22 December 2011

Imperfect Christmas

I am the perfect example of why we need Christmas.
It's been one of those months when things I do come out just not quite right.

There's been nothing big. No glaring mistakes, just small ones that magnify my less than perfect status.

Because of that unfortunate status,  my house is not decorated as I would like. The gifts I made turned out just not quite right.  Our Christmas tree only has decorations on the bottom, and the stockings are lying on the fireplace rather than hanging.

I need grace.

When you come to my home, I need you to overlook the dirty floor.
When the kids open their knitted animals, I need them to not notice the crooked owl wing and twisted bird foot.

It's not that I haven't worked hard or put in the effort. 
I have.
And that is why I need grace, hope and assurance that me working my hardest to make it happen is not what I have to rely on.

I am thankful that I get to rely on the hope of Christmas. The birth of Jesus took away the need for me to strive for more and better good deeds. Instead I can depend on Him to look fully at my mistakes, forgive me, and love me completely.

Because of the real hope of Christmas, I can still have a fabulous Christmas while the stockings lie rather than hang, the tree is half decorated, and my projects are not complete.

All of these displays of imperfectness remind me of exactly why I need Christmas. The birth of a Savior to lift me out of this cycle of working hard and failing to meet expectations brought the greatest freedom to have peace even when everything I do is just not quite right.

It is because of the imperfect that I need Christmas.

05 December 2011

Waste the day

I try not to waste.

I recycle.
Eat leftovers.
Shop at thrift stores.
Print on both sides of computer paper.
Carry my own shopping bags.
I even am currently using my brother's girlfriend's old phone (pathetic, I know).

I think wasting time must be the most difficult thing for me to watch go by. I bring magazines to read in line, knit at stoplights (shhh....). If there's a way to multi-task, I'm doing it.

December always reminds me of a deep desire to slow down. To enjoy the moment, because these Christmas times go so quick, and before I know it the celebration of the best GIFT ever will be come and gone and I might have missed it. So for these reasons, I wrote to encourage myself (and anyone else I can convince), to waste the day...

Go ahead, try it.

16 November 2011

Owls

I'm writing this post for my husband. If he were a writer, he would be filling this blog with posts of sweetness.

He would tell you about his "Big Girl Owl" and describe his interactions with her as "Daddy Owl."

Sure I am "Mommy Owl" to Amelie, but my imagination hasn't allowed me to flap my wings and hoot around like Daddy Owl does with her.

Daddy Owl loves mornings when Big Girl Owl finds a perch on the bathroom counter just in time to help him shave. She eagerly points out any leftover shaving cream behind his ears or under his chin. And when the work of shaving is done, the two of them move on to picking out his clothes.

When they emerge downstairs, Big Girl Owl proudly points out the shirt she picked out for him and they smile at each other knowing what the process entailed to find that perfect shirt.

He pours his coffee, grabs his coat and gives everyone a kiss goodbye. He's ready to leave when Big Girl Owl reminds,

"Oh Daddy Owl, I forgot to give you a hug."
"I will miss you so much Daddy Owl."

I hope she doesn't see me gagging out of the corner of her eye. Daddy Owl sees and agrees with my assessment of the sickening sweetness of it all, but we both know he is soaking in this time.

How long will she be Big Girl Owl before she turns into Teenage Owl? I doubt Teenage Owl will grab her daddy and hold him with so much intense adoration.

And so I smile and share the moment with him. Someday when our interactions with our Amelie need a little sweetness, we will spoon this memory out and remember the relationship of Big Girl and Daddy Owl.

01 November 2011

Case solved

The word up and down the street alerted us that a criminal was on the loose. To gather all of the clues and solve the case, we sent our best secret agents to find the perpetrator and bring him to justice.

They went from house to house, enjoying the clues given to them along the way.

Our favorite girl spy lost her hat and moustache, but she remained super sneaky.

At one point, the leads directed them to a pair of spooky pumpkins.

After an hour, they wore him out and he could run no more. Our secret agents put the clues together and solved the case to find the baby who stole mommy and daddy's hearts.

He was disguised as a pumpkin.
Case solved.

27 October 2011

Buddy Boo

"Buddy Boo, we love you!"

Six months ago, I left the house in the middle of the night with nothing other than a coat and came home two days later with our Buddy Boo.

Content and smiley and launching us into the crazy club of three kids, I can't believe Asa has been here six months. Funny how I also can't imagine what life was like without him.
Amelie's squeals of "Baby Asa-a-a-a-a-a."
Asher's subtle grins whenever we talk about how the boys outnumber the girls.
Walter's confidence that Asa's bulkiness means a destiny surrounded by sports.

And my contentment with grace overflowing.


The third child may not get toys with working batteries, or books with covers still attached.  His clothes are a little outdated and we occassionally use a pink washcloth to bathe him.

But he is loved and we are so thankful for our smiley Buddy Boo.

17 October 2011

Not my role

I have a confession to make.

Although we've had money management systems before, we are just now transitioning to a real active budget. While I miss buying whatever I need (want) on a whim, I feel safer in the constraints of knowing my limitations.

I know my limits, and for my control-freak tendencies, this means I constantly rehearse them. Mentally recalculating and doing various "what-if" scenarios. These numbers have become my go-to thoughts - the place my mind naturally falls when there's a lull of answering a two year old's perpetual WHY? questions.  Because our budget accounts zero out by the end of the month, I regularly add and subtract upcoming expenses to make sure the math will work out once again.

Month after month, the cycle rises and falls with my anxiety building at the end of the month while I hold my breath to see if each category will have enough.

Insanity I tell you!

I know God's resources are unlimited. I believe He will provide, but I also believe He doesn't want us to be foolish with our spending choices or neglect giving back to Him.

And so I continue to allow anxiousness to consume me.

Sarah Young's words reminded me this morning of so many powerful things. She deflated my business-educated bubble of control by knowledge when she stated that I'm missing something if I continue to be anxious about the future.

That missing something is remembering that God's Presence is also in the future. Not only is He here guiding and comforting me in this moment, but He will be in all my future moments. While my mind has made me the "god of my fantasies," thankfully that is not my role!

God is God of my current reality and He is God of any crazy scenarios I imagine, and He is God of the future reality.

"Anxiety is a result of envisioning a future without (God)."

03 October 2011

Simmering

Is missional a hot word right now or is it just me? 

Everyone wants to be missional and I am no exception. In my daily tasks I dare to hope that my purpose here consists of more than repeating the same chores of picking up, putting away, and washing. I don't want to ignore the immediacy of the demands of my three kids and I absolutely want to soak up these days with them, but I do want to know this is not the end of my work.

Although my passions for other cultures, writing, and exploring outdoors are put on a simmer mode for now, I do hope the little dabbles I make into areas will keep those fires burning until I am able to turn more focus back onto them.

At our new little "bookclub," Vicky, Rita and I shared our passions and plans. Even though we're all in an intense parenting stage, we celebrated freedom in knowing there will come a day when our focus can return to those simmering passions.

In my hopes of keeping my other loves alive, I brainstormed ways to remain on a mission even during the days when the immediate must come first. You can check the article out at The Pantagraph online.

