Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Remedy Was Fire

In six weeks I will be speaking at a retreat on the topic of prayer.

I don't mind telling you that I feel a little-bit overwhelmed by this topic, and A LOT-a-bit under-qualified.

Its not that I don't pray. I do.

Its just... well... prayer is such a huge topic and it often involves pain. Of course, pain is a problem I like to avoid.

And yet, I know that prayer is one of the ways I can communicate with my Creator. Its foundational in a dynamic relationship with God. I know that not all of my prayers will be answered the way I would like them to unfold - often providing hope and help from places I didn't even know existed. I know that my prayers have been unequivocally answered "Yes!", and some, "No!". But with 20/20 vision I can look back and see that God used all things for His glory and my good.

I know these things.

My problem is in the practical application. In convincing my heart of a Holy practice that my mind can't fully comprehend.

I find that I waiver between two courses when I pray: I pray that God would spare me (or others) from pain, or, in my pain I ask Him to take it away...and please, make the process as painless as possible.

I've been through just enough discomfort in this life to know it isn't all bad, and that pain is also purposeful - if we choose not to waste it. Still, as most people do, I often dance around it. It reminds me about a situation I was in about 8 years ago....

My daughter was about three-years old and woke up one bright Texas morning with a flat, light-brown spot on the left side of her face. I thought she was getting a freckle but a couple weeks later that little spot got bigger... and had babies.

Within a month that little spot was about the size of a grain of rice, and the other spots ranged from the size of a pin-point to large freckles.

I was concerned.

So I took her to the doctor who said it wasn't contagious, but she didn't know what it was.

I took her to a dermatologist who said he had never seen anything like it and perhaps it was a wart (although they didn't look like warts). He said removing it would cause scarring so to try some over-the-counter wart remover. He then sort of flippantly told us that there was an old wives-tale regarding warts: if you cut a potato and rub it on the wart, then bury the potato in you back yard, your warts would go away.

I tried it.

It didn't work.

I took her to a dear friend who is a medical professional but also knowledgeable in natural medicine. She told me to try Tea-tree oil. So I plunked down some hard cash and put nasty smelling oil on my baby's cheek for a couple of months.

Nothing. And it was getting worse.

As a last ditch effort, I took her to a family friend and well-known plastic surgeon in my hometown. He also wasn't sure what it was (he didn't think it was warts) and told me to wait it out. He asked me if it was causing her pain or if it bothered her in any way.

The answer was no.

He said that he could take it off, but that the in-office procedure would be tough on a three-year old. Not to mention the difficulties of keeping the post-surgery wound on a pre-schooler's face clean. He said to leave it alone and if, when she was 12 or 13, she didn't like the way it looked, he would take care of it.

All these appointments and ointments (and sadly, potatoes) took place over the course of a year. I'm not sure when it occurred to me that I should pray about these marks on her face, it was certainly after I had tried everything I knew to do...but then I prayed.

And then I asked my mom's group to pray.

And then I asked my small group at church to pray.

And then I asked the women's ministry team to pray.

And I prayed some more.

And then, The Girl got very sick.

She had a ridiculously high fever. She complained of nothing else. There were no ear infections, throat issues...nothing.  For two days she was poorly. It wasn't easy for her.

Life went on and she got better. About a week later, as we all sat around the table and I looked at her with unbelief. I don't know when it happened but, her spots were gone.

I'm talkin', completely, totally, absolutely, not there. There wasn't a scar or spot or any sort of sign. Just a pink, healthy looking face.

I spent over a year trying to get rid of a blemish that the Lord removed nearly overnight.

As The Mister and I talked about it we think The Girl did in fact have some sort of virus. A virus that only a fever could cure.

We prayed for restoration, the remedy was fire.

There is mercy in fire.

There is purpose in pain.

If we can hang on, until we can see the goodness that comes from the heat of life, we receive the privilege to see the hand of God in our lives and in the lives of those we love.

As Christians we practice prayer because its communion with our God and Father. It helps us to remember that He is in control. Prayer is a gift - sometimes a gift that is pleasurable, and yes, sometimes painful...but all for our good.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Plans Change

Beautiful day.

Worked hard.

Finished school.

Baked brownies.

Threw bikes

In car. 

Drove to

New sights.

Took kids. 

They rode.

I ran.

Set pace. 

