Monday, March 31, 2008

Favorite Quote

C.S. Lewis didn't use the phrase "follower of Christ," but I think that's the idea he's getting at here. He refers to "the Christian life," and distinguishes the difference between that and just being a "decent chap." I love the way he suggests here that surrendering our selves is a process, and he gives some practical, first steps to take.

"That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When he said, 'Be perfect,' He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder--in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad." C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Waterpark, check.

Yippee! We are home from our three-day, two-night water park extravaganza in the Wisconsin Dells, and are happy to report that we didn't buy anything! It was a nice quick Spring Break get away. I can say that looking back. I did not sleep well the first night, however. Our appointment for our 90-minute spiel was at 8:30am, and I worried that we'd oversleep and get in trouble. So, I kept waking up just a little bit all night long.

Have you ever done one of these things before? It wasn't as terrible as I had imagined it could be, but I certainly won't sign up to do it again anytime soon. After a presentation in a larger group setting (8 couples), we got assigned to a sales rep who worked on just us. He actually was kind of boring, repeated a lot of what the first guy did with the group, and I found myself thinking about other things while he was talking. He was an older guy, and told us we were making a mistake when we left....kind of like a disappointed uncle or something. I think he was slower than the others, or maybe we were....he went way over the 90 minutes. I looked at my watch and thought to myself, "we've done what we said we would do, technically, I think we can walk out now..." but I am not going to walk out on someone. Can't do it.

But once we'd met our obligation, it was great. You can't beat two nights accommodations, two days of waterparking and one morning of indoor theme parking for $50. It's always nice to be reminded that we really like hanging with our kids. They finally seem to get it that we can't drop cash everywhere we go, or they at least get that it makes mom crabby when you complain about it. Either way, they just seemed to enjoy what they got to do, and we all felt like it was a mini vacation. This week sure went fast.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Are You Reading?

I am still trudging through the Shel Silverstien biography...with a stack of books I'm looking forward to starting. The only reason I keep reading it is because I don't know when he dies, or what the cause, and I've already invested this much time....Hopefully the car ride to the water park today will be my chance to finally finish it. I think I've mentioned why I'm not enjoying the book, but in case I haven't, there's two reasons:
1) It's not organized in any way that I can follow. Shel was a poet, a cartoonist, a songwriter, playwright....He was a Renaissance Man, they say. He could do it all. He had residences all over the country, Chicago, Nashville, New York, Martha's Vineyard, Sausalito, CA, and Key West FL. This book could be organized by the different mediums he worked in, different parts of the country, or perhaps chronologically, but no, it's just kind of all over the place. One chapter ends on page 145 talking about someone he knew in Key West in 1980 saying, "but first, Shel had to deal with the biggest tragedy of his life." When is this tragedy revealed? 14 pages later!! (and it occurred in 1982!) With no building up to it....She just didn't get around to writing about it until then.

2) This man who had it all and could do it all was really kind of a selfish pig, and I don't think I like him very much. He had hundreds of women, never stayed with anyone for more than a week or so, and would just get up and go wherever he wanted whenever he wanted. His friends never knew when he would turn up, or when he would leave. This was not in the day of cell phones.....

OK, so, I'm finishing this biography soon......
What are you reading right now? Anything good? I want to read something good!


Some other cool pics of the day downtown.......

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

For Kris

I'm way behind in the blogging this last couple of weeks. Easter, Spring Break, blah,blah, blah. You don't want to hear my excuses. I'm behind in my reading as well. So, I'm kind of thinking others are behind, too.

We had a great visit with dear friends in town from Ohio. Yesterday, what a day for walking around and enjoying the city of Chicago! Check out Luke's cool photo of the "Bean" at Millenium Park. (it's actually called "Cloud Gate," or something like that. Have you been to see it in person? You really must. Pictures can't fully capture it.) Today we ran errands and got the boys measured for their tuxedos for the upcoming wedding. !!!! I'm NOT supposed to say that they looked cute. But I've never seen my boys in suits before, and I can't help it! They were cute.

Tonight we prepare for a quick trip--a couple of nights at a water park that we are getting on the super-cheap, in exchange for sitting through a 90-minute hard-sell for vacation properties or something or other. We've never done this before, and have been practicing saying the word "No!" Pray for us, that the 90-minutes would pass quickly, and that we don't get sucked into anything. These people are professionals, after all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a A White Easter

Looking for eggs in the snow......

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Exciting news! I've been asked to be a contributing poster on the new blog for the women at our church. I'll be posting every Friday over there. It's just getting started, so feel free to post some comments and help get the conversational ball rolling. (especially if you go to my church, but of course the blog is open to anyone)

Today is Good Friday, a strange day. It's really weird here today, because the snow is coming down heavy, and accumulating. We're going to get the 7 inches they predicted. Maybe more. I don't have any words for the snow. I'm incredulous. (is that proper use of the language?)

It's a day off for Scott and the kids, and we're having Easter dinner here, so of course I have to-do lists for everyone. And Luke has had a friend over, and Lars and Lily were playing across the street. So, in that way, it feels like any other day off of school. But, it is a day to remember what Jesus did. It is a sad day, really, before the celebration of Easter.

We'll go to church this evening, which will help us all appropriately focus. But I can't help but feel I should be doing something different during the day. It's not reasonable to expect the us to be somber all day...but shouldn't we do something? Maybe I'm missing a teachable moment here. What do you do for Good Friday?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thinking Big

The kids have returned from their short day of school, so it's now officially Spring Break. Happy Spring Break to you! It's kind of warm today, like maybe Spring is actually coming. Ok, it isn't really warm, but warm-ish. Much better in the sun than in the shade. I'm feeling very hopeful, despite the fact that there is a winter storm warning for tonight. We're supposed to get 3 to 7 inches of snow! Argh! I just can't believe it looking at the sunshine today.

Makes me think again of how we can't judge things by how we feel, or how they seem to us in the moment. We just don't have the big picture, we can't see it all. And there's no such thing as Doppler Radar for life.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting In It

OK, today I'm delving into some bits I've gotten from Joshua:

In the beginning of the book, God makes it clear to Joshua exactly what He wants him to do, that is, lead the Israelites into the land God has promised to them. Wouldn't that be nice to know without any question that you are doing what God wants you to do? God says, "obey me and you will succeed, I will never leave you, be strong and courageous, I have given the land to you." (this is while they're still in the desert, mind you) The implication is that there will be a need for strength and courage. Interesting, don't you think? I mean, if God is fighting with them, and He says He's given the land to them, isn't it surprising to read that they'll need to be courageous and strong?

Before reading through the book of Joshua, I think I pictured the wall of Jericho tumbling down, and ta-da! the Israelites got their Promised Land. I'm learning however, that there were many battles, lots of fighting for at least a couple of weeks after that. (I'm still only on the tenth chapter, lots more to go, and I don't know what's coming...) God helped them conquer all this territory, but still, they had to fight. They had to whack away with their swords. With strength and courage. He was there, but they were not sitting on the couch watching all the action, they were in it, baby! How much more the Israelites must have appreciated what they'd been given. The Promised Land was not handed over on a silver platter.

It makes me think of what Jesus has given to us. His death has given us victory over Satan, and a way to be with God. Jesus said "it is finished" just before He died. What was finished? The fight for our lives. It's already won, already been given to us. (and it may not seem so, just like it probably didn't seem to the Israelites that the land had "been given" to them on, oh, about day 5 of walking around the wall at Jericho.) But victory has been given to us, regardless of how we're feeling about it.

I don't think we get to sit on the couch and watch the action, either. There will still be a need for courage and strength on our part. Even when we're certain that we're doing what He wants us to do! Sometimes battles and fights can make us question if we're being obedient, if we're really where He wants us. Sometimes the challenges can help redirect us. But sometimes, they are just an opportunity for us to get in it, baby! So be strong and courageous, He will never leave us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oooh, I'm Stuffed

As I get more into this blogging thing, I have had fun checking out other blogs. I heard there are something like 75 million blogs out there on the internet. Today, I'm going to start a list over on the right of other blogs I like to read. Check out what others are doing in the blogosphere.

Last week, I happened upon a link to "The Story of Stuff." You can watch a 20-minute video that is pretty good. I think there are some big generalizations made, and I'm not sure I agree with every broad brush stroke, but it certainly was thought provoking, and has me paying attention to how we treat the business of stuff. Yesterday, I read on Mary DeMuth's blog about an online group called Freecycle. It's a great idea for dealing with stuff you don't want that others might. You can keep your unwanted but usable things in use, rather than in the landfills.

