30 October 2009

The Movie Angie

I seriously used to think someone secretly followed me around documenting my life for a movie. Not because I believed my life to be so exciting, but more because I felt like everything I did was typical and would be interesting if anyone cared about the life of an average Illinois girl.

But no one does care about the average unconflicted life. Characters must be compelling and overcome conflict.

We listened to Donald Miller speak last night. I loved his book "Blue Like Jazz," so when I heard his 65 city tour included a stop in our little town, I immediately knew I would be in the audience. His funny poignant and carpe diem type challenge encouraged me to live my life like I imagine the movie-Angie would live.

Real life Angie avoids conflict because of the work, pain, time, and sacrifice it involves. Movie Angie plunges into the conflict (otherwise known as life) to live full days of no regrets.

Real life Angie quits her knitting washcloth project because my purl stitches still look exactly like my knit stitches.

Movie Angie determines to make washcloths for Christmas presents to force herself to perfect the craft (don't worry family, I don't even have time to attempt that - this year!).

Real life Angie abandons her dream of writing a book because I have no platform, I'm just...well me.

Movie Angie wakes up early every morning forcing herself to sit at the keyboard because of a love of creating words on the page.

Real life Angie dreads the practicality issues of leaving a nursing baby for day long adventures in Chicago.

Movie Angie can't wait to spend time with her sister and experience the surprises of the city.

Real life Angie's heart aches for orphans but knows the drawn out process of adoption is expensive and could take years.

Movie Angie plunges into adoption embracing diversity and identifying with God's heart.

Real life Angie rushes inside when coming home late at night.

Movie Angie pauses before going inside to see the incredible star filled sky. Musical Angie might even break into song praising God for those stars. But in my movie I still can't sing well so maybe I'll just speak my praise.

OK. So my life, my story, would never make a blockbuster movie (especially that knitting thing) but I do hope that every once in a while, real life Angie remembers to make the choices that movie Angie would make.

What choice would that be today?

26 October 2009

What can I do?

"Mommy, What can you do?" Asher asked as I tucked him into bed last night.

I'm not exactly a Renaissance woman, but I chuckled at his question.

As a student I can get good grades.
As an employee I can research and report on my findings.
As a writer I can create columns and essays.
As a baker I can concoct yummy treats.
As a driver I can get us to school and back.
As a former runner I can finish a marathon.
As a decorator I can peel off wallpaper.
As a gardener I can plant, water, and prune.
As a shopper I can find a good deal.
As a Bible study leader I can point out God's truths.
As a friend I can listen for hours over coffee.

But none of those skills mean a thing to him.

He wanted to know what I can do as a mom?

I can make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I can puree and freeze baby food.
I can read lots of stories.
I can push my boy super duper monster high on a swing.
I can bathe a slippery wiggly baby.
I can navigate a stroller and tricycle across a busy street while holding a little boy's hand.
I can bite into an apple to "get it started."
I can comfort.
I can hug.
I can sing a favorite good night song while Asher is snugly tucked into bed.

And this is all my indirect son needed me to do.
So I did.

19 October 2009

Any day of the year

Celebrating Christmas in October seemed like a lot of work.

But when I logged on to my homepage yesterday morning, the day of our celebration, the daily Bible verse affirmed the good in our early celebration.

"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)

Yesterday was Christmas.

Compiling wish lists, gathering (and wrapping) presents, preparing holiday food, setting up the Christmas tree, coordinating clothes for family pictures, and even disrupting normal napping schedules. All those preparations that typically run me ragged in mid-December didn't seem so bad in mid-October.

It was just enough.

Stores didn't tempt me at every turn with extra discounts if I just bought one extra fleece blanket for $15.

I didn't feel sick to my stomach after hearing about the proverbial roasting chestnuts for the bazillionth time.

My wrapping took less than half a day.

And when I left mom and dad's house with a stomach stuffed to overflowing, I felt a little better knowing it was from just one evening of indulgence rather than an entire month of overeating.

Maybe best of all it was a family gathering we hadn't had for a very long time.

We've celebrated Christmas as a family at my parents home in Ethiopia a couple of times in the years they've been missionaries there, but never with our traditional potato soup made with all the American ingredients or a fire blazing in the fireplace.

Yes our celebration was out of the ordinary. I spent my days in Christmas preparation mode when friends picked out fall pumpkins.

Asher is now completely confused about when Christmas actually is.
But the memories we created made the celebration worth it!

And we've been reminded we can sing Happy Birthday to Jesus any day of the year.

Even today He is Emmanuel, God with us.

14 October 2009

How many more times?

Are your days as long as mine?

There must be 23 hours in my day when kids are awake, translate needy, and possibly ONE hour for me to catch my breath.

Especially on these long days when Walter prepares for his actuarial exam I fight constant battles to be present with whatever defines my mommy job at the time.

It could mean making another peanut butter and jelly sandwich

or pushing Asher on the swing until my arms fall off

or changing yet another diaper

or filling more ice cube trays with puree baby food to freeze

or putting on shoes and socks and coats and hats and blankets (and don't forget the pacifier!)

or draining a baby's nose with that handy squishy bulb the hospitals send home

or exclaiming one more time about the beautiful music notes Asher drew.

But when I'm about to quit and boycott any more responsibilities, I'm reminded of the alternative.

Someday those little runny noses will not be here. Sure I'll have other responsibilities as a mom, but these physically demanding days will be gone. The emotional challenges of teen years will come and eventually a new phase of interacting with Asher and Amelie as parents themselves will dawn.

So I wonder today how many more times will I get to

push Asher super duper monster high on the swing?

cuddle my sweet girl before she starts to walk ?

make room on the refrigerator for more of Asher's sunshines and smiley faces and music notes?

point out diggers and firetrucks and construction sites while we drive?

tuck them in and kiss their peaceful faces?

And with this thought I end my hour of aloneness and begin my 23 hours of being needed!

06 October 2009

Relationship Analysis - Pantagraph

Writing about being a mom comes easy for me. Every day Asher gives me new ideas of things I want to ponder through writing and my mind works through parenting questions as my fingers pound out words.

But writing about marriage challenges me and leaves me feeling like I have so little experience and such primitive advice to share. Walter and I have been married for six years and I feel like I have more things to learn about being a wife than I did seven years ago.

But, I took a challenge and wrote about analyzing relationships in my Hearts at Home column this month. This I do know; I will forever be curious about new ways to better understand my marriage. Any other ideas are definitely welcome!

03 October 2009

Auction Day

Grandma picked up the child-size iron and wiped off invisible dust when I said I planned to bid on it. I'm sure she had wiped it a dozen times before, but this time was the last. One cart full of her lifetime collection of household treasures had already been scattered among eager treasure hunters and this cart was left. There were a few large items of Grandpa's outside waiting to see where their new home would be and then they would all be gone.

Today's auction clearly proved that the possessions we spend a lifetime collecting will someday be scattered for pennies. Grandpa sat just a few blocks away, with his mind much farther away, while the farm equipment he used daily headed to other barns and even antique shops. That wooden wheelbarrow which he once used to haul hay then spent years gathering dust in the back of the hayloft now will complete its journey to rest in a gardener's yard.

My heart grew heavy when I thought about the stories behind each item being sold. The washbins where I spent hours washing sweetcorn while Grandpa cut the kernels off, Grandma steamed, and aunts and cousins husked stood in the corner and I discovered them just in time to snap a few pictures before they too were auctioned away. I rescued dad's firetruck but many of his tractors found new homes.

It's just stuff. Stuff that will rot and rust. Moths will destroy and thieves will break in and steal.

Some will spend a lifetime focused on collecting stuff to fill up houses and barns here.

I have been challenged today to spend my lifetime focused on storing up treasures to be discovered someday in a new Home where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal.