Thursday, December 27, 2007
But here are some of the lighter moments of the past week or so. I've already posted about B's cupcake withdrawal and my mom's "senior moment" with the lasagna, so I'll move on to others I remember.
Friday after the memorial service, at my Grandma's house: R is high on attention. She's going back and forth between the breakfast nook and the screened porch where most of the family is gathered. "Everyone needs to focus. Focus, everyone," she keeps repeating with deliberate and dramatic hand gestures. Then, "Nana, what does "focus" mean?"
She orders me out of the porch at one point and says only the big men (her daddy, papa, and granddad) are allowed. "Just these mens, Momma. These are the three wise men." They bust out laughing. I reply, "I don't know if their wives would call them that, more like wise guys." D's comeback, "I dunno, we give gold, frankincense..."
My brother gets a chance to e-mail over the weekend and sends some pictures. I wish I could share them. He's super intense and a bit scary looking. To his wife, who is staying with us a for a few days, he sends a picture of himself without a shirt on, to show off his six-pack he's been working on since he's been a bit bored and has been working out a lot. She shows them to my mom and we mention that we didn't get that particular shot in our e-mail. Then we wondered, who took the picture?
D asks R what her favorite part of Christmas is. "Um, getting all my presents." "What else?" he asks. "Opening all the presents." "What else besides the presents?" "Everyone coming to our house."
Saturday: Threw the Christmas tree up since now everyone is coming to our house for dinner. My parents come over in the afternoon. We eat roast, veggies, and Sister Schubert rolls for dinner--comfort food! Then the girls head out for a movie--something normal, according to my mom. We see Atonement. Very good, though my eyes did shut a few times. We all sleep good that night.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
So when M said she had an empty spot at her table, I went. Linda Warner will be speaking at our ladies' retreat in January so this was a good chance to hear her. She's been speaking about our hearts, having just finished a series on our hearts and God, now moving to our heart for our family. I think she's a good speaker though I didn't quite follow the development of the lesson. (Sorry, the teacher and curriculum instructor in me is always evaluating). For me, the most important point she made was the instruction to get a picture of the woman we want to be--in 20 years, in 50 years, at our funeral--and then start to make decisions that will get us there. The vision-casting language gets a bad rap from the overuse of business-lingo but when we consider what attributes we want to have in our life and compare it with where we are, we begin to see where we fall short. Having that picture in mind is helpful in curbing our tongue, changing our tone, prioritizing our time, attending to our responsibilities, and all of our other disciplines.
This fits with a thought I had after lunch with the Diva and Brooklyn a few months ago and since the Diva came for lunch again today I thought I would give her her credit now. ;) She's real good at checking on us, asking us where we're at, how healthy are we, scale of one to ten. When she asked me, I looked at her cock-eyed and said, insightfully, "I dunno." Because truthfully, I don't spend time thinking about how I am. There may be some benefit to that (I'm not in my head too much) but also some detriment (I'm not self-reflective enough). If I'm not checking my emotional and spiritual health, I could be miles into a rut or way out of my devotional walk, before I notice it--usually because it's adversely affecting my relationships. And if I'm not checking myself against my picture, how will I know if I'm working towards it or moving farther away.
And then doing it. Linda's other main point was our responsibility for our thoughts and our hearts, not our husband's or our children's. Because God is writing their story just like he's writing ours.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
- The Chub - He's huge, what else can I say? I love that he's big, solid, and all boy. He could use a mansiere, though. But he has the sweetest, little voice that belies his Incredible Hulk frame.
- His Jowls - The most kissable spot on him. He is one of the most kissable babies since despite the potential for back pain, people want to hold him just to get those cheeks.
- His Eyebrows - The most expressive eyebrows I've ever seen. He gets mischievous, serious, flirtatous, and joyful--all in the eyebrows.
- The Nicknames - With such a regal, rich name, it's great that we get to call him Benzilla and B. Diddy and have it be appropriate.
- The Laugh - Though I'm slightly jealous, Dad and Sis make him giddy with laughter. Any bodily function sends him into a fit of giggles, especially daddy sneezes and belches. Spitting things (or pretending to spit things) also gets major laughs. Peek-a-boo, especially with R in the closet, makes him hysterical. He sucks in air when she hides and lets loose when she reappears.
- Bedtime Snuggle - The only time he approaches snuggly is when we walk to the hallway at bedtime. The lucky parent gets a head on the shoulder for an instant (I usually get a hug, the back of my neck rubbed, or a slap on my cheek) until he sees his crib and tries to hurl all nearly 30 lbs. of him out of our arms.
- Kind to His Mother- Always been an efficient eater. Rarely upset or angry.
- Potential Danger - His dark, curly hair, gray-blue eyes, and girl-catcher eyelashes.
Happy Birthday, big fella. We loved your first year and can't wait for the next!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
This evening I attempted to bake gingerbread men, those classically shaped seasonal cookies with their icing smiles and buttons, from a Martha Stewart recipe. I even had a gingerbread woman cookie cutter for equal opportunity cookie enjoyment.