I feel the "stuffing" most during Christmas. I'm always bucking the way we do it because I feel like the birth of our Savior gets lost in the stuff. Buying for others, wanting for ourselves, making room for what we got....We tell our kids with our mouths what the real meaning of Christmas is, but what do we show with our actions, when we spend a majority of our time, energy, and money on the stuff? And, as I think about filling Easter baskets, I feel the stuff-monster trying to creep in. Celebrating the incredibleness of what Jesus did for us can get lost in chocolate, jelly beans, ham dinners, and gifts in the baskets. I'm not even getting into the whole bunny thing.

I don't want to go overboard and be a completely NOT FUN mom, but I also don't want to just get on the boat and head down the river everyone is going down just because it's what we've always done. I'm getting at being intentional again. I want to stop the boat, get off, and ask where are we going. Is it where we want to go? Are we on the right boat? Maybe we don't want to be on the water at all, maybe we want to walk in the a very fun way, of course.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Getting My Groove Back

What a whirlwind of a week and weekend. I'm thrilled to have a normal day, with only the mundane tasks on my list. Laundry, what to do for dinner, cleaning the house.

My birthday party was great fun. Scott's idea of a private room at a fabulous Italian restaurant was really wonderful. The space was warm and lovely, the food and wine delicious. It was something we'd never done before, and so we were nervous about it, but it turned out great.

I've got some things on my mind for this here blog, but my brain is feeling so scattered. I've mentioned here before that I really appreciate a routine, and there was none last week. I kind of feel like my brain is bruised, from working through logistics and trying to remember everything I needed to....Can a brain get bruised by that kind of activity? anyway....Some unfinished thoughts I hope to delve into more deeply later this week:

1) Parenting a middle-schooler....feels like there are lots of opportunities to just screw the kid up. How do I know how far to push, how much to guide, how loose to hold him, what to let him do, what to not let him do...Keeping in mind all the while that this boy is a gift on loan to me from God. He's not mine, He's God's. I said to a friend yesterday, this part of parenting presents a new and different kind of fatigue.

2) Reading the book of Joshua, and trying to figure out what God is teaching me through these stories of battles and conquering entire towns, kings, armies, and all. God told Joshua the land would be theirs...and He helped them fight and conquer all these people. But Joshua still had to go out there and fight. Still had to kill people. God totally delivered in regard to His promise to the Israelites, but there was still work to be done.

3) Still reading Shel Silverstien's biography and blech. He was not a happy man. It's interesting, his story, and all of the things he did and people he knew....but his life was so empty. Full of all the world has to offer, and yet empty.

4) So, I'm 40 now. Am I using the things God has given me in the way that He wants?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Sorry I missed a day yesterday! There just wasn't enough time....My dad wondered if I was quitting. I can't win with him. One day it's "Now just how much time do you spend with that blogging thing?" and another it's, "So, you aren't blogging anymore?" The truth is, my mind is so filled up with running errands and planning, and working out schedules and calendars, I haven't had time to think so much.

It has been winter, winter, drab dull winter for so long, and now, the sun is shining, the snow is melting, and all those things that seemed so far away on the calendar are right around the corner! Easter is just next week, followed by Spring Break, which is already looking like it will fly by.

Lily is going to be the flower girl for our niece Joy's wedding in June, and the boys have role, too. Lily and I went to get her measured for her dress this week, and the first-choice dress takes 12 weeks to come in, and so we're too late! How can June be less than 12 weeks away?!

We're all very excited about this wedding. Joy was our flower girl in our wedding almost 17 years ago, and now Lily gets to be hers. Doesn't it just make you go aawwww!? So now, after a trip to a bridal store, Lily is thinking about her own wedding. Her favorite part was the accessories section, where she informed me she'd like to buy everything there. During Spring Break, we'll take the boys to get measured for their tuxes, and the level of excitement will increase.....

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


So, I have a big birthday coming up, and my mom made this nice card for me. Julie over the decades. (!!!) I thought I'd show it off here.

