Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday morning musings . . .

This morning, as I sit on my couch, Daniel sleeping beside me, the sun streams in my east window, making patterned imprints of light on the walls, the floor. A warm orange glow fills the room. Geese fly over my house, honking their morning greetings. I think of Joe when I hear geese. He talks of them as part of his better boyhood memories. He stops to listen when they fly by. He likes their trumpet calls. And because they make me think of him, I do too.
This weekend was busy, but productive. The remodel at mom's is coming along, slowly but surely. It will be very lovely when it is all done, and then we can relax and enjoy it!! The kitchen is looking like a kitchen again, and not an earthquake zone. Isaac helped us quite a bit this weekend, and Daniel did, too! He was a hard working little helper!
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to share at church about where I have been lately and where God is taking me. I talked about the lies we are told by the enemy of our souls, about who we are and who God is, and how they can take over our lives and render us lifeless and ineffective. But when we remember the truth, that God is a just king, a faithful friend, a good father, and that we are His children, whom He loves and wants good things for, then life abundant follows, and we can live lives of purpose and joy in all things, and effectively fulfill our callings. Really, I just shared my life a bit. Of course, the whole time I was thinking, "I'm not sure any of this is even making sense . . .I don't really have anything to say . . .  " but the response I got from people afterward was amazing and truly, truly humbling. So many people said that I had been able to put into words what they had been thinking and feeling, and that it touched them. I know it was the Holy Spirit talking, and not me, because I could not remember ten minutes after I talked just what I had said. He knew the marks in the hearts of the people my words needed to hit. I felt so encouraged, and very privileged and humbled to be used by God in that way . . . to help and encourage others through my experiences and my words.
After church, we had a quiet Sunday dinner. The boys did some homework, and then I took them to the tennis courts for a while so they could get ready for the tennis tournament the school has coming up this week. Josiah will not play until next year, but he helped his brother get some practice in.
This day is still young. The older boys have gone to school. Daniel sleeps on beside me. I sip coffee and think of things to be done today and throughout this week. I look forward, with hope and renewed truth and purpose and joy. And on this beautiful morning, with sun shining in and geese flying over, and my little one breathing in sleep beside me, I bless the Lord, O my soul. And with all that is within me, I bless His Holy name.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Feeling kind'a . . . green

Beautiful today.
The grass is greening.
The air is warming.
The sun lights up the world.
This new season is growing into itself.
It was the quintessential Spring day.
If you look Spring up in the dictionary, you may very well find this day as the definition.
It was the perfect day for a GQ Baby photo shoot!
And the perfect day for Daniel to ride his tricycle in the school parking lot.
Don't these flowers Josiah and Daniel picked for me from grandpa's yard yesterday look so happy to be sitting in the sunshine? Positively ecstatic!
It was so green today. I could see green. Smell green. I wanted to taste green. So I got some green things. Gorgeous asparagus . . . green peppers, avocados, a little lime. A threw in a few other fresh veggies, and cooked up vegetable fajitas, with some grilled chicken strips on the side. I added some Spanish rice and black beans, and we had a truly delicious, fresh, green meal! Delightful! The best thing about dinner tonight? My two older sons fighting over the asparagus! I actually gave some of the asparagus on my plate to them to keep the peace! Although. . .  it is the kind of argument I wish they always had . . . who will get the last of the vegetables.
It's been a long, full day, and there is much to do tomorrow. I will be working at mom's house all day, getting it ready for new appliances and counter-tops that are arriving next week. So, in the words of Danny, I'm gonna go "take a sleep" now.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Luggage . . . or Baggage? How are you packing you child's suitcase for their life journey?

