July 16, 2012

i have a friend whose whole life has been changed by reading Ann Voskamp's book: 1000 Gifts. The other day I was visiting my friend and saw this note taped to the wall near her phone:
-NEVER allow yourself to complain about anything.
-NEVER picture yourself in any other circumstance or some other place.
-NEVER compare your lot in life with another person's.
-NEVER allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
-NEVER dwell on tomorrow. Remember that tomorrow is God's.

I'd like to add that some people who are very near and dear to my heart are going through an extremely painful situation-at this point only God knows the outcome. The ONLY way I've been able to handle the situation is to constantly remind myself that God is bigger than any circumstance. He can handle each one of them and it's up to me to trust Him. Or not...
When I first heard about this circumstance, I spent a lot of time weeping. A lot. Then I started thinking about God and my life and His track record of faithfulness. I could write a book about it. Looking back at His faithfulness and steadfastness in my life has reminded me of His love and given me joy and comfort even in a situation that at the moment makes no sense.
And if you think about the bible, it's chalk full of God reminding His people to look back at His track record. Look back at HIS faithfulness. Over and over He told the Israelites to remember all the things God had done for them and to teach their children the history of Israel so that they would remember and see it too. God's fingerprints are everywhere, all the time and we can see them if we look for them.
I've been doing 2 things to get through this time. 1. Clinging to Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

2. I've also been looking for God in the circumstance. Even in the pain...even in the confusion...even in the weariness I see and the weariness I feel myself...I AM finding tiny things to be thankful for. Tiny hugs from the Lord and tiny glimpses of His faithfulness to work even this situation for good. It's giving me joy and hope and peace even in the middle of something that is more than awful. God IS and He is bigger than anything we go through here. His hands are warm and tender and safe and quite capable.

This is just a passing through place. Eternity is coming. (I got that from John Eldridge, but boy howdy, do I cling to it! :-) )

For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen!
Romans 11:36

June 1, 2012

a miscellaneous ramble (these are becoming more and more frequent, aren't they?)

I've been completely overwhelmed lately and it's nearly impossible to feel creative, clever or funny. My heart has left me and has taken up residence in an orphanage in China. This has left me with a weary brain and body and an almost empty blog. I miss writing. I miss that outlet and telling stories and sharing whatever is floating through my head with you. And, when we decided to adopt, I promised myself this would not become an adoption blog. I wanted to keep the two worlds separate, but I'm seeing now how foolish that idea was. Adopting a little girl from China has become my world, for the time being, and trying to keep that in it's own tiny little box is impossible. I have become an adopting parent, whether that munchkin is in my arms or not, and I can't hide or ignore it. This is my road, and my life right now, and this is who I am. So, please bare with me if that's where I often tend to land when I write...

Having said all that, I just wanted to share a few things I'm thankful for as I walk this road...

-friends. So many old and new friends have come along side me to encourage and love and support me. Even if deep down in their hearts they're thinking we're nuts and this is something they'd never do, people are right there, letting us know we are loved.

-our sons and daughters-in-law are amazing. They really are. They have been so willing to give up their time and energy to help us and encourage us-I have been blown away by this...

-an adoption agency, adoption coordinator and a social worker who really, truly, uly care. They have been real and helpful, professional and patient. If you ever decide to adopt, let me know. I'll give you their info! :-)

-my physical and blood work all came back as saying I'm as healthy as a horse. I may feel like one who's ready to be put out to pasture, but apparently I have a great many good years ahead of me.

-money. So far, the Lord has provided the money we need as we need it. I have freak out moments thinking about the future and how much we still have to come up with, but overall, there is deep peace. I believe this is something the Lord has told us to do, so this is something the Lord is going to have to see finished.

I think that's all I'll write for now...a few thanksgiving thoughts...

May 14, 2012

A Peak at The Flip Side

Last week my smallest son pulled out a scrapbook I'd made of my mother and her life. I know I've given her a bad reputation here...I think I'll be wading through the murky waters of my relationship with mom until the day I die...

The other day though, while I was busy doing whatever it was I was doing, my son started reading her scrapbook out loud to me-I'm very glad he did. It helped me remember the things I loved and appreciated about mom.

One Mother's Day, a very long time ago, I sat down and made a list of all the things I'd learned from her and liked about her. I cut them out, rolled each little piece of paper into a scroll, taped it shut, stuck them all in a mason jar, and gave them to her. I told my mom she could only read one a day for however long it took her to read all of them. I found the jar and those little bits of paper in her apartment after she'd died and glued them, randomly, into her scrapbook. Those are the things my son read to me and those are the things I want to show you today. I want to show you the good things, the flip side, of my mother-

-she had an adventurous spirit and was always willing to try something new

-she was a great cook and made the best spaghetti sauce, fresh bread, broccoli patties and Chinese Spice Cake ever

-she loved our country and all it stands for

-she encouraged me not to be afraid of anything. (she failed at this, but she tried.) Mom encouraged me to "go for it" and make life rich with new experiences and memories.

-she never encouraged a bitter attitude toward my dad after my parents' divorce

-she never let go of her dreams-she pursued them until she'd achieved them

-she taught me to slow down and pay attention to, and enjoy the beautiful things around me-to see the mountains, the pine trees, or a sunset reflected in a mountain lake with my heart and not just my eyes

-she was very sentimental and saved even the most insignificant little gifts her children had given her

-she had a green thumb and could grow the most beautiful houseplants...

-she was a character- you never knew what was going to come out of her mouth next

-mom was spontaneous. One minute we'd be sitting in the living room watching a movie and the next we'd be in the car, driving through the mountains, eating a hot-fudge sundae while looking for elk in a meadow

-she taught me how to drive then gave me her car-my perfect little red Datsun. *sigh... What is it about your first car??

-mom gave me a love and appreciation for music

-she instilled in me a love for reading and learning new things

-she was willing to accept people and be a friend to anyone who came along

she taught me crazy songs and tried to teach me how to harmonize. Come to think of it, that's one dream she never realized...

-she could make any place, even a not so wonderful place, cozy and homey

-she was creative and could make something from nothing; she taught me how to make-do instead of buying new

-she loved life and never let it beat her down

-she found humor in everything and was able to laugh even when she was in horrible pain and dying

-she taught me to take simple, small experiences and make wonderful memories from them

-mom took life one day at a time

-she wrote funny poems

-she taught me "people are more important than things, Jude..."

-mom taught me to look for the good in people instead of just taking them at face value

-my mom knew how to make a normal, boring day special

-she was very generous and would give to anyone that needed something whatever she had to give

There are more little bits of paper in the jar, and more in her scrapbook I didn't share here. I just wanted to give you a glimpse of her-a peak at a very interesting, complicated woman.

April 26, 2012

VERY miscellaneous thoughts of a brain literally on the edge

I hope this post isn't a waste of your time. I miss being here and just wanted to tell you where I've been. 

In the first place, I've been sick for almost 3 weeks; it's just a head cold-not a terrible illness, but the location? It settled up there between my ears and made thinking any thoughts at all a huge effort. And now that it's leaving? My head is making up for lost time and it ain't pretty.

Have you ever heard that a woman's thought life is like Windows 95 or Windows 98 or whatever? She has a screen and then she has a couple windows that are always up and running, one in front of another. Well, this virus I've had has caused a huge glitch in my window system and there are 90-eleven windows up and running 24-7. (that's a lot of numbers, isn't it? You know what I mean though, right?) I can't finish a thought or have a single conversation without interrupting myself half a dozen times. I. am. short. circuiting. 

I've also been confused about something extremely deep and personal and asking God a lot of questions about it. He has used it to show me how very, very unconditional His love for me is (among other things) but, the party ain't over and it's taking a lot out of me.

 I've been thinking about being real lately-wondering what that means and what it looks like and how to do it and why we won't allow each other to be it....I think I'll set that one aside for now but I will ask you:
Do you think it's hard to be real and yet live in truth? Do you feel like you can be real with people or are you afraid to be? Do you think being real and yet being a Light is like walking a tight rope? Why do we always, always, always have to have answers for people who are struggling or having a hard day and they just need to vent or emote or talk til they're blue in the face? Why can't we ever just shut-up and listen? Why do we feel like we have to open our mouths to help each other? Is it our pride? It's no wonder we're all a lonely lot....being real isn't safe.

Anyway. You may or may not know we're trying to adopt a little girl from China. That's taking a lot out of me and causing a multitude of windows to be up and running 24-7. I feel like I've been standing in front of a fire hydrant with my mouth wide open and I'm drowning. The Lord has been talking, showing, challenging, deepening, dissecting and teaching through it all and I can barely stand in front of the water pressure, let alone keep up with it all. A friend told me to journal everything as we go through this process but I'm finding that almost impossible. There has been too, too much going on in my heart to keep up with it all, let alone journal it.

And now a moment of real-ness. I've been worried about a couple of my kids-feeling pain for them and praying and wondering and wishing for them...

I've been writing elsewhere and thinking about fund raising and finishing the school year with my son and working on a few projects and preparing for a garage/bake sale. I've been feeling old and ugly and insecure and I've been wondering about next year-when to start school and what subjects to focus on?

I've been dreaming about a daughter and realizing I have no clue what to do with one. Can I momma a daughter? How different is that from momma-ing a son? I've been looking forward to finding out.

So, that's where I am and that's where I've been. How about you? Where are you and what are you thinking about? How many windows do you have up and running and are you enjoying what you see?

April 19, 2012

Psalm 139-a repost of an old post :-)

I originally posted this in 2009, but wanted to share it again:

Lately, more than ever, I've begun to see the importance of memorizing God's word--it is life to my soul!
Shortly after we began school this year we started working on memorizing Psalm 139. It only took my 2 younger sons 30 days to memorize the whole Psalm, whereas I'm still working on it, 40 days later. I'd like to think that's because my brain is full of years of Bountiful Wisdom...but I think in reality it's just getting rusty.

Anyway-it took 2 Dove chocolates and some extra computer time to bribe #4 into letting me share this video with you. I hope you enjoy it.
(BTW-he is disgusted with how young he sounds on the video and wanted to make sure you know he's not 3.He's 8!)

Basically, all we did was read the psalm once a day until he got it.

April 12, 2012

4 boys &....?

Well, my heart is back in my chest and the lump in my throat is gone. I'm still wondering about the phrase buck up though. Where on earth did that come from? Yes, I know. I could always google it, but sometimes it's more fun to just wonder about something, isn't it?

Anyway, I wanted to show you a picture of my sons.

I love this picture. It cracks me up every time I look at it. All you have to do is look at their faces and you'll understand each boy.

Take the guy on the left for example. He's the oldest and it shows. No nonsense, confident, goal oriented, thoughtful...aren't those typical first-born traits? He's compassionate, but only to a point. He's a lot like my dad. A practical, git-her-done kind of guy.

Then the boy on the far right. # 2. That look? I've seen it hundreds of times. He's saying, "Yes, I did it, or said it, and even though it may not be something you approve of, I'm glad I did and too bad for you. Just wait. I have something even better up my sleeve!" He's sarcastic, witty, tenderhearted, and unpredictable.

The guy in the white shirt? He's number 3. He's sweet and shy, confident, hilarious, and humble. He hasn't always been that way. God worked what I think is a miracle in that boy's heart. He was our "strong-willed" child and you can read more about parenting one of those in my " raising a strong-willed child" posts. Like his big brother, you never know what he's going to say or do next. Living with those 2 middle sons has been a wild ride, let me tell you!

(I'd like to interrupt myself to say my sons are not perfect. I know that, and you know that, but I felt compelled to say it. In fact, at one point in my mothering them I spent an entire day researching military boarding schools and seriously contemplating a life of freedom....)

OK. Moving on to # 4. Look at his face. Really??... He may be the youngest, but he's onto his big brother. He's looked at each one of his siblings that way-he's tender and very sweet, but he's learned, at an early age, you just can't believe everything you're told.

Did you know we're in the early stages of adopting a little girl from China? I know some of you know that, but thought I'd mention it just in case you didn't. I wonder sometimes, if it will really happen. Right now she just seems like a dream and in no way a reality.

I'm excited to meet her, and momma her, and introduce her to her big brothers and sisters-in-law. I'm excited to see what her personality will be like and what captions I'll be writing under her photos....I'm excited to wake up and have the dream end and real life with her begin...

April 6, 2012

fish cheeks

Guess what? I remembered what I wanted to say about fish cheeks.

Did you even know fish had cheeks? I'd never even thought about whether fish had cheeks or not (nor did I care) until the spring of 1982. That's when I discovered fish:
had cheeks
those cheeks are cute
and tender
and romantic
and they can talk. Yes, fish cheeks can talk. You didn't know that? They say a whole lot if you'll but look and listen to them.

The guy I married is a quiet guy. His words are few and getting to know him was a challenge. I think that's why he let his fish cheeks do a lot of the talking for him. They told me things about him he would never have told me himself.

The spring of 1982 found us living in the boonies of Wisconsin, at a small private school that sat nestled on a large lake that was, you guessed it, full of fish. And, the guy I married loves fishing. As a matter of fact, if he could make a living at it, and support a family by it, he'd fish day and night to bring home the bacon. (Or cheeks, if you will.)

So anyway. The school was very picky about the meals served and who prepared them, and who was allowed in the kitchen and when. The only time they relaxed about all that was on Saturday mornings. We were allowed to prepare our own breakfasts then.

Every Saturday morning, while the rest of us were sleeping in, my not-yet husband was out there reeling in...blue gill? I can't remember what kind of fish they were....

Anyhoo, every Saturday morning he'd catch a fish, fry it with an egg, and toast a piece of toast. He wouldn't eat that breakfast though. He'd watch for me and when I walked into the dining room he'd be standing there, smiling, that plate of food warm and ready, waiting for me. He'd motion me to a table, put the plate in front of me, and we'd sit together while I ate.

The first time Mike made breakfast for me I discovered fish had cheeks. I sat down, starving, and looked at my plate. There was the egg, the toast, and the fish. But there also, off by themselves, in a little spot all their own on the plate, sat two tiny, round pieces of fish.

"Um Mike? What are those?" I pointed.

"Those are the fish's cheeks. They are the tastiest part of the fish!" he grinned.

I picked up my fork and stabbed a little cheek with one prong. I put it in my mouth and smiled.

"Oh, you're right. That is amazing!" I couldn't taste the difference between the cheek or any other part of the fish but there was something different about that small piece of meat. It talked to me.

It told me: here is a guy who wants to serve. He is thoughtful, caring, and patient. (You have to be patient to cut around a tiny fish cheek and lift it from the fish's face. You have to be gentle with it so you don't demolish it while you're cutting and lifting and frying it.) It told me this guy thinks about others, not just himself. It told me he had a sense of humor but he knew where to draw the line. (He never once served a fish with the head still attached to its body. He knew I couldn't eat anything that sat there watching me while I ingested it.)

Those two little cheeks were the best part of the fish-they said so much even though they (in all honesty) never said a word.

April 3, 2012

a letter from my son

I started a pen pal journal with my youngest son a few days ago. The idea is to write little letters back and forth to each other, but you have to be sneaky about it. We're not supposed to let the other person see us writing in the journal, nor putting it in the other person's room. You just write a letter, then hide the notebook somewhere where you know that person will find it.
I didn't come up with the idea, but I love it. It's fun and precious and eventually I'll have a notebook, (in his little boy handwriting) full of his thoughts and feelings and bits of him. I must admit, the teacher in me thinks this is a great way to get him to practice writing. (something he hates doing at the moment)

(This would be also be fun to do with a nephew or niece or a grandchild. Especially if they lived far enough away that you'd have to mail the notebook back and forth to each other. Everyone loves getting little packages in the mail, don't they?)

Anyway, that's all for today. I just wanted to pass the idea along and show you my first letter.

Dear mommy,
I love you too! I love
you more than Lydia! (Lydia is his new niece)
You are funny, sweet, lovable,
and most of all your mine.

March 29, 2012

if i could...

If I could, I would put you into a deep, sweet, lovely sleep. In the back of your mind you would hear whatever it is you love to hear:
seagulls flying over the shore of a warm, sandy beach, or the waves of the ocean themselves as they come in...go out...come in...go out...
maybe you'd rather hear the paddle of a canoe and water splashing off it as it slices through a deep blue lake
or perhaps you'd prefer a playground where children are laughing and teasing each other as they run through the grass?
You might long for the sound of the wind caressing pine branches while they wait patiently for the moon to rise behind them
or the sounds of your mother quietly loading the dishwasher while dinner simmers on the stove.
Whatever sound it is that brings a feeling of peace and safety to your soul, that's the sound you'd hear.

I'd do the same thing for your sense of smell. Whatever it is that comforts and gives you joy-those are the smells you'd smell.
Maybe you love the smell of grass right after it's been cut or the smell of a fat little baby fresh out of a bath? Perhaps you love the smell of fish and worms and wet roads after a summer storm or the way a cornfield smells at harvest time?
You might find comfort in the smell of a good cigar or brownies right out of the oven. Whatever smell it is that gives you a feeling of contentment and calm, that's the smell you'd smell.

If I could put you into a deep, sweet, lovely sleep, (don't panic-I'd make sure you were on some sort-of life support) I'd gently lift your tired, aching heart out of your chest. I'd carry it to God and say, "Please? Would you please, please heal the deep hurts hidden here? Would you reassure this heart that You are always near? Lord, would you please give this weary heart what it needs today? Trust that You are capable or hope that You are faithful or peace that You have forgiven? Would you put your large, warm comforting hands around this heart and love it like it's never been loved before? Would you please be the tender Father this heart needs and let it know all is well because You are all it needs?"

That is my prayer for you today. Refreshment, strength to take the next step, knowing you are loved...peace....joy in the circumstance you find yourself in...I can't take your heart out of your chest literally, but I can in prayer.

My heart just lifted yours to His...

March 28, 2012

oh so thankful for:

-my tire falling off my van yesterday while I was driving slowly. It could've come off the day before when I was going 60.

-my leg has had what I would call a miraculous healing over the last 10 days or so. It's not completely normal, but the change has been dramatic.

-friends-they listen, put up with all my quirks, encourage me, make me laugh...

-4 sons who laugh at and with me.

-my husband...

-curly hair. I can hack at it every month and the curls hide most of my mistakes!

-being able to write. That is how I express my heart and let things go. I think I'd have ulcers if I were Elizabeth Bennett.

-2 daughters-in-law that have become daughters and friends

-books, the empty ones as well as the ones with ink typed across every page

-living in a place that has 4 seasons. I need variety in my life.

-a perfect little granddaughter

-a safe place to walk each day

-boys again. I'm thinking in particular about their curiosity. I see a toaster and think, "Cool! this thing crunches up my bread." My sons see a toaster and they think, "Cool! What are those coils for? How do they get hot? How does it know the exact length of time to stay hot enough to brown my bread but not turn it into charcoal?" etc. etc. etc.

-the crows that circle over our house and gather on the trees each evening

-music-there is so much power and beauty and depth and life and...and...

-thrift stores and hand-me-downs

-the gift of memories (at least some of them)

-a mother who tried

-creative outlets

-houseplants. I need green therapy

-a tiny house-it gives me more time to play


-binoculars and our microscope. I can spy on our neighbors-the big and the small

-21 years of home schooling

-being able to email instead of having to make some uncomfortable phone calls

-my back and leg stuff required standing all this time instead of sitting. I would've gone stir crazy being stuck in a wheelchair for 20 months

-extended family

-God doesn't always talk in a still small voice, sometimes He shouts at me. (I can be pretty hard of hearing at times)

-a mother in law who taught me how to play and love and have fun with our sons

-my daddy

March 26, 2012


As the day has progressed I've thought about my previous post and how terrible it must have sounded when I mentioned throwing blobs of jello at my homeopathy guy's window. Add to that the fact that I wanted to include my son in the activity and well...what must you think of me??
I'd like to explain:
in the first place, there is no way to tell you how thankful I am for Fritz. (my homeopathy guy) He is doing a great job "fixing" me, using natural, good for me, concoctions. I am blown away by his wisdom and knowledge and his desire to help.

When I mentioned throwing jello, it was the thought of, "Lovey, let's go have fun and do something totally weird and unexpected and laugh til our stomachs hurts...." My son and I pictured red, orange, green, yellow and purple jello splatting against a window and dribbling down, down, down into the ground and we laughed. Our discussion and our imaginings did the trick and bonded us together after a rough day. We laughed and hugged and all was OK again.
Neither one of us actually want to throw jello at someones window. We just wanted to laugh and imagine what that would be like.

I hope that makes sense, and I hope you won't hold my previous post against me....OK?

I think it's very important (when you have a rough day with a child) to do your very best to at least end the day with forgiveness, and hugs, and love and reassurance that all is well. He needs to know you still treasure him, still love him, and you're mature enough to admit you were wrong. (even if you do want to go out and throw jello at windows...)

and so it goes.

Last night as I was tucking my last little guy into bed (and kissing his warm, soft cheek, smelling his recently shampooed head, soaking up the feeling of his sturdy arms around my neck and listening to him say, "I love you so much mommy!") I had to ask his forgiveness.
"Lovey, I'm sorry I've been sooo grouchy and emotional lately. My homeopathy guy is working on me, but he hasn't figured everything out yet. I think he's fixed a few things, but now we need to work on my emotions."

We talked for a bit about all that and decided it would be fun to go throw colorful blobs of jello at the homeopathy guy's window. Can't you hurry up and fix this woman?? That's what each blob of jello would represent-frustration at how long it takes to naturally balance an imbalanced woman. I can't talk to the employees at Joann Fabrics about yarn without tearing up.

Lately, for some strange reason, my thoughts keep going back and back and back to this picture.

It was taken on my second son's wedding day. (he's the one on the right)

Do you have pictures that have melted into you and become a part of you? Pictures you adore and you'll never, ever forget even if you forget your own name? That is how I feel about this picture.

Those two boys of mine have so much history. They fought so much while they were growing up-they drove each other crazy and drove me crazy in the process. I worried and prayed about their relationship for years and wondered if they would ever be friends. Will they ever like each other??

This photo paints a thousands words. Maybe more...It is one brother trying to annoy his little brother one last time before he steps into the role of being an old married man. It's one brother
saying to his little brother, I love you you little turd, but I can't say the words because I'm a guy and guys don't say things like that to each other. It is one brother saying to his brother, You have annoyed me to death little brother, and I hope, by golly, this kiss annoys you back and embarrasses you and you take it to heart; I hope it lets you know I love you even though, and you'll always be important to me.
It may even be one brother saying to his little brother, let's be kids again, for just one second, before I grow up forever...
It is a little brother saying to his big brother, I love you too. I'm going to strangle you for this, but you just made my day.

It is a momma, looking at her sons and remembering...remembering all the noise, dirt, fighting and pretending. It is a momma missing tired, sweaty goodnight kisses from two little boys now grown into men...it is thankfulness in who they've become and amazement at the way God answers prayer...it is a woman looking at two of her boys and shaking her head, loving them, needing them, letting go.

Unlike the fact that Joann doesn't carry the yarn I need anymore, this is a valid reason to sit here and cry.

March 13, 2012


My oldest son called me the other day. He'd dreamt I'd run away from home and moved to Uganda.

While running away has crossed my mind lately, Uganda is probably one of the last places I'd run to. I told him if I ever run away I'm going to go be a waitress at a truck stop in Wyoming.
"Oh, that will improve your life." he replied.

(I shouldn't of told him that because now they'll all know where to look for me when I...)

The problem with running away is that the thing I most want to get away from would have to come along. I'd have to drag me along.

I need a plumber or some duct tape. I've been like a leaky pipe lately-tears always quite close to the surface, seeping out almost continually. I even made a list of "10 Things That Make Me Cry" just for you but in a moment of clarity I realized for Pete's sake, you can't post that. No one wants to read about what makes you cry. Aren't you glad I have moments of clarity occasionally?

I'm thinking I'll have to blame my homeopathy guy for this. It seems like more than a coincidence that this seepy-pipe thing started as soon as he put me on a new concoction he'd whipped up in his laboratory to help with some hormonal issues I've been having. (Being a woman of a certain age, (of any age actually) is a pain sometimes, you know?) But, I can step back, look at my leaky self and say Oh dry up. There's nothing to cry about. That's what makes me think it's hormonal. If I were really depressed I wouldn't be logical about it, would I? My homeopathy guy said it would take a couple months for things to even out and level off. All I have to say about that is, well...hmm....this is going to be fun.