Feeling good.

Five minutes.

Chain breaks.

Walk back.

Drive home.

Smell chocolate.

Finish run?

Uh, no.

Brew coffee.

Eat brownie.

Enjoy life.

Try again,

On morrow.

Plans change.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Over

I don't want to sound dramatic, but it's over. 

Here I am, on this cold, dark, dreary (possibly snowy) morning and I can't believe that Spring Break 2011 has come and gone.

It feels like I blinked my eyes, and it all went by. I let my guard down and it passed without a moments notice.

And yet...

So may things happened. I traveled. A baby was born. I made dinners and desserts. I planted seeds and crocheted, and finished projects that need to mailed. I've watched more basketball this week than I have since 1997. I hung out with good friends and watched movies with The Girl.

I slept in, I slept in, I slept in.

Six o'clock came early this morning.

There are a few things I managed to avoid this week that are first on my agenda today...folding piles of clean laundry (to empty baskets for laundry currently being washed), getting to the gym, and cleaning out the refrigerator (a chore that I do often but always seems to "grow".)

Its not a glamorous life, but its steady work. What more could I ask for?

Well, maybe longer vacations.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This Good Day - A Gift

I had every intention of getting out today and running all over town.

But with a text and phone call my plans changed, and I sighed with great relief. It feels good to have a day to just be at home without a full agenda.

So I've crafted and sewed and made homemade bread. I folded laundry and went for a run, while the kids rode their bikes.

And since I started this blog post, I've had two different friends stop-by for a quick chat.

All day long my windows have been open and the cool breeze has mingled through each room. I love it when the curtains blow gently in soft little waves.

This good day. It is a gift. One filled with friends, and work, and leisure and beautiful things to see....

And that this good day should happen in my favorite time of year... when the browns of winter give way to greens; and the promise of blossom is hanging on the vine.

It fills me with excitement for today and hope for tomorrow, when cool mornings will soon be warm and we'll eat popsicles at night while we watch the fireflies glow - when we have to wash the dirt off our bare-feet before bed.

Even if those warm-ish days are still far away, I'm content.

I am thankful for this good day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Snapshots of the Week

I want with all my heart to sit down and tell you all about the events of the last several days but there are so many fun things to do today...and not much time to do it! So here are a few snapshots....

Last Friday I embarked on a trip to NYC. There were car rides, train rides, ferry rides, and strolling running through the city. We had adventure as we encountered loss of power on the Amtrak train, experienced the NYC subway system, and when my car wouldn't start on the way home and had to be jumped. Twice.

Those things added to the pleasure of touring lower Manhattan and fostering my ever-growing L-O-V-E for N-Y-C.

I love New York. I really do. I even bought the T-shirt so every one would know it.

And then I came home and had a baby.

Well, I didn't have a baby. But I was just as excited for this little one as I was my own (and I didn't have to go through labor.)

I was THRILLED that little Calvin didn't come while I was in NYC. He patiently waited and came right on time yesterday afternoon. Mom and babe are doing well.

When I left on Friday afternoon there were only a few small sign of spring. When I got home, it felt like all the world had exploded into blossom, ready and waiting for me.

Remember my little Amaryllis Bulb I planted 5 weeks ago?

Here she is in all her glory!

I managed to play a little in the garden this morning, but its time to clean up and go hug a baby. So I'll leave you with a few pictures and hope tomorrow finds me blogging properly!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Emmaus Eight

Sometimes I worry about the future. 

As a natural-born optimist and one who hangs her hat on the Hope that has overcome this world, I know worry isn't the answer... but occasionally I fret. 

Over the last few months I've heard stories of young people in this country who were stealing cars, bullying and abusing others, wielding weapons and generally being a menace to society. If that is our future, then we should all run and hide.

These cynical thoughts are strange for a girl whose glass is always half-full

It felt strange to carry a glass so heavy.

Then the Emmaus Eight walked through my door.

About a  month ago our church announced that the Emmaus Bible College Choir Ensemble would be giving a concert and would need a few host families for one night. 

I knew immediately that I would sign-up, and I figured I could take half-a-dozen girls, because it seems my motto these days is: go big or go home

All I needed was a place for them to sleep, and an egg casserole for breakfast.

Amazingly, I put out an APB on Facebook for air mattresses (and sheets) and within a week I had more than I needed. 