23 September 2011

No peppers please

I remember the evening Asher ate radishes and decided they were so delicious, he would go outside and sell them to any passersby.  He has always had odd tastes when it came to food. As an infant, he refused to eat any kind of meat. No chicken, beef, or turkey - but he loved tofu. Seriously, he loved tofu. Lentils too. I baked tofu into little bites and these were some of his favorite dinner time treats.

Although there aren't many meats he will eat, he has always loved raw vegetables. Radishes, carrots, green, red, orange peppers - all of those vegetables I always refused to eat.

So when his Kindergarten teacher told us the kids would need to bring a healthy snack of fruit or vegetables everyday, I had a lot of options to choose from. He took peppers and radishes and the bags always came home empty.

Until this week...when the bag of green peppers I sent for lunch came home still full.

It still breaks my heart to imagine the scene at school.  Asher's naive love of eating non-typical kid food vegetables ended this week.  He revealed to me that other kids thought his peppers looked funny and so he decided he's not going to take them to school anymore.

We talked about how he will just eat extra amounts of peppers at home, but please don't pack them for lunch or snack anymore.

I understand. Who wants to be the kid who has weird looking things in their lunch? I still remember what I thought of Alex who had a green potato chip in fourth grade. With the torment he got, I doubt Alex ever brought potato chips for school lunch again.

I know its just peppers and I know nobody got hurt, but I'm sad.  I'm sad because Asher's awareness of what is cool and what is not is beginning. Now its peppers but I know where the influences lead. For me it was into Guess jeans, Esprit bags, and Munchos for lunch way too often.

I want to live those elementary school years again through him and enjoy the time so much more knowing those lessons in life that just have to be learned by yourself. I pray his free spirit to stick with his own choices doesn't die.

For now, I'm packing an apple and leaving the peppers at home.

16 September 2011

Just fun

A rare moment.

Nobody needed anything. Lunch dishes washed and drying in the rack. Diapers changed and everyone smelling fresh. All satisfied and all happy.

At that moment yesterday after lunch, we had a rare ten minutes of just fun. Amelie, Asa, and me playing peek-a-boo, giggling, and chanting the knee, clap, snap rhyme.

This morning, I thought of the giggles and smiles we shared. Immediately I knew that out of all the moments with young kids, I want to remember that kind of time. Laughing with silly elephant/hedgehog toy brought the sort of joy that I rarely find as a parent, but when I do,I know it is what real living is meant to feel like.

That kind of peaceful joy evades me most of the time. Usually the list on the counter holds my mind in such a grip that pausing for even a free moment of purely enjoying my kids can't happen.

For whatever reason, it happened yesterday and that moment of just fun, pure joy, and really living is one I want to relive over and over again.

07 September 2011

Some years

The sun shone the brightest it ever has on September 6, 2003.  Walter and I rode away from the church that looks like a church in the old-time red convertible while bubbles filled the air.  One of my favorite mental snapshots from one of  the best days ever.

We celebrated the anniversary of that great day the following year when we spent the weekend in Door County. Over the years, we've celebrated our marriage in big and small ways. One year it was a trip to Galena, another an afternoon grape-stomping at a local winery and last year, a day at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

This year, we remembered the occasion at the park across the road. No, we didn't have a romantic picnic.  We watched Asher practice soccer while Amelie turned herself brown while playing in the dirt of the baseball field.  And this remembrance was good.

I'm not saying I'm giving up on celebrating big with exciting trips and romantic dinners, but after eight years and three kids, I guess I have reached a place of contentment with the simple remembrances.

I loved my Gerber daisies and Tanner's apple doughnut and I'm happy that Walter decided to share his Ghirardelli brownies.  But I'm even more happy that we still love each other and that the depth of quality in his character through highs and lows continues to amaze me.

Some years simple celebrations are exactly perfect.

02 September 2011

Gippet and Papoops

Amelie's bedtime can't be complete without the gippet and a papoop (preferably the pink one). Of course, I'm talking about her blanket and her pacifier.  Yes, she is two and a half and still has a pacifier...but only at bedtime.  And yes, I let her drink coffee every once in a while too just so your bad mom judgements of me can be complete.

Everyone needs a gippet and a papoop, don't they?

A few days ago, I pulled out the frayed and torn blanket from my childhood to show Amelie that while I don't need it every night anymore, Mommy has a gippet too.

Sometimes a gippet is just the thing I need. I crave security, comfort, something soft against my face to remind me about little sweetnesses.

I think about the upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11 and wish our security could be found in something so simple as a gippet and papoop.  On September 10, 2001, I had no idea how safe I felt. When the terrorists attacked our country and the naivete of security was blown away, how many of us wished we could go home and hide under a blanket while ignoring the new knowledge that people hated us simply for being us?

When I look for my security in savings or living in a safe neighborhood, God regularly reminds me that while those might be good ideas, they are also deceptive. Busted boilers have melted through our savings faster than we ever thought. Our idea of a safe street turned out to be not so safe. On those days, I could only look up and into God's words to find assurance that all was still well.

A gippet and a papoop give Amelie the security she needs.  I hope that lasts for her as long as it possibly can.

Some  days the tangible softness of a blanket is all I need for comfort. And on the days when the world news seems scary and uncertain, I know true security and promises kept are only found in the One who is in never ending control.

Better than a gippet and papoop.

29 August 2011

The right words

Lines like

"Grace and Peace"
"Give me Jesus"
"Ride with me through the breaking of the dawn."
"This good day, it is a gift from  you."

have played in my mind repeatedly through the years. Some days I hear the clear voice of Fernando Ortega remind me of exactly the right encouragement and even in those moments peace returns.

My new friend, the alpaca farmer gave me her prime seat so I would have a picture perfect view of the man with my favorite voice. He sang all of the right things. Even though I heard whispers of people singing along throughout the entire concert, his voice led us in a couple of worship songs providing a time for everyone to sing along loudly.

His stories are his. I love hearing more details about Mildred Madalyn Johnson who drives her big red car at every concert, but its those lines - the ones with less than ten words - that I pull out and repeat into my story.  Those lines describe my days with the same plot, just different characters maybe because we're centered on the same author.

That same author who is guiding me today through deciphering which of  the three kids are crying at any given moment. "grace and peace"

The one who leads me to make good decisions when I crave those things I don't need. "give me Jesus."

And the God who has led me through many dark hours into each new day and "the breaking of the dawn."

This good day, it is a gift.

10 August 2011

Cramming

The countdown is now down to one week. I'm feeling like I need to cram everything into Asher's consciousness in these final days like a giant run on sentence of

Be kind eat all of your lunch share be friendly respect your teacher wash your hands don't hit anyone try not to get too angry girls are nice to play with too don't be afraid to answer questions don't yell stand up for truth if you fall get up don't act too crazy talk to God anytime you want say please and thank you always remember I love you!

These and a hundred others are phrases I've repeated to him a zillion times over the past five years. And I guess this is what I've been preparing him for.  Days when I won't be there to remind him. Now days when he lives on the strong foundation.

"The rains came down, the streams rose, the winds beat against the house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock."

I've been wondering what I will do on the first day of kindergarten, here are some of those thoughts.

05 August 2011

A person too

Sometimes I forget that I'm a person too.

The three extensions of myself demand constant energy and their needs (or wants) get all of my attention.

