Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ripening


I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday.  Today's topic is Write.

"You write well," she told me as she handed me one of our creative writing assignments.  I believed her then.  But now?  I don't know.  I write well when I have a story, a creative idea.  But everyday when it was my job I hated it.  

Maybe it was the companies I had to work with on mainland China that ended up asking for this and that or a little edit here and there.  It wasn't what I thought it would be.  I loved writing, but the creative brain fest I had to put out over time and space of an 8 hour day was killing me.  They wanted results over the product.  They did not value the creativity.  So I put in my days and played both editor and writer.  

And now?  I'm glad those days are over, I'm glad they are gone.  I struggle to call myself a writer because many people do.  I've written and edited six books, but I don't feel like I was good at that job.  Those poems I've written stay in their book mostly, and when I'm not afraid of the critic I'll bring them out among safe friends.  It's the same with the stories from those days; there are many of them but they are not always mine to tell.  The twisted fabric of my life woven, intertwined into a culture that is not my own, but that will always be a part of me.  

The erhu playing soft tunes on humid air in the dusk of the evening, the park benches filled with people, and paddle boats on the lake under willow trees.  "Take your time, " I tell myself.  "Take your time. " Life moved slower there in the countryside, away from the big city where I later would take work.  Time to live, time to write, time to become.  Writing is like ripening.  The story is best told after it has set for awhile.  It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Better to be True

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."-Dr. Suess

Today I'm linking up with Lisa Jo for Five Minute Friday where we write for five minutes without edits or backtracking....today's topic...TRUE.

It's there in the liquid sanity I drink before 7:45 am in the morning, the truth. One wouldn't guess that I've been a professional these days.  It seems the only thing I am getting professional at is the multiple changes of diapers and the routine that helps our days function.  I exchanged the heels for a pair of comfy Crocs flats (that don't look like Crocs, by the way).  In the morning I throw the eggs and sausage on, and we eat well, all of us.  Our day looks better this way, our day feels better this way, our day is better this way with food around the table to start.

It's there when I calm a tantrum by playing the "I love you" game.  "I love you more than all the airplanes," I say and he buzzes his lips like a flying contraption.  This grace, this daily grace, this true grace.  He gives it to me at night when he puckers for a kiss and snuggles up on his mattress with his thumb in his mouth.  He doesn't know.  He doesn't know how hard this is for me, how good this is for me, this learning to be a Mama.

It's there in the honest confessions to others of genuine need.  The you, the true you, the you that doesn't hide under the sheets, or quake from honesty, the you who contemplates and protects and trusts and every day struggles to think on things that are true.  The you who thinks you are no good at something, so has to be reminded every so often that yes, you can, yes, you are.  Yes, you are not perfect.  But that's okay.  It's better to be true.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Once Hoped For

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."- Epicurus

A thin line of sunlight peeked out from the dusty sky, and day peered at me through my back window that happened to overlook a dusty croquet playing field and a small vineyard.  From the comfort of my chair, I could hear the faint voice of the sellers that were peddling their goods on the labyrinth of roads in the hutong. At twenty-eight, my life had settled into a predictable routine.  I'd get up, find myself some breakfast, write (if I had time) for the educational magazine publication I'd been doing freelance work for, get lesson plans in place, and leave for work around 8:30.  Work happened to be teaching.  I was content with what I was doing but there was the gnawing question of  "What next?"  I'd been living my dream, except there were a few pieces still missing.  

There are many things one is told when one is single. 
  • If you start doing the right thing, someone will come along and join you.  (Implying that you aren't doing the right thing if this doesn't happen.)
  • You need to put yourself in a place where you can meet more singles. (Implying that you isolate yourself which may or may not be true. Some are not comfortable around large groups of strangers. Namely, me.)
  • You need to get online and try the online dating thing.  You know you could meet someone.  (Implying that perhaps you'd come off better virtually than if you were in real life.)
  • Honey, God will send you someone in His timing and it will be perfect. (And what if it takes more work than the 'firework' image of God just sending you someone and all the sudden, wham, you understand each other perfectly?)
  • You are getting old.  (And the other part of this will go without saying because really, one knows one's age and one's desires.)

And I'd been told some of these and a few others that I'll not mention.  In the quiet of the night, he tells me he prayed for me before he even knew me.  I'd been doing the same except somewhere in the late twenties I stopped.  Perhaps it was not what God wanted, I decided. Maybe I needed to be single.  Maybe this before me was to be my greatest work.  Days would come and go, I'd host students, play my piano, write, and teach, and take myself to bed in my little apartment knowing that I was doing a good job with what I'd been given, and trusting God with what I had not been given.  

My life has changed drastically since then.  It has been a difficult change, but at the same time, I've been given two great gifts, my husband and my son.  I forget some days, when the laundry heaps and piles of dishes remind me that I've got some other people to care for other than myself, that these people are blessings.  They get to see the real me, the one that has to repent of ungratefulness, the one that works in the garden with runny nose and rashy skin, the one that walks and writes, the one that one calls wife and the other calls Mama.  And it makes me want to be the best Mama I can be. The choosing of joy in the midst of the mundane, the looking for beauty in the middle of the normal---please--I want that.  It is here that I want to be real.

And I tell him, "It sure took you a long time to find me."  And he says, "Well, I had to travel halfway around the world."  This love we have, it takes work, it is work.  On days when I'd rather be doing anything else but household chores, I remind myself that there were lonelier days when I had no one to care for but myself.  There were no piles or laundry, no mountains of dishes because it was just me.  

"Good morning, big boy," I tell him.  He grins at me and jumps up and down on his mattress, and extends his arms.  Here we start again, we begin a new day as the great ball of orange greets the green prairie grass causing the dew to dance in her light.  Thank you, Lord, today, for this.  Today. Remember these gifts as the things you once hoped for.


How do you cultivate a heart of gratefulness for what you have been given?  What are you giving thanks for today?

Monday, September 16, 2013

In the Waiting


When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."
-John Milton

I drive, and I try not to think about it.  Words like "not again", "please not this", "more testing", and "pain" link themselves together and I turn on the CD in the player and listen.  Tears form in my eyes as I drive through the small town on the way to the big city.  Medical tables and invasive procedures of the past--of my past--in Asia blink through the mind and suddenly I'm back in the waiting room there with bunches of Chinese around me while I cry rivers and hold my MRI and ultrasounds in my hand.  "This will be easy,"  I tell myself, "compared to that."  But there is the 45 minute drive to think through things I'd rather not think about, to remember, and so I listen.  I listen to Fernando sing songs of faithfulness, of mercy, of love, of redemption.

I pull up in the parking lot and sigh.  I drink the rest of the water from my water bottle, and breathe a prayer.  "Please."  I get out, and lock the car, and enter the nearly empty office.  "Can I help you," she asks.  And my breath catches in my throat.  "Yes, I have an appointment, and I need to fill out some paperwork."  I finish as quickly as I can, and turn the paperwork in.  "You okay?" she asks.  And I manage a weak yes, but she can see my eyes threaten to spill and what I don't say is written on my face.  We're told not to worry about these things, we're told that suffering is for a purpose, we're told to trust, and that we'll have exactly what we need.  But what if what we need is something we don't really want?