Since it's already after 3:00, and I still haven't posted anything, this may be all there is for today. It is my goal to post something every Monday through Friday....I'm not sure if this really qualifies, but at least you get to see what kind of a great mom I've got!

The card has the following Ralph Waldo Emerson quote:
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are very tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Breathe Deeply

Here's what I love about this adventure of following Christ: when everything I read and hear all ties together. When God's message is just all over the place. This shouldn't come as a surprise; His message is relevant today, has to do with life as we're living it, big and little things. But it does still fill me with awe when the message at church, my Bible study homework, my daily reading, a conversation with one friend here, and another friend there, a blurb I hear on the radio, some writing that I'm working on, the talk a guest speaker at Scott's school gave last week.....they ALL point me back to how God wants me to know Him and draw nearer to Him, and He wants me to help others draw nearer to Him.

Here's what the Bible says about God's Word, and His message for us:
"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17 (NLT)
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

Yup. It says scripture is inspired (which means to breathe, or blow into). He breathes into the words. We can breathe them in. It says that His word is living. That's why you can read a verse you've read before and find something new. That's why it all ties together so beautifully. What's not to love about that? I'm sure there's a $5 theological explanation or term for the active-ness and alive-ness of God's message, but I just love that He speaks to us in a manner that is real. Now. Here. And consistent.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Big Questions

We just concluded a series at church about becoming great in God's eyes, that is, discovering your purpose and finding out who God made you to be, and then living that way. Maybe it's a season-of-life kind of thing, but I've had many conversations with friends recently, and lots of us seem to be asking these questions: what am I supposed to be doing, or, how am I supposed to be doing what I do, and, how do I know if I'm doing what God wants me to do, and so on.

These are big questions, whose answers are fluid. Maybe what I'm doing now is right for now, but will change in the future. Maybe what I have been doing was right at the time, but isn't now. How do we know with certainty? We pray and ask for guidance, but don't feel immediate, clear leading. We long for that peace and clarity. We like the idea of God giving us free will, and don't want to be pawns in a giant chess game that He plays, yet sometimes we would just kind of like Him to plop us down on the right path, with directional signs. Go this way! Do Not Enter!

These questions roll around in my head, and I look at my cat, Greta, who, as long as she can keep me in her sights, just rests comfortably knowing I'm here. She follows me around the house, and curls up in some comfy spot in the same room with me. She's not bogged down, over-thinking every move. I think I'd like to be Greta when I grow up. Does she have the secret? Maybe she's on to something.

Maybe we need to go where we know God is active, hang around with people who are feeling the clarity, and keep Him in our sights. That might be a good start. I think the key from the series at church was to start doing . Take the risk. Step onto a path and see where it leads, and be willing to turn back around if it's not the right one.

Friday, March 7, 2008

And We're Off!

We just got a new computer and printer, and wow! It's a beauty. The new printer is so polite, the little screen says, "please wait momentarily" while it's booting up....And the new keyboard is so slick, I love the clickety-clack sound it makes as I type. We are doing all kinds of fun things with our photos, too. I had to go down to the basement, the new home for the old computer, to retrieve a file. Our "old" computer was/still is also a lovely machine, but it felt so clunky. It took me no time at all to adjust to the new, and now the old seems very, ehnh.

How does that happen so quickly? The shiny and new can rob my appreciation for the perfectly good old. Have I let this happen in other areas of my life? It's good to move forward, for sure. It's just surprising sometimes how fast I can go.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thinking in the Shower Can be Dangerous!

OK, I'm going to spit out some random thoughts that came to me in the shower this morning, and therefore, haven't been thoroughly processed. And maybe someone much, much wiser than I has already written a dissertation on the subject, and none of my thoughts are even new. But they're new to my brain this morning, so there you go.

Where did we come up with the idea that all men (and women) are "created equal"? I don't think that's quite right. Equal means the same. An equation has things that add up to the same thing on either side of the equal sign. But how can you put people on sides of an equal sign? All you have to do is look at my three kids, all born and raised in the same home with the same parents; they are not equal. They are not the same.

We talk all the time about how we are all unique, created with different gifts, skills, talents. We are not all the same. I don't think the "equal" thing is scriptural. I do think we are all loved, very, very much. And I do think that we are all wanted, with our uniqueness. We all have a role that fits us as we are, who we are. Like in Corinthians where it talks about the hand and the eye...both are needed in the body, both serve entirely different purposes.

