Thursday, March 31, 2011

For the Love of Books

I love to read. I cannot remember a time when I did not love reading. I do not love everything I read, but reading is an escape, an invitation to think, an opportunity to learn and grow.

We own a lot of books. They take up a lot of space, they're heavy when you have to move and sometimes we wish we hadn't spent the cash on the book when it's a disappointment.

We use the library a lot more now than we did back in the day when we both worked in a bookstore. The library may not have everything we want when we want it and sometimes the library doesn't have our hearts desire at all, but it is a more economical way to feed the "book a day" habit we both have.

Now that so many people are on the ebook bandwagon, I wonder what will happen to the already underfunded library system and how it will impact the people that cannot afford an ereader. (It's only $149...I love the only, because to some people, many people, me, $149 is a lot of money.)

I admit it, I've read a book on the itouch. It was a free download and it was portable and it's got the instant gratification, never have to leave my house, thing going on. It wasn't the same as holding an actual book in my hands though and I missed the feel of the paper and the whole "book" experience. It also doesn't have the same read it and pass it on quality of a traditional book. I know some of the ereaders have share options but, it's not the same.

I've also downloaded samples of books which allows me to decide whether I want to buy the real deal. The Husband tried to read one of the samples and it gave him a headache. (Safe to say he was not impressed by the experience. I've been told actual ereaders are easier on the eyes and I know my FIL loves his.)

So what happens when what we used to read in black and white goes digital? Do you think it will lose a sense of permanence? Easier to edit, sure. Is that always a good thing? Typos be gone. (Typos are the bane of my typing-impaired existence so I'm good with that, but will there be unintended consequences?)

Will libraries still have the selection and availability of new and interesting "traditional" books? Will that stop low-income people from enjoying the same reading experience of those with the disposable income that allows them to spend only $149 on a digital device plus the cost of the book? (I've heard some libraries offer free downloads now...)

It saves trees and paper. I struggle with that. But the manufacture of petroleum-based plastics has an impact on our planet too.

For now, I'll stick with the regular old books and libraries and the occasional, or not so occasional. splurges at the bookstore, using a real bookmark and turning real pages. Go ahead, call me old-fashioned. I am over 40. ;)


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pretty Neat...Feet

Today I got my first professional pedicure in ooooh about 14 years. Usually I trim the nails, throw some polish on and call it good. If you're looking that closely at my feet, you might want to talk to a licensed professional about your problem. ;)

Anyway, it was incredibly relaxing and my tootsies look amazing, all soft and lotioned and my nails are a shade of fuschia called "You're a Pisa Work". It was fun to go with a friend and chat and all that jazz.

It was a little intimidating too. I mean, I was asking a stranger to do something about my cave woman feet. Granted she got paid for the ahem privilege but get the picture.

After being pampered like that, I felt renewed. While it felt a little vain feeling so good about my toes (my friend expressed the same feeling), it really did lift my spirits and wearing flip flops in 35 degree weather so as not to smudge the polish was worth it. (Blue feet and fuschia toenails look cute, really. ;) )

As I was loading the dishwasher, I realized how much more content I was in my daily life of dishes and laundry and refereeing after that bit of pampering. I was more content in the mundane because of what? Because I had smooth feet and snazzy toenails? Ummm......

I thought about Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Now that's an act of service! I felt so good having my feet scrubbed and rubbed today and I wear shoes and socks and don't walk nearly as much as the disciples did and let's face it, my footwear is a little better orthopedically, don't you think?

When's the last time I offered to wash the feet of someone I did not birth? If you guessed "never" you'd be correct. Sometimes I get moody about loading the dishwasher and whenever the Husband does bath time for the kiddos (almost always) I am thankful.

I am not always gracious about my little acts of service.

And I'm following Jesus' example? Umm...

I think I need to work on that.

Lord, thank you for opportunities to be nurtured and pampered. May I find ways to follow Jesus' example of service in daily life, not because it's convenient or because I have to but because my heart compels me to do so.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Fingers In My Ears

Bitterness has a way of festering and growing. When I don't let it go it has a way of attracting other latent bitter feelings and soon they're all glomming together and the next thing you know, it's a big ol' ball of prickles.