Two hours (and mind you, I made the dough yesterday) and miles of wax paper later, I have barely half a Tupperware container of somewhat well-shaped gingerbread men and rather misshapen women who look like flattened angels. We ate the really deformed. (This sounds so Jonathon Swift!) The dough softened into an almost liquid form in between the rolling and the cutting so my evening was spent rolling, freezing, cutting, freezing, baking. My baking sheets do not fit in my freezer--at least not flat. So I had to angle one over the cube steak and the ice cream. And I'm not even sure I like how they taste. We'll if icing can improve them!
I had grand plans to make these as gifts for my neighbors. Now I think I will anonymously drop them off for the RTS concert dessert table and pray no one sees me!
D's commentary: Why not just make chocolate chip?
Why not, indeed?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
We did two Thanksgiving meals this year--Oy! We started in Titusville Wednesday night with D's family--parents, sisters, cousins--and coconut cream pie for D's sister's birthday. YUM! They are big game players so we pulled out Catchphrase which we hadn't played in a few months. That game is a guaranteed laugh producer--especially when you play with, well, the senior group. They don't move the fastest and they are sometimes technologically challenged. Poor D had both his parents on his team. On sugar highs and late at night, we were rolling. The next day was cooking and eating. The cousins played together the whole day; I barely saw R. And there were two aunts and a grandma for B.
My parents drove down from SC on Thursday and we started all over again. Mom (with a little assistance from me) made four pies and the sweet potatoes. Her crusts are perfect and the pies were beautiful. Saturday we drove to Winter Haven to spend the afternoon with my grandparents and my dad's siblings. It was a bittersweet day as this will be my grandfather's last Thanksgiving. The food was great, everyone behaved themselves, the Gators won (and UCF, too!), and we all got through the day. It was good to be together.
Mom and Dad have stuck around a bit this week. Mom and I ventured out to the new Ikea store, took the kids to Crane's Roost, put the house back in order, patched a wall, did some Christmas shopping, drank some good wine, and ate pie. I'm feeling a bit tired but tomorrow I'm onto the Christmas decorations and Advent!
Friday, November 23, 2007
This question was posed to us during our discussion of The Eyre Affair, where the heroine Thursday Next (and other characters) travels into Jane Eyre. There is even a book tourism business.
I immediately thought of the Little House books. As a kid, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls, despite the lack of modern conveniences like plumbing and electricity. (Which is strange since I don't even camp without a bathroom and shower, and even then, I don't really like it.) I was enamored with all things calico and covered wagon. Part of it was the storytelling of the books that draws you and my romanticized version of pioneer life. I think part of it, too, was the strong female characters of tomboy Laura, noble mother Caroline, saintly Mary (though I side with Laura and she was a bit annoying at times in all her goodness). And, of course, there's Pa. The writer in me, sparked in the 3rd grade, also admired Laura Ingalls' ability and talent. Most of my "geek-heroes" were writers--Nellie Bly, Louisa May Alcott.
The other book world was, conventionally, Austen's Georgian England. The dresses, the dances, the conversation, Darcy, Mr. Knightly. I'm not sure why given the relative poverty of most of her heroines and again, no plumbing, but the air of formality and decorum is lacking in our modern casual culture and I think many of us long for that--to some degree. The way manners and politeness rule as moral code is not altogether an awful idea.
Any book tourism spots you would want to visit?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
First, baseball, an accountant's dream sport with the endless statistics and averages and scoring quirks. During a graduate class project last year, D came up with the "FlemStat," a truer reflection of a player's batting performance than the standard percentages and averages. For example, it does not take into consideration RBI's since that is dependent upon other players' batting. He downloaded years of statistics to determine who, according to the FlemStat, was the greatest hitter ever. (I think he said the Babe.) And now he uses it to predict who should get MVP awards at the end of the season.
This year, with the crazy college football season, he has made his own statistical ranking of all 130 NCAA Div I football teams. His version awards wins and losses point values and he tracks the rankings of each team in a team's schedule. For all 130 teams. Every week. Then he analyzes his Top 25 ranking against the AP, Coaches', and BCS polls. He's trying to figure out the bias in those polls and is convinced that his is the only truly mathematical, non biased ranking.
I told him to write a letter to someone.
I took the kids out of their car seats for the quick run into Starbucks. The barista behind the counter had a funny smile on her face as I approached. "Today is your lucky day," she said. My first thought--what gimmick will she try to sell me? And, it really hasn't been.
"One of our customers just had a baby and as a random act of kindness she wanted the next person who came in with a baby to have this gift card."
So instead of dashing in and out, the kids and I sat down and shared a piece of pumpkin bread, R drank that really good chocolate milk, and I sipped my latte slowly. This had still been a rough day but that act of unmerited generosity reminded me of God's grace and lifted me up a bit.
Friday, November 9, 2007
She didn't speak for too long before stopping to address questions but she did an excellent job. The highlights for me (paraphrased, I didn't take notes!).
- The need for the church to approach the sex topic completely differently than it usually does. First, by not looking at the "No's" of sexual behavior but to God's "Yes" in how to conduct our bodies in a way that conforms more and more to the Gospel. Second, but not isolating sexual behavior as separate from any other sin or other spiritual disciplines. So that sex isn't just a six week Sunday school course or one sermon series, but contextualized in the greater discussion of our behavior and discipline and relationship to God and neighbor. And to not hold sexual behavior greater than other sins. Her example, a pastor who won't marry a couple who's engaging in premarital sex. What about a couple who is not tithing?
