Monday, November 5, 2018

Tidbits

Confession: I take this blog way too seriously. If I don't post for awhile, I always feel like I should have something big to say when I return. When I don't have something big to say, I just keep on not returning. It's time to stop taking things so seriously.

And so..... a post of tidbits....

     * * * * *


My youngest has been going off to school three days a week since October 17. He absolutely loves it and has turned into a little man almost over night. He delights in telling us all the things he is learning!

People wonder how I'm doing with my baby going off to school? Honestly, it's a switch but so far I'm rather enjoying it.

     * * * * *


My view is returning! I'm not a huge fan of Autumn, it reminds me too much of what is coming next, but we have had some delightful weather and some pretty trees and I do look forward to that view...

     * * * * *


Speaking of views.

Charles: "Look at the clouds, mom!"
Me: [busily washing dishes] "They're pretty aren't they?"
Charles: "Yes! You should take a picture... pleeease mom?!"

Glad I did.

    * * * * *

For months now I've been listening to the chronological Bible in the NLT version as I have time and/ think of doing it. Listening to the Old Testament makes me deeply grateful that I'm living in the time of the new covenant; listening to Psalms makes me almost chuckle at David. Ever notice how often he's moaning and lamenting one minute and praising and worshipping the next?

Makes me feel like maybe I'm normal.

     * * * * *

This past weekend was a doozy. We had our first experience doing respite care + Chris and Isaac were gone Saturday - Sunday.


Walking and biking under the gorgeous blue sky Sunday evening was the perfect way to get some deep breathes for my soul.


I like these people. 

    * * * * *

A week ago I discovered a little, pink package in our church mailbox. Curiosity aroused, I quietly opened it while around me the singing progressed. Quickly scanning the note inside, I found the sweetest, most encouraging words and the signature of a friend far away. Completely mystified as to how this bit of 'water for a thirsty soul' had made it's way to our church mailbox, I could hardly wait to email the sender!

All of this to say, if the idea/ opportunity presents itself to surprise someone with a bit of encouragement, do it. Do it! You may never know how deeply a heart may be touched.

    * * * *


Charles loves to rinse dishes when Lillian is the dish washer. There's often a lot more than dishes happening with these two. One night I caught them on video, Lillian pouring and Charles solemnly intoning (among many and garbled things), "Do you promise to be good? Yes. So I make it to the father, the son, and the holy ghost..."

You can bet there was a lot of laughter going on behind their backs!

    * * * *

There's my tidbits, what are yours?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I Want What You Want

Dear God, I just want what You want. 
Is that too much to ask?
I'd like to have it tomorrow, 
And wrapped in green with a bow 
But I'm sure that won't be a problem. 

I just want what You want, God. 
Your way is always best. 
I'm pretty sure the path will have
These turns and those bumps
But of course, You're the one in control. 

I truly want what You want, God. 
It's so hard to sit and wait patiently.
While I wait I'll just paint in a few ideas, 
Get a picture of how this might look
But I'm waiting on You, really. 

O Father God, I just want what You want.
I know You have it all in Your hand. 

You might use red
With brown string?
There's a good chance 
Of steep hills
And deep valleys?
You threw all my
Pretty pictures
In the trash?

Well, yes.
Of course. 
That's what I said.
I want what You want...
I think. 

What is that?
That's not how wanting what 
You want looks?
Oh. Yeah, I did say I would make myself 
Available. 

That's not what making 
Myself available means?

You're saying being available
Means letting You choose the colors
And paint the pictures?
It means allowing You to
Map out the terrain?

Oh, I see. 

But You care about me?
You know my needs better than I do?
You see the future?
You have my best in mind?
I can trust You, right?

Yes, Father, yes. 
I believe you. 
I really am making myself available. 
I confess I have no idea 
What that might look like,
But I want what You want. 

Really. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Blanket, The Sun, and Redemption

"Oh, oh. Get ready! Here it comes!" Convulsive giggles and frantic wiggling ensued in the seat behind me. "Put up the blanket! There's the sun!"

We were on a simple, evening drive and my three youngest had turned holding a blanket we would need at our destination into a thrilling game of be-prepared-to-block-the-sun-when-it-shines-into-our-faces. You would have thought it was the most exciting activity they had ever taken part in, judging by the shrieks and laughter it produced.