Let's face it, we aren't equal. There are people that live with abundance, and others who live in desperation. Not equal. Is this idea of equality another American or Western obsession like privacy?

I do believe that we all have an equal opportunity...God gives everyone a chance to accept or reject Him...and I think it would be great to live in a country where there truly is an equal opportunity for all people. But we are not the same, you and me.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

With a Grateful Heart

I don't have much to say today, other than I am completely blown away by the many ways God has blessed me. I don't have a good illustration, I can't get into specific details, but every time I turn around, God has something new for me. He is good. Anyone else feeling some gratitude?

I'm just loving my kids, and the opportunity to stretch and grow in the parenting adventure.

I'm loving my husband, who I don't deserve....but God gave him to me anyway, and now he's stuck with me!

This season I'm in right now, it's a gift. I'm getting to know God and myself, and seeing who I am in His eyes.

So many great friends!

Loving parents and in-laws who are on the journey to follow Christ, too.

And, I'm still looking back at the trip we made to Italy this past summer, with a squishy, thankful heart!

See? There's so much!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Work, work, work

We had yet another day off of school yesterday...I think there have been two five-day weeks since Christmas Break. Yesterday was Casmir Pulaski Day. I hope you had a great one. Scott's school did not celebrate, so it was me and the kids at home. While eating breakfast I informed them that once again, we needed to get the house back into shape after a fun-filled weekend. All agreed that we must stop living this way....messy, messy, messy, then taking a whole day to put it all back together.

We had a great routine going in the summer. Each child had a daily "chore" that they chose from a list of 10 or so (so sneaky of me...I had more chores to choose from than would be chosen, so no one felt like they were getting stuck with the least desirable one), and they each had a weekly chore; they did those "extras" on Wednesdays. And the boys, because they are older, each had an "ongoing" job, that they needed to take care of as other words, take out the garbage & recycling. I set up three plastic bins on the back stairway, one for each of my darlings, and when I found their belongings around the house, I'd just throw them in their buckets. Everyone had to daily put away the items in their buckets. All these things had to be done in the morning, before the tv, computer, phone, etc. could be used, and for sure before anyone left the house.

It all went out the window when the school year started. Everyone has a different schedule. Lars is at the bus stop at 6:40am...I cannot make him do anymore than get dressed and eat breakfast before school. I think I was so thrilled that nothing changed with no one living here during the day, I just let it go. And with the school year came the school-y responsibilities, and priorities shifted.

Then along came all these holidays and snow days....they've been living here, man! So yesterday, we came to an agreement, that order must return, that everyone needs to pitch in again, so that we can enjoy Sundays once again. (Sundays would be the day I'd lose it...and demand the putting back together of the house. Some Sabbath!) We're gonna' get this thing figured out. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Role Playing

We saw the movie Miss Potter this weekend (a biographical movie about Beatrix Potter), and at Luke's request, I am reading a biography of Shel Silverstein, (author of Luke's favorite book, The Giving Tree as well as A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends) No one has written a children's biography of Silverstein, so I told Luke I'd read this adult version and tell him all about it. We only checked the book out from the library a couple of hours ago, but I can already see some similarities in the stories of these two authors/illustrators. They each had a parent that strongly criticized their work of drawing and story-telling.

And my first instinct is to feel sad for them, and to be a little angry at their negative parents. Imagine how much more they might have accomplished with some encouragement. But who knows? Would Beatrix and Shel have done it if they didn't have to fight a little? We'll never know.

It's just interesting, in the context of our weekend, where I've done lots of thinking about that role of mothering again. (I am just a barrel of monkeys, I tell you.) Scott and I were talking about whether or not we're enabling some unwanted behaviors....and then learning the stories of these two very successful people who had to fight to do what they wanted to do do what maybe even God created them to do. Interesting. We don't know what we're doing, really. We don't know what impact our remarks, lectures, conversations, praises, and expressions of disappointment will actually make.

This parenting thing is not done lightly. But I learn more and more each day, it also cannot be done without God's guidance and strength. So, like God told Joshua, we'll "be strong and courageous," and move ahead knowing that God has a plan for each of our children....trying to follow His lead.