The waiting room is nearly empty, and I hope I don't have to wait too long.  Long enough to think through what is going to happen.  They take me back and the technician asks me a few questions, and then looks at me.  "Are you okay?" "Yes, mostly, " I say and some of my worries spill out, and she says, "We'll make this quick," because sometimes the best words to comfort are no words. She's fast, and tells me results should be in today or Monday.  I get out of the room, out of the office, and take in the fresh air and sunshine. 

I must wait.  And oh, the waiting. We're all stuck in one way or another in the waiting.  The waiting for a job, a house, a career, a family, an orphan, a husband.  Waiting seems sometimes to be the restless holding pattern that bridges between now and the future.  

I get that call, the one I've been waiting for, and they tell me 'all clear' and there are sighs of relief and thankfulness.  Waiting is more than enduring, it is trust that the waiting won't be wasted even if the results aren't necessarily what is wanted. A life well-lived has a lot to do with authenticity in the waiting, the silence---that looks for hope in the face of adversity.  I don't have all the answers, and I'm still learning to trust in the waiting, but I know that His record to me in the face of suffering has always been faithfulness, even when I've doubted. He is at work redeeming me, redeeming the waiting. 


Are you in the middle of waiting for something?  What keeps you sane in the waiting?



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Words Go Quiet

"A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it." -Michelangelo

“It is, I think, that we are all so alone in what lies deepest in our souls, so unable to find the words, and perhaps the courage to speak with unlocked hearts, that we don't know at all that it is the same with others.”  - Sheldon Vanauken

The words go quiet, softly whisper away; there are none that come.

Each day the sun rises as indian summer gives her final whoop and paints the sky fantastic pastel shades in the morning, and chooses to paint the sun with vivid orange and crimson war paint in the evening.  At dusk, dragonfly armies swoop in search of the mosquitoes, and chickens reluctantly find their way back to the pen and wait for the dawn.  Sunflowers droop their heads and say their shrivel in the mid-day heat.  This beauty.  What to say of it?  I see it everyday.  And yet some days my heart gets caught in my throat with the beauty and the Author of it all.  I know I am loved, and yet there is the pain in the midst of it.

The words go quiet though the mind is busy; it is enough to think these thoughts, to see such beauty. And so I hold them, these words, this mind, afraid to speak or write because I'm more critical of my own thoughts that are not at all original or new or earth shattering.  And I think of all I have been, and what I am now.  There are seasons, they say, (although I'm not sure who 'they' are) and one follows the next in its ebb and flow.  

And we go, and I write words that are read and see flowers and comfort friends as tears flow.  I've been told this writing, my writing, it is a gift.  But the words, they go quiet, and softly whisper away and a lump lodges in my throat and holds them down.  I tell myself that anyone can write, and I'd rather be known by those closest to me.  How come it is that I write perfectly good obituaries and am drawn to the the sad?  Why must I think so hard on deep things that I can only share with a few (and for good reason)?  And this choosing joy stuff, that's what it is in the dark when the sadness seeks to strangle joy. 

The diamonds come out on the black canvas of the sky.  The moon peeks her half-face through the clouds that shroud her in rainbow.   The words go quiet; there are none that come.  With full heart in a world of pain I lift my hands to the Creator who made this beauty, who made me in all my complexity. 


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Choose What is Best for the Season You're In

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” -Thomas Edison
“Something deep in the human heart breaks at the thought of a life of mediocrity.”-C.S. Lewis
 
I have entered an interesting season of my Christian walk and the only way I know how to describe it is rest.  I don't wonder if I am enough, if I am doing enough, if I have enough faith.  I just know He holds me, loves me, and He is enough.  We, I think, as people are so busy trying to do so much of the time that the blessings of being get passed up because we rush from one thing to the next.  Something someone said this week resonated with me--she said that we cannot be good at 1,000 things.  In other words, we can't do 1,000 things well to the glory of God.  We have to pick and choose.  

Immediately, I thought of how electronic media and the world at large wants us to be the best at everything we do.  The comparing games of houses, food, vacations and other such things is time consuming and prideful.  We have to choose where to spend our time, where to shoot the arrow so that we can hit the mark. 

I am as guilty as the next person who likes to over commit.  In fact, the beauty of how God matched me up with my husband who is better at saying no than I am is that he helps protects me and my time.  It isn't that I can't say no, it's just that I don't like saying no so I usually say it in such a round about way that it isn't understood as no.  So we practiced.  See, I'm just not good with the phone, and I don't think well on my feet in conversations.  I like to be able to think about things before I say anything which means I can be silent much of the time even though I'm processing.  How did we practice?  Hubby worked up scenarios, and I practiced saying no.

Now this season of rest of who I am in Christ and not trying to be or get approval by doing has been sweet because I am free in His liberty to be who He made me.   For now this season has been full of dirty diapers, bath times, mud puddles, swings, and outside play.  This I do, along with organizing my house and cleaning to the glory of God.  I've had to let some things go (Facebook and this blog a bit) in pursuit of the others.  But oh, the rest, the rest.  Thank you, sweet Jesus.

Do you have trouble saying no?  What helps you get the courage to do so?
Is there anything you need to give up so that you are able to 'be' in the season you are in?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Furniture Shuffle

I know we need to do a total shuffle upstairs and it has me wondering where in the world to even start.  So yesterday, I started small by sorting clothes that Toddles has outgrown.  Today I went through some of my own clothes to see what I could give away.  I'm this way with projects; when they seem too mountainous I don't even want to try.  Once things get a certain way I'd much rather have it stay that way then change. And by total shuffle, what do I mean?

Toddles room was painted lavender before he came along.  Between his crib, his dresser, another hand-me-down dresser, a double bed and a bookcase, there isn't much floor space in his room.  I never decorated it for him as a nursery, partly because I had a very difficult time with culture shock and finding where I fit in community the year I had him.  I try not to think about it too long, because it was a very difficult year even though I was thrilled he would join us.    That said, his lavender room either needed a color scheme that made the walls seem a little less girly, or a switch.  I have already painted that room twice, and I'm not about to do it again.  

Moving our furniture into his room, and his into ours seems (right now) to be easier.  Our room is blue and red, and he'd have more floor space. (And trust me, I've googled 'lavender nursery for boy' or some combination of that hoping to find someone that made the color work better than I could think of...only to find one or two examples.) So note to self for future:  Neutral.  Browns. Blues. Creams. Whites. Greys. These colors go with virtually anything. I will not be painting any wall lavender again anytime soon.

That said, I've been mapping out where the furniture needs to move.  It's like playing Tetris, I tell you, in a very confined area with furniture that doesn't always 'fit' because it has been given to us.  I love the pieces we have, I'm just hoping we can make things go without making the room seem cramped.  
We'll see.  I'm making progress; partly because I've learned to accept that no project is done in a day, and it's okay to take tiny steps toward change.  Sometimes beautiful isn't having everything we want, it's having what we need and making the most of it.    