We finished bedtimes before 8:00 last night and I spent time alone outside with my book. The book is good, but I stopped reading often just to rest, to sit with nobody asking me to do something or dream over a Lego catalog.

Just sitting can be so fine for me. I really don't need to talk or listen, but sometimes I just need to be.

This morning I read from Sarah Young, "Sit quietly in my presence while I bless you." She writes from God's perspective and I love this letter that allows me to sit and let God's fullness wash over me with newness.
new strength
new energy
new love

It's from this filling of newness and remembering that I am not simpy a machine meeting constant requests that I can enter a day when there may one again always be someone crying.

03 August 2011

The Girl with the Dinosaur Tattoo

Amelie is my fighting warrior who can wield a sword quick enough to fight off the attacks of a five year old boy.

She is also my scared sweetie who runs to me when Asher pretends to be a tiger or dragon or simply puts his hands up in a menacing growl.

And Amelie is a diva.  Refusing to move her hand an extra millimeter to grab the sippy cup, she insisted Grams walk across the kitchen to place it in her hand.  Even though she is two and fully capable of feeding herself, she refuses to move her mouth to the food, but makes Mommy stick the food in her mouth. 

Spoiled? Maybe.  But she is my only girl - the one who wears dinosaur tattoos. 

'

27 July 2011

too much

"I'm too full, mommy."
She says this with one more half pancake, banana bread pieces, and a bowl of cereal left in front of her.

All this after I read about the seven month old Somalian boy with skin taut around his ribs and eyes that stare straight ahead into nothing.

Pudgy three month old boy sleeps upstairs in his crib after I wiped drops of milk spilt onto his face.

Somalian mother has walked for days to reach help but it might have been too late and how many others did she pass on the way who couldn't make it?

Five year old skinny by choice son still rests in bed. He will wake up and choose a mouse amount of food, when he has the pantry available to him.

My mind needs medicine too states the Somalian mommy.

Yes, my mind does too. I can't comprehend having to watch babies want food not available to me.

Sure we're out of eggs and bread right now and I'm trying to stretch what we do have until the next grocery store trip on Friday, but I could ask Walter to stop on the way home tonight and we'd have more than plenty.

I think I read 800,000 are at risk for starvation and I threw away strawberries that I let grow fuzzy in the refrigerator.

I'm frustrated with the unequal distribution of resources around the world. I'm angry at the Somalis who killed aid workers.  I'm annoyed with my abundance when much of the world doesn't even have enough.

And I don't even have a point or a solution. Just thoughts. just prayers.

25 July 2011

sometimes not

I love my early mornings. They are my time to be Angie. Not mommy or sweetie or friend, just Angie. Alone, with God.  Sometimes in this quiet time I simply sit and talk with God about the swirl of stuff in my mind. Sometimes there are specific things I just can't stop wondering, dreaming, or worrying about.
Usually I have the Bible with me and usually I read a verse or two or twenty.

But sometimes not.

It's the "sometimes not" days I love best.  Sometimes not happens because I've felt God's presence so personally and I know this is what He wants me to carry throughout the day.

Today was one of those days. I'm celebrating that Asa slept for eight straight hours for the first time. When I finished feeding him, he fell back asleep over my shoulder and I couldn't put him down.

Sweet puffs of regular breathing. Pudgy arms resting around my neck.

Living in the moments I spent so much time pleading for.

Absolutely gifts. The kind I never ever want to forget.

Nothing more peaceful in the world.

The clock kept urging me to put him down, jump in the shower, get down to the couch to spend the quiet time with God.  That schedule, my type A check it off the list personality.

But God spoke over the clock and I knew adoring the gift He sent to me needed to be my quiet time for today.

It was a sometimes not kind of morning.

18 July 2011

summertime classics

 The summer of 2010 will be defined in my mind as the months of the Sheriff. Watching Home on the Range, feeling nauseous from a new life growing inside, handing Amelie vitamins to share with her brother, and Mediterranean Spa in my Scentsy burner.

I can't tell you yet what the summer of 2011 will be defined as.  Possibly will include a googly eyed boy in his Bumbo, a drama queen sweetie flip-flopping her decisions between cereals, finding the crafter's latest masterpiece attached to the wall with letter stickers, and nights outside after kids are in bed, just soaking in the joy of the day.

Each summer has it's own feel and rhythm but there are certain summertime classics that need to be repeated every year.

Catching fireflies
Discovering the first giant hibiscus bloom
Swimming until eyes turn red but no one really cares
Ice cream and freezie pops

Read more about the summertime classics and step outside to enjoy them yourself!

12 July 2011

One more month

The countdown is nearing the end. One more month until school starts and this year that actually means something to us.  It actually means a lot. Rather than simply watching other families wind down their summers, we will close down our carefree days as well.
In the final hours of the day when Walter and I sit outside watching the fireflies and waiting for stars to come out, we regularly bring up the subject of our boy heading off to Kindergarten.  I have no reservations about how much Asher will love it.  But I'm not sure I will be ready.

Asher can hardly wait to learn more about reading, be around friends all day long, make cute crafts, and run around in the gym. The knights welcoming students at the front entrance to the school were enough to make him want to spend more time there. But then we visited the ginormous playground a few weeks ago and that threw him over the top of wanting to spend more time at the school.

When Walter and I discuss this whole going to school thing, all I can focus on is the trajectory Asher is officially starting to be launched out into the world. Kindergarten leads to all the excitement of learning about this great big world but the great big world isn't always so great and bigness can be quite scary sometimes.

I don't want to watch him hurt when bullies make him not want to get up in the morning. I hate the thought of my boy dreading going to school because someone told him he really can't be a knight when he grows up or that the Backyardigans aren't cool for a five year old to watch.

On these nights when cicadas sing their songs I try to remember the fun he'll have. Learning how to read full books on his own is going to be such a great discovery. Meeting friends and teachers he'll remember all of his life could fill him with new fun and purpose.

He will adjust fine. I guess it's me who needs to figure out what to do without my Asher around all day.

One more month.

22 June 2011

just to be with you

Kids had been crying, the kitchen took forever to clean up and a then a trip to the store when I just wanted to sit down and rest.

And then I turned the radio on.

Third Day sang a song I used to listen to over and over and over in those days pre-kids and pre-Walter when I could close my eyes and enjoy music with the lights off.

The verses describe how Jesus did so much, more than any human lover could to love me, to be with me.  The chorus says phrases I remember in whatever order they may actually have been sung.

"Just to be with you I'd do anything...There's no price I would not pay..."

And the final verse and chorus describe how "Just to be with you, I've done everything. I gave my life away...just to be with you...Just to be with You."

That love song I needed to hear more than any sweet words even Walter could have spoken. I could almost swear there was a rainbow in the sky as I drove past Veterans Parkway.  Maybe there was or wasn't one there - either way I'm sure God put the colors there just for me. Just to remind ME that He has done everything to show love to me - to me.

I let go of deep breaths, realized that even for the few minutes of that song Asa had stopped crying and I had been wooed back to confidence that I am loved.

21 June 2011

Too late?

Am I too late for Father's Day?

I know two days have passed and the Happy Daddy's day cookies are half price at the grocery store, but I still need to talk about my husband.

He's the guy who turns the camera to take proud pictures of himself holding the babies.

