Thursday, August 26, 2010


Yesterday was a long one. I had a dozen errands to run (I'm not exaggerating), so I filled up the water bottles, packed our lunches and grabbed some CDs for the road. We wove our way around Clark County, occasionally hitting our destinations on time, but mostly running late. By the time we got to Bethie's gym class, I was down to only two kids in the car, both of whom held melting milkshakes. Schoolhouse Rock songs were stuck in my head, I was hot, and I was starting to feel carsick.

It was about this time that Little Miss Avery Kate developed a look on her face. A look that spoke volumes. Volumes as in, "Uh-oh . . . I guess I don't have to go potty anymore . . . ." Miss Kate was in need of a change of clothes. As luck would have it, the kids had just cleaned -- and vacuumed, bless their hearts -- the van, so there was no chance of me finding a stray article of clothing wadded conveniently under a seat. I toyed with the idea of dressing her in a Trader Joe's bag, but decided against it.

So I shooed Bethie into her class and whisked Avery back to the van. I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do, so I just started to drive. It didn't take long, though, before I instinctively veered toward my friend's house. Annie lives only minutes from the gym, and I knew that she would happily provide something more practical than a paper bag. I walked up the front steps and the door swung open. Her bright smile welcomed us as I made known the reason for our unexpected visit. She invited us in and ran upstairs to grab some clothes.

Once Avery was comfortable, I prepared to head back out into my whirling day. But Annie stopped me with one simple question: "Would you like a cup of tea?" As much as I wanted to stay, I hesitated. I didn't want to intrude. I was in rush mode and couldn't stop. I looked at the clock and knew I had only a few minutes to spare. She, too, was on her way out. "I have a pot all ready," she offered temptingly. It was all the encouragement I needed. I smiled with gratitude and sank my weary body into the kitchen chair. Avery, thrilled, dashed off to find the cats.

Now, it always amazes me how much conversation can be crammed into 30 minutes. It's remarkable really. But Annie and I managed to cover quite a few topics in our given time. We laughed, we groaned, we raised our eyebrows, we sighed, and we laughed some more. I finally looked at the clock once again and knew it was time to leave. Avery released the cats, I thanked my friend for sharing her time and her quiet (her kids were gone for the afternoon), and we parted ways.

As I drove from there, my heart was filled with a refreshing peace -- a peace that was much needed in my day. I knew it was partly from the opportunity to sit for a minute and calm myself amid the rush. But it was more than that. I realized that this spontaneous time with my friend had filled me with peace because she had welcomed me just as Jesus would have done.

I reflected on the actions that took place during our brief visit and really, they mirrored the actions of her Savior. There was nothing contrived, nothing artificial. Just genuine friendship. She welcomed me with open arms and a warm smile. She met my physical needs. She gave me her time. She gave me words of encouragement. She listened. She made me laugh. She shared meaningful verses from her well-worn Bible. And in so doing, she moved in me the desire to seek a deeper relationship with my heavenly Father.

Back at the gym, I loaded up the girls and my day whirled on. I had several more stops to make. The temperature was rising and dinnertime was fast approaching. The girls were tired and I knew that we had miles to go before I could rest. But even so, my heart was at peace. Thirty minutes with a child of God has a way of doing that.

Mary Cassatt's "Five O'Clock Tea"
Pin It

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Story Interrupted

Tonight Avery chose Corduroy. I'm never quite sure what to expect when Little Miss Avery Kate snuggles close for a bedtime story. Tonight, however, she made her intentions quite clear. I opened the book, read the title and author and began:

"Corduroy is a bear who once lived in the toy department of a big store . . . ."

Cue Avery. "Mommy? Can you make voices?" she wonders.

"Yes, honey, I can make voices." I continue:

"Day after day he waited -- " I am interrupted.

"The same voices you usually make," she clarifies.

"Okay, the same voices," I assure.

"Day after day he waited -- "

"The bear voice for the bear," she explains. "And the people voices for the people."

We finally get things clarified (somewhat) and she listens to a complete sentence or two. Then the questions fire at a rapid rate. "Is it really a palace? Where is his button? Why did he put him on the shelf like that? Is that his button? Can you do silly voices? The same silly voices. The same silly voices for the bear and the same silly voices for the people . . . ."

Her steady flow of dialogue makes me smile as I think about our upcoming school year. I've ordered Five in a Row for Avery's kindergarten curriculum, a literature based program that involves reading the same picture book for five days in a row. From each book springs a variety of simple teaching opportunities in areas such as science, geography, art and social studies. As I recently read the text's introduction, it suggested that through using this approach I'll "discover [my child] asking more questions than ever before."

This promise causes me to stop in my tracks and breathe deeply. I know it's true. Avery's heard Corduroy a dozen times, yet she comes up with new questions with every retelling. Am I ready for even more questions? (And perhaps even more importantly, just how many silly voices will I be required to make this year? My repertoire is limited.)

But I know -- and honestly love the fact -- that those steady questions provide a unique glimpse into my child's world. When Avery asks, she's giving me an opportunity to teach (and listen!). And this is how she learns. She's interacting with the text, applying concepts to her own life and attempting to make sense of it all. She's learning to approach literature in a logical manner, glean truths that mirror the values we teach at home, and one day offer critiques on the countless materials that will fly her way as she grows into a young woman.

I'm sure I'll answer thousands of questions this year. And I'm sure I'll be called upon to make dozens of silly voices. I'm also aware that it will probably take me thirty minutes to make it through a ten minute story, just like it did tonight. But as I sit down for another dramatic retelling of Corduroy or Make Way for Ducklings or Peter Rabbit, I pray that I'll embrace each "Once upon a time" that comes our way. For a woman-in-the-making awaits breathless -- if not speechless -- at my side.
Pin It

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fuzzy Head

I've been fighting a cold for a few days -- that Kathleen Kelly "my head's getting fuzzy" kind of cold. It's a strange thing to have a stuffy nose in 90 degree weather. I'm not a fan. The problem with a cold (aside from the sneezing and the blowing and the aching), is the fact that I always feel that I should still be productive. It's not like I'm lying prostrate with a fever, I just have a fuzzy head that's about to explode.

So Saturday morning, as I was willing the cold to behave nicely, or perhaps even end up being just allergies instead, I decided to get groceries. I really wanted to put it off, but the cupboards were bare. I heavily applied the hand sanitizer and zipped through my list as quickly as I could, sneezing only once on the samples. Just kidding. The kids were very helpful, but in retrospect I've realized that it's not a great idea to shop while ill.

I first realized this when I got home and decided that I'd like to soothe my head with a cup of tea. I reached for the new box of Trader Joe's Earl Grey. It wasn't there. I paused. How did that happen? It was on my list. I dug through my purse and double checked. Yep -- the list said "tea." I remembered being in that aisle, I remembered thinking "tea," and I had even crossed it off my list. But it wasn't in my cupboard, and it wasn't on my receipt. Rats. Fuzzy head.

I started to scan the pantry and fridge to find further evidence of lapses. No orange juice. Rats. I always get orange juice. Three cartons, in fact. But not a one to be found. I did grab the hot dogs . . . but no hot dog buns. Rats. And where was Aidan's soy milk? Oh drat. I later told Jamie about my shopping problem. He smiled kindly and commented, "Yeah, I was thinking it all looked a little . . . disjointed."

Well, my disjointed head wasn't a whole lot better on Sunday morning. I did feel well enough to get the kids out the door to church, though. Jamie had to be there early for a meeting, so unfortunately he wasn't around to guard against the effects of my fuzzy head. But I managed to iron a few things and pile the kids into the van anyway. I signed Avery into her class and noticed the very large costume jewelry she had decided to wear. Oh well. She's only four.

Last night as my head hit the pillow, the fuzz cleared just enough for me to suddenly realize that Aidan hadn't worn the outfit to church that Jamie had ironed for him. He had worn his swim shorts. I seriously doubt he was anticipating baptism. I'm guessing that instead he picked up on mom's fuzziness and thought he could get away with something. I couldn't help smiling as I sniffled myself to sleep, thankful that my mistakes this weekend weren't terribly scandalous. At least he had on shorts.
Pin It

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August? September? Bring it On.

We left for High School Raft Camp in July. (Okay, it was July 31st. But still July, right?) We were completely removed from technology (this can be a blessed thing, I'll have you know), so as I sat down to my journal along the banks of the Salmon River one morning, I had absolutely no idea what the date was. I didn't even really know what time it was -- we kept crossing the time zone. Mountain. Pacific. Mountain. Pacific. (I'm a pathetic judge of time anyway. Just ask my husband.) So I picked a date from mid-air, jotted it down and put a question mark next to it. Then I came home and found out that a whole week had gone by. It was August. I panicked. How did that happen? August? That meant it was almost September. Which, of course, meant that school was just around the corner.

I became sullen. As I sorted heaps of sandy laundry I had visions of enrolling all four children in the nearest school. Then I became even more sullen. Not really what I wanted to do. (I have learned that it is never a good idea to make rash decisions when overly fatigued.) I sorted. I took deep breaths. I sorted. I pictured all of the curriculum I still needed to order. I scratched my arm. (Did I mention the hives?) And I thought. I thought long and hard. It's not natural to feel spiritual when you're tired and itchy and thinking that life would be so much better if you could always live by the river with a bunch of fun teenagers and college students to play with and never face the responsibilities of home again. (They even cooked for me and entertained my children! I was so spoiled.)

Deep down I knew what I needed to do. I glanced at the clock. Funny. 3:30 -- my time. My time with Him. Somehow, it usually hits around then. I put the kettle on the burner and fished my Bible and journal from out of the suitcase. The pages fell open to 1 Thessalonians, and I was reminded of the great teaching that was shared at camp. I brushed the grains of sand from the binding and flipped back to Matthew. I found the words that were shared from the pulpit on Sunday, the words that my heart craved:

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled." Matthew 5:6

And I knew that that was what I wanted. To be filled, to be blessed, long after the filling and blessing I received at camp had faded. The emptiness, which often prompts selfishness, stems from a desire to be filled. I've been around long enough to know that human nature tries to fill the void with things that won't actually fill -- media, food, clothes, addictions, you name it. But there it was before me. The answer. Jesus told me how to be filled: My beloved Julianna, I want you to hunger and thirst . . . for righteousness. And His promise to me? You will be blessed and filled. Forever.

So I asked the Lord to direct my cravings and appetites toward righteous living. I asked Him to help me choose the tasks in my day -- and even the periods of rest -- in a way that would bring life and righteousness into my home. And He gave me His Word:

I will guide you in paths of righteousness . . .
(Psalm 23:3)

Savoring the promise, I swallowed the last drop of tea and glanced at the clock. Pacific Time. Time to see about dinner. Time to walk in righteousness.

Pin It


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...