- The community aspect of the discourse on sex was, for Winner, the predominant theme. Sex matters because in joining one's body to the Body of Christ means what one does with that body is important to the Body. Sex is not an individual right.
- Only through community will the Church be able to hold better conversations about sex. But, underlying this, the Church must address the root restlessness in our society where we change job/neighborhood/church/state/etc. every three years or so. There's very little possibility for true, deep community in that kind of transient living.
I was surprised at the small numbers, I thought, for a nationally known author and speaker, but I was very glad to see some of our pastors and the youth ministry leadership there. And also nice to share the afternoon with wonderful women. I was actually away from my children from 9:00 until 4:30, thanks to my dear husband and gracious mother-in-law who was supposed to be on jury duty until the case was dismissed at 10:00 that morning. Providence.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Here's a few pictures of our fall activities from the past week or so. Or at least an attempt at something fall-like in 80+ degrees. The Fall Festival at church was a success though it's always seems crazy and chaotic from my end. The pictures of R and B at the picture station were the only ones I got that day! But I'm sure R will model her princess dress again for me. My attempt at making B's costume went unfinished. He was sick for part of the week and I never fully executed my vision. Maybe next year.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I was an indoor kid. I read piles of books, and, after Mrs. McNeil's third grade class, I wrote story after story. I liked to be in the kitchen. I still have my kids' cookbook with the inscription "To the Jr. Mom." At church, I was always in the nursery helping out and I usually had a couple of little kids trailing around with me. As I got older, I helped with VBS and I babysat just about every weekend.
Not too much has changed.
And the same goes for my brother. A climbing, scrabbling, never-sit-still kid from the time he could walk, Mom used to joke she had to check him for a tail. He was an outdoor kid, digging in his Oshkosh overalls then playing Rambo in camo and army surplus gear. He drew army men, read about army men, and studied planes and tanks and guns. We caught him on the roof one time, using my dad's expensive binoculars to observe the preserve behind our house.Not too much has changed. Well, he doesn't wear the headband. And his gun doesn't have the orange indicator of a water gun.
He left for Afghanistan almost three weeks ago. When I called him a few days before he left, I just kept laughing at the voice that on one hand talks so seriously about his mission and his part of the country he'll be working in and the other that's doing Simpsons quotes and comparing K to Texas and how he'll still have to get haircuts. He complained, mockingly, that if he gets the night shift, he'll be so pasty. He wants to be out in the thick, where he can influence and affect change, not sitting inside at a computer.
That's my brother. He's been training for this all his life.
Monday, October 15, 2007
D: You know, Rebekah, when you get out of bed you are disobeying Mom & Dad. And that means you are disobeying God.....(continues with God-centered lesson in authority and submission).
R: But Dad, God takes away all our sin.
D: flabergasted and speechless
R: Mom, where's God?
A: God is everywhere.
R: But we can't see him.
A: Right. Remember, God is a spirit and has not a body like a man. (That's Question 9).
R: But He has a mouth.
A: No, God is a spirit. He doesn't have a mouth like you and I do.
R: But he does cuz He speaks to us.
Sometime after getting in trouble (I've lost count and don't remember which exact instance)...
R: But Grandma loves me when I get in trouble.
I think Grandma meant more like "even when you get in trouble." She certainly has grace down.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Book club time again. We read the rollicking, good time read The Eyre Affair, a Thursday Next novel, by Jasper Fforde. Not for the nonliterary minded, its a sci-fi, crime mystery concerned with literary criminals, the security of original manuscripts, and endless debate on who really wrote Shakespeare's plays. In Great Britain in 1985, the Crimean War is still going on, characters can get out of their novels, people can stop time, and a group of special agents called LiteraTecs track down fraudulent manuscripts, keep the Baconians in line, and regulate the thousands of people who've changed their name to John Milton. In this story super-evil Acheron Hades has stolen the original manuscript of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit and the evil Goliath Corporation, headed by Jack Schitt (gotta love that!), has a powerful weapon that can obliterate an army. Hades kidnaps Jane Eyre midway through her novel and threatens to kill her too. All the plot points do work together, trust me! While it definitely calls for major suspension of disbelief (people have genetically reproduced the dodo as a house pet), This is one of the most creative novels I have read. There are two more novels in the series involving more literary intrigue.
At the same time, while waiting for The Eyre Affair at the library, I picked up Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being which has been on my shelf for a few years. A completely different read than Eyre and certainly not light; the narrator begins by quoting Nietzsche. The story is relatively simple. In Czechoslovakia during the Soviet takeover, chronic womanizer Tomas finds himself torn between his inexplicable love for a young woman, Tereza, and his inability to be faithful to her. Their story, as well as that of his mistress Sabina and her lover Franz, explores the paradox of lightness and weight and soul and body, the futility of language, the charade and the reality of politics, propaganda, and resistance. The first half of the novel read fairly quickly even with all the philosophy but the second half took a more vulgar turn and got a bit bogged down in Soviet politics. It's an odd book and not one I would just recommend to anyone but intriguing.
P.S. Our next book club selection is Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity by Laura Winner. Many of us have already read it but Winner is coming to RTS in November and we're hoping to hear her. A fantastic, must-read for all Christians (even those already married and especially the ones with kids/teens). I have enjoyed and been challenged by her writing. Check out Girl Meets God (her conversion memoir) and Mudhouse Sabbath (on Jewish/Christian spiritual disciplines).
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Today is our 7th wedding anniversary--I made it easy for Dave by marrying him in '00!
Friday night we had dinner at Silvano's--a favorite, quiet, really cozy place where they remember your face, name, and usually what you ate last time you were there. Of course, when you're my husband and order the pork chop (with either Gorgonzola cream sauce or balsamic reduction) it's pretty easy. They were busy Friday night so we left after dinner and drove around a bit thinking of where we could go for coffee and dessert, all the while listening to ESPN Radio for the Yankee game. But oh, the horror, the horror, at the 7th inning stretch, we were switched to coverage of Lake Brantley HS football. So we ended up sitting at the bar in TGI Friday's, ate a brownie sundae, drank coffee, and watched a few more innings until D was completely disgusted at his Yanks and we went home.
This is not so unusual for us, even on major celebrations or events. Let's see--attending UCF games together (sorta a first date), MNF after the first dinner I cooked for him, wedding reception during a FSU-Miami game where he got score updates throughout (we paused in the lobby of our honeymoon hotel to watch the final field goal attempt), even Sports Center cycling through while in labor with R.
So last night we got the kids in bed early and popped champagne. And by tonight, I'm blogging in one room while he plays NCAA Football on the XBox and gets more disgusted with the Yankees. Ah, the romance is still alive!
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Today was the first noticeable respite from muggy, oppressive Florida summer. I felt the dryness in the air going to the car this morning. I didn't sweat walking out of church. The sun actually felt warm in a good way, comforting and welcome.
After naptime, we all got sneakers on and went out to the front yard. Ben sat on a beach towel on the newly mowed lawn and Dave and Rebekah got out balls and sidewalk chalk. We were joined by our neighbors' kids ranging from a college freshman to 5th grader and a few of their friends. Our front lawn joins with our next door neighbors to form the largest expanse of grass on our circle and soon Dave was kicking soccer balls and throwing footballs. Pastor Creech even tossed a few!
We chatted with neighbors, talked college football. A neighbor taking his trash to the curb yelled "War Eagle" across the cul de sac to the Gator. Our soundtrack was the classic rock coming from his garage. Rebekah flitted and chatted and scribbled. Ben tried to eat grass clippings. Everyone was out enjoying the change in weather.
It was like we all emerged from our burrows after a long winter and finally saw another human again. That's what a slight cool front that brings the temperature to the mid80's will do.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
We've made pancakes for dinner two nights now and we've found a new recipe we really like: Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes from Sara Moulton. I didn't do the cinnamon sour cream topping and we have tried them with raisins, dried cranberries, and blueberries. My favorite is fresh or frozen blueberries but Rebekah likes them all. She also thinks she can eat 20 pancakes.
Last Friday, with Dave's dad over, I made BBQ chicken and red onion pizza and a pesto-tomato-roasted chicken-fresh mozzarella one. Tonight I again made pizza. Mom and Dad went to a local pizza joint on their vacation and had an incredible half Carne Amore and half veggie pizza. So I tried to recreate it based on her description. My version (in order): olive oil brushed on dough, 2 cloves of garlic (straight from the press to the dough), 3 thinly sliced plum tomatoes, 1 thinly sliced zucchini, chopped red peppers, about 1 cup Italian mix shredded cheese, fresh basil, ground pepper. I thought it was excellent. Rebekah on the other hand ate maybe three bites despite the fact that she likes cheese, tomatoes, zucchini, and I didn't tell her about the red peppers. Oh well. I'll have a nice lunch for tomorrow.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Dave did the traditional "daddy travelling" thing and brought back t-shirts for the kids. Go Yanks! (Please note that my children were less than thrilled about being photographed and did not sit still. These shots are not entirely a commentary on my photograpy skills.)
Rebekah has a pink (of course) Alex Rodriguez shirt and Ben's is #2 Derek Jeter. Dave looked for Roger Clemens for Ben since that's more his body type but no luck.
For himself, Dave got a Joba Chamberlin shirt with "Joba Rules!" on the front and it wasn't until later that he got the joke: Coach Torre has implemented a set of "Joba rules" limiting the days the rookie pitcher can play and now fans yell "Joba Rules" for him. Dave said the place went nuts on Sunday when they brought him out. And they won too.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Dave and his dad spent the weekend in NYC taking in some baseball games--Yankees and Mets--and touring the high points of the city. And since I wasn't able to go, I decided I should get to paint the family room. The color is Benjamin Moore's Mayflower Red and quite different from the neutral shade I painted the whole house in when we moved in. I had evidently forgotten what a difficult room it is to paint. It's not large and there's only three walls really but this is the only room with a vaulted ceiling which meant I had to get the 12 ft. ladder out (very humorous to watch) and try not to kill myself. Plus, these walls are heavily textured and my wrist is still sore from pressing the roller into the wall to get the paint into every nook. And it's the drippingest paint ever and red paint that drips is not good. Add a popcorn ceiling that's hard to cut in next to and 1980's paneling with grooves and it was not an easy paint job. You can see I still have the hallway to paint (and I'm trying to remove that shelf by the fireplace) and I'll be rearranging the accessories. I didn't show Dave the color before he left but he approved when he got home. I can't wait to get my fall decorations out to complement the new color.