luggage (image not my own)
Several weeks ago, God dropped a picture on me, and I've been thinking about it ever since.
It was of several parents, standing at a train depot with their children, handing them bags, seeing them off on a long journey.
Some of the bags were beautiful pieces of luggage with neat pockets containing useful items, tools, necessities for every situation that might arise.
Other bags were old, worn, carpet bags full of dirt and rocks and rubble. There wasn't a viable, usable, good, nourishing, practical, or beautiful thing in them. And some parents were handing these bags to their kids. Sending them off.
It was such a clear picture, and it stopped me cold.
It wasn't hard to understand what I was seeing.
I leaned hard on my kitchen counter, and God asked me a very personal, very convicting question.
"Are you packing luggage? or baggage? for your kids' trips into their futures . . ."
He pressed further . . .more questions started to flood in.
"Are you teaching them with your words and you actions about the value of eternal things? Are you showing them how to live, not just telling them? Are you pinning your hopes and dreams on them and not finding out what My hopes and dreams are for them? Are you modeling the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control in your life (Gal. 5:22-23)? Are you teaching them to dwell on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy (Philip. 4:8)?"
In short, what I am putting in my children's suitcases for life?
I must confess, I was not pleased with how I was answering some of these questions.
Now, if you are a parent, you know that everyday you try to nurture, to teach, to love, to show, to mold, to believe, to encourage, to hope, to instruct, to equip. . .to be a good parent,. A great parent, even. To give your kids everything they will need, and, hopefully, nothing they don't, before they leave your home.
Some days . . . most days, perhaps, you hit the mark.
Some days . . .maybe most days, you do not.
For most parents, it's not that we are trying to create baggage for our kids. We would never knowingly do anything to hurt or hinder them.
But when we are not purposeful in our parenting, not mindful of what we are modeling, or when we ask our children to live a life that we aren't living, we are definitely packing just that for them, and we might as well be handing them bags of dirt, sticks, and stones for their journey that will last a lifetime.
We need to be careful that we are not filling them with our expectations, our hopes, our issues, our bitterness, our anger, our pride  . . .that we are not handing them our baggage.
We need to capture our children's hearts. To see them as our brothers and sisters in Christ, for that is what they are, as well as our children. To be about forging real, warm, and deep relationships with them, and not just about monitoring and modifying their behaviors.
Ugh! It all seems so overwhelming!
I mean, we all have baggage.
We'll all damage our children in some way or another. It's inevitable. So why worry too much about it?
Galatians 6:8-10 says, " . . . the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a bountiful harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
If we strive to live with purpose, to teach with our words and our lives, and to love big; if we do good to our children and keep doing good, even when we are tired (which, when aren't we?), then we, and not only we, but our children, will enjoy the bounty of a wonderful, healthy, true and beautiful life filled with joy! And not just a good life here, on earth, but life eternal.
But, wait!
What if we mess up? Or, what if we haven't been living this way?
We repent.
We must tell our children we are sorry. Ask them to forgive our shortcomings. And we change.
We must tell Jesus we are sorry. Ask for His help and His wisdom and His mercy. And we change.
Begin today. Or, begin again today.
I know I did.
I have a new determination to pack my kid's luggage with useful, true, wonderful, necessary, beautiful things . . . and to send them, well equipped, and well loved, on the most important journey they will ever take.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


 Picture of Country Road - Free Pictures -
 (image not my own)
Spring rain,
Gentle as tears we cry when we're happy.
White winter landscape,
a dream fading.
I walk out in it and feel mist on my skin,
I shiver, but I am not cold.
We are in the truck when it starts to really rain . . . hard.
I thank God.
We are safe, dry, warm, in this vehicle that carries us to the next place.
We listen to the pit-pit, pit-pit of pelting rain.
The swish-wish, swish-wish of wipers.
A symphony of rain-sounds fills the space.
A repetitive music, soft and plain, that lulls my son to sleep.
His breathing joins the symphony.
I drive on.
Black mirror pavement stretching out before me, shiny.
Tires slapping rain soaked road.
I carry things more precious than Hope diamonds.
I scarcely breathe.
Always, I drive on.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

La luna . . .

Yesterday was lovely.
The sun was shinning.
It was warm. 
Birds were in their glory again after a day of standing on the sides of the road, frigid and stunned by Spring snow. (Isaac and I kept seeing Robins huddled in the middle of the streets, or along the sides of them when we were out running errands in the storm on Saturday. I almost ran over a few, afraid to break too fast on the slick roads, and kept telling him, "Isaac, I think the birds are in shock! They're acting crazy, sitting in the road!" He said, with 11 year old boy insight, "I think they are trying to stay on the pavement so they can stay warm.")
Yesterday, their songs were trills that thrilled my heart!
It was back to school, and it was good to be there.
In Josiah's backpack, among his "bring home" stuff, was a writing project he had recently done about himself. When I read it, I was amazed at my almost eight year old son. It made my heart fill up with love all over again. (My boys are constantly having that affect on me!)
He was given the first two words of every line, and then had to finishl in the rest. This is what he came up with:
I am Josiah
I wonder if I could be an inventor
I hear birds singing the beautiful song
I see dogs playing
I want to snowboard wen I am ten
I am Josiah
I pretend to be Poseidon
I feel happpy when I am 8
I touch cat's fur
I worry if I die
I cry wen my kitten died
I am Josiah
I understand pictures
I say nice things about friends
I dream if I could go to Egypt
I try to be kind
I hope to be the first man to live in space
What a great way to know what your child is thinking and feeling!
Daniel loves space right now too. He is fascinated with the moon and rocket ships.
Last night, we were heading home from my mom's house, and as he was getting in the car, he looked up and said, "Look at that silly moon! I want to eat it! I want to eat the moon! I'm gonna go up there and get pieces of it, and we can eat it! I'm gonna get a rocket ship and go up to the moon and eat it!"
We were all laughing, and he was laughing.
I tried to caprture him saying all that on the video application on my cell phone, but couldn't figure out how to use it. I thought it was recording, but it was not.
I loved it, though, and want to remember it forever.
It reminded me of George Bailey, in It's a Wonderful Life, telling Mary he would lasso the moon for her, and then she could swallow it and moonbeams would shoot out of the ends of her fingers and toes and her hair . . . I swung Daniel up into the car seat, laughing and straining to keep his eye on that edible moon, and I thought . . . I'd lasso the moon for you, Danny Boy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I have mentioned that I have endured a "winter of the soul" of late.
Several weeks ago, I even told Joe that I have felt like a dying tree.
I was so ready for Spring, both in a literal and spiritual sense.
Ready to shed the heaviness, the cold, the stiffness that had set in.
Ready to walk out barefoot in the grass and tilt my face to the Sun and breathe the warm air full of life.
Ready to reach out my limbs to the heavens, warmed to the point of budding again. Stirred to the roots with living.
I got a taste of it. It was intoxicating. And it woke a hope in my heart that my spiritual stupor was coming to an end . . . a hibernation spell broken by the kiss of a new season.
Which is why I watched in dismay as the sky shook out snow all day yesterday.
"Will it ever change? Will I ever change?"
"Will it be winter forever?"
Not wanting to face the snow, I almost forsook the gathering together today.
I almost stayed home, in hibernation mode.
But I did not.
I listened to words about Jesus the liberator that set me free.
And today, I had an encounter with God that will change who I am forever.
I asked questions.
He answered, and began to heal and affirm.
It was so unexpected.
A sudden burst of life where there was only dying before.
And I knew, no matter what it looks like . . .or even what I feel like (especially what I feel like), Spring is here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

So, this is Spring . . .

This was yesterday.

This was today.
Really, what more is there to say about that?
Instead, I will tell you something I adore about Daniel these days.
Daniel hands out spontaneous words of affirmation lately.
I love it!
The other day he told me "Josiah is a good boy."
He told my mom today, "You're my friend, Meem."
And while he was watching Joe paint the kitchen he said, "My dad's a good guy!"
And in the car on the way home he said, "You're my mom! I love you"
He comes out with stuff like this every once in a while.
Totally unsolicited bits of love.
Gifts of the most precious sort . . . to a mom, and a dad, and a meem.
Another valuable lesson from my young son. . . tell those you love and appreciate often how much you love and appreciate them, and just what you think of them.
It will make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Even if it's a snowy afternoon.
Here is a dimintive snowman my boys made together this afternoon. It was too cold to make one any bigger than this!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A successful St. Patty's Day celebration and some Spring . . .

The irony is, as I write this, we are waiting for a "winter" storm that is anticipated to drop as many as SIX inches of snow on us.
Oh, say it isn't so!
Either Doppler radar is playing a very cruel joke on us, or I put my winter coat away entirely too soon!
Well, the past two days have been gorgeous ones.
The best two days, weather wise, out of the whole break!
Yesterday, we celebrated St. Patty's Day with a meal of corned beef and cabbage and some fresh Irish soda bread!
Daniel was my little chef. "I'm a good helper, mom!" he bragged.
Indeed, he is.
While the bread was in the oven, we took some time to play outside.
Here are some images of Spring.
I will look back at them often during the next few frigid days!
Today, it was back to the painting grind, although things are really coming along!!
I should have taken "before" photos.
But, I did not.
It was a beautiful day today. We had the windows and doors flung open, and the birds were singing sweet songs which floated in on warm breezes. At one point this afternoon, Daniel was sitting on a chair in front of an open window in the kitchen, near where I was painting. He was eating a green apple and looking out at the day he would soon be out playing in. He said to me, "I'm so happy!" It was so out of the blue, I almost cried.
"And what is making you so happy?" I asked.
"This apple. And the sun," he replied.
So simple.
And it made him so happy.
I stopped what I was doing, and watched his curly haired head bobbing in the sunlight streaming in the window. He was chewing his apple and swinging his feet.
It was one of those moments when my children teach me some fundamental truth about life.
And I was listening.
It doesn't take much.
Being near those you love . . . a little warm sunshine . . . a bit of good nourishment . . . put them all together and you have the recipe for sheer joy.
"I'm so glad you're happy," I told him.
He looked at me and smiled, and went back to looking out the window.
I was so tired. I had been painting all day and had some other worries on my mind . . . but after that, I picked up my brush . . . and was happy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This place is a . . . zoo!

It's me.
It's  been a while.
Not months, or anything like that.
But a while (as a friend pointed out last night, ten days!! :)
We've been quite busy this week -- this Spring Break week.
Not at the beach.
Or hiking in the mountains.
We've been trying to keep our house clean for potential buyers.
And we've been renovating my mom's house.
Priming, painting, picking out appliances and flooring and counter-tops, replacing hardware and hinges.
The whole enchilada!
It is a chore.
When this is over, I may never want to paint another thing again in my whole life! I've spent more of this break so far covered in paint than not.
But everytime I am there, I can see what it will soon be.
I smile.
It will be quite nice.
I know we are doing the right thing.
And I smile again.
Peace is a wonderful thing. It helps you live in the chaos of a moment with the promise of contentment and rest and beauty that it paints before your weary eyes. It provides a deep sense of being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
And so, we have been painting cabinets and walls and  . . . everything, really. 
But it hasn't been all work.
Tuesday, Joe and the boys and I went to the zoo!
This is what we saw:
The boys had a great time, and so did Joe and I. Daniel was wide-eyed with amazement at seeing animals he loves and has only seen in books and on t.v. right there, large and real, in front of him.
He especially loved the Rhinos!
Josiah liked the cheetah the best, even though we only got to watch him sunning himself. He did no great feats of speed for us who looked on that day.
Isaac liked the rain-forest the best. He liked the piranhas and little monkeys that live in that habitat.
I think that was my favorite too.
There was a mama sloth hanging right above our heads when we first walked into the rain-forest! She couldn't have cared less about us, but I sure was impressed by her . . . calm and impassive, meditating on the green leaves she sat staring at. If ever there was a zen-like animal, the sloth is it. Oh how I envy the slow calculated intentions of her movements and the serene glaze in her eye. Never mind that she carries the name of one of the seven deadly sins! Once in a while, I'd like to step out of this break-neck speed of life and sit like a sloth.
I liked hearing the lion roar, also. His booming voice calling from his den, thundering and echoing. It sent chills up and down my spine. It made me remember every time I ever read Narnia.
Daniel wanted to take the train ride around the zoo, and so we did. He was so excited!
I'm so glad we took a day to be together, to marvel at the animals and to have fun!
Before leaving, Josiah picked out a stuffed cheetah to bring home. Joe selected a baby jaguar for Daniel, who was sleeping soundly by then, and Isaac . . . well, Isaac is getting older, and just didn't see anything in the gift shop that struck his fancy.
It made me a little sad. It was so . . . grown-up of him.
Have I mentioned that watching my kids grow up is a beautifully painful thing?
It is.
Daniel has said so many funny, cute things . . . I can hardly keep up with it all.
Yesterday, he walked out of the house with this hat on, and said (in his gruffest voice, of course) "Hey! We're cowboys here!"
As if we didn't know!
The other day he told me, "You need to use your magination, mom!" when I said I didn't know how to do something.
Weather wise, there hasn't been a truly nice, warm, sunny day this whole break! Not one. Not yet. But I'm holding out hope. I'm trying not to have cynical thoughts about how stunningly gorgeous it will probably be on Monday.
We did not celebrate St. Patty's Day yesterday (although I did paint my soon-to-be- laundry room a lovely shade of green -- does that count?) so I will make corned beef and cabbage for family dinner tonight, and I will bake some warm, comforting Irish soda bread when I am done posting this.
St. Patty's day --  you know who that makes me think of.
My dad.
*Sigh* I miss you, dad.
The other day, I went into the garage for a hammer. I have never been in there messing with dad's tools. I opened one door to a cabinet where he had some stuff, and the scent of him tumbled out and stumbled into me, clumsily. I did not expect to find my dad there, I'm not sure why. It is where he spent a lot of time. I should have known . . . I took a deep breath, and cried my eyes out. Really. I stood in front of the tool cabinet and cried like I have not cried in a long time. And I said out loud, "Oh dad. I miss you."
I ran my hand over everything.
I couldn't see very well, my eyes were tear-blurred. I wouldn't have recognized much anyway. I'm not exactly tool savvy.
I closed my eyes and I could see him standing there, in his blue work pants and blue tee shirt with the sleeves cut off. His hair was always slightly mussed when he was working on things. But his smile . . . his smile was the same no matter what he was doing.
Gosh dang, I miss that smile.
No painting today, I think.
We'll hit it hard tomorrow and this weekend, but today, I am home with my own little cubs.
I will bake, and fill our home with sweet smells.
I think we will take a trip to the library before going to Gramp's tonight.
This break is flying by.
And just now, the sun is trying to break through . . .
I want to make the most of it.