Walter is the daddy who plays and plays in the water, in the mud, he just plays.
Asher will tell you Daddy plays "Hares Hare" with him, takes him camping, and makes the coolest things out of Legos.

When Walter asked me to come to his birthday "party" that turned out to be a double date nine years ago, I didn't imagine he would be my partner in raising three children. I was more interested in his sparkling blue eyes and the way he always made me laugh rather than wondering if he would play with kids while insisting I take time for myself.

There are many things that topped my list of "must haves" in a guy I'd marry and although I wanted someone who would be a good dad, that quality didn't make the top of my list. It's one of those things he couldn't possibly show me until he could show me and now he shows me every day.

I know it's a little late, but you just have to know. My kids have an incredible daddy!

14 June 2011

Indulge today!

Indulgences are much better when shared. It doesn't matter if it's an iced skim decaf caramel latte or a pacifier, we're all looking for someone to join us in celebrating life.

Here's to a day of celebrating the little things of life together!

09 June 2011

Go away!

Maybe this blog post will be the one that gets posted. Even though I'm typing with Asa on my lap and fingers that hardly remember where to find letters, I hope these words get recorded.

Do you ever have days, weeks, months, and even years when guilt is your best friend? She seems to have latched on to me recently and only lets go for brief moments when I've lost myself in idyllic places like the park on Playday.

Guilt for not holding Asa enough.
Guilt for holding him too much without paying attention to other kids.
Guilt for not blogging.
Guilt for not writing my article.
Guilt for indulging in Panera takeout for lunch.

And now guilt for laying a squirmy sweetie down for a nap so I have a few quiet minutes in the house.

I know I've written about mommy guilt before, but she's back and I need new inspiration to fight the mental battle.  She has dug roots in deep and it appears I need to examine them more closely to keep her out of my life.

These roots could be fear. I'm afraid my kids will grow up to feel neglected because I missed doing something for them.

Or maybe I worry too much about those same things I fear.

Lack of trust is always an issue

Today I wonder if this nagging voice of guilt telling me I'm doing the wrong thing at the wrong time is even more sophisticated than I thought. She seems to be working on a plot to keep me from a free mind. A mind that delights in the peace that should permeate my life right now.

Oh guilt, my unwanted friend, please leave my mind. You are an unwanted thief who steals my contentment away. There is no place for you.

Giver of all peace, please fill the empty guilt spot with perfect peaceful confidence in Your divine control.

20 May 2011

No sadness

Tomorrow marks Asa's fourth week of life in this big crazy world.

Amelie insists on trying to put her own shoes on and constantly requests mommy and daddy to leave her to do things on her own.

We watched Asher walk the steps of his first graduation, preschool though it may be.

And I don't want to be sad about any of it.

My first impulse is to lament everything we do these days because it is (most likely) the last time we will do newborn things. You know, the last time to hear a baby's first cries, the last time to announce a baby's name, the last time to dress a baby in his going home clothes, everything has a "last."

Every event, every child, every moment is a last in some ways.

But (again I thank Ann Voskamp for figuring out the words for the feelings I'm wanting to capture) I don't want to be sad about any of it.  I don't want to hold on for too long to a preschooler who so belongs in kindergarten. Or to an independent girl who is getting so good at being grown-up.  

The time comes to let the season pass into the next and so as Asa moves into his second month of life, I kiss the teeny tiny newborn diapers goodbye and look with eagerness to the next stage without sadness and lingering for too long.

This day, this moment, I've captured in my mental memory and won't be sad about any of it.

08 May 2011

If I held you more

For the past two weeks, I haven't done much of anything besides sit and hold a newborn baby.

I feel guilty about the dirty floors, bedtime routines Walter has done on his own, and my general disregard for the way the rest of the world keeps ticking ahead. Each morning, I vow to stick with my to do list and find something tangible to accomplish.

But then I hold Asa for just a little longer.  A little longer turns into a lot longer and a lot longer turns into an entire morning.

He has the same hypnotic eyes of each of my babies.  They blink at me all blue and adorable while lulling me into a trance of not being able to look away. I want those moments of snuggling to last and last. Even then, in my exhausted trance while I hold a swaddled wrinkly body, my thoughts leap ahead to when this dependent one while drive away from home and walk down the aisle to pledge closer allegiance to someone besides daddy and me. 

I know these days will not last. My moments to cuddle and hold aren't very long. Ann Voskamp's words identified my subconscious thoughts when she asked about her own maturing son, "would it have all slowed down if I held you more?"

"It all goes so fast" is the constant mantra of older mothers and I've seen it myself in a growing five year old. I beam with pride watching his success  but my mind always flicks back to the precious first days when the crazy bustling world didn't matter and I simply held him. 

These days with Asa, I'm sitting, dreaming, soaking in the smell of newborn skin and hoping that it will all slow down if I hold him more.

Happy Mothers Day.
I pray you too take time today to sit. hold. and slow it down.

04 May 2011

Mother duck

Oh Mother duck with your five freshly hatched ducklings, why did you want to cross the busy road to the corporate parking lot? 

Were you desperate to find water for them?

Did you know they couldn't survive in the open grassy field of the hospital?

What instinct caused you to lead tiny babies into such danger?

Why is my hormonal mother's mind so reflective on a mommy duck with her ducklings?

Walter turned on the hazards and jumped out of the van to scare the brave duck back into the grass, but really how long would it be until she attempted to cross the busy street again?

These days while my activities consist of simply sitting and bonding with a fresh new baby in my arms, I can't help but think of moms who don't get to sit all day cuddling and caring for their babies. Yes, I do want to go up and down the stairs more than once a day.
Yes, I can't wait to be ok'ed to drive again.
Yes, I'm excited for the time when I can exercise this extra weight away.

But I am thankful for peace in my home.
A caretaking husband who although a bit harsh at times, forces me to fully recover.
Family who does the daily things that need to be done.

Oh mother duck, with your little babies forced to waddle to safety just hours after being born, I don't envy you. Instincts you have, but loving support you need!

28 April 2011

Welcome Asa William!


Asa arrived April 23 at 5:18 am. Another perfect gift.

So amazed to have experienced another life's first cries.

22 April 2011

Don't skip it!

It's Good Friday.

Not good for the physical act of Jesus' crucifixion, but Good because we remember the greatest love ever shown to the world.

In my corner of the world, thunder rolls this morning and the sun is no where on the horizon. It's gray windy and I want to go back to bed. Considering the weather, I would rather just skip today.

But, this is a day not to be skipped over. Without this day, the day of recognizing Jesus' death, there is no hope for a better day.

Without the gray we can't appreciate or even recognize the light.

Yes, the light is coming but first we must walk through the gray of today.

"For every sin on Him was laid, Here in the death of Christ, I live."

20 April 2011

It could be today

Every Friday morning for years, I heard a fellow leader of my Bible study group encourage us that, "It could be today." For her, the hope she thought of every morning was the return of Jesus to complete work of restoration He initiated on the cross.

As I sit here with swollen ankles and an exploding belly, "It could be today" means this might be the day we get to meet the one wriggling around inside of me.

For the ones who lived before Jesus was born, "It could be today" filled believers with hope that each sunrise brought the possibility for the return of Messiah. The one who would bring light back into the world.

And one day he did come. It was a today. There was a day when angels shouted this is the day! God with us has entered the world and the plan for bringing people back into relationship with him is set one step further into motion.

Thirty three years later, the day came when it was "today" again. The day when love and grace mingled themselves in perfection and Jesus paid our sacrifice on the cross.  The most important "today" in all of history.

That today of thousands of years ago is the one we celebrate this week. And it is the today that all of my hopes hang on.

Even as I hopefully look forward to the approaching time when I get to look into the face of the one who saved me, in my own little world, I hopefully look forward to the imminent day when I hear a newborn's cries.

It could be today!

14 April 2011

Help Mommy

Amelie tells me a hundred times a day that she wants to "Help Mommy."

Sometimes I can make this work to my advantage. Last night at bedtime I convinced her it would "help mommy" if she carried something up the stairs for me rather than continue to play with the toy that kept her from wanting to get ready for bed. 

Score! Cleaning supplies got carried upstairs and bedtime progressed.

Other times, her "help" totally complicates any work I've done rather than contributing at all to completing a task. The most obvious of these times is when she closes herself in the bathroom with me and stands next to my legs declaring she is going to "help mommy."

But I've been reminded to love her heart motive even though her help usually creates more work.

And my heart has been pricked over who I am "helping," or could it be hindering?

I want to help God do good, not believing doing good things will save me, but simply because I want to be lined up with His purposes and do things for Him. Sometimes I ask what it is that I can do to most bring Him honor. But most times, I push ahead doing what I think will be helpful only later to find out I kind of messed things up.

Whether through immaturity or impulsive actions, my words, as one example, can do a whole lot of unhelp in someones heart that He has been carefully working on when I don't first ask Him how I can help.

My unskilled help, when not connected to His plans can quickly undo His work and leave my attempts just as unhelpful as Amelie's declarations to "help" me. Still I find He gives me opportunities to help. I haven't been pushed away or banned from trying to help Him.

Rather I feel reminders to slow down, reconnect with Him and become realigned with His plans.

Today I do want to be helpful and when Amelie asks to "Help Mommy," I plan to ask how I can "Help God."

11 April 2011

One Decision

What addictions are you fighting today?


Are you sitting at your computer reading blogs, checking email, or shopping when you really wanted to be folding the clothes that just finished in the dryer? And did you just tell your 2 year old that you would read her a book "in a minute" for the twelfth time?

This is the addiction I face. Too many times "just checking" one more thing - facebook, reading one more blog post, finding a great deal on kid's pajamas and my free time is eaten away.

When I heard about the book, "The Soft Addiction Solution," I immediately knew what my soft addiction is and that it needed to stop.  Obviously I haven't completely banned myself from the internet, but reading the book and coming up with a vision of what I do want my life to look like has made me think twice before heading to "just one more" online place. 

You can read more about making your One Decision in the Hearts at Home column this week.

07 April 2011

Eat food!

"Asher, Don't eat toilet paper when you have food on your plate."

Because really once the food is gone, eating toilet paper is a perfectly good option? (please catch the sarcasm dripping off that sentence.)

Yet again, words flew out of our mouths that really don't belong together. Our boy rarely eats his dinner, but I often find myself telling him to stop eating leaves when we're outside or to keep the paper out of his mouth during quiet time.

I've gone the route of trying kid-friendly food all of the time and it hasn't worked. Pizza must have pepperoni only and be exactly the kind he's used to seeing without any sauce visible or stringy cheese parts hanging off the edge. Chicken nuggets are fine, as long as I only make him eat two. Hamburgers - good - but not too thick, or on a bun, hold the toppings.

And so we settle for suppers of a few mousey bites of regular adult food without kid-friendly amendments. As we eat, the battle rages for our child to eat what's been served rather than the extra toilet paper he sneaked back to the table after a trip to blow his nose.

Lovely. (and now you know why we use cloth napkins in this house!)

04 April 2011

The little ones

Most of my prayers are for big things.
I ask God to continue to bless us with good health, spiritual growth, provision for food, home, clothing. These general prayers He answers and I'm grateful for the ways I know we are supernaturally provided for.
 I know He regularly performs huge miracles and there is no request too big for Him to answer.

He has changed the outcome of wars, turned hearts of stone cold leaders, and rescued entire people groups. Still, it is the little specific prayers that build my faith on a daily basis. Whether it's asking for help in finding a dropped contact, bringing a friend into my path at the right moment, or providing the perfect opportunity just when I need it, I am blown away when my small prayers get answered.

Last week, I lost my calendar.

Not just a book of dates and times, but the place where I store lists, invitations, reminders, all the basics to keep our family on track. My first inclination was to immediately order a new calendar so I could get to work recording the things I could still remember.

But God prompted me to pray and wait. I prayed on Wednesday that He would help me find the calendar by Monday or I would order a new one. My commitment to this request was tested several times. I went ahead and spent time finding the website to order an exact replacement calendar from. And during our weekend trip to Barnes & Noble, I resisted the temptation to just go ahead and use my coupon to buy a new one.

I waited and God provided Sunday morning. Through a series of thoughts that He led me on, I went to a spot to check. It was a completely random spot I never would have searched in a million years on my own.

And there lay the small but familiar red leather book!

I immediately felt relief as that nagging feeling of life being out of order lifted and I knew God answered my little prayer once again! He felt tangible, real, and I am reminded of my need for Him. I rarely tell anyone about the little ways He has worked in my life.

You could call these coincidences, fate, or just the way life works out, but I will refuse to label these as anything other than God's direct intervention into one small life.

28 March 2011

This spot

Mommy, I want to make a sign for this spot that is not normal.

I answered in my "not really paying attention mode" with Ok, that sounds great.


So Mom, how do you spell, "Dad ironed on this spot of the carpet?"


That question snapped me back to attention and we set to work.
Amelie, our budding artist who just this weekend scribbled on the walls of our favorite coffee shop, took a crayon and left her big blue mark on the middle of our family room floor several weeks ago.

Walter immediately set to work trying to figure out how to get crayon out of carpet. I suggested ironing and several internet sites did as well. So, he heated the iron and rubbed it, on top of a paper bag, over the crayon spot.


We removed the paper bag hoping to see the miraculous blue streak disappeared only to discover melted rough ugly spot in the middle of the floor! I'm thinking the rules for taking crayon out of Berber carpet differ from regular carpet.


And so the spot sits in the middle of the floor daily reminding us of that awful moment when we damaged our new home with a well-intentioned try to fix it.


Asher regularly points out and talks about the spot and now he has decided to simply leave a sign over it so everyone will know that Daddy made a spot on the floor.

Nothing like having a flaw pointed out.

Kids are good for that. Amelie often points out peeling skin on my lips as an "owie." Asher tells me that I really should go running more regularly. And he frantically reminds me to keep watching what I am cooking on the stove because he doesn't want the smoke alarm to go off (again?).

I'm thanking God today that He has forgiven and forgotten my flaws! He knows the mistake spots in my life. Those in the middle of the floor that everyone else knows about and the hidden ones that no one knows.

Even though He knows every time my mind judges, criticizes, or feels selfish, there are no signs hanging around my neck saying, "Angie judged that lady with 5 boxes of Fruity Pebbles and 3 packages of donut holes in her cart."

He knows those thoughts and has paid the price to forgive them.

And my spots are gone!

23 March 2011

Handling anger

The anger scale Asher developed last fall has thankfully gone by the wayside. Although his temper can rise quickly, he has either learned how to label his feelings differently or is better able to calm himself down when his blood starts to boil.

I don't take a lot of credit for that other than to point to my intense prayers asking for divine intervention!

Even though I can't claim to have used all of the techniques I listed, my most recent Hearts at Home column lists several ideas of ways to teach children how to manage their anger.

Just thought I would share the ideas here because truthfully, these calming methods work just as well for adults as they do for kids.

18 March 2011

Two

Tomorrow Amelie turns two!
She is not a baby. Too big to be a toddler. A preschooler? Definitely not yet. I don't know what label to put on her, but I can tell you who my two year old is. She is
A cuddler who can quickly detect female arms willing to hold a little girl.
A "hide/seek" player who decides anything not easily spotted is playing hide and seek with her.
Attracted to all things pink and one who talks endlessly of her anticipated pink puppy cake.

Edging me off the chair at this very moment because she just needs to sit so close.
A risk taker who never hesitates to follow whatever Asher does.
An accesorizer who has more sense of when to wear a scarf, carry a bag, or wear pretty pink shoes than her mommy does. She even succeeds at getting daddy to wear a scarf whenever she suggests.
Two is a big year. She will do so many new things this year. I'm excited for Amelie to

go to school one day a week
become potty trained (can this magically happen somehow?)
become a big sister
let go of that pacifier
expand her vocabulary

These days I look at this girl I love thinking about how her world will soon be rocked upside down with the arrival of a new baby. It makes me sad to think my sweet one who just wants to be held will have to be more grown up and independent. She has been my clear answer to prayers and a constant reminder of Hope.

There might not be much room on my lap anymore, but my arms will always be ready for my precious two year old, Amelie.

16 March 2011

Pamper me

We are completely out of diapers in Amelie's size!

I don't know how the diaper supply ran so low without me noticing, and thankfully our Amazon subscribe & save shipment should arrive today, but until then I hope the much smaller sized diapers I've been accumulating for Baby will fit her - or there's always the swimmie diaper option.

This never would have happened my first time around as a mom, and if it had, I would have made an emergency trip to the store last night when I realized the problem we would face this morning.

The first time around, I knew everything about mothering! I spent hours scouring BabyCenter's web site for information on all the trendiest gear and searching for up to the minute lists of what foods are safe for a pregnant woman to eat. Walter regularly listened to my stomach, fascinated that he could hear a heartbeat through skin and, well more skin.

Honestly, I lived that pregnancy to the fullest - squeezing out every bit of compassion people had for pregnant women. I had showers, my coworkers held a guess the baby details contest, I documented my weight gain once a week and we have weekly pictures of my belly's growth.

Suddenly I'm realizing I'm almost done with this, our probably last pregnancy, and I've missed out on all that extra love!

Rather than the cute little pregnant woman, I'm the one who waddles through the parking lot balancing one on my huge belly while holding the hand of a bouncing five year old on the other side. This time around, I get those looks and even words reminding me that I'm "going to have my hands full." Even though I think they secretly wonder what I was thinking!?

And so, I'm bringing a question to you, my friends, who have either received or given pregnancy pampering. What is the best way to take full advantage of a pregnancy?

I have six weeks left and I need to enjoy this for all it's worth. I want to fill these weeks with things like sending my husband out to find something to satisfy my late night cravings, or have him paint my toenails, or plead pregnancy brain as an excuse to cover up forgetting things like having enough diapers on hand for my two year old. You know, those normally selfish things that suddenly get written off as being excusable because of the extra person being carried around.

Help! What are the best things you've enjoyed about being pregnant?

14 March 2011

Renew, Refresh, Restore

Renew, Refresh, Restore

God heard these three words repeated from my lips in quick succession when I walked through a hard eighteen months.

The days needed extra help and I counted minutes until each bedtime when I could lie in bed. While I rested in a comfy hideaway, God melted my heaviness to deep sleep. As I waited for the change to come, I asked Him to allow me to see the breaking of the dawn soon.

I couldn't wait to see the time when light would shine into my days again and the promises He had whispered would be liveable realities. Fernando sang to me about Grace and Peace and I knew only through God's grace and matchless peace would my life feel renewed, refreshed, and restored.

Renewed. Refreshed, and Restored.

Three years later, those sufferings still sting, but the constant heaviness is gone. Emotions of abandonment and desperation gave way to security and peace.

That time of suffering has been washed over with waves and waves of refreshing goodness.

The time I thought was lost has been redeemed with restorative moments. Restored through a little girl and all her sweet cuddles and soon through a squishy kicky one I will meet face to face.

Yes, the suffering lasted much longer than just those 18 months and I refuse even now to declare it officially over, because it isn't and never really will be over and complete.

But when my three R words came to mind today, I praised God because the work is being accomplished.

Renewal, Refreshment, Restoration.

Wait for it. It will come.

08 March 2011

Free!

Grandpa is free!

Free from a worn out body, a mind that blocked connections from being made, and free from an existence that Harvey never would have chosen.

Yesterday morning, he broke away and met Jesus. Today he exists more alive than ever.

He can run, remember people, hold conversations, and worship God who never left him for a moment.

Isaiah recorded God's promises of this, "Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you.; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (46:4)

God rescued Grandpa from a horrible trap that felt painful to watch.

And today I'm remembering him not as the distant man stuck in a wheelchair, but as the farmer who loved to collect. The one who could fix everything and had the odd supply ready out in one of those barns. As the electrician he spent hours installing wiring in the house I grew up in. He was the Grandpa who cut the corn off hundreds of cobs on the annual corn freezing days.

I think of times out in the field on a tractor, combine, or driving a wagon around the farm. When the work was done and he and Grandma came to town to celebrate our birthdays, Grandpa never turned down an ice cream sundae at the Old Country Buffet.

I share my love for angel food cake with strawberries with Grandpa but I doubt I'll ever convert to the instant coffee he didn't mind drinking. Mom kept it in the back of the cupboard especially for Grandpa to drink before they drove the 45 minutes back home.

My Grandpa, the one who wiggled his ears knowing it would make all of his grandchildren smile.

He is free today!

02 March 2011

Five

My boy is five today!

One full hand of fingers. No longer a baby, not a toddler, and now not even a preschooler. He's five. Five year olds do so many things.
They
go to Kindergarten,
learn how to read,
lose teeth,
figure out how to ride a bike,
learn how to win and lose.
He doesn't need to be swaddled, burped, fed, or pushed in a stroller.
But he does still
need hugs,
cry in frustration,
hear noises in the dark,
want someone to lay with him while he falls asleep.

He's still my boy.
The one I waited for
Who looks exactly like his daddy
With the wild imagination
He's my Asher, the boy I love.

01 March 2011

Letting go

We've made the plunge. Today I will drive to Bible Study as many other moms ---- in my very own sleek and silver mini-van!

I'm excited to talk on the phone hands-free. I'm anxious for Asher to be able to buckle himself into the car. The handy kid-viewing mirror means I won't have to adjust, readjust, and adjust my mirror to make sure little hands are being kept to themselves. Best of all, one more item got checked off the "to do before baby comes" list.

But last night, we left behind Walter's single man car. The one he drove when he picked me up for our first date, and the one where he always held my hand while driving. That car we popped balloons in and scrubbed away the words "Just Married" from.

So I'm a little sentimental. I hold on to inanimate objects as if they have feelings and will miss me too. Last year letting go of our house led me to constant reflection. This year, it's the letting go of a car and acquiring a minivan.

My house and car didn't have arms to reach out and hug me one last time. Or warm faces to place a last kiss on but there are people who do and I guess that's where this post is heading, naturally yet unplanned.

That last goodbye is never easy. Words don't naturally come - there's too much and yet nothing more to say. Memories have been made and the last goodbye in a parking lot, a busy street, a hospital room will not be the memory I love the most. By then it's too late. Too late for one last meaningful conversation or shared experience. At that moment of letting go, it's time for simplicity.

A simple goodbye, a final kiss, one last look.

25 February 2011

A good day

Yesterday was a good day!

After I just wrote this in my journal, I paused to remember why my gut told me the day was good. I remembered events of the day, and saw myself in Amelie's room holding back tears while she refused a diaper change and Asher sulked in his room.

The more I remembered what happened throughout the morning, I realized, it wasn't really a good day at all. In fact, I disappeared from the sight of kids for more than a minute and overheard this conversation:

Asher: "I think Mommy left us by ourselves."
Amelie: "Daddy?"
Asher: "No, Daddy doesn't take care of us. I'm not sure, but I'd like to stay by myself without an adult taking care of us."

In reality, I sat at the computer just on the other side of the wall but realized I hadn't endeared myself to them all that much if Asher felt ready to take on the world by himself! (I will qualify that Daddy does in fact take very good care of the kids. This was more a statement that Mommy is the one usually at home with them.)

After the morning of cleaning the playroom and dragging them to the grocery store, we had an afternoon of more crying child with constipation and energetic boy looking for places to exert energy.

And yet my first thought of the day is that it was fun.

Maybe the crazy events of the day were replaced by a successful trip to the library. Or because I ended the day sipping coffee with a friend and then recapping life with my husband.

Whatever erased the bad parts, I'm thankful for it.
This must be the same drug that makes women want to have multiple pregnancies and labor/deliveries.
It must be the same substance that transforms even the most difficult to handle child into an angel when they're sleeping.
I'm sure this is the chemical that connects me to my two year old moments after she gets sick for the ninth time in two hours.

Whatever this magic dust is, I'm thankful it gets sprinkled over my memories so I look back and wonder why I didn't treasure the moment more at the time.

Experience tells me today won't be sugar coated in its moments, but I'm betting I'll say again tomorrow - it was a good day.

21 February 2011

Goodbye Borders

Fluorescent yellow "Store Closing" signs drape the front of my local Borders and I am sad.

I stopped by to see for myself the progress of Borders eliminating its local inventory and couldn't even find a place to park. Cars filled those extra empty spaces along the edges of the parking lot and people flocked into the building. I passed the man holding a big sign notifying traffic of the giant sale going on and felt a twinge of something that surprised me.

Was that sadness weighing my steps down?
Where did that come from?
It's just a store - and a chain store at that!

But still I wanted the strange people who were only there for a bargain to leave! Where were they when the store desperately needed more book buyers to keep the doors open? Why do they show up now just to get a good deal?

Ok, so I'm quite a loyalist to my stores, and when it comes to books and my favorite stores, that loyalty is sunk deep - deeper than I realized.

I soon left without purchasing anything.
Mainly because the length of the line was insane.
Also because the discount of 20% off was less than what I usually got with a coupon.
And somewhat because I didn't like watching the desperate pawing through merchandise that happens when bargain hunters catch a good trail.

As I backed out of the parking lot, my heart hung heavy. I lament the closing of one of my favorite places to escape. We still have our Barnes & Noble. We have a local favorite used bookstore. But the symbolic rejection of a bookstore feels deeper than a store that no longer sells merchandise. I join the others in questioning the future of books and feel bad that I often do look for the cheapest option and buy books on Amazon.

The Borders cafe is closed, the small children's tables and chairs are filled with discounted books, but I will visit again to say goodbye. If you see my eyes filled with tears, just ignore me I'm saying goodbye to books - my place of escape.

18 February 2011

Lizard friend

During Brazilian church services, lizards entertained me while they scampered around the walls - when I was 6.

Floridian lizards fascinated me when we vacationed as a family - when I was 9.

St. Lucian lizards climbed up my new husband's arm yet I remained calm enough to snap a picture - when I was 26.

Another Floridian lizard sat in my son's carseat and I FREAKED out - when I was 34.

What happened in the meantime to change me from one who befriends lizards to one who panicked at the sight of them?

I became a mom.

A practical mom who worries about lizards crawling on her children while we're driving down the road.


One who imagines reaching into a toybag for puppy friend only to find scaly moving friend instead.

This transformation into overprotective, safety loving, lizard fearing person began during my first pregnancy and Walter claims it's gotten worse as more kids are involved and especially when pregnancy hormones are in full swing.

But this time I know I'm justified.

Our lizard friend found his way into our car and perched himself in a sunbeam on Asher's carseat. The seat where my beautiful boy sits his sweet behind. The discovery happened while my husband, who (thankfully) has not transformed into overprotective, safety loving, lizard fearing dad) filled up his drink inside the restaurant.

Walter's absence left a pasty white, large bellied Midwest tourist in a parking lot with two lovely children. No one moved or breathed so lizard friend would not be frightened away from his sunbeam into the secret places of the car never to be seen again until at some future moment he found his way onto my shoulder.

When my adrenaline almost reached a tipping point, Walter did return, put on his superhero cape (after taking a picture of course) and rescued his family from a lizard trapped inside a minivan.

Well, we thought we were rescued until we arrived at our next destination 30 minutes later opened Amelie's stroller only to discover our lizard friend was not just an expert at breaking into locked vehicles, but a stowaway as well.

And so we said goodbye to lizard friend and mommy tried to keep her overprotective self in check for the rest of the trip. Really he did give us a good story, right?

15 February 2011

Flamingos, stingrays and lizards

Oh Anna Maria, I miss you already. Time to read and knit for hours. Those sunrises that called my husband out of bed.

Amelie's favorite pink shell that she carried tightly gripped in her fist.
Bunk beds where Asher allowed his sister to come play!
Sandcastles that turned into Sand Faces
Crab sandwiches with legs and pinchers.
Bundling on the beach praying the sun would reemerge one more time before setting.
Flamingos nibbling from outstretched hands.
But Lizards and stingrays - you can stay in your place and I'm happy your place is 20 hours from mine.

31 January 2011

The right thing

Do you ever feel like doing the right thing takes way more effort than it should?

My Jeep hit a "No parking" sign two weeks ago on a night when it was way too icy for any sane person to be out on the roads. The sign didn't get knocked to the ground, but wasn't standing up right anymore. No big deal, right? If I had a hammer and ladder, I could have gone out and straightened the sign myself. Really, it wasn't that bad! But the insurance adjuster insisted I needed to file a police report because I was liable for damage to the sign.