What is your favorite piece of furniture you own?  Why?
Have you ever done any 'furniture makeovers'?  I'm thinking about it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Learning to Organize

As I've confessed, I need organizational reform school.  Here's a few things I've learned along my journey.

1.  "A place for everything..." As the saying goes, if your things have a home you are less likely to live with lots of clutter underfoot.
2.  De-clutter.  Decide what is essential and non-essential.  Do you have duplicates of anything?  Get rid of the extras and you'll be surprised how much space you will have.
3.  Give away.  Learn to give to others what you do not need or have outgrown.
4.  Throw away.  Don't give junk that no longer works to someone, or clothing that is beyond repair.  Only give someone what you would be happy to receive yourself.
5.  Label.  I've found that the method I've used for kinders and first graders works wonders for me.  Label your baskets and containers.  It will not only make things easier to find, but you'll be able to direct others to the correct spot to find what they need.
6.  If you don't love it, leave it.  Don't buy stuff at the store just because there is a good sale.  Think about what you really need, and don't impulse buy.
7.  Make shelves.  Storing the labeled containers and bins on shelves not only gets them up off the floor but also gives character to your walls.
8.  Be happy with the season of life you are in.  Sometimes this means there will be kids toys scattered like they were a in a tornado and all underfoot.  These littles won't be little for long, and one can't expect the house to be perfect.  The lived in look is just that--lived in.
9.  Re-purpose or recycle items that are washed and clean.  We use an old ice cream container as our compost bin (no garbage disposal), and an old oatmeal box or tissue box stores plastic bags nicely.  I sort my son's toys into old plastic containers and label them so we don't have too much of a toy mess in his bins.  It corrals the smaller stuff.
10.  Give yourself grace.  If you are not good at organizing (or you happen to live in a small space like I do) look for ideas to add to your mental bank.  I've found a lot of great ideas for small spaces at apartmenttherapy.com. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

In the End, Words, In the End, Life

I read something this week, something about how it was easier to build up a child than to repair an adult. Somehow I think people walk around daily hoping we are doing something of worth as a person.  Carefully writing something that people will remember,  reading books written by thoughtful authors and thinking quiet thoughts, speaking words of love and truth.  But what if, what if? What if I  knew my worth wasn't based on what I do and don't do by in my position as a child of God?  What if I grasped the truth that I am completely and totally accepted minus all my achievements?  Because you know, I'm not sure that anyone remembers the titles or accolades except me.  They are past history. 

People will always compare.  Houses. Websites. Titles.  Jobs. Family. Photos. And on and on and on.  Somewhere in all the comparing I don't want to measure up. I don't want to write anymore if it means I'll be compared to some author; I want to write my own writing, to be my own me.  And I don't need the title, I don't go by the title or author or editor or writer.  The hardest job I've ever taken on is the one that is 24-7 has the title of Mom.  Some days we dance through the day with my hair pulled back in a thick curly bun at the nape of my neck, other days I put on flip flops and he runs through grass while I water the garden.  How is it others may look at my life and be tempted to compare? How is it I am tempted to compare my life to yours?

 Fresh eggs, after all, they say are the best for your family.  And we have hens.  The mailman told my husband that in his next life he was going to marry an Amish woman.  I guess that means he liked my novel diapers hanging in a row on a clothesline.  We live down a dirt road next to a field of wheat.  For the prairie girl at heart I'm sure this area is a dream.  I have allergies, oh the irony,  and most days struggle not to have some form of bloodshot eyes, and have finally found a bit of a remedy for the runny nose.  Sneezes, can't control them.  Better watch out. But this is life.  Allergies, wheat fields, clotheslines, and chickens. 

But when I see his feet run through the grass, and the breeze take his walker tumbling across the front yard, I know this is my life.  This is our life.  We aren't promised tomorrow for a better go at it, or the next day for a do-over.  When my washed hair (to -ahem-remove the outdoor pollen) hits the pillow and I close my eyes at night I hope I've lived the day with a spirit of thankfulness for this life and what I've been given.   When the car gives out at the corner and I have to walk home, I hope I live that life is more than cars and going and personal freedom.  My heart always return to the place I love best, and my feet follow.  Home.

(And according to my Mother-in-law I've made some progress towards becoming a pioneer woman.  I'm just not sure I have wagon to go with the title. I'm pretty sure I have a wok, though.  And a car. It doesn't drive presently so I'll be walking.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sometimes I Curl Up Into A Ball

Lest you think my life is always pretty like the pictures I share, here's a little real-life-dirty-in-the-mess.  Toddles and I had just sat down for our evening story.  Strangely enough, the story was called, Sometimes I Curl Up Into a Ball.  I had no sooner read the first two pages then the sound of rushing water interrupted us.  "One minute, Toddles".  (Insert more than one minute) There was lots of grabbing at levers and valves.  But no bueno.  The water would not turn off.  Mommy runs to the next room, scoops up Toddles, runs upstairs to his crib, and puts him to bed. "Toddles, Mommy loves you, time for bed goodnight," I say.  Toddles peers at me from his crib both surprised and disappointed, and lets out a wail that says, "Why are you distressed?  And what's the end to my story?"  

I climb downstairs and begin trying to salvage things from the water that is gushing from the pipe. Then I realize it.  When I'm standing in an inch of water I see the blessed cord that surely will turn off the water.  I pull, in the midst of frustration, wet legs, frazzled hair, and adrenaline.  The pump lets out a last hurrah and trickles it's last drop. I feel the adrenaline bring me close to tears. And I start.  Carpets come up, the pantry gets emptied out, the box fan gets turned on.  I get the shop vac and take up as much water as I can.  Water and I, we haven't had such a great day today.  From Toddles discovering he can throw blocks in the toilet (in front of Mommy, nonetheless) to this flood, I've cleaned up messes today from dirty diapers to dishes.  And just when I want to be finished for the night, several forced cleanings must happen.  The living room rug is trashed, and I want to turn off the lights and go to bed.  But it happened.  It's real.  And the mess is mine to clean up. 

Yep, Toddles.  Sometimes Mommy curls up into a ball.  She just hopes your in bed dreaming happy dreams of trucks, balls, and dogs when she does. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Get In

We go, I in my faded swimsuit from five years ago, and he in his too-big-for-me hand-me-down trunks.  I'm not sure he'll remember his first time in a pool, but on these hot summer days we've got to find something to do.  The ladies mostly line the wall of the pool watching the kids splash, play, dive, and regather for a game.  Floaty boats near small children line the shallow end, and the deep end has become a place of daredevil bombs.  Sometimes, you have to get in.

I hold him hoping that the water will be warm enough that he won't freak.  After all, it is 90-some degrees outside.  He likes the feel on his toes, and with some trepidation we both enter.  One other Mom is in with her kids.  A boy talks to me about how he loves to splash.  "Most boys do, " I say, "That was a big one!" I exclaim and he grins a toothy grin with a few windows where teeth have vacated.

Baby boy relaxes a bit, and follows his duck with his hands, giggling.  He's beginning to like this moving, this being with Mama in the water.  He watches a girl with yellow swimming goggles, and she watches him.  He claps his hands, and splashes.

