January 31, 2012

and yet more stuff i'm stewing on

Where do science and the bible meet? (I'm thinking about psychology at the moment)

If dogs are so smart, why do the same dogs snarl and bark at me every. single. day when I walk? Don't they remember me? I was just "here" 24 hours ago.

Should you tell your kids about the family skeletons hiding in the closet?

Where do our choices and God's sovereignty meet?

Why is it taking so long to heal?

How do you know for positive when something mentioned in the bible is addressing a cultural issue from that time or something meant for all peoples for all time?

What does it feel like to die? When your spirit actually leaves your body?

Why do I have the best hair days when I'm not going to see anyone except my 10 yr. old all day?

Do angels still have the freedom to "walk away" from the Lord? Can they sin? From what I've noticed, and that may not be much, they can't and they don't. However, in 1 Corinthians 6:3 we're told we will judge the angels.

I haven't thought this one through, just something that popped into my head. So, if the answer is obvious, don't judge me, ok? It's only 6:30 in the morning and I'm still drinking my first cup of coffee. So, here's the question:
Which statement is true? Everything is wrong to do unless the bible says it's right?
OR
Everything is ok to do unless the bible says it's wrong?


What have been the Golden Moments of your life?

What have been your spiritual peaks?


January 30, 2012

stepping out of the boat

When I was a very young little girl I wanted to be a wife and a momma. More than anything in the world that's what I wanted. I wanted a husband and babies to love and care for, and I wanted to teach and become friends with those babies as they grew. I wanted diapers and cuddling and being needed and giving. I wanted to show my babies who their Creator was and give them the opportunity to be His friend.

After a time I did grow up. I got married and had those babies. 4 of them. My heart was full, my time well spent, my energy had somewhere to go.

But then, one by one, those babies grew up and my heart started aching. You know that. I've written about it enough times that this blog should've been called A Mom in Mid-Life Crisis.

And lately? Lately that ache has turned into something more. It's so hard to explain. I've felt lost, and pointless. I know I'm not young anymore, but I'm not old yet either. I still have way too much of me to pour out. I'm not ready to slow down and I'm certainly not ready to sit here and crochet for the next 20 or 30 years.

I still want to be a momma. When I tell some people that, they snicker. They don't understand. They look at me like, Woman, you need a reality check. It's time to let go of that part of your life and move on.

I've told myself that too. For the last 7 or 8 years I've been telling myself that. I've looked at my hunger to momma little people and have tried to release it. I've tried to let go. I've tried to kill it but it just. won't. die. I've argued with myself for 8 long years and have told me, You're crazy. I've tried to find a new purpose and something to pour me into, but I somehow just keep coming back to momma. There is nothing on the planet I'd rather do more.

When we got married we talked about one day adopting a baby or a smallish sized person from China, but life got in the way and we never pursued it.

A few years ago I brought the idea to my husband again. He thought about it, but said he felt weary. Tired. Worn out. And the money? Where on earth would we get the money??

So, I went back to trying to kill that part of my heart. It was like stepping on a blob of jello. I couldn't do it. I tried burying it and I tried peeping at other things to do. I even asked myself if this need and desire was an idol in my life.

Then, yesterday at church I started talking with a new friend. She is my twin in this. She knows exactly how I feel. She doesn't think I'm crazy or stuck in the past or practicing idolatry. She doesn't think it's a hormonal blow-out or a mid-life crisis. She knows the craving and the need to pour herself into little people. She's wanted to momma them all her life too. She said if it's something that won't die, or won't go away, maybe it's God. Maybe God is saying don't give up. Don't quit. Don't kill it. I started sobbing as we spoke. It never, ever occurred to me that God was keeping that hunger alive in my heart. It never occurred to me that God could be talking that loudly and persistently. I've been fighting a battle with Him over something maybe He and I both want. Does that make sense? And, get this. My new friend has adopted 3 little girls from? CHINA. Hmm.....

Well, to make a long story short, (quit snorting at me) I sobbed all over the place at church and made a fool of myself. I sobbed all the way home and then I found my husband. He sat on the couch, (still sick btw) and listened to me babble and sob. I told him all of this and I told him what my new friend had said. And then, my husband gave me the shock of my life. He said, "OK. Let's pray about it."

"Can we do more than pray?" I asked. "Can we look into it? Can we start taking actual steps and see where this leads?"

"Yes." He said yes. I was so startled I stopped sobbing. He said the main thing that's held him back has always been the money. Where on earth will that come from? My friend at church said they went through the same thoughts, but if this is something God wants, God will do it.

So, that is where we're at and what we're going to do. We are going to step out of the boat and see if we can walk on water. We are going to look into adoption and see where this leads. Maybe nowhere. Maybe somewhere huge.

I'd appreciate your prayers-so very, very much.

