Friday, July 29, 2011

Pajama Run!

My heart raced just a tad as we tried to calmly put the children to bed. We pretended like everything was quite normal, with teeth brushing, story choosing and pajama donning all taking place at their usual time.

We gently shut the bedroom doors and waited a minute. Jamie and I stood in the hallway, gave each other the okay, and then shouted, "Pajama run!" The children (minus Drew, who was at a friend's house) looked like it was an emergency of some sort. "Everyone out!" Jamie ordered. They hesitated, and then climbed slowly out of bed.

It will be helpful to point out here that Little Miss Avery Kate does NOT appreciate the unexpected. Shocking, I know. She likes to know exactly what is going to happen at any given time. So the foreign shout, "Pajama run!" did not intrigue her in the least. She glared. She scowled.

Bethie and Aidan glanced at each other and figured that whatever it was, it couldn't be too bad. Avery wasn't so sure. "What's a pajama run?" she demanded, eyebrows still firmly meeting in the middle as we made our way downstairs.

Jamie played along for a bit and explained, "Well, it's where we all go outside . . . and run around in our pajamas."

Miss Kate was not impressed. "This is stupid."

When we piled them into the van, they began to suspect that something fun was afoot. "Are we going to JJ Jump?" Miss Kate turned hopeful.

"Are we going to get a dog????" Aidan was thinking big.

We helped them narrow their guesses until they finally figured it out. We were headed to Dairy Queen. At ten o'clock! They giggled and squirmed in their seats, and were delighted when they each received their very own ice cream treats. Miss Kate chose a chocolate cone. With sprinkles. I think it was at this point that she finally saw the merits of a pajama run.

We headed back home, licking and dripping and smiling. It was a good surprise. And I'm sure we'll do it again sometime soon. But, shhhhh! Don't tell the kids!

The "Pajama Run" idea comes from a post over here . . . .
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Cousins Go to the Library

One of my very favorite places to visit is the public library. In fact just the other day I had a rare two hours to myself to go shopping at the mall. I came home with a top . . . and a library book. I later relayed this information to my sister who raised her eyebrows with something akin to disdain.

But this same sister was also eager to suggest that "The Cousins" visit the new library in downtown Vancouver. So Monday afternoon, we loaded up the vans and got our first glimpse of the fancy new house of books. It wasn't cozy and quaint, which is what I prefer in a library, but it was fun and impressive. The kids had a blast. And they didn't even need to worry about being quiet; the entire third floor is dedicated solely to children.

Come and join us at the Vancouver Community Library . . .

Where even walking through the front door is exciting. And twirly. (We left many fingerprints.)

It kind of has a children's-museum-meets-library atmosphere. Lots of cool structures and, of course, plenty of recycled materials. Because that's what we do in the 'Couv.

Bethie was in heaven. She could read all day. She does read all day.

The techno-savvy cousins, Clara and Little Miss Avery Kate . . .

Eden and Athan . . . er . . . I mean Ethan and Aidan . . . .

And finally my Little Miss, enjoying some solitude on the upper deck with Clifford, the Big Red Dog.

When we got back to the vans, we realized that Avery had left her doll "somewhere in the library." This is rather unfortunate in a place that boasts five levels and 83,000 square feet.

Thankfully, I happened to notice that there was a play section filled with dolls on the children's level. I ran back inside and sure enough, Miss Kate's doll, Mary Lynn, had been scooped up by someone and deposited in the play area. She had been completely undressed (Mary Lynn, not Miss Kate), with every stitch of clothing strewn hither and yon.

I explained to the little boy that was playing with Mary Lynn that Mary Lynn belonged to my daughter. I was grateful that he relinquished the doll without causing a scene. I scanned the floor for her attire, not sure of what she had been wearing when Avery had so carefully dressed her that morning. A kind gentleman helped by picking up piece by piece of doll clothing, "Is this it? Is this it?"

We eventually found it all, including a pair of tiny purple panties. It will be some time before I can erase the image of this older man lifting the wee undergarments and raising his eyebrows to ascertain whether or not they belonged to Mary Lynn. They did. I blushed. And high-tailed it back to the vans where my sister and eight children were eagerly awaiting my return.

There's never a dull moment, I tell you. Never a dull moment. Even at the library.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Pardon my dust. A little blog T-W-E-A-K-I-N-G under way. Thank you, friends!
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Friday, July 22, 2011

My Sanctuary, My Chorus

The other day I watched a short video, featuring a porch chat between Ann Voskamp and Renee Swope. The main focus of their visit was "framing God's gifts," or as Renee phrases it, "framing the moments and messes so we can see God in them and worship Him there." God is the artist, and we bring Him glory by focusing our attention on His masterpieces in our lives.

It was a great message, but I found that my heart was most drawn to a casual side comment made by Renee. The two laughed over the chaos of kids, the inevitable messes and mayhem. Renee brought a new light to this oh-so-familiar situation: "This is your sanctuary, and your children are your chorus."

Did you catch that? Let me repeat it:

This is your sanctuary, and your children are your chorus.