Someday son, someday son.  I hope you will have a proper fear (and love of) water.   I know I am not a perfect Mommy, but I want you to know how much I enjoy your delight, and sharing it with you.  That's enough to make this Mommy get up and look at life as adventure, because for you, it still is.   Sometimes you just have to get in.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

For My Son

Mama and her boy
Papa doesn't only fly airplanes...
My son, you'll surely grow
And as you do, you know,
I love you to the stars and all the in between.
While you make your own path
My love and prayers cover you.
Everyday you dream I pray you will have
Courage to be brave in a world that says you can't.
Take heart, for you can.
When your dreams take flight
I believe you can do what you set out to do.
For today, you're little.
I still cradle you in my arms
And gently sing this song to you.
You watch me, eyes full of steady study.
I know you'll be a man someday, my son.
But for today, I'll rock you now
And thank God
For who you are, and what you are becoming.
You are a gift.
For my son,  you are a soul.
Unique.
Daring.
Careful.
Loving.
The Lord put you together.
You are a miracle.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Planting

Our ditch sunflowers that show up in early fall

He watches as I talk to him about the chimes.  Tiny chubby fingers grasp for the bells that sing jingle-tink when moved.  We move on through the pet section of the store, his eyes wide with wonder as he observes a few koi and varied goldfish.  I move on towards that plant section because after all, that is what we've come here today for.  Concord grapes, specifically.

We take a touch when we get to the Gerber daisies, and his eyes twinkle as he lets out a 'gah'.  "Soft petals," I say, and we move on,"And these son are some pretty red geraniums.  But they don't smell so great."  I'm learning to vocalize thoughts, to put them out there so that my son learns to observe, and learns language.  In the past this kind of trip would be a quick stop and go without much interaction.  We find climbing rose bushes, and rose bushes, and some plants for the barrels by the garage.  

Hubby digs me holes for the climbing rose bushes, and I feel delighted.  "I've always wanted climbing roses," I say.  And he says something of castles and roses.  "Why do they always plant roses around castles?"he says, and I say,"Because princesses like roses," and smile at him.  

This planting, we could wait to do it.  We know that life in this house isn't permanent, but we are trying to live where we are happily. We're not looking for the next best thing, but when he's done with school, we will most likely be moving on.  When you plant, you don't plant for today or even necessarily for the next year.  Each person plants and waters with their own intents, the ground ever giving the fruit of one's labor at the mercy of the weather.  But life, this is life, this planting and watering and waiting and preparing. With dirt under my fingernails and my ring,  I praise God for the glory and beauty of Spring.

Are you doing any planting this year?  What is in your garden? 

(One of my favorite posts on planting is found here on my blog.  And for the record, all the trees died, and we replaced them.  )

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Raindrops and Laundry, Let's Call it a DAY

And yes, we still have our Christmas lights hanging....
He points at raindrops because he's never seen them from the back window of the car.  His eyes intent, studying the droplets that have fallen on the back windshield.  He faces the flowers, and picks the buds, eyes full of wonder and delight.  Oh son, you remind me.  There is joy in this life, there is interest to be found if we only look. 

My days are full of meals, washing, cleaning, and organizing.  I had an epiphany of sorts, one of those moments when I realized that I wanted things to be nice, to be good in this small place of ours for my son.  It isn't that he'll remember everything about this house, but I want him to know he is well cared for, well-loved (even if my house is messy sometimes), and honestly, when my couch and chair looks like they've vomited laundry all over the living room I don't like it.  So I'm trying a new system with baskets and shelves and sorting and all of that good stuff that normal organizers know how to do already.  But I think I've already explained that if there was a reform school for unorganized people, my Mom would have sent me a long time ago.  In fact, I think most of my frustrating moments from my childhood and adolescent years have to do with my Mom and an organizing system.  (One should know that my Mom is not frustrating....she just was so frustrated with me and my inability to figure out how things should fit and go in place.) 

In the cool of the evening we walk on the path around our farm, or we sit in the yard and watch the sun go down.  The diapers sway in the breeze, dampened by the raindrops from earlier.  I slip them from the line, clothespins and all, and bring them to the house to dry.  Those raindrops, son, they'll wet you down.  Wonder and delight and joy of everything beautiful and good.  Thank you, God, for today.

Is there anything you are trying to learn to do that you don't feel a bit good at?  
I feel way out of my comfort zone in the organizing realm and  the making new friends area.  


Saturday, May 11, 2013

On Friendship and Community

"And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that the secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it."- C.S. Lewis

Long gangly arms, a 5'3 frame, and size ten feet in 3rd grade.  I looked like I should have been a 5th or 6th grader. My hair had one of those strange perms that seemed to be all the rage in the 1980's.  My best friend was in a different class than I was.  This was the year I found out what it meant to be a target, what it meant to be bullied, what it felt like to be on the outside.  If I am asked which year was my worst year in school the answer comes easily--3rd grade tops the list of worst year ever.  Gina was short (at least compared to me), she had all the girls as friends (except me), and she chose me as her target.  I think my third grade teacher knew this, she was gracious enough not to let it happen in class, but the playground was free reign for the little bully who saw it as her one joy to taunt my looks and smarts, and leave me playing by myself on the jungle gym.  How I hated that year, even though I adored my third grade teacher.  
 
I walked in, babe-in-arms, and made my way to the counter.  For the first time, a neighbor saw me.  I mean, really saw me.  Greeted me and said hello and chatted for a bit.  The postmaster looked at my letter and said, "You aren't J so you must be Itty-Bitty,"  naming my baby and remembering my husband's first name. I may have walked calmly to my car, but my heart was skipping.  See, I've found this community to be difficult to make friends in.  We've made the changes needed to put ourselves here and not in the bigger city 40 minutes away.  We've tried to know our neighbors.  

I come home and bubble giddiness all over my husband.  "Well," he says,"the postmaster should know us since we've had our mail put on hold more than once for trips and overseas visits."  "It's not just that," I say, "She remembered our names, and faces."  It is a small step for me.  

In the local grocery I see a gal who knows me.  She's the teller from our local bank, she chats and is friendly.  My heart, it needs this medicine.  It needs this sense of community that I've so missed after leaving a place with long established friendships.  This beauty, the sense of being welcome after one has been on the outside for so long.  Thank you, Lord.

The little girl in me remembers I am not who they said I was in 3rd grade, I have worth, I have value, and I am deeply treasured by the One who loves me.  I have a husband who loves me, and adores that I am tall.  (Who'd have ever thought?) A friend once told me to be who I was, and that was enough. Friendship, after all, isn't forced.  It is a gift.

(On a side note:C.S. Lewis has an essay about the outside (found here), he calls it the 'inner ring'.   He explains how everyone wants to feel like they belong somewhere on the inside of a group.  And to some certain extent that is true.  The desire of the heart is for some kind of community. )

Friday, May 10, 2013

Voice

 
Linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday.  Here we go!