Yesterday, I felt like I had a big prickly ball where my heart should have been. Everything rubbed me the wrong way and got stuck on those prickly thorns. I was crabbing at the kids as we left for church. (seat belt not working right, why'd you leave the door open, what is the matter with you?) I snapped at the oldest boy when we were getting settled in church. (Just pick a seat, it's not rocket science.)

I felt so ugly on the inside that I didn't even want to hear the words of absolution after confession. I mentally had my fingers in my ears and was saying "lalalala" so I could not hear them, let alone feel them.

I didn't deserve to be forgiven for my attitude or anything else, but no one does so that wasn't the point. I did not want to be forgiven. I just wanted to stew in my prickles. I didn't want to get anyone else stuck on my prickles but I'm sure my family felt it.

The first softness I felt in heart was when I saw *N*'s nerves as he sat through a First Communion class. He was nervous as I sat beside him and that made my heart ache. As friends gave me hugs "hello" I tried to hide my prickles. Most noticed I was not myself but I told them I was "fine" and they let me be. (Stewing in my prickles and in the shame I felt at feeling so prickly.)

The oldest boy bought me Swedish fish and left them on the seat of my car. (He does have empathy and notices when someone is out of sorts..or it could be that I told him if he didn't change his attitude during church it would be a long time before he drove my car and perhaps I could get my money back for the Driver's Ed class I'd just paid for...I was witchy, I admit it. Aren't you glad you weren't living with me yesterday?)

When we got home, I went to my room and cried hot tears into my pillow. I was feeling like a brat and trying so hard not to rant at the Husband about all the things getting me down, things that would surely hurt his feelings because he would like for the same things to be different.

It was in this self-imposed time out that I realized how bitterness over one little thing had grown into a raging, prickly ball of discontent over everything. I have so much to be thankful for and yet, all sorts of stuff got stuck on my prickles and it "snowballed". (Pardon the mixed imagery. I live in western New York where snow is part of life. ;) Perhaps I should have said I had a dirty snowball where my heart should have been? )

I don't want pity. I don't want suggestions for how to go about fixing things. I want to keep smiling and fake it 'til I make it. Somehow though, yesterday I was just angry at the world and I wanted to stew in it (alone) and that isn't always easy to alone in my life. I did not want to bring anyone else down or say anything hurtful but I know my actions and attitude impacted others.

At some point I was able to smile and appreciate my life again. I was able to be thankful for what I did have instead of wishing for something more or different.

I can take my fingers out of my ears now. :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Do Not

Do not underestimate me.

I may be self-deprecating (to a fault?), but I know what I am capable of.

I grew up hearing, you can do anything you want to do, but here let me help you.

I learned as an adult that I really can do just about anything I set my mind to and I can do it with or without help.

Life is too short and I have many things to accomplish. If I don't have a passion for it, I probably won't get involved.

Please do not misinterpret my humility as fear or timidity. If I'm joking about not wanting to do something or feeling as though I can't (driving the zoom zoom, for instance), it's probably a fly in my ointment that I'd rather not deal with. I can, I just don't feel like it. I guess I'm admitting to being a bit lazy that way. (Kind of like when I pretend I'm sleeping when the baby cries so the Husband will get up with her... Or it's the holdover from my teenage years when I "played dumb" so the boys wouldn't think I was "too smart". Ugh.)

Do not misinterpret my silence and calm for inaction. I think things through quickly and quietly; pros and cons and practicality. I'll take a risk if I think it's worthwhile. I have taken many leaps of faith, but not every leap is worth taking. It's best to know the difference before stepping off the cliff.

The most comforting thing about taking any leap is knowing that I am firmly held in the hands of God as I do so.

I've got a little, "I am woman, hear me roar," going on. ;)

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and above all a child of God. I may be quiet and humble. I may joke a little or downplay things. I may be imperfectly human. I am who God made me to be, and knowing that, do you really think it's a good idea to underestimate me?

-Peace (Roar)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Is It Worth?

I clawed my way out of bed this morning, changing Miss M's diaper with my eyes mostly closed. I clomped down the stairs grumbling. I was unpleasant to be around. I have been cranky most of the day. (Just ask the Husband, he'll tell you. ;) )

Why? I did not get enough sleep. I stayed up too late watching television. I chose to stay up late watching the box instead of getting some precious sleep and today has been a wasted day of crabbiness, lack of motivation and slow-motion. The show wasn't even that good, and if mind candy is a redeeming quality, that's the only one there was.