My home is my sanctuary. In this home we aim to embrace peace over strife, humility over pride and love over selfishness. Does it always happen? No. But because the Holy Spirit dwells among us, we are able to experience a love and a peace that the world cannot fabricate.

And how about my children? My messy, noisy, bickering offspring? They . . . are my chorus. Oh, dear. And what is my little quartet singing about? Well, it's not always harmonious, I can tell you that.

So it got me to thinking: How does a sanctuary embrace an unwieldy chorus? Because the bickering, even if it lessens, is a given. The selfishness, even when slightly tamed, is still a beast that rears its ugly head on a daily basis. How on earth do we make a joyful noise unto the Lord?

I don't have all the answers, but this is what I've been thinking about all weekend:

What if it's my reaction to the chaos that makes my home a sanctuary and my children a chorus?

A choir cannot harmonize if the director is wallowing in a selfish stupor. Nor will a joyful noise be made if the director is yelling and pointing fingers at the off-key sopranos. The most joyful noise will come from a chorus that loves its music. It will come from the people who cannot help but raise their voices in song because it's what they were made to do.

If contagious joy and worship are modeled by the director (yes, even in the messes and mayhem) then that little choir will be quick to catch on. And before you know it, a symphony of praise will swell from within those walls, bringing light and life to a home that has been miraculously transformed from a simple dwelling place into a holy sanctuary.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ten Reasons Why Rain Isn't So Bad

I woke up not to the sound of birds chirping and the slant of sunlight streaming through the window. No, I woke up to the sound of rain on the rooftop. Again.

If you live in SW Washington, then you are likely aware of the fact that it's been a Very Rainy Year. (If you are not aware of this, then please go see a doctor.)

I'd like to plan a camping trip with my family. But we might get soaked.

I'd like to lick a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone with my kiddos. But we might freeze.

I'd like spend a day at Seaside. But the drizzle and fog might prevent us from actually seeing the ocean.

In an attempt to remain optimistic, I have devised a list: Ten Reasons Why Rain Isn't So Bad. Because even rain can be a blessing, right? Here goes.

1. More rain means fewer seasonal allergies. We only had to buy two boxes of Claritin this year instead of fifteen.

2. The lawn and flowers are watered naturally and without cost. Hooray for the evergreen state.

3. It doesn't matter if I lose the sunblock. Again. We likely won't need it, anyway.

4. I don't have to worry about putting away last season's clothes. We're still wearing jeans and sweaters.

5. The nights are cool and comfortable -- perfect for sleeping.

6. The weather is ideal for making the cozy meals I love, like oatmeal for breakfast and soup for dinner.

7. My children are avoiding common summer maladies, such as sunburn, skinned knees and bee stings.

8. I can just go on drinking my cream-laced tea while curled up under a blanket with a book.

9. It doesn't matter if my toenail polish gets chipped. I'll probably be wearing socks anyway.

10. A drizzly day makes it easier to stay focused on the housework that needs to be done. No warm sun beckoning me, tempting me to set aside my responsibilities and frolic on sandy shores. No sirree. Just drizzly responsibility. Isn't it great?

There now. Ten whole reasons to love the rain. What would you add to the list? I'm sure there are more. I'm just having a hard time thinking of them.

The Umbrellas, Renoir
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Thursday, July 14, 2011


I was scrambling to get Bethie out the door to the gym. The kids had been playing down the street, and just as it was time to leave, they ran up to inform me that they had found a wallet. I quickly checked to see if there was some form of ID and then checked my watch to figure out how late we'd be if I called the police right away.

We'd definitely be late.

Huffing and puffing in frustration, I ran back into the house. I looked up the number for the police department and handed it to Drew. "Can you take care of this? We're gonna be late."

He gladly took responsibility, but when he called he received a message that it was after hours.

By this time I was too frazzled to think clearly. Bethie had to be at the gym in less than ten minutes, I had no idea what to make for dinner, the house was a wreck, and Miss Kate entered the room wearing her sixth outfit for the day. I tossed up my hands and said, "I can't think about this right now. Wait 'til Dad gets home." It was definitely a Scarlett moment.

Out we stormed to the gym. I'm not quite sure what came over me. (My sin nature, perhaps?) But all I could think about on that drive was how inconvenient it was to have a responsibility thrust upon me that I didn't ask for. Why didn't the kids just leave it in the road for someone else to take care of? Good grief.

When we finally arrived home, Jamie instructed Drew to call 911 and explain the situation. I was proud of my son. He made the call without hesitation.

We didn't know it at the time, but when Drew's name appeared on the police computer, a friend of ours recognized his name and eagerly offered to take the call. He arrived on the front porch, in uniform, of course, and the kids were ecstatic.

This alone was enough to make me realize that inconveniences are not always such a bad thing. I recall Howard Hendricks saying that "human interruptions are often divine invitations." Well, this interruption was an invitation to see my son behave responsibly and enjoy the pleasure of watching my kids interact with a friend in uniform.

It was at this point in the evening that I sat down to write this little post. I intended for it to end right about here. But the Lord had other plans.

Somewhere after the third or fourth paragraph was written, the children called me in, ready for their bedtime story. We were just finishing the last page when I heard a soft knock at the door. It was our officer. He shared with us that the owner of the wallet was extremely grateful to have it returned, and asked if the boy who found it could be given the $20 it contained.