The concert was amazing, and as I bobbed my head to the music I was thrown back to my college choir days... the black dresses, the heavy choir folders, the wonderful SATB harmonies. 

I was a little challenged by the math when I was computing the dates of my college years: 1990-1994. 

Um, that would be two decades ago. Let's not go there.

I was quickly brought to my senses when they sang my favorite hymn, Before the Throne.


At the end of the evening I didn't bring home six singers, I brought home eight. 

And it was wonderful. 

We stayed up eating popcorn and drinking hot cocoa until after midnight. I was so keyed up I laid in bed until 2:30am feeling happy and content with my house full of people. 

I learned that these young women are articulate, passionate, caring, smart, talented and amazing beautiful. Every last one of them.

They are the epitome of 'all things new'...some just starting out in college, in marriage, in ministry, in romance, in life. They love their families; they work hard. Some were the first in their families to get through college, and some were walking in the shadows of siblings that had gone before them. Some were quiet. Some were outgoing. All of them were so much fun.

I am pretty sure that not every one had a pillow, nor a hot shower. But no one complained or was ungracious. They were kind to me, my kids and even my crazy dog. 

As I tried to ask questions that would give me insight to each young gal, I was given a glimpse into the hope of the future, and it erased those terribly cynical thoughts and ideas; my worries for the future melted away. 

I think about the Titus 2 admonition that speaks of the older woman teaching the younger and I realized something very important....

I am convinced that the older woman needs the younger equally so. We need the younger to keep our hearts from becoming hardened with the injustices of the world, and instead maintain a healthy, soft and supple heart that is focused on the Hope set before us.

The excitement and energy and enthusiasm of the Emmaus Eight filled my cup and reminded me of the words and promise of Psalm 103.

What else did I learn through this experience?
Becky (an Emmaus alum) and Courtney came for breakfast.
We are trying to keep her from remembering that she is 6 days overdue.
Well, I learned that when eight very attractive college girls come to stay with you, the thirteen-year-old Boy who was a little apprehensive about going to college in five years, will suddenly realize that college might not be too bad. (Look at the grin on that Boy's face.)

I learned that when I had my first baby, several of these girls were preschoolers.

I learned that when people say I have a tendency to talk with my hands, they might be right.

I learned that above all things using my home to lift up others isn't just something I like to do, its a gift I've been given to give to others...and it fills me with a joy that lends to weepiness and laughter, all at the same time.

To my Emmaus Gals, 

Thank you for the opportunity to spend a few hours with you. You were a blessing to me...and I meant what I said: You always have a home in North Carolina.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Best Time To Play is With Time You Don't Have


I should not be typing at you.

In between washing towels and sheets and preparing for a slumber party with six choir gals from Iowa, I'm running to orthodontists, Girls Scouts, the grocery store and trying to educate my children.

Oh yeah, and I should probably clean out my mini-van...because something has died in there.

Since time is of the essence, when I unfolded and filled five air mattresses with air we had plenty-o-time to set up for a photo-op.

Who can possibly have that many air mattresses and not take ten minutes to set up a scene from the Princess and the Pea?
Do you see the pea down there?
Of course, it would have been more authentic had we 95 more beds, but this was what we had. So we went with it.

Very often I get emails and comments that say you love seeing snippets of everyday life, and this is it.

I would show you the interior of the mini-van, but pride gets in the way.

And that, my friends is as real as it gets.

(The Boy, not wanting to be left out gave you his best thirteen-year old "peace" sign. I told him to he gave me the cheesy grin.)

Back to work!

PS: If you are a blogger, and I used to read your blog....I swear there will be a day when I actually READ blogs again! I have been peeking in from time to time but not commenting....which is so sad! Soon summer will be here and I will be able to respond properly...until then please know that I AM thinking about you!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Brown Paper Packages... delivered by the FedEx Man

Go ahead and sing through My Favorite Things.

That's pretty much my list of favorite things. Except I'm fairly certain I've never had Schnitzel with noodles. But I like noodles, so I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem.

On Friday I received a package. From someone I didn't expect.

I was actually talking to my mom when the package arrived.
I adore packages. And even though it wasn't wrapped in brown paper and tied up in string, it was just as wonderful...something I've wanted for a long time: a new University of Arizona sweatshirt.
I cropped this photo in preservation of my no-make-up-just-home-from-the-gym self.
My brother, Fil, had remembered that I was hoping to get a new sweatshirt while I was there to help during my mom's surgery in January. Life was so moment-by-moment back then, that shopping was not high on my list of priorities.

He not only sent the gift, but wrote the nicest note too....

Honestly, the sweatshirt is nice (really nice!), but those words - some endearing, most meant for laughs - mean the world to me.

I've been wanting to write this post for some time...the one that talks about the two men in my life who happen to be my "little" brothers...but they aren't sappy people who like flowery words.
Fil, Kellie, Daniel
(photo by Silver E Photography)
They still poke fun at me (making fun of my nose, and teasing me incessantly,) and try to bully me (although now they can actually win), and think that they can boss me. But they are good people and I couldn't love them more.

I guess you could say they are two of my favorite things.

So, Fil, thank you for the sweatshirt and the kind words... When I get back home I will give you a proper thank-you punch in the arm with my sharp knuckles.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Seventh Grade Math is Not for Wimps

This was a long week. Thank goodness there are Daffodils growing right out side my window.

Seventh grade math nearly took me out this week, but I refuse to give in.

Although I nearly did.

It's very difficult to work outside of boxes I'm used to playing in, (math is a "box" I do my best to avoid) and this week I was tempted to despair (and revert back to old thoughts and feelings)

Anyway, there was math this week.

And after-math.

I did manage to get a few other things done around here though....Here are the highlights:

We are horse sitting until Sunday.

Just heading out to the barn for 15 minutes each afternoon has given me (and the kids) a respite in the middle of our day.

We feed and water and play.

And give them treats.

It makes me want to live on a ranch.
I also  managed a little crochet therapy:

I started (and finished) another Ruffly scarf.

Then I started a new afghan I have wanted to do for a really long time. Fear had put me off for awhile...for some reason blankets feel scary to in long-term relationship scary.

Oh! but the truth is, I'm in love....

Here was the beginning on Tuesday.
Look at that skinny little thing.

Each night I have tried to add a row or two.
This morning, I added 3 more rows...

I wish the clouds would hurry up and go away...because the lighting has been awful for pictures.

I am certain this afghan is going to give me a good attitude for the rest of my teaching career. I will wrap myself in it when I teach learn pre-algebra and I will be happy.

I have a thousand-and-one things I want to write this afternoon, but the words aren't coming out right when I type them, so I'm just going to say this:  Happy Friday! May your weekend be sunny!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Signs of Spring

I know that spring is nearly here when I see these things...

The Boy just sitting outside in the sunshine.

(Later I found that Kona the Wondermutt had decided to join him for a little time in the sun.)

They then became aware of the paparazzi.
Kona sticks her tongue out to the camera.
Kona asked that this unflattering picture not be put on the internet, but since she continues to get on the couch when we are not home, all bets are off.

Ok, ok, Kona would like this picture posted so you know that she is really excited about St. Patricks Day. (Just between you and me....she thinks she is Irish, and I don't have the heart to remind her that she's Australian. So we just let her think what she wants.)

We are also growing a carrot top for our beloved Penny. (she likes the tops the best)

After-all, what is springtime without a floppy eared rabbit?

Especially one who adores banana's?
Is she not the cutest. little. thing

The reason we took this video is that we were hoping to record her 'hum'. When she eats something she REALLY loves, or when you give her lots of attention, she will do this buzzing kind of hum. Its the sweetest thing.

Have I mentioned that I love this bunny?

I try really hard not to show my favoritism around the Wondermutt. 

(Uh, actually, I don't. Sometimes favoritism is just apart of pet ownership. I mean who wouldn't favor "I just went out in the yard and rolled in poop" over  "I'm cute and fuzzy, trained to a litter box and give myself my own baths."

But that's for another post.

More signs of spring?

Daffodils that grow all over the yard. 

But the best part of spring (and also maybe the worst) is that I start to sound silly. 

In case you couldn't tell.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 07, 2011

For the Love of Calvin

I have had a great excuse for the lack of posting.

I was arms length in glitter.

I had the privilege to throw a baby shower this weekend.

Oh! it was fun.

When it ended and I had put away the last of the dishes I said to The Mister, "I love parties."

To which he calmly replied, "I know you do."