It was not worth it. If I has stayed up with a child who couldn't sleep, been studying, knitting, reading even, I could see some rewards to my choice. This, not so much.

How many other moments, minutes, hours do I waste each day in activities that just are not worth it? Not worth the time I can never get back. What other choices do I make that could be better? 10, 20, 2000?

Yesterday I spent time with a friend and it was worth it. Each day I am doing things and I am going through the motions, but just like I need to be intentional about investing in my friendships, I realize that it is not enough to just be present, I need to be intentional in all aspects of life.

How? It seems kind of overwhelming and yet if I add up each stretch of minutes I waste doing useless things, I could do some cool stuff.

That's really the key. I do a lot of useful things, but I also spend a lot of time on things that really have no value, other than mind candy. I guess I'm a mind candy junkie. I need to break the habit.

Every day I want to be able to look back and see something accomplished. I want it to be things that matter. Even a mundane list of household chores matter when they are done with love in my heart. Every day that I spend more time on random mind candy than on living a full life, I have frittered away gifts of time and talent. I have missed opportunities to love and serve and make memories.

There is a time and a place for mind candy, but it can't be a steady diet. It's just not worth the waste.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We Have To...

This morning (and afternoon) I got together with a dear friend for coffee and conversation.

We talked and talked and laughed and laughed and spent about 5 hours just between Miss M eating and needing diaper changes and *I* showing off various toys.

As she left she said, "We have to do this more often."

The last time we got together like this we said the same thing...and that was in September.

More often means more than every 6 months, don't you think? She lives maybe 15 minutes away. There's no blame. I'm not saying it's her fault or my fault. It just is.

In order to get together today, we had to write it on our calendars. We had to be intentional and make it important. Our friendship is important. She is a good and trusted friend. She makes me laugh and she challenges me.

The truth is everyone is busy; busy with work or school or kids or volunteer activities. Just because you do or do not have some or any of those things in your life, doesn't make you any more or less busy. We make choices that make us busy. We have control over what makes us busy. We can prioritize.

I should, by all accounts, be a busy person. I don't think of myself as busy. I even wrote about it once.

So why did we have 6 months between coffee chats? (We did get together to scrapbook, but that's different. ;) ) Because we weren't intentional. Not until last week when my friend said, "Let's put it on our calendars." did we pick a day and then we stuck to it, mostly. (Sick child trumps coffee. ;) )

Life is about choices and intentions and making commitments. I am not a schedule person. I abhor knowing that I have things I must do on a given day. Even MOPS, which I love. I wake up on some Wednesday mornings and think about not going because I just want to stay home. Don't judge me. I have laundry and schoolwork and stuff to do. I always have lots of stuff I need to do.

Guess what! It is in these times of fellowship, during these times of scheduled commitment, that I find the most comfort, insight and even peace. It makes all the other stuff go more smoothly becuase my spirit is fed and nurtured.

I am so thankful for the opportunities to be in fellowship with others. I am so thankful to be busy. My life is full, my heart is full and yes, sometimes I could use an extra set of hands (or a clone of myself) but it's all good. Spending a morning sipping coffee and chatting is much better than anything else I could have done. (Okay, if we could have solved the education budget crisis it would have been nice...)

Yes, dear friend, we must do this more often. Let's put another date on our calendars. <3

Each day we are given the choice to make people a priority. I know that I could do a better job with this. My prayer is that I use today as a lesson and just do it.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Watching the Grass Grow

When you have more than one child, there can times be a wee bit of rivalry.

The Husband and I try very hard not to encourage rivalry and competition between the boys. Miss M is too young to compete and as the only princess in the castle, she's got her own itty bitty pink throne while the middle boys (#2, #3, #4 and #5) seem to always be elbowing each other out of the way in their rush toward the moat.

One of the boys is more competitive than the others. He likes to be "The Big Cheese". Fortunately for him, everything does come very easily to him. He learns quickly, runs so fast his baseball coaches call him "Turbo" and basically if he tries things, he achieves good results quickly.

This morning one of his brothers was looking at the plants he began growing in Youth Group. His are growing very well. "Maybe I can be a grass farmer! My grass is growing really well." (Yes, whenever he says that the husband and I raise an eyebrow at each other. Would that be Kentucky Blue Grass or Fine-Leaf Fescue?)