My husband and I exchanged amused smiles. "A child's life is so exciting," I commented quietly.


That incident was weeks ago but it's returned to my mind often. Here's why -- what if 'becoming as little children' means living like that?

Little children bounce; they sparkle, have you noticed? Jerking a blanket over your face every time the sun peaks through the trees is thrilling as you drive along on a summer evening! To big people it's an annoying bother - the sun in your eyes and a visor that doesn't provide enough shade. At what point, exactly, do we lose the sparkle, I wonder? The bounce? What changes when little people get big?


Us big people, we know a lot, don't we? We've known a lot more pain, a lot more heartache; we've shed a lot more tears. As the years stack up, so do the losses. We've said more goodbyes, let go of more dreams, picked up more broken pieces. With the knowing comes a little less bounce, a little less sparkle, a little less child-like-ness. And sometimes, if we're not careful, the pain of this world looms bigger than the God who promises redemption.

"How is it that the sun keeps shining in times of devastating loss? Or that the waves roll in, robust as ever, and tea kettles whistle, and people go to work? Maybe God is saying that death <loss> is real but so is life, and even in the most black and empty days of death, life keeps nosing in, reminding. He is the resurrection and the life. He will win."       ~Dorcas Smucker



 Lately I've found myself grieving so much loss and pain -- my own, my friend's, my family member's. Sometimes the pain of life feels crushing and there is healing in tears and grief. But the bounce and sparkle of a child keep coming back to my mind's eye; the wonder and joy found in simple blankets and sun in the eyes. What good is the resurrection and the life if I live my days under the cloud of loss and pain? If the theme of God's story is redemption, shouldn't the bounce and sparkle of a child line my clouds?

The brokenness of this world is reality; just because we are His doesn't erase the effects of sin and death in our lives. But let's not forget to pause often and view life through the eyes of a child. There is wonder in the sunset, joy in service, sparkle in a hug, bounce in shared laughter, hilarity in a blanket and the sun; don't miss it.


No matter what losses we face, no matter how devastating our road, He is the resurrection and the life.

He will win.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pickleball

It is a cloudy, chilly morning. Matter of fact, we've had quite a lot of clouds and rain lately, and I'm feeling a little rebellious about it. Not that I'm complaining or anything but Winter Is Coming, you know.

My house is cozy and warm though. And I've already mixed up a batch of sourdough bread, which makes me feel all accomplished and Ma Ingalls-ish. Isaac now has his license, so off the children went to school by themselves! Maybe that's part of the prairie woman feeling because that leaves me stranded here without a vehicle. Not that I usually go anywhere during the day but, you know, when you don't have it you're sure you'll need it.

Anyhoo......

So here I sit, drinking my coffee and looking around every few seconds at Charles' "Mom, mom! Look!" And trying  to decide what I should say this morning. Should I dip into the murky waters of joy and grief? Should I talk about living with uncertainty; the questions of what God wants from me - from us - at this stage in life? Or should I tell you about nights at the park and the discovery of Pickleball?

I hope you're not too disappointed if I go with the easy one.

You should know by now that we're a fairly flexible bunch around here. We're not the sort who has our days planned to a tee and if we do, those plans are more likely to get changed up than not.

Jasmine and I clean the tire shop Chris manages. We try to get it done once a week but the day and time varies (see above) and sometimes we suddenly decide at 4:00 on a Thursday night to all go in to the shop to clean and eat the pizza that dad will order. Just as typically, the pizza might never get ordered because of a customer at closing time, so the shop might get cleaned and we might end up with pizza from Little Caesar's at a park we haven't been to before.


It was a lovely evening and the children were soon done with pizza and off to try out swings and slides. There was a basketball court being kept busy by some energetic boys and beyond them, more courts where people appeared to be playing tennis. I didn't pay too much attention to the activities and was actually chafing to go home when I realized that Isaac had joined the players and that the sport was actually called Pickleball.


Pickleball? I'd never heard of it. According to Wikipedia: "Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a Wiffle Ball, over a net."

The sign says -- "This court is reserved for Pickleball only. Open to public - beginners welcome. Instructions and equipment provided." Beneath that are listed days and times for playing.

Apparently most of those interested are in the 50-60-ish age range, or so it appeared from the crowd gathered that night. Isaac was the only one of us wearing tennis shoes, which is a requirement, and they welcomed him in and taught him the rules. They quickly decided that he had too much energy and wondered what court he had played on before? ☺

We went again last night, equipped with tennis shoes this time, and the three oldest and Chris all tried their hand at the game.


It is apparent that a lot of them playing are regulars and that the games are purely for fun and exercise. They are some of the kindest people I've seen, welcoming my crew warmly and appearing to enjoy a game that included a newbie 10 year old as much as one with their seasoned cronies.

It's too bad we discovered this at the end of summer rather than the beginning. But you can bet our children will be wanting to make the most of every chance we have left! I guess this proves again that flexibility often provides you with gifts in the most unexpected places.

What about you -- have you ever heard of Pickleball?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Moms On Sunday Mornings

Groggy and blurry eyed, I focused my eyes on the clock. I'd tempted fate last night, not setting the alarm, but the red numbers came into focus at 6:45, exactly when my alarm usually goes off. Every part of me wanted to roll over and go back to sleep; I hate getting up in the morning. More often then not my mind mumbles this desperate prayer, "Dear God, I need you for this day!" I imagine He smiles down in amusement, knowing that the day isn't really the issue here, the issue is really getting me out of the bed.


As I said, getting up on any morning is not my strong point but this was Sunday morning. This was the one day of the week my husband could stay sleeping in the morning (He works until noon on Saturdays). This was the one morning the children were apt to snuggle in a little longer and the house remain quiet a little later. Oh, the temptation was strong to close my eyes to those red numbers on the clock and pretend I didn't know that I should get up.

"Why should I have to get up early on Sunday morning?" A part of me argued. "They don't always have to have sugary biscuits for breakfast." My head sank deeper into the pillow, blocking out those flashing red numbers that were already climbing relentlessly toward 7:00. "We could eat waffles or eggs or...I don't know... cereal, for lunch. I wouldn't have to get up and get something ready for the oven."



But another part of me wouldn't listen to reason; the grown up, responsible part of me that a mother of 16 years should, by now, have. "You know you'll wish you would have," it told me. "You know you'll be glad you did. Might as well do it; you'll have to sooner or later."

And then, as I pushed back the covers and slipped quietly from the cozy bed, the voice started saying some other things. "Remember how you talked about Treasure In Heaven once?" I warily eyed my bedhead  reflection in the mirror and vaguely wished the voice would mind it's own business. "What if getting up in the morning when nobody else has to is storing up Treasure In Heaven?" the voice persisted. "What if cheerfully serving your family sugary biscuits because you know it will make them smile is storing up Treasure In Heaven?"


By now I'd washed the sleep from my eyes and I found a tiny, little stirring of joy in my heart. Supposing it is, I wondered? And supposing I prepped lunch with a smile on my face and a song on my lips instead of feeling sorry for myself that my spot under the covers was empty while everyone else got to enjoy theirs a little longer? Maybe it wasn't fair that I had to get up earlier just because I was mom but, then again, maybe it wasn't fair that I had that opportunity either.

Sunday morning is tough for a mom sometimes. There are things we can do to make what is often a hectic morning more peaceful -- prepping lunch on Saturdays, laying out clothes the night before, getting up early, making sure our diaper bag is ready... But in spite of our best efforts, a mom on Sunday morning is usually a busy person. We're the ones finding people's belts and shoes and washing the spot out of someone's dress. We smooth hair and settle fusses and inspect little faces for dirt. We gather Bibles and fix casseroles and sometimes we spend a little time looking in the mirror at our own face. It's easy to feel bitter as a mom on Sunday morning, especially when the children are young and the baby got you up during the night.


I will tell you this, a smile on my face and a song on my lips made for a much happier than usual Sunday morning the other week. I arrived at church feeling somehow like I had already worshipped, instead of sighing over the marathon I'd just run to get us there. The shift from "poor me" to "what an opportunity" put a paradigm twist on my attitude and outlook.

And I'll tell you something else.

A week later the same voice came talking to me again on Sunday morning. I was tempted to wish I'd never written anything about Treasure In Heaven that could come back to haunt me. But then I slipped out of bed and made that choice again and I think it could - just maybe - become a thing for this mom to store up Treasure In Heaven on Sunday mornings.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"Car Pants"


Years and years ago, back when Farm & Ranch Living magazine was a thing (Is it still a thing?) Anyway, years ago I remember reading one of the 'week in a life' journals in Farm & Ranch Living about a young family with four or five little boys. I don't remember much about the family or where they lived or what they did. I do remember they had the cutest built in bunk beds in their upstairs bedrooms, but mostly I remember their pants patches.

As you can imagine, a mother of boys living on a farm would see lots of pants with holes. Well, this particular mother had a very creative method for patching pants. Instead of your usual squares, she patched them by cutting out shapes of animals from iron on patches and sewing them over the holes.

I'm not sure why that idea stuck in my mind? I think it was the fact that she turned a dreaded task into something a little more fun simply by using a little creativity. Instead of old, ugly looking patches, she now had cute, whimsical ones that delighted her little boys. I remembered all this the other day when I was sewing car patches.

You see, when Isaac was little, I took the memory of that creative mother, gave it my own twist, and used car patches to patch his pants. I still do it with Charles and both of them have always been delighted to wear what Charles calls "car pants". I thought you might like to see the process.


Charles' poor pants were in sad need of repair, so I decided to tackle them all at once.


I got out my iron on patches and my little car patterns that I free handed once upon a time. Since the point is the cute patch, it doesn't really matter if the color matches the pants perfectly.


Next, I traced three cars -
two big and one small,
according to the size of the holes. 


I cut them out...


And ironed them over the holes.


I've tried leaving it at that, 
but they tend to come loose in a hurry. 


So, last but not least,
I hand stitch around them
with an applique stitch. I've also
used a zig zag stitch and 
done it on the sewing machine. 


And there you have it!

Charles wasn't at home when I sewed these patches. I purposely laid them out so he would see them and I wish you could have seen his face -- "Mom! Three pairs of car pants!!"


Patched pants were never so fun ☺


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Show And Tell

At the church where I grew up, the first Thursday of the month was The Quilting. On that day, someone opens their home for church and neighbor ladies to gather and spend time together quilting, eating a delicious potluck meal, visiting, laughing and sharing together. One of the fun things is a Show and Tell time.

I miss The Quilting.

Today let's pretend you're all gathered here in my house and it's show and tell time. We may have to set up a few folding chairs and squeeze together on the couch, but we'll manage. At The Quilting there's always room for one more!

I've got three things I want to show you today. If it were real life show and tell time, I'd probably try to choose just one so I wouldn't take up too much time. But this is pretend, so I'll take as much time as I like.

Do you remember a very long time ago, when I said I was going to make quilts for my girl's beds? They are finally done. We won't go into any details about why they took so long.


The original plan was to make the whole quilt with the chevron pattern. Well. It didn't take me long to figure out that if I actually wanted the quilts done so the girls could use them before they left home, I needed a different plan. It was my sister who suggested using a couple rows of chevron and a solid. I really like the way they turned out and it was so much more doable!


The girls each chose their grey material so each quilt would have a personal touch.



      *******
My next show and tell has a bit of a story behind it. Early this spring, through two different giveaways, I somehow managed to score a total of five dahlia tubers. Jasmine and I were beyond thrilled, as we've been crushing over Root Design Co's dahlias for the past year or so.

We planted them carefully, desperately hoping our amateur growing skills would do them no harm. Alas, it rained and it rained and the place we had chosen for planting turned to a mud hole. As dahlias prefer direct sun, this was not a good thing at all. Suffice it to say, after our rescue efforts, we ended up with one thriving plant.

Sad, sad.

But the plucky little plant grew straight and tall and at long last developed buds a few weeks ago. With baited breath we've watched them slowly swell and open.

My daily progress report...

Perfection. 

    *******
Last but not least is, perhaps, my favorite show and tell of all. I got the idea somewhere that I wanted a picture to put behind my old window. Then, I had the brilliant brainstorm that Jasmine could paint something for me!



With a cheap piece of poster board and Root Design Co as her inspiration...



She obliged with a fabulous watercolor bouquet. I absolutely love it!

And that's all I have. Thanks for coming! We have a little time left, what would you like to show or tell me? I'd love to hear...