January 28, 2012

nosey, nosey woman

I saw a man today, driving his truck. He had greying hair, and a bushy mustache. His face was kind. He looked solid, safe...trustable; he had a sharp, alert look in his eye.
I wanted to climb into the seat next to him and go for a ride. I wondered about him.
What had he done with his life? What stories could he tell? What memories fill his heart? Where had he lived and whom had he loved?
I wondered, what are the secret yearnings of a man who looks so intense, yet content? Did he have many regrets? What words of wisdom could he pass my way?
I wanted to sit there next to him and give him the gift of my ears and let him satisfy my curious mind.

Of course, it never occurred to me to wonder if he'd be opposed to the idea.

January 26, 2012

Battle of the Sexes

I've been thinking about men this week. I have, over the years, lived with a lot of masculinity. I know I've told you this before, but I'll say it again. I have (or had) 3 brothers, 3 "half-brothers", a step-brother, 6 nephews, a dad, a husband and 4 sons. (Is it any wonder I am the way I am??)

On the surface, I'd say men are easy to understand. You feed them, give them lots of time and space to be squirrelly, let them think they're calling the shots and they're happy. End of story.

But, in reality, I don't get them at all. You'd think I would after living with so many of them all these years, wouldn't you? But, I still don't understand what makes them tick. They seem selfish and self-sacrificing, laid back and driven, and they won't tell you anything but boy do they love to talk. They say they're truly listening while their eyes wander to the TV or the fridge or the window. Right.

We've had a lot of discussion about the differences between men and women over the years; there has been a lot of bantering, and a lot of debate and I've heard a lot of snickering and snorting each time I've said men are the confusing ones. One afternoon my 19 year old son actually spent 50 minutes talking to me about the differences between the sexes-he spent most of that time expounding on the simplicity of men. He almost had me convinced; almost. But, when all was said and done, I had to ask myself, if men are that simple, why did it take nearly an hour to explain why?

Needless to say, when you are the lone female in the herd, and you receive that kind of treatment, you do start to wonder. Doubt creeps in and you ask yourself, am I the confusing one? Maybe they're right. Maybe I am crazy. Maybe women are more complex....

Well, this morning my doubts were put to rest. I was right all along. I googled men and women and the Internet put my doubts to rest. (And we all know cyberspace is never wrong, right?)

According to wikiHow, there are 14 steps to understanding men. Count them. FOURTEEN.
Want to know how many there are for understanding a woman? 4. Yep. I said four.

I am not crazy. I am not complex. I was not wrong. I was lost and alone in a sea of men that's all. However, I am not alone anymore. I have 2 daughters-in-law now, and I'm beginning to see I'm normal and there's a simple 4 step plan for understanding me. What a relief.

January 24, 2012

A MeMe

My friend Lawana from Wani's World has tagged me for a meme!

The first thing you're supposed to do is:
post the rules:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
3. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
4. Go to their blog and tell them you've tagged them.
*No stuff in the tagging section about "you are tagged if you are reading this."

So, 11 random things about me eh?
1. My favorite job was as a photographer with a rafting company. I sat at the front of the raft, facing backward and rode the rapids, taking pictures of the other rafters. fun, fun, fun!

2. We live in a teeny house and I have 40 houseplants. (maybe I should've been a florist...)

3. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my left pinky toe pokes up in the air. Hey, you! I'm here. Pay attention to me...

4. I can't remember the last time I watched a commercial on TV or a TV show actually. I watch movies on Netflix, but TV? yuck.

5. I habitually put things away for safe keeping and never see them again.

6. I read books backwards. Novels, mysteries, non-fiction...all of them. I read the last few pages first and then sometimes the middle, then, if I think the book's worth reading, I'll go to the beginning and read the whole thing through.

7. No matter where we go I always stick my husband on my right side. (unless he's driving)

8. I got asked out by 3 guys in one day in high school.

9. I'll discuss just about anything or everything. Just about.

10. I really enjoy pygmy goats.

11. I was a thief for a few weeks immediately following a mission's trip.


Number two-answer the questions the tagger set for you:
1. Who do you most admire and why?
My dad. He got it.

2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
a wife and momma-a few others things were thrown in there too, but mostly those 2

3.What is your favorite beverage?
water or green smoothies, if they count?

4. Dogs or cats?
It's a toss up. I've heard they both taste like chicken. :-)

5.What is your least favorite exercise to do?
sit ups, push ups, pull ups, anything that has to do with "up" I guess.:-)

6. What is one thing you have done that you aren't proud of?
see #11 up there

7. If you could do 3 things on your bucket list tomorrow, what would they be?
I don't really have a bucket list, but I really, really want to go to Canada and Alaska.
I want to see Mt. Everest up close and personal and I'd love to...to....that's a secret.

8.If you could go on a trip anywhere, where would you go?
Well, other than the two I just mentioned, I want to go to Maine and back to England. I love road trips where we just meander....

9.What is your favorite book?
Too many to list. Sea to Sea by James Alexander Thom, LOTR, The Hobbit, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

10. What is your favorite candy bar?
Dove Dark Chocolate

11.If you could tell someone from your past one thing, what would you say?
I'd like to ask my mom to forgive me. It wasn't all you mom.


Number three:
Here's the tough one. I don't know 11 bloggers anymore. I only know three that weren't already tagged. So....
I will tag:

my friend Rachel

and my new friend Ginger

January 22, 2012

the flip side

I didn't realize (until after I was in bed last night and was too tired to get up and do anything about it) that my last two posts were full of goodbyes and a lumpy throat. I really feel like I need to explain myself.

In the first place, I am not overly depressed by my sons' growing up and leaving. It only takes a moment to read a poem, think back to all the years you've parented, realize how quickly they've flown, have a lump form in your throat, swallow the lump, and there, it's over.

And it only takes a moment to walk down the road with your son, look up at him, notice he now towers over your head, he's maturing, have a lump form in your throat, swallow the lump, and there, that's over. You move on and laugh and plan dinner, and argue about who won the game we all played the night before....I promise, I am not sitting here blubbering all the time.

As a matter of fact, there is a flip side to your sons growing up and moving on. And, just between you and me, I do enjoy that side.

The first thing I noticed when our two oldest moved out was the quiet. No one came home in the middle of the night, flipping lights on, making a late night snack, watching TV....when we fell asleep we actually stayed asleep.

The grocery bill isn't what it used to be and the house stays clean a bit longer than before.

One of the more important things we've noticed is that we've had more time to spend with our other two sons. We're not as "spread out" and tired as we used to be-there's "more" of us to give to fewer of them.

After the initial shock and sadness of having a shrinking family, I also realized that in some ways I have less weight on my shoulders, especially now that our two oldest have married. I still sometimes worry about them, and I'll always pray for them, but now, more than ever, I look at God and say, "Well, those kids are your problem now." I've released them to Him and am learning to trust Him with their lives. They truly are no longer my responsibility and I must admit, there is some relief in that. (Is that weary old age rearing it's ugly head?)

The best part of all of it is that those two oldest sons, and their wives, are becoming our friends. We get together for a meal, or an evening together and we laugh, play games, tease each other...we talk about house projects or trips we'd like to take together...the stress of parenting them is over and new relationships are forming.

Ever since I was a young teenage girl I think my favorite word has been bittersweet; life often is bittersweet, isn't it? I just need to be careful which side of the word I live on, that's all. I could sit here and feed the lump in my throat and let it grow, or I can look at who my sons have become and be thankful.

I just felt like I need to clarify that, especially after my last two posts...

January 21, 2012

goodbye Peter Pan

I am losing a boy. No, he's not moving out, getting married, or dying of some tropical disease. This boy is growing up. He's been tottering on the edge of man-ness for some time, but he also enjoys spending time with Peter Pan. Do you know what I mean? He never reads my blog, so I think I can safely say, (without rocking his boat) that he has fought growing up tooth and nail but now I see what my son probably doesn't. He is becoming a man. Whether he likes it or not.

(Do you remember being 19? I think 19 is the hardest age to parent. My husband said he was a toad at 19, and I know I was. 19 should be erased and kids should just bound from being 18 to 20. (Several of those teen numbers are a pain, but 19? Yuck.))

Yesterday was....bittersweet. Not only did I see my boy growing up, I saw, in my heart, a young man leaving. I've been through this twice before so I know the signs. They start showing signs of man-ness, then suddenly they are too big to fit in your house. They grow restless and their eye is focused out "there". The whole wide world begins to whisper, come. spread your wings. fly....and then before you know it, empty boxes start appearing and treasured possessions start disappearing...I am so excited to see the man my boy is becoming. So deeply thankful. But it hurts. I didn't expect that. I thought by round 3 this leaving thing would be a piece of cake. I guess you never get used to having major surgery and having parts removed, do you?

Goodness, did I just get side-tracked. I started out wanting to tell you what my son did yesterday to show me he's growing up. Maybe I want to avoid that bit because it showed me something about myself too. I am not the independent, I-don't-need-nobody-no-how person I want to be.

Anyway... you may or may not know I am recovering from back surgery. This recovery was supposed to take 6 weeks and we are now well into 17 months. This recovery has affected our family, our marriage, and the cleanness of our house. My 10 year old told me he can't remember me before I didn't hurt. Needless to say, we all want mommy to avoid another little slip and fall.

And here's another "anyway". I don't get out much in the winter. My life slows down and I'm often, often home, with only one sweet little face to keep me company. This year is even worse because my van is not happy. I'm under house arrest and my man/boy knows it. He knows I need to get out of here once in awhile. He knows I need to see something other than the 4 walls of our home in order to maintain my sanity. He knows I need to see trees and birds and breath crisp, fresh air. Daily if I can. So, yesterday, even though it was only in the 20's, and the roads were snowy and covered with black ice, and the wind was blowing, he only slightly sighed when I asked him to walk with me. Out there.

The sweet part was the way we walked. He stood right next to me the entire time, letting me hold his bicep in a death grip so I couldn't slip. At one point I asked him, "Lovey, are you embarrassed by this? Having your old mother cling to your arm while you walk down the road?"

"No. Why would you think that?" He sounded surprised. This coming from a person who is sometimes consumed with being "cool". Personally, I don't think it's cool for a boy to be seen walking down the road with a middle-aged woman clinging to his arm. But, it never even entered his head to be embarrassed.

Then, after another mile or so, I asked, "Lovey, do you feel like a nurse's aid? Taking the grandma out for a stroll?"

"No, mom. Let's just call me a friendly helper." And he grinned at me.

I grinned back, but I had to swallow two lumps while I did it. One lump of thanksgivng and one lump of sorrow. Am I normal?


January 18, 2012

goodbye little bits

One of the things that has distracted me from meeting my winter goals has been decluttering, sorting, and pitching. Did I tell you last Saturday I went through the house room by room collecting things? Some of those things went into the garbage, some went to friends and family, and the rest went to Goodwill. Oh! I forgot to tell you how many things: one hundred. It was so much fun and it felt so good, I'm thinking about trying it again this weekend. My husband has already chained down the fridge....

Anyway, back in September I wrote about my clutter. I didn't think I had a lot of it so I was kind-of surprised at how easy it was to gather 100 things to get rid of last weekend. What I thought I had was paper clutter. I won't go into all that again. You can click on the highlighted words if you're interested in reading about my pondering-on-paper propensity.

Anyway again, this week I went through my drawers, notebooks, bible, jewelry box and my purse and gathered all those little bits of paper. I stacked them together on my desk and looked at the pile. No joke-it was almost 1 1/2 inches high. That's a lot of pondering. I've been working my way through that pile, sorting, saving, and pitching. (Nothing there is going to Goodwill.)

I also found something I want to share with you. I wanted to share it and then pitch it, but I don't think that's possible. It's attached to a lump in my throat by an invisible thread.

To My Grown-Up Son

My hands were busy through the day,
I didn't have much time to play
The little games you asked me to,
I didn't have much time for you.

I'd wash your clothes; I'd sew and cook,
But when you'd bring your picture book
And ask me, please, to share your fun,
I'd say, "A little later, son."

I'd tuck you in all safe at night,
and hear your prayers, turn out the light,
then tiptoe softly to the door,
I wish I'd stayed a minute more.

For life is short, and years rush past,
a little boy grows up so fast,
no longer is he at your side,
his precious secrets to confide.

The picture books are put away,
there are no children's games to play,
no goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear,
that all belongs to yesteryear.

My hands once busy, now lie still,
the days are long and hard to fill,
I wish I might go back and do,
the little things you asked me to.

Alice E. Chase


goodbye little bits.....

January 17, 2012

hmmmm....

If you set goals for yourself to distract you from the grey, lonely winter and then you ignore those goals because you found other distractions, are you a failure? Or, are you actually a huge success because you not only found out you didn't need the goals you had, but you discovered you were even more creative than you thought you could be and rose above your own expectations?
just pondering.....

January 16, 2012

3 little things

Do you like yourself? Could you sit down right now and make a list of things you like about you? Things you feel God put into you when He made you? Do you even believe God did the making? The bible says He did. Right there in Psalm 139:

verses 13-16
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God-you're breathtaking!
body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration-what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like a open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

I joined a group on facebook this week-it's a group designed to help people focus on thanksgiving. No, not the holiday; this group focuses on giving thanks to God each and every day for the grace and gifts we see in our lives. (The idea stems from a book by Ann Voskamp called 1000 Gifts.)

If you click on her name and head over to her blog you'll find out more about Ann, her book, and the power of having a thankful heart. If you scroll down a bit you'll find a daily writing prompt for the month of January-things to look for each day, things that will cause you to think, wow, God is good and gracious....look at what He's doing in my life....

Having said all that, I wanted to tell you about our first assignment-we were to list 3 things about ourselves we are grateful for.

The results of that question, for those of us in the facebook group, were quite interesting. Nearly every single one of us said something like, "Wow. This is a hard one." or, "This isn't easy..." or, "This is a lot harder than I thought..."

Most of us couldn't easily write down 3 things about ourselves we are thankful for. And yet, if you look at what the bible says, we are not only made by Him, He gave each one of us gifts and strengths that are uniquely our own.

If you could've been here, in this room with me, when I wrote my answer, you would've seen me sigh, type, backspace, sigh, shut my eyes tight, type and bolt. I couldn't sit here with myself after having written 3 little things I'm thankful for about me. It was a most uncomfortable few minutes and it was obvious I wasn't the only one feeling that way.

So now I'm wondering about you. Would you be comfortable making a list of things you thank God for about you? Would it be easy for you? Why do we feel like we're being prideful or bragging if we are giving God the credit for those things? Or, maybe we don't like the way we are or believe we have any gifts?

Psalm 139 in another version of the bible reads, "I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."

Do you believe that? Do you believe you are fearfully and wonderfully made? Would it be hard for you to tell me 3 things you're thankful for about you? It wouldn't even have to be things that you think were there from the beginning. What about lately? What about 3 things you've seen God do in you in the last few years to make you more like Him?

It's hard, isn't it? It's a place I certainly don't like to go. Do you?

please bear with me

Have I ever told you I've had a long, practically bloody battle with insomnia over the last 20 years?

If there was only one thing keeping me awake I would've addressed the problem and sleep wouldn't be something I just dream about. However, it's something different nearly every single night.

Sometimes it's something as crazy as a hot foot. Yes, I said that. Sometimes my left foot gets so hot I can't sleep. Shoving it out from under the covers doesn't help. Sticking my foot in front of a blowing fan doesn't help. I've finally resorted to sleeping with an ice pack at the end of the bed on the nights that foot won't cooperate.

Sometimes it's my brain thinking, 'Well, you've had 4 hours of sleep. Let's get up! I'm raring to go!'

Occasionally it's depression, worry, or stress that keeps me awake or even a certain someone I know who can't stop coughing. (he's finally going to see a dr. today, btw.)

For many years I trotted along, somehow teaching and mommying on 2-4 hours of sleep a night. Looking back, I have no idea how we made it through that. It's not as bad as it used to be, but even now, after I've had a particularly bad night and we need to go somewhere, I'll pull the van out of the driveway and sit there, unmoving, until finally I ask my 10 yr. old, "Sweetie, which side of the road do I drive on? I can't remember." (It's a good thing we live out in the boonies, eh?)

I was planning on challenging myself to write here every single day for the month of January, but as you can see, I'm failing miserably. And the reason? You guessed it. It's been a really rough month sleep-wise.

The other day I found an old book I bought a few years ago called The Shape of a Year by Jean Hersey. It's a sweet, peaceful book about her daily life and thoughts, the things she saw each day and the seasonal routines she and her husband had.

I read the introduction and found something I wanted to share with you. (Partially because I can't seem to think of anything creative enough on my own right now, but also just because I enjoyed the passage. Maybe you will too?)

A new year is a gift, a small piece of infinity, to do with as we will. Things happen. We grow (we hope), and we learn willy nilly. Life moves around us, life moves through us to others, and the year gradually accepts its pattern. We give, we take, we resist, we flow. Our reachings, acceptances, rejections, our hesitancies, courage, fears, and our loves, all these form the shape of the year for each of us, as individuals, as part of a family, as a member of a community.
No two years are ever alike, no two Januarys. Every snowflake differs from the next one, no daffodil in the meadow is absolutely identical with its neighboring daffodil, and no two birds sing the same song.
Each year we think about different things, have different projects, goals and challenges...

Have you thought about this year? Have you wondered what it will bring? Do you have new goals or projects planned? Some people are saying this is THE year-the end. The last year. Some people think Jesus is coming this year. Are you thinking about that? Ready for it? Do you look at a new year as a gift? Do you wonder whose lives you'll touch this year? Have you thought about what you'll bring to the people in your world? How you'll give to them?

That's all I have today. Ramblings. Please bear with me-I'm hoping to get some sleep soon and find my brain, wherever it landed.

January 13, 2012

not just any point of view

My husband and I have only had a few real fights over the years. Don't get me wrong. I know I annoy the daylights out of him at times and vice-versa, and we banter back and forth over things, but as for real fights? Where I get angry enough to throw a pen at his head and we yell at each other? Not very often. We usually get along pretty peaceably.

This is something my niece noticed and one day she even asked us about it.
"So, what is your secret? How come you guys get along so well? Why don't you fight?"

I can't remember which one of us answered the question, but we both thought it. We both thought the same thing at the same time and then one of us replied,

"I think we try and look at life from the other person's perspective. We step out of our shoes and look at things as if we were the other person and try and understand things from his/her point of view."

(I must admit that this has become harder to do during the last few years than it ever was before. For the longest time it was something we did naturally. It wasn't a part of our wedding vows or a pact we made in a meadow under a full moon on a hot summer night. We just did it. )

Well, a few months ago our pastor gave us a challenge. He told us to pray and ask God to help us view life from God's perspective. Whew. That is a challenge. It's difficult enough for me to step out of my shoes and into my husband's and think like a man. And not just any old man. In order for me to look at life from my husband's point of view, I have to study him. What does he like? What are his hurts? His baggage? What are his quirks? His preferences? What makes him comfortable and what are his pet-peeves? Why on earth does he think like that and do things that way?

In order for me to do that I have to take me, my desires, my hurts, my preferences, and most of who I am and put it all aside. I have to learn to think like my husband thinks which, I need to tell you, is not easy. Sometimes that man just doesn't make sense.

Anyway, by now I think you get my point. (or should I say my pastor's point?) In order for me to look at life from God's perspective, I need to know God. Who is He? What does He want? How does He think? Why does He do what He does? I need to study Him and who He is, put me aside, and try to think like He thinks. (and yes, there are times where God doesn't make sense either)

God does have an unfair advantage over my husband in all of this. God comes with a book. The bible. Through that I can know Him and who He is and why He does what He does. By studying the bible I'm studying God-I can see what His perspective is.

My husband didn't come with a book.

January 11, 2012

Standing and Spitting

I've been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He was such a practical man. He could separate his emotions from a circumstance and look at it logically. He could take something apart bit by bit, compare it to scripture, and come out with answers based on biblical truth rather than responding with his feelings. That is one of the things I really respected about him and one of the ways I wish I were like him....

Anyway, did I ever tell you I lived in a cult? Of course, I didn't know it at first, and even toward the end it was doubtful, but that's what some people called it.

The "cult" was that school in Wisconsin where my husband and I met. I won't go into too many details about the whole thing; in the first place you have better things to do than read about a crazy experience I had 30 years ago and in the second place, (which maybe should be first, now that I think about it) I can't remember all the details. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of rules, a lot of inconsistency, and there was a lot of control.

The school was set up as a one year work/study program designed to deepen and strengthen our faith, build good work habits, and....and....teach us how to recognize a cult? Sorry, just kidding.

We had classes every morning; things like church history, the history of Israel, what the bible teaches about repentance and forgiveness, and other classes along those lines. Our afternoons were spent working; cooking, cleaning, gardening....come to think of it, other than chopping wood I'm not sure what the guys did. Hmmmm...I'm going to have to ask my husband about that.

Moving along. The year started out like most school years do. We went to class, did our homework, worked, made friends, and had a lot of fun. We must have been having too much fun because as the year progressed I think the leaders felt like they were losing control. They kept adding rules to everything; then we started noticing there were so many rules some of them actually contradicted each other.

I should probably say here and now that when all was said and done, our class was labeled as The Most Rebellious. But, who can blame us? We were confused by all the inconsistency we saw, so at times we simply ignored the rules and did whatever we wanted to do.

Things were really strange by the end of the year. The school was divided-it narrowed down to staff verses students. Them verses Us. The rules and the control continued to increase and things grew out of hand. Some of the students got fed up with the whole thing and left and the surrounding community started calling the school a cult. That's when I panicked and called my dad. I didn't want to leave, but I sure didn't want to stay either.

"Dad! They're calling this place a cult! I don't want to leave, but I can't live in a cult. What should I do??"

"Jude, calm down. Are they hurting you physically?"

"Well, no..."

"Are they hurting you emotionally?"

"No...."

"What about your faith? Are they tearing that down? Injuring it?"

"No, but dad, it's a cult! I don't want to live in a cult!"

"How much longer does the program last? When are you scheduled to leave?"

"In three months."

"Good grief. That's all? Just stick it out. You committed yourself to staying for a year. If they're not hurting you in any way, and you only have 3 more months, just hang in there. You could stand on your head and spit nickles for that long."

So, I listened to my dad. I stuck it out. I stood there and I practiced using my head rather than my emotions. I separated the biblical truth being taught from the lies and confusion and spit out the garbage. I'd like to say that was a lesson learned, but to be honest, I'm not there yet. I still tend to respond to things emotionally and let logic come along when it will. But, when I'm going through something difficult, I often, often refer to that phone call and tell myself, "Judy, this won't last forever. What does the bible say about God and His faithfulness? Hang in there. Eternity is coming. You can stand on your head and spit nickles...."

January 10, 2012

killing me softly with his cough....

My husband has had a cough for the last 3 weeks. For some reason the cough decides to pick up force and volume every night when we go to bed. Do you know what that means? We live in a 1200 square ft. house. There is no where he can go to cough where someone in the house can't hear him, and he's hearable all night. Every night.

At first I thought, poor man. I hope he feels better soon.

Then, after a week or so I thought, poor man. If this isn't over soon we're going to have to build a spare bedroom just for him-in the backyard.

Now, after 3 weeks of this, I'm thinking, poor man. Someone really needs to put him out of his misery.

Florence Nightingale I'm not. Nor am I feeling very creative at the moment. Unless you count the ways I've imagined putting him out of his misery; those have been creative....

I wonder, do they allow laptops in prison?

January 8, 2012

tiny fingers




That's my baby's thumb being held by his baby's hand.


My son now knows what I've known for 25 years:





Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
Elizabeth Stone

January 6, 2012

unnecessary gifts

Way, way back in time, when the world was young, when computers were the size of a small football field, and gas was 1$ a gallon, I took a class in psychology in high school.

I loved that class. I didn't believe everything our teacher told us, but I still found his lectures fascinating.

One morning as I was sitting at my desk, our teacher said something that filled my young heart with hope, despair, and challenge. He said, "Most of you will have acquaintances you call friends, but in reality, you will be lucky to have one real friend over the course of your entire life."

I sat there stunned, and yes, fascinated in a morose sort-of way, wondering if he was right and wanting to prove him wrong.

Well, here it is 34 years later, and I do have more than one real friend. That teacher was wrong. I've been thinking about my friends a lot lately, and what they mean to me, and how much I care for them.

I love this quote by C. S. Lewis:
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art..it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

About a month ago I made a list of things I love about my friends-the things that mean the most to me. If I were to write a letter to each one, this is what I'd say:

Thank you for being my friend. I need you and appreciate you more than words can say. I love that we can:

-share our struggles with each other

-and our weaknesses

-laugh together over unimportant things and even laugh at each other without feeling threatened

-I've put my heart in your hands and I trust you

-thank you for pointing my nose in the right direction when it starts to wander

-thank you for accepting me where I am and thank you for not locking me in that place

-thank you for cheering me on

-thank you for letting me lean on you once in awhile

-and thank you for leaning on me every now and then

-thank you for thinking I'm worth your time

-thank you for sharing your plans and dreams with me

-thank you for being patient with my weaknesses

-thank you for letting me vent and listening to me chatter

-thank you for coming along side and relating rather than preaching.

-thank you for trusting me with your heartaches and bruises

-I love the fact that even though we don't always see eye to eye, we do see
heart to heart.

-thank you for opening my eyes to Truth when I need it

-thank you for looking at my heart and seeing that I care, even though I
sometimes bumble along, not quite knowing how to do this thing called friendship

you may be an unnecessary gift, but what on earth would I do without you?

January 4, 2012

playing with words

I'm not sure what my sons remember about their school days; I don't know if they remember the failed science experiments, the messy, painty, gluey projects that took more time to clean up than they did to create, or the field trips that took us all over the state. Oh wait. We've talked about those. The only field trips they seem to remember are the ones that involved food-especially if free samples were involved. They do remember those.

Our third son has always loved words. He wrote his first novel when he was 6. Actually, he dictated it to me and I wrote it, but the story is all his. He remembers that school year-at least the book-writing part. Every morning I would get his big brothers started on their school work while Alec stood around waiting, thoughtful, impatient to begin playing with words. We'd grab a pencil and his notebook, cuddle up together on the couch and he'd take off like a rocket. I couldn't write fast enough to keep up with his imagination. I think I looked forward to those moments together as much as he did. I loved watching him think and talk, pause, grin to himself....I'd sit there wondering what on earth he was going to come up with next.

Sometimes he'd get a word wrong. He loved learning new words and experimenting with them; he enjoyed the challenge of using "new words" in a sentence.

The other day I ran across a book I started writing when our sons were young. It's a book full of stories about them-things they did and said that I never want to forget. I was skimming through it and came across 2 Alec bloopers I thought you might enjoy.

One night when he was about 11, I went into his room to kiss him goodnight and we started talking about his day. It was a Sunday, so I asked him about his Sunday school lesson.

"What was your lesson about today?"

"Oh, we talked about the bible and if it's true or not. Our teacher told us there are several ways to determine if the bible is true."

"Really? Can you tell me one of the ways? What did your teacher say?"

"Prostitutes Mom. We can prove scripture is valid by looking at the prostitutes."

"Lovey, do you mean prophecies?"

"Ohhhh yeah...that's the word the teacher used!"


About a month later we asked Alec to pray at dinner time:

"Lord Jesus, thank you for this food and thank you for keeping us safe. Please bless Benjamin (that's his big brother who was 17 at the time) as he gets ready to go to Summit. And please help him as he thinks about college, driving, getting a job, and all that stuff that has to do with
adultryhood. Amen."

Alec still writes and is working on his second novel. However, it's probably needless to say, but he is now the proud owner of a dictionary.

January 3, 2012

A Sentimental Fool...Or not

Do you think I'm too sentimental? Do I look back too much? Remember too much? Is it foolish to spend so much time looking back? I mean, really...if you look at the things I write about, most of it is memories.

My house is decorated with memories and sentimental things that have been given to us or made by our sons. (Of course, money, or a lack of it, may have something to do with the way I decorate, but I'm not sure.)

Even the jewelry I wear I wear for sentimental reasons. Other than my wedding ring, I have 3 pieces of jewelry that go with me pretty much every time I step out the door. One of those is a spoon ring. My brother had it made for me from one of my mom's spoons. I wrote about that before so I won't go into it now, but I'd be so disappointed if I lost it. Not only is it beautiful, the ring attaches me to my family, and cheerios and laughing with my brothers over a huge bowl of pasta...it's a rope from here to who I was and where I began.

I also wear a most hideous watch when I leave the house. It's really not that bad, but it is most definitely a man's watch. I put a dainty little black band on it to try and make it a tish more feminine, but I'm afraid that really didn't help. What? Oh. You want to know where it came from? It was my husband's watch in high school. And, it was the watch he wore the year we met. We met at a small private school in the very middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin. My husband didn't have a car, a job, or any money, (and we weren't allowed to date at the school anyway) so we walked; every single evening we walked. That watch went with us and reminded us of our curfew. We joked about smashing the thing, or letting a car run over it so we could conveniently forget the curfew and just keep walking, but we never actually did that. (obviously)

And then you have my necklace.... I'm almost afraid to tell you about that.... I have a love/hate relationship with it, but love has won the battle and I wear it.

The necklace is a piece of jewelry my other brother gave me. Like the spoon, it belonged to my mom, but it too has been altered from it's original state. (For which I'm truly thankful. I wouldn't wear it otherwise and you'll see why in a moment.)

I don't know how to soften this, or make it less morbid, if that's the correct word... I guess I'll just come out with it and see what you think. The necklace is a little circle of gold with Long's Peak engraved in the center. The gold the necklace is made from came from the dentures my mom wore. It weighed them down and kept them centered in her mouth.

Whew. Feels good to have that out in the open. Are you thoroughly disgusted? And now you want to know why I wear it? Three reasons:

1. Long's Peak. I love that mountain and the little Colorado town it stands guard over. We got married with that mountain peeping in the church window. Our first son was born at that mountain's feet and, I learned a lot about life and living alone and how wicked and lazy I can be while that mountain silently looked on.

2. My big brother gave it to me and I love and respect him so much. We have the same warped sense of humor and laugh at things like wearing necklaces made from someones dentures.

3. It reminds me of my mom and her mouth and the hurts she inflicted with it and the healing the Lord has done and is doing...so, so much of who I am comes from her words which came out of her mouth from between the teeth that were weighed down by the gold that I wear around my neck. Sadness and joy and hope and healing are in that gold....

I wish mom could have known the healing Jesus brings. She was a hurting little girl and needed Him so badly. And I'm so thankful to Him for bringing that healing to me...

It's a very heavy, very light necklace. A very important necklace.

I guess, when all's said and done, I don't mind being sentimental and looking back. The bible is full of God telling people to look back. He wanted them to remember what He'd done for them. He wanted them to remember His faithfulness and learn from their mistakes. I guess looking back isn't foolishness at all. Living there would be, but just peaking now and then? I don't mind that at all.

January 1, 2012

Significantly Interesting or Interestingly Significant

You know how some people choose a word to be their word at the start of a new year? Words like hope, or love or whatever? Have you ever done that? Picked a word to focus on for an entire year?

Personally, I never have. As the mother of 4 boys I felt I had enough words floating around the house without having to focus on one of them. Except maybe silence....now that would've been a nice word to have when our sons were young.

Well, now that I only have one semi-young son whose words float around, I have time to think and focus on other things and I think I may pick out a word for this year, just for fun. I may forget about it in a week or two, or it may stick around the entire year. I'm not going to hold myself to it, but like I said, I think I'll try it.

The other day I was looking through a notebook I lug around in my purse. Anytime I have an idea I don't want to forget, or hear something significant on the radio as I'm driving, or I see something interesting, I open that notebook to a random spot and jot it down. I can never remember what I wrote or where I wrote it but it always feels good to get those things down on paper, you know, for future reference.

So, as I was saying, the other day I was looking through my notebook and came across this:

Start a journal. Don't let a day pass without recording it whether something interesting happens or not. Something interesting happens every day.

I've been thinking about that ever since. The only thing is, in my mind I'd seen the word "significant" where the word "interesting" is and I've been thinking, "Hmmm...does something significant happen every single day?"

I even looked up "significant" in the dictionary this morning so I could begin my new focus:

Expressive of something beyond the external mark. Important; momentous.

Well, I think I've already been doing that. I've been looking for God's fingerprints in my life and spotting them everywhere. If that's not significant, I don't know what is.

Then this morning I dug that little notebook out of my purse and read the quote again. I realized the word it uses is interesting so I looked that up in the dictionary:

Engaging the affections; as by interesting a person in one's favor.
Engaging the attention or curiosity; exciting emotions or passions; as an interesting story

I like that idea-looking for something interesting each day. I think though, just to stir things up a bit, I may combine the two words; I think I'm going to look for things that are either significantly interesting or interestingly significant. Just for fun, I may even jot them down in my notebook, you know, for future reference.