me. When I experience any lack of opportunities or the loss of things that I have grown accustomed to having, I can know that He has done it. His desire is to see that I flourish, not to merely take up space. He intends to fulfill His purpose in my life and to do that there will be broken moments and a cutting away of things that would distract me, and others, from His work. And I can anticipate more prunings to come.

And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.Philippians 1:6


Friday, July 08, 2005

Faking It

“You need a nap.” My mom stated, sprinkling dry yeast into a bowl of sugary warm water.

The tone of her voice told me that clearly she wasn’t going to negotiate with me. It wasn’t a request either. I was going to nap.

I shuffled and padded my way to the bedroom, stuck my little foot onto the frame of the box spring, hoisted myself onto the mattress and lay down. I was motionless. I was quiet. I was bored. I stared at the glittery white stuccoed ceiling. I examined the square frosted glass light cover. I gazed upon the off-white, blue, and lilac colored curtains. And then it happened. I fell asleep. At least it felt like I had fallen asleep because I was wide awake. Perhaps I had just taken a very long time to blink but I was done napping.

“I’m done,” I exulted.

“No. Get back to bed,” Mom replied, mixing foamy yeasty water into a bigger bowl.

I was surprised and confused. Surely I had dozed off for at least a little while. Again I lay on the bed. I tossed and turned and twisted the covers into fat ropes. I pulled them over my head. I wadded them up into a large lump at the foot of the bed. I wasn’t sleepy at all. But I was smart enough to know that I had to do some scheming to get out of this predicament. Rubbing my baby-fine blond hair messy and scrunching my clothes wrinkly I decided that I looked like I had napped.

“Hi Mom,” I sauntered lazily into the kitchen.

“What are you doing up?” Mom inquired, holding a sticky wooden spoon in her hand.

Staring at the gooey object I responded in a whisper, “I slept.”

Mom glanced at the clock and said, “I don’t think so. You have to sleep some more.”

This time I was determined to be more convincing. I rubbed my bluish-green eyes until they felt puffy then swirled my tongue around my mouth until I had gathered just enough spit to dab onto the inside corners of my eyes. I let it dry for a little while then added more messy hair to the ensemble. With my impromptu costume and stage make-up in place I went out of the room for what would be my final performance. The audience was not impressed.

“Glory-Be! You get yourself in bed and sleep!” Mom commanded while pressing her clenched fists into a huge mound of bread dough.

What sort of thoughts must have been going through her mind at that moment. I know that it didn’t matter whether or not I felt tired enough to sleep. I needed to nap and I know that she needed me to nap as well. She was not going to be conned by a clever preschool drama. Mom possessed a couple of essential skills I had yet to learn. They allowed her to detect if my claim of having napped was truthful: a sense of time and eyes that could see through walls. I know the last one is true because I have the same ability. Just ask Elizabeth.

I might have fooled my younger siblings into believing I had napped. I could even have succeeded at tricking someone who didn’t stick around the whole time. But my mom was a tougher sell. She was making bread dough and, as I have learned, it takes only about 20 minutes to work it into first-rising stage. Not long enough for me to have fallen asleep much less finishing my nap.

Last night as I relayed this story to Bill I remembered a question I had asked him the night before: why do people try to deceive others or even God. As I told the story I was holding Murron in her blankie and, knowing she hadn’t napped in the afternoon, I told her to shut her eyes. She tried holding them closed, her eyelids fluttering rapidly, but she was definitely still awake.

I thought of how many ways we try faking it. Sometimes it’s in the way we present ourselves to others. Little boys draw ball-point pen tattoos on their arms. Pre-teen girls stuff their bras with loose wads of Kleenex. We want to make a good impression. At other times it’s in exaggerating the truth, embellishing a story, adding a few details to life experiences just to make it sound more appealing. Most commonly it’s in simply allowing everyone around us believe that life is perfect – for us – and we have no problems to deal with at all.

God, having created time, also has a good sense about it. And He can see through walls too. He saw through mine when I was a teen trying to please my family and friends and failing miserably at it. When I was a young adult doing all the right things for all to see He knew my inner struggles with purity and shame. Then when the time came for me to face my ugliest self He was there to assure me that He knew everything I had done. I hadn’t fooled Him in the least. In fact, He actually allowed me to experience coming to the end of myself, the impertinent con-artist, and it was then that He could begin crafting His character in my heart.

Knowing what I know now, I would have taken that nap and enjoyed every minute.


A Good Day...*MUST READ*

So, who doesn't long for a day of simple fun and pleasures? My friend, Fran, has a story that will certainly quench your thirst for refreshment by the river...

...and make sure to tell her I sent you!


Friday, July 01, 2005

Random Thoughts: my belly, roses, and tantrums

Image hosted by Photobucket.com3-month bellyImage hosted by Photobucket.com6-month belly
Belly: Now that I have officially transitioned into my third and last trimester I am so happy that people know better than to ask me things like, "Are you having twins?" or "It looks like you're having a big baby!" or worse, "I had no idea you were expecting. When you have your baby then I can see how skinny you really are." Please, to anyone reading this, when a woman is pregnant it's not a good time to just let stupid things fly out of your mouth. Also, think about asking permission to touch her growing belly before you place a hand on her pudgy middle. You'd never do that to any non-pregnant lady would you?
Roses: Besides my slowly stretching abdomen, I have another new obsession that is literally taking over our home: roses. Bill has known since before we started courting that roses were my favorite flower. They're colorful, elegant, and smell wonderful either left on the shrub or arranged in a vase. On Sunday we picked out our third rose from our favorite nursery: Thompson's Greenhouse. They know my face very well, there. Anyway, we selected a rose that would accessorize a corner of our yard just a little but still provide enough interest to the look of our property. We found a gorgeous yellow hybrid called Radiant Perfume that smells like a bowl of lemons and oranges. Then yesterday Bill brought home the vase of roses that his Spanish professorio had brought into the class and I am anxious to know what the name of the pale purple rose with a heady citrus perfume is. I am leaning toward the Fragrant Lavender Simplicity® Hedge Rose from Jackson & Perkins but it could also be Moon Shadow. Have you ever thought about the names of roses? Like Scent From Above...Sisters At Heart...Blaze Of Glory (I was naturally drawn to that one).
Tantrums: Speaking of thorny things, I am gradually learning that I have a lot more energy and stamina than I ever thought possible. Yes, for those in-the-know, I have a 2 year-old, and she's not about to let me forget it soon. It's all in the eyes. Whether it's picking up our new little ki-ki and hauling her everywhere, getting under the bathroom sink to play with foot spa treatments, or grabbing anything and everything within reach on counters, tables, desks, and shelves, it's written in her little green eyes. Yesterday was actually a fairly calm day, but maybe it's just because I diverted her often. When she was starting to get "the look" I gave her a bath. When she didn't want her grilled cheese sandwich anymore I wrapped her in her blankie and watched Little Bear with her. I'm not so naive to think this is a permanent solution but, for one day, all was relatively peaceful and calm. And I am bracing myself for today...

...I think I'll ask Bill to pick up another rose bush.

***Happy Canada Day*** from one displaced Canuck to another.