The Big Cheese replies, "You don't have to be the best at everything!" Seriously?! He is always thumping his chest and his brother makes one innocent comment about his grass and this is his response?!

I bit my lip so I didn't laugh out loud. When I repeated the exchange for the Husband after they had left for school, the Husband laugh one of those deep belly laughs. It really is that funny.

If you knew'd laugh like that too. (That and the boy contemplating being a sod farmer....)

The one boy needs to learn humility...not the grass grower, the other one. The grass grower, he's really been maturing lately. He still does some impulsive things, but he is showing signs of some good things to come. (And hopefully he goes organic with the sod farm. ; )

The verse I repeat for the Big Cheese? "The first will be last and the last will be first." He still wants to be first at everything!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Of Assumptions and Steamrollers

You've heard what happens when we assume things right?

I think sometimes people assume because I don't speak out a lot that I either don't have an opinion or cannot formulate one. Or they think I'm timid or afraid to speak.

I confess I may have said I don't love to speak in public. But it's not because I don't have confidence in what I have to say. When I am passionate about what I have to say, I have no problem speaking.

The other night the instructor for my class said, "God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason." Seriously, let's all think about that. Let's all just shut up once in a while, take breath, give our egos a rest and let someone else speak. :O

You know why? Because sometimes we ALL speak out of turn. We probably don't even realize it, but everybody does it. When I speak out of turn, when I don't think before acting...In the words of James Taylor, "I'm a steamroller baby, gonna roll right over you."

Sometimes I feel steamrolled. I am intentional about what I say and how I carry out a plan. I get so frustrated when someone, well-meaning I'm sure, rolls in and flattens the rosebushes I was trying to plant. While we may need a smooth path, they haven't considered that I might have planned the paths differently. They don't even think to ask. I grind my teeth and think, "Well, it's too late now. I guess we can use the rose petals to make potpourri."

I haven't quite figured out how to handle those situations. I don't like to be confrontational. Yes, I do believe that it's good to speak out, but I confess, I just want to get along. I want to be liked. I do have just enough insecurity to worry about how my response could be taken. Often I am so frustrated, I am afraid I will sound all shrill and witchy when I say, "Hey! You just steamrolled over a plan I had. Did it occur to you to think about the fact that I had something specific in mind?"

I admit it, when people steamroll my plans it feels incredibly insulting. Whether they mean to or not, they're suggesting that I had no plan or that whatever my plan was, their plan is better. Is that insecurity speaking? Perhaps. Regardless, this is how I feel and that is my reality and while I cannot control what people do, I can control how I respond.

My struggle is, what is the Christian response to a steamroller who thinks they know best all the time? How can I be humble and still let someone know they just flattened my rosebushes? I want to believe it's well meaning, but you know what I think in these cases? I assume that the person has no respect for my ideas or plans.

Yes, I have heard what happens when one assumes things.

Can you be a humble person and still be respected for your knowledge and ideas?

I hope so. In Luke 14: 11 Jesus says, "For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” NIV

I think I just got my answer. I don't know that I should confront steamrollers. Instead I guess maybe I should just be happy with the potpourri. My pride wants to speak out. Why do I have to be the humble one? I guess I shouldn't worry about what other people do, I should worry about my response, about responding in a way that honors God.

You might assume that isn't fulfilling. Haven't you ever heard about what happens when you assume things?

Lord, help me to remain humble when the steamroller flattens my rose bushes. You know what is best for us all, Lord. I am so thankful to know that you can use anything for good. When I remember that and forget about me, I find your peace.

-Wishing you lots of Peace

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Offense

I don't know about you, but when someone begins a sentence with the words, "No offense," I brace myself. I know that whatever follows is going to sting at least a little bit.

Yesterday after feeling oh so tech un-savvy with the computer I headed to the mall for a haircut and maybe a little shopping. I need, honestly, some new clothes. I have lots of maternity clothes but that phase of life is over so I am all about the regular clothes.

There was a time when I loved the mall. If texting were part of my life then I would have <3 it. After 45 minutes of wandering, I did text the husband. "Shopping for clothes make me want to cry." It wasn't trying things on and looking in a mirror that was so sad, it is that I just didn't see myself in the clothes I was seeing, and nothing even close in the petite department. (Have I mentioned I'm vertically challenged?)

After getting my haircut, which I love as usual when I go see my regular woman (I almost typed girl! gasp) I saw I had a voicemail from the Husband. I answered his question and then I asked him if he got my text and went on to ask, why does everyone working in the cool stores weigh about 80 pounds and look like they're twelve. He said, "They need to learn to eat and no offense hon, (Here it comes), but did you ever think maybe you're about 15 years too old for those stores?"

*Gasp* He did not just say that, did he? Yes, he certainly did. I wasn't angry and he didn't intend to be mean, but considering I know my own personal style he does not understand why I periodically go through this "maybe I should be more trendy" crisis.

I know some trendy fashionistas who carry it well. I admire them and sometimes I even envy them...and not just because they are skinny and I'm still sporting some extra baby pounds that may or may not go away. (The pounds make me struggle with buying clothes too, because I will lose this weight and then what. ;) )

I told him he was lucky I wasn't acting on my first impulse, heading into Coach and getting a new bag. ;) I might have heard him sigh in relief, but the mall was loud and I may have imagined it.

On the way home I cranked up the radio, sang along with Avril Lavigne and once again came to terms with being fabulous and 40. Not a trendy fashionista but a woman that favors madras and clogs, L.L. Bean and Lands End. That's just who I am. I'm partial to pinpoint oxfords, jeans and flats, cardigans and white T-s.

I realize that I need to be comfortable in my own skin and embrace who I am on the inside and out. I might not be as together as I want to seem. I may not be as tech savvy or hip as others. But, what is truly important is for me to be "right" on the inside and I think I am doing fairly well in that area, except when I let my superficial insecurities get the better of me.

May we all embrace what makes us who we are, on the inside and on the outside. We are uniquely and wonderfully made. Amen!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Garbage In

AKA operator error.

Today I was working on a project with a classmate. I was typing things up on my laptop as we went along when all of a sudden...strange things started happening that I couldn't fix.

The computer was possessed. Or I inadvertently hit buttons that caused a black line to follow the margin and everything I typed was in red and underlined, even though the underline button wasn't highlighted and the text was set to black.

I felt like a dolt. I was able to open in a new window with a saved portion of the project and move on but I would love to know what I did.

The Husband had a theory, "Garbage in." I described the issue to the tech guy aka the 16 yo. "Let me look at it." I opened the document that had been wonky (the technical term ;) ) and everything was back to normal. His assessment, "It never happens when the tech guy is around."

Meanwhile, I feel like a goober and wonder if my partner things I'm a doof. (I also couldn't get my i-touch to stay on-line so I could show off pictures of my kids. So in addition to be tech un-savvy, I am also unfocused. :D)

Sometimes, I would just like to feel (and look) like I have my act together. That time was not today. No, definitely not today.

I will recover. I probably needed a dose of reality, no matter how much I did not love it.

Today, I learned that I need a tech guy on call and that sometimes I might not look or act "together" but that I can still get the job done.

Appearances aren't everything...Thank goodness!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

That Hurts.

Sometimes I watch the news and my head hurts. Or my heart aches. Or both.

That's how I feel now, watching the devastation in Japan.

My aching is nothing compared to what those in the midst or those with loved ones in the midst are experiencing. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

Watching from the couch in the wee hours of this morning, I found myself thinking I should be changing my lifestyle. The environmental impact of this disaster is going to leave a mark. Even though I am on the other side of the world I have a responsibility, don't I, to care for the earth and help it heal much like I feel a heart tug at finding ways to ease the suffering for those directly impacted.

And that's when my head starts to hurt. Or maybe it's my conscience. It would be inconvenient to change some things and, well, annoying to change others. I can come up with justifications and excuses. I can say, I'm doing the best I can." Am I? Or am I just doing the best I can in my comfort zone? Is that good enough?

Today I'm thinking and praying and trying to figure out how I can step out and step up. To embrace who I am and who I am called to be in this world.


Friday, March 11, 2011

This is My Life

"Remember when we made arm farts?! Wasn't that cool?!"

Real conversation at the Casa de Testosterone (with a small percentage of estrogen).

This is my life. A fascination with body noises and functions. Pokemon. Bey Blades. Baseball cleats and ummm athletic supporters. (I cannot say (or type) that word without thinking of a line near the beginning of Grease. "If you can't be an athlete...")

I'm sure there are plenty of girls who like Bey Blades and Pokemon and even have a fascination with making noises with their armpits. I just don't know any of them...yet. (Just like I'm sure there are many boys who don't have the aforementioned interests, the 16 yo was never particularly enamored of armpit noises but...)

Is it any wonder I embrace girliness for myself and now for my little girl.

Girls and women are strong and brilliant and very cool in their own ways.

(Pet peeve side note: I do not love being referred to as a girl now that I am 4 decades old. It rubs across my heart and brain like a nail file, and it doesn't smooth and shape, it roughens. It's sort of like using that nail file in place of a Q-tip, if you get my meaning. I remember getting info from UMASS and it said, "There are no girls at UMASS, only women." Even as a teen I thought, "YES!")

But I digress...

Alas, I live in an unbalanced world, and I'm not talking in the social justice way. The boys outbumber the girls here 6-2.

I try to teach my boys not to use crude language and to say excuse me after they, ahem, burp. I try to curb the desire to use their armpits as anything other than a place to put deodorant. I'm trying people!

I am trying to teach them how to behave in polite society. Common refrain said by the Husband or myself, "Do you see me walking around _________?!" I am trying to raise gentlemen and I also hope to raise one little lady; a lady with a backbone that isn't afraid to show how smart and strong she is.

I've got some time. If I'm lucky, in that time the armpit noises will lose their allure...

Pray for me people. I think I'm going to need it. :D


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who Would Have Thought

Steven Tyler is a theologian.

No, seriously. I was listening to classic rock in the car and I was singing along to Aerosmith's Dream On and do you know what it says in the second verse? "...I know it's everybody's sin. You got to lose to know how to win."

Now I'm not suggesting he write a "Gospel According to..." book. I'm just saying the man wrote some truth in those lines.

There's a lot of corporate sin. A lot of sin we all are complicit to or compound, most of it unknowingly (I hope). When we don't speak up or act or don't feel we can do anything for positive change, are we sinning? Possibly.

Anything that separates us from God is sin. What separates us from doing as Jesus did is usually fear. Fear that we will be mocked. Fear that we don't have enough money. Fear that we won't help in the "right" way. Fear that we will lose something we value (value more than God?!)

Our theologian of the day sets us straight. "You got to lose to know how to win." (We're not doing a grammar lesson today.;) ) In Matthew 10:39 Jesus says, "whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." NIV You've got to lose to win.

I've got to be willing to take some risks. Maybe I'll part with money. Maybe I will be mocked for my faith. Maybe I will give more than I get in return. Maybe I won't help in the "right" way (in someone else's opinion). But, maybe in my willingness to part with whatever binds me to worldly things I will be freer to be who God created me to be. Not because I have to be, but because through the gift of salvation, I don't have to be afraid. I can step out and act when I see someone hurting or suffering or in need and try to be those hands and feet I write about so often.

Lord, I pray for the wisdom and strength to acknowledge and respond when faced with sin. I pray that I am not afraid to "lose" in the world in order to better serve You.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

'Tis the Season

It's Lent. After some people partied like rock stars on Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday begins the season of reflection and for some penance and somber reflection on the gift given to us in the suffering and death of a Savior.

We know how the story ends on the cross. We also know there is a new beginning. We know the new beginning already, even as we witness the lies, the cheating and backstabbing and torture.

We know that there is a shiny new beginning on Easter morning when Jesus rises. I don't know about you, but I am thankful to know there is a happy beginning and no end.

I am not giving up anything in particular for the season. I am planning to add more to my faith life through reading the Bible more frequently and we plan to reaffirm that sharing of devotional time with our family. These are things that ebb and flow in our home so today acted as a reminder to refocus.

The Husband and I had a conversation about this season. He suggested that we should be remembering the Christ's act of unselfish love and salvation every day of the year. Don't get me wrong, he's not all somber, like a Monty Python monk, hitting himself with a board. It's more that he wants to embrace the new beginning, still recognizing how we got there, being thankful and penitent each day but celebrating too, that we are a resurrection people.

However you walk through this season, it is about you and your relationship with God. It's not about what other people think. It's about getting closer to God. And the truth is, each day of the year, we can take the opportunity, make that choice and grow closer to Him. We don't need a special day or a special season. All we need is the desire.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Met Her on a Monday...

and my heart stood still...da doo ron ron, da doo ron ron.
(Shaun Cassidy)

I was flipping channels Sunday night and there on my television screen was David Cassidy. Apparently he was on "The Celebrity Apprentice." "Was" because The Donald fired him.

