Thursday, May 30, 2013

{That Kind of Day}

Perhaps it was my fault for serving oatmeal. I've tried to vary the morning menu a bit lately and thought it would be safe to re-introduce the oats after a brief hiatus. Little Miss thought otherwise. Upon seeing me stir something in the three-quart Revere Ware this morning, she knew exactly what that meant.

She glared. She groaned.

I combated it with a spoonful of sugar: "I'm going to add lots of yummy stuff! Like apples and cinnamon and vanilla! It will taste just like a cookie!"

More glaring. "The kind of cookie I don't like."

I kept at it with the Mary Poppins bit and served up. Her glare deepened when I handed her a bowl, although I didn't think it was humanly possible.

And then she leveled me. "I want more."

Oh, it's been that kind of day, folks. We're finalizing our school work, I'm madly pulling together Drew's freshman portfolio, and I have a bazillion other things on the brain. Not the least of which is my daughters' recent enthusiasm for fabric crafts. "We're gonna make a quilt!"

This morning I suggested that Bethie could be Avery's substitute teacher while I graded Washington State History for Drew, an arrangement which they both found to be pretty fun. For the most part. They steeped their tea and snuggled on the couch while reading their Bible . . . and then fought over math. Such love.

As I graded, Aidan and I came across one of Avery's papers. Aidan shrieked, "She's talking about a Corgi wrap!" And pointed to her title. We were horrified to think of her sweet little mind putting dog meat on lavash, until she put us at ease. Apparently it was supposed to be a Corgi Rap.

You've heard it said that punctuation saves lives. Well, apparently the absence of w's does, too.

To top it off, we prematurely ran out of toilet paper. This is likely due to the fact that earlier in the week we ran out of Band-aids.

Did I mention it's been that kind of day? I could go on. But I'm just too tired. So I won't. 

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Friday, May 24, 2013

{The Valley}

We pilgrims must often travel stretches we'd just as soon not travel. The path ahead seems uncertain. It looms dark in the distance, and we wish we could just stay on the mountain top instead and enjoy the view from there. Even as we travel, we know the right words to say. We know with our minds that God is good and that He is faithful and that the path we are on comes as no surprise to Him. He's in control.

Yet still we must trudge through a path that is not of our own choosing.

Someone very dear to my heart is trudging a lonely path right now, and it hurts to watch. I can tell her the words that God is good, and she knows that it is true, but she would just as soon enjoy His goodness from the beauty of a hilltop rather than in the shadows of a valley. I wish I could pull her out. I desperately wish I could pull her out. But sometimes the Lord, in His mysterious sovereignty, keeps us there. We don't know why, but we know Him and we know His goodness, so we trust and obey.

Woman in a Garden by Daniel Ridgway Knight

Yesterday as I was reading through Isaiah 27, my heart was encouraged not only by the goodness of the Lord, but by the specific ways in which He shows us His goodness. Sometimes it helps to latch on to the tangible when we're traveling a dark path. We need a staff, a light, an assurance that we're going the right way and that we're not alone.

I read the words carefully, and as I often do, I picked out the verbs. Our God is a God of action, and it comforts me to study all that He does on my behalf:

Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, will watch over it; I water it continually. 
I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.
Isaiah 27:2-3

I copied the verses in my journal and underlined the action: watch, water, and guard. When I envision the Lord doing this for me, it brings me a new sense of peace and comfort.

I think of Him watching over me, and I am comforted. "Watching" speaks of the Lord's attentiveness and delight and interest in my life. This is incredible. That the Almighty God would watch over me as a farmer eagerly watches the growth of his vineyard. Every day a new delight, a new bud, a new proof of a maturity that only comes as a result of being carefully watched over.

I think of Him watering His vineyard, and I am comforted. "Watering" speaks of the Lord's generosity and sufficiency and His wisdom in knowing what I need and when I need it. He gives in abundance, tending with perfection, and He gives according to my situation and according to how I can be the best little vine I can possibly be.

I think of Him guarding, and I am comforted. "Guarding" speaks of diligence and strength, purpose and love, and a fierce protection that every girl craves. Nothing gets by Him. I think of the Chris Tomlin song:

I know Who goes before me,
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

The God of angel armies. The almighty One. He is with us. He is watching over us, tending us in our every need, delighting in our beauty, and masterfully crafting us to become more radiant than we could ever imagine. 

The valleys won't disappear, and the path won't always stretch out clear and unobstructed before us. But we know one thing for certain: we don't walk it alone. The God of angel armies is our friend -- our friend! -- and He's always by our side. Watching, watering and guarding with His perfect, all-sufficient love.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013


My to-do list has been way too long this month, but I've done a mighty fine job of crossing things off. March, march, marching through my day I attack and cross, attack and cross. And I call it a success.

I've done such a good job that I don't have time for anything else. Like people.

Mary Cassatt

And the realization of this hurts.

I pour a cup of tea and am led to others who feel the same way:

I need to rest. (And not feel guilty about it.)

I need to choose peace. (Even when it's messy and things don't get crossed off my list.)

I need to allow the "floods of trouble" to make me "better not bitter." (And oh, it's raining today.)

You, too, my friends? Let's sip our tea and bask in the goodness of the Lord. We might not get to algebra and those sentences might not get diagrammed and we might not have the energy to scrub that toilet. Again. But there are more important things. More important people. And time spent with people? That's exactly how Jesus spent His time. I think of the many "human interruptions" He endured following His cousin's death (Mt. 14), and the way He continued to give and speak and minister. Because His heart was with people.

And His Father called that a success.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

{Things Unseen}

If you've followed my blog for a while, you are likely aware of the fact that I have a tendency to avoid spending money on things that seem trivial. Such as pot holders. Or towels. I let the old ones wear away to shreds before finally replacing them. I like to call it frugality.

I recently realized that I do the same thing with socks -- my athletic sock supply gradually began to dwindle and thin over the (ahem) years, and I finally faced the fact that I should probably do something about it. So last Monday while Drew was at drums, I hopped on over to Tuesday Morning to see if I could find a yummy deal. I did, and it was such fun to wash them up, fold the plush things and stack them neatly cram them in my sock drawer.

Yes, I took a picture of them.

It was also such fun to wear them. The following afternoon, as per my routine, I hit the neighborhood walking during the kids' lunch hour. My goodness, but my feet were happy. They were soft. They were fluffy. And they actually made a difference in my walk.

Imagine that.

I found myself wondering why I hadn't bought some sooner. Why had I put up with the archaic, thin, nubby things for so long? And then I told myself exactly why: "I'd much rather spend my money on things I can see!" And my mind wandered to the cute top or earrings that I could have gotten instead.

And then my mind kept wandering as my feet kept walking and the Holy Spirit seized the opportunity to whisper to my heart. How much of my energy is spent only on things I can see? How much time? How much money?

What if I was to pour that same energy, that same time, that same money into things . . . unseen?

I bet it would actually make a difference in my walk. 

Imagine that.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, 
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
 2 Corinthians 4:18

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

{If You Were a Book}

The other evening around the dinner table we got to talking about books. Specifically, I was curious to find out which books most represented each person. So I said to the kids, "If you could recommend one book for me to read, what would it be?" Their answers, although not terribly surprising, were fun.

Drew voted for the Harry Potter series. He's read and re-read them so many times that I had his choice figured out in a heartbeat. Bethie suggested the Nancy Drew books. You know what? I've never read one. Isn't that odd? She suggested the second one because it was so scary it made her fall off of her chair. Oh, goody. Aidan was recently very impressed by My Side of the Mountain, so he suggested that I read that one. Little Miss hemmed and hawed, trying to figure out which Ramona Quimby book to recommend. We finally landed on Ramona and Her Mother. Appropriate, no?

Jamie has been encouraging me to read To Kill a Mockingbird for months. Actually, it would be a re-read for me since I read it in high school. But my retention skills are . . . lacking. I plan to jump in soon. (In exchange, he will read A Tale of Two Cities. One of the finer stories every written. Also, it seemed nicer than forcing him to read Jane Eyre.) My mom is breathing down my neck to finally dive into Les Miserables already. Of course I'm looking forward to it, but it's one of those books that takes commitment. I have to pick the right time, you know? And my Dad. I'm guessing he'd suggest a Zane Grey or Louis L'Amour. Or maybe The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Land sakes, my book list is growing. How exciting.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the book that I would recommend is Little Women. It's very me. Are you shocked?

So what's your book? 

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

{Toilet Paper, Dreams and Rotten Eggs}

When I was growing up, we had family friends that we often visited. One of our long-standing traditions was to sneak into their bathrooms and flip all the toilet paper rolls around. They always insisted on putting the rolls on the bar the wrong way, and my sister and I felt that it was our duty to lead them to the path of truth. (The paper rolls over the top, my friends. Over the top. Amen.)

Well, Little Miss never got the T.P. memo. The other day she frantically ran into the master bath and, seeing that she had used up the roll, she kindly replaced it with another. The problem was this: she put it on the wrong way. Later, in an OCD fit, I was about to whip it around when I caught myself. There was nothing really wrong here. In fact, everything was right. She had responsibly replaced the roll and the only difference was . . . her trademark. I left it.

Of course my mind developed all sorts of metaphors about how my inclination was to change my child's behavior rather than to allow her to express herself. (Lately this has also manifest itself in some fabulous outfits and hair-dos. Oh, the way I quietly wrung my hands as she prepared for church this morning. But I held my tongue, folks! I did it!) But really, how often do I try to change something not because it's wrong but simply because it's different? There the roll remained, and I now use it as a reminder to pray for my Little Miss.

Remember those cute little eggs we decorated for Easter? In my mind it made sense to keep them out for a nice long time. They were pretty and festive and provided a lovely addition to our spring centerpiece. The other day as I was wiping down the dining room table, my nose was met with the most horrific odor I have ever encountered. (This from a woman who has changed 2,367,986,563,291 diapers.) I leaned toward the centerpiece and beheld a crack in one of the dear eggs. Oh, friends.

If you've read or seen Charlotte's Web, you will likely remember the part about Templeton's rotten egg. It disgusts everyone, but the readers or viewers can't really experience it unless they've . . . experienced it. Because in illustrations and animation a foul odor is usually represented by wavy lines. There were no wavy lines in my kitchen, dear friends. But it was enough to make me understand that it must be a very, very terrible thing to realize the ramifications of the childhood chant, "the last one there."

Speaking of eggs, let's consider another event which had us in tears this afternoon. Gathered around our Sunday brunch (that's actually the only part that has to do with eggs), the children were talking about anything and everything under the sun. Eventually the conversation worked its way toward dreams, and they began to share the "really weird dreams" they had had last night.

Aidan wove his tale, and we listened to the quaint narrative with eager attentiveness. Well, most of us did. Little Miss was not as amused. As soon as he finished his tale she leveled him. "I make up dreams sometimes, and you look like the kind of person who would make up dreams. It sounds like you're having trouble while you're telling your dream. So I don't believe you. Liar!"

Our faces turned red. We stifled the laughter, but the tears streamed. I blindly fetched the Kleenex to wipe off the mascara that was trailing down my cheeks. We attempted to compose ourselves while explaining that we shouldn't call brother a liar, but it didn't really work. And I'm not even sure what happened next. I'm still crying.
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Thursday, May 2, 2013


This afternoon we closed the books, hopped in the van and headed down to Fort Vancouver.

The sun was warm and a light breeze danced across the hazy blue as we enjoyed a frolic through the 1840s. Drew and a friend were busy capturing video footage of the Fort for a Washington State History project, so we let them do their thing while we enjoyed a pleasant saunter through the various shops and surrounding gardens.

The Fort is not without its modern touches; the QR code threw me for a time-traveling loop.

Can you spy three little people in the center window?

The blacksmith shop (left) and Indian trade shop/hospital/doctor's office/residence. (Very efficient use of space.)

The carpenter's shop proved to be most entertaining (although Little Miss does look like she's in pain).

Our guide, Lee, knew his stuff, and the kids came home bubbling with new thoughts and ideas. There was a whirlwind of conversation at the dinner table tonight as everyone tried to share with Daddy (simultaneously) what they had learned in the shop.

But I think some of my favorite moments on days like today are those in which new thoughts take root . . .

 . . . and inspire.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013


A few months ago I had the privilege of interviewing a few young women in our community for an article which was featured in our local Vancouver Family Magazine:

(You can read the full article here.)

I was impressed by the number of individuals and businesses who have jumped on board to help the founder, Emily Gorchels, in an effort to provide new and gently used nursing bras to mothers in our community who otherwise might not be able to afford them.

Since then, I've been in touch with Emily to see how I might band together with some local moms to contribute a care package to her organization, Bras2Moms. She sent me a list of practical items that she would love to be able to offer to the women who come to her for help.

Mary Cassatt

I've started to collect some items on my own, such as protein bars and a few board books for toddler siblings who might be tagging along. I would love to have your help! If you're interested in adding to the package, I know it would bless the organization and the many women who walk through their doors. Here are a few items they could use:

washable nursing pads
non-perishable, healthy snacks
bottled water

Of course if you have any other ideas that would bless a nursing mama (lotions, burp cloths, board books . . .), I know they would love it! Let me know if you're on board, and we'll get this thing rolling.

Thanks so much, friends, and have a lovely May day!
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