We survived without Dad for three days though Rebekah was quite mopey which I must say, I was a bit offended by. Am I not the one who gets her fed, dressed, cleaned every day? But when Dad leaves, so does the fun. And having Dave gone over a weekend was a bit rough for her. She did faithfully watch NASCAR on Sunday without him and saw Carl Edwards win. By Monday night I was missing my man too--not just the extra pair of hands but actually him. Good to know after nearly 7 years.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
But the sweet hymn "Blessed Assurance" has been bouncing around my head these past few days and dontcha know that we sang that this morning. I've found myself thinking of simple refrain "This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long" as we've been studying 2nd Timothy as Paul is passing on his legacy to Timothy and admonishing him to entrust the gospel message to others. And I've been thinking about L's excuses for not writing down her family's story: "What could I say that hasn't already been written?" And K's comments are on the money, as usual.
And I've been thinking that all our stories, for those who have been redeemed through the grace of God, are the same story. Of course there is nothing unique. It's the story He's been telling since "In the beginning" and every story whispers his name. Whatever analogy you use--mosaic, tapestry, quilt--we are reflecting the story of redemption in the myriad of His means and methods.
The crux of it though is in the telling, the passing down, the communication of our personal story to show how His story interrupted the one we were telling apart from Him and how he rewrote the ending. And the telling of the story, regardless of the size of the audience, is how He uses us to bring others into the story.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
I can't believe the girl is three. No really, I can't. It doesn't seem like "just yesterday" because I can't remember "yesterday" but three seems really big for me. She's not a baby, not really a toddler, she's three!
We had a few friends and family over yesterday for some BBQ brisket, racing, and college football. Sorry, Michigan. As I suspected, Rebekah did not want to actually race with her car being as the grass was wet and dirty but she had fun, I think. The cake looks homemade because it was but Rebekah told me I make good birthday cake. This after she "helped" in the morning by sticking the little cars into the unfrosted cake, leaving gaping holes in the cake that I had to cut out and frost over. The biggest hits of the day--the huge mylar "Mater" balloon Dave got for her in the morning and the talking Mater from Aunt Jennifer. She actually squealed everytime he said something or raced across the room and I saw her hugging him at night.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Monday, September 3, 2007
Ben's in his third week of swim (float) lessons. He floats well, no surprise there, but getting to the float has been difficult. The good thing is that swim lessons have revealed some areas of weakness and quirks of his, especially in regards to right brain-left brain movement and tactile sensitivity. Like when he has a swim shoe on his left foot only, he will kick with both legs and be decisive about which direction he wants to turn in to roll over and float. Without the shoe, his left leg stiffens and he gets stuck (with his face underwater) turning in either direction but not completely rolling over. So the wonderful Linda Green keeps coming up with new ideas to try and new movements to encourage him and teach him and which we can work on both in water and on "land." He has been moving more lately, making great strides in his efforts to crawl, and we're slowly figuring him out.
The difference between Rebekah's swim lessons last year and earlier this summer and Ben's is night and day. Rebekah, the drama queen, would go limp, have tantrums, scream and yell the whole time her face was out of the water. Ben fusses a bit when I hand him over and that's it. Barely a whimper during the whole lesson. I would have to cover my mouth so Rebekah didn't see me laugh during her lessons. Ben, I just feel so sad for because he's just taking whatever is thrown at him. What a trooper!
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
It's Labor Day, the traditional end of summer. The day after which you are no longer supposed to wear white shoes. (Though Stacy and Clinton say it's okay now).
Dave spent the day taming the jungle of the backyard and pressure washing the patio for Rebekah's birthday next weekend. You would have thought it was Memorial Day weekend from the temperatures and our pool readiness.
Meanwhile, I'm already burning my Autumn Woods and Spiced Pumpkin candles (de-lish!), anxious to bake pumpkin bread and spice cake in my new fall-shaped molds and pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies, chomping at the bit to get my fall decorations out, and trying to decide on "Fall Festival" costumes for the kids that they won't swelter in. (We're between Very Hungry Caterpillar and sumo wrestler for Ben. Rebekah has asked to be a rhino, cat, or race car driver.) And it's 94 degrees outside. I'm ready for a hint of coolness, for the heat rash on Ben's skin to disappear, for some mornings in the yard or at the park with the kids or evening walks. I'm beginning to think warm days will never cease.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The Millions Blog is a blog about books. Book news, reviews, recommendations, lists, questions and answers. Good source for ideas on what to read next. His explanation of his book queue will make you feel like kindred spirits. And he even includes Mrs. Millions' reading lists too.
Library Thing (I love these straightforward names and websites!) is a web-based, online, public catalog of your books. After explaining all the cool things you can do, the buzz page ends simply, "If the buzz page doesn't convince you, you cannot be convinced. Go away." They've turned cataloging books (which was my part-time job at UCF and not too much fun) into a recreational activity, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
I discovered Library Thing through Andrew Peterson's website and subsequent blog (fun-neee, people). So you can see what other people have on their bookshelves and can link it to your blog so that five random books from your catalog appear on a sidebar of your blog to show to your readers. A quirky look into some one's mind.
And lastly, an interesting, well-written article on Harry Potter from Alan Jacobs, a professor at Wheaton College. It just might make some of you holdouts read the books! Or at least get off the backs of those of us just mad about Harry.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Sauteing garlic in olive oil.
Rebekah singing along.
Benjamin grunting and gurgling behind his pacifier.
Daddy on the way home.
Sacred -- Caedmon's Call
this house is a good mess/it's the proof of life/no way would i trade jobs/but it don't pay overtime/i'll get to the laundry/i don't know when/i'm saying a prayer tonight/cause tomorrow it starts again//could it be that everything is sacred?/and all this time/everything i've dreamed of/has been right before my eyes//the children are sleeping/but they're running through my mind/the sun makes them happy/and the music makes them unwind/my cup runneth over/and i worry about the stain/teach me to run to You/like they run to me for every little thing//chorus//when i forget to drink from You/i can feel the banks harden/Lord, make me like a stream/to feed the garden/wake up, little sleeper/the Lord. God Almighty/made your Mama keeper so rise and shine/rise and shine cause/chorus
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Is there anyone who can make it through that hymn dry-eyed?
I lasted until the last verse this time. Other Sundays, not so much.
I stood there thinking of the single mom sitting nearby who's raising a fantastic son.
Of the mom a few rows over hurting over her prodigal son.
Of the would-be moms grieving miscarriages and empty wombs.
Of the seemingly endless list of cancer patients on the prayer sheet.
Of the miracles of God's Providence in Honduras this summer.
Of a teenager living with relatives this summer, previously unchurched, and now born again, part of a new family.
"Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art..."
Carl Gustaf Boberg, who wrote the poem that would become the lyrics, witnessed a thunderstorm come up suddenly and then watched the bay began to calm and heard a church bell in the distance as the storm passed over. The peace after the storm inspired his "awesome wonder." The disciples were in "awesome wonder" as they witnessed the One who has power over even the wind and waves.
And still does.
Watch a thunderstorm and let your soul sing, "How great Thou art."
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The LORD does whatever pleases him,
Dave had dinner with a co-worker last night who asked him to pray with him. He and his wife have some big changes in their life, fears, anticipation, worry, and hope.
All afternoon my mind whirred with thoughts and prayers. It can be tough praying with and for someone when you're not sure of their view of God and His holy will. I wonder how his response and reaction will be as events unfold. What if there is more disappointment and pain ahead? I worried for my husband that he would have the right words.
In college, Dave and I attended a Baptist church with a RTS student for a college minister. He first taught us about reformed theology and suddenly the bits and pieces clearly fell into a rich, unfolding story. I was an easy convert. Others wrestled with and even scorned these concepts, responding with a hyper-Calvinist objection, "Why don't you just stay in your room and never pray or witness to anyone ever again!" Those were interesting days in that church!
But I am freed from worry and works and pressures by understanding that God does what pleases Him. Disappointments and tragedies, by no means less painful or sad, are easier to meet when I know that my God "sit[s] enthroned forever." My anxiety for Dave was relieved when I reminded myself of this again and my prayers changed too. His words were not responsible for changing this person, but oh, our joy that God wants us to pray with and for and to each other.
My other thought that afternoon was my pride for my husband. There are only two other Christians in his company (and one's a bit out there!). Being in the secular workplace is difficult and the temptation to play the game is great. I was proud that his light is shining like an "office" on a hill.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Over the summer, the six of us, plus one more who couldn't join us this week, have studied Carolyn Custis James' book Lost Women of the Bible, a topic of previous posts here. Studying it together has been refreshing, rereading the material, working through the more difficult aspects (the night we discussed Tamar was priceless!), and contemplating the bigger issues her book raises. I purposefully asked women with different stories to be apart of this--single, married, moms, working women, married early, married later. That helped us get out of ourselves, seeing God's picture of womanhood in more varied aspects--the home, the workplace, and the church.
I can't possibly begin to summarize all we talked about but a few things have stuck in my mind. One of the most prevalent is the concept of sacrifice. Over and over again the women we studied sacrificed themselves for the kingdom--Hannah her child, Mary her reputation, Esther her safety, Tamar her credibility, Hagar her pride, Mrs. Noah her way of life, Lydia her resources. They willing gave because our God is about healing the hurt, restoring the broken, and establishing the kingdom. I find that God will require sacrifice to serve him in wherever he has placed us.
I also love how throughout the covenant story could not have been accomplished or recorded without women, these ten women in particular. So many of their stories were about the "normal" or expected being turned upside down. The slave-girl Hagar giving God his first personal title--El Roi. Or Mary Magdalene traveling with Jesus, calling him Rabboni because he was her teacher.
And lastly, I was reminded of the importance of learning truth, telling truth to ourselves daily, and being truthful with each other. The world has twisted God's view of femininity and womanhood and there's just enough that it gets right that we--and our children!--can get easily sucked in. And we lose perspective so easily as well, forgetting what God has really said. And we're not honest enough with each other to get us past the surface struggles and into the meat of what we're actually dealing with.
I love the women of this group and hope that our time together was edifying and beneficial. They were definitely a blessing to me, all summer long.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
In an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags that enter my house, I've bought 4 reusable bags from http://www.reusablebags.com/. They're the size of a paper bag, will stand up when empty; they're washable and sturdy. They're made out of cordova nylon, like a backback and have a pocket on the side. And they stand up nicely in the back of the minivan, not tipping over and spilling their contents. They're not quite as nice as the ones Mom bought years ago but we've never seen anything like those and I think these are lighter and fold up smaller.
Friday, August 3, 2007
But today I was busy in a real productive way, not a headless chicken kind of way. I got all the laundry done. One last load to fold before I go to bed. Ran my errands. Got a birthday present and some things for the beach tomorrow. Planted some flowers. Installed landscape lighting. (Read: Shoved solar lights into ground in aesthetically pleasing way). Went through the kids' closets and sorted out too small clothes. Went through the hand-me-down pile from the cousins and found a new wardrobe for R. I'm on to D's closet next and the blue plaid lumberjack shirt-jacket that has been haunting me for nearly 10 years now. (He maintains it's for doing yard work in the winter. I have yet to see him chop wood or shovel snow in it.) I was all set to replace door knobs in the doors that I've painted so far but D came home early and woke the girl.
So she and I watched What Not to Wear and Between the Lions instead. Then we played on the floor and laughed at R's "Spider-Bekah" song. She's seen just enough Simpson's Movie previews to get the "Spider Pig" bit down. But she sings it while doing "airplane" with D, pumping her arms, and then doing a big finale of jumping on his belly.
So, where's my gold star? Oh, yeah, I got to eat the last piece of key lime pie and force D through a chick flick. Good day.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
So maybe she can get hand-me-downs from her little brother.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
The highlight of my week was having a dear, close friend spend a few days with us and have other dear, close friends visit too. We got to know each other's kids and have them play together. We ate good food and wine. We could encourage, pray, discuss, talk about things we don't talk to ANYone else about. We could also laugh our heads off, watch What Not to Wear together, eat dessert every day, and trade parenting tips and war stories. There are people in your life that have gone places with you--maybe not for a long time even--but the depth of experience and honesty you've shared means there will be a bond between you. And I just love these visits where we fall comfortably into being around each other, despite being very different people. It's beautiful! (I'm not sure how I will be able to eat this week though after K's reading material and too much key lime cheesecake.) I love reconnecting with people, erasing a year or more between us, knowing better how to pray for them, knowing that they are praying for you. And at the same time, I wasn't as sad when she left. Over the last year, I've become more comfortable in my present life. Another person is in our house and our family is even more connected. Wonderful women have faithfully pursued me, kept after me and some of the void of not working and not being around my colleagues has abated.
And then Sunday morning...Sometimes we get bitter and critical about our church homes. Our preferences and sin and distractions rob us of enjoying Sabbath fellowship. But our church is fighting for the kingdom! It's not perfect, not always how I would do it, but they are trying. Worship focused first on the beauty of Christ and I was also enamored with the beauty of worshiping with the Body in our physical bodies where I see the joyful faces of my brothers and sisters singing, or the talented hands bringing music out of an instrument. I'm glad they rearrange the instruments on stage--have you ever watched a talented, passionate piano player play for Christ?! It's beautiful! The sounds are beautiful, the images beautiful. The feel of my husband beside me or passing the peace with my neighbors is tangible beauty.
Jeff's message in the Family Matters series (on Eph. 5:3-21, yikes!) reinforced that need of journeying together in community to battle the dark places of our hearts. We can't be private Christians praying to a private God. We matter to each other. He hit all the right points, brought us back to the gospel, and then led us into corporate and private confession. In a weird way, it capped my week.
Now, isn't that just like God?
Monday, July 23, 2007
So I guess this means I'm back to Winter of our Discontent. Yippee.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
528 - miles to Fayetteville, NC
5:00 - time we got to hotel
4 - number of stops we had to make
1 - hour to eat lunch at the crazy busy Chick-Fil-A in Pooler, GA
2 - crying fits Ben had which Rebekah either ignored (because she was watching a video) or slept through it
2 - glass of wine at dinner
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Tomorrow morning--by 7:00, Lord willing--the kids and I will be on our way to North Carolina. Sans Dad. And possibly sans sanity.
My brother's graduation ceremony for his Special Forces training is Friday so I'm meeting my parents in Fayetteville/Ft. Bragg, NC so we can all attend. Then my bro and his lovely wife will head on back to my parents' for the weekend. All very wonderful--just pray for us!
I've been such a blog slacker lately, I know. Thoughts run through my head but I just haven't stopped to write. I've been so wasted by the night's end that I just watch baseball so I don't have to think. I'll be better, I promise.
Friday, July 6, 2007
We got our crayons, sat at the Little Tykes table, and opened the workbook to the first page--a scene of a zoo with the instructions, "Mark animals you think are big with a blue crayon. Mark animals you think are small with a red crayon." We took out blue and red crayons. I talked her through an example with the hippo. Then it went downhill from there.
"No, this hippo is small....No, pink crayon! *random scribble, scribble* "No, bears are not big!" Being a major paint-by-numbers rule follower, the pink crayon bit really got to me.
We turn to another page--a primary level "maze". Instructions: Help Bessie (a cow) find her way home. Objective: Draw a path to get Bessie home. Bessie is in the top left of the page, the barn in the bottom right. What does Rebekah do? Yup, draws a diagonal line from Bessie to the barn. The rest of the 15 minutes continued in similar stubborn fashion.
I don't see home schooling in our future.
I relate all this to Dave at dinner last night. He's laughing because that's pretty much the kind of student he was. (Great!) Rebekah asks, "Daddy, do you want to do that book with me?" Your turn, Daddy!
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Neal, who knows more people from more places than anyone I've ever met, was one of Dave's college roommates. In fact, that's pretty much how Dave and I met. My first year at UCF, I met Neal through Campus Crusade. Of course, he knew somebody, who knew somebody, etc. He introduced me to two girls who lived in my apt. complex, who introduced me to the girls who lived above me, who later moved into my apt. when I needed roommates. The next year, Neal, Dave, my roommate's brother Phil, and some others rented a house. We were always at each other's places, I started going to the same church as them, and eventually Dave and I had enough conversations to realize we were meant to be. I have wonderful memories of hanging out with "our boys," who deeply resented being called such. Great talks on reformed theology that sometimes got heated, too many meals cooked and bathrooms cleaned for them, soccer matches we girls faithfully attended, spring break trips...good times, good times. Neal is a great guy and I'm so happy (and a bit relieved!) that he and Jessie are now married.
Yesterday was also a great day to see people that we don't usually see. Recognizing faces that haven't changed a bit and those that have, hearing what people are doing now almost 10 years later. Amazingly, all but one person who lived in that house of boys was there yesterday. Our college minister during one of our very formative years officiate the wedding and we met their baby #4. I chatted with a girl I hadn't seen in 8 years. We talked about our kids who are nearly the same age and about the joys and struggles we have in common. And it was just fun to get a bit dressed up, drink a bit of champagne, and talk and hug and remember.
Friday, June 29, 2007
After traveling for 2 solid days and letting a few things slide for the sake of driving in peace, I have to be Sgt. Mom and break some bad habits. I've taken away R's blanket during the day in hopes of limiting the thumb sucking and getting her to exercise some self-control without a crutch. She asks about watching videos in the van when running errands. She's been sans clothes a bit more than usual which may be a side effect from being around her twin cousins.
Dave says he needs 18 days to catch up for the 9 days we were gone. He goes through a hundred e-mails at night from the recliner so at least we're in the same room together. The next Thrive facility opens in 2 weeks so he's been driving to Dr. Phillips every day to supervise the final stages of the build out. The machines are being delivered today! Very exciting and also a bit nerve-racking as Thrive (and therefore, Dave) is going to be independent very soon. They're working on getting the investment funding they need to move forward. I've proofed the business plan a few times in my role as unofficial grammar consultant, just doing my part.
Watching Last Comic Standing (a summer favorite for the past few years) is not nearly as funny as watching Dave watch LCS. At least once per episode, he completely looses it. His face turns red, he starts crying, his laugh turns into this nasally wheezing that sounds like he'll burst a blood vessel. He has no control and the least little thing after that will set him off again like his laugh defenses have been compromised. The guy who set him off this week didn't even make it to L.A. for the next round.
R is saying "This is my favorite" to everything. Usually a song--"How Great is Our God," "Awesome God," and "Margaritaville" which she announced very loudly in a restaurant. (That's for you, P.J.).
Ben had his 6-month checkup this week. The dr.'s comment on looking at his growth chart: "He's coming back onto the line." Meaning his weight's not as far off the chart as it once was. Well, that makes me feel better. Plus, now I'm using a heavy-duty Vaseline type ointment on his skin at night so he's really a little greased pig now.
Looking foward to a fun weekend--a wedding of an old friend and R attending her first major birthday party. Should be a hoot!
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
This summer I'm glad to say that O-wood has tried to keep the summer a time of learning and being together with one service and a combined SS hour with hot-button topics (it was porn this morning--gotta have your Starbucks!). And the positive side of having different preachers who don't normally get to preach is that they are really excited about it. Usually they've been mulling on a topic for a while, getting it ready to present, pumped up about preachin'.
This was one such Sunday. Chuck preached this morning on heaven, on seeing today through tomorrow's eyes. We're standing on the edge of the new kingdom--like the Israelites at the Red Sea or Promised Land--and we're trapped in our slave-ish thinking, neglecting to realize God's presence right amongst us, despairing, complaining, having unbelief in our hearts. Hindsight is great but God's Word is better. He actually gives us the picture of the future to help get us through today (Rev. 21 & 22 was the text). And even more amazing--WE are the edge of the kingdom, advancing Christ's kingdom wherever we're at.
The last stanza of a Charles Wesley hymn we sung this morning also really resonated with me as we've been studying Lost Women of the Bible. What a different kind of "lost" we'll be in: