Wednesday, September 12, 2012

slimmer, faster- the confusion between us and our machines

I just saw a headline- new Iphone- thinner, faster.

It is disturbing that our society values the same characteristics for our machines as we do for ourselves.  We want to be slim, sleek, and quick.  We run, we diet, and if that fails, we wear spanx.

Is that why we disregard both the unborn and the very old?  They do not fit in with our accepted adjectives.

We talk about ourselves being connected, plugged in, wired for certain things. 

What happened to the things Jesus compared us to- lilies, birds, sheep?  Simple things with profound mystery to them.

Instead of being connected to everyone, anytime, anywhere, can we just sit in the quiet and be still with the One who knew us from before the creation of time?

Can we?

I am not thin, I am not fast.

I can sit. I can pray.  I can listen to the God who made me and will be here when all the shiny trinkets are gone.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

a moral dilemma- what would you have done?

This happened to me last week, and I am not sure how I should have handled it.

I am pumping gas and a truck pulls up on the other side of the gas pump I am using.  The woman is driving, and the man gets out to pump the gas.  The woman's window is rolled down and she lights up a cigarette and smokes it there, 3 feet from the gas pump, dumping ashes out the window.  I am on the other side of the pump from her, probably 5 or 6 feet away.  My kids are in the car and I am standing there pumping gas, smelling the gas fumes, watching her smoke and reading the NO SMOKING signs posted everywhere.

I don't want to tell anyone what they should do, but I also don't want me and my kids to get blown up.  Where is the line between respect of others privacy and self-preservation?

What would you have done?  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

a momentous giving

Tomorrow my husband and I will be married for 15 years.  I can't even begin to describe the twists and turns our life has taken in those years.  But through all the various settings our life has taken place in, we have had this center, this unmoving place of safety and trust.  It is only in recent years as we have seen marriages crumble around us that we have truly appreciated the holy gift that this relationship is.  

We took a trip a few weeks ago to celebrate our anniversary and it is good we did as tomorrow will be spent in the hospital with our son getting treatment for another infection.  Not the most romantic place for an anniversary, but not totally inappropriate.  For our marriage is not just a gift of security and steadfast love for the two of us, but also for those around us touched by our lives and our relationship. 

But in the craziness of family life, the monotony of housework, the stress of work- we can take a moment, breathe deep and look at each other in wonder of the gift we have been given.  The gift of this marriage.

Sometimes, hidden from me in daily custom and in ritual
I live by you unaware, as if by the beating of my heart.
Suddenly you flare again in my sight
A wild rose at the edge of the thicket where yesterday there was only
And I am blessed and choose again,
That which I chose before.
-Wendell Berry, The Wild Rose

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good excuses

I have been gone for a while from this place.  There just wasn't room in my mind or my day for writing.  But Rebecca asked, so I thought I should at least let you know I am alive.  Hmm, my last post was April 22.  Since then the following has happened:

- My son had surgery
- My husband graduated
- School ended
- We moved to a new house (same town)
- Same son had 2 infections
- 3 days training for my new job
- 1 theater camp
- 1 soccer camp (and our boy was player of the week!)
- vacation church school
- husband has had job interviews (2nd interview on Tuesday- please pray)

So, I have good excuses, right?

Our summer is definitely a season of transition for our family.  We have settled so well in this new house, it makes me realize how many inconveniences the last house had.  This house has room for playing, dreaming and living.

This fall is looking to be busy with new things for all of us.  But I want to come to this space and share as I can the reflections on these days.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

the magic of three

For just 9 days (3x3)
One of us is 6 (2x3)
one of us is 9  (3x3)
two of us are 36 (12x3)
three is cool

Friday, April 20, 2012

And now we are six. . .

Oh, my little man. How my heart just glows when I think of you. I can't even count the number of times Daddy and I have looked at each other with laughter in our eyes as you come in the room with a new costume or make a wise and funny observation of life. You are outside right now, as you are all the time you don't have to be inside.

Today you are Robin Hood, and i hear you bossing around your merry men and preparing for battle.

You really love chips. As you pointed out to us, you don't just have a sweet tooth- all your teeth are sweet.

You love to move- sports, cars, scooters, bikes, and just plain running. For your party, you want to just run races with your friends. With all this movement, you are still my cuddle bug and I savor the moments you get in bed with us and just lay still, letting me smell that boy smell on you- a mixture of dirt, sweat and leftover candy.

Most of all I love your heart. How you look to your daddy for all that is good and stable in the world and how your heart broke and tears rolled as you learned of neighbor boys that don't have a daddy. You are fierce in your desires and passions and you dig in your heels on things you want. But in the end, you do what you know you should and come to us with hugs and joy renewed.

Someday this strong spirit will help you hold strong in hard times. You will live life with action and passion, and probably in the great outdoors.

Six is a wonderful year. I am so happy to be by your side as you learn and grow this year. I love you, sweet pea.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

what i have heard lately

:: two boys yelling "Christ is Risen" and "He is risen indeed" in as many languages as they can. They especially love Swahili.

:: After tucking in an almost 6 year old very sweet and very honest boy, "Mama, when you bend over your tummy kind of looks like you have a baby in it." Ouch. It's true. But don't get excited, its not a baby in there. :)

:: another precious observation from the same boy "So when Jesus went to Hades to let out the people who had died, he got to see his dad, Joseph, right?"

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

He who makes all things new

It has been a while. . . have you noticed the silence?

It is a time of year and a time of our lives when much is going on. And when I would look at this blog, nothing came to mind, so I wrote nothing.

Seasons of silence are good.

I am in a spring cleaning mode- more than my regular attempt at window cleaning. I am going through the black hole we call a basement where all the forgotten toys, extra books and unwanted stuff is laid to rest.

It is not a sure thing, but it looks like we could be moving to another house in our small town.

A good reason to purge. Anyone need a lite brite?

No big inspiring words here, but I have joined Paperback Swap, which I am hoping will take away some of the not so beloved books here and get us some new ones for homeschooling next year. I love the idea of using the social networking power of the internet for almost free books. :)

I have an icon on the side and if you join, you can put my name in (for those of you who know me in real life, i guess) and I will get a credit for it.

Other fun things are in the works. Garden planting, curriculum planning, wrapping up the school year, new chickens. Good stuff.

Friday, March 9, 2012

the rocky road of lent

If Pintarest could talk, you would think we all floated on butterflies and ate cake at every meal. You would think the Bible was in our hands from morning to noon and our knees were calloused from prayer. You would think this 40 day journey is like a monk rambling through the woods, gazing at the bright blue sky.

Lent doesn't work that way. Its a hard road, meant to cut off the fat and get to the meat of our spiritual life. Its difficult in and of itself.

And every year, but it seems more acute this year, we come under attack. We are pulled and distracted from our focus by very real happenings around us.

This year we have suffered sickness, tragedy, family struggles, money headaches all in the past few weeks. Some nights all our prayers consisted of was the plea for an hour without a sick child waking. Some days my thoughts have hovered around worry instead of meditating on scripture. Not the Pintarest picture of spirituality, but a very dirty, world-weary woman who is looking through the fog for the path.

A companion to me this lent has been N.T. Wright's Lent for Everyone. It is simple and short and gives me a window in each day to let my heart rest and listen.

One day, the scripture was about the woman with the issue of blood who reached out and touched Jesus' garment and was healed. N.T. Wright challenged to the reader to be like the woman and go to God with what we want. Not in a "I want a pony for Christmas" kind of way, but to look deep down at our desires and fears and motivations and confess to God what gnaws at us. There is no guarantee He will give it, but in His graciousness, He invites us to come to Him and ask.

When I sat still and let the myriad thoughts dance around my head and my heart sunk down into the depths, I found the word "Security" came to me. That is what I am reaching out to touch His garment for. That is what I ask my Lord to give, if it is His will. To know my feet are on solid ground, and that the ground before me will hold too.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

lent is not about guilt- its about going back to the beginning

Its that time of year. We make lists of lenten foods to buy, we pull out our prayer ropes as we equip ourselves for the journey.

Yet, if you are like me, you can become overwhelmed by all the great ideas people have out there. You see beautiful arrangements, calendars, countdowns, icons. And you want to do it ALL. You hear words of wisdom and piety and want to BE that, to DO that. Almost immediately following the inspiration is one of two reactions- setting impossibly high goals for Lent, as if it were a trophy to win. Or, feeling guilty knowing that you can't do all you want to for Lent.

And that gong of guilt can ring and ring throughout the season, each time we fall, each time we forget what we should do. Guilt can deafen us to the real purpose of lent.

The purpose is to go back.

We go back to the Garden of Eden, where our ancestors had a perfect relationship with God. Where they lived with the animals, but didn't eat of them. Where their time was spent tending the garden, but not enslaved to labor. Where they conversed with God and each other in wholeness and intimacy.

We attempt to change some things in our lives now to reflect that time. We say no to distractions so we can say yes to communion.

If we do that, we have lived out the Lenten journey.

I have found that it is better to have small, realistic plans in which we can be consistent, rather than lofty ideas that end up fizzling out. Everyone is different, and especially as a family, there are many needs to consider. This year, I hope to:
- mark our lenten journey with a special candle and a calendar at our prayer corner.
- have lenten meals for me and my husband and lenten dinners for our whole family
- say the prayer of St. Ephrem each day (my boys love this!)
- reduce our TV watching (I am the worst of all at this!)
- only be on the computer when my boys are in bed
- read spiritually uplifting books
- volunteer at the local community center

It is hard, as we have been gone from the garden for so long. Our habits are entrenched and the world around us affirms the very vices we are trying to abandon. I often hear people saying they are looking forward to Lent, but I for one, sigh deeply as I look at the list above and begin what I know will be a difficult road.

But that is the grace of Lent. We are not traveling alone. If it were up to us, we couldn't take even the first step. But God himself is in us, accompanying us and guiding us. By His grace, we will walk in faithfulness back to the beginning.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Though I haven't blogged much about it, the past two months have been a roller coaster. My husband finished all his classes except for one, so he began looking for a job. I had heard people complain about the economy and heard stories of people looking for work for a year or more, but I never really understood how totally unsettling it is to not have a job.

Not to brag, but my husband has quite a variety of skill sets. He has done construction for years, taught art classes, worked in a hotel, cleaned at the school where I taught, and now has a masters in counseling. He applied at probably 12 different jobs and most of them never called back. He had some doors open and then close and then open again. He had an opportunity that we said no to and then wondered if we had done the right thing. Our standards got lower and lower. He looked at seasonal jobs and things that didn't even require a high school education.

Two weeks ago, I reached my limit. I was shopping for health insurance, which in itself is a walk through the valley of fear, and crunching the numbers, and living with the constant hope that the phone ringing was a job offer. It was exhausting and one evening I just laid on the couch and refused to make any more decisions or answer any more questions. I just needed a break from it all. I had my little breather and then I felt better.

And on Monday, he had an offer. Not a great offer, but something.
And on Friday, he had another offer. It was the job he had wanted, with benefits, in his specialty area, and the shift he preferred. It was all we had wanted. . . just a couple months later than we would have liked.

Seeing my husband so happy this weekend, I realized that he carried as big a burden and I did. Bigger, even. He loves us so much that he filled out application after application, got background checks and drug tests. Just to take care of our family.

Now I am reflecting, wondering what I was supposed to learn through this process. What gift of grace was I given despite the stress and anxiety? On this road that seemed so twisted and strange to me, what did God want to reveal?

One thing I learned is that gratitude is a practice, not a feeling. On the worst days, I could look up from my own fear and see how rich I am. I made myself pay attention to all I have and I discovered that my most favorite things in life are free because they are a gift.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hilarious!! Abacus vs. Computer

This was from Matuska Anna's blog- Praying with my Feet

Advantages of the Abacus versus the Computer
  1. The abacus isn't obsolete three days after you buy it.
    “Hey, Joe, look at my new AB5000!”
    “I hate to tell you this, but they just released the AB5001.”
  2. People can't steal information from your hard drive.
  3. You can't fritter away your afternoon playing solitaire or minesweeper.
  4. Facebook isn't so much a hit.
  5. It's much safer for your kids to play on.
  6. You can take (in theory) an abacus through the metal detector at an airport.*
  7. People think you're smart. Any idiot can use a computer.
  8. The abacus floats in a flood.
  9. If you want to resell it, simply move all the beads to the left to zero out your hard drive.
  10. There are no “abacus viruses”.
  11. In a pinch you can make your own abacus. In less than a decade.
  12. You will never be subjected to “abacus chain mail.”
  13. The cost of ink cartridges doesn't factor into your buying decisions.
  14. You can use the abacus in a power failure.
  15. Y2K was a non-issue.
Disadvantages of the Abacus versus the Computer
  1. Internet connections are a lot slower.
  2. You can't fritter away your afternoon playing solitaire or minesweeper.
  3. Not much memory.
  4. There's no abacus help desk.
  5. No one has figured out how to download music yet.
  6. It's hard to watch DVDs on your abacus.
Things that are just the same
  1. If you drop it, you probably lost all your work.
  2. There's still a learning curve.
  3. Somebody else will always have a newer or more impressive one than you have.
  4. Your kids will still figure it out faster.

    (A collaborative effort by Father and Matushka)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

adam thada, i need you here

what is more fun than comparing different health insurance plans?

what else could delight the soul more that juggling numbers for deductibles, premiums (why cant they just say the word payment?), copays and coinsurance?

what could bring more joy than comparing your bank account to your monthly income and deciding which one should take the bigger hit?

One word- ANYTHING.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

choosing the season (or not)

As I write, it is 52 degrees and sunny outside. If you dont look at the calendar, it feels like March or April. The daffodils have been fooled, the trees are blooming. We had one little snow and now spring is edging into February. I love spring, its my favorite season. Usually when a day like this comes in March, I go crazy buying soil and seeds. But this year it feels so premature, like an interruption in the normal cycle of things. I look out the window and my inner clock says, "this is just not right".

I was thinking today that the weather and thus, seasons, are something beyond our control. They are subject to forces greater than us. The tilt of the earth, the patterns of the rain, the directions of the wind. Even with all the money we spend to predict the weather, all we can do is predict it, we cannot change it. It is given, not taken.

Thus are the seasons of life. We make plans, we do the best we know how to make a good life, but some things are beyond our control. Life comes, death comes. Friends disappoint, family falls ill. Loved ones move, jobs change. Some events are blessings we could never have imagined. Some are hard, very hard.

I have lived around fatalists- people who face the world believing that bad things happen and there is nothing you can do about it. I have also lived around control freaks- who believe that with enough hard work just about anything can be changed.

I probably lean to the control freak side, but as I get older I see that there are some choices placed in our hands and others that are beyond us. Sometimes action is the cure, and sometimes prayer is the hope.

Monday, January 30, 2012

finish what you start- the dishcloth

I am starting a new series of posts. The basic premise is this- I am great at beginnings. I love to research, plan, gather materials, envision the finished product.
BUT I am not so great at completion. The going gets tough on one project and I get distracted by a new idea. Then I am off planning for the new thing and the old is left in a pile somewhere.
So I will be documenting here when I finish something- and I invite you to do the same on your blog. It may be crafty things, as I have bucket loads of them around. It may be writing or a house project or anything that is just hanging around begging to be completed.
It is hard to do the wrapping up things. It takes determination, perseverance and patience to make the final edits, clip the threads and push through. But we can do it.

So join me finishing well what we have begun. If you do put a project on your blog, please leave a comment, so we can all come and offer congratulations.

Today's finish what you start project was a dishcloth that I literally lost for a year halfway through the knitting process. It had been in my car as my portable knitting to do during baseball games and doctor appointments and then disappeared and was found later in my black hole of a basement. The pattern is from Mason-Dixon knitting, which I highly recommend for its HILARIOUS writing and its great patterns. The yarn is cotton yarn from our local yarn shop. Something and cream probably. as you can see, I made lots of mistakes. But this was the first time I did this pattern, and the goal was to finish it, which I did and use it, which I will. If it were to be a gift, I would probably have cared more about the mistakes. But its done! Yay!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

for my nine year old

Oh boy of mine, how do I tell you how I love you? You have so many gifts that make me and so many others shake our heads in wonder at God's great gift of your life.

I have told you the story so many times of how you were born, how we knew what your name would be and how we knew you would be very special. And you are. You are full of kindness and gentleness, generosity and curiosity, faith and love. Everyday your eyes literally sparkle with joy for the coming day. You always remind me that each day is a gift of God's love.

You have gone through some tough things this year and I am so proud of the courage and strength you have shown. You always have a positive outlook and encourage everyone around you. This will serve you well in life as you face new challenges.

It has been my great joy to see your love for God and the church grow this year. You have really been faithful in reading your devotional book and Bible and every day you remind us of truths we need to hold onto. I think this morning, before I was totally awake you were saying something like "You always have hope!" I am so looking forward to seeing you grow in your love for God.

Happy birthday, my sweet first born. May your year be filled with good friends, exciting stories and continued confidence in the wonderfulness of this world.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

a rare thing . . . a productive day

today i . . .
- got pictures resized and uploaded on a website
- finished our Christmas letters and sent them out
- helped my son clean out his bookcase and desk
- made phone calls
- put away the last of the Christmas decorations (that I can reach)

This productive day was brought to you by one wonderful grandmother that happily babysits and meals consisting of cheese and bread.

Monday, January 9, 2012

why you should learn to knit

"Knitting provides everything you need to do — everything you should have learned in kindergarten. It teaches you how to focus. It teaches you how to make a task and meet that goal. It teaches you now to ... control your anger. ... All of these are skills are life skills, are job skills. ... Skills that, quite possibly, many people in our society are lacking."

- from this interview on NPR. really fascinating

Sunday, January 1, 2012

looking forward, looking back

Some years you can look back and see some significant events, milestones in your life. As I look back at 2o11, I see a few big things, but mainly see the efforts of faithfulness. The attempt to live each day in the love and light of God. That seems monumental many times.

Looking back, I am thankful for:
- wonderful, caring doctors and nurses who have helped us through our needs and issues
- a blossoming 8 (almost 9) year old who grows in his love for God and others daily. He truly is a remarkable son.
- an energetic 5 year old who is a boy with a capital B and loves for us to all be together.
- a wonderful husband who has persevered through graduate school and is now beginning his career
- deepening friendships with women with whom I can cry, vent, and laugh really really hard. This is truly an answer to prayer and I don't take it lightly.
- a mentoring relationship with an older woman in our church. a living saint who listens, prays and encourages me
- a martial arts class that has helped our son with his coordination and confidence

Looking forward, I am praying for:
- a good job for my husband with decent pay and benefits
- continued grace for homeschooling and smooth transitions to new curriculum
- strong friendships for my children
- God's will to be done concerning looking for a new (to us) house
- wisdom as I explore new opportunities
- strength for the tasks we are given each day
- healing and wholeness for those close to us with many wounds
- wisdom and grace as we become godparents to two precious children
- perseverance and divine intervention as I work on my physical health
- continued strength and depth of friendships

Happy new year to you all! May God's grace be upon you.