At the police station, I waited for an interesting hour to provide information about my crime of hitting a sign. While there, I listened to stories of reasons other people come to the police station and smiled over my situation of being there to report an injured sign.

Much effort to do a good thing.

Then at Borders, I developed a funny friendship with one of the salespeople when she tried to charge me 80% off a regularly priced item and eventually slipped it in my bag without charging me for it at all. At a stoplight while I waited to go pick up our Sunday evening pizza, I checked the receipt and realized she had given me the puzzle for free. Agh!

I really didn't want to steal a wooden doll puzzle! I had a 33% off coupon and Borders rewards, but intended to pay what I owed.

Doing a good thing meant our pizza got cold, a trip back into the store, and $10 coming out of my wallet.

Again, much effort to do a good thing, and I wondered why it's so hard to do what is right.

Then last night, I read this verse: "...If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. " (1 Peter 2:20-21)

I hardly count my waiting at the police station and a trip back to Borders suffering, but I'm reminded that doing the good thing isn't going to be easy. The world, as beautiful as it is, has a bent towards sin and the bad. Trying to bend it back towards the good does take effort and sometimes requires going out of my way.

But it is the example of Jesus, and the one I want to follow.

17 January 2011

Land Mines

This picture is not posted to show how messy Asher's room. is. And it's not a display of his favorite toys that he spends hours playing with. This is the battlefield of his room that I walk through to get to his bed.

Those aren't castles, pirate islands, and knight lookouts. Those are landmines! If you could look closely, you would see each knight and pirate is looking a specific direction. They are holding weapons and wearing helmets and if you gave Asher a pop quiz, he could instantly tell you that the wolf knight is wearing a helmet with antlers, carrying a dagger and sword while the lion knight has a feather in his helmet and mace in his hand.
As my belly gets larger and my balance gets worse, I fear going to sit on Asher's bed to read him a story or to give him a goodnight kiss. The fear is that I might accidentally knock over one of those knights and set off a battle over where I should put him back. We had such a battle the other day:

Asher: "Mom, did you knock over a pirate?"
Me: "Yes, I'm sorry my foot brushed against him."
Asher:"Please put him back on the island."
(This drama now includes 5 minutes of me stepping cautiously around the rest of the carefully placed knights and pirates trying to figure out where the 'island' is)
Asher: "No, mom, that's not the island."
Asher: "Agh, mom that is not the island."
Asher (through gritted irritated teeth): "Mom, put him on the island."
Me: "Oh, you mean the dock?" replacing the pirate to the correct perfect location.
Asher: "Yes, the island. You should be more careful when you walk in my room."

I regularly accidentally knock over something, a ladder, a tiny bird, one of the dinosaurs who can't stand very well on carpet, but Asher will wake out of a sound sleep the second he hears that quiet noise of something tiny falling onto carpet.
"Mom! Did you knock over one of my knights!?"
"No sweetie, I twisted my ankle and bruised my cheek, but the knights are just fine."

10 January 2011

People first

Do you have a "to do" list for today?

I do. It's not even 6:30 in the morning, and I've added five more things to the outstanding list from yesterday.

As I look over the tasks I want to complete;

laundry
pay bills
put away piles of papers
enter commitments on calendar
call the eye dr.

I don't see anything about a person.

Absolutely that laundry will make sure my family has clothes to wear, we will continue to have electricity and water and heat if I pay the bills and our calendar ensures we get where we need to be. The focus of the list is to clean and organize.

This morning, I read God's words in Zechariah saying, "You're interested in religion. I'm interested in people." And as I looked at my list, I have to agree that yes, this list of things I want to do today clearly shows I'm interested in getting things done. In fact, I didn't have it on my list but mentally I just checked "quiet time" off my list subconsciously checking "being a Christian" off of my list of things to do today.

This verse and my time with Asher last night are reminding me that this completed check list is not what God is wanting from me.

Last night, Asher found me reading a book I had picked up hoping to make progress in since I've been stuck on it for way too long. He quietly came beside me and I heard,
"Mommy I want to spend time with you."
"Will you come upstairs and be with me."

Of course I set that book down quickly and agreed to be with my boy. He wanted to snuggle with me into the sleeping bag we still had set up on the floor in our extra bedroom and zip it all the way up. We looked at a magazine with knight figurines he dreams of owning, looked through the Sir Hugo book and talked about going to school tomorrow.

My pregnant belly squished underneath me and I wondered if I would be able to breathe much longer, but the time was absolutely worth it.

Time in a sleeping bag with my son wasn't on the list of things to do last night, but no doubt I made the right choice.

And God reaffirmed this morning that choosing people over ritual is always His best.

06 January 2011

2011 story of quiet purpose

The list of what I want to do in 2011 is longer than I can neatly package in a paragraph story, but the highlights can be summarized with the following...

At the end of next year, I want to find myself waking early to spend quiet moments alone. Quiet moments alone and newborn baby don't naturally fit into the same year, and this is why I'm setting the importance of my space before it gets invaded again.

Journals filled with daily writings will stack in my bedroom along with titles of writing books I have read. Prayer journals will contain purposeful petitions for the heart change of my easily angered boy and my girl who needs to begin receiving discipline. Continued prayers for my husband as we again prepare to embark on two study seasons I hope to live with much less complaining as I pursue love rather than endurance.

There isn't as much on my list to physically do this year. I look at my empty bookshelves and should add decorate and personalize but I've caught a phobia of clutter and too much stuff! Maybe I will attempt to avoid bringing into my house anything I'm not absolutely in love with.

My one practicality among this year of quiet writing and prayer is to transform those weed boxes behind our house into garden boxes. Because planting time falls smack in t he middle of baby and study time this challenge is magnified even greater than my gardening inexperience alone.

And so that's it. Not short and sweet, more rambling and drawn-out. A year of reflection and preparation. This time maybe not through action, but certainly with purpose.

03 January 2011

Story of 2010

I still hate New Years resolutions. Ok, hate is a strong word. But I strongly dislike the band wagon of making promises that will soon be forgotten. Every year I fight the desire to make lists, just because making lists is fun, and the pull towards contemplation over what life ideally could be like.

Until I read Don Miller's challenge to live a good story. Live a good story by planning a good story.

So last January, I wrote the story I wanted to live in 2010, and surprisingly, this story stuck in my mind throughout all of the year. I remembered the details of what I wanted my life to be throughout the year, and the story I lived looks fairly similar to the one I told.

The January 2010 story envisioned
  • Living in a new house with an open kitchen (check!)
  • Being published in a place I can physically hold (check! Thanksgiving Tales)
  • Reading more books (check! Thank you Book Club!)
  • Intentionally spending date time with Walter (little checks, but still needs work for a big check)
  • Running a race (umm...thanks to Baby #3, uncheck)
After we moved, my running became more regular, I found a great route and my body started to get into the routine of waking early, lacing up shoes, and pushing itself towards running longer distances...and then the morning sickness began. I know running during pregnancy can be just fine, but with my clumsy feet that trip over every crack and bump in the sidewalk I never trust myself to run while carrying a baby (inside or outside). So this goal was postponed.

The story of 2010 turned out way better than I could have hoped.

Later this week I hope to put together the story I want to live in 2011.