He's an introvert. He likes parties (he really does) but he likes them in small doses.

I could have a party every day.

I told him I felt so sorry for him; for all introverted people, really.

He told me not to. They like being by themselves.


Anyway, there was a little food,

a little cake,

a little glitter,

a little rain,

...and a lotta love for a good friend.

It was a great day.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Crunchitized Capitulation

(Or Another "Never" Bites the Dust)
I've said it before, there are a million-in-one things I said I would never do as a mother.

If I have any advice for a young mom it's this: Never say never.

Case in point...

I never buy sugary cereal.

My kids learned early on that if they wanted sugar-in-a-bowl they better go see their Granny (who will have the Coco Puffs and Lucky Charms ready and waiting upon our visits.)

I have been known to occasionally buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch for road trips, but thats about it.

Last weekend, The Boy celebrated the birthday of a friend at a sleep-over.

He came home singing the praises of Captain Crunch.

I spent the next 72 hours flashing back to the good-ole-days growing up in Southern Arizona.

I'm talkin' way back... when I had to walk to and from school, in the scorching desert, without any shoes, up-hill both ways, through a cactus field. This was in the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we had to actually get up from the couch to turn the channel-knob on the TV, and had feathered/permed hair held together with purple cans of AquaNet.

But I digress.....

You see, when I was a kid I had a cereal secret. Occasionally my mom would buy the sugary boxed goodness, but I didn't care for them. Well, I didn't care for parts of them.

For instance, I loved the marshmallows in Lucky Charms, and I loved the berries in Captain Crunch Berries, so I ate them. Yes, I shook the box all around and reached my mitts into that box until every last crunchy marshmallow and berry was found.

To make matters worse, when someone else opened the box to find it void of the better parts, I blamed my two younger brothers.

I know you cannot believe that I would stoop to such deception. It's true that I was a perfect child, with exception of that whole cereal-liar part.

Cereal liar....I crack myself up.

Anyway, when The Boy came home asking if I would buy Captain Crunch, I told him no.

However...upon further thought, this simple inquiry flooded me with nostalgia. I wouldn't buy Captain Crunch, but Captain Crunch Berries? Well, that's a different story.

We got ourselves a box.
His first bowl of Captain Crunch Berries
I ate them in a most civilized a bowl, with a very sophisticated cup of coffee, with my pinky-finger waving in the air. Actually, I guess the most civilized way would have been to use a spoon...some habits are hard to break.

Back in the day, the only berries were the red ones, and the berry-to-crunch ratio was a lot lower. Now there are multiple colored berrries, and much more of them. At first I wasn't sure I liked it.

But for the record, I do. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

You're Gonna Make It After All

Three weeks ago, I had an idea: Throw an Egg/Nest Themed Baby shower, and make these <--- (to see link, click the word in green) for decorations and party favors.

I have always wanted to try decoupage eggs with real shells, but the "real shells" part always frightened me. So I was waffling...should I make them? Or would it be too hard?

So I went to work on a Saturday afternoon watching back-to-back episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on Hulu while cutting out tissue paper and wondering if this project was more than I could chew.

Turns out:

"It's you girl and you should know it,
with each egg, and a little bit glue, you show it.
You're gonna make it after all.
You're gonna make it after all."

{If you didn't grow up watching Mary Tyler Moore, that last quote (with bloggers' license) didn't make any sense.}

Decoupage egg making is a satisfying endeavor. One that involves glitter and the smell of Modge Podge hanging in the air. What more could a girl want?

I didn't want to go crazy with supplies if I wasn't going to follow through, so I used two eggs for practice, with some tissue paper I had on hand.

The project is a go...

I've hollowed out 17 eggs. I washed and dried them and gave them a layer of Modge Podge.

Today I hope to make a trip to the "fancy" store to get some decorative napkins that might match the theme of the party. And then I have to figure out how to attach a ribbon on the top for hanging purposes. I'm thinking it will involve using the hot glue gun...Its like the trifecta of craft projects - pretty paper, glitter and glue. Seriously people, the only thing that would make it perfection is if it somehow involved yarn. And chocolate.

So that's the project for this week. Actually, there are others, but my blogging time is over. I must go teach about Predicate Nominatives and how to figure out a Simple Interest Rate using the formula: I = P x R x T. Simple? Sure it is.

Happy Tuesday to you!