Seeing David Cassidy brought me back to a second grade bout with scarlet fever, a brand new Shawn Cassidy album (You remember those big long playing records?) and a Trixie Belden mystery. How's that for a stream of consciousness?

I can "see" my room; my green gingham bedspread with matching curtains, the white canopy bed (without a canopy, because they collect dust. :P ). I remember sitting at the table eating my cereal (Lucky Charms perhaps?) when my mother did a double take. I had a lovely rash which earned me a trip to the doctor. The gentle, white-haired woman diagnosed me.

I remember getting the new album and reading the book, and spending much time tucked into bed. Usually I convalesced on the plaid couch in the living room watching PBS, the only daytime children's television in my cable-free home back in the 70s.

It's funny how seeing the brother of the boy on that album cover brought such a vivid memories rushing back and how that one book, that one album, that bedspread and the look on my mother's face when she first noticed the rash are so clear.

What will my kids remember by chance? Will it be a smiling mom or a nagging, crabby one. I'm afraid to find out. I spend a lot of time correcting and requesting and picking up dirty clothes off the floor which makes me rant sometimes.

Will it be that when *N* was sick (a stomach ache) the last time, I was giving him grief because he always seems to get sick on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month, when I have somewhere to be. Will he feel like I wasn't sympathetic, as though I didn't care about him? (For the record, he was dancing around by lunchtime.)

Stream of consciousness leads to stream of awareness and it's not always pretty.

Today, I pray that I will make better use of the moments I have to build memories. The memories aren't always made on the holidays or planned trips. Sometimes the memories that stand out are random and unexpected.


I Don't Understand...and That's Okay.

Recently a friend shared that she was leaning on Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding NRSV In turn, I shared that I embrace Jeremiah 29:11For surely I know the plans I have or you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. NRSV

Do you see the similar theme? We both are trying to F.R.O.G. Fully Rely On God. (If that's copyright infringement, my apologies to the clever creator of this acronym.)

Fully relying on God can seem naive and simplistic. It does not equal sitting in my house and waiting for a bag of money to drop into my lap. But nowhere in the Bible does it say, "God helps those who help themselves." NOWHERE.

There is a happy medium, a happy place.

God has a plan. I believe that. I believe we need to trust in the Lord. I believe that we can follow God's word and do our very best humanly possible to follow God and we still might not have sweetness and light. THAT is not what God promises.

I admit I get annoyed when well-meaning Christians say that if we just follow God hard enough, true enough, with enough conviction and piety, life will work out. As if people who don't trust God are the only people who face struggles. I want to point them to the book of Job. That man lived a blameless and Godly life and yet he went through some awful trials. Job never turned from God but he did have some questions for Him. Job's friends were like the well-meaning folks I spoke of before, I think. "Confess your sins. You're not blameless. Surely you've done something..." In the end, Job's fortunes were replaced twofold.

In the end...we don't know what or when the end of our own trials will be. Sometimes we long for things that do not come in our time or ever. Sometimes, we make plans and we hit roadblocks and "bridge is out" signs time and time again.

Lean not on our own understanding and have hope because God has a plan.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

What Else is New?

It's Saturday.

I'm hanging in the living room with 5 kids, Lego bricks, and various and sundry other toys all over the place.

It's not snowing, though. That will come tomorrow. What? It's only March. Snow is still acceptable though undesired, even if I am dreaming of warmer weather...not too warm though.

I went grocery shopping this morning and the chatty check-out guy asked me if I had plans for the weekend. Do you think I should have asked if he wanted to go out? Bwahahahaha.

Weekends are laid back around here. Saturdays are usually lazy days, at least until baseball season begins, then all bets are off. For now, we run errands and let the kids laze about.

It's easy to get wrapped up in a "to do" list on a lazy day. I try to remember that the "to do" lists will still be around long after the kids grow up and that I can enjoy living in the moment.

One of the benefits of having a big age span of kids (16 years to 6 months) is that I get perspective. While each child is different, I have lived through (and survived to tell the tale of) many phases and even if we haven't gone through a phase yet, I "get" that the phases do pass and that I will be able to laugh about most things, or at least they won't be quite as painful with the passage of time.

