Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Blessings

Christmas has come and gone, a new year waits just over the next sundown and I'm going over the last days, weeks and months in my foggy depths.  All I can see was good; it was very, very good. 

My parents are here visiting for two weeks, more than one of which has become memories.  Great memories, the kind that can live on when they fly back to New York.

We only planned a couple of things (other than the big birthday celebration last weekend) intentionally keeping it low key for everyone.  When they arrived at the airport it was amazing to see them.  I was incredibly grateful to grab them and hug them, not before my kids ran to be scooped up by the same arms that have held me at every age, however.  As soon as we arrived at home this song popped into my head and hasn't left.

It was a mildly warm July day, I stood outside, phone sandwiched between my ear and shoulder pacing around our patio table.  I watched my kids playing, shrieking and running as I listened to his voice, the words seemed far away.  They were almost unbelievable, I thought the tests would come back normal, but they didn't.  Indeed, my dad had prostate cancer.

I don't think I fully came to grips with it for awhile, maybe not until I saw him in flesh again last week.  He had cancer.   The rest of the summer was filled with phone calls updating on test results, scans and procedures.  Jokes about being injected with radioactive something or other the day of the bone scan and how I should look on the horizon to see if I could see him glowing from 2000 miles away.

The Dr's were positive and more importantly my Dad was positive too.  Certain that they could remove it and he would be cured.  My mom, I could tell even from afar, was an amazing assistant to him, supporting him. Even though she needed to have her own biopsy and lump removal in the middle of all of his tests, which, praise God, was cancer free. 

One day in early fall, my dad had his cancer removed.  My brother was there to be with my Mom and my kids kept me distracted.  I prayed.  It was what I could do; I was unable to get back there to hold his hand one more time or sing of God's faithfulness.  I prayed and sang with my children.  For the surgeons to work carefully and correctly, that God would let me have my dad for a bit longer.  That we still had more words to say to one another, that my kids needed more memories.  I prayed for comfort for all of us, whatever His will would be.

The process of healing began and the praises rang out towards the heavens and many weeks later one last phone call about one last test, the cancer is completely gone!  Hallelujah!  So I can sit now, between my dad and husband, crocheting on the couch and listen to them playfully taking jabs at one another and hear his footsteps on my floor.  I found myself this Christmas, kneeling humbly at the foot of the manger whispering to the only innocent babe, thank you, thank you for one more Christmas.
He's always been faithful to me. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Love is...

...knowing even though you might be left bowing next to the Christmas tree, you will be swooped up into a great big hug again very soon.

...a collection of growing hand prints.

...Away in a manger. 

...knowing people are behind you.

...Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

"...a king was He, but no one placed a crown upon His head."

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, December 18, 2010


When one child decides to upend a behavior, about face and totally change, what can I do?  Besides pull my hair out, talk until my eyes bug out, what!?

I'm hoping it's just the excitement of the season, but my little girl, takes hours to fall asleep.  It used to take her five minutes.  I was used to this when my son was her age, he always took hours to get to sleep, I learned that there is no super glue safe for eyelids *wink.*

I know that there is nothing I can do to make another person fall asleep - even though she says every night that if she can sleep in my be she'll go right to sleep- ya, right.  It is just really throwing me for a loop this time.

For everything there is a season, I suppose, I'm having a glass of water toasting this a short season.  Yespleasethankyou! Really, I'm just glad she still climbs into bed with us early morning, it's the only time I get to snuggle her anymore. 

She's so busy, she loves babies, puzzles, games and pretty much anything that is mine!  Seriously, she loves making a mess, but this is not a new behavior, also grateful she can clean up after herself more.  If it's not toothpaste on the walls, it's diaper cream on stuffed animals or foaming handsoap in the doll house for a bubble bath. 

Then there are stickers stuck to every surface not to mention water.  God help us if I leave a cup of water upstairs, it gets poured out into a teapot or other suitable or unsuitable container, for that matter, then refilled until forcibly removed. Yesterday topped them all: fabric paint on the carpet.  I was so grumpy about it, but it comes out easier than diaper ointment thanks to Dawn, my trusty friend. 

She is so creative and imaginative and I love and admire that.  Life does come with limitations, or at least the house we live does.  I believe we are above the mazimum allowable cups of water dropped on the carpet already!

Friday, December 17, 2010


I need to take the babies to the store.  I'll change the diaper, but you need to feed them the milk. Awwwww, don't cry, you're okay. Stop arguing right now, fine, time out. It's night, night time, sweet dreams.  Morning time, time to wake up and get dressed sweeties. 
I love when my children play babies, my daughter is such a tender mom, flinging a baby on each hip and changing diapers like a pro.  There is a tender place in my heart for these times.  I remember playing that way, now I'm the mom, how on earth!?!  Seems like I could be back in the room with the burnt orange and brown shaggy carpet with a large wooden cradle stuffed to the gills with my babies. 

Taking the role of Dad seriously I smile at the tenderness my son shows in only these times. Being the people person he is, he's happy to play babies if it's all his sister will do, even though he'd rather play with his super hero figures, legos or firemen. I adore him for that.

I also adore that when another little boy told him that boys don't like babies (we were cooing over a baby that was baptized) he stood his ground and said yes we do!  They need a Dad too! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Some days my heart is heavy, until God picks it up.  I often think of the poorest of people and how they can even smile on a day they haven't had anything to eat.  My thoughts wonder if their children can bring a chuckle out of them, even if they can't bring home clean water, the way my son knows just the right time to bring in the silly. 

The subject of giving came up in my Pilates class last Friday and as we begin a set of leg lifts, I mention blessing others with clean water in the third world.  Immediately two women, who I adore, began talking at once, and they are not saying the words I expected to hear.  My brain is trying to take in what they both are now alternating as my leg is rotating in circles.  I lead another change in exercise, on to inner thighs now, I process.

First's argument is that the government will just come and undo whatever good is done upon the do-gooders departure.  Second's argument is she'd rather help those in our country before helping other countries.

I am able to overcome First's perspective right away from what I have been told first hand from several different missionaries overseas.  Sadly, I'm sure this has happened, but God has asked us to give.  Should we really think that not giving is better than giving that is torn away.  Most of what I know is that the governments allow the people to help and tolerate their presence.

Sitting up, we stretch, prayers stretching heavenward, God there are 12 other people in this class please let them not be swayed by these two opinionated, bold women.  Sending my other side down onto the mat, I give simple directions, everyone knows we are repeating the same exercises, perfect opportunity for me to start talking and just as I do three other women pipe up and respectfully disagree with First's harshness.

I move on as Second still insistently says I'm going to help my own first.  There is a lul, why does it have to be one or the other, I offer.  Why can't it just be giving to those who are needy, regardless of the lines that mark them in somewhere or out otherwhere?  I find soft smiles in a couple of quiet women.  I wonder if they think I'm stuck in my ideals not really knowing that the world is a sin laden broken place. I know, which is why I hope I'm always stuck here.

I am purposed in my words, if there is such a need then who are we if we do not give.  I agree, there are poorest of poor people here, where the lines tell us we one, and I love giving to our local food banks, battered women's shelters and the like.  The difference I find is that our government has programs in place to aid many needy the vast majority of whom have access to clean, safe drinking water. 

The third world has no programs, nobody hears the cry of the parents for their children, nobody reaches their hands out and how could they.  A missionary told our church on Sunday that half of Haiti does not eat on any given day.  50%.  How can I comprehend, I feed a snack loving three year old 6 times a day. 
Back to stretching and reaching upward, I am reminded that Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you." (Mark 14:7)  I wonder if we will always have them so that we can always have more opportunities to be his hands and feet.  More days to say, yes Jesus, I will feed and nourish your children, like you feed and nourish me. 

Some days my heart is light because I give it to Him - the Great giver of joy- upon waking.  Joy, the more of life I experience, the more it is revealed, only comes from one place.  Joy is not revealed in how perfect our lives look, how we feel on the inside or look on the outside.  Feelings, appearances, careers are all so mercurial.  I imagine there is a silly boy on the other side of the world, bringing forth a smile from his mother's dry lips only because of that Joy.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A very snowy day

We worked and played and played and played!

She conquered the shovel!

Fun with the sleds


Uh, haven't you taken enough pictures mom?

Shoveling is one of my favorite chores.  Especially since it is usually accompanied by little squeals of delight from the smaller persons! Now we are all worn out! (Well, I hope they are and KNOW I am!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I am currently on cloud nine from this fantastic holiday weekend.  I was reminded of a quote this morning by Dr. Suess, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."  I just can't stop smiling. 

The couple days before Thanksgiving I prepped and made most of the dishes I was in charge of and that helped to make this one of the smoothest Thanksgivings we've hosted.  The other biggie is that along with frying the turkey, my wonderful husband made the pumpkin bread pudding dessert and potato gratin dishes.  He was working in the kitchen the night before while I was top stitching my reversible Thanksgiving/Christmas placemats.  I wouldn't be me if I weren't doing something at the last minute *smirk*.

Thanksgiving was a wonderful day filled with friends and family, a ton of food (given) and games!  The younger kids also watched a bit of a veggietales marathon as it began to get toward bedtime.  Just a perfect day. 

After sleeping in on Friday and eating chocolate chip pancakes, we hit a bunch of stores to get some Christmas shopping started.  I've never shopped on 'black friday' and for a first experience it was very mellow.  Busy. Indeed!  But all we ran into was friendly people and some very good deals.  Now we are almost done with shopping!

Saturday had a couple of highlights.  One was the new disney movie Tangled. A bit intense at times for the three year old but all around very fun for the rest of us.  My boy sat on the edge of his seat for most of it!

Then we walked around our little downtown just before dusk in a beautiful snow storm.  Delightfully looking at Christmas lights and ringing the bell in front of our Capitol building.

Follow that up with a relaxing Sunday including a tryptophan nap for mom, (a weekend full of turkey will catch up to you eventually) a daughter rearranging jars of applesauce saying, "I'm shopping for winter" and a Dad allowing a son to watch parts of Empire Strikes Back, what more can one gal ask for.  I am so very grateful for this fairy tale weekend! 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

giving hearts

My kids made their Christmas lists last week and a couple of nights their bedtime conversation has turned to what they are going to 'buy' for each other for Christmas.  They lay there groggily telling the other that they will buy everything they could ever dream of.

Yesterday my son got his wish, he got to pick out two Barbies for his little sister. Just what she's asking for and now he knows she'll get them. In exactly four weeks.

On our way home from the store yesterday he says, "It's really hard to keep a secret." Adam and I glance at each other and I chuckle to myself.  After awhile he says, "sometimes you just HAVE to say it all out."
We all giggled a bit, his sister dazing out the window. 

He didn't, he held onto that secret, so far anyway. But it reminded me of another Christmas when he wasn't able to tighten his lips at all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Undeserved and freely given

Two days ago my son says to his sister as we are driving home, "When I get to heaven, I'm gonna run and give Jesus a big long hug."  To which his sister replied emphatically, "yeah, me too!"  He looks to me and asks, "Mommy, isn't that gonna be great?"  "Yup" I almost whisper, as I think about it, "in a very long time, when you are very old and wise it IS gonna be great."

I think about this life that we have been gifted.  We can run to Jesus now too.  He is waiting with his arms of grace and mercy to cloak us in.

He is here now and yet how many times do I turn away.  Thinking I can do it alone like my stubborn strong willed three year old, or mistakenly thinking I have to do it by my own accord.  How many times must I learn this very same thing?  How many times must I run away before I listen to the whisper in the deepest part of my soul, "Run to me!" 

He is calling us to run to Him!  The enormity of His grace is constantly boggling to my mind lately.  The vastness of it all, it covers the most horrid of sins when I turn to Him and yet still my broken heart sins again and again.  The most wonderful thing I am learning this year is that when I stumble and turn to run towards him I see just how astronomical His love for all humanity is.  Then I can find praise in the one who sets me free.  I will always have this broken sinful heart on this earth, but one day in the very distant future I will be made whole and yes my son, it will be truly great!

By Your Side -  Tenth Avenue North

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough?
To where will you go child?
Tell me where will you run?
To where will you run?

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

This head knowledge is nothing new most Christians today, I am aware.  What is new to me and showing me the enormity of this grace is trying to extend that grace to those around me.  To show those I love this grace instead of irritability.  When they don't deserve it.  To show them compassion instead of anger.  It is not easy.  To freely give myself to them and love them with no strings attached.  To extend to them that loving act of mercy.

I have been praying for my head knowledge to turn into heart knowledge that pours forth into my life - really applying it.  So here I am like a baby nursing, I work and work and then I fall asleep, let go and let the Holy Spirit wash over and show me how to have mercy and grace.  How much it must break Jesus' heart when I feel like I must try to do, do, do what HE already did.  He did the work already and I bet it only breaks his heart because it causes us undo pain and tumoil.  Instead of just falling asleep and cuddling into the peace of His warmth and goodness. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Three! Already?!

Three years ago, we welcomed our beautiful baby girl!

Birth story: Part one, Part two

Now she how knows to do lots of things.

Watching. Learning.

Smart, witty, giggles, pony tails, baby doll, independent, cozy snuggles, busy busy, rainbows and sunshine and a heart full of love.

I'm so grateful to know and adore this little girl.

Friday, July 30, 2010

art imitates life imitates art

Thinking, exhausting, trusting.
simple moments
Thinking, wondering, believing.

I've spent a lot of time inside my head today.  Truth be told, I'm not always happy with what I find there.  Today's result was a bit more joyful than most.  Still I was wrestling with the questions that rattle around in my brain.  Most of them I'm happy to say will stay as thoughts in my crazy ol' mind!

 Some of them were spent trying to come up with something I can do on a daily basis to make the world a better place.  To do something daily that makes a difference to someone broken, in pain, suffering.  What more can I do.  Can I make a difference? Yes.  I have no money to give.  Can I still help?  I start close.

I  do this daily, I give to their tiny, gaining independence yet still SO needy persons.  To them I joyfully give with all of myself so they know into the deepest corners of their souls that they are loved, they are worth it.  They are special blessings.  

We are all broken in some way.  We are all hurting somewhere within.  What can I do?  I can bring my husband a cold drink as he sweats away creating in the garage.  I know I can give more to him, without expecting anything in return.  A pleasant smile from across the room even, a wink and smirk.  So that he knows his love has affected me, embraced my every cell.

I look outward.  People. Everywhere. They all need love.  The homeless man in the park every morning by swimming lessons.  How many people drive by him every day and ignore him.  How many times have I.

Still deep in thought Nathan looks up and says, "Look at the Toy Story clouds."  I look.  They are perfect puffy ones.  So begins my does art imitate life or does life imitate art thought stream.  I remember a discussion in college.  I always took the side of art imitating life.  Art is created as a reflection of the artist's emotions and view of a particular situation.

It's not really an answerable argument though because why to we call a life moment 'picture perfect.' Do we really mean 'life perfect'?  Well, life isn't perfect so maybe it can only be as perfect as a picture of it. 

I decided that the whole debate was flawed.  Art is created by life.  The canvas, stage, paper, music notes, clay, all must be filled in by the artist.  Life.  Art is the ultimate creation and the life of the artist is shown through it.  Just a small piece of perspective, a small piece of them.  Life.

Visuals of life around here...

Mommy's little helper.

Now in her big girl toddler bed.

Daddy's big helper.


Domino art: "Me and Tyler"
I see Nathan using art to help him through the loss of our dog.  He was in pain near the end and the 'art therapy' must be helping, healing his heart.  Learning about the permanent emptiness that death brings is hard but he's been a trooper. 

Sunday, July 04, 2010

A recipe for holiday tradition: Family and Love

Memories of childhood sometimes come forth as if they were another lifetime. It was so long ago. My brain cannot comprehend that I am indeed the same vulnerable little girl sitting on the dried wood of an empty wire spool needing a loving hand of guidance, support, stability to help me.

Other times those memories seem just to have happened. So vivid and clear are they that they pour out of every cell of my being. Flowing from those places they come, welling up a tear and turning mouth edges upward. They lay in wait to be called out by a smell, a feeling, a holiday or a photo.

In years past the Fourth of July meant family, homemade ice cream, fun and fireworks. A day to hover with excitement, (driving my mom crazy no doubt) while ice cream was created in the kitchen. An afternoon with my grandparents, ice and rock salts waiting longing for the year I'd be strong enough to turn the crank all by myself.

In such a hurry we start this life to become independent. I see this trait in my two year old especially, this desire to do things all on her own. Shoving away a helping hand with determination to do it all by herself.

I feel myself doing this at times with God just as I did with my own parents. Shoving away His gentle guidance, his steadying hands and insisting that I can do it on my own. I might succeed, I might even think I did it, it was all me. Deep down I know. If I’m honest, I know it is thanks to the one who created me; He alone does any good that pours from me.
His love was demonstrated during these times. This fellowship of family and love demonstrated (however imperfectly) the love of our Creator and the relationship he wants to have with us.

The years have blended together in my memory, as if each year's movie reel is played atop the previous. In some I have only a little sister, the rest of the reels a little brother too, later on Grandma is gone but the love passes on through the generations. It stays.
I do recall a yummy mint chocolate chip (my favorite) one year and a peach ice cream another. Mostly those details are long gone the lingering feeling of embrace remains. Embraced. Loved.

Grandma with her sweater draping her shoulders, often chilled even on the warmest of days.  She'd sit, content to observe the rhythms of us kids and the men and girls turning the sweet creamy goodness.

My Bobo holding the bucket still, adding leverage for the turning body. I wonder now, if we'd used that ice cream maker more often surely he'd have invented something to hold it down. Clamped it on or done something only his brain could jimmy rig figure out.  For the holiday fun he was happy to hold it for seemingly hours while we waited for that first soft, thick, melty bite.

The conversation for several of the years was over my head but I longed to understand. Usually patriotic music was playing in the house building up in each one of us a pride for our country. The evening ended with a BBQ meal and fireworks and lightning bugs and smells of bug spray. And I can't imagine it any other way.
... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Helping make the ice cream!

Presently, the Fourth of July is about family, fun, fireworks and homemade ice cream. Celebrating the reason settlers first braved the ocean and hardships to begin colonizing here....

Mayflower Compact
In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.
(The 'dread sovereign' referred to in the document used the archaic definition of dread—meaning awe and reverence (for the King), not fear.)
Waiting for fireworks!

...And a century and a half later declaring our independence with toddler like determination, thank God for John Adams and the others!  We have a country because of them.

Happy Independence Day America!

What is your recipe for a holiday tradition? I'd love to know.