Drew was pleased, but not as pleased as I was a few minutes later when he said, "You know, Mom, this really should be all of ours." I raised my eyebrows, wondering what he had in mind. "I'm not the only one who found it." He quickly gave a little math lesson to his siblings, explaining how they could each get $5 out of the deal.

My kids are all pretty busy right now, mentally spending their big bucks. And I'm busy too. I'm busy thanking God that this post has an even better ending than I had envisioned, and that what I see as an inconvenience, He sees as an opportunity to help my children grow.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

The Chosen Weed

She and I put our heads together, leaning quietly toward the vibrant blossoms. The intricacies of each vein, the bold colors thrown out like rays from miniscule centers were a feast for our delighted eyes.

We continued down the path and spotted another cluster. This time bright pink. Ahead, even more. Snow white blossoms. Soon, they were everywhere. Some clusters contained a combination of colors. White streaked with flaming magenta. Pale pink streaked with crisp white. We were entranced.

The guys were eager to get to the next mile marker, but we girls lagged awhile to feast on the beauty.

As we bent over a particularly beautiful cluster of wildflowers, we were approached by a solitary hiker. He sauntered over, hands in his REI pockets. "From the carnation family," he blurted out deeply.

I was a bit startled, but then smiled and said, "Really? They're so beautiful!"

He sauntered away, "Yeah, but they're definitely weeds."

I caught Jamie's eye. He knew what I was thinking. Since when does the term "weed" automatically make something ugly?

They were beautiful to me.

That night I headed to dear ol' Wikipedia to look up the "weed." Guess what? It was Sweet William. I couldn't wait to teach the girls a new wildflower name to tuck away in their little minds. As I continued to read, I found one more irresistible piece of information.

Apparently, Kate Middleton chose to include a spray of Sweet William in her bridal bouquet, honoring her husband-to-be.

A "weed" made royal? The unwanted brought to a place of honor? The common named beautiful?

Sounds heavenly. Sounds strangely . . . familiar. Check this out:

Never again will you be called "The Forsaken City" or "The Desolate Land." Your new name will be "The City of God's Delight" and "The Bride of God," for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.

Claimed as his bride. Beautiful, honored, chosen.

A weed? Perhaps. A beauty? Definitely. Isn't it amazing what happens when we're chosen?

Isaiah 62:4
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Thing

What is the first thing you see in the morning? For me, it varies. Sometimes I see absolutely nothing, save the alien green glow of the alarm clock. This is because my husband has trouble sleeping at night and we need to black out the windows. The faintest hint of a streetlight is bad news.

But when the strong morning sunlight is able to creep around those rare little cracks in the shade, I can finally see, even if it's just a hazy little bit of my surroundings. The room gradually comes to life as my eyes adjust. Sometimes I see something unexpected, such as a small child peering over the edge of my pillow. (This can still be terrifying, even after thirteen years of parenting.)

Occasionally, the first thing I see is a little note slipped under the door: "Drew and I are gonna play Wii. You can come down and say 'yes' or 'no.'" Such thoughtful children. Giving me permission.

Often, my first glimpse is something rather prosaic. Say, my husband's armpit or the legs of the ironing board. These things -- children, pits, scribbled notes -- come to me without my choice. They just are.

But some things are chosen. The things I get to choose to put before my eyes first thing in the morning.

Spurgeon writes, "Let us not see the face of man today till we have seen Jesus."

Now, I can't help seeing the face of man. There's one right next to me every morning. But I can still choose to see Jesus.


By going to His Word before I go to the words of another. Before I read the next chapter in my book, before I open my email, glance over a blog, or review facebook updates -- before I let any of it become the grid through which I view my day, I want to have His Words first.


I'll tell you. He told me Himself, just this morning:

This is what the Lord says -- Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea."

Doesn't it make sense to go first to the One who teaches what is best? To the One who directs in the way I should go? To the One who longs to fill my days with peace and righteousness?

This is where I want to be. This is the grid through which I want to view my day. If I read no other words this day, these are the Words I need to see. The first words, the Living Word.

* * * * * *

I take my morning lap around the park. The first several verses of Colossians have become a part of me. The words come, unbidden. They swirl in my mind, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, . . . ." A pair of swallows rush circles around my feet, the iridescent blue of their wings flashing beauty. ". . . We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . ." My pace quickens. The words continue. "All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing . . . ." The swallows dance. The beauty follows. And it won't go away.

Isaiah 48:17-18
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Friday, July 1, 2011

And We're Off!

Looking forward to sharing this joyful rhythm of "Knowledge, Health, and Beauty" with you this summer, my friends!

Today I enjoyed the beauty and health of a wonderful picnic lunch prepared by my dear sister (who understood how wiped out I'd be at the end of Vacation Bible Camp!). As for knowledge? Let's just say it was an absolute delight to open and share the Word of God with twenty third graders this week!

How are you pursuing these today? Might you share? We'd love to take a peek into your heart!

(And have a happy Fourth!)

Illustration by Kate Greenaway
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