So on this "lazy" Saturday when the Husband is running the eldest boy on all sorts of errands, I am surrounded by noise and clutter and things and special people that I could try to rush through or work around. Instead I am sitting in the midst of it, soaking it in.

Someday I will be able to write a sentence uninterrupted. Someday I will be able to sit and read in peace. But today, I am thankful for the chaos of my life. I am thankful for this time and these people and this imperfect life.

I pray that all of us can be content and thankful in the moments, whether they are ideal or messy.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hot Under the Collar

Not me.

The sweet 3yo. He's very literal though. And I'm not sure he's ever heard the expression "hot under the collar."

Twice he's gotten very angry, tantrum throwing ticked off. Twice he has done the same thing. Thankfully, we were at home both times. He gets mad and he cools off by getting more natural. When you ask him why, as he's tossing the Justice League underwear at you, he yells, "I'm really angry!" It's sort of humorous. Sort of.

Tonight I turned to the Husband and said, "He's got to learn some new coping skills." The Husband responded, "Ya' think?" Our hope is that he gets over this need to be in his Birthday suit AKA the tantrum suit before he goes to school. Imagine those calls from the Principal if Johnny won't give him a turn on the swing or he gets a grade he's unhappy with?!

For now, I just hope he doesn't scandalize the MOPS ladies tomorrow if they tell him it's time to put away the Play Doh. Do you think I should warn them about his tantrum suit?

His older brothers have only one thing to say whenever the tantrum suit streaker strikes...."Don't Look M!!!"

This is what my life has turned into, Ray Stevens singing the family soundtrack? I can hear it now, "Oh yes, they call him the streak."Don't look Ethel" but it was too late...."

Lord, I am so thankful for the patience I am growing and the sense of humor that is essential to my sanity. May *I* learn that even when he's steaming mad and hot under the collar, he can leave his shirt (and everything else) on.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Folding the laundry.: Mundane, repetitive task or time of realization. Talk amongst yourselves.

Laundry folding can get old really fast. I used to love it because getting all of the laundry washed and folded gave me a sense of accomplishment. Now I know that the hamper will be empty for the blink of an eye so I just remember to be thankful for a working washer and dryer and leave it at that.

Folding laundry can also be a time when I realize that someone in our house has holey socks. It can also stimulate a search and rescue mission. This weekend I discovered that one of the children's undies weren't making it to the hamper, or washer or dryer and therefore his folded pile was non-existent.....because they were getting tossed on the bedroom floor and then as the door opened on his way out they got shoved behind it. (Usually I pick up wayward clothing items but since the door was pushing them out of view....)

The big realization, though, came as I was folding a flannel blanket covered with pink tulips. One year ago, I knew we were adding to our little family. I knew I'd be folding itty bitty baby clothes by now, God willing. Never in a million years did I expect to be folding things that were pink and ruffled and floral. One year ago today, I did not dream of a daughter. I dreamt of a healthy baby that would most likely be a boy. I was perfectly prepared for that.

She's still little and sweet and she certainly wears different clothes, but can I tell you a secret. It's really not different to me, the loving party. My heart feels no differently. I know the parenting issues will be different as she gets older. (But I'm getting older, too.)

We already joke about her dating. But, to be honest, while boys cannot be pregnant, they can still experience consequences of experimentation at a young age, so we're vigilant and honest about our expectations and hopes and dreams for our sons. Perhaps because there are 5 boy-children in the house, we don't say, "boys will be boys". We see that boys are all different and what is one brother's harmless roughhousing hurts another brother's heart. Kids will be kids gets said a lot. and "Don't you hate it when they act their age?"

Yes, I can buy tutu skirts for Miss M. I am very fussy about her clothes, but I was very finicky about what my boys wore as babies too. (The angst that went with picking *I*'s coming home outfit...took weeks to find just the right thing, and he was #5!)

So one year ago, I only knew blankets of baby blue. I dreamt of baby we would name Nathan. I was full of love for this new little life.

Here I am, blessed with a lovely daughter who is completely adored by her 5 older brothers, wearing dresses and tights and sometimes snazzy red maryjanes.

I guess God knew I needed to learn something new about this mommy thing. Important things like how to be a strong and compassionate woman of God...and when she gets hair, I'm going to have to learn how to do all those nifty braids. ;)