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

Comfort

You were crying when we first met.  They laid you ever so gently on my chest, and I cupped your little body in my hands.  "It's all right Itty-Bitty, shhh..." I said.  You quieted and looked around the room with your big eyes, taking in the world around you.  I still think of that moment.  My voice, it comforted you.  I didn't realize how you'd recognize my voice, or how the sound of my voice would be familiar and normal to you.  Still, it brings tears to my eyes to know the security my voice gives.  

He knows His sheep, He calls them by name.  And I'm pretty sure that He comforts us with His voice.  His truth tells us not to be afraid, His Word tells us He is with us.  Though we have not seen Him, He is known.  Like a mother comforts her child, our Father comforts and takes care of us.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Garden, Take Three

We have a bit of earth.  160 acres of it.  Most of it grows wheat, here in the breadbasket of America, our county is the largest producer of wheat in the world.  In the spring, it glows green and blue in the sunlight whipping in the breeze like waves of the ocean.  That is, until it ripens golden.  If it makes it through the drought, if it makes it through the rain, if it makes it through the hail.  It stands tall and golden.

Our home shares an acre with our chickens, and the creek and wooded area run behind our house.  The deer share the creek and trees with the skunks, possums, ducks, turtles, and armadillos.  It is pretty, but this clay earth needs help growing things.

I have a little spot for a garden, and I've learned that on the prairie weather is never certain.  You may have rain, you may have hail, and you may even have snow in May.  Yes, in May.  Since we'd passed the danger of last frost, I'd planted once.  It froze in an freak ice storm three days after I planted killing all the seedlings I'd so tenderly taken care of for two months.  I waited two more weeks, and planted again.  It snowed three days after I planted again killing the plants that I'd bought from the grocery store.

I don't claim to be a gardener, nor even a prairie girl.  I pretty much grew up in the city with neighbors, and it was my sister who wanted to marry the farmer.  Well, I didn't marry a farmer, but here we are in the country.  My husband is more of a gardener than I am.  But out here, these little plants seem to be at the mercy of the weather.  And I'll be trying one more time.

(On a Side Note....from one of my favorite musicals, "The Secret Garden".

Friday, May 3, 2013

Shuffle

I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday.  And without further ado, here we go.

Brave

He walks down the hall in a shuffle behind his walker, one foot following the other, each step filled with pain.  The chair in the corner with the blue cushion, and hole-y back sits in the corner watching him as he comes.  My little boy follows him step by step pushing his own little walker.  It takes a certain amount of courage, heart, to grow old.  He wants to be with Jesus, but he is still-so-very-much here with us.  And being here means being with loved ones, but suffering with pain on a daily basis.

The cup of tea tries to sooth, the meals are familiar and bring a little comfort, and my son brings some smiles.  I watch him as he wants to hold my baby.  I hold him, so he can see him. He kisses his head, and caresses his hair with his hand. Oh son, you follow in the steps of a giant.  He says he is a giant becoming feeble and small, a strong man becoming weak.  As you follow him, son, with your little walker, you are a little boy becoming strong.  The bravery it takes to fall when you are learning to walk is as great as the bravery shown when admitting there are things you can't (and shouldn't) do anymore.  Give us grace, and bravery, to face aging with courage.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Shelter

My least favorite season of the year has come.   It has me packing us a survival kit, and hunkered down in front of the storm radio when the winds get fierce.

Tornadoes.

Our friend the weatherman says it is his favorite season.  I'm sure it isn't one of my husband's favorite seasons because in the middle of the night when I hear a strong wind I ask, "Do you think we are in danger of having a tornado?" My husband will reassure me we are safe (even though he'd rather be sleeping).  And then I check the National Weather website to look at the radar.  I suppose it doesn't really help that our weatherman friend told us we live in tornado alley which is an absolute wonderful place to spot tornadoes!

When I met my husband he lived in a two story house with no basement and no tornado shelter.  His slightly paranoid wife made him build a storm shelter.  She insisted that no, she wasn't going to run to the ditch and jump in the culvert pipe.  After all, what creepy, crawly things might be living there?  He may have rolled his eyes, but he listened.  Bless that man.  He built me a storm shelter.  The funny thing is that he designed the storm shelter using a very large culvert pipe.

Now that shelter, it has gotten very little use.  We have an air mattress down there, several LED lamps, candles, and a tub of blankets.  The last time we used it was perhaps one of the times we didn't really realize we needed to use it.  I was five days from my due date with our son, and that night was supposed to be one of the worst nights in Kansas history of tornado touchdowns which are nothing like football touchdowns.  Our weather radio went off.  Then it went off again.  My husband was on the phone.  Enter very large with child pregnant woman who is hoping not to give birth in the storm shelter.  "Honey, we need to get in the storm shelter."  Five minutes later.  "Sweetheart, I'm going to the storm shelter, please come with me I can't move very fast and I need to get down those stairs."  We go together, armed with books, headlamps, and blankets.  The shelter itself has a musty book-like smell that encourages book reading.  Enter good conversations and books=about 3 hours spent in said storm shelter.  I do remember the going joke that some dark and stormy night my baby boy would be making his appearance.  (Thankfully, it was not that night.)

We leave to realize the electricity is knocked out.  Hubby had turned on the back porch light, and it was no longer on.  The house was standing.  Inside are several messages on the machine.  One from the wife of our friend the weatherman telling us to get in our shelter if we haven't already.  Two from family calling to ask if we were okay.  We waited about 30 minutes before cranking the generator (Old Green), and contacting people.  I guess we'd hoped our electricity would come back on.  After a little research and time we found out that we had been sandwiched between TWO tornadoes.  One passed 1/2 mile to the east, and the other passed 1 1/2 miles to the west.  The next morning we found out one of them totaled our neighbor's house and farm.  (I wrote about it here.)

That said, I'm glad we have a shelter.  I'm praying this year the storms will come and water our gardens, but be gentle on us.  The rain falls on the just and unjust, and storms don't respect  one person's land, crops, home over another.  But there is a shelter that holds one safe in the storm.  We are thankful for what we have but know we are just stewards of it.  Tornado season reminds me once again of what really matters. 

Do you have severe weather in your part of the country?  What do you do when it comes?  How do you prepare?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pick Up and Go

 "For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice."  T.S. Eliot

Adventure.
I wasn't really looking for it, but as a young 20-something who wanted to do something bigger than herself, and a little out of the norm, I found it.  You wouldn't think that a first year kindergarten teacher would be the kind to pick up the crayons, pencils, paper, puzzles, and books and leave them behind.  But when you leave, there is always something left behind.  The past will sometimes whisper life-like dreams to you in your sleep.  It is left, but not forgotten.  The constraints of time and space reach their fingers to the mind in the night hours when the dark has come and the eyes are heavy.  It haunts  in beauty the dreams in another language, the nostalgia of the moment wringing my heart like it is an drenched hand towel.    I am not where I was, nor will I be.  For who I am now has taken the place of who I was. And yet, who I was is mystically a part of who I am now.

Those books, they line my shelves.  Stories of people and places.  Language books in script that most people can't read.  Nestled in between the stories, they speak my story.  Sometimes I forget that the girl who did that was me.  I don't tell my story because somehow the tangles and brambles that get caught in stories that aren't mine to tell.  When I was the one confided in, I knew that their stories, their secrets needed to be hid.  They could not be spoken in daylight.  Such it is when you live in a foreign country, such it is when it is not your story but your daily reality that stories effect lives.

A small piece of who I am learned to live in secrecy, in quiet journal entries.  There are stories from this era of my life, luggage that bears weight upon the shoulders turning them red.  The worst kind of luggage, the kind you can't get rid of after a long train ride, and days of stowing it and then taking it out again.  But they are not my stories, nor are they mine to tell. 
What I could tell you is of village life, vineyards, dirt roads, public toilets, food poisoning, and exotic food. I've been on five modes of transportation in less than 24 hours making it from a bike, to three wheeled taxi, to a taxicab, to a train, to an airplane.  I've worn the same clothes the whole week long and no one has commented to me on my lack of style.  My bike has gone uphill in negative temps with wind, while water from my eyes froze on my eyelashes.  But this isn't what I know now.  When it is your reality for years, the routine normalizes.  But it isn't these kind of stories that change you.

But the day to day is the stuff that makes people feel like they connect to you.  "How was the food?" they ask, and "Did you have a good time?"  Two years of your married life spent abroad is not a vacation.  There is so much more that one could never express, that one could never explain after eight years of living abroad.  These stories.  They must be lived, but I'm not really sure they could be told.  

I wish the girl who packed her bags knew then what I know now.   These stories, they change you, they wrinkle your soul.  Some stories you may wish to tell, but they are not yours to tell.  Keep them close, they remain a part of who you are and where you've been.  This my girl, is what happens when you pick up and go.  Your past and present stories merge to create your future.





Do you have a story you wish to tell?  How do you tell your difficult stories?  Do you struggle with finding your voice?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Routine

It's there between the changing of the clothes from the washer to dryer.  The cupboard is open, its contents thrown all over the floor by tiny hands made to explore.  Coffee drips and gurgles its way down into the glass pot, the liquid goodness flavoring the air with awake. Routine flows from one job to the next giving her stability to those who dwell in the house.  We're not always on schedule, but routine, we know this.  She's stuck between the pages of our favorite books,  joins during nap times,  hops to the chores, and knows when to gather the mail.  

We need this.  I need this.  Like knowing what comes next in a good story, routine grounds us when life gets messy.  When we need to look to do the next thing, and keep our hands occupied, she comforts like a warm blanket.  Day to day we go from this to that and we know her.  She knows us and welcomes us, putting out mat.  When we have a break from her, we can't wait for things to get back to 'normal'. We need her sometimes to just remind us to be faithful even in the small things.

What are some routines in your house?  :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Stretching of Body and Heart


Photo by Jenny Long of Long Memories
 I stood behind the counter and she asked, "Is there anything wrong with these?"  She looked for the tag on the blue jeans that I wished would fit, but that were snug in all the wrong places.  My lips curled at the sides and said, "Nope, they are perfect they just don't fit.  I'm still trying to lose baby weight."  I've been told lots of things about losing weight after pregnancy, but the only thing that seems to take the weight off for me is five miles of walking everyday and portion control.  And I still have some pounds to lose.  He's stretched my body for 9 months.  I don't know if it will ever be the same.

And then there is my heart, my heart.  This year he's stretched my heart as I've loved and loved some more.  I've given when I had nothing more to give.  At night, I've chosen him over sleep.  Oh the expansion of my heart.  This love has stretched and expanded my life.  I know I won't ever be the same.

Has your love been stretched and expanded this year?

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's Not the Going, It's the Goodness

"I'm scared of dying," she says.  I think of some quip I can offer, some anecdote that will solve that problem and take away that fear.  But I don't have one.  As young children, we are taught if we know where we are going when we die, we shouldn't be afraid to die.  For me, I've found it has more to do with Who I know than where I will go.  

He looks at me with eyes that twinkle happiness when he's awake.  We've been parted a few times, this boy and I, but not very many times since he's made his appearance.  He sees me and he knows that I will be good.  I will feed him, clothe him, bathe him, change him, and play with him.  He sees me husband and knows the same constancy.  When we are not seen and we are in an unfamiliar place, though, there is fear I see it in his eyes when I put him down and he is unsure of his environment.

I am much like a baby.  I cannot see the One I will spend eternity with, and I only know of Heaven from what I've read in the Bible.  Of course, there are those 'well-meaning' stories I've heard from childhood about Heaven that makes it sound like it is a place unlike I've ever imagined. The change? Will I be able to deal with it?    The new Heaven and the new Earth will be closer, I believe, to what we know now minus the sin.

The fear, I think, comes from not knowing what will come, how will I get there, will I recognize other people, how will I be changed?  There are no pat answers to this, because no one living has experienced it.  Some things are kept secret, and I don't know all the details.  However, I do know the Who.  I do know who Jesus is, even though I've never seen Him.  I've read enough to know He is good, and He is love.  I wish, like a child, there was some kind of object permanency about Him.  If I could actually see Him, I think I would know I am safe.  Instead, there is a faith that takes words and trusts them.  The environment will change, but I can know I wasn't really made for this world anyway, but for the next. 

I pick up my son and comfort him.  He relaxes into my frame, leaning his head on my shoulder.  I think with Jesus it will be the same.  Through all the change, I can rest on Him.  

"I'm not afraid to die," I tell myself.  But I remember that cold operating table, and flailing gasps for air.  Grace, grace is given when it is needed, and not before. The next memories are of an elevator, and the worn, worried face of my husband.  The thought that nags me is not the going, but of the goodness.  I can trust to be present with Him will be good, because He is good. For today, that is enough.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Little Red Swing

It blows in the breeze on some afternoons when it is too cold for us to go out.  Other days, he sits in it, this boy of mine, with a smile that spreads clear across his face and touches his eyes.  On evenings as the sun goes down in the west, and the moon comes up in the east, moonglow and sunkisses settle themselves in shades of lavender and pink over the tree where the swing hangs.  Beautiful little boy, I didn't know you'd change my life so much.  Swinging happily over the days, dimpled with the joy you bring.  It's been close to a year, son.  But I still walk by that swing in the cool of the evenings and think how you've filled our lives when we thought our lives were already full, how you've brought us joy when we've already had a cupful of it, and how this love runs over and spills happiness unto those around it.  Sweet boy, how I love you!

Prayer Doesn't Merit Favor

Hands laced together, knees on the floor, elbows on the chair.  I'd try for a time, not to put my head down.  To spend this hour in prayer, to avoid thinking of homework, to petition God, to really pray.  This was, after all, what I'd been told prayer was.  It was in the quiet, it was in private.  Some days I'd wake up after 20 minutes of praying, and 30 minutes of sleeping.  That is what happens when one works 20 hours a week, and takes 18 credits.  The candle gets burned at both ends, and the person tries to keep up a semblance of what they are supposed to do along with what they've been told they should be doing.

"Who wants to pray?" the teacher would ask.  (Let me just say, I don't like to publicly pray.  My words don't come as quickly to my lips as they do to my mind.) " If no one else will volunteer, I will, " I'd tell myself.  Then I'd breath a sigh of relief when someone else would.  This isn't a worry of mine, praying in front of people. I'm not afraid of how I'll look if I blunder because I know I'm talking to God and not a bunch of other people. I'd rather just express myself in the quiet of my own heart. 

I no longer position myself in front of chair.  My knees can't take it.  I don't have to be on my knees for God to know the status of my heart.  (I'd been taught that the position one takes proves to God what is in the heart...what a bunch of bunk!)  I no longer think I need to 'set' aside a certain time for prayer every day.  I know that God hears me no matter when I talk to Him even if I'm walking or driving.  I know that some days when all I can say is, "Help...I don't know what to say," he hears me.  I know who He is, and He can handle me being me even on the days when I need a nap.  

The human heart can take what is good, and twist it into something legalistic.  In college, I hoped to gain God's favor by my prayers. The truth is, I don't need to earn His favor or approval.  I can rest in the relationship I have with Him.  It isn't based on anything I do or don't do.  His favor already rests on me because I am in relationship with Him.  It can't be earned.




Friday, March 15, 2013

Five Years

Buddies
It's been five years since we said our 'I do's'.  Five years of loving in the face of the unknown, in the adventure of life.  I had some idea that I would post some nice picture of us, but alas, my computer has gone the way of no return.  Or at least, no return of the computer without some kind of repair.  And with it went many of my pictures. (But alas, and alack, I am one to back things up so I do have CD's of some of them....somewhere...in the mess I'm still organizing. I could blame that on being pregnant our first year back in the states.  I'm still trying to catch up.) I'm typing from our Old Faithful.

My husband lays down his life for us every day.  He goes to school, comes home, spends time with our boy, and takes time for me.  I've been seriously blessed in the husband department.  I have terrible seasonal allergies and so tonight he took time (and his own sweat) to install a working air conditioner in our window because I can't sleep with the windows open and not pay for it the next day in sneezes.  This afternoon I came downstairs after a nap and found my husband and son.  Little son had dirty hands.  Hubby had taken him to our creek to play in the mud.  Did I say I'm blessed?   I'm sure our son feels the same way, clear down to the dirt stuck on his little fingers. 


But A Shadow

I'm linking up with Lisa Jo for Five Minute Friday.  Join if you wish.
Go....

We look for it that place of rest
When we lay down to rest we dream of it
In leisure time we play and think
And daydream of what's coming there.
For we will find a complete rest, one we've never known
Deadlines within the realm of time
We only know until we're shown
A land of beauty where He shall fill
Our timelessness, divine
To feel the beauty of complete rest
And know joy in the sublime
All the resting we may do here
Can't be compared with that
For this world is but a shadow
Of what is coming next.

Stop...(3 minutes...whew)

LLB
03-15-2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Never Far

*I've been dreaming of Asia these days.  I'm not sure why, but it's been sweet and sad all wrapped into a life-like dream from which I am sad to waken.  

I wake, the day new brightens
My eyes bleary with distant dreams
I've left my second home
My mind faraway as sun streams
Through glassy panes
Thoughts so vivid, distinct
I woke up and thought it strange
To find myself in my bed
When I thought I was buying food
In my head
In another language not my mother tongue
When I close my eyes it visits
Though I left this place will be
A part of my far off memories
And while I'm here I dream of there
And when I was there here would visit me
I'd close my eyes, and there I'd be
The incense wafts upon the wings
Of pigeons and the gentle breeze
The hot green tea warms my hands
As I meet the days demands
The cold nips my nose as I'd ride
My bicycle through alleys beside
The labyrinth of our little school
I'd meet you and we'd walk through there
We'd chat a bit, pull up a chair
The jiao zi wrapped in fresh dough
The fireworks--now, ah, what a show!
And when I wake, tears come to my eyes
I've visited this place I'd loved so well.
I've left but my heart still swells
With dreams of my distant home.


Monday, March 11, 2013

No Easy Answers

Old logs
I've stopped giving pat answers and Bible verses for everything.  In the past, I wrote quite a bit about the Bible and practical theology.  Yet somewhere in the last ten years (and some unexplainable life circumstances), I found that living the Bible privately was more powerful than writing about living it.  The 'here's-how-to-love-your-neighbor' or the 'here's-how-to-be-a-God-fearing-Christian' articles gave directions, but I quit looking for those point by point steps.  Life doesn't always happen in the proper 'steps' or the complete pattern that the articles tell you it should.  God shows up in the ordinary, in the small, in the quiet. 

 I've been given many books to read (and bought quite a few myself) about how a Christian should live, love, find a husband, be content as a single, do the next thing, and grow.  The books were good but not always helpful.  It is difficult when one person makes what happened for them the life rule of what should happen for all people if they just follow the same steps.  Because honestly, by the time I was 28 and still unmarried, the books telling me God was teaching me to wait, that I needed to be under a man's authority, or teaching me to be this or that in the meantime weren't helpful. I know that at any age a husband is a gift, and not one God gives to us because we've been on our best behavior.  God gives in spite of us.  The rain falls on the just and unjust.

So although I contemplate, I hardly ever write about truth I haven't been turning over in my head for some time.  Throwing a Bible verse at someone doesn't help as much as listening.  Most of the time, people want to know you care.  It's good to know the Bible, and what it says.  I'm just saying I seek to live a quiet life in peace.  That means I'll be your friend, that means I am a Christian, but that doesn't mean I'll slap a Bible verse on every situation. 

When should you be quiet, and when should you speak up?  How do you seek to be Christian in the quiet?  How do your actions speak louder than your words?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Just Four Walls

Our little house and huge garage...from the grass strip.
Joining up for Five Minute Friday.  Write along if you wish!

Old creaky armchair
In fading shades of blue
Memories stitched together
With loving thoughts of you
We'll sit and rock right there
And I'll put my feet up
We'll talk and spend a little while
You'll look at me and I'll smile
Golden piano in the corner
Your fingers touch the keys
Calling up songs from your childhood
My heart sings as it sees
Home is more than the things you possess
Home is the things you do
Everyday building upon the next
If only everyone knew
The fresh baked bread out of the oven
The hot water on the stove
The acts of love and simple kindnesses
Build a home
But without precious memories
A home is just four walls.

LLB


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Catching this Moment



















We'll watch the sunrise through the window as the day begins.
I'll kiss your baby hands, my boy,
And touch your hair with love.
I'll sing you songs before bedtime,
And make up silly rhymes.
I'll hold your hands so you can walk,
Tottering across the tile floor,
Imaginary hills and valleys greet us,
Before we make it to the front door.
We'll dance across our living room,
Jumping up and down.
You won't remember these days, sweet boy,
But your Mommy will.
You are only little once.
I hold you on the windowsill,
Your face bright with fading light.
You'll discover the world out there soon my son,
But for today, I'll love you, hold you,
And kiss you goodnight.

Why I Silenced Facebook

Everyday about a gazillion different things scream for my attention.  
  • There's the laundry pile that needs no watering to grow.
  • The dishes that threaten to spill out of the sink if I'm not faithful in attending to them.
  • Country dirt seems to coat our floor like a wax job, and the Swiffer and I swing a little dance most every day to keep the dirt out and the clean in.
Brain cells I'd rather spend writing, or contemplating that get swallowed up in the everyday.

And then there are those things I want to do with my child:
  • To rock him and read him stories as I snuggle and breath in his fresh smelling head.
  • To take him on walks, and talk about the trees, the the grass, the chickens, the fields, the sky, the sun...to introduce him to the world we live in.
  • To play with him on the floor, and watch his delight with the noises he makes.

There is also the have-to.
  • Dirty diapers.
  • Feedings.
  • Naps.

Each day seems to function with its own rhythm, and I want to be there and experience it.
  •  For one, I don't want my son to remember me with the phone in my hand and the computer in my lap.  I'm not against Facebook, just against the culture it is creating. 
  • Furthermore, I don't like the idea that by just posting 'pieces' of ourselves online we've suddenly created a relationship with people.   In real life, how many of those 'Friends' do I actually hear from?  The ones I hear from know me better than a picture, a status update, or my likes and dislikes.  
  •  I unplugged so that I have the ability to invest in the real people around me in the community.  Someday I might get back on, but for today, I'm glad to have things quiet.  Since I quit, I'm not receiving advertisements I don't want, and I'm not in the 'know' on what everyone else is cooking, playing, reading, doing.  But for today, I'm okay with that.  I want to be all here for the people in my life. 

Have you ever considered taking a break from Facebook or quitting all together?  What keeps you from quitting Facebook?




Friday, March 1, 2013

Ordinary

I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five-Minute Friday!  Join in if you wish...

Fun scarf, Mommy....














"If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider "not spiritual work" I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love."  -Amy Charmichael

Each day comes in and out with the same frequency much like the tides change.  I know what to expect.  Dirty laundry piled in the bathroom makes its way to the washer, and clean clothes make their way to the dryer.  Heaping piles of warm laundry mound themselves like Mt. Everest on the couch until littlest tumbles the pile and the living room looks like we've had an eruption of Mt. St. Helens except she spewed laundry and toys all over the living room.  Dishes have been done two times already, and the sink has a full belly full of suds glimmering rainbows in the light.  "Normal is a setting on a dryer" (thanks, Patsy Clairmont), it isn't a word by which I can define any part of life, because really, what is normal? 

I scoop up baby and swipe his soft head.  He's growing so fast amid the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning.  He follows me, crawling, as I make my way to wipe bathroom mirrors.  He babbles and bubbles, and looks for his Mommy's eyes smiling.  Here in this ordinary I'm reminded that there are no boxes for this kind of life.  That all work--the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, the writing, the teaching, the cleaning, the loving-on-my-baby--is spiritual work.  I fold my hands (and my laundry) and lift my heart in thanks and praise for the ordinary.



Five Minute Friday




Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Two Feet

Nearly two feet of glimmering flakes of shivering cold floated and blew on us in about a week.  That seems to be just a little really, except for the fact that it has not snowed or rained in quite some time.  This county is the middle of a drought.  We'll take the snow, thank you.  Then the power went out all night and part of today.  (Thank goodness for generators!) And then this morning the phone lines/internet was out.  (Thank goodness for a cell phone!)

We tromp down the road to check drift levels to find that we are blocked off from the road by 3 foot drifts on both sides of our driveway.  No four wheel drive.  No tractor.  No plow.  The road has been eerily quiet today except for the noise of the crunching of our feet.  The mailman even looks like he saw the drift and turned around.  So for today, we are the little house on the prairie that is disconnected from the world.  We'll enjoy the blessing of this blanket of white!

Because We Aren't the Same--Part II

 











"For the Church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities but the Body of Christ, in which all members, however different, (and He rejoices in their differences and by no means wishes to iron them out) must share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by their differences." -C.S. Lewis

I pointed and smiled.
Inside I was saying, "Those, I want those."  But it didn't matter what I wanted to say because I couldn't say it.  The seller picked up a few of the oblong brown potatoes with her hands and put them in a plastic bag.  Her little stand was spread out on the ground on a plastic tarp.  She got out the calculator and typed in how much I owed her.  In a country where most everything is done by bargaining, I thought I'd gotten a steal of a deal since I had passed the calculator back with my price typed in and she accepted.   Problem was, I found out the next day from a Chinese friend that I'd paid almost ten times the amount of what I should have paid.  Ten times.  "Learn the language," I'd tell myself.  I hired a local tutor, and picked up local dialect. 

Since the beginning of time, people have wanted to communicate.   However, language differences can't be ignored.  Study, sweat, tears, practice.  Repeat and add a test.  Language and culture hold hands.  They mutually work together, and one can't learn a language without learning culture.  Many things in a language start to make more sense when one learns culture. The desire to understand the culture and the language deepens the bonds between people.  Sometimes people desire to know another person and dialogue with them to understand them.  And other times people want to pick a fight, or to say the way they do things is superior. 

I wish, I long for a time when we, the church, won't be separated by cultural bounds and language barriers.  She is still the church.  She is still His body.  Can we walk in love and accept other believers even when their church doesn't look like ours (in style, in language, in worship, in method)?  When they don't wear the same clothes we do, or sing the same songs we do, can we accept them as redeemed?  Because we are all on a journey and none of us have arrived.  Clean your house, take care of the dirt in your heart.  Just because His body looks different doesn't mean that the church isn't His.  I think He quite intended for us to be diverse.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Because We Aren't the Same

I bristle. 

When I think of just having an all-white church, or a church that exists for one section of the population, I cringe.  I understand in each country there may be some variation of the body, speaking different languages, and holding to their own unique cultural traditions.  But here within the United States, were we really meant to divide ourselves by race, by social status, by income?  What if instead we chose to be the body in the neighborhood we existed in?  What if we chose to embrace those very different from ourselves in the name of Christ?  What if we chose to worship together simply because of the bond we have in Christ, and not because we had a safe church with programs for the kids and teenagers?  Because the church is about people, not programs.  How do we get that mixed up?

We sat, in that auditorium that filled 800-ish people.  We listened to him speak.  We saw the French African choir sing, and then the Phillipino choir.  Next the gentleman from Hong Kong gave a testimony.  Tears ran down her cheeks for joy as she sang next to me in English.  But she was not from my country.  The Koreans offered a song of praise, and the Chinese followed with their own.   I think 'this, this is a little piece of Heaven here on earth.'

We come back to America and learn that we are somewhat cultural misfits.  This idea of faith separates instead of unites.  After all, shouldn't the Spanish speakers have their church, and the African Americans have their church?  But the Jesus I know is color blind.  I don't think He sees us as 'red, brown, yellow, black and white'.   We refer to people by their ethnicity and see the color of their skin instead of seeing them as souls.  We will never understand people until we see them as people, and seek to understand cultures different from our own. 

Yet, she is still His body.  She is still the church. I can't make this right with my one voice.  But someday, He will.  He will call us to Himself and every tongue, tribe and nation will worship Him.  But for today, I wish for that little piece of Heaven on earth that whispers, "Sister, I love you.  Brother, you are a friend," in the language of the heart, love.
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