I had to kick my husband out the door this morning. I asked him what I should write about and just like a man he said, "Write about Peyton Manning."

"I don't know anything about Peyton Manning. I know he's a good football player. He injured his neck. He got fired."

"He is football...."

"Goodbye dear. Drive carefully."

Now that I think about it, maybe that's what you'd rather read about? Peyton Manning...Well, I'm sorry. I just told you everything I know about the guy.

Instead, you get leaky pipes, dreams of duct tape and running away from myself, moments of clarity and me waiting...and waiting...and....

March 8, 2012

a walk under the clouds

I'm not sure which part of my walk yesterday was my favorite part. It could've been laughing with my son as we pushed (hard) against the wind to get down the road. At times it felt like we were walking on a treadmill and we were stuck, not getting anywhere.

Or, it could've been the warm but nippy wind itself; it was so refreshing after being in the house all day.

I also enjoyed the fact that not one dog came out to challenge us or make our hearts race. It was a peaceful walk despite the noisy air that kept trying to blow us over.

We stopped at a little inlet of the lake to play and relax. I sat in the grass and watched my son. He jumped and tumbled, laughed and rolled around like a wild thing that has finally been released from a cage. Seeing the twinkle in his eyes and hearing him laugh at his new found freedom was maybe, maybe the best part.....

However, now that I think about it, I loved watching all the birds flying over the inlet. 11 grey and white seagulls flew almost directly over my head, and despite all the warnings, I did look straight up at them. (They were kind and left no calling cards in my hair) For the first time in my life I noticed the graceful but sharply curved lines of their outstretched wings-so distinctive from any other bird I've seen.

After the seagulls left, 9 vultures came along and circled over the houses and the lake. They flew like huge, black kites swirling under the grey and white clouds. I was envious of them-they looked completely free of all life's worries. I knew without a doubt they were enjoying the challenge of the wind. At times they fought against it, daring it to try and stop them; at other times they let the wind blow them where it wanted, and they flew in free fall, dipping and swirling through the air. I wasn't sure, but I thought I could hear them laughing in joy, thankful for the spring winds.

I loved watching my son explore the little holes in the ground. We still don't know if they're crawdad holes and we wonder if they're not, who made them? Two days ago my son stuffed some cotton from a cattail down one of the holes and yesterday it was gone. Whoever lives there either pulled the cotton further in to make a downy bed, or shoved the cotton out and it blew away in the wind. He took sticks and poked them down each hole, trying to measure their depth and compare them to the other holes. We noticed some of the holes have deep green moss growing down around their edges while others just have dirt sides. Why the difference?

We found a manhole along the way and laughed at the words inscribed on the lid. Sanitary Sewer. Hmmmm...I wonder what optimist thought that would be a good idea?
On the other hand, it couldn't of been too bad in there; moss and tiny white flowers were growing around the circumference of the hole, reminding me of a grave and tombstone....

We took our time yesterday. We stopped and explored whatever my son wanted to explore. It wasn't my usual forced march and maybe that was the best part? Slowing down? Letting my son take the lead? Knowing dinner was in the oven and there was no need to rush. I know that was the best part for him...

March 7, 2012

facing the dragons

I can be a lousy wife and a hypocrite. I've known that for a long time, but I've decided the time has come to admit it to you.

I'm not sure how to tell you about this other than to go back to the beginning and work my way forward, OK?

Until I was 8 my life was very comfortable. We had a largish home, a big yard, plenty of food; the only thing that ever frightened me were the thunderstorms that blew by every spring and summer.

All that changed when my parents divorced. I never went homeless, (as in, no roof over my head) but things did change. I've written about all that before so I won't go into it now. Just know that from that moment there were a lot of changes and I don't think I felt truly safe or stable for a very long time.

Fast forward maybe 30 years? One day, (however many years later it was) when our two oldest sons were teenagers I decided the time had come to teach them how to budget. What better way than to use our bills and our check book to do it? So, I gathered everything together, grabbed a notebook and pencil and the 3 of us sat down to begin Budgeting 101. We wrote down each bill we had, and looked at my husband's pay stub. We wrote the totals down, subtracted the bills from the income and... I freaked. How on earth were we making it?? How did we buy groceries or gas for the car? There was no way it matched up and there was no money left after the bills. In fact, there were bills left over that seemed to require ignoring.

I'm ashamed to admit that was the end of our budgeting class for a few years. I think a lot of the fears I'd had growing up exploded inside and something popped. I dismissed my little class and sat shivering in my boots. That night when my husband came home I felt two things. Great admiration for his ability to juggle all our plates and keep us fed, and shear terror thinking about the dragon he faced and fought every day. I handed him the bills, stuck my head in the sand and told him the bills were his problem. I couldn't face them. I couldn't deal with it. It was literally overwhelming. (See? A lousy wife and a hypocrite.)

Overnight I became what you might call a typical 40's type housewife. I drew a line in the sand and defined our roles-my husband brought home the bacon and I cooked it. Where it came from was of no concern of mine. I couldn't think about it.

Well, last year I finally started thinking about my tendency to stick my head in the sand, and that my husband is 50 plus, and the fact that I had no idea how to pay a bill anymore. It's all done online with things like debit cards and passwords. I had no idea what those passwords were or how frequently some of the bills got paid, or even what bills we have. What if something happened to my husband and I had to take over and pay those bills? What would I do? A few months ago we finally sat down together and wrote it all out. Each bill, when it comes, and its little password. I put all that in a notebook and then guess what I did? I stuck my head in the sand again and stopped thinking about it. Money and bills and business type phone calls freak. me. out.

That's OK with my husband. He's used to handling all that alone, and even prefers it that way.

But, now we have a new dragon to face and it's one my husband doesn't have time to fight alone. The adoption dragon. He is frightening and overwhelming and huge. He requires a lot of business type phone calls and is going to be asking for a lot of money. The last few weeks have been really, really difficult for me because I'm having to face that dragon. I'm having to look at him, and talk to him, and admit he's there. I can't stick my head in the sand.

I'm not sure what it is with money and official phone calls. I trusted the Lord with our sons as they were growing up. I was able to lay their sins and struggles in His lap and leave them there. I gingerly trusted Him with their education and what happened to them after they graduated. It wasn't always easy, but I managed to tip-toe through those things without burying my head. But money and those important phone calls? Why is it so hard to lay this dragon in His lap?

Please tell me I'm not alone. Tell me you have dragons to slay and you don't always feel like slaying them. Are you a hypocrite if you have hypocritical areas in your life?

March 5, 2012

an interesting day

Yesterday I learned:

-when Italian girls get married they keep their maiden name but when the newlyweds have children their children take on their daddy's last name. ( wish I would've known that 27 years ago. ) (just kidding honey. :-) )

-my son and daughter-in-law are willing to go to great lengths and make many sacrifices for our family and keeping the "ties that bind us" strong.

-The boy I was in this picture with died of cancer about a month ago. (A very sad, sobering thought.)

-I can now sit for about 4 hours without my body protesting. ( a year ago I could only sit for about 19 minutes a day.)

And late last night we were blessed to have a really good, heart-to-heart conversation with our 3rd son. We talked about some of the struggles and misunderstandings we had while we were raising him and what the Lord has been doing in his life and teaching him...the cherry on top was when he told us how much he'd enjoyed talking with us! (for those of you who don't know us, he is "the strong-willed child" in my Living With A Strong Willed Child posts)

March 2, 2012

stuck between a rock and a sickle

Do you remember the chicken I'm stuck with til death do us part? Well, I'm also stuck with a rock and a sickle. (They may not live with us that long, but for now? For now I'll keep them. They make me smile and shake my head nearly every time I see them.)

I'm not sure if dad was trying to say he loved us and didn't know how, or if he just wanted to de-clutter his yard a bit, but like the chicken, the sickle and the rock were "gifts" he gave us a long time ago.

The rock isn't a rock, now that I think about it. It's actually a large, lumpy ball of cement with smaller blobs of colorful who-knows-what mixed in. It's bigger than a bowling ball and weighs more than a Volkswagen and, just so you can get a very clear picture of what it looks like, we call it The Barf Rock. It lives in the flower bed in front of our house.

The sickle is just an ordinary, antique sickle; wood, metal, dull blade. (is that what you call the part of a sickle that cuts the weeds or harvests the crop? A blade?) Whatever. You get the idea and you now know I have one. Unlike the rock, we've never named the sickle. It has given us permission to hang a wreath on it during the Holidays, but otherwise the sickle just sits there, next to the front door, unadorned and un-named, quietly minding its own business.

I truly don't understand why my dad gave them to us. Even the way he gave them to us puzzles me.

He lived about 6 hours away so we didn't see him very often. One weekend we drove up to his house, spent a couple days visiting and then got ready to head home. My dad waited until we were almost pulling out of the driveway to give us each of those strange gifts.

We had 2 little boys, one still in diapers, when he gave us the rock. The boys were in their car seats, squirming, giggling, yelling, fighting, crying and already asking for drinks of water; the diaper bag was stuffed in the back seat between our sons, along with toys, snacks, and our suitcases. We stood in the driveway hugging dad and discussing when we'd see each other again when suddenly he looked away. Dad pointed down at the rock and said, "There. Take that home with you."

Oooookay. One small hernia later, it too was loaded into the car.

He did the same thing when he gave us the sickle after another weekend visit. He waited til the boys and all our junk were stuffed into the backseat, pointed at it, and said, "There. Take that home with you." My dad wasn't the type of man you could argue with, (especially if you wanted to win) so we didn't try. We shoved the sickle in the trunk and brought it home.

I'm not sure what other dads give their daughters when they want to say, "I love you." And maybe dad wasn't trying to say that at all? Maybe he waited til we were gone, went into his house, poured a glass of lemonade, sat down, put his feet up and said to my step-mother, (with a huge grin) "Well... I just got rid of the rock and the sickle! Feels good, doesn't it?"

The sickle is something I enjoy. I love antiques and that certainly is one. I'm not at all embarrassed by its presence on our front porch. But that rock? The Barf Rock? It's ugly. And it looks like barf. Sometimes I want to hide it, because it does embarrass me, but I just can't. I don't want to forget about it. It was a gift from my dad, no matter how strange.

Maybe, like the chicken, I should make a little sign and put it near the rock:

I am a cement rock that looks like barf. I know that and you know that. Judy wants you to know that while hideous blobs of cement are not her thing, I am. Her dad, for some unknown reason, wanted us to be together. He knew Judy would take good care of me and never let me go. Her dad is gone; he is safely Home, waiting for her to join him someday. In the meantime, she has me to enjoy: a large, ugly ball of cement. I make her smile and shake her head in amused confusion every time she sees me and, I remind her of her dad. I am both a mystery and a hug. She is happy to be stuck with me.

March 1, 2012

my son and i almost moved but....

My son found a hole he wanted to explore the other day. After I saw it, we thought it might be fun to go live in the hole, but there were a few minor things to deal with before we could do that.

The hole sits on a small hill overlooking the inlet of a nearby lake. There are dilapidated cattails along the lake shore, waiting for spring to breath fresh life into their weary veins. A small clump of trees house a gazillion noisy, happy little birds who chirp continually, regardless of the weather. The inlet itself is like the bottom of a bowl; 16 houses sit up around the edge of the "bowl", looking down at the water and across at each other.

There is one side of the bowl that sits empty and alone; grass grows on that side of the hill, but there are no houses or trees to interrupt the landscape. That is where our hole lives.

I have no idea how my son found the hole. It's about as big around as a 50 cent piece. But, that is one of the miracles of being a child; they are never anxious to move on, keep walking, get home...children take time to notice tiny things and in this instance, I'm so glad I didn't hurry him along. I've never seen a more inviting hole.

At first I thought it was a crawdad hole, but then I realized it couldn't be. Crawdads hibernate and in the spring their holes are surrounded by a mound of fresh mud that has to be pushed out of the way so they can get out. There was no mud near this hole. Then I thought, a snake hole? Ewww. It's too pretty for that.

So, we have no idea who lives there, but no matter who it is, we wanted to ask them to vacate the property so we could move in. Why? What's so appealing about this hole? Well, for one thing, the location. It sits on a hill, overlooking the inlet of a lake. The birds add to the charm, and the hole faces west. Every evening we'd be able to sit in our minuscule little lawn chairs and watch the sunset. The most appealing part of the whole thing is the carpet. The edges of the hole are covered in a thick, soft, luscious green moss that grows down, down, down, deep into the ground. We knew if we could only be small enough to crawl deep into the moss, it would be better than snuggling on a water bed or having a massage; it would surround our cold bodies and comfort and warm us like nothing else could.

There was just one other thing to take care of before we could move in. (Size being the first issue)
When we stooped down and looked deep into the hole, we noticed a spider web. It was about 2" down the entrance and even though a spider wove it, it was lovely. The web was covered in tiny dew drops-it looked like a chain of diamonds tangled across the entrance of a cave. We imagined we were little explorers armed with ropes and picks and...and....wait. If we're small enough to fit into that hole, and a spider built a web completely across it, that means he's bigger than we are. What does one do with a spider that big? After a bit of pondering, we decided it was maybe best to leave well enough alone and move along. Spider slaying was not on our to-do list that day and maybe, someday, we'll find a bigger hole, maybe a hobbit hole, we can move into.

February 29, 2012

goodbye and hello

I went to a wedding in Oregon many years ago. Have you ever been there? It is a beautiful state, and I wouldn't raise a stink if I had to go live there. Mountains, long, rolling valleys, colorful orchards and farms, the wonderful Hood River... (which will take you to the ocean if you care to follow it that far.) In my opinion, Oregon has it all.

That trip was almost indescribable. I came home perfectly refreshed and stayed that way for 2 years. I'm not kidding. I laughed for 10 days straight; I have never had that much fun that constantly at any other time in my life.

There was, however, 1 sad moment during the trip. We were driving through the mountains, laughing and enjoying the scenery, when suddenly a squirrel, (who was probably enjoying the scenery as well) didn't see us and leaped in front of the car. As we sped along we all looked back and there, sure enough, the poor squirrel lay in the middle of the road, flopping and thrashing. It took a lot of begging (on the part of the females in the car) to get the driver to turn around, but eventually we did it. We didn't want to rescue the squirrel, we just wanted to run over him a second time and put him out of his misery. I'm sorry to say once that was accomplished we even found a reason to laugh over that. I'm telling you, there's just something about that Oregon air...

Anyway, that's how the month of February felt to me. It was a lovely month; relaxing, quiet, in some ways deeply refreshing. But to be honest, I feel like the squirrel after it had been hit the first time. It was a beautiful lousy month and I'll be glad to see the back of it.

I have no idea why I just told you all that. Maybe to explain the post I wrote a couple days ago? Maybe just to let you know I'm annoyed that this year is leap year and February will be even longer than usual? I don't remember.

What I wanted to write about was super powers. Have you ever wished you had one?

A few years ago, when we had 3 teenagers in the house, there were several discussions about super powers and what my sons wished they could do or who had the best one. I think one of my sons wanted the ability to control atmospheric pressure for some reason, and another one wanted the ability to shrink and grow things, like a submarine. He wanted to be able to shrink one down, stuff it in his pocket, carry it to who-knows-where, enlarge it, and then launch it on "the enemy".

Of course, we can't forget the Hollywood superheroes: Spiderman, the Wolverine, Ironman...they all have wonderful superpowers and can do things most boys only dream about. However, I don't think they can hold a candle to the super power I'm going to invent. I'm going to come up with a way for my brain to communicate with my computer no matter where I am or how far away from the keyboard I get. I have the best ideas about things when I'm not near my computer-blog posts I want to write, emails I need to send, things I need from the store, miscellaneous problems solved...all these thoughts and more come to me when I'm either in the shower, laying in bed in the middle of the night, driving the car, or out walking. Wouldn't it be amazing if you could just think a thought, think it to your computer, have it "hear you", type it up for you, and save it in Microsoft word? No more brilliance lost.

So, as I sit here poised between two months, on a day that didn't exist last year, and won't exist next year, those are my thoughts-saying goodbye to a lousy 28 days and hello to spring and a brand new super power. What's on your mind?

February 27, 2012

now that i'm gone i'm no longer here

If you're reading this it's because I'm gone. I told Blogger to post it 20 minutes after I croak. Modern technology is amazing, isn't it?

You know what else is amazing? Being free. Now that I'm not chained to my body anymore I don't care who wins this year's election nor do I worry about our stumbling economy.

I don't wish I were prettier, or less random, or could grasp details anymore and

I'm not worried about my family or friends finding the secret blog I have where I vent about them.

I no longer wonder about my short curly hair and what to do with it, nor am I wishing I had better muscle tone.

I'm not embarrassed by what I did in a grocery store bathroom one day or if anyone ever finds out how old I was when I quit sucking my thumb.

Now that I'm gone, I don't wonder who I'd be if we'd had daughters or why we didn't or what my life would've been like if I would've stayed single instead of marrying and raising 4 boys in Indiana.

I no longer worry about how I'll die, or if my husband will be OK without me and I don't wish I'd been a better wife, mother, grandma, sister, or friend. It's too late for that and it's too late to be a better listener.

I don't have to miss my dad anymore or yell at the deer for eating the seed out of the bird feeders.

I no longer lay awake at night wishing I knew how to encourage the people in my life when they're going through hard things, or what to make for dinner because I forgot to soak the beans for the chili.

It's too late to write letters to my big brothers telling them how much they mean to me and I don't even have to worry about the blob of carpet I melted with a heat lamp a couple months ago.

I no longer wrestle with sin, or restless leg syndrome, or being horribly narcissistic.

I am free. There are no longer any tears, or regrets, or longings for things that don't matter. I am home and safe and realizing what a short wild ride being on earth was and how misplaced my focus often was. I see how much time I wasted and how much energy I used on things that
were petty. I am not in pain anymore and I'll never feel weary again. I don't have to wonder what God's first words to me will be when we see each other face to face... I just found out.

(PS. I have no idea what the day will bring, but as of this posting, I am still very much alive and well. This was written not as a joke or to worry my friends. I intended it to be thought provoking. What are we doing with our time and our lives? What are we worrying about that does not matter?...you get the idea. Life is short and our time here will soon be done and a much better eternity waits. That's all I was trying to say. )

February 23, 2012

reading and stirring

If I weren't a wife and mother, I think I'd be florist and own a huge greenhouse. If I weren't a florist, I'd go climb Mt. Everest and if I survived that, (which is highly unlikely) I'd just wander the planet seeing what's out there to be seen. If I didn't do that, I'd buy a library and a soft, cozy sleeping bag and a large pillow. I'd find a lovely little corner in my library, curl up in my bag and read my days away. (Of course, that would get boring after a few days, but it's something fun to think about doing on a cold, wet rainy day like today.)

I think I'd have to say there are two novels that I've gone back to again and again and again, and I would put up a fight to surrender them even now, after reading them more times than I can remember.

Have you ever read Sea to Sea by James Alexander Thom? It is a powerful book-breathtaking, soul stirring...I fell in love with history when I read that book and gained a whole new appreciation for people who sacrificed almost everything for our country.

The other book that moves my soul, and my spirit, is actually 4 books. Yes, you guessed it. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I'm mind boggled when I ask people if they've read those books and they shrug. "Yeah. I've read them. Have you ever read....?" and they move on, as if Tolkien had written a comic strip. Did you know those books have strings attached to them? And those strings have found a way to wrap themselves in and under, over and around and through my heart....they speak to me in ways no other book but the bible has. I wish I could put into words what Lord of the Rings is....there is wisdom about living, sacrifice, dying to self, trusting the Lord through everything, keeping on keeping on when you're weary, the beauty of deep and true friendship....

Nope. I just can't explain it any better than that.

Do you remember my post from a few days ago about walking and books? What are your favorite books? Do you have any that stir your soul? Any you'd put up a fight to keep?

February 22, 2012

while we wait

I've been thinking about my mom lately.

She died nearly 15 years ago.

I still don't miss her. I miss the idea of a mom, but not my mom. I know I've told you that before, but I wanted to say it again; I think I feel guilty about feeling that way... she was a wonderful, amazing, strong, creative person and the strange this is, my brothers really miss her. They had a bond and a connection with her that I don't think I ever had.

Can I just interrupt myself and say that lately I've been feeling weary? I've been so weepy and washed out...lately I wish I had a mom....

(OK-Judy clears her throat and moves on)

We still don't know if we will ever adopt a little person. We sent our application in and are now waiting to see if we are good enough, rich enough, young enough, enough enough of who-knows-what in the eyes of those who determine these things, to raise another child.

In the meantime, while we wait, God has been talking to me.

The other day I started thinking about a new little person entering our family. A little girl. I thought about her life as an orphan; the abandonment she must feel, the rejection, the loneliness. I was thrilled to think that I could be a momma to someone who so desperately needs one. I could actually picture a little face and chubby little arms around my neck; I could hear a soft voice calling out for momma in the middle of the night, needing comfort or a drink of water. I imagined soft pink pajamas and sweet little kisses on my cheek...

Then I started thinking about those hurts she's living with, even now, this very moment. While I'm here, in the middle of America, cozy, warm, loved, and safe, she is not. What if her heart is so deeply wounded that she shuts it down? What if she closes the door, locks it tight and throws away the key? What if she never, ever allows me to mother her? What if, like me and my mom, there never is a bond or a deep connection?

I never thought about those things when I was pregnant. When I had a baby growing deep in my belly I didn't wonder if he'd love me. It was a given that he would. But the other day I thought about my mom and the little girl we hope to adopt, and her wounds and fears and my heart, and how I closed it off from my mom and the lack of bonding and, and, and, and...all those questions and all those fears and then God said STOP.

Why are you doing this? Why do you want to adopt? Whose needs are you trying to meet? What if she never opens up and trusts you? What if she doesn't even like you? What if you just don't connect? Judy, are you willing to do this for Me? Are you willing to love a little girl, take her in, feed her, teach her, protect her, play with her, be her momma, even if she never ever becomes your daughter? Are you willing to take care of her and love her unconditionally until death do you part just because she's MY daughter and I'm asking you to do this? Regardless of if she ever meets your need to momma? Are you willing to lay down your life and serve her without getting a thing back?

I don't know if we will adopt a little person or if this will come to nothing. I do know God has been busy in my heart, using the idea of adoption to do some disecting and show me some of the uglies I don't like to see and the selfish motives I have for some of the things I do...those were very hard questions to hear, and even harder questions to answer truthfully. It took me awhile and it took a lot of tears but I'm at a place where I'm willing to be willing. I think I'm willing to be used and give because He's asking me to and for no other reason?...

(I do wish He'd use anesthesia when He does this sort-of thing, ya know?)

February 17, 2012

let's go walking, ok?

Sometimes I wish we could go for a walk around the world. There are just too, too many things I want to ask you and show you and tell you and explore with you; so many things I'd love to discuss. Life is too short, isn't it?

If we went walking I don't thing we would ever run out of things to talk about. I am me and you are you and between the two of us we've lived a lot of years and have had a lot of things happen to us. We've hurt people, and learned things; we have memories and broken dreams, favorite desserts, people we've loved and things we're afraid of. If we went walking around the world, we'd be stuck with each other for a very long time. We would have to talk; we might even learn to listen to the heart that's behind the words we speak.

I'd love to hear your story-the whole thing from the very first memory you have to the day you tie your sneakers on and we begin our trek. Everyone has a story. Have you ever put your life on paper? Have you ever stopped the noise and running and doing and looked back? Writing your story can be a painful, exhausting, mind clearing experience-it might show you any number of things good and bad that you've missed in all the busyness of life; things you never ever want to forget and things you need to kill and bury. Who knows? You might see God's fingerprints all over the place, or notice the times you pushed Him away. thanks, but no thanks...

We could discuss black holes and the expanding universe and why I cry every time I have a good long laugh. We could debate secular music vs. Christian, explore the bible verses that make no sense, and you could tell me what comforts you when you're sick.

Oh, and the books we've read! Perhaps we need two walks around the planet. I could talk about Sea to Sea and Tolkien's books all the way from here to Oregon. What are your favorite books, and why? What parts of you did they speak to? Did they stir your soul or bring healing to a hurt? Did they open your eyes to a new way of looking at something? What makes a book a favorite for you?

Speaking of books, have you ever noticed this bible verse? Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25

My youngest son and I read that verse 2 days ago. We had a long discussion about it. Just think about it. Jesus was only physically on the planet for 33 years. That is a lot of giving and serving and loving and praying....a lot of living. My little guy read that verse and stopped. His eyes looked like dinner plates as he stared off into space, imagining that many books, trying to eliminate all the chairs, beds, tables and toys to make room for that many books, and then his smile...it was a sweet, vulnerable, baffled smile; an awestruck smile.

That would be the best part of our walk-discussing books-the Book that was written, the books about Him that weren't, and the book I think you should write. The one about you...how do you think it will end?

February 15, 2012

love and marriage

My husband is a stinker and I am a conundrum. I think there's a better word out there to describe me but I can't figure out what it is. I even tried googling it. What do you call someone who is not schizophrenic, but close?
I don't think there are two people running around inside this body, but there is certainly more than one.

I am shy and outgoing, quiet and loud. I can be very insecure and confident, compassionate and unfeeling, and I can be blunt and...I was going to say subtle, but I'm sure my husband would say I'm never indirect. Anyway, what do you call someone like that?

So Monday evening I started thinking about Valentine's Day. I thought about all the hype and the crazy amounts of money people spend just to say I love you. Then I thought about love. Do all those Hallmark cards, flowers, chocolates, and stuffed animals say to a woman, "I love you"? Not this woman.

Just as we were falling asleep Monday night I bluntly blurted out, "Lovey, let's just skip Valentine's Day. I don't want flowers or a card. I don't want chocolates and I certainly don't want a stuffed animal. I don't want anything if all it is is you driving home from work and thinking, Whoa! It's Valentine's Day. I better stop at Walmart and grab a card for my wife. That is not romantic to me. I want something that's thought out and shows you really truly love me. I don't want something that's done just because it's "that" day and everyone else is doing it. To me, one of the most romantic things you've ever said was the other night when I was crying. Remember? The boys bolted from the room because they couldn't handle it. I didn't want to chase you off so I stuffed everything down inside. Remember? And then a few minutes later you came in, sat down, looked at me and said, "I'm not afraid of you. It's OK to cry...." That is romantic to me. That said I love you more than any card ever could...I don't need anything else. OK?"

My husband said, "OK" and that was the end of that-until this morning. This morning I was stumbling around, trying to pump some coffee into my sleepy head and wake up. Mike had already showered, shaved, had some coffee and was about to walk out the door. Suddenly he stopped, looked at me and said, "Well, now I can get a card and some chocolates for you!"

"No, you can't. I don't want all that. Remember?"

"Yeah, but today it'll all be on sale!" he grinned. He bolted before I could throw something at him.

February 13, 2012

pick a part

Something's been gnawing at me for the last several months. It never used to bother me and I never really even noticed it before, but lately? Lately it has become bothersome and even a bit embarrassing.

I don't understand my brain.

Until this weekend I was beginning to think there were parts missing but now I'm noticing my son's brain working in exactly the same way mine does so how can that be? Unless...unless...could missing brain parts be a genetic thing that's handed down from generation to generation? (If so, I'm sorry Alec....)

Let me give you a few examples and you can judge for yourself.

If you took grammar and punctuation in junior high school and didn't get it, well, no biggie. High school will take care of that, right? Wrong. And if you took grammar and punctuation in high school and didn't get it? Hmmm....Then you go to college and you take grammar and punctuation and you still don't get it so they hand you over to a tutor and you still. don't. get. it.
What would that tell you about your brain? Yes! See, you agree with me. Parts missing.

Or, take this example. You go to a movie and absolutely love it. It stirs your soul and touches your heart deeply-you even cry during the climatic finale. Later, you come home and try to tell your family about the movie. They ask, "Who was in it?"

"Well...I don't know..."

"Where did the movie take place?"

"Hm? What? Some city, you know...it had tall buildings and lots of stop lights and..."

"What was the plot?"

"Ohhh...I can't remember, but it was soooo good! I just loved it. It was the best movie I've seen in years and I'll never forget it! "

The same kind of thing happened yesterday at church. The sermon was perfect and exactly what I needed to hear. It was challenging and very encouraging. It went to a deep place in my heart and hugged me. Later, after church, we went out to lunch with our son and daughter-in-law. They'd been working in the nursery at church and had missed the teaching time.

So, as we're sitting there chatting I started thinking about the things I'd heard and blurted out, "Wow. You guys should've heard the sermon this morning. It was so good! It was just what I needed to hear!"

Naturally my son wanted to know what it was about. I suddenly felt like a deer caught in the headlights. I couldn't remember.
"Well, it was...it was perfect! He talked about...it was somewhere in the book of Mark and it was sooo good." I looked lamely at my husband for help and thankfully, he came through. He was able to tell my son what the whole message had been about without missing a beat.

There are certain theological concepts I can't wrap my head around either. I talk about them, I study them, I google them, and they won't. soak. in. I'll start to get it but then suddenly, poof. It's completely gone. I will admit here and now, this one isn't funny. This example brings me to tears of frustration sometimes...

OK-moving right along. Like I said before, I thought I was alone...a random, big picture person
lost in a sea of people who aren't missing brain parts and who, I've noticed, snicker and shake their heads at me when they think I'm not looking.

Then, this weekend, I found a comrade. Someone who understands me and thinks exactly like I do. My third son. What a relief.

A few weeks ago he told me a story about something he'd heard at work. It was hilarious and we laughed so hard we both had tears in our eyes. Then, Saturday evening we wanted to spread the joy so we started telling his big brother the story. The only problem is, neither one of us could remember the details. We sat in the livingroom laughing and spluttering over something we couldn't even remember, but boy was it funny! It was something we will never forget.
You should've seen the look on his big brother's face. That was even more amusing than the story we weren't telling.

Did you know there's a place here in Indiana called Pick A Part? It's a car junk yard. If you happen to be working on your car and find you need a doo-hicky that's too expensive at Auto Zone, you can hop over to Pick A Part and wander through their wasteland of broken and abandoned vehicles until you find one that's similar to yours. You then buy the doo hicky off that car, put it into your car and you're good to go.

That's what Alec and I need! We need to find a place called Brains. Pick A Part. We could hop over there, wander through the wasteland of broken and abandoned.....well, you get the picture...

February 12, 2012

it takes all kinds

If you were to take my two oldest sons, (there were times by the way, when I wished someone would) and look at their personalities and the paths their lives have taken, you would never think they came from the same family. The strange thing is, they were raised in exactly the same way, used the same school books, went to the same church, listened to the same novels and autobiographies, and taught the same theology. We tried to be consistent with our words, our prayers for each of them, and the way we disciplined them.

However, in many, many ways they are poles apart in the way they think and in how they've approached life.

Our oldest son went to college and likes to have his ducks in a row before he takes the next step. And you know what? He and his ducks are happy living life that way.

#2? He did not go to college, and his ducks sometimes appear to be swimming all over the pond enjoying the water. And again, he and his ducks are happy living life that way.

(Please don't think I'm saying their lives are always hunky dory. They have stresses and challenges and go through hard things just like the rest of us do.)

OK, so, for a few years I sat here on the dock and watched my sons and their ducks and wondered, which way is God's way? How does He want us to live? Are we supposed to line up each little duck and follow them in a straight neat line? Or, is it better to just jump in the pond and play with the ducks? Let them swim around, and see what God does with them?

Sometimes I'd worry and stress about one son and the way he was treating his ducks, and sometimes I'd fear for the other one. Which boy is right?? I could see pros and cons to both ways of living and I could see the logic behind their choices.

Finally, I went to the bible to see what it had to say about men and living life and ducks. What on earth does God want us to do with them?? Are we supposed to line those duckies up or does God want us to toss them in the water and join them for a swim?

After a bit I began to notice something. It takes all kinds of men and all kinds of lives and all kinds of ducks to be a light and salt and husband and provider.

I looked in the bible and found Joseph. Talk about ducks and lining them up! That man was put in charge of saving and storing enough food to feed an entire nation for 7 years. I bet that man's excel spread sheets flapped in the breeze day and night for years while he worked on that project.

Then I thought about Moses. God told him to take the Israelites, well over 600,000 of them, and go. Just jump in the pond, (or desert in this case) and swim. There was no time to organize, no time to plan ahead, no time to pull the old excel spread sheet out or line up the ducks. Just take the ducks and leap.

I had so much peace after I peeked in the bible and spent time with Joseph and Moses-I could see God's hand in their lives, directing them, caring for them, using them...and I noticed the same thing with my sons. There isn't just one way to live with ducks. God is a God of variety and surprise and it takes all kinds of duck owners to accomplish what God wants accomplished.

February 9, 2012

weaning me

If you've been here very long, or read even some of my posts from the past, you may have noticed I frequently dwell on my mid-life crisis. I have now determined it's going to last longer than any man's ever has. Come to think of it, I've never heard of a momma having a midlife crisis, have you? Am I the only one??

Anyway, I've written about our sons growing up and 2 of them moving out, and I've written about my future. Do I have one? I've written about our emptying nest, and I've written about the sadness that's brought. However, I don't think I've ever shown you the flip side-the good and sweet things that have surrounded the sadness.

I'd like to tell you first of all that there is a difference between the good and the sweet.

The good has been discovering things like:
-our grocery bill is smaller
-the house stays cleaner
-the nest isn't as crowded as it once was-we have a bit of room to spread out our wings
-um...um....surely there are more good things?....

Well then... what about the sweet things? The sweet things that have come have surrounded and surprised me. They've left me speechless and baffled and blessed me more than words can say.

I loved nursing my babies. I loved snuggling with those boys and filling their tummies, knowing that at the same time I was comforting them and filling their hearts. Nursing reassured and relaxed them and more often than not, they would go to sleep as they nursed, feeling safe, knowing they were loved.

But, like all good things, nursing had to end. Weaning them was hard. Being boys, they loved real food, but after a meal they'd want to nurse again. Are you still there momma? Can you please comfort me? Let me know you love me? Are we still a "we"? Weaning them was a step by step process, done slowly and gently so they wouldn't feel abandoned. Once each baby was weaned there was a change in the relationship. We were still a "we" but we both enjoyed our newfound freedom.

There's been a role reversal of sorts as each son has grown. I was the one who needed the reassurance, especially during the few months before and after they moved out. My heart frequently wondered, Are you still there son? Do you still love me? I know you are a man now, but are we still a "we"?

And that's where the speechless, baffled, blessed part comes in. My sons have risen to the occasion and weaned me. They've instinctively known and understood my sadness and have taken care to let me know I am and always will be loved. They pulled away gently and have done countless things to show me I'm still loved; little presents, frequent, frequent hugs, phone calls and visits when life allows. I have no doubt that we are still a "we". There's been a change in the relationship. We are still a "we" but we both enjoy our newfound freedom.

February 8, 2012

3 things that may never have been

Do you remember that group I wrote about on January 16th? It's a facebook group of people who want to focus on giving thanks to God daily for His gifts to us, and then sharing those things with each other online.

We've had "thinking" prompts for the first month. Each day we've been given an assignment-looking for 3 specific gifts to be thankful for. Some of those have been a bit baffling, some hard to face. For instance, on January 16th we were supposed to list 3 things about ourselves we were thankful for. That was a tough one.

However, today's assignment is easy peasy. What are 3 things you're thankful for that may never have been? Can I write my whole life? I know that's not not 3 things. It's one great big huge thing but I see God's fingerprints everywhere, all over my history. Even the fact that I'm alive and breathing is a miracle to me. Shortly before I became a Christian, (at the ripe old age of 13) I would lay in bed each night trying to decide which way would be the least painful way to kill myself....

That's a long story and not what I wanted to write about today. When I read today's assignment 3 things immediately popped into my head and those are the things I wanted to write about. Near misses. (Do you believe in those btw? Do you think if God is sovereign over who's president and how many hairs are on your head and that the thoughts He has about you outnumber the grains of sand, that there can be near misses in life??)

So anyway. 3 things that may never have been.

The first thing that sprang to mind when I saw today's assignment was our youngest son. I had him when I was 40. He was not a surprise and not a mistake. We wanted a baby, but fear held me back. I wrote about how he came to be back in July so I won't go into it again, but I will say this. He may never have been. When I think about that my heart falls down on its knees and praises God for the miracle of that boy....

The next thing that popped into my head is my friendship with A. I went through what some people call "a mountaintop" experience spiritually after my mom died and one day I told my pastor about it. He casually mentioned A. and said she was going through a similar situation at the same time. He said, "Why don't you give her a call? I think you two would get along and you could talk about what the Lord is doing in your lives right now..." Well, normally I'm a pretty shy person and would never, ever, not never no-how call a stranger out of the blue and suggest going out for coffee. Right....but I overruled myself, listened to my pastor and called A. That was 15 years ago. We became best friends almost instantly. I've never met anyone else who thinks so much like I do, and feels like I do about things and can tell me what I'm thinking when I can't even figure it out for myself. On the surface we don't have too many things in common and I don't know much about her. I don't know what her favorite color is or what kind of music she likes. I don't know what her favorite junk food is or what kinds of movies she likes or what she does when she's bored and restless. We are what Anne of Green Gables would call bosom friends. Deep friends. And A. may never have been if our pastor hadn't suggested a simple cup of coffee....

And finally, the third thing. Old friends. In the last 6 or 7 months I've reconnected with several old friends and what a huge blessing that has been. They've encouraged me, supported me, challenged me and given to me in so, so many ways. I hate to admit it was good old cyberspace that brought these friends back into my life, but there it is. And, if we didn't have a computer, or if my son hadn't set up a facebook account for me and forced me into it, those friendships may never have been renewed...

Can you think of 3 things to be thankful for that may never have been?

February 5, 2012

a thought for you to think about

I've often wondered about something. I sure don't feel like a spring chicken anymore physically. Why do I still feel so young and jaunty inside but my body is starting to feel the years?

A few years ago I was listening to two women on the radio; they were discussing the aging process, midlife, grand parenting, etc. etc. when one of them brought up the whole idea of being energetic and vibrant inside while her body was busy doing its own thing and growing old.

The other woman replied, "That is because there is no aging going on inside. We are eternal beings meant to live forever. Our bodies feel the ticking of the clock but our spirits and souls know no time."

No wonder I sometimes feel like I'm at war with myself and frustrated beyond words. My heart wants to go out and conquer the world but my body wants to curl up on the couch and take a nap.

I think this is one of those bittersweet things...encouraging, discouraging, exciting and disappointing. It's like being trapped on a slowly sinking ship in the beautiful Caribbean. The difference is, once the ship sinks there's something even more lovely than the Caribbean waiting for me....

February 3, 2012

these are a few of my favorite things....

Do you have any hobbies or things that maybe aren't a hobby, but they still refresh you? Something that you do that feeds your soul?

I once met a woman who didn't. She told me she had no hobbies, no crafts, no creative outlet whatsoever; she was perfectly happy with that. That is what fed her soul. Having nothing on her plate and nothing to do. I can certainly understand that. I love doing nothing. Sitting, daydreaming, planning, remembering-those things are soul food to me too.

But, I do have a few other things I love doing. You know I love my green babies. I have 40 houseplants scattered around. (I don't think there's one toxic air molecule within a mile of our house.)

I also love hiking out in the woods. That is deeply refreshing to me.

Car rides and long walks with my husband soothe and comfort me as well.

And being a grandma? Wow. There is nothing like it and no words to describe it. It's....it's....other than my own children, one of the sweetest gifts God's given me.

And then you have these two. They are two of my best friends. Really. They are. We have soooo much fun together. Sometimes they make me laugh so hard I can hardly stay vertical.

One thing that is more than soul food to me is writing. I need it. I crave it. It's often how I pray and often how I surrender things to the Lord. It is also a creative outlet for me.

And scrapbooking? Ack! I have a love/hate relationship with that one. Do you have any hobbies you hate to love? That's how I feel about scrapbooking.

Drawing has become something I enjoy, in small doses. It is a lot of work so it's not as refreshing as a few other things I try.

I started crocheting maybe 2 years ago? I needed someting to do with my hands when my brain was too tired to function but it was too early to go to bed.

There are other things I enjoy doing-little projects I try and crafty things I make. Just recently I've taken up sculpting. What do you think of these? My family thinks they are proof positive that I'm deeply disturbed. (Something they've suspected all along, but couldn't put on a finger on til now.)

So, it's Friday, and the weekend is almost here. What are you going to do to relax? What will refresh you over the next two days? What will soothe your